A Revival of the Sicilian Nimzowitsch Variation

Many players get round the ever increasing amount of opening theory with their own little specialities. This makes a lot of sense from a practical point of view, whoever adopts such lines will probably have a better knowledge of them than their opponents and a better knowledge of the ensuing middle game.

One such ideas is 6…Qb6 in the Nimzowitsch Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nc3 Nxc3 5.dxc3 Nc6 6.Bf4 Qb6), which is really quite annoying for White as it’ definitely a concession to weaken the queenside with 7.b3. There’s not much theory which leaves plenty of scope for original analysis.

The leading exponent of this line is the Russian Grandmaster Aleksandr Rakhmanov. In the following game he beats Viktor Bologan with this 6…Qb6 idea:

Nigel Davies

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The Life and Chess of Vera Menchik

With Hugh needing to finish his book I thought I’d step in with a post to celebrate Nigel Short‘s bid to become FIDE President. It would certainly be a good thing if FIDE had a bank account, not to mention having its funds spent on presidential travel expenses. There again some may feel that the FIDE President should probably be a diplomatic person, and possibly even a …. female.

Here is a video about a female player from Lucas Anderson:

Nigel Davies

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Some Tips on Chess Parenting

Having been a chess parent for eight years as well as a GM and coach, I thought I would offer a few tips on chess parenting. Despite my extensive background in the game itself I have been learning ‘on the job’ to a large extent. Richard James’s insights were very useful, certainly at the start, and I learned more by experience and watching other parents in action, both doing things well and making mistakes.

The first thing to understand is that when your kid becomes interested in chess then basically it’s their show. As I see it a parent’s job is to be quietly supportive in celebrating wins, commiserating with defeats and avoiding lectures or reprimands. It might be that you need to look after their interests now and then if you think they are being unfairly treated. But in this case you also need to listen to your child’s view on the situation.

The second big thing to consider is that becoming a good player and getting the most benefit from involvement with the game takes time and effort. A lot of it. In this our eight year I will be taking my son Sam to around 20 tournaments. He also works on chess at home, probably putting in around 8-10 hours a week on average. This is normal for anyone who takes up a musical instrument but many chess kids tend to do much less than that. As a result they may struggle to go from junior chess to fulfilling their potential, or even getting established in the adult game.

Number three is that they need coaching, and probably a lot of it unless they are autodidacts who can learn on their own. This is why so many of the young players who come through have a chess playing parent who can do the coaching ‘in house’, at least up to a certain level. For parents who can not play chess, or at least not well, they can try to organize enough homework for their kids to develop, or perhaps learn together with them. But I will not hide the fact that it is tough for parents who do not play, and they will need a lot of research and motivation to provide appropriate support.

Number four is that you should look for a genuine involvement with the chess scene rather than be day trippers. Parents who seem to be more successful often involve themselves with organization, providing transport to other players and making friends with those in the chess community. This is then rewarded at many different levels, not least of which is the fact that your kids will find it easier to make friends themselves.

There are other tips too but these are the four main ones that come to mind. Here meanwhile is an interview with a couple of tennis parents, Mr. and Mrs. Federer, who seem to be a perfect model:

Nigel Davies

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Pawn Structure Pawn Structure

“I’m only bothered about things that will change the pawn structure.” – N Davies

I have a tendency to spend too long calculating and Nigel has advised me to spend my time considering the pawn structure and possible levers/ changes when it is my opponent’s move.

In this game I was very interested in Nigel’s ideas around 10.Na5 which would have prevented Black’s a5 and pressured b7 and c6.

Nigel found my 24.Nxe6 really quite horrible. I didn’t understand the strength of the knight on c5. My idea was to simplify and win the game with the extra pawn. However, it was still important to play the best moves and I made life much harder for myself.  Nigel was clear that 24.Nxe6 gave up my best piece. Having now played through some example lines I am starting to see this.

Nigel commented that Knights with good outposts (such as this one on c5 – which would have been “really good” here – would work well with this pawn structure.

Dan Staples

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Switching Off The Laptop

In these days of computer based preparation is there any benefit to using a board and pieces? It can certainly seem harder, especially if someone is used to whizzing through dozens of games using the right hand arrow. Yet there could be hidden benefits of the sort that makes many brain experts suggest that we write things down. One theory is that the physical act of writing things down helps activate the brain.

Actually I use a chess set myself whenever it is possible. This is not the case when teaching over the internet but it certainly is when I work on chess with my son Sam. We rarely use a computer unless we want a second opinion from an engine or need to map out some opening lines.

Not convinced? There is quite a lot of stuff on the internet about doing away with laptops, so do your own research and consider giving it a try.

Nigel Davies

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Zurich 1953

Despite recent events in Berlin, the Candidates Tournament in Zurich 1953 is still known as the greatest in history. Fifteen players took part with the format being a double round all-play-all, and ultimately it was Vasily Smyslov who emerged the winner, two points clear of David Bronstein, Paul Keres and Samuel Reshevsky.

Why is this the most famous Candidates Tournament? Largely because of David Bronstein’s book on the event which has become known as one of the best ever written. Bronstein’s insightful remarks give a real insight into the mind of top Grandmasters, from opening to endgame.

Here is a video on the event by the prolific Lucas Anderson:

Nigel Davies

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