Category Archives: Sam Davies

More Tactical Sharpness

Here’s some more tactical sharpness, this time by the Chinese lady star, Hou Yifan. I don’t think Anatoly Karpov appreciated the strength of 18.b5! until it was too late and White soon emerged with an extra piece. I now know why my Dad wants me to practice tactics every day, you need to be on your guard against such ideas all the time:

Sam Davies

Tactical Sharpness

I was impressed by White’s tactical sharpness in the following game. He took the initiative with the unexpected 13.Nh4! and then followed up with the hammer blow, 16.Bxh6!. The game ended with another neat sequence with 23.Bxf7! and 24.Bf8!.

Sam Davies

Working Without Engines

My Dad and I usually look at chess without an engine, trying to figure things out for ourselves. Dad says that this is a better way to develop as a player because using an engine leads to people becoming too reliant on them in their thinking. Here is an example:

We found this position while going through IM John Cox’s book on the Berlin. Black played 47…c5 which looks like a great try, but Cox thought it might be a blunder. Carlsen then answered with 48.e6+ which was given two question marks, Cox commenting that 48.f6 ‘was immediately decisive’.

I think that Cox must have had the engine on all the time to make it seem so easy to him, the players did not find this easy to see and we struggled too. The reason is that after 48.f6 Black can let White get a queen with 48…cxd4 49.f7 dxc3 50.f8=Q cxb2 51.Qf1 c3, when the passed pawns are very strong and at first seem to tie White’s queen down.

It turns out that White can win after 52.Qd3+ Ke8 53.e6 c2 54.Qd7+ Kf8 55.Qd8+ Kg7 56.Qxe7+ Kh6 57.Qf8+ Kh7 58.Qf7+ Kh6 59.Qf4+ Kh7 60.Qh2+ Kg8 61.e7 Kf7 62.Qe5 Ke8 63.Qc7. However this only became clear when we looked at the position with an engine and the line is 15 moves deep.

Sam Davies

Better Pawn Structure

Here’s another rook endgame from Master Rook Endgames by Nikolai Minev. Black is a pawn down in this one but has the advantage because his pawn structure is better. Black’s first move is important because he needs to stop White playing 36.c3.

Sam Davies

Shielding the King

My Dad and I have been working through Nikolai Minev’s book on rook endgames where we found the following example. Black had a problem in that he needed to shield his king from checks and he achieved that with 61…Re7! followed by bringing his king to e5. He was then able to stop either White pawn from queening and held a draw:

Sam Davies

Blockading a Passed Pawn

Passed pawns can often be a winning advantage in rook endgames, but not always; if they can be blockaded by a king they can easily become weak. The following game is a good example of this with White’s d-pawn looking strong until Black played 33…Kf8, getting the king in front of it:

Sam Davies

Tiviakov’s Italian Game

My Dad says it’s a good idea to find players who are experts on particular openings and study their games. Sergei Tiviakov is a good player to study because he’s an expert in a number of different openings, having played them for many years.

Here’s a game of Tiviakov’s in the Italian Game in which he wins against a tough opponent. He wins the battle on the queenside and gets a strong passed pawn:

Sam Davies

No Rush in the Endgame

One of the most important endgame principles is not to hurry. My Dad says I should have played more patiently with 24.h4 and then brought the king up to h3 after my 24.g5 Black was fine, at least until he played 31…Rhh8.

Sam Davies

A Win with the Ruy Lopez

Here’s a win of mine from this last weekend using the Ruy Lopez. My Dad says I played it very well, though I pushed my pawns a bit too quickly when I got nervous in the later stages:

Sam Davies

Winning Ugliest

Concluding my series of horrible Black wins in the Czech Benoni, here’s a game in which one of my Dad’s idols, Leonid Stein, was completely lost after 26…Rg8. He went on to win in the end but not thanks to his ugly position:


Sam Davies