Amateur Versus Master: Game Thirteen

This is my second cc game with Harold Boege. The first game was in the previous round of the 2011 Golden Knights Postal Championship. This game is
from the final round and it may be my only win from this round. I am the only NON master in this section and I expect to finish it with an even score.
Although I am not 100% certain, I believe that Harold is the highest rated opponent that I have defeated in correspondence chess.

I started off playing something resembling the Bremen System and ended up with something that I have never seen before or since this game, except in my analysis.

Mike Serovey


2015 Colorado Closed Championship and Scholastic Championship

The 2015 Colorado Closed Championship and Scholastic Championship took place the second weekend in April. There were five six-person sections:

  • Championship
  • Challenger
  • Booster
  • Scholastic Championship
  • Scholastic Challenger

The Championship featured three “zombies”, as we in Colorado call strong players who have disappeared from competition for a long period of time: the event winner Lior Lapid (2290), Philipp Ponomarev (2340) and Josh Bloomer (2255).

7-time Colorado Champion Brian D. Wall beat the championship winner, but otherwise got a shellacking, losing three of his five games, including one from a drawn position.

In this position from Wall vs. Bloomer, White should shift his rook back and forth on the rank to keep the Black king out. If the Black rook harries the White king, it should head for the Black g5 pawn, not fearing the capture of the White f2 pawn even if the Black pawn has reached f3: there’s time to get back for a drawn K+R+RP vs K+R ending, since the Black rook will be in front of its own f-pawn and will require a move to vacate the file. Instead, Wall began checks from the side and rear which drove the Black king forcefully to the assistance of its own rook and pawns.

Here’s Wall driven to the wall by Ponomarev. 41 … Rc2! is a piquant move, forcing the White bishop to capture and trapping the White knight.

I’ll have some more games from the Colorado Closed next week.

Jacques Delaguerre


Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (6)

It’s generally good advice to develop rapidly and castle early in the opening. If you fail to do so the consequences can be very costly. In a similar fashion, it is very useful to find a move which hinders the opponent’s smooth development, or keeps his king in the center. The following game illustrates this very well:

Schulten,John William – Morphy,Paul
New York, 1857

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d3 Bb4 6.Bd2 e3

Q: Describe the logic behind this sacrifice.
A: It opens e file by force which can be used by black’s rook late in the game. Black is ready to castle on next move while white has not developed his king side pieces that creates major difference here.

7.Bxe3 0–0 8.Bd2

Trying to castle long is also not good idea, eg 8.Qd2 Nxd5 9.0–0–0 Bxc3 10.bxc3 leaves White’s queenside shattered.

8…Bxc3 9.bxc3

9.Bxc3 wouldn’t improve the position either as 9…Re8+ 10.Be2 Nxd5 11.Qd2 Bg4 12.0–0–0 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Be6

9…Re8+ 10.Be2 Bg4 11.c4 c6

Another pawn sac by Morphy in order to bring his knight(Undeveloped piece) into the game with attack.


12.d6 would be better as it prevents black’s knight from occupying the d4 square.

12…Nxc6 13.Kf1

13.Bc3 Nd4 14.Bxd4 Qxd4 15.Rb1 loses a piece by force. Now White has unpinned his bishop but the cost is very high. Find a move which wins the piece!


It is often a good idea to exchange a pinned piece in order to take benefit from the pin.

14.Nxe2 Nd4 15.Qb1 Bxe2+ 16.Kf2?

16.Ke1 is better than the move played in the game, though it is lost anyway. Now the knight joins the attack with check.

16…Ng4+ 17.Kg1

Now Black just needs his queen in. Find the move!


This vacates d4 square for queen.

18.gxf3 Qd4+ 19.Kg2 Qf2+ 20.Kh3 Qxf3+

And Black mates in 3.


Ashvin Chauhan


Rules And Fair Play

The news last week that Wesley So was defaulted for ‘using notes’ during one of his games came as a shock to many chess fans, and especially when the full story emerged. Here are details of what happened from Chess24 with So being interviewed:

Q: What happened yesterday?

A: I wrote something beside my scoresheet on a piece of paper – just to focus during the game, which was a reminder for me to play hard – but apparently the rules don’t allow it so I lost the game yesterday.

Q: According to the arbiter he had warned you about it before…

A: I wrote it on my scoresheet before. He told me you can only write draw offers or the times or the results on the scoresheet, so I brought a piece of paper with me this time, but my logic didn’t work out.

Q: Is that a normal habit of yours?

A: Yes, unfortunately it has been a habit for me for a long time – for years actually – and I did it a lot in the past, in Tata Steel, almost all my tournaments. Nothing was working for me in this tournament, so I thought I’d go back to my old habit. This tournament has been a nightmare for me, so I just want it to be finished.

Was what So did illegal and deserving of a forfeit? Well the FIDE regulations can be seen here, with the following being the relevant rule:

“12.3: During play the players are forbidden to make use of any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse on another chessboard.”

Is it just me in thinking that this would this seem to be about chess notes, such as a file of opening variations? Was the arbiter being sensible and measured in giving a forfeit when lesser penalties such as a time deduction were possible? And was it fair of So’s opponent to seek arbitration rather than just playing the game? I will leave it up to the reader to decide.

As far as chess improvers are concerned I’d suggest trying to stay on the right side of the law wherever possible so as to avoid hassle during your games. Meanwhile it’s better not to distract or lower oneself by trying to use technicalities unless you have been genuinely affected by your opponent’s actions. It should be the moves that should count with the rules serving the goal of fair play.

Nigel Davies


No Way Out!

Rooks like open files. At the start of the game, they are stuck in the corners and are often the last pieces to be developed. Even then, they often have to wait until some pawns and pieces are exchanged before they can get open lines to travel on.

It is in the endgame that Rooks do best. There are lots of open lines for them to move on and they can rampage around, attacking weak pawns, cutting off the enemy King, and helping their own pawns to Queen.

But it is surprisingly easy , even in an endgame, to put your Rook in a place where it is going nowhere. Rooks are just not much good at blockading enemy pawns. They lose a lot of mobility if they are reduced to standing in front of an enemy Pawn, trying to stop it moving forward.

In this week’s problem, Black has the chance to make sure White’s Rook is going nowhere. How does he do it?

The solution to last Monday’s problem was that Black plays Bxc3, followed by Bf5. Then the Black Knight gets a superb outpost on e4, with a clear advantage to Black.

Steven Carr


Right Said Fred

The name of Fred Reinfeld came up recently on the Chess Book Collectors Facebook page.

For decades now Reinfeld has been mocked and slated by many strong players, but his books are still remembered fondly by those who grew up with them 50 or more years ago, so much so that “21st century” editions in algebraic notation of some of his books have been published.

My view is somewhere between the two extremes. For me Reinfeld is, or at least was, the chess equivalent of someone like Jeffrey Archer or Dan Brown. If you want great literature you’ll look somewhere else but if all you want is a good story and an easy read then Archer or Brown will probably suit you just fine. It’s very easy to be snobbish about this sort of thing but I’m not sure that’s a reason to criticise authors whose books have given pleasure to so many. (Of course there are very many other reasons why you might want to mock Jeffrey Archer, but that’s something else entirely.)

There are many with good things to say about Reinfeld. Leonard Barden (in correspondence with Edward Winter) referred to Reinfeld’s ‘lucid and informative explanations’ (Chess Notes 8004). According to BH Wood in the Illustrated London News in 1977, “Bob Wade has remarked again and again how poorer players find him helpful”. (Chess Notes 8364). On the other hand, David Hooper (again in correspondence with Winter) wrote: “He started with some serious books, found they didn’t pay, that the public wanted drivel (How to win in ten moves) and American pace necessitated mass production of drivel, he developed contempt of chessplayers, including many champions” (Chess Notes 8436). I think most of us can name several contemporary chess authors who started with serious books, found they didn’t pay and reverted to mass production of potboilers.

A quick scan of the shelves in the Chess Palace came up with seven books authored by Reinfeld, along with one edited by him and a couple of others (by Marshall and Reshevsky) which he is believed to have ghosted. There may possibly be one or two more around somewhere. So I decided to refresh my memory about these volumes.

The only Reinfeld beginners’ book I have is The Complete Chessplayer (1953), a solid guide similar in concept to other adult beginners’ books of the same period, for instance Golombek’s The Game of Chess (my first ever chess book) and Pritchard’s The Right Way to Play Chess (still in print: as it happens I edited and updated the most recent edition). It starts with the rules of chess, followed by some basic tactics, some basic endings and an opening survey. I was surprised to see that Reinfeld gave 5…Nxd5 in the Two Knights an exclamation mark, claiming that the Fried Liver was unsound. I was also surprised to read that ‘King-side castling is common in ninety-nine games out of a hundred’ (both meaningless and factually incorrect – much of the writing is careless in this way). Finally, there’s a short selection of lightly annotated master games. I don’t think I bought this book myself: it must have been in one of several boxes of books I’ve been given over the years. Yes, it’s dated and for various reasons wouldn’t be a lot of use now, but it was a pretty good book for its day.

Chess Mastery by Question and Answer (1939) was a pioneering attempt to teach by demonstrating master games and asking the reader to comment on some of the moves in terms of both strategy and tactics. An interesting idea which has been copied by few if any other writers. Regular readers will be aware that in general I approve of using Socratic methods when teaching chess, although they’re probably more useful in one-to-one tuition rather than in a book. Reinfeld applied the same technique to a selection of lower level encounters in a later book, Chess for Amateurs, which was actually the second chess book I ever owned some 50 years ago. I lent it out some years later and never got it back. It would be good to see contemporary authors writing more books in this style. Come to think of it, I might even write a Chess Heroes book using Socratic methods to critique children’s games.

Amidst all the mockery, Reinfeld hasn’t really received credit for his pioneering teaching methods. Many of us now understand that one way to improve is by intensive solving of tactics puzzles, and, if you want big books with lots of tactics there are several to choose from. Reinfeld was the first to produce this sort of book. As I collect tactics books I had to have 1001 Brilliant Chess Combinations and Sacrifices and 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate (both 1955, and both books have appeared in different editions with slightly different titles – these are the titles of my editions). These have been reprinted recently in algebraic notation, but without correcting analytical errors. Big tactics books are great but you’d probably do better with something more recent where the analysis has been computer checked.

Tarrasch’s Best Games of Chess (1947) was recommended by GM Kevin Spraggett as one of his favourite books, and is generally considered to be one of Reinfeld’s better efforts. Possibly this was because the notes to many of the games was based on Tarrasch’s own annotations. I remembered enjoying this book when I borrowed it from a library as a teenager so wanted a copy mainly for nostalgic reasons. It’s been reprinted, but not translated into algebraic. As there’s no other collection of Tarrasch’s games readily available in English this would certainly merit a ’21st century edition’.

Reinfeld published two collections of games played by British (and Commonwealth) players: British Chess Masters Past and Present (1947) and A Treasury of British Chess Masterpieces (1950). Two enjoyable collections of games, many little known and some played by little known players, with light, some would say superficial annotations. As a British chess player myself I wanted these for my collection. They won’t do a lot for your chess improvement but I’m pleased to own them. As far as I know, neither of them have been reprinted.

I’ve been selective about which Reinfeld books I acquired and avoided the obvious potboilers but I wouldn’t call any of these books mass-produced drivel. Yes, he generalises and over-simplifies but you have to when writing for less experienced players. Yes, any fool could switch on a chess engine and improve much of the analysis. Yes, much of what he wrote about the openings is out of date. Yes, some of his writing is slapdash. Yes, some of his books contain unverifiable anecdotes which today would, quite rightly, earn him the wrath of Edward Winter. But considering the books in my library, The Tarrasch book is important and would merit a ’21st century’ edition. The two collections of British games are pleasant and undemanding, in a genre which sadly no longer seems to exist. The tactics and question/answer books were revolutionary for their time. Most importantly his books gave a lot of pleasure to thousands, perhaps millions of readers. If you’re looking for something to make you a better player in 2015, though, you’d be well advised to look elsewhere.

Richard James


Chess and Bonding

I was once offered a piece of advice regarding parenting, “you’re damned if you do and damned of you don’t.” During the early years of your child’s life, he or she looks up to you as parent and hero and all things in between. Then come the teenage years and with them rebellion. No matter what you do, your child will disagree with you, spitting out statements such as “you just don’t understand,” or worse yet, “I hate you.” This can be heartbreaking for a loving parent! However, this attitude tends to be a natural evolutionary stage for teenagers who are exploring the boundaries of adolescence and societal behavior. Don’t take it personally.

Activities that bond parent and child can be extremely important during these unruly years and act as a lifeline for adolescents who might otherwise venture into dangerous situations that lead to irreparable damage. Many parents bond with their children through sports, sharing a common love of a football team, or through youth sporting leagues. However, this bond is often not strong enough to survive the rigors of those terrible teenage years. Of course, I tell my students that it’s their job to rebel as a teenager, doing so creatively rather than destructively. After all, some of the world’s greatest rebels have created some of civilization’s greatest achievements. I also tell them that one day they’ll be sorry for the things they say to their parents in their youth.

Maintaining a bond with a child throughout both your lives can be difficult. So many factors come into play that can work against the parent/child relationship, eroding that relationship before it’s had a chance to fully develop. While love is the key, love can be an extremely difficult idea for the young mind to truly understand. Therefore, developing solid bonds early on, bonds that have the ability to last a lifetime, provide the greatest opportunity for not losing touch with your children.

Chess is a fantastic bonding tool for parent and child. Before delving into the psychological aspects of this idea, we should look at the socioeconomic reasons for chess being an excellent bonding tool. First off, investing in chess equipment is inexpensive. You just need a chess set and access to learning materials which can be found online or at your local library. Second, chess doesn’t have defined social boundaries (financial, religious or political). Rich or poor, Catholic or Muslim, Democrat or Republican, people who love the game of chess play for their love of the game. I’ve often seen Muslims and Catholics happily battling it out on the chessboard, putting their religious differences aside for the sake of the game. Chess has no physical requirements, so a parent with a disability who cannot play football with their child can still play chess with that child.

What sets aside chess as a good bonding tool over other parent/child endeavors is that it is an activity that both parent and child can learn at the same time with both participants being on equal footing (although children who are serious about chess tend to eclipse their parents over time). Because there are no physical aspects to the game, the age at which you learn to play isn’t an issue. Try being a fifty year old man learning how to play football with his fifteen year old son!

The idea that chess can improve a child’s logic and reasoning skills also applies to parents. Imagine an activity that is equally good for both parent and child alike! Chess is also good for one’s memory which is a plus for older parents and excellent for children lacking in focus.

Psychologically, I believe that chess allows for a tighter, long lasting bond between parent and child because it’s a game of the mind in which both players are interlocked in a dance of sorts. Plans are met by counter plans, a type of intellectual ballet. Chess is a neutral zone where parents are less apt to say something their child thinks uncool or offensive, which erodes at the bond rather than strengthening it. It’s a chance to spend time with your child in a place where it’s all about the action on the board. Both parent and child can leave their views and opinions of the world on the sidelines and enter the world of chess.

If you’re a parent who already plays chess, you can help develop your child’s chess skills without having to worry about saying something they won’t like. Your child, even unruly teenagers, will appreciate getting better because they, in turn, will be able to go out and beat their friends at chess (thanks to your help). With teenagers, you don’t want to set up a scheduled time to play on a regular basis at first. Set up a chessboard and sooner or later they’ll get curious. Only then, when your child is interested, should you suggest a regularly scheduled game. This can go a long way towards strengthening bonds.

If you and you child are both new to chess, you have an opportunity to create a very strong bond. If your child is taking his or her first chess class, ask them to show you what they learned in class that day. Let your child become the teacher. Of course, you’ll want to go over what they show you, using an age appropriate chess book, to reinforce your own knowledge, and to make sure they’re playing correctly. If your child struggles with a chess concept, work together to understand it. I offer the parents of my students, the opportunity to sit in on my classes or take a couple of free lessons to get them up to speed. That is how important the idea of bonding through chess is to me. I encourage all of my student’s family members to play chess and have had classes with a parent, uncle and grandmother of one student all learning at the same time.

Chess provides a nice break for both parent and child from the technological devices that we spend much of our day staring at. Video games are a parent’s worst nightmare because they’re often violent and send the wrong message to impressionable minds. Most parents have no interest in the video games their kids play. You don’t have that problem with chess! Chess requires no batteries! Chess helps develop patience in both parent and child and patience is a much needed skill for parents.

I’ve seen first hand, potentially troubled teens who maintained a bond with a parent through their love of chess. Those same teenagers never ended up getting into too much trouble because of that bond. Try playing some chess with your child. Consider it a long term investment, one that pays off down the road. Play chess with your child because forming a better bond may be the single event that prevents calamity later on in their lives. Better human bonds make for better humans. Here’s a game to enjoy until next week.

Hugh Patterson


Fighting the London System

This game continues our examination of the London System. The following game exemplifies how to play against this System using a King’s Indian model.

This game, from two of the finest tactical GM’s,  is worthy of your attention on several fronts. For clarity, Black’s play is a model of focus, and uses every means possible to take advantage of white’s weak squares from the very beginning. White is on the defensive and is just trying to keep up after Black’s 6th move. And Black never gives up the notion he is playing a King’s Indian. Analysis added by Chess King.

Ed Rosenthal


Book Review: Petrosian’s Legacy
A well-known sports writer Viktor Vasilyev wrote the books Zagadka Talya (“Tal’s Mystery”) and Vtoroe “ya” Petrosiana (“Petrosian’s second “I”). He expressed [an] idea there [about the influence of early family life on chess] . I’m the boy from a problem-free family that lived a relatively quiet life, not taking into account the global turmoil that affected everybody – the World War II, so I’ve got one playing style. Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian’s life was harder, more difficult – and this affected his playing style as well. Such theory is worth considering, but I think it’s only a hypothesis. – GM Tal,  “Mikhail Tal’s last ever interview” with Vitaly Melik-Karamov

Petrosian’s Legacy is one of the odder books left behind by a world champion chessplayer. It was published posthumously in 1990 by Tigran Petrosian‘s widow, Rona Petrosian. It is assembled by Edward Shektman from articles, lectures and television shows by the late grandmaster (Petrosian died in 1984). It was translated into “Russian” English (sic) and very imperfectly cleaned up by the late Arnold Denker, all this in itself making this slender 123-page volume a curiosity for the ages.

The book’s value is the insight it provides into an exceptionally peculiar mind among the many peculiar minds of the chess world.  Petrosian was brilliant intellectually, loyal to the Soviet system which nurtured him,  and yet was apparently somewhat emotionally isolated from his peers by a rough upbringing, by ethnic (in the book he calls it “tribal”) hero status in Soviet Armenia and in the world Armenian diaspora, by an overwhelming desire to achieve tinged with certain amount of bitterness, and by his increasing deafness.

This crabby, vain, and often unforgiving man treats not only with his successes, but also deals frankly with his own weaknesses as a chessplayer with self-deprecating humour and grace, and evinces a “complicated” love for chess which characterizes only a very few players even at grandmaster level.

Jacques Delaguerre


Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (5)

Meek,Alexander Beaufort – Morphy,Paul

This game is ideal for explaining the general rules of openings.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4
This is a gambit. The reason behind playing gambit is to develop forces rapidly whilst on the other hand the opponent is investing a move to capture the material (usually a pawn).

Q: What are the general strategies to play against gambits?
A: In the opening players try to dominate the center so it is good to accept a center pawn rather than wing pawn. Another strategy could be to return the extra material at the right time.

4…Bc5 5.Ng5?!

A mistake, in the opening you should try to introduce a new piece into the battle with each move. By moving the same piece here white is losing control of the center too.

Q: How would you defend black’s position, with Ne5 or Nh6?
A: Nh6 is the right one as with this move you are defending with developing move whereas Ne5 is a mistake as you are moving same piece twice without any proper reason.


5…Ne5? 6.Nxf7 Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5(Position 1)

6.Nxf7? Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5 (Position 2)

Now compare position 1 with position 2.

Q: Which one is better for black?
A: Position 2. In position 1 your knight is still at g8 while in position 2 it is already been developed.


Attacking the queen and therefore getting time to develop another piece on the next move.

10.Qb5 Re8!

Pressure on the center. In general it is good to place rook on files where opponent king or queen is placed.


This move only helps Black. 0–0 was better instead.


Using the fact that e4 pawn is pinned.

12.f3 Na5

This forces White to unpin Black’s d5 pawn.

13.Qd3 dxe4 14.fxe4 Qh4+ 15.g3 Rxe4+

15…Qxe4+ is also a winning endgame but Morphy prefers Rxe4.

16.Kf2 Qe7 17.Nd2?

Q: How would you punish this mistake?
A : It is necessary to protect the e2 square in order to avoid mating net with Re2+ followed by Bh3 and so on. Here Morphy punishes his opponent with Re3.

17…Re3! 18.Qb5

18.Qxd4 Re2+ 19.Kg1 Bh3 etc.

18…c6! 19.Qf1

19.Qxa5 Re2+ is also winning after 20.Kf3 Qe3#, 20.Kg1 Qe3+ 21.Kf1 Qf2# or 20.Kf1 Re1+ 21.Kg2 Qe2#.

19…Bh3! 20.Qd1

Or 20.Qxh3 Re2+ 21.Kg1 (21.Kf3 Qe3+ 22.Kg4 h5+) 21…Qe3+.


Another piece into the battle, remember this.

21.Nf3 Ke8


Ashvin Chauhan