Category Archives: Ashvin Chauhan

Capablanca vs Shipley, 1924

This is an amazing game played by Capablanca. I have been looking at this game for the last few days and didn’t find an obvious mistake or blunder by Black until he had a lost position. This game shows that how a better pawn island and slightly better king can be a decisive advantage in the hand of Capa.

Position after 20. Rb3!

Capa just wants to double his rooks on the b file and penetrate through to the 7th rank.


The most natural move to meet the rook battery on the b file, but this allows exchanges of rooks. As an exercise it is useful to try to find some alternate ways to play Black’s position and see if White can win.

21. Rab1 Rb8 22. Rxb8 Rxb8 23. Rxb8 Kxb8

Now we have position where Capa’s king is just one rank more advanced than his counterpart.

24. Kd3 Kc7 25. Kd5 Kd6 26. g4 Ke6

26. Kf5 might be stronger but here White has clear cut winning plan. That is to exchange the f pawn against Black’s f pawn and he will soon get a kingside majority, and if Black keeps the f pawn, which is what happened in the game, then Black soon run out of good moves.

27. h4 f6

After 27…Kf6 there is 28. f4 exf4 29. Kxf4 Kg6 and now Ke5 is winning.

28. f4! exf4

After 28…c5 then 29. fxe5 fxe5 30. g5 is winning due to the outside passed pawn.

29. Kxf4 h6??

A blunder in a lost position because this creates another square (g6) for White’s king to penetrate, though no other move can save the day.

30. c3

Black resigned after few more moves.

Here is the full game in case you’re interested.

Ashvin Chauhan

Opening Up Another Front

It is always been harder to fight on two fronts than one. So when your opponent is defending one front/weakness adequately the right strategy is to open the other front. This is because it is quite hard for the defender to transfer the pieces to the other side of the board.

Here is one of my games, played against a much high rated player. I managed to launch minority attack and of course Black tried to attack the White king on the kingside. However, there came a moment when he realized it would not work and Black was forced into a passive position and defend the c6 weakness, which is quite typical of the QGD Exchange variation. I tried hard to exploit this weakness and gain some material, then finally found the right plan to open the queen side. Apart from few tactical errors this was one of my best games.

Ashvin Chauhan

The Fishing Pole Trap

Chess opening traps and tricks are very popular among beginners and there is a very large amount of material that falls into this category. That is the reason why many YouTube videos are booming around traps and tricks. Some opening traps are just not good like this one Richard talked few days back, but some of them are really good and contain generic ideas that can be applied in many different openings. For the good ones I prefer the term ‘pattern’ rather than ‘trap’, and today I am going to talk about one of them, the Fishing Pole trap. This trap is mainly associated with the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5) but it can be used against many openings when the position allows. The idea is to opening up the h file or the access to h7/h2 by the means of sacrificing the minor piece of g4/g5.

Ashvin Chauhan

Simple but Solid Strategy : Adrian Mikhalchishin vs Dusko Pavasovic

While I was going through some games, I found this one very entertaining and instructive. In this game the Ukrainian Grandmaster came up with a very simple and solid strategy. He sacrificed his queen for a rook, bishop & a passed pawn in the early middle game. Then he exchanged pieces, and with every exchange White’s position became better and better. It was also quite necessary because with some additional pieces on the board Black’s queen might generate some counter play. This is not the first time he employed the same strategy. I have 4 games (including this) in my database against quite strong players where Mikhalchishin offered this queen sacrifice. Two games ended in a draw where Black declined by playing Qe7!, in the other two Black accepted and White won quite convincingly. I have selected this game due to its simplicity and clarity:

Ashvin Chauhan

A Lesson from Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1927

A rook on the 7th rank often gives you an initiative, but two rooks there is usually decisive. Here is a game of Capablanca against Nimzowitsch which illustrate this theme. And it is also quite interesting to see how Capa managed to get his both the rooks on 7th rank with couple of interesting moves and the bit of help from Nimzowitsch.

Position after 23. Bb2 (Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca 1927)


This move is really annoying. It creates an awkward pin and attacks a3.

24. Ra1

Computers might find some other cool defences but this is a human move. White sets his bishop free and protects the a3 pawn.

24…Qb3 25. Bd4

This improves the position of the bishop and blocks the d file, but might have failed to see Capa’s idea.


First rook arrives.


Looking for counter play but missing Black’s next move. 26. Qd1 might be better but after 26…Qc4 27. Rc1 Rc8 28. Rxc2 Qxc2 29. Qxc2 Rxc2 Black’s position is preferable as he already has one rook on the 7th rank.


This brings the second rook to the 7th rank.

27. Bxe5 Rdd2 28. Qb7 Rxf2 29. g4

Now the bishop protects h2 and the queen protects g2.

29…Qe6! 30. Bg3 Rxh2! 31. Qf3

And Black won after few more moves as Rxh2 fails to Qxg4+ followed by Qh3.

Ashvin Chauhan

A Lesson from the Game Carlsen vs Naiditsch

This is really an instructive position. Play was focused on restricting the activity of one of Black’s minor pieces, a key middle game strategy that is often seen at grandmaster level. We have following position after Black’s last move 19…Rd8:

Q: How would you continue from here with white pieces?

20. b5! Ne5?!

Other options are also just good for White, for example:
a) 20…Ne7 21.c6
a1)21…Bc8 22.Bc4 Nd5 23.cxd7 23.Rxd7 24.Qa2 Rd8 25.Nd4 and white enjoys pressing position.
a2)21…Ba8 22.Bc4 Nc8 23.Qa2 Nb6 24.Rd1 with fantastic position.;

b) 20…Nb8 is just bad because of 21.Qa5 Bxf3 22.Bxf3 Qe5 23.Rc1 and Black has a very poor knight.

21.Nxe5 Qxe5 22.c6 Bc8

22…Ba8 23.Rd1 d5 24.Qd4 Qxd4 25.exd4 produces a position where Black’s bishop is even worse than on c8 which was what happened in the actual game.

23.Rd1 d5

23…d6 24.Qa5 d5 25.Qa1 Qxa1 26.Rxa1 gives White a winning position.

24.Qd4! Qxd4 25.exd4 Kf8 26.f4!

Now Black can’t achieve e5 without a significant loss of material which means his light square bishop is very bad. Carlsen went on win after few more moves.

Ashvin Chauhan

Tricky Knights

When it comes to learning the piece movements, the knight is the hardest piece to get to grips with. I personally struggled with this early on but gradually fell in love with knights. And when I visit the chess club in my area, people prefer the knight over the bishop because of its tricky move and that it can help generate some great combinations.

Here’s an example with Capablanca winning a pawn with a knight wheel.

The important part of handling knights is that a knight needs a secure outpost in the opponent’s camp. f you manage to bring a knight to the 6th rank then it can give you winning advantage. In the following game, we will see the famous German Grandmaster Wolfgang Uhlmann sacrifice the exchange to bring his knight to the 6th rank:

Wolfgang Uhlmann against Johan Teunis Barendregt 1961

1. Ng5!

Heading to e6.


1… Nxg5 was a better chance to resist though after 2.Bxg5 Qa5 3. Rc1 White’s position is better if not winning.

2. Ne6 Qf6 3. Qxb1 Bh6 4. Ne4 Qe7 5.Bg5

Aiming to bring another knight to the sixth rank.

5…Bxg5 6. hxg5 Nd8

If 6…Kd7 then 7. Nf6+ Kc8 8. Rxh7 wins.

7. Nf6+ Kf7 8. Qe4 Nc7 9. Bd3

With a decisive threat of Rxh7 followed by Qg6 so Black resigned. Sample variations include 9…Ncxe6 10. Rxh7+ Rxh7 11. Qxg6+ Kf8 12. Qg8# and 9… Qe8 10.Rxh7+ Rxh7 11. Qxg6+ Ke7 12. Qxh7+ Qf7 13. Ng7 when there is no defense to Nf5.

Ashvin Chauhan

A Lesson From Capablanca vs Tartakower, 1924

After tactical considerations piece activity plays one of the key roles in deciding upon the quality of a move, and this is especially the case in the endgame. In Capablanca – Tartakower, New York 1924 White was even ready to sacrifice material in order to have the more active pieces:

Question: What do you think about this position? Make a plan for White.


White’s rook looks really great on the 7th rank but on the other hand White can’t defend his pawns on the queenside. After Bxf5 White will get passed pawn on g file and Capablanca judged that getting his king to f6 is more important than material.




1…Rxc3+ 2. Kg4 gxf5 3. Kxf5 is winning for White.

2.Kg3! Rxc3+

In this position White can restore the material balance with Ke2 followed by Rd7, but it is far from winning. On the other hand if he can get his king into f6 he will force Black’s rook to go passive position and then White can eat Black’s pawns easily.

3.Kh4 Rf3 4.g6! Rxf4+ 5.Kg5 Re4 6.Kf6!!

The only winning move. After 6. Kxf5 game is draw because Black rook is no longer forced to occupy the passive position. For instance 6…Rxd4 7. Kf6 Rf4+ 8. Ke5 Rc4 9. Kxd5 is a draw.

6…Kg8 7.Rg7+ Kh8 8.Rxc7 Re8

It is worth comparing the two rooks.

9.Kxf5 Re4 10.Kf6 Rf4+ 11.Ke5 Rg4 12.g7+ Kg8

Black can not capture on g7 as the resulting king and pawn endgame is simple win for White.

13. Rxa7 Rg1 14. Kxd5 Rc1 15. Kd6 Rc2 16. d5 Rc1 17. Rc7 Ra1 18. Kc6 Rxa4 19. d6

Black resigned.

Ashvin Chauhan

A Lesson From Carlsen – Pelletier

Lessons from the games of Magnus Carlsen are usually related to positional chess or endgames. Here we have position after move number 46, Carlsen has an extra pawn but there are opposite colour bishops on the board:

Q: Do you see any winning chances for Carlsen?
A: Yes, the position on the board offers winning chances to White because of:
1. Black’s passive king: Black has weakness on b6 and the king can’t go and defend it due to Black’s king side pawns being placed on light square. White’s bishop could easily eat them in the absence of Black’s king.
2. Black’s passive bishop: Black’s bishop will not be able to attack White’s king side via d4 route due to tactical reasons which I will explain later on. The other routes are slow as White’s king can quickly attack b6. So Black’s dark square bishop has to occupy a passive position.

White has winning breakthrough and brilliant manoeuvre to win a second pawn, which is really hard to spot:

1. Ke2!

Heading towards b5.

1…Kf8 2. Kd3!

Stopping Bd4.

2…Bf6 3. b3 Bb2

3…Bd4 is not possible because of 4. b4 Bf2 5. a5! cxb4 6.a6!!, and Black’s bishop can’t touch White’s king side and eventually would have to sacrifice the bishop for White’s rook pawn.

4. Bd5 Ba3 5. Kc4 Bb4 6. Kb5 Ba5 7. Bc4 Ke7 8. Kc6

A very important move, not allowing Black’s king to defend b6. Had White not done this Black’s free bishop can capture pawns on the king side and the game might ended in draw.

8…Kf6 9. Bd3 Kf7 10. h5!!

Black has to take otherwise white can take on g6 followed by g4 wins a pawn and the game.

10…gxh5 11. Bxf5 Kf6 12. Be4 Kg7 13. Bf3 Kh6 14. Kb5 Kg6

Now White needs his bishop on e8 or f7 with Black to move would result into winning more material.

15. Bd1 Kh6 16. Be2 Kg6 17. Bf3 Kh6 18. Bc6

White threatens Be8, so Black resigned.

Ashvin Chauhan

The Backward Pawn

The backward pawn is a pawn whose peers on the adjacent files have moved forward. This means that the pawn can not longer be defended by pawns, so if the opponent attacks it it must be defended by pieces. One more important point about the backward pawn is that if it can be advanced safely it will no longer be a backward pawn. For example if you move a pawn to e6 & c6 & being able to move the d7 pawn to d6 or d5 means that it will no longer be a backward pawn.

The backward pawn has all the disadvantages of an isolated pawn if it is on a half open file. But the same time it can not enjoy the same advantages that an isolated pawn offers, for example two half open files. So it can be a real weakness.

The owner of the backward pawn should try to control the square in front of the pawn and perhaps eventually aim to advance it to get rid of it. Another defensive strategy is to capture the opponent’s piece that is placed in front of the backward pawn in such a way that opponent has to recapture it with a pawn. In this case the backward pawn will no longer be on a half open file and can not be attacked so easily.

There are some strategic openings that are designed to create a backward pawn in the opponent camp. For example in the Queen’s Gambit Declined Exchange Variation White launches a minority attack and the position often leads to a Black backward pawn on c6. Here is a wonderful game featuring this theme:

In the following example, we will see how Karpov creates play around the opponent’s backward pawn on d6.

Ashvin Chauhan