A Lesson from Botvinnik

This game is highly instructive & teaches a very important lesson in terms of flexible strategy. First Mikhail Botvinnik prevented Black from freeing his game by blocking the c5 lever. White’s idea relied on attacking the weak pawn on the half open file and on top up of that Black’s light squarebishop was just a big pawn. Later we see a change in strategy when Botvinnik gives his bishop by capturing the knight on d5, which allows Black to eliminate his weakness on c6. Botvinnik did this because he wanted to use the c-file for his rooks and play a position where the knight is clearly superior to his opponent’s bishop. Very soon white grabbed a pawn due to bank-rank trick and won quite convincingly.

Many people say that you can’t win without a mistake by your opponent. Here too Botvinnik didn’t win without his opponent making a mistake but he created such pressure that a mistake became more likely.

Here is the game with brief analysis.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Using the King in the Endgame


This position is taken from a game one of my students played at Mayor Cup, 2018 (C Category) after 46…Rb5. In the game my student decided to block the Black’s passed pawn with the rook (47.Rc4) and lost very quickly.

Q: What do you think? Is it possible for White to save this position?

Solution:

In this case, blocking the pawn with the rook is necessary as White’s king is too far from the Black’s b pawn. But the blockader must be changed to the king very soon because the rook can’t block two passed pawns. The correct move is 47 Kf2! which allows the rook to reach to b1 in two moves compared to three via c4. This one is not so hard to find but the issue was that he simply didn’t consider the king move. Play might continue as follows:

47.Kf2! b3 48.axb3 axb3 49. Rg1 c5

After the tricky 49…Rc5! White can generate his own counter play with pawn to f4-f5 advance as Black’s king is already cut from the g file.

50. Ke2 c4 51. Kd2 b2 52. Kc2 c3! 53. Rb1!

Otherwise Ra5 to a1 is winning for Black.

53…Rc5

Now white can start pushing his f-pawn.

54. f5 Kh7 55. f6 Kxh6 56 Rg1!

The game is now a draw, which is a good example of the value of using the king.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Recognise the Pattern # 38

Today we will see a typical theme know as fool’s mate. The idea is to use the weak (e1-h4 or h5-e8) diagonal with the queen or the bshop in order to checkmate opponent king. I believed that the chance of this happening would be very low for experienced players until I found a victim rated above 2,000. Of course he didn’t allow checkmate in 2 with 1.g4 e6 2.f3 Qh4 # but missed a pretty combination.

Albrecht (2035) vs Rene (1855), 2007
Black to Move – Position after 11. f3

Q – With his last move f3, White has weakened the e1-h4 diagonal and I guess he believed that this was OK as the bishop can come to f2 and there is no immediate way to attack the same diagonal. What did he miss?

Solution –

A Square or a piece defended once and attacked once is always vulnerable.
11…fxg4 ! 12. fxg4??

This is final mistake because the Black rook is attacking the f2. White should have tried Qb3 with the idea of castling long.

12…Nxd5!!

Now the knight can’t be taken due to checkmate in two.

13. Bf2 Ne3!!

Here White resigned as he is going to lose his right to castle and minimum another pawn.
A sample line might be 14. Qb3 Ng2+ 15. Kf1 Ne3+ followed by Nxg4.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Pattern Backfires: The Remedy

This article is aimed at beginners only. Building a pattern bank is a very important step towards your chess improvement because we play what we know. But sometimes these patterns backfire too. Here is an example:

Position is taken from a game played on chess.com

Black sees a typical opportunity to win a pawn & unpin his knight by playing 1…Bxf2+ followed by 2…Ng4+, winning back his sacrificed piece with 3…Qxg5. This pattern is very common in the opening stage but one has to be careful in the execuation. Here Bxf2 is a blunder because Black had only seen the typical tactical pattern; if he had tried to calculate or see just half move further, he would have rejected the move based on White’s Qa4+!.

1…Bxf2?
2. Kxf2 Ng4+
3. Kg3! Qxg5
4. Qa4+!

This collects the knight on g4 and Black is lost.

Here is another example:
Bjarte Leer-Salvesen vs Jimmy Mardell, Rilton Cup – 2007


White has threatened the b7 pawn, which is usually known as a poisoned pawn. You might have seen many chess traps where taking such a poisoned pawn resulted in the queen being trapped or some similar disaster, so Black played Nc6 with an idea of Rb8 to trap the queen. Unfortunately for him he has missed something, what is it that he has not seen?

1… Nc6
2. Qxb7! Rb8??

Black can still try Nd4! but I guess he did not recheck before playing Rb8. This often happens with beginners.

3. Qxc6!!

This forces resignation.

As with the previous example the solution was to look a little bit further rather than trust the pattern blindly. Chess is not just pattern recognition, it also needs accurate calculation.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Deep vs Superficial Knowledge

Storchenegger – Clemance, Auckland 1978:


Q: White’s last move was 13. Nd5. What is wrong with it?

This position is an excellent example of merely information vs. deep knowledge. We all know that centralising a piece can be a really good decision, especially when it is a knight. But here this allows Bxd5 that gives away the bishops pair but creates a symmetrical pawn structure where control over the only open file often decides the game. The New Zealand correspondence champion made no mistake and occupied the c-file by tactical means and won quite convincingly. This is also an excellent example of tactics at the service of strategy.

Here is the rest of the game.

Ashvin Chauhan

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A Lesson from Neubauer – Sargissian, 2007

Position after Black’s 35…c5

Black has occupied the h file. The first move that came to my mind was to play Rh1 and exchange the rook on h8, and this in fact what was played.

Q: Is it the right way to proceed?

A: In fact Rh1 is a blunder in the given position as White can’t prevent Black’s king from penetration on the queenside via the light squares. The game ended after 5 more moves.

36. Rh1?? Rxh1 37. Kxh1 a4 38. dxc5

This is just another mistake but the alternatives also seem to lose:
a) 38. Be3 Kc6! 39. Kg2 b4! and Black is winning.
b) 38. Kg2 cxd4! 39. cxd4 b4! has the idea of bringing the king to c4/b3 via Kc6-b5-c4-b3, which is winning for Black.
c) 38. f4 cxd4 and same plan given in option b will win.

38…Kc6!

An exercise for readers: Why should Black should not directly capture the pawn on c5 with his bishop?

39. Kg2 Kxc5 40. Kf2 Kc4 41. Ke2 Kb3

White resigned.

Lesson: Do not exchange the last major piece from the board until and unless it is must because it can prevent the opponent’s piece from getting in to your position. It is also very useful for attacking the opponent’s weaknesses.

The correct way to defend the position was to play 36.dxc5 followed by pawn to f4 and it is very difficult for Black’s rook to find any good square on h file. After exchanging the rook the position was lost as White can’t prevent Black king from penetrating on the queenside via the light squares.

Ashvin Chauhan

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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.

20…Kc7

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

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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

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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

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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

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