13 June 2018

Try not to Lose

What must White do?

White to move

07 June 2018

Avoid the Torturous Draw

White to move
Analysis Position

This position could have occurred had White played 37.Be6 and Black replied fxg5+ hoping for a rook versus a rook and bishop, which should be a draw. The difference between the analysis diagram and the game is the presence of Black pawn that White's king can use as a shield to set up a mating net.

Black's difficulties become apparent after 38.Kxg5 Rb8 39.Ra7 Kf8 40.Rh7

Black to move
Analysis Position

White threatens 41.Kf6. If not for the Black pawn, 40...Rb2, 41...Rf2+ would save the game.

Instead, White played 37.Kxf5, and after 37...fxg5+ 38.Kxg5, Black was able to hold on fifty moves and claim a draw.

Black to move

Black suffered during these fifty moves, but with both players having twenty minutes left on the clock in a game 30, Black was able to spend the time needed to avoid obvious pitfalls.


01 June 2018

Alekhine-Chatard Attack

In the past, I have struggled against the Alekhine-Chatard Attack, which only seems to get deployed against me in blitz. I have neither faced it over the board, nor in correspondence play. Nor have I spent as much time studying the books than on other variations for White against the French Defense. Consequently, I rely on my instincts and often falter.

Last night, I faced it in a blitz game against a National Master. I won!

Anonymous NM (2075) -- Stripes,J (1922) [C14]
Live Chess Chess.com, 31.05.2018

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4

Black to move

Black has many choices here.

Accepting the gambit has been my usual response, but I have tried all or most of the main options. I have lost more than I have won. A year or so ago, while discussing this opening with a friend who has played the French longer than I have and is higher rated, he mentioned that Black can simply castle.

Viktor Moskalenko recommends castling in The Even More Flexible French (2015).

6...0–0 7.Bd3

According to Moskalenko, 7.Qg4 is the "most aggressive option" (339). According to PowerBook 2016, however, 7.Bd3 has a better scoring percentage for White.

7...f5?!

7...c5 is the recommended move.

8.exf6

8.Nh3!

8...Nxf6 9.Nf3

Black to move

9...Nc6!?

I have two prior games from this position. Both are losses.

9...c5 is the only move in PowerBook 2016.

10.0–0

10.Qe2 was played in those two prior games. One ended quickly: 10...Ng4 11.O-O-O Nb4 12.Bxh7+ Kxh7 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.Ng5+ Kg8 15.Qh5 and missing 16...Bf5, I was mated two moves later.

10...Bd7 11.Qe2 Nb4

White to move

Perhaps Black has equalized. Both players have several options for the struggle. Having castled kingside, White's thematic pawn storm is less of a threat. My opponent quickly lost his way.

12.Bxf6?! Bxf6 13.Ne5? Nxd3 14.Qxd3 Bxe5 15.dxe5 Qxh4

White to move

With a one pawn advantage and no problems, I went on to win.

12 April 2018

Quest for Advantage

This morning's blitz session ended after two games, a win and a loss. In the second game, the win, I found the only move that maintains a slight edge from this position. My opponent then failed to find a move that kept it close and his position deteriorated rapidly. He resigned three moves later.

Black to move

24...e5

What should White do?

11 April 2018

Winning Advantage?

Stockfish and other engines give White an advantage of 1.7 to 2.3 pawns, but cannot suggest an approach superior to that played in the game.

White to move

52.Rh7 Kb6 53.Kb3 Ka6 54.Rc7 Rg8 55.Ka4 Kb6 56.Rg7 Rf8 57.Rg6+

Black to move

57...Kxa7 58.Ka5 Kb7 59.Rg7+ Kb8 60.Kb6

Black to move

Black saw that he had reached a Philidor Position and easily held the draw with mere seconds remaining on the clock.

Did White have another means for securing a win that the engines might suggest if allowed to "think" longer?

09 April 2018

Finishing

During Inland Chess Academy's Spring Break Chess Camp last week, I presented four sessions. My topics were weakness, patterns, coordination, and finishing. The following is an outline of the fourth, finishing. Click on the links for some of my previous posts that expound upon some of these techniques.

Finishing


To score well consistently in chess competition, you need to have the skill to convert an advantage into a win. Often, also, you need to hold a draw when you have a slight disadvantage.

To develop this skill, learn (in approximately this sequence):

Checkmate with heavy pieces—two rooks or rook and queen
Checkmate with one heavy piece
Winning and drawing positions and techniques when one side has a single pawn (opposition and outflanking)

Black to move
Black draws with best play
Winning techniques when one player has a pawn majority on one flank and an equal number of pawns on the other flank
Use of opposition and outflanking to secure the win or hold the draw when both sides have the same number of pawns
Some stalemate ideas when kings and pawns are all that remain
Checkmate with two bishops
Holding the draw with Philidor’s idea in rook and pawn against rook
Winning from the so-called Lucena position (building a bridge)
Queen versus advanced pawn—winning techniques and positions, drawn positions and techniques
Tactical tricks in rook endings (and the corresponding drawing ideas)
Checkmate with knight and bishop*
Queen versus rook—elementary winning positions and ideas

Of course, these skills are only a beginning, but they are a very important beginning. These skills are called fundamental because they are the foundation upon which you can build lasting skill. Without this foundation, your success in the opening and middle game will often crumble in disappointment.




*Jeremy Silman does not agree that this skill is necessary

08 April 2018

Winning?

Does Black have a winning advantage?

Black to move

This position is from an online blitz game where White made an obvious blunder in time pressure. I am not certain that Black could have broken down White's effort to construct a fortress without the error.