Saturday, May 10, 2014

King Hunts! - Part II

Last week's post was about White chasing the Black King, this week the White King is the runner!
Take the time to solve those puzzles and especially work out the side lines, it is easy to miss Black's unexpected defence or miss a King's narrow escape.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

King Hunts! - Part I

Alexander Kotov lists, in his highly recommended book "How to play like a Grandmaster", 3 different kinds of calculation trees depending on the complexity of the variations:

King Hunts often belongs to the "Bare Trunk" family: this is especially useful to be able to calculate those straightforward lines accurately.

Below are 11 positions for you to practice your calculation skills on exciting King hunts where White wins!
Keep ready, Steady...Go!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Tactical Endgame series: The 2 Jans against 2 Knights

Another episode of the on-going serie about interesting Endgame studies aimed at improving your tactical imagination and calculation skills (if you need to be convinced, just read here!).

No need to present the famous bishop pair which is extremely powerful is open positions. It is even more true when the position is open AND they are facing 2 knights. The 2 knights have usually a hard time to cope with the bishops' long range firepower.
One world championship game illustrates that very well:  the well-known 22nd Botvinnik vs Bronstein World Championship game.

Below is a list of studies that will hone your skills and will demonstrate how nasty the bishop pair can be!

In case you are wondering, why the "2 Jans"? It's the bishop pair's nickname! It comes from David Janowski who "was known as a sharp tactician who was devastating with the bishop pair."

Enjoy below a neat piece of his handy work!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Keep Calm and Carry On!

The incredibly strong Gashimov Memorial Tournament just started a few days ago and already we have seen some of Carlsen's "usual" masterpieces.

Today's post is about Carlsen's beautiful Round 2 win against Nakamura: Carlsen demonstrated, once again, his incredible ability to exploit small advantages and gradually, almost gently, convert them into a winning and eventually won position. The comparaison with the Karpov of the 80s is definitively not far-fetched.

I encourage you to watch Daniel King's report below: once again, he does a beautiful job explaining complex stuff in his usual clear and concise style:

For me, the big takeaway is this: in a superior endgame position,
  • Think Prophylaxis
  • Take your time (i.e do not rush the pawns until the time has come)
  • and then press forward!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 Update!

Carlsen got a taste of his own medicine today where Caruana played a very smooth, very "Carlsen-like" game. Kudos to Caruana for not buckling up under Carlsen's final attempt to escape!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A remarkable position {2}: Kavalek - Huebner (1979)

While reading an old tournament book about the prestigious Montreal 1979 tournament, I came across an incredible sacrifice by L. Kavalek against R. Hubner: Kavalek sacrifies a whole rook on move 15 for some initiative...This sacrifice just looks crazy, a cheap blitz swindle and yet, as we will see below, this is far from clear (courtesy of our silicon friend Stockfish)

A few takeaways:

  • When attacking, 
    • Always try to involve all your pieces (cf. 21.Re1!!)
    • Try not to exchange your attacking pieces unless there is a clear gain in sight (True that 21.Nxh8+ grabs the exchange but White still remains a piece down with a dying initiative)
    • Even if the attack is not going your way, keep trying to find resources and counter chances; even after Nxh8+, Kavalek probably misses a draw at some point in the game (28. Ba5!? instead of 28.Qf3)  
  • When defending,
    • Sit tight and calculate variations!
    • Don't be afraid to make "ugly" moves (24...Qh7; 28...Qh8) as long as they are backed up by your calculations
    • Be patient and your time will come! (30...Qxc4+)

We have to credit L. Kavalek for his inventiveness and courage to play such a bold move, what a pity that he was not able to follow up with the right idea!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Afraid to lose, afraid to win, afraid to play!

In the latest edition (2014-2) of New In Chess, Levon Aronian gave a very interesting interview and said something that struck me as fairly obvious and yet it took me a while, in my early Chess days, to realize how powerful this is:
We are living in a society that is fixated on numbers, rankings, things like this. It's difficult to forget this, even though that's what we should be trying to do. Sometimes you think, "oh, I don't want to lose this rating, I want to gain more". As soon as you allow yourself to forget it, that's when you start playing well.
Being not too focused on your Elo rating will definitively, in the medium-long run, help you improving your overall play!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Tactical Endgame series: The crazy rodeo: 2 Knights against a Rook!

Another episode of the on-going serie about interesting Endgame studies aimed at improving your tactical imagination (if you need to be convinced, just read here).

This 2 Knights against a Rook is an interesting fight...and quite painful for the weaker side!

Even though the bishop pair can be extremely powerful in open positions, the 2 knights duo are monsters in blocked or "messy" situations!

Also you certainly don't want to face them at the end of a Blitz game or in Zeitnot!

Below is a list of studies that will hone your skills and should demonstrate how powerful and difficult to face this duo can be.

A special mention of Alexey Troitsky (composer of two studies below) who is considered the father of the modern endgame study. If you are interested to know more about him, here is an interesting article about his work and legacy.