Posts Tagged ‘Chess.FM’

The Fabulous 00s: Lars Bo Hansen appears on Chess.FM

November 4, 2008

A Danish Appearance

I just got a broadcast e-mail from John Henderson.  Danish Grandmaster Lars Bo Hansen is going to appear on John Watson’s Chess.FM Show.   A propos of Denmark, that’s where Shakespeare’s play Hamlet took place.  A quick refresher:

The protagonist of Hamlet is Prince Hamlet of Denmark, son of the recently deceased King Hamlet. After the death of King Hamlet, his brother, Claudius hastily marries King Hamlet’s widow, Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother. In the background is Denmark’s long-standing feud with neighbouring Norway, and an invasion led by the Norwegian prince, Fortinbras, is expected.

The play opens on a cold night at Elsinore, the Danish royal castle. The sentinels try to persuade Hamlet’s friend Horatio that they have seen King Hamlet’s ghost, when it appears again. After hearing from Horatio of the Ghost’s appearance, Hamlet resolves to see the Ghost himself. That night, the Ghost appears to Hamlet. He tells Hamlet that he is the spirit of his father, and discloses that Claudius murdered King Hamlet by pouring poison in his ears. The Ghost demands that Hamlet avenge him; Hamlet agrees and decides to fake madness to avert suspicion. He is, however, uncertain of the Ghost’s reliability.

Busy with affairs of state, Claudius and Gertrude try to avert an invasion by Prince Fortinbras of Norway. Perturbed by Hamlet’s continuing deep mourning for his father and his increasingly erratic behaviour, they send two student friends of his—Rosencrantz and Guildenstern—to discover the cause of Hamlet’s changed behaviour. Hamlet greets his friends warmly, but quickly discerns that they have turned against him.

Polonius is Claudius’ trusted chief counsellor; his son, Laertes, is returning to France, and his daughter, Ophelia, is courted by Hamlet. Neither Polonius nor Laertes thinks Hamlet is serious about Ophelia, and they both warn her off. Shortly afterwards, Ophelia is alarmed by Hamlet’s strange behaviour and reports to her father that Hamlet rushed into her room but stared at her and said nothing. Polonius assumes that the “ecstasy of love”[7] is responsible for Hamlet’s madness, and he informs Claudius and Gertrude. Later, in the so-called Nunnery Scene, Hamlet rants at Ophelia, and insists she go “to a nunnery“.

watson_hansen

A Dane Appears circa 2008

Going back to 1989, here is Lars Bo competing in the 1989 Berlin Summer Open (Joel Benjamin and I also made the foray to Berlin; this was just before the Berlin Wall came down!).

hansen89

Lars Bo Hansen, Berlin, West Germany (American Sektor), 1989

What else is notable about this Chess.FM event?  Well, first of all, (and this is not widely known), John Watson was once a partyer.  What else is notable?  Lars Bo Hansen had a life as an IM before he was a GM!  Here he is as an IM battling yours truly in a provincial Danish town back in the day.

Mark Ginsburg vs Lars Bo Hansen (DEN)
Naestved Open, 1988

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 e6 4. e3 Be7 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bd3 Nc6 9. O-O O-O 10. Re1 Bf6?! I don’t trust this variation for black; it looks too passive.

11. Be4 Nce7 12. Ne5 12. Qd3 is very popular in the database as well.

12…g6 Now if 12…Nc6?! 13. Qd3 and white has scored well.  White has to play very concretely now to compensate for his isolated queen pawn.


HansenLB1

Position after 12…g6

13. Bh6 Bg7 14. Qd2 The main line in the databases is 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 15. Qf3. However, 15. Qd2! is dangerous for black (planning Rac1 and also sometimes h2-h4).   For example, 15. Qd2 b6 16. Rac1 Bb7 17. f3!? and white retains some pressure. The move in the game also has these dark square ideas.

14…Nf6 15. Bc2 It’s not clear how much of an edge 15. Bxg7 Nxe4!? 16. Nxe4 Kxg7 17. Rac1 Nd5 will be.  In addition, black can try 17…b6 18. Rc3!? Bb7! 19. Rh3 h5! (and not 18…Nf5? 19. g4!).  The kind of thing black does not want is instructive: 15. Bxg7 Kxg7? 16. Bf3! Ned5 17. Rac1 b6 18. Nxd5 Nxd5 19. Bxd5! (19. Ng4? occurred in a minor-league game) 19…Qxd5? 20. Rc7! Qxa2 21. Ng4! and wins.  Or, 19…exd5 and white is comfortably better with the superior minor piece.  Nigel Short won a game recently with this kind of advantageous structural transformation.

15…b6 16. Rad1 16. Bxg7 looks more to the point.

16…Bb7 17. Bb3 Ned5 18. Bg5 A small change of mind but white retains some initiative.

18…Nxc3 18…Rc8 is more careful.

19. bxc3


HansenLB2

Position after 19. bxc3

19… Qc8 20. Qd3 Qc7 An interesting moment.  If 20…Nd7 21. Nxf7!? is possible. 21…Rxf7 22. Bxe6 Qf8 23. Re3 Kh8 24. Bxf7 Qxf7 25. Re7 Qd5 26. Qh3 and in this scary situation, 26…Bc6! defends (but not 26…Qxg5?? 27. Rxg7! and wins).  25. c4!? is also possible in this line.  Black’s careful move avoids this possibility.

21. c4?! Correct is 21. f3 first.  21. f3 Rac8 22. c4 Ba6 23. Rc1 with a small edge.

21…Nd7! Now the b3-f7 diagonal is blocked off and black doesn’t have to worry.

22. Nxd7 22. Ng4 is met by the simple 22..h5! 23. Ne3 Rfe8! with excellent play.  Black is fine.

22…Qxd7 23. Qh3 23. d5 e5 is about equal.

23…b5! A well-timed bid for counterplay.

24. d5! This aggressive counter looks very good at first sight, but black can defend adequately.

24…bxc4 25. dxe6


HansenLB3

Position after 25. dxe6.  Black to play and draw.

25… Qb5! 26. Be7 cxb3 27. Bxf8 Rxf8 28. e7 Re8 29. Rd8! Brief fireworks have broken out, but equilibrium is quickly reached.

HansenLB4

Position after 29. Rd8

29… bxa2 30. Qb3! It is kind of cool to be able to hang one’s queen on purpose, but after black’s next white has nothing better than to steer for the draw.

30…Bc6! It was too much to hope for black to fall into the elementary tactical trap 30…Qc6?? 31. Qxb7 winning.

31. Rxe8+ Bxe8 32. Qxb5 Bxb5 33. e8=Q+ Bxe8 34. Rxe8+ Bf8 35. Re1 Bg7 And it’s a draw by repetition. A very interesting game! I had the distinct sense I was playing a Danish version of solid American GM Yasser Seirawan.

1/2-1/2

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The Fabulous 00s: Chess.FM and Handling the Smith-Morra

October 18, 2008

Defending the Smith-Morra – Updated with PDF ‘treatise’

I recently made some videos for Chess.FM and they will be released in November 08.  The theme is playing black in the Sicilian when white diverges from the main lines.  One of the segments is on the Smith-Morra gambit.   I was happy to see Alex Lenderman present ideas for the white side so I could advance those and further his analysis from the black perspective.   That’s what chess theory is, the give and take of various opinions coupled with practical examples and reader independent analysis and Q&A.

This web entry will serve as a placeholder so readers can comment on the variations I presented.  If you don’t want to wait for the video release, I will post the key lines here.  I will also create a single PDF document covering all the lines that readers can download for a nominal fee.

It’s nice to see controversy swirling around an opening (see comment section of this web entry) and it is a nice impetus to motivate the web effort to get at the truth.  Much like the Internet Engineering Task Force “does not worship Kings of Presidents, only running code” so should we only really pay attention to chess positions and their evaluations, not chess personalities attacking one another.

Installment 1. Smith-Morra background and Historically Important Games

Installment 2 (PDF Format): Smith-Morra Introduction and Lenderman’s try 6…a6 7. e5!?

Update Oct 22, 2008:  Font problems fixed!  I saved the RTF as PDF on my end to capture the Diagram fonts.

Kramnik WC Problems and Mid-course Repetoire Change

Kramnik should switch to 1. e4! Critics said “he has nothing against Anand’s Petroff.”  Well he can try this. Other critics said “he has nothing against Anand’s Marshall.”  But there are a lot of scary Anti-Marshall treatments, aren’t there?  :O

ICC Best in the 5 minute pool

Thanks to exciting wins, losses, and draws mostly versus the same guy (GM Atomrod), I have made the big-time.

best 5
(Human only)
5-minute
2705 Dako(GM)             GM Dmitry Kononenko
2700 BOOO
2624 quangliem(GM)     GM Le Quang Liem (Vietnam, FIDE 2583, 17 years old)
2613 Shadeath(GM)        GM Andrey Deviatkin, 2563
2593 Olegas(IM)             Oleg Krivonosov (this guy flags K R v K R)
2561 MegaZZ(GM)         Now a GM,  Zong Yuan Zhao (Australia)
2541 DrainYou(GM)        GM Sune Berg Hansen (DEN) I beat Soren Bech Hansen. 🙂
2533 taktikus(GM)          GM Zoltan Medvegy (HUN, FIDE 2556) I recently drew him.
2531 Saint89(IM)           IM Sergei Yudin, FIDE 2556, RUS
2528 atalik(GM)             GM Suat Atalik, TUR
2521 Gor(IM)                 IM Igor Yanvarjov I have beaten him oodles of times, usually by swindle.
2519 UzbekDragon(GM)      GM Timur Gareev (UZB) FIDE 2580
2504 wasteoftime(IM)
2494 Dlugy(GM)             GM Maxim Dlugy
2493 aries2(IM)             me!
2493 Sauerkraut(GM)      GM Slavko Cicak  He has some pet Reti lines!
2478 Zirafa(IM)                IM Jure Skoberne
2470 Dinamit(IM)              Arthur Gabrielyan  I’m always playing him in Dos Hermanas.
2470 Me-better(IM)     IM Thomas Rendle  UK
2468 Snooker(GM)            GM Giannis Nikolaidis
2456 Josanz(IM)
2449 alexser(IM)

Probable Support from St. Petersburg

If Sports Illustrated model Anne V from St. Petersburg, Russia, played chess, she would probably agree with my Smith-Morra opinions.

Anne V:  Probably Excellent Support

The Fabulous 00s: Chess.FM Sicilian Theory

August 10, 2008

First of All

First of all, can you guess where I was on August 14th, 2008?  No Googling, Froogling, or any other freakin’ cheating.  Just take your best shot and let fly with a guess.  Hint:  it’s a major city and it’s not in Europe.

  

To Our Glorious Dead:  My Mystery Location

Chess.FM Goodies

I am producing a series on ICC Chess.FM on Sicilian Theory from black’s perspective when white avoids the main lines with 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 (d6, e6, Nc6) 3. d4.  The series is being sound edited and should be released soon.  So far, I’ve covered the always entertaining Smith-Morra Gambit, the quiet Alapin (2. c3) and also….

The Moscow Variation

One of the segments is on the Moscow Variation, 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+.

Position after 3. Bb5+: The Moscow Variation

I will devote some entries on the website to discussing the segments and presenting example games so that readers can contribute their own ideas and sample blitz and OTB Games for review.

In the broadcast, I went over the possible interpositions 3…Nc6, 3…Nd7, and the most popular 3…Bd7.  I stated that if black wants to try to win, 3…Bd7 isn’t such a good choice because white can easily achieve safe Marcozy-bind formations.   This implies that the first two tries merit closer study because they are rarer and lead to unusual positions.

Here’s an example game featuring 3..Nd7 and indeed it gives us a sharp battle.

Mark Ginsburg – Mark Paragua  San Francisco Dake Int’l 1999

Historically amusing:  when this game was played Paragua was a little kid rated 2300 something.  But so often little kids are “danger kids.”

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7!? 4. d4 Ngf6 5. Nc3 a6 As mentioned in the broadcast, black goes for the bishop pair at the cost of losing some time.

6. Bxd7+ Nxd7

Position after 6…Nxd7

7. Bg5 Playable here and perhaps more logical is 7. O-O!? cxd4 8. Qxd4 and white has hopes of a small edge.

7… h6 8. Bh4 Entirely different is 8 . Be3 cxd4 9. Qxd4.  Maybe white is a little better after 9…e5 10. Qa4!?

8… g5 9. Bg3 Bg7 10. dxc5 Nxc5 11. Nd4?! Very sharp but dubious.   White could have tried 11. e5 g4 12. Nh4!? with compensation.

11… Qb6! Very strong! 12. Nd5 Qxb2 13. e5!? Maximum confusion but objectively this is just not working.

13…O-O White simply doesn’t have enough after the cold-blooded 13…Bxe5! 14. Bxe5 dxe5 15. Nc7+ Kf8 16. O-O Rb8.

14. Nxe7+ Kh7 15. O-O Bxe5?! The simple 15… dxe5 16. Ndf5 Bxf5! 17. Nxf5 Rad8 is somewhat better for black.

16. Bxe5 dxe5 17. Ndf5? The inaccuracies continue. 17. Nf3! is stronger.

17…Bxf5 18. Nxf5 Qb6 19. Qf3 Qf6 20. Rab1 Rac8 20…Rad8 is strong.

21. Rfd1 Rcd8 22. c4 e4 23. Qg4 Rd3! Black is still in command.

24. Ne3 Qf4 24…Rfd8! leaves white with very little chance of survival.

25. Qh5

Position after 25. Qh5.

25…Rxe3? Black had 25…Qd6! with a big edge or 25… Rxd1+ 26. Rxd1 Nd3 27. Qe2 f5 also with a strong initiative.  The text gives white a way out.

26. Rb6! 26. fxe3? Qxe3+ 27. Kh1?? Nd3 wins; but 27. Kf1 Nd3 28. Qe2 fights on (but black is still better).  The text is much better.  Black must have overlooked this zwischenzug.

26…Nd3? The final miscue.  26…Ne6! 27. Rxe6 Re1+ 28. Rxe1 fxe6 leaves black a small bit better.

27. Qxh6+ Kg8 28. Rg6+ And it ends in a perpetual.

1/2-1/2

Here’s a funny game in the more common 3…Bd7 line. I had to look on chessgames.com for this one, because http://www.chesslive.de didn’t have it.

Drake Wang – Mark Ginsburg US Open 2005, Phoenix AZ

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bxd7+ Qxd7 5. c3 Nf6 6. Qe2? A well-known opening inaccuracy.  Black is not slow with his reply.

6…Qg4! Hitting g2 and e4.  White has no good answer.  Curiously, this has been seen a few times previously OTB such as Letelier-Spassky, Buenos Aires 1960 and Emma-Reshevsky, 1966.  Naturally, the strong players playing black won those games having received such an opening ‘handicap’.

7. e5 dxe5 8. Qb5+ Nbd7 9. O-O e4 10. Ne5 Qe6 11. Nxd7 Relatively speaking, 11. d4 is best. The text awards black a huge bind.

11…Qxd7 12. Qxc5 e6 13. Qe3 Qd5 Of course.  White’s pieces are paralyzed. His next is already desperation.

14. d4 exd3 15. Rd1 Rd8 16. Qxa7 Bc5 All of black’s pieces work very well.

17. Qa4+ Rd7 17…Ke7 was also very good.

18. Qa8+ Naturally white hopes for a repetition, but by sacrificing his h8-rook black develops a winning attack.

Position after 18. Qa8+.  Black to play and win.

18…Ke7! 19. Qxh8 Bxf2+! The black queen and knight duo are too strong.  There is no defense.

20. Kh1 The problem is that 20. Kxf2 is annihilated by 20…Qc5+ 21. Kg3 Ne4+ or 21. Be3 Ng4+.

20…Qh5 21. Rf1 Ne4 22. Bf4 Bg3! A very pleasing geometrical motif. It is this move that had to be seen on move 19, otherwise white might get a chance to develop the queenside.

23. h3 Nf2+ 24. Kg1 Bxf4 And it’s all over. 25. Rxf2 Qd1+ 26. Rf1 Be3+ wins.

25. Qxg7 Rd5! White’s slumbering pieces cannot match up to black’s active ones.

26. g4 Nxh3+ 27. Kg2 Rg5 28. Qxg5+ Qxg5 29. Kxh3 Qh6+ 0-1

I will say something in favor of 3…Bd7.  It’s easier to play when one is seeking clarity and simplicity of plans for black.  Here’s an ICC blitz game in which I, somewhat inebriated, came close to beating an IM without doing anything special.

ICC Blitz Test of 3…Bd7

RolMar(IM) – Aries2(IM)  5/0   8/11/08   3…Bd7 Line

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bxd7+ Qxd7 5. c4 Nc6 6. O-O g6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bg7 9. Be3 Ah-ha!  Remember white needs f2-f3 to support Be3 because the queen on d7 guards g4!  This I mentioned in the chess.fm broadcast and even a little tipsy could recall it during the blitz.

9…Nf6 10. Nc3 Ng4! See prior comment.  White has gone off the rails already.

11. Nc2 Nxe3 12. Nxe3 O-O 13. Rc1 Rac8 14. b3 Rfd8 In most OTB games, black’s rooks are shown to be most effective here (in conjunction with e7-e6).  It’s a mistake in these formations to aim for a quick b7-b5.  Correct is to be patient and try to enact pawn breaks (d5, b5, or some combination) later when they are justified by circumstances.

15. Ncd5? Black always needs e7-e6 to guard against knight hops to d5, so this premature move hands black several tempi.

15…e6 16. Nf4 Qe7 17. Qf3 a6 18. Rfd1 b5 Black gets a pawn break under favorable conditions!

19. Rd2 Qf6 20. Ng4 White flails around with the knights aimlessly. The “dragon” bishop on g7 is controlling events!

20…Qg5 21. Rcd1 bxc4 22. bxc4 Ne5 23. Nxe5 Bxe5 24. Nd3 Rxc4 25. Nxe5 Qxe5 26. Qe2 Qxe4 27. Qxe4 Rxe4 28. f3 Ra4 and in this winning ending… black only drew.  🙂    1/2,  103 moves!

Serious students will examine some of Kasparov’s efforts battling against the Maroczy in OTB play.  It’s about equal if black is attentive.

The Fabulous 00s: Getting Here from There

July 10, 2008

 

Getting Here

There are many chess information sites in the Blogoverse.  How do mortals traverse from one to another?  Some clues are offered in web referral (referral = the site you were on just before you visited my site) logs and search engine terms logs.

 Here are today’s Referrers:

Today

Referrer Views
chessmind.powerblogs.com 7
lizzyknowsall.blogspot.com 2
wordpress.com/tag/elizabeth-vicary 2
amchesscoaching.com 1
chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=1… 1
chess.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.ht… 1
chessmind.powerblogs.com/tactics 1
wordpress.com/tag/duncan-thompson 1
boylston-chess-club.blogspot.com 1
209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:ZngYMWP… 1
wordpress.com/tag/michael-rohde 1

All-Time Search Term Leaderboard

The top three searches to get to my site from its inception until now are:

  1. Kramnik
  2. Elizabeth Vicary
  3. Mark Ginsburg

 

And here’s today’s search terms:

Today

Search Views
kramnik 3
1970s pictures 2
chess blockader widipedia 2
elizabeth vicary 2
“1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. c4” 2
sicilian basman-sale variation 2
photo elizabeth vicary 2
ginsburg chess 1
paul keres 1
aries backgammon 1
novality chess set 1
famous 1970’s historical photos 1
mark ginsburg 1
tal the chess player 1
“rook ending” “4 vs 3” 1
gorlin the pawn 1
chess life, the jacklyn brothers 1
mark ginsburg md 1
jeremy chess ny 1
john fedorowicz 1
import database in chessbase database 1
70s clothing pictures 1
washington heights in the 80’s 1
diana lanni 1
gggg 1
classical king’s indian na6 “10 c5” 1
chess life , the jacklyn brothers 1
playboy maroc 1
lego patterns 1
undesirable guy bum 1
smith-morra computer 1
famous photo + ’70s 1
andrew lawrence drexel burnham 1
george monokroussos 1

 

Unrelated News Item:  The Evolution of This Site and My Chess.FM Sicilian Defense Opening Segments

 

As part of this chess history site’s exploding fame, I am being interviewed by prolific and controversy-ridden IM John Watson Friday July 11th for his Chess.FM show.  This coincides with the release of some of my Sicilian Opening segment Chess.FM lecture shows.  So far, with the help of  production engineer Andy McFarland (“Zek”) I’ve covered Smith-Morra from the black side (taking into account IM Alex Lenderman’s previous Chess.FM shows) and also the 2. c3 Alapin Sicilian, also from the black side.  The theme of the shows is demonstrating treatments for black that are sound and positionally well motivated.

In addition, if you visit my home page, you will see on the upper right a link to “Chess.FM Training Tips”.  This link gives you some of my computer-aided analysis suggestions you can use to refine my Chess.FM suggestions, and you can use the relevant subsections on my site (for Smith-Morra, for 2. c3 Alapin, and so on) to communicate feedback and interesting games you may have played in these systems.

The Fabulous 00s: The Chess.FM Juggernaut and… how to Improve your Openings!

July 3, 2008

Chess on the Radio?!

A couple of years ago, “Tony Rook” (you might guess this fellow was using a moniker) introduced a webcast which included various chess programming, naming it Chess.FM.  His enterprise was acquired and made part of ICC, the Internet Chess Club.

These days, there are many Chess.FM shows including live coverage of top events such as MTel, Dortmund, and so on.  There are also entertaining opening shows such luminaries as GM Har-Zvi, GM Alterman, and IM Lenderman.  In particular, Alex Lenderman devoted some time to resuscitating the Smith-Morra Gambit, 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3.
I felt it was time to speak for the other side because I’m allergic to pitching a center pawn so early.  So I am bringing some new Chess.FM shows to the table, showing the black side versus various Sicilian deviations from standard Open Sicilians – the Smith-Morra, 2. c3 Alapin, and so on.

Most of the games I present are in the library ‘aries’ on ICC so readers can play them over later.
I mention some training techniques to learn openings better in the show but it’s best to repeat them here.

Improving Your Chess!

Did I get your attention? Good. Now, pay attention!

Opening Training Techniques: How to use the Computer Effectively for Thrills and Rating Points

Computer Basics

  • Get a decent laptop or desktop PC with at least 1 GM RAM
  • It’s best if you can manage dual monitors; the extra space will come in handy.  This is not essential but very helpful.
  • Get ChessBase or Chess Assistant (recent version). There is also the open source SCID database engine.
  • Get a strong UCI engine such as Fritz 10 or Rybka. This will help analyze the games in your database so you can supply proper comments.

Starting Up

Now we’re ready to go.  Start a new database with the name of the opening you want to learn, for example 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 — “SmithMorra”.   Start the UCI analysis engine within the database program.

In parallel, do several things.

First of all, open up an ICC session.  Start a match with yourself and play over the defining moves.  Type “ECO” to learn its ECO Code.  For example, Smith-Morra is “B21”. In the main console, armed with the eco code, type “search eco=XXX” where XXX is the code of the opening.   “search ECO=B21” would give you hundreds of Smith-Morra games contested among titled players; do “more” to scroll through them.

So you have lots of games to scroll through and assimilate.  Your job is to cherry-pick your favorites after you play them over and also notice who is playing:  if both players are very strong, the game has additional automatic credibility.  You can view the PGN of your favorites and save to disk and import into your database.  For example, in ChessBase, CTRL-O opens a PGN that you saved and then you can “Save As” into the database you created previously.

Use Your Web Browser As Well!

The web is an invaluable source of chess information.  Use it copiously!

Along with your database and ICC activities, also open your web browser (a modern browser that supports tabs, such as the newest IE, or Firefox, or Opera, or Safari; any one that supports tabs).   Open the following tabs:

  • www.chesslive.de (ChessBases’s online repository of games).  Again, you can save PGN of your favorites and import into your new database.
  • TWIC — This Week in Chess.  Same story.  TWIC publishes PGN updates week by week and you can cherry-pick the ECO code you are studying.
  • www.chessgames.com (if you have a premium membership) and go right to the Opening Explorer.  Play over the defining moves and look at the statistics.  This will show you the best moves for both sides.  You can prepare both black- and white- openings with this tool.  I highly recommend Premium membership due to the fact that Opening Explorer is a fantastic learning experience that you will use again and again.

Once you have gathered some PGN material from the web sites, cross-check it against the games database in your database program.  You can play over some opening moves in the database, then (in ChessBase) right-click and do “Find in MegaBase”.  It will show all matches.  Save struggles between high rated players, as a starter, into your database.

What to do with your new-found Material

OK, now you have a bunch of interesting PGN games in your new database.  Use your engine, such as Fritz10 or Rybka, to identify turning points in these games and add annotations to the games.  In ChessBase, CTRL-A adds text to selected spots.  Award ? and ! notations to moves that change computer evaluations significantly.  These exercises are not idle – by identifying key and popular lines, then running the engine and finding tipping points, you are (by osmosis) seeing key plans and counter-plans for both sides.

MG Note 7/5/08:  A comment from a reader below suggests to run engine vs engine from a key position – a good idea.

An excellent approach to developing a 360 degree view of the variation.  You will definitely improve using this approach.  And once you have a decent amount of time invested, try it out in ICC blitz or longer time controls or even OTB tournaments.  Naturally, record your better endeavors in the database and use the engine on them; annotate liberally.  This is the path to improvement!

Of course, periodically review TWIC and WWW.chesslive.de to see if new material has popped up on your chosen systems.

Give Me Feedback!

A useful byproduct of this training regimen is an army of informed readers to help me advance theory using the Roman phalanx approach.

If you are interested in any of the Sicilian segments I presented on Chess.FM, follow these technical steps and communicate to me (via my blog entries that accompany the segments) with your findings and own games!

Postscript:  Chess Art

Feast on this portrait of Danish GM PH Nielsen, by Danish artist Carina Jorgensen.  Click several times to enlarge fully. I was the one who suggested the mythical opponent be Norwegian GM Simen Agdestein.  Some other collaborators helped suggest demo board positions.  Note the bishops in the demo boards have Greek comedy/tragedy theater style smiling and crying faces.  Note also the macabre exsanguinating captured black pawn next to the Nielsen board.

Post-Postscript:  Bizarre PhD Graduation Garb

Go Violets!  This bizarre swearing-in ceremony looks fake, i.e. a staged photo.  This was taken in a hoity toity loft on Wooster Street in SoHo, NYC, May 1999.

Chess U on the iPhone

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The Fabulous 00s: A New Chess.FM Segment

June 11, 2008

Upholding the Sicilian – A new Chess.FM Segment

I am preparing a series of ICC Chess.FM lectures on “Upholding the Sicilian” (1. e4 c5) against various unusual white tries. John Henderson is producing the series and Andy MacFarland is the production engineer.

The first two segments are devoted to the Smith-Morra gambit (1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3).

Using games I have collected and analyzed, I collate and distill the findings to give the best black responses in each case. Some of the games are historical classics (Smith-Evans, San Antonio 1972; Fischer-Korchnoi Buenos Aires 1960) and some are brand new analyses created by me working in conjunction with my faithful friend Rybka. In some lines, black can even turn the tables and attack white’s king!

I have collected the various findings at the end of ‘aries’ library on ICC.

Dovetailing with “Manest” (Alex Lenderman) Lectures

The Smith-Morra segment is particularly interesting because it dovetails into another set of Chess.FM lectures given by IM Alex Lenderman. In his segments, he presents the Smith-Morra from the white side. I focus on black’s resources and in combination we do have a very interesting “360 degree” look at this interesting gambit.

Future Plans and Website Feedback

In the future, I will develop and present research on the Alapin (1. e4 c5 2. c3), the Grand Prix Attack (1. e4 c5 2. f4, or 1. e4 c5 2. nc3 Nc6 3. f4), the Moscow (1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+) and more.

I will devote space on this website for reader feedback so we can grow the analysis tree.

Unrelated Photos of the Day

The 1985 Columbia University Pan-Am Squad

Mystery IMs