Posts Tagged ‘Thinking your Way to Chess Mastery’

The Fabulous 00s: Gentlemen, Test your Engines

December 4, 2009

Perplexing Sidelined Knight!

This highly perplexing ending just surfaced on ChessToday.Net (Mikhail Golubev commenting).  Thanks to chess enthusiast Kurt Stein for bringing this intricate ending, and the problems computer engines have with it, to my attention.

GM Viktor Laznicka (CZE) – GM Viktor Bologan (Moldavia)

World Cup  Khantiy-Mansiysk

As a preamble, I enjoyed GM Josh Friedel’s Chess Life Online narrative of the trials and tribulations just to get to this Siberian way-station. And then, to be eliminated practically as soon as one arrives is truly agonizing!

I thought it was bad enough to venture up to Toronto for a David Lavin tournament from New York City (taking People’s Express to Buffalo, then transferring to a bus across Niagara Falls and being faced with hostile customs questions) – this is worse. 🙂

Here’s the action after Laznicka launched a clever combination to put Bologan in quasi-zugzwang.

It’s a good position to test chess engines, because most scenarios are well beyond the engine horizon, even for the big names such as Rybka.

Position after 55. Kg2

Black to play.  Is this real zugzwang or quasi-zugzwang or pseudo-zugzwang?

Golubev indicates white is playing for a win, and that he surely is, but what’s the correct result?  A great computer test!

Black played 55…d4 here and lost slowly.  White’s king *carefully* approached the pawn and never allowed black knight fork tricks.

It is my contention that 55…Nb7!, shuttling between b7 and d6, draws if black leaves the pawn on d5 for the time being.  The point is, when white tries to approach the p/d5, THEN black gets fork tricks.


55…Nb7! 56. Kf2 Nd6 57. Ke1 Nb7 58. Kd2 Nd6 59. Kc3 Kxh4! – only now! and black is saved due to a fork.

Or, 59. Kd3 Kg4! 60. Kd4! is the only way for white to draw.  If 60. f6? Kf5! 61. Kd4 Ke6! wins for black.

In fact, there are some pure fantasy variations here with DOUBLE fork tricks!

Here is a really nice line from the start position:

55…Nb7 56. Kf1 Nd6 57. Ke1 Nb7 58. Kd1 Nd6 59. Kc1 Nb7 60. Kb2 Nd6 61. Kc3 Kxh4! (well-timed!)  62. Kd4! (not 62. f6? Ne4+ 63. Kd4 Nxf6 64. b7 Nd7) and look at this position:

Black to play. What's the best move?

Unbelievable analysis position.  It turns out black actually has two moves.

But NOT 62…Nxf5+?? 63. Kxd5 Ne7 64. Kc5! and the pawn queens – a common beginner’s error to snatch a poison pawn like this.  The mundane line is 62…Kg5 63. Kxd5 Nb7 and draws.  Hidden, though, is something much prettier.

62…Nc4!! Wow!!!  63. b7 Na5!! (Fork Trick #1) 64. f6? (64. b8=N! draws!) 64…Nxb7 65. f7 Nd8!! (Fork Trick #2!!)  and now forced is 66. f8=N (another under-promotion on a different square) 66…Kg5 and black has an edge (but not a forced win) in the resulting ending after 67. Kxd5 Kf5!  Wow!!    The multiple fork tricks and the multiple under-promotion defenses are really something special.

Conclusion: I don’t see any win for white if black just hangs tight with Nd6-b7-d6 shuttle, waiting for WK to approach.  Readers?

Thinking Your Way To Chess Mastery – 2nd Installment

The second installment of my live Internet-TV show has been postponsed to Monday, December 14th, at 2 PM PDT (5 PM EST). Register for free at Chess.Com and tune in (under the “Fun” tab on the right, you see the “TV” link).  This is different from most chess videos online because here you get people and chessboards, imagine that.  And live Q&A throughout.

Chess Today

I just started subscribing to GM Alex Baburin’s excellent, regular, chess periodical (emailed to the readers with PGN and CBV attached).   Good stuff!

In “CT”, I noticed GM Nakamura missed many chances to put long-suffering Ni Hua away, starting with the crunching 35. Rxh6 winning – for example 35…Ke4 36. e6! and fini.

My Laznicka-Bologan analysis (above) made it into CT Issue #3319.

And Readers Deserve to See

Maria Yurenok (photo from John Saunders London Press Release)

London Calling

The Fabulous 00s: New-Age Chess Programming

November 19, 2009

New-Age Chess TV Programming at Chess.Com

Chess.Com is using an interesting technology to beam chess “TV shows” on the Internet.  Not just a board with a voice that you replay from an archive; this is a live person, a board and a voice…. chatting with viewers…. like a simultaneous lesson…all live – can you handle it?  🙂

Viewers can chat in a separate window to interact with the lecturer in real-time which helps learning.

Already, IM David Pruess (the Content Manager for Chess.Com) has some nice TV shows there.

On Monday, November 23, at 2 PM Pacific Time (5 PM Eastern) I will inaugurate a live show on “Thinking your Way to Chess Mastery”.

This multi-part show will have me analyzing especially complicated GM struggles from recent events and leave every episode with a “cliffhanger” where the viewer is challenged to come up with a plan.  Often times, there are more than one correct plans, depending on taste and style!  The games will all feature tough, double-edged struggles between top players.  In the following week episode, I will “solve” the cliffhanger and hopefully this will prove to be very instructional.

And today if anyone is quick on the draw, Thursday, Nov 19, 5pm PDT we have:
Your Games, Analyzed – w/ IM David Pruess.

To see it, simply get an ID at, then tune into Chess.Com/TV.  If you forget this web address, the TV broadcast is located under the “Fun” tab at on the far right.

You will see this broadcast screen:

We Control the Vertical; We Control the Horizontal

But instead of a blank “OFFLINE” screen, you will be watching and learning with titled players, live.  😀

In Other Chess.Com News: Smart Phone “postal” chess

Chess.Com has also come out with a mobile application for smart phones (most brands supported).  It hosts “asynchronous” games between members where one player starts the game, then the other player can respond using a smart phone, and so on.

Here are the supported brands:

Nokia Samsung Motorola LG Blackberry
Sanyo Siemens Audiovox Treo SonyEricsson

Once you download the mobile application on your phone it will add a icon to your menu. You can then launch the program. You will need to login with your member name and password (you can choose to save your login info). Once you login you will see a list of the games where it is your move only. You can then view that game and make your move, offer/accept draws, resign, etc.

There’s also a similar app for the iPhone.  Consult the mobile information page for more details.

I don’t want to cause information overload, but….

Here is David Pruess’s short blurb about the same topic at the Chess.Com blogsite.

Week 1’s Chess.Com TV Exercise

Here is the exercise I gave the viewers in Week One (11/23/09).  We’ll solve it in Week 2 (11/30/09) and give a new exercise.

In the Becerra-Ramirez game (USCL 09),

(257) Becerra,Julio (2615) – Ramirez,Alejandro (2601) [B04]
USCL Miami vs Arizona Internet Chess Club (10), 04.11.2009

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6 6.Be2 Nd7 7.Nf3 g6 8.c4 Nc7 9.Nc3 Bg7 10.Be3 0-0 11.0-0 Ne8 12.Qd2 Nd6 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Nf6 15.h3 Nf5 16.Qd2 Qc7 17.Bd3 Ng7 18.Rfe1 Rd8 19.Qe3 Bf5 20.Bf1 Be6 21.Rad1 Nf5 22.Qc1 Qb6 23.Na4 Qa5 24.Nc5 Nxd4 25.Nxd4 Qxc5 26.Nxe6 fxe6 27.Rxe6 Rxd1 28.Qxd1 Rf8 29.Qe1 Rf7 30.b4 Qd4 31.Rxe7 Rxe7 32.Qxe7 Ne4 33.Qe8+ Kg7 34.Qe7+ Game drawn by mutual agreement 1/2-1/2

We went over in week one’s broadcat (11/23/09) how white can play for a win with 31. Qe3!?.

Your task is to identify another plan for white on move 31 that retains winning chances (but is entirely different; a question of style).

Add comments/ideas to my Week 1 Solution blog entry (no heavy analysis, just ideas).  You need to register to get a free Chess.COM ID if you don’t have one already.

-IM Mark Ginsburg 11/23/09 7 pm

The Fabulous 00s: More Defending vs. The Keres Attack

December 14, 2007

I will be discussing this variation in my upcoming DVD series, “Thinking Your Way to Chess Mastery in the Opening.” My first disc will cover the Keres Attack, playing White versus the Hedgehog, and playing White in the Bayonet Attack, King’s Indian Defense.

IM D. Pruess – IM Aries2 ICC 5-minute Blitz Dec. 2007

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6!?


Position after 6…Nc6!? – An Unusual Defense to the Keres Attack

There’s something very logical looking about this move. 6…h6 gives white a lever for a later g4-g5. And the older 6…a6, once the most popular, has been convincingly shown to be too slow. So that leaves 6…Be7 (similar to the text) and the very risky 6…e5?! which we will cover in another installment. For more on 6…Nc6, see my first article (the GM Vogt game).

7. g5 Nd7 8. f4?!

This looks a little premature. 8. Be3 or 8. h4 are normal.

8. Rg1 is also possible. This was tested in another interesting ICC blitz game. It is possible to learn from these games, as I especially find out after analyzing blown opportunities such as the following:

NM Jefferson – IM Aries2 ICC 5-minute, December 2007.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Rg1 Nde5! Our thematic regrouping. 9. Be3 Na5 10. b3 Nac6! Returning now that the b2-b3 weakness was induced. 11. f4 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 Nc6 13. Bb5 Bd7 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Qd3 c5 16. Be3 Qa5 17. Bd2 Rc8 18. f5 c4! Black is fine. 19. Qf3 cxb3 20. cxb3 When white recaptures this way, you know black is doing well. 20…Qe5 21. O-O-O Be7 22. Kb1?! First of all, 22. f6?! gxf6 23. h4 fxg5 24. hxg5 a5 25. Kb2 a4 26. Rc1 axb3 27. axb3 Rb8 is very bad for white. The difficult 22 Kb2! is correct; 22…exf5 23. Rgf1 d5 24. exf5 d4 25. Ne4 Bc6 26. Rfe1 d3+ 27. Kb1 O-O 28. Qg4 Bxe4 29. Rxe4 Qc7 is about equal) 22… O-O 23. Rc1 d5?! (23… exf5! 24. Nd5 Bd8 is just good for black, e.g. 25. Rxc8 Bxc8 26. exf5 Bxf5+ 27. Kc1 Qa1 mate) 24. f6 Ba3! 25. fxg7 Qxg7 26. exd5 Bxc1? An instructive lapse. Black should keep attacking with 26…exd5 27. Qxd5 Rfd8 28. Qe4 Rc5 29. Ka1 Bf5 30. Qe2 Rcd5 31. Bf4 Rc8 32. Rg3 Rdc5! and this nice switch-back costs white decisive material. In the game, after 27. Rxc1 exd5 28. Nxd5 Rxc1+ 29. Bxc1 Be6?? 30. Ne7+ Kh8 31. Bb2 f6 32. Bxf6 Rxf6 33. Qxf6 white even won. Yuck! 1-0.

Now back to the main game after 8. f4?!

8…h6! Is this a TN?


8…h6!? – TN or not?

I could not find this logical reply in ChessBase. Black exploits the trick that 9. gxh6? Qh4+ is just bad for white (10. Bf2? Qxf4). Playable is the similar 8… Nxd4 9. Qxd4 h6! 10. Be3 hxg5 11. fxg5 Ne5 and black is comfortable. For example, 12. O-O-O a6 13. Bf4 b5 (not 13… Qc7?? 14. Bxe5 dxe5 15. Nb5!! and wins) 14. h4 Nc6 15. Qd3 b4 16. Ne2 e5 17. Be3 Bg4 18. g6 Qd7 19. Qd5 fxg6 20. Bh3 Bxh3 21. Rxh3 b3 22. Rf3 bxc2 23. Rdf1 Rb8 24. Rf7 Nb4 25. Qb3 Qh3 and things are really murky.

9. Nf3 The sacrifice 9. Nxe6!? fxe6 10. Qh5+ comes to mind. Black is going to be forced to switch his king and queen’s start positions in a weird sequence. After 10…Ke7 11. Be3
Qe8 12. Qh3 Kd8 13. O-O-O Kc7 14. Nb5+ Kb8 15. Nxd6 is refuted by 15… Bxd6 16. Rxd6 hxg5 and black wins. On other white 15th moves, black is better but not completely winning. So the sacrifice 9. Nxe6 is really deserving a “?!” instead.

9… hxg5 Sensible is 9… Be7 10. g6 (10. Be3 hxg5 11. Nxg5 a6 with a decent game) 10… Bh4+ 11. Ke2 O-O 12. Qxd6 Qb6! – a peculiar, imaginative, and nice gambit idea. Black has good attacking chances. For example, 13. gxf7+ Rxf7 14. Kd1 Nc5 15. Qd2 Rd7 16. Bd3 Bf6.

10. Nxg5 a6 Very interesting is 10… Qb6 11. Nb5 Nb4 12. a3 Na6 13. Qe2 Nc7
14. Be3 Qa5+ 15. c3 Nxb5 16. Qxb5 Qxb5 17. Bxb5 a6 and black is fine.

11. Be3 b5 12. Bg2 Bb7 13. Qe2 Qa5 14. O-O b4 15. Nb1 Be7 16. Nd2 Qc7 Very playable is 16… Bxg5 17. Nc4 Qc7 18. fxg5 Nce5 – this is nice and solid and nice for black.

17. f5 The sharpest try but black has an adequate response.

17…d5! A thematic line-opener to try to get at white’s king. Black attacks the h2 pawn.


Position after 17…d5!? – Very Sharp.

18. Bf4 Bd6?? The text should have been a losing blunder. An amazing resource is 18… Nd4!! – showing that unusual and very strong moves are possible even in the opening.


Position after 18…Nd4!! (analysis)

First we dismiss 19. Qf2?? Qxf4! 20. Qxf4 Ne2+ (the point!) and black wins; the WN on g5 is dangling. And if 19. Bxc7 (19. Qe3 is bad – 19…Bxg5 20. Bxg5 Qxh2+ 21. Kf2 Nxc2 22. Qg3 dxe4 and black wins; if 19. Qd3 e5 20. Be3 Nc5 and again black wins) 19…Nxe2+ 20. Kf2 Nd4 21. fxe6 fxe6 22. Ngf3 Nxc2 or 22…Nxf3 and black wins. So as strange as it seems, 18….Nd4!! wins in all lines!

19. Nxf7? The wrong sacrifice. The game goes from a white win to a draw in terms of evaluation. The right move, 19. fxe6 is crushing: 19…Bxf4 20. exf7+ Ke7 21. exd5+ Be5 22. dxc6 and black has to give up.

19… Kxf7 20. fxe6+ Kg8 Now it is about equal.

21. Bxd6 Qxd6 22. exd5? A losing mistake. Correct is 22. exd7 Qxh2+ 23. Kf2 Qh4+ (23… Nd4 24. Qd3) 24. Kg1 Qh2+ with a perpetual.

22… Qxh2+ 23. Kf2 Nd4 (23… Qh4+ 24. Kg1 Nd4 25. Qd3 Ne5! When the knights dance like this, the party is over for white. For example, 26. Qe4 Qh2+ 27. Kf2 Rh4 28. Nf3 Nexf3.

24. Qe4 Rf8+ 25. Ke1 Nf6 Correct is 25… Rh4 to involve everything in the attack. This move wins easily.

26. Qxd4 Qxg2 27. e7 Re8 28. d6 Rh2 29. Nc4 29. Qe3 was”relatively best” but with a little care black can destroy white’s passed pawns: 29… Bc8 30. Rf2 Qg1+ 31. Nf1 Rxf2 32. Qxf2 Qxf2+ 33. Kxf2 Ne4+ does the trick.

29… Qe2# 0-1

Here’s another one, played February 11, 2008 (also on ICC).

GM Dejan Pikula (“Kipi”) – aries2 ICC 5-minute, February 2008

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Rg1

I direct readers to my Foxwoods 2008 post for a discussion of a game I had as black vs GM Becerra starting from this point.

8…Nde5 For some reason, in the Foxwoods 2008 game, I played 8…Nb6?! (more passive) against Becerra.  I gained a draw only with difficulty.

9. Rg3!? A very rare sideline. We have an example here with 9. Nb3. Black can respond 9… h6!? 10. gxh6 g6 11. Bg5 and now a very funny line here is 11… f6! 12. Bd2 Bxh6 13. f4 f5!! 14. fxe5 Qh4+ 15. Ke2 Qh5+ 16. Kf2 Qh4+ forcing a draw, since 17. Rg3?? f4 wins for black. In the game, black played 11…Qb6? and lost in 34 moves, Kedziora,C-Merz,H/Goch 1991.


Position after 9. Rg3!? – A Rare Sideline

9… Nxd4 It might be stronger to wait with 9… Be7 10. h4 O-O 11. Be3 Na5!? 12. b3 d5 13. Qd2 Nac6 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. O-O-O Qa5 16. Kb1 Bb4 and black is all right.

10. Qxd4 Nc6 11. Qd1 Putting the queen offside with 11. Qa4 Bd7 12. Be3 a6 13. a3 b5 14. Qb3 Be7 15. O-O-O Na5 16. Qa2 , although a computer line, looks very strange.

11… a6 12. Be3 Be7? Correct is 12… b5 13. a3 Qa5 14. Qd2 b4 15. Ne2 Bd7 16. Nd4 Rb8 17. Be2 Be7 18. h4 O-O 19. Kf1 Nxd4 20. Bxd4 e5 21. Ba7 Rb7 and black is OK.

13. Qh5! g6 14. Qh6 Qa5 15. Qg7 Not the best. White should wait for this and play 15. O-O-O Bf8 16. Qh4 b5 17. Kb1 b4 18. Ne2 Be7 19. f4 Bb7 20. Nd4 and he has an edge.

15… Qe5 16. Qxe5 dxe5


Position after 16…dxe5. White should eliminate black’s two bishops.

17. O-O-O?! Another inaccuracy. White should play 17. Na4! b5 18. Nb6 Rb8 19. Nxc8 Rxc8 20. c3 Na5 21. a4 Nc4 22. axb5 axb5 23. Bxc4 bxc4 24. Kd2! and nurse a small edge in the ending – the queenside pawn majority will prove troublesome.

17… b5! Ruling out Na4 to b6.

18. h4 h6 19. f4 Black can handle 19. gxh6 Bf8 20. h5 gxh5 21. h7 Rxh7 22. Rg8 f6 23. Bc5 Ne7.

19… hxg5 20. hxg5 exf4 21. Bxf4 Bb7 22. Re1?! Safer is 22. Bg2.

22… O-O-O! Of course! Now black has a big initiative.

23. Bd3 Rh4 24. Rf1 Rxf4 It’s more practical to wait and play 24… Bc5 25. a3 Bd4.

25. Rxf4 Bd6 26. Rgf3 Stronger is 26. Ne2 Bxf4+ 27. Nxf4 Ne5 28. Rh3 and white is holding.

26… Bxf4+ 27. Rxf4 Ne5 A beautiful horse!

28. Kd2 Rh8 29. Ke3 Rh5 30. Be2 Rxg5 31. Kf2 f5 32. a4 b4 33. Na2 a5 34. c3 Bxe4 The rest is not hard.

35. cxb4 Rg2+ 36. Ke1 g5 37. Rf2 Rg1+ 38. Kd2 If 38. Rf1 Rxf1+ 39. Kxf1 Bd5 and black wins.

38… g4 39. bxa5 g3 40. Rf1 Rxf1 41. Bxf1 g2 41… f4 42. Nc3 f3! wins too.

42. Bxg2 Bxg2 43. b4 f4 44. a6 Nc4+ 45. Ke2 e5 46. b5 e4 47. Nb4 e3 48. a5 f3+ 49. Kd3 f2 50. Kxc4 f1=Q+ 51. Kc5 e2 52. b6 e1=Q 53. b7+ Bxb7 54. axb7+ Kxb7 0-1