Thursday, May 27, 2010

Logistical Update 1

I just uploaded the Kamsky v Robson US Championship Game. I feel pretty good about that post, as far as quality goes. I plan to go back over the Stripunsky v Nakamura game and the Onischuk v. Benjamin game and bring them up to a similar quality. I am probably going to add more diagrams to all of my posts. It is a big pain to read the blog without them.

I have also figured out how to use the Labels function. As of now, I have two main categories of posts, US Chess Championship and Chess Openings. I hope to add more of these themed types of posts.

I am really hoping to cover the US Chess League, especially the Philadelphia Inventors. Truth be told, I always kind of forget about the League, but think it is a great idea, and hope to do reviews of as many of those games as possible. At the moment, I do not think there is a 2010 schedule yet. Please let me know if that is not the case!

Another thing I am going to try and do is add some more personal stuff, chess wise, dont worry! Though I have been really depressed recently. ;) (That's a joke)

Part of that will just be through the Chess Openings stuff, but I am also going to post up analysis of my tournament games, and maybe even some journalistic type stuff about the tournaments I go to. I dont go to a whole lot of tournaments, but I will be going to the World Open 2010, so I will probably try and cover that a bit.

Also, the Kamsky Robson game took me like 5 hours or more. I dont remember when I started. I am not sure if I will get faster at this stuff or what. As far as decisions go, though, I am going to cut breadth rather than depth. I did the Benjamin v. Onischuk post in maybe 2 or 3 hours, and the quality of is where I want it to be.

I might try to have a daily tactic post, or something small ish along those lines. That should be kind of fun, and relatively easy, as I can just take a problem out of some book I have!

As far as these rambling sorts of updates on what I plan to do, I am not sure how I am going to handle them. On the one hand, I am sure they are mildly annoying and get in the way of the chess stuff. On the other hand, I want to let people know what my plans are, and to take suggestions etc.

I guess for now I will call them Logistical Update 1, 2, 3 etc.

Then, if you see a Logistical Update post, you can ignore it if you dont care about all this stuff.

As a recap, this is what I plan to do in the near future:

1) US Chess Championship
2) US Chess League
3) World Open 2010
4) Chess Openings
5) Daily Puzzle

Bye bye

US Chess Championship 2010: Gata Kamsky v. Ray Robson

US Chess Championship: Gata Kamsky v. Ray Robson

1. Nf3

A fairly flexible opening move. I will post my discussion on the various possibilities this move allows soon.


Entering into the Queen's Gambit/Slav type games.

2. g3

Taking advantage of the flexibility that 1. Nf3 allows. White decides to fianchetto his light squared bishop, and will do this before he makes any decisions regarding the center.

Despite hiding his central plans for a bit, though, White gives Black valuable information about the placement of his light squared bishop.


And Black takes advantage of this information by solidifying his pawns on the long diagonal. For me personally, I prefer to play either g6 or c5 in this type of position. I usually find myself getting passive positions when I play to minimize the Light Squared Bishop's influence.

3. Bg2

Continuing with his fianchetto plan.


Black wants to develop this bishop so he can play Nd7 and continue with the development of his Queen side. If Black were to delay the development of his light squared bishop, it may become difficult to develop the Bishop or his Queen Side Knight later on. This is because his Queen side Knight wants to go to d7, which blocks the Light Squared Bishop's diagonal.

Moving the Bishop to g4 puts a bit of pressure on White's King side, and though Black is unlikely to want to trade his own Light Squared Bishop for White's f3 Knight, it is a possibility that may come into play. Black also has the ability to play Qd7 or Qc8 at some point, and then play his Bishop to h3 to trade off White's light squared bishop. This would leave White's King Side light squares fairly weak.

4. 0-0

White plays his most obvious move on the board. He still leaves open a fairly wide range of central pawn possibilities, which may allows him to make different central pawn plans depending on Black's moves.


Black develops his Queen Side Knight. He is also taking some control of the e5 square, which can help him avoid an annoying Ne5 attacking the g4 Bishop by White.

5. d3

White finally plays in the center, and plays to take control of the central light squares. It is helpful to look at how the d5 pawn and the d3 pawn relate to each other. Both fight for the squares e4 and c4.

This move also works fairly well with the fianchetto of the Light Squared bishop. White can try to undermine Black's d5 center pawn from the flank by the move c4. This would increase the scope of White's Light Squared Bishop. White can also, as he does in this game, attack the center directly with e4. This move in conjunction with f4 can create a very powerful King side attack, as is often seen from Black's perspective in the King's Indian Defense. Incidentally, White's opening is called the King's Indian Attack.


This is the best square for Black's King side Knight.

6. h3

Playing this move forces Black's Bishop to decide where to go. Depending on where it goes, White can make various plans. Kh2 may also be a helpful move at some point. A common strategy in this type of position is to exchange of the fianchettoed bishop. Black could achieve this by playing Qd7 and then Bh3.

The downside of this move is that White's King side is somewhat weakened, especially the g3 square. Also, if White wants to move his light squared bishop, the h3 pawn can become a liability.


Be6 would have been bad because of the move Ng5. Bf5 is possible, but the Light Squared Bishop isnt doing much on the h7-b1 diagonal, as the d3 pawn blocks its way. Maybe Black can delay White's e4, but after Re1 it seems more likely that White will be able to play e4 with tempo if Black moves his Bishop to f5.

From h5, the Bishop still puts pressure on the f3 Knight, the e2 pawn and the Queen on d1.

7. Nbd2

White gives extra defense to his f3 Knight, and now he can recapture Nxf3 if Black decides to play Bxf3. White blocks in his Dark Squared Bishop, but it doesnt really have anywhere to go at this point.


Black creates a two pawn center with d5 and e5. This can be very powerful, as it will significantly reduce the ability of White's pieces to get to good, active squares.

This move also allows Black to complete his King side development by moving his Dark Squared Bishop.

8. e4

White's center is now more or less set, and his next moves will try to improve his pieces and other pawns in harmony with this central set up. The simple Ne1/Nh4/Nd2 followed by f4 can create a very strong attack. White also has good potential to play against Black's center.

Black's move c6 may hinder his ability to counter attack on the Queen side. In the normal King's Indian, the majority of White's play comes from the c5 pawn push, which is facilitated by his early c4. By contrast, here Black is not only moving after White, he will also have to achieve c4 by three pawn moves instead of two (c6-c5-c4 as opposed to c4-c5).

On the other hand, Black has not committed himself to such a large center as White does in the normal King's Indian. In the normal King's Indian, Black harasses White's d4 pawn, usually forcing it to advance and sometimes forcing it to exchange on c5 or e5. This is largely possible because White, by creating his large 3 pawn center (c4, d4, e4) has had to play the moves c4 and e4. When White plays both of these moves, he relinquishes all pawn control of the d4 square.

In the current position, Black has not done this. His c6 pawn retains control of the d5 square, and it will be more difficult for White to force Black to push or exchange his d5 pawn.

Truth be told, I hate the King's Indian Attack when I play Black and usually over press and lose or get a very passive position and lose. My main weaknesses opening wise are usually these hyper modern type openings, where one side delays central pawn moves. One of the reasons I switched from d4 to Nf3 is that I wanted to make it impossible for me to spend the first 3 or 4 moves pushing pawns. The central control is nice, and I do still win some games with the big center, but it must be accomplished through subtlety and tactical precision. At the same time, if you play too timidly, you will lose your chance at that big center. It is a very difficult thing to balance, and something I am still working on.

As for any players out there who have similar problems, the best suggestion I can make is to study a wide variety of openings. By getting a good handle on the ideas of most of the various openings, you will be better able to understand how chess openings in general work. Anecdotally, a while back I spent about a month or two going over the book Staring Out: The Caro-Kann. I didnt then, and never have since then used the Caro-Kann! I dont even actually like the Caro-Kann.

However, going through that opening gave me a good deal of insight into how to harmonize your pieces in the opening, and my opening play, and overall play, improved a great deal from studying that book. One last thought and I will end this tangent. In chess, very often the things you do that you think will improve your chess has no effect or makes you worse, and things you do that you think will not help your chess that much are the things that improve your chess a great deal. Why this is, I have no idea, but I have found when I study chess I dont improve, and when I have fun with chess I do improve.

Back to the game!


Black wants to 0-0, but must move his Dark Squared Bishop first. He can move it to e7 and d6. From e7, the Dark Squared Bishop prevents the pinning of his f6 Knight to his Queen by White's move Bg5. However, White's Knight is in the way of his Dark Squared Bishop at the moment, so this pin is not that scary. Further, Black's Knight on d7 allows Black to move his Queen out of the pin if White plays Bg5 without his pawn structure getting messed up. So, there is little reason to move the Bishop to e7 on account of the pin.

On d6, the Bishop is more active as it defends the important e5 pawn, and it puts pressure on the f4-g3-h2 squares. Also, if necessary, the Bishop can retreat to b8. If Black has played Rc8, then the Bishop would not hinder the development or activity of Black's other pieces in any way. One mild problem with the Bishop on d6 is that Black's Queen is no longer defending the d5 square. With a pawn on c6, this is not such a big deal though.

On account of all of the above, Black decides to move his Bishop to the d6 square as opposed to the e7 square.

9. c3

White takes control of the d4 and b4 squares, and has prepared a d4 breakthrough or b4 Queen side attack.


Black wants to prevent White from expanding on the Queen side. With b4, a4, b5 White could assault Black's Queen side position with something similar to the minority attack. In the minority attack, the idea is usually to isolate a Black c or b pawn and then put pressure on that pawn. This kind of attack can be especially deadly in this position, as White's Bishop is on the g2 square, putting pressure on d5-c6-b7-a8. Black's move prevents b4, because after axb4 cxb4 White's a2 pawn would be somewhat of a liability.

10. a4

White wants to stop Black's a5 pawn on a5. White also wants to stop b5, where Black could gain a great deal of space on the Queen side and start up his own type of minority attack.


Black takes this time to get his King out of the center.

11. Qc2

White breaks the pin on his f3 Knight. White's Queen doesnt have too many squares to go to, but she also wants to move somewhat soon. The earlier you can break a pin, usually the better. From c2, the White Queen defends the d3 pawn, which was undefended by the ninth move c3. From c2 the Queen also supports White's center strong point, e4. Finally, the Queen aims down the c file, so after a future d4, exd4, cxd4 the White Queen will be on an semi-open file.


This is a very natural move. Black's rook is doing little to nothing staring at his f7 pawn, which is currently under no danger. Black's other pieces are already developed fairly well, so there is not much point in moving them again. Black's a8 rook might be best placed on a8, and it is unclear if moving the Rook to b8 or c8 is better. The a8 Rook might also be best placed on d8, after Black moves his Queen. Because there is a good deal of uncertainty regarding the best placement of his a8 rook, and very little uncertainty regarding the placement of his f8 rook, it makes sense for Black to move his f8 rook. He can move the a8 rook after he has more information about White's intentions, in other words, after White has to make more moves.

12. Re1

For patzers like me, the idea of keeping the Rook on f4, moving the other rook to e1 and then blasting open the position with f4, f5, e5, d4 etc. is somewhat irresistible. This kind of blood lust often ends poorly for the attacker, though. With Re1, White more calmly develops his Rook for many of the same reasons Black did on the previous move.


Black's Knight was not doing much on d7, so he advances it to the c5 square. A good rule of thumb is find your worst placed piece and improve its position. From c5, the Knight does quite a lot, and Black should be very happy with his Knight there. However, the Knight is somewhat vulnerable to attack.

Notice, though, how the Black's ninth move a5 works to support the Knight's position on c5. The pawn on a5 makes White's b4, forcing the Knight off the c5 square fairly difficult. White's a4 pawn would be weakened by this move after axb4 cxb4. That is not something I even thought about.

Harmony among the pieces is great, but need to have harmony among your pieces and pawns. Probably too often, I fall into the trap of looking at pawns as either static things to work around, or battery rams to thrust forward willy nilly. Pawns can preform very important, but simple, functions to promote the activity of your pieces though, and this a5-Nc5 relationship shows how simple but powerful this combination can be.

The Knight on c5 is attacking the d3 pawn, which ties White's Queen to the c2-b1 squares, and also attacks the e4 pawn, which brings a great deal of pressure on White's center. The Knight also can move to b3, where it might be very annoying. If possible, the Knight may be able to maneuver to b4 by the a6 square. The Knight can also move to the e6 square, where it is ready to move to the Kingside, and puts pressure on the center.

13. Nh4

White's Knight does a few things on h4. First, it can go to the f5 square, where it will harass Black's position fairly well. It will attack the Bishop on d6, it will prevent Black's use of the e7 square, and it will put some pressure on the g7 square. From f5 it can also reroute to the e3 square, and it defends the d4 square.

Black has difficulty ejecting the Knight from f5 because of his Bishop on h5. If Black plays g6 to eject the Knight, his Bishop is trapped. White can play simply e3 or h4, and threaten g4, trapping the Bishop. Black will either have to sacrifice his Bishop or play g5.

There are some problems with moving the Knight to f5 though. White gives up control of the g6 square, and allows Bg6. From there, the Bishop threatens to capture the White Knight, and mess up White's pawn structure. White would especially have a difficult time undermining Black's d5-c6-b7 pawn structure.

On the positive side, the Knight move also gives White's Light Squared Bishop a breath of fresh air. Moves that undermine Black's pawn structure on the d5-c6-b7 diagonal are not as far away on the horizon.

The Knight move also frees up the f pawn. The f pawn can march forward to undermine Black's center on e5 if desired. This is not possible at the moment though because Black's Dark Squared Bishop is putting pressure on the f4 square, and White is not defending it. It is always nice to have options though.

Finally, the Knight effectively prevents Black from moving his Light Squared Bishop to g6. If Black moves his Light Squared Bishop to g6, White can trade it off. White doesnt have to trade it off, as depending on circumstances the Bishop may not be very good on g6, but the possibility creates difficulties for Black. He will have to account for either a somewhat poorly placed bishop on g6, or no bishop on g6. It will take time to think about both of these possibilities.

13...dxe4 14. dxe4

A good rule of thumb is when the pawn structure changes, take some time to get used to the new pawn structure's strategic implications. I have lost a few games because of miscalculations involving changes in pawn structures. As a somewhat static feature of the game, it is very easy to get your brain to believe the pawns will always be there, even if your calculated line has you capturing something with a pawn!

Here, the most obvious change is that the d file is now open. Both sides will be wise to account for the tactical and strategic possibilities of controlling this d file.

The e4-e5 pawns are now locked together, which has fairly broad implications for White's Light Squared Bishop and Black's Dark Squared Bishop. Basically, both Bishops need to move.

Black's Bishop is doing little good and possibly some bad by being on the d6 square. It is defending the c5 Knight, which is important, but it is also staring at the e5 pawn, which is never good. Finally, it is blocking the only open file, which is usually a bad spot for a Bishop to be.

The Light Squared Bishop is defending the e4 pawn and the h3 pawn, but White should look for the Bishop to do more.

Finally, all the d4 push ideas for both sides are now gone. Depending on the outcome of the game, this would be a great place to look for improvements. If you find yourself not liking the position you get, looking at the positions after big pawn structure changes for either side might be worthwhile, as they will be very different.


Black wastes no time getting his Bishop off of the d file and to a better square. Here, it is defending both the a5 and e5 pawns, and can move to b6 to put pressure on White's weak f pawn.

15. Bf1

White likewise wastes no time getting his Light squared bishop to a better square. The f1-a6 diaganol is unobstructed, unlike the h1-a8 diagonal.


Black aims to control the d file. The Queen also is controlling the c8-h3 diagonal, and is aiming at White's somewhat weak h3 pawn. The Light Squared Bishop is tied to the f1 square unless White defends the h3 pawn somehow.

16. Nb3

Black's Knight on c5 is undefended, and fairly well placed. As the a5 pawn makes a b4 pawn push difficult, White attacks the Knight with one of his own Knights. If Black takes the b3 Knight, the Queen will retake and be fairly well placed on b3. She will be attacking the weak b7 pawn as well as pinning the f7 pawn to the King. The f7 pawn would not be in immediate danger, but these types of pins can be very annoying. For instance, if Black plays h6 to prevent Bg5, then White can play g4, and if Bg6, Nxg6 wins the Bishop because the f pawn is pinned.

Black can take the e pawn, but there are some tactical things involved that I will talk about after Black's next move.


Black takes the e pawn with his attacked c5 Knight. This gives White the threat of (V1) 17. g4 Bg6 18. Nxg6 hxg6 19. Rxe4 Nxe4 20. Qxe4

and White has a Light Squared Bishop and a Knight for his rook. As we will see, Black has another option though. Before moving on to that option, it may be helpful to see a few other variations to get a better idea of how this tactic works.

(V2) 17. g4 Bg6 18. Nxg6 hxg6 19. g5?

Does not work so well because of 19...Bb6 with a fairly annoying threat on the f2 pawn. 20. Rxe4 Bxf2+ 21. Kg2 Nxe4 22. Qxe4 Bb6. Note that if 21. Kxf2 then 21...Qf5+ causes White some difficulties.

White has a Light Squared Bishop and Knight for his Rook, but is also down two pawns instead of one pawn.

(V3) 17. Rxe4?

This move does not allow Black to do what he actually does in the game, but is not tactically possible because of 17...Bd1 18. Qd2 Bxb3 19. Re1

Black is up a nice center pawn and is better developed.

(V4) 16...Nfxe4?

Does not work because of 17. Rxe4 Bd1? 18. Nxc5 Bxc2 19. Nxd7 Bxe4 20. Nc5

White has two Knights for a Rook and pawn.

As can be seen from reviewing the above, all of the tactics deal with White getting two pieces for a Rook and Black's ability to interrupt this by Bd1. In the actual game, Black plays something that is better for him than all of the above, assuming White does not blunder.

Back to the game.

17. g4

White has to play this move or else Black can play Bd1 as noted above. Now White is threatening to win two pieces for a Rook.


Black sacrifices his Bishop for two pawns. This is a really nice move that leads to some very interesting play. Black gets three pawns for the Bishop, which is somewhat even material, though evaluations of these types of positions can be very volatile. Black also decimates White's King Side, which gives Black a decent attack. It is difficult to say whether Black has an advantage here or not, because a few nice and hard to spot Defensive moves can lead to Black's demise, but it sure seems like he has an advantage. If nothing else, at least he has the initiative!

18. hxg4

It doesnt make much sense to play anything else.


Again, it doesnt make much sense to play anything else.

19. Ng2

Here Bg2 can be considered, as it attacks Black's Knight on e4. The problem for White is that Black's Knight can suicide itself on c3 and win a pawn. After bxc3, Black is up four pawns, which is a lot of pawns for the Light Squared Bishop.


This move brings one of Black's least active pieces to the open d file, where he hopes it can either directly engage in the attack on White's King or interfere with White's defense of his White King by keeping White's pieces off the d file.

There are tons of other moves that could be played here. 19...b6, 19...Red8, 19...h5, 19...Bb6, 19...Ng5 all dont seem to lose immediately. There may be some sneaky move hiding out there that does seem to lose immediately but actually wins! That is the nature of complicated positions in chess. There may even be a move that doesnt seem to do anything at all, but has some small subtle winning or drawing point later on in the game. That is the nature of modern chess! I am not going to go through all the possibilities here, as that is somewhat beyond the scope of this blog.

I will briefly go through one side variation though: 19...Ng5

(V) 20. Bxg5 Qxg5 21. Bd3

(V1) 21...Rad8 22. Nc5 Bb6 23. Ne4 Nxe4 24. Rxe4 Re6 25. Rd1

(V2) 21...Qh6 22. Be4 Ng4?! [Rad8 might be better] 23. Ne3 Qh2+ 24. Kf1 Nxe3+ 25. Rxe3

As can be seen from the variations above, Rad8 seems to be an important part of Black's attack, so maybe it makes a good bit of sense to play it immediately. On the other hand, maybe Black can eliminate White's Dark Squared Bishop by creating threats with Ng5, after which Rad8 becomes more powerful.

Back to the game.

20. Qe2

White wants to trade Queens so that Black's attack is less powerful. Than White can go to work trying to handle Black's three pawn advantage. Black does not want to trade Queens, so White's move effectively forces Black off the g file, which also helps White's defense.


Black moves his Queen so as to avoid the trade. From e6, his Queen still is threatening White's King side and also is attacking White's b3 Knight.

21. Qc4

White has to defend his Knight, and still wants to trade off Queens.


Black still does not want to trade Queens, and from f5 she attacks the vulnerable f2 pawn.

22. Be3

White has to defend the f2 pawn, and doing it along with finally developing his Dark Squared Bishop is a nice two for one. I get the feeling that White is through the worst of it at this point. Black's attack is fizzling out, but Black still has three extra pawns for the endgame.


Black moves his Queen very close to White's King. He is trying to set up some sort of mate involving the h2 square. White wont fall for it, but Black still wants to go to as good an endgame as he can. This move more or less forces White to give up his light squared bishop, and eliminating White's bishop pair gives Black better chances in the endgame.

23. Be2

Black is threatening Ng4 and mate on h2 or h1. With this move, White plans to exchange off the Knight if it goes to g4. White could try to get a draw by repetition by playing 23. Nf4 (the Queen is attacked by Bishop and Knight) Qg4+ 24. Ng2 Qh3 25. Nf4 etc. but what fun is that. Black also doesnt have to accept the repetition, and can play with his Queen on the g4 square.


Black threatens mate by Qh2+, Kf1, Qh1#.

24. Bxg4

White eliminates the mate threat, but has to give up his Bishop pair to do so. With one less pair of pieces though, Black's attack is all but over.



25. Nd2

White challenges the Knight on e4 which is pinned to the Queen on g4. This move effectively forces off the Queens.


This is more or less forced. The exchange sacrifice Rxd2 is not very good for Black.

26. Qxg4 Nxg4

27. Nc4

White's Dark Squared Bishop is the only thing guarding White's d2 Knight right now, and it is under attack. White has to take care of his d2 Knight. Rad1 is playable here, but Nc4 gets the Knight more active right away.


Two Knights are usually the least feared of all the two piece combinations because two Knights cannot mate a King by themselves. The Knights also can have trouble finding enough good squares to stay on, and as the game goes to the end game, the Bishops ability to attack Queen side and King side at the same time can be very helpful. Bishops also tend to be better at chains of passed pawns, so it makes sense for Black to trade off White's last bishop for his Knight.

28. Ngxe3

There is no reason to move his c4 Knight backwards or to move his pawn to e3 where it will be weak and in the way.


Black begins to push his King side pawn majority. The game has clearly gone to the endgame.

29. Rab1

White does not want to have a backward b pawn, as well as a weakened a4 pawn. White also wants to play on the Queen side, as he has nothing to really play against on the King side. His only hope is too delay Black's King side pawn pushes with Queen side play, and then try and turn a hard right to fight against Black's King side. It is funny how this play resembles the normal King's Indian style play!


Black is threatening to double up on the d file, which will cause White a lot of problems. On top of that, Black will have a Rook on the 3rd rank, which he hopes will deter any Queen side pawn pushes because of the weakness of c3.

30. Red1

White doesnt want to allow Black to double his Rooks on the d file.


Black doubles his Rooks on the d file. Another funny thing to note, the King side rooks for both players have exactly mirrored each other up to this point with 0-0, Re8/Re1 and now Red1/Red8.

31. Rxd3

White isnt in danger of losing material at the moment, because his Knight on e3 is protecting the d1 square. At the same time though, there is a lot of pressure on the d file, and White will be able to play better if he alleviates this pressure now rather than later.


Black does not want to lose a Rook.

32. b4

White is not concerned about his c3 pawn. If Black takes this pawn, White plays bxa5 threatening to invade with his Rook by Rxb7. This is exactly what Black does not want to have happen.


Black wants to keep the b file closed, so he gives White two less than ideal options. White can play cxb4, which keeps his pawns connected but the b file closed, or he can play Rxb4, which opens up the b file but disconnects White's Queen side pawns.

33. Rxb4

White chooses to open the b file.


Black does not want to sit around and let White take his pawns at leisure. Instead, he plays this move with the idea of exchanging off all of the Queen side pawns.

34. axb5 cxb5 35. Rxb5 Rxc3

In many ways, this is such a great endgame. As noted before, Bishops are usually better than Knights in an endgame. The one time when that is absolutely not true, though, is when all of the pawns are on one side of the board. Then, the fact that Bishops can only reach half of the squares, in this case the dark squares, can really hinder the Bishops ability to contribute.

On the other hand, Black has to be feeling pretty good at this point about his drawing chances. If he can just capture that incorrigible f2 pawn and trade off Rooks, there is little to no way for Black to lose this game. Two Knights by themselves cannot checkmate a King. Amazingly, though, Black is unable to capture that f pawn.

36. Rb7

White invades the 7th Rank and attacks Black's Bishop.


Black has to move his Bishop and this is its only safe square.

37. Rb8

White pins the Bishop to the Black King.


Black has to defend his Bishop and this is the only way to do that.

38. Nxe5

White has won a pawn. Now, Black has only two pawns for the piece, and things are starting to look a bit grim for him. White's f pawn is very difficult to get at. Also, Black's Rook is under attack.


The Rook has to stay on the d file to defend the Bishop. The Knights guard all the available squares except d2 and d6. Rd2 is not possible, because White is also threatening Nc6 attacking Black's Bishop. After Nc6, the Black Bishop cannot be defended anymore and is still pinned, so Black would be lost.

39. Kg2

I am not sure if this is especially necessary right now. White does not want to give Black extra moves by allowing Rd1+ or other similar moves, so he moves his King off the 1st rank. Also, the King is going to want to advance at some point. Black is in a bind and cannot do much, so the White King may as well advance now. On the other hand, Nf5 might have been worth looking at so as to get the Rook off the critical d6 square.


Black wants to keep the White Knight off of f5.

40. Rb7

White voluntarily lets the Bishop get unpinned, but now attacks Black's f7 pawn. The last few moves have been a great example from Kamsky of using tactics in the endgame to improve his position. The White pieces and Rook forced the Bishop to the d8 square, where it was pinned to Black's King. This in turn forced the Black Rook to the d6 square. After getting Black's pieces into these awkward positions, White turns his attention to a new target, one that he is much better able to attack than Black is able to defend.

At the same time, though, Black may let a draw slip out of his hands with his next move. It might have been prudent of Kamsky to continue to take advantage of the bind Black's pieces were in by protecting his f pawn. By playing f3, the pawn is moved to a light square, where Black will have a much more difficult time attacking it.


Black defends the f7 pawn and attacks the f2 pawn. This might have been Black's chance to eliminate the f2 pawn with Bh4.

(Vs) 40...Bh4 and 41. f4 Rd4 42. Kf3 g5 43. fxg5 White has no more pawns; 41. N3c4 Rd4 42. Nb2 (the White Knight is threatened, Ne3 could lead to a draw by repetition) 42...g5 43. Nxf7 Rd2 and the f2 pawn is lost; 41. f3 Re6 42. N3c4 Re7 43. Rxe7 Bxe7 and Black should be able to trade his Bishop off for White's f pawn.

This analysis is not complete by any means, but 40...Bh4 looks very good as far as Black's drawing prospects are concerned. Perhaps if Black knew how the game would turn out, he would have played this move instead. The game did end in a somewhat incredible manner.

41. N3c4

Because the Rook cant go to d4, this move is much more effective.


Attacking the White Knight.

42. Nd6

This is why the Rook is better on the d file. Recall how in the above 40...Bh4 variation, the Knight had to repeat with Ne3 or go to the b2 square.


Attacking the f2 pawn.

43. f3

This move is possible because White's Knights are in much securer positions than they are in the 40...Bh4 positions. With this move, White will preserve his pawn, and Black is in trouble.


The f7 pawn is lost, and the g6 pawn is in danger from the e5 Knight. Black pushes it to defend it and also to get counter play.

44. Ndxf7

Taking the pawn.


White was threatening 45. Nh6+ Kf8 46. Ng6+ and all of Black's pieces are forked.

45. Rb8+ Kg7 46. Rh8

Threatening the h5 pawn. Black can play Rxf7 winning both Knights, but it leads to a lost Rook v Bishop endgame for Black.


Confusing at first, but the idea is that Black is trying to simplify down to a Two Knights and King v King endgame, which is drawn. This move is designed to defend the g pawn, so that if White plays Rxg5 Black can trade off Rooks. Then Black will try and use his Bishop to capture White's f pawn if it ever gets to a dark square.

47. Rxh5 Be1 48. Rxg5+ Rxg5 49. Nxg5

49...Kf6 50. Nd3 (attacking the Dark Squared Bishop) 50...Ba5 51. Ne4+ Kf5 52. Kf2 Bc7 53. Ke3 Bb6+ 54. Nec5 Bc7 55. Nb3

The Knight is rerouting to d4, where it can push back the Black King and block the Bishop from harassing the White King.

55...Bd6 56. Nd4+ Kf6 57. Ke4 Bg3

Black wants to make sure the pawn cannot advance without being captured. If 57...Bc7 then 58. Nf4 Bd6 59. Nc6 Kg5 60. Ne5 and the Bishop's access to the f file is being blocked by White's Knights.

58. Nf4

The Bishop has only four possible moves at this point. Only Bh2 can keep the pawn from moving forward. For instance, 58...Be1 59. Nd5+ K__ 60. f4 __ 61. f5

58...Bh2 59. Nde2

The Bishop cannot return to g3 now. It must leave the h2-b8 diagonal and let the pawn advance, or Black must move his King.

59...Ke7 60. Kf5

Black moves his King, and his Bishop can still prevent the advance of the f pawn. But White has gained a great deal with his King moving to f5.

60...Kd6 61. Kg4

The White King will support the Knight on g3, and the pawn will advance.

61...Ke5 62. Nh5

Black Resigned in this position. White will play Nhg3 and Blacks bishop cannot move. It is blocked off from the f pawn, which will march to f7. If this were King v King, Black's King is in a good position and it would be a draw. However, instead of White playing his King to f6 behind the f7 pawn, he can defend it from the side, g6 or e6 will do, leaving Black's King a space to move too. At this point, he can move his g3 Knight, and can work to get the King off of the f8 square and Block the Bishop from the f8 square with his Knights.

Kamsky played a great game, but Robson also deserves a lot of credit. He played very well, and probably could have drawn with 40...Nh4 instead of 40...Rf6. Despite that, this game showed a lot of interesting endgame possibilities between three pawns v a piece.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

US Chess Championship 2010: LINKS

Well, I thought I would try to assemble as nice a group of links as possible for the US Chess Championship.

US Chess Championship

This site has forums and lots o Chess games that you can look through on a very user friendly and nice looking Java Chess board.

US Chess Federation

The US Chess Federation has a lot of information regarding US Chess. They run Official chess tournaments in the US, and you can become a member and play in these.

The Official Site, St. Louis Chess Club

Apparently, the St. Louis Chess Club is sponsoring this whole thing. They have a really great looking chess site that I just stumbled on last night, which is what inspired this post actually.

Make sure to check out the Video Lectures and other Video type things they have on this site, as that is a great resource of free chess educational material (and pretty entertaining for the Finegold one I watched on Nakamura's Kings Indian games).

Well, unfortunately that seems to be about it as far as good stuff goes. A lot of various chess blogs helpfully list the players and give little news blurbs, but that is not really worth copying links too. looks like it may have some interesting material, but it looks a bit light on the US Chess Championship. Can't especially blame them, as Internationally the US Chess Championship is not all that big a deal. I believe this years' tournament was one of the stronger overall US Chess Championship, though, and hopefully some of the Young American players continue improving.

Try and Solve the following Puzzle:

Monday, May 24, 2010

US Chess Championship 2010: Joel Benjamin v. Alex Onischuk

Joel Benjamin v. Alex Onischuk

1. e4

A standard move that generally allows for White's fast development.


Black responds symmetrically and will hope to keep up with White.

2. Nf3

White attacks Black's e5 pawn, while developing his Kingside.


Black defends the e5 pawn while developing his Queen side.

3. Bb5

White attacks Black's Knight, which is the only defender of the e5 pawn. White has also completed his Kingside development and can castle Kingside whenever he wants too. This opening is very common and old, and is called the Ruy Lopez, I believe after a Spanish chess player from the 1600s or 1700s.


Black pushes back the bishop, or encourages the exchange of White's Bishop for Black's Knight. That variation, called the exchange variation, is very complicated and interesting, but as this does not happen here, I wont go into the reasons why Black is not afraid of losing his e pawn after 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. Nxe5.

4. Ba4

White, having decided not to exchange his Light Squared Bishop for Black's c6 Knight, has to move the Light Squared Bishop. Moving it to this square allows White to retain the possibility of Bxc6-dxc6-Nxe5, so Black must play his moves with this tactic in mind.


One way Black can deal with the threat against his e5 pawn is by directly defending it. A move like Bd6 or d6 would ensure Black that he does not lose his e5 pawn. These moves will give Black other problems, though, especially with regard to the harmonious development of his pieces. The other way Black can deal with White's attack on his e5 pawn is by counter attacking, which is what he does here with the move Nf6. White can win Black's e5 pawn, but Black will be able to win White's e4 pawn.

5. 0-0

White in turn does not directly defend his e4 pawn, but instead defends it with a tactic. If 5...Nxe4 then 6. Re1 Nd6 7. Nxe5 and Black has some difficulties developing his Queen side. By Castling, White gets his king to safety and can now begin more drastic attacking measures without as much fear of counter attacks.


By blocking the e file with his Bishop, and by allowing himself to castle King side in one move, Black makes his threat against the e4 pawn much better. White's counterattack down the e file would not be nearly as strong.

6. Bxc6

But Black's move allows this, and White can win Black's e5 pawn. This is often times called the delayed Exchange Variation. I am not as familiar with this type of variation as I am with the normal exchange variation, so I can only guess as to the reasons for the delay. I would guess that White likes to wait and see what Black will do, and depending on Black's moves he will either prefer the exchange variations, or the more normal Ruy Lopez variation. For myself, I would probably aim to play Bc5 as Black in the Exchange variation, so maybe since the Bishop has moved to e7, White is more comfortable with the exchange variation.


Black wants to complete his development and maintain a somewhat solid pawn structure. bxc6 is possible, but Black's queen side pawns and slow development can give White a good game.

7. Nc3

White has eliminated Black's defender of the e5 pawn, but before taking it he defends his on e4 pawn.


As White has defended his e4 pawn, Black decides to remove his attacker of that pawn and instead defend his e5 pawn.

8. d4

White has developed all he can without a central pawn push or a fianchettoing of his Dark Squared Bishop. d3 is fairly passive, and b3 doesnt make a whole lot of sense in this position. Therefore, the d4 pawn push is appropriate.


John Watson, in his book Chess Strategy in Action, has a whole chapter devoted to how rare surrendering the center like this is in Modern Chess. Maybe Black could do well by playing 8...Bd6? After exchanges on e5, 9. dxe5 Nxe5 10. Nxe5 Bxe5 11. Qxd8+ the position is reminiscent of the Berlin Defense. In fact, this position is in some ways better than the normal Berlin Defense, as a pair of Knights has been traded off. This generally increases the safety and power of Black's bishop pair.

Surrendering the center like this does open up the position a bit though. If Black is confident he can get his Bishop pair developed before White can do him any harm, than it makes sense for Black to want to open up the center.

9. Qxd4

White takes back the pawn with the Queen. It is difficult for Black to harass the White Queen, so it is not especially bad that she has moved to the center like this. The Queen is also attacking g7.


Black gets his King to safety and protects the g7 pawn. His position is still fairly cramped though, and the Light Squared Bishop and Queen side rook are particular bothersome at this point.

10. Rd1

White increases his pressure down the d file. Unfortunately for him, this pressure is somewhat ephemeral.


Black has just enough protection on his d8 square to perform this maneuver. His Light Squared Bishop's prospects look much better now.

11. Qe3

White moves his Queen so his d1 rook forces the Black Queen to e8.


Black has to move his Queen out of the d1 Rooks line of fire

12. Nd4

White centralizes his Knight. The Knight is hitting the e6 square, which hinders Black's development a bit. The Knight is also threatening to go to f5, where it his the vulnerable squares g7, e7, and h6. The Knight may want to reroute itself via the e2 square, but it seems doubtful this plan will be successful.


Black is starting to get some harmony in his position. The Dark Squared Bishop gets out of the Queen's way on the e file, protects the important e5 square, and also looks menacingly at the h2 square. The Light Squared Bishop and Dark Squared Bishop are looking pretty good along there respective diagonals, taking control over a whole slew of King side squares.

13. Qf3

This is sort of a strange move. I am not sure if it has any specific and most important point. I can spot a lot of little things it does though. First, the Queen gets out of the way of White's Dark Squared Bishop. Now, the Bishop is able to go to e3, f4, or g5. Second, the Queen takes the g4 square, which prevents an annoying Bg4. White doesnt really want to weaken his King side with f3, but he also doesnt want to have to move his Rook off the d1 square, where it may become vulnerable to other tactics. Third, the Queen supports the d4 Knights move to the f5 square. Finally, the Queen can get to the h5 square, where it may be able to harass the Black King side a bit.


By contrast, this move has a fairly straight forward purpose, and that is to threaten h2! The Queen also puts some pressure on the d4 Knight, takes away the h5 square from the White Queen, and protects the f5 square a bit.

14. g3

White has to defend against the threaten against h2. Qg3 isnt so good because White's King side pawn structure will get messed up.


The Black Knight attacks White's d4 Knight. The Black Knight also takes control of the f4 and g5 squares.

15. Nf5

The White Knight needs to be defended or move from d4, and White chooses to move the Knight to f5. From f5, the Knight can hit e7 with check. The Knight is also putting pressure on the g7 pawn. Finally, the Knight is able to move to the e3 square where it can defend a lot of the Light Squares.


Black places his Rook on the e file, where it defends e7, and can potentially unleash an attack against White's e4 pawn.

16. Be3

White wants to develop his rooks, and he first must move his Bishop somewhere. On e3 the Bishop takes control of the d4 and c5 squares, while maintaining control over the f4 g5 and h6 squares. Nxd6 doesnt seem as promising because, though White can get rid of Black's Bishop pair, Black's pawns would be undoubled in the process. Further, White would be left with a Dark Squared Bishop, and Black would have a Light Squared Bishop, which increases the chances of an opposite colored bishop ending, which are draws in all but a few circumstances.


Well, the purpose of this move alludes me a bit. On the one hand, it doesnt hurt Black's position at all. It protects g7 a bit. Finally, it gets the Bishop out of White's Knight's grasp.

Actually, reflecting on this move after going through some of the later moves, it is much clearer what this moves purpose is. This move protects against back rank mates. Blacks plan is to attack White's e4 pawn, which he will achieve eventually by Ng5.

17. Rd3

White aims to double his rooks on the d file. The d file is the only open file on the board, so this should lead to a nice advantage for White. However, Black's minor pieces and doubled c pawns do a nice job of defending possible invasion squares, so in reality White's doubling of his rooks does not achieve a whole lot.


This move takes control of the g5 square, where Black plans to move his Knight next. This will either win the e4 pawn, or will force White to exchange off his Dark Squared Bishop. Either way, this works out well for Black.

18. Rad1

White has doubled his Rooks on the d file, but as noted on his 17th move, to what end are they doubled?


Black's plan of attack on the e4 pawn is complete.

19. Bxg5

White is forced to give up his last bishop for Black's Knight. This gives Black a nice advantage going into many end games. The fact that his g pawns are now doubled is not all that important, as White had a King Side pawn majority anyway. Thus, Black's King side pawns are not going to be thinking about advancing, so much as they will be used for stalling or attacking White's pawn majority.



20. Rd8

White invades on the only possible square d8. This allows him to simplify in a somewhat decent endgame. He may have underestimated Black's resources in the endgame though.


Finally Black develops his Light Squared Bishop, and now things simplify in a more or less forced way.

21. Rxa8 Rxa8

22. Qxf5 Bd6

Black prefers to have his Bishop on e5 than to have White get doubled f pawns.

23. Qxe5 Bxe5

24. Rd7

White has achieved the fruits of his d file control. Unfortunately, though, Black's c7 and g7 pawns are firmly defended by Black's Dark Squared Bishop.


Black does not want White to harass his Dark Squared Bishop by Re7. This move also moderately threatens Bxc3 and then Rxe4.

25. f3

White defends his e4 pawn.


Black attempts to undermine White's defense of his e4 pawn.

26. Kf2

Rather than playing fxg4 and having doubled pawns on the g file, White gets his King to the Center as fast as possible.


Black undermines the defense of the e4 pawn.

27. Kxf3

White retakes the f3 pawn, brings his King closer to the center and provides some defense for the e4 pawn.


Black prepares his Rook for possible King side action.

28. Ne2

White takes advantage of his attack on the c7 pawn to reroute his Knight to a better spot. Taking the b2 pawn for Black is not so good because White can take his c7 pawn, and his b7 pawn will be vulnerable. If Black plays, say b6, then his a6 and c6 pawns will be vulnerable.


Black begins to move his King to the center. The first order of business for Black is to get the Rook off of d7. This move also protects the important e7 square.

29. Nf4

White brings his Knight to an aggressive square where it can harass the Black Rook.


Black pins the Knight to the King while getting his rook out of harms way.

30. h4

Black is threatening g5, when the pinned Knight is lost. This is one way to parry this threat. Maybe moving the King right away would have been better though. On the one hand, White wants to advance his King side pawns to help with his promotion of either the e pawn or a King side pawn. However, this move undermines some of the solidness of White's pawn structure.


The Black King is free to leave the g7 pawn undefended, as Rxg7 is met by Rxf4+ and then Bxg7. The King is able to evict the White rook.

31. Rd1

White has to retreat his rook, and now if Bxb2 White can counter with Rb1 and win the b7 pawn.


Black fights for control of the d file. White really cant take here, because that would undouble Black's pawns.

32. Nd3

White moves his Knight in such a way as to protect the b2 pawn and prevent the exchange of rooks. The mild threat of Nxe5 is also created, but White cannot do this at the moment because his Rook on d1 is unprotected.


Black takes advantage of White's lack of attacking resources at the moment to centralize his King. Black is in pretty good control of the situation at this point, though it is still difficult for him to think about winning the endgame because his Queen side pawn majority is not a real majority. This is the primary place where the doubled c pawns can be seen for the weaknesses that they are. Black is unable to create a passed pawn on the Queen side, which makes any winning plans difficult to achieve.

33. Re1

White takes the time to get out of the fire of Black's Rook. This move also supports the e pawn, which is critical to White's game. White is still in good shape, though it is looking more and more like he should be content with a draw.


Black centralizes his King some more, and moves towards the critical e4 pawn.

34. b3

White takes the time to get his b2 pawn out of danger. Now his Knight is free to move about.


Black works to try and get his Queen Side Pawn Majority rolling. As noted above, those c pawns are really hindering his progress. However, the move b3 allows Black the fairly straightforward plan of c5-c4 and then he can exchange off one of his doubled c pawns for either White's a or c pawn. This would give Black a true Queen side pawn majority, and his winning chances would increase quite a bit.

35. g4

White wants to get some space on the King side, as well as getting the g pawn out of the reach of Black's Dark squared Bishop. White can move his King to e3, and then move his Rook to f7 where it can counter Black's control of the d file.


Black aims to trade off his doubled pawn, while at the same time taking some central control as well.

36. Ke3

White moves his King to the e file, so as to open up the f file for his rook.


Black gets his bishop into position to defend the c5 square, as well as harass the White King for a tempo.

37. Ke2

White has to move his King and does not want to move it to the f file.


Black sacrifices a pawn to destroy White's Queen side pawn structure. This sacrifice can almost not even be considered a sacrifice, as the pawn is doubled, and White will have a difficult if not impossible time holding on to his pawns if they are on a2, c2 and c4.

38. bxc4

White is in a bit of bad shape at the moment. He doesnt want to allow cxb3, but bxc4 isnt all that great either. There are some tactics that White was probably hoping would save his game.


Black immediately attacks the weak c4 pawn. White can perhaps take joy that Black's rook has abandoned control of the d file, but it is not a great joy. The computer recommends 39. Rb1, so that after 39...Rxc4 White can play 40. Rb4 Rxb4 41. Nxb4 and White can get to a less scary Knight and Bishop endgame.

39. c5

White hopes to use some tactics to get out of his bind. Unfortunately for him, they do not appear to be correct.


Black takes the pawn without messing up his pawn structure.

40. Rf1

White gets his rook to the f file, where he hopes he can counter attack sufficiently to make up for Black's progress on the Queen Side.


Black gets his Bishop out of the attack of the Knight and also unleashes his Rook on the c2 pawn. Capture of the c pawn comes with Check, so White must be especially careful.

41. Nf4+

White tries to get out of his bind first with this check and then an attack on Black's Bishop.


Black's King gets further into the fray, and is now attacking the undefended e4 pawn.

42. Nd5

White completes his maneuver and attacks the Bishop on e7. Notably, Black is now attacking three of White's pawns!


Black takes the pawn that doesnt lose him a bishop.

43. Kd3

If the c pawn would be taken without check, then maybe Rh1, forcing the loss of the h7 pawn or g5, which blocks the Bishop somewhat out of play would help White maintain the balance. However, the c pawn would be taken with check, so White must defend it with his King. He also defends the e4 pawn.


Black pins the Knight against the King and threatens c6, winning the Knight.

44. Rf8

A nice tactical move in a difficult position. White parries the threat of c6 by threatening Re8+. If 44...c6 then 45. Re8+ Re6 (the only move) 46. Rxe6+ Kxe6 and the Knight can take the b6 pawn.


Black has made sufficient progress in the position that he can trade off the rooks and win the Bishop vs Knight endgame. Notice that the c7 pawn would be defended if 45. Rxd8 Bxd8.

45. Rf5+

White wants to keep the rook on, so he can make as many threats as possible. It is important to keep on attacking when you are in a bad endgame.


Kd6 would block the Rook's pressure down the d file.

46. Ke3

White unpins his Knight.


Now that White's Knight is not pinned, Black has to defend his c7 pawn. This bishop move also gets the Bishop more into the game.

47. Rh5

White counter attacks down the h file.


Black has to defend the h7 pawn, and pushing it is preferable to placing his rook in the passive position by Rh8.

48. g5

White continues his assault on the Black King side. If he can win those two King side pawns for his one King side pawn, he would be in good shape to fight for a draw.


Now the Black rook is forced to this square. 48...hxg5 49. Rxg5 and White has a good chance to capture the g pawn or cause Black other problems.

49. Nf4+

If 49. gxh6 Rxh6 Black has a good position.


Black is happy to exchange off the Knight.

50. Kxf4



The Black King goes to the defense of his King side pawns.

51. Ke5

The White King tries to help promote his e pawn. He might have been better off trading off one of Black's King side pawns.


Now Black can win White's h pawn and not lose either of his King side pawns.

52. Rh2

White has to retreat the rook.


Before taking the g5 pawn, Black wants to get his rook in a good spot to stop the e pawn from promoting.

53. Kd5

White has to move his King.


Black now takes the g5 pawn.

54. e5

White has to try and promote his e pawn.


Black has to counter by trying to promote his h pawn.

55. e6 h4

If White plays 56. Rg2+ trying to win the g pawn, than 56...Kh6 57. Rg4 g5 and White has only wasted time.

56. Ke5

The White King wants to keep the Black King away from the e pawn. White will try and get his Rook down the f file or d file and try and promote the e pawn.


Black prepares g5.

57. Rf2

White prepares to use his Rook to promote his e pawn.


Black counters by pushing his pawn.

58. Rf3

White wants to harass the pawn while not giving up the f file.


Black attacks the Rook and also prepares to aid the h pawn to its destiny.

59. Rf7

Preparing Rxg7+ or e7.


Black does not want to give up this pawn for no real reason.

60. Kf6

The White King can finally get in, but Black's pawns are close to promotion.


Black can trade off his rook for the e pawn if necessary and promote his h pawn anyway. If 61. e7 h2 62. Rf8 h1=Q 63. e8=Q Rxf8+ 64. Qxf8 Qf3+ and after the Queen's are traded, White cannot stop Black's g pawn from promoting.

61. e7 h2

62. Rh7

White has a last ditch effort to try and get a Queen and then a perpetual check.


63. e8=Q h1=Q

64. Qe6+ Kh4

And here White resigns. The Black King will be safe from checks and Black is up a Rook and two pawns.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Viewing Convenience

I was looking over my last post, the game with Nakamura. I am working on the Kamsky Robson game and will try and do more as well.

As far as reading the blog, I found it was a little clunky and annoying, which obviously is not ideal. Hopefully, I will be able to fix some of the things in it, but for now, I have a recommended way of reading. It should minimize the awkward ness as much as possible.

First, right click on the link at the post.

Click on the option, Open in New Window.

The game should be open in now in a new window.

As you read through the post about the game, you can press Alt + Tab to switch from the window and blog post.

Its not as good as diagrams, but it works pretty well for now.