Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chess Endgame Problem of the Week #2

Black to move.

Chess Tactic of the Day #48

White to move.

Friday, July 23, 2010

US Chess Championship 2010: Benjamin Finegold v Varuzhan Akobian

1. d4

This tends to lead to Queen's Gambit/Slav positions or Indian positions.


This move keeps open the possibility of either Queen's Gambit/Slav positions or Indian positions.

2. c4

White takes central control and prevents d5. If Black were to play 2...d5 then 3. cxd5 Nxd5 4. e4 and the Knight has to waste time retreating. This is a good move regardless of which Opening system Black plays, which is why it is so often played right away. Something like 2. Bg5 can lead to interesting play and 2. Nf3 is also not bad. In some situations though, White's Knight is better on e2.


Black prepares d5, and also can play the Nimzo or Queen's Indian Defenses.

3. Nc3

White allows the Nimzo Indian Defense.


Black goes into the Nimzo Indian Defense. He could have still played d5.

4. Qc2

Hmmm, what was the name of this variation again? White has three major options, and this seems to be the most popular these days. 4. a3 is called the Samisch, and White tends to give up pawn structure and easy piece development for a huge center. 4. e3 is sometimes called the Rubenstein. White's idea is basically to develop and ignore Black's threats against his pawn structure. I looked it up, and 4. Qc2 is called the Capablanca or Classical system. White's idea is that Black cannot double his pawns. White's development can suffer a bit, and he isnt put under too much pressure. However, Black will either have to give up the Bishop Pair by exchanging on c3, or waste time retreating his bishop from b4.

I am frankly not to familiar with the Nimzo Indian. I play 1. Nf3 which avoids the Nimzo almost entirely. As far as in the old days when I played 1. d4, nobody at my level seemed to play the Nimzo Indian. It is a fairly complicated opening to play, and it is easy to screw it up. That is probably why its popularity at the lower levels is somewhat lacking.


It is funny how the openings all have different names and books and such on them, but in effect they all use the same moves. Black takes advantage of White's defensive move Qc2 and takes some central control.

5. cxd5

White does not want to block in his Bishop with e3, and his c4 pawn is under attack.


Taking with the Knight allows 6. e4 with gain of tempo.

6. Bg5

Black is mildly threatening Ne4, so White pins Black's Knight to his Queen.


Black immediately puts the question to the Bishop. White must decide if he is willing to allow 7. Bh4 g5 8. Bg3 Ne4 or if he wants to exchange the Bishop for the Knight right away. I suppose a third option is Bd2 or even Bf4.

7. Bxf6

White decides to exchange right away.


Black captures without messing up his pawn structure.

8. a3

White also asks the Question to the Bishop. He wants to do this now, because his d pawn is under attack.


Black decides to exchange the Knight. Be7 loses time and also might interfere with his Queen getting off the front lines.

9. Qxc3

White exchanges so as to keep the c file open, and also to preserve his pawn structure a bit.


Black gets his King out of the center. He can play this move and wait for White's moves to determine where he wants to develop his Queen side pieces. Note that the c7 pawn cannot be taken because Black would win the d4 pawn. Well, and the Queen would have an awkward time getting back

10. e3

White solidifies his d4 center pawn, as well as prepares the development of his King side.


Now it is not so obvious why White cant play Qxc7. Maybe something along the lines of 11. Qxc7 Nc6 12. Bb5 (12. Qxb7 is bad because of Rab8 or Rfb8 and White's Queen side pawns come under attack) 12...Ne7 13. Nf3 Rfc8 and Black's Rooks can invade down the c file.

11. Ne2

White needs to develop his King side, and wants to get his Knight to g3.


Black wants to finish developing his Queenside. If Qxc7 the Rooks will invade.

12. Ng3

White threatens Black's Light Squared Bishop. If Black moves the bishop back to e6, White can develop his Bishop to d3. If Black moves the Bishop to h7 or g6, than because Black's Knight on d7 is undefended, White can take the c7 pawn and Black will not get enough compensation.


Now is a good time to push the c pawn. If White wants to spice things up a bit, he can take this pawn earlier and try to survive. It seems in this game though that White is fairly content with a draw. Given Finegold's position rating wise, this makes a good deal of sense. He probably does not much of a chance to win the whole thing, but he does have a good chance to have a strong outing. Getting a draw against Akobian is a good result, and Finegold can try and mix things up a bit more against some of the lower rated opponents.

For Akobian, there is not much you can do to spice things up if White is so cautious.

13. Nxf5

White simplifies the position.



14. Bd3

White attacks the Queen so that it isnt defending the Knight.


Black's Queen is under attack and must move. On f6, the Queen more or less pins the d pawn to the Queen. White does not want to play dxc5, Qxc3+, bxc3 when White's Queen side pawn structure is a complete mess. Qg4 might have been better to keep some life in the position, but it seems like White would have the better position after 0-0.

15. Bb5

White attacks Black's Knight on d7, which is currently unprotected. Importantly, the Knight is the sole defender of Black's c5 pawn, so Black does not want to move his Knight or allow a trade, after say, Qe7. After Rfd8, Black is still indirectly defending against dxc5 because of Qxc3+ ruining White's pawn structure, but White can play Bxd7 and if Rxd7 then Qxc5. Thus, Black's reply is somewhat forced.


The pressure against the c5 pawn has become to great, and Black must trade it off. Note that the pawn attacks the Queen, and thus White cant play Bxd7.

16. Qxd4

The move exd4 is not very good because of Rfe8+ and all the sudden Black has a good amount of pressure on White's position.


Black has little reason to avoid the trade of Queens.

17. exd4



Black could have played Nf6, but White would have to screw up quite a bit in order to lose this endgame.

18. Bxd7

White trades off the last pieces except for the Rooks.



19. Kd2

White moves his King behind his d4 pawn. Here, it is very safe from the Rooks and it is also in a good position to defend the d4 pawn and various entry points along the e and c files. Note the King is doing a nice defensive job here, protecting e1, e2, e3, c1, c2, and c3.


Black moves a Rook to the open e file.

20. Rhe1

White opposes Black's Rook on the open e file.


Black defends his Rook on the open e file, and at the same time moves his King closer to the center.

21. Rac1

White moves his other Rook to the open c file.


Black decides to trade a pair of rooks, rather than allow White to control the c file and contest for the e file.

22. Rxe1

White takes with his rook so as to control the e file. White does not want to decentralize his King with Kxe1.


White is threatening to play Re5, which attacks Black's weak d5 pawn and maintains e file control. Also, Black's King is cut off from the center by White's Rook, so Black clears some space for Kf7-Kg6 and other potential advances.

23. f4

White does not want to allow Black's King to advance.


Black wants to prevent a large scale King side advance by g4.

24. f5

White locks Black's g pawn in a backwards position.


Black prepares to push g6, and undermine White's oppressive f5 pawn.

25. Re3

White prepares to move his Rook along the 3rd rank, where it can attack Black's h5 pawn, g7 pawn, and b7 pawn.


Black does not want a backwards g pawn.

26. fxg6+

White does not want to lose a pawn, and it is difficult for him to defend the f pawn. He does not want to give up the e file.


Black retakes the pawn and his King is slowly but surely advancing.

27. Rg3+

White does not want to allow the King to invade unharassed.


The Black King is coming!

28. Rf3+

White keeps up the checks and if the King moves to say e4, White wins Black's f pawn and will have a good shot at Black's h pawn.


Black defends the f pawn rather than moving to e4.

29. Rg3+ Kf5 30. Rf3+

A draw was agreed here. Neither side really has a good alternative move.

This game wasnt exceptionally exciting, but for the Class A player and players in that skill range, these are great games to look at. A great question to ask yourself is, Why is it that I cant draw games like these against Grandmasters, but Grandmasters can do it in a way that looks so effortless?

Chess Tactic of the Day #47

White to move.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chess Tactic of the Day #46

White to move.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

US Chess League Shop, Philadelphia Inventors

Well, I did some surfing on the internet and found a US Chess League Shop. I am not sure how the money all works out for this, but I am sure it will help the league and the Philadelphia Inventors.

Aside from the money, you can show your support for US Chess!

A few notes about the shop. They offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. It looks like a pretty solid offer as well. If after 30 days you want to return or exchange something, you can do it. I am not sure if they cover any return shipping, though. If you are the Shop reading this and you do cover return shipping, you should say so!

The Shipping is a little pricey, but frankly that is to be expected with a small time operation. If you want shipping costs and costs in general to go down for this kind of thing, tell your friends to follow the US Chess League!

Finally, I feel I should say I havent actually ordered anything from the Shop. Here are some reviews. I havent read them all in much depth, but it looks pretty solid. The biggest complaints appear to be about various features and slow shipping. As far as complaints go, these are actually pretty good complaints. If the first thing someone says is the shipping was slow, it probably means the product was ok!

If anyone has any experience with this shop, positive or negative, please write it in the comments.

Chess Tactic of the Day #45

White to move.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

U.S. Chess Championship 2010: Alexander Stripunsky v. Hikaru Nakamura

Alexander Stripunsky vs. Hikaru Nakamura

[Note: I had this analysis up previously, but I didnt have my blog set up as well. It didnt have any diagrams! I added diagrams and proofread a bit, but other than that I left things as they were.]

1.e4 e6

This is called the French Defense.

2. f4

This is fairly unusual. Usually, 2. d4 is played, with the idea that Black has allowed White to create his ideal pawn center of e4 and d4, and thus White should take advantage of this.

However, Black has not allowed White this liberty out of kind heartedness. Black intends, usually, to attack White's pawn center with the move 2...d5.

The move 2. f4 somewhat avoids this. As you can see in this game, Nakamura attacks the center anyway with 2...d5. But, White has not committed his d pawn to the d4 square. Also, White has allowed for a quick Nf3 without blocking his f pawn. This may end up saving White some time, or allowing White to develop his king-side faster.

Of course, it has its drawbacks, the main one being that it does not press the issue for Black.

This, I believe, allows Black to build up enough pressure on the d4 square to prevent White from playing the d4 pawn push. Without being able to play this center pawn push, White's position becomes somewhat cramped.

Lets do a little counting exercise for the next few moves, to see how the opening play revolves around d4.

At the moment, White's Queen on d1 will protect a pawn on d4. So, 1 for White. Black has nothing controlling d4 at the beginning, so he has 0.


This does not look exactly like it controls the d4 square, but it does. By pushing his pawn to d5, Black restricts White's d pawn to the d3 or d4 squares. This is important, as otherwise, White may be able to avoid Black's attacks on his d4 pawn by pushing the pawn to d5.

3. e5


Black pushes his c pawn to c5 and attacks the d4 square. Now Black is at 1 and White is at 1. White could play d4 at this point, and after cxd4 Qxd4 the material is even. However, White's Queen is not very well placed in the center this early in the game.

4. Nf3

So, White plays Nf3. Now White has both the Queen and the Knight attacking d4, whereas Black only has his c5 pawn attacking d4. Recapturing with the Knight is not such a bad thing for White, so Black is going to want to discourage d4 again.


Black does this by playing Nc6. It is now 2 to 2, meaning White will not lose material pushing d4.

Again, having the Queen on d4 isnt all that great, though it certainly seems possible for White to play like this.

5. c3

Instead, though, he plays c3, making the count go 3 to 2 in Whites favor. Now, Black can only capture on d4 with material he is willing to lose.

In other words, Black can capture the d4 pawn, if pushed, with his c5 pawn, because he does not mind this trade. However, if White captures d4 with his c3 pawn, Black will not be able to play Nxd4, because he would lose his Knight for more or less nothing.


At this point, aside from Qb6 which will not help Black much, Black is unable to put any more immediate pressure on d4. Thus, he begins a very nice Knight maneuver, Nge7-Nf5, where the Knight will attack d4.

6. Na3

White, to counter this plan, begins a Knight maneuver of his own, Na3-Nc2 where his Knight protects the d4 square.

6...Nf5 7. Nc2

At the conclusion of this maneuver, it appears that White is ready to push d4. Perhaps he should have done so earlier, but Nakamura decides to push d4 before Stripunsky has a chance.


So, in some sense, the fight for d4 has been won by Nakamura. However, it is important to note that getting a pawn to a square does not necessarily mean you have won the fight for that square.

Also, a lot is often made about these types of fights for central squares, and in my humble opinion, it is often times way overblown. Simply to have d4 push through may not do a whole lot. As the Hyper Moderns showed, attacking the center with pieces can be just as effective as attacking it or occupying it with pawns. Further, today's chess player, made perhaps more practical than past players because of computers, have frequently shown that the center can often be ignored.

This is not such a difficult idea to believe if you look at why the center has always been considered such an important part of chess. It all comes down, to a certain degree, to one thing and that is flexibility.

If I have a Knight on d4, if can go to Kingside, Queenside, backwards forwards. My opponent has to make account for all this options when he makes his moves. Thus, if he goes for an all out attack on the Kingside, the Knight is ready to either defend the Kingside or to counter attack on the Queen side.

In some sense, it can be considered a material advantage, just in the future! Say my opponent has a Knight on g4, and he intends to attack my Kingside with this Knight, or to retreat the Knight to the Kingside. I have a Knight on d4, and I am considering both defending my Kingside, counter attacking on the King side, and counter attacking on the Queen side.

I have 3 future Knights and my opponent has only 2 future Knights, so I have gained an advantage.

Obviously, there is probably a lot going on the chess board other than these two knights. Maybe my opponent's two bishops are pointing at my king side, whereas my bishops are trapped behind pawns. Than my 3 Knights v 2 Knights doesnt make a whole lot of difference.

The advantage of the center is nullified by other factors. That is why I say it is important not to get to hung up on center control. If you are giving up too much other stuff to get that center control, you are losing!

That was a fine tangent, lets get back to the game!

So after move 7, the game really takes on a different feel than the usual french.

As a recap,

1. e4 e6
2. f4 d5
3. e5 c5
4. Nf3 Nc6
5. c3 Nge7
6. Na3 Nf5
7. Nc2 d4

And Black has advanced in the center.

8. Bd3

This move develops White's King side, as well as preventing 8...d3 by Black, which would wreak havoc on White's ability to develop his pieces. White's dark squared bishop, and his Queen's side rook would have a very difficult time getting to meaningful squares.

The bishop is also attacking Black's f5 Knight. Black would be left with 2 f pawns, but he would also gain the bishop pair if White exchanges. White probably wants to hold on to the Bishop pair for the moment, so the threat is not immediate. It is nice to have these kinds of threats, though, as Black must spend some time thinking about the positions that might arise if White takes the Knight.


Well, this move reinforces the c5-d4 pawn chain that Black has invading White's position. It also provides some pressure against the b2 pawn, should White ever want to develop his dark squared bishop. The move also influences the castling of both sides. For Black, he opens up the possibility of castling Queen side after he moves his light squared bishop. For White, if he castles king side, the Black Queen will have potential discovered checks against the king, if Black can move his d and c pawns.

For example, if White played 9. 0-0?, Black could play 9...dxc3 and if 10. dxc3 c4+ would win the bishop.

For what you might call a remote purpose of the move, if White does play Bxf5, Black will play exf5 which will clear up the 6th row for Black's Queen. After Black moves his Knight from c6, say to e7, the Black Queen could transfer over to the Kingside and put pressure on the g2 and h2 pawns. This is not likely to happen, but it is important to look for these remote possibilities, as enough of them may add up to a winning tactic eventually.

9. Qe2

The purpose of this move is to provide some defense for the b2 pawn. In the event of dxc3 dxc3, or if White moves his d pawn, the e3 square will be fairly weak as well. White wants to avoid a Knight landing on e3, and does not want to have to trade his dark squared bishop for the Knight.

Finally, the move gives a little more umph to the light squared bishop.


Well, the Knight has done good work on f5, and has supported Black's pawn advance d4. The Knight should not rest on its laurels, though, and thus moves to d5 where it exerts pressure on the dark squares c3-e3-f4. This is an instance where central control is very valuable, as Black is not making any real concessions to centralize his Knight. He can wait to see how White completes his development before Black spends valuable moves on his bishops or before he commits his King to the Kingside or Queenside.

10. Be4

White has centralized his Light Squared Bishop, which is nice. The light squared Bishop is also along what is called the long diagonal, going from h1-a8. e4 and d5 are the two squares where the Light Squared Bishop has the most potential influence on the board. The Light Squared Bishop is aiming at 13 squares, 7 on the long diagonal, and 6 on the b1-h7 diagonal.

In the current position, though, the Light Squared Bishop is not exactly well placed on e4. One of White's Knights would be better placed there, as the Bishop's second best square is much better than the Knight's second best square. All in all, though, this move makes sense, and helps White start to work around that annoying d4 pawn.


Pretty much expected. The Knight has a great handle on a lot of nice squares from d5. Black does not need to worry about Bxd5, as then White will have lost his Light Squared Bishop and Black's doubled d-pawns are actually pretty helpful. They give Black a good deal of central control.

11. g3

White is starting to untangle. As will be seen later, the plan is to move the Knight off of f3, move the bishop back to g2 (or some other out of the way square) and then White can go to work on completing the rest of his development.

Why wouldnt White just play g3-Bg2 right from the get go. Well, remember, that Black's d4 pawn was threatening the push d3, which would greatly cramp White's position. Black's d4 pawn is costing White some costly moves here in the beginning. That is not the end of the story though, as Black's c5-d4 pawn structure is ambitious but susceptible to counterattacks.


Why this now? Well, in Chess Openings, a lot of times you will have the choice between a variety of decent moves. To maintain maximum flexibility, it is best to play the most obvious and necessary of those moves first. Black has one and only one square for his Light Squared Bishop, so there isnt much choice about playing it to d7.

Black's dark squared bishop also has only one plausible square at this point, e7. However, 11...Be7 would be less good, as both of Black's Knights may want to move to the e7 square, and a c4 pawn push may free up the c5 square for the Dark Squared Bishop. The Light Squared Bishop is not taking away a potential square from any piece at the moment, and the e6 pawn and b7 pawns are not going to be pushed anytime soon. Therefore, the Light Squared Bishop is the more necessary move.

This move also opens up the possibility of Queen side castling, and Black's Light Squared Bishop may be able to move to c6, where it will be opposing White's Light Squared Bishop on the long diagonal.

12. c4

This move is fairly committal, but White wants to eject Black's Knight from the d5 square. The reason the move is committal is that Black's d4 pawn now stands more or less unopposed. Unless Black blunders, or White commits a lot of his attacking resources to undermining the c5 pawn, Black's d4 pawn will be at its position for the rest of the game. The squares c3 and e3 are unusable by White's pieces, and at some point Black may be able to use them to devastating effect.

All that doesnt mean the move is bad, though. Black loses the use of the d5 square, which is where his best placed piece was placed. The c3 and e3 squares are not especially vulnerable right now, so White has time to begin an attack against various parts of the Black position.

This move also ensures that the White's Light Squared bishop, possibly his best placed piece, will continue to have a good deal of scope down the long diagonal. If Black castles Queen Side, this may prove very valuable.


Black must move the Knight, and he chooses to move it forward rather than backward. This is probably a good decision, as the Knight will get traded off, and Black really only has enough squares for one Knight. The c6-b4 squares only allow for one Knight comfortably. Black doesnt really want to move the Knight to e7, as it will get in the way of his Dark Squared Bishop. Nc7 would also cause a lot of interference with the Black pieces.

13. d3

White wants to defend the Knight on c2, or exchange it off. Recapturing the Knight with the Light Squared Bishop would take White's best placed piece away from its best square. He chooses to defend it with a move that is also helpful in other ways. This is a simple, but nice use of multiple purposes for one move. Even players at my skill level may frequently overlook these kinds of moves, and play something uninspired like Nxb4.

As far as pawn structure goes, the e3 and c3 squares will now be weakened, but the pawn chains are more or less set. White can finally develop his dark squared bishop and his Queen's Rook, and his c4 pawn is now nicely protected.


As noted above, Black really only needs one Knight in his current position. Exchanging now, rather than allowing White to play Na3-Nb5 or Nb1 and reroute his Knight where it may be more helpful than Black's Knight is not something Black should really want to have happen.

White's a3 pawn push, forcing the Knight off the b4 square is also something Black wants to avoid. The Knight would be very bad on a6, the only possible retreating square.

14. Qxc2

Well, no surprise here. White has to retake the Knight and the Queen is the only piece that can retake it. The Queen is doing a nice job of holding down some of the Queen side light squares and the b2 pawn as well.


Black attacks the White's center pawns with a wing pawn. White is forced to capture en passant, or else his Light Squared Bishop is trapped.

14. exf6



Also Forced. Black's f6 pawn helpfully controls the e5 and g5 dark squares.

16. Nh4

The threat of f5 required White to move his Knight from the f3 square. White is going to re organize his pieces a bit, and get his bishop and King side Knight to a better spot.


Since the Knight has moved, the e5 and g5 squares protection is not as important. At the same time, I am not sure I understand this move. Maybe Black wanted to avoid 0-0-0 right away, or move the bishop off of e4 before he 0-0-0. The primary cause of my confusion is that White probably has to play Bg2 anyway, so he can return his Knight from h4 to f3. Maybe White could carry on with Bd2, 0-0-0, and wait for f5 before playing Bg2.

All that said, f5 is not a bad move at all. I am just having difficulty finding why it is important to play f5 as opposed to another move first.

17. Bg2

Forced, Bf3 would just get in the Knights way.


Black's King is much safer on the Queen side, and now is a good time to castle. The Dark Squared Bishop still has a lot of possible squares it could move too.

18. Nf3

White wants to get his Knight back in the game as fast as possible. The Knight is eying e5 and g5, and can also reroute itself if necessary.


So, the Dark Squared Bishop has finally made up its mind. From d6, the Dark Squared Bishop protects e5, as well as attacking the King side dark squares f4-g3-h2. An astute observer will note that there are White pawns on those squares. Black has almost completed his development, and is moving towards a middle-game plan.

19. Bd2

White, on the other hand, is down a couple moves and has yet to complete his development. Castling 0-0 is not good with the g-file open. Castling Queen side is not particularly dangerous as Black has also castled Queen side.

This is a good spot to pay particular attention to the Bishops. White has one bishop on the long diagonal, and one modestly placed on d2. It may seem like White's bishops are better developed, but when looking at the bishops, think about what possible plans each side can have.

As Black pushes pawns, like his e6 pawn, or his h5 pawn, his bishops gain a great deal of strength. Aside from the dangerous b4 pawn push, White has no pawn pushes that increase the scope of his bishops.

Another interesting thing to take account of in this position is Black's backward e6 pawn. How can White attack it? Well, with Rooks and the Queen on the e1, e2, and e5 squares and the Knight on the g5 square. Black is likely to protect the e5 square, and aside from that getting the Rooks and Queen to those positions is not a simple task. It will take quite a few moves to achieve.

How about Black's pushing that e5 pawn? Well, he already has a Knight and Bishop on the e5 square, and a Rook can move to e8 immediately. Doubling rooks is a little easier for Black, as he has a bit more space to work with. Rather than playing something like Re1-Re2-Rhe1 Black can play moves that are useful aside from the e file. Re8-h5-Rh7-Re7.

Black has doubled rooks, but has also attacked with his h pawn and left himself open the option of not playing Re7, and of doubling his rooks quickly too the f, g and h files as well. For instance, the e5 pawn push might be impossible by the time Black plays Rh7, so he can just play Reh8 instead of Rhe7. White does not have nearly as much flexibility with his rooks, and doubling his rooks on the e file commits him more or less to doubling his rooks on the e file.

This is the advantage Black gets with his d4 pawn. Black gets more space to maneuver his pieces, which makes his maneuvering more flexible. In the end, Black hopes that White cannot cover all of the places he needs to cover, and Black is able to break through somewhere. A casual player should not that winning with a space advantage is a huge pain! It takes a lot of patience, concentration and creativity, as the other side is usually able to deal with your 1st, 2nd even 3rd threat. I myself have won some nice games based on the space advantage, but I have also drawn many games where I may have had an advantage, and have even lost a few games through frustrated play.

Back to the game:


So, Black will attack White's Kingside pawns. Notice how the pawns are more or less immobile, which makes them particularly easy targets. Black can create 5-10 move long term plans, and those White pawns will more likely than not still be there.

20. 0-0-0

White has finally gotten to a point where his development is finished, and he can start to think of some attacking plans of his own. All of Black's aggression in the opening have left White some excellent opportunities to counter attack.


I would probably play h5 here, but that is why I am not a GM (or even close!) h6 is a nice patient move that takes away the g5 square from the White Knight. There will be plenty of time for h5-h4 later.

21. Rde1

This helps White keep that e pawn backwards, and makes Black have to think twice about his manoeuvrings. His light squared bishop is somewhat stuck to defensive duties at this point.


More patience, increasing King safety is always a good idea when it is possible.

22. Re2

White begins the plan of doubling his Rooks on the e file. Notice how the e2 Rooks possible squares are very limited. A rook on the f file doesnt do much of anything for White, and Re3, Re4 or Re5 all lose material.


A very nice idea, that I actually overlooked in my earlier analysis of the ways Black can defend the e pawn. By bringing a rook to the 6th rank, Black can leave his rook in an attacking position down the g file, while at the same time give an extra boost of defense to the backward e pawn.

23. Rhe1

White has doubled rooks on the e file, and Black cannot move his light squared bishop. If he moves his g6 Rook, White has possible exchange sacrifices with Rxe6, Bxe6 and Rxe6. These dont look too promising now, but they may get better.


Oh dear, what is this all about! Well, the first thing to notice is that Black now has a Rook opposing both White's Queen and King. This is good, but a Knight and 2 pawns, one of Black's and one of White's are in the way! Perhaps one of the ideas is that Nb4, or other use of the b4 square, becomes much better for Black now, as if White plays Bxb4, after cxb4, only White's c4 pawn stands between Black's Rook and White's Queen and King.

24. Kb1

White gets his King out of the line of fire of the c8 rook.


Well, perhaps the game is getting a bit beyond my abilities. Maybe I am trying to look to deeply into the position, though. Black is reinforcing the b4 square, and is also applying various a4-a3 pressure against the White King position. Maybe my lack of understanding of these moves is one of the reasons I dont play that well with the space advantage. The key to winning with a space advantage is to create multiple threats and maneuver your pieces quickly from one threat to another. Instead of playing on the King side, which is fairly obvious, Nakamura is playing on the Queen side, to make sure some of White's pieces are held down to its defense. Then, Nakamura can swing his pieces back over to the King side and his attack will be much more powerful.

25. Ka1

White's King moves again, to get out of the line of fire of the Black Queen


Wow, what a move. Now we can see that Black really has a lot of potential on both sides of the board. By moving his King to c7, attacks by the b pawn are much more realistic as his king safety is not as big a concern. Further, Black's rooks can now swing to any side of the board via the unobstructed 8th rank.

26. Nh4

White begins his counter attack. This move attacks one of the e pawn defenders, the g6 Rook. The rook is either forced to give up the e pawns defense, or move to the much less active f6 square.

This Knight move also lets White's long dormant Light Squared Bishop loose.


The Rook chooses to move to the less active square, rather than abandon the defense of the e6 pawn. The exchange sacrifice looks promising for White in the event that Black played Rg8 or some similar move. 26...Rg8 27. Rxe6 Bxe6 28. Rxe6 and Black's h6 pawn and f5 pawn are both weak and under attack. If White could win those pawns, he should have more than enough for the exchange. Winning of them would give him nice chances at a win.

27. Bxc6

Well, the Light Squared Bishop trades itself off for the Knight. White's bishop wasnt doing much except threatening to trade off the Knight. The Knight on the other hand, was threatening an invasion on the b4 square as well as protecting the e5 square and threatening a potential e5 pawn push.


Bxc6 would lose the e6 pawn, and bxc6 would give Black a lot less attacking potential on the Queen side. Black would then have to be careful of his e6 pawn becoming the primary weakness in the position. Any Rook and Queen attack down the b file would be fairly easily parried.

28. Bxa5+

Oops, Black lost a pawn! More seriously, though, this also opens up the a file for Black. It is very difficult to assess these types of positional pawn sacrifices, so I will just move on.


Black is in check and does not want to move his King back to the b8 square where it will block access to the a8 square for his Rooks.

29. Bd2

The bishop is under attack and must retreat.


It begins. Black's Queen is now putting pressure down the a file. The Black Queen also maintains a decent amount of control over the long diagonal.

30. Rf2

Well, the Rook isnt great here, but White wanted to protect the f3 square. This frees up the Knight to either go to f3 or somewhere else without worrying about Qf3 later.


Now that the Bishop is on the long diagonal, White is still unable to move his Knight back to f3.

31. Qd1

Again with the f3!


White's pieces are getting tied down to awkward squares, so Black begins some aggression on the Queen side.

32. b3

White wants to maintain his d3-c4 pawn chain.


Black opens up the b-file

33. bxc4

White wants to keep his d3 pawn, so he recaptures with the b3 pawn. The d3 pawn is preventing Black's light squared bishop from getting to the e4 square, where it would eye b1 menacingly.


Having opened the b file, Black moves a rook to the b file.

34. Bc1

Well, I dont quite know but preventing Qa3 was probably one of the points. White is giving up control of b1, but gains more control of b2.


Attacking the White Queen and bringing the Light squared Bishop closer to the fight over White's King.

Notice how Black's pawn moves have greatly increased the scope of Black's light squared bishop, whereas White hasnt been able to increase the scope of his dark squared bishop at all.

35. Qd2

White has to move his Queen, and from d2 the Queen threatens Qa5+, Qxa4 if the Black Queen moves off the a file.


Black removes the Qa5+ threat and now his Queen can move off the a file.

36. Ree2

White puts all his heavy pieces on the 2nd Rank, preparing to defend b2 and a2.


Black's dark squared bishop reroutes itself to White's King. In the background is the possibility of e5, which then allows the f6 Rook to come over to the Queen side via the 6th Rank.

37. Qe1

White prepares to play Bd2 in the event of Ba5.


Black brings his Dark Squared bishop to the Queen Side.

38. Bd2

White parries the threat to his Queen with Bd2.


Black creates a mate threat on b1.

39. Bxa5

White trades off one of his cumbersome pieces for one of Black's attacking pieces.


Black takes back with the Queen. White cannot take the Queen because of Rb1#.

40. Rf1

White cannot save his Queen without getting checkmated, so he at least aims to get Black's Rook and Light Squared Bishop for the Queen.


Black accepts the trade of Rook and Bishop for Queen.

41. Qxb1




42. Rxb1

Otherwise Black is up a Queen to a Rook.


The Black Queen invades White's position, pinning a Rook to the King as well as attacking the d3 pawn.

43. Reb2

White hopes that after Qxd3? he can get a perpetual check draw with Rb8+, Rb7+, Rb6+. The Black King would have no where to hide from the checks.


Black prepares to parry the White's threat of perpetual check.

44. Nf3

White is moving the Knight so that it can protect the d3 pawn.


Black prepares to trade off a rook, after which White will have more difficulty getting a perpetual check.

45. Ne5

White protects the d3 pawn.


Black presents White a problem, Where does he move!

If White moves his Knight, than Rxb2 Rxb2, Qxd3 and White will lose his pawns. If White doesnt move his Knight, Black can move his King and his pawns and win Black's pawns.

White resigned at this point.

So, this was the 1st Round Game of the US Championships between Stripunsky and Nakamura. Despite White's funky looking position throughout some of the game, he actually had decent chances for a win of his own.

Chess Tactic of the Day #44

Black to move.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chess Tactic of the Day #43

White to move.

Chess Tactic of the Day Answers #14-#20

I recently archived my posts by week rather than month. I think I started The Chess Tactics of the Day on a Monday, so 1-7, 8-14, 15-21 Tactic answers would not correspond with an archived week. To make it easier to look at the problems and answers, I am going to post the answers to one archived week. Sorry, this is worded pretty terribly but it is a really basic concept!

Tactic #14:

Another great and famous win by Morphy. Apparently, Morphy took all of 12 minutes before playing the Queen sacrifice on move 17. Assuming Morphy calculated out all the variations, this represents an incredible speed for calculating moves. I am surely impressed! I make these sorts of sacrifices and realize, oh yeah, on the 3rd move he can parry the check by moving his pawn. Oops!

Tactic #15:

Composed by Richard Reti.

Tactic #16:

Paul Morphy wins again! Amazingly, Morphy was 12 at the time he played this game.

Tactic #17:

1. Qf5 h5 2. Qh5#

Tactic #18:

This game was played by Alexei Shirov and Alexander Chernin. I dont know too much about the tournament, but it was a World Championship Qualifier. I believe this tournament was part of the cycle that culminated in the Kasparov v Anand World Championship Match in 1995. Obviously then, Shirov didnt win the tournament, but he won this very nice game.

Tactic #19:

1. Rf6+ Ke5 2. Ng6#

Tactic #20:

1. Qf3+ Ne3 2. Qxe3# or 1. Qf3+ Kxd2 2. Rd1#

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chess Tactic of the Day #42

Black to move.