Saturday, February 27, 2010

Guico Piano

The Guico Piano is characterized by the opening moves 1. e4 e5, 2. Nf3 Nc6, 3. Bc4 ....

As the name suggests, a quiet opening. Dangerous only in the hands of an expert. Against precise play White cannot really claim any advantage.

Breslau, 1909

The Two-Rook Sacrifice

This is one of the most spectacular themes in the whole realm of chess. It has inspired some striking brilliant attacks.

1. e4, e5
2. Nf3, Nc6
3. Bc4, Nf6
4. d3, Bc5
5. Bg5, d6
6. h3, Be6
7. Bb5, a6
8. Bxc6, bxc6

So far, its a quiet game.  Now it starts to show life.

9. d4, exd4
10. Nxd4, Bxd4
11. Qxd4, c5
12. Qc3? ......

Inferior to 12. Qe3, which would have avoided the ensuing complications.

12......... Nxe4
13. Qxg7  .......

The spineless alternative 13. Bxd8, Nxc3 leaves White a pawn down.

13. ...... Qxg5 !
14. Qxh8+, Kd7
15. Qxa8, Qc1+

Now we see why Black sacrificed his Rooks.  He has a mating attack.

16. Ke2, Qxc2+
17. Ke3, Qxf2+

Black has his eye on this pretty mate: 18. Kxe4  Bf5+,  19. Kd5 Qd4 mate.

18. Kd3, c4
19 Kxe4, f5 mate

A pretty finish.  The rationale behind the two-Rook sacrifice is clear:  the loser's Queen, in the process of confiscating the Rooks, wanders away from the field of battle to be of any further use.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Philidor Defense

The Philidor Defense is characterized by the opening moves:

1. e4, e5
2. Nf3, d6

It was named after the famous 18th century player François-André Danican Philidor, who advocated it as an alternative to the common 2...Nc6.  His original idea was to challenge White's center by the pawn thrust ...f7-f5. Today it is known as a solid, though passive, choice for Black.

Paris, 1937

The Two-Rook Sacrifice

Chess has an inexhaustible supply of sacrifices.  The double-Rook sacrifice always appear in new guises.

1. e4, e5
2. Nf3, d6
3. d4, Nf6
4. dxe5, Nxe4
5. Bc4 ......

White threatens to win with Qd5.  The safest defense is 5......c6.

5. ...... Be6

Black selects a more venturesome line, which allows White to win a pawn in a very risky fashion.

6. Bxe6, fxe6
7. Qe2, d5
8. Qb5+, Nc6

There is more here than meets the eye, as in this pretty line of play: 9. Qxb7  Nb4, 10. Qb5+ c6,  11.  Qa4 Nc5!! winning White's Queen (for if 12. Qxb4 Nd3+).

9. Nd4 Qd7
10. Qxb7 ?   ......

White cannot bypass this inviting move, especially as he sees that an exchange of knights will leave him behind in development.

11. c3 ........

Black has three pieces under attack.

11. ....... Nxd4 !!

This leaves White with little choice, for after 12 cxb4, 0-0 Black has too many strong threats.

12. Qxa8+, Kf7
13. Qxh8, Qb5!!

White resigns. He has no defense against the threat of Qe2 mate.  White's greed led to disaster.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Falkbeer Counter Gambit

The Falkbeer Gambit is usually employed by Black against the King's Gambit with the idea of paralyzing White's center.  The Gambit offers a pawn instead of taking the gambit and advances the e-pawn with the idea of preventing Nf3 and the advance of White's d-pawn.

Breslau, 1862

1. e4, e5
2. f4, d5

This countergambit surrenders a pawn for technical and psychological reasons.  The technical objective is to obtain a substantial lead in development, the psychological motive is to befuddle White.

3. exd5, e4

This pawn can be a stumbling block to White by preventing the natural Nf3; or it can become a target for White's attack, provoking him to waste time winning the advanced pawn.

This explains why White's best course is to shunt aside these complications and simply play 4. d3, ensuring the removal of the obnoxious pawn.

4. Bb5ch, c6
5. dxc6, Nxc6
6. Nc3, Nf6
7. Qe2 ......

White is following the faulty tactic of winning the King Pawn.  He will live to regret it.

7. ......  Bc5 !
8. Nxe4, 0-0

For after 9. Nxc5 Black wins the White Queen with 9. ...... Re8.

9. Bxc6 ........

Getting rid of an important enemy piece, but opening up a file which will be useful for Black later on.

9. ...... bxc6
10. d3, Re8
11. Bd2 .......

White prepares to castle, as the King file is getting too hot for his King.

11. ....... Nxe4
12. dxe4, Bf5

Developing with gain of time.

13. e5, Qb6

A double-threat: 14. .....Bxg1 and 14. ... Qxb2.  White's reply is forced.

14. 0-0-0, Bd4 !

Neat play. White threatens mate.

15. c3, Rab8 !
16. b3, Red8!
17. Nf3 ......

White can hold out much longer with 17. Kb2, although after 17. ... Bc5 he would be helpless against Black's attack.  The text permits a lovely finish.

17. ......  Qxb3

The proverbial bolt from the blue, and still threatening mate.

18. axb3, Rxb3

And now, with his Queen gone, Black threatens 8. ..... Rb1 mate.

19. Be1 ......

To create a flight square for his King.

19. ..... Be3+
20. Resigns

Here we see the real point of 16. .....Red8 !!!  Black's devilishly posted King Rook cuts off the escape of White's King, so that Black can continue with 20.....Rb1 mate.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

The King's Gambit, Muzio Variation

Vienna, 1903

1. e4, e5
2. f4, exf4
3. Nf3, g5
4. Bc4, g4
5. Nc3, gxf3
6. Qxf3, d5

With a material advantage, Black can afford to give up a pawn in order to gain time for development.

7. Nxd5, c6
8. Nxf4, Qf6

Threatening 9. ....Qd4 winning another piece if White castles.

9. c3, Bh6

Black had a better line in 9....Qh4+, 10. g3 Bg4, 11. Qf2 Qe7 etc.

10. d4, Ne7
11. 0-0, 0-0

12. Nd5 ......

A neat surprise.  Black has little choice, for on 12....Qxf3, 13. Nxe7+ regains the piece with a winning advantage. 

13. Qxf6, Nxf6
14. Bxh6 ....

If now 14......Nxe4, 15. Bxf8 Nd2, 16. Bxf7+ Kxf8, 17. Be6+ Nxf1, 8. Rxf1+ Ke7, 19. Bxc8 and the threat of Bxb7 is absolutely decisive.

14. .....N8d7
15. Bxf8, Kxf8
16. e5, Resigns

On 16......Nd5, 17. Bxd5 cxd5, 18. e6 Nb6, 19. Rxf7+ etc. not to mention an overwhelming position.  This little game abounds in bright ideas.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The King's Gambit, Muzio Variation

The Muzio Gambit is rarely played nowadays.  During the Romantic Era, however, this lively opening, involving as it does the sacrifice of a piece on the fifth move, was played frequently even against very good players.  Here is an example in which Andressen, an attacking master, is brought to his knees in mere 17 moves.

Breslau, 1865

1. e4, e5
2. f4, exf4
3. Nf3, g5
4. Bc4, g4
5. 0-0 ....

After Ne5, Qh4ch the attack passes to Black.

5. .... Qe7

Black still maintains a threat to win a piece, as he holds Qc5 in reserve, winning White's exposed Bishop.

6. Nc3 !? ....

The idea behind this interesting move is apparently that after 6.... Qc5+, 7. d4 Qxc4, 8. Ne5 Qe6, 9. Nd5 Kd8, 10. Bxf4 White will have a fierce attack in return for the sacrificed piece.

6. ..... gxf3
7. d4, d6
8. Nd5, Qd7
9. Qxf3, Nc6
10. Qxf4, Nd8
11. Qg3!  ...

White's lead in development is so great that it negates, at least for the time being, his material loss.

12. Qxg8!, Rxg8
13. Nf6+, Ke7
14. Nxg8+ ....

Black's King cannot run away.

14. .....  Ke8
15. Nf6+, Ke7
16. Nxd7, Bxd7
17. Bg5+, Resigns

Black has nothing to live for.  If 17..... Ke8, 18. Bxd8 Rxd8, 19. Rxf7

A gem of a game.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

The King's Gambit, Cunningham Variation

The "gambit" here is the White's f-pawn being offered to Black in order to build a strong center with d2-d4 and to attack f7.  In order for Black to maintain the pawn advantage, he may well be forced to weaken his kingside.

The King's Gambit was examined by the 17th century Italian chess player Giulio Polerio.[1]  and Luis Ramirez de Lucena.[2] The King's Gambit is now infrequently seen at master level, as Black can obtain a reasonable position by returning the extra pawn to consolidate.

GUNSBERG vs. Amateur
London, 1879
King's Gambit, Cunningham Variation

1. e4 e5
2. f4 exf4
3. Nf3 Be7
4. Bc4 Bh4+

Another move, Nf6, is vastly superior. White answers the Bishop check by sacrificing a handful of pawns.

5. g3 fxg3
6. 0-0 gxh2
7. Kh1 ....

White should never capture the h pawn. It would expose the King to danger. The h pawn, as it is, shields the White King. In return for the sacrificed pawns, White has a lead in development, open lines and attacking chances. Black must be on the guard.

7. ... d5
8. Bxd5 Nf6
9. Nc3 Nxd5
10. Nxd5 Bh3
11. Nxh4 Bxf1
12. Qg4 ....

12. ... 0-0

To a casual chess player, this may look like an obvious move. Yet it is a bad choice.

13. Nf5 g6
14. Nfe7+   Kh8
15. b3   Nd7
16. Bb2+  f6
17. Rxf1  c6

Of course.  But White has a staggering reply.

18. Qxd7   Qxd7
19. Rxf6   ....

White threatens 20.  Rxf8ch mate.  On 19. ... Rxf6 he replies 20. Bxf6 mate.  Black's best chance was 19. ....  Kg7   20. Rd6+ leaving White with a won ending.

19.  ....  h5?
20. Rf7 mate.

A remarkably interesting game.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Center Game

The first opening we will talk about is the Center Game, which is used by tactical players.  The goal of this article is not to give you a historical development of the opening since you can easily find it elsewhere (for example here:, but to give you its key features.

In this sharp opening, White usually castles on the Queen's Side and Black castles on the King's Side. As a result in many cases White pushes his 'h' pawn to create an attack.  In the game below, White did not.

Hastings, 1894
(Center Game)

1. e4 e5
2. d4 exd4

White's second move has long been discredited because it leads to a loss of time when White's Queen is attacked. Besides, the Queen should not be moved too early in the game. The Queen is the strongest piece on the board and, after the King, she is easily the most valuable.  Be careful about bringing her into battle too soon.  She may herself become the target of an attack.

3. Qxd4 Nc6
4. Qe3 g6
5. Bd2 ...

Not a bad move, if White follows up with 6. Bc3 to neutralize Black's Bishop on the long diagonal -- but he doesn't.

5 ... Bg7
6. Nc3 N8e7
7. 0-0-0 0-0
8. f4  ...

Looks like a good attack, but according to Fred Reinfeld, this move is inferior to 8. Nd5 with a view to Bc3 to neutralize Black's Bishop.

8. ... d5!

Black is threatening d4 and seizes the initiative with this move.

9. exd5 Nb4!
10. Bc4 Bf5!

Every move a threat.

11. Bb3 N7xd5
12. Nxd5 Nxd5
13. Qf3 Qf6!

Another threat. This time...Qxb2 mate.

14. c3 Nb4!

Now, Black threatens Nd3ch followed by Ne5 or Ne1 winning White's Queen.

15. Bc4  ..

15.  ...  Qa6!

The Queen cannot be captured because of Nxa2! mate.

16. g4 Qxa2 !!

Black is unruffled. Now, he threatens Qa1 mate or Qb1 mate, so White makes room for his King.

17. Be3 Bxc3 !!

White resigns, as he is overwhelmed by simultaneous threats: Qa1 mate, Qxb2 mate, Qb1 mate. If Bkack's Bishop is captured, then White mates with Qc2. Black has played with heart-stirring brio.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

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