Friday, December 31, 2010

Material Exchange

Chess pieces have inherent values, and during material exchange, the captured pieces must be more or less equal in worth. However, in certain cases, material may be exchanged for quality game, facilitated attack, or speedy development.  In the following game, the Queen is exchanged for 3 minor pieces, an exemplary demonstration of such theory.

Amsterdam, 1940

1. d4, Nf6
2. c4, g6
3. Nc3, d5
4. Nf3, Bg7
5. Qb3, dxc4
6. Qxc4, 0-0
7. e4, b6
8. e5, Be6

Black attacks the Queen in order to plant his Knight at d5.  But White refuses to be driven away.

9. exf6!! ....

White has correctly calculated that his Queen is worth the exchange.

9. .... Bxc4
10. fxg7, Kxg7
11. Bxc4 ....

The smoke has cleared and Black now realizes that he exchanged a Knight and two Bishops for the opponent's Queen.  A bad bargain.

11. .... Nc6
12. Be3, Nb4

A wasteful maneuver on the part of Black. Now White gains time.

13. 0-0, Nc2
14. Rad1, Nxe3
15. fxe3, c5
16. Ng5!! ....

White suddenly threatens 17. Rxf7 Rxf7, 18. Ne6+ etc.

16. .... e6

If 16....Qe8, a likely continuation could be 17. dxc5 bxc5, 18. Bb5 Qc8, 19. Rd7 and the pressure would be too much for Black.

17. Rxf7  Resigns

White threatens Nxe6 double-check!

All is lost for Black.  If 17.....Kh6, then 18. Rxh7+ Kxg5, 19. h4+ Kg4, 20. Be2+ Kg3, 21. Ne4 mate.  Superb play!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Opening Tricks and Traps

Opening traps are fun to watch -- and much more fun to use.  The popularity of a chess opening trick lies in the fact that it involves sneaky play, not necessarily brilliancy.  The victim is usually persuaded to abandon common sense principles of play and take the bait.

It is therefore important that every serious chess player be aware of these opening tricks for they abound in different forms and combination, and even known to victimize chess masters.  Chess opening is an art by itself, and while not all artists are chess players, all chess players are artists.

To see various opening tricks and traps, please visit Chess Opening Tricks.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Castle Early Or You'll Be Sorry

Sometimes a player becomes so engrossed in his opening play that he forgets to castle. Such delay could be costly. The following game effectively demonstrates this important aspect of chess play.  See also The Importance of Castling.

London, 1927

1. Nf3, Nf6
2. d4, g6
3. Nc3, d5
4. Bf4, Nh5

Black attempts to exchange a Knight for a Bishop. While this has theoretical basis, the move provokes a weakness in Black's pawn structure. Instead, 4....c6 or 4.....Bg7 should have been played.

5. Be5! ....

Some players may see this move as a waste of time, but it is instrumental in creating the weakness as mentioned in the previous paragraph.

5. .... f6
6. Bg3, Nxg3
7. hxg3 ....

The open h-file is advantageous to White.

7. .... Bg7
8. e3, c6
9. Bd3, e5?

Not having castled yet, this move is ill-timed.

10. Rxh7!!, Kf7?

If Black replies with 10....Rxh7, then White gains material with 11. Bxg6.

Black's best reply is 10....e4, though White still wins with 11. Rxg7 exd3, 12. Qxd3 Bf5, 13. e4 Kf8 (if 13....dxe4, 14. Qc4 wins), 14. exf5 Rh1+, 15. Kd2 Rxa1, 16. Rxb7 Kg8, 17. fxg6 etc.

11. Bxg6+ ....

The fireworks begin.

11. .... Kxg6
12. Nxe5!! ....

Outstanding! If 12.....Kxh7, 13. Qh5+ Kg8, 14. Qf7+ Kh7, 15. 0-0-0 and mate follows.

12. .... fxe5
13. Qh5+, Kf6
14. Qxe5+, Kf7

If 14....Kg6, 15. Qxg7+ Kf5, 16. g4+ Ke6, 17. Qe5 mate.

15. Qxg7+, Resigns

If 15....Ke6, then 16. Qe5 mate. Nothing short of elegant!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Play for Attack

An old chess adage says "An attack is the best defense." Some players are determined to play for an attack at all cost, and such style almost always pays dividends. The following game is interestingly such a masterpiece.

Ostend, 1907
King's Indian Defense

1. d4, Nf6
2. Nf3, d6
3. Bf4, Nbd7
4. e3, g6
5. Bd3, Bg7
6. Nbd2, 0-0
7. h4!? ....

Such dubious move might be regarded with horror by modern chess theorists, but Marshall is determined in his attack.

7. .... Re8
8. h5!?, Nxh5
9. Rxh5!?, gxh5
10. Bxh7!? ....

10. .... Kxh7?

Black now loses the game because he allowed his King to be exposed to attack. He would have fared better if he moved 10....Kf8! and would give White a difficult time to recover his lost pieces.

11. Ng5+, Kg6

Not 11....Kg8 because of 12. Qxh5 Nf6, 13. Qxf7+ Kh8, 14. 0-0-0, and then Rh1+.

12. Ndf3 ....

Threatening 13. Qd3+ f5, 14. Nh4+ etc.

12. .... e5
13. Nh4+, Kf6

Of course not 13....Kh6, 14. Nxf7+ winning the Queen.

14. Nh7+, Ke7
15. Nf5+, Ke6
16. Nxg7+, Ke7
17. Nf5+, Ke6
18. d5+, Kxf5
19. Qxh5+, Ke4
20. 0-0-0, Resigns

White threatens 21. f3 mate. The only way to prevent this is to capture White's Bishop with 20....exf4, but then comes another bolt of lightning: 21. Rd4 mate.

An entertaining yet instructive piece of game.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bishop's Power on the Long Diagonal

The Bishop's power on the long diagonal (a1-h8 or a8-h1) cannot be underestimated, more so if it helps create a mating combination on the opponent's King.  The following game effectively demonstrates this theory.

Scarborough, 1930

1. d4, Nf6
2. c4, e6
3. Nc3, Bb4
4. Qb3, c5
5. dxc5, Nc6
6. Nf3, Ne4
7. Bd2, Nxc5
8. Qc2, f5

Black intends to control the center (e4) by piece rather than by pawn. In line with this objective, f5 is much better than d5.

9. e3, 0-0
10. a3, Bxc3
11. Bxc3 ....

Although White at this point has a Bishop Pair, the Bishops have little scope and therefore rendered futile against Black's Bishop and Knight.

11. .... b6
12. Be2, Bb7

This Bishop, entrenched on the long diagonal, is destined to rule the board.

13. 0-0, Rc8
14. Rfd1, Qe7
15. b4, Ne4
16. Be1?, Rf6

White's Bishop should have remained at its own diagonal, rather than cower at e1.  Now Black's Rook is poised to play...

17. Nd4? ....

This move increases the power of Black's Bishop.  Bad for White.

17. .... Rg6!
18. Bf1 ....

If White plays 18. f3, then Black wins with 18.....Qg5!, 19. Bf1 Qxe3+, 20. Bf2 Qxf3 etc.

18. .... Ng5!

Now Black threatens to win with 19.....Nxd4, 20. exd4 Nf3+, 21. Kh1 Qh4! somewhat akin to actual play.

19. Kh1, Nxd4
20. exd4 ....

 20. .... Nf3!!
White resigns.

White's case is hopeless.  If he tries 21. d5 (to block the diagonal), then the game may continue 21.....Qh4 22. gxf3 Qg5 and mate follows. Following this variation, if 22. h3 then 22....Qxh3, 23. gxh3 Rg1 mate. 

The same result happens after 21. g3, thereafter Black replies with 21.....Qh4, 22. gxh4 Rg1 mate.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Power of Two Bishops

The Bishop Pair is one of the most powerful weapons in chess arsenal. In the hands of a master, two efficiently coordinating Bishops can create havoc along open files.

Nuremberg 1896

1. d4, d5
2. c4, dxc4
3. Nf3, c5
4. e3, cxd4
5. exd4, Bg4
6. Bxc4 ....

White threatens 7. Bxf7 Kxf7, 8. Ne5+.

6. .... e6
7. Qa4+, Nc6

White readily exploits the absence of Black's Bishop along the a4-e8 diagonal.  If Black replies 7....Nd7, there follows 8. Ne5 N8f6, 9. Bg5! Bf5, 10. Nxd7 Qxd7, 11. Bb5 winning the Queen.

8. Ne5, Qxd4
9. Nxc6, Qe4+
10. Be3, bxc6

Of course not 10....Qxc6 because of 11. Bb5 winning the Queen.

11. Nc3, Qxg2
12. Bd5!! ....

This beauty of a move drives off the Black Queen and spearheads an attack on the opponent King.  Black is obliged to take down the Bishop.

12. .... exd5
13. Qxc6+, Kd8

If 13....Ke7, then 14. Nxd5+ Kd8, 15. Qxa8 and Black can resign.

14. Qxa8+, Kd7
15. Qb7+, Ke6
16. Qc6+, Bd6
17. Bf4, Resigns

There is no way to prevent 18. Qxd6+.  If 17....Qxh1+, 18. Kd2 Qxa1, 19. Qxd6+ Kf5, 20. Qe5+ Kg6, 21. Qg5 mate.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sweet Mobility

In chess, more mobile pieces most often ensure victory. This happens when almost all pieces are developed and not restricted to cramped positions. This theory is illustrated in the following game.

Sopron, 1934
Queen's Gambit Declined

1. d4, Nf6
2. Nf3, e6
3. c4, Bb4+
4. Nd2, Ne4
5. e3, Nxd2
6. Bxd2, Bxd2
7. Qxd2, d5
8. Rc1, c6
9. Bd3, Nd7
10. 0-0, 0-0

At this point, both sides have been striving to relieve off cramped positions. White, however, has a much more free game.

11. e4! ....

White decides to open up more files to expand the control of his pieces.

11. .... dxe4
12. Bxe4, Nf6
13. Bb1, b6
14. Qf4, Bb7
15. Ne5, Qc7?

Black should have opened his Bishop's diagonal by the freeing move 15.....c5.

16. Rc3!, Nh5

17. Bxh7+!!, Kxh7

Effort by Black to turn down the Bishop would prove futile, as in 17.... Kh8, 18. Ng6+ wins the Black Queen.

18. Rh3, Kg8

A pretty situation arises after 18.....g6, 19. Nxg6 Qxf4, 20. Nxf4 in which case Black recovers his lost piece (Bishop) plus two extra pawns.

19. Rxh5, f6
20. Rh8, Resigns

Black loses the Queen after 20.....Kxh8, 21. Ng6+.

A wonderful game.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

When Minor Pieces Play

When Queens are exchanged in a turbulent opening, the minor pieces working in harmony may conquer the uncastled King and create a beautiful mating combination.

Budapest, 1939
Nimzovich Defense

1. e4, Nc6
2. d4, d5
3. exd5 ....

Better is 3. e5 for a stronger central pawn structure.

3. .... Qxd5
4. Nf3, Bg4
5. Nc3?! ....

The best reply is 5. Be2, then Black's hope of winning a pawn by 5....Bxf3 can be scuttled by 6. Bxf3 Qxd4, 7. Bxc6+ winning the Queen.

5. .... Bxf3
6. Nxd5, Bxd1
7. Nxc7+, Kd7
8. Nxa8, Bxc2

The next few moves illustrate White's hopeless pursuit to make a getaway plan for his Knight at a8.

9. Bf4 ....

9. ....  e4!!

A powerful tempo-making move. If White replies 10. Bxe5, there follows 10....Bb4+, 11. Ke2 Nxe5, 12. dxe5 Ne7, 13. Rc1 Be4, 14. Nc7 Bc6 and White's Knight is lost after all.

10. dxe5 ....

Now, White's control over the b8-f4 diagonal is broken.

10. .... Bb4+
11. Ke2, N8e7
12. e6+, fxe6
13. Nc7 ....

White has succeeded in letting his Knight escape. But Black has the last word....

13. .... Nd4+
14. Ke3, Nef5 mate.

An excellent mating combination.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Alexander Alekhine

Alexander Alekhine was 4th World Chess Champion (1927-1935, 1937-1946). In 1929 and 1934 he played Russian Bogolyubov for the world champion beating him easily. However in 1935, the Dutchman Euwe challenged him. Alekhine, who had a liking for alcohol was frequently drunk during his games with Euwe and consequently lost his title. However in a rematch, after giving up alcohol, he defeated Euwe by 10 wins to 4 with 11 draws making him the first man to ever regain the world championship title.

Alekhine was the author of the famous Alekhine's Defense, a good opening for aggressive chess players.

Alekhine's brilliance is again exhibited in the following post. Black, having gained the initiative, never let up the pressure until the opponent surrendered.

Saint Petersburg, 1912
Sicilian Defense

1. e4, c5
2. g3, g6
3. Bg2, Bg7
4. Ne2, Nc6
5. c3, Nf6
6. Na3, d5!
7. exd5, Nxd5
8. Nc2, 0-0
9. d4, cxd4
10. cxd4, Bg4

Black now has the initiative, and from this point on, never let up the pressure.

11. f3, Bf5

Black threatens to win a pawn by 12.....Bxc2 etc.

12. Ne3, Qa5+

Black gains a piece if White replies with 13. Qd2 or 13. Bd2.

13. Kf2, Ndb4
14. Nxf5, Qxf5
15. g4, Nd3+
16. Kg3 ....

16. .... Nxd4!!
17. gxf5 ....

White should have allowed a pawn loss by taking the Knight with 17. Nxd4 Qe5+, 18. f4 Qxd4, etc. without much trouble.

17. .... Nxf5+

At this point, Alekhine announced a mate in two moves: 18. Kg4 h5!, 19. Kg5 Bh6 mate; or 18. Kh3 Nf2 mate.  A picture-perfect mate.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Modern Gambits

A modern chess player, in order to confuse the enemy, might turn a staid opening into a gambit.  The idea is to present the opponent with surprises so unpleasant that he will spend so much time looking for the proper reply.  And before he realizes it, his time has run out already....

Helsinki, 1936
Sicilian Defense

1. e4, c5
2. Nf3, a6
3. b4!? ....

White seeks to develop his pieces immediately, and to lessen Black's control over the center.

3. .... cxb4
4. a3, d5
5. exd5, Qxd5
6. axb4, Bg4

Black neglects to develop his King-side and disregards the safety of his King.

7. Nc3, Qh5
8. Be2, e6
9. 0-0, Nf6

Black should have taken the offered Pawn.

10. Ra5!! ....

A surprising yet powerful move.  If 10....b5 then 11. Bxb5+ ... or if 10....Qg6 then 11. Rg5 Qh6, 12. d4 threatening 13. Rxg4 ...

10. .... Nd5
11. h3!, Bxf3
12. Bxf3, Nxc3
13. dxc3, Qg6
14. Qd4!! ....

White threatens 15. Bxb7 and the Rook has nowhere to go.

14. .... Qf6
15. Qc4, Nd7
16. Bg5!! ....

 16. .... Qg6

Black cannot play 16.....Ne5 because of 17. Rxe5 Qxe5, 18. Qc6+ bxc6, 19. Bxc6 mate.

17. Bxb7, Rb8
18. Bc6, Be7
19. Bxd7+, Kxd7
20. Rd1+, Resigns

Life ends wherever the King goes.  If 20....Ke8, then 21. Qc7!! etc.  If 20....Bd6, then 21. Rxd6 Kxd6, 22. Qc5+ Kd7, 23. Qe7+ and mate follows.
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