The Danger Was All in My Mind

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Sometimes we play a game and we think we’re getting crushed, then when we look at it later it turns out that there was never a “there there” for our opponent.

Here is one such game which I played in round four of the USATN in February.

First, my notes that I made directly after the game:

  • Don’t get rattled when your opponent is overusing time.
  • Pay attention to king safety.
  • Opposite colored bishops are great with initiative.
  • When you overlook a move, don’t panic.

Now,  here is the game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Two GM’s, Three Blunders

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So I come across this position in a game between Christiansen and Oparin from the Chess24 Banter Blitz Cup. Here it’s White to move.

White plays 65.Bc6 and I start trying to figure out why not just 65.Bxh3…what did I miss?! But of course there is nothing. After this move there is no way for Black to stop White from sacking the bishop for the remaining pawn, so the game is just drawn.

After 65.Bc6 we have this position:

Here 65…g4 wins, but Black plays 65…h2, which also wins. It seems to be a matter of just picking the win you want to play.

Then, after 66.Kd3 Black can still simply play …g4 and win, but instead he plays 66…Kg1 and White responds 67.Bd7, after which Black finally plays …g4 and goes on to promote, but winds up flagging and drawing.

But I kept coming back to the position after 66…Kg1. Something just didn’t look right.

After some experimenting I hit on the idea of 67.Ke3, and now White just has to shuffle the bishop back and forth to hold the draw. If Black promotes the h pawn White stops and wins the g pawn, and if Black pushes the g pawn then White will win it with Kf4. The engine seems to confirm this although I’m sure there are ways for Black to try some subtle tricks.

Granted, this was in a blitz endgame, but I would still think that taking on h3 would have been automatic!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

THIS is How You Play a Knight Ending!

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So I’m looking at some high level games in the Caro-Kann from this year and I see this game between Kulaots and Kuzubov from the Keres Memorial from January of this year, played in Tallin, Estonia.

First thing I notice is that after the 3.e5 Advance Variation

Kuzubov plays 3…Bf5 instead of the more modern 3…c5, which has been played by Nakamura among others.

After move 33 the following position is reached:

Now, I want you to be honest and tell me in the comments how long you think you would play on for if you were Black. You’re up a pawn, but all the pawns are on the same side. I know a lot of people would just agree to a draw here after playing perhaps a handful of moves and go home.

Three moves later and in this position White decides to trade rooks:

That leaves us with this position after each side has completed 37 moves:

Surely it’s time to go home now, right? Or is it…

Black now begins a series of long maneuvers seeking to gradually improve his position. I once heard Ben Finegold say in a lecture that one of the things that separates GM’s from everyone else is the willingness to just shuffle pieces waiting for their opponent to make a mistake.

It takes another  92 moves, but Black grinds White down.

Here is the game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Ceci N’est Pas une Lune

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Many of you will hopefully be familiar with the Star Wars reference above.

In this case my opponent thought in a blitz game just now that he was trading pawns. Here’s the position a couple of moves prior:

Of course trading my a pawn for his c pawn does leave me with a passed pawn, so already I’m happy.

After 17.Bxc6 Bxa2 I now play 18.Ba4 to keep my opponents bishop off of b3. The problem with the bishop making it to b3 is that it controls d1 and therefore forces me to give up the d file.

My opponent here mistakenly plays 18…Bb3 anyway which loses a piece after 19.Bxb3.

My opponent seems to think it’s just a trade and so first exchanges rooks with 19…Rxd1 20.Rxd1 Rxb3

But of course I now play 21.Rd8+ Bf8 22.Bh6 and there’s no escaping the mate.

Here is the entire game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Two More Fun Attacking Games

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One of the nice things about learning openings by paying through games is that you get to see some amazing games you would never have otherwise looked at.

Here are two more fun attacking games from this morning. Enjoy!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Fun Game to Analyze

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Here is a game that I was just looking at in my opening studies. The game is from the 2017 Norwegian Chess Championship, won by Jan Ludwig Hammer.

In the game Black miscalculates 23…Qa7 and White wins two minors and a pawn for a rook. Afterwards he shows great technique in converting.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Knight Endgame Technique

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As I have mentioned in a prior post, one of the things I’ve been working on lately is my White lines against the French.

One of the main ways in which I have been doing this is to play through a couple of hundred games between strong players and construct pgn files from those games.

In doing so I do come across some amazing games. Here’s one which features a beautiful and precise knight ending.

Although the game is recent, it looks like it belongs in a classic work on endings. Enjoy!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Hidden Resources

One of the issues I’ve always had in chess is an overattachment to material. For the last couple of years I’ve been trying to alleviate it, but it’s not such an easy thing.

It’s one thing to know that you should sacrifice material, but quite another to know how to sacrifice it.

Lately I’ve been reading the book Beyond Material by Croation GM Davorin Kuljasevic in an effort to free myself from such material attachments.

To start the book off he shows several examples designed to show players that material isn’t always the deciding factor. This example is particularly concrete.

The game is between Yuri Solodovnichenko and Valerij Fillippov from 1999. Here is the position that opens the example:

White is in serious trouble. Not only down a pawn, but also with quite a loose king. He finds a brilliant drawing idea.

31.Re1 and now Black correctly takes on a2 with 31…Bxa2. Now after 32.b3 Bxb3 33.c4 Black goes wrong by taking the pawn on c4 as well. A move such as 33…Rf8 and Black has an overwhelming advantage.

So why the problem with taking on c4?  Well, in this position there is an amazing concrete way to draw:

34.Bd5+ Bxd5 35.Re8+ Rxe8 36.Qxe8+ Qf8 37.Qxf8+ Kxf8

What a beautiful stalemate!

Here is the entire game for anyone interested.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Interesting Theoretical Position

Here is a position from Tarrasch theory that has been fascinating me for a bit:

Here White takes on h7 with check as after 16.Bxh7+ Kxh7 17.Nxe6 Black can’t exchange queens due to the intermezzo of taking on f8 with check by White.

What fascinates me about this line is that White does something we’re generally taught not to do in an opening. We learn early on that exchanging two minors for a rook and pawn in an opening is bad. Of course here White gets a second pawn as well. Fascinating ideas here.

Here are a couple of games in this line…

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Working on the PGN Files

As mentioned in my last post, I have begun to create pgn files when analyzing my games.

I have started with an opening that has plagued me on the White side for time out of mind…the French.

I’ve decided to base my lines on the Tarrasch, specifically the setup with 7.Ne2.

My methodology at this time is to pull all of the games between players rated a minimum of 2400 for the last five years and play through all of them to get a feel for which lines I like, then I’ll build more in depth files from there. 

But for now I have around 50 games to go look at. Feel free to look at them with me as I have attached them in a file called “Francophile.”

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter. Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter. Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.