A Dream Result for Carlsen

Yesterday Magnus Carlsen put the cap on the midway point of a dream year in which he’s won six tournaments already. He finished with eight points from eleven games in the GCT event in Zagreb, Croatia.

This hearkens back to an event ten years ago, the 2nd Nanjing Spring Pearl tournament where Magnus scored the best ever performance rating of 3002 with eight points from ten rounds.

Over the next ten days we will look at those ten games, including his round one win annotated by Magnus himself in Chessbase Magazine 133.

Round One

Carlsen – Leko 1-0

Tomorrow we’ll look at round two!

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.

Slav’s and Pawns

A few years ago I lost a game on the White side of the Slav because my opponent won my c pawn and I went full blown panic thinking I had to win it back immediately rather than let him hold on to the pawn while I built up my position.

Since then I have learned the importance of other elements such as time and space rather than being so materially minded, which is why I can appreciate this game between Sasha Grishchuk and Lev Aronian from Bilbao 2009.

Granted, this game is in a line of the Semi-Slav, but same idea. In this position Black has temporarily won White’s c pawn.

White builds up some nice advantages, and then Black sacs an exchange – I presume since the dark squares around his king look a bit tender.

After some mutual positional pawn sacs being down the exchange proves to be a bit too much for Black and White converts a nice opportunity.

Here is the game, with annotations by the well-known attacker, Polish GM Michal Krasenkow. This comes from Chessbase Magazine issue 132.

If you’re not familiar with Krasenkow you should listen to Ben Johnson’s Perpetual Chess Podcast interview with him here. You can (and SHOULD) order Krasenkow’s recent book on his best games here.

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.

Space Can be a Disadvantage Too

One of the things that we learn as we progress in chess is that having more space means having an advantage.

Here is an amazing example where that is not the case. In this game Lautier builds up a sizeable space advantage against the German GM Nispeanu, but at the cost of a lack of king safety.

Nipeanu coolly and calmly maneuvers his pieces into place and then smashes open the position and suddenly Lautier’s advantage becomes a wide open field for his opponents pieces to start charging through.

The annotations are from English GM Peter Wells. This game appears in Chessbase Magazine 130 from June 2009.

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.

Finally Beat Another 1900!

One of the odd things when you look at my history on the US Chess website is the fact that while I have a reasonable record for my rating against 2000, 2100, and 2200 I had only managed one win against a 1900.

Until today when I beat a talented junior in round one of the WI G/60 State Championship.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

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.

Understanding What’s Important

One of my bigger struggles is looking at a position and not understanding what the most important feature is.

It’s not necessarily that I look at the position and don’t understand the answer to that question – it’s that I often don’t even ask the question.

Take this position for instance:

The game is Aberg-Smith 2012 and it’s Black to move. Take a minute and ask yourself what the most important feature is.

I spent time trying to get the knight to the c4 square. But I never did like the idea of 17…Na3 18.Ra1 Nc4 19.Rxa7 and now Black is in a world of pain.

Then I thought about playing …f5 to try to lock down e4, but that doesn’t do much either.

Here’s the thing though…this game appears in the “no pawn break no plan” chapter of Pump  Up Your Rating by Axel Smith. So had I asked myself the question I would have noticed that Black can play 17…e5 right now to undermine White’s c pawn before it gets too dangerous, but that if Black doesn’t do so now, then White will play f4 and that’s that as far as the …e5 break goes.

So after 17…e5 White is forced to take or make serious concessions.  Then after 18.dxe5 Bxe5 White is still slightly better, but that c pawn doesn’t look nearly as scary as it did before.

I need to start adding a step where I ask myself in any position I’m analyzing “What is truly the most important feature of this position?” Hopefully if I do so I’ll get in the habit and this will simply become second nature.

Here is the entire game for anyone who is interested.

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.

Too Much Garry? No Such Thing!

So I come across this position in Timman’s latest book The Longest Game about the five Kasparov-Karpov matches from 1984-1990.

Here Garry plays 13.Bf4 with Timman noting “Against Marjanovic in La Valetta 1980, Kasparov had played 13.exd5 and won convincingly.”

I was wondering about that game and so I looked it up. Wow…just wow.

The blunder happens in this position:

The threat of course is 17.Nh6+ with the discovered attack on the queen. This game is the stem game in this line, and Marjanovic chooses the worst way to deal with the threat by moving his king to h8, after which his position implodes since the knight on c3 is able to come into the attack via e4 with tempo since the queen is unguarded on d7.

An interesting factoid here is that this game also seems to be a possible example of who was staying current in chess literature at the time and who wasn’t due to the very next game in this line, which took place the following year in Buenos Aires between Argentinian IM Raimundo Garcia and Columbian Augusto Pereira.  I can find ratings in the high 2200’s for Pereira so it seems likely he was close to FM strength although he never got the title.

The two games are the same through White’s 19th move:

Here Pereira deviated with 19…Qc5 rather than 19…Qf6. No matter, he still lost quickly.

The reason for my comment about staying current in literature is that back in these days there were no databases and it could be hard to find recent games. Those players who were better at it often had an advantage over those who weren’t.

The Kasparov game had been published in Informant 30, but unless players took the time to truly read and digest the Informants they would often be at the mercy of their better prepared opponents.

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.

I Need to Work On My Fighting Spirit

Last weekend I played in the 54th Northeastern Open. This tournament means a lot to me since it was the first one I played back in 2011 when I returned to chess after a 19 year absence.

That year I went 5-0 and won the Reserve Section.  Since then I have tried to play it.

In the first round I was paired up about 350 points, and overall I played a very bad game.

Yet if I gave you these two positions:

and said “find the best move for White” the odds are that  you would find the moves 24.h4! in the first position and 33.Nxe8! in the second.  Why?  Because you would be in puzzle mode.

However, when those positions appear on the board after several hours of defending they’re easy to miss.  Or at least they were for me.  This tells me that I need to work very hard on my fighting spirit.

Here is the entire game:

I hope to have my other games from this event up soon.

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.

What An Amazing Resource!

I was just looking at a game between David Anton Guijarro and Jonathan Hawkins from the 4NCL in 2017.

The Hawk has been in a bit of trouble, but has clawed his way out to reach this position:

Here he moves 23…Ne3

White replies with 24.Bxe3 and the game continues, but he missed a really interesting shot.

24.Rxf4 Nxd1 25.Rxf8+ Rxf8 26.Bd4

You can see that the Black knight appears to be a goner.

26…Qh3 27.a3 Qf1 28.Qxf1 Rxf1 29.Kc2

And now Black has nothing better to do that play 29…Nxb2 30.Kxb2 Rf7

Here Black would suffer and be ground down.

In this position:

Black can “save” the knight with 29…Nf2, but now the knight interferes with the rook making it back and White’s pawns are even deadlier after 30.Nxa7 Ne4 31.c6 Rf7 32.b4

There’s no way to stop White from just rolling down the board.

Here is the entire game:

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.

Which Pawn to Take With?

Every so often I’ll come across a position which shows me how much my chess understanding has changed over the years.

Today I was looking at this one:

The game is Vishnu-Adly from the first round of the 2017 Sharjah Masters. White has just captured Black’s knight on d5, so barring any useful intermezzo’s, which don’t exist in this position, Black needs to figure out which pawn to recapture with.

I spent only a few seconds here, and my decision was that the pawn it made the most sense to capture with was the e pawn. The reason that I can tell that my thought process is changing is that a couple of years ago it would have gone like this:

“If I capture with the e pawn I’ll have a backward pawn on c6 along with three pawn islands. But if I capture with the c pawn then I’ll only have two pawn islands and I’ll have a protected passed pawn in the center!” Then, after maybe 15 seconds I’d have made up my mind and any additional time spent calculating would just be used to tell myself I was right.

Now I looked at this position and my thoughts go something like: “I can capture with the c pawn and I’ll avoid having a backward pawn on c6 that’s likely to come under fire from my opponents bishops, but I’ll also be giving up the b5 square. White could play the tempo move Bb5+ and since I can’t go to e7 and block my bishop in I’d have to move to d8 and my king is awfully loose. Not to mention the fact that I’d just be giving my opponent a queenside pawn majority for free. I’ll just live with the potentially weak pawn on c6 rather than the long term consequences of taking with the c pawn. Besides, now I’ll have that queenside pawn majority.”

Both the game continuation and the engine show me to be correct. The top three moves for Black are:

  1. 13…exd5 (0.00) for all the reasons I stated above and perhaps some that stronger players can point out that I missed
  2. 13…Bg4+ (1.44) which just drops a pawn after 14.f3 exd5 15.Bxd5 cxd5 16.fxg4 – think about this for a second…the second best move in the position hangs a pawn!
  3. 13…cxd5 (3.37) which dooms Black after 14.Bb5+ Kd8 15.Rhc1 and now White will simply control the c file, and along with the lead in development have a massive advantage.

Here’s the final position from option three above:

Black won’t be able to keep the White rook from getting to the c file so he can double. This is the kind of game where you have to suffer for hours until you lose, and yet only a couple of years ago I’d have cheerfully entered it and never understood what went wrong.

Here is the full game:

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.

Wainscott-Beckwith 1-0

Last Thursday at the club I played a game which went exactly the way you would expect, but that has some interesting ideas nonetheless.

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.