One Game, Two Gems Shamkovich-Stein 1959 1/2-1/2

I was just looking at some games and I came across two nice defensive tactics from Soviet Legend Leonid Stein.

Here’s the first position:

Here Stein plays 51…Rxb4. Shamkovich replies 52.Ra7+, because after 52.Rxb4 Nd3+ 53.Kf5 Nxb4 the position is a draw.  I’ll leave it to you to work out the lines. Trust me, that’s a rewarding exercise.

A few moves later this position is reached:

Here the knowledge of basic endings comes in extremely handy as 60…Nxe6 wins a crucial pawn.  If White were to play 61.dxe6 then a Philidor position is on the board and Stein simply checks with his rook until the handshake.

Here is the entire game.  It’s long, but it’s quite instructive, especially in the endgame.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Son of Sorrow Indeed! Akobian-Lie 1-0

So I was reading through a bit of an older book on Benoni structures and it got me looking at some games.

For those who aren’t aware, Benoni means “Son of Sorrow” in Hebrew. I believe it’s typically spelled Ben-oni when used in that context though I can’t claim my knowledge of Jewish names or traditions is useful enough to know if I am correct.  Perhaps someone will care to educate me in the comments?

In any case, I was curious to see some modern games in the Modern Benoni.  However, as it turns out, the opening is rarely played at the 2500+ level these days.

I did, however, find this game that Var played the White side of in the PRO Chess League during its inaugural season.

I don’t know much about the Benoni, but I do know that Black should always take decisions involving exchanging off the d  pawn very seriously.

Here’s a position where it’s Black to move:

Black, already in an unpleasant position, plays 20…dxe5 and is suddenly struggling mightily after 21.Nxe5 Bxe5 22.Rxe5 Qf6 23.Rae1 Nd6

Now this is one of those positions that I find to be quite interesting because the engine will tell you that there are a few moves better than 24.b3.  Not just slightly better, but +3 better.

However, Var calmly plays 24.b3 here, which appears designed to keep the knight off c4.

Now after 24…Nf5 25.Bg5 Qd6 this position is reached:

Var then crashes through with the very nice 26.Rxf5 gxf5 27.Be7 Qg6

And now the coup-de-grace is 28.d6 rather than just picking the exchange back up. Though playing 28.Bxf8 is also totally winning. In this position Black resigned.

Here is the entire game, which is quite nice.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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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

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Caissa Giveth, and Caissa Taketh Away

One of the many fascinating aspects of chess is that even top players get it very wrong quite often.

Take this position for instance:

The game is Karjakin-Topalov from the 2017 Gashimov Memorial (i.e. Shamkir)

Here it’s Black to move, and to me it seems clear that White has a staggering lead in development, and would love to put a rooks on the open files.

Black then plays 14…Bd7, which seems to just encourage the pin after 15.Rd1 (leaving the other rook to come to the c file or double on the d file depending on the situation. In fact, Stockfish gives this an advantage of 1.31 for White.

Instead, Sergey plays 15.Qg4 and after 15…Bc6 16.Rad1 Qc7 Black has made some progress and White’s advantage is much less than only a few moves earlier as Black is much closer to completing development.

Note that White’s not actually threatening the g pawn since after 17.Qxg7 Rg8 18.Qf6 (18.Qxh7 loses the knight on f3 after 18…Bxf3 since the g pawn is pinned) 18…Nf5 19.Ng5 h6 White is in trouble.

Now back to the game position of:

Here White plays 17.Ng5 and Black immediately goes wrong by accepting the pawn sac with 17…Qxe5.

This is a good training position. Ask yourself how White can gain a big advantage here.

Here is the complete 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.

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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

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Defend Like a Beast With Naka

Today in the opening round of the London Chess Classic Fabiano Caruana managed to get a nice attacking position, but Hikaru did what he does so well in tough positions and just kept finding resources.

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.

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Game of the Day September 22, 2018

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.

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Game of the Day September 21, 2018

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.

Game of the Day September 20, 2018

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.

Game of the Day September 19, 2018

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.