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.

Using One of Vishy’s Ideas

I was listening to last week’s interview with Viswanathan Anand on Perpetual Chess and something that Vishy said he used to do during his youth was to write down his thoughts following a game.

Not analysis, which of course also happens, but general impressions of what happened along with thoughts of what can be done differently next time.

So I decided to appropriate this idea since it seems awfully sensible.

I am currently playing in the US Amateur Team North in Schaumburg and I have done this for the first three rounds. Here are my notes along with some clarification of what I was driving at.

Game One – The Notes

  • Terrible opening. Learn the lines or simplify the repertoire. Off the cuff is dumb.
  • Keep fighting. Just because it didn’t work doesn’t mean it won’t work.
  • Work on rook endings. No excuse for not knowing if the R+P vs R ending was drawn or not.
  • Need to spend at least one hour on the opening during analysis later for every game.
  • Time to create a full set of deep pgn files.

Game One – The Explanation

In this game I faced the French. I haven’t been getting good positions against the Winawer so I decided to play 3.Nd2 off the cuff. I quickly wound up in a terrible position and was lucky to claw my way back into some semblance of a fighting chance. Eventually I was ground down in the ending.

I kept trying to  fight my way back into the game and my opponent helped greatly by missing some simplification ideas which would have made the win trivial. When all was said and done it was for naught, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing. It’s always worth doing.

The game concluded in a R+P vs R ending where I was *pretty sure* I was lost but I wasn’t 100% sure. There’s no excuse for this. I should be 99% sure or better. This will require a lot of work, but I believe it’s vital.

During analysis I need to spend at least one hour going over the opening. In this way I’ll eventually completely learn the ideas in the openings I play. I’m getting better, but it’s not good enough.

To that end, when spending that time on the opening I’ll eventually create a set of very deep pgn files for every opening I play with either color. I’ll be able to regularly review them and I will get strong here. It will happen.

Game Two – The Notes

  • Opening repertoire totally exposed. To not play lines out of fear is just dumb.
  • Sicilian worked out, but seriously…what is that?
  • Again, deep pgn files are needed.
  • Candidate moves.
  • Sleep is important. No point in going to a tournament if you’re not going to take it seriously.
  • One move blunders happen on four hours sleep.

Game Two – The Explanation

My opponent played 1.e4. Lately I have been playing 1…e5 but I play the Two Knights against 3.Bc4. However, there have been too many times where my understanding of the position has been less than ideal. So at the board I sat there for a minute or two essentially saying to myself “Kids play the Italian a lot. Do I really want to be down a pawn against an expert in a position I don’t truly understand?”

Of course this is wrong thinking. Play your prep. If it sucks, make it better, but to not play it out of fear is wrong. OK, it’s not like I’m drifting aimlessly in the Sicilian since I played it for years, but seriously?

As for the Sicilian, of course this is another opening that shouldn’t be played off the cuff, which is exactly what I did. In the end it worked out since I was completely out of the opening and into the late middle game.

Again this is where deep pgn files will help.

Candidate moves are vital. I have played many moves lately where I only considered one move, not multiple moves. That happened in this game several times as well.

Sleep is important. I was up until after 2:00am even though I knew I had to get up at 6:00am. Not smart.

After being completely equal I threw the game away on a one move blunder by overlooking a simple tactic. Had I gotten more sleep the odds would have been less likely that I would blunder like this. More importantly had I selected at least two candidate moves and compared them the odds I would have blundered in this fashion would have been even less.

Game Three – The Notes

  • For reals, let’s work deeper on openings. I just need a feel for positions.
  • Keep fighting. It works.
  • Learn to stay objective. It felt like I was much worse though it turned out I was fine.
  • Candidate moves were my friend. Bigly.
  • There’s no substitute for focus.

Game Three – The Explanation

Again I felt lost in the opening. I decided to stick with 1.e4 but after 1…g6 I transposed into the White side of the King’s Indian. I wound up overlooking some positional ideas for my opponent and before you knew it I felt like I was far worse.

However, I did  keep fighting and fighting. After getting past what felt like the worst of the trouble my opponent repeated and offered me a draw.

After the game, when I was entering it in ChessBase I turned on the engine at a couple of points to quickly check the eval. I wasn’t looking at lines or analyzing moves, just checking to see if I was really as bad as I thought I was. Turns out that at none of the points I checked was I as bad as I thought.

This time I made sure to have at least two moves to choose from. It kept me from going astray and I was able to hold on to the thread.

I stayed focus and just put everything I had into holding on and not getting steamrolled. That effort paid off when my opponent offered me a draw.

So there you have it. I feel like I got something out of this exercise so I plan on keeping it going.

Listen to the interview with Vishy on Perptual Chess:

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.

One of “Those” Moves

Sometimes I see a position and I think that if only I could understand some aspect of it that I would be closer to understanding chess on a much deeper level.

Take this position for instance. The game is Radjabov-Mamedov from Shamkir 2018

Here White has just played 15.Ng5 which seems tantamount to offering a draw. So mentally I’m thinking “OK, 15…Bxg5 16.Qxg5 Qxg5 17.Bxg5.” However, after 15…Bxg5 16.Qxg5 Mamedov plays 16…Bg6

OK, now this I can puzzle through and understand. If Black would have continued through with my idea then he would have been developing White’s dark squared bishop for free.

So after 17.Qxd8 Rxd8 18.Be2 Nb8 19.Be3 Nc6 20.Rfc1 this position is reached:

Here Mamedov plays 20…Rdc8.

This is one of those “which rook” positions that drive me nuts. My first thought is that maybe there’s a problem with 20…Rac8 21.Bg5 Rd7 22.b4, but as I looked at the position I realized there was an immediate tactical refutation after 21.Bg5

Here Black would simply play 21…Nxd4 as the rook on d8 is impervious to capture due to the fork threat on e2.

So this leaves me wondering…what is the real difference. Clearly there is one, but what?

Food for thought and something to work on.

Here is the entire game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Two Crushing Wins

Here are two nice wins I had tonight in a rapid tournament. It looks like my work is paying off.

The analysis in the first game is just cursory…

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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

Draw vs a Master

Five and a half years ago I had this position against Bill Williams

Tonight I had it again.

Last time he played 15…Qe6 and after 16.Re3 he said “It looks like a draw to me” and we drew.

Tonight he played a different move. Same result.

Here’s the game:

After this tournament my rating should be around 1785 or so. That’s the highest it will have been in well over two years.

So far so good this year.

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.

Nice Attacking Game by MVL

One of the nice things about the way that the Gibraltar tournament has morphed into an event where numerous top flight players compete is that it gives us chess fans chances to see what they can really do.

You can go through every game from an event like the Sinquefield Cup, and if you’re really lucky you get one game that features a brilliant attack.

Yet at an event like Gibraltar, where it’s common to see 2770’s facing 2300-2400’s in the early rounds we get a chance to really see them shine.

Take a look at this game from round one, where MVL easily blows former Webster student Irine Sukandar off the board with a sparkling attack against her Accelerated Dragon.

These games are real treats.

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 From Tonight

Here’s a game I just played.

Relatively tame draw, but some interesting strategic aspects in that I can tell I’m learning to take structure much more serious.

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.