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Friday, December 28, 2012

Philidor Defense (7), a dynamic defense

A complex endgame is below today’s game. Take the FEN and paste it into your favorite engine and try to repeat the win. It only took a couple of tries to win today’s endgame, mainly because I wanted to find a reasonably efficient method. My opponent was Shredder set at full strength.

Today’s game is an online tournament game. I was able to make the standard opening moves despite White’s variation from the normal Philidor setup, so no improvements or supplements are necessary for my opening repertoire notes. In the middle game, I was able to open a file and gain control of it. My advanced Knight posting was unchallenged. Being up on material, I traded some back to open White’s King protection.

The variations and move symbols are Critter’s (1.6 32-bit), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 20 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Critter. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



Chernev said “The best openings to play are those you are most at home in.” Thus, I am relegating the BDG to secondary status for white and bringing back Philidor’s Defense for black. The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit is too complex for me and does not seem to have a common theme, other than tactical opportunities. The Philidor/Old Indian has worked well for me in the past and is a solid, almost universal defense.


FEN "8/4k3/8/1p2Pp2/p7/P1K1P3/1P6/8 w - -"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (13), early complexities

A complex ending is below today’s game. Take the FEN and paste it into your favorite engine and try to repeat the win. It took several tries to win today’s endgame, so do not be easily discouraged. My opponent was Houdini set with 6 seconds of calculation time per move.

Today’s game is is an online tournament game. Black uses a rare defense. His making an unadvised trade on move 9 gives White a vast lead in development. After that, White presses his advantage, but makes several tactical errors before securing the win. Black tries to defend the final position by attacking White’s Queen, but that quickly leads to his concession of the game.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at (increased to) 20 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



I am continuing to re-evaluate my chess activities and playing philosophy. A year-end project is to sort through my 170+ chess books in preparation to whittle them down to under 50.

FEN "k7/2p5/8/KP3p2/8/8/6P1/8 w - - 0 1"

 Happy holidays everyone.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Paleface Attack (12), slow and steady

Since my ‘Winning the Won Game” series is so popular, I will be appending a complex ending below today’s game. Take the FEN and paste it into your favorite engine and try to repeat the win. It took several tries to win today’s endgame, so do not be easily discouraged. My opponent was Houdini set with 6 seconds of calculation time per move.

Today’s game is played against Chessmaster 10’s Ginger, a player rated 144 points higher than me, played at G45 + 3 sec./move. Ginger varies early from my opening repertoire, so I play cautiously, trying not to take many chances, but still pressing my early advantage. I am happy with this game as it shows that I can still play without making significant mistakes and/or blunders.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at (increased to) 20 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



I plan on continuing to supplement my OTB games with games against Chessmaster, steadily increasing the opponent’s rating.


FEN "8/8/8/k1p5/2P5/1K6/P7/8 w - -"

Happy holidays everyone.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Paleface Attack (11), lack of development

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. White uses the Paleface Attack to transpose into the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Black lets two of his pieces remain on their starting squares. Black is essentially giving away odds of a Rook and a Bishop, which White capitalizes on before Black can complete his development.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at (increased to) 20 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



Thoughts on the coming new year:

I am scaling back my chess studies, planning on reducing my chess library by at least 75%. (How to dispose of 100+ chess books?) In addition, I am going to play next year in the section determined by my rating. I think the constant, negative reinforcement of losing so many games in the higher section has a detrimental effect on my game. I need to start enjoying chess again.

Playing online, turn-based games helps develop my openings, but the lack of continuity requires a different type of move analysis. Recollection of the thoughts in the previous moves are often faulty. I will continue to play these turn-based games and try to play ChessMaster games when my schedule permits to supplement the local club tournament games.

I bought a Nexus 7 tablet last month and found that I can do many chess activities on it, (i.e. giving me more access to daily ChessTempo tactic problems, etc.).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Old Indian Defense (2), back to ChessMaster 10

Today’s blog entry is against ChessMaster 10, with the opponent rated at 1554. White makes early threats while I defend and continue to develop. I like the Old Indian because it has a lot of themes in common with my 1.e4 Philidor Defense. I own the center and have king-side space, so after White castles I work on destroying his protection. I missed a beautiful combination on move #26, but shortly after trade down to a winning endgame.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at (increased to) 20 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



There is a quote somewhere about when an opponent has an unprotected piece, there must be a combination ... no matter how deep you need to look to find it. Does anyone know the source? I would like to add it to my quotation list at the bottom of my blog.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Paleface Attack (10), blown opportunities

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. White again plays the Paleface Attack, hoping for the BDG, which Black avoids. White castles on the opposite side with the intention of launching an all-out attack on the Black King. White had a winning position, but badly misplayed the combination at move #20. Some of this is attributed to trying the SWOT thinking process, some to overconfidence in a winning position, and some to playing too quickly. In any event, it went bad very quickly.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



After reviewing this game, I am abandoning my try with the SWOT thinking process and going back to Dan Heisman’s CCT (Check, Capture, Threat) method of move analysis.

 Also, after self-analysis of my recent play, I intent to play in the section dictated by my USCF rating in the 2013 club tournaments. Playing up gave me very few competitive games. Plus, I am not improving ... probably going the other direction.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Paleface Attack (9), one mistake is enough

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. White plays the Paleface Attack, hoping for the BDG. Black defends well until his 19th move, which seals his doom. Sometimes one mistake is enough.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



When playing the BDG, it is important to launch an early, all-out attack.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Philidor Defense (7), development and space

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. White launches and early attack before Black shows any weaknesses. This gets White behind in development plus having less space to maneuver. Black makes an early inroad to the 7th rank which soon leads to a very pretty checkmate.

 The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



Do not attack without an opponent weakness.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Paleface Attack (8), exposing the King

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. White plays the Paleface Attack which usually (and does in this game) transpose to the Blackmar-Diermer Gambit. Black has his castling rights destroyed and exposes the King to attack. White’s lead in development lets most of his pieces unite in the attack.

 The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



Castle early and often :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Winning the Won Game (8), Rook vs. Knight

Next time you see a position that is supposed to be winning: capture the position, transfer it to your favorite chess program, set the program to a higher rating than your own and play the winning position to see how to conclude the game. Then go back and repeat the exercise at an increased rating until you can win against it at full strength.

 The ending below is from an online game that I won, but not in an optimal manner. The starting position looked interesting enough to try for improvement. White has a Rook vs. Black’s Bishop and one extra Pawn.. Black also has his Bishop trapped behind his Pawns and it is virtually useless until he can free it. Before he can free it, he must exchange it for a Pawn.



For the readers who wish to try this exercise, the FEN is: 4Rbk1/3q2p1/3p1p1p/1p1P4/2p5/1P2Q2P/2P3PK/8 w - -

Monday, November 12, 2012

Staunton Gambit, King and Queen aligned

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. White plays the Staunton Gambit and Black leaves book early. White has a lead in development and continues to apply pressure on Black’s castled King. Black puts his Queen on the same diagonal with his King and soon succumbs to White’s King-side pressure.

 The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



A classic example of how to take advantage of poor development.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

KIA vs. Philidor, opposing systems

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. White plays the King’s Indian Attack against my Philidor Defense. Both openings are systems, the first several moves are played almost ignoring the opponent’s move choices. Both systems have a lot of potential energy which can explode if/when the opponent makes a mistake. In midgame, both sides lock down the center and Queen-side, moving all action to the King-side. After White takes a poisoned Rook, the ending is fairly easy.

 The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



Be very careful of moving the Queen to a file or diagonal that can be opened.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Philidor Defense (6), losing the advantage

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. I’m refining my new Philidor Defense. White loses a tempo early and makes other minor errors. One of the problems with turn-based games is that a player loses the continuity of the game, thus the blunder on move #18. After this blunder, I continued to fight, regaining lost ground until the lure of a check lead me to the loss of my Queen, overlooking White’s Queen sacrifice and game-winning advantage.

 The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



Look at your opponent’s move and its effect on his position, both the square moved from and the square moved to. This is where tactics originate.


















I need to make an addition to my SWOT move selection process to cover an omission. Black's second move in the game snippet below would not have been seen by examining the opponent's move. The additional logic is:
     Are tactical or positional plans active? If so, continue/modify/abort the plan and consolidate the position.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Owen’s Defense, a royal fork

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. Black plays the Owen Defense, which I have not encountered before. When an unusual move takes me out of my opening, I play to develop with emphasis on the center. Black’s 9th move is overly aggressive and permits a tactical attack. Black makes a pair of defensive blunders and the game ends quickly.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



When faced with an early departure from your memorized opening, do not panic but do develop as quick as possible.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Paleface Attack (7), Rooks on open files

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. The Paleface Attack, is usually successful in transposition to the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. White placed both Rooks on open files and kept all his pieces centralized and active. Black neglected to castle and both his Rooks were out of play. This left White with a superior centralized force and the result was almost inevitable.

 The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



This game shows the advantage of a superior force cooperating against an undeveloped and uncastled opponent.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Indian Defense, a king hunt

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. I played the same first 4 moves as the Philidor and the Old Indian, trying to keep my opening memorization simple. White neglects his development and tries for a simple attack when Black has no weaknesses. I overlooked the first two tactical opportunities, playing for and executing the third opportunity. A simple win against an assumed relative beginner.

 The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



I am planning on going back to games against Chessmaster10 so that the games will be more competitive. Most online games seem to be against beginners or experts (maybe the expertise comes from silicon help). Weekly OTB club tournament games mostly pair me against an opponent that is much higher rated. These games are not helping me improve.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Old Indian Defense, similar to the Philidor

Today’s blog entry is from an online tournament game. It showcases my new defense against d4 openings. Black’s normal first moves are identical to the Philidor Defense, with obvious benefits.

The SWOT thinking pattern is a big time saver. By examining what has changed with the opponent’s move, I no longer need to spend large periods of time looking for possible tactical opportunities. If it wasn’t there before the move, it won’t be there after the move unless there was a change. 

White makes an early well-known blunder, losing a piece. Then he goes Pawn grabbing while his King is still in the center. An early checkmate ends the game.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



I have been playing with a new tool called “Guess the Move” and is a free download. It is used to replay Master games, prompting the user to guess which move is better, keeping a running score of how well you guess. I find that using it is an improvement over just replaying the Master game, trying to absorb the patterns. It can be found at:

 https://sites.google.com/site/fredm/

 There is also a youtube demo available and online documentation.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Winning the Won Game (7), using doubled pawns

Next time you see a position that is supposed to be winning: capture the position, transfer it to your favorite chess program, set the program to a higher rating than your own and play the winning position to see how to conclude the game. Then go back and repeat the exercise at an increased rating until you can win against it at full strength.

The ending below is from a drawn game played against Sam, a 1512 rated ChessMaster10 opponent who hates draws. I had previously blown a lead and needed an opportunity (a mistake by my opponent) to salvage the game. Houdini, in my later review, showed me that missed opportunity. This is the replay against Houdini set to full strength.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



For the readers who wish to try this exercise, the FEN is:
8/8/2p3b1/8/6P1/1k2K3/2p5/2B5 b - -

In Secrets of a Grandpatzer, Colby reminds us of what ‘the rest is a matter of technique’ means (taken from Mednis in Chess Life and Review):
   (1) Don’t allow counterplay.
   (2) Deep material advantage.
   (3) Establish a clear plan and stick to it.
   (4) Be careful – CAUTION!
   (5) Hurry not.
   (6) Avoid complications.
   (7) Simplify to a known theoretical win.
   (8) Keep working, the game will not play itself.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Philidor Defense (5), SWOT at work

Today’s blog entry is from an online ladder game. It illustrates my new understanding of the typical chess game flow. Moves #1-4 are the theoretical beginning, marked by repeating moves from Master play, usually memorized.

From this point forward, my play is guided by the SWOT analysis, where I look first at my opponent’s move, both the square vacated and the square newly occupied, for Opportunities and Threats. If none, I am free to improve my positional Strengths and Weaknesses.  Implicit in this positional phase is the thrust and parry.  Like two sword fighters, each player tries to set and/or solve problems while improving their position.  Mistakes are made by either a faulty response to a threat or by a blunder.  Without an Opportunity, an attack is premature.

On move #22, the game transitioned from a positional middlegame to a combinational middlegame when White made his first serious mistake (i.e. leaving his Queen without adequate escape squares). This was the Opportunity to launch an attack.

 The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



I am currently reading Secrets of a Grandpatzer. It contains a lot that I disagree with and much that induces me to analyze my approach to the game. Most of the book can be read without a board, but am looking forward to studying in depth the chapter on 132 key patterns that must be known.

One of the major disagreements is that a player should only play openings that are currently in vogue at the grandmaster level and memorize the sequences that get to your favorite variations within those openings.  I believe that all openings are good at the class level and getting out of theory early makes the game more fun ... and less memorization is required.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Philidor Defense (4), a Class A opponent

Today’s blog entry is from Thursday’s tournament game at my chess club. I was paired against the club’s young lion, rated almost 500 points higher than me. Since I recently adopted the Philidor Defense, I was anxious to see how it would fare against a quality opponent. It held up through the opening moves, but I quickly succumbed when the middlegame arrived.

 The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



I believe part of my problem is not playing enough OTB games. Online turn-based games do not adequately simulate the OTB experience. So, I will be re-installing ChessMaster to get more frequent opponents.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Philidor Defense (3), know your basic endgames

Today’s blog entry is from an online turn-based tournament game. I am playing a variation of the Philidor defense described in Jerry Van Rekom’s “The Black Lion”. The transition to the middlegame is marred by a White blunder. Afterwards, there is interesting imbalances with White having multiple pieces for a Rook and Pawns.. The endgame should be drawn, but White did not know the proper defense.

Long ago I put Pandolfini’s Endgame Course into a pgn file. Then played against Shredder set at full strength until I thoroughly knew the endgame under study. This is endgame #186.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



While reading some of my fellow chess bloggers' postings, the September 27th post of Robert Pierson’s on The Chess Improver made me reconsider my chess book selections. Looking at the Chess Books that have Helped Me the Most (see bottom of this blog), it is apparent that the most useful books for me in my (almost) 200 book collection were not written by Grandmasters, but by authors closer to the Expert level. Maybe Grandmasters do not know how to teach to the lower class (1200-2000 range) audience. With that in mind, I read the previews & recommendations on amazon.com, then ordered “Secrets of a Grandpatzer: How to Beat Most People and Computers at Chess” by Kenneth Mark.

 If this is true, why didn’t someone tell me or if someone did, why didn’t I listen? If you see these books appear in my ‘Most Helped’ list, then know that I learned something quite important.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (12), don't ignore threats

Today’s blog entry is from an online turn-based tournament game. White plays the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Black is quickly confused, makes some extraneous move and then ignores White’s mate threat.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



In this game I am using my new chess thinking process, which is undergoing further refinement. First I examine at my opponent’s move, both the square vacated and the square newly occupied, looking for Opportunities and Threats. If none are found, I next examine my own position looking for Strength’s and Weaknesses. (This is borrowed from the STOW process used in businesses.) After a move is selected, blunder checking is performed prior to completing the move.

 I needed a simplified method that can be adhered to during the heat of battle.  My new method is now also detailed at the bottom of this blog.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Benko Gambit (3) trading into a winning endgame

Today’s blog entry is from an online turn-based tournament game. Black plays the Benko Gambit to counter White’s Queen Gambit. White forsakes development by moving his Knight 4 times in the first 7 moves, giving Black time to develop and control the board. White is on the defense and never gets his offense going.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The opening book reference is Stockfish. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



I’m starting to learn. In this game, I apply an intermezzo, forcing the opponent’s Knight to the edge of the board. I also develop with tempo, then recognize a winning endgame and trade down to it. There may be still be some hope for my improvement (said with a smile on my face).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Benko Gambit (2), SWOT analysis

Today’s blog entry is from an online turn-based ladder game. Black plays the Benko Gambit to counter White’s Queen Gambit. The game follows standard themes. White makes a major mistake on move #14, which Black overlooked while concentrating on his own position. (Note to self: I need to see these opportunities). Later on, Black also blocked the escape path of his Knight, which I did see. An unfortunate blunder ended the game.

 The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The opening book reference is Stockfish. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



The lesson of this game is to look not only at what the opponent threatens, but also at what opportunities he presents. SWOT analysis is a business strategic planning method used to evaluate Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. I will try adopting this idea to my chess thinking method:
     - when my opponent moves, look for new Threats and Opportunities
     - then look at my Strengths and Weaknesses
     - after selecting the best move, blunder check

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Alapin-Diemer Gambit, winning in the endgame

Today’s blog entry is from an online turn-based tournament game. This game has Black trying to force a French Defense onto a Queen-Pawn opening. White counters with the Alapin-Diemer Gambit. For most of the game White keeps the advantage, but fails to capitalize on several minor Black mistakes. The last Black mistake gives White a winning Pawn endgame and Black promptly resigns.

 The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The opening book reference is Stockfish. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.



This game features a recent addition to my White repertoire. The Alapin-Diemer Gambit continues my desire to keep White in gambit play. After Black’s last mistake, White’s plan to win is to force the King-side Pawns into an exchange and then rush over to the Queen-side to clear out Black’s remaining pawns.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Trompowsky Attack, without full development

Today’s blog entry is from an online turn-based ladder game. This game has White going for an early attack. He never develops his Queen Rook and Knight, so he is attacking with a material disadvantage. Interesting enough, White used an intermezzo to escape a middlegame fork, the tactic that has been the focus of the previous 2 blog games. The game ends with a pin and a nice Black attack on the White King.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The opening book reference is Stockfish. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.


This game features another example of the intermezzo tactic, this time for my opponent. When pieces on both sides are being attacked, first look for a way to move out of danger while simultaneously attacking your opponent. See move 12.Qh5. This is the third intermezzo / zwischenzug in recent games and is a tactic I need to keep aware of.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Winning the Won Game (7), recognizing a winning endgame

Returning to a theme that remains popular with my readers.

Next time you see a position that is supposed to be winning: capture the position, transfer it to your favorite chess program, set the program at a higher rating than your own and play the winning position to see how to conclude the game. Then go back and repeat the exercise at an increased rating until you can win against it at full strength.

The position below is from a practice game. I missed the Knight sacrifice during the game, but in later analysis, I immediately recognized the winning technique. I eventually won the practice game, but it took many more moves.


For readers who wish to try this exercise, the FEN is:
8/6pp/8/1pn5/8/PPk4P/2P3P1/3K4 b - -

It is not enough to just know your simple endgames. You must also be able to recognize positions that can simplify to those simple, winning endgames.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Philidor Defense (2), another intermezzo

Today’s blog entry is from an online turn-based ladder game. This game has comments on the beginning and end, as the middle is typical of trade-of-mistake play common to class players. Black relinquishes the center tension early and loses a couple of pawns. Black won (or White lost) with another intermezzo/zwischenzug move similar to that in my previous post. Then an absolute pin against the King sealed the victory.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The opening book reference is Stockfish. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.


This game features a second example of the epiphany for me: When pieces on both sides are being attacked, first look for a way to move out of danger while simultaneously attacking your opponent. See move 36...Rb1+. This is the second intermezzo / zwischenzug in consecutive games and is a tactic I need to keep aware of.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Philidor Defense, an epiphany

Today’s blog entry is from an online turn-based ladder game. Black takes timeout from development to capture a center pawn. The Philidor is a resurrected defense for me, as I could not find a reasonable gambit to play against 1.e4. The Philidor is a passive, but solid defense. White often moves to aggressively against it, giving Black the opportunity to counter-punch.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The opening book reference is Stockfish. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.


This game features an epiphany for me: When pieces on both sides are being attacked, first look for a way to move out of danger while simultaneously attacking your opponent. See move 18...,Na3. This may not be the first time that I have executed an intermezzo / zwischenzug in a game, but is definitely the first time I have realized the power of this tactic.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Paleface Attack (6), an early mate

Today’s blog entry is from an online turn-based tournament game. White tried for his familiar Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, but Black countered with Nf6. White continued with the Paleface Attack, which is not in the Stockfish opening book. White concentrates his forces on Black’s castled King and one Black misstep leads to a quick checkmate.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The opening book reference is Stockfish. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.


This game features a suspicious pawn grab when Black is under a Kingside assault, resulting in an early checkmate.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Franco-Benoni Defense, lots of action

Today’s blog entry is from an online turn-based tournament game. White tried for his familiar Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, but Black denied him. Both players were on unfamiliar turf after the third move. Black’s playing is typical of a low-level class player and sometimes a fellow needs some of these games to keep aware of the simpler aspects of the game.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The opening book reference is Stockfish. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.


This game has some interesting features: a Queen denied activity, a miscalculation on a trade sequence and a nice trade sequence to cement the win.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (11), stolen initiative

Today’s blog entry is from Thursday night’s chess club tournament. The Ewue Defence of my Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. On move #7, I played what I thought (btw: Houdini agreed) was the best move, as I did not remember the book lines. Unfortunately, at this level, playing the best move is not good enough: a plan is required. With a gambit, especially a white gambit, it is imperative to get an early lead in development and to keep the initiative. One plan would be Bd3, Qe1-h4 putting pressure on Black’s castled King. Since I didn’t plan, Black finished his development and began trading pieces, aiming for a winning endgame with his pawn advantage.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The opening book reference is Stockfish. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.


This game features a gambit that loses the initiative, allowing the opponent to trade down to a winning endgame with his pawn advantage. My resignation was brought on by the recognition that I could not stop this strategy and his passed d-Pawn.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (10), poisoned Queen

Today’s blog entry is from is from an online, turned-based game. The Ziegler Defence of my Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Black made a mistake pinning the f3-Knight and with the mate threat, did not salvage the pinning Bishop. The remainder of the game features several interesting moves that occur in the slow, careful White attack.

The variations and move symbols are Houdini’s (1.5 w32), diagnosed with ‘Scid vs PC’ at 10 seconds per ply. The opening book reference is Stockfish. The verbal comments are my thoughts during the game and my interpretations of the analysis provided by Houdini. The score chart is at the bottom of this entry.


This game features a winning attack due to an early material advantage. Black eventually resigned when he could not prevent the pawn’s promotion.