February 2009

This time it’s not about national and royal anthem of Canada, UK, Australia, etc.

It’s about trapping the queen in chess. Recently I had a couple of online  correspondence games where it happened.  The first game is French defense, I am Black.  1. e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. a3 Nh6 7. b4 cxd4 8. cxd4 Nf5  9. Be3 Bd7 10. Bd3 Nxe3 11. fxe3 Rc8 12. O-O Be7 13. Nbd2 Nb8 14. Qe2 – it’s all “book”


14. … Rc3 probably not a very good idea 15. Rfc1 Qc7 16. Nb3 b6 17. Qd2


17. … Rxc1+ 18. Rxc1 Qb7 19. Qc2 h6  – I have to give up not only “c” line, but square “c7” too, since I don’t want to give up a pawn ( computer agreed with me here, giving 0.58 estimate).


20. Qc7 Qa8 21. Bb1 Nc6! 


22. b5 Bd8 23. Qd6 Be7


24. Qc7 Bd8 25. Qd6 Be7 26. Qc7   1/2-1/2   My opponent called it “crazy finish”… 🙂

OK, another game with  more complicated trap.  Grunfeld defense, exchange variation, I am Black.  I am trying to learn it,  first serious game and as they say in Russian – “The first pancake is always a blob”. 

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 c5 8. Be3 O-O 9. Be2 Qa5 10. O-O Qxc3 11. Rc1 Qa3 12. Rxc5 Qxa2 – you can take this pawn, but you should be very careful 


13. Bc4 Qa3 14. Qc2 Nc6 – Crafty evaluates it as 0.00 and suggests 14. … Na6 15. Bc1 Qb4 16. Bxa6 bxa6 17. Bg5 f6 18. Rb1 Qa3 19. Bf4 with -0.41 estimate   15. Rb1 Nb4 16. Qd1 


15. Rb1 Nb4 – mistake, better was 15. e6 with still 0.00, now it’s 1.50  16. Qd1 b5 – makes it worse – estimate 3.60. Two last moves were the  attempts to save the queen …


17. Bc1 Qa5 18. Rxb5 Qc7 19. R1xb4


Black resigned in a few moves.

An x-ray or x-ray attack is a tactic where a ranged piece supports a friendly piece “through” an enemy piece.

I played some blitz yesterday on FICS and in the last 7-minute game I was lucky to reproduce (almost) the combination from Morphy’s famous “opera” game vs. Duke Karl / Count Isouard (1858).  The combination implements X-ray theme. 


 1. Rc8+ Nxb8 2. Qd8#


If it won’t be blitz, I would probably mate by rook to get closer to the original:


1.  Qb8+! Nxd8 2.  Rd8#

Chess Carnival – February 15, 2009 Edition appeared on chessvine.com. To my surprise, my post “Are you afraid of the Marshall attack?” became a winner in “Opening Theory” category:


OK, it’s not about WW1, it’s just that French d5,e6/d4,e5 structure looks like trenches to me, so a correspondence game that I played in the thematic tournament goes under this title.  French defense, Tarrash,  I play White:

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. c3 c5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Ngf3 cxd4 8. cxd4 Qb6 9. Nb3 Be7 10. O-O O-O


11. Ng5 g6 12. Qg4 – following the game Jurcik (2285) vs. Ragger (2476) 1:0.  Black plays 12. … Kg7 here instead of 12. … Re8


13.  h4 – the last following move, 13. … h5 ( in the game was 13. … Nf8 ) 14. Nxe6!


The knight is untouchable because of Qxg6+ and Qh7#. 14. … Kh8 – more resilient was 14. … Kg8 15. Qg3 Nb4 16. Nxf8 Nxf8

15. Qf4 fxe6 16. Qh6+   1-0


Who would think that?  

2 months ago I thought that Petrov is an interesting alternative to my 2. … Nc6 (after winning 1 OTB game) with a clear, easy play and maybe I should add it to my OTB repertoire.  Now, after playing a few Petrov correspondence games I have one draw as White and 2 heavy losses as Black (also another one is coming up), 0.5:3.5.  As Black I get under attack right after a few moves out of the book.  I, probably, don’t understand the strategy here and seriously think about giving it up,  at least for some time. 

What about French defense? I always thought about it as some crowded, passive, etc. opening  (if I am Black) – not my style at all, so I never played it as Black. As White I played Exchange variation, because I considered other variations as tricky, with dangers to my d4 pawn, etc. But recently I decided that it’s a shame to play Exchange and I should learn something better.  I started playing thematic games,  all Tarrash. Because it’s a tournament I have to play Black too.  Suddenly, I have 2 wins as Black, as White – 2 wins are coming up (hopefully), and a chance to win in another one. So,  it could be 4.5:0.5 or 5:0.  I completely understand the ideas for both sides and feel comfortable, … weird.

I consider this interesting, a sharp re-evaluation of the opening.  

I had it before, not to such degree, with Colle and Accelerated Dragon, that I don’t play anymore. Still Colle is not bad, just a bit boring and Accelerated Dragon just doesn’t give the expected results.  Another one is Marshall attack for White, which I was afraid of before playing in a thematic tournament, now I consider it not frightening, but exciting.

All bishop endings are drawn ???  Every joke is half the truth,  it’s exactly related to this rephrasing of Tarrash’s famous  “All rook endings are drawn”.   What if we have opposite- colored bishops? Wikipedia says: 

 ” Positions when one side has an extra pawn are usually drawn and even two extra pawns (and occasionally more) may not be enough to win too”. 

I got a little example of that in one of my thematic correspondence games.  My Marshall attack with Black didn’t go very well and I found myself practically two pawns down in this position:


Crafty recommends 34. Bh6+ Kh7 35. Qh4 Re1+ 36. Kh2 Kg8 37. Rg2 Re2 38. Qg3 b4 39. cxb4  with estimate 2.12. My opponent decided to exchange rooks and queens,  so we came to the opposite colored  bishops endgame. Computer estimate dropped to 0.73, we will see later why. 34. Rxe2 Qxe2 35. Qf2 Qxf2+ 36. Kxf2


So, the plan for Black is to block advancing of the white pawns.  36. … Bc2 37. d5 Kf8 38. Ke3 Bb3 39. Kd4 Ke7


40. Kc5 Kd7 41. Bh6 Bc4 42. f4 Kc7 43. Bg7 f5 44. Be5+ Kd7 45. d6 


45. … Bd3 46. b3 Be2 47. c4 bxc4 48. bxc4 Bf3


49. Bf6 Bg2 50. Be7 Bf3 51. Kb6 Be4 52. c5 Bd5


53. Bg5 Be4 54. Bf6 Bd5 55. Be5 Be4 56. Bf6   1/2-1/2