Monthly Archives: August 2015

Piece Activity

In my last post, ‘Alcohol’, I noted that my game was driven by tempo, I was attacking from the beginning of the game and didn’t get much of a chance to develop pieces. It worked on that occasion because my opponent was moired and I could get away with it. But normal, considered chess, is all about manoeuvring your pieces to dominating positions and then allowing those pieces to work well in combination to drive an attack. It requires piece activity and this is the topic that my sons chess teacher is focusing on currently.

Below is game 20 of the 1990 Kasparov vs Karpov world championship match. In it Kasporov shows beautiful combinative piece play in addition to amazing calculation skills. The video above shows how many options he has for his final attack and these options exist because of his piece play.

A FIDE Rating

Flying saucer

I started playing in FIDE rated tournaments in April and saw that I had a FIDE rating when I played in my latest, and fourth, tournament. My rating is currently 1377 and I assume it comes from success in my second tournament and failure in my third (see ‘Getting Over Getting Thrashed’). FIDE, to me, seems like a slightly backward organisation presided over for 20 years by someone with peculiar connections and beliefs – although he seems popular enough. It also seems to be ratified by votes that can beĀ curried from small influenceable countries. On the plus side there seems to be plenty of well run competitions which are presided over by qualified arbiters. It is also the clear body under which chess is played formally and therefore my FIDE rating seems like a good rating to use to measure my progress. My recent tournament finished yesterday and I I felt I played quite well despite only winning 2 out of my 5 games. I suspect my rating will remain where it is, give or take, but I am enrolled in another competition that starts on Monday and I am hoping to improve.



At 7:15pm I had to start the clock for my Monday evening tournament game despite the fact that my opponent hadn’t arrived, he had 30 minutes to do so before his game was forfeited. While waiting I read from a comical book called ‘My 60 Most Memorable Columns’ by a Chess columnist called Chris Depasquale. In it he wrote a piece about drugs in chess, more specifically caffeine and steroids for athsma. In the writing he quoted Luis Ramirez de Lucena c.1465 – c.1530 who is supposed to have said “Try to play after your opponent has eaten or drunk freely.” Well as luck would have it my opponent turned up with 15 minutes to spare and he had clearly drunken freely, very freely and resembled the man in the above picture with the tankard – only more subdued. A warm smile, a long handshake and we went to our board.

On a celebratory occasion like this I can think of no better opening than the King’s Gambit. Risky for all and requiring sharp, clear thinking to avoid the many pitfalls this opening can throw at you. Here is the game.

And while this was the kind of punishment the tax office might have metted out to Al Capone it was still flawed. Being so far ahead I became lazy and missed 2 mate in one opportunities! My second problem was to do with piece activity. I started my attack early to maintain pressure and didn’t develop some of my pieces, I felt this during the game and was worried that if my attack petered out I would be vulnerable. My 19th move fxe5 was an attempt to bring my rook into the fight – the computer says it was the right thing to do. In the end it seemed to be a tempo vs. development game with tempo and sobriety succeeding on this occasion.

Double Dutch

Double Dutch
Studying the Dutch for last weeks game proved to be lucky because my opponent this Monday night, playing white, played 1.d4 followed by 2.Nf6 – exactly the lines I was looking at! And again the opening went well considering I’m new to it, it went well because it brought me into a solid middlegame and allowed the kind of dynamic play I enjoy. Here is the game.

It was a great game for me, I felt like I regained control around moves 18 to 21 and later when I fell behind after my poor 26.Qe5 I felt I continued fighting hard until my blunder move number 59 when it all collapsed. When I look back on this game I am most happy with the pressure I maintained against my opponent despite being behind, I enjoyed the never say die spirit of this game as much as I’m guessing my opponent didn’t like it. Here is the analysis graph.

engine 150817

Going Dutch


This post is about game 3 of my weekly long format tournament. The best players in the world prepare for their matches and you hear of great players being excellent at preparation – Anand being one such player. By preparation it seems to mean knowing what your opponent is likely to play and often this means what openings are they comfortable with. So I decided to get into the spirit of competing and I looked up my opponents games. He is rated in the mid 1600 and was primarily a 1.d4 player often followed by a 2.Nf6 and this was a problem for me because I don’t have a clue how to play against this. His openings also seemed to turn into ‘London Systems’ – see my tab under ‘Analysis’ on the home page. I’ve almost never played 1.d4 myself and the games I play against 1.d4 seem closed and frustrating although I probably win as many as I lose. So I had a week to prepare against my opponent and as luck would have it one of my favourite video makers, a GM called Simon Williams, had just prepared a video series on attacking ways to play against 1.d4. In his series he was advocating the ‘English Defense’ which goes something like this.

I went through the 5 videos on this opening but in the last video GM Williams talks about alternate responses from white and includes the possibility of 2.Nf6 and in this situation he advocates a similar defence called the ‘Classical Dutch Defense’. This defense goes like this.

The ideas are that the Knight moves to e4 the Bishop to f6, the Knight swaps of and the d, e and f pawns move forward to allow the Bishop on c8 to come into the attack. I studied this a bit and thankfully my opponent played his favourite opening. Here is my game.

Graph 150810

I enjoyed the game and the opening seemed to have worked but I was let down by tactics (Qxh3) and my positional play was scrappy later on. Next week I play as black against someone rated 1417, other than that I haven’t been able to find any of her games but at least I have more armour against 1.d4.

Opportunities Grabbed

What should I, as white, have played?

I was pleased by last night’s game which was part of my weekly long format competition. It was a game that I won and one in which I felt I played well both positionally and tactically. I was white again and I faced the Caro Kann. I know nothing about it but I set out to grab space, hinder my opponents movement and strike at weak squares and pieces. By doing this I was in tempo heaven. Here is the game.

A Missed Opportunity

What should I, as white, have played?

I am taking part in a weekly 90 minute plus 30 second increment tournament. I lost my first game and it was such a pity because I started with my Sicilian GambitĀ  – see my ‘Messing With The Sicilians’ post – and it was working beautifully until I missed a move that I should have remembered, a move that I’d played before and which would have been victorious (see the diagram above). My opening advantage slowly slipped away during the game and in the end I was a pawn down and I blundered another pawn. Here is the game.