Tag Archives: Capablanca

Invasion: Rooks And The Open File


I have been looking at piece activity and recently Rook activity. I have often heard the phrase “Get your Rook on to an open file” and this is wrong. It should be “Use your Rooks to INVADE via an open file”. This is a far more active way of thinking and quite a new way of thinking for me. In the past I was happy to place a Rook at the base of a file knowing that I was controlling it. I then concentrated on other parts of the game. One stylistic difference I have noticed in my sons games are that he is far more willing to get rooks onto an open file and then push them forward to INVASION SQUARES, he is also far more willing to carry out a Rook lift by moving a rook forward of his pawns so that he can use it on semi open files, again to find INVASION SQUARES. This is something he does better than I do and I am learning from him. (I am emphasising ‘Invasion’ because this seems to be the point of having the open file)

My son’s chess teacher wrote a chess book and chapter four is titled “The Open File”. In it he shows great examples of games where the open file is key. Here is one such example, it comes from “The Other Immortal Zugzwang” where Capablanca as Black invades Nimzowitsch’s position (all the notes come from the book).

Later in the book he sets problems . Here is one simpler one.

Bricard vs. Horvarth, Debrecen 1992.

Black to play.

And a hard one.

Azmaiparashvili vs. Short, Manila 1992.

How should White make use of the open files?




Phion Mutesi

In the electronic world I found an app called e+chess that is a chess e-reader. It allows you to read some chess books and to click on annotated moves in the text. As you do moves occur on a board next to the text. It seems like a good idea and I have enjoyed reading, and viewing, some of Capablancas book ‘Chess Fundamentals’ which comes free with the app (which is also free). Other books are available as in app purchases. But, in luddite spirit, I still want to read paper books and unfortunately I have done very little ‘full board nirvana’ work – see earlier post. This makes it impossible to read books that focus on technique.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading because there are good chess books that don’t have games in them. The last one I read was a very moving book called ‘The Queen of Katwe’ by Tim Crothers. I found out about it while googling for chess stuff and there are some videos online about Phiona Mutesi, the queen of Katwe, that are good – here is a link to one


It’s a story of a girl from a Ugandan slum that follows her brother to a charity outreach place in the slum where, amongst other things, they teach chess. She goes there, and returns, because she gets a cup of porridge. She starts learning chess and enjoys the game and gets better and better at it to the point where she ends up competing internationally. What I find so uplifting is that chess, which is such an egalitarian game, can have the power to transport someone from hopeless poverty to a place of self value, dignity and ambition.

Another book I read was ‘Birth of the Chess Queen’ by Marylin Yalom. I’ve always wondered why the King is so passive and vunerable in chess while the Queen is so strong. Given the physical and historical differences between men and women you’d expect that the male figure would be the bold crusader while the queen might hide in the castle quaking. So this book was interesting. It talked about chess’ muslim beginings where the pieces are abstracted to avoid figurative and potentially idolotrative imagery and explained the growing scope of the chess queen from a piece that could only move one space in any direction to the dynamic piece we know know. It covered the history of europe as chess was developing and made links to powerful female historical figures at crucial times during chess’ expansion. It was a great read.

how does this make me improve at chess? Well I think it is fuel for my interest in chess and that’s got to help.