Archive for the ‘Chess’ Category

1. …a6 all the way

Being a game of concentration, perhaps playing on-line does not lend itself to great play. By this I mean how could I, he who is perennially rusty, win a forth consecutive game with The St. George Defence, this time winning in 11 moves? Can you really open with 1. …a6 and win in eleven moves against a player rated 1900+? Yes of course, as the opening sentence suggests, and here is the proof:


A rather unusual set up by white that aims towards a queenside castle.


The move black must always deliberate over is should he play Nc6 and if so when, so here I play 7. …Nc6 because there is no pawn on d4.

1. e4 a6 2. f4 b5

3. Nf3 Bb7 4. d3 e6

5. Be3 c5 6. Nbd2 Nf6

7. Qe2 Nc6 8. h3 d5

9. e5 Nh5 10. c3 Ng3

11. Qf2 Nxh1

0-1   Bizarre!

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“It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.”
― Aristotle, Selected Writings From The Nicomachean Ethics And Politics

Quietly proud of last night’s victory, I adopted The St. George Defence again tonight, this time my opponent being 1923. Once again my opponent had some idea of how to play against it but got his systems mixed up like the victim before him. This time he went for a classical big centre and undermined it himself, only to then drop a knight.


Black once again, this time the person who plays white is Dutch.


Nd2 is a sound main line where white tries to retain a classical pawn centre. I was expecting white to play c3 here, instead he plays the more aggressive c4, which works in some lines but undermines his centre in this one. 


All I did was exchange of b and c-pawns with 6. …bxc4 and 7. …cxd4 respectively, and await a timely …Bb4+. Black is fine. I play the Sveshnikov Sicilian, which means …e5 may come at some point.


The position has transposed into an open Sicilian type postion, so it is here I play …e5 to lure the c4 knight away, after which Qa5 is devastating.  


I squeezed in all position motives I wanted to and sensed correctly that, given the game was only a 15 min game, white would unthinkingly play 16. Nd6. Can you tell why its a blunder? It’s not very hard to guess, even on an off day for someone ELO-1234 it would take far less than 0.000001 second, which is much less time than its taken to read this rather silly sentence.

Checkmate was delivered on the 48th move…

“My country, right or wrong,” is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”
― G.K. Chesterton, The Defendant

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“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
― Howard Zinn

The stupidly named St.George Defence, is a better defence to play than most people think. It’s not that I play it because I am English by birth but rather its obscurity.

I have played it on and off for five years, sometimes against titled players, and can win with it quite easily. Last night I played on-line someone rated 2032, about 100 points higher than mine. See below for how it went.


I am black of course.


A slightly innocuous setup by white.


The two things you need to understand about playing 1. …a6 is not to develop your queen’s knight too early, and that if the centre becomes blocked its often better not to castle. White should proceed with 8. e5 here. The point with an early b5 by black is that the knight can come to d5 and remain unchallenged if that happens. But here white plays 8. d5 for some odd reason.


White has just played 11. Nc6 with no advantage.


The opening was a success owing to the fact that my opponent didn’t quite know what to do then made a slip.


Black has just played 17. …Nb4, which is, I think, winning.


…getting messy


26. … Rd1#.


I was half-watching the tv too as I played this out on my phone…

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A joy of disinhibition…

“Unlike simple stress, trauma changes your view of your life and yourself. It shatters your most basic assumptions about yourself and your world — “Life is good,” “I’m safe,” “People are kind,” “I can trust others,” “The future is likely to be good” — and replaces them with feelings like “The world is dangerous,” “I can’t win,” “I can’t trust other people,” or “There’s no hope.”
― Mark Goulston, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder For Dummies

Having survived two near-fatal accidents, I learnt recently that I am a long way off recovery still since the self-inflicted damage to my nervous system has finally been correctly diagnosed; thankfully, the paralysis which initiated that is long since gone but the effects are to remain in play until I die. Physical ailments aside, the psychological impact of such blood-curdling impacts is harder to gauge. I am diagnosed with disinhibition, that which, amongst other things, really helps my chess.

After all, when a stone is dropped into a pond, the water continues quivering even after the stone has sunk to the bottom.
― Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

I rarely play yet have become much better. Mostly because I now disregard all theory and play more directly in positions I alone chose rather than adhering to positional motives that were at best only ever half-learnt. Here’s an example which I find remarkable because it’s 15 minute game I played on-line. I didn’t concentrate on the game much yet on auto-pilot I found a very sharp tactic which won the game straight away. I would never have done that before my accidents.


Old habits die hard but in recent years I have had players 2200, 2300 and 2400+ in all sorts of problems with 1. f4 during quickplay games.


I’m assuming black’s set up is an importation of a preference, namely, the Caro-Kann. 4. c4 c6 has just been played. Larsen used to play like this. I always had admiration for him. Please see below for one reason why.


After 8. Ne5 Nge7. I didn’t like black’s last move.


After 11. fxe5. Black now plays 11. … Nc6. I am happy with my position, even though I have not emerged with a real advantage.


Here black plays 14. … O-O, which I found to be suspicious. 15. Bd2 b5 follows.


I just played 18. Qg3, black replied with Kh7. I was barely thinking here yet the game is almost won already


Black has just played 22. … Qe6. Admittedly I find it strange that the answer just came without any thought, definitely indicative of a change in style. So how does white force a win from here? My opponent resigned four moves later.

Larsen beats Petrosian with 1. f4 in fine style.

I will leave you with Caliban’s best track, beyond its relevance to the post lies one almighty rhythm change at the 2.50 mark. It really is quite something, the video is intriguing too.




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“All of man’s unhappiness comes from his inability to stay peacefully alone in his room.” – Blaise Pascal

The Sicilian Defence is great but it does have its flaws, the main one being that the King can become stuck in the centre of the board if black is not careful enough; with some players moving every queenside pawn they have before castling becomes an option, problems may arise.

It’s 1973. Spassky just lost his title as world champion and had the Soviet government take almost all of his prize money off him also but neither misfortune stopped him from becoming the Soviet champion that year. Here he shows how in a main line, where black plays natural developing moves, king safety or lack thereof, can cost him the game in the opening.  His victim that day was a certain Nukhim Rashkovsky, a man still very active in the Russian chess scene.


The Sicilian: flank play in favour of centralised piece development. The position after 7….Qc7. Since its 1973, white now plays 8. Bd3.


Black has just played 11. …Bb7. His position looks quite normal but is as so often the case with the Sicilian, white attempts to open the centre and plays 12. e5.


Play went 12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Nd5 14. Bxe7 Nxc3. It’s best to stop and think what white plays next. The move itself is very sharp indeed.


The final position after 21. Qf4.


The man himself.


Home entertainment.

Enjoy the game itself.

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During what became a rather bumpy flight for both myself and my -soon to become slightly damaged- bicycle, I reverted to one of my favourite books, that being The Soviet Championships by Bernard Cafferty and Mark Taimanov.

In the late 1940’s Alexander Tolush won several brilliancy prizes in his quests to become the Soviet Champion. Whether he was, as so often described ‘cavalier’ or ‘gung ho’, it is difficult to be sure without a formative study of his career. But one thing we can be sure of is that he did not mess about over the board…oh and in case you didn’t know, he went on to be Spassky’s trainer and played a decisive role in him becoming world champion.

So, 1947 it is. Tolush plays with white, his victim on this occasion was Vladimir Alatortsev, the result being another brilliancy prize for what was a brutal kingside attack. I won’t show the whole game, just a few diagramatic motives with the linked game to follow…oh and before I forget, Tolush finished a mere fifth that year with a ‘rehabilitated’ Keres back in the fold and finishing first.


Looks like a fairly standard slav from the 1940’s to me. Tolush just played 8. Qc2 which is followed by 8. … dxc4



Both players have placed their better bishop on its best diagonal but as ridiculous as it may seem, where the queen’s knights are placed respectively, makes a more crucial difference in the position. Black has just played 10. …Qe7, and here white now plays 11. Ne2!? Anticipating black’s e-pawn break, the knight wants to go to f5 via g3. To stop that black must make a concession which will cost him dearly.


Both players pushed their e-pawns but black had to play g6 too, to stop that knight hoping into f5. White plays 15. Rae1!, threating to push his e-pawn on again, black replies with 15. …Ne5.


After 15. …Ne5, 16. Nxe5 Bxe5, 17. f4 was played with 17. …Bc7 to follow. I will stop here and suggest you play through the game linked below. Rest assured, Tolush won the brilliancy prize for a reason (his next four moves are all pawn-moves!).


As I was to soon learn, my wheels won’t look quite like that once they got off that plane.  😦



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I am white here. I play 13. Rh1 to free the knight from the pin, and more importantly, to place the rook on the file I want to open, rightly or wrongly…it’s not so often you play Rh1 in the opening huh?

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