Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Saturday, 28 May 2011
Mate on the Back Rank
The Dancing Knights
Queen Sac Around the King
A King’s March
The f4 Break
Although the material on these DVDs is well chosen, I am not a great fan of the presentation. I found the distinct lack of eye contact and monotone, heavily accented voice made the lectures hard going, even though the presenter goes over the examples quickly (sometimes taking just a minute or so).
I'm sure you know how the game continued (and if you don't combine the hint given in Short's quote with a little King power!).
The Important f5 Square
The Useless Isolani
Emptying the Queenside
The a7 Forepost
The Weak d5-Square
The presentation problems remain, which is a pity, because the material is again quite interesting. For instance, in the case of 'Small Advantages', Grivas demonstrates some fine play by the King of the Candidates.
The second new series concerns tactics.
Last but not least, the effervescent Grandmaster Ashley is let loose on another new series. The subject is ‘Protected Squares’. The theme is '...blunders on squares which are protected by pawns: how top players make such mistakes and how the viewer can be trained to avoid such errors'.
Thursday, 26 May 2011
The month of June will bring with it the 2011 Middlesbrough Literary Festival, the third in the highly successful series.
According to the website, 'This the 3rd annual Literary Festival is destined to be thought provoking, funny and imaginative – full of stories, dreams, creative workshops and experiences'. If it's anything like the first two Festivals, then the description will definitely be accurate.
The Festival runs from 4-24 June and is absolutely packed with top quality talks, workshops and performances. Don't just take my word for it; for the full listings for each genre, please visit the official website (where you can even vote for the name for the Festival Owl) and/or take a look at the interactive brochure. You can also join the Festival Facebook page.
Meanwhile, whet you appetite with a quick look at what went on last year.
Marsh Towers will report on various parts of the Festival, so stay tuned. Better still, get out there, support the Festival and see for yourselves how good it is going to be.
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Monday, 23 May 2011
Kevin Winter, my long-term friend and former Guisborough Chess Club teammate (back in the 1980s), is also interested in this opening and has played it more than 20 times.
6 Bc4 was the most common choice, developing a piece to a central location and eyeing up the f7 pawn. I think it's a move Black Lion players can expect to see very frequently over the board.
White has a choice again. The majority of Kevin's opponents played 7 0-0, which is very sensible. He also faced 7 h3 (the sort of move Lion players love to see - the Kingside attack will have more to bite on) and once he even encountered the exotic 7 g4.
It's not only Knights who can sacrifice themselves. In the next position, a different Minor piece gets in on the act.
Thursday, 19 May 2011
To celebrate their special birthday, they are offering 25% off everything bought through their website until the end of today.
Reviews of some new ChessBase DVDs on self-improvement will appear here soon, but it seems a good day to take a look at the latest issue of one of my favourite products - ChessBase Magazine.
Issue 141 has great tournament reports from the excellent events at Wijk aan Zee (Nakamura first, ahead of Anand, Carlsen, Aronian, Kramnik...) Wijk aan Zee B (McShane and Navara shared first) and Gibraltar (won by Ivanchuk, just ahead of Short).
The opening articles cover:
Keres Defence (1 d4 e6 2 c4 Bb4+)
Scandinavian (with 3 ...Qd6)
Pirc (with an early f3 and a4 by White)
Caro-Kann (Exchange Variation and also 3 Nc3 g6)
Sicilian (Grivas Variation, 4 ...Qb6)
Two Knights Defence (5 ...Nd4 and 5 ...b5)
Slav Defence (4 ...a6)
QGD (4 Nf3 Bb4)
Semi-Slav (5 Bg5 h6 6 Bxf6 and 5 e3)
KID (Saemisch and Classical with 6 ...Na6)
There are several opening features in the Fritz Trainer format too, namely:
Mikhalchishin on the Sicilian Paulsen
Kritz on the French Winawer (with 7 Qg4 0-0)
Bojkov on the Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation)
Lilov on the KIA
There's also an update by Nigel Davies to his 1 d4 repertoire DVD, looking at the Dutch Defence.
The annotated games from the Wijk aan Zee tournament are the undoubted highlights of the disc. There were some terrific clashes featuring the top players, including the following snippets:
Incidentally, Carlsen lost two games - both with White. It seems that Black is suddenly more than OK in modern chess (the results of the current Candidates matches provide further evidence of this).
Let's leave it to the tournament victor to show how White can still win games.
The Candidates' finalist has finely coordinated pieces and his position looks strong, but Nakamura uncorked 28 Rxg7+ and after 28 ...Kxg7 29 Qg4+ Kf8 30 Rxe3 Rxe3 31 Kxe3 bxc3
32 Ke2 Qe5+ 33 Kd1 Qh2 34 Ne2 Qd6+ 35 Qd4 Qxd4 36 Nxd4...
...the extra piece finally began to influence matters (1-0, 42).
The usual magazine features are all present and correct, so there's no excuse not to work on your tactics, strategy and endgames as well as your openings.
ChessBase magazine shows no signs of resting on its laurels and continues to go from strength to strength.
Don't forget to pick up some ChessBase bargains while you can.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Chess - An Introductory Course for Teachers
Date: Wednesday 29 June
Venue: Middlesbrough City Learning Centre, Acklam Grange School, Lodore Grove, Middlesbrough, TS5 8PB
Times: 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.
Cost: £50 per person (Refreshments and lunch will be provided)
Do you love playing chess and want to help others improve their game? Or do you know little about the game but want to find a new career or further your PSD? Then learn how to teach chess! There will be a great opportunity to take part in an introductory course for chess trainers in Middlesbrough.
The course is run by Chess in Schools and Communities, a registered charity that work in eight Teesside schools and were recently featured on BBC Breakfast. The course is aimed at teachers, teaching assistants, parents or anyone planning on becoming a professional chess trainer or who wants to learn how to play and teach the game.
The course will consist of the following modules:
* Benefits of chess
* A brief history of chess & chess champions
* Overview of Junior chess in the UK
* Primary school CSC chess syllabus - an overview
* Cross-curricular links
* Techniques for teaching chess
* Chess sub-games and variants
* Running a school chess club
* Resources and materials
* Pieces, moves, captures, checks and checkmates – practical
If you are interested in attending either course, please fill in the online form at www.chessinschools.co.uk or fill in the enclosed form and post to: Chess in Schools & Communities, 44 Baker Street, London, W1U 7RT.
Payment can either be made via cheque made payable to: Chess in Schools & Communities, via BACS with the following details: Bank – Natwest, Acc Name: Chess in Schools & Communities. Acc no – 39520331, Sort Code – 60-00-01, or via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org
Chess: An Introductory Course For Teachers
I would like to attend the training day at the Middlesbrough City Learning Centre on Wednesday 29 June 2011.
Please indicate which of the following three options applies to you:
I enclose a cheque for £50
I have paid via BACS transfer
I am already involved with one of the CSC Teesside schools and claim free entry to the Training Day
Please return to Chess in Schools and Communities 44 Baker St London W1U 7RT
Sunday, 15 May 2011
Friday, 13 May 2011
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
By IM Andrew Martin
4 hours and 23 minutes
IM Martin is back and this time he is advocating one of THE main lines of chess theory.
'I think the perception of the Queen's Gambit Declined as a stodgy response for Black is quite unfounded and I think the Queen's Gambit Declined for Black is about to experience a revival'.
He present a repertoire for Black based on the initial moves 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Nbd7 The intention is to head for The Cambridge Springs variation with 5 Nf3 c6 6 e3 Qa5
The Exchange Variation has more lectures than the other lines and rightly so, as it's a very popular way for White to play and there's no getting away from the fact that it will appear oveer the board with great frequency. All of White's main plans are covered here (the minority attack, central expansion and 0-0-0).
In all, there are 26 video lectures, all presented in IM Martin's customary forthright and motivational style. Often he is to be found extolling the virtues of unusual openings, some of which probably won't pass the test of time. However, the QGD is as solid as they come and will never be refuted, so the material presented here should be very useful to practical players for a long time to come.
This series offers broader brush strokes for a large number of 1 d4 openings, united under the umbrella of Black's reply, 1 ...d5. 24 lectures are shared by five presenters, giving the following breakdown of material:
GM Daniel King: QGD 5 Bf4; Chigorin Defence
GM Igor Stohl: Four variations of the Semi-Slav
GM Lars Schandorff: Five variations of the QGD; Open and Closed Catalan
IM Sam Collins: QGD Semi-Tarrasch and four variations of the Slav Defence.
FM Valeri Lilov: Albin Counter Gambit (and others); London System, Colle System, Veresov Attack, Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.
The level is fairly basic (fundamental tactics are habitually explained) and the emphasis is firmly based around verbal explanations rather than deep lines of analysis, making this DVD suitable for club players and juniors. Experienced players should look elsewhere, as this is really primer material.
The video lectures clock in at roughly 12 minutes on average and the presenters are good form, with GM King being the most engaging.
Fans of 1 e4 have more studying options this month...
By IM Timothy Taylor
IM Taylor presents an repertoire for Black against the Spanish Game (Ruy Lopez), based on the Modern Steinitz Defence. He observes: 'Every world champion (with the sole exception of Kramnik) has either played the MS or played against it.
Indeed, the first chapter is 40+ page romp through the history of the Modern Steinitz through the experiences of the World Champions. Space is created for Keres too, who is made an honorary World Champion and hero of the book, in recognition of his 70% score with Black using the Modern Steinitz.
The author enjoys playing attacking chess and likes to suggest sharp lines. Here, alongside the solid lines, considerable space is devoted to sharper variations such as the Siesta and the Yandemirov Gambit (named this for the first time, but actually the well-known sequence 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 d6 5 0-0 Bg4 6 h3 h5!?).
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 d6 5 Bxc6+ bxc6 6 d4
'...so if Black has such an easy game, might not the variation also be good with one less tempo? I say, Yes!’
As is customary with IM Taylor’s books, we don’t have to wait very long to see the arrival of exclamation marks. The title has one, as does the first sentence on the first page and the last word of the afterword. Stylistic considerations aside, I enjoyed this book more than the author's previous works. For one thing, I think the material has a better grounding than usual (possibly because the Ruy Lopez is a solid and well established starting point) and one or two of the author's previous excesses have been curtailed on this occasion.
I found it to be a very readable and instructive effort on a variation which has rarely been given serious coverage. Club players are the target audience.
The Cutting Edge series continues with an in-depth study of a popular variation of the Najdorf.
After 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3, White hopes to set up the English Attack (f3, g4, 0-0-0 are all on the agenda) and Black must decide whether to adopt a Scheveningen set up (6 ...e6) or head for pure Najdorf territory with 6 ...e5. Both approaches are examined in great detail. The author does not present a repertoire for either side, but decided to ‘...approach the variations with an open mind, and I hope that all players will find the book interesting and useful’.
Topalov has been heavily involved with the development the variations from Black’s point of view for the last decade or so and his ideas are well represented in this book. Here's one of them...
It’s heavy on variations and light on prose; with novelties appearing around move 26 this not the sort of book you’d want to read on a train journey. It’s a serious chess book for very experienced players who will be able to appreciate the depth of the analysis and implement the improvements given in the razor sharp lines.
Edited by GM Jacob Aagaard and GM John Shaw
The experts in question are nine Grandmasters and an International Master (Andrew Greet, but in compensation for not yet being a Grandmaster, the editors say, '...he writes like one').
The basic division of labour looks like this:
Boris Avrukh: The Grand Prix Attack
Jacob Aagaard: 2 c3
Tiger Hillarp Persson: 3 Bb5
Andrew Greet: Moscow Variation
Christian Bauer: 3 Bc4, 3 c3, The King's Indian Attack and 2 Nf3 e6 3 c3 d5 4 e5 d4
Milos Pavlovic: Closed Sicilian
Matthieu Cornette: Grand Prix Attack
Colin McNab: 2 a3, 2 f4 and 5 f3
John Shaw: 2 d3
Peter Heine Nielson: 2 b3
Having numerous authors for a single book is an interesting idea. Each one stamps his own style onto the respective sections and it certainly keeps things fresh.
By GM Victor Bologan
New in Chess
Subtitled ‘A Powerful Anti-Sicilian that Avoids Tons of Theory’, GM Bologan’s latest work is a detailed study of the variations arising from 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5.
First of all there’s a very interesting introduction, covering, among other things, the life of Nicholas Rossolimo. It contained a lot of information I wasn’t familiar with (it’s not often one hears of a chess player working for 15 years as a taxi driver).
Then there are 14 chapters on the theory of the Rossolimo, followed by a final chapter containing test positions and solutions.
Chapter 1 looks at the unusual Black responses 3 ...a6, 3 ...Na5, 3 ...Nd4, 3 ...Qc7 and 3...Qb6. After that we get one chapter on 3 ...Nf6, three on 3 ...d6, five on 3 ...e6 and four on 3 ...g6.
I like the way that New in Chess have added photos of various 3 Bb5 players to the text, bringing it alive. It makes the book more attractive.