Wednesday 22 August 2007

More In The Archive

Ten more basic UNCUT! columns have now been added to the archive. The pictures and diagrams will follow at a later stage.

Twenty more UNCUTS! to go and then the older book reviews will get their turn.

Tuesday 21 August 2007

Three Updates

No less than three major updates for you tonight, dear readers!

1) I am delighted to present a guest article by County Chess Champion David Smith.

2) The latest book review.

3) A small feature on England's newest Grandmaster.

Please feel free to comment either here or on the forum!

They Still Drop Off!

It has been known for some time that L.P.D.O! Or, to spell it out, ‘Loose Pieces Drop Off’ - a phrase coined by Dr John Nunn in ‘Secrets of Practical Chess’.

Although Robespierre may well disagree, the threat remains stronger than the execution and often the actual dropping off of the piece remains hidden in the variations, yet directly influences the play nonetheless.
Reigning co-county Champion David Smith has been busy studying his games of last season and discovered that the L.P.D.O. principle is still very much alive and kicking. Over to David for the full story…

Reviewing my games from the 2006-7 season I was struck by how frequently positions occurred where one side might seek to exploit an opponent’s unguarded piece. I would like
to show you some of the possibilities that arose…

Smith,D - Cole,S
In this position White played 14 c4 which Black responded... 14...d4 15.Rfe1 Both players saw the possibility of exploiting the 'loose' position of both Black Rooks by... 15.Qe4 Rb8 16.Qxh7 and saw that this is refuted by 16...Nf6

...when the White Queen is lost. Instead, after 15.Rfe1, play continued: 15...Be7 16.Ne4 Rb8 preventing 17 b4 and improving the coordination of his pieces.

Wise,D - Smith,D
White has sacrificed both his 'e' and 'f' pawns to build up a strong attack on the King's side.

Play continued: 14.Bxe4 fxe4 15.Ng5 Threatening 16 Bxg7 Kxg7 17 Ncxe4, winning quickly. Black replied 15...Bf5 and after 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Qf4 his position seemed very precarious in view of the positions of his Bishop and Knight. However, he was able to keep his position afloat with 17...h6 18.Nh3

18 Qxf5 Qxf5 19 Rxf5 hxg5 20 Rxg5+ Kh6 21 Rf5 would lead to a fairly level ending. And now 18...Kg6 which enabled Black to protect the Bishop on f5 with his King. Black now threatens to consolidate with 19...Qe5 so White played 19.Qxd6 Without attempting further analysis, the remaining moves were 19...Rad8 20.Nf4+ Kg7 21.Qe7 Rfe8 22.Ne6+ Kg6 23.Nf4+ Kg7 ½–½

Killick,A - Smith,D

White has just played 18.Qc2-d3 which I was able to meet with 18...d5 as 19.Bxd5 would lose to 19...Ba4 (loose pieces again). After 19.Bb3 Rc8 20.Nd4 Na4 White wisely refrained from 21 Bxd5 as 21...Nc5 is very strong for Black (22.Qf3 Bxd4 23.cxd4 Nd3+ or 22.Qc4 Ba4). After 21.N2f3 Nc5 22.Qc2

White was now threatening to capture the d-pawn. I will give the remaining moves of this games as it shows how difficult it can be to exploit a pawn advantage against a resourceful opponent. You might like to consider whether Black's strategical play could have been improved (answer at the end of the article). 22...Bc6 23.Nxc6 bxc6 24.Nd4 Qd6 25.f3 Rfe8 26.Qd2

26...Ne6 27.Nxe6 Rxe6 28.Rxe6 fxe6 29.Kb1 Qc7 30.h4 Bf8 31.g5 Bc5 32.h5 Be3 33.Qd3 Qf7 34.hxg6 Qxg6 35.Bc2 Qxd3 36.Bxd3 Rc7 37.Rh1 Rg7 38.Rh5 e5 39.g6 hxg6 40.Rxe5 Kf7 ½–½

Smith,D - Stevens,B

Black saw the possibility of winning a pawn and played 26...Bxc6 27.Nxc6 Rxd1 28.Qxd1 Bxc3
This last move, however, was a fatal error. After 29.Qd3 Be5 30.Qh7 f6 31.Qh8+

Black resigned. 1–0

Smith,D - Walton,C

In this type of position Black can often effectively play ...g5, followed by ...Nh5 and then either ...Nxg3 or ...Nf4. Black did in fact play 10...g5 but after 11.Bg3 he continued with 11 ...Qe7 realising that 11...Nh5 loses a pawn after the surprising 12.Bxe5

Smith,D - Appleyard,D

Here the unguarded Queen on d6 is a source of potential danger for Black; less obviously the loose Bishop might also be at risk.

After 16.c3 Black retreated the Knight to c6 16...Nc6 [16...Qd5 would have been met with 17.Be4 with the forced sequence 17...Qxg5 18.Bxb7 Rb8 19.Qa4+ Ke7 20.Qxa7 Nb5 21.Qb6 Nd6 22.Qc7+ Kf6 23.Qxd6 Rxb7 This position is not actually as strong for White as it might appear on first sight so White might look for improvements along the way, such as playing 20.f4 before continuing with 21.Qxa7. In the game, 16..Nc6 allowed] 17.Bg6 Qxd1 18.Bxf7+ Ke7

[Black might have tried 18...Kf8 19.Raxd1 h6 as there are some ways for White to go wrong; for example 20.Rd7 (20.Nxe6+ Kxf7 21.Rd7+ Kf6 22.Rxb7 Rhe8) 20...hxg5 21.Rxb7 Nd8 In each of these variations White comes out a piece down. White's best continuation is the simple 20 Ne4 when he will finish at least a pawn up with a strong position (20...Kxf7 21 Rb7+ or 20...Nd8 21Bg6). As these variations show, 17 Bg6 is effective only because the Bishop on b7 is loose, as well as the Queen on d6. The game continued...] 19.Raxd1 Kf6 [19...h6 can be met by 20.Rxe6+ Kf8 21.Rd7 as 21...Bc8 or 21...Nd8 now allow 22 Re8 mate while 21...hxg5 22.Rxb7 Nd8 allows 23.Re8# ]
20.Rxe6+ Kxg5 21.Rd5+


In the Killick - Smith game, Black made the wrong strategic decision when he played 26 …Ne6 allowing Knights to be exchanged. He would have had better winning chances after 26 …Bxd4 as his Knight would have been a more effective Minor piece than White’s Bishop.

Thank you very much David; an extremely instructive article, I’m sure readers will agree!

Chess Book Reviews: 28

Chess Book Reviews 28

How to Play the English Opening
By GM Karpov

‘When you want to avoid long theoretical variations and rely more on understanding you won’t come up with anything better than the English Opening…this is not a standard opening manual or reference book, which is obliged to contain all systems. It has a different format: it represents a collection of 30 interesting, important and systematically arranged games, many of which have a place in the development of the theory of the opening.’

I have to admit that I found Karpov’s recent books on the Caro-Kann to be rather turgid and somewhat dated, with not enough in the way of ‘verbal’ explanations. I was therefore pleased to see that his latest book for Batsford is more in the style of his older series, ‘The Game in Action’, which used well-annotated top level games rather than virtually language-less database dumps. Indeed, the lion’s share of the games feature the 12th World Champion himself so it is especially useful to gain such a first-hand insight into the strategic ideas and plans adopted.

The first 15 games concentrate on 1 c4 e5, with heavy emphasis on the Four Knight’s Variation. The very first game puts one of Karpov’s most famous moves under the spotlight…

Kasparov - Karpov
World Championship 1987

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 Bb4 5.Bg2 0–0 6.0–0 e4 7.Ng5 Bxc3 8.bxc3 Re8 9.f3 e3!?

Karpov eventually won the game but not the match. Many other games and fragments punctuate and enhance the narrative, clearly showing the historical development of a
number of key variations.

Various systems, including the Hedgehog, are covered in the latter half of the book. Here, the games of the current World Champion, Vladimir Kramnik, are well to the fore including a famous victory against Karpov himself!

Although the theory of the English is less clearly defined than mainline 1 d4/1e4 openings, there is still a lot to get through and several variations are not considered here, possibly because Karpov has never had much to do with them in his own games. For example, there is nothing on lines featuring an e5/f5 set-up by Black, even though they are quite popular at club level meaning that anyone learning the English from this book alone is in for a few painful surprises.

Nevertheless, there is plenty of sound advice and wisdom to be founding the 191 pages, not to mention a bit of rare Karpovian humour. For example, when describing the position after:

1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2

he says, ‘Recently White has avoided 4 a3 Bxc3 5 bc, not wanting to spoil his pawn haircut’!
All in all, this is a good read with some terrific illustrative games. It’s not suitable Used in conjunction with a more general English book this one should increase the reader’s understanding of this tricky opening.

For further details regarding Batsford Chess Books, please see:

Keeping Up With The Joneses...Not An Easy Matter!

The recent Staunton Memorial Tournament was the seventh in a very
successful series. This year’s event had added significance for your
correspondent due to the inclusion of GM Gawain Jones.

Virtually every step of his chess life has made the headlines (even though
a lot of the early ones only made the chess column of the Teesside Herald
& Post!).

Some memorable highlights include…

Winning the Cleveland Under-9 Championship at the age of five
(needless to say it was at the first attempt!)

Claiming a large number of local scalps on his way up the ranks

Smashing the BCF 200 grading barrier

Setting a World Record by becoming the youngest person to beat an
International Master (Malcolm Pein) in a competitive game

Becoming an International Master thanks to a terrific performance
at the British Championship

Beating Grandmasters - in great style - with alarming regularity

Drawing with Viktor Korchnoy - using the Benko Gambit!

Becoming a Grandmaster!

There have been many other achievements, of course….the above is
merely a quick checklist of those that have stuck in my mind over the
years. There are many more to come too, I’m sure…

Gawain’s performance at the Staunton Memorial was absolutely
outstanding and included smashing victories against such luminaries as
former World Championship Candidate Jon Speelman, Super-GM Loek
van Wely and former World Championship Finalist Jan Timman.

A quick trip over to: will provide
the full story. It’s a pity that the tournament clashed with this year’s British
Championship; it would have been very interesting indeed to see how far
Gawain could have gone on the road to the national title.

I’m not quite sure what he has to do to become the official ECF Player of
the Year; I’d say his recent achievements are without equal in that
category. It’s high time Gawain was representing his country in the
European Championships and Olympiads on a regular basis.
Anything less would amount to a terrible selection blunder.

Tuesday 14 August 2007

New Forum

Greetings everyone!

I am delighted to announce that the new Marsh Towers forum is now up and running. Applying to register takes just a minute or two.

So why not pop along to:

...and then discuss whatever takes your fancy! (Within reason, of course!)

Thursday 9 August 2007

Brief Encounter - Back On The Big Screen

It's quite remarkable to be able to see one of your favourite old films on the big screen. To help in the summer celebrations of the 'Best of British', we were given a rare and unmissable opportunity of seeing one of the very best of all at the local Cineworld establishment.

Starting out as one of Noël Coward's plays in his 'Tonight at 8.30' review, the film keeps the core of the story but expands and embellishes it in great style. The change of title from the play's 'Still Life' to the film's 'Brief Encounter' lends it a more romantic appeal from the very start and the repeated strains of Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto tug at the heartstrings and loosen the tear ducts with astonishing ease.

The first sight of Milford Junction leads us into the pivotal location of the railway station refreshment room. Indeed, this was the sole location for 'Still Life', but the film allows the viewer to witness directly the events leading up to the love shared between two otherwise happily married people, Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) and Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard, in his first major role...his inexperience compared to his co-star's clearly marked out in their respectives salaries of £12,000 and £500!), including the chance meetings in town, the trips to the cinema and other furtive misdemeanours.

Director David Lean pulls off a major improvement on the play with his idea of starting the story at the end and having Laura Jesson tell the story in her own voice. This allows the tension and emotion to develop and build up throughout the whole of the 86 minutes. The innocent start (Dr. Harvey removes an irritant from Laura's eye)...the happiness caused by a chance subsequent meeting...the developing closeness...the fear of being seen together and the inevitability of the growing emotional bond prior to the admission of having fallen in love with each other ('the beginning of the end...').

Suddenly, the story comes full circle as we come fully up to date with the opening scene. Every look, every touch now carries enormous resonance and significance as the inevitable parting of the ways, with the lovers hoping to share their last few precious moments together, is shattered and ruined by bothersome, gossipy Dolly Messiter.

The middle class accents of the principal players, coupled with the typical comic relief supplied by 'the working class' (including an on-form Stanley Holloway) can tend to grate with a modern audience, but most other aspects of the film hold up remarkably well considering it's UK release date of 26th November 1945.

In some ways, it was a very different world then. In other ways, of course, it's still exactly the same. After all, we've all been there, haven't we? And I don't mean Milford Junction....

If you have never seen this moving film then you really are missing out on something very special indeed.


UNCUT! columns 26-30 now archived....diagrams and other bits and pieces will be added later.

Monday 6 August 2007

More Archived UNCUTS!

Hello everyone,

Several more UNCUT! columns have been added to the archive. There will be 60 in all when they are all copied over.

I'm still playing around with some of the formats; diagrams will be added in due course.

More new stuff soon so stay tuned!