Monday 30 March 2009

Chess Reviews: 87

Scandinavian Defense: The Dynamic 3…Qd6
Second Edition: Revised and Enlarged!
By Michael Melts
301 pages
Russell Enterprises

‘Novice and Intermediate players found it easy to learn and understand, while powerful grandmasters such as Sergei Tiviakov realized it was an excellent line in which Black could play fearlessly - and soundly - for a win.’

GM Ian Rogers provides a new foreword (his 2001 foreword for the first edition is included also).
The first time I saw 1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Qxd5 3 Nc3 Qd6 was in simultaneous display by GM David Bronstein in the mid-1990s. (He was quite happy to give players the choice of colour.) I was impressed by the way he built up perfectly viable positions with Black and how his Queen - far from being a target - actually appeared to coordinate very nicely with the rest of his forces.

I tried to find out more about 3...Qd6 but the books were more or less silent on the matter.

Several years later, a book appeared offering comprehensive coverage and it has now been revised and enlarged.

The introduction tells of William Norwood Potter, the first adherent of 3...Qd6 and, according to Lasker, an influence on Steinitz.

The main material is broken down into six main section:

1. Information for Club Chess Players
2. 3 Nc3 Qd6 4 d4 Nf6 5 Bc4

3. 3 Nc3 Qd6 4 d4 Nf6 5 Nf3

4. Fifth Move Alternatives for White after 3 Nc3 Qd6 4 d4 Nf6

5. Fourth Move Alternatives for Black after 3 Nc3 Qd6 4 d4

6. Fourth Move Alternatives for White after 3 Nc3 Qd6

There are 40 main games and many more game snippets are included in the notes.

It‘s rather off-putting to see variations labelled as ‘B3b2a’ and ‘C2b2b1’ and this highlights one of the problems the reader is faced with. To play such a rare line, one would expect to have to get to know a few key lines and understand some model positions, but here a lot more effort is required.

When they appear, the simple prose explanations make a more palatable impression, but these are confined mainly to part 1.

‘The move 5...a6 looks a bit extravagant. What is the reason for moving the a-pawn?

Usually after 5.…a6: 1. White cannot attack the queen on d6 by Nc3-b5 or (after Qd6-c6) White cannot pin the queen with Bb5. 2. Black can bring the knight on b8 to the active c6-square; after Nb8-c6 Black attacks the d4-pawn and can carry out e7-e5 more easily, looking for counterplay in the center. 3. Black can easily activate the Nb8 and Bc8, and then play 0-0-0 - one of the most aggressive (and sometimes riskier) plans in the 3...Qd6 system. 4. Black can play b7-b5.’

Although top-level players such as Tiviakov, Nisipeanu and Dreev have dabbled with 3…Qd6, I feel that it lacks a consistent hero to make it more appealing to the masses.

David Bronstein was already 71 when he played this instructive game:

Wood - Bronstein
Hastings Masters 1995

This position illustrates some of Black’s aims and comes from one of the main annotated games in the book.

GM Tiviakov has had some good results with it; for example, he drew an interesting encounter with the current World Champion.

Anand - Tiviakov
Wijk aan Zee 2006
12...Bg4! (to meet 13 Bxg4? with 13...Qe4+) drawn after 50 moves. But would he dare to play the same thing again, against the same opponent, or is 3...Qd6 merely a temporary shock weapon?

There’s a good index of games and another for variations. The bibliography is extensive and shows over 40 sources, impressively ranging from Land and Water (an early London magazine) to recent New in Chess Yearbooks.

However, adding this line to your repertoire could prove to be a case of ‘all or nothing’; to make the most of the material offered here, one would have to devote considerable attention and effort.

For those prepare to take the plunge, there’s no doubt that this is a deep and very thorough work which is very unlikely to be surpassed as the ultimate reference work on 3...Qd6.

New in Chess Yearbooks
Volume 89 and Volume 90

246 pages each
New in Chess

New in Chess Yearbooks appear four times each year. The format is a settled one and each volume follows a familiar structue.


This provides all readers with an opportunity to respond to anything from previous Yearbooks. The correspondence comes from all over the world, with titled players and top authors freely joining in the debate.

Sosonko’s Corner

GM Sosonko’s regular column is a good read and offer good advice, such as ‘Don’t Panic’ when faced with something new in the opening. That is the subject of his article in Yearbook 89.


The real meat of the Yearbook is obviously to be found in this section. There is typically a prose introduction followed by a selection of very recent top-level games, complete with deep annotations (using symbols rather than words in the vast majority of cases). There’s good use of photos too, one per survey and most of which were new to me.

32 opening lines are covered in volume 89 and 33 in volume 90. Highlights from the former include ‘The Variation That Decided The World Championship’, in which Peter Lukacs and Laszlo Hazai take a good look at this key position from the Semi-Slav.

World Champion Anand and P.H. Nielsen provide annotations from the Anand - Kramnik title match.

‘It is advisable for the authors to be extremely modest in evaluating this line. As we see, even World Champions find it very difficult over the board. Good computers, good analytical programs and a lot of time and energy may help, but only effective over-the-board calculation may lead to success here.’

Viktor Moskalenko provides two entertaining surveys on The Budapest Defence as updates to his book on the subject.

‘We can observe an increase in the Budapest Gambit’s popularity and its theory keeps growing. If you are not prepared, you are in danger no matter your level! A good example is the recent game Kramnik-Mamedyarov.’

Kramnik - Mamedyarov

Nice Rapid 2008

It is easy to see that the former World Champion is in big trouble. 0-1 (39)

From volume 90, GM Eingorn’s survey on 7...Kf8 in the Winawer and Nikolay Ninov’s analysis of the Traxler Gambit are particularly interesting.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Kf8 8.Bd2

‘In contrast to the classical continuations 7...Qc7 and 7...0-0, Black’s strategy here is based on a completely different logic and White has to try and demonstrate (not in words, but in deeds) that the opponent’s voluntary rejection of castling has substantial significance. One of the best replies is considered to be 8 Bd2, which is directed against the standard manoeuvre ….Qd8-a5-a4 and at the same time does not allow the complications which are possible after 7 a4 Qc7 8 Nf3 cxd4.’

It would be quite possible to spend a huge chunk of one’s life analysing The Traxler. The author focuses on lines resulting from a strong ninth move:

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Ng5 Bc5 5 Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6 Kf1 Qe7 7 Nxh8 d5 8 exd5 Nd4 9 d6!

‘…which is definitely the best winning attempt in my opinion.’

Brain-twisting positions are commonplace in this opening, such as this one:

…when Black’s best move is apparently 22...Ne1+!!

The point is that these Yearbooks are not afraid to spend time and effort on unusual variations as well as all of the popular main lines. With a few volumes in one’s library it would be possible to start to build up a very impressive repertoire based on the high level material on offer.

Some of the comments betray a sign of the times, such as this one from Paul Boersma, during a survey on the Queen’s Indian in volume 89.
‘For uneducated or younger players I should perhaps add that Nimzowitsch was a nervous grandmaster of the first quarter of the twentieth century who invented many positional ideas/terms regarded as superfluous in our era of computers.’

Book Reviews

GM Glenn Flear inhabits the final section of the Yearbooks and is given six or so pages to convey his thoughts on recent chess books.

Volume 89’s reviews, under the umbrella title of ‘Cherry Picking’, takes a good look at five opening books.

‘All the authors below are cherry-picking for us, but can we rely on them having a discerning taste for fruit?’

The amusing titles continue in Volume 90 with ‘Never Mind The Quality…Feel The Width’. Once again five opening books are assessed, including New in Chess’s own edition of ‘The Black Lion’ (which will be given a full review here very soon).

New in Chess Yearbooks are impressive tomes and will definitely be of benefit to stronger players. Average club players will probably find them tough going and a on the deep side…

…which allows my segue neatly into this series:

Chess Opening Essentials 2 1. d4 d5/ 1 d4 various/ Queen’s Gambit
GM Dimitri Komarov, GM Stefan Djuric
and IM Claudio Pantaleoni

288 pages New in Chess

Chess Opening Essentials 3 Indian Defences, Complete
GM Dimitri Komarov, GM Stefan Djuric
and IM Claudio Pantaleoni

336 pages New in Chess

Editor Peter Boel sets out the aims of this series - which is set to run to four volumes - in his introduction. The books set out to be:


The original (Italian) editions came out in 2005 and have been updated to include games all the way up to early 2009.

There is an eye-catching and effective use of colour throughout the books, typically to highlight a name, important position or star move.

Each opening starts with a short essay followed by a fully annotated explanation of the moves in question. Supplementary study games are included (without notes, but highlighted by colour to distinguish them from the main text).

Here’s a randomly selected piece from volume 2, regarding the main line of the Tarrasch Defence, just after White has played 6 g3:

‘From the g2-square the bishop will bear down on the weak d5 pawn, and consolidate the defences of the soon-to-be castled king against Black’s characteristically energetic piece play. This variation was played so successfully by Rubinstein that it brought the Tarrasch almost to the point of extinction before its revival in the 1960’s.

Now we take the move so much for granted that it seems almost natural. Yet this is far from the case; even though 6.g3 was first played by Carl Schlecter in 1908, it took 20 years of play at the highest levels before it became clear that it was White’s best move! Today, in the age of the Internet, this seems incredible, but in those days, tournaments were far fewer, and new ideas circulated neither freely nor quickly.’

Here’s a sample from volume 3:

King’s Indian Defence

White has just played 13 Nc3-b5

‘Korchnoi’s idea from 1987 had a couple of initial successes, only to find itself quickly abandoned.

The strategic concept is to eliminate the fundamentally important c8 bishop after 13...a6 14 Na7. Do not forget that Black’s chances of successfully attacking the kingside are reduced to practically zero without the light-squared bishop, which supports …g5-g4 and attacks the h3 point. This is true not only in this line but for all the Mar del Plata variations.

The tactical justification for the move lies in the fact that after 14...Rxa7 15 Bxa7 b6 16 b4 Bb7 17 c5 dxc5 18 Rc1, every attempt to capture the bishop on a7 has failed.

However, unfortunately for White, after the simple 13...b6! The knight move is shown to be a waste of time.’

The examples quoted are both typical of those found throughout these books.

Learning the moves in conjunction with the relevant ideas and plans is clearly a good way to develop a firm understanding of the openings.

These books are ideal for improving club players, including keen juniors. Even experienced players will find them useful as a starting point if they intned to add more openings to their arsenal.

For more on books from Russell Enterprises, pop along to:

For further details of these and other New in Chess products, please visit:

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Friday 27 March 2009

Chess Reviews: 86

Chess Explained: The Grunfeld
IM Valentin Bogdanov
(with contributions by GM Viacheslav Eingorn)
128 pages

‘The Grunfeld Defence is one of the most aggressive openings at Black’s disposal. He creates immediate imbalance and plans to strike at White’s centre with all available resources.’

The coverage starts off with the quiet fianchetto variations and proceeds to work through all of the main line, in this order:

Fianchetto Grunfeld: White Plays g3

Non-Standard Lines with cxd5

Classical Exchange Variation: White Plays Ne2

Modern Exchange Variation: White Plays Nf3

Modern Exchange Variation with Rb1

Russian System: White Plays Qb3

Lines with Bf4 or Bg5

Closed Systems: White Plays e3

There are 25 illustrative games from 1979 to 2008

The presence of former World Champion Garry Kasparov, who did so much to popularise the Grunfeld, is present throughout; however, theory has moved on somewhat since he last played it at the highest level. Those worried by his dreary loss to Kramnik in 2000 (game 2 of the match) will be pleased to find that Black’s defences have been strengthened in recent years.

White players quite often try to keep positions quiet to avoid Black’s tactical intentions. The ethos of this book’s recommendations is to play actively as soon as possible.

For example, in one of Karpov’s old favourites:

…game 1 in the book suggests mixing it up with 8 …Ng4 rather than acquiescing to the slightly worse position in a dull symmetrical world.

Naturally, there are also times when White tries to use his space advantage and pawn centre to blast Black off the board. A good example is seen in the Modern Exchange Variation (with an early Rb1).

McCambridge - Hjartarson
Grindavik 1984

16 f5!! when you can fun analysing why the various captures all favour the first player.

The older Exchange Variation have been back under the microscope in recent times and nobody should sail down this line without suitable theoretical preparation:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 0–0 9.Be3 Nc6 10.0–0 Bg4 11.f3 cxd4 12.cxd4 Na5 13.Bd3 Be6 14.d5

14 …Bxa1 15 Qxa1 f6

I was interested to see how the book would verbally sum up this maelstrom of activity and it says:

‘It is evident that White has at least some compensation: his pieces are more active, and the black king’s position is weakened by the absence of the dark-squared bishop. The extent of this compensation is the whole question, as Black’s has resources of his own. The position is open, and Black’s counterplay along the c-file can bring welcome simplification, and the transfer of the queen via b6 with gain of tempo may prove an important resource.’

White has numerous options here, but the book sticks with coverage of two, namely 16 Bh6 and 16 Rb1.

Black has a safer option with 10 …Bd7, which is covered too. ‘On d7, the bishop supports ….b5 and vacates the c8-square for the queen’.

Although other main lines, such as Karpov’s Seville Variation (12 Bxf7+) are covered, I couldn’t find any mention of Hans Berliner’s early Rc1 in the Classical Exchange Variation. That strikes me as quite an omission and Black players need to prepare carefully to plug this gap or face the prospect of being beaten quickly by ‘The System‘.

The balance between analysis and prose explanation is a tricky one to maintain, especially with something as theoretical as the Grunfeld. Consequently, some of the analytical lines turn out on the long side but on the whole this is a useful guide to a dangerous opening.

Chess Explained: The Main-Line Slav
By IM David Vigorito
112 pages

‘The Main-Line Slav is one of the key battlegrounds of modern chess, with adherents among all levels of chess-players. It is notoriously difficult for White to prove any advantage against Black’s solid set-up, while the lack of symmetry in the position provides scope for creative players to obtain winning chances with either colour.’

The Slav is a tough nut to crack and would make a worthy addition to an anti-d4 repertoire.

The material here is very specifically placed in the realm of the true main line of the Slav There is no coverage of the Exchange Variation or other early deviations and the whole book deals only with play leading from this position:

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Nc3 dxc4

The chapters are arranged thus:

Dutch Variation: White Plays 9 Qe2

Dutch Variation: White Plays 9 Nh4

Central Variation: Black Plays 6...Nbd7 7 Nxc4 Qc7

Central Variation: Black Plays 6...Nbd7 7 Nxc4 Nb6

Central Variation: Black Plays 6...e6

Black Avoids 5…Bf5: Bronstein and Smyslov Variations

White Avoids 5 a4: The Quiet 5 e3 and the Geller Gambit

There are 25 main illustrative games, from 2001 - 2008. The list of Slav practitioners is truly impressive, especially given that so many top players have been willing to play the opening with both colours.

IM Vigorito has over a decade’s worth of experience with the Slav, so he passes the ‘practice what you preach’ test.

Each chapter begins with a small prose overture of the featured games, which sets the scene nicely and there’s a set of ‘Conclusions’ at the end to summarize the salient points.

The Slav is, generally speaking, a positional opening rather than a tactical one and as such it lends itself to explanatory prose without the need for lengthy variations. Here’s a sample from very early on in the book:

‘The four games in this chapter examine the main lines arising after 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Nc3 dxc4 5 a4 Bf5 6 e3 (the Dutch Variation) 6 …e6 7 Bxc4 Bb4 8 0-0 where White follows up with 9 Qe2. White will aim to advance in the centre with e4, and Black can react to this plan in a few different ways. It is important for Black to be prepared to meet this advance, and the move-order that Black chooses will generally commit him to certain middlegame plans. This chapter is fundamental to understanding the Main-Line Slav because both sides develop in a very natural and classical manner, so we see the clash of ideas in its purest form.’

This is typical of the text throughout; it is well-written, uncomplicated and informative, even when the lines head for more tactical waters. For example, there’s an interesting Bishop sacrifice in game 14:

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 Bb4 8.e4

Onishchuk v Grishchuk
Biel 2007

…and now 8 …Bxe4

This enjoyed a wave of popularity a few years ago. IM Vigorito does a good job with his explanations:

‘This is without doubt a critical position for the whole line with 8 e4. This unbalanced position has been seen hundreds of times in master play, and poses challenges for both sides. Black has three pawns for the piece and White’s king is exposed, but often White can successfully fight for the initiative. Black must also be careful about what type of endings he goes into. If he cannot get his pawns moving, White’s extra piece will be more important. Often White’s king can play a vital role in the endgame too. Black has to be particularly careful about his queenside falling, because White can focus all of his pieces (including this king) in that direction.

Nevertheless, it is not all doom and gloom for Black - the white position is not so easy to handle either. Any mistake could prove very costly because White’s king is exposed and he still needs to get developed.’

He then goes on to discuss Black’s three different methods of play before summing the current thinking on the whole line:

‘…the general consensus is that Black is suffering a bit to achieve nothing more than a draw. It is more fun to play a piece up than a piece down! In this game Black is on the cusp of equality when a single mistake allows White to seize the initiative for good.’

I like his writing style and genuinely felt I understood The Slav better after studying this book. In my opinion this is one of the best of the ‘Chess Explained’ range and one which club players should find very useful and instructive.

Instructive Modern Chess Masterpieces
By GM Igor Stohl
448 pages

‘62 brilliant games involving the best players in the world, with notes by one of the top annotators.’

This is a new, enlarged edition of a highly rated book; the first version, published in 1999, won the USCF Award for Best Book. 12 games have been added to the original 50 (taken from the years 2000 through to 2007) and there have been various updates to the older analysis.

Each game is annotated in great depth, with a combination of verbal and analytical comments. This gives plenty of material for serious analysts to sink their teeth into as well as good explanatory notes for those who prefer a prose description of the encounters in question.

Once again Gambit provide an excellent and unusual picture for the book cover. Several positions from chess masterpieces hang in an impressive gallery, clearly elevating the little game of chess to the levels of other art forms.

The games have to be good to live up to such expectations and they certainly pass the test. Some will be very familiar to most readers, such as the great Kasparov - Topalov sacrificial orgy in 1999...

…the one in which the blue touch paper was ignited by means of 24 Rxd4!

Others were unfamiliar to me, such as Topalov’s (ultimately unsuccessful) attempts to perpetrate a King hunt of his own.

Topalov - Leko
Dortmund 1999

'16 Bxf6+! It’s high time to reveal that so far we have seen nothing new; this position had occurred only nine days earlier between the same players in a rapid game in Frankfurt. Then Topalov played the weaker 16 Rae1?! Nh7 17 Bh4 f6 18 Re3 Ng6 19 Bg3 (19 Rg3 Ng5 is no improvement for White) 19...f5! 20 exf5 Bxf5 21 Qd2 Nf6 22 Rfe1 Nh5 23 Bd5 Rb8 24 Be4 Qd7, his compensation gradually evaporated and `he went on to lose. The fact that Topalov repeats the line and introduces a novelty speaks volumes about his optimism. One must also admire Leko’s courage in repeating this risky line and facing a prepared opponent, and it soon transpires that his own analysis was much deeper.’

The only improvement I could think of would be to add a little bit more historical context to the game introductions. It would be interesting to read about what stage in a match or tournament the featured game occurred, to give an indication of the sort of pressures the players were under. Playing a brilliant game when one is already easily winning an event is a lot different to a producing something special in a must-win situation.

There’s an index of players’ names, one for the openings and even one for the endgames. I was able to very quickly see that:

Kasparov, Anand and Shirov all have eight games in this collection

21 different openings are featured and the Sicilian is clearly the most popular choice (14 games).

Rook and Minor Piece v Rook and Minor Piece occur more than any other endgame (10 times).

The reader will have to work very hard to get the most out of GM Stohl’s magnificent annotations (some of the variations are very long) but the extra effort will be well\rewarded by a greater understanding of extremely high level chess. It’s a serious book for serious players; elephants will bathe for months - if not years - in its deep waters but gnats should look elsewhere for fear of drowning.

The massive page count weighted against the r.r.p. of £17.99 makes this excellent value for money.

For further details regarding the Gambit books, please visit their website:

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Friday 20 March 2009

Coming Soon: New Literature Festival

There's a brand new North East Children's Literature Festival coming up later in the year.

To keep up with all the latest developments, please keep an eye on:

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Chess Reviews: 85

The ABC of the Sicilian Dragon
By IM Andrew Martin
4 hours, 10 minutes


‘Can it really be sensible for the club player to wade in these dangerous waters? Will the game not reduce to a battle of memory, particularly in the Yugoslav Attack? Not everyone has the talent of Kasparov, Carlsen, Topalov or Golubev.’

The short introduction features a typical pep-talk from IM Martin, claiming that the basics of the Dragon are actually fairly simple to learn and offering to supply a repertoire to bypass a lot of established theory. ‘This is the new Dragon - and the future looks bright’.

It’s an ambitious task. Whole books have been written about different variations of the Dragon and the weight of theory is a heavy deterrent for most players who would like to play such an interesting opening but lack the time to keep up with the latest developments.

Never one to back down from a challenge, the presenter dives straight into the deep end with coverage of the Yugoslav Attack; first showing a ‘what to avoid’ crushing White win before demonstrating Black’s recommended recipes.

Enter the ‘Dragondorf’: a hybrid of a Dragon (…g6) with a Najdorf (…a6).

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 Be3 Bg7 7 f3 a6

One of the keys to success is flexibility. Given that: ‘The White attack resembles a tank or a lumbering mummy’ Black can keep his options open, especially as regards castling.

White’s ninth move options, namely 9 Bc4, 9 Bh6, 9 0-0-0 and 9 g4 are all given considerable scrutiny.

There are 15 video lectures on the Yugoslav and the section concludes with the famous game between John Littlewood and Mikhail Botvinnik (Hastings 1961/2), in which the famous champion stunned onlookers by successfully walking the tightrope against one of England’s most dangerous attacking players.

Black seems to be in trouble but after 18 …dxe5!! 19 hxg6 Nf6 he went on to win in 28 moves. Readers who like a challenge may wish to try and work out what the intended response to the deadly looking 20 Nf5 would have been (Littlewood played 20 bxc3 instead).

Such diabolical resourcefulness is not only typical of the sharp Dragon - it is often absolutely essential. Some players will really struggle to navigate unexpected tactical twists and turns; the Dragon is not an opening to be adopted by all and sundry.

The Yugoslav section is followed by six lectures on the Classical Variation. IM Martin recommends heading down the main line, to reach this position…

…when 10…Rc8 is given; ‘simplest and best’.

Three lectures take care of the tricky Levenfish Variation, advocating 6...Nbd7 to rule out an early e4-e5 by White.

There’s a lecture on the Fianchetto Variation and one on sixth move odds and ends (6 Bg5 6 Nd5 6 Nde2 6 h3). None are particularly popular or troublesome but having some knowledge of the basic ideas is important.

Three lectures on 6 Bc4 - a relatively new weapon - bring the DVD to a close, leaving just enough time for an ‘Outro’ to give the rallying cry: ‘…it is a thoroughly excellent opening which is easy to play and full of life!’

I'm still not convinced the Dragon is an easy option for club and tournament players and generally speaking I think IM Martin is best suited to bringing the secrets of lesser-known opening lines to our attention, rather than very theoretical main lines. That is not say that isn't a good DVD; however, I do recommend some background reading before adding the Dragon to your tournament arsenal and I think it will still be a task to keep up to date with the latest developments.

Attacking the King - For Experts
By GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov

4 hours


‘Ever since the beginning of chess, the assault on the king has had its own special magic; masterly attacking games, crowned by sacrifices and unforgettable combinations, have never ceased to attract and thrill the audience.’

Former World Champion GM Kasimdzhanov’s latest DVD focuses firmly on the art of attacking the enemy King.

The first half of the DVD gives examples of attacking play from all the official World Champions from Steinitz to Kasparov. Using one video for each champion, the lectures don’t always show the complete games, but the full moves are available in the ‘games’ section of the disc.

Some of the examples are more famous than others, such as the titanic Reti-Alekhine clash at Baden-Baden 1925. Others give the lesser-studied World Champions are chance to shine.

Geller- Euwe
Candidates Tournament
Zurich 1953

The presenter remembers time spent as a child reading about this game and being impressed by Euwe’s fine play ‘When his best years were long since gone’

White’s attack looks convincing but attention should be drawn to the excellent positions of the Black Rook and Bishop. Such activity provides Euwe with a bombshell

‘Euwe stuns him with a magnificent attempt to start the final decisive attack’

22 …Rh8

‘Giving a full Rook in order to get access to the c2 square’

GM Kasimdzhanov notes the presence of opposite coloured Bishops, increasing the potential of the attack and goes on to demonstrate and explain the remaining moves in style.

23.Qxh8 Rc2 24.Rc1 24 d5 Bxd5 (getting in the way of the Queen) 25 Rd1 Rg2+ 26 Kf124...Rxg2+ 25.Kf1 Qb3 26.Ke1 Qf3 0–1

He then switches attention to his own games for the second half of the DVD, talking the viewer through nine very fine attacking games; two of them are against former World Champion Anatoly Karpov. The latter encounter clearly holds very good memories.

‘This is in fact one of my favourite games. I was incredibly happy to play it, especially since I had such a magnificent opposition.’

‘Here I was able to unveil my idea which I myself was very proud of. ’

21 Bb8!!

‘A very rare kind of idea …to shut off the Black Rook from being used to defend the Black King and the point is that Black cannot take on b8 since Qd6+ , followed by mate on b8.’

The attack raged on until a final sacrifice forced resignation.

33 Bxg6! 1-0

‘I believe that Karpov did not lose so many games in his career where he was mated and his Rooks had not moved at all…’

Entertaining and instructive, viewers should be suitably impressed and inspired by all of the games on the DVD.

The Scotch Game
By GM Nigel Davies
5 hours


‘The space White takes early in the game can easily translate into a powerful attack against Black’s King. In addition to this White can often inflict some damage on Black’s pawn structure by capturing Black’s knight on c6. These dual aims have certainly been giving Black plenty to think about.’

GM Davies confesses to experiencing a revelation as an 11 year-old: by playing 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4, White achieves an excellent position in the centre. Checking the idea in the theory books brought the bad news that Black’s easy development was good enough compensation.

That’s life, of course. 11 year-olds are set to have many disappointments through life. However, things turned out to be not quite so cut and dried for The Scotch Game. Former World Champion Garry Kasparov’s rehabilitation of 3 d4 took place at the highest level; three consecutive World Championship matches (1990, 1993 and 1995).

Consequently, the Scotch became much more popular and now ‘enjoys’ a considerable body of theory (‘Kasparov’s fault’, claims GM Davies).

Despite the onset of theory, lively play and reasonably easy to learn plans make the Scotch a suitable weapon for players to add to their repertoires.

Maintaining his position as friend of the club player, GM Davies quite typically offers a ‘quick start’ option to ease the Scotch into one‘s repertoire - via the Four Knights Opening. This is analysed on the first part of the DVD, covering lectures 2-16

The standard target position for White arises after the following moves:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.exd5 cxd5 9.0–0 0–0

The main focus of attention falls on 10 Bg5, a straightforward developing move with a threat of the compromising 11 Bxf6, due to the pressure on d5.

Here we see a recurring theme of the whole opening. Black may enjoy good development but there’s always the danger of the compromised pawn structure coming back to haunt him. GM Davies nicely demonstrates various ideas, plans and pitfalls involving the uncomfortable Black pawn islands.

The second part of DVD covers the normal Scotch with 3 d4. The presenter admits that the material barely scratches the surface of the theory of the sharpest lines.

The bulk of the lectures on the main lines are devoted to The Mieses Variation and 4 …Bc5, in more or less equal measure.

The Mieses Variation is a tough one to learn. It is ‘…for young, energetic players with loads of time for study. It’s not for your more mature chess player who is rushed off his feet; he should stick to the Scotch Four Knights’

One of the standard Mieses positions shows the board ablaze and some pieces on unconventional squares. GM Davies explains the logic behind the moves and skilfully guides the view through the minefield of nuances and nuisances.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 9.b3

Players with Black are advised to avoid the line altogether. ‘Play (4...) Bc5, for goodness sake!’

There’s a good round-up of the minor options, including oddball attempts such as 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Bc5 5 Nf5, Steinitz’s 4 …Qh4 and the theory-dodging 4 …Bb4+

The honesty of the presenter is further demonstrated by using his loss to GM Gawain Jones - on the Black side of a Scotch - as an illustrative game, despite the painful memories.

In all, there are 33 illustrative games. I enjoy the refreshing honesty of GM Davies. He never tries to sell his audience long theoretical lines which are almost impossible to keep up to date with. Indeed, his practical advice for club players is often as valuable as the actual moves he recommends.

I’d say this was the pick of this month’s very good bunch.

For further details of Chessbase products, please go to:

Incidentally, GM Davies has recently launched a new website for Tiger Chess:

The older version has now been converted to 'Grandmaster Growl' and is his personal blog:

Missed a review? Pop along to my archive:

Monday 16 March 2009

Improving on Staunton

FNS, DW, SM, RVMH. The chess board on the table suggests a nice square meal

The great Howard Staunton didn't think very much of Saltburn. He was present at the Redcar tournament of 1866 and commented:

'The excursions promised to places of interest in the neighbourhood, consisted of a trip to Saltburn, where everybody paid for himself, and could hardly get anything worth having even upon those independent terms.’


‘The shortcomings in question we are willing to believe the result of inexperience on the part of the Managing Committee, and we are quite sure they will not occur at any future Meeting of the Association.’

However, when four former Cleveland County champions (who, curiously, despite many decades of friendly rivalry, have yet to all play on the same team at the same time) dined there last week (at The Ship Inn, to be precise), there seemed to have been a big improvement since Staunton's time and we are sure to ignore his advice and return in the near future.

If only Howard Staunton had said nice things, there could well have been a blue plaque in his honour by the sea in East Cleveland.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Norman Stephenson's Opening Workshop #6

It's time to pick up some more opening ammunition...

Norman Stephenson's Opening Workshop
#6 The Modern Defence

Monday 9 March 2009

Chess Reviews: 84

Gary’s Adventures in Chess Country
By Igor Sukhin
152 pages Mongoose Press

‘By following Gary on his adventures - and by solving engaging puzzles alongside him - your child will have a unique opportunity to improve focus, memory, and critical thinking skills, all while having fun.’

The titular Gary is a young boy left alone with ‘the most boring babysitter in the history of the universe’. Before he knows it, he is whisked off by Cassie on her tricycle to an amazing chess adventure, featuring the following activities along the way…

The Chess Pavilion


The Diagonal

Magical Pieces

The Gates of Caissa

The Rook’s Place

The Friendly Bishops

Visiting the Queen

The Knight in Shining Armour

Pawn Kindergarten

An Audience With the King

The Flying Carpet

Checkmate and Stalemate

Gary is solving Difficult Problems

Goodbye, Chess Country

Gary and Cassie take the reader on a magical journey through the wonderful world of chess. There’s plenty of clever word play and an abundance of unusual - yet highly instructive - puzzles to solve along the way. The vibrant colours bring every page alive.

Igor Sukhin may not be well known to Western readers, but he is revered in Russia, with the Russian Department of Education being particularly keen on recommending his books to young players.

Prior to publication, I was in the fortunate position of being able to test out some of the material on my own pupils.

The narrative is fun and the colour is absolutely outstanding, from the first page to the last. There’s no way this chess primer could ever be accused of being boring or dull.

One particularly impressive feature is the unusual selection of puzzles. In addition to the straightforward checkmates, there are copious amounts of positions aimed at teaching one particular lesson at a time. The basic moves of the pieces are demonstrated with a single piece given the task of manoeuvring to capture a flag or to avoid dangerous mines. These exercises were very popular with my students and as the puzzles got slightly tougher each time they were able to steadily develop their powers of calculating and thinking ahead.

Here’s a few random samples of the text to demonstrate the clever use of words, a feature which is present throughout the book:

He won’t need a flashlight, but can a rook move from a light square to a dark square? From dark to light? From light to light? From dark to dark? Despite all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, is it possible to capture the king in a game? Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines! In the starting position, which queen (white or black) has a light-square bishop next to it? Maybe when nobody’s looking, he practices on his trampoline, but can a king jump over other pieces?

There are some regular chess problems too, and the following examples demonstrate the standard:

Check it out: work out a way that White can checkmate Black in two moves.

I won’t give the answers; solving the problems should be well within your powers.

Here’s another one, coming in process of a problem-solving bout between Gary and Zug:

The chess battle between the two boys went on until they reached the following position:

It’s Black’s turn to move. What would you do? ‘Checkmate in one move!’ declared Gary. ‘No way!’ Zug was bug-eyed with surprise. ‘There is nothing you can do here.’ ‘Oh yes, I can!’ said Gary with triumph, and he….

Well, dear readers, what did he do…?

It’s a magical journey - and a fantastic book for young juniors. The sturdy hardback binding should give the book a fighting chance of reasonable longevity even in the classroom.

This should be required reading for all those involved in Primary School chess clubs.

For further details regarding this, and other Mongoose Press books, please visit:

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Saturday 7 March 2009

Confusing Sign: Help Is At Hand

It seems the world took notice when I posted about a confusing sign:

Now if the confusion is too great one can always summon assistance...

Friday 6 March 2009

Chess Reviews: 83

Blindfold Chess
History, Psychology, Techniques,
Champions, World Records and Important Games
Eliot Hearst and John Knott
437 pages
McFarland & Company

‘When Philidor played two blindfold games at once in the eighteenth century, eyewitnesses were asked to swear affidavits attesting to this remarkable accomplishment. After such a performance in London in 1782, The World called it ‘a phenomenon in the history of man’ and added that the feat ‘should be hoarded among the best examples of human memory, till memory shall be no more’.

Blindfold chess has come a long way since the days of Philidor. The famous Melody Amber tournaments, combining blindfold chess with Rapidplay rounds, have brought this formerly obscure, almost magical branch of the great game into mainstream respectability.

In this new book, two extremely diligent authors seek to create the definitive account of the genre.

The list of contents provide a straightforward overview of what’s in store:

Part I. The History of Blindfold Chess

Even Before Philidor

Francois-Andre Philidor

Between Philidor and the Late 1800s

The First Part of the Twentieth Century

The Last Fifty Years

Women and Blindfold Chess

Major Recent Tournaments and Matches

Part II. The Psychology of Blindfold Chess

Research on General Chess Skill

Psychological Studies and Commentaries on Blindfold Chess

The Techniques of Blindfold Champions

The Supposed Health Hazards

Part III. Blindfold Chess Games

World-Record Setting Simultaneous Exhibitions

Other Significant Games

The book had a long gestation period. Both authors worked independently on the subject before learning of each other’s efforts in 1985. The amount of research and work involved in producing such a labour of love must have been absolutely immense. Knott and Hearst have been interested in Blindfold Chess for a very long time; indeed, the latter was an assistant, in his junior days, at the famous USA v USSR Radio Match of 1945. At the end of the match, Reuben Fine gave a simultaneous blindfold display.

There’s an excellent selection of photographs and illustrations, from portraits of the players to scenes of them in action. The photo of Alekhine, with his back turned against his 28 opponents in his 1925 World Record attempt, clearly shows the enormity of his task.

The World Records for Blindfold Chess are a contentious affair. Doubts can easily be cast on the conditions of the displays and strength of opposition. It’s not so murky when the game scores have survived, but the claim of Janos Flesch - successful over a staggering 52 boards - is particularly controversial. Unfortunately he died in 1983 and the vast majority of the game scores have never been found. Flesch was of the opinion that a film had been taken of the display. Despite the best efforts of the authors, only a very short filmed snippet has been found; not enough to prove things either way.

Health issues have dogged blindfold chess for a very long time. Philidor was cautioned against such activity and matters were not helped when the cause of Pillsbury’s death was given as: ‘an illness contracted through overexertion of his memory cells’, (perhaps to cover up the truth about his fatal dose of syphilis).

Kasparov, when asked about his refusal to play at the Melody Amber events, has often been quoted as saying ‘I don’t want to become mad!’ but none of his fellow Grandmasters suffered such a fate after competing. Curiously, Kasparov was very successful when he gave a blindfold simul in 1985, winning eight and drawing two of the ten games.

This one, ironically against a computer (how would suffer against such things later in life), is particularly impressive.

Kasparov - Mephisto 68000 Computer

28.Ne6!! fxe6 29.fxe6 Rdc7 30.Rxg7+!! Kxg7 31.Bh6+ Kh8 32.Bg7+ Kxg7 33.Qg5+ Kf8 34.Qh6+ Ke8 35.Bg6+ Kd8 36.Qh8+ 1-0

‘Mate is forced in two more moves. We believe that Kasparov could not have played much better in a regular serious tournament game and that thus game deserves a more prominent place in collections of his games or examples of his brilliant combinations.’

As usual with McFarland books, this one provides a goldmine of fascinating historical information. It should naturally take its place as the definitive work on the world of blindfold chess and it will also appeal to anyone with even just a passing interest in chess history.

Fans of the greats, such as Philidor, Alekhine, Reti and Najdorf, will be especially pleased to see many games which should be new to them. Lesser-known chess stars get the chance to step put of the shadows too, such as Koltanowski, Breyer and the mysterious Vladimir Ostrogsky.

There are some unfortunate blunders, even by the very best players, but there are plenty of brilliances too. Here’s a few sparkling examples of the latter.

Pillsbury v Newman

Pillsbury, playing 20 opponents simultaneously, won nicely after 17 Kd2 Qxf2+ 18 Kc1 Kh8 19 Rg1 Ne5 20 dxe5 1-0 However, there was a prettier alternative winning move available, in the form of the unusual fork 17 Qf3!

Alekhine v Martin Fischer

15 Nf7! Kxf7 16 Qxe6+!! Kg6 17 g4 Be4 18 Nh4 mate

In one famous blindfold game Blackburne astonished those present by announcing mate in 16 moves - surely the longest announcement of mate in the entire history of blindfold chess.

Blackburne - Scott

The mating path starts with 1 Rxe6+

1.Rxe6+ Kh7 2.Qd3+ Rg6 3.Qxg6+ fxg6 4.Re7+ Kg8 5.Be6+ Kf8 6.Rf7+ Ke8 7.Nf6+ Kd8 8.Rd7+ Kc8 9.Rxa7+ Kb8 10.Nd7+ Kc8 11.Nc5+ Kd8 12.Rd7+ Kc8 13.Rf7+ Kd8 14.Nb7+ Ke8 15.Nxd6+ and now 16 Rd7 or Bb6 finish the checkmate.

All good fun, and an incredible achievement by The Black Death. However, the chess engines do their best to spoil the party by showing a speedier win after 3.Rxg6 fxg6 4.Qxd6, when the mate arrives sooner than in the intended game continuation.

Najdorf - Andrada

21 Rxf7! Qxf7 22 Bh7+ Kg7 23 Bxh6+

This extremely impressive volume concludes with another typical McFarland trademark: appendices, a bibliography and very useful indices. Including here are full listings of all the World Record attempts, even giving the names of the opponents (where known).

There’s so much to enjoy in this marvellous book. Expertly written and beautifully bound, it is already pencilled in on my list of the best books of 2009.

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Sunday 1 March 2009

Chess Reviews: 82

World Chess Championship 2008
Anand v Kramnik

The Battle of Bonn

By GM Raymond Keene
112 pages Impala Press

‘Russian Grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik astonished the world by defeating Garry Kasparov in London in 2000. Seven years later he lost the championship title to the Indian Grandmaster Vishy Anand. Now the final shoot-out in Bonn determined the planet’s top chess brain.’

‘Instant’ match books have fallen out of fashion. The trend was set in 1972, with authors and publishers scrambling to storm the public with rapidly issued tomes on the great Fischer - Spassky match. 1978 was another great year for such books, especially as the off-board drama of the Karpov - Korchnoy match caught the public imagination even more than the actual games.

The Karpov - Kasparov saga seemed to herald a general move away from match books, although GM Keene continued to keep the flag flying.

The internet has made the world much smaller and people can watch World Championship games live from their own armchairs and download all the games instantly and free of charge.

Yet despite the changing times I still believe there is a place for match books and nobody is better equipped to fulfil the task than GM Keene, whose experience in such matters goes all the way back to 1974 (the Karpov - Korchnoy Candidates’ Final; essentially a World Championship match due to Fischer’s subsequent refusal to play the his challenger).

Here's an annotated run through the contents:

Mexico City 2007

Briefly comparing the Mexico World Championship tournament with that of 1948.

The World Champions

A controversial chapter, pushing a claim for Labourdonnais, Staunton, Anderssen and Morphy to be included in the official list of World Champions.

Roll of Honour

This chapter takes a brief look at the World Champions, including those mentioned above. The detail is finer for Kramnik and Anand, providing further background to their match.

Technical Details

A useful account of the official match details, including the names of the seconds, time controls and playing schedule.

Previous Encounters

The decisive games between Anand and Kramnik prior to the Battle of Bonn reveal an edge for the latter, to the tune of 6-4. The chapter includes a selection of their more interesting encounters with very light notes.

Checking the Greats

Highlighting ‘…a fresh and fascinating evaluation method for champions’, to be found at: This is well worth a look as it shows some surprising statistics. Tigran Petrosian’s best year comes out as 1973 - a decade after he became he World Champion.

Before the Storm

A last look at Anand in action before analysis of the Bonn games begins.

Let Battle Commence

It is indicative of the state of the highest level of chess when this statement can be true:
‘Paradoxically Anand is world champion, having never won a World Championship match, while Kramnik is the former world champion, having never lost a World Championship match.’

This is a fact that generated optimism for Kramnik fans, who reckoned he was better in matches than tournaments and Anand was the opposite.

Games 1 - 11

The game commentaries consist of two aspects. FIDE Organiser Julian Simpole provides on the spot accounts giving a general impression of the big match atmosphere and GM Keene is responsible for the annotations of the actual moves.

The decisive games receive the lion’s share of annotations; some of the draws have much lighter notes.

As a typical sample of the style, here’s a key moment from the match, with notes from the book.

Kramnik - Anand
Game 5

‘Doubtless Kramnik had calculated thus far and believed he had an easy win. Black appears to have no threats, his knight seems impotent, and the path is clear for White’s passed and connected pawns to thunder forwards. Black even appears to have lost his own trump card, the passed d-pawn. However, appearances are deceptive and Anand’s coming thunderbolt will certainly go down in the history of World Championship coups.’

34...Ne3!! 35 fxe3 fxe3 0-1

‘White is suddenly helpless against …e2 with imminent and deadly coronation of the phoenix-like reincarnation of the black passed pawn. A tragically unnecessary loss for Kramnik, redeemed as a game through profound and infernal tactical cleverness from Anand’

The eye-witness accounts of Julian Simpole provide a welcome splash of local colour, often giving snippets from the press conferences. From his notes I discovered that Anatoly Karpov officially opened game six and several other bits and pieces.


The conclusion is that Anand is now the absolutely undisputed king of the chess world. The last lingering doubts revolved around the fact that Kramnik, who ended Kasparov’s reign over the course of a proper match, had thus far been undefeated in match play. Bonn changed all that.

GM Keene then discusses the ideal number of games for a World Championship match. He concludes that 12 games is not enough and that 16 would be better.

Opening Choices

The book concludes with a little bit more analysis on three key opening lines from the match, namely: The Exchange Slav, The Semi-Slav and the Nimzo-Indian Defence.

‘Instant’ books run the risk of containing more errors than usual and in this case I think one more stint of proofreading would have been useful, as there are a number of typos which could have been eradicated. In particular, page 12 suffers and the final crosstable shows Kramnik emerging victorious over Topalov, rather than being on the receiving end to Anand. I understand these mistakes have been ironed out for the second edition of the book.

Typos aside, this book makes for a fine souvenir of an important match in a format more convenient than having to search through various chess magazines.

For further details of Impala books and DVDs, please visit:
Two excellent suppliers of Impala products are:

Batsford’s Modern Chess Openings Fifteenth Edition
By GM Nick de Firmian
748 pages

‘This massive stand-alone work covers every principle line of play in every opening variation, thereby providing the distilled essence of contemporary chess theory. This latest updated edition - more comprehensive than ever - is an indispensable companion for club and tournament players.’

Here’s a real blast from the past.

There was a time when Modern Chess Openings (‘MCO’) was the best single-volume reference book for chess openings in the world. It was easier to carry around than the multi-volume Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (‘ECO’) and it was a standard piece of tournament luggage in the pre-ChessBase era.

MCO lost its place in the pecking order when Batsford Chess Openings (‘BCO’) took the world by storm in the early 1980s. Such tomes fell completely out of favour once every player had the potential for quick and easy access to massive databases.

Yet the unsinkable MCO is back again, this time celebrating its fifteenth edition.

There’s a touch of the ‘comfy old slippers’ syndrome about MCO. The format is the same as it ever was, with a short essay introducing each main opening, followed by columns of variations. Small letters intersperse the columns; these refer the reader to further variations over the course of the next couple of pages. The notes typically feature a line of play followed by the names of the players and the event. Occasionally there’s an additional piece of prose for further elucidation. There are references all the way up to 2008.

At 748 pages and an r.r.p. of £17.99, this represents excellent value for money. It is good to see that the spine of the book is fixed with a serious amount of glue (readers may remember I didn’t think the spine of Batsford’s recent reissue of Fischer’s ‘My 60 Memorable Games’ was sufficiently supported, thus leading to creasing problems). The extra strength allows the book to opened properly without causing spine damage.

‘Children of ChessBase’ will wonder what all the fuss is about but all those who started studying chess in the pre-computer database era will feel a wave of nostalgia.

It’s an optimistic release by Batsford but one which should appeal to club players seeking a single-volume distillation of current theory.

Sharpen Your Chess Tactics in Seven Days
By IM Gary Lane
224 pages Batsford

‘Packed with tips and tricks, this book’s clear, no-nonsense style makes it the ideal companion for sharpening your play - quickly.’

IM Lane’s sequel to ‘Improve Your Chess in Seven Days’ aims to develop and enhance the tactics in the arsenal of the practical player.

‘The three basic goals of this boom are: To improve your chess knowledge To increase your specific knowledge of tactical tricks and traps To learn to identify tactics when they occur in your own game’

The format of one chapter - or lesson - per day allows the material to split into the following chunks:

Day 1 - So you want to improve your tactics?

Day 2 - Understanding tactics

Day 3 - How to develop your creativity

Day 4 - Tactics in the opening

Day 5 - Tactics in the middlegame

Day 6 - Tactics in the endgame

Day 7 - Blunders and brilliancies
Moving on Glossary of chess terms

IM Lane’s is always user-friendly and it’s made even more so by the addition of amusing cartoons and entertaining snippets of chess trivia at the start of each chapter.

The former includes a picture of an overloaded Queen, with numerous wires and plugs attached to HRH. The latter showcases various chess quotes and oddities, such as this classic from Henry Bird: ‘It is bad form for spectators to remove the pieces from the board without the consent of the players’ .

The author’s chatty, witty style is demonstrated by this typical quote:

‘I remember having some success with the French Advance, 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5, and asked whether I chose it for its tactical possibilities or its extended pawn formation which promoted kingside attacking chances. However in fact my sole reason for playing this anti-French variation was because it was the shortest line published in Modern Chess Openings.’

The material is generally fresh, with plenty of recent games all the up to 2008; incidentally, this just proves that even the top players continue to overlook fairly simple tactics. All the more reason for us all to remain as tactically aware as possible.

Here’s a couple of examples of the tactics on show:

Lane - G. Xie
Oceania Zonal, Auckland 2005
White to play

Instead of moving the attacked Rook, White sacrifices the other one:

53 Rxg7+ Qxg7 …and then matters are brought to a conclusions with a good old Knight fork: 54 Nf5+ 1-0

Short - Timman
Staunton Memorial, London 2008

‘White could have forced resignation with the stunning 19 Nd6!! when the knight must be taken due to the obvious threat of Ndf7+ forking the king and rook. For instance: 19 …cxd6 (19...Qxd6 allows the fork 20 Nf7+ Kd7 21 Nxd6 cxd6 22 Bd2 winning comfortably; and 19...Rg8 20 Nxc6+ Kd7 21 Nxb8+ Kxd6 22 Qg3+ Kd5 23 Qb3+ Kd6 24 Bf4+ Qe5 25 Bxe5 is checkmate) (this fork uncovers a discovered attack on the queen, which seals Black’s fate) 20 Nxc6+!20...Nxc6 (20...Kd7 21 Nxb8+ Kc7 22 Qxe6 and Black will leave the building in a hurry) 21 Qxe6 Nxd4 22 Qe4 winning.’

GM Short went on to lose the game (on time, in the process of trying to complete his fortieth move). There are further examples of missed opportunities by top players in the book, giving the rest of us hope and inspiration.

‘Chess is fun but it is even more fun when you win!’

An admirable attitude. This a book full of fun and even though the essential building blocks of the lessons are reasonably simple, the entertaining material should put a smile on the face all club and tournament players, regardless of current playing strength.

For full details of all available Batsford chess books, please go to:

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