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Of Model Chessplayers

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What chessplayer do you want to imitate?. Do you follow  Fischer, Botvinnik, Alekhine, Tal, Korchnoi, Lasker, Capablanca,Nimzowitsch, Steinitz,…?. Then, you are studying these players’ games , play their openings, and so on. BUT one of he striking facts -which is more conspicuous in CC – is that many of the opening variations these gentlemen played are now outdated. In CC you try to play the Sozin against some Sicilian lines like Fischer did only to see that, as White, you have ended up on the receiving end…

During my Chess career I have found  many people who admired Lasker (to mention one of them). But, in Lasker’s days, the Sicilian was nearly unexplored. Or the King’s Indian, the Grünfeld, etc. So you are nearly reduced to very 0ld Ruy López variations and the French.  So, what to do?. 

Well, you may keep on studying all those GMs from the past to learn strategy,planning , endgame technique and combinations, But you should forget about playing their opening variations unless you find a forgotten move in one of the old lines they played. And you should not forget that OTB Chess has nothing to do with CC. (Several years ago I tried to play Korchnoi’s lines in my CC games ending up in sheer disaster. So never more!. In OTB Chess there is the factor of time (the clock!) and the fallibility of the human being. In today’s CC time is irrelevant and nobody is going to miscalculate because our Chess programs will immediately detect the slightest of errors.

I still remember the 80`s (20th century) when we played without programs, with postcards and stamps… Then you could employ Karpov’s or Kasparov´s latest innovation (if you managed to get it in those old printed magazines) and be happy…. I waited well over a decade to use the following line used by Karpov in Baguio: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5, a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5 . 0-0 Nxe4 6.d4  b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. de5 Be6 9. Nbd2 Nc5  10. c3 d4 11. Ng5 !!?. And when I employed it against a Dutch opponent I found myself struggling for a draw which I finally managed to achieve… On those days I had no a computer. I never knew if my opponent was using one (a pre-historic one anyway!). Karpov used to say that in the good old days you could find a TN and employ it a couple of times -or even more- before all your opponents knew it and found countermeasures, while today every TN can be used only once. In the past every chessplayer had to get as many Chess magazines as possible to keep abreast of the latest innovations. Today you may get it at home simply switching on your computer. One of the most important lessons to be learnt today is that in CC it is better not to speculate. Sacrifice a Pawn (or what be even worse: a piece!) for a nebulous attack and your opponent will take it and beat you in a consistent way. Remember: there is no zeitnot in CC, computer programs do not feel nervous or feel anxious. Forget about playing like Tal because he played OTB Chess, not CC.

I do not know why, but when I was a boy and was starting studying Chess seriously, I used to say  “I like this or that player. I want to play like him.” and so on. Now over thirty-eight years have elapsed and I find I can only speak of “influences”. Of course ,some of them are much stronger than others and it is very curious to see how one tends to go back to the very first one of them.

I must say that if you are an OTB chessplayer you would learn a lot by engaging in serious CC games. CC will teach you how to be practical without being speculative, how to be a rounded chessplayer instead of a gambler (or a “coffee-house” one) , how to look for the best and strongest move in every position without speculating with the clock. But remember that CC is a very serious matter: people here are out for blood and rating points (not for money). So, if you are not going to take it seriously, it would be better for you (and your ego) not to put your head into the lion’s mouth. It may hurt a lot…

(For those who admire Karpov and like learning endgame technique from complete games I would recommend the following book:  Karolyi’s & Aplin’s : “Endgame Virtuoso Anatoly Karpov”)

Now, here is something for you to train:


Mate in 3 moves Dobriski/Shinkman 1883.


Agapov. Mate in 4 moves.



Written by QChess

December 20, 2015 at 7:15 am

Are We What We Have Been Influenced By?

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Have you ever thought about the past influences you show in the way you play Chess?. Think about it for a while.

My early Chess influences were , in this order, Karpov-Petrosian-Nimzowitsch (and the Hypermodern movement)-Botvinnik-Fischer and Spassky . I have learnt many things from all of them. If I reduce the list it would read: Karpov-Nimzowitsch et alii-Fischer-Spassky. Now you may say: “So what? Different chessplayers,different styles, etc.” Well, let’s try to find the common denominator. In fact when we speak of “influences” in Chess I immediately think of  openings and   certain middlegame recurrent positions. 

1.- Openings: Karpov (from his beginnings till around 1986), Fischer, Spassky and Nimzowitsch have had 1. e4 as their main opening as White. As Black Karpov ,Fischer and Spassky have played the Sicilian (my main weapon). The four have played Hypermodern defences : the Nimzoindian, the Queen´s Indian, the Grünfeld, the King’s Indian, the Benoni. I have played all of them + the Orthodox (Spassky’s weapon for many years too). 

2.- Middlegames: I have studied many books on strategy, middlegame Pawn constellations, etc. Books written by GMs from the Soviet Chess School and other GMs. like Pachman, Soltis, Grau (Argentina),Marovic, etc. I have studied Tarrasch´s and Steinitz´s games… BUT the greatest influence of all came from around 1979-80, when I came across my first copies of Nimzowitsch’s “Chess Praxis” and “My System” (the latter is a curious extended edition including different appendix with Nimzo’s articles which do not appear in the original and editions made after it (I suppose the editor decided to include them for the sake of completeness…). Then I managed to get a copy from “Blockade” published in the United States. And afterwards , I have tried to obtain anything on Nimzowitsch. For instance I have a copy from “Aron Nimzowitsch 100 Partier Forsynet med Stormensterens egne Kommentarer Og Skakcauserier” by Bjorn Nielsen in Danish (!!). And Nimzowitsch led me to Reti, Tartakower, Breyer,…

The Hypermodern reaction to the “classicism” represented by Tarrasch is known by everybody. I began to play Hypermodern Defences and typical middlegame set-ups avoiding the invasion of the centre with Pawns but trying to control and attack it from the wings. In my early years I used the English, the Reti or the Barcza System as White. I even tried bizarre systems like 1. c4, e5 2. e4 or 1. e4, c5 or …e5 / 2. c4. Or the Dresden Variation of the English, a most cherished  set-up of Nimzowitsch’s.

In Chess we could distinguish several periods (Chess writers call them “Schools”): Morphy, Anderssen et alii belonged to the Romantic School. Then came the Classical School with Tarrasch and contemporaries. One step forward and we have the Hypermodern School (curiously both Tarrasch and Nimzowitsch claimed they were trying to explain Steinitz’s ideas … to reach conclusions poles apart…). Afterwards, the Soviet Chess School, comprising everything, re-formulating many concepts,discovering new ones, etc. Today’s chessplayers follow an eclectic path (I guess). In a period of ultra-dynamism you can still find positional masterpieces in a classical or a hypermodern style be those what they may. I have written that certain school of thought has proclaimed that there is no strategy these days because the opening stage has been so extended that modern “tabiyas” may place the game between the 20th and the 30th move. (You can notice it at top-level Chess and in CC). But nearly everybody has a favourite idol : you may like Capablanca’s classical approach or Tal’s romantic one. Etc.

Perhaps knowing about all this may help us to improve because by insisting upon those features we have subconsciously acquired since our beginnings we may play within” our true style” or at least avoid repeating past mistakes, when perhaps we mixed things… (after all , one cannot play the Alekhine (1. e4, Nf6/ with the idea of invading the whole board with our Pawns… Get it?)

(In a different post I will write about Richard Reti (1889-1929) but I would like to include one of his compositions -No, it is not the famous  King/Pawn-race one…): 


This study was published by Reti and Mandler in 1924. White to move wins.  Instructions:

1.- This is not a mate problem.

2.- Study the position and try to imagine how White can proceed and how Black can defend his position.

3.- You can do it without moving the pieces. Then, try to find a solution by moving the pieces if necessary.

4.- You can cover the solution and try to find the first move and so on checking your election against the solution as if it were a game. White must play for the win, Black will try to , at least, get a draw. This is an exercise of threats/defences ,threats/counterthreats.

Remember that ,  in Chess, all the work you do always pays off, always reward.

1.- Ng1, Kd2! / 2. Nf3+ , Kd3! /3. Ke1, Ke3 / 4. Ne5, Ke4 /5. Nc4, Kd3 6. Nd2, Ke3/ 7. Nf3, Kd3 /8. Kf1! Ke3 / 9. Ne1, Kd2/ 10. Nc2!, Kd1 / 11. Nb4, Kd2 / 12. Nd5 winning.


Written by QChess

March 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm

To Learn Chess, Study Chess, Not “About” Chess…

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Many Chess handbooks have been written trying to explain how Chess is/should be played. All of us have read a lot of general precepts like “…the best action against a flank attack is to counter it with an action in the center”, and so on. These are the sort of popular advice like “you should eat/drink less of this or that and more of this or that and you will live a hundred years”. Really?. To how many flank attacks have you succumbed because you do not have a damned d-Pawn to play on the center????. “To play against/with an isolated QP you should…” But then you get the damned isolani and try to follow the advice but the position is not the same as in that book and your opponent finishes you off with a mating attack… “If you have an inferior position you must create as many problems as possible to your opponent; see how Petrosian , Tal and Karpov do it…”  (Several beautiful games follow suit).  And then you lose one time after another because you fall in one inferior position after another and there are no those damned threats to conjure up because every time your stupid pieces are scattered threatening nothing or you need a Knight not that fat Bishop and your King is on h8 instead of e8 as in that Petrosian game and so on…  “Forget studying openings, you must study endgames, as Capablanca said and did”… And you buy all the Averbach endgame volumes and spend months studying them (those ideal but irreal positions with pure Knight or Bishop endgames, etc) simply to lose all your games in the first tournament you play because your opponents catch you on the hop in the very opening and you beat a record by being the only player to lose all his games before the 15th move… And then you start to believe Chess is not for you because it is an arcane game only understood by super-humans who can calculate tens of moves in advance, learn millions of opening variations and keep them updated day after day, and so on.  FAR FROM IT. If you are feeling very ill with these symptoms,my simple advice is :

1.- Don’t get nervous or anxious.

2.- Chess is a difficult game, even for professional players.

3.- Buy or get a copy of the following books: Rowson: “Chess for Zebras”  . Rowson : ” The Seven Deadly Chess Sins” and Hendricks “Move First,Think Later”  and read them very carefully .

After that, you can continue studying your favourite authors, your opening books, etc. 

The tale of all this is easy to understand: to learn Chess, study games and positions. Most of us have read tens of books on general principles. It is time to devote ourselves to dissect the games played by the great and to work on positions. Take for instance the following game by Tal:

W.: Rohde (0)

B.: Tal (1)

New York 1990

1. d4, Nf6/ 2. c4, e6/ 3. Nf3, d5/ 4. Nc3, c6/5. e3, Nbd7/ 6. Be2, Be7 (Apparently this Bishop belongs to  d6…I would like to explain something :I don’t know how they -the super GMs- do it, but they always manage to reach positions full of possibilities. Unless they make an opening mistake, they never fall in “dead” positions without active possibilities. Nor even Karpov when playing the ultrasolid Caro-Kann. This is the type of details you have to study, I guess. I suppose it has to do with the famous concept known as “insight”...) / 7. 0-0 , 0-0/ 8. Qc2, b6/ 9. e4, dxe4/ 10. Nxe4, Qc7/ 11. g5, c5/ 12. d5 (Rohde is out for blood against an attacking genius. Tal will have to withstand the attack and find a way to start a counterattack) 12…, exd5/ 13. cxd5, Nxd5/ 14. Bc4, N7f6/ 15. Rfe1, Bg4/ 16. Bxf6 (The American has spotted a sacrificial combination on f7. Well, now Tal would have spent a lot of time assessing it and trying to decide whether there is a way to counter the attack. In these moments you have to consider at least two types of possibilities: 1)The combination takes place but I can find a defence to level the game; 2) I can find not only intermediate moves to deactivate the attack, but also aggressive continuations to make the attack rebound on my opponent. What happened here was:)

16.., Nxf6/ 17. Nf3-g5, Nxe4 18. Nxf7!?, Nf6! (18. … Rxf7/ 19.Qe4)19. Qb3, b5!/ 20. Nh6+ , Kh8/ 21. Nf7+, Rxf7/ 22. Bxf7, Rf8/ 23. h3, c4!/ 24. Qxb5, Rxf7/ 25. hxg4, Nxg4 (and now it is Tal who is posing threats)/ 26. Qh5, Qf4/ 27. Re2, g6/ 28. Qh3, Bc5/ 29. Rf1, Nxf2!! / 30. Re8+ , Kg7/ And White resigned.

Now you should try to solve the following three positions. They have been taken from Karpov’s games (yes, Karpov also played beautiful combinations and I must say they may be even more complicated to spot than those by players with a combinative style!)  :

Karpov -Ungureanu

1.- Karpov-Ungureanu, Skopje (Ol) 1972

Karpov-van der Wiel

2.- Karpov-van der Wiel, Amsterdam, 1980.

Alvarez-Karpov   (Position from the Black side)

3.- Alvarez-Karpov, Skopje (Ol) 1972


1)  1. Be3! , Bxe4/ 2. Bxe4, Qxe5/ 3. Qxh7, Kf8/ 4. Bxa8, Ke7/ 5. Qe4, Qc7/ 6. Qb7 Black resigned.

2)  1. Rxe6!, Qxa6/ 2. Rxf7!, Kxf7/ 3. e8Q, Rbxe8/ 4. g6, Kg8/ 5. Rxe8, Bf8/ 6. Qe6 , Black resigned.

3) 1…, Rxg3!/ 2. hxg3, Neg4/ 3. Rde1, Rxe1/ 4. Rxe1, Nf2/ 5. Kh2, N6g4/ 6. Kg1, Ne4 / White resigned.


Written by QChess

January 31, 2013 at 7:55 am

Nineteen Eighty-One.

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karpovkorchnoi1981Karpov-Korchnoi 1981

The 1981 World Championship Match was to be played in the same venue as the Candidates’  Final between Korchnoi and Hübner, the Italian town of Meran (north of Italy, region of Trentino-Adigio.The place gives also name to the famous Meran Variation in the Semislav after the game Tartakower-Rubinstein played there in 1924. That part of the old Europe is very interesting historically speaking ). After that match fiasco, I guess the organizers would expect to cash in on a bigger stake. The events which had taken place three years before still cast their shadows over Meran ’81 :Korchnoi’s family was still in the Soviet Union : the Soviet authorities refusing to allow them to leave the country, and the rivalry between the two K’s had not diminished. But the match turned out to be a sort of anticlimax… The Soviet delegation included many people: Chess helpers, Karpov’s personal cook, medical staff, physical helper,translators and diplomats,as well as A. Roshal and V. Baturinsky, and bodyguards.  (Any Soviet World Champion had access to any sort of help.  Karpov had many “consultants” and I could mention his all-time helper Zaitsev, and Yuri  Balashov, for instance. In Meran Tal and Polugaevsky were side by side with him too. On those days it was very difficult to clearly determine “who were doing what” in Soviet official Chess camps) . Korchnoi’s seconds were Stean, Seirawan,Gutman and Ivanov. He was also accompanied by a lawyer, A. Brodbeck and a Chief of Delegation, E. Sztein. Journalist present mention also the  presence of a bodyguard… Those were hard days…The match was scheduled to beguin on October 1st, the winner would have to win six games with draws not counting.

All in all, one thing was immediately clear: Karpov was still becoming stronger while Korchnoi seemed to be slowly declining, at least to maintain such intensity against a terrific opponent as Karpov and for so many years . The first games of the event showed that Viktor was not in the match: after the first five games, the score was 3-0 for Karpov. Korchnoi managed to win the sixth game but after the tenth game the score was 4-1 in Karpov’s favour. Some drawn games followed, Korchnoi won the 13th game but lost the 14th and leaned over the abyss much to the organizers’ desperation who saw that a quick resolution of the match would finish with their financial expectations (understandably, under such conditions a very long match can be catastrophic but if it is too sort and one-sided the financial situation for the sponsors is the same: absolute disaster!). I have read that the organizers  managed to express their worries to Karpov who somewhat reassured them (!)… Be that as it may, three more games ended in a draw but the 18th one ,played on November 19th was adjourned with a winning position for Karpov. The game was not resumed and Karpov renewed his World Champion title for three more years.

After the 1978 match I was looking forward this new event. On the one hand , my sympathy was with Karpov. But I still had the secret hope of witnessing another magnificent struggle with the scores dangling from one side to another. That was not to happen. But the match taught me a lot of Chess strategy, especially the first and the ninth games. In the first game, Karpov played superbly using one of his favourite weapons: the hanging Pawns. In the ninth game, he showed another of his specialties: the fight against the isolated Queen Pawn. The fifth game was also of great technical interest since Karpov managed to draw as Black -a Pawn down- in a typical King +Rook + four Pawns vs. King + Rook + three Pawns  all in the K-side. Nevertheless and in retrospect, the feeling left by that match was  one of dullness. Nothing to do with what was going to come: the immense clash Karpov-Kasparov in the following years. In a sort of gesture to the gallery, Karpov even played the Italian Opening in the 8th and the 10th games. Two draws. Karpov himself in his notes to the games says that the Italian Game had last appeared in a World Championship Match in 1896 (Lasker-Steinitz return match).

W.: V. Korchnoi (0)

B.: A. Karpov (1)

Meran, Italy 1981.- World Championship Match (1)

1. c4, e6/ 2. Nc3, d5/ 3. d4, Be7/ 4. Nf3, Nf6/ 5. Bg5, h6/ 6. Bh4, 0-0/ 7. e3, b6/ 8. Rc1, Bb7/ 9. Be2, Nbd7/10.cxd5, exd5/ 11. 0-0, c5/12. dxc5, bxc5/ 13. Qc2, Rc8/ 14. Rfd1, Qb6/ 15. Qb1, Rfd8/ 16. Rc2, Qe6/ 17. Bg3, Nh5/18. Rcd2, Nxg3/ 19. hxg3, Nf6/ 20. Qc2, g6/ 21. Qa4, a6/  22. Bd3, Kg7/ 23. Bb1, Qb6/ 24. a3, d4!/ 25.Ne2, dxe3/26. fxe3, c4!/ 27. Ned4, Qc7/ 28. Nh4, Qe5/ 29. Kh1, Kg8/ 30. Ndf3, Qxg3/ 31. Rxd8, Bxd8/ 32. Qb4, Be4!/33. Bxe4, Nxe4/34. Rd4, Nf2+/ 35. Kg1, Nd3/ 36. Qb7, Rb8/ 37. Qd7, Bc7/ 38. Kh1, Rxb2/ 39. Rxd3, cxd3/ 40. Qxd3, Qd6/ 41. Qe4, Qd1+/ 42. Ng1, Qd6/ 43. Nhf3, Rb5/ The game was adjourned here. Karpov sealed a move but Korchnoi, after a while, stopped definitively the clocks. White resigned.

W.: V. Korchnoi (0)

B.: A. Karpov (1)

Meran, Italy 1981. World Championship Match (9)

1. c4, e6/ 2. Nc3, d5/ 3. d4, Be7/ 4. Nf3, Nf6/ 5. Bg5, h6/ 6. Bh4, 0-0/ 7. Rc1 dxc4 (TN according to Karpov)/ 8. e3, c5/ 9. Bxc4, cxd4/ 10. exd4, Nc6/ 11. 0-0, Nh5!/ 12. Bxe7, Nxe7/ 13. Bb3, Nf6/ 14. Ne5, Bd7/ 15. Qe2, Rc8/ 16. Ne4, Nxe4/ 17. Qxe4, Bc6!/ 18. Nxc6, Rxc6/ 19. Rc3, Qd6/ 20. g3,Rd8/ 21. Rd1, Rb6/ 22. Qe1, Qd7/ 23. Rcd3, Rd6/ 24. Qe4, Qc6/ 25. Qf4, Nd5/ 26. Qd2, Qb6/ 27. Bxd5, Rxd5/ 28. Rb3, Qc6/ 29. Qc3, Qd7/ 30. f4, b6/31. Rb4, b5/ 32. a4, bxa4/ 33. Qa3, a5/ 34. Rxa4, Qb5 /35. Rd2, e5/ 36. fxe5, Rxe5/ 37. Qa1, Qe8!!/ 38. dxe5, Rxd2/ 39. Rxa5, Qc6/ 40. Ra8+, Kh7/ 41. Qb1+, g6/ 42. Qf1, Qc5+/ 43. Kh1, Qd5+/ White resigned.


Anatoly Karpov and A Team Championship.

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I consider Karpov as , perhaps , the best ever chessplayer in the history of Chess. It is not only his personal record but also all his contributions to our royal game.

My hero’s  last feat has been his victory in the Cap d’Adge KO event which took place between October 26th and November 3rd. Karpov’s victory is his 171st first place in tournament play. No other chessplayer has achieved the same if my memory serves me right.

Many things could be written about him and his approach to Chess, but my advice is to get one of the many collection of games played by him and study them. And if you wish to understand how he sees Chess, there is a book written by him and Matzukievich (the original German edition has the title of  “Stellungsbeurteilung und Plan”. In Spanish it was translated as “The Strategy in Chess” = “La Estrategia en el Ajedrez”). In this book the authors deal with the matter of how to assess positions and design plans.

In my opinion, Karpov’s career can be divided into three (other people may prefer four) periods : from 1966 to 1975. From 1975 to 1986 and from 1986  up till today. If the reader think otherwise, it may be absolutely correct too.

I have tried to collect everything about Karpov and the result is an enormous amount of paper in the shape of books, thousands of newspaper cuttings, hundreds of Chess magazine pages and now , Internet archives. I have written many articles for Chess magazines, bulletins, etc. , and I have filled notebooks with lots of analysis : about his games and his style. I did this first because I began to do it at an early age. And then because I was fed up with so many biassed interpretations, mistakes in analysis and stupid commonplaces written to fill up space. So, in Chess, apart from books by certain exceptional authors, try also to get the originals by the very player involved.

Karpov has written a lot of Chess books  and has analysed many of his games in them.  To me, the best ones are those which appeared in the late 70’s of the past century, analysing games from the first part of his career. But this is a matter of taste.

W.: Ivanchuk (0)

B.: Karpov (1)

Trophee Karpov KO. Cap d’Adge 2012

1. Nf3 , Nf6 2. g3, d5 3. Bg2, c6  4. c4, g6 5. b3, Bg7 6. Bb2 0-0 7. d3, Bg4  8. Nbd2, Nbd7  9. 0-0 , Re8  10. h3, Bxf3  11. Nxf3, e5  12. e3, Qa5  13. cd5, cd5  14. Qd2, Qxd2  15. Nxd2, e4  16. de4, Nxe4  17. Nxe4, de4  18. Rad1, Nc5  19. Ba3, Rac8  20. Rc1, b6  21. Rc4, f5  22. Rfc1,a5  23. Bxc5, bc5  24. Rxc5, Rxc5  25. Rxc5, Re5  26. Rc7, Bf8  27. Ra7, Be7  28. Bf1, Kg7  29. Bc4, Kf6  30. h4, h5  31. Kf1, Kg7  32. Ra6, g5  33. hg5, Bxg5  34. a4, h4  35. Bb5, hg3  36. Rxa5 , gf2  37. Kxf2 , Rd5  38. Ke2, f4  39. Ra7, Kf6  40. ef4, Bxf4  41. Bd7, Bd6  42. a5. Ke5  and White resigned.

The following game is a masterpiece: it deserves close study.

W.: Karpov (1)

B.: Klovans (0)

Daugavpils 1971

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3  Nc6  3. Bb5  a6  4. Bxc6 dc6  5. 0-0  f6  6. d4  ed4  7. Nxd4  Ne7   8. Be3  Ng6  9. Nd2  Bd6  10. c3  0-0  11. Qb3  Kh8  12. N5  Bxf5  13.  ef5  Nh4  14. Qxb7  Qd7  15.   Qb3  Nxf5  16. Nc4  Rfe8  17. Rad1  Rab8  18. Qc2  Rb5  19. Rfe1  Nxe3  20. Nxe3  Rbe5  21. g3  Qe6  22. b3  Kg8  23. Ng2  Re2  24. Rxe2  Qxe2  25. Rd2  Qf3  26. Kf1  re5  27. Qd3  Qxd3  28. Rxd3  Kf7  29. Ne3  Ke6  30 Nc4  Rh5  31. h4  Bc5  32. Nb2  Rf5  33. Rd2  h5  34. Nd3  Bd6  35. Re2  Kd7  36. Re3  g5  37. c4  c5  38. Kg2  c6  39. f3  gh4  40. gh4  Bf4  41, re4  Bd6  42. f4 and Black resigned.

On the other hand,  the following game is from the Spanish Team Championship ( León , Spain November 2012) , with a wealth of GMs like:  Ponomariov, van Weli, Edouard, Anish Giri, P. Harikrishna, Cheparinov, M. Marin, Hamdouchi, Bauer, Sargissian, Ganguly, Kovalyov, Alina L’Ami, etc. ,their Spanish GM fellow companions  and several IMs too. The winner was Sestao Chess Team, a team from the Basque Country in northern Spain.

I liked the play of the Indian GMs and have chosen the following game between Anish Giri and his fellow countryman  S. Ganguly: Play through it to see the curious and instructive Rook endgame. When perhaps many people would agree to a draw, Giri keeps on playing and…

W.: S. Ganguly  (2610) (0)

B.: Anish Giri  (2730) (1)

Spanish Team Championship 2012.

1. d4, Nf6 2. c4  g6  3. Nc3  d5  4. cd5  Nxd5  5. e4  Nxc3  6. bc3  Bg7  7. Bc4  c5  8. Ne2  Nc6  9. Be3  0-0  10. 0-0  b6  11. dc5  Qc7  12. Nd4  Ne5  13. Nb5  Qb8  14. Be2  bc5  15. Rb1  a6  16. Nd4  Qc7  17. Nb3  Rd8  18. Qc2  c4  19. Nc5  Nd3  20. Nxd3  cd3  21. Bxd3  Qxc3 22. Qxc3  Bxc3  23. Bc4  Bd7  24. Rfc1  Bf6  25. Kf1  Bb5  26. Be2  Bd4  27. Bxd4  Rxd4  28. Bxb5  ab5  29. Rc2  Rxe4  30. Rxb5  Ra7  31. g3  Rea4 32. Rbb2  g5  33. Kg2  Kg7  34. Re2  f6  3. Re6  Kf7  36. Rbe2  h5  37. h3  h4  38. g4  Ra3  39. Kh2  R7a6  40. Rxa6 Rxa6  41.Kg2  Ra3  42. Rb2  e5  43. Rb7  Ke6  44. Rb6  Kf7  45. Rb7  Kg6  46. Rb2  Ra6  47. Re2  Kf7  48. Rd2  Ke6  49. Rb2  Kd5  50. Rd2  Ke4  51, Rb2  Ra4  52. Re2  Kd5  53. Rd2  Ke6  54. Rb2  Ra6  55. Rd2  f5  56. gf5  Kxf5  57. f3  Ra3  58. Re2  Ke6  59. Rd2  Kf6  60. Rb2  Ke7  61. Rd2  Ke6  62. Kf2  e4  63. fe4  Rxh3  64. Rd5  Kf6  65. a4  Ra3  66. e5  Ke6  67. Rd4  Kxe5  68. Rb4  Kf5  69. Rc4  Kg6  70. Kg2  Kh5  , and White resigned.


Written by QChess

November 15, 2012 at 8:01 am

Posted in CHESS, Chess games, Karpov, Personal opinion

Tagged with ,

“What Would Have Happened If…?”

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German GM Wolfgang Unzicker (1925 – 2006)


Speculations… We all have speculated about what would have happened if this or that had taken place instead of… (“WWHHI” from now on)

Thirty years ago, Bobby Fischer defeated  Boris Spassky in Iceland so causing an immense stir in the world of Chess in general and in the Soviet Chess in particular. In the middle o the so-called “Cold War” between the Soviets and the Americans, Fischer hit where it most could hurt: the pride of the Soviet regime: Chess. Shortly after Rejkjavik, Fischer disappeared playing no more serious games. In 1975 , in spite of all the efforts, Fischer did not appear to play against the challenger, the then Soviet GM Anatoly Karpov. And a myth was born. Since then, one of the most recurrent question has been “what would have happened if there had been a match between Fischer and Karpov?”.

Evidently, everybody has his/her emotional favourite and both sides can show  a variety of reasons to justify the choice. Even someone like Gary Kasparov has dealt with the matter devoting a lot of space to it in his mamooth masterwork  “My Great Predecessors”. Kasparov , who has always admired Fischer and had played bitter matches against Karpov when both were the best of the best -so no suspicious of being too much  pro-Karpov- , has stated that Karpov would have beaten Fischer. Karpov’s Chess record had been impressive, yes. He was the blueeyed boy of the Soviet regime (very angy at both Spassky -imagine why-, and Korchnoi -always making “friends” with his strong character and open criticism. Well, to reach Fischer, Karpov  had to play in the Leningrad Interzonal (tied first with Korchnoi ahead of R. Byrne, Smejkal, Larse, Hübner,Kuzmin,Gligoric Taimanov, Tal, up tp 18 players. And Korchnoi was full of praise for Karpov´s play (!). Over to the Candidates’ Quarter-Final, Karpov’s first opponent was his fellow countryman L. Polugaevsky. Karpov won by +3  -0  =5.  His  next rival in the Semi-Final, was Boris Spassky. Karpov also won :  +4  -1  =6. And the last match marked the start of a long lasting confrontation on the board and outside it: Karpov vs Korchnoi. 24 terrible struggles were needed to find the challenger, with Korchnoi complaining about all the problems he had to face on the part of the Soviet authorities. Karpov won by the narrowest of margins : +3  -2  =19. Neither of them could imagine that the winner of the match was going to be the next Champion of the World without moving a Pawn (By the way: another “What-would-have-happened-if”  horror story: “WWHHI Korchnoi had won the match??? Perhas he would have accepted all the conditions Fischer tried to impose, so having to leave the Soviet Union in 1975 -instead of in 1976…as he did. I think this was very likely to have happened: Korchnoi’s situation in the USSR was in a no-way-out lane and the break was a matter of time. He would have tried to play Fischer inside or outside FIDE. In fact, around 1977 he tried to contact Bobby so as to play an unofficial match with him and even travelled to California to meet him. He could only realise in how bad conditions Fischer already was. Nothing came out of it.)

Well, if a match Fischer-Karpov would have taken place in 1975 …er… Thank you very much indeed.

Fischer had not played serious Chess between 1972 and 1975. (But he had done similar things before coming back on top…). Karpov would have gone armed to the teeth. Fischer wanted a match up to ten victories with no game limit and with the challenger having to win by, at least,  a two point margin. This was not accepted by the Russians. Karpov even said that with two players like Bobby and him, wh lose very few games,  that condition would have sent them to a bedlam…  So, “what would have happened?”…

Another “WWHHI- story” could be: “Wa would have happened if in the 1978 World Championship match Korchnoi, after levelling the score 5-5 instead of blowing himself us as Black in the last game of the match had played to protract the match as much as possible -as happened years later in the first Karpov-Kasparov match in 1984-?.

And WWHHI in that first K-K match it had not be cancelled by the FIDE President?


The following game is a masterpiece worth a deep study. Unfortunately, the winner is no longer with us.

  GM. A. Miles, (1955-2001)

W.: A. Miles  (1)

B.: R. Hübner (0)

Wijk aan Zee, 1984

1. d4  d5  2. c4  c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qc2  dc4  5. Qc4:  Bf5  6. g3  Nbd7  7. Bg2  e6  8. 0-0  Be7  9. Nc3  0-0  10. Bf4  Ne4  11. a4  a5  12. Rfd1  Qb6  13. Nh4!  Bh4  15. Be4: Be7  16. Bf3  Nf6  17. e4  Rad8  18. Be3  Qc7  19. Rac1  Qd7  20. Rc3  Bb4  21. Rcd3  Q7  22. Kg2  Rd7  23. b3  Rfd8  24. Bg5  h6  25. Bc1  Ba3  26. Be3  Bb4  27. h4  Ne8 28. Qc2  Nc7  29. Qe2  Na6  30. Kg1  Bd6  31. Bg2  Nb4  32. R3d2  Bc7  33. Qg4  Kf8  34. Bf1  Bb6  35. Bc4  Qf6  36. Kg2  Ke7  37. Qh5!  Kf8  38. g4  Re8  39. g5  hg5  40. Bg5:  g6  41. Qh7 , Black resigned.

W.: A. Karpov  (1)

B.: V. Korchnoi (0)

Baguio -World Champioship 1978 .Game 32

This was the last game of a match played up to six victories with no game limit and draws not counting. This dramatic match seemed an easy matter for Karpov -and a matter of time too-. After the 27th game Karpov was winning 5-2 only needing one more victory. But somehow he managed to lose games 28th, 29th and 31st . Korchnoi, playing excellently,  levelled the score. In the 32nd game Korchnoi defended the Black side and -in my opinion- completely missed the point trying to rush things (?), surprise Karpov (?). Instead of playing on Karpov´s nerves, he chose the wrong defence (again my opinion). After all, wouldn’t have it  been better to draw with a French and play the 33rd game as White?. instead he allowed Karpov to reach a favourable position belonging more to a Benoni than a Pirc…:

1. e4  d6  2. d4 Nf6  3. Nc3 g6  4. Nc3 Bg7  5. Be2  0-0  6. 0-0 c5 (apparently this is  38. what Korchnoi wanted: a difficult variation leading to a complex middlegame. O.K. –But against Karpov???– I wonder.

7. d5 Na6  8. Bf4  Nc7  9. a4   b6  10. Re1  Bb7  11. Bc4  Nh5? (and after ten moves, it is Korchnoi the first in faltering…)

12. Bg5  Nf6  13. Qd3  a6  14. Rad1  Rb8  15. h3 Nd7  16. Qe3 Bc8  17. Bh6  b5  18. Bg7:  Kg7:  19. Bf1  Nf6  20. ab5  ab5  21. Ne2  Bb7  22. Ng3  Ra8  23. c3  Ra4  24. Bd3  Qa8  25. e5!  de5  26. Qe5:  Nd5:  27. Bb5: +-  Ra7  28. Nh4  Bc8  29. Be2  Be6  30. c4  Nb4  31. Qc5: (The triumph of White’s strategy. Black’s  plan backfired without achieving the goal:  “…a complex middlegame, etc”)

31. …, Qb8  32.   Bf1  Rc8  33. Qg5  Kh8  34. Rd2  Nc6  35. Qh6  Rg8  36. Nf3  Qf8  37. Qe3  Kg7  38. Ng5  Bd7  39. b4  Qa8  40. b5  Na5  41. b6  Rb7 (sealed)/ Korchnoi abandoned without resuming the game. 1-0

(With this post about to appear the Chess world knew a sad piece of news: one of the warriors of the chessboard has just left us: GM Svetozar Gligoric passed away  on August 14. He was born in 1923 and was another living legend. One of the best chessplayers in the world and -in my opinion- the best Jugoslavian one, (other people may have different opinions ) many of you will remember his extraordinary career. You can enjoy his games against the greatest post WW2 fellow colleagues. He was also an extraordinary man. Rest in peace.)


Written by QChess

August 15, 2012 at 8:31 pm

White or Black?.- Black and White!

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Have you solved this mate-in-two-move problem??. Here is the solution:

The only possibility to reach this position with a mate in two moves is if Black last’s move had been … f7-f5/ (!!). (So perhaps you were thinking that these problems start with White on the move… Well, this is so ,but since problems have to show possible, legal positions these positions come from some previous position… and as White first move must be legal nobody says that move could not be “in answer to a previous Black’s move” – lateral thinking!-)

This position could not have occurred on its own because it would be illegal -but for a previos Black move. So, White’s first move is 1. g5f6: e.p.  g7f6: 2. Nf6: mate !

This problem contains a tale: in Chess, don’t give anything for granted. Don’t think in a linear direction. There may be roundabouts, backwards manoeuvres, waiting moves, and so on.



Chess has several topics repeated ad infinitum and ad absurdum as if they were some sort o “Holy Writ”. One of them is that which states that “White has the advantage because  s/he plays the first move”. This implies many pre-judices : White has to attack/Black can only defend, etc. One of the facts given is that statistically speaking the White pieces win more games han the Black ones (I  call it “the statistical fallacy”).  Before continuing, let me recommend you the book “Chess for Zebras” by GM. Rowson. In my opinion, he is one of  today’s the most lucid writers .   To show my idea, I will list some thoughts:

– Statistics do not win games, points or matches: they only show tendencies.

-Even same or similar ELO rating ( again we should exclude  top level GMs) does not mean same Chess ability, less possibilities of making mistakes,same degree of knowledge). (GM Rowson says that even games played by  GMS are full of mistakes, after all -I add- OTB Chess has a powerful and very dangerous component: the clock)

-The Hypermodernists, the Soviet Chess School and many individuals (Nimzowitsch, Botvinnik, Fischer, Adorjan, Tal, Kasparov …) have defended /investigated the aggressive recourses at Black’ s disposal. Please consider that many opening discoveries by the Hypermoderninst were for the Black side: Alekhine, Grünfeld, Benoni, King’s Indian, Nimzoindian etc.defences).

Then came the Soviet Chess School immense theoretical contribution in the above + the French, the Sicilian, the Dutch an so on. Bobby Fischer made giant strides when he realised that Black could fight for a victory and began to work on an aggressive repertoire as Black.

-Many chessplayers seem to be labouring under a sort of 19th century mental attitude: “White must play to win, Black must defend, so as White I should win and as Black I could lose or make a pathetic draw”.

-Different chessplayers have different attitudes and goals.

-Many people began to speak of a curious “attitude”:  ” To win as White and draw as Black  = victory in tournaments”. (Simply: try this is at any ICCF event and you will see what happens: you will not be able to win all your games as White and will lose many as Black…). Apart from this, nobody knows how to do it.

-Chess has many levels of confrontation: what may be relatively valid for the strongest 10 or 15 first world GMs may not be valid for the rest of GMs , IMs and average players. (Remember there are GMs with 2400 ELO points…, not all GMs have 2700…, O.K.?  -A chessplayer gets it if  s/he  fulfils all the requirements to receive the GM title. Then he may lose many rating points but he keeps the title forever. I remember that during the 60’s at least this was not so.)

-Many things written in books and Chess magazines are written/said by top level players in a given situation. (What Kotov wrote in his age could not be totally valid  today.)

GM Rowson theory of “Ceteris Paribus” and his idea that winning at Chess may have to do more with one’s skills/abilities even the particular mood the day of the game than with information and statistics should be engraved in gold.

-Today, in an age of ultra-dynamism, the possible starting gap (if any) between White and Black is less and less wide.

-It is not the openings alone, today’s defensive technique has nothing to do with the same in any past period of time.

-Chess is a confrontation between two chessplayers, not between two statistical approaches. (Karpov has won many top-level games with the Caro-Kann an opening considered tame and drawish by many “experts”.)

-I am biassed towards the Black pieces because when I began to study Chess I was very surprised to see  how many games Nimzowitsch was able to win as Black… As White I have a main 1st move, and two useful stand-by ones. From time to time I change that 1st move so as to let it “rest”, play new positions and refresh the old, mechanical  ideas.

Even now,playing as Black seems exciting to me:   “what if my opponent starts with 1. e4? -Shall I play a Sicilian, or perhaps a Pirc, or better a Modern, or a Cao-Kann, even the Alekhine can be a useful idea… And if he plays 1. d4?- Perhaps a Nimzoindian against 3. Nc3 or the Queen’s Indian if 3. Nf3. But I have also played the Grünfeld and The Benoni? Shall I take risks then?. And against 1. Nf3 I have those systems + 1. …b5 .- If not, I have the uncommittal 1. Nf3 , Nf6 -wait-and-see policy-“. And so on. These and others are some of the thoughts I entertain when I am Black.

In OTB Chess players try to refine their repertoires trying to avoid theoretical novelties. Some GMs have relatively short repertoires, others can play a variety of systems. In CC the many players are trying to find computer-proof systems -if any-  while others try to play sound systems without caring for their opponents programs. Good positions are good positions, and this means that now I have become less and less speculative: in today’s CC games any sacrifice -of a Pawn or a piece- must be positionally and tactically sound: you cannot expect your opponent to make an analysis mistake “because-the-position-will-get-so-wild-that-in-the-end-he-will-have-to-take-some-risk-on-his-part”, as if in CC this was already difficult in the past, today, with the computer, this is, simply, suicidal. And all in all, sacrifices are possible because not all Chess is clear-cut tactical. Chess programs are too strong, all right. But I am convinced there is particular field you can catch them on the hop. The problem is how to provoke such positions one time after another (and it is not in the field of opening gambits -“Fritz and Friends” know everthing about it-.)

Before including some games, let me say that in Chess you are playing against an opponent. No statistics will help you find the best move. So, work on your repertoire , play confidently  but, above all, try not to make mistakes: leave them to your rival!.


W.: Kotov  (0)

B.: Tal (1)

Riga 1958

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 Bg7  4. g3 0-0  5. Bg2  d6  6. 0-0  Nbd7  7. Nc3  e5  8. e4 c6  9. h3  Qa5  10. Re1  Re8  11. a3  ed4  12. Nd4: Ne5  13. Bf1  a6  14. Bd2 Qb6  15. Be3  c5  16. Nb3  Be6  17. Nd2  Nc6  18. b4 Ng4!  19. hg4  Bc3:  20. Rc1  Bg7  21. Nb3 Rad8  22. Nd2  Qc7  23. Rb1  Ne5  24. Be2 b5  25. cb5  ab5 26. Bb5: Bg4:  27. Be2 Qd7  28. Bg4: Ng4:  29. Kg2 h5  30. Bg5 Bd4! 31. Re2  f6  32. Bf4  g5  33. f3  Nf2  34. Rf2: Bf2:  35. Kf2:  gf4    36. gf4 Qa7  37. Qb3  c4  38. Qe3  Qe3:  39. Ke3: d5  40. Rg1  Kf7  41. Ke2  c3  42.Nb3 de4  43. Rc1  ef3  44. Kf3:  Rd3  45. Kf2  c2  46. Nc5 Rd2  47. Kf3  Re1!  48. Re1:  Rd1./   White resigned.

W.: Olafsson (0)

B.: Miles (1)

Las Palmas 1978

1. c4  b6 2. Nc3  e6  3. d4  Bb4  4. e3  Bb7  5. N1e2  f5  6. a3 Bd6  7. d5  Nf6  8. Nd4  0-0  9. de6 Ne4  10. Qc2  Nc3:  11. Qc3:  Qf6  12. ed7  Nd7:  13. Bd2  Nc5  14. Nf3  Qg6  15. h4  Ne4  16. h5  Qg4  17. Ne5  Be5:  18. Qe5:  Rae8  19.  Qh2  Nd2:  20. Kd2:  f4  21. ef4  Rf4:  22. Qg3  Rd4  23. Kc3  Qg3:  24. fg3  c5  25. Kb3  Re3  26. Ka2  Bc8!  27. Rh4  Bg4!  28. Rc1  g5  29. hg6  hg6  30. Rc3  Rc3:  31.bc3  Rd2  32. Ka1  Bd7  33. Rf4  Kg7  34. Rf3  Bc6  35. Rd3  Rf2  36.  Rd1  Ba4  37. Re1  Kf6  38. Bd3  Rf2:  39. Rf1  Kg5  40. Rf3  Bc2  41.  Bc2: Rc2:  42. Rf7  Kg4  43. Ra7:  g5  44. Rb7  Kg3:  45. Rb6:  g4  46. a4  Rh4  47. a5  g3  48. a6  g2  49. Rb1  Rf2  50. a7  Rf8                  51. Kb2  Ra8 / White resigned.

W.: Beliavsky (0)

B.: Karpov (1)

Linares 1992

1. d4  Nf6  2. c4  e6  3. Nf3  b6  4. g3  Ba6  5. b3  Bb7  6. Bg2  Bb4  7. Bd2  a5  8. 0-0  0-0  9. Bc3  d5  10. Ne5  Qe8  11. Bb2  dc4  12. Nc4:  Bg2:  13. Kg2: Qb7  14. f3  Rd8  15. Qc2  Nc6  16. a3  Be7  17. e3  b5  18. Nce2  Na7    19. Ne4  Ne4:  20. Qe4:  Qe4:  21. fe4  c5  22. a4  cd4  23. ed4  Nc6  24. Rd1  Rab8  25. ab5  Rb5:  26. Rd3  f5  27.  ef5  Rf5:  28. Nd2  Rfd5  29. Re3  e5  30. Nc4  Bg5  31. Re4  ed4  32. Re6  Nb4  33.  Rd1  Nc2  34.  Kf3  Rb5  35. Rd3  a4  36.  h4  Bf6  37. Ke4  ab3  38. Rb6 Re8  39. Kf4 Rb6:  40. Nb6:  Be5  41. Kg4  Bc7  42. Na4  Re3  43. Re3: de3  44. Kf3  Bg3: / White resigned.

Written by QChess

May 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm

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