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Much has been written about strategy and planning. When I started to play Chess I dreamed with the “perfect” game: I would play the opening, I would devise a single grand ( enormous, magnificent,unbeatable ) plan and I would carry it out in style. Everybody would congratulate me, asked my advice and the game would find its place in the books. –End of dream.

Of course it is nearly impossible to do that. Chess strategy has become a very subtle and refined element these days, perhaps due to the predominant rôle of opening preparation and today’s tactical approach (GMs try to finish off the game quickly and at the minimum risk of losing, if possible.)

In the world of CC, some players are trying to rethink all this matter because we have to fight against program-aided opponents. The tactical brute force of today’s engines can only be met with accurate strategical play so as to try to baffle the computer: human abstract thinking vs. engine calculation superpowers. Yet this is only in theory and (perhaps) in an ideal world… Reality is very different as CC players know. Why?.- Because in fact, I guess we all are doing the same at home…

I have already written that I grew up reading Chess literature produced in the former Soviet Union: Kotov, Karpov,Petrosian, Botvinnik, Lipsnizky,… So, I suppose I acquired a rather “academic” (right or wrong) approach: a good game had to contain good strategical plans, you cannot do without that. With the books by Pachman, Koblentz, Suetin, etc I learnt tactics and more strategy, then hundreds of Chess books began to appear on my bookshelves, mainly books published by British or American GMs. Others were Russian/East German editions that my kind opponents sent to me as a present. In one of the English editions, G. Abrahams wrote the following wise words (“The Chess Mind“): Strategy (…) is at its best when it is least perceptible.(…) (The master) has seen the tactical lines and has valued the permanent features: but always of the specific position”

So, strategical thinking cannot be separated from tactical calculation. The key is to prevent all the opponents’ tactical counterplay and then liquidate the position. Apparently and if you have managed to expose your opponent’s weaknesses, this strategy would pay its dividends. Thus: 1) creation of weaknesses ;2) Prevention of counterplay; 3) Transformation of the position.  In the process you will have to deal with threats, unexpected moves, your own mistakes and your opponent’s will to beat you . Perhaps  this is the secret to success …? Of course not!!  In the past I thought most of the glorious ideas I read in books were a sort of absolute truth. But then , when I try to play the game nothing of that happened/ was likely to happen, etc. 

So my advice is this: Never, never blindly believe  what people write in books. Books must be servants, not masters. Refer everything you read to your own experience. The map is never the battleground. Even GMs may be writing by a lot of different reasons, and bear in mind NOBODY , LET ALONE PROFESSIONAL GMs .IS GOING TO REVEAL ANY SECRET. Study good books, and, above all, study good collections of games with good notes. And do your own work. Now look at the following game : it was acclaimed as a rare masterpiece containing a single grand plan which comprises the whole game !

W.: Keres (1)

B.: Euwe (0)

Match played   in  1940

1. d4  Nf6/ 2. c4  e6/ 3. Nc3  Bb4/ 4. Qc2  Nc6/ 5. Nf3  0-0/ 6. Bg5  h6/ 7. Bh4  d6/ 8. e3  Qe7/ 9. Be2  e5/ 10. d5  Nb8/ 11. Nd2 (Here Keres envisages a grand plan. The idea is to play f4, force the exchange minor pieces, play e4, open the a/h files , attack c7 an g7  and play f5 This threats will provoke Black’s …g6 so weakening g7/f6 and h6. The attack will force Black to accept more weaknesses in his position. You play with threats so as to force your opponent to make defensive/weakening moves. As Nimzowitsch would say, there is the main melody and the accompanying music…):

11…, Nbd7/ 12. 0-0  a5/ 13. Rae1!  Re8/ 14. f4! Bxc3/ 15. Qxc3  Ne4/ 16. Nxe4  Qxh4  17. g3  Qe7/ 18. Bg4!  Nf6/ 19. Nxf6  Qxf6/ 20. Bxc8  Raxc8/  21. Rf2  b6/ 22. Re-f1  Qg6/ 23. f5!  Qf6/ 24. e4!  c6/  25. dxc6  Rxc6/ 26. a4  Kf8/  27. Rd1  Re-c8/ 28. b3  Ke7/ 29. Qf3 ( over to the K-side), Kd7/ 30. h4  Kc7/ 31. Kf1  Kb7/ 32. Ke2  R8c7/ 33. Rh2  Qd8/ 34. g4  f6/ 35. Rg2  Rc8/  36. Rg3  Qd7/ 37. Qd3  Qf7/ 38. Rh1  Rh8/  39. R1-h3  R6-c8/  40. g5!  hxg5/ 41. hxg5  Qc7 (d6 must be defended) 42. Qd5  Ka7/ 43. Rd3  Rxh3?!/ 44. Rxh3  fxg5/ 45. Rh7  Qe7/ 46. Kf3!  Rf8/ 47. Kg4  Rf7/ 48. b4!  axb4/ 49. a5!  Qb7/ 50. axb6  Kxb6/ 51. Qxd6  Ka7/ 52. Qxe5  b3/ 53. Rh3!  Rf6 / 54. Qd4  Rb6  55. Rxb3 , Black resigns. 

Apart from studying the planning in the game, it is very important to realize how that planning is carried out by means of threats. Chess is a game of threats.



Written by QChess

November 22, 2013 at 8:12 am

Posted in CHESS, Strategy

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The Way They Used to Play.

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In one of my first books on Karpov -I bought it around 1980- I saw a note by the author pointing out that the plan followed by Karpov had appeared in an earlier game. Nothing to write home about. That was the way they and we worked those days: you had your opening repertoire, try to find GM games with those lines and try to follow the strategical specifications.

Some days ago, while perusing the webpage <>, I came across a note in a game of the European Individual Women’s Championship, Belgrad 2013. Evgeni Shirov tried to explay the surprise showed by the official commentator GM. Atalik, who did not understand why some of the players, instead of following the plans played by Fischer,KarpovnTaimanov, etc. played the position quite the opposite way. E. Shirov’s explanation astounded me: “The players’ preparation is limited to the recommendations given by her coach and Houdini, so she has no idea of Taimanov´s plan” (in a certain position) 

So that is the key today! No Chess “culture” or something like that: a coach + Any engine and the point is what matters. Perhaps this explain why I find today´s Chess so BORING??.- In the past we discussed the different styles of Petrosian and Spassky, Karpov or Fischer, Botvinnik and Tal… Today perhaps they discuss the different styles  of Rykka and Houdini !!?? … so ignoring the immense Chess lore accumulated throughout the centuries… Food for thought… The more I read these things, the more I love my dear old Chess books.

Going back to my story, while I was preparing the post I found a curious fact: There were at least two previous games to that of Karpov. The first one was played between Polugaevsky and Uhlmann. The East German GM lost, but learnt a valuable lesson:

W.: L. Polugaevsky (1)

B.: W. Uhlmann (0)

Amsterdam, 1970

1. c4, Nf6/ 2 . Nc3 , g6/  3. e4, d6/ 4. d4, Bg7/ 5.Be2, 0-0/ 6. Bg5, c5/ 7. d5, e6 / 8. Qd2, exd5/ 9. exd5 ,Re8 / 10. Nf3, Bg4/ 11. 0-0,Nbd7 / 12. h3, Bxf3/ 13. Bxf3, a6/ 14. a4, Qe7/ 15. Rae1, Qf8/ 16. Bd1, Rxe1 /17. Rxe1, Re8/ 18. Rxe8, Qxe8/ 19. Bc2, Nb6/ 20. b3, Nbd7/ 21. Bf4, Qe7/ 22. Qe2, Kf8/ 23. Qxe7, Kxe7 / 24.a5, h5/ 25. Bd2, Ne8/ 26. g3, Bd4/ 27. Kg2, Ng7/ 28. f4, Nf5/ 29. Nd1, Nh6/ 30. Kf3, f5/ 31. Bd3, Kd8/ 32. Ne3, Ke7 33. Nc2, Bb2/ 34. Ke3, Nf6/ 35. Ne1, Bd4 / 36. Kf3, Bb2, 37. Ng2!, Nd7 /38. Nh4, Kf6 /39. Ke3, Nf7 / 40. Bc2, Ba1/ 41. Ke2, Bb2/ 42. Be1, Ba1/ 43. g4!, hxg4/ 44. Nxg6, Kg7/ 46.Nh4, Kf8/ 47. Bf5, Nf6 / 48. Bc8, Nd8/ 49. Nf5, Nh5/ 50. Bd2, Bd4/ 51. Nxd4, Black resigned.

So, later that year, Uhlmann applied the very same strategical recipe to Gligoric !:

W.: W. Uhlmann (1)

B.: S. Gligoric (0)

Hastings 1970-71

1. d4. Nf6 2. c4, g6/ 3. Nc3, Bg7/ 4. e4, d6/ 5. Be2, 0-0/ 6. Bg5, c5/ 7. d5, e6/ 8. Qd2, exd5/ 9. exd5/ 10. Nf3, Bg4/ 11. 0-0, Nb7/ 12. h3, Bxf3 /13. Bxf3, a6/ 14. a4, Qe7 / 15.Rae1, Qf8/  16. Bd1, Rxe1/ 17. Rxe1, Re8/ 18. Rxe8, Qxe8/  (The same position as in the previous game. Now White follows the very same plan and beats his opponent. ) /19.Bc4, Qe7/ 20. Qe2, Kf8/ 21. Qxe7, Kxe7/ 22. a5, Ne8/ 23. Bd2, h5/ 24. Kf1, Bd4/ 25. b3, Ng7/ 26. Bc2, Ne8/ 27. Ne2, Bb2/ 28. f3, Ng7/ 29. Kf2,, Bf6/ 30. Nc3, Bd4/ 31. Ke2, f5/ 32. F4, Ne8/ 33. Bd3, Bxc3/ 34. Bxc3, Nef6/ 35. Be1, Kf7/ 36. Ke3, Ke7/ 37. Bc2, Kf7/ 38. b4,cxb4/ 39. Bxb4, Nc5/ 40. Kd4, Nfd7 / 41.Bd1, Ke7/ 42.g4, hxg4/ 43. hxg4, Kf6/ 44. Ke3, b6/45. gxf5, gxf5/ 46. Bxc5,Nxc5/ 47. axb6, a5/ 48. Bc2, Ke7/ 49. Kd2, Kd8/ 50. Bf5, Nc4/ 51. b7, Kc7/ 52. Bc8, Nc5/ 53. f5, Ne4/ 54. Kc2, Kb8/ 55. Kb3, Nd2/ 56. Ka4, Nxc4  / 57.f6,Ne5/ 58. Kxe5 , Black resigned.

And four years later (!) Karpov, who knew those games, used a similar plan this time in a slightly different position (this game is, perhaps, a bit more involved than the others, but notice the similar Pawn structures, the exchange-of-certain- piece manoeuvres, etc.)

I played through these games several times one August Sunday afternoon and spent a delicious time “LEARNING”

W.: A. Karpov (1)

B.: B. Spassky (0)

Candidates’ Match , Leningrad 1974

1. d4, Nf6/ 2. c4, g6 / 3. Nc3, Bg7/ 4. e4, d6 / 5. Nf3, 0-0/ 6. Be2, c5/ 7. 0-0, Bg4 / 8. d5, Nbd7/ 9. Bg5, a6/ 10. a4, Qc7/ 11. Qd2, Rae8/ 12. h3, Bxf3/ 13. Bxf3, e6/ 14. b3, Kh8/ 15. Be3, Ng8/ 16. Be2, e5/ 17. g4, Qd8/ 18. Kg2, Qh4/ 19. f3, Bh6?! / 20. g5!, Bg7/ 21. Bf2, Qf4, 22. Be3, Qh4/ 23. Qe1!, Qxe1/ 24. Rfxe1, h6/ 25. h4, hxg4? (f6)/ 26. hxg4/ 27. a5! f6/ 28. Reb1!, fxg5/ 29. b4! Nf5/ 30. Bxg5!, Nd4/ 31. bxc5, Nxc5/ 32. Rb6!, Bf6/ 33. Rh1, Kg7/ 34. Bh6, Kg8/ 35. Bxf8, Rxf8/ 36. Rxd6, Kg7/ 37. Bd1, Be7/ 38. Rb6, Bd8/ 39. Rb1, Rf7/ 40. Na4, Nd3/ 41. Nb6, g5/ 42. Nc8, Nc5/ 43. Nd6, Rd7/ 44. Nf5, Nxf5/ 45. exf5, e4/ 46. fe, Nxe4/ 47. Ba4, Re7/ 48. Rbe1!, Nc5/ 49. Rxe7, Bxe7/ 50. Ra1, Kf6/ 52. d6, Nd7/ 53. Rb1, Ke5/ 54. Rd1, Kf4/ 55. Re1, Black resigned.


Written by QChess

August 9, 2013 at 6:57 am


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The clear understanding of strategical themes through careful study of games is of  paramount importance to play good Chess.  To me, one of the most important books to read is Nimzowitsch’s  “Chess Praxis”. One of the concepts exposed there is that of blockade. (He also wrote a booklet dealing with the matter: “Blockade”, but I find that the treatment he gives to it in the former is much better).  Nimzowitsch connects blockade to two other ideas formulated by him: “prophylaxis” and “restraint”. (“Prophylaxis” understood as prevention of the opponent’s counterplay/aka “preventive thinking” and “restraint” understood as control and prevention -related to advance of Pawns, freeing manoeuvres, etc.)

He used to say that the process in a typical game was something like: RESTRAINT-BLOCKADE-DESTRUCTION . Handling a blockade game is difficult. Some of the concepts expressed by Nimzowitsch are difficult to grasp. I understand that when he speaks of “blockade” that implies much more than a blockaded center. In fact, I believe that a typical “blockade” game implies to put under a blokade network as much territory as possible: either the whole board or at least the center+ one of the wins. Nimzowitsch himself stated that it was very difficult to protect an extense blockading network against ruptures, but that forceful attempts to break a blockade are condemned to failure.

In any case, I hope that the following games may help you to see how most of the ideas Nimzowitsch left to us are modern and may appear in our practice. I will include some  games by Nimzowitsch and others by modern players. To understand them, bear in mind the basic idea:


W.: Berger (0)

B.: Nimzowitsch (1)

London 1927

1. c4, Nf6 2. Nc3, c5  3. g3, g6  4. Bg2, Bg7  5. d3, 0-0  6. Bd2 ,e6 7. Qc1, d5  8. Nh3, d4  9. Nd1, Na6  10. a3, Qe8  11. b3, e5  12. Nb2, Bg4  13. Ng5 , Rb8  14. b4, b6  15. b5, Nc7  16. a4, Bc8  17. a5, Bb7  18. f3, Ne6  19. a6, Ba8  20. h4, Nh5  21. Nxe6, Qxe6  22. g4, Nf6  23. Bh3, Qd6  24. Nd1, h5  25. g5, Nh7  26. Nf2, f6  27. gf6, Bxf6 28. Bg5, Bxg5  29. hg5, Rf4  3. Rg1, Rbf8  31. Bf1, Rh4  32. Qd2, Rh2  33. Rg2 Rxg2  34. Bxg2, e4  35. de4, Qg3  36. Kf1, Nxg5  37. Kg1, Rxf3  38. Qxg5 , Qxg5  39. ef3, Qe3  40. Rd1, Qb3  41. Rc1, g5  42. Kh2, Qe3  43. Rf1, Qe2  44. Nh3, d3  45. Nf2, d2  46. Kg1, Qxc4  47. Rd1, Qc1  48. Bh3, g4  49. fg4, Bxe4  50. gh5, Bf3   and Berger resigned.  

W.:  Hage (0)

B.: Nimzowitsch (1)

Arnstadt 1926  (Simuls)

1. d4, f5 2. e6, d6  3. Bd3, e5  4. de5, de5  5. Bb5, c6  6. Qxd8 ,Kxd8  7. Bc4, Bd6  8. Nf3, Nf6  9. Nc3, Ke7  10. a3, ,Rd8  11. Bd2, b5  12. Ba2, a5  13. 0-0, b4  14. Nb1, c5  15. Bc4, e4  16. Ng5 ,Ba6  17. Bxa6, Rxa6  18. ab4, ab4  19. Rxa6, Nxa6  20. c3, h6  21. Nh3, Ng4  22. g3, Ne5  23. Kg2, g5  24. Bc1, b3  25. Nd2, c4  26. Ng1, Nc5  27. Ne2, Rg8  28. Nd4, f4  29. Nf5, Ke6  30. Nxd6  f3  31. Kg1, Kxd6  32. Rd1, Ke6  33. Nb1, Ncd3  34. Na3, Kd5 35. Nb5, Rb8  36. Na3, Ra8  37. h3, Kc5  38. Kf1, Nc1, 39. Rc1, Nd3,  40. Rb1, Nxb2  41. Rxb2, Rxa3  42. Rb1, b2 /  0 – 1

W.: Nimzowitsch (1)

B.: Colle (0)

London 1927

1. d4, Nf6  2. Nf3, e6  3. c4, b6  4. g3, Bb7  5. Bg2, Bb4  6. Nc3, 0-0  7. 0-0, Bxc3  8. bc3  9. a4, a5  10. Ba3, Nbd7  11. Nd2, Bxg2  12. Kxg2, e5  13. e4, Re8  14. f3, Nf8  15. Rf2, Qd7  16. Nf1, Ng6  17. Bc1, Kh8  18. Ne3, Ng8  19. h4, Qc6  20. h5, N6e7  21. Qd3, Rf8  22. g4, g6  23. Bd2, gh5  24. Nf5, Nxf5  25. gf5, Nf6  26. d5, Qd7  27. Qe3, Rg8  28. Kh1, Qe7  29. Rh2, Rg7  30. Be1, Nd7  31. Rxh5, Rag8  32. Bf2, f6  33. Rh2, Rg5  34. Bh4, Rh5  35. Rg1, Qf8  36. Rg4, Qh6  37. Qxh6, Rxh6  38. Bf2, Rxh2  39. Kxh2, Rb8  40. Rg1, Nc5  41. Ra1, Kg7  42. Be3, Kf7  43. Ra2, Nd3  44. Rd2, Ne1  45. Kg3, Rg8  46. Kf2, Ng2  47. Bh6, Nf4  48. Bxf4, ef4  49. Rd1, Ke7  50. Rh1, Rg7  51. Rh4, c6  52. Rxf4, h5  53. Rh4, Rh7  54. Rh1, Kd7  55. Rg1, cd5  56. cd5, h4  57. Rg8, h3  58. Ra8, Rh6  59. Ra7, Kc8  60. Kg1, h2  61. Kh1, Rh3  62. Rf7, Rxf3  63. Rxf6, Kd7  64. Rf7, Ke8  65. Rb7, Rxc3  66. Rxb6, Ke7  67. Rb7 ,Kf8  68. Ra7, Rc4  69. Rxa5, Rxe4  70. Ra7, Rf4  71. a5, Rxf5  72. a6, Rf1  73. Kxh2, Ra1  74. Ra8, Kg7  75. Kg3, Ra4  76. Kf3, Kf6  77. a7, Kg7  78. Ke3  and Colle resigned.

W.: M. Voroviov (1)

B.: A. Yusupov (0)

Irkutsk, 1985

1. e4, e5 2. Nf3, Nc6 3. d4, ed4 4. Nxd4, Nf6  5. Nc3, Bb4  6. Nxc6 ,bc6  7. Bd3, d5  8. e5 (The phase of restraint starts) …, Ng4  9. 0-0 ,Qh4  10. Bf4, Nh6  11. Ne2, Nf5  12. c3, Bc5  13. b4, Bb6  14. Qc2, Ne7  15. Bg3, Qh6  16. Kh1, 0-0  17. f4, f5  18. Bf2 ,Be6  19. Bc5! (now the process of establishing a blockade network) ,… Bxc5  20. b5 ,Kh8  2. Nd4, Rae8  22. Rab1, Bc8  23. Rf3, g5  24. Rh3, Qg7  25. Rg3!, g4  26. Re3, Qg6  27. Qf2, Ng8  28. h4! ,Bd7  29. g3, Ne7  30. Re2 ,Rb8  31. Reb2 ( final step: destruction) ,… Qg8  31. Rb7, Rfc8  32. Rb7, Rfc8  33. Ba6! ,Rxb7  34. Rxb7, Rb8  35. Qb2!, Rxb7  36. Qxb7 ,Qd8  37. Qxa7, Ng6  38. Bb7, Nxh4  39. Qa8!  Black resigned.

In positional/strategical games it is very interesting to study the game from the strategical point of view and then from the tactical one, tying to find the justification of every move.

When I was studying the games to include I realised the complexity of this strategical theme.  Trying to understand better the process and wanting to represent it, I devised the following description. What I am trying to depict is  how    POSITIONAL  PRESSURE  TURNS INTO TACTICAL RESOLUTION OF THE POSITION :



The opponent breaks up under the pressure which creates:

1) Uncoordination of the pieces which are unable to prevent all the threats.

2) Ruptures impossible to stop so as to open up the position .


W.: K. Burger (0)

B.. E. Lobron (1)

New York, 1983

1. d4, Nf6  2. Nf3, e6  3. c4, c5  4. d5, ed5 5. cd5, d6  6. Nc3, g6  7. Bf4, a6  8. a4, Bg7  9. e4, 0-0  10. Be2, ,Bg4  11. 0-0, Bxf3  12. Bxf3 ,Qe7  13. Re1, Nbd7  14. Qc2, Ne8  15. Qd2, Nc7  16. Bg5, f6  17. Bh6, Bxh6  18. Qxh6, b5  19. b3, b4  20. Nd1, f5 21. Qd2, Ne5  22. Nb2, f4  23. Nd3, h5  24. Be2, ,Nxd3  25. Qxd3, Qe5  26. Qh3, Rf7  27. Rad, Kg7  28. Bc4, a5  29. Qd3, g5  30. f3, ,Kf6  31. Kf2, Rg8  32. Qb1, g4  33. Qa1, Rfg7  34. Bf1, Qxa1  35. Rxa1, Ke5  36. Rad1, Ne8  37. Ke2, Nf6  38. Kd3, c4  39. bc4, Nd7  40. Kc2, Nc5  and Burger resigned. An excelent example.

W.: J. Timman (0)

B.: A. Karpov (1)

Tilburg 1988

1.d4, Nf6  2. c4, e6  3. Nf3, b6  4. a3, Bb7  5. Nc3, d5  6. cd5, Nxd5  7. Qc2, Nxc3  8. bx3, Be7  9. e3, Qc8  10. Bb2, c5  1. Bb5, Bc6  12. Bd3, c4  13. Be2, Nd7  14. a4, a6  15. 0-0, 0-0  16. e4, b5  17. Ba3, Bxa3  18. Rxa3 , Qb7  19. Nd2, Nb6  20. a5, Nd7  21. f3, e5  22. d5, Qa7  23. Kh1, Bb7  24. Raa1, f5  25. Rad1, f4  26. g4, ,Rf6  27. Qb2, Re8  28. Rg1, Bc8  29. Rg2, Nf8  30. h4, Rh6  31. Rh2, Qe7  32. h5, g6  33. Qb4, Kg7  34. Rg1, Nd7  35. Qxe7, Rxe7  36. hg6, Rxh2,  37. Kxh2, Kxg6  38. Kh3, Nc5  39. Kh4, Rc7  40. Rb1, Nb7  41. Ra1, ,Nd6  42. Nb1, R7  43. Na3, Kf6  44. Rg1 N7  45. Kh3, h5 / and Timman resigned. Another superb example.


Written by QChess

November 8, 2012 at 8:30 am

Programs, CC and Losses. Part 2.

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You must assume that it is possible to do everything well and even so,  get a bad result”.  “Law & Order : Criminal Intent.”


Leafing through old Chess mags I found a very interesting article written by the late ex-Soviet GM E. Gufeld. He made the following reflection:

“The discussion about whether one can win a game  if one’s opponent makes no mistakes is as old as the mountains. Many chessplayers in my generation (including myself) have grown up under the influence of the attractive traditions of the SOviet Chess School, and have learnt a great truth: the resolution of the fight comes determined, before any other thing, by a better strategy” (Bold letters  mine.- Questchess).

(This is the linking point of the previous and the present posts in which we are talking about playing CC with the aid of powerful programs and the possibility of continuing playing CC in spite of it)

Gufeld included one of his games (see previous post) in which he finds it difficult to pinpoint a clear mistake on the loser’s part. He also quotes Botvinnik saying:

“There are times when it is possible to find oneself in a lost position without making any mistake”.

So,in my opinion , it implies it would be possible to win against any apparently infallible chess program by trying to beat in in the field of strategy: both sides play their opening moves, choose the best plans according to the position and if there is no tactical melées, in a pure strategical struggle, one of them comes on top.  (You may say this is very nearly impossible to do. O.K. But as chessplayers we are obliged to look for solutions and try to make them happen. This is today’s challenge, isn’t it???).

Curiously enough in the same magazine there was another game in which the annotator (GM Seirawan) was unable to find a clear explanation of what happened except that of “a superior strategy”. In that game a mistake at last occurred and decided the game, but what I am interested is in the previous 29th moves.:

W.: V. Korchnoi (1)

B.: A. Shirov (0)

Buenos Aires, 1993.

1. c4  Nf6  2. Nc3  g6  3. e4  d6  4. d4  Bg7  5. Be2  0-0  6. Nf3  e5  7. 0-0  Nc6  8. d5  Ne7  9. Ne1  Ne8  10. Be3  f5  11. f3  f4  12. Bf2  h5  13. c5  g5  14. a4  Ng6  15. a5  Bh6  16. Nb5  a6  17. Na3  Kh8  18. Nc4  Rg8  19. Ra3  Nf6  20. cd6  cd6  21. Nb6  Rb8  22. Rc3  g4  23. fg4  Ne4  24. Rc8  Rc8  25. Nc8  Qc8  26. Bb6  Ne7  27. gh5  Nf6 (Here Seirawan says that Black has an advantage without White having made a clear mistake:both sides have developed their plans and Black has emerged on top). -After a long reflection Korchnoi played :

28. b3  (and the game continued): … Ned5  29. Bc4  Qc6  30. Rf2! – here Shirov falters with 30…., Rc8?  because he thought that after 30…, Rf8! White would get the advantage…-

31. Bd5  Nd5  32. Rc2 Nc3  33. Qg4! Bf8  34. Nd3  Qe8  35. Nb4  d5  36.  Nd5  Bc5  37. Bc5  Rc5  38. h6  Qf8  39. Rc3  Black resigned.

A conclusion seems clear: if you want to beat the computer try to do it in the field of strategy, trying to reach positions (from the adequate opening) where the program evaluations are absolutely similar. A program can “see” every tactical/combinative nuance, but not strategical shades  when the position offers several equivalent possibilities. In the end it has to propose  move, and nobody can explain why it chooses a),b),c) or d) when the evaluation is similar or the same. If you submit one of these levelled positions to the computer, you can see two effects: 1) It chooses always the same move or 2) It chooses one move at one time, and other of the moves at other time.

There are positions where “the only very best move” does not exist. This is the field we will have to choose as our battleground.


Written by QChess

July 26, 2012 at 7:28 am

Mijail M. Botvinnik: deviatii diagonal*

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* “the ninth diagonal

My feelings towards Botvinnik are , today in 2012, contradictory. Some 30 years ago Botvinnik’s games taught me the art of planning in Chess. You may know strategy, you may be able to play combinations, calculate variations, etc. But one day you realize you are not progressing… That happened to me: I could understand any positional game, no matter if that was played by Petrosian or Karpov. And?. And you have to learn how to  make plans and integrate them in the framework of a chessgame. I even discovered , on my own, that planning was not only referred to “strategical planning”, and realized there was also “tactical planning” : I called it “tactical strategy” .

(I will explain my method of training with Botvinnik’s games later. )

Botvinnik was the first Soviet chessplayer in becoming World Champion of Chess. He was an exceptional strong player: hard-working, talented, with a scientifical mind he applied to Chess, absolutely self-disciplined and goal-oriented, with a deep positional knowledge and accurate calculation skills, able to study and prepare in a systematic unprecedented way, who spent much time devoted to his engeneering work and was able to keep ready for the Chess battles holding secret matches at home… He also made a thorough study of the openings and the typical middlegame positions stemming from them

Botvinnik learnt Chess at 12, and became a GM in 1950. Champion of the Soviet Union in seven times.  In 1948 a match-tournament was decided as the way to find the Chess World Champion. Alekhine had died two years before and the old method of choosing a challenger died with him as FIDE took over the ruling of the Chess world. The “chosen few” were Botvinnik, Smyslov, Keres, Reshevsky, Fine and Euwe. Reuben Fine declined to take part and when the smoke of the battle cleared Botvinnik had won the event.

In 1955 he defended the title against Bronstein and retained it because the rule was that in the case of a final tie the Champion retained the crown (later Bronstein hinted at having suffered some sort of pressure not to win the match…)

In 1954 the same happened in his match with Smyslov: a final tie with Mijail Moiseyevich retaining the crown…

In 1957, Smyslov defeated him becoming Champion of the World. For cases like this , Botvinnik had secured a return match in a year’s time. In 1958 he regained the title.

In 1960 Tal beat him but in 1961, again in a return match, Botvinnik defeated his opponent… Again World Champion.

In 1963 Petrosian defeated him this time with no return match. It was said that Bovinnik never forgave FIDE for such a “treason”.


Botvinnik had to learn to live -as the rest of the USSR citizens- in the terrible Stalinist era. Apparently he knew how to do it. He was the Chess “blue-eyed-boy” of the regime, and he knew how to move his pieces on the political board too. Not only in the Keres’ controversy, but also when he feared he could not be taken as the best to play against Alekhine… Apart from Stalin himself – remember Chess was  a “matter of state” in the former USSR, it seemed he was in good relations with names like V. Snegirov, Nikolai Krylenko (1885-1938), People’s Commissar of Justice and Prosecutor General of the RSSFR and, in the 30’s,  also head of several sports associations,with  Chess among them. The last was V. Molotov (1890-1986): Stalin’s protegee, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, Minister of Foreign Affairs, First Deputy Premier.

Many pages have been written about all this. I have my own opinion, of course… But curiously enough, all his political influences could not prevent him from being excluded of the Soviet Union Chess Team for the Helsinki Chess Olympiad. Botvinnik explained that was due to two bad results (The Maroczy Memorial and the USSR Chess Championship) but he was far from pleased since he wrote that the decision was taken in a “strange way” by voting it among the rest of Team members : Bronstein, Keres, Smyslov, Boleslavsky and Geller (remember what had happened with Keres before, and later with Bronstein…) The result of the “poll” was unanimously against him with a blank ballot (!) .-So he would never know who to really blame for the offence!-.

Botvinnik had a natural talent for strategy and planning. He tried to find an “opponent-proof”  opening repertoire focusing on the English/ Catalan/ QG as White and the French as Black . Against the QP he used several defences within QGD boundaries but also the Grünfeld though one of his pet lines was the Dutch. He made a great contribution to the theory of the middlegame systematizing many positions and procedures.

The two big questions which will never be answered are:

– Is the Bronstein story true?

-What happened in the Keres case?

The same I said in the post about Keres (nº. 2) I believe happened -if it really happened- with Bronstein.

The Soviet authorities had many ways to do things. They did not bother to kill Petrov as you know. In the Keres case, he knew what he had to do to survive and did it. In the Bronstein case I suppose the adequate hints operated the miracle. But we will never knew the truth. In the case of chessplayers nobody can explain why some suffered such criminal treatment while others could speak even criticize openly without too many problems.

Well, going back to Chess, I must say that Karpov had taught me how strategy worked in practice but Botvinnik taught me how strategy worked in theory...


If you want to use my method, follow the folowing steps:

1.- Copy a Botvinnik game in a sheet of paper in columns.

2.- Play the first ten-twelve moves on the board.

3.- Cover Botvinnik’s moves with a paper and try to find them one by one. Once you ave cosen your move (the move you think Botvinnik played, uncover it and check it against he move you chose.

4.- Once you have finished the exercise, replay the game writing down why you thik Botvinnik played each move.

You can obtain the percentage of the moves you managed to guess following this method:

-take the total number of moves of the game.

-take down the number of opening moves you played.

-add two zeroes to the number of moves you have guessed.

-divide this number by the number you got in step two.

For instance: let’s suppose the total number of moves was 40. You played ten opening moves. So, 40 -10 = 30.

20+oo = 20000

If you have guessed 20 moves, then 2000/30= %

A percentage 0f 70% or + is excellent.

This is the way I used to train.


P.S.  The blog has been flooded by spam comments so from now on it will be necessary to register to leave a comment.

I hope you understand this decision and encourage you to leave comments. Thank you very much indeed..- Questchess.

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