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CChess is a Jungle…

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CChess is a jungle. Let me explain: you like CC and perhaps you are playing in any  ICCF official event. This is my case. Of late, I have realized that most of my opponents are not only armed to the teeth with databases, and the rest of CC paraphernalia: many of them seem to be connected to the webserver  perpetually: I work hard on my move, find it, check and recheck it well , not always…- send it and “voilà” , I have not written it down yet and   the answer flashed on the screen. Believe me: I have sent moves at the oddest and infamous hours. It doesn´t matter: there is always someone with their move or conditional move ready  and deciding s/he is not going to give you any respite. And it is not a matter of different time zones… Some days ago I told an opponent -and friend of mine from Sweden- that I saw today’s CC as a jungle full of lions, panthers, tigers … and me. The problem is that I saw myself as a kitten and the rest of felines instead of considering me a fellow-feline companion considered me as their food… Then, do I lack the famous “killer instinct”?. Or perhaps am I more an artist and not a fighter and so on?. The answer to both questions is in the negative. No, I want to win all my games, to beat all my opponents, I like fighting and winning. So, I do not know why I see myself as a kitten and the rest as a wild group of big felines out for blood. -And please, do not suggest I should need a psychiatrist 🙂 🙂 –

I have found the following position and notes (do not know where it appeared or wrote the accompanying legend) in my archives:


“J. Mendheim. 19th century. This 5-mover is a great example of stormy power play. The solution usually contains sparkling combinations, and positions resemble actual games”. (So mate in five moves)

How is Boris Spassky? Since he fled to Mother Russia already some time ago the only things that have come out are that he is recovering slowly from a stroke, that he made brief public appearances and that he decided to be inscribed as a Russian -instead on a French- chessplayer again. I have been unable to get in touch with him as I did before (you can read about all this in previous posts in this blog). Well, I frequently remember that July 2007 when we met in my hometown, and spent several days together… This episode was the second stroke he suffered in the space of several years. He managed to recover quite well from the first one, but experts say that a repetition is usually terrible. When I read about him and Fischer sometimes it seems as if the early seventies of the past century were placed two centuries ago, belonged to a  part of my life lost in the mists of time. Curiously enough, unknown snaps featuring Bobby Fischer keep appearing: the last one (“Spraggett on Chess” Blog) depicts Fischer giving  lecture at Hart House in Toronto, Canada. It is very curious but Fischer seemed to have been always doing something on my very birthday date along the years…

Those who regularly follow this blog may have realized that changes in the system have erased several images and positions. I do not know why this has happened…-the gremlings???- One of those images corresponds to a mate in three moves problem by Tavariani  (level: difficult):


I think these problems are enough to make you feel the pangs of devoting your lives to playing Chess…Or not.



Written by QChess

November 8, 2013 at 8:29 am

A Summer´s Chess Tale

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What would you play here? .- The position is from Karpov – Timman, Brussels 1988.  One of the problems in Chess is that all of us have heard or read a lot of things said by “very important experts” and these things remain there, stuck in our memory forever. Then we believe those “decrees” are permanent and perennial and we tend to repeat them like a mantram to show how much we know about  Chess. Yes, I’ve done it, you’ve done it, everybody has done it… one time or another. But GM Rowson strongly recommends to avoid this sort thinking out of inertia, to avoid taking anything from granted, to try always to look at things from fresh new approaches. (Of late I have been reading a lot about  “cognitive/social biases” / “fallacies”, etc,  and perhaps one day I will write about the ones affecting Chess and Chess thinking). The one I am speaking about here may fall into different biases/tendencies, for instance the “bandwagon effect” : the tendency to do or believe things because many other people do or believe the same”,but there are other biases implied because I can see a sort of “anchoring” and an overestimation of the opinion of supposed experts who may be or may be not such “experts” (“empty suits” in the words of N. Taleb)

Well, Karpov is unjustly considered a boring positional player, and so on. I defend he has been one of the deepest thinker in the history of Chess, a player who preferred strategical play, dry manoeuvring, positional plans, zugzwang strategy and control to uncertain tactical blazes. BUT, he was a daring tactician too. In the above position he unleashes a tactical whirlwind sweeping away his opponent not in a Tal-like approach, but in a rather controlled,scientifical explosion (if such a thing does exist…) :

17. dxc6!!, Rxd1/ 18. cxb7, Kb8 /19. Rfxd1, Bc5/ 20.Bxc5, Qxc5/ 21. Rd7, f5/ 22. Rad1, Nc6/ 23. Na4, Qb5/ 24. Rdc1! (exchanging pieces does not diminish the strength of the attack, and this is one of the most difficult things to realize in advance)  24… , Qxa4/ 25. Rxc6, Qxa5/ 26. Rxe6, Ka7/ 27. g3, g5/ 28. Rxh7!! , Rb8 (the point is that if now 28…, Rxh7, then 29. b8Q!!, Kxb8/ 30. Re8, Ke7/ 31. Ra8, Kb6/ 32. Rb8, Ka7 33. Rb7! winning)  29. h3, g4/ 30. hxg4, fxg4/ 31. Bg2, Qa1/ 32. Kh2, Qxb2/ 33. Rh-h6, Qa2/ 34. Re-f6, c5/ 35. Rf4, Qd2/ 36. Bf1, Rxb7/ 37. Rxa6, Kb8/ 38, Rf8, Kc7/ 39. Bg2, Qd7/ 40. Rh8, c4/ 41. Be4, Black resigned. 

(Perhaps many of you are on holidays , basking by the seaside, perhaps in the golden California, Italy, Greece, Spain… Well, it is winter time in the southern hemisphere too and there perhaps you are imagining your next holiday but with time to devote to Chess…  For all of you, here is a problem to test your tactical ability:


White to move, Mate in four moves. Shinkman 1872.)


Written by QChess

August 16, 2013 at 7:01 am

A Matter of Fact

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Study by A. Gurvich, 1927.White to move wins.

The modern practice of Correspondence Chess (CC) , with the extensive use of databases and computer programs has caused a change in my approach to Chess, at least if I compare it with my approach when I also played OTB Chess: it seems I remember less “book” theory but have developed my intuition as far as the openings is concerned. I suppose the explanation has to do with the fact that in OTB Chess the player must know a lot of opening variations because s/he has to play from memory, while  for CC players the method is totally different as s/he can use books,magazines and databases so having no need to memorize tons of variations. (On the other hand, studying cartloads of variations may be useful for certain levels of Chess professional levels mainly. For the rest many top chessplayers and me believe it may be more a waste of time than any other thing. A matter of taste,though…)

The theory of the Chess openings has developed in such a way that unless you are a living encyclopaedia, it is impossible to know everything. One simply can carefully choose a few pet lines and try to learn them as deeply as possible. You may say that in CC this is not the same. Well, when the number of opening variations is so big, the number of typical positions to explore grows exponentially . So…

Of course , one can make “experiments”: let’s suppose your favourite lines against 1.e4 and 1. d4 are the Caro-Kann and the Orthodox Bondarevesky/Makagonov . It seems you are a positional player. One day you are in high spirits and in an official ICCF event against an IM you decide you can play everything and if your opponent plays 1. e4 you choose the Sicilian Najdorf and if he plays 1, d4 you choose the Volga Gambit for the first time in your life… Well, I tend to believe that instead of an innocuous experiment in a 99% it will mean sheer suicide.

If you are playing in official CC / OTB Chess events no matter the level of them perhaps you should bear in mind a few ideas. For example:

1.- Chess is a difficult game. Making moves is easy. Playing Chess, and more in official events, isn’t.

2.- Mastering Chess is a whole-life job. And there are no shortcuts. You depend on certain talent + hard work.In a degree or another, we all have “talent”.3.-

3.-The way super GMs play may be deceptive: there is an immense work  behind the apparent easiness they show when playing their games.

4.- Trying to blindly imitate your favourite player may lead to nowhere. One has to learn from them, not to imitate them. Fischer admired Steinitz but in Fischer’s time he could not try to play as in Steinitz’s time. (Guess how many Sicilian Najdorf  -for instance- did Steinitz play?)

5.- During your Chess career there will be times when you feel “stuck” feeling you are not progressing anymore. The best thing to do is to realize that not all progress is “vertical”. There are “horizontal” levels to go through before mounting a new step up.

6.- In Chess there is no permanent goal/state which can be achieved forever. Everything is changing. Remember that even superGM grow, reach their personal peak and slowly begin to decline.  It is one’s ability to readapt oneself what counts.

7.- Keep an open mind, check and test facts and ideas, try to find answers to questions , avoid playing by inertia, avoid falling in destructive  states of mind caused by boredom.

You may say this is easier than done. Yes, but most of us have passed or are passing through the things exposed above. Everybody has many deserts to cross through his/her life.

Now enjoy the following outstanding positional game:

W.: B. Larsen (0)

B.: Z. Ribli (1)

Las Palmas (Itz) 1982

1. c4 , c5  2. Nf3 , Nf6  3. Nc3 , e6  4. e3 , Nc6  5. d4 , d5  6. cd5 , Nd5:  7. Bc4 , cd4 (creating an isolated QP)  8. ed4 , Be7  9. 0-0 , 0-0  10. Re1 ,  Nc3: (a well-known strategical motiff: Black makes disappear the isolani but he will never allow White to get hanging Pawns d4-c4. Now Ribli will play to prevent White from playing c4)

11. bc3 , b6  12. Qe2 , Bb7  13. Bd3 , Na5  (White’s c4 is not  allowed) 14. Ne5  , Rc8  15. Bb2 , Bd6  16. Qh5 , f5  17. Nf3 , Qe8  18. Qe8: , Rfe8:  19. Nd2 , Bd5  (again preventing c4) 20. a4  , Kf7  21. g3 , g6  22.  f4 , h6  23. Rec1 , Bc4 (again)  24. Bc2 , g5! (now Black must manoeuvre to create a second weakness -Remember the famous “Principle of the two Weaknesses?)

25. fg5  , hg5  26. Ba3 , Ba3:  27. Ra3:,  Bd5  28. Bd3 , Red8  29. Re1 , Rc7  30. Re3 , Kf6  31. Ba6 , f4  32. gf4 ,  gf4  33. Rd3 , Rh8  (a second target. Now White can play c4 but to no avail) 34. c4 , Ba8!  35. Rh3 , Rg7  36. Kf2  , Rg2  37. Ke1  , Rh2:  38. Rh8: ,  Rh8:  39. Nf3 , Rd8  40. Kf2 ,  Bf3:  41. Kf3:,  Rd4:  42. Rc3  , Nc6  43. Bb5 ,  Ne5  44. Ke2  , Kf5  45. c5 , f3  46. Ke1 , bc5  47. Rc5: ,  Kf4  48. Rc7,  Ke3  49. Re7 ,  f2  50. Kf1  , Rg4  and Larsen resigned.


Solution to study: 1. Ne4 , Nd3 2. Qf2!!  Nf2:  3. Ng3  Kg1  4. Ng5 and mate follows.


Written by QChess

October 18, 2012 at 7:07 am

Chess Musings

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I have already mentioned what GM Kavalek said about the perils of analysts trying to explain what GMs have into their heads when they are playing. This is why analysing Chess games is so difficult (though many people does it…). When in the game  R. Byrne – Fischer USA Chess Championship 1963-64 Byrne abandoned, some of the players who were witnessing the game considered it a premature decision and some even believed White could be even better. The late GM Larsen wrote that he had always admired GM Donner for commenting Larsen’s game vs. Bronstein -Amsterdam Interzonal 1964- on two successive days because the first day Donner had completely missed the point. When the seventh game of the Karpov-Korchnoi 1978 World Championship match was adjourned, newspapers all over the world published that Karpov’s victory was unavoidable: the following session, after opening the envelope with the secret move, the game was declared a draw!. And in all these events “experts” and professional GMs were involved…

Sometimes , analysing is somewhat easier when we have the notes by the players involved. GM Nunn has published excellent books analysing his games. In other cases, the analyst carries out an excellent work because he puts a lot of effort in his task, checking and re-checking his analysis (I have several of these in my library, and one of them is Soltis’ book on Bobby Fischer. Another one well worn-out by use today is One of the first Karpov book analysing his best Chess games between 1969 and 1974, with an appendix written by Tal analysing Karpov’s style. I still consult it whenever I want to know how to play certain types of positions.) These deeply annotated games help you to understand many other games played by the same player or with the same opening variation.

In my conversations with professional players I could realize a few interesting ideas:

1.- Most GMs never say anything about their games, the move-finding process, etc. Let alone discuss opening variations (I say “most” because I once saw a GM discussing an opening variation in-depth and in public with a journalist , a former chessplayer too…)

2.- Many GMs mention the elusive term of “intuition” as something of paramount importance (we apparently know what it is, but they never explain what it is for them or how it can be developed and used)

3.- Instant notes to games for newspapers/magazines are not reliable, even those made by GMs.

4.- Public analysis of finished games showing opening possibilities, etc can be full of speculation (if you are looking on, it would be better for you not to believe they are showing possible novelties…)

5.- When books , even those by GMs are written for commercial/financial purposes alone, the notes in them tend to be superficial and may contain many holes.

6.- No GM will give away any of his/her secrets no matter the depth of the notes. This is why when we try to blindly imitate them we always perceive that odd feeling of “something-is-missing-here-and-I-don’t-know-what.” Or that of “This-or-that-GM-recommended-this-in-his/her-analysis-and-I-was-defeated-when-I-used-it-in-one-of-my-games”, etc.

You may say that with today’s programs mistakes and errors are ruled out. This is a mistake in itself. Computers evaluate positions by choosing several candidate moves and comparing them using several parameters. If everything concerning tactics may be OK, what about strategy?. A program may be giving an advantage to one of the sides and suddenly change its evaluation. In other cases they may be giving a big advantage to one of the sides because s/he is material up when in fact the position is a draw and cannot be forced. Chess is more than tactics and brute calculation of variations, and it is in these other fields where we can beat our computer assisted opponents who leave everything to the machine. (By the way, if this is not so, how is that people using strong Chess programs keep losing games???)

This is the position from the seventh game of the 1978 match Korchnoi – Karpov. Nor even GMs present there realized that after 42. Qh8+  (sealed) it is a draw.

W.: Bronstein (0)

B.: Larsen (1)

Amsterdam Itz 1964

1. d4  Nf6  2. c4  g6  3. Nc3  Bg7  4. e4  d6  5. Be2  0-0  6. Bg5  c5  7. d5  e6  8. Nf3  h6  9. Bf4  ed5  10. ed5  Re8  11. Nd2 Nh5  12. Bg3  Bg4  13. 0-0  Ng3:  14. hg3  Be2:  15. Ne2:  Bb2:  16. Rb1  Bg7  17. Rb7:  Nd7 18. Nf4  Nb6  19. Re1  Bc3  20. Ne4  Be1:  21. Ne6 Bf2:  22. Kf2:  fe6  23. Qg4  Rf8  24. Kg1  Rf6  25. Qh3  Qf8  26. Ng5  Rf1  27. Kh2  Rf5  28. Ne6:  Rh5  29. Qh5:  gh5  30. Nf8:  Rf8:  White resigned.

Before my last birthday I believed there were many fields in life where absolute truths did exist. You only have to take all the matters in your life to those “fields” and you would avoid all mistakes. Now I have fallen in a sort of  “absolute relativism” (no contradiction, you can believe it.) .So everything is relative . There are different people with different opinions on the same thing and all of them may have their share of truth. The same  thing can be observed from different points  of view. Some of them may be wrong and can be discarded , but now I think it is very difficult to formulate absolute truths in everything. The same can be applied to Chess, Chess against computer programs or Chess with the aid of programs. So don’t give up , don’t let other people discourage you with their ill-gotten, far-fetched “absolute truths”. You may lose your way a thousand times, you may defend against nonexistent threats (I myself am fighting against those “ghost threats”). Other people’s ideas may create a terrible state of mind in you. Work on your own, check everything by yourself, stand up if you fall, but never give up. At least as for  Chess is concerned…

W.: R. Byrne (0)

B.: R.J. Fischer (1)

US Chess Championship 1963-64

1. d4 Nf6  2. c4  g6 3. g3  c6  4. Bg2  d5 

(Against 1.d4 Fischer played mainly Indian defences. His favourite was the King’s Indian, but he also played the Grünfeld, and the Benoni. During some time he also used  Nimzoindian and Semi-Tarrasch/QGD systems . Here he plays the Neo-Grünfeld. )

5.  cd5  cd5 6. Nc3  Bg7  7. e3  0-0  8. Nge2  Nc6  9. 0-0  b6  10. b3  Ba6  11- Ba3  Re8  12. Qd2  e5!!  13. de5  Ne5:  14. Rfd1 ?! (Rad1) …, Nd3  15. Qc2  Nf2:!  16. Kf2: Ng4  17. Kg1  Ne3  18. Qd2  Ng2!!  19. Kg2:  d4!  20. Nd4:  Bb7  21. Kf1 Qd7!!  White resigned.

(Some of the Masters and GMs present could not believe it. Rossolimo stated that after 22. Qf2 White was even better. In fact it was not: if 22. Qf2 then …, Qh3/ 23. Kg1  Re1!!. And if 22. Ndb5 Qh3/23 Kg1  Bh6!! /)


Written by QChess

October 11, 2012 at 6:44 am

Posted in CHESS, Personal opinion, Studies

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Games to Replay in these Grey Fall Days

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In the next posts I am going to include some studies for you to solve. I have chosen those with very short solutions (4-5 moves). Have a try at all of them to sharpen your tactical skills. I will give the solution. You will have to check the possible variations, etc.

(Now it would be interesting to know whether you prefer these studies or those “mate in three moves” problems… So drop a line if you feel like!)


On the other hand, I have prepared new interesting posts for the next weeks. I hope you enjoy them.



W.:  M. Rohde  (1)

B: J. Whitehead (0)

Estes Park (USA), 1987

1. e4 , c5  2. Nf3, Nc6  3. d4, cd4  4. Nd4: , Nf6  5. Nc3, d6  6. Be3, Ng4  7. Bg5 , Qb6  8. Bb5, e5  9. Nd5,  Qd4:  10. Qd4: , ed4  11. Nc7, Kd7  12. Na8: ,h6  13. Bd2 , Kd8  14. a4, Bd7  15. a5 , Kc8  16. 0-0, Kb8  17. Nb6! ,ab6  18. ab6 , Nce5  19. Be2, g5  20. Ra5 , Nc6  21. Ra4, Be7  22. Rfa1, Kc8  23. Rd4:!, Nge5  24. Ra8, Nb8  25. Bb4, Bc6  26. Bd6:, Bd6:  27. Rd6: , Be4:  28. c4 , g4  29. b4 ,h5  30. Ra5 , Nec6  31. Rh5:, Rh5: 32. Bg4: Rf5  33. f3, Bc2  34. Rf6 , Nd4  35. Rf7: , Nd7  36. Bf5: ,Bf5: 37. c5, Kd8  38.h4, Ke8  39. Rg7 ,Kf8  40. Rg5, Ne5 41.Rh5, Ke7  42. Kf2, Kf6  43. Rh6, Ke7  44. Rd6, Nd3  45. Kf1, Nb5  46. Rd5, Ke6 47. c6! ,Nb4:  48. cb7, Nc6  49. Rd8! , Nd6  50. Rc8! , Bd3  51. Kf2, Ba6   52. Rc6: Bb7:  53. Rc7 Black resigned.

W.: Winsnes (1)

B.: Krasenkov (0)

Rilton Cup , Stockholm ,1989

1. e4 , e5  2. Nf3, Nf6  3. Bb5, a6  4. Ba4,  Nf6 5. 0-0, Nxe4 6. d4, b5  7. Bb3 , d5  8.de5 , Be6  9. Be3 (an old move deviating from the normal paths), Nc5  10. Nc3, Nxb3  11. cb3!, Be7  12. Rc1, Qd7  13. Qd2, 0-0  14. Rfd1, Rad8  15. Bg5, d4  16. Ne4, Bd5  17. Qf4 , Bxg5  18. Nfxg5, Qe7  19. Rxc6!, Bxc6  20. Nf6!, gf6  21. Nxh7!, Kxh7  22. Qh4, Kg7  23. Qg4, Kh8  24. Rd3, Be4  25. Rh3 ,Bh7  26. Qf5 and Krasenkov resigned.

W.: R. Tishbierek (1)

B.: R. Knaak (0)

Ellenburg, 1984

1. e4, e6 2. d4, d5  3. Nd2, c5  4. ed5, ed5  5. N1f3, Nf6  6. Be2, Nbd7  7. 0-0, Be7  8. b3, 0-0  9. Bb2, Bd6?!  10. c4, cd4  11. cd5, Nxd5  12. Ne4!, Bc7  13. Qxd4, N7f6  14. Nxf6, Qxf6  15. Qd2 , Qf5  16. g3, Rd8  17. Nh4, Qh3  18.  Qg5, f6  19. Qh5, Be6  20. Bd3, h6  21. Qg6, Nf4  22. Qh7, Kf8  23. Bxf6 gf6  24. Qxh6, Kg8  25.Bh7, Kf7  26. Bg6, Nxg6  27. Qxg6, Kf8  28. Qxf6,  Kg8  29. Rfe1, Re8  30. Qg6, Kh8  31.Re4, Bd7  32. Qf7!  and Knaak resigned. 

W.: M. Tal (1)

B.: Shavalov (0)

Jurmala, 1985

1.d4, d5  2. Nf3, Nf6  3. c4, c6  4. Qb3, dc4  5. Qxc4, Bf5  6. g3, e6  7. Bg2, Nbd7  8. Nc3, Be7  9. 0-0, 0-0  10. e3, Rc8  11. Qe2, c5  12. e4, Bg4  13. dc5, Nxc5   14. Rd1, Qb6  15. h3, Bh4  16. g4, Bg6  17. Ne5 ,Rfd8  18. Be3, Qb4  19. Nxg6 , hg6  20. e5, Ne8  21. Nb5, a6  22. Nd4, Na4  23. Rd2, Rc7  24. a3, Qa5  25. Qd1!, Nb6  26. Nxe6!, fe6  27. Rxd8, Bxd8  28. Qxd8, Kf8  29. Rd1, Nc4 30. b4, Qa4  31.Bc5, Kg8  32. f4, b6  33. Bf2 ,Rf7  34. Rd4,Nxa3  35. Rd6!, Rxf4  36. Rxe6, Rf8  37. Bxb6, Nc4  38. Rxe8! , Rxe8  39. Bd5 and Shavalov resigned.

(Note: I publish a lot of games played in the 80’s,the 70’s, etc.of the 20th century. This is because I learnt Chess with those games, they were played before the computer era, and they are nearly forgotten. Today you can follow tournamentslive thanks to the Internet. In those years, you have to wait till chess magazines published them… We annot compare players from different times, but to me, the Chess played from the 60’s throughout the 90’s is of superb quality, even more than today’s games…)




Written by QChess

September 27, 2012 at 6:20 am

Posted in Chess games, Studies

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