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…And Problems.

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Shinkman 1872

(Mate in 4 moves: Solution to this problem proposed two posts ago.)

I have said on several occasions that one of my way of training is solving what I considered the most interesting Chess compositions, those of mate in three moves. As you know, there are compositions featuring mate in 2 ,in 3, in 4, in 5, etc moves. Those labelled “mate in 2” are boring to me . And as far as I can remember I  had never tried to work with mate in 4 problems. I found  the above in the excellent book  “Chess Tactics for Advanced Players”, by Averbakh, one of those books from the Soviet period that one of my friends in the former East Germany sent to me as  a present many years ago. It is a real gem. Well, in one of the exercise sections the position appears. At first I was reluctant to work on it. A quick glance .But I could not take the position out of my mind.I love problems with few pieces, so I set up the board and after 45 minutes was able to solve it. 

The point is that I learned how these problems should be approached. Instead of struggling to find strong first moves, firstly I tried to understand how many moves Black had. Then, if one of those moves should be prevented so provoking the other.Then, why the White pieces were on the squares they were. In short: I dealt with it as if it were a mate in 3 moves…

At last, an idea came to my mind: instead of trying to find the strongest first move (and if the key were the second move? ), I began to think about the possible “end-positions” and then the solution appeared clearly when I saw d4 as the mating square and the only device was a pin in one of the variations and a curious self interception in the other. So, my friends, sometimes abstract thinking in images is better than void calculation of aimless variations. (Incidentally the difference between inductive and deductive thinking?) 

The solution provides a deep aesthetic pleasure:

1. Rb1,d3 /2. Ba1, e5 / 3. Rb2, Kd4/ 4. Rb4 mate . (If 1. …, e5/ 2. Bd8, d3/ 3. Bb6 Kd4/ 4 Rb4 mate )

As Kotov used to say, every effort you make analysing positions, endgames, problems… is valid to keep on progressing in Chess. At the chessboard you must be imaginative, inventive, avoid playing by inertia after calculating only 2-move variations, etc. Of course in many positions the art of accurately calculating 2-move variations is fundamental (even Botvinnik wrote about this topic). But in the rest of cases something more deep, something more concrete and accurate is required. The time spent in training your tactical vision can never be lost. To some people , solving these problems may seem boring… Well, you are the chessplayer. Accept it and devise your own training programme. Chess has to do with openings, strategy,tactics,planning and endgames. Do it as you wish. The greatness of Chess is that … you cannot blame any other people of your results !. Spassky mentioned “PERSEVERANCE” as  his main asset. So, at least, the rest of us, poor mortals, should avoid “indolence”. Shouldn’t we?.



Written by QChess

August 30, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Training with Spassky

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Boris Spassky’s childhood was not easy. Born in 1937 he and his family had to endure the hardships of the 2nd World War. A country devastated and a country ruled by no other than Stalin…

Boris used to spend many hours analysing games at home and trying to spend as much time as possible at the Pioneers’ Palace. His idol was A. Alekhine, whose games tried to understand for hours on end. This helped him to become not only a universal chessplayer, but also left a very deep influence in his tactical skills. That work left an indelible imprint for years to come: like Alekhine he was able to play positional games full of strategical sparkling ideas or combinative attacking games in the 19th century Chess tradition. Like his admired predecessor, he was able in a rather subconscious way to reach positions charged with latent energy ready to explode in a given moment. He developed also a very precise insight to perceive  and take advantage of the critical moments during games.

Unlike Botvinnik, Karpov or Kasparov, Boris never liked to write about his Chess experiences. Unlike with Fischer, about whom scores of books have been written, very few people was interested on Spassky. (Perhaps because his enormous talent requires a lot of effort to be clearly dissected? .who knows…)

Many people know Boris as “the player who lost to Fischer”. But I must say he is one of the most complete and interesting chessplayer in the history of the royal game. If you devote time to study his games, the first thing you realise is the different sides his talent show. When you believe you know him quite well, a new aspect is revealed here or there.

So, is it possible to train with Spassky?.- Absolutely yes. In this post I have included games to be studied/analysed and five exercises taken from his games. Good luck.

Game 1:

W.: Spassky (1)

B.: Ciric (0)

Marianske Lazne, 1962

1. e4, c5/ 2. Nf3, Nf6 (an old variation of Hypermodern flavour .) / 3. e5, Nd5/ 4. Nc3, e6/ 5. Nxd5, ed5/ 6. d4, Nc6/ 7.dc5, Bxc5/ 8. Qxd5, Qb6   (an old line already played in 1924. Black gets an aggressive position and White has to show he has something to counter it). 9. Bc4, Bxf2+/ 10. Ke2, 0-0/ 11. Rf1, Bc5/ 12. Ng5, Nxe5/ 13. Qxe5, d5/ 14. Qxd5! (A critical moment. Spassky avoided 14.Bxd5 due to: 14…, Bg4+/ 15. Ke1, Rae8!/ 16. Bxf7+,Kh8/ 17. Bxe8, Qa5+ 18. Bd2, ,Bxf2+ and the White Queen is lost)  14…, Re8+/ 15. Kf3, Qf6/ 16. Kg3,  Bd6/ 17. Rf4!, Be6/ 18. Nxe6, Rxe6/ 19. Qxd6. Qg6/ 20. Rg4, Re3+/ 21. Bxe3, Qxd6+/ 22. Kf2, Re8/ 23. Rf4, Re7/ 24. Bb3, Qe5/ 25. Re1, g5/ 26. Rf3, Kg7/ 27. Rd1, f6/ 28. Kg1, g4/ 29. Bd4   and Black resigned. Beautiful.

Game 2:

W.: Spassky (1)

 B.: Gligoric (0)

Montilla/Moriles (Spain) 1978

1. d4, Nf6/ 2. Nf3, g6/ 3. g3, Bg7/ 4. Bg2, 0-0/ 5. 0-0, d6/ 6. Nc3, Nbd7 /7.e4 (a GM weapon: the transposition of moves: what seemed a King’s Indian is now a Pirc) 7…, e5/ 8. a4, c6/ 9. b3, Re8/ 10. Ba3, ed4/ 11. Nxd4, Nc5/ 12. Re1, Ng4/ 13. Qd2, Ne6/ 14. Nde2, Qf6/ 15. f3, Bh6/ 16. f4, Qd8/ 17. h3, Qb6/ 18. Kh1, Qe3/ 19. Qc1, Qxc1/ 20. Raxc1, Ne3/ 21. Bd6, Nxg2/  22.Kxg2, b6/ 23. Rcd1, Bb7/ 24. g4, Rad8/ 25. f5, Nf8/ 26. Ng3, Bg5/ 27. e5, Bh4/ 28. Kh2, h6/ 29. Rf1, Nd7/ 30. e6, Nf6/ 31. ef7, Kxf7/ 32. fg6, Kxg6/ 33. Nf5, Bg5/ 34. Kg3, Nd5/ 35. Nxd5, cd5/ 36. h4, Bf6/ 37. h5, Kh7/ 38. Bf4, d4/ 39. Nh6, Re2/ 40. Rd2, d3/ 41. Rxd3, Rg2/42. Kh3, Rxd3/ 43. cd3,Rc2/ 44. Rc1, Rxc1/ 45. Bxc1, Ba6/ 46. g5, Bc3/ 47. g6, Kg7/ 48. d4, Bc8/ 49. Kh4, Bxd4/ 50. Ng4, Bf6/ 51. Bg5, Bc3/ 52. Bh6 . Black resigned.

Game 3:

W.: Spassky (1)

B.: Taimanov (0)

Moscow 1955

1. e4, e5/ 2. Nf3, Nc6/ 3. Bb5, a6/ 4. Ba4, b5/ 5. Bb3, Na5/ 6. 0-0, d6/ 7. d4, Nxb3/ 8. ab3, f6/ 9. Nc3, Bb7/ 10. Nh4!, Ne7/ 11. de5, de5/ 12. Qf3, Qd7/ 13. Rd1, Qe6/ 14. Be3, g5?/ 15. Nxb5!!, ab5/ 16. Qh5, Qf7/ 17. Rxa8, Bxa8/ 18. Rd8!, Kxd8/ 19. Qxf7, gh4/ 20. Qxf6, Rg8/ 21. f3!, h3/22. g3, Ke8/ 23. Qxe5, Rg6/ 24. Qxb5, Bc6/25. Qb8, Kf7/ 26. Qxc7, Rf6/ 27. Bg5, Re6/ 28. b4, Kg8/ 29. Qb8, Ng6/ 30. Kf2, Ne5/ 31. b5, Be8/ 32. Be3, Bd6/ 33. Qc8,, Kf7/ 34. b6, Rf6/ 35. Bf4, Bd7/ 36.b7, Be6/ 37. Bxe5, Bxe5/ 38.b8Q, Bxc8/ 39. Qxe5  and Black resigned.

Game 4:

W.: S. Flor (0)

B.: B. Spassky (1)

Moscow 1961

1.Nf3, Nf6/2. c4, e6/ 3. b3, d5  (I think Spassky’s approach to Chess is classical. In these types of set-ups in which White cedes the center he always occupies it playing a sort of reversed Queen’s Gambit) / 4. Bb2, Be7/ 5. g3, 0-0/6. Bg2, c5/ 7. cd5, ed5/ 8. d4, Nc6/ 9. 0-0, Bg4/ 10. dc5, Bxc5/ 11. Nc3, a6/ 12. Ne1, Re8/ 13. h3, Bf5/ 14. Nd3, Ba7/ 15. Rc1, d4/ 16. Na4, Be4/ 17. Nac5, Bxg2/ 18.. Kxg2, Qd5/ 19. Kh2, Ne4/ 20. Nxe4, Rxe4/ 21. Rc2, Rae8/ 22. Bc1, f6/ 23. f3, Rhe7/ 24. Ba3, Rf7/ 25. Nb4, Nxb4/ 26. Bxb4, Qb5/ 27. Ba3, h5/ 28. Qd3, Qxd3/ 29. ed3, Re3/ 30. Rd2, Rc7/ 31. Kg2, Kf7/ 32. Rc1, Rc3/ 33. Rcd1, Ke6/ 34. Bb2, Rc6/ 35. Rc1, Kd5/ 36. Rxc6, bc6/ 37. Kf2, Bc5/ 38. Rd1, Bb4/ 39. a3, Bd6/ 40. Bc1, Re7/ 41. Bd2, Rb7/ 42. b4, a5/ 43. ba5, Rb2/44. f4, Ra2/ 45. Ke2, h4/46. gh4, Bxf4/ 47. a6, Bxd2/ 48.Rxd2,Rxa3/ 49. Rb2, Rxa6/ 50. Rb7, Ra2/ 51. Kf3, Rd2/ 52. Rxg7,Rxd3/ 53. Kg4, f5/ 54. Kxf5, Rxh3/ 55. Rd7, Kc4/ 56. Kg5,, c5/ 57. h5, d3/ White resigned.

Now the positions to solve:


Position 1:   Spassky – Korenski, Sochi 1973:


Position 2:  Furman – Spassky, USSR Chess Championship, 1957: (Position from the Black side):


Position 3: Spassky – Portisch, Geneve, 1977:


Position 4:  Spassky – Reshko, Leningrad, 1959:


Position 5:  Geller- Spassky .Zonal T. of Seven, Moscow 1964. (Position from the Black side):



Pos. 1.:  1. e7!, Kg8/ 2. Qxf7, Kh8/ 3. e8=Q, Rxe8/ 4. Qxe6, Kg7/ 5. Qe5, Kg8/ 6. Qg5 and Black resigned.

Pos. 2.:  1…, Bg4!!/ 2. f3, Bxf3!!/ 3. gxf3, Nxf3/ 4. Kh1, Qh3/ 5. Rf2, Ne1!! / White resigned.

Pos. 3.:  1. Nh5!!, Nxd5/ 2. cxd5, gxh5/ 3. gxh5, Bg7/ 4. Bb2, f6/ 5. Bxf6, Rxf2/ 6. Re2, Qf7/ 7. Re6 and Black resigned.

Pos. 4.:  1. e7!!, Bxe7/ 2. Qxg4, Nd7/ 3. Nxe7, Kc7/ 4. Bf4, Ne5/ 5. Qg7!, Kb6/ 6. Bxe5, Qe6/ 7. Bxd4  Black resigned.

Pos. 5.:  1…., Qxc7!!/ 2. Bxc7, Be3+!/ 3. Kg2, Nxd2/ 4. Rxf8+, Rxf8/ 5. Bxd5, Rf2+/ 6. Kg3, Nf1+/ 7. Kh4, h6/ 8. Bd8, Rf8!!/ White resigned.


Written by QChess

January 17, 2013 at 8:15 am

Posted in CHESS, Spassky, Tactics

Chess Training with Keres et alii .

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One of the books I have in my Chess library is a little-known gem written by Paul Keres. The title translated into  English  is   “The Art of Analysis” and has 67 pages. It is devoted to help to develop the players’ skills in the art of analysing adjourned positions. Yes, you may say there are no adjourned games these days… But please remember Chess can be seen as a whole in which the sum of the parts are bigger than the whole itself, and that the great Chess trainer “guru” Dvoretsky devoted nearly an entire book to teach tactics by using the analysis of adjourned positions. So it is not today’s practical use but the benefits we can obtain in the development of our tactical and analytical skills. Nearly every  Soviet trainer has strongly recommended the analysis of adjourned games as one of the best way to develop those analytical skills.

Keres presents the reader with 5 positions from his practice, and proceed to tell us the history around that position and how he tried to discover the hidden secrets they contain. At the end of the book, Keres explains his aim is not composing a systematic guide but to show the reader the problems every Chess Master has to deal with when he goes back home with an adjourned game to be played. Some of the positions are beautiful and invite the reader to try to analyse them and then compare the findings with the great GM’s ideas. For instance:

(I will give the moves played in the games at the end of the post in case you want to work on them on your own.)

W.: Rejfir (0)

B.: Keres (1)

Moscow  (Ol) 1956

W.: Rejfir

rejf Black : Keres

The position  (I have put it from the Black side of the board so Black plays upwards) was adjourned here and White sealed his 41st move. Although Keres has a Pawn about to reach the queening square, the position still has to be analysed. Remember that we are in top-level Chess, with players ready to fight and find very hidden resources.

Another of the examples is:

W.: M.Tal

tal B.: P. Keres

Again the position is shown from the Black side. The game was played in Beograd in 1959.Keres sealed his 41st move, which was 41. …, Nd3/

Another Soviet Chess  “heavyweight”  , the late A. Suetin, also devote chapters in his books to recommend these types of exercises. He said they were excellent training grounds because they imply two types of Chess thinking: one using abstract thinking  (without calculation of variations)  to determine which pieces to change, which to preserve, how to place ones pieces, etc. , and another tactical one  because most of the positions are full of tactical variations with hidden possibilities and tricks.

This is the way they worked in the “golden age”  of the Soviet Chess . These were the methods they use in their Chess schools, Pioneers’ Palaces, Chess training camps. Remember that in those days, even World, ex-World Champions had to devote time to training sessions with the young promises.

The last example is mentioned by Suetin. After the game, Botvinnik acknowledged that  this game helped him to improve his analytical skills:

W.: Ragozin

  BotvB.: Botvinnik

(Position from the Black side again)

This game was played in Leningrad in 1930. Botvinnik managed to win after his opponent missed a drawish line on move 50th. But this was pure Chess!: a tug-of-war between two outstanding minds. In those years, Ragozin was Botvinnik’s trainer and they played scores of secret games which helped Botvinnik to become one of the best chessplayers in the history of the game.

The game proceeded  38 …, Rxf3  39. b6, cb6  40. cb6   Rd8! 41. Kc4, Re3  42. Nc6, Re4 43. Nd4, f3  44. Ra2, Rc8  45. Kb4!, Re1 46. c4, Re4  47. Kc3, Re3  48. Kb4, Re4  49. Kc3, Rd8!  50. Nc6? , Re3  51. Kb4 , Re2  52. Ra1, f2 53. Nxd8 Re1 54. Ra8, f1=Q  55. Nc6, Kg7 and Black finally won the game.

Rejfir- Keres continued:

41. Qd3 (sealed),  Rxg6/ 42. hg6, Qd4! 43. Qe2, Kh7  44. Qd1, Qd3!  45. b3, f6! 46. gf6 , Kxh6  47. f7, Kg7  48. Kg1, Kxf7 49.  Kg2   (Here Keres analyses 8 different possibilities depending where the two Kings can be placed on.He determined that all of them were winning for him) , 49…, Kg6  50. Kg1, Kh6  51. Kg2?   (51. a3)  ,  Kg5  52. Kg1, a5!  53. Kg2, a4  54. ba4 , Qe4  55. Kf1, Qxc4  56. Kg2, Qg4 / And White resigned.

The magnificent struggle in Tal – Keres continued as follows:

41. …, Nd3  (sealed)  42. Qc8, Kg7  43. Qf5! , Qd2  44. Nd4!  ,Qe1 45. Kg2, Qe3!  46. Qd5!, Qf2  47. Kh3, Qf1  48. Kg4, Nf2!  49. Kf5, Qd3  50. Ke5, Ng4  51. Kd6  Qxa3  52. Kc7, Qe7  53. Kc8, Ne3 (end of home analysis according to Keres)  54. Qb5, Qe4  55. Qb2, Kg6  56. Qb6, f6  57. Ne6 ,Nc4  58. Qa6, Ne5  59. Nc7, Qc2  60. Qd6, Qxh2  61. Nd5, Qf2  62. Kb7, Qxg3!  63. Qxf6, Kh5  64. Qe6, Ng4  65. Ne7, Qf3  66. Kc8, Kh4  67. Nf5, Kh3  68. Kd8, h5  69. Qg6, Ne5  70. Qe6, Ng4  71. Qg6, Ne5  72. Qe6 , Qd3  73. Nd4, Ng4  74. Qd5, Nf2!  75. Kc8, h4  76. Qe5, Qe4  77. Qf6, Qf4  78. Nf5, Ne4  79. Qe6 , Qg4 / and Tal resigned.


Written by QChess

December 20, 2012 at 8:22 am

Horizon Effect

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How long do top chessplayers calculate?. Non players believe that the best chesslayers are  able to calculate many many moves in advance. This is but a “cliché”  (in the same way that many people believe that if you, a chessplayer, plays against a less-skilled or ocassional opponent you have to win in a few moves…).

Steinitz declared that the matter depended on the level of his rival. Kasparov said that in positions with forced lines he could calculate around ten even fifteen moves. In other cases -complicated positions- he said that one has to rely upon his/her intuition + the positional understanding and in these case perhaps only from 5 to seven moves can be calculated. Some experts warn of the famous “two move principle” (the name is mine).

Well, the mind of a professional does not work so strictly  (I mean they do not care about these “scholastical” matters…) .They have a position in front of them and , generally speaking, know the plans associated to the opening played. Then,  in an unconscious way, they begin to apply their knowledge of the position, the pattern recognition, their intuition, their ability to perceive immediate tactical nuances , their strategical knowledge and their positional insight. They are able to use a sort of goal-oriented thinking to take advantage of the assets or to determine that the opponent’s threats are more dangerous than his own and consequently he has to define a plan of defence.

The term “horizon effect” appears related to artificial intelligence. In short: when evaluating possible future positions and decide where to stop the calculation, what would happen if the engine stops on move 10 and on move 11th there is a mate in one?. This tries to be avoided introducing what is known as “quiescence search”.

In OTB Chess there are hundreds of  examples where both players reach an opening position where both parties believe the advantage is on their respective sides. The ensuing play and the post-mortem analysis will prove who was right. In other cases  one of the players has a better vision, calculates one step ahead ad is able to beat his opponent who had stopped calculating one or more steps behind his rival.

Chess is  very complicated, with many absolutely different factors intervening (even top GMs and World Champions have been defeated in less than 20 moves, for instance).

Abrahams wrote that “the very best players very rarely make any perceptible tactical error. They lose by choosing a bad strategical line and persisting in it. They lose, in effect, by trying to do too much (or too little).” .- “The Chess Mind”  (Of course all this under normal circumstances I add).

Kotov wrote that you could find that some leading players might overlook a combination, but that you would never find one who calculated variations badly.

W.: E. Geller (1)

B.: Y. Anikaev (o)

Minks 1979

1. e4 c5  2. Nf3 e6  3. d4 cd4  4. Nd4: Nf6  5. Nc3 d6  6. Be2 Be7  7. 0-0 0-0  8. f4 Nc6  9. Be3 a6  10. a4 Bd7  11. Bf3 Na5  12. Qe2  Qc7  13. g4 Rfc8  14. g5 Ne8  15. f5 Nc4  16. Bh5 g6  17. fg6  fg6  18. Qf2! Ne5  19. Nf3!  Ng7  20. Ne5: Rf8  21. Nf7! Nh5:  22. Nd5!! ed5  23. Nh6 Kg7 24. Qf7! Rf7:: 25. Rf7: Kh8  26. Bd4 Bf6  27. Rf6!  and Black resigned.  What a thrashing!

W.: L. Portisch (0)

B.: J. Pinter (1)

Hungarian Chess Championship 1984

1. d4 Nf6  2.c4 e6  3. Nf3 d5  4. Nc3 c5  5. cd5 Nd5:  6. e4 Nc3:  7. bc3 cd4  8. cd4 Nc6  9. Bc4 b5 10. Be2 Bb4  11. Bd2 Qa5  12. Bb4: Qb4:  13. Qd2 Bb7  14. a3 Qd2: 15. Kd2: a6  16. a4 b4  17. a5?! Rd8  18. Ke3 f5!  19. ef5 ef5  20. Bc4 Ke7  21. d5  Kf6!  22. dc6 Rhe8  23. Kf4 Re4  24. Kg3 Bc8!  25. Rac1  Rg4  26. Kh3  f4  27 Ne5? (The losing move. It was necessary 27 Ba5:) 27. … , Kg5  28. Nf7  Kh5  29.Be2 Rd3  30. g3  f3  31. Rc5  Rg5  32. g4  Bg4:  33. Kg3  fe2  and White resigned.


Written by QChess

May 8, 2012 at 7:28 am

Should We Forget The Classics?: I don’t think so .

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Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch ( 1862 – 1934)

“History cannot be a mere justification. But it can be an excellent explanation. We all learn from our predecessors and this knowledge helps some people to innovate , so making all of us to keep on advancing and progressing.” Questchess.


(You will find two new 3-movers for you to solve at the end of this post. Good luck!)


In 1992, the Dutch GM Loek Van Wely, in an interview published by “New in Chess” , stated : “I have practically no examples from the past. A player like Fischer, that was before my generation” , acknowledging he did not care for his predecessors’ games, history, and so on.

Is it necessary for a chessplayer to study the classics? The answwer is :”No”. A super-pragmatist would add that to achieve success in Chess you only need to play very well and defeat your opponents (instead of losing to them). You study openings,middlegame plans and endgame technique, and it doesn’t matter if Alekhine, Tarrasch, or Steinitz did “this” or “that” in their games. You are playing “your” own games. Not “theirs”.  That’s all right though I agree to differ. I even can accept that one can live in this world without knowing anything about literature, history, philosophy, etc. However, everybody understands what the terms “culture”, cultivated man/woman”, “expert”, “learned” etc. mean…

Unlike Mr. Van Welik, I am not a professional chessplayer, only a correspondence chess one. I would have liked to be a strong -top- professional GM, but  fate decided otherwise.  I think that Chess has developed itself through a process of evolution (not revolution). The history of  the Chess ideas is the history of the men who devoted their lives to play, write about and study Chess. The strategy we study is the labour of  Steinitz + Tarrasch + Nimzowitsch + the Soviet School + some individuals and knowing that history you will be better armed to understand the present essence of the game. You learn combinations because you can study the different themes in the games of Anderssen, Morphy, Alekhine and many others. You learn strategy in the games of leading positional chessplayers, you learn endgames by studying the great examples produced by Capablanca, Botvinnik, Karpov, Rubinstein, etc.

I must confess I like reading about the history of Chess. And I admire people like Mr. E. Winter, who has devoted himself to this task. He has found that many aparently “novelties” in modern games, were already played in the 19th century… Simply, nobody cares about Schlechter, Janowsky, Burn, Zuckertort, Gunsberg, Pillsbury, Marshall, Steinitz, Neumann, Rosenthal, Paulsen, Blackburne…

Yet nearly all the great modern chesslayers, studied and were influenced by their predecessors :

Karpov by Capablanca and Rubinstein.

Spassky by Alekhine.

Botvinnik by Chigorin , Alekhine and Capablanca.

Fischer by Morphy, Capablanca and Steinitz.

Petrosian by Nimzowitsch.

Kasparov by Alekhine.

Korchnoi by Lasker.

And so on.

All this is written in their biographies. (People very close to Fischer said he knew everything about 19th century players and their games , for instance.)

We all are free to choose the way we want to progress in Chess. In my case, I prefer study the games played by Steinitz, Nimzowistch , Alekhine or Fischer  than most of the games played today… This approach has showed me a lot of interesting facts because behind the chessplayer, there is always a man. Sometimes  with a personal tragedy…And this has helped me not only to understand Chess better, but to gain a deep insight into the human condition of those who devoted their lives to Chess even though it meant to live close to sheer poverty and die alone. Those tragedies could happen to us too.

W.: Breyer (0)

B.: Tarrasch (1)

Göteborg, 1920

1. d4 d5  2.e3 Nf6  3. Nf3 e6  4. Nbd2 Bd6  5. c4 b6  6. Qc2 Bb7  7. c5 bc5  8. dc5 Be7  9. b4 00  10. Bb2 a5  11. b5 c6  12. a4 Nbd7  13. Bd4 Re8  14. Rc1 Nf8  15. Qb2 Ng4  16. h3 Nh6  17. Nb3 f6  18. Qa3 e5  19. Bc3 Qc7  20. Bb2 Rec8  21. Qa2 Qd8  22. b6 Be7  23. Qb1 Qf8  24. Qc2 Nf7  25. h4 Nd8  26. g6 Ne6  27. Bh3 Nec5  28. Nc5: Nc5: 29. Ba2 Nd3  30. Qd3: Ba3:  31. Bc8: Rc8:  32. Ra1 Bb4  33. Nd2 e4  34. Qb3 c5  35. Kd1 e4  36. Qa2 Qd6  37. Ke2 Ba6  38. b7 Rb8  39. Kd1 Rb7: 40. f3 Kh8  41. fe4 de4  42. Kc1 Qg3:  43. Nf1 Qe1  44. Kc2 Qc3  45. Kd1 Qd3  46. Kc1 Rd7  and White resigned. A superb game worth a deep study.

W.:  Staunton (1)

B.: Horwitz  (0)

London 1851

1. c4 e6   2.Nc3 f5  3. g3 Nf6  4. Bg2 c6  5. d3 Na6  6. a3 Be7  7. e3 0-0  8. N1e2 Nc7  9. 0-0 d5  10. b3 Qe8   11. Bb2 Qf7  12. Rc1 Bd7  13. e4  fe4  14. de4 Rad8  15. e5 Nfe8  16. f4 dc4  17. bc4 Bc5  18. Kh1 Be3  19. Rb1 g6  20. Qb3 Bc8  21. Ne4 Bb6  22. Rbd1 Na6  23. Qc3 Rd1:  24. Rd1: Nc5  25. Nd6 Qc7  26. Qc2 Ng7  27. g4 Qe7  28. Bd4 Qc7  29.a4 Na6  30. c5 Ba5  31. Qb3 b6  32. Ne4 bc5  33. Nf6 Kh8  34. Qh3 Ne8  35. Ba1 Nf6  36. ef6 Kg8  37. Be5 Qb7  38. Be4 Qf7  39. Ng1 Bd8  40. g5 Bb7  41. Nf3 Re8   42. Bd6 Bf6  43. gf6 Qf6  44. Ng5  Qg7  45. Be5  Qe7  46. Bg6  and Black resigned.



Written by QChess

May 3, 2012 at 8:46 pm

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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