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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

Tagged with ,

History: We are What we Come from

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The Soviet GM Alexander Kotov has served as inspiration to some generations of chessplayers. His three books “Think Like a Grandmaster”, “Play Like a Grandmaster and Train Like a Grandmaster have become beacon fires for millions of chessplayers all over the world. Kotov divided the different middlegame positions into two great groups subdividing the second one:

1. Intuitive Positions

2. Resolvable Positions :

-2a)  By Logical Plans                                                                                                                                                                                       -2b) Calculable positions :                                                                                                                                                                                                   2b1) Combinational                                                                                                                                                                                           2b2)  With forced variations                                                                                                                                                                           2b3) With alternating blows                                                                                                                                                                            

 -2c) Manoeuvring Positions.  (Kotov explains this consists of shot-term plans and “tacking to and fro move by                                                                      move”, insisting that this method is only valid for level positions). He criticized those especially among young players, who resort to this way of playing in nearly all sort of positions because Kotov believed it was caused by the desire to play too many tournaments having no time for home study and showing a manifest lack of creative attitude.) 

In my opinion, this succinct description of the possible middlegames is outstanding, and may help the player a lot when studying chess games. 

The problems everybody has to face when studying annotated games are clear: if the game is annotated by a professional player in active, do not expect great revelations… If the game is annotated by journalists everything will depend on their ability for annotating games, space provided by the editor, time little they have to devote to the matter, etc. (I have compared notes provided by world-class GMs to the same games and the result is -to say the least- worth thinking about… If the notes are written using  a computer and providing variations only, they will lack any strategical or positional guideline, and so on. My advice: try to do your own notes, try to see positional plans and strategical ideas.

Concerning the above classification, the first idea is to try to attach names to the different parts, because it is not a matter to describe middlegame possibilities, the classification also identifies styles of playing Chess. It is true every top player  masters the different ways of dealing with middlegame positions, but certain middlegames tend to appear out of the same type of openings, and one´s opening repertoire has a lot to do with one’s approach to Chess and ,ultimately, with one’s style. I guess many people would associate “intuitive positions” to Tal and Shirov, for example. I would put Fischer under the heading of resolvable positions (but also Tal, Spassky,…), and leave a Petrosian or a Karpov for “manoeuvring positions”. Let me insist, this is but only a bit of speculative passtime, as I have explained above: Tal played beautiful positional games and Petrosian knew how to sacrifice pieces and Pawns. And I insist once again: this classification is, primarily, a classification of middlegame positions, not of chessplayers.

Alexander Alexandrovich KOTOV was born in 1913 and died in 1981. He became a GM in 1950. Let me recommend you the three books mentioned above. He also wrote several other books, magazine articles and compiled the life and games of his hero Alexander Alekhine. He also wrote a book with Yudovich about the history of the Soviet Chess School, with very interesting historical facts. He was considered an attacking chessplayer and was known as a” giant killer” because he defeated the cream of the cream of his fellow GM companions.

When I managed to get his book “Think Like a Grandmaster” it was like “seeing the light” or having found a secret knowledge.. I cannot remember how many times I read the book and worked following the pieces of advice it contains.

W.: Kotov (1)

B.: Barcza (0)

Stockholm 1952

1. d4, Nf6/ 2. c4,g6/ 3. Nc3, Bg7/ 4. e4, d6/ 5. g3, 0-0/ 6. Bg2, e5/ 7. Nge2, exd4/ 8. Nxd4, Nc6/ 9. Nc2, Be6/ 10. b3, Qd7/ 11. 0-0, Bh3/ 12. f3, Bxg2/ 13. Kxg2, a6/ 14. Bb2, Na7/ 15. Qd2, b5/ 16. Ne3, c6/ 17. Rad1, Rad8/ 18. Ne2!, Qc7/ 19. Bc3, Qe2/ 20. Nd4, Ne8/ 21. Ndf5!, gxf5/ 22. Nxf5, Qc7/ 23. Nxg7, Nxg7/ 24, Bf6!! , Kh8    (Kotov said that if 24…, Ne6/ 25. f4!,Rfe8/ 26. f5,Rd7/ 27. Rf4, h6/ 28. Rg4, Kh7/ 29. Qxh6, Kxh6/ 30. Rh4  .- if 24…, Ne6/ 25. f4, h6/ 26. f5, Ng5/ 27.Bxf5, hg5/ 28. Qxg5)

25. Qg5, Rg8/ 26. h4, Rde8/ 27. h5, Re5/ 28. Bxe5, dxe5/ 29. Qf6!, Nc8/ 30. h6, Ne7/ 31. Rd2  Black resigns. If 31…, bc4/ 32. Rfd1, cb3/ 33. hg7, Rxg7/ 34.Rd8, Ng8/ 35. Rxg8, Kxg8/ 36. Rd8, Qxd8/ 37. Qxd8 -Kotov-)

W.: Botvinnik (0)

B.: Kotov (1)

USSR Chess Championship 1944

1. d4, Nf6/ 2, c4, e6/ 3, Nc3, Bb4/ 4. a3, Bxc3/ 5. bc, d5/ 6. cd, ed/ 7. Bg5, c5/ 8. f3, h6/ 9. Bxf6, Qxf6/ 10. e3, 0-0 / 11. Ne2, Re8/ 12. Kf2, Qe7/ 13. Qd2, Nd7/ 14. Nf4, Nf6/ 15. Bd3, Bd7/ 16. h3, Qd6/ 17. Rhb1, b6/ 18. Bf1, Re7/ 19. a4, Rae8/ 20. Re1, c4!/ 21. g4, g5!/ 22. Ne2, Rxe3!/ 23. Ng3, Qxg3!/ 24. Kxg3, Ne4/ White resigned.

Today’s position to solve: Mate in 3 moves.

Mate in 3


Written by QChess

October 25, 2013 at 2:17 pm

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

Chess Strategy.Part 1

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(First of all I would like to thank those readers who send in comments. This encourages me to keep on writing. Believe it or not, each post requieres a lot of work… Thank you very much indeed.) Questchess

This post will deal with the matter of Chess strategy. Contrary to what happens with tactics, Chess strategy presents many problems. As ever, different authors have different opinions. Moreover there are problems when one considers the overlapping concepts of  “Chess strategy”  and  “positional Chess”. Chess strategy has to do with  planning and, in fact,  everything that happens on the chessboard. Strategy is related to what is known as positional chess. It cannot be isolated from tactics. Strategy has to do with the plans offered by the actual position that help the player to decide a course of action that has to be confirmed by means of the calculation of variations. In the past, strategy was seen as mainly static. Today, with the new ideas, assessments, etc, it adopts a much more dynamic aspect. It could be stated that while tactics is a very concrete part of Chess, strategy is somewhat the more abstract component of Chess.
A Chess game contains many decisions based upon strategical nuances: even the first move contains a strategical idea : 1.e4 is different from 1. Nf3 or 1. g3 or 1.b4.  As Black, after 1. d4 1…, Nf6 aims at preventing 2…e4 but 1 …b5/ tries to counter 2. c4. But you already know all this.

I will try to avoid too many restricted definitions and hope the reader may have an intuitive idea of the matter.

W.: R. Hübner (1)

B.: B. Spassky (0)

Tilburg 1979

1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 e6 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. 0-0  0-0  6. d4 c6  7. Nc3 Nbd7 8. b3 b6 9. Ne5 Ne5: 10. de5: Nd7 11. Bb2 Ba6 12. cd5:  cd5: 13. Rc1 Rc8 14. Qd4 b5 15. Qa7: Ra8 16. Qe3 Qb8 17. Rfd1 Ra7  18. Nb1 b4 19. Bd4 Ra8 20. Rc2 Bb5 21. f4 Ra6 22. Qc1 Qa8 23. Qb2 Nb8 24. Bf2 Nc6 25. Bf1 Qb7 26. Nd2 Rfa8 27. Nf3 g6 28. Ne1 Bd8 29. Nd3 Bd3: 30. ed3: Bb6 31. d4 Ra5 32. Qc1 Ne7 33. Qd2 Bd1 34. Rdc1 Qa7 35. Ra1 Qb7 36. Kg2 R8a7 37. Be1 Nc6 38. Rac1 Ne7 39. Qb4: Ra2: 40. Qb7: Rc2: 41. Rc2: Rb7: 42. b4 Bb6 43. Bf2 Ra7 44. g4 Kg7 45. Bb5 f5 46. ef6: Kf6: 47. Be8! Kg7 48. Re2 Bc7 49. Re6: Bf4 50. b5 Ng8 51. Ra6 Re7 52. Bc6 Nf6 53. b6 Ne4 54. Be1! Bb8 55. Ra8 , Black resigns.

Everything Starts with the Opening

Basically everybody says the opening is the development of forces (pieces). Yes. The development of forces with a straightforward strategical idea: the control of the centre. I say the control, not the occupation because this is on of the main fields of debate between the defenders of the classical approach (occupation) and the hypermodern chessplayers (control + pressure, delaying the occupation).

In a sense, the opening establishes the first strategical railway of the game, which may change later or continue unchanged. This means that the election of opening in general + a certain opening variation + a certain opening subvariation  etc. is of paramount importance to establish the character of the game. This is why one cannot play say, the English, expecting a hard positional struggle because the real character of the postion will be determined by the variations/subvariations selected. The less attention you pay to this detail, the more surprises you will be in for in your games.

I. Lipnitsky wrote that the value of a plan in the opening dependent on how the  problems of the centre and the initiative were resolved.

Centre and initiative: this is how GMs start to study his/her openings. Determine the possible types of centres that may arise and assess who has the initiative orwho will be better positioned to start creating threats (Chess, at the end of the day, is a game of threats.). We will see how many types of centres can be established.

(Please remember this blog is not for instruction. You will have to do your own research. This is why I will include some bibliography later in this post. Thanks.)

For instance: if some player plays the Ruy Lopez (Spanish) in search of open positions, swift attacks, an so on I would recommend you to study the following game:

W.: Karpov (1)

B.: Andersson (0)

Stockholm 1969

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7. Bb3 0-0 8. c3 d6 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2c5 11. d4 Qc7 12. Nbd2 Bb7 13. d5  (Karpov’s trademark: a typical Pawn configuration has appeared. At you can find it too in many other openings. So you should know how to deal with it.) … Bc8 14. Nf1 Bd7 15. b3 Nb7 16. c4 Rfb8 17. Ne3 Bf8 18. Nf5 Nd8 19. Nh2 Ne8 20. h4 f6 21. h5 Nf7 22. Re3 Ng5 23. Nh4 Qd8 24. Rg3 Nc7 25. N2f3 h6 26. Ng6 a5 27. a4 bc 28. bc Na6 29. Qe2 Ra7 30. Bd2 Rab7 31. Bc3 Nb4 32. Bd1 Na6 33. Nd2 Nb4 34. Re3 Be8 35. Nf1 Qc8 36. Ng3 Bd7 37. Qd2 Nh7 38. Be2 Kf7 39. Qd1 Be7 40. Nf1 Bd8  41. Nh2 Kg8 42 Bg4 Ng5 43 Bd7: Qd7: 44. Nf1 (So far you could replay the game trying to understand every move: why it was done, what the idea of the move  was, etc.)  44. … , f5 45. ef: Qf5: 46. Ng3 Qf7 47. Qe2 Bf6 48. Rf1 Qd7 49. f4 ef: 50. Rf4: Bc3: 51. Rc3: Re8 52. Re3 Rbb8 53. Qf2 Nh7 54 Nf5 Re3: 55. Qe3: Nf6 56. Nge7 Kh8 57. Nh6: Re8 58. Nf7 Kh7 59. Re4 Re7: 60. Rc7: Black resigned.

(A common mistake is to think that in positional/strategical Chess you do not have to calcuate variations. Quite the contrary: to carry out positional / strategical manoeuvres a lot of variations have to be calculated to prevent the opponent from getting counterplay, to check if one’s ideas contain tactical flairs, to prevent blockade nets to be blown out by the opponent, to see if after carrying out our manoeuvres we reach a passive position or not, and so on. Don’t get misled by appearances : when I was a boy I fell in such mistake when playing OTB Chess, thinking that my superior strategical knowledge could give me points galore and paid it dearly…)

TYPES OF CENTRES (And General Plans)

1.- Pawn Centre : When one side has two or more Pawns in the centre and the opponent does not have any.

(It must be protected forcing the opponent to adopt a defensive position since the threat is to advance the Pawns. The opponent will have to put it under piece attack. A case in point here is that of Nimzowitsch’s “small centre”. As Black you find this type in many Sicilians, for instance, where Black plays e6-d6-a6 and manoeuvres using his/her three back ranks.)

2.- Fixed Centre: With Pawns confronted , fo instance White has a Pawn on d4, Black on d5 and there are no adjacent Pawns. Some people call it “the Botvinnik Centre)

Both sides will try to establish their pieces on squares defended by their Pawns.

3.- Open Pawnless Centre (Fischer liked this type of Centre and played for it in many of his games)

Here piece play is a must .Flank attacks are ruled out.

4.- Closed Centre : Pawn masses blockading files and cutting off diagonals.

The plans involve manoeuvring, flank attacks, attack the centre with f4/f5 or d4/g5 or b4/b5 etc. The case in point is the King’s Indian Defence.

5.- The centre under tension: mobile Pawns in contact. The tension may be resolved at any moment and a new type of centre may appear.

Here the course of action involves some “fencing” strategy manoeuvring for a suitable opportunity to turn the centre into another type.


Kotov’s “Play Like a Grandmaster”;   Pachman’s ” Modern Strategy in Chess”;   Gelfer’s “Positional Chess Handbook”;   Soltis’ “Pawn Structure Chess” ;  Dvoretsky & Yusupov’s “Positional Play”;  Lipnitsky “Cuestiones Sobre Teoría Moderna en Ajedrez”;  Eingorn’s “Decision-Making at the Chessboard”;  Nimzowitsch’s “My System”, “Blockade” and “Chess Praxis”;   Karpov & Matzukievich’s “Stellungsbeurtteilung und Plan”;  Marovic’s   “Dynamic Pawn Play in Chess”;  Suetin’s  “Plan Like a GM” and “Handbook for Advanced Players”;  Abrahams’: “The Chess Mind” ; Watson’s  “Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy” .

Any book dealing with the topic of planning in Chess

Any book on strategy deals with this matter and offer courses of action.

The conclusion is that you should decide what openings you are going to play, study the types of centres/positions they may give birth to and study the plans in accordance to them.

Another piece of advice -especially for CC- is that we should try to avoid playing databases moves automatically without checking possible end-positions: what may be good for Fritz & Friends (other programs) may be bad for your style… (I must confess sometimes I forget this piece of advice myself in my CC games… Shame on me.)

We could be writin about all this for weeks, ut as I have included the above-mentioned bibliography, I think you are ready to study on your own. So in the second part of the post I will write about how to evaluate a position and include several other games.

But to end this one, have a look at the following game  which shows why one should study Nimzowitsch and his booklet “Blockade”:

W.: Burger (0)

B.: Lobron (1)

New York 1983

(Please first play the moves without reading the notes. Then replay the game and read the notes)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 c5 (You have to know how to handle the type of centre about to appear, be able to stop White advantage of space in the centre preventing the e4-e5 advance,defend d6 and ,in some cases, exploit a Q-side majority. Here we see a different treatment because Black will solve all these matters restoring to impose a  blockade on the whole board . In closed /blockaded positions you have to play with the threat of opening up the position after having manoeuvred to post the pieces in attacking positions behind the Pawn barrier)

4.d5 ed5 5. cd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 (in Hypermodern openings the centre is ceded to attack it from the flanks, you know)  7. Bf4 a6 8. a4 (prevents …b5) ,Bg7 9. e4 0-0 10. Be2 Bg4 11. 0-0 Bf3: (another very important matter: the exchange BxN must always be accurately assessed . In the ensuing closed position, Black eliminates White’s Knight because Bishops are worse than Knights) 12. Bf3: Qe7 13. Re1 (Both sides fight for and on the centre, though White should have considered 13. e5) …, Nbd7 14. Qc2?!  Ne8 15. Qd2  Nc7 16. Bg5 f6 17. Bh6 Bh6: 18. Qh6: b4 (Black decides to close the Q-side) 19.b3 c4 20. Nd1 f5 (20…. Nd5: /21. e5! This shows how tactics permeates everything and MUST always be taken with the utmost care) 21. Qd2 Ne5 22. Nb2 f4(Playing for blockade to manoeuvre behind the lines to create threats once the Blockade is broken. White ‘s Bishop is deprieved of room to move.) 23. Nd3 h5 24. Be2 Nd3: (The game is taking shape : apart from other pieces, the fight will be one of bad Bishop vs. good Knight) 25. Qd3:  Qe5  26. Qh3 Rf7  27. Rad1 Kg7  28. Bc4 a5  29. Qd3 g5  30. f3 (White can’t help but waiting. But in these positions the player with the initiative must avoid closing all the lines. On the contrary: the idea is to create the threat of opening up the position to impose one’s trumps) 30…, Kf6 (This is it: threatening … rg8 and g4) 31. Kf2 Rg8 32.Qb1 g4  33. Qa1 Rfg7 34. Bf1 Qa1: (Exchanging pieces or Queens does not have to imply diminishing or losing momentum  when the real action depends on other positional factors) 35. Ra1: Ke5  36. Rad1 Ne8  37. Ke2 Nf6  38.Kd3 c4!   39. bc4  Nd7 40. Kc2 Nc5 /  White resigned.

Paraphrasing Abrahams, apart from losing through making mistakes sometimes -among good chessplayers- defeat comes through trying to do too much or doing too little in the successive positions one finds on the board… Chess is a very difficult game.This is why I love it.

To be continued…


Written by QChess

April 5, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Posted in CHESS

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