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Horwitz and Kling.

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When I go on holidays I like visiting bookshops and having a look at the Chessbook section. Yes, today you can get anything anywhere, and more through the web, but … This September I found a book the second edition of which appeared in 1889 published in London by G. Bell and Sons. The title is CHESS STUDIES AND END-GAMES and contains the studies and endgames composed by Josef Kling (1811-1876) and Bernhard Horwitz (1808-1885) . The original first edition was published by the authors in 1851 and the 1889 edition was a revised and corrected one by Revd. William Wayte. The book has two parts, one of them devoted to “Chess Studies” and the other being a “Miscellany of Endgames”.

Many people think these type of books are useless: a lot of diagrams featuring composed positions to solve and nothing more. A quick glance at one or two of the positions , a possible (and most likely wrong) solution by seeing the apparent (and probably wrong) first move  and a boring sneer. (It’s much better a book full of opening variations outdated since the very moment it goes to press, isn’t it???). Wrong approach.

I must confess there was a time I had that stupid attitude… Later, I realised how valuable solving studies,problems and endgame compositions  to train one’s tactical skills is … I think it was Botvinnik who pointed out that there was no strategy in studies. As in most of the topics he wrote about he was right. You cannot solve a study or a problem by using strategical ideas or looking for deep strategical plans. These things have to do with pure calculation. Alexander Kotov , the man whose books taught how Chess is played to several generations of players, said that any work on this field was beneficial and useful to the player. 

I have opened the book at random and found the following position:

endgame pos

Would you like to spend some time trying to solve it? White to move wins. This does not have  a long solution. Apart from problems featuring mate in three, four moves I think it is not necessary (unless you were a genuine Chess study fan) to torture yourself trying to solve positions with solutions which may have nine, ten and even more moves (curiously enough, I have seen columnists which offer their readers combinative positions from actual games and the solution has seventeen, twenty and in some case over 25 moves (!!). These are, clearly,  cases of sheer incompetence: you cannot pretend people to guess 20 moves in GMs’ games offering the position as a case of “combination”… )

But this book provoked a curious feeling on me: These two authors lived in the 19th century. Obviously they had their own lives, fears, pains, happiness, hobbies ,etc. though they  devoted their lives to Chess. Over a century has passed and we know of them because of their work in Chess… What do we really know about those who preceded us in say, the last years of the 19th century and the first two or three decades of the 20th century?. All of them are now dead (I am speaking of those who lived in those years not of those who were born then). We read about their Chess lives, study their games and perhaps try to know what the places where they played were like in those years… But the man himself?. Of course the private lives of some of them are relatively well-known . Other ones’ are not so .

Solution to the study:

1. e5, Kd5 /2. Kf2, Ke4 /3. Kg3, Kf5/ 4. Kf3, Kg6/ 5. Bxe7 winning.


Written by QChess

September 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm

…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

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

Training Chess Tactics

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(Note: This will be the first post with practical exercises to resolve.)

( On the other hand , I am thinking about  carrying  out changes  in the aspect of the blog. Perhaps in the next few days you will see a change I hope for the better.-Thank you.-Questchess.)


During my first few years I was too concerned trying to learn strategy. I saw tactics as something chaotic (if compared with strategy and in my then wrong opinion). When I began to play in youth Chess events and began to lose games which I thought I had “strategically” won, I realized something had to be done…

Chess tactics has two components:

a) Calculation of Variations.

b) Combinations.

In those days, I began to work on   a)   using Kotov’s book   “Think Like a Grandmaster”.  I read and re-read it following its pieces of advice and working according to what Kotov said. Other books followed suit. This is why I am going to include some bibliography and then I will write about  b): Combinations.


Kotov:  “Think Like a Grandmaster” and “Play like a Grandmaster”

Pachman:  “Modern Chess Tactics”

Averbakh:  “Chess Tactics for Advanced Players”

Znosko-Borovsky:  “The Art of Chess Combinations”

Beim:  “How to Calculate Chess Tactics”

Aagaard:  “Excelling at Chess Calculations”

Soltis:  “The Inner Game of Chess”

Hays : “Combination Challenge”

Koblentz: “El Dominio del Arte de la Combinación”

Romanovsky: “Combinaciones en el Medio Juego”

Richter:  “Chess Combinations as a Fine Art”

There are many more (among them Dvoretsky’s  “Chess Tactics” , but if you are a beginner it is better to start by the preceeding ones.)

As Abrahams said, “tactics is the hard core of Chess”. I would say that with the present state of Chess, the existence of Chess programs, etc, tactics is the most important field of Chess to be studied so as to improve. Of course strategy does exist and everybody must acquire a deep knowledge of strategy, but today’s Chess has become tactical in an unprecedented way. In the same way that I said that strategy permeates the whole game, tactics permeates strategy, the openings, the middlegame and the endgame. So one must learn how to calculate variations and how to play combinations, learning the basic mate patterns first and then shifting to more complicated motiffs. You will find everything in the above-mentioned books.

b) Combinations

I used the following method:

1.- I solved hundreds of chess problems from actual games.

2.- I devoted many hours for many years -and still keep doing it- to solve 3-mover endgame problems. These are the best to me. They are problems in which  White mates in 3 and only in 3 moves, contain very few pieces and are full of tactical content.

In this post I will  include  some positions for you to solve. (I give the positions -not the diagrams- because to train it is necessary to use a chessboard and the pieces, avoiding quick glances at a diagram and then rush to see the solution.)

At top level, combinations only appear when one of the sides makes a serious mistake (because he overlooks something or because he is forced to commit a mistake due to the pressure exerted by the opponent. If not, they remain at the backstage of the game and are used as “threats”. Why?.-

Because one of the key points to understand top-level Chess is to appreciate how GMs are able to keep their positions:

a) Coordinated

b) Consolidated

c) Active 

Any “hole” in the above-mentioned three points may allow a tactical (combinational) blow.

Chess is so difficult and contain so many abstract elements (it is not only strategy  , tactics , openings , endgames ,  technique but also more elusive terms like intuition, vision,  judgement,  insight,  imagination, memory, divergent (lateral) thinking, preventive thinking to a degree, psychology…) that the whole is far bigger than the sum of its elements.


In the following three positions you have to find a mate in and only in 3 moves. (Remember that what mtters here is not the amount of material but to fulfil the condition of mating in 3 moves. Solving this type of problem is excellent to improve.


The first one is my favourite ever:

1.- Mate in 3  (#3) . Anon.

W.:  Ka1 – Rb2 – Bf2 – Ng2 – Qg8

B.:  Kh1 – Pa2 – Pf3 – Ph3 – Ph2

2.- Mate in 3 (#3) . H.F.L. Meyer (Schachmatny, 1894)

W.: Kb1 – Qa2 – Ba1 – Bb3 – Pd6

B.: Kf5 – Pd7

3.- Mate in 3 (#3) . J. Möller (Skakbladet, 1920)

W.:  Kh1 – Qg1 – Nc8 – Pa7

B.: Ka8 – Bh4 – Pc5 – Pd7 – Pe6

Set up the pieces on the board, take them in a pocket set if you are going to travel, have a look at them while at lunch… , but try to solve them!     (You will find the solutions in one of the next posts.)


P.S. In the next post I will continue with the chessplayers who have most influenced me…

Written by QChess

April 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm

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