Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Double Swindle

Black to play.  Is there anything worth trying?
White to play.  Should he accept a draw?

I have annotated the game Mangion - Goeller, Kenilworth Chess Club Championship 2011, from the third round this past Thursday.  It's not a pretty game and I clearly should have lost.  But I was saved by an amazing double swindle.  In the first diagram above, I played the tricky 19...Be7!? to which Ian immediately responded (as I had hoped) 20.Qxe5! when quickly followed 20...Bg5+ 21.Bxg5 Rxe5.  But that was only half the swindle.  The more important part was that as I took his Queen off the board, I offered a draw, suggesting that it was a magnanimous gesture toward a worthy opponent who otherwise was killing me.  Ian immediately accepted, too stunned by the surprising turn of events to notice that a draw was not his best option....

Friday, January 28, 2011

Nakamura Leading at Wijk aan Zee

I have been following with great interest the games in the Tata Steel (formerly Corus) tournament at Wijk aan Zee (see A-group games at, where US Champion Hikaru Nakamura is battling for first against World Champion Vishy Anand, with Super-GMs Lev Aronian, Magnus Carlsen, and Vladimir Kramnik nipping at their heels.  There have been a number of good ChessVibes videos for fans, including Carlsen's discussion of his game with Nakamura (Naka's only loss), Kramnik's discussion of his game with L'Ami (the more I see of Kramnik on video, the more I appreciate him and his style of play), and Anand's discussion of his masterful exchange sac against Wang Hao.  Going into the last rounds, Nakamura has taken the lead and is "Close to a Career Best Triumph" in the strongest tournament of the year.  A very exciting event, especially for fans of the U.S. Champion, who have a great weekend of chess to look forward to (which almost makes up for being snowbound here on the East coast).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Adventures in the La Bourdonnais - McDonnell Attack vs the French

White to play.  Can you find a winning plan?
I have annotated two of my Adventures with the La Bourdonnais - McDonnell Attack vs. the French (1.e4 e6 2.f4), including a disappointing draw with John Moldovan from Round 2 of the Kenilworth Chess Club Championship.  John has annotated the game as well, and it is interesting to compare notes.  Though I wasn't happy with my play or with the outcome, the game did strengthen my belief in my nineteenth century opening repertoire.  I just have to learn how to play on two sides at once and exercise a little more lateral thinking to do so.  For more analysis of this line, see my article on McDonnell's Anti-French.

Round Two in the Kenilworth CC Championship

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2011 KCC Championship, Round One

McAuliffe - Goeller, Kenilworth CC Ch. 2011
Black to play.

I have annotated the game McAuliffe - Goeller, Kenilworth 2011, from the first round of the 21st Annual Kenilworth Chess Club Championship.  I have had two previous games against Dr. Geoffrey McAuliffe, both of which were quite interesting: in the 2005 club championship and the 2008 summer tourney.  The present game went well for me and should help build my confidence going forward.  I got to play my favorite Black Fianchetto System in the Open Games (see Part One and Part Two), which has turned out to be a very solid system and a great fit with the King's Indian against d4.    John Moldovan has posted all of the games from Round One along with a crosstable.  John and I are scheduled to play next week in the "battle of the bloggers."

The first round of play in the Kenilworth CC Championship.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kenilworth Chess Club Championship Starts

The 21st Annual Kenilworth Chess Club Championship tournament starts tonight -- see the Calendar or The Chess Coroner for details. Games from the 20052006, and 2007 championships are collected online, and I'm sure more recent ones are online too.  In his history of the club, Mike Wojcio tells how important the championship has been as an institution that has helped to keep the club going for over two decades.  Mike is a bit of an institution himself, but (unless he suddenly comes back from Hawaii) this will be the first club championship without him.  I'm sure he is enjoying himself. I will be playing in the championship myself, especially since the five round and unrated format make it a great opportunity to shake off some rust in preparation for the US Amateur Teams.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Alrick H. Man Vienna Gambit Theme Tournament

I have annotated the game Carlos Torre - C. E. Norwood, New York 1925 as the first installment in a new series on the Vienna Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4) which will feature all of the known games from the Alrick H. Man Vienna Gambit Theme Tournament.  The tournament ran from December 1924 through March 1925 and was played at the Marshall Chess Club in New York City.  Participating were Frank James Marshall, Carlos Torre, Erling Tholfsen, Horace Ransom Bigelow, Rudolph Smirka, C. E. Norwood, and G. Gustafsson.  Torre's games were the most inspired, and his win over Norwood has some great tactical moments (see diagrams below).

I learned about the 1920s series of sponsored theme tournaments held at the Marshall Chess Club back when I collected the games of the Dimock Theme Tournament of 1924, which featured the Urusov Gambit.  Other tournaments I know about required a line of the Greco Counter-Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Bc4), the Lasker Variation of the Evans Gambit, and the Sicilian Wing Gambit, though there may have been others besides those held from 1921 - 1927.  I have collected the games from the Greco Counter-Gambit tournament (from October 1921) as part of my Bishop's Opening coverage, and there were some interesting games, especially Forsberg - Jaffe which adds to the theory of the Rousseau Gambit.  I decided to write up the Vienna Gambit event because I have suddenly become interested in the line myself, as it seems such a natural repertoire fit with the Grand Prix Attack, Labourdonnais - McDonnell Attack, and Saemisch Variation vs the Alekhine.   I may eventually work my way through all of the events, as I find it such a pleasure to work on projects that combine historical research, chess opening analysis, and web publishing.  I hope readers enjoy them as well, and perhaps they will inspire interest in holding sponsored theme tournaments, which is a wonderful tradition well worth reviving.

Torre - Norwood, New York 1925
White to play after 19...Bxd3
Torre - Norwood, New York 1925
White to play after 25...Kh8

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Panov Botvinnik (B14) Webliography

I have been trying to figure out how best to meet the Caro Kann.  I have tried a lot of different things, including the Caveman Advance, Apocalypse Exchange, Fantasy, Two Knights (also here), and Short's 2.Nge2, but I am still not satisfied.  Maybe it is time to return to the Panov Botvinnik Attack (B14) with 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4, which (along with the traditional Exchange) was among the first lines I learned and played as a kid.  There are lots of web resources to support exploration, and I have included a number of book sources as well.  If you want a quick-start, you cannot go wrong tracking down Aagaard's book (out of print) and joining ICC to watch the series of excellent videos by Ronen Har-Zvi (previewed above).  There is a video by David Vigorito from which gives a great overview of the whole Panov Botvinnik, including the fianchetto line (I won't embed that one due to the obvious copyright infringement).  I also think just playing over loads of games at a site like Chessgames helps a lot.  I have included some resources related to the isolated queen pawn, and should add Katar's excellent video "Intro to IQP Openings for White."  I am sure there are additional resources out there I have overlooked, so I welcome additions from readers.

Web Sources

Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B14) at
A useful collection for reviewing some games.  I find this is always the best place to start when learning a new opening.  You can also find some good focused games collections here:

Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack from 365Chess
Another good games collection to click through online.  Unlike, however, here you cannot download game files without membership.

The Panov Attack, Fianchetto Variation by Eric Schiller
From the web archives, presents a well-organized analysis of lines with Black g6, which I think is Black's best approach.

The Openings Explained #4 by Abby Marshall at ChessCafe
Covers the endgame line that follows Nc6 and Bg4 by Black.  A good substitute for that section of Aagaard's book.

An Unusual Weapon Against the Caro-Kann Part One by Andrew Martin

An Unusual Weapon Against the Caro-Kann Part Two by Andrew Martin

An Unusual Weapon Against the Caro-Kann Part Three by Andrew Martin
Martin advocates an early c5 advance for White, gaining space and control of dark squares.  I have played this line myself and like it a lot -- it is somewhat more positional than the more dynamic Panov lines which can get a little crazy.

Meeting the Panov-Botvinnik Attack wth the Albin Counter Gambit by Dennis Monokroussos

Winning Moves in the Panov-Botvinnik Attack by WT Harvey

Steiner's Variation vs The Caro Kann by Stefan Bucker at ChessCafe
The line with 1.e4 c6 2.c4 can often transpose to the Panov, but it also has some interesting byways worth exploring.

Selected Books, CDs, and DVDs

Jacob Aagaard, Easy Guide to the Panov-Botvinnik Attack (Cadogan Chess 1998)
This is a great book for amateur players, with lots of advice and explanations, including very useful diagrams so you "get the picture" right away and useful discussion of middlegame strategy.  The game examples are logical and very memorable.  I am especially impressed by his coverage of "the Classical Endgame" that arises after 1. e4 c6 2. c4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Qb3 Bxf3 9. gxf3 e6 10. Qxb7 Nxd4 11. Bb5+ Nxb5 12. Qc6+ Ke7 13. Qxb5 Qd7 14. Nxd5+ Qxd5 etc. which makes this line more attractive for people who are often intimidated by positions where the queens are off. He also has a section quite explicitly labeled "Avoiding the Endgame" which is equally good.

Sam Collins, An Attacking Repertoire for White (Batsford 2005)
An excellent repertoire book based on isolani themes that includes Sveshnikov's favorites, including the c3-Sicilian, Advance French, and Panov Botvinnik.

Sam Collins.  1. e4 Repertoire: Grandmaster Lines Explained for Club Players (ChessBase 2009)  A slightly different repertoire from the earlier book, but mostly representing an improvement since it exchanges the Giuoco Piano for the Scotch.
Jovanka Houska, Play the Caro-Kann (Everyman 2007)
I think this is a good repertoire book and it is rightly popular among amateurs.  For that reason alone, it is worth knowing her suggestions for Black, which are 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 going into main lines: if 6.Nf3 Bg4 and if 6.Bg5 e6 and 7...Be7

Anatoly Karpov and Mikhail Podgaets, Karpov's Caro-Kann Defence: Panov's Attack (Batsford 2006)
Along with Aagard's book, this is one of the few good things ever written on the Panov Botvinnik and it bears the name of a former World Champion known to play the defense.  So it would seem like a must-have book, though it is definitely very Black biased.  See review by Jeremy Silman, who is quite enthusiastic, and Bill McGeary who is less so.  

Zoran Petronijevic, Caro-Kann Panov Attack ChessBase CD 2004
See Preview from Steve Lopez describing it, very positive review from Carsten Hansen
Useful Isolani Resources
Alexander Baburin, Winning Pawn Structures (Batsford 2003)
This contemporary classic book should be in the collection of every chessplayer whose repertoire might ever generate an isolani situation.  Despite the title, it is really a textbook on the isolani and related structures and the last book you will need on that score.  What makes this book especially useful is that the majority of its examples could arise from either a 1.e4 or 1.d4 move order, so it is quite relevant to any isolani repertoire, especially to positions that can arise from the Caro Kann or the French.  This book is currently out of print, but you likely can find free copies online -- or borrow it from a friend and copy the useful bits.  Batsford really ought to bring out a second edition.

Ivan Sokolov, Winning Chess Middlegames: An Essential Guide to Pawn Structures (New in Chess 2008)

Sokolov is brilliant and this is a very good book, with over 100 pages devoted to isolani positions.  However, the game examples are exclusively Queen's Gambits, so I did not find the positions always as relevant to an e-pawn repertoire.

Isolani Lecture by Steve Stoyko
A great introduction to isolated pawn themes.

Pieces in Motion: The Isolated Queen Pawn by Manny Paddy Fealy

Intro to IQP Openings for White by Katar

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Yaacov in Vegas

Norowitz - Smirin
White to play and draw.
I have annotated three games played by SM Yaacov Norowitz at the North American Open in Las Vegas. In one game, against the world-ranked Ilya Smirin, he pulled out a draw from an apparently lost position (see diagram above).  Yaacov may well be the highest rated player since Claude Bloodgood without an international title, and before long he might just get an invite to the US Championship based on his rating alone.
For more on the North American Open, see Kacheishvili and Stocek Top Vegas and Friedel in Clear Lead at North American Open from the USCF site.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Caveman Sighted at Hastings

Position after 8.e6!!
There was a Caveman sighting at Hastings!  FM Steve Giddins annotates the game Kaufeld - Gibbs (java replay here and also at TWIC), from the third round of play at the Hastings Masters, where White demonstrated my favorite way of playing the Advance Variation of the Caro-Kann (discussed here about four years ago in several articles: The Caveman Caro-Kann, Caveman Blitz and Caveman Redux).  As Giddins quotes Jack Rudd after 8.e6!! (see diagram above): "I don't know what's going on in this position, but I like it!"  Check it out and then try it yourself, if only for kicks.  Hat tip Michaelangelooo.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Notes on the Chekhover Sicilian (B53)

I have annotated the game Goeller - Camenares, Correspondence 2011, where I had the chance to learn more about the Chekhover Sicilian (B53) played via the relatively unusual move order 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.d4!? exd4 4.Qxd4 (see diagram above).  Though I ended up  transposing to the main Chekhover lines popularized by Evgeni Vasiukov, I was inspired by the way Gadimir Guseinov plays the line with an early f4 (made possible by avoiding Nf3 right away), as described in my notes.  This line is sometimes called "the Hungarian Variation," but much more often named after Vitaly Chekhover (1908-1965), who seems to have originated it in the game Chekhover - Lisitsin, Leningrad 1938 (though I could find no other examples of his playing it).  He is best remembered today as an endgame composer and writer and was a professional musician and pianist.  

The opening variation (which usually arises by 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4) is fairly popular among amateurs, since it allows free and rapid development of the pieces in the style of Paul Morphy and even resembles Morphy's approach to the Philidor as White with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Qxd4.  Though it is possible to play the line with an early c4 advance, seeking control over the center in Maroczy-bind fashion, it is much more common among amateurs simply to develop the pieces to natural squares by Nf3, Nc3, Qd4, Bb5, Bg5, O-O-O, and Rhe1 with complete mobilization and free play in the center.  White will later retreat his Queen to d3 or d2 and centralize the Knight with Nd4 as a prelude to a kingside attack with f3 or f4, g4, and h4 etc.  I have always been impressed by how naturally rapid development leads to an attack in this line, especially in Vasiukov's games (which are featured in my notes).  However, it is generally not difficult for Black to find counterplay if he knows what he is doing and is willing to take some risks.  After close analysis, I think the line is basically equal, with chances for both sides, but that does not make it less interesting to play!

For those who want to learn more about the Chekhover (sometimes spelled Checkhover online), I have put together a brief webliography of sources.  There is an excellent video by GM Ronen Har-Zvi put out by ICC (see preview). You can find a large number of videos on YouTube that set forth a repertoire based on this line, though I have only embedded those where White plays Nc3 rather than the Maroczy idea of c4 (you can find the rest of his videos easily enough if that interests you).  Pete Tamburro had some lectures a while back at ChessFM/ICC on the Chekhover in his "Openings for Amateurs" series, though I cannot locate them now (and they would only be available for subscribers anyway).  Those interested in having a book might consider A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire by Chris Baker, though I express some reservations about his recommendations in my notes.  

Sicilian (B53) and Sicilian B53 Best Games at Chessgames
A useful collection of Chekhover Sicilian games and a great compilation of "best games" to help you get a quick sense of ideas and themes in this line.  You might also search games of Vasiukov playing Sicilian B53 for more inspiration.

ECO B53: Sicilian, Chekhover Variation from 365Chess
Another useful games collection for getting a quick overview, though this one does not allow you to download files without subscription.

Vasiukov - Van Wely, Aeroflot 2002 annotated by Boris Schipkov
This is one of the nicest games for White in this line, very well annotated at the Chess Siberia site.

Strictly for Amateurs by Bobby Ang
A nice introduction to the line and apparently Ang's first published chess writing. But he later wrote an even better one on the Chekhover in his "Chess Pieces" series that I cannot locate.  From the Internet Archives.

Opening Lanes #15 by Gary Lane
Discusses issues with the early e5 advance by White (which is advocated by Chris Baker).

Sicilian Checkhover Variation: A Diamond in the Rough at
Warning: this page kept crashing my browser (which likely needs updating).  Focuses on the games of Judit Polgar with the line.

La Variante Chekhover by Francisco Acosta Ruiz
From the defunct Hechiceros site, via the internet archives.  This article offers an interesting approach for Black to the Maroczy bind with c4 by playing an early f5.  I include this only because it would likely be hard to find -- and to give you one more reason to reject c4 ideas.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Holiday Party and Business Meeting

Don Carrelli Steps Down as KCC President
For any who missed this year's Holiday Party and Business Meeting, the most important news was that Don Carrelli stepped down as club president after an excellent year of service; and  John Moldovan was elected president and Dr. Ian Mangion was elected vice president by general acclamation.  See Business Meeting Minutes for complete details.  The club championship will be unrated this year -- see Kenilworth Championship Starts January 13th for complete details.  I will be playing in the club championship myself and on a team with Carrelli and Mangion at the US Amateur Teams.