Short World Champion Wins

By Matthew Grinberg, Founder of Alamogordo Chess Club

Here is a collection of short wins by World Champions: 

Lasker, Emanuel – Tarrasch,  Siegbert

Exhibition Match, Round 6

Berlin, Germany, 1916


Siegbert Tarrasch was one of Emanuel Lasker‘s chief rivals for the World Chess Championship.  When Steinitz was still World Champion and Tarrasch his chief rival, Lasker challenged Tarrasch to a match.  Tarrasch dismissed the challenge from the upstart Lasker.  This rebuff poisoned relations between Lasker and Tarrasch for many years.

After Lasker won the World Championship from Steinitz, Tarrasch was his logical challenger.  But Lasker rebuffed Tarrasch’s advances until 1908, when Tarrasch was past his prime.  In the match Lasker prevailed by 10.5 – 5.5.

In 1916, during WWI, an exhibition match was arranged between the two players.  This time Tarrasch was smashed 5.5 – 0.5.  The game below is the final game from the match.

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 The Open Defense to the Ruy Lopez. 6. d4 Be7!? In an open position, this is a rather a passive development for the bishop.

[The normal line is 6… b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. c3 Bc5 10. Nbd2 Black’s well placed bishop on c5 secures equality.]

  1. Re1 b5?! With his king still in the center, this is no time for Black to be inviting complications.

[7… f5 8. dxe5 O-O 9. Bb3 Kh8 10. Nc3 Nxc3 11. bxc3 White is better due to his freer position and Black’s insecure king, but Black has chances due to White’s bad pawn structure]

  1. Rxe4 d5 9. Nxe5!

[9. Re1?! e4 Black’s strong center gives him the better game.]

9… Nxe5 Forced.

[9… dxe4? 10. Nxc6 Qd6 11. Nxe7 bxa4 12. Nxc8 Rxc8 13. Nc3 White wins.  He is up a bishop and knight for a rook and will win a pawn]

  1. Rxe5 bxa4 11. Nc3 Be6?!

[11… c6 12. Nxa4 O-O Despite White’s extra pawn, the bishop pair gives Black chances]

  1. Qh5! The twin threats are Rxe6 and Nxd5.

12… g6 He weakens his position to avoid the loss of a pawn.

[Or he could just concede the pawn with 12… O-O 13. Nxd5 Bxd5 (13… Bd6?? 14. Bg5 Qd7 15. Nf6 gxf6 16. Bxf6 h6 17. Rg5 hxg5 18. Qh8#) 14. Rxd5 Bd6]

  1. Qf3 Bf6? The pawn on d5 is holding Black’s position together. Defending it is critical.

[13… c6 14. Nxa4 O-O Though down a pawn, Black still has a decent position]

  1. Rxd5! Bxd5 15. Nxd5 Bg7 16. Bg5 Qxg5 17. Nxc7 Kd8 18. Nxa8 Down two pawns and with his king exposed, Tarrasch resigns. [1:0]

Reti, Richard – Capablanca, Jose Raul

Tageblatt International Tournament

Berlin, 1928


This game was played one year after Capablanca lost the World Championship to Alexander Alekhine.  Reti, one of the Hypermoderns, was one of the leading grandmasters throughout the 1920’s.

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 The Modern Steinitz Defense.

[More typical is the Closed Ruy Lopez. 4… Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 White’s better center gives him a small edge]

  1. c3

[5. d4!? only gives White equality. 5… b5 6. Bb3 Nxd4 7. Nxd4 exd4 8. Bd5 (But don’t fall for the Noah’s Ark Trap! 8. Qxd4? c5 9. Qd5 Be6 10. Qc6 Bd7 11. Qd5 c4 White loses his bishop for two pawns) 8… Rb8 9. Qxd4=]

5… f5!? The Siesta Variation.  Prior to this game this line had only been played once at the top levels, in the Capablanca versus Marshall match in 1909.  The name actually comes from a tournament played later in 1928 in the Siesta Sanatorium in Budapest, Hungary.  A chess tournament in a sanatorium?  Well, I guess you play anywhere you can get space.  In that tournament, both Capablanca and Hans Kmoch played the Siesta Variation against Endre Steiner.  The point of the Siesta Variation is that Black exchanges a wing pawn for a center pawn and exploits the fact that White cannot play Nc3, the natural defense to the e-pawn.  But he weakens his kingside in the process.

[Safer is 5… Bd7 6. d4 g6 7. O-O Bg7 8. Re1 b5 9. Bb3 Nf6 White is better due to his strong center]

  1. d4!? This is seldom played now because Black easily equalizes.

[Simply taking gives White the better game because of the weakening of Black’s kingside 6. exf5 Bxf5 7. O-O Bd3 8. Re1 Be7 9. Bc2 Bxc2 10. Qxc2 Nf6 11. d4 e4 12. Ng5 d5 Black’s weakened kingside gives White a small edge]

6… fxe4 7. Ng5

[White can play for a perpetual check with 7. Nxe5 dxe5 8. Qh5 Ke7 9. Bxc6 bxc6 10. Qg5 Kd7 11. Qf5 Ke7 12. Qg5=]

7… exd4 8. Nxe4 Nf6 9. Bg5 Be7 10. Qxd4?! It is hard to believe Reti didn’t see Capablanca’s next move.  He must have simply miscalculated something in the following complications.

[White held a draw in the following game. 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. Qh5 g6 12. Qd5 Bd7 13. O-O Qe7 14. Nxf6 Qxf6 15. Re1 Ne7 16. Re6 O-O-O 17. Bxd7 Rxd7 18. Qxb7 Kxb7 19. Rxf6 Nd5 20. Re6 dxc3 21. Nxc3 Nxc3 22. bxc3 Rf8 23. Rb1 Kc6 24. Re4 Rf5 25. f4 Rb5 26. Rb3 Kc5 27. Ra4 a5 28. Kf2 d5 29. g4 Kb6 30. f5 c5 31. Rf4 Rxb3 32. axb3 gxf5 33. gxf5 Kc6 34. f6 Rf7 35. Kg3 Kd6 36. Kg4 Ke6 37. Kg5 Rd7 38. Ra4 d4 39. cxd4 Rd5 40. Kf4 cxd4 41. Ke4 Rb5 42. Kxd4 Kxf6 43. Kc4 Rf5 44. Kd3 Kg5 45. b4 axb4 46. Rxb4 Rf2 47. h4 Kh5 48. Ke3 1/2-1/2, Andreev V V (RUS) 2085 – Yandemirov Valeri (RUS) 2500, Ekaterinburg (Russia) 1997]

10… b5! Of course!  The knight on c6 is no longer pinned and White has two pieces hanging.  White has some tricks, but they fall short.  This is reminiscent of the Noah’s Ark Trap.  He can’t save both the bishop and the queen.  See the note to White’s fifth move. 11. Nxf6 gxf6 12. Qd5 bxa4! 13. Bh6

[After 13. Qxc6 Bd7 White drops the bishop]

13… Qd7 14. O-O? Presumably Reti went into this line with the idea of trapping Black’s king rook.

[There is no time like the present. 14. Bg7 Qe6 15. Qxe6 Bxe6 16. Bxh8 Kf7 17. O-O Rxh8 Black’s bishop pair in the open position is better than White’s rook and pawn, but White has a playable position]

14… Bb7 15. Bg7? But ironically this now leads to a lost position because of the kingside attack Capablanca conjures up.

[15. Qh5 Kd8 16. Nd2 White is down a piece but he has chances with Black’s king stuck in the center]

15… O-O-O 16. Bxh8 Ne5 17. Qd1

17… Bf3!! 18. gxf3? Suicide.  In view of the twin threats of Bxd1 and Qg4, there is no good move, so why drag it out? 18… Qh3

[19. Qd5 c6 White is forced to give up his queen to avoid a quick mate, but it comes quickly anyway. 20. Qe6 Qxe6 21. Nd2 Nxf3 22. Kg2 Qg4 23. Kh1 Rg8 24. Bg7 Qh3 25. Nxf3 Qxf3 26. Kg1 Rxg7#]


Botvinnik, Mikhail – Spielmann, Rudolf, 1:0

Moscow, USSR, 1935

Caro-Kann Defense, Exchange Variation

This is probably the best known game in this series.  It was in the Moscow 1935 tournament that the Western players first became familiar with the post revolution Soviet chess players.  That Mikhail Botvinnik and Salo Flor would tie for first ahead of such greats as former World Champions, Jose Raul Capablanca and Emanuel Lasker, was a huge shock.  Rudolf Spielmann was also one of the best Western players.  For him to have lost to Botvinnik in just 12 moves was a not just a shock, but an embarrassment too.  The game is an object lesson in the old gem, “Never take the b-pawn with your queen!”

  1. c4 c6 2. e4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. d4 By transposition this is the Exchange Variation of the Caro-Kann defense.

4… Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 Qb6!? A very aggressive move since it threatens both the d and b pawns, but he can’t really be considering taking the b-pawn with his queen, can he?

[Either of the following more conservative moves give White nothing more than his normal opening advantage. 6… e6 7. Nf3 Be7 8. c5 O-O 9. Bb5 Ne4;

6… dxc4 7. Bxc4 e6 8. Nf3 Be7 9. O-O O-O]

  1. cxd5 Qxb2? I guess so. Either Spielmann miscalculated this, or he was displaying a lack of respect for his opponent. The problem with this move is not simply that he risks his queen being trapped, but that he does it in a position where he already has a knight hanging.

[Better is 7… Nxd4 8. Nf3 Qxb2 (8… Nxf3 9. Qxf3 Bd7 10. Bc4 Rc8 11. Bb3 White’s more active pieces give him the better game) 9. Rc1 Nxf3 10. Qxf3 a6 11. Bd3 Black is undeveloped and unorganized, but he does have the extra pawn]

  1. Rc1! Securing his position before going for the counter attack.

[8. Na4? This may be what Spielmann expected. 8… Qb4 9. Bd2 Qxd4 10. dxc6 Ne4 11. Be3 Qb4 12. Ke2 Qb5 13. Qd3 (13. Ke1? Qa5 14. Ke2 bxc6 15. g3 Ba6 16. Kf3 Bxf1 17. Qxf1 Qxa4 White is two pawns down and his king is on the run; 13. Kf3?? loses his queen. 13… Qh5 14. Kxe4 Bf5 15. Kd4 O-O-O 16. Kc3 Rxd1 White wins) 13… Qxa4 White is a pawn down and his king is on the run]

8… Nb4 Taking away a key square from his own queen, but the knight has no good place to move.

[8… Nb8? 9. Na4 The twin threats to the queen and the bishop are deadly.;

8… Nd8 Best, but insufficient. 9. Bxf6 exf6 10. Bb5 Bd7 11. Rc2 Qb4 12. Qe2 Be7 13. Bxd7 Kxd7 14. Qg4 Ke8 15. Qxg7 Unlike Black’s capture at b2, this capture is strong because Black’s pieces are disorganized and his king is stuck in the center.  White won convincingly in the following game. 15… Rf8 16. Nge2 Rc8 17. O-O b6 18. Rfc1 a6 19. d6! Bxd6 20. Nd5 Rxc2 21. Nxb4 Rxc1 22. Nxc1 Bxb4 23. Qxf6 Kd7 24. Qxb6 a5 25. Nd3 Re8 26. Ne5 Ke7 27. f4 f6 28. Qc7 Kf8 29. Ng4 Ne6 30. Qxh7 Nxd4 31. Qh8 Ke7 32. Qxf6 Kd7 33. Qxd4 1-0, Muminova Nafisa (UZB) 2287 – Tokhirjanova H (UZB) 2006, Tashkent (Uzbekistan) 2009.06.19]

  1. Na4! Now this wins because Black’s own knight blocks his queen’s escape.

9… Qxa2 10. Bc4 Bg4 11. Nf3 Bxf3 12. gxf3 Black resigns because the only way he can avoid losing his queen is to give up his knight on b4.

[12… Qa3 13. Rc3 Nd3 14. Qxd3 Qb4 15. Bb5 White wins]


Uhlmann, Wolfgang – Smyslov, Vasily, 0:1

Moscow, USSR, 1956


Queen’s Indian Defense

  1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 d5 6. Bg2 Bb4 7. Nfd2!? A little odd.

[Why retreat the knight when you could instead develop the bishop? 7. Bd2 White has his normal opening advantage]

7… c5 8. dxc5!? Trading a center pawn for a wing pawn and putting Black’s bishop in a strong position.

[It makes more sense to push the bishop back first. 8. a3 Ba5 9. dxc5 bxc5 10. O-O=]

8… Bxc5 9. Bb2 O-O 10. O-O Nc6 11. Nc3 Rc8 12. cxd5 He avoids an isolated pawn on c4, but at the same time he opens the diagonal for White’s light square bishop.  With his bishops aimed at White’s king, Black clearly has the initiative.

12… exd5

  1. Na4?! White tries to relieve the pressure from the bishops by attacking them, but he never gets the chance to take. Instead, this move is a waste of time because the knight will be forced back to c3 to defend e2.

[The better plan is to block the bishops by gaining control of b5 and d4. 13. a4 Qe7 14. Nb5 Qe6 15. e3 Rfd8 16. Nf3 Black has a small edge]

13… Nd4 14. Nc3

[Not 14. Re1? Nc2 15. Rc1 (15. Qxc2?? Bxf2 winning White’s queen) 15… Nxe1 16. Qxe1 White is down an exchange with nothing to show for it]

14… Qe7 15. Re1? He thinks that because he has blocked the c-file with his knight, that he is now safe playing this move.  But the weakness of his kingside is far worse than he realizes.

[The best hope is to immediately give up the exchange, winning Black’s d-pawn in return. 15. e3! Bxf1 16. Nxf1 Ne6 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 18. Bxd5 With the bishop pair and a pawn for the exchange, White has chances to hold]

15… Nc2!! Stunning!  Even without the threat to win White’s queen, the knight is untouchable due to the vulnerability of White’s king.

  1. Rf1

[16. Qxc2? Bxf2! 17. Kh1 (17. Kxf2?? leads to mate. 17… Ng4 18. Kg1 (18. Kf1 Qe3 19. Qxh7 Kxh7 20. Be4 f5 21. Nd1 Bxe2 22. Rxe2 fxe4 23. Bf6 Rxf6 24. Nf3 Rxf3 25. Kg2 Qxe2 26. Nf2 Rxf2 27. Kg1 Rf1 28. Rxf1 Qxh2#; 18. Kf3 Qf6 19. Kxg4 Rc4 20. bxc4 Bc8 21. Qf5 Qxf5 22. Kh4 Qg4#) 18… Qe3 19. Kh1 Nf2 20. Kg1 Nh3 21. Kh1 Qg1 22. Rxg1 Nf2# The old smothered mate trick) 17… Bxe1 18. Rxe1 d4 19. Nf3 dxc3 20. Bc1 With an advantage of an exchange and a pawn, Black is winning]

16… Nxa1 17. Qxa1 Rfd8 18. Bf3 Ba3 White resigns, perhaps a little prematurely, but there is not much hope. [0:1]

Tal, Mikhail – Petrossian, Tigran, 0:1

Candidates Tournament, Curacao, 1962

French Defense

This game was played in the Candidates Tournament in 1962.  Petrossian would take first place and then go on to defeat Botvinnik for the World Championship the following year.  Tal, though the recently defeated World Champion, was not up to fighting form due to health problems.  Indeed he was forced to withdraw before the tournament finished.  This game, like the prior game in this series, where Tal won against Huebner, is decided by a simple blunder.  Perhaps this game pushed Tal into withdrawing from the tournament.

  1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 The French Defense – typical of Petrossian’s reserved style of play. 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Nbd7 6. Nxf6 Nxf6 7. Nf3 c5 8. Qd3 I can’t say this move is bad, but it is definitely unusual. The position before this move occurs in my database 195 times and this is the only game where White played 8. Qd3.

[White has a small edge after 8. Bb5 Bd7 9. Bxd7 Qxd7 10. Qe2 Be7 (or 10… cxd4 11. O-O-O Bc5 12. Qe5 Rc8 13. Nxd4) 11. O-O-O O-O 12. dxc5 Qa4 13. Kb1 Rac8]

8… Be7 9. Bxf6!? On the other hand, this move is hard to fathom.  Why give Black to advantage of the bishop pair in an open position?  I can only assume that Tal thought Petrossian would be forced to recapture with the g-pawn to avoid the loss of a pawn.

[Simply capturing on c5 gives White a slight edge due to Black’s cramped position. 9. dxc5 O-O 10. O-O-O Qa5 11. Qc4 Qxc5]

9… Bxf6!

[9… gxf6!? would have returned the favor, leaving White with the better game after 10. O-O-O]

  1. Qb5!? Continuing with his faulty plan.

[The simple path to equality is 10. dxc5 Qa5 11. c3 Qxc5 12. Qb5 Qxb5 13. Bxb5 Ke7 14. O-O-O a6 15. Bd3 Bd7=]

10… Bd7 11. Qxb7 Rb8 12. Qxa7 Rxb2 13. Bd3 cxd4 14. O-O Bc6!? The threat to take the knight, doubling White’s pawns, can wait.

[What he really needs to do is simply castle. 14… O-O With the bishop pair and superior pawn structure, Black has a clear advantage]

  1. Qa3! Attacking the rook and preventing Black from castling.

15… Qb6

  1. Bc4?! As with his ninth move, this is hard to fathom. There are so many things wrong with this move. It leaves the c-pawn hanging, it leaves the bishop undefended and it makes d3 a potential threat for Black.

[White’s main asset is his passed pawn.  If he plays to advance it, he has an equal game. 16. Qd6 Bd5 17. Qxb6 Rxb6 18. a4]

16… Rb4!

[Perhaps Tal expected 16… Rxc2 The problem with it is that White seizes control over the open b-file, which is worth more than a pawn. 17. Rab1 Qc7 18. Bb5 Bxb5 19. Rxb5= Black has an extra pawn, but he also has problems castling, defending his back rank and holding his d-pawn.]

  1. Qd3 O-O 18. a3 Ra4 19. Rfd1 Qa7 20. Ra2?? A simple minded blunder that loses the game instantly.

[White’s position is difficult because of Black’s bishop pair, superior pawn structure and the blockade on White’s passed pawn, but he has chances to hold after 20. Nd2 h6 21. Rdb1 Rc8 22. Rb3]

20… Rxc4! Even former World Champions make simple minded blunders.  Tal resigned.

[If he plays on he will be down two bishops for a knight and with a bad position to boot. 21. Qxc4 Bd5 22. Qe2 Bxa2]


Anand, Viswanathan – Korchnoi, Viktor, 1:0

Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, 2000, Round 6

French Defense

As the first Asian World Chess Champion, Anand may herald the rise of Asian chess players on the world stage, much as Morphy and Capablanca heralded the rise of American players.  Like Morphy and Capablanca, he has a classic positional style of play.

Perhaps it is unfair to include another game lost by Korchnoi in this series, but he does often play high risk chess, leaving himself vulnerable to more traditional players.

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands is the world’s premier annual tournament.  It always attracts the very best players.

In this game things develop fairly normally, with Korchnoi seeming to play for a draw.  It is Anand who is playing for a win, apparently trying to draw Korchnoi out.  He is paid off when Korchnoi makes a move I wouldn’t expect even of a C player.  What was he thinking?

  1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4 Korchnoi goes for simplicity rather than one of the theoretical lines, signaling that he is content with a draw.

[4… Bb4 The c 5. e5 h6 6. Bd2 Bxc3 7. bxc3 Ne4 8. Qg4 g6 9. Bd3 Nxd2 10. Kxd2 c5 White has an isolated a-pawn and he has lost his castling privilege, but he has the better bishop and a solid center.;

4… Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bxe7 (6. h4!? The Alekhine-Chatard Attack 6… Bxg5 7. hxg5 Qxg5 8. Nh3 Qe7 The open file for his king rook and the better bishop give White enough for the pawn) 6… Qxe7 7. f4 a6 8. Nf3 c5 White’s center looks strong, but Black can undermine it with Nc6 and f6]

  1. Nxe4 Nbd7 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Nxf6 Bxf6 8. h4!? Anand, on the other hand, wants a real fight!

[8. Bxf6 Qxf6 9. Bd3 O-O 10. O-O c5 11. c3 Black has some problems developing his queenside, but he has no weakness for White to attack.  The position is drawish]

8… h6 Korchnoi accepts the challenge!

[Keeping it simple is a good option. 8… O-O 9. Bd3 c5 10. Qe2 If Black does not take the bait, White is left wondering why he played h4]

  1. Bxf6 Nxf6!?

[9… Qxf6 looks more logical because the knight on d7 helps with an eventual pawn break at e5 or c5. 10. Qd2 O-O 11. O-O-O e5 12. dxe5 Nxe5=]

  1. Qd2 b6 11. O-O-O The move, h4, effectively took away the option of castling kingside. 11… Bb7 12. Ne5 O-O 13. Bd3! Leaving the g-pawn hanging. But obviously Black can’t take it since that would open a file to his king.

13… c5 14. dxc5 Qc7 15. Rhe1

15… Bxg2?? A move that is hard to fathom.  Evidently Korchnoi figured he could weather the storm on the g-file.  But with a few simple moves Anand achieves a winning position.

[15… Qxc5!? would also be weak because Black does not have a good counter to White’s kingside attack. 16. g4 Rad8 17. g5;

Best is 15… bxc5! 16. g4 c4 17. Qc3 Nxg4! 18. Qxc4 (18. Nxg4 Qf4 wins the piece back with a good game) 18… Qxc4 19. Bxc4 Nxe5 (19… Nxf2!? is risky because the knight is in danger of being trapped after 20. Rd4) 20. Rxe5 Rfc8=]

  1. Re2 This rook is tied to the defense of the knight, so he prepares to bring the other rook to the g-file.

16… Kh8 17. Rg1 Bd5?! He is lost anyway, but it is better to retreat the bishop all the way because d5 could be a good square for the knight.

[17… Bb7 18. Qf4 Rac8 19. Ree1 (19. Re3 transposes after 19… Nd5 20. Qg3 Rg8 21. Ng6 fxg6 22. Qxg6 Nf6 23. Rxe6) 19… Nd5 20. Qg3 Rg8 21. Ng6! fxg6 22. Qxg6 Nf6 23. Rxe6 Be4! The only answer to the threat of Rxf6. 24. Rxe4 Rce8 (24… Nxe4?? 25. Bxe4 Black can avoid mate only by giving up his queen. 25… Qf4 26. Kb1 Qxe4 27. Qxe4) 25. Rxe8 Rxe8 26. cxb6 axb6 White is two pawns up and still has pressure on Black’s king]

  1. Qf4 Qxc5 19. Re3 Preparing to bring the other rook to the open file. Korchnoi resigned.

Why the resignation?  Certainly White has the makings of a strong attack against Black’s king, but what is the immediate threat?  20. Rxg7 looks good after 20… Kxg7, 21. Rg3+ Ng4, 22. Rxg4+Kh8, 23. Qxh6 mate.  But unfortunately Black has the intermezzo, 20… Qxe3!! after which White’s attack goes up in smoke.  So if the immediate Rxg7 doesn’t work, then the threat must be R(3)g3 FOLLOWED by Rxg7.  Is that really strong enough to justify a resignation?

Let’s look at Black’s defensive tries.

19… Nh5 Defends g7 and attacks the queen. 20. Qg4 g6 Otherwise the knight is lost. 21. Nxg6 Kg7 (21… fxg6 22. Qxg6 Threatening mate on both h6 and h7, to which there is no good answer) 22. Nxf8 Kxf8 23. Qxh5 White is a rook up;

19… Ne8 Defends g7 without leaving the knight undefended. 20. Reg3 Threatening 21. Qxh6!! gxh6, 22. Nxf7+! Rxf7, 23. Rg8 mate. 20… Qe7 Stopping the queen sacrifice by putting another defender on f7. 21. Rxg7 Qg5 (21… Nxg7 22. Qxh6 Kg8 23. Rxg7#) 22. Qxg5 hxg5 23. Rh7 Kg8 24. Rxg5 Ng7 25. Rgxg7#;

19… Rg8 Defends g7, but not f7. 20. Nxf7#;

19… Qe7 Puts a defender on f7 so the rook is free to move to g8.  Unfortunately it takes the attack off of the rook on e3, so now White plays the rook sacrifice on g7. 20. Rxg7 Kxg7 21. Rg3 Ng4 22. Rxg4 Qg5 23. Rxg5 hxg5 24. Qxg5 Kh8 25. Qh6 Kg8 26. Qh7#

Okay, I am convinced that Black is totally lost, but if I were Black I would have played on a few moves just to make sure my opponent knows what he is doing.



Ten Chess Principles That One Will Not Find in a Book

By Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

There are many great opening, middle game and endgame books out there; see some of my favorite ones here. However, not many books cover practical elements of the game, related to mindset, game preparation, psychology, etc.

Here are ten principles that you likely would not find in any chess book:

  1. The Divisor of 40 Rule

Unless you read my time management blog post, you definitely would have not heard of this rule. The average chess game is 40 moves long. Therefore, one should take the time control he is playing by 40 and that is roughly the number of minutes he should spend per move. For instance, if the time control is G/60, that means he should spend 1.5 minutes per move.

2) Go with Flow

While it is obviously important to calculate, one should also listen to his instincts,  positional elements. There is usually no reason to overcomplicate matters. Yesterday, I taught an intermediate student and asked him in a typical opening position, what the best move was. Perhaps thinking that my question alluded to the idea that there should be some sort of tactic, he overanalyzed, considering many possible variations. To the contrary, he should have suggested a simple developing move.

3) Active Rest

Have you ever been disappointed that you lost a chess game, where you completely outplayed your opponent and made one silly blunder? If the answer is “yes”, that means to you are like every chess player on this planet. As per this old post, while one should not put as much energy into each move, it is important to remain consistent and never put the foot of the pedal.

4) Most Blunders Happen in Winning Positions

The time that players most often lose focus is when they have winning positions and relax. They will often the incorrect mindset that anything wins in a given position. While it is true that many moves may be winning, it is important to always try to look for the best one. David Macenulty, Founder of the Macenulty Foundation, once said “ There’s only one time in chess and when you are allowed to hope and that is when you are dead lost.” When you are winning, you should spend extra time and make sure that you are finding the easiest finishing moves.

5) The Importance of Physical Exercise

In Podcast Episode 158, Lord Carmine Villani shares how his experience as the World Champion of Endurance helps him in his finance career as Executive Board Director of Saudi Crown Holding. A serious chess game could last 6+ hours. Many of the top chess grandmasters are also athletic; Fabiano Caruana enjoys tennis and Hikaru Nakamura enjoys long mountain hikes all around the world.

7. Focus on Transitions, not openings or endgame.

Most chess books are about openings as that is what sells to the beginners and class players. A few years ago, I taught an adult beginner our initial private lesson and he asked me “what openings are we going to learn today?” I quickly told him that were a lot more important aspects of the game for him to learn. My friend and mentor Bill Lombardy, Bobby Fischer’s second, once suggested that instead of studying openings or endgames, I should review whole games, focusing on transitions. One needs to evaluate a position and come up with a plan given his advantages and disadvantages. If one has a safer king or more development, it makes sense to consider attacking. Likewise, if one has less space than your opponent, he should try to make some trades.

7) Review all your games.

Compared to most other chess masters, I have read, far fewer, less than five chess books, cover to cover. While I do have some good book recommendations, studying theoretical ideas is not how I improved to become a titled player. I learned the most about running a business through hammering enterprise sales, founding, and managing Pillar Sales and Premier Chess and learning from my mistakes. Likewise, I developed most of my chess understanding by playing in 950+ tournaments and reviewing all my games. One should review his games alone and then ideally with a coach before turning on the engine.

8) Avoid domino effects.

Just because one domino drops, that does not mean all of them need to follow. When a player makes one mistake or blunder, he often will make several in a row. In many games I had a winning position, made one mistake to get into a better position, another to get into an equal position and soon a last one to get into a losing position. Similarly, after heartbreaking losses, players often lo se steam and will lose several games in a row. In the 2006 World Open, I played in the U-2000 section, after having been an expert player in the past. I studied a lot the week leading up to the tournament, so I was confident about my chances. I won the first game and was excited. In the second round, I was prepared against Expert Rob Guevara, who came to the round with 2-minutes to spare. I mistakenly tried to blitz him and ended up blundering massively and losing the game, when he had a few seconds left. As you can imagine, I was little upset at myself. Instead of picking myself back up though, I kept criticizing myself and before you knew it, I had 2.5 points out of 8 games and withdrew from the tournament. When one makes a mistake or loses a game, it is important to take a breath, relax and maintain stamina.

9) No one is that great of a player.

When I was rated 600, I was afraid of playing against 800s. When I was 800s, I was nervous about playing people rated above 1000…… now as a 2200 player, I can easily fear playing against a higher rated 2400 senior master; however, I am not. I realize he is inferior to an International Master, who is lower in the food chain than a grandmaster. While all grandmasters are relatively super strong, compared to 99.9% of the world, most will not hold their own against the likes of World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Of course, these days, even Magnus Carlsen cannot defeat our silicon friends.  Thus, we should not look at higher rated players like they are invincible. Regardless of how strong one’s opponent is, he should pretend like he is playing against someone that is 50 points higher rated than him; that we he will give some respect but not be underconfident. For more about confidence, read this post.

10) Have fun!

Premier Chess' Blitz Tournament

In an interview last year, Philadelphia Chess Society Founder Jason Bui told me the number one important thing when it comes to teaching is to make sure kids have fun. Some students will love to play, others would like to do puzzles and others will enjoy lectures. Likewise, many coaches will tell students not to play blitz, bughouse, and other variants. While one should not overdo these; if they will increase your enjoyment and keep you playing chess, there is no reason to give them up.



Short Losses by World Champions, Part 5

By Matthew Grinberg, Founder of Alamogordo Chess Club

This week we finish up with World Chess Champions Gary Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen.

Deep Blue (computer) – Kasparov, Gary, 1:0, 1997

Caro-Kann Defense


Perhaps it is unfair to include this game in this series since Kasparov’s opponent was a computer.  But make no mistake, Kasparov took the match against Deep Blue very seriously.  It is also one of the most famous games ever played.  It put to rest the question of whether or not a computer program could beat the best human players.  This is also one of just two cases where the shortest loss by a World Champion happened while he was World Champion.

Anand, Viswanathan – Kramnik, Vladimir, 1:0, 5/19/2005

Petroff’s Defense

The future and current World Champions face off in a mega tournament in Bulgaria.  In addition to being one of only two games in this series where the winner and loser are both World Champions, this is also one of only two games in the series where the loser is the World Champion at the time of the game.

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. c4 Nb4 9. Be2 O-O 10. Nc3 Bf5 11. a3 Nxc3 12. bxc3 Nc6 13. Re1 Re8 14. cxd5 Qxd5 15. Bf4 Rac8 16. Qc1 A little off the beaten path.

[More common is 16. Bd3 Qd7 17. Rb1 Bxd3 18. Qxd3 b6  +0.16|d17 Rybka4]

Up to here this has been a solidly played game by both sides, but now Kramnik plays two bad moves in a row.

16… Na5!? How many times must it be said – even to World Champions – “Knight on the rim spells a trim.”

[16… Bf6 17. Qb2 Na5 18. Rad1 Qb3  +0.25|d18 Rybka4]

  1. c4! Anand sees that the three undefended pieces on the 5th rank are vulnerable and plays to exploit them.

17… Qe4?! Since it is so obvious that you shouldn’t put your queen on the line of attack of your opponents pieces, I can only conclude that Kramnik miscalculated.

[17… Qd8 18. Qc3  +0.53|d16 Rybka4 His position is a little disorganized, but at least it is safe.]

  1. Bd1 Qd3

[The only other move that saves the queen 18… Qc6 drops a piece for a pawn. 19. Re5 Nxc4 20. Rxf5  +2.43|d16 Rybka4]

  1. Re3! The zwischenzug that Kramnik apparently overlooked on his last three moves.

[Not 19. Re5 ? 19… Nxc4 20. Be2 Nxe5 21. Bxd3 Nxd3 22. Qd2 Nxf4 23. Qxf4  -0.37|d17 Rybka4]

19… Qxc4 20. Re5 Kramnik has to lose either the knight or the light square bishop.  He chooses to resign instead.

[20… Qxc1 21. Bxc1 g6 22. Rxa5 a6 23. Ne5 Rcd8 24. Bb3  +1.53|d5 Rybka4]


Zapata, Alonso – Anand, Viswanathan, 1:0, 1988

Petroff’s Defense

This game was played in a minor tournament twenty years before Anand won the World Chess Championship, but even so he was already a strong player.  His opponent is a Columbian grandmaster.

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 Not the usual move, but perfectly good.

5… Bf5? At least Anand was aware that his knight was under attack.  Unfortunately this move falls short.

[5… Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be7 7. Bd3 Nd7 8. Be3 Nc5 9. Bxc5 dxc5 10. Qe2 O-O 11. O-O-O Bd6 12. Rhe1 Qf6 13. Kb1 Be6 14. Qe3 Rfe8 15. Qg5 Be7 16. Qg3 Bd6 17. Qg5 Be7 18. Qg3 Bd6 19. Qg5 1/2-1/2, Radjabov Teimour (AZE) 2756  – Topalov Veselin (BUL) 2813 , Nice  3/14/2009 It “Amber” (blindfold)]



  1. Qe2

[The only plausible defense to the threat to win the knight, 6… Qe7 , fails to 7. Nd5 Qd7 8. d3  +3.04|d5 Rybka4]


Pelletier, Yannick  – Carlsen, Magnus, 1:0, 7/24/2005

Nimzo-Indian Defense

Yes, even Carlsen has been known to have a bad day.

  1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 Classical Variation. A very solid system which is very popular these days. White avoids doubled pawns on the c-file, prepares to attack the bishop with a2-a3, and takes control over the important central e4-square. A drawback of this plan is White’s slow development.

4… d5 5. cxd5 c5 6. dxc5 Nxd5!? Certainly aggressive, but this has the drawback of leaving the queen bishop hemmed in.

[6… exd5 7. Bg5 h6 (7… Nc6 8. O-O-O Bxc3 9. Qxc3 d4 10. Qa3 h6 11. Bh4 g5 12. Bg3 Ne4 13. e3 f5 14. f3 Nxg3 15. hxg3 Be6 16. exd4 Qd5 17. Ne2 Qxa2 18. Qxa2 Bxa2 19. d5 Nb4 20. Nc3 Rc8 21. Rd4 a5 22. Rxb4 axb4 23. Nxa2 Rxc5 24. Kb1 Rxd5 25. Nxb4 Rd4 26. Nd3 Kf7 27. Kc2 Kg7 28. Be2 Re8 29. Kd2 Kf6 30. Ra1 Re7 31. Ra5 Kg6 1/2-1/2, Sumets Andrey (UKR) 2595  – Matnadze Ana (GEO) 2413 , Palma de Majorca 11/22/2009 It (open)) 8. Bh4 g5 9. Bg3 Ne4 10. e3 Qa5 11. Be5 O-O  +0.00|d16 Rybka4]

  1. Bd2 Bxc5 8. Nxd5 Qxd5 9. e4 Qd4 Again, this certainly is aggressive, but the trouble with making aggressive moves with your queen in the opening is that you leave it vulnerable to attack.

[Safer is 9… Qc6 10. Rc1 Bb6 11. Qb1 Qd7 12. Nf3 O-O 13. Be2 Nc6 14. O-O  +0.49|d13]

  1. O-O-O! White immediately takes advantage of the exposed queen.

10… Nd7 11. Bb5 O-O? Noooo!  Not only does the king need to stay on e8 to defend the knight, but the queen needs to get off of the d-file to get off the line of the rook.

[11… Qe5 12. Bc3 Qg5 13. Kb1 O-O 14. Nf3 Qe7  +0.56|d17 Rybka4]

  1. Bc3 Qxf2 13. Qxf2 Bxf2 14. Bxd7 Be3 15. Kc2 Rb8 Carlsen, down a knight for a pawn, resigned without waiting for a reply. [1:0]

The Game of Chess and College Admissions

By Dana Ponsky, Founder of Dana Ponsky Consulting Service LLC

“The game of chess is not merely an idle amusement. Several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it… Life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with.” Benjamin Franklin

I have been a college counselor for more than 10 years and I help high school and college students with the college and graduate school admissions process. I was recently asked how could chess help with the college admissions process and the first thing I did was seek out this quote by Mr. Franklin. I believe his words perfectly summarize the outcomes that one can gain from playing and/or mastering the game of chess.

When I meet with students and families for the first time, I often present the analogy of looking at the college application as a blank canvas where you are being asked to paint your self-portrait. This portrait can be made up of any number of factors that an individual student finds important and best highlights the person they are. For some, a large portion of the portrait might be grades and standardized test scores. For others, it might be extracurricular activities and the essay they write to tell the story of who they really are. Whatever a student chooses to include on their application, it is important simply because it is one of many things that make up the whole person. Colleges are looking for interesting, engaged, and committed individuals to join their community and the application is the best way to convey this to those who are reading it.

When thinking about chess and its role in an individual’s application, it is important to remember that chess is a dynamic game/sport of intellect, strategy, patience, delayed gratification, competition, and community. It is one of the few games that I can think of where gender, race, socio-economic status, and language do not need to interfere with accomplishing the same goal. The life skills gained from chess are not just obvious to those who play, but easily transcend to how a player interacts with the world around them.

College admissions officers know that the dedication to the game of chess along with the social, emotional, behavioral, and competitive skills gained from the game, imply a higher level of capability and readiness to tackle the challenges that college can present. Chess is a game/sport that utilizes countless life skills that are easily transferable to the academic, professional, and social environments often found on the college campus. In the college admissions process, chess is seen as a positive addition to any list of activities. Participation in chess clubs, organizations, or tournaments encompasses so much more than a competition. The experiences gained from playing chess can also be shared in the college essay, in letters of recommendation from teachers and mentors, in the interview process (when there is one), and also in the decision-making process. If chess is important to you, then it should be an important part of your college application.

If a student has been actively involved for many years or just started with the game in the last year, it is important to add this to the college application. In addition to just simply stating your participation, decide how much of the game should be included in other parts of the application. Some great questions to consider about whether chess should be highlighted in essays, interviews, etc. including: Do you play chess because of the challenge? The camaraderie with other players? The opportunity to build rapport in a non-threatening way? Is it the skills gained that help you with other aspects of your life in and out of school? What are those skills and how will they help you along your personal and professional journey?

Chess is a game for life and there is no reason to stop playing once you get to college. Take the time to identify colleges that are not only going to help you achieve your academic and professional goals, but ones that will allow you to continue staying engaged and active within the chess community. It will likely make your transition to college much easier and provide a sense of grounding and support as you embark on this new chapter in your life.

Dana Ponsky is an independent college counselor at Dana Ponsky Consulting Services LLC based in Brooklyn, NY. She works with high school and college students and their families to navigate the college admissions process with a lot of success and much less stress. 


Shortest Losses by World Champions, Part 4

By Matthew Grinberg, Founder of Alamogordo Chess Club

This week we feature World Chess Champions Boris Spassky, Bobby Fischer, and Anatoly Karpov.

Korchnoi, Victor – Spassky, Boris, 1:0, 1948

Sicilian Defense, Dragon Variation

This game was played in the semi-final of the USSR championship in 1948.  Spassky was a 14 year old wunderkind destined to win the World Chess Championship from Petrosian in 1969.  Korchnoi at 19 was also a very strong player and years later would challenge Karpov for the World Championship.  This was the first of 81 games they would eventually play against each other in competition.

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. f4

[More common today is 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. O-O-O  +0.02|d15 Rybka4]

6… Bg4!? Unusual in the present day, but the theory of the Dragon Sicilian was not well developed at this time.

[Better is 6… Nc6 as played by the same two players a year later. 7. Bb5 Bd7 8. Bxc6 bxc6 9. O-O Qc7 10. h3 Bg7 11. Be3 O-O 12. Qd3 Rab8 13. b3 Rbd8 14. Rae1 Bc8 15. f5 Nd7 16. Qd2 Ne5 17. Bh6 f6 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Nce2 g5 20. Ng3 d5 21. exd5 Rxd5 22. c4 Rdd8 23. Qe3 Rf7 24. Ne6 Bxe6 25. fxe6 Rff8 26. Nf5 Kh8 27. h4 gxh4 28. Qh6 Rg8 29. Re4 Rg6 30. Qh5 Rg5 31. Qxh4 Rdg8 32. g3 Ng6 33. Qh3 Ne5 34. Rh4 R8g7 35. Nxg7 Rxg7 36. Kg2 Qd8 37. Qf5 Qd6 38. Qf2 Qxe6 39. Rd1 Nf7 40. Rhd4 Rg8 41. R1d2 Ng5 42. Rh4 c5 43. Qxc5 Qe1 44. Qf2 Qe6 45. Qd4 Qc6 46. Qd5 Qc7 47. Rd3 e6 48. Qb5 Nf7 49. Qd7 Qe5 50. Rxh7 Kxh7 51. Qxf7 Rg7 1/2-1/2, Korchnoi Viktor (SUI) 2564  – Spassky Boris V (FRA) 2548 , Leningrad 1949.  If the game had continued, then a draw by repetition was inevitable. (52. Qe8 Qe2 53. Kg1 e5 54. b4 Qxd3 55. Qh5 Kg8 56. Qe8 Kh7 57. Qh5 Kg8 58. Qe8 Kh7 Draw by three fold repetition)]

  1. Bb5 Nbd7 8. Bxd7!? Korchnoi is hoping for the mistake Spassky makes, but he really should not exchange the bishop for the knight until Black forces it by playing a6.

[8. Qd3 a6 9. Bxd7 Bxd7 10. e5 dxe5 11. fxe5 Ng4 12. Bf4 Bg7 13. Qe2  +0.17|d15 Rybka4]

8… Qxd7?! The trouble with this move is that it leaves the bishop with no good retreat.

[8… Bxd7 9. Qd3 Rc8  -0.04 Rybka4]

  1. Qd3 e5!? Leaving both d6 and f6 weak. In general it is not a good idea for Black to play e5 in an open Sicilian if he has already played g6. If the dark square bishop  develops to e7, then the dark squares on the king side are weak, but if the bishop develops to g7, then the pawn on d6 is weak.

[9… Rc8 10. Be3 Bg7 11. O-O O-O  +0.38|d17 Rybka4]

  1. Nf3 Bxf3 11. Qxf3 Qg4? Spassky’s plan is to exchange queens with an equal position, but…

[better is 11… d5 12. Nxd5 Nxd5 13. exd5 Bg7 14. Bd2 Rd8 15. c4 O-O 16. O-O b5! when he has good play for the pawn.]

  1. Nd5! The twin threats of Nxf6+ and Nc7+ leave Spassky with no good move, so he resigns.

[12… Kd8 13. Qxg4 (Not 13. Nxf6? Qh4 14. g3 Qxf6  +1.27|d16 Rybka4) 13… Nxg4 14. h3 Nh6 15. fxe5  +2.32|d17 Rybka4 dxe5 16. Bg5 Kc8 17. Bf6 Rg8 18. O-O-O b6 19. Bxe5 f5 20. Rhe1  +2.61|d17 Rybka4 White has an extra pawn and better development.  Black’s king is exposed to attack and his pieces are in disarray.;

12… Qxf3 13. Nxf6 Ke7 14. Nd5 Ke6 15. gxf3  +3.26|d15 Rybka4;

12… Qh4 13. g3 Qh3 14. Nxf6  +4.46|d5 Rybka4]


Unzicker, Wulfgang – Fischer, Bobby. 1:0, 1960

Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation

Bobby Fischer, though only 17, had already been U.S. Chess Champion for three years and a World Champion Candidate when he travelled to Buenos Aires to play in this tournament.  His opponent, Wolfgang Unzicker, was one of the leading players from West Germany.  Fischer uncharacteristically loses his way in the opening and never gets on track.

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 The Najdorf Variation is named after Miguel Najdorf. He was originally from Poland, but Argentina became his home when he was stranded there after the 1939 Chess Olympiad due to the German invasion of his home country.
  2. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O O-O!? It is too early to signal where the king is going to be. Frequently in the Najdorf Black will leave his king in the center as long as possible so as to keep open his options as White develops his attack. The king is reasonably secure behind the phalanx of pawns on f7, e6 and d6.

[9… Nbd7 10. g4 b5 11. Bxf6 Nxf6 12. g5 Nd7 13. f5 Nc5 14. f6 gxf6 15. gxf6 Bf8 16. Rg1  +0.00|d15 Rybka4;

Or as Fischer played three years earlier in the U.S. Championship 9… h6 10. Bh4 Nc6 11. Nxc6 Qxc6 12. Bd3 Bd7 13. Qe2 Rc8 14. Kb1 b5 15. Rhf1 b4 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. Nd5 exd5 18. exd5 Qc7 19. Bxa6 Rb8 20. Rfe1 Bc8 21. Bxc8 Rxc8 22. Rd4 O-O 23. Re4 Rfe8 24. f5 Kh7 25. c3 bxc3 26. Rxe7 Qb6 27. Rxf7 Kg8 28. Qg4 Kxf7 1/2-1/2, Seidman Herbert – Fischer Robert J (USA) 2780 , New York 1957 Ch USA]

  1. Bd3 Unzicker begins to aim all of his forces at the castled king.

10… Nc6 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Qg3 h5? Apparently Fischer played this to secure g4 for his knight.  Whatever he hoped to gain by playing this is not worth the weakening of his king side.

[Blocking White’s light square bishop out of the attack is much better. 12… e5! 13. Rhf1 Nh5 14. Qh4 Bxg5 15. fxg5 g6 16. Ne2 Qd8 17. g4 Ng7 18. Ng3 Rb8 19. b3 Ne6 20. Rf6 Qa5 21. Kb1 Nc5 22. Nf5 Bxf5 23. gxf5 Na4 24. fxg6 Nc3 25. Kc1 hxg6 26. Qh6 Qa3 1/2-1/2, Borngaesser Rene (GER) 2390  – Stean Michael F (ENG) 2275 , Groningen 1972 It (open)  Both players recognized that a draw by repetition was inevitable. (27. Kd2 Nxd1 28. Rxg6 fxg6 29. Qxg6 Kh8 30. Qh6 Kg8 31. Qg6 Kh8 32. Qh6 Kg8 33. Qg6 Draw by three fold repetition)]

  1. e5! Now the light square bishop is fully in the attack.

13… dxe5 14. fxe5 Ng4 15. Bxe7 Qxe7 16. Ne4 Qc7? Fischer ignores the defense of his king to go after a measly pawn.

[There is still a chance after 16… Kh8 17. Be2 Nh6 18. Bxh5 c5  +1.45|d10]

  1. h3 Nxe5?? Still paying more attention to the pawn than his own king, Fischer walks into a mating net. But he does not have a good move anyway.

[17… Nh6 18. Nf6 Kh8 19. Qg5 Rb8 20. Nxh5 Nf5 21. Bxf5 Qxe5 22. Rd8 Bb7 23. Rd3 Rg8 24. Ng3 Qf6 25. Qh5 Qh6 26. Qxh6 gxh6 27. Bg4  +3.08|d14;

17… Qxe5 18. hxg4 Qxg3 19. Nxg3 hxg4 20. Bh7 Kh8 21. Be4 Kg8 22. Bxc6  +3.47|d19 Rybka4]

  1. Nf6! Kh8 19. Qg5 Nxd3 20. Rxd3 gxf6 21. Qxh5 Kg7 22. Qg4 Fischer resigns because he will be forced to give up his queen to avoid mate and even then Unzicker will mate quickly anyway.

[22… Kh7 23. Qh4 Kg6 24. Rg3 Qxg3 25. Qxg3 Kh7 26. Rf1 Rg8 27. Qh4 Kg7 28. Qxf6 Kh7 29. Rf4 Rxg2 30. Rh4 Kg8 31. Qh8#]


Christiansen L. – Karpov A, 1:0, 1993

Queen’s Indian Defense

Back in the good old days there was a National Chess League.  The team from Washington, D.C. was the Washington Plumbers.  I was at their site one evening watching one of their matches.  After the games were over, one of the players on the Washington team, International Master Eugene Meyer, was playing over his game from the match and taking questions from the audience.

After one of his moves someone asked, “Why did you play that move?”  Indeed, from my point of view the move did not have a point.

Meyer replied, “Because it defends the knight.”

“But there is nothing attacking the knight.”

“True, but even when not attacked, the more pieces you have undefended, the more likely it is that something bad will happen.”

Profound!  I had never thought of that!

Perhaps Karpov should have been at that Washington Plumbers match.

At the time former World Chess Champion, Anatoly Karpov, lost the game below, it caused a sensation.  How could the second best player in the world (after World Champion Gary Kasparov) play such a simple blunder in a simple position?  Karpov’s opponent, Larry Christiansen had been U.S. Champion in 1980 and 1983.

  1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Ba6 5. Qc2 Bb7 This move and White’s 4. a3 are not the kind of moves I would play in the opening, but this is a normal book line and they are Grandmasters, so what do I know?
  2. Nc3 c5 7. e4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Nc6 9. Nxc6 Bxc6 10. Bf4 Nh5 11. Be3 This is still normal book stuff, but now…

11… Bd6?? This move is hard to fathom.  Not only is there the positional objection that it blocks his d-pawn, but more important, it leaves the both the bishop and the knight undefended and exposed.  Furthermore the refutation is ridiculously simple.

[My best guess is that Karpov intended to keep following the normal line and simply got the move order mixed up. 11… Qb8 A few months EARLIER Karpov played this move against Christopher Lutz and won. 12. O-O-O Bd6  +0.27|d17 Rybka4 Again, these are not the kind of moves I would play, but what do I know?]

  1. Qd1! It doesn’t take a genius to see that either the bishop or the knight is gone, so rather than continue a hopeless game, Karpov resigns. [1:0]

10 Common Beginner and Intermediate Mistakes

In my 18 (the number that equates to “life in Judaism) years of teaching chess (so far), I have seen beginner and intermediate students make a lot of the same mistakes. Here are ten of the mistakes I often find myself speaking to students rated U-1800, when reviewing their games and playing against them:

1) Trading at all Costs:

Would you be excited if I offered you $100 if you had to return the money the next minute? You may give me the money if you trusted you would it get back but you would definitely not feel like you are winning something. Students often will trade just because they can. However, one should only trade if he benefits from it, most often when he is up in material, has less space or needs to yield off an opponent’s attack or lead in development.

2) Avoiding opening principles:

Students need to remember the basics- control the center, castle and develop. Without a good reason otherwise, every move in the opening (approximately the first 10-15 moves of a game) should relate to at least one of these ideas.

3) Making pawn moves for no reason:

The pawn never moves backwards; therefore every pawn move is transformational and creates a weakness. When moving pawns, one must make sure he is actually gaining something.

4) Checking your opponent and making threats for no reason:

There is the famous saying “Patzer sees check, patzer gives check.” The late National Master Edward Kopiecki used to often say “Always check. It might be mate.” However, not all checks are good. For instance, yesterday I was showing the famous Opera game to one of our school programs and as I usually do in this position, I asked the class how white should continue developing his pieces.

A girl suggested “6.Bb5”. When I asked her why she picked “6.Bb5” versus “Bc4”, she said Bb5 was a check. I then explained to her and rest of class, how after 6…c6, white has to play 6.Bc4 and black basically got an extra move in for free. As check is the most forcing type of move, I encourage students to always look for checks but not always play them.

5) Forgetting the importance of always asking oneself “Why did my opponent make his move?”:

Just like a smart person would never cross the street without looking both ways, a chess player should never make a move without investigating why his opponent made his move and having a good idea where he would go in event he had another turn.

6) Rushing in openings and endgames that they have previously studied:

Students will often rush when playing openings and endgames that they previously studied. Last week I was teaching one of our new private students, who is a litigation attorney. In her game that we were analyzing, there I asked her why she played one of her moves and she mentioned that is the way she normally plays. I then I asked her if she ever saw this same exact position before and she said “no.” I then she agreed with me when I explained how in law you could use previous cases as reference points but each new one is different. Just because in a similar case the judge ruled one way does not mean that he will have the same exact ruling in another. You need to take into account all of the nuances.

Rookie players will often have trouble when doing the major checkmates (The Ladder, King and Queen, King and Rook, etc.), not because they do not know how to do them, but because they rush so quickly, that they will hang one of their pieces or stalemate their opponent. A fool-proof way to not stalemate your opponent when up material is consistently make sure he is at least one legal move until it is checkmate.

Intermediate students will often not take advantage of their opponent’s inaccuracies and blindly follow opening principles. The situation where I see this most is when students do not play the famous Center Fork Trick, which grants black the bishop pair and a slightly better game.

7) Spending too much time studying openings:

Players rated U-2000 need to have a basic opening repertoire with 5-10 moves in each variation as white, usually playing 1.e4 or 1.d4, and good responses to both of those first moves. There is no need to learn a bunch of theory in each line. It is a lot more important for students to do a lot of puzzles and learn how to logistically think and come up with the best moves as per our thought process.

8) Not spending enough time studying checkmating patterns:

Despite how many beginners think kings can get captured, we win a chess games only by checkmate. Therefore, it is important that we spend a lot of time learning the fundamental checkmating patterns, like the simple endgame checkmates, Anastasias Mate, Smothered Mate, Arabian Mate, etc. One of the best books for learning checkmating patterns is How to Beat Your Dad in Chess.

9) Taking offers without thinking about why one’s opponent made them:

Last week I was playing against a novice student and he captured my knight without realizing that on the next turn, I would capture his queen. I played dumb and asked if saw what I would do and of course he replied “no”. Our podcast guest Grandmaster Max Dlugy likes to compare chess to a duel. In a duel, one would not blindly follow what one’s opponent requests as he would expect it to be some sort of trap. Likewise, in chess if your opponent offers you a ‘free piece’, square to move to, draw, etc., your initial reaction should not be to immediately accept it but rather “why is my opponent offering that?”

10) Lacking confidence:

The biggest mistake players of all levels make is that they lack confidence. If you are going to play a more experienced player, thinking from the outset that you are going to lose, you may as well not start playing. Now matter how high rated your opponent is, you should pretend he is 50 points higher rated than you; that way you will give him a little bit of respect but not be underconfident and start playing passively. For more about confidence, read this previous post.

If you are a beginner or intermediate player, I hope you can start to avoid these 10 common mistakes. If you are more experienced and/or are a chess teacher, let us know what areas of improvement you most often see. Conquer the game; master your life!

Queen of Katwe: A Collection of Quotes

By Olga Inglis, Director of Business Development

Photograph by the very talented alechkovphoto”

These were my favorite quotes from Tim Crother’s Queen of Katwe book.

“Survival in Katwe depends on courage and determination as well as guile and luck.”

(page 18)

“Katwe’s youth endure an overwhelming stigma, a sense of defeat, and a resignation that they’ll never do any better than anybody else in the slum.”

(page 19)

“Soccer allowed Robert to dream.  It gave him joy.  It became his identity.”

(page 43)

“Doctors told Robert he would never play soccer again.  Nine months later, Robert was juggling the ball.”

(page 46)

“ ‘He didn’t ask for anything in exchange like other players who would ask me, ‘What will I get?’  What can I expect?’  Robert never thought he would get his daily bread from Miracle.’ “ (about Katende)

(page 49)

” ‘He was a young boy.  He needed shaping and guidance and direction.’ “ (about Katende)

(page 51)

“Katende had learned the game primarily through trial and error and the taught it that way to the Pioneers.”

(page 61)

“ ‘There was something special about Robert, a certain dignity and awareness that just stood out,’ Suddith says.”

(page 111)

” ‘I came to appreciate that chess is the best tool for kids in the slums,’ Katende says.  ‘I believe when they play the game they can integrate the principles used in the game into their daily life.  The moment your opponent makes a move, it is like posing a challenge to you, and the whole issue is to think, ‘What can I do to overcome this?’  It is like the challenges they face every day.  They must think how they can overcome those as well.  I told them they can never resign in a game, never give up until they are checkmated.  That is where the chessboard is like life.  That is the magic in the game.’ ”

(page 64)

“Whenever there was a crisis of confidence, Katende would tell his favorite story about an inept doctor.

‘Think of a situation when you are sick and you have gone to the clinic for treatment and a doctor comes up and says, ‘Young man, you’re sick.  I am going to inject you, but I don’t know whether I still remember how to inject.  Let me first see if I can remember.’  Then he gets a sponge and he tries to inject it and says, ‘I think I can remember.  Okay, let’s do the injection,’  Can you allow yourself to be injected?  Of course, you can’t.  Why?  Because the doctor does not believe in himself.  Then how do you entrust your life to him?  You cannot.  If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anyone else to believe in you?’ “

(page 65)

” ‘Someday you will be able to read your opponent’s mind many moves in advance,’  Katende told them.  ‘You will see what is going to happen on the chessboard before it happens.  You are going to be prophets.’ “

(page 65)

“Harriet did not give up after her first business failure at the market, but tried again after learning from her mistakes.”

(page 79)

” ‘Then I watched them play the game and get happy and excited and I wanted a chance to be that happy.’ ” (Phiona)

(page 81)

“ ‘I learned that chess is a lot like my life,’ Phiona says.  ‘If you make smart moves you can stay away from danger, but you know any bad decision could be your last.’ “

(page 93)

“Chess began to make sense for Phiona.  It was a game of survival through considered aggression.  It is about finding some clarity among the confusion, some way to organize the chaos by always thinking several moves ahead of the danger.”

(page 134)

“Katende taught Phiona to understand the game, then to appreciate the game, and then finally to love the game.”

(page 135)

“Ivan believes Phiona’s greatest strength is her patience.”

(page 137)

“Phiona looks at all the options and then makes the best move.”

(page 137)

“By that time, Phiona had embraced chess as her true calling.  ‘I love chess with all of my heart,’ Phiona says.  ‘And when you love something with all your heart, it brings many other things.’ “

(page 192)

“On his way home that night, Robert Katende believed he had seen the last of Phiona Mutesi.  ‘Because the day was so hard for her, for sure I did not expect to meet her again,’ Katende says.  ‘When she came back the next day, I knew she had an enduring kind of spirit.  I knew this girl had courage.’ “

(page 86)

“He explained about discipline and good behavior and seizing any opportunity that comes her way and using her past as motivation for her future.”

(page 133)

“ ‘Have you ever done something wrong because someone else has told you to do it without thinking?’ Katende asked her.  ‘Before you do something, always think, ‘What will be the repercussions?  What will be the consequences?’ “

(page 134)

Tips from Phiona for Chess (and Life):

Believe in yourself

“You are meant to believe in yourself.  If you are not sure of yourself, your best can’t come out.  When I first started playing chess, I didn’t believe I could learn the game.  Then I didn’t believe I could become good.  Then I didn’t believe I could win a game.  Then I didn’t believe I could challenge a boy.  But Coach gave me confidence and I won a game against a boy, and from that day I started to move forward more boldly and I began to believe in myself that I can win any game that I play.  I have been amazed at what I could do in chess once I started believing in myself.”

Challenge yourself:

“It is easy to play against those opponents you know you can beat.  But Coach has encouraged me to challenge myself and play as many games as I can against opponents who can beat me.  When I go and play against someone who I believe is better than me, I know my chess will get better that day.  I always learn something in a game when I am challenged.”

Don’t get too excited:

“I don’t ever get excited even when I’m in a winning position because I know that until the game is over I have to be really serious.  One time I was playing in an Olympiad game and during preparations we had gone over various openings, so when I went to play I played a good opening and I managed to take a free piece and I realized my position was much better than my opponent’s.  I got so excited because I thought I was going to win.  I ended up making a big blunder out of excitement and I lost a bishop.  I eventually managed to win the game, but it was a serious struggle to come back.  That day I learned that I can never get excited again until the game is over.”

Don’t get discouraged:

“I have played in so many games when I was in a bad position and I felt like resigning, but I always remember that Coach has given us advice about never resigning until the game is over.  I hear those words in my head whenever my position seems hopeless and I just continue to endure and keep pushing myself.  I have seen many examples that a chess game is never over, no matter how bad your position may be, until you are mated.  You must continue to think.  You must continue to plot.  I have trained myself to believe that there is always a way out of trouble if I just continue thinking.”

Be patient:

“Once you have learned all the rules governing pieces, it is time to learn to strategize and to plan. You are trying to create teamwork with your pieces.  I encourage those I teach to be very patient in their planning.  You cannot just win a game, you have to plan for it.  I advise them not to always be in a hurry, but to first look at what the opponent has played and then try to read their mind.  What are they planning?  How can I stop that plan?  Then how can I attack?  How can I take control of the board?  When I first started playing, I wanted to capture a piece on every move.  One day I realized that you can win a chess game without capturing a single piece.  That’s when I realized that planning is more important than capturing.  The best way to avoid blunders is to play well.  Every game is different.  There are some games when I can never think more than one move ahead and there are others when I can plan beyond more than five moves ahead, but you must always be planning.”

Have a dream:

“The only way to become good chess player is to work on your game every day, and I have found that it has helped me to have a dream.  In my heart, I love chess and part of that is because I am working toward a goal.  To be a big player in the game, I think you need to have a big dream,  because if your dream is only to beat your brother or your father, then when you achieve that dream, you will quit because you have achieved that goal.  My ultimate dream is to become a Grandmaster, and chasing that dream is what brings me back to the chessboard every day to try to become the first Grandmaster ever in my country.”

Phiona Mutesi(pages 239-241)

To learn more about Phiona Mutesi, listen to our CEO National Master Evan Rabin’s interview with her in our 148th podcast episode.

Short Losses by World Champions, Part 1

By Matthew Grinberg, Founder of Alamogordo Chess Club

Two Weeks ago I presented the shortest loss ever by a World Chess Champion – a six mover by Anand.  That got me to thinking, why not present the shortest loss ever by each of the sixteen World Champions?  So I have selected 16 games from all World Champions, ranging from Wilhem Steinitz to Magnus Carlsen. This week we have the shortest losses by the first three World Champions – Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker and Jose Raul Capablanca.  If they can lose quickly, so can your next opponent!

Winawer, Szymon. – Steinitz, Wilhelm 1:0, 1896

This game was played two years after Steinitz lost the World Chess Championship to Emanuel Lasker.  Winawer was also one of the leading players of the day.

  1. e4 e5 2. d4!? Theory holds that the Center Game is not quite sound, but in practice it scores well.

2… exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O Re8 The position is slightly better for Black due to the exposed position of White’s queen.

  1. Bc4 Bxc3!? Typical of Steinitz. He grabs material when he can and challenges his opponent to show what he has for it.

[Black retains an advantage after 8… d6 9. f3 Ne5 10. Bb3  -0.44|d15 Rybka4]

  1. Bxc3 Nxe4 10. Qf4 Nf6 11. Nf3 d6 12. Ng5 Be6 13. Bd3 h6 14. h4 Nd5

[Taking the knight may be playable, but it is very risky to open the file for White’s rook. 14… hxg5 15. hxg5 Ng4 16. Be2 Nce5 17. Rh5 Ng6 18. Qd4 N4e5 19. f4 Bg4 20. Bxg4 c5 21. Qe3 Nxg4 22. Qf3 Qd7 23. f5 N6e5 24. Rdh1 f6 25. Bxe5 Nxe5 26. Qd5 Kf8 27. gxf6 gxf6 28. Rh8 Ke7 29. R8h7 Kd8 30. Rxd7 Nxd7 31. Rh7 1-0, Salmensuu Olli (FIN) 2420  – Norri Joose (FIN) 2400 , Finland 1998 Ch Finland]

  1. Bh7 Kh8 16. Rxd5 Bxd5 17. Be4 f6?? When he should be getting White’s attacking pieces off of the board, Steinitz instead creates a giant weakness on the light squares around his king.

[Black is fine if he simply returns the extra material to blunt White’s attack. 17… Rxe4! 18. Nxe4 Ne5 19. Rd1 Bxe4 20. Bxe5 Bh7 21. Qxf7 Qf8 22. Qxf8 Rxf8 23. Bg3  +0.07|d19 Rybka4]

  1. Bxd5! fxg5 19. hxg5 Ne5?? Granted he is dead busted anyway, but this allows a quick mate.

[19… Re5 20. Qg4 Qc8 21. Qg3 Qf5 22. f4 Nb4 Note that the rook can’t move due to Rxh6 mate. 23. Bb3 Nc6 24. gxh6 g6 25. fxe5 Nxe5  +4.66|d12]

  1. g6 There is no good way to stop the threat of 21. Rxh6+gxh6, 22. Qxh6 mate, so Steinitz resigns. […] [1:0]

Bird, Henry – Lasker, Emanuel, 1:0, 1892

Center Game, Danish Gambit

This game was played two years after Steinitz lost the World Chess Championship to Emanuel Lasker. Winawer was also one of the leading players of the day.

1. e4 e5 2. d4!? Theory holds that the Center Game is not quite sound, but in practice it scores well.
2… exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O Re8 The position is slightly better for Black due to the exposed position of White’s queen.
8. Bc4 Bxc3!? Typical of Steinitz. He grabs material when he can and challenges his opponent to show what he has for it.
[Black retains an advantage after 8… d6 9. f3 Ne5 10. Bb3 -0.44|d15 Rybka4]
9. Bxc3 Nxe4 10. Qf4 Nf6 11. Nf3 d6 12. Ng5 Be6 13. Bd3 h6 14. h4 Nd5
[Taking the knight may be playable, but it is very risky to open the file for White’s rook. 14… hxg5 15. hxg5 Ng4 16. Be2 Nce5 17. Rh5 Ng6 18. Qd4 N4e5 19. f4 Bg4 20. Bxg4 c5 21. Qe3 Nxg4 22. Qf3 Qd7 23. f5 N6e5 24. Rdh1 f6 25. Bxe5 Nxe5 26. Qd5 Kf8 27. gxf6 gxf6 28. Rh8 Ke7 29. R8h7 Kd8 30. Rxd7 Nxd7 31. Rh7 1-0, Salmensuu Olli (FIN) 2420 – Norri Joose (FIN) 2400 , Finland 1998 Ch Finland]
15. Bh7 Kh8 16. Rxd5 Bxd5 17. Be4 f6?? When he should be getting White’s attacking pieces off of the board, Steinitz instead creates a giant weakness on the light squares around his king.
[Black is fine if he simply returns the extra material to blunt White’s attack. 17… Rxe4! 18. Nxe4 Ne5 19. Rd1 Bxe4 20. Bxe5 Bh7 21. Qxf7 Qf8 22. Qxf8 Rxf8 23. Bg3 +0.07|d19 Rybka4]

18. Bxd5! fxg5 19. hxg5 Ne5?? Granted he is dead busted anyway, but this allows a quick mate.
[19… Re5 20. Qg4 Qc8 21. Qg3 Qf5 22. f4 Nb4 Note that the rook can’t move due to Rxh6 mate. 23. Bb3 Nc6 24. gxh6 g6 25. fxe5 Nxe5 +4.66|d12]
20. g6 There is no good way to stop the threat of 21. Rxh6+gxh6, 22. Qxh6 mate, so Steinitz resigns. […] [1:0]

Bird, Henry – Lasker, Emanuel
1:0, 1892
Center Game, Danish Gambit
This game was played two years after Steinitz lost the World Chess Championship to Emanuel Lasker. Winawer was also one of the leading players of the day.

1. e4 e5 2. d4!? Theory holds that the Center Game is not quite sound, but in practice it scores well.
2… exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O Re8 The position is slightly better for Black due to the exposed position of White’s queen.
8. Bc4 Bxc3!? Typical of Steinitz. He grabs material when he can and challenges his opponent to show what he has for it.
[Black retains an advantage after 8… d6 9. f3 Ne5 10. Bb3 -0.44|d15 Rybka4]
9. Bxc3 Nxe4 10. Qf4 Nf6 11. Nf3 d6 12. Ng5 Be6 13. Bd3 h6 14. h4 Nd5
[Taking the knight may be playable, but it is very risky to open the file for White’s rook. 14… hxg5 15. hxg5 Ng4 16. Be2 Nce5 17. Rh5 Ng6 18. Qd4 N4e5 19. f4 Bg4 20. Bxg4 c5 21. Qe3 Nxg4 22. Qf3 Qd7 23. f5 N6e5 24. Rdh1 f6 25. Bxe5 Nxe5 26. Qd5 Kf8 27. gxf6 gxf6 28. Rh8 Ke7 29. R8h7 Kd8 30. Rxd7 Nxd7 31. Rh7 1-0, Salmensuu Olli (FIN) 2420 – Norri Joose (FIN) 2400 , Finland 1998 Ch Finland]
15. Bh7 Kh8 16. Rxd5 Bxd5 17. Be4 f6?? When he should be getting White’s attacking pieces off of the board, Steinitz instead creates a giant weakness on the light squares around his king.
[Black is fine if he simply returns the extra material to blunt White’s attack. 17… Rxe4! 18. Nxe4 Ne5 19. Rd1 Bxe4 20. Bxe5 Bh7 21. Qxf7 Qf8 22. Qxf8 Rxf8 23. Bg3 +0.07|d19 Rybka4]

18. Bxd5! fxg5 19. hxg5 Ne5?? Granted he is dead busted anyway, but this allows a quick mate.
[19… Re5 20. Qg4 Qc8 21. Qg3 Qf5 22. f4 Nb4 Note that the rook can’t move due to Rxh6 mate. 23. Bb3 Nc6 24. gxh6 g6 25. fxe5 Nxe5 +4.66|d12]
20. g6 There is no good way to stop the threat of 21. Rxh6+gxh6, 22. Qxh6 mate, so Steinitz resigns. […] [1:0]

Bird, Henry – Lasker, Emanuel
1:0, 1892
Center Game, Danish Gambit

This game was played two years after Steinitz lost the World Chess Championship to Emanuel Lasker. Winawer was also one of the leading players of the day.

1. e4 e5 2. d4!? Theory holds that the Center Game is not quite sound, but in practice it scores well.
2… exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O Re8 The position is slightly better for Black due to the exposed position of White’s queen.
8. Bc4 Bxc3!? Typical of Steinitz. He grabs material when he can and challenges his opponent to show what he has for it.
[Black retains an advantage after 8… d6 9. f3 Ne5 10. Bb3 -0.44|d15 Rybka4]
9. Bxc3 Nxe4 10. Qf4 Nf6 11. Nf3 d6 12. Ng5 Be6 13. Bd3 h6 14. h4 Nd5
[Taking the knight may be playable, but it is very risky to open the file for White’s rook. 14… hxg5 15. hxg5 Ng4 16. Be2 Nce5 17. Rh5 Ng6 18. Qd4 N4e5 19. f4 Bg4 20. Bxg4 c5 21. Qe3 Nxg4 22. Qf3 Qd7 23. f5 N6e5 24. Rdh1 f6 25. Bxe5 Nxe5 26. Qd5 Kf8 27. gxf6 gxf6 28. Rh8 Ke7 29. R8h7 Kd8 30. Rxd7 Nxd7 31. Rh7 1-0, Salmensuu Olli (FIN) 2420 – Norri Joose (FIN) 2400 , Finland 1998 Ch Finland]
15. Bh7 Kh8 16. Rxd5 Bxd5 17. Be4 f6?? When he should be getting White’s attacking pieces off of the board, Steinitz instead creates a giant weakness on the light squares around his king.
[Black is fine if he simply returns the extra material to blunt White’s attack. 17… Rxe4! 18. Nxe4 Ne5 19. Rd1 Bxe4 20. Bxe5 Bh7 21. Qxf7 Qf8 22. Qxf8 Rxf8 23. Bg3 +0.07|d19 Rybka4]

18. Bxd5! fxg5 19. hxg5 Ne5?? Granted he is dead busted anyway, but this allows a quick mate.
[19… Re5 20. Qg4 Qc8 21. Qg3 Qf5 22. f4 Nb4 Note that the rook can’t move due to Rxh6 mate. 23. Bb3 Nc6 24. gxh6 g6 25. fxe5 Nxe5 +4.66|d12]
20. g6 There is no good way to stop the threat of 21. Rxh6+gxh6, 22. Qxh6 mate, so Steinitz resigns. […] [1:0]

Bird, Henry – Lasker, Emanuel 1:0, 1892
Center Game, Danish Gambit

At the time of this game, Lasker was two years away from taking the World Chess Championship from Wilhelm Steinitz.  Bird had been a major player on the European scene since the 1840’s.

  1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3!? The Danish Gambit. It makes for exciting play, but it is not considered to be quite sound.

3… dxc3 4. Bc4 cxb2 5. Bxb2 Qg5!? Early development of the queen is not good.

[The modern method, first recommended by Carl Schechter about a century ago, is to return the two extra pawns to get the queens off the board with an equal position. 5… d5 6. Bxd5 Nf6 7. Bxf7 Kxf7 8. Qxd8 Bb4 9. Qd2 Bxd2 10. Nxd2 Re8  -0.12|d16 Rybka4]

  1. Nf3 Qxg2? Some have claimed that the Golden Rule is, “Never take the queen knight pawn with your queen.” That should probably apply to the king knight pawn too. Obviously this is the point of Black’s last move, but it is never-the-less bad.  Black’s queen is exposed to attack and he is horribly behind in development.

[Black still has a good position after 6… Qa5 7. Nc3 d6 8. O-O  +0.20|d17 Rybka4]

  1. Rg1 Bb4? If Lasker was not lost already, this seals his fate because it leaves the g-pawn undefended.

[7… Qh3 8. Bxf7 Kd8 9. Rxg7 Qh6 10. Rxg8 Rxg8 11. Bxg8  +2.24|d15 Rybka4 White is up a piece for a pawn.]

  1. Ke2 Qh3
  2. Bxf7! Kd8

[Obviously not 9… Kxf7 10. Ng5 Ke8 11. Nxh3  +8.34|d14 Rybka4]

  1. Bxg7 Ne7 11. Ng5 Due to the threat of Ne6+ Lasker has to give up his queen to avoid checkmate.

11… Qh4 Instead he decides to commit suicide. 12. Ne6# [1:0]

Sometimes the old guys get in their licks.

Marshall, Frank James – Capablanca, Jose Raul, 1:0, 1909

Queen’s Gambit, Orthodox Defense

At the time of this match Marshall was the U.S. Chess Champion.  Capablanca, from Cuba, was ostensibly in the U.S. to study engineering at Columbia University, but in reality he spent most of his time playing chess.  Capablanca won the match 8 – 1 with 14 draws, but Marshall’s one win was memorable.

  1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 Ne4 6. Bxe7 Qxe7 7. Bd3 Nxc3 8. bxc3 Nd7

[Another game from the same match – 8… dxc4 9. Bxc4 b6 10. Qf3 c6 11. Ne2 Bb7 12. O-O O-O 13. a4 c5 14. Qg3 Nc6 15. Nf4 Rac8 16. Ba2 Rfd8 17. Rfe1 Na5 18. Rad1 Bc6 19. Qg4 c4 20. d5 Bxa4 21. Rd2 e5 22. Nh5 g6 23. d6 Qe6 24. Qg5 Kh8 25. Nf6 Rxd6 26. Rxd6 Qxd6 27. Bb1 Nc6 28. Bf5 Rd8 29. h4 Ne7 30. Ne4 Qc7 31. Qf6 Kg8 32. Be6 fxe6 33. Qxe6 Kf8 34. Ng5 Ng8 35. f4 Re8 36. fxe5 Re7 37. Rf1 Kg7 38. h5 Be8 39. h6 Kh8 40. Qd6 Qc5 41. Qd4 Rxe5 42. Qd7 Re7 43. Rf7 Bxf7 0-1, Marshall Frank J (USA) – Capablanca Jose Raul (CUB), New York 1909 Match]

  1. Nf3 O-O 10. cxd5 exd5 11. Qb3 Nf6 12. a4 c5 13. Qa3 b6!? The pawn just becomes a target on this square.

[13… Ne4 14. O-O Be6  +0.05|d16 Rybka4]

  1. a5 Bb7 15. O-O Qc7 16. Rfb1 Nd7?! Always try to avoid passive defense.

[16… Ne4 17. Bxe4 dxe4 18. Nd2 cxd4 19. cxd4 Bd5  +0.43|d19 Rybka4]

  1. Bf5 Rfc8 18. Bxd7 Qxd7 19. a6! Bc6 20. dxc5 bxc5 21. Qxc5 Rab8? Allowing Marshall to undermine the defense of the bishop. Capablanca’s position was already difficult due to passive defense, now it is critical.

[21… Rc7 22. h3 h6 23. Rb2 f6 24. Nd4 Rac8 25. Qa3 Qe8 26. Rab1  +1.02|d15]

  1. Rxb8 Rxb8 23. Ne5 Qf5 24. f4 Rb6?? Instantly fatal.

[He would still have a slim chance after 24… Ba8 25. Qxa7 Rf8  +2.67|d18 Rybka4]


  1. Qxb6!! Brilliant! Capablanca resigns.

[Capablanca was no doubt hoping for 25. Nxc6?? Rb1 26. Rxb1 Qxb1 27. Kf2 Qc2 28. Ke1 Qc1 29. Ke2 Qc2 30. Kf3 Qe4 31. Kg3 Qg6 32. Kh4 Qh6 33. Kg4 Qg6 34. Kf3 Qe4 35. Kg3 Qg6 36. Kh4 Qh6 37. Kg4 Qg6 38. Kf3 Qe4 Draw by three fold repetition.]


[He has to take the queen, but it loses quickly. 25… axb6 26. Nxc6 Qe4 (26… Qd7 27. a7 Qxc6 28. a8=Q Qxa8 29. Rxa8#; 26… Qc8 27. Ne7 etc.) 27. a7 Qxe3 28. Kh1 h5 29. a8=Q  +10.40|d14 Rybka4]


Pawn Endgame Puzzles

By Matthew Grinberg, Founder of Alamogordo Chess Club

  1. This little puzzle of mine illustrates two of the most the most basic and important things about pawn endgames – the opposition and keeping your king in front of your passed pawn.

The opposition is one form of zugswang – putting your opponent in a position where any move he makes weakens his position.  Having the opposition in a pawn endgame means having the opponent’s king two squares away from your own king on a file, rank or diagonal with your opponent on the move.  The best form of the opposition in a pawn endgame having your king directly in front of your opponent’s king with your pawn behind you so his king will be forced to step aside or back up, allowing your king to advance.

The importance of keeping your king in front is that it not only allows you to set up the opposition, but the king acts like a bulldozer, clearing the way for your pawn.

White to play and win.

  1. Kd3! White both steps in front of his passed pawn and takes the opposition.  Every other move in this position allows a draw.

[1. d4? Kd6 2. Ke4 Ke6 3. d5 Kd6 4. Kd4 Kd7 5. Ke5 Ke7 6. d6 Kd7 7. Kd5 Kd8 This move illustrates an important point for the defender in pawn endgames – when forced to drop back by a pawn directly in front of you defended by the opponent’s king, it is best to drop directly back, not diagonally.  (7… Ke8? 8. Ke6 Kd8 9. d7 Kc7 10. Ke7 Kc6 11. d8=Q White wins) 8. Ke6 Ke8 9. d7 Kd8 10. Kd6 stalemate;

  1. Kf3? Kd4 2. Ke2 Ke4 3. d3 Kd4 4. Kd2 Kd5 5. Ke3 Ke5 6. d4 Kd5 and we have reached the same position as after White’s first move in the previous line.  Draw]

1… Ke5

[1… Kd6 Stepping back directly when the opponent’s king is in front of the pawn does no good because your opponent will step forward directly retaining the opposition 2. Kd4]

  1. Kc4 Ke6

[2… Kd6 3. Kd4 Ke6 4. Kc5 Kd7 5. Kd5 Ke7 6. Kc6 Kd8 7. Kd6 Ke8 8. d4 Kd8 9. d5 Kc8 10. Ke7 Kc7 11. d6 Kc6 12. d7 Kd5 13. d8=Q White wins]

  1. Kc5 Ke5 Black’s king takes the opposition on a rank, but it is futile because White advances his pawn, forcing Black’s king to move.
  2. d4 Ke6 5. Kc6 Ke7 6. d5 Kd8 7. Kd6 Once again White takes the opposition with his pawn behind his king forcing Black’s king aside so White’s king can step up to cover the last two squares the pawn needs to queen.

7… Ke8 8. Kc7 Ke7 9. d6 Ke6 10. d7 Ke5 11. d8=Q White wins [1:0]


This problem illustrates what I call the “pawn breakthrough” – a well-known theme in pawn endgames.  But, oops, I made a mistake in setting up the position.  White’s king should have been on a1, not a2.  On a1 the intended solution, 1. g6, is the only solution.  As it is, White has two alternatives.  But this allows me to go into further depth in the realm of pawn endgames.

White to play and win.

  1. g6! Black must capture else White’s g-pawn will quickly queen.

[1. Ka1??? turns the game on its head and allows Black to win by playing g6 first and getting his king to the pawns first. 1… g6 (1… Kc2 2. Ka2 Kc1) 2. hxg6 hxg6 3. fxg6 (3. f6 Kd2 4. Kb2 Ke3 5. Kc3 Kf4 6. Kd4 Kxg5 7. Ke5 Kh5 8. Kf4 (8. Kd6 g5 9. Ke7 Kg6 Black wins) 8… g5 9. Kg3 (9. Kf5) 9… Kg6 10. Kh3 Kxf6 Black wins) 3… fxg6 4. Ka2 Kd2 5. Kb3 Ke3 6. Kc2 Kf4 7. Kd1 Kxg5 8. Ke2 Kg4 9. Kf2 Kh3 10. Kg1 g5 11. Kh1 g4 12. Kg1 Kg3 Black takes the opposition and wins. 13. Kh1 Kf2 14. Kh2 g3 15. Kh3 g2 16. Kg4 g1=Q Black wins;

  1. Kb3 g6 (1… Kd2 2. g6 hxg6 3. f6 gxf6 4. h6 White wins as in the main line) 2. hxg6 hxg6 3. fxg6 fxg6 4. Kc3 Kd1 5. Kd4 Ke2 6. Ke5 Kf3 7. Kf6 Kf4 8. Kxg6 White wins;

Even this move wins. 1. Ka3 g6 (1… Kd2 2. g6 hxg6 3. f6 gxf6 4. h6 f5 5. h7 f4 6. h8=Q f3 7. Qd8 Ke2 8. Qe7 Kf1 9. Qxf7 f2 10. Qe6 Kg1 (or 10… g5 11. Kb3 Kg1 12. Qg4 Kh2 13. Qf3 g4 14. Qxf2 Kh3 15. Kc2 g3 16. Qf4 g2 17. Qg5 g1=N 18. Qxg1 Kh4 19. Kd3 Kh5 20. Qg7 Kh4 21. Ke3 Kh5 22. Kf3 Kh4 23. Qg4#) 11. Qg4 (Not 11. Qxg6?? which leads to a theoretical draw.  One of three things will happen, Black will queen the pawn, Black will be stalemated on h1 when White captures the pawn with his queen, the position will be repeated three times allowing Black to claim a draw or 50 moves will be played without anything being captured or the pawn moving, allowing Black to claim a draw.  The one thing Black must avoid to secure the draw is stepping his king in front of the pawn since that would allow White’s king to move towards the kingside.  I note that the position would also be a draw if Black’s pawn was on h2.) 11… Kh2 12. Qf3 Kg1 13. Qg3 Kf1 14. Kb3 Ke2 15. Qg4 Ke1 16. Qe4 Kd2 17. Qd5 Ke2 18. Qg2 Ke3 (18… Ke1 19. Kc2 Ke2 20. Qe4 Kf1 21. Qg4 g5 (21… Ke1 22. Qd1#) 22. Kd3 Ke1 23. Qe2#) 19. Kc2 g5 20. Kd1 Kf4 (20… g4 21. Qg3 Ke4 22. Qxf2 White wins) 21. Qxf2 White wins) 2. hxg6 hxg6 3. f6 Kd2 4. Kb4 Ke3 5. Kc5 Kf4 6. Kd6 Kxg5 7. Ke7 Kh4 8. Kxf7 g5 9. Ke6 g4 10. f7 g3 11. f8=Q Kh3 12. Ke5 Kg2 13. Ke4 Kg1 14. Qh6 g2 15. Kf3 Kf1 16. Qh3 Ke1 17. Qxg2 Kd1 18. Qb2 Ke1 19. Qc1#]

Back to the main (intended) line. 1… hxg6

[Or 1… fxg6 2. h6! and White will win much as in the main line. 2… gxh6 3. f6 Kd2 4. f7 Ke3 5. f8=Q g5 6. Qxh6 Kf4 7. Qxh7 g4 8. Qh2 Kf3 9. Qg1 White wins]

  1. f6! Now no matter what Black does, White’s f-pawn or h-pawn will queen.

2… gxf6 The best hope since Black ends up with three pawns for the queen.

  1. h6 Kd2 If Black does not move his king towards the pawns, they will all be quickly lost.
  2. h7 Ke3 5. h8=Q f5 6. Qe8 Kf3 7. Qxf7 f4 8. Qxg6 Ke3 9. Qg2 f3 10. Qf1 Black’s pawn is no longer a threat to queen.  Meanwhile White will bring his king over the finish the deal.

10… Ke4 11. Kb3 Ke3 12. Kc4 Ke4 13. Qf2 Ke5 14. Qxf3 Ke6 15. Qf4 Kd7 16. Kd5 Ke7 17. Qf5 Kd8 18. Kd6 Ke8 19. Qf1 Kd8 20. Qf8# [1:0]


I saw this puzzle a long time ago.  I can’t remember where, but when I saw the solution, it was permanently imprinted in my brain,

In order to win, White has to get back to the original position, but with Black to move.  If he does that, then he will win Black’s last pawn and the game.

The idea of getting back to the original position with the opposite side to play is called “triangulation.”  The idea is that the player on the move has three safe squares for his king but the opponent’s king only has two.  But in this case there are more squares involved and  it takes more than the three moves implied by the term.

White to play and win.

  1. Kd5

1… Kc8

[1… Kd8 Allows White to win faster. 2. Kd6 Kc8 3. c7 Kb7 4. Kd7 Ka8 5. c8=Q Ka7 6. Qg8 Kb7 7. Qb3 Ka8 8. Kc6 Ka7 9. Qb7#;

1… Kb8 Allows White to win faster. 2. Kd6 Ka7 3. c7 Kb7 4. Kd7 Ka8 5. c8=Q Ka7 6. Qc5 Kb7 7. Qe7 Kb8 8. Kc6 Kc8 9. Qc7#]

  1. Kd4

[2. Kd6 Works but takes longer. 2… Kd8 3. Kd5 Kc8 4. Kc4 Kd8 5. Kd4 Kc8 6. Kd5 Kc7 7. Kc5 He gets to the key position two moves slower than the main line. 7… Kc8 8. Kb6 Kb8 9. Kxa6 Kc7 10. Kb5 Kc8 11. Kb6 Kd8 12. c7 Kd7 13. a6 Ke6 14. a7 Kf5 15. a8=Q Ke5 16. Qf8 Kd5 17. c8=Q Ke4 18. Qc4 Ke5 19. Qff4#]

2… Kd8

[2… Kc7 Allows White to win faster. 3. Kc5 Kc8 4. Kb6 Kb8 5. Kxa6 Kc7 6. Kb5 Kc8 7. Kb6 Kd8 8. c7 Kd7 9. a6 Ke6 10. a7 Kf5 11. c8=Q Kf4 12. a8=Q Ke5 13. Qf3 Kd6 14. Qf6 Kd5 15. Qcc6#;

2… Kb8 Amounts to the same thing. 3. Kc4 Kc8 4. Kd5 Kc7 5. Kc5 Kc8 6. Kb6 Kb8 7. Kxa6 Kc7 8. Kb5 Kc8 9. Kb6 Kd8 10. c7 Kd7 11. a6 Ke6 12. a7 Kf5 13. c8=Q Kf4 14. a8=Q Ke5 15. Qf3 Kd6 16. Qf6 Kd5 17. Qcc6#]

  1. Kc4

[3. Kd5 Works but takes longer. 3… Kc8 4. Kc4 Kd8 5. Kd4 Kc8 6. Kd5 Kc7 7. Kc5 Again he has taken two moves longer to get to the key position. 7… Kc8 8. Kb6 Kb8 9. Kxa6 Kc7 10. Kb5 Kc8 11. Kb6 Kd8 12. a6 Ke8 13. c7 Ke7 14. a7 Kd7 15. a8=Q Ke7 16. c8=Q Kf6 17. Qf3 Kg6 18. Qff5 Kg7 19. Qcf8#;

  1. Kc5 Kc7 Repeats the starting position with White to move – not what White wants unless he is going for a draw.]

3… Kc8

[3… Kc7 Allows White to win faster. 4. Kc5 Kc8 5. Kb6 Kb8 6. Kxa6 Kc7 7. Kb5 Kc8 8. Kb6 Kd8 9. a6 Ke7 10. c7 Kf6 11. a7 Kf5 12. c8=Q Ke4 13. a8=Q Kf4 14. Qg2 Ke5 15. Qgg4 Kf6 16. Qce6#]

  1. Kd5

[4. Kc5 Kc7 Repeats the starting position with White to move again]

4… Kc7

[4… Kd8 Allows White to win faster. 5. Kd6 Kc8 6. c7 Kb7 7. Kd7 Ka8 8. c8=Q Ka7 9. Qc5 Kb7 10. Qb4 Ka8 11. Kc6 Ka7 12. Qb7#;

4… Kb8 Allows White to win faster. 5. Kd6 Ka7 6. c7 Kb7 7. Kd7 Ka8 8. c8=Q Ka7 9. Qc5 Kb8 10. Qb4 Ka8 11. Kc6 Ka7 12. Qb7#]

  1. Kc5! White finally gets back to the original position with Black to move!

5… Kc8 6. Kb6 Kb8 7. Kxa6 White wins Black’s lone pawn.

7… Kc7 8. Kb5 Black can no longer stop the pawns from queening.

[Not 8. Ka7?? Kxc6 Draw.  White will never be able to queen his remaining pawn]

One possible finish: 8… Kc8 9. Kb6 Kd8 10. a6 Ke7 11. a7 Ke6 12. c7 Kf5 13. a8=Q Kg6 14. c8=Q Kg5 15. Qf3 Kg6 16. Qff5 Kg7 17. Qcf8# [1:0]


This is a problem I composed myself a long time ago.

The theme in this puzzle is “interference” – your opponent has a critical goal, so you throw a piece in his way to stop him from doing it.  Often, as in this case, the piece is sacrificed.

White to play and win.

  1. d5!

[Advancing the passed pawn looks good, but Black’s king runs it down and the game ends in a draw. 1. a4? Ke4 2. a5 Kd5 3. Kf2 Kc6 4. Kf3 Kb5 5. Ke4 (5. Kg4 Kxa5 6. Kxg5 Kb5 7. Kf6 Kc4 8. Kxe6 Kxd4=) 5… Kxa5 6. Ke5 Kb4 7. Kxe6 g4 8. d5 g3 9. d6 g2 10. d7 g1=Q 11. d8=Q=;

  1. Ke1 Ke3 2. Kf1 Kf3]

Black has to take because otherwise the pawn will queen. 1… exd5 But now Black’s own pawn blocks the path his king needs to intercept White’s a-pawn.

[1… g4 2. dxe6 g3 3. e7 g2 4. Kg1 White wins]

  1. a4 d4 But with two passed pawns and one further advanced than White’s passed pawn, it looks like Black has a chance.

[2… g4 3. a5 g3 4. a6 g2 5. Kg1 d4 6. a7 d3 7. a8=Q White wins;

2… Ke4 3. a5 Ke5 4. a6 Kd6 5. a7 Kc7 Because his own pawn blocked his path, Black’s king gets there too late. 6. a8=Q White wins]

  1. a5 d3 4. Ke1 g4 5. a6 g3 6. a7 g2 7. a8=Q Sorry Black, your pawn is one move too late.

7… Kg3 8. Qg8 Kf3 9. Qg5 d2 The last desperate attempt to hold.

  1. Kxd2 Kf2 11. Qf4 White forces Black’s king in front of his pawn setting up the win.

11… Kg1 12. Ke2 Kh1 13. Qh4 Kg1 14. Kf3 Kf1 15. Qh3 Ke1 16. Qxg2 Kd1 17. Qb2 Ke1 18. Qc1# [1:0]

The Queen’s Gambit – Another Possible Inspiration

By Matthew Grinberg, Founder of Alamogordo Chess Club

As noted in a recent post, Diana Lanni has been suggested (by herself, among others) as a possible inspiration for Walter Tevis in writing The Queen’s Gambit.

Another teenage girl Baraka Shabazz, who was playing a strong game of chess around the same time, may have also been an inspiration for Tevis.

Here is a story about her from the Washington Post the title of which suggests this influence.

In 1981 at the age of 15 and the sixth rated female player in the US, she was invited to play in the first World Under-16 Girls’ Chess Tournament.  As noted in the Washington Post article, “In a field of 32 contestants from 18 countries, she won three games and drew four, sharing third-place honors with two others.”

At the time she was living in the Washington, DC area, and had gained considerable attention in the local chess community.  I lived in the area at the same time and in October, 1981 I was paired against her in a DC Chess League match.  Given her reputation, I was  apprehensive about playing her.  Early in the middle game I was in a constrained position and gave up a pawn to get my pieces active.  When it became apparent that I was going to win the pawn back with an even position, she offered a draw and I thankfully accepted.

In 1983 after a bad performance in the World Open, she unfortunately quit chess and never came back.

Here is an entertaining game she played in 1980.  Her opponent tries to blitz her off the board from the start, but ends up paying the price.  Her queen sacrifice at the end is great:

 Arne, Mike – Shabazz, Baraka, 0-1  

Berkeley Open  

Berkeley, California, 1980  

   Petroff’s Defense: Urusov Gambit


  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 This is a dynamic answer to Petroff’s Defense.

[The standard line is 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 White has his normal opening advantage]

3… exd4!?

[More common is 3… Nxe4 4. Bd3 d5 5. Nxe5 Nd7 6. Nxd7 Bxd7 7. O-O Again White has his normal opening advantage]

  1. Bc4!? The Urusov Gambit – Until I looked at this game I had never heard of it.

[Better and leading to an advantage in development for White is 4. e5 Ne4 5. Qxd4 d5 6. exd6 Nxd6 7. Nc3]

4… Nxe4!? Shabazz accepts the gambit.

[4… Nc6 transposes to a common line of the Two Knights Defense. 5. e5 d5 6. Bb5 Ne4 7. Nxd4 Bd7=]

  1. Qxd4 Nf6 6. Bg5 Be7 7. Nc3 Nc6

[In the following game, Black makes a serious error on his last move. 7… c6 8. O-O-O d5 9. Rhe1 Be6 10. Qh4 Nbd7 11. Nd4 O-O 12. Rxe6 fxe6 13. Nxe6 Qe8 14. Nxf8 Qxf8 15. Bd3 Re8 16. Qh3 Qf7 17. Ne2 Nf8 18. Bd2 Bc5 19. Ng3 Ne4 20. Nf5 Nxf2 21. Qg3 Nxd3 22. Qxd3 Ng6 23. Rf1 Qc7 24. Bc3 Bf8 25. h4 Ne5 26. Qg3 Qb8?? (26… h5 keeps him in the game.) 27. Bxe5 1-0, Nikitin, Andrey (RUS) 2458 – Afonin, Sergey (RUS) 2195, St. Petersburg 2003 Tournament (open) “Petersburg’s Autumn”   If the game had continued, then he would have had to give up his queen to avoid checkmate. 27… Qxe5 28. Nh6 Kh8 29. Qxe5 Black cannot recapture]

  1. Qh4 d6 9. O-O-O Be6 10. Bxe6 fxe6 11. Rhe1 Qd7N

[This simultaneous game is the last game in my database that follows this line.  White’s nice trick at the end securs the draw. 11… Qc8 12. Ne4 e5 13. Nxf6 Bxf6 14. Bxf6 gxf6 15. Qxf6 Rf8 16. Qg7 Qd7 17. Qxd7 Kxd7 18. Nxe5 Nxe5 19. Rxe5 Rxf2 20. Rg5 Re8 21. Rg7 Kc6 22. Kb1 Ree2 23. Rc1 Rxg2 24. Rxh7 Rxh2 25. Rxh2 Rxh2 26. a4 Kc5 27. b3 c6 28. Kb2 d5 29. Rg1 d4 30. Rg3 a6 31. Rf3 b5 32. axb5 axb5 33. Kc1 Kb4 34. Rf4 c5 35. Kb2 Rd2 36. Rh4 Ka5 37. Kc1 Rg2 38. Rf4 Kb4 39. Kb2 Rd2 40. Rh4 c4 41. bxc4 bxc4 42. Rxd4! Rxd4 43. c3 1/2-1/2, Hausner, Ivan (CZE) 2434 – Satransky, Jaroslav (CZE) 2225, Rakovnik 2001 Simultaneous]

  1. Qc4 O-O-O 13. Rxe6 White wins back the pawn and still has more active pieces, but Black’s d-pawn against no center pawns for White gives her compensation 13… h6 14. Bf4 d5 15. Qe2 Bc5
  2. Rxf6?! He gives up an exchange for a pawn to break up Black’s position and launch an attack – it’s daring, but not sound. The game begins to go wacko and both players have a hard time finding their way in the complications.

[After 16. Bg3 Rhf8 17. Kb1 the game is equal]

16… gxf6 17. Nxd5 With threats on c7, f6 and b6 it looks like White’s sacrifice was good. 17… Bd6? This is the obvious way to stop the threats on c7 and b6, only giving up the pawn on f6.  But…

[Both players overlooked 17… Nd4! Now Black threatens to take the queen with check or take the undefended knight on d5. 18. Nxd4 Qxd5 Black still has an exchange for a pawn]

  1. Bxd6 cxd6

[Also playable is 18… Qxd6 19. Nb6 axb6 20. Rxd6 Rxd6 Black has two rooks for a queen and pawn, but the pawn structure gives White a small edge]

  1. Qc4 Kb8 20. Nxf6?! Winning the pawn with an attack on the queen is obvious, but it is premature.

[Black cannot correct the weakness in her pawn structure.  It is best for White to increase the pressure on Black and secure his own pawn structure before trying to cash in. 20. Nh4! Qe6 (Or 20… Qg7 21. Ne3 Ne7 22. Qe6 d5 23. Nhf5 Nxf5 24. Qxf5 Qg5 25. Rxd5=) 21. Qf4 h5 22. g3 Ne5 23. Nf5 Rhg8 24. Qe4 Rde8 25. f4 Nc6 26. Qxe6 Rxe6= The knights have a strangle hold on Black’s position and give him compensation for being down an exchange for a pawn]

20… Qg7 21. Ng4 Rhe8?!

[21… d5 gains some space since 22. Rxd5? (Better is 22. Qf4 Ka8 But Black is still better because, in the open position Black’s rooks are more active than White’s knights) 22… Rxd5 23. Qxd5 Qxg4 leaves Black up a rook for three pawns]

  1. Ne3 White’s position is now solid and Black can no longer play d5. 22… Qg6 23. Nd4 Ne5 24. Qb4 d5 She advances the d-pawn anyway. It works here, but it comes with some risk. 25. Ndf5!? He suckers Black into a bad move.

[But the solid 25. g3 may be better]

25… Rd7?! Shabazz overlooks the trick Arne has up his sleeve.

[25… Nc4! would hold the d-pawn with an equal position. 26. c3 (Not 26. Rxd5?? Rxd5 27. Nxd5 Qxg2! 28. Qxc4 Qg1 29. Kd2 Qxf2 30. Kc3 (30. Kd3 Qe2 31. Kc3 Rc8 Black wins) 30… Rc8 Black wins) 26… h5 27. g3 Qf7 28. Nxc4 dxc4 29. Nd4=]

  1. Rxd5! Rc7? Black now sees the problem with playing to win the knight on f5, but balks too soon.

[Even though it does not win the knight 26… Rxd5 it is still best. 27. Nxd5 Qc6 (27… Qxf5?? 28. Qd6 Ka8 29. Nc7 Kb8 30. Na6 Ka8 31. Qb8 Rxb8 32. Nc7#) 28. Qd4 Qc4 29. Qxc4 Nxc4 30. Nfe3 Nxe3 31. Nxe3 With three pawns for the exchange, White is better, but Black has chances]

  1. Qf4 Down three pawns for an exchange and with three of her pieces in the line of the White queen on the h2-b1 diagonal, Black is in serious trouble. 27… Qf6 28. Kb1? White thinks that he is getting his king out of harm’s way, but in fact he is setting himself up for disaster because of the potential for Black’s rook on e8 to get to e1. Shabazz pounces on the idea immediately! I have a suspicion that White was short of time since he misses a lot in the last 9 moves.

[28. Qxh6 Qxh6 29. Nxh6 Rh7 30. Nef5 With four pawns for an exchange, White should win]

28… Nc4! 29. Qd4!? Okay, but…

[The better way to stop the mate threat on b2 is 29. c3 which also stops back rank mate threats. 29… Qc6 30. a3 Rf8 31. Qxc4 Qxc4 32. Nxc4 Rxc4 White has a small edge;

  1. Nxc4?? Re1 30. Qc1 Rxc1 31. Kxc1 Rxc4 Black wins]

29… Nxe3! Now it is Black that suckers White into a bad move. 30. Qxf6? You would think a player would be wary when their opponent leaves her queen hanging.  But perhaps, as I suggested earlier, he was in time trouble.

[30. fxe3 Qxd4 31. Rxd4 Rf7 32. g4 h5 33. h3 hxg4 34. hxg4 Rh7 35. b3 White has three pawns for the exchange, but his isolated e and g-pawns give Black equality]

30… Nxd5! Capturing the rook, attacking the undefended queen and threatening mate in one.  White is forced to give up his queen for a rook, leaving him a rook down. 31. Qxh6 Re1 32. Qc1 Rxc1 33. Kxc1 Nf4 34. g4? This saves the g-pawn from immediate capture, but weakens his pawn structure.  If White had a chance to save the game, it is gone with this move.

[34. g3 also loses the f-pawn, but it keeps his remaining kingside pawns safe. 34… Nd3 35. Kd2 Nxf2 With three pawns for the rook, including two connected passed pawns, White has chance, but Black should still win]

34… Nd3 35. Kd2 Nxf2 Now because of the weakness created by his 34th move, he loses another pawn. 36. g5

[No better is 36. Ne3 Rg7 37. h3 Nxh3 leaving Black up a rook for two pawns anyway]

36… Ne4 White resigns. [0:1]

I think Mike Arne learned that he should not play for tactics against Baraka Shabazz.