Chess puzzle #30: Viktor the Terrible gets crushed

The Benkö (Volga) Gambit is a rare guest at grandmaster level. But on club level it is a populair opening. Black gets a lot of pressure for his pawn and his position almost plays itself whereas white has to be constant on his guard.

The problem for white is that it is difficult to develop his pieces in a harmonious way. These are the reasons why this gambit is so popular among club players.

On grandmaster level this opening is a less frequent guest because it’s not considered to be completely sound. Grandmasters mainly use the Benkö as a surprise weapon. Grandmaster Vladimir Baklan won games with this gambit against Artur Yusupov, Sergey Volkov and Viktor Korchnoi!

Although Viktor Korchnoi was clearly past his prime in 2000, he still was a very strong player. But even he had trouble to fight the Benkö. After 17 moves the combatants reached the diagram position. Viktor has just played 17. Nf4-g2. What on earth could be wrong with this move?Read More »

Chess puzzle #35: only move to win

Last weekend I played in the Malmö Open. I was pleased with my result. The strange thing is that I scored most of my points out of very difficult situations. In three games I was objectively lost. But tenacious defence saved the day for me.

The diagram position is not one of these games. Although I had to defend myself again. White attacked fiercely and finally invested a piece in order to keep the attack going. But to no avail. I gained the upper hand.

See the diagram position after 22. Bb6. White came with one more problematic move. Black is winning, but he has to find the (only) correct move. Do you see it? I did and went on to win the game! Solution…

Important endgame rule

One of the most important endgame rules is ‘do not rush’! See the diagram. 

I found this position with Chess Club Live. It says ‘white to move’. I don’t know why, but I had a funny feeling and checked the position in Megabase. 

This position was reached in a game from Anand against Comp Genius in de PCA/Intel GP London Rapid 1994. And my hunch was correct. There is something strange with this puzzle. It was not white to move in this position, but black! Does it make a difference?Read More »

How strong were the old masters?

It is difficult to say how strong these players were. You can’t compare them with modern grandmasters. The modern grandmaster stands on the shoulders of these giants of the past. In the old times a lot of stuff needed to be invented. Steinitz himself was one of the first grandmasters who formulated basic chess principles.

These principles, which favored a more cautious and positional style, were not to every-bodies liking. Most of the (top) players in that era were still stuck in the Romantic way of playing chess. This meant:

Go for the attack and try to beat you opponent with great combinations.

Defense seemed not very important. Only a coward plays defensive moves! Here you have an example.Read More »