Opening traps according to Sagar Shah

Opening books are popular. Actually, I don’t really know why. Because personally, I have never finished an opening book. Most of the opening books in my bookcase lead a sad existence. At best, I will occasionally consult them as a reference.

Perhaps those books are so popular because we hope for a quick victory? Or to avoid having to resign after a couple of moves? No idea. But what I do know is that it is useful to know and avoid falling into opening traps. Or much better: trapping your opponent.

IM Sagar Shah has started a fun series about traps in the opening on the youtube channel of ChessBase India. The videos are released at a rapid pace. They are short and entertaining. The most important thing: you are introduced to some nasty tactics in the opening. Take, for instance, this video about the Accelerated Dragon in the Sicilian defence.

Sagar Shah regularly enlivens his lesson with a light anecdote. In the next video, he is playing a game of chess with his wife. Apparently, you shouldn’t mess with her. Watch how this turned out.

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To take or not to take? That’s a hell of a question

The Norwegian International Master Johan Salomon regulary posts chess puzzles on Twitter.

The diagram position is one of those puzzles (Vasiliy Korchmar vs Ruslan Ponomariov after black played 19. – Ng4). 

In fact he posted two puzzles where a knight was en prise. The first puzzle was a bit trivial. I don’t mean this in a condescending way. I love easy puzzles, especially when I see the solution within the blink of an eye. It gives me the feeling that I am not such a bad player after all. The second puzzle was very tricky and certainly not so easy to answer.

Attention grabber

There was another aspect of this position that sparked my interest. It has to do with the structure. For me it was clear that this is an example of the Modern Benoni with Bg2. This position can arise through the first moves of a Catalan setup. I play the Catalan almost exclusively and have difficulties to deal with the black set up.

Recently some more games were added to my bumpy ride with this opening. It started last year in the Malmö GP. There I played against a 2200+ player. Things went from bad to worse and finally to completely hopeless. The time control was 50 minutes per player for the whole game. My only hope was to trick this guy somewhere when time trouble would set in.Read More »

The big failure of most opening books

eindspel_300Since I was young I had the dream of writing a book. I did not have a clue what this book should be about, but for some kind of weird reason I thought life would be completely different if I ever would succeed in my endeavour.

In my twenties I was a fanatic chess player. So I had vague ideas about writing a chess book.

Finally almost thirty years later my first book rolled from the presses. It was off a, maybe in the eyes of most people, little less glamorous nature than a novel or a chess book. It was about selling. Anyhow, it became a big success.

What I can remember from my first contacts with publishers was the question:

  • ‘For whom are you writing this book?’

Their second question was:

  • ‘After they have read your book, what value would this book have given to them?’ or ‘What’s in it for them?’

By the way: they asked lots of other unpleasant questions. But these two questions stuck out like a sore thumb. Publishers are an annoying bunch of people. It was of course obvious what my book was about?! Please don’t start to nag about trivia such as my intended target group. Why didn’t they understand?Read More »

Analyzing my own games #1

Some time ago I raised the question ‘what is your ideal game?’ I favored short and decisive games. Of course I wasn’t too serious. 

Winning a game without too many mistakes is my ideal. Preferably I dont give my opponent any chances and try to squeeze him. A game I played with white in our club championship comes close to this ideal. 

In the past I did not bother too much about analyzing my own games. I don’t know exactly why. Was I lazy? Or is it the feeling of disgust about the many mistakes I made (and still make)? Anyhow nowadays with the computer even players like me have the help of a ‘grandmaster’ and we patzers can try to make some sense out of what we have done and hopefully learn something from it.Read More »

Sweet chess victories (1)

What’s you idea about the ideal chess game? I guess a lot of people will say: 

‘The ideal chess game is a long and difficult fight, full of nice moves and great ideas. After a tough and long struggle I managed to outsmart my opponent and won!’ 

I beg to differ. The ideal chess game is short and totally annihilates the opponent. 

Bobby Fischer once said: ‘Chess is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent’s mind.’ I completely agree. Problem is that he was slightly more often on the side of the crusher than me. But, believe it or not, once and a while I also experience those glorious moments.Read More »