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.

Read More »

Endgames can be highly tactical

Off course there are general principles that apply to endgames. But mere intuition brings you most of the time nowhere. You have to calculate very careful.

See this, seemingly simple rook endgame. If it was black to move, he would have a very easy draw. See for example this variation…

But it is white to move. That makes all the difference in the world. But how? That’s maybe not so easy to spot. Do you see how white can win? Solution…

Here is another one!

Some moments after I finished this post, I surfed to chess.com. Chess.com shows every day a new puzzle. Sometimes these puzzles are quite hard to solve. This one is also a bit tricky. See the second diagram.

It is white to play and win. The first move is obvious. But then it gets a bit tricky. Do you see how to solve this one? Solution… 

Goes without saying that not all rook endings end in a draw!

What is the best move for black?

This a position after white’s 25th move. It is from one of my own games. At our level we make (too) many mistakes. But it doesn’t mean that there are no interesting moments.

It is clear that black is much better. The white king is not safe and his pawns are weak. Compare both rooks and queens and it becomes clear that black has a winning advantage. But the situation is still a bit tricky and black can go astray very easy. What is the best move for black?

Solution …

Chess puzzle #47 Totally crazy

Even after a quick look you will see that this position is totally crazy. White has a material advantage, but most of his pieces are en prise. 

What makes matters even more complicated is the pawn on b2 that is about to queen and give mate.

Is there a way out of this mess? Can white achieve the impossible and even win this position?

Yes, he can. It is up to you to figure this one out. Solution…

If found this fantastic puzzle on Johan Salomon’s twitter account. Johan is the present Norwegian Champion and is well on his way to become a grandmaster. You will find more intriguing puzzles on his account.

The all import patterns and themes in chess

The purpose of chess is of course to mate the enemy king. There is nothing more fascinating than an all out attack on the enemy king.

But how many times does this happen in our games? Maybe not so many times as we would hope for. At least that’s my personal experience.

One should develop an eye for it. Some help might be very useful. Strange enough there aren’t many books written about this subject. One such book is ‘Mating the Castled king’ by GM Danny Gormally. This book is solely dedicated to attacking the enemy king, in the place where the monarch thinks he is safe, when castled. One of the main themes in this book is pattern recognition. Danny writes:

“Chess players should have the ability to remember and recognize patterns and themes that repeatedly occur in practice. The more examples we see, the more ingrained these patterns will become until eventually they are second nature.”

Indeed when you recognize certain motifs the good moves almost automatically pop up in our minds. See for instance the first diagram. Can you see how white can obtain a winning advantage? Please think for a while before you read on.Read More »