Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reassessing My Chess (PART 4)

Well I finally finished the next section in “Reassessing Your Chess”. It took me quite a while since I never seemed to have any extended free time, plus it was a long chapter. I had to make do with an hour here and there while waiting for my kids during their various activities or the odd lunch hour. Anyway here is my continuing “cliff notes” of RYC. Two good websites I found with pgn versions of the books examples are: and .

PART 4: Minor Pieces in the Middlegame


This section concerns the differences between minor pieces. Basically, how to recognize the situation, create an imbalance, nurture your favourable imbalance, weaken your opponents pieces, and finally capitalize on your advantage.

Chapter 1: The Bishop

Bishops can be divided into three categories:

1. Good- central pawns not on it’s color
2. Bad – central pawns block it
3. Active – can be either bad or good but it serves an active function

First Rule Concerning Bishops: If you have a bad bishop you must correct it in one of three ways.
1. Trade it for a better enemy piece.
2. Make it good by moving your central pawns of it’s color.
3. Make it actice by getting it outside your pawn chain.

Second Rule Concerning Bishops: Bishops are strongest in open positions.

Third Rule Concerning Bishops: They tend to beat out Knights in Endgames with passed pawns on both sides of the board.

Using The Bishop: These paragraghs contain numerous examples with lengthy explanations of the thought process involved in creating and following through with the correct plan to win with bishops. Some of the highlighted rules of thumb that stood out to me:
• Don’t play for traps hoping your opponent does something stupid
• After deciding your move ask yourself how it improves your position
• A pawn chain should be attacked at the base. It is not necessary to win it but to make it move or trade it
• Never pass (ie make a waiting move) and hope that a move comes to you next time. Every move should strengthen you position somehow.
• All calculation is done with a goal already in mind
• In an open position one must react quickly. Time is of the essence due to the open lines.
• In a closed position attacks are initiated with pawn breaks. Slow manoeuvring is alright.

Chapter 2: Understanding Knights

First Rule of Knights: They need advanced support posts to be effective.
• Knights on the 1st or 2nd rank are purely defensive
• Knight on the 3rd rank is defensive and ready to move to a more active post.
• A knight on the 4th rank is as good as a bishop and well positioned for attack and defense.
• A Knight on the 5th rank is often superior to a bishop.
• A Knight on the 6th rank is often a winning advantage.

Second Rule of Knights: They are useful pieces in closed positions.

Third Rule of Knights: They are the best blockaders of passed pawns.

Fourth Rule of Knights: They are usually superior to Bishops in endings with pawns on only one side of the board.

More “Rules of Thumb”
• In closed positions pawn breaks on the wing take on great importance.
• Don’t be afraid of “ghosts” ie. Your opponents threats that don’t go anywhere.
• When attacking the king don’t just check. First cover the escape squares and then build a mating net.

Chapter 3: Dogs vs. Cats / Bishops vs. Knights

This chapter contains various examples where one type of minor piece wins out over the other type of minor piece.

The Anti-Knight Technique: Take away all the advanced support points of your opponents Knights and they will be ineffective and your Bishops have a good chance of winning. Before entering into a B vs. N position ask yourself the following:
1. Is the position open or closed?
2. Will there be support points for his Knights?
• If so can his Knights get to them?
• Does it matter if they do?
• Can your Bishop reach an even better position?

More “Rules of Thumb”
• Never leave yourself with no favourable imbalance or chances to create them.
• If center files are open it is rarely a good idea to decentralize one forces.

Chapter 4: The Power of Two Bishops

The usual way to combat two Bishops is to do one of three things:
1. Create a blocked position
2. Create advanced support points for your Knights
3. Trade off one of your opponents B’s and obtain a more manageable B vs. N position.

Some More Rules of thumb (some repeated)
• If your against two powerful Bishops trade your B or N for your opponents B and leave a more manageable B vs. N situation.
• A Q + N is a better combination than a Q + B
• The way to battle Knights is to take away all their advanced support points

Chapter 5: The Two Knights Victorious!

Some examples of positions (usually closed) where two Knights prove superior.


4 test problems to solve that demonstrate the ideas taught in the previous teachings of the section.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Active Chess in Edmonton

I was in Edmonton this weekend and figured I would play a couple of Saturday afternoon active games.  I did not know that the Edmonton Chess Club was now CFC rating their Saturday games.  If I had known, I might not have bothered.  The CFC active ratings are so unrepresentative of strength that they are a joke and I have been avoiding CFC active tournaments on principle.  As an example from the CFC Top Alberta Active List; 19 Eric Hansen 1924?, 36 Thomas Kaminski 1756?, 43 Terry Chaisson 1715.  Since I was already there, I went ahead and played.

Both my games were loaded with terrible blunders on my part.  Missing one or two move replys, and even thinking I won a piece and not noticing an opponent's Night was protectiong his Bishop.  I did win the first game and draw the second but they were games that I shoud have won easily.  I doubt that I will ever post them, not because there is nothing to learn from them, but because I am embarassed by my mistakes.

I have been very busy with family commitments and work related issues lately so I have not played much and I am still stuck in the middle of Part IV of "Reassess Your Chess". 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Wijk aan Zee - Results

A great tournament just wrapped up in Netherlands. As per my previous blog concerning the age of the participants, it looks like the youth group had the best average result, followed by the most experienced. Grouped by decade of birth the results are:

GM Fabiano Caruana ITA 2675 51 1992      5.5
GM Magnus Carlsen NOR 2810 1 1990        8.5
GM Sergey Karjakin RUS 2720 21 1990       7.0
AVERAGE 90'S                                           7.0

GM Hikaru Nakamura USA 2708 28 1987     7.5
GM Jan Smeets NED 2657 73 1985               4.5
GM Leinier Dominguez CUB 2712 25 1983    6.5
AVERAGE 80'S                                            6.2

GM Peter Leko HUN 2739 12 1979               6.5
GM Vladimir Kramnik RUS 2788 4 1975        8.0
GM Sergey Tiviakov NED 2662 62 1973       4.5
GM Loek van Wely NED 2641 104 1972      5.0
GM Alexei Shirov SPA 2723 20 1972            8.0
AVERAGE 70'S                                           6.4

GM Vassily Ivanchuk UKR 2749 8 1969        7.0
GM Viswanathan Anand IND 2790 3 1969    7.5
GM Nigel Short ENG 2696 38 1965              5.0
AVERAGE 60'S                                           6.5

This bodes well for the future at the top level of chess. In the B and C sections the youngest players also excelled.

• Calsen was strong throughout the tournament.
• Shirov had un unbelievable start but then slowed down and was passed.
• Kramnik was also strong throughout.
• Anand was the only undefeated player but with 11 draws it looked like he was holding back in preparation for his championship match vs Topolov.
• Nakamura played the most exciting/risky chess but stumbled in the middle of the tournament with a couple of losses.