If you look at chess literature, you can find entire libraries devoted to the art of attack … and almost nothing on the art of defence. Defending is much harder than attacking. Often a defender only had one move to save the position, whereas the attacker can just throw pieces at the King and hope for the best.
I believe defence is at least twice as hard as attacking, if not more. It is probably my weakest link, but I’ve still won a few games with accurate defence. In general, the opponent will overreach himself, usually with an incorrect sacrifice, and then an accurate series of moves proves my advantage.
In what follows, I present three games in which I refute my opponent’s aggressive overtures. Again, I’m not Petrosian, so my defending skills aren’t 100%, but they do the job for my level. Continue reading →
As we grow as chess players, our style evolves. This happens naturally as our positional judgement deepens. We gain a better understanding of when and how to attack, of where it makes sense and where we are just using wishful thinking.
For most of my chess development, I’ve been an aggressive player. I started with 1.e4 and 2.Qh5 in more games than I care to admit. The King’s Gambit played a large role in my opening repertoire. My entire chess strategy was 1. Develop pieces, and 2. Throw pieces at the enemy King. Crude, but if your opponent makes one mistake you win in 18 moves, so that’s pretty nice.
Along the way, though, I gained a much stronger positional grasp of the game, and this greatly curtailed my attacking tendencies. When I did attack, they were usually because the position demanded it, not because I felt like it. Here are some examples of my game maturing over the years. Continue reading →
Here’s my chess confession: growing up, I never knew what to play as Black against 1.d4. Nothing seemed to work. QGD and Slav positions always ended up passive; Nimzo positions ended up simply lost. I asked around, and apparently the King’s Indian was the best chance to attack as Black. I tried that … and lost about 80% of my games. I clearly was not a KID player.
To be fair, I didn’t study much if any theory before playing these openings. I just looked at a few games and then tried it out myself. With 1.e4 openings, that seemed fine. I had an intuitive sense of what to do. The 1.d4 openings, though, left me completely in the dark … until I found the Dutch defence.
1…f5 gave me renewed hope. For the first time, I was not just winning, but winning easily and in style. This gave me confidence. I would later give up the Dutch after several painful losses, but not before it gave me some memorable wins. Let’s look at some. Continue reading →
Every chess beginner knows the importance of castling. If you leave your King in the centre, it remains in danger. By castling you move it to the side of the board, away from danger and, usually, surrounded by defenders. The castled position is undoubtedly the best place for the King in the opening and middlegame.
This section deals with some ways to beat the castled King, taken from my own games. Though the games are from three different openings and very different positions, they all follow the same recipe for success. I’ll explain it briefly here and go in depth during the games. Continue reading →
‘Attack’ can mean many different things in chess. Some people immediately imagine sacrifices and unbelievable tactics. Others think of opposite-side castling and pawnstorms, like the Sicilian Dragon. Some people might even think about weak pawns and attacking them to win an endgame.
Those people are weird.
For me, when I think of an attack, I immediately picture the attack against an uncastled King. That is my favourite, bar none. There’s something magical, even romantic, about mating the uncastled King. I mean, we all know we should castle, yet sometimes we don’t, and those are the exact times that I relish the most. Continue reading →
Sometimes chess games get messy. Instead of calm logic the board is set aflame in chaos, and you can’t tell heads from tails. You have no idea what the heck is going on. There are so many hanging pieces and potential tactics that only a computer can calculate it all. All you can do is keep your head above the water and try to out-steer your opponent in the tactical mayhem.
In general, such games fall under two types. First, both sides attack the enemy King. This is especially common in opposite-side castling, like the Sicilian Dragon. Very complicated. Second, there can be a sacrifice for unclear compensation. Giving up a pawn or a piece for attack is the prime example.
If I had to be honest, most of my chess games are unremarkable. Usually one side makes a silly mistake, losing a pawn or a piece, and then the other side takes advantage and wins rather simply. This is how most chess games work. We like to think it’s because of smashing attacks and beautiful play, but usually it’s a simple blunder. That’s okay, a win is a win, but it’s hard to call something like that one of your ‘best’ games.
Back in September I covered perhaps my best chess game, one where I obtain a perfect positional bind and then creatively opened lines for a mating attack even without Queens. It’s original, in an unusual opening, and it was a lot of fun. Completely different from most of my chess games, and the computer confirmed that most of my play was near optimal. That makes me happy.
Today is something completely different: a game where I do not play accurately; in fact, I play based on emotion, basically saying ‘screw it, I feel like attacking now,’ and amazingly it worked! Continue reading →
After my first chess tournament, I realized how little I knew of chess and how much further I could grow. I wanted to be the best. Indeed, chess had always been one of the rare things I was unquestionably good at, and discovering I wasn’t as good as I thought booth shook me and motivated me. I needed to get better, and it was here I first discovered chess literature. I lived in a rural Canadian town, so it’s not surprising I had never ran into any chess books before. At the local library, I found exactly two. One was Fred Reinfeld’s Winning Chess Openings. It dealt with various specific variations and wasn’t too helpful.