Tag Archives: sacrifice

SmithyQ-Gringo, April 2017: An Opening Crush

My opponent in this game is Gringo, long-time blog reader.  He offered a challenge, I accepted and the result is what you see here.  I can’t play against everyone who comments, but I’ll do my best, and I promise to analyze each game.  Best to do it now, because once I become a GM I’ll be charging money for this.

I’m joking.  Maybe.

In this blog, I’ve said repeatedly that the opening doesn’t matter and you don’t need to study it.  That’s true… and yet I won this game in 17 moves because of my opening.  What gives?  Some openings work much better at amateur level than professional level.  Most gambits, for instance, and systems like the Alekhine or Pirc score significantly better by those under 2000 rating.

I think the inverse is also true.  That is, there are some openings that masters play and do well with that are nonetheless not suitable for amateurs.  Any opening that leads to a solid but passive position is inherently dangerous at lower levels.  That’s basically what happened here.  Gringo got a normal QGD position, but he doesn’t have the requisite skills to play it properly.  I don’t think I have those skills.  I think the QGD is a terrible opening, but anyway, let’s take a look. Continue reading

OpaDragon-SmithyQ, April 2017: How I Think When Attacking

Let me start by saying this: I was in a bad mood, chess-wise, during this game, and so I was going to attack his King no matter what.  Today, we get to see an attacking game.  Is this the best strategy?  No, but sometimes you need to play chess for fun as well as improvement.

The game itself is surprisingly sound, all things considered.  The attack isn’t unfounded, and I still improve my position in my normal positional way.  What’s important in this game, I feel, is how I thought on each move.  That is, once the attack started, I was analyzing potential threats and sacrifices every move, several ply deep.  I didn’t stop until I found what worked, and then I dove it.

This analysis, then, will share exactly how I think during an attack.  It’s short and sweet, so let’s have a look. Continue reading

Using Chess To Learn About Yourself

Art imitates life. We all know this, especially if you are creative in any way. You’ll experience something, be it a cascading waterfall silhouetted by a sunset or two dogs chasing a ball and their owner’s attention, and you’ll be inspired to take action. Maybe you sketch an image or write a poem or construct a story. However you do it, the process is the same: experience something, get inspired, create something.

The same is true in reverse. Life imitates art. You see a painting, watch a movie, read a poem and something clicks. You get a fresh new perspective. Maybe you get inspired enough to take action, to do things different, or maybe you just sit back and think new, deeper thoughts. In either case, the very way you see reality has changed. Shift your perceptions and what you perceive shifts as well.

I find this interesting, as I’m a chess player. Chess is a game, but it has artistic qualities. Moreover, it’s a thinking game. It’s a direct portal into your own mind. If art imitates life, then chess definitely imitates life as well.

It’s not called the Royal Game for nothing.

Continue reading

Examples of Winning via Defence

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

Examples of Winning Via Attack II: Sacking the Castle

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

The Appeal of Chess

If you are a non-chess player, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. People spend hours staring at a board, intermittently moving around small wooden pieces. There’s little talking, little movement, just a lot of staring and thinking … and smoking. For some reason, a lot of chess players smoke their brains out. My grandfather, the man who taught me chess, seemingly could not play without a cigarette between his fingers. It also made him look rather formidable, what with the constant stream of smoke blowing from his nose.

The legendary Mikhail Tal also smoked non-stop.

If you’ve never played chess, everything I’m about to say will seem strange. Nonetheless, I will try to illustrate the magic of chess, of how it ensnares an unfortunately few and refuses to let them go. Many people play chess, often just as a fun pasttime, but a select few become well and truly obsessed. Continue reading

Chess Game of the Month August 2015: Defending the Sacrifice

I’ve started to play more games the past few weeks, but I only managed to finish one of them. Fortunately, it was an interesting, double-edged game in which both sides made mistakes, and the game became sharp right from the opening. I will analyze the game, highlight the key moments and ask questions to you, the reader. You can thus be entertained and, hopefully, learn something, too.

Some background: I played Black in a NimzoIndian against an opponent rated in the high 1800s at the time, and his rating has crept up to the mid 1900s since this game. White makes a lot of pawn moves in the opening, which lets me get some initiative. Let’s take a look.  Here is the chess.com link, so you can move the pieces around on the board if you so wish.  There’s also a dynamic board at the bottom of the page. Continue reading