The page previously known as "Strategy of Pawn Structure" has been updated, changed and renamed to "Articles".
It still contains all the previously posted articles on pawns structure, middle game planning and helpful hints only now the diagrams have been replaced and new material will soon be added.


New Main Page!

I just created a new page completely devoted to games viewed via PGN viewer.
Some of these games will be annotated but most will not.
It is my intent that only games against really strong opposition will get posted on that specific page but it may be the case that very interesting games will also find their way onto the "Game Viewer" page.

Currently I have posted all my games against the player Diduk (11 games presently) since so many people asked me to do so or expressed their fancy and appreciation for them.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those quality people who read my Blog, hopefully I have managed to impart some wisdom and make it enjoyable as I intend to do so with greater success in the future.

Don't stop here many fascinating posts are still to come!

PS- I'm still working on my long "Strategic concepts" post. it will (in all likelihood) take a few more months till I publish it!

Good chess to every one!


One of the best games I ever played!

What an amazing game! Beautiful positional play with a tactical shot that will make me smile whenever i look at this analysis ;)

Chess program, Lesson 4

Tacticooloo ;)

The Gueridon mating pattern

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
– the philidor defence
3. Bc4 Be7 
4. d4 exd4 


– you should notice here (according to what we’ve studied so far) that black’s surrender of the centre was premature and unneeded. Better was to play 4… Nc6 reinforcing the centre.

5. Nxd4 Nd7??? – From this point on black will face nothing short than utter destruction! for our purposes it’s interesting to notice that black played three developing mistakes. The first one was 2…d6. Although this is a known defence it goes against the developing rules we learned! The second mistake was 4…exd4, the premature surrender of the centre which gave white the extra space, extra activity and finally the control over the d-file which is the very means of white’s successful onslaught! And the third and last blunder was 5…Nd7 blocking the development of the LSB and shutting the queen away from the game.


6. Bxf7+!! Kxf7 – it’s very difficult to see white’s next move unless you’re familiar with it. I’ll give you a minute to see if you can spot it.

7. Ne6!!!


– At first this seems like nothing short than a blunder! And indeed what happens if black plays KxN?

7… Kxe6
8. Qd5+ Kf6
9. Qf5# 1-0

In reality black can’t do anything to escape from his lost position. And interesting try for black is to put the queen out of harms way. So instead let’s consider the move:

(7... Qe8
8. Nxc7 Qd8
9. Qd5+ Kf8
10.Ne6+ Ke8
11. Nxg7+ Kf8
12. Ne6+ Ke8
13. Qh5#)
– no escape from the checkmate!

This next example is taken from a Blackburne game.


1. b4+ Bxb4
2. Bb6+ axb6
3. Qxa8# 1-0

Here we can see that white (after going on a successful king hunt) used the b-pawn to take away Black’s flight square.

We will now examine the Greco Sacrifice Pattern

1. e4 e6
2. d4 Nf6
3. Bd3 Nc6
4. Nf3 Be7
5. h4 O-O
6. e5 Nd5
7. Bxh7+ Kxh7
8. Ng5+


The Greco pattern is easy to understand and therefore easy to prevent. Still, you’ll find that it’s not only effective in its own, the position it creates where white either has an open h-file to harass black or the beginning of a king hunt is difficult for black to defend.

In reality after the move Nf3-g5+ black is already lost no matter what he does!
It’s important to notice here the preparation that white took in order to unleash the Greco.
First of all, white kept the tension in the centre till it was in his advantage to release it. A computer will never see a Greco-type-pattern because it would have played the move e4-e5 earlier. By the way there are certainly positional justifications for playing e4-e5 earlier as well as un-positional reasons for not playing h2-h4 altogether!

On the other hand the opportunities it gives white to fight for the win and maybe even more important, all the opportunities it gives black to go wrong can not be underestimated.
In the end the moves we make have POU (philosophy of use) hat appeals to us, some players may fancy the possibilities of h2-h4 while other will consider it an inaccuracy. Both POUs are right!

Learning the Greco will open your life to a whole new world of possibilities. There are also ideas like playing Ng5 or Bg5 before Bxh7+ and then when black plays h6 to attack whatever piece white placed on g5 white answers with? h2-h4! Offering the piece for the gaining of an open h-file. But we’ll get to that later on.

So at this junction I would like us to examine some of the possibilities black has and how white reacts to each of them. You’ll see that they combine several of the other tactical ideas we mentioned so far. Like discovered attacks, double checks, the occupation of important attacking lines etc.

Before we examine this position I would like you to look at it again now grasping all the weak diagonals, key squares and possible moves.


Moves that we will examine are these:
A) Kg8
B) Kg6
C) Kh6

A) 8… Kg8
9.Qh5 Bxg5 – otherwise Qh7#
10. hxg5! – opening the h-file where the Queen and Rook work together
10… f5 – only move
11. g6! – taking out the King’s escape (flight) square. With either Qh7# or Qh8# on the next turn. Game over!

B) 8... Kg6
9. Qd3+ f5
10. exf6+ Kxf6
11. Qf3+ Kg6
12. h5+ Kh6
13. Qd3!! – an important move! taking control over the d3-h7 diagonal which empowers white’s threat of Nxe6+(discovered check and attack on the Queen) where black will find that he even has less squares to run to and that his Queen is gone! So although Qd3 is somewhat a quiet move, not checking or sacrificing anything right away it’s a powerful one. Methodically speaking, this is a part of the technique you employ when building a mating net.

14. Nxe6+ Kh7
15. Qxf5+ Kg8
16. Nxd8 Nf6
17. Nxc6 dxc6
18. Qg6 Bf8
19. h6! Bd7
20. hxg7 Bxg7
21. Bh6 Ne8 - (21... Re8+ 22. Kf1 – and the Knight can’t go to e8 to defend g7)
22. Rh4!! – with the idea of Rh4-f4-f7 attacking g7!
22… a5 23. Rf4 a4
24. Rf7 Rd8
25. Rxg7+ Nxg7
26. Qxg7#

C) 8... Kh6
9. Nxe6+ Ne3
10. Qd3!! – either way black is doomed. His desperate attacking move was designed to confuse white. Many moves win here of course including the straightforward 10.Bxe3+ but there black has that one extra non-forced-move which gives him the time to play g6. for instance after the continuation Kh7 Qd3+ g6. therefore white play Qd3 right away leaving his Knight on e6 to be captured since Bxe3+ will place the black king in an immediate mating net with but one square to go to. For instance after:

C1) 10…dxe6 11.Bxe3+ Kh5 12. Qh7+ Kg4 13.Qe4+ Kh5 14.g4#

C2) 10… f5
11. exf6 Qe8 – there are many failed attempts here for black that theoretically speaking will lose slower but for our purposes we can establish that if black loses his queen too it is surely over and there is no point in analyzing it further anyway! So let’s see what happens if black tries to defend his queen.

12. Bxe3+ Kh5
13. Qf5+ g5
14. Qxg5#

The Queen Sacrifice mate


1.Qxf7+ Rxf7
2. Rd8# 

The Boden’s mate

This mate usually occurs when your opponent castled queen side.
Some call it the Bishop’s mate, or the crisscross mate or the Alekhine mate.


1. Qxc6+ bxc6
2. Ba6#

Blackburne’s mate

This mate can be found in various formations and numerous opening set ups. It’s important to focus on the important factors that create the mating net. These are the Queen, the Knight and the Two Bishops. In fact if you have something else to replace the Queen’s sacrifice you can create the mating net with the Knight and Bishops alone.
This tactic will only work on a fianchettoed pawn structure without the corresponding Bishop, in this case that will be the lack of black’s DSB.


1. Qh4 h5
2. Qxh5 gxh5
3. Bh7#

Queen and Pawn mate


1.f6 g6
2. Qh6 Qe5
3. Qg7#

The h-file mate (Rook & Bishop)


1. Rxh7 Kxh7
2. Rh1+ Kg8
3. Rh8#

The Pillsbury mate


1. Rxg7+ Kh8
2. Rg8+ Kxg8
3. Rg1#

The next position that we’ll examine is a very interesting one to say the least!
I’ve learned a lot from it personally.


First of all let us examine the position.
Material count is interesting, white is a Knight up yet two pawns down.
Both sides have moved their Kings hence neither side can castle.
White is more active, having three minor pieces in the centre (controlling black’s camp)
White has a lead in development and more space.
The White queen is under attack! Therefore unless white moves the Queen or finds a forcing combination black will surely play bxa5 with a won game despite the other deficiencies.
Black has threats of his own for winning the lost piece. For instance a maneuver like …Ng6 / Bxd6.
White can’t take the time to protect his King with moves like h3 since then …bxa5 wins for black.
If white tries to be “smart” and offer the piece back with the move g3 black can out smart him and play Qxf3! Where the Queen still hangs as well as the h1-Rook and black quite simply wins.

If you’ll input this position to a computer engine it will surely calculate all variations and find the best positional spot for the White Queen. That being on c3.

Therefore, the best positional move in this position is 1.Qc3! protecting the Bishop on c4, attacking the g7 pawn (and indirectly attacking the Rook) with ideas such as Nd4 or Rd1 with a won position that needs to be won.
Certainly this is not a difficult task for even the weakest of players. Surely even a novice could win this position even if he would miss the best moves move after move second moves and even third best moves will win just as well!

Still black has some easy-to-see counter measures with ideas such as …Nd5 blockading or …Ng6 with …Bxd5 or …Nf5 attacking the Knight on d6 or …Bb7!? Creating pressure along the diagonal where if white isn’t careful and moves his f3 Knight he will get mated! Or ideas with …Rg8/g5 with chaotic counter play.

With accurate play and time on your clock indeed 1.Qc3 would be best none the less. But if you want to create more options for your opponent to go wrong, if you want to put him in a position where he has less options to choose from and play more forcing moves you might result this positional tension with tactical play and not positional / strategic one.

Therefore white has a really nice trick here, I will give you a minute to try and spot it.


1. Ng5!!! – Amazing move! This initiates the Knight(s) checking tango ;)
1… bxa5 – we’ll consider other moves later
2. Ngf7+ Kc7
3. Ne8+ Kb6 

(if 3... Kb7 4. Nd8+ Kb6 5. Bd4+ Qc5 6. Rb1#)

4. Bd4+ Kb7
5. Rb1+ Qb6
6. Nd8+ Kb8
7. Be5+ d6 8. Bxd6# 

In reality the best move for black after 1.Ng5 is 1…Ng6 creating a flight square so to meet 2.Ngf7+ with 2…Ke7.
What’s interesting here (and this is something a computer will never understand) is that after 2…Ke7 White can now go back to playing 3.Qc3!! with roughly the same ideas he had before but far less ideas and counter play for black!!
The King is stuck in the centre blocking the f7 Bishop from both developing and capturing on d6. the Knight has already committed itself to g6 so in truth we reached the same set up the computer was so positionally fond of but with better play for white and worse play for black.

In addition the Back King’s position is slightly worse since White now has the threat of Qc3-g3-g5#

Here the only move that black can play and try for anything is 3…Bb7 but white easily stops this threat with the move 4.Rg1!! then Black can hit further more with 4…Rc8!? Here white can’t play Qg3 because of QxB+
But white can go for some forcing lines where there is a lot of smoke to be cleared but once cleared white will be on top.

5. Qd4!!

(5. Qd2 – will achieve the same forcing trading line but will offer black less chances to go wrong! The trading line is: 5…Qxc4+
6. Nxc4 Rxc4
7. Nxh8 Nxe5
8. Qg5+ Ke8
9.Qxe5 with the idea of Qb8+ game over)

5... Qc5

(One way for black to go wrong will be 5... Nxe5 6. Qh4+ g5 7. Qxg5#)

6. Qd2 – with the same variation as before. 1-0

Accurate knowledge of tactics allows you to play accurate defence!

[image]  [image]  [image]  [image]  [image]  [image]  [image]


French defence, Winawer, 5. a3, 6... f5 Analysis

The subject of the next analysis is a unique move i found in the French defence.

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Bb4
4. e5 c5
5. a3 Bxc3
6. bxc3 f5 (to stop Qg4)

Here we start an elaborate analysis where White will attempt to exploit Black's weaknesses while it is up to lack to prove that a decisive way for a White advantage cannot clearly be demonstrated.

The following discussion is taken from the 'Openings for amateurs' forum.

FM David Levin:
[1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 f5 7. Qh5+ g6 8. Qd1 Nc6 9. Nf3 Nge7 10. Bh6 Qa5 11. Qd2 Bd7 12. Be2 cxd4 13. cxd4 Qxd2+ 14. Bxd2 h6 15. h4]


My immediate impression was that White is much better due to White's potential "minority attack" on the a- and b-files, White's space advantage on the e-file (which suggests White's possibly opening the kingside at some point), Black's weak h-pawn, the lack of effective posts for Black's minor pieces, and Black's difficulty in generating active play along the c-file (given that Black cannot maneuver a knight to the c4-square via the a5-square).

To test this assessment, I tried to construct a tangible plan for White. The key seemed to be White's knight, which although "centralized" on the f3-square, is blocking the f-pawn and doesn't contribute to any White offensive. It seemed to rather belong on the c5-square, to aid in pressuring the b-pawn.

Here then, is the multi-stage maneuver I came up with.

Stage A. Connect White's rooks
A1) Play Bd3 (to free the e2-square for the king and protect the c-pawn in case a Black rook were to attack it along the c-file)
A2) Play Ke2 (to facilitate the deployment of White's rooks on either wing)

Stage B. Prevent blockade of White's a-pawn
B1) Play a4 (to prevent ...Ba4 in case Black's c6-knight were to move)
B2) Play a5 (to prevent ...Na5, ...Nec6, and ...b6)

Stage C. Redeploy White's knight to the b3-square (from which it may access the c5-square)
C1) Play c3 (so that White's d2-bishop can leave the a5/e1 diagonal without permitting ...Nb4)
C2) Play Be3 (to free the d2-square for the knight)
C3) Play Nd2 (another route to the c5-square would have been via the e1- and d3-squares, but this would have forced White pieces to inferior posts)
C4) Play Nb3 (not only eyeing the c5-square but protecting the a-pawn, thereby freeing White's a1-rook)

These stages/moves may need to be swapped or deferred based on Black's play. For example, if Black continues 15...Nd8, the reply should be 16. a4 (to prevent 16...Ba4), even though that move is listed under Stage B.

The following shows the result of the above three stages, with Black's pieces omitted.


A natural plan for White from this point would be to continue amassing pieces on the queenside. With White's knight protecting the a-pawn (thus allowing a White piece to interpose between White's a-rook and a-pawn), White's dark-square bishop could redeploy to the a3-square and settle at the d6-square. Then White's h-rook would probably come to the b1-square.

Another plan would be to prepare g4... followed by h5... (and if Black replies ...g5, White might play f4).

Summarizing, in the position reached by 15. h4, it seems to me that accurate play by White could well oblige Black to defend alertly for 30 or 40 moves, with little prospect for meaningful activity. This seems to imply that White has a clear edge, unless a comprehensive defensive plan for Black can be demonstrated. 

before we go any further I do like to say that white is obviously better and yes mainly because of everything you’ve mentioned and black’s uneasy piece play etc but is it really utterly decisive or simply… defendable?

Naming a few of black’s steps:

Play …b6 (to prevent Rb1 threats and the possibility of white posting a piece on c5)
Play …Kf7 (to connect the Rooks, defend king side pawns and the e-pawn thus giving more freedom to the d7 bishop)
Play …Kg7 (to defend the h-pawn and prepare the next step)
Play …Rb8 and …Rc8 (to activate the Rooks and defend the queen side. If possible double rooks on the b-file)

Possibly Play … Na5!? (if BxN the b and c-files will be opened giving black the activity needed for counter play. Black could then also play …a5-a4 preventing a piece coming to b3. Otherwise the knight controls key squares such as c4 and b3)

[variation: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 f5 7. Qh5+ g6 8. Qd1 Nc6 9. Nf3 Nge7 10. Bh6 Qa5 11. Qd2 Bd7 12. Be2 cxd4 13. cxd4 Qxd2+ 14. Bxd2 h6 15. h4]

Likeable continuation: 15… b6 16. Bd3 Kf7 (BTW, possibly even 16... Na5) 17. Ke2 Rab8 18. a4!? Kg7 19. Rhb1 Rhc8 {possibly with 20… Na5}
I don’t’ see any problems for black. 

FM Dave Levin:
[1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 f5 7. Qh5+ g6 8. Qd1 Nc6 9. Nf3 Nge7 10. Bh6 Qa5 11. Qd2 Bd7 12. Be2 cxd4 13. cxd4 Qxd2+ 14. Bxd2 h6 15. h4]


[as suggested: 15…..b6 16. Bd3 Kf7 17. Ke2 Rab8 18. a4 Kg7 19. Rhb1 Rhc8]


Given that Black has played ...b6 (giving White's a-pawn something to "bite" on), White might as well pursue the minority attack.

20. a5 bxa5 21. Rxb8 Rxb8 22. Bxa5 Nxa5 23. Rxa5



Yes, white’s position and piece-posts have their merits but that does not out weigh black’s play in any way I can think of at this moment.

For instance, whatever move may be chosen for white as a substitute 24th move it doesn’t seem to force black to abandon the above mentioned plans to something, shall we say – less favorable. Not that I can see anyway.

So disregarding white’s 24th move I do believe black can simply meet most 24th move with 24…Nc6 and now, a few ideas:

A very fast-sleeve line to demonstrate these ideas:
24. Ra6 Nc6
25. c3 Rb2+
26. Ke3 Be8
27. Nd2 g5
28. hxg5 hxg5
29. g3 f4+
30. gxf4 gxf4+
31. Ke2 Bh5+

And it is white who seems to suffer a small predicament.

FM Dave Levin:
After the saner 24. Ra2 (protecting White's second rank), I'm not sure that White can ultimately be prevented from repositioning his knight to the c5-square and improving the placement of his other pieces. But even if this were achieved, it's far from clear that White could demonstrate a persistent advantage, although I still wouldn't be comfortable as Black in the 6...f5 variation. 

That is precisely the point, I don’t actually see that happening at all. I don’t see how the knight can successfully reach c5 nor can I see how white can improve if anything I’d say the tactics favor black and that somehow along the road the players have switched sides and it is now white who needs to aimlessly defend and it is black who’s enjoying the activity.

[1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 f5 7. Qh5+ g6 8. Qd1 Nc6 9. Nf3 Nge7 10. Bh6 Qa5 11. Qd2 Bd7 12. Be2 cxd4 13. cxd4 Qxd2+ 14. Bxd2 h6 15. h4 b6 16. Bd3 Kf7 17. Ke2 Rab8 18. a4 Kg7 19. Rhb1 Rhc8 20. a5 bxa5 21. Rxb8 Rxb8 22. Bxa5 Nxa5 23. Rxa5 Rb7 24. Ra2 Nc6]

A) 25. c3 {seems most natural here}
a5 26. Nd2 a4 27. Bc2 (27. Rxa4 Nxe5) 27... Ra7 28. Rxa4 Rxa4 29. Bxa4 Nxd4+ 30. cxd4 Bxa4 31. g3 g5

B) 25. Ke3 {trying to protect the d-pawn with the king in order to play Nd2}
a5 26. Nd2 a4 27. Rxa4 Nxe5 28. Ra2 Nxd3 29. Kxd3 Kf6 30. Nb3 Rb4 31. Nc5 (31. Rb2 g5 32. hxg5+ hxg5 33. c3 Rb8 34. Kc2 Ba4)
31... Bb5+

C) 25. Ba6 {attempting to stop the a-pawn}
Nb4 26. Bxb7 Nxa2 27. Nd2 Bb5+ 28. Ke3 Nb4 29. c3 Nc2+ 30.
Kf4 a5 31. Nb3 a4 32. Nc5 Kf7 33. Bc8 Ke7 34. Bxe6 Bc4 35. Nxa4 Kxe6 36. Nc5+ Ke7

In all these lines black appears to have more dynamics, more tactics and easier play while it is white who needs to show extra careful.

I haven't really gotten involved with long lines of theory discussion much, but I would like to add my two cents' worth here. One of the things I've learned recently is the idea that one should always focus on the specific drawbacks of the opponent's moves when considering what should be the correct response. Here, one could say that Qh5+ should definitely be considered, as Black has just weakened the h5-e8 diagonal, but I wonder if Qd1 might be discarded in favor of Qh3, which keeps an eye on the h6 square, weakened after g6.

[1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 f5 7. Qh5+ g6 8. Qh3]


At first glance 8. Qh3 does appear to stay on target rather than to retreat back to d1 so I understand the attraction of the move.

The problem is that from h3 the queen will not be able to defend the c2 and c3-pawns. Especially since after …Nc6 white will have to play Ng1-f3 cutting the queen’s lines even more.
Black only needs two tempi at most to attack these pawns, one way will be …Qd8-a5 {attacking c3} Qa5-a4 {attacking c2} and … Bd7-a4 {attacking c2}

It seems that without the queen the c1-Bishop and the a1-Rook cannot defend the c2- c3- and a3-pawns therefore black will be able to win {in most likelihood} the a-pawn.

After the capture …Qxa3 black will be able to close the centre with the thematic …c5-c4 which will limit white’s LSB but more importantly will serve black with what I consider a substitutional–regressive-plan. The queen {mind you it is now on a3} will be able to go straight to f8 from where it will defend the h6 hole and the f6 square.
Interesting that the queen is likely to continue with Qf8-g7 making a substitution for the DSB and defending the b7-pawn. Once that is achieved I believe black will be able to both advance on the king side with …h7-h6 / …g6-g5 and advance on the queen side with …b6 / … a5 / … b5 / …. Rb8 / … Ba6 and build on the break of … b5-b4 {or possibly if white hasn’t prevented it just ….a5-a4-a3 etc}

The most purposeful move then is:

8… Nc6 {trying to force white into Ng1-f3}
9. Nf3 Qa5 10. Bd2 Qa4 11. Rc1 Qxa3 12. Bd3 c4 13. Be2 Qf8 14. O-O 

Here is see to plans of action, one for pure defence and the other is a try for a win.

A) 14…Qg7 {playing for defence}
15. Ra1 h6 16. Rfb1 Nge7 17. Ne1 g5 18. Bh5+ Ng6 19. f4 g4 20. Qg3 O-O

B) 14... b6 {trying to play for a win}
15. Qg3 (15. Nh4 Qg7) (15. Bg5 h6) 15... Qg7 16. Ra1 h6 17. h4 b5 18. Rfb1 Rb8 19. Rb2 a5 20. Rab1 Ba6

Unless I’m missing something I think black is clearly fine with both plans

[1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 f5]

Two more lines I checked:

A) Main line 7. Qh5+ g6
A1) 8. Qe2 Nc6 9. Nf3 Qa5 10. Bd2 Qa4 11. Qd3 c4 12. Qe3 Qxc2 13. Be2 Na5
Seems pretty sound for black

B) 7. Nh3

{At first the idea of Nh3 seemed only natural for positional reasons. The main idea being Nh3-f4 from which it’ll attack the g6-square thus making a plausible Qd1-h5+ a decisive tactic. The second reason is Nf4-d3-c5 but I think that’s less plausible since the simple …b7-b6 or even …c5-c4 stops it but at least it’s a possibility. Yet another reason to support 7. Nh3 is the queen’s free play on the d1-h5 diagonal with possible moves like f2-f4 and Qd1-f3}

7... Qc7

{the idea for this move / plan came to me from the above lines with the black queen going to g7. here too the queen is heading that same way}

8. Bd2 g6 9. Qf3

{I welcome any suggestions you may have but for now this seems like the only way for white to actually develop his back rank}

9… Nc6 10. Qe3 Qg7 11. Bd3 c4 12. Be2 h6 13. O-O g5 14. a4

{I’m not convinced white has any better, the obvious 14. Bh5+ may be better but for now I’m not so sure. Black has a lot of pieces on the king side, any attempts by white should allow black to trade off as many pieces as he can. I’m not sure white can benefit from any open king side files as well, see the variation below to see why.}
(14. Bh5+ Kf8 15. f4 g4 16. Nf2 Bd7 17. Nxg4 Be8 18. Nf6 Nxf6 19. exf6 Qxf6 20. Bf3 Rg8 21. a4 Rc8 22. Bc1 Rc7 23. Ba3+ Kg7 24. Rf2 Kh7 25. Re1 Bf7 26. Kh1 Rg7 27. Rfe2 Rc8 28. Qf2 Rcg8 29. g3 h5)

14... Nge7 15. Bc1 O-O 16. f4
(16. Ba3 f4)
16... g4 17. Nf2 b6

The game reached a strategic impasse

[1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 f5]

Moves I’m planning to cover:
7. a4, 7. Be3, 7. Rb1

7. a4
7... Nc6 8. f4 

(8. Qh5+ g6 9. Qd1 Qc7 10. Nf3 Qg7
(10... Nge7 11. Bd2
(11. Bh6 cxd4 12. cxd4 Nb4)
11... b6 12. Be2 Bb7 13. Bh6 Ng8 14. Be3 Nge7 15. Qd2 Na5 16. Ng5 Nc4 17. Bxc4 dxc4 18. Nxe6 Qc6)
11. Be2 h6 12. h4 Nge7 13. Be3 c4 14. Qd2 b6 15. Ng1 Bb7 16. Nh3 O-O-O)

8... Nge7 9. Nf3 O-O 10. Be2 Qa5 11. Bd2 c4 12. O-O h6 13. Nh4 Bd7 14. Qe1 Rab8

Despite the complications I do see the same themes starting to repeat themselves with stable success. Black should be ok in these lines.

A game i played on the internet against a FM!


Diduk vs. Me

Houdini's analysis of MusiqueWand vs. Lex Rex correspondence game.

This is the game that inspired me to do the very extensive 'position recognition, evaluation, analysis and calculation study' you see below starting on move 21. I warmly suggest that you read it too, it's a very interesting intake on thinking process.

See here a direct LINK to that specific post 


Position: recognition, evaluation, analysis and calculation study.

(Diagram: White to move)

Black’s last move was 20… h6

Points for 20… h6:
- it made a plausible Qd1-h5 less effective
- it secured a flight-square for the king
- it somewhat weakened the a1-h8 and b1-h7 diagonals

General notes about the position:


• White has King-side and central pawn majority and he is a clear pawn up. Black seems to have compensation for that pawn, how much compensation? I’m not so sure but Black clearly has more space on the half-open e-file and as a result has better control over the centre.
• White’s h4-Knight is indeed on the rim but it is not clear whether the Knight is badly placed. It points towards key King-side squares and cannot easily be dislodged since …g5??? Is met by Nf6+ winning material.
• White’s a-pawn needs protection.
• White has a nice Knight on d5.


• Black is fully developed with almost all his forces centralized.
• Black has the Bishop-pair.
• Black’s DSB is a very useful piece which controls the f8-a3 Diagonal but its efficiency in dynamism is diminished in the Endgame since White has fair amount of pawns on dark squares.

Strategic and Tactical Squares and Diagonals

• A key Diagonal (which Black weakened) is the b1-h7 diagonal. It is likely (with support from White’s Knights) that White will be able to create tactical threats along this diagonal and some of its key squares.
• Key squares along the b1-h7 diagonal: e4, f5, g6. d3 is another key square but not in White’s favor! It can become a Black outpost.
• White has pressure along the h1-a8 Diagonal but that requires from him to keep his LSB safe or else Black may play … Bh3 or …Bd5 with either an exchange or stand off.
• The f6-square is quite weak, it stops Black from playing … g5 (which on some plans may help in a …g5 / … f5-f4 plan) but in some lines White can even “sac” his Knight with a Nf6+ and break Black’s King-side. For instance if Black moves his Queen then Nf6+ / Rxd6 is possible.
• Black’s DSB has control on the important diagonal f8-a3. Nearly all squares on this diagonal can be considered key squares!
• The c6- and b7-squares are weak and heavily controlled by White’s LSB (for instance if Black were to play …b6 White plays Nf6+!)
• The c3- and d3-squares are possible Black outposts and that makes them slightly vulnerable for positional plans. For instance, if White plays a premature f4 / e4 / Nf3 plan Black may answer that with … Bc5+ / … Nb4-d3.
• The Diagonal a1-h8 is a problematic diagonal. Since Black obtains the only DSB it is under his theoretical control but it is plausible for White to use it with Qa1 but not very likely.
• A key square for Black is a5, mostly for his Queen but also for his DSB and c6 Knight.

Outweighing one strategic element against another

1) Black's queen
1a) Positive: aggressively posted and supports the advance ...a5, ...a4 (which would enhance the mobility of Black's light-square bishop)
1b) Negative: far removed from the kingside
2) Black's d6 square is a hole (although it's heavily fortified)
3) White's knight versus Black's dark-square bishop
3a) Were all three White minor pieces on light squares, Black could exchange only two of them
3b) Knight is potentially the better minor piece if all else were eliminated except kingside pawns
4) White's d2-rook is "overworked" in having to protect a2 and d5 (which Black exploits in some lines)


• I’m not sure which are better the Knights or the Bishops. Black’s BP is strong but if one of them (I’m not even sure it matters which) is removed then I think White has better positional control in the Endgame. For instance, with Rook(s) on the d- or c-file(s) and a posted Knight on d4.
To take this further, if you remove all the pieces from the board but a White Knight on d4 and a Black Bishop on d7 then White has a very good Endgame with ideas such as h4-h5 to weaken Black’s KS pawns and prevent …g5 or …g6 / …f5. and then Kg2 / f4 / Kf3 / e4. Or a completely different approach, Kg2 / Kf3 etc.
• Unlikely to happen but still important to note is f4-f5 (attacking the Bishops) / f5-f6.

Theoretical black plans if he was the first to move
Black may attempt 1... Ne7 hoping for 2. Nxe7+ Bxe7 3. Rxd8 Rxd8 4. Qc2
b6 5. Nf3 Bf6 where his BP may prove the upper hand despite the material count.
Of course, White should not play 2. Nxe7+ but rather 2. Nc3
An imaginary continuation (purely for the fun of it but it does prove something about Black’s Weaknesses) is:
2... Qb4 3. Bxb7 Qxc3 4. Rxd6 Qc7 5. Rxd8 Rxd8 6. Qf3 g5 7. Ng2 g4 8. Qf6 Qxb7 9. Nf4 Rd6 10. Nh5 Nf5 11. Qe5 Qb6 12. h3, surprisingly White should win this imaginary line.
Black should play 2... Bc7 with the same ideas but less weaknesses.
Another likable Black plan is:
1... Ne5, eyeing the f3- and d3-square, centralizing the Knight and removing it from harms way.
If White tries the premature f4 / e4 plan Black obtains full positional compensation for his lost pawn.
2. f4 Nc6!!? 3. e4 Bxd5 4. Rxd5 Bc5+ 5. Kh1 Nd4

In reviewing the position it seems that white would like to:
- double Rooks on the d-file
- play Rfc1
- possibly to set Alekhine's-gun on the d-file.

Candidates move for white:

A) 21. Qe2
B) 21. Qc2
C) 21. Qh5
D) 21. Qb1
E) 21. e4

(I have completely disregarded both 21. Qc1 and 21. Qf3 because both disturb White’s game especially on the tactical level.

For instance:
21. Qc1 Qxc1 22. Rxc1 Bb4
{This does not only initiate the previously mentioned plan of later playing … Ba3 / … Nb4 but also to force White to abandon his plan as it no longer stand the tactics.}
23. Rdd1 Ba3 24. Rb1 (24. Rc2 Rd7 (24... g5 25. Nf6+ Kf8) 25. Rcd2 Red8 26. e4 Nb4) 24... Rd7 or 24… Bd6 {against Nf4}, White’s rearrangement is slightly more difficult.
23. Rd3 g5 24. Nf6+ Kf8

To my mind 21. Qf3 doesn’t make any sense at all since it disturbs the Bishop, doesn’t protect a2 and fulfill no purpose on f3.)

A) 21. Qe2. On e2 the Queen isn’t as vulnerable as she would be on the c-file (which one could argue for its misplacement as this would be the job of a Rook) while keeping the option of moving towards the King-side. A plausible plan is Rfd1 / h3 / f4 / e4 / Nf3 and a possible g4 that should utilize all the elements favoring White.

B) 21. Qc2 which, given enough time, may be best. It does serve the purpose of White’s plan yet it also controls the b1-h7 diagonal and the Rook-vacated c-file! Clearly, this “plus” may also prove a tactical minus if Black gets R-c8 in time. Black also has …Nc6-b4 ideas (attacking the Queen) as well as positional plans such as … Qa5 / … Ba3 / … Nb4 which may take too many squares around the Queen and unlike 21. Qe2 the Queen does not have the King-side to run to.

C) 21. Qh5 has its points too. Especially since a possible Bg2-e4 may become a stronger threat than having the Queen and Bishop in the other order as it would be in all the other Queen-moves! But 21. Qh5 leaves the a-pawn more vulnerable as well as the momentarily undefended d2 Rook.

D) 21. Qb1. the Queen serves the plan’s purpose, defends the a-pawn, obtains pressure over the b1-h7 diagonal and unlike 21. Qc2 it is not vulnerable for c-file Rook shifts or …Nb4. it also controls two semi-important key squares: d3 and f5.

! White may (in some lines) prefer to play the h4-Knight back to f3 and from there to d4, both 21. Qc2 and 21. Qb1 are immune to …Bg4 (which may not be that effective but it is certainly something to consider) while 21. Qh5 doesn’t allow it in the first place.

E) 21. e4. Despite the obvious pluses of 21. e4 I believe the inevitable isolated d-pawn (in case of …Be6xNd5) will (with black playing best moves) allow for a draw at best and possibly lose if he isn’t careful. There is no chance for a win. At least not in analytical terms, yes, possibly this is the best practical move white can make but surely not the best!

A few extra points on 21. e4

 Once White plays e4 he has given up (so to say) on several of his assets and since e4 in itself doesn’t guarantee a win and in fact adds tactical problems.

 White’s LSB is a powerful piece here. Much more than it usually is!
The tactics and pressure White exerts on the c6- and b7-squares are of extreme importance so to give up on these resources without the increase of another would diminish White’s assets.

 The b1-h7 diagonal is a key factor in this position. 21. e4 renders it irrelevant and even takes away the possibility of Qh5 / Be4.

 21. e4 creates weak squares as well: The c3- and d3- squares are now weaker and can easily be exploited by Black’s DSB (specifically with …Bc5 with or without the check) and Black’s Knight (specifically with ...Nb4 or ... Ne5. actually, it allows the Knight better activity altogether.) It also weakened the d4-sqaure, where upon …Bc5 (with the knight on c6) assumes control over what I can only describe as a short diagonal: c5-e3 and with it central control.

 The last point is the endgame.
A closer inspection should show that the isolated d-pawn (assuming Black captures the Knight on d5 and White recaptures with the e-pawn) doesn’t give White anything at all. I have not seen a single endgame (yet) where this pawn proved a decisive factor. Therefore 21. e4 would prevent White from recapturing on d5 with the Bishop (as a possible outpost) as well.

Variations for 21. e4:

21… Bb4 22. Rd3
Lines: A) 22…Bf8, B) 22… Bxd5, C) Main-Line – 22… Qa5

A) 22... Bf8
23. f4 Bc5+ 24. Kh1 Qxa2 25. Nc7 Rxd3 26. Qxd3 Rd8 27. Qb5 Bb6 28. Nxe6 fxe6 29. Bh3 (29. Nf3 Qc2) 29... Nd4 30. Qc4 Re8 31. Nf5 Qxb3 32. Qxb3 Nxb3 33. Nd6 Re7 34. Nc8 Re8 35. Nxb6 axb6 36. e5 (36. Rb1 Nc5 37. Rxb6 e5) 36... Nd4 37. Rb1 b5 38. Rb4 Rd8 39. Kg2 Kf7 40. Kf2 g5 41. fxg5 (41. Ke3 Nc2+) 41... hxg5 42. Bg2 Nf5 ( 42... b6 43. Be4) 43. Rxb5 Rd2+ 44. Kg1 (44. Kf3 g4+ 45. Kxg4 Rxg2) (44. Kf1
Ne3+) 44... Rd1+ 45. Kf2 Rd2+ 46. Kg1 Rd1+

B) 22... Bxd5
23. exd5 Ne5 24. Rd4 Bc5 25. Rd2 g6 26. Nf3 Ng4 27. h3 Nf6 28. Re1 Qa5

Main-Line C) 22…Qa5
23. a4
(23. f4 Bc5+ 24. Kh1 Qxa2 25. Nf3 Qa5, Black is probably winning)
23... Ne5 24. Rd4 Nc6 25. Rc4 a6
(25... Be7 26. f4? (26. Nf5 Bxf5 27. exf5 Bf8 should be ok) 26... Nb4 27. Qd2 Qb6+ 28. Nxb6 Rxd2 29. Nd5 Nxd5 30. exd5 Bxd5 31. Bxd5 Rxd5 32. Nf3 Rd3 33. b4 Ra3 34. b5 b6 35. Ne5 Bc5+ 36. Kg2 f6 37. Nd7 Re2+ 38. Kh3 Be7, Black is better)
26. Qc2

Branch: C1) 26… Bf8, C2) 26…Ne5, Main-Line C3) 26…Be7

C1) 26... Bf8
27. Qc3
(27. Rd1 Bxd5 28. exd5 Re1+)
(27. f4 Nb4 28. Qd2 Qb6+ 29. Nxb6 Rxd2 30. Rc7 (30. Nf3 Bxc4) 30... Nd3)
27... Qxc3 28. Rxc3 Nd4 29. Kh1 (29. Re1 Bxd5 30. exd5 Rxe1+) 29... Rc8 30. Rd3
(30. Rfc1 Rxc3 31. Rxc3 (31. Nxc3 Nxb3) 31... Bxd5 32. exd5 Re1+) 30... Bc5 31.
Rfd1 and now I’m not sure. Maybe 31… Nc6 or 31... b5 or 31... Ba7

C2) 26... Ne5
27. Rc7 Nd3 (27... b5) 28. Rxb7 ( 28. Rxf7 Ne1) 28... Bxd5 29. exd5 Nc5 30. Rxb4 Qxb4 31. Nf5 Nxb3 32. Qb2 f6 33. d6 Kf8 34. Bd5 Re5 35. Ne7 Rxd5 36. Nxd5 Qxd6 37. Nxf6 Nd4 38. Ne4 Qc6 39. Qb4+ Kg8 40. f3 a5 41. Qxa5 Nxf3+ 42. Rxf3 Rd1+ 43. Rf1 Rxf1+ 44. Kxf1 Qxe4, technical drawish endgame

C3) 26…Be7
27. Rd1 Bxh4
(27... Bxd5 28. exd5 Ne5)
(Quite interesting is: 27... Bd6 28. f4 Nb4 29. Qd2 b5 30. axb5 axb5 31. Rcc1 Qa7+ 32. Qd4 Qxd4+ 33. Rxd4 Nxd5 34. exd5 Bc8)
28. Rc5 Nb4 29. Rxa5 Nxc2 30. gxh4 Nb4 31. Rc5 Bg4
(31... b6 32. Rc7 Bxd5 33. exd5 Rd6)
(31... Kf8 32. Rc7 b6 33. Rb7 Bxd5 34. exd5 Rd6)
32. Rd2
(32. f3 Be6 33. f4 Bxd5 (33... b6 ) 34. exd5 Re3 35. Rc7 Rxb3 36. d6 Rd3 37. Rxd3 Nxd3 38. d7 Kf8 39. Bxb7 (39. Rc8 Ke7) 39... a5 40. f5 Ke7 41. Ba6 Ne5 42. Bb5 Nf3+
(42... Nxd7 43. Ra7 Kd6 44. Kf2 Ne5 45. Rxa5 Rc8)
43. Kf2 Nxh4 44. Rc5 Kd6 45. Rc6+ Ke7 46. f6+ gxf6 47. Ra6 Nf5 48. Rxa5 Nd4 49. Kg3 Nxb5 50. Rxb5 Rxd7 51. a5 Rd6, Draw)
32... b6 33.Rc3
(33. Rc4 Rxd5 34. exd5 Re1+ 35. Bf1 Bh3)
33... Kf8 34. f4 Be6
Seems like a draw at best no matter what.
21. e4 creates positional and tactical problems.

Evidently it appears that strategically speaking none but precise queen moves actually allow white to fight off black’s dynamics and keep his game safe and his positional assets grow until the positional assets take care of the win.

In the game I chose 21. Qb1 and I stand by my decision.

The full game:

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. g3 Nf6 6. Bg2 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. Nc3
O-O 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Na4 Bb6 11. b3 Bc7 12. Bb2 Re8 13. Rc1 Bd6 14. e3 Bf5 15. Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Nc3 Rad8 17. Nxd5 Qb2 18. Nh4 Be6 19. Rc2 Qa3 20. Rd2 h6 21. Qb1 Bb4 22. Rd3 Ne5 23. Nxb4 Qxb4 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. Nf5 Rd2 26. Nd4 Bd7 27. Qe4 Nc6 28. Nxc6 Qxe4 29. Bxe4 bxc6 30. a4 Kf8 31. Rc1 Be6 32. Rc3 c5 33. Kf1 Ke7 34. Bc2 Kd6 35. Ke1 Rd5 36. e4 Rd4 37. f4 f6 38. Ke2 Rb4 39. Rd3+ Kc6 40. Ke3 a5 41. h4 g6 42. Bd1 Bf7 43. g4 g5 44. h5 Be6 45. f5 Bf7 46. e5 fxe5 47. Rd8 Rd4 48. Bf3+ Kc7 49. Rh8 e4 50. Bxe4 Kd6 51. Rxh6+ Ke5 52. Bf3 Rb4 53. Kf2 Rxb3 54. Rh7 Kf4 55. Be2 Bd5 56. Ra7 Bf3 57. f6 Bxg4 58. Rg7 Rb6 59. f7 Rf6 60. h6 Ke4+ 61. Kg3 Bf5 62. h7 Bxh7 63. Rxh7 Kd4 64. Bh5 c4 65. Rh8 c3 66. f8=Q Rxf8 67. Rxf8 c2 68. Rc8 Kd3 69. Bg6+ 1-0

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Chess program, lesson 3

                                      Surrender of the centre

The four central squares hold more in them than any other area of the board. First of all we see that a piece, when placed on a central square controls and occupies more squares than when placed on any other square on the board.


In addition it also has utmost functionality – contrary to that will be when placed on a side file (or a rim file), hence the expression: “a knight on the rim is dim”. That phrase should be used as an alert sign, for whenever you’re about to develop a piece to the ‘a’ or ‘h’ files instead of the centre you should make sure it’s being developed there with a purpose for otherwise it is surely a bad move!

Developing a piece while allowing it to control the centre is in the heart of chess strategy. This can be done either by using the piece to occupy a central square, control it from the wing squares or by way of fianchetto (meaning g3/Bg2 & b3/Bb2)

That saying is true to most moves, in that respect you cannot play a more positional move than say… 1.e4 or 1.d4 but controlling the centre from the wings has the strategic value of being less committing. 1. c4 controls the centre square d5 thus whenever black plays …d5 white can retaliate with cxd5 trading a wing pawn to a centre pawn.

1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Bc4 Be7


– For a while there that move was considered best by top players, including Alekhine himself. The idea is to stop the Ng5 “cheapo” which can arise after the move 3… Nf6. evidently, it was later proven by Rubinstein (a great devotee of the two knights defence) that 3…Nf6 4.Ng5 is quite simply a harmless move!

Similar to other lines 4.Ng5 is a likable move in the under 2200 level since it’s tactical and aggressive and if black isn’t up to the task or isn’t familiar with it he is surely to be lost in the maze of tactical possibilities.

Anyway, 3…Be7 is solid and quite a good move none the less. Any player who doesn’t wish to play tactical opening play which will surely occur after 3…Nf6 4.Ng5 or 3…Bc5 4.b4 (the Evans gambit) is advised to study this solid 3…Be7 move.

The one minus that this move has is easily spotted. The bishop has not been developed outside the pawn chain. Therefore, once black plays the move …d6 (which he no doubtedly will in order to protect the centre e-pawn) the Bishop will be shut inside the black camp with far less dynamic play.

4.d4 d6 – a mistake will be to defend with a piece. For instance the move 4…Bf6 (moving the same piece again is already a sign for a bad move!) is met by 5.dxe5! Nxe5 6.Nxe5 Bxe5 and then either the tactical shot of 7.Bxf7+!! Kxf7 8.Qd5+ Kf6? 9.f4!!! and black is quite simply dead! Either by Qxe5+ or if 9…Bd6??? 10.Qg5+ just wins on the spot since the queen is gone! White can also play the quiet (still winning) 7.f4! which gains the tempo on the bishop and establish a good centre. if on the other hand black plays 5…Bxe5 then white can actually afford to take the time to play 6.Ng5! however, here too the move Bxf7+ triumphs but in a far lesser clear position! For instance after this continuation: 6…Kxf7 7.Qd5+ Kf8 8.Nxe5 Qe7! 9.Nxc6 dxc6! 10.Qd4 Nf6 – black is still worse but black does have a lot of dynamic play with his pieces so perhaps this explains why sometimes playing by understanding what you gain and what you lose is more important than pushing for tactics that may or may not work to your advantage. The move 6.Ng5 has a much easier to understand continuation after the moves… 6…Nh6 7.f4! Bd4 8.c3! Bb6 9.Nc3 (to stop the freeing move …d5!) 9… 0-0 10.Nd5! (threatening c3 Bb6 Nxb6) 10… a6 11.c3 Ba7 12.Be3!! Now that white opposed the Bishop he can enjoy his centre control, well developed (and centralized) pieces and swift development. White is clearly winning here!

We then understand why black played the move 4…d6!
As you can see it is becoming clearer (by seeing more and more examples) that the centre control/defence is mostly suited for pawns. Pieces can be dislodged while pawns are harder to attack and are easier to defend. In addition it’s harder to initiate an attack on a centre duo and it’s harder to break a pawn chain than it is to threat a minor piece.


We will now somewhat take a break from studying the concepts and fundamentals of chess and move to study the tactical aspect of chess.

We will do this in order to cement into our heads how these concepts are being conducted and why they are so important. Firstly, we’ll have to cover some basic patterns and ideas. Once we have enough understanding of these elements we’ll move deeper and study these patterns by seeing how they come about in openings and middle games.

Therefore, from this point on we’ll try to focus on:

Mating patterns, double checks. Smothering mates, combinations and sacrifice combinations
Our first example is one of the oldest and most classical to learn.

The Legal’s Pseudo sacrifice

1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 d6
 (Philidor’s defence)
3.Bc4 Bg4?!? – This is actually a bad move! Perhaps not entirely losing on its own but it is definitely a bad one. Before we’ll talk about why it’s bad and how should white take advantage of it we will have to understand a little bit about positional chess and how sometimes the best looking move is not the best move to practically make!

This is not necessarily psychological per say, but rather philosophical one. Perhaps white is best playing the move that on a strictly positional sense will fill the most functions but in practical chess while making the best possible moves that you can make you should also make the move that offers your opponent the best (or most) possibilities to go wrong and make a bad move on his part!!

As you will see in a moment, the best positional move for white isn’t the one white will end up playing and for a good reason! Sometimes delaying your response is the best offense one can muster!

This is a very important and highly interesting position to study! Mainly because the way a chess master views such position is different to an amateur but even more interesting is how a computer evaluates it (I’ll let you in on the secret, its evaluation is flawed!)

So, let’s start by judging this …Bg4 move by what knowledge we have gained so far. Our first judgment should be swift! Black developed a Bishop before any of his knights! But what makes it even worse is that the Bishop’s post isn’t a part of any logical strategic idea. In fact it’s quite bad! I’ll explain why…

To understand why I will introduce to you a new rule of thumb, that is of premature aggression in chess. Generally speaking, it doesn’t work at all. Our rule of thumb is this: when pinning a piece to a more valuable one (in this example the Bishop pins the Knight to the Queen) on the King side, a player must first wait for his opponent to commit himself to that side by means of castles!

What does that mean and why is it important? That becomes clear when white immediately hits the Bishop with the move 4.h3!!! Brilliant! Black is already facing a concession, he is either to lose his Bishop for the Knight (and a tempo since the Knight will be recaptured with the Queen! Hence white will have two developed pieces to black’s none!) or embarrassingly go back where he bloody came from ;)

However, what if black decides to be smart and play the move Bg4-h5 thus maintaining the pin and pressure over the Queen and Knight?

Here we see that white hasn’t committed himself to the King side by 0-0 and can therefore allow himself the aggressive move g4! Attacking the bishop again, gaining space as well as giving white attacking chances with the move g4-g5 (which also discombobulates black’s KSN (King Side Knight) since if black plays …Nf6 he will only allow white to play g4-g5, attacking the Knight and gaining a tempo on it!

! Notice – if white had already castled King side such extravagance (g2-g4) would severely weaken his castled position by creating holes in his pawn structure and allowing quick counter attacks with moves such as …h5 (breaking the pawns) or a later …Qh4 and Knight maneuvers to the f4 square etc.

So before we go about our mating pattern we learned a new rule today, a pin should be played once white has committed his King to that side of the board! On our example white can safely play g2-g4 and then plan for 0-0-0 with a great game.

Okay… we now face a question… we already established that the best and most “efficient” move for white is the move h3! It’s a good move, it’s a positional move and most importantly it seems to give excellent attacking chances. What else can we possibly want?

Well, for lack of other words… we simply want more! ;)

We don’t’ just want momentarily satisfaction. We want to win aggressively, beautifully, correctly and with style!

Obviously, I’m sure it’s clear to you that if you’ll input these moves to a computer engine it’ll only take a brief second to declare that h3 is the best move and true enough it is a good move alright, just not the move we want to make! Why?...

Because we want to give black the opportunity to go wrong, to play even worse moves and in all likelihood to make a fatal blunder.

For that reason we will make the move that adopts the pattern we need in order to unleash the Legal’s sacrifice. The move that we will make is actually a natural move! That should give you a sign that good patterns are based on good foundations and understanding of chess and not on weak/bad moves that if you’re lucky may or may not work!



- developing the other Knight! What can be more natural than that? Like Purdy said: play the moves you know you’re going to play anyway!

4…g6?? – This is of course a blunder! Here white can and will either win a pawn and a good position or mate black in just a few moves! Can you see it? What should white play?

The move is…

5.Nxe5!! – here the correct move is evidently 5…dxe5 where the continuation will be 6.Qxg and black not only lost a pawn, but a centre pawn as that! More so, white has three pieces developed to black’s none, in practical chess black is already dead.

But how many players will resist the temptation or even more importantly take the time to calculate this variation? Most of them (having played such un-positional moves so far!) will most likely take the Queen like Blitz players.

Unfortunately …

5…Bxd1 – is met by the Legal’s mating pattern (started with the Legal’s sacrifice of the Knight with the move 5.Nxe5)

6.Bxf7+ Ke7 – forced!!! The only square available!
7.Nd5# - check mate!


It’s important to notice here that pretty much most pawn moves (or other moves that DON’T affect the centre) will lose just as well! For instance 4…h6 or 4…b6 or 4…Na6 – all fall for Nxe5 either winning a pawn and gaining a fantastic position or mating in two moves.

At this (and the following) lessons we will mostly study such our bursts of mating and sacrificing patterns. Later on (on future lessons) we will see what openings yield what patterns.

There are other ways of handling the positions. You could by all means play 4.h3 or the solid idea of 4.d3/Nbd2 – to protect the centre and only then h3 or 4.d4 to open up the game and hit the centre or 4.c3 to prepare d4. 4.0-0 while not being a bad move is somewhat counterintuitive.

If we understand the rule of thumb of not pinning until the King has castled we should therefore understand that castling into the pin will only help and justify black’s weaker play!!? Funny to notice here that 0-0 is actually one of the possibilities a computer engine will provide in this position. To the chess master it is clear that such a move is fundamentally illogical.

As I said so before, one must first be educated in order to have the freedom to choose his own individual plans without losing to silliness ;)

For instance, if someone will decide that he wants to play the move 4.b4 with the idea of playing Bb2 and a create safe house for his LSB on b3 as well as occupying space on the Queen side I will never claim that his idea or the move 4.b4 is a mistake. However…

A player must ask himself these questions:
Does this move or idea help my position or only strengthen one specific area (neglecting another), does this move supports or contributes to my over all game plan, do I even have an over all game plan and can this move benefit any plan at all. What future weaknesses did this move introduce, what other good moves have I not played by choosing to play this one, does this idea provide winning chances at all or just creates a good/better position that while being just that – good and better is only comfortable at best since in reality it doesn’t really offer anything but a draw!? etc. if this player found an answer to all these questions and more. Then by all means he should play his idea and introduce it as a new TN (theoretical novelty) but in all likelihood the move 4.b4 (while being good on its own) probably doesn’t help white with building a winning advantage rather than a good/solid but ultimately – a drawing one!
It’s always worth to remember that good chess goes hand in hand with safe play. Try not to make bad moves and your game will at least be considered masterful.

On this note I would like to add this …

Once a player is fluent in chess fundamentals and attained both the classical and modern understanding of position evaluation he is ready to study chess according to the style of his own nature. If you only study and play what you like and naturally good at trying to avoid areas or aspects you’re not you may achieve some level of chess mastery but you’ll never evolve beyond that and your whole growth will ultimately become retarded. Obviously none of us will live forever or have the time to study everything therefore we each need to make a decision, decide on a repertoire and general playing styles but that doesn’t mean that you should play overly aggressive because you’re afraid to go into the endgame!

Let’s say a player knows that his style is solid and calm and that at no point he is to play into unnecessary complications. Then perhaps it is best for him to study middle game plans that follow that style as well as studying games by players who play with similar style. This however doesn’t free this player from the “Burdon” of tactical mastery!!

There’s a chess saying: chess is 99% strategy and 100% tactics. Most games are decided on tactical shots rather than on strategical grind. How so? …

Let’s say that this strategical and solid player doesn’t study tactics, how will he know to recognize them? How will he know what prophylactic moves to play to stop their build up even before they start? How will he know what moves truly stop a certain pattern rather then giving birth to another?

The reason Petrosian ( the great Armenian world champion who was the best defender in the history of chess) was able to play as he did was because he saw all the tactical possibilities of his opponent and stopped them before his opponent realized he had them! Amazingly enough Petrosian (who is a huge Nimzovich devotee) also said that one of the books that made the most effect on his play is the book ‘The art of sacrifice in chess’….

By studying tactics you not only know what to play and how to win but you also study what you need to prevent!!

Ok, let’s move to the next pattern…

Double check(s) combinations

1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Bc4 Bc5
4.d3 Nge7? 
– this move is of course a mistake since now the Queen doesn’t have its normal gaze towards the King side, therefore white takes immediate advantage of the Queen’s blindness and hops onto g5


5.Ng5 0-0??? – Obviously black’s best and only move here is d5 but we’ll not overly talk about opening play in this lesson. It’s sufficient to say that in either case white is better here however white is clearly winning after white’s next move. Can you guess what this move is?

6.Qh5!! – threatening immediate checkmate via Qxh7# and culminates the Bishop the Knight and the Queen attack(s) on the f7 square.

6…h6 – forced


7… Qe8 – there’s hardly anything better at this point but Rxf7 will lose slower ;)
8.Nxh6++ - double check! Both from the Knight and Bishop. Poor black can’t take the time to capture the Knight since it’s also being checked by the c4 Bishop. In double check situations the king is always dislodged since no move can blockade both attackers simultaneously!

9.Nf7++ Kg8 10.Qh8#
 - checkmate

! Notice, the important thing to notice here before we go on is that although black brought this disaster upon himself it is also white who lured black into giving away the right weak points. It is not on any square that one can deliver double check threats. Here too we see the square f7 being the main target but also the h7 square. A square like g7 needs to be attacked via its file or to lure the pawn to g6 where we will later on learn another pattern of exploiting its weakening post.

Smothered mate patterns

First of all we’ll start by viewing a few quick examples to what a smothered or, suffocation mate is.

1. e4 c6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 dxe4
4. Nxe4 Nd7
5. Qe2 Ngf6
6. Nd6#
 - checkmate, the king is smothered by his own pieces!

Another quick example is seen after the next moves (please don’t pay attention to the opening or developing moves themselves because they’re not very good. Instead pay attention to the idea it self.)

1. c4 Nc6
2. e3 Ne5
3. Ne2 Nd3#
 - checkmate

The real trick is to lure your opponent into a structure where smothered mate is possible. While that may not be easy the real mater will use the power of the Double check in order to create a forcing smothered mating pattern!

For that example we’ll examine the next position
Fen: 1rr3k1/5Npp/8/q7/6b1/1Q6/5PPP/6K1


Where it is clear to see that black seems to be winning! Black has a Queen, two Rooks and a Bishop to white’s Queen and Knight. More so, black is threatening not only to capture the queen with his b8 Rook but even more important to deliver mate once white will move his Queen!

In fact, if this was black’s turn both Qa1 and Rc1 would be mate in one! But alas, white has a nice trick in his sleeve. Can you see what it is? Please take a minute to think it through. Once you spot white’s trick try to figure out what moves he played in order to reach such a position.

How to solve this puzzle?
What plan one must adopt to create a position where one can inflict the combination of smothered mate?

If you want to know the answers to these questions you’ll have to wait for the next lesson ;)