Archive for February, 2011

One of my students yesterday told me that he was playing in a big tournament the next day and asked what advice would I give him.    “That’s easy” I replied, “All your games will be decided by blunders so you need a system of moving and checking that will help you to avoid mistakes.”

My system goes like this.

1. Your opponent has just moved so you ask yourself “what is he threatening?”

2. You decide on your candidate moves, analyse each one in turn, then chose the best move.

3. If you think there may be some tactics around you look at all checks and captures.

4. Before you make the move you have decided on, you quickly check for possible replies that you may have missed.

5. You make your move!

If you use this system hopefully you will reduce the number of mistakes that you make and you may even spot surprise tactics that you may otherwise have missed.  Try using this system in the position below.  It’s Black’s move and he has 3 candidate moves, 1…gxf+, 1…gxh, and 1…Rxh2.   Today’s puzzle is which one would you chose and why?

[fen caption=”Black to Play”]rnbqkb1r/pp2ppp1/2p5/4B3/3P4/6p1/PPP2PPP/R2QKBNR b KQkq – 1 8[/fen]

Archive for February, 2011

IM Greg Hjorth sadly passed away from a heart attack in Melbourne in January this year aged 47 years.

He rose to prominence in the 1980 Australian Championship, finishing runner-up to Ian Rogers, was Commonwealth Champion in 1983 and represented Australia in two Olympiads in 1984 and 1986.  Unfortunately for chess he decided to concentrate on a career in Maths and was a Professor of Maths at both UCLA in the USA and Melbourne University.

I remember Greg as a very talented, fresh-faced young kid who was a vegetarian, went around in bare feet and wouldn’t hurt a fly.  It is a tragedy that he has been taken from us so early.

Greg had a number of victories to his credit over prominent players, such as Tony Miles, but even though he lost, I rather like his game against Kasparov from the 1980 World Junior Championships in Dortmund.  Greg has just sacrificed the exchange for a pawn and he now has a dominating B on d5 and threatens to play 1…Qc2.   Is future World Champion Gary Kasparov in big trouble, or can you find a way for him to turn the tables and win?   That is today’s puzzle.

[fen caption=”White to Play”]6k1/ppr2ppp/8/3bP2Q/q1pP1R2/2P3P1/7P/5RK1 w – – 0 22[/fen]

Archive for February, 2011

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Archive for February, 2011

One of the qualities of a good chess player is imagination.   Everyone examines the obvious candidate moves and generally picks one of them to play.   Imaginative players also look at “silly” and “obviously bad” moves that the rest of us would dismiss out-of-hand.  They look beyond the obvious and occasionally find something beautiful and surprising.

Have a look at the position in the diagram for instance (Black to play).   If this was a lightning game I would immediately smash out 1…Bxe5+ 2.Kh1 Bxh3! and expect a quick win – but I am a practical player, not a a seeker after beauty.   Someone like Doug Hamilton, who always strove to find the very best move, would perhaps find a continuation that was a lot more artistic and could induce White to immediately resign.

Today’s puzzle is therefore to find the most beautiful finish to the game.

If you are into chess puzzles then have a look at Leonard Barden’s daily puzzle in one of the English papers at—

[fen caption=”Black to Play”]r1b2rk1/ppp2ppp/8/3pP3/B2b4/2N4P/PPPP1qPK/R1BQ4 b – – 1 13[/fen]

Archive for February, 2011

My heart sinks when we start a chess club at a school and the teacher in charge of chess comes up to us on the first day and is soooo excited because they’ve just got a box of new chess sets!

Just about every time we see those sets they are the cheap hollow plastic pieces (about 4cm tall) and a cardboard board from some toy shop or department store. They cost the school around $15 -$20 per set and they last about an hour. Pieces get lost, stepped on and broken, chess boards torn apart, boxes broken and pieces mixed up … before long the entire investment in chess sets is worthless.

Our biggest care is for the kids, to make sure they have chess sets to play with all week round, not just on the day that we are at school. For just a fraction more (around $25 per chess set) a school can get a Standard Tournament Chess Set.

That is a solid plastic chess pieces at 9.5cm tall, totally unbreakable. And a 55cm mat (washable of course) to play on. This is the same set used by all chess clubs, at school championships and even in the Nationals! The sets are easy to use, good for little kids (visually as well as handling) and last forever!

That’s really the most important thing – they last forever! The pieces can’t be broken and any that do get lost, well, we replace them free of charge! We’re even happy to extend our payment terms so the school can afford the extra $50… which, let’s face it, isn’t a lot anyway!

To see our February specials please click on the link below and download the PDF.

Back-to-School chess sets- special prices for schools.

Archive for February, 2011

A couple of years ago I was at an Australian Junior Championship in the analysis room going over one of the games that had just finished.  White had sacrificed a pawn and did not appear to have any counter-play to justify the sacrifice.   There was a young Chinese boy standing next to the player of the white pieces and he insisted that White did in fact have a strong attack and spent sometime trying to demonstrate that to me.   Needless to say I took an instant dislike to this insistent boy who I later found out was Ly Moulthun from Queensland.

Perhaps confidence and stubbornness are desirable qualities for a top chess player as Ly is now one of the top players in the country and recently finished =1st in the 2011 Australia Open Championships.

In today’s diagram from the Open Ly is black against Illingworth who has just played the spectacular move 86.Bc5! trapping black’s N.   Should Ly:

a) Resign.

b) Offer a draw.

c) Storm out in disgust and let his opponent win on time.

[fen caption=”Black to Play”]2n5/2P5/1Pk5/2B5/8/p7/8/1K6 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for February, 2011

I’m in New Zealand at the moment working with our Kiwi friends and got this email from the office:

The mysterious Russian chess master was back again! All this while I had thought you made it up, well I met him today. 🙂

He asked for you and I said you were away.

He set up a position on a chess board and then asked for a pen and paper. This is what he wrote (for you):

[fen caption=”White to Play and Win”]8/k7/4P3/4K3/5B2/P7/8/r7 w – – 4 20[/fen]

Apparently he could converse a little (frequently referring to a small black book, to look up words) and doesn’t live very far from us. Looks like he will be back again, very soon!

Does anyone know how to say “What is the answer?” in Russian?