Archive for March, 2015

Sunday was a very exciting day at the Kids Unlimited Centre in Mt.Waverley.  Around 20 of our keenest young players turned up to the lecture by visiting Indian GM Ramesh.  I wasn’t there but was told that he spoke very well and emphasised the importance of thinking about king safety, then piece activity then material.  Sounds good to me.

I arrived a little later in the morning to watch his simul against the juniors which went a little over-time with 3 or 4 games unfinished.  The GM won all the completed games and of the remaining games only Sam Trewin seemed to be still in the game with a chance of a draw.

Thirty-six players arrived for the monthly RJ Shield and we ended up with a triple tie between Sam Trewin, Matthew Zillman and Daniel Poberovsky all on 6/7.  Sam was awarded the title on count-back.  I was busy trying to record some of the games of my students but caught a glimpse of the other boards as well.  There was a little Indian girl there who seemed to play quite well (I later found out that it was Ramesh’s daughter!) and it was amusing to watch her game with Elijah.  They were in a N+pawns ending when Elijah foolishly played f4 trapping his King on e5.  I was expecting the reply Nc6 mate (!) which was there for two moves but went unnoticed and Elijah stumbled on to victory.  Even the higher boards were not immune from such disasters.  In the big game between the top two seeds Sam was a pawn ahead in an ending against Matthew when he hastily moved his B from f6 to capture a N on c3.  Matthew did not recapture but instead chose Rd8 mate!  In the following round the boot was on the other foot when Matthew had Qc7 mate against Oliver but instead chose to capture a Bishop!  Thirty moves later he achieved the same result.


Matthew, GM Ramesh, Daniel and Sam.

For today’s puzzle I want to do something a little different and give you a “positional” puzzle from a game in Sunday’s RJ Shield.  It is a test.  Do you think like a junior or like a master?  Let me explain.  It recently dawned on me that some of my younger students basically have only one plan … to threaten something.  I’m trying to get them to think like a General in charge of the whole army whereas they a thinking like an individual soldier who is looking for someone to attack.  A master would look at the position below and ask himself where he wants his pieces so that he has the initiative and his opponent is tied down to defence.  He would then build up his position before landing the final blow on his opponent’s position.

So have a look at the diagram with White to play.  I give you the line actually played in the game and the line that I think a master would play.  Which did you pick?

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Archive for March, 2015

The next couple of weeks should be quite exciting for Chess Kids.  Next Friday night my little “super group” is having their monthly meeting in which we have a puzzle competition then play a tournament game and I go over the games afterwards with the players.  It’s a good chance to compare yourself with your rivals.

Next Sunday of course is not only another RJ Shield in the afternoon but in the morning players have a chance to have a lesson with GM Ramesh from India followed by a simul against the grandmaster.  I always loved playing in simuls when I was a junior …. it should be great fun.  For those who are really serious about their chess the GM is also giving two 3 hour lessons on the Monday (two groups divided according to standard).  If you are interested in any of these activities details are on the Chess Kids website.

The following weekend is Easter and many chess players will be journeying to Canberra for the annual Doeberl Cup – Australia’s biggest and strongest Open Tournament.  It’s a good chance for Australian players to play against overseas grandmasters and I’m looking forward to following the live games on the internet.  At least two of my students, Atlas and Sam, will be playing so good luck to them.

In my lessons this week I decided to focus on Bishops.  I normally concentrate on rook endings, which are by far the most important, but after playing through a game where Chris Wallis disposed of a player rated 2172  I noticed that even a player of that standard did not realise that he should try to put his pawns on the opposite colour to his Bishop.  That’s the very first thing that you need to know about Bishops!

I plan to give my super group a Bishop ending puzzle on Friday which is similar to the puzzle that I have for you today (see diagram below).  To solve the puzzle, rather than just launching into analysis, there is a three phase method that you should use.  1. Identify White’s problem.  2.Identify a solution to that problem.  3.Work out whether or not you can bring about that solution.  Try using this method in the puzzle today and see if it helps.

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Archive for March, 2015

I coach players with a range of standards and it is interesting to compare how different levels of players think.

A beginner of course doesn’t know what to think about and there are so many pieces and lots of possible moves so he just plays the first move that he likes.  The next level player has a better understanding of his possibilities and will consider several moves (or ideas) before making his selection.  These are called “candidate moves” – a term first drawn to my attention in Kotov’s famous 1970’s book “Think Like a Grandmaster”.

To get to the next level a player must not only consider what moves he can do but also what moves (and ideas) are available to his opponent.  This is usually beyond most of my students, even those rated around 1500.  This week I showed my students some positions from Ballarat and asked them to choose White’s next move.  Most quickly found a reasonable looking move, and some even considered several candidate moves, but they all fell for the same trap.  “Have you considered your opponent’s reply?” I asked.   “Err… not really” was their usual response whereupon I had the painfull duty of telling them that Black makes one more move and they would then have to resign!

The higher level player of course considers both his own ideas and that of his opponent and then (this is the hard part) makes a correct decision as to which move to play.  Now that is really hard.  To make a good decision we have to make sure that we look at all the possible candidate moves, even though some of them may look “silly”, and we also have to look deeply enough to draw the correct conclusion.  So many players stop their analysis too early (e.g. “because that move loses my queen”) and miss a good possibility just over the horizon of their analysis.

Of course in choosing moves you can also just choose based on an idea rather than analysis.  For instance in the position below White is considering the idea of trying to exchange queens.  How would you advise him?

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Archive for March, 2015

Last week-end was the Labour Day long week-end in Victoria so like many chess players I ventured off to Ballarat for the 49th Begonia Open Chess Championship.   In conjunction with the main tournament Chess Kids ran a two day chess workshop for around 25 keen young chess players followed by a 7 round allegro tournament on the Monday.

The Victorian Champion, Kanan Izzat, was a run away winner scoring a perfect 7/7 and was a very worthy champion.  Following a point behind was James Morris then Ari Dale and Stephen Solomon on 5.5 points.  I was mainly following my students including 7 year-old Atlas Ballieu who was playing in his first adult event.  He scored half-a-point from his 5 games but was very competitive and came away totally enthused about chess.  I had fun playing through some of the games with my students and trying to persuade them to stop attacking and taking things.  Eventually the message will get through!

Next year the Ballarat Chess Club is planning to have a very big event to celebrate their 50th anniversary and already are planning to invite Nigel Short to play.  Short you may remember challenged Kasparov for the world title back in 1992 and visited the Ballarat Open last year.  I had a long chat with the arbiter Gary Bekker and the organiser, Kevin Perrin, and tossed around a few ideas to promote the event next year.  They want me to play, as a six time winner of the Ballarat Open, but that maybe a step too far for me at the moment.  I think they have a better chance of persuading GM Darryl Johansen to play as he has won the tournament no less than 13 times!

One of the good things about the tournament is that the leading games are available on the internet then on Tornelo.  I played through all the games and found quite a few interesting positions to use in my chess lessons.  For today’s puzzle let me show you a position from one of IM Stephen Solomon’s games. Solo is always good to watch as he has a very strong will to win and often converts losing or drawn endgames into victories.  In the position below Solo is down the exchange for a pawn but he has a solid position and chances are probably equal.  It’s White’s move and he has to choose between 1.c3 chasing away that annoying rook, 1…Rd6 2.Be4 with a good blockade or 1.Rf2 with the idea of 2.Bf5 and eventually pushing his passed “h” pawn.  Your task is to advise him which plan to adopt.  Unfortunately Solo got it wrong and lost the game.  Perhaps you can do better.


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