Archive for May, 2015

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Archive for May, 2015

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Archive for May, 2015

I received an email the other day advising me that this year’s Chess Kids camp will be held at Wodonga from July 7 to 10.  Previous camps have been at Philip Island and Hobart so the change of venue should be good fun.

The theme for last year’s camp was “defending” so I was a little horrified to find out that this year’s theme will be “attacking”.  Why horrified?  Well I spend many of my chess coaching lessons trying to persuade my students not to attack … I’m more a “boa constrictor” sort of player and I only attack when the position demands it … not just because I want to.  Indeed last week I showed a game where Marcus Raine tried an unjustified attack in a game against Jason Tang and ended up losing horribly in 14 moves.

Never-the-less I have bitten the bullet and started finding material on the theme “attacking” and there is no shortage.  Chess players of course are all different and some are really imaginative and invariably try to attack in their games whilst others may prefer endgames or positional play perhaps.  In my time I can think of players like Alan Goldsmith and Eddy Levi who were greatly feared as attackers, so when playing them you always tried to swap off and keep the game quiet.  On one occasion I was playing Levi and was a solid pawn ahead with the opportunity to swap off into a double rook ending.  I wasn’t sure that I could win it so I kept the queens on but soon regretted it as Levi whipped up a ferocious attack.  I explained what had happened to Guy West after the game and how I it mistakenly decided not to swap off into an ending and he replied … “but surely you know that ALL endings are won against Levi!”  Often attacking players a very good at attacking but less good at other types of chess games.

The most important thing to remember in attacking as that the position has to justify an attack – for instance you have more attackers than defenders; there are weaknesses in the defence around the opposing King and ideally you have more space.  Very often I watch inexperienced players playing and they will play a move like Ng5 early in the game.  I ask them why they did that move and the reply comes back “I wanted to attack”.  I then have to explain how an attack by a single knight against a well defended King is unlikely to succeed.

I hope that you have a better understanding of “attacking” so let’s put you to the test in today’s puzzle.  Black to play and win.  Good luck.

Archive for May, 2015

Junior chess players are lucky these days.  There are so many tournaments that they can play in.  If they are good they can play also in adult (open) tournaments and they have coaches and computers to help them.  If they are very good they can even play overseas in the many World and Continental age group titles organised by the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

I was a bit stunned the other day to find that my youngest student, 7 year-old Atlas, was thinking of playing in the World Under 8 Championships in Greece later this year.  I too went to Greece to play in a World Junior Championship but I was 18 years old and that was the only junior title awarded by FIDE. Of course that  was a long time ago.  It’s strange to think that I failed to “discover” adult chess tournaments until I was no longer a junior and that my first adult event was the 1970 Victorian Open Championship.  The Vic. Open is still going strong and is coming up next month on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend.  I shall probably turn up to the Melbourne Chess Club to watch Atlas play in it!  He needs to practise games at a slow time control if he is going to Athens.

I can’t remember much about my first Vic. Open but I do remember playing against this old foreign guy with huge hands and a squeaky voice.  His name was Karlis Ozols and he had been Victorian Champion many times.  I’m pretty sure that I lost that game but I soon learnt to understand how Ozols played.  He liked blocked positions (playing the English Opening and the Dutch Defence) but he had a weakness.  He did not really understand about weak squares and would often end up with a very bad bishop on the same colour as his pawns.

In his day Ozols had played against some of the top players in the world, such as Keres, Flohr and Reshevsky and for today’s puzzle I have chosen a game between Ozols and Rueben Fine, the famous American grandmaster.  The full game is below but go to move 12 to see the puzzle.

Archive for May, 2015

Last week I had an email from a young chess player in WA who wanted me to look at a couple of his games.  He supplied detailed notes which included a lot of opening analysis and different variations that he looked at.  Need-less-to-say he fell into time-trouble and blundered later in the game.

I think one of the most common failings of young chess players is to spend too much time on learning opening variations.  My advice to the young player …. STOP ANALYSING!  You can get a reasonable game out of the openings without any great effort by simply playing an opening system (like the King’s Indian or the French Defence set-up) and then you don’t need to analyse all the various possibilities … you just play your normal system that you know well.

If you are looking for a simple, safe system for White I quite like the London System which involves White playing d4, Nf3, Bf4, e3, c3, Nbd2, Bd3 and 0-0.  A friend of mine who is a complete beginner has been playing this in the Croydon Open and has so far managed to avoid falling for the four move checkmate!  A major success.

Of course if you are Black it is a little harder.  Against d4 I like the Old Indian set-up which gets me into the game usually with only a very slight  disadvantage.   I had a chance to use it last week when a former pupil of mine, now studying at Melbourne University, challenged me to play a few games against him at the State Library.  I was delighted to accept as the State Library is the custodian of one of the biggest collections of chess books and magazines in the world, the M.V.Anderson Chess Collection.  Many years ago I used to love visiting this chess collection.  You would climb up a narrow, circular metal staircase up several floors to a hidden balcony which contained shelf after shelf of chess treasures.  The musty aroma of the old books assaulted your nostrils but the thrill of searching through the shelves for some old, forgotten book or magazine drove you on.

Regrettably these days it is a little different.  There were two or three double-sided shelving units of books and magazines but all the good stuff is now apparently in storage in Ballarat.  M.V.Anderson would not be happy and nor was I.  Instead of the smell of old books you get the smell of young university students using the area to study, although there are half a dozen sets available for play.  I warmly greeted my former student Jack and we managed to secure a set and started playing.

Jack opened with 1.d4 and of course I quickly banged out the moves of my Old Indian Defence as my aim when playing chess these days is to not have to think.   Then something terrible happened.  He moved a piece twice in the opening!  How many times have I preached to my students about not moving a piece twice unless you really have to?  I looked up at him as his hand quitted the piece and remarked “all those lessons I gave you some years ago … have you forgotten it’s bad to move a piece twice in the opening”?  He clearly had to be punished …. here is what happened.

Archive for May, 2015

Dear Chess Kids Family,

You may have noticed a number of changes starting to take place in and around Chess Kids as we transition to our new brand, Kids Unlimited. I wanted to share with you how this idea started and our vision for the future.