Thursday, April 28, 2011

King+Bishop+Knight Vs. King endgame

Can you win the endgame in the title? Do you believe me if I tell you that very strong players could not? I am not kidding. Well, back in 2007 I saw an italian player, Carlo Gustavo Fornasir (who was rated a little below elo 2000 at the time) who won a King+Bishop+Knight Vs. King endgame very easily in a Fide rated tournament. He had about two minutes left on the clock...but he knew the winning tecnique and he won. I was very impressed by that performance. Some time later, while I was reading the first pages of "Silman's Endgame Course" I came to know that IM Silman doesn't teach how to play this kind of endgame, as it happens very rarely and it takes a little while to learn the winning tecnique. That time could be used in other useful ways. (Sorry I am not at home and I cannot quote Silman's own words). So I decided to find out if very strong players, I mean players rated > 2490 knew the winning tecnique or not. This post shows my discoveries (with the help of Chessbase + Mega Database 2009) as follows:
I found out:
GM Browne trusted his opponent's skills and resigned quickly.

GM Sturua was able to mate GM Miles

Judit Polgar did even more as she was able to mate Ljubojevic blindfold
Berelovich resigned just one move before Vallejo Pons mated him:
But at the same time the are other strong players who could not mate. (Time trouble?)

Well, at last do we want to spend some time learning this kind of endgame or not?  ;-))

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The importance of Chess Tactics

What follows is not a major revelation but it is a confimation of a known truth. Two weeks ago I participated in a quick time control tourrnament (that means every player had 15 minutes at his disposal to finish a single game). 4 out of 6 games have been deeply influenced by chess tactics. The shorter the time control, the greater importance of chess tactics. He who has ears to hear....  :-))

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A chess book to read if I should spend two months on a desert island

This morning I asked myself a question. If I had to spend two months on a desert island, which chess book I would like to take with me? The answer came quickly without any doubts:
[The Mammoth Book of]   "The World's Greatest Chess Games."  (By GM John Nunn,  GM John Emms,  and FM Graham Burgess.)

An amazingly cheap, thick & good book! I first came to know it when I read Lifemaster A. J. Goldsby "best book page" at
where he wrote about it:
"(...) This book is one of the best instructional and analytical books I have seen in my entire chess career. It is the collaboration of three authors: GM John Nunn; GM John Emms; and FM Graham Burgess. Some of the best game analysis I have ever seen in my whole chess career is in this book!!! There is definitely a lot of meat here. (...)" 
Here you can read a preview of the 2010 edition: 
and here are some reviews of this book 
As I have written in past posts, time and money are limited resources, so on this blog you will find reference to meaningful books & chess material only.

Answer to the quiz posted on Apr. 9th

The position is taken from the master game Colle - Gruenfeld, Carlsbad 1929.
Although the position is a draw after 1...Kd3! Black did not see it and he resigned instead :-((
If 2.Kg5 Ke4 3.Kxh5 Kf5 and the h pawn will not promote.
What can we learn from this example?
A) We need to study the endgames. It is a sad story to play a good opening & a fine middlegame if you play a poor endgame.
B) Sometimes even masters can lose relatively easy positions in the endgame.
(The source of this endgame is "Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics" excellent book.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Endgame Quiz

This position occurred in a tournament game between masters. Black to move. Please assess the position:
  • White has a won position, Black should resign
  • draw
  • White stands clearly better
  • White stands slightly better

The answer will follow next week. Readers' comments are disabled for this post only, in order not to spoil the fun :-)

Mike Basman in action in the 2008 Surrey Open

According to the chess databases available, it seems that Mike Basman did not play any serious chess after the year 1998. But in 2008 he played the Surrey open. After the St. George experiments in the early 80's and Grob & Macho Grob games in the late 80's, in the 90's Basman started to play the Global Opening with an early h6 & a6. However in 2008 he chose a new set up: 1.f4 with 2.c4 or 1..c5 with 2..f5 or 1..f5 & 2..c5 Here are the for thought for ther UCO player! My thanks to IM Welling for having found these games.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cebalo - Welling, Bratto 2010 -> an exciting draw!

When the game was played, GM Cebalo was the reigning World Senior Champion.
The move 21..c5 is a key moment, and Black intended to answer 22.dxc6 ep with ..Rxa2! The reader
can sort out his opinion on the position and game. For me, this is an EXCELLENT game.

A message of hope dedicated to middle age players

Last week I was chatting with a chessfriend who is about 50 years old and his Fide rating is around 1600. He told me that before dying he would like to become a class A player. That would mean an increase of about 200 rating points. This subject made me think. How many players have reached a plateau in their rating increase and they seem to be "stucked" somewhere, including myself?  :-(
Today I want to share with you a success story. A story of a player who has obtained is 2nd and the 3rd & final IM norm when he became 50. I met FM Hans Klip in Bratto a few years ago. He was very kind to answer a few questions about an old game of his against Philip du Chattel. In recent times I have followed his games and not long go I discovered that he has become an International Master in 2010!
I want to congratulate him for this success. Also, I want to thank him because through his example he has shown me and you that it is possible to improve even if we are no more youngsters but middle age men! "Never give up" is the motto!

Rybka vs. Houdini match at long time control

A man decided to play a match between Rybka and Houdini at long time control:

After 200 games this is the situation:
Houdini won 63 games;
Rybka won 21 games;
116 draws

This is the pgn file containing the above mentioned 200 games
pgn file download 
 At last a chess engines rating list 

About Mike Surtees' exciting chess

After I had a chance to interview Mike Surtees in UON 24  (UON DOWNLOAD) I admit I admired this bold player. I hope his plans to publish his ideas will materialize soon.

Here is a recent game where he played his UCO (Unorthodox Chess Opening) against GM Hebden. Unfortunately Surtees missed his chance on move 27... (27.Rxf4 Bg6 28.Qxg6!!)
At last I want to mention that this post would not exist without the chess inspiration offered by IM Welling for which I am grateful.

Mike Surtees vs GM Mark Hebden.... Blackpool Congress 2011 (Missed opportunity)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Old but not forgotten: "Capablanca's best chess Endings: 60 complete games" by I. Chernev

Jeremy Silman's comments on this book:
"The title speaks for himself. You can't go wrong by immersing yourself in the technical know-how of the Cuban legend. The notes, of course are not computer checked. This means that quite a few errors are present, that allows you to challenge everything Chernev says and see who's right." taken from the book "Silman's Endgame Course" page 526 
Amazon's Reviews and Preview

This book has a very reasonable price and it is a very good work.