Monday, 29 March 2010

Kettinoffski vs David L, B21 Sicilian, Smith-Morra Gambit

Kettinoffski vs David L, B21 Sicilian, Smith-Morra Gambit

This next game is one where I played as Black. My opponent opened with e4, and I decided on the Sicilian, although I have been known to play the Ruy Lopez as Black. To be honest, I rarely play anything else against e4. Years ago, I'd play e5 as a matter of course, until Garry Kasparov and the 1993 World Chess Championship Final against Nigel Short, where Kasparov frequently played the Sicilian Najdorf, and it became all the rage (at least among my peers, and we were all still at school!). My opponent either knew the Sicilian very well, or not very well at all, and immediately went for an unusual opening.

1.e4 c5
2.d4 cxd4

I don't know much about the Sicilian, but I know for sure I'm not going to let White build a massive pawn platform in the centre. If I don't take the pawn on d4, I risk him advancing it to d5 and really causing me problems - I'll have a lack of space and I'll be really cramped, struggling to get my pieces onto strong squares. I therefore decided to capture the pawn, and White decided to recapture with his queen - moving the queen early in a game isn't recommended, as it can be chased by lesser pieces:

3.Qxd4 Nc6
4.Qd1 Nf6

5.c3 e5
6.Bg5 Be7

7.... Qb6

Since White has moved his dark-squared bishop and left b2 undefended, I have a look at it with my queen. Notice that once again, an online opponent has played c3 and f3 - there must be a real phobia in the online community about knights!

8. b4 O-O
9. a4

White advances his queenside pawns - an unusual way of protecting that half of the board, and an unexpected response to my Qb6 move. However, I realised at this point that White's bishop on g5 is not protected - and although I could have made this move earlier, I've not noticed it until now. I suspect we were playing a tightly time-controlled game - hence the less-than-perfect play.

9. ... Nxe4

I'm now threatening checkmate with Qf2#, and I'm also threatening White's bishop with mine. White has to capture the knight, and I grab the bishop - leaving me a pawn up. White then looks for some more initiative on the queenside, and I move my queen to the centre.

10.fxe4 Bxg5
11.a5 Qe3+
12.Ne2 Qxe4
13.Nd2 Bxd2+?

Not an ideal move - although it means I can keep my queen in the centre, it also means I lose a useful attacking piece in exchange for a defensive piece that's only just moved.

14.Qxd2 d5

15. ... Be6?

Probably not the best move. It's solid enough, protecting the d-pawn, but I could have moved the bishop directly to g4, pinning the knight. As it works out, White siezes the opportunity to move his knight, and I give a bishop check anyway.

16. Ng3 Bg4+
17. Kc1 Qg6
18. b5?

White misses the opportunity to grab the d-pawn, and I take the chance to defend it with the knight. I'm planning to move my rooks over to the queenside, open the c-file and get some reinforcements for my next attack on White's king. White continues his development, and I'm able to grab some more space in the centre.

18. ... Ne7
19. Bd3 e4
20. Bc2 b6
21. c4 Rfc8

This sets up the possibility of a strong attack on White's king which could win me his queen. If now, White plays c4xd5, then playing the pawn to e3 threatens checkmate (Qxc2#) and also White's queen. It's always useful to put your rooks on the same file as your opponent's king - this is an example of why. Although this doesn't quite work out in this particular game, it's a good principle to follow.

22. axb6 axb6
23. Rxa8 Rxa8

Instead of having my rook opposite White's king, it's now on an open file, which is also a strong position. The game now ends very quickly, surprisingly quickly, as White makes two very weak moves and I obtain a swift checkmate.

24. Kb1? Qf6
25. cxd5? Qa1#

White's last two moves - moving his king to b1 and then not realising my threat on a1 led to the quick ending. Perhaps he played Kb1 to prevent me playing Ra1+ but I can't quite see what prompted cxd5 - and didn't see the idea behind Qf6. I know for sure that we were both under close time controls, which accounts for a great deal!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

David L vs Bailamooos (English Opening A21)

I found this game in my archive - genuinely, an archive of printouts of games I've played from some years ago. This game was played on Yahoo Games, so probably had fairly tight time controls, and was between me and Bailamooos. I often play lesser-known openings on Yahoo Games, to avoid falling into my opponent's planned openings (more on this in a future post). In this game, I played the English Opening (and as I'm English, it only seems appropriate). This game was played on Saturday 13 September 2008.

1.c4 e5

This second move is the English Opening (as I understand it!) although there are a number of options for White's second move. I expect 2. e4 or 2. Nf3 are both playable for White - I'm no expert on the English (I'm no expert on any opening!) but I can't see any major or immediate problems with either!

2. ... a6?
3. Nf3 h6?

Black's moves are typical for online games I've played in. For some reason, there's a general fear of White's knights coming to b5 or g5 (respectively) and attacking c7 or f7. Yes, f7 is a weak spot for Black, but this early in the game, I'd be more concerned about the centre than the wings. Still, playing ... a6 and ... h6 gives Black's position a certain symmetry. While Black is playing these moves, however, he's left his e-pawn undefended, and I decide to capture it.

4. Nxe5 Qg5
5. d4

Black plays Qg5 to threaten my knight. Moving your queen early in the game is generally not recommended, as it can be chased around by your opponent, who will develop his other pieces at the same time.

My response is 5. d4, which is the diagram position below. This move has a number of useful consequences. It protects the knight on e4; it occupies more space in the centre (and prevents Black from moving his bishop to c5), but it also attacks Black's queen. My bishop on c1 is now pointing directly at Black's queen - a discovered attack. However, Black doesn't seem to realise this...

5. ... d6
6. Bxg5 dxe5

Instead, Black plays d6, developing his pieces and attacking my knight again. I capture his queen, and he captures my knight. I decide to start attacking with my queen, leaving my bishop on g5 en prise - where it can be captured. This is a mistake by me - with correct play, Black would be able to capture my bishop.

7. Qa4+ Bd7
8. Qb3

Although I've made a mistake in leaving my bishop where it can be captured (I should have moved it immediately), I have managed to get away with it. I'm now attacking b7 with my queen, and then I'll be among Black's pieces. A good move for Black now would be b6, moving the pawn so that it's defended by the c-pawn. Instead, black makes a series of questionable moves that allow me to finish the game quickly. I can't remember what the time controls were, but they could have been quite tight (or perhaps my opponent was having a bad day).

8. ... Nc6
9. Qxb7 Nxd4

While I'm working my way through Black's queenside, he seems happy to grab a pawn in the centre. The end comes quickly - and throughout it all, my bishop remains on g5, and has a part to play in the final checkmate.

10.Qxa8+ Bc8
11.Qxc8# 1-0

The final position is shown below.

If you have any suggestions, observations or ideas on this game, please leave a comment below.


Yes, it's been a few days since my last post, but a new game will be appearing in the next few days - after two Ruy Lopez games, and a tutorial on discovered checks, I think it's time for something different. In the future, I'll also include games I lost (and learned from) and games where I played Black.

Friday, 26 March 2010

David L vs Mi Kl (Ruy Lopez)

I played this game during the last few weeks of 2009, and it's an interesting game because of the number of discovered checks in it. A discovered check occurs when you move one of your pieces out of the line of attack of another piece, and the second piece attacks your opponent's king. It's easier to describe in the context of a game, as you'll see below. This game includes a number of discovered checks, and you'll see the tactical advantages that they can bring!

David L (approx ELO rating 1525) vs Mi Kl (approx ELO rating 1411), started 5 December 2009.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4

I'm not sure why I didn't play the usual Ruy Lopez move, which is 3. Bb5. Instead, I decided on this move to secure the d5 square (I think).

3. ... Nf6
4. O-O Nxe4

My fourth move does allow Black to take the e4 pawn, but I'm hoping that my next move will gain me a longer term advantage, and also enable me to recapture Black's central pawn. Moving the rook to the centre also gives me an advantage in development.

5. Re1

The immediate threat is the capture of Black's knight on e4, and if Black moves the knight away, I can play Nxe5 and regain the pawn. Instead, Black defends the knight by playing ... d5, which attacks my bishop on c4. I play d3, to give his knight another nudge - and develop another central pawn, and defend my bishop. If Black captures my Bishop, then I can capture his knight with either my rook or pawn. My move is also a kind of waiting move, and maintains tension in the centre.

5 ... d5
6. d3

Black now has to move the knight, or capture my bishop - otherwise I'll play d3xe4 and win the knight.

6 ... Nf6
7. Bb5 Bd6
8. Bg5 Bg4

Black moves his knight away, and I move my bishop to avoid it being captured. Perhaps I should have moved it there in the first place - it didn't do much on c4. We both develop our other bishops, and pin each other's knights against our queens. However, I've noticed that I can use my rook on e1 and my bishop on c4 to co-ordinate an attack on Black's king, by using a discovered check. The first thing I have to do, however, is temporarily sacrifice my queen!

Although my knight is pinned against my queen, I can grab a pawn and then open the e-file to check Black's king.

9. Nxe5 Bxd1
10. Nxc6+

By moving my knight from e5 to c6, I've exposed Black's king to check by my rook on e1, and this is called discovered check. Black would like to capture my knight on c6 with his pawn, but he must respond to the check first! When he does, I shall be able to capture his queen with my knight.

10. ... Kd7
11. Nxd8+ Kxd8
12. Rxd1 c6
13. Ba4

Black moves his king out of check, and I capture his queen, which also gives another discovered check (moving the knight out of the way of my bishop). The king recaptures my knight, and I recapture the bishop on d1. This series of exchanges has now left me a knight ahead (Black's knight which I captured on c6 on move 10). I've also regained the pawn I gave up earlier.

13. ... b5
14. Bb3 h6
15. Bxf6+ gxf6

Although I let Black chase my white-squared bishop around the queenside, I seize the opportunity to start simplifying the position by exchanging my other bishop for Black's knight. This is a general principle to apply in Chess games - when you're ahead on material, simplify the position by exchanging pieces. The reverse also applies - if you're behind on material, try and keep the pieces on the board and make the position as complicated as possible.

16. c4 dxc4
17. dxc4 Kc7
18. cxb5 cxb5
19. Nc3 a6
20. Rac1

I've simplified the queenside pawns and kept some open lines for my bishop, although I could have captured Black's pawn on f7, I decide to develop my queenside knight to c3, and develop my rook by putting it onto the newly opened file.

20. ... Be5
21. Nxb5+ Kb6
22. Nd4 Rad8
23. Rc6+ Kb7
24. Rc4 a5
25. Nb5 Rxd1+
26. Bxd1 Rd8

27. Bf3+ Kb6

Black threatens my bishop, so I develop it and check Black's king. A better response for Black is Kb8. Kb6, followed by Bxb2 will lose the bishop, and subsequently does so. Note that while I've moved my bishop to f3, I can't now move it from the d1-h5 diagonal, otherwise Black can play Rd1#.

28. a4 Bxb2

White protects the knight on b5 with his a-pawn, and Black snatches the pawn on b2. However, this bishop is now unprotected, and can be captured with a sequence of moves (sometimes called a 'combination') starting with a check by the bishop.

29. Rc6+ Kb7

This move is forced - Black has no other move which will get him out of check.

30. Rc2+

Another discovered check! This time, the rook moves aside to deliver the bishop check, and white can then capture black's bishop on b2.

30. ... Kb6
31. Rxb2 Rb8?

This is an unexpected move, as putting the white rook on the same file as Black's rook makes it easier to exchange them and simplify the game again.

32. Nd6+ Kc7
33. Rxb8 1-0

The final position, where Black resigned. Even after Black captures the Rook on b8, White's material advantage will be overwhelming, and Black has no counter-play, and so resigned the position.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

David L vs Belraim Penhaligon: (Ruy Lopez)

This first game was played on iGoogle Chess, and was between me (approx ELO rating 1361) and Belraim Penhaligon (approx ELO rating 1063) on 2 December 2009.

1.e4 e5

At this stage, I was expecting to play a classic Ruy Lopez, where Black responds with Nc6 to protect his pawn on e5. However, the game took an unexpected twist.

2.... f6

3.Bc4 Ne7

Maybe my opponent was concerned that I was going to capture his knight on g8, and hence moved it. I wasn't - I was looking to develop my pieces. However, his unusual play at this point led me to try something unusual of my own - a knight sacrifice to disrupt his pawns and to bring my queen quickly to the kingside.

4.Nxe5 fxe5

5. .. Ng6

This defence was not enough to prevent a checkmate. The f7 square is a weak spot for Black (for White, the corresponding square is f2) as it is only defended by the king. It's important to defend this area early on - especially if it's being attacked, as it was in this case, by your opponent's pieces.



Friday, 19 March 2010


The purpose of this blog is for me to discuss the Chess games I've played; games I've read about, or studied. I'll be providing basic commentary (with the emphasis on 'basic') and inviting discussion on lines I've missed, mistakes I've made and other general blunders and ideas. I'll be updating with plenty of diagrams (because I can't play blindfold Chess at all and I need to have a board permanently set up in front of me!) to make sure my ideas are clear.