"Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Lincolnshire beat Greater Manchester 10:6

"Per aspera ad astra" - Latin proverb
 Friday evening everything looked rather good for Lincolnshire which was already two points up because of two defaults. In reality, match against Greater Manchester played on Saturday afternoon in Sheffield was tougher then the result indicates.

Team Captains in friendly chat
On the board 10 I faced to Kamran Ahmadi
Having Black pieces I met his 1.d4 with 1...d5 and we went on into the Slav Defence. I chose the Chebanenko line with 4...a6
After several complications in the centre of the chess board we finally exchanged all heavy pieces and the game continued into the seemingly "boring" ending - King, Knight & Pawns against King, "bad" Bishop & Pawns. My opponent is really tough player to beat and he had defended his position very well for long time ...
I think this is enough and now look at the game in details.

I really enjoyed this game even if one could say it was just a boring technical ending where White finally made a fatal mistake. Well, it is truth. But this is just a matter of taste. Not everybody is a natural born attacker like Tal or Shirov. Some of us prefer more technical style of players like Ulf Andersson for instance. And when the points for team are concerned then there is no difference if they are achieved in the firework of Shirov or "boring" stuff of Smyslov. A point is simply a point.

Geoff Collyer in preparation for the match
Keith Palmer in "full swing"

Friday, 28 October 2011

Correspondence Chess

"I drink, I smoke, I gamble, I chase girls – but postal chess is one vice I don't have." - Mikhail Tal (1936-1992)

Kosten's Masterpiece
When recently friend of mine, Phill Beckett, came up with an idea that I could "beef up" the Grantham Kings Correspondence Chess Team, the above mentioned statement of the former world chess champion Mikhail Tal was the first thing which occurred me.
Yes, I have some previous experience with correspondence chess, when in my heydays as a student of the grammar-school in the heart of Europe behind the "iron curtains", my school fellow, late Zdeněk Páv, had organised a team match with the group of Finnish guys. As far as I remember, I played 1.d4 and after 1...f5 I played Staunton gambit 2.e4 and then all what I can recall is that I really had not enjoyed the game.
More then 30 years later I had the guts to say: "Yes Phill, with pleasure!" So Phill was hopefully happy and I was happy too. And then we have played two friendly games together. With Black I played very boring stuff which ended up with draw quite soon. But playing White I wanted something special. And Phill helped me very much.
After my 1.c4 Phill went for The Three Knights variation of the English Opening and basically he fell into a theoretical opening trap which has been already published in ECO as well as in the excellent Tony Kosten's book "The Dynamic English". So we both have contributed to the theory of this line and you can see now how.
I would say two things: First, thank you very much Phill. I enjoyed the game very much and second, a good game wasn't it?

Claudio Triumphant!

"Veni, vidi, vici" - Julius Caesar
"I came, I saw, I conquered."  This is what Claudio Mangione could have said, in the spirit of his famous ancient fellow countryman, after his emphatic victory against Mansfield 1.
Claudio Mangione
in the "heat of battle"
Playing 1.Nf3 Claudio invited his opponent into the Réti Opening, however, very soon the game went by move transposition into the English Opening.
Jim Burnett opted for the Capablanca's set-up with "triangular" pawn structure (c6-d5-e6) and the development of light-squared Bishop on f5.
Both players have followed the game Kosic-Heroic, Pula 1990 till the move 11, and then Jim Burnett employed certain novelty.
With the centre blocked Claudio has no fear to give up the pair of Bishops and he wants to prove that in this particular position his pair of Knights is superior to the pair of opponent's Bishops. And indeed, the Knight on d5 is a real monster! Black has tried to simplify the position but then Claudio launches a massive strike on the king-side. Let's have look at this game in full.


An excellent game just underpinned fully deserved victory of the Grantham first team who is the Nottinghamshire League, Division 1 defending champion. Despite that Nick Payne lost his game there was another victory for Grantham team which I have already referred in my previous post and two other draws for Nigel Birtwistle and Kevin McCarthy

Grantham-1: 3.5  -  Mansfield-1: 1.5

Well done guys!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Turning the Advantage into the Victory

"Chess is a fairy tale of 1001 blunders." - Savielly Tartakower
It is the one of most difficult things in the chess game. You have gained certain edge and now you should turn it into the victory. But how? One of my recent games came to following position and the simple question was how to win.

The game is from the match Grantham-1 vers Mansfield-1 (3.5:1.5) and it happened to be me who grabbed the decisive victory for Grantham.

Friday, 21 October 2011

King's Indian Defence - Fianchetto Variation

King's Indian Defence is one of very dynamic opening. It used to be a lethal weapon of players such as Fischer, Geller, Kasparov, Gligorić and many others.

Nowadays Viktor Bologan is one of protagonists who wrote an excellent book on King's Indian Defence which was recently published.

In this opening Black gives up the centre for a while, White gains certain space in the centre and queen-side and then Black launches an attack on the king-side. In certain lines it is just a race and question is who will be faster.

Fianchetto variation is typically not that wild. The fact that White creates certain "fortress" for his King should make the Black's attack on king-side rather difficult.

In the following game both players, Ivanchuk and Yusupov, decided not to respect the above mentioned cliché and prepared for the audience jolly good show. Let's have a look at that: 

It was probably one of the best King's Indian Defences ever played.

Let`s go back to the critical position after Black`s 24th move when White played 25.Nde7+.

British international master Andrew Martin, who analysed this game on ChessPublishing.com writes: "The depth of Yusupov's concept is revealed after 25.Nce7+. The Black goes 25...Kh8 26.Nxf5 Qh2+ 27.Kf1 Black brilliantly opens the g-file whilst preventing Bxf4. The amazing variation continues: 27...Be5!! 28.Bxe5+ Rxe5 29.dxe5 Rg8 30.Ndxe3 fxe3 31.Nxe3 Qf4+! 32.Bf3 Nxe3+ 33.Ke1 Rg1+ 34.Kf2 Ng4+ 35.Kxg1 Qh2+ 36.Kf1 Qf2# "Behind the scenes this game is interesting enough. What happens up front almost defies description." Yes, this line is really beautiful. However, has White or has not any other resources? Was Black position really so good and the attack so powerful?

First, instead of 28.Bxe5+ White can play 28.dxe5! and after Re6 29.Nde7 f3 30.exf3 e2+ 31.Kxe2 Qxg2+ 32.Kd3 Qxf3+ 33.Kc2 Qf4 34.Rd4 Qf2+ 35.Rd2 Qf4 36.Rg1 h5 37.Qd3 and White is two pieces up and Black attack is fading.

28...Rg8 is not better either because of 29.Ndxe3 Nxe3+ 30.Nxe3 fxe3 31.Qb7! Qh4 32.Qf3 Rxg2 33.Qxg2 Rg8 34.Be7!! Qxe7 35.Qh2 Rg6 36.Rd6 and again the Black's attack is fading and White is just all Rook up.

It is quite clear that there is no chance to find out al these lines in practical game over the board. And this the beauty of King's Indian Defence.

Grantham King's School

It is more than one year now when I wanted to bring some new players to our Grantham Chess Club. And we have some talks how to attract the public to the game of  chess. Well I had a very courageous idea that time which was to contact some of local schools in Grantham and to offer them some chess coaching. 
Chris Cumbers, another member of Grantham Chess Club, friend of mine and former chemistry teacher at King's created a contact. And we went into connection with Phill Beckett, very nice man, a chess obsessed and dedicated math teacher at King's, who is responsible for the chess club at this school. And all together we organised a simultaneous display which, unfortunately, I had to play myself. No matter how many wins and how many loses I had achieved, but we started to work together. And believe me, I used to teach the medicine at the 1st School of Medicine in Charles University in Prague, however, to teach these youngsters chess is quite different kind of challenge. Nevertheless, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step", and I am very happy that we have already made this first step.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The KGB Plays Chess

"The Soviet Secret Police and the Fight for the World Chess Crown"

This book is unique. This book is written by people who can say too much to this subject. This book is about the people who had to fight for their place on the Sun, place on the Earth, place to live somewhere where they wanted to live. This book is written by Boris Gulko, Vladimir Popov, Yuri Felshtinsky and Viktor Kortschnoi. Ringing the bell? Yes. Not all of them but Gulko and Kortschnoi obviously yes. In the long line of other brave people we have to name people like Boris Spassky and Garry Kasparov. But who is Vladimir Popov? Well, he is a former KGB Lieutenant Colonel, who left Russia in 1996 and now lives in Canada. He was one of those responsible for the sport sector of USSR. It is only now for the first time that he has decided to tell the readers his story of the KGB's involvement in Soviet sports. This is his first book, and it is not only full of sensations, but it also dares to tell the names of secret KGB agents previously known only as famous chess masters, sportsmen or sport officials. Just a few years ago a book like this would have been unimaginable.
Read this book. It is not only about chess. It is about glorious victory of the great chess masters over the forces of darkness.
And my personal opinion? Yes, I did enjoy reading this book very much.

Robert The Eleventh

Robert James "Bobby" Fischer (1943 – 2008) was an American chess Grandmaster and the 11th World Chess Champion. He is widely considered one of the greatest chess players of all time. Fischer was also a best-selling chess author. After ending his competitive career, he proposed a new variant of chess and a modified chess timing system: His idea of adding a time increment after each move is now standard, and his variant Chess960 is gaining in popularity. 

When I hear "Fischer" then immediately I have a recollection of one of his games from the famous match with Boris Spassky played in Reykjavík, 1972. And this is game 13. Fischer employed Alekhine Defence first time in the match. Spassky with White pieces overextended the opening and then he displayed enormous resilience when he was fighting for a draw. Spassky was really close to his target, however, another mistake was heavily punished by the American. This game is probably one of the best games played in this match.

Vasily The Seventh

Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov (Василий Васильевич Смыслов; 1921 – 2010) was a Soviet and Russian chess grandmaster, and was World Chess Champion from 1957 to 1958. He was a Candidate for the World Chess Championship on eight occasions (1948, 1950, 1953, 1956, 1959, 1965, 1983, and 1985). Smyslov was twice equal first at the Soviet Championship (1949, 1955), and his total of 17 Chess Olympiad medals won is an all-time record. In five European Team Championships, Smyslov won ten gold medals.
Following very instructive rook ending is just a fragment of Smyslov's game against American grandmaster Pal Benko.

 Smyslov was master of strategy and endings. He published an excellent textbook on rook endings ("Rook Endings", Batsford, 1971) together with another famous Soviet grandmaster Grigory Levenfish
Less known fact was that Smyslov used to be a fine baritone opera singer, who only positively decided upon a chess career after a failed audition with the Bolshoi Theatre in 1950. He once said, "I have always lived between chess and music." On the occasion of a game against Mikhail Botvinnik, he sang to an audience of thousands. He occasionally gave recitals during chess tournaments, often accompanied by fellow Grandmaster and concert pianist Mark Taimanov. Smyslov once wrote that he tried to achieve harmony on the chess board, with each piece assisting the others.

"If anything can go wrong, it will!"

This is my favourite quotation from a book of Arthur Bloch, a picture of which I added. The Sod's law if you prefer that.
Why I am writing that? Well as you may have read in my previous post, Lincolnshire played against Derbyshire last Saturday. I played on board 10 and I played terribly. And every player can give you thousands of reasons why he had played badly. In number of occasions just tons of lame excuses. Somebody humorously have said that he never ever had won with "fit & fresh" player.
Nevertheless, the last Saturday I tested whether it is possible to play chess when you  were "sleep deprived". Have you ever tried to play chess after two or three hours of sleep? I had this pleasure, however, if you think that the reason for that was something like a "Friday night fever" then you are wrong. Actually, I was on call that night and we had plenty of things to do, so I left my hospital about 7:30 am Saturday morning. The match started at 1:00 pm. And now I show you how I played.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Lincolnshire beat Derbyshire 10.5 : 5.5 !


Tigran The Ninth

"In those years, it was easier to win the Soviet Championship than a game against 'Iron Tigran' ".
Lev Polugaevsky (1934 – 1995)

"He has an incredible tactical view, and a wonderful sense of the danger... No matter how much you think deep... He will 'smell' any kind of danger 20 moves before!"
Robert James Fischer (1943 – 2008)

Tigran Petrosian and Robert Fischer
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian (Armenian: Տիգրան Պետրոսյան, Тигран Вартанович Петросян) (17 June 1929 – 13 August 1984) was a Soviet-Armenian grandmaster, and World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969. He was nicknamed "Iron Tigran" due to his playing style because of his almost impenetrable defence, which emphasised safety above all else. He was a Candidate for the World Championship on eight occasions (1953, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1971, 1974, 1977 and 1980). He won the world championship in 1963 (against Botvinnik), successfully defended it in 1966 (against Spassky), and lost it in 1969 (to Spassky). Thus he was the defending World Champion or a World Championship candidate in ten consecutive three-year cycles. He won the Soviet Championship four times (1959, 1961, 1969, and 1975). He was recognised as the hardest player to beat in the history of chess by the authors of a 2004 book. (Wikipedia)

Petrosian was the player loved by some and hated by many because of his careful and "boring" style based on the ideas of his idol - Aaron Nimzowitsch - who was the author of very famous book "My System". Young Tigran had spent hundreds of hours analysing this book and he strongly believed in the "dogmas" created by his "master". Prophylaxis, this is the word which Petrosian liked very much. But it was another genius of the game who discovered that behind this careful and prophylactic game sleeps a venomous dragon who can transform himself into the wildest tactical player in the world.

Today I want to present you just two of Petrosian's masterpieces. And if you remain convinced that he had been boring guy, please let me know. 

I am sure that former Czechoslovak grandmaster Luděk Pachman did not expect anything like that.

The second victim of Petrosian's tactical mastery was nobody better than American grandmaster Robert James Fischer, AKA "Robert the Eleventh". Petrosian transformed himself into an uncompromising attacker who just had smelled the blood.

"Possibly one of the best games of recent years." - Miguel Najdorf (1910 – 1997)