Friday, August 29, 2014

Term 3 tactical presents (Part 3)

Since our tournament at AMK (yep, it's not at Rulang this time!) is barely 2 weeks away, here's 8 more (easy) presents for us to practice our tactical vision!

Puzzle 1: White to move

Puzzle 2: Black to move

Puzzle 3: Black to move

Puzzle 4: White to move

Puzzle 5: White to move

Puzzle 6: Black to move

Puzzle 7: Black to move and mate in 2

Finally, here's an interesting endgame study where things seem to be going bad for White... but there is a way for him to force a draw!

Puzzle 8: White to move and draw

Have fun! (:

Part 1:
Part 2:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

When in doubt, Bxh7 (Part 5)

Welcome back, guys. Now after looking through all our previous examples, one must already be under the impression that a Greek Gift sacrifice can work only if you have a Knight and a Queen ready to jump in for the attack. While this is true in most games, there are also times when the bishop has been sacrificed when there are few pieces left on the board; here, we will look at some examples where the follow-up attack is executed with other combinations other than a Queen and a Knight.

Our first example is taken from a battle between two masters of the early 20th century: Aaron Nimzowitsch and Siegbert Tarrasch:

Nimzowitsch, Aaron vs Tarrasch, Siegbert
St Petersburg 1914
Position after 19. exd4

19... Bxh2+!

Black doesn't have a knight on f6 to help in the follow up attack, but instead uses a bishop-queen combination.

20. Kxh2 Qh4+
21. Kg1 Bxg2!
22. f3

22. Kxg2 Qg4+ 23. Kh2 Rd5 +-

22... Rfe8

The rook joins in the attack.

23. Ne4 Qh1+
24. Kf2 Bxf1 (D)

25. d5

25. Rxf1 Qh2+ loses the Queen for nothing, while after 25. Nf6+ Kf8 26. Nxe8 Qg2+ 27. Rxe8 White will not survive for long either.

25... f5
26. Qc3 Qg2+

27. Ke3 Rxe4+
28. fxe4 f4+

28... Qg3+ 29. Kd2 Qf2+ 30. Kd1 Qe2#

29. Kxf4 Rf8+
30. Ke5 Qh2+
31. Ke6 Re8+
32. Kd7 Bb5# (D)

Position after 32... Bb5#

A fine King-hunting demonstration executed by Dr Tarrasch!

Dr Siegbert Tarrasch (Image from Wiki)

In the next example, a young Vishy Anand uses a Queen+Rook combination after the classical sacrifice to hunt down the legendary Anatoly Karpov:

Anand, Viswanathan vs Karpov, Anatoly
Las Palmas 1996
Position after 20... Ba6

21. Bxh7+!?

The safer route was to win the pawn after 21. Rxd5 Nc6 22. Bxa6 Rxa6, but in those days Anand wasn't a player to be content with a mere extra pawn!

21... Kxh7
22. Qh5+ Kg8
23. Rb3 Bxe5

Computer analysis has pointed out that Black actually had a proper defence: 23... f6! 24. Rc1 Bc4 25. Nxc4 dxc4 26. Bxd6 Qxd6 27. Rh3 (27. Rxc4?? Ra1+! with mate to follow) 27... Qxd4 and Black is in a better-off position with his passed pawn and extra piece. However, to find the precise variation in such a complicated position (and under time pressure) would be far too much to handle for even a super GM like Karpov!

24. Rh3 f6
25. dxe5 Qe7
26. Qh7+ Kf7
27. Rg3

White's Queen and Rook systematically take apart the kingside.

27... Ke8

Or 27... Rg8 28. Qg6+ Ke6 29. exf6 Qxf6 30. Re1+

28. Rxg7 Qe6
29. exf6 Nc6
30. Ra1 Kd8
31. h4 Bb7
32. Rc1 Ba6
33. Ra1

White actually had a faster way to win with 33. Bc7+! Kc8 34. Bb6 after which the threat of mate on the 8th rank is very real.

33... Bb7
34. Rd1 Ba6
35. Qb1 Rxf6
36. Bg5 (D)

Position after 36. Bg5
Black lost on time, but from the position it shouldn't be hard to tell that White already has a huge advantage. Kudos to Vishy Anand!

Viswanathan Anand, the 15th undisputed World Champion (Image from Wiki)

But that's not the most unorthodox example. There have been games where the Greek Gift sacrifice is used to force a draw instead of a win (!?); let's take a look at the next example!

Both sides reached the following position after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. Re1 d5 7. Nxe5 Bd6 8. Nxc6 (D)

Hohenmeister, Jens vs Wolff, Patrick
Bruchkoebel MVT 1993
Position after 8. Nxc6

Black seems to be in danger of losing a pawn, with his king in a precarious position. But he finds a way to save the game:

8... Bxh2+!?
9. Kxh2

White could still chose to stay in the game with 9. Kf1 or 9. Kh1, although after let's say 9. Kf1 Qh4 10. Qf3 O-O Black can equalize due to his edge in development.

9... Qh4+
10. Kg1 Qxf2+

With a draw by perpetual check.


So here are just a few of the more unconventional times where the Greek Gift sacrifice has been utilized. In our final part of this series, we will take a look at a sample game featuring this sacrifice being used against the castled king.

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

Friday, August 15, 2014

7 tips to winning more chess games

Rulang is coming in a month's time, so before we start proper I just want y'all to take some time to read this. Throughout the year I have sat at the back of the class and observed everyone during our training sessions, and I realize that everyone of us in this team can be divided into 3 basic categories.
  1. The enthu saikang warriors
  2. The ones who have little time to learn, so they just do whatever's required of them
  3. Those who make me wonder why the heck they joined the team in the first place

I am not concerned about those in Category 3 (which fortunately aren't a lot), simply because there's absolutely nothing that Mr Lim, Darryl and I (or anyone else in the team) can do to help you at all unless you change your attitude. Since you'd rather waste your 2 hours slacking off rather than learn something useful, then I don't see why anyone should be interested in teaching you either. All I can say is good luck.

So if you know that you belong to Category 3, then don't bother to continue reading this post, and go find yourself another CCA next year. Sorry for being brutally honest, but I'm not here to give flowery words. I'm here to tell the truth.

Leave no man behind... except those who choose to

For my friends in Category 1, I'm not concerned either because y'all are well on your way to improvement, and that leaves me with little worries. All I will say is, keep it up.

The vast majority of us fall in Category 2. Juggling chess and school work is an understandable predicament, and I myself have been through it many times. The advice for this is simple: You don't have to spend 3 hours per day mugging chess theory. All it takes is a simple 10 minutes per day solving some chess puzzles which can be very easily sourced on the internet ( provides 3 free chess puzzles per day to all its members). You might not see immediate results, but over time you will find your tactical vision starting to pick up. The important thing is: Do it regularly!

To paraphrase from Mr Lim, you can only improve in a subject if you are willing to spend time on it. Not just chess, but any other subject in general.

All good everybody? If so, then let's start proper:

7 tips to winning more chess games

Everyone wants to win. If so, then why are there so many average players but so few good players? Perhaps your gameplay will improve by mugging every single line in the ECO (think biology)? Or perhaps you can hire the most expensive coach in the world to give you the best training?

As Mr Lim has went through with us yesterday, here are the 7 tips you should know if you wish to improve:

1. Learn the Basics

The most difficult to master are:
  • Tactical Play, and
  • Positional Play
If you expect to win, you must know them.

2. Don't lose in the opening

You only win in the opening when your opponent makes a terrible blunder. If both opponents play the opening correctly, neither will win. One player might get a solid advantage, maybe even a winning advantage, but it must be converted to a win in the middle game or endgame.

Caption please.

If you're still unsure on how to play the opening properly, here are 4 basic but important guidelines on how to play the opening well:

3. Win in the Middle Game

Most chess games are won and lost in the middle game, where your imagination is your greatest ally. Whether formulating a deep plan or calculating a tricky combination,you need to be well rounded in all facets of this most difficult phase. The basics of the middle game are:

  • Pattern recognition
  • Combinations
  • Plans
  • Double attacks
  • Open lines
  • King safety
  • Pawn structure
  • Piece placement

Your imagination will be even more powerful if you possess the fundamentals of chess knowledge.

4. Win in the Endgame

Some of the most difficult positions have the fewest pieces. How can you expect to handle 32 pieces when you have trouble with 5 or 6? The Elementary Endgames are forced checkmates (e.g. King + Queen vs King). Everyone tells you that endgames are important, but few players ever study them. Be different! An hour spent on the endgame is worth more than an hour spent on the openings.

What endgames should you study? The suggestions by most trainers: Study Rook and Pawn endgames. These are the ones which are most likely to occur in actual games, so it's worth spending more time on those than on some unlikely occurrence like, let's say, Bishop + Knight checkmate. If you're looking to strengthen your foundation on Rook endgames, the following link might be useful:

5. Win tactically

You'll never be a good player if you overlook mate in two moves or simple wins of material. Sharpen your tactical eye with tactical presents puzzles from real games. Puzzles are great practice even when you only have a few spare minutes. A specific position may never occur in your game, but the theme definitely will. Tactics occur in all phases of the game.

6. Study the games of the great players

Step through every move explained, move by move with a diagram and commentary for each and every move of particularly instructive games. Openings, tactics, positional play and endgame principles are explained from a chess master's point of view, but with beginning and intermediate players in mind.

Popular choices to study include the most famous masters such as Carlsen and Kasparov, but it is best if you pick a player whose style you are comfortable with and you wish to take after. For dynamic and tactical players, the top candidates are Fischer and Alekhine; for more solid and positional players, Petrosian and Karpov are your best teachers.

Remember: At this stage when you're still learning, it is never shameful to emulate the gameplay of the great masters!

7. Have a strong mind

At last to be a good player your mind too should be powerful: More fast, logical, and tricky than your opponent. So whenever you play a game your mind should be calm and stable, without any tension or unnecessary thoughts.


So there we have: The 7 tips to winning more games. Anyone has anything else to add on? If so, feel free to comment below!

General Chess Discussion Group: How to win AT Chess?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When in doubt, Bxh7 (Part 4)

After the launch and accept of a Greek Gift sacrifice, the trickiest variations often include the ones where the enemy king runs into the open via g3/g6 or h3/h6. This may seem counter intuitive-- how can a king stuck in the open be harder to catch?-- but unfortunately it is true!

In an interesting game that I have found from, Black actually had a way to draw the game even after the sacrifice, but the subsequent variations were too complicated and he eventually slipped. The credit for this game must go to Loomis (, whose annotations I shall include in the KnightVision viewer below:

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Bb4
4. e3 Ne7
5. Nf3 Nbc6
6. Bd3 Bxc3+
7. bxc3 Bd7
8. O-O O-O (D)

Position after 8... O-O

9. Bxh7+ Kxh7
10. Ng5+ Kg6

This is the variation where things get tricky for White. On the other hand, going back to g8 would have led to mate: 10... Kg8 11. Qh5 Re8 12. Qh7+ Kf8 13. Qh8+ Ng8 14. Ba3+ (or 14. Nh7+ Ke7 15. Ba3+ Nb4 16. Bxb4+ c5 17. Bxc5#) 14... Re7 15. Nh7+ Ke8 16. Qxg8#

11. Qg4 e5?

The resultant lines are too complicated for Black, who failed to see the variation that could have led to a draw: 11... f5 12. Qg3 f4 13. exf4 Nf5 14. Qg4 Nh6 15. Qg3 Nf5 where Fritz places the position as equal for both sides.

12. Ne6+ Kf6
13. f4 e4 (D)

Position after 13... e4

14. cxd5?

14. f5! Bxe6 (14... fxe6 15. fxe6+ Nf5 16. Qxf5+ Ke7 17. Ba3+) 15. fxe6+ Nf5 16. Qxf5+ and the attack continues.

14... Nxd5?

14... fxe6 15. dxc6 Bxc6 would have allowed Black to equalize quickly and retain his extra material (Fritz gives this position a -1.83 score in favour of Black!)

15. f5 fxe6
16. fxe6+ Ke7
17. Ba3+ Ncb4
18. Qxg7+ Kxe6?
19. Qe5# (D)

18... Kd6 was more resilient but Black still won't survive for long: 19. Bxb4+ (19... Nxb4 20. Qe5+ Kc6 21. Qc5#) 19... Kc6 20. Bxf8 and Black can resign.

Position after 19. Qe5#

The unusually high number of question marks in the above annotations is enough to testify to just how tricky it is to calculate such variations!

In the next example, the variations with Kg3 are less tricky but still require some thinking:

Example 2: Variations with Kg3

1... Bxh2+
2. Kxh2 Ng4+
3. Kg3

Once again, this is the variation which leads to very tricky calculations. On the other hand, 3. Kg1 Qh4 and 3. Kh3 Nxf2+ both win easily for Black (you can tell why!).

3... Qg5
4. f4

After 4. Kf3 Nxe3 5. fxe3 (5. Bxe3 Qg4#) 5... Bg4+ Black wins the Queen.

4... Qg6
5. f5

Once again 5. Kf3 leads to 5... Nxe3

5... Bxf5
6. Kf4 h6!

6... Qd6+?! 7. Kf3 gives the White king a better chance of escaping.

7. e4

7. Qe1 Nh2 8. Qh4 Qd6+ 9. Kxf5 g6#

7... dxe4
8. Nxe4 Rxe4+

Black has regained his material with an overwhelming attack; checkmating White should now only be a matter of time and technique.

In our last example, White appears to have a promising attack, but the variation with Kh6 poses the greatest challenge:

Example 3: White has his tricks, but do does Black!

1. Bxh7+ Kxh7
2. Ng5+ Kh6!

The best way for Black to fight back. By now you should know what happens after 2. Kg8 or 2. Kh8, while after 2... Kg6 3. Qd3+ f5 4. Qg3 f4 5. Qg4 Kh6 6. Nxe6 White can keep up the attack.

3. Qd2 Qe7
4. Nxe6+ Kh7
5. Nxf8+ Rxf8 (D)

Position after 5... Rxf8

White has regained his material, but Black manages to spring back from his seemingly lost position.


In many games featuring the Greek Gift sacrifice, the variations with Kg6/Kg3 and Kh6/Kh3 are often the trickiest to calculate, and after looking through these examples it shouldn't be difficult to tell why! The lesson to be learned here is: When planning an attack on the castled king, especially one involving a Greek Gift sacrifice, the art of calculating tactics is a crucial component for success. The greatest GMs are able to do this and at the same time manage their time control well; are you able to do it?

In the next article, we will look at more unorthodox examples of Greek Gift sacrifices that have occurred in actual gameplay.

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

"How to calculate Chess Tactics" by Valeri Beim
"Art of Attack in Chess" by Vladimir Vukovic

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Term 3 tactical presents (Part 2)

Once again here are 8 more tactical presents for y'all to work out during the National Day holidays:

Puzzle 1: Black to move and mate in 2

Puzzle 2: White to move

Puzzle 3: White to move and mate in 2

Puzzle 4: Black to move and mate in 4

Puzzle 5: White to move

Puzzle 6: Black to move and mate in 2

Puzzle 7: White to move

Finally, here's a puzzle with a really interesting first move: Find the best move for Black!

Puzzle 8: Black to move

Have fun! (:

Part 1:

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Overloaded: Black Knights Internal Tournament Round 16

I recently received a request to analyze another game (from the same round as the last game we went through) so here goes.Once again, I have enlisted the help of our best friend, Deep Fritz 12, to provide valuable analysis for this game.

Note: To protect the identities of the players involve, I have replaced their real names with pseudonyms.

Gryphon vs Hyena
Black Knights Internal Tournament 2014

1. d4 d5
2. Bf4 Nf6
3. Nf3 Bg4
4. Nbd2 e6
5. e3 Bd6
6. Bg3 Bxg3
7. hxg3 h6
8. Be2 Nc6
9. c3 (D)

Position after 9. c3

9... O-O?!

Although White has doubled pawns on the g-file, he gets compensation with the open h-file, which gives him attacking chances on the kingside. So I wouldn't really want to castle kingside as Black in this position since it only helps my opponent realize his chances. 9... Qd6 would have been a good alternative, developing the Queen and preparing to castle queenside instead.

10. Qc2 Bf5
11. Bd3 Ne7

After 11... Bxd3, the continuation suggested by Fritz was 12. Qxd3 a5 13. e4 dxe4 14. Nxe4 a4. Here Black is trying to discourage White from castling queenside, thus preventing him from using his rooks effectively to exploit the open h-file.

12. Ne5 b6
13. e4 dxe4
14. Nxe4 c5?? (D)

Position after 14... c5; find the best move for White

It seems like a very natural move, preparing to challenge White in the centre, but 14... c5 is actually a blunder! This is because Black's centre is still very fluid, and not doing anything to liquidate the situation allows White to unearth a tactical blow. The alternative suggested by Fritz was 14... Nxe4 15. Bxe4 f6 16. Bxf5 exf5 17. Nc4 Re8 18. O-O-O (or 18. O-O) after which both sides are roughly equal; Black has a slightly worse pawn structure but his pieces can get centralized more quickly.

Now, spot the tactical blow for White before you scroll down!
15. Nxf6+!

The g-pawn is overloaded, and suddenly the game ends very quickly:

15... gxf6

Or 15... Kh8 16. Qd2 and Black finds himself a piece down with a crumbling kingside.

16. Qd2! Ng6

After 16... fxe5 17. Qxh6 or 16... h5 17. Qh6 Black won't survive for long either.

17. Qxh6 Re8
18. Qh7+ (D)

Position after 18. Qh7+

There is no escape; 18... Kf8 falls to 19. Qxf7#. How tragic that a seemingly harmless move would turn out to be the blunder that led to disaster for Black. Moral of the story: Think!