An unexamined life is not worth living.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Top Chess News and 12 Best Combinations of 2014

I have been closely following the chess news for the year as I was compiling collections of tactics from each month, and here is a summary of what happened in the chess world during 2014:

The highlight of January 2014 was the traditional Wijk Aan Zee tournament, won by Levon Aronian.

diagram Harikrishna – Nakamura White to move

The highlight of February 2014 was the Zurich Chess Challenge, with the average rating of 2801, the highest in chess history. It was won by Magnus Carlsen, but in one of the examples in the book he fell victim to a decisive sacrifice by Caruana. The real gem of the tournament, however was the exchange of rook sacrifices between Nakamura and Aronian, where in all three games (blitz, classical and rapid) White delivered a rook/exchange sacrifice against Black's kingside. The idea was brilliant, as White won in all three games! Other major tournaments this month were the Gibraltar and Moscow opens, which also had a lot of instructive combinations.

diagram Nakamura – Aronian White to move

The highlight of March 2014 was Candidates Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia that determined the challenger for World Champion Magnus Carlsen. It was won by Vishy Anand, with a great result of +3, a full point a head of Sergey Karjakin who came second. The other major tournament this month was the European championship, which also had a lot of instructive combinations. It was won in great style by Alexander Motylev.

diagram Aronian – Mamedyarov White to move

The highlight of April 2014 was the Vugar Gashimov Memorial held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. It was won by the World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who despite losing two games, scored 6.5/10. Caruana was second with 5.5 points. The other major tournaments this month were the Women's Rapid and Blitz World Championships held in Khanty-Mansiysk, which were won by Kateryna Lagno and Anna Muzychuk respectively. Earlier that month Khanty-Mansiysk also hosted the Women's FIDE Grand Prix tournament, won by Hou Yifan, so April was truly a month of Women's chess in that city.

diagramCaruana – Carlsen, White to move

After the major top tournaments of the first 4 months of the year, May was a relatively quiet month on the top scene. But, of course, still a lot of tournaments were played at different levels, including top GM round robins - Capablanca memorial in Havana, won by Wesley So, and Karpov's tournament in Poikovsky, won by Morozevich. Several combinations in this edition also come from the Italian team championship, and the Czech national championship.

diagram White to move

June features an expanded edition, with over a hundred combinations, to cover the Rapid and Blitz World Championships in Dubai, in addition to the Stavanger Super Tournament in Norway. The former were both convincingly won by Magnus Carlsen, while Sergey Karjakin deprived the Norwegian World Champion of a home victory and took first place in the latter.

diagram Topalov – Grischuk Black to move

July edition again covers over a hundred combinations, coming from Women's European Championship (won by Gunina), Dortmund, won by Caruana, and many other tournaments. The chess world is now awaiting the Olympiad in Tromso, so the August Monthly Tactics will have no shortage of combinations to choose from!

diagram Final position from Caruana – Ponomariov

August edition covers over a hundred combinations, mostly coming from the Tromso Chess Olympiad, which was won by China in the Open tournament, and by Russia in the Women's Section.

diagram Lagno – Dohdal, White to move

The major tournaments of September 2014 were happening in Bilbao, Spain. The European team championship was won by SOCAR club from Azerbaijan in the open event, and Georgian club Nona in the female section. Anand won the Bilbao Masters chess tournament, held at the same time and location, ahead of Aronian. The October edition will cover the first stage of the next World Championship which will begin with the Grand Prix tournament in Baku, with the world's strongest grandmasters participating.

diagram White to move

The major tournaments of October 2014 were the two FIDE Grand Prix tournaments, in Baku and Tashkent. The former was won by Caruana and Gelfand, while in the latter Andreikin took the first place. Lu Shanglei and Aleksandra Goryachkina won the titles in the World Juniors championships in India. Giri-Shirov friendly match was another highlight, and two combinations from the match are featured here. The November edition will cover the World Championship Match in Sochi between Carlsen and Anand, as well as the Petrosian Memorial in Moscow with the world's strongest grandmasters participating.

diagram Shirov – Vedder, White to move

The main event of November 2014 was the World Championship Match in Sochi between Carlsen and Anand, where Carlsen retained his title. Other major events were the Petrosian Memorial in Moscow with the world's strongest grandmasters participating (won by Grischuk), and the Tal memorial - a blitz tournament held as a side event in Sochi between many super grandmasters, this year's replacement for the annual Tal Memorial in Moscow (won by Mamedyarov).

diagram Carlsen – Anand, Black to move

December saw Anand win the London Classic tournament, ahead of Kramnik and Giri.

diagram Kramnik – Nakamura, White to move

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Carlsen’s Attack in Closed Sicilian

Carlsen – Wojtaszek, 2014
image White to move
Solution in the Video, Ebook, or Viewer below

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Best Combinations - November 2014 (Monthly Chess Tactics Book 11)

November edition of the Monthly Tactics series is out with over 50 puzzles for you to solve, added to my collection in the Amazon ebook store.

 

The main event of November 2014 was the World Championship Match in Sochi between Carlsen and Anand, where Carlsen retained his title.

Other major events were the Petrosian Memorial in Moscow with the world's strongest grandmasters participating (won by Grischuk), and the Tal memorial - a blitz tournament held as a side event in Sochi between many super grandmasters, this year's replacement for the annual Tal Memorial in Moscow (won by Mamedyarov).

December edition will cover the Russian Championships and other major events for the last month of the year.

Carlsen – Anand, game 6

diagram Black to move.

The book contains the solution, but if you follow the chess news elsewhere, you probably already know what move Anand missed.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dominguez’s Sicilian Attack at Tromso

Dominguez–Mamedyarov, 2014
image White to move
Solution in the Video, Ebook, or viewer below.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Solve over 50 Best Combinations from Chess Tournaments Played in October

October edition of the Monthly Tactics series is out with over 50 puzzles for you to solve, available in Amazon ebook store.

The major tournaments of October 2014 were the two FIDE Grand Prix tournaments, in Baku and Tashkent. The former was won by Caruana and Gelfand, while in the latter Andreikin took the first place. Lu Shanglei and Aleksandra Goryachkina won the titles in the World Juniors championships in India. Giri-Shirov friendly match was another highlight, and two combinations from the match are featured here. The November edition will cover the World Championship Match in Sochi between Carlsen and Anand, as well as the Petrosian Memorial in Moscow with the world's strongest grandmasters participating.

cover

About the series: “Monthly Chess Tactics” will allow you to

  • Catch up on latest major chess news
  • Follow top grandmasters
  • Improve your game
  • Study combinations any time and anywhere
  • Enjoy a collection of annotated puzzles that you have not seen in any other tactics books
  • Maintain regular practice by solving several puzzles every day

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Grischuk’s Brilliant Win from the Chess Olympiad

Grischuk – Fillipov, 2014
image White to move

Solution in the Video or Ebook, or below.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chess World Championship Preview - Deja Vu - Combinations by Anand and Carlsen

The second match between Anand and Carlsen is approaching, and it was almost exactly a year ago that I wrote this post below. If you are wondering why these two players are still the best in the world, studying their combinations may give the answers!

 Chess World Championship Preview - Combinations by Anand and Carlsen:
The World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand has been anticipated throughout the chess world since Carlsen qualified from the London Candidates tournament, and there has been no shortage of forecasts. Rather than try to predict the winner, I released a new ebook that gives a preview of the match by showing the best combinations of each player - collected throughout their entire careers. You get a chance to play like the current world champion, or like the future one, if the title changes hands in the 2013 match.
Over 130 annotated test positions will help you better appreciate the enormous tactical strength of both players, while also serving as a tribute to the careers of both players.
You can get the book from Amazon here: World Championship Preview - Combinations by Anand and Carlsen 
image.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ChessBase - One File Format to Rule them All

As of Chessbase 11 and 12, Chessbase offers to put database files into one file with *.cbone extension. That seems very convenient compared to cbv files that cannot be viewed or modified without unpacking, and sure beats dozens of random extension (cbh, cbg, etc) files that were getting created/deleted behind the scenes in the old paradigm. For emailing games around, or backing up databases, cbone seems great. But I don't want to convert my databases unless I know that the new format is reliable. I will  experiment with cbone in the next while and see how this goes.
So far a couple of issues I can think of are:
  • I noticed that read-only cbone files cause errors, even when opened up for viewing
  • It is obvious that any older program such as Chessbase Light would not able to read cbone file format
Has anyone else noticed other problems?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Best Combinations - September 2014 (Monthly Chess Tactics Book 9)

The September edition of the Monthly Tactics series is out with over 100 puzzles for you to solve, available in Amazon and Kobo stores.

 

Book description:
This publication is a collection of over 100 best combinations played by strong chess players in tournaments that took place in September 2014. To see the solution for the combination - go to the next page in your e-reader. The book is the ninth in the "Monthly Chess Tactics" series, which provides regular updates with instructive tactical positions from the most recent top chess tournaments. The first eight instalments covered January to August of 2014.

The major tournaments of September 2014 were happening in Bilbao, Spain. The European team championship was won by SOCAR club from Azerbaijan in the open event, and Georgian club Nona in the female section. Anand won the Bilbao Masters chess tournament, held at the same time and location, ahead of Aronian. The October edition will cover the first stage of the next World Championship which will begin with the Grand Prix tournament in Baku, with the world's strongest grandmasters participating.

About the series:

“Monthly Chess Tactics” will allow you to

  • Catch up on latest major chess news
  • Follow top grandmasters
  • Improve your game
  • Study combinations any time and anywhere
  • Enjoy a collection of annotated puzzles that you have not seen in any other tactics books
  • Maintain regular practice by solving several puzzles every day

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Playing for Queenside majority in the Endgame

Khairullin – Stander, 2003
image White to move
Solution in  "Endgames By Juniors" EbookVideo, or viewer below:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

2 Years, 18 eBooks, Thousand Puzzles, Hundred Annotated Games Later

Two years ago, I started converting my published and studying materials into electronic books that I thought would be great to read anywhere, on any mobile device, on the internet, offline, etc. The eBook format seemed to be a natural fit, and I have been uploading my content on Amazon, with some samples on this blog, on my YouTube channel, and on Kobo. The project turned out “a bit” more ambitious than originally anticipated, but it has been a great learning experience so far.

The table below summarizes roughly the amount of content in each book, and should give you an idea what book you might be interested in. As I continue to tweak the process, I’d also like to hear your thoughts on the format, content, pricing, and really anything related to these books.

Book Title Training Positions * Annotated Games Price Series
Bishop Endgames: Do Opposites Attract? 44 27 2.99 Practical Endgames
Exchange Slav - Strategy and Tactics 27 28 2.99 Opening Preparation
Counterattack with Alexander Morozevich 42
0.99 Practical Tactics
Spanish Opening - Strategy and Tactics 28 11 2.99 Opening Preparation
Play Like a Grandmaster - Tactics from Chess World Cup 2013 54
2.99 Practical Tactics
World Championship Preview - Combinations by Anand and Carlsen 131
2.99 Practical Tactics
Rook and Knight Endgames - Strategy and Tactics 26 19 2.99 Practical Endgames
Attack with Alexander Morozevich - Selected Games and Best Combinations 54 10 2.99 Practical Tactics
Play Like a Grandmaster - Best Tactics of 2013 82
2.99 Practical Tactics
Best Combinations - January 2014 51
0.99 Monthly Tactics
Best Combinations - February 2014 57
0.99 Monthly Tactics
Best Combinations - March 2014 40
0.99 Monthly Tactics
Best Combinations - April 2014 51
0.99 Monthly Tactics
Best Combinations - May 2014 54
0.99 Monthly Tactics
Best Combinations - June 2014 102
2.99 Monthly Tactics
Endgames by Juniors - Instructive Games and Blunders 9 23 2.99 Practical Endgames
Best Combinations – July 2014 101
2.99 Monthly Tactics
Best Combinations – August 2014 103
2.99 Monthly Tactics
Total
1056 118  

* Training positions typically also contain annotations and are computer checked for accuracy.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Power of Exchanges in Chess – Transitioning into Bishop endgame

Jiganchine – North, Keres Memorial 2014
imageWhite to move. Find the winning idea.

The title of the post obviously contains the hint, but I would still suggest you consider what is the biggest weaknesses in Black’s position, what piece defends that weakness, and what is the best piece to attack it attack it. Alas in the game, I overlooked it, and gave Black a chance to defend, which he in his turn – also missed.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Knight Endgame Lesson - Back to the Basics

Reviewing your games with a strong human player is the best way to get a “second opinion” about your chess skills, much better than doing it with a computer engine. Here is one example that was shown to me, that illustrates the power of basic strategic components such as distant passed pawn in knight endgames.

Lai – Jiganchine, 2012
image Black to move. Find the best move/plan (feel free to post it in the comments section).
Hint: Black wants to a create a passed ‘a’ pawn.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Endgame Lesson–Bishops of Opposite Color

Cheng – Jiganchine, 2013 (analysis)
image Black to move. Find the best move/plan (feel free to post it in the comments section).
Hint: Black wants to a create a pair of connected passed pawns, such that they would be impossible to blockade with the white king and bishop.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

June Tactics - Power of the Rook on the 7th rank

Hector, J.    --    Bromann, T.
Whitsun GM 2014   2014.06.04     1-0     C11

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Nbd7 6. Nf3 h6 7. Nxf6+ Nxf6 8. Bh4 c5 9. Bc4 cxd4 10. O-O Be7 11. Qe2 O-O 12. Rad1 Qb6 13. Ne5 Nd5 14. Bxd5 Bxh4 15. Bb3 Bf6 16. Rd3 a5 17. a4 Qc5 18. Ng4 Be7 19. c3 dxc3 20. Rxc3 Qb4 21. Bc2 Rd8 22. Ne5 Bf6 23. Rd3 Rxd3 24. Qxd3 Qb6 25. Rd1 Kf8 26. Ng4 Bg5 27. Qh7 f5 28. Ne5 Bf6
84 White to move
Solution: in a Video or Ebook

Sunday, August 17, 2014

June Tactics - Ponkratov - Galliamova - Unexpected Rook sacrifice

Ponkratov, P.    --    Galliamova, A.
36th Nezhmetdinov Mem 2014   2014.06.05     1-0     B80

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be3 Be7 7. g4 h6 8. Bg2 Nc6 9. h3 O-O 10. Nf3 Rb8 11. g5 hxg5 12. Nxg5 b5 13. f4 b4 14. Ne2 d5 15. e5 Nh7 16. h4 f6 17. Qd3 f5 18. Bd2 a5 19. Qg3 Bc5 20. Bf3 Qe8 21. Qg2 Nd4 22. Nxd4 Bxd4 23. Rh3 Bxb2 24. Rb1 Bd4 25. Rg3 Rb7 26. Nxh7 Kxh7 27. Rg5 Qc6 28. Rh5+ Kg8 29. Qg6 Bd7 30. Rh6 Rf7 31. Bh5 Be8 32. Rb3 Qxc2 33. Qh7+ Kf8 34. Qh8+ Ke7
82 White to move

Solution: in a Video or Ebook

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chess Tactics of the Month - June 2014 - Fedoseev - Vorobiov

Fedoseev, Vl3    --    Vorobiov, E.
67th ch-RUS HL 2014   2014.06.05     1-0     B30

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d3 Ne7 6. Qe2 d5 7. h4 a5 8. h5 a4 9. c4 f6 10. h6 Ng6 11. exd5 cxd5 12. cxd5 Qxd5 13. Nc3 Qc6 14. Be3 gxh6 15. O-O-O e5 16. Bxh6 Bxh6+ 17. Rxh6 Kf7 18. Nh4 Nxh4 19. Qh5+ Kg7 20. Qxh4 Bf5 21. Nd5 Bg6 22. Ne7 Qe8
79 White to move
Solution: in a Video or Ebook, or full game below:


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Chess Tactics of the Month - Veselin Topalov - Alexander Grischuk, Stavanger 2014

Topalov, V.    --    Grischuk, A.
2nd Norway Chess 2014   2014.06.04     0-1     B90

1. Nf3 c5 2. e4 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 Ng4 7. Bc1 Nf6 8. h3 e5 9. Nb3 Be6 10. Be3 Be7 11. f4 exf4 12. Bxf4 Nc6 13. Qe2 Nd7 14. O-O-O Nce5 15. Nd5 Bxd5 16. Rxd5 O-O 17. Kb1 Qc7 18. Rd1 Nb6 19. h4 Nec4 20. Rh3 Bf6 21. c3 Rfe8 22. Nd4 Qc5 23. Nf5 d5 24. e5 Bxe5 25. Qg4 g6 26. h5 Qf2 27. Nh6+ Kg7 28. Bc1 f5 29. Qf3 Qxf3 30. Rxf3 Rad8 31. g4 d4 32. hxg6 hxg6 33. Rfd3 Nd5 34. cxd4 Bf4 35. Bxf4 Nxf4 36. Rf3
4 Black to move
Solution: in a Video or Ebook

Friday, August 1, 2014

Free Tactics Ebook on Kobo – until August 9th

Best Combinations – April 2014 book is now free for more than a week in the Kobo bookstore.

image

To get notified of similar updates and promotions – sign up to this blog via email:

image

From the book description:

This publication is a collection of over 50 best combinations played by strong chess players in tournaments that took place in April 2014. To see the solution for the combination - go to the next page in your e-reader.

The highlight of April 2014 was the Vugar Gashimov Memorial held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. It was won by the World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who despite losing two games, scored 6.5/10. Caruana was second with 5.5 points.

The other major tournaments this month were the Women's Rapid and Blitz World Championships held in Khanty-Mansiysk, which were won by Kateryna Lagno and Anna Muzychuk respectively. Earlier that month Khanty-Mansiysk also hosted the Women's FIDE Grand Prix tournament, won by Hou Yifan, so April was truly a month of Women's chess in that city.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chess Tactics of the Month - Vallejo Pons - Hou Yifan

Vallejo Pons, F.    -    Hou Yifan
27th Leon GM 2014   2014.06.06     1-0     A30

1. Nf3 e6 2. c4 b6 3. g3 Bb7 4. Bg2 c5 5. O-O Nf6 6. Nc3 Be7 7. Re1 d6 8. e4 Qc8 9. d4 cxd4 10. Nxd4 a6 11. Nd5 exd5 12. exd5 Ra7 13. Bf4 Kf8 14. Qd3 Nh5 15. Qe2 Bxd5 16. Qxh5 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 h6 18. Qd5 Kg8 19. Nf5 Nc6 20. Re3 Kh7
78 
White to move
Solution: in a Video or Ebook

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Is there a similarity between the styles of Kramnik and Botvinnik?

Studying the games of two all time great players, Vladimir Kramnik and Mikhail Botvinnik, I find there are quite a few similarities in their opening selection, strategic methods, and overall styles of play.

The approach of studying openings deeply and both in terms of specific variation, as well as the skill of playing for subtle positional nuances that are prepared at home was first developed by Botvinnik and today has been taken up to the “machine” level by Kramnik with his razor sharp and deep opening preparation. The similarities are likely not accidental, as Botvinnik was the teacher of Kramnik in the late 1980s, so there is a personal connection.

Has anyone else made similar comparisons between Kramnik and Botvinnik in the past? Are there other chess champions who have been called out as very similar in style?

Here are a couple of games by Botvinnik and Kramnik in the same opening - Slav Exchange:

Monday, July 14, 2014

What Do you Expect from a Good Chess Puzzles Collection?

After putting out regular collections of chess tactics/puzzles for the last year or so, I've been thinking about what separates a good chess puzzle collection from a bad one. I find that for a chess puzzle book to be enjoyable, I generally expect it to have the following characteristics :
  • Solutions should be computer or human checked for accuracy (if you ever solved an incorrect puzzle, you know where I come from)
  • Multiple possible solutions are generally avoided for any given puzzle
  • Games need to be new to me (some combinations migrate from one book to another until everyone can recognize them by heart)
  • The quality of the games has to be rather good, preferably - played by grandmasters
  • In terms of layout or presentation - solutions are easy to look up, ideally - without the risk of seeing solutions to the next positions (whether the puzzle is available online or in a book)
These are the qualities that expect from books/collections that use to train my own skills, so I try to do my best to ensure that ebooks that I create, or tactics that I post on this blog  - follow these guidelines as well.

What else do you expect from a high quality chess puzzle book? 

PS. Note, that I am referring here to practical positions, not the skillfully constructed "mate in two" positions where one side has huge amount of extra material and aims to give mate in as few moves as possible. Those can be quite elegant as well, but are generally a different beast altogether.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Best Combinations of June

With so many instructive games played at the world Rapid and Blitz Championship in Dubai, the June “Tactics of the Month” edition is more than double the usual size, and includes over 100 combinations. Here are a couple of examples:

Topalov, V.    --    Grischuk, A.
2nd Norway Chess 2014   2014.06.04  
4  Black to move. Solution (in the book preview)

 

Le Quang Liem    --    Bologan, V.
FIDE World Rapid 2014   2014.06.16

11 White to move. Solution (in the book preview).

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Learn Chess Strategy from the Champion - Games by Vladimir Kramnik

Studying the games of top grandmasters is one of the best ways to improve your own game. I have put together a list of videos I made over the years, that feature Vladimir Kramnik's games - Kramnik's Selected games.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Visualizing Chess - What Chess Openings Score Best for White and Black?

Inspired by recent articles on data mining of chess information, I pulled out my query on a chess SQL database that I ran on 1.5 million games, and with the help of Tableau Public – generated this infographic on 500 ECO codes. Here are the results:

  • Black does best with the ECO codes in bottom right corner
  • White scores best in the top left corner
  • For example A94 (Dutch Stonewall with Ba3) is the best scoring code for White
  • B59 (Sicilian, Boleslavsky variation) – apparently scores really well for Black.

If you are not too familiar with what opening moves each code corresponds to – this Wikipedia page will be helpful - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_chess_openings.

Image

Does anything on this chart look surprising? Is your favourite opening in the expected part of the diagram?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

FinalGen–Endgame Tablebases On Steroids

Several times I found myself looking for a solution to my problem online without finding it, only to later realize that the tool/utility/service has actually been around available for years. This happened with SCID, and now again with FinalGen. FinalGen is a free GUI utility that allows one to analyze endgames with 7 pieces and more after generating all the necessary data on demand! It is user friendly enough and does not require any complicated command line syntax or configuration, as one could expect. For the position below, it allowed me to generate exact evaluation in less than an hour! Apparently White wins!

Bernstein – Prince, 1946

image White to move – see the complete game here. image

I have played and analyzed quite a lot of rook endgames with two pawns vs one, and they often could not be precisely evaluated – until now!

You can get FinalGen on its website http://www.mtu-media.com/finalgen/home_ing.php

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Analyzing Shirov’s games – Find the sacrifices

Alexei Shirov has always been known for sharp and creative play. While preparing my April Tactics Ebook, I came across this interesting game of his, where Black had to make a couple of precise decisions:

Grachev – Shirov, 2014, analysis position 1
image Black to move. How can he win the queen on a spot?

Grachev – Shirov, 2014, analysis position 2
image Black to move. How can he regain the piece and obtain better position?

For the full analysis, see my April Tactics book, or you can just view the game here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Carlsen–Anand - World Chess Championship 2014 to be in Sochi?

One of the more interesting chess news of the last few days just came in: World Chess Championship 2014 to be in Sochi - Announcement: The FIDE World Chess Championship match between champion Magnus Carlsen and his challenger Viswanathan Anand will be in Sochi, Russia 7th to 28th November 2014. There had been two deadlines for bids with no interest expressed.
Follow the link for more details on the announcement and the controversy. As Carlsen and Anand are gearing up to play the second match, in Sochi or elsewhere, you can study their styles and skills from one of my tactics ebooks - World Championship Preview - Combinations by Anand and Carlsen. Originally published before their 2013 match, the title took on the new meaning after Anand won the Candidates this March!
image

Friday, June 6, 2014

Best Combinations - May 2014 (Monthly Chess Tactics Book 5)

The May edition of the Practical Tactics series is out with over 50 puzzles for you to solve.
Monthly Chess Tactics will allow you to
* Catchup on latest major chess news
* Follow top grandmasters
* Improve your game
* Study combinations any time and anywhere - on your PC, phone, tablet, or any eReader device
* Maintain regular practice by solving one or two puzzles a day

After the major top tournaments of the first 4 months of the year, May was a relatively quiet month on the top scene. But, of course, still a lot of tournaments were played at different levels, including top GM round robins - Capablanca memorial in Havana, won by Wesley So, and Karpov's tournament in Poikovsky, won by Morozevich. Several combinations in this edition also come from the Italian team championship, and the Czech national championship.

In June the Stavanger tournament will involve the top players again, and is sure to produce some interesting combinations that will be included in the next volume.

Here is the list of previous editions:

Tactics of the Month - January
Tactics of the Month - February
Tactics of the Month - March
Tactics of the Month - April

Monday, June 2, 2014

Chess News - Russian GM Alexander Morozevich wins XV Poikovsky Karpov Chess Tournament 2014

As reported by ChessBlog, Russian GM Alexander Morozevich wins XV Poikovsky Karpov Chess Tournament 2014:.

Having recently published two collections of Morozevich's combinations, I am glad to see that the former world's #2 player is in top form again. To recap, in the Practical Tactics Series: Attack with Alexander Morozevich - Selected Games and Best Combinations - includes Morozevich's combinations as White, while “Counterattack with Alexander Morozevich” focuses on his games as Black.
cover

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Best Tools to Work with Chess PGN Files

Today I will give a brief overview of how well different Chess Database software packages support the PGN file format.

Fritz - reads and writes
ChessBase (multiple versions on various platforms, including Light/Full, Windows/Mobile, etc) - reads and writes, except for CB Light
Chess Assistant (Full and Light) - read and writes
ChessX - reads, but writes have some issues
SCID - reads, but does not write

(If you know of another software that supports PGN files - please leave a comment.)

With so many tools that support PGN files, does that mean that you can use them interchangeably to update the same files? Yes and no. The major caveats are as follows:
  • Each tool exports moves with a slightly different new line format
  • Each tool (or even different versions of the same software) updates headers in its own way, putting PGN header tags in a different order. That results in issues such as player names in the game headers cannot read properly by some versions of the same packages. 
  • Additional formatting, such as arrows, diagrams, highlighted squares, and engine evaluations also follow a different convention. So arrows you draw in Fritz, will likely show up as garbage if you open up the same PGN file in Chess Assistant and vice versa. What's even worse - if you add a diagram for a position in Chess Assistant, hoping to be able to print it from Fritz, you'd be in for a disappointment.

To learn more about this (and to possibly bypass some of these issues) - read my recent post Editing Pgn Files without ChessBase or Other Database Program – Syntax Highlighting or other posts I wrote about PGN.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fighting for initiative - Multi-Purpose Move

Cabanas – Jiganchine, 2000
image White to Move
Find the strongest move, that serves multiple purposes:

  1. Helps to transfer the White queen to the 'h' file
  2. Threatens to open up the center
  3. Threatens to support the g6 pawn with other pawns.

For the solution - watch the video.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tactics of the Month – April Edition is out

As I am continuing with Tactics of the Month Series - Over 50 best combinations of April are now available for your solving pleasure as an ebook here.
The highlight of April 2014 was the Vugar Gashimov Memorial held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. It was won by the World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who despite losing two games, scored 6.5/10. Caruana was second with 5.5 points.
The other major tournaments this month were the Women's Rapid and Blitz World Championships held in Khanty-Mansiysk, which were won by Kateryna Lagno and Anna Muzychuk respectively. Earlier that month Khanty-Mansiysk also hosted the Women's FIDE Grand Prix tournament, won by Hou Yifan, so April was truly a month of Women's chess in that city.
Carlsen – Mamedyarov, 2014
imageWhite to move
The solution is available in the free sample here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New Poll – How Do You Prefer to Study Chess?

Since I am always curious about how other players study the game in this day and age, I created a new poll to vote on this. Please leave a comment if your answer is not among the options!

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Overlooked Queen Sacrifice

Angelwette – Jiganchine, 1998
imageBlack played 31… cxd4 and after 32.Bh6 Qc5 – eventually Black won.
What did both players miss after 31… cxd4 ?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chess News - World Champion Magnus Carlsen gives away 3 Draws at the Simul in Moscow

You might be surprised to hear in the news that Magnus Carlsen gives away 3 Draws at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Chess Simul ,especially given that the Simul was on only 13 boards. However this is one of the most prestigious technical universities in Russia, so to me this is not surprising at all, and is a bit reminiscent of the Bob Wade simul, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world_records_in_chess

The worst result in a simultaneous exhibition given by a master occurred in 1951, when International Master Robert Wade gave a simultaneous exhibition against 30 Russian schoolboys, aged 14 and under. After 7 hours of play, Wade had lost 20 games and drawn the remaining 10 (16.7%)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Chess Questions - Is there a freely available online 7 piece Endgame tablebase?

Scanning through chess.stackexchange.com website for recent chess-related questions, I came across the following post that I'd also like to pose to the readers of this blog:

Is there a freely available online 7 piece Endgame tablebase?:
The only 7 piece site I heard about is http://tb7.chessok.com/ , and upon registration I am able to setup various positions with 2-6 pieces . However as soon as I setup a position with 7 piece, I get an error about service not being avaiable. Has anyone had better luck or know of any other site with 7 pieces tablebases?

7 piece endgame tablebases solve the mystery of many theoretical endgames, for example Rook endgames with 2 pawns vs. 1, which can be quite tactical if the pawns are on different flanks.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chess Position Trainer 5 Manual Available

99.9 % of the content on this blog consists of my original posts, but occasionally it makes sense to share news from other websites that I subscribe to. Today's update comes from ChessPosition Trainer website:Chess Position Trainer 5 Manual Available

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Watching the Candidates Tournament - How Sveshnikov Studies The Opening

As I was watching the Russian-language broadcast of one of the rounds of the Candidates Tournament, I was curious to hear how Evgeny Sveshnikov studies newly encountered opening positions.

His algorithm is as follows:
- check his own games
if none found
- check good GM games
if none found
- check Houdini

Food for thought ...

Monday, March 24, 2014

New Poll – Future Chess Ebooks

I have created a new poll to identified which e-book titles sound the most interesting to the audience of this blog. This should help me to better focus my efforts as I prepare them for publication, adding to the collection of kindle books I have available so far.

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To make the poll a bit more meaningful, here is a brief description of the each title; none of the topics are set in stone – I’d be glad to hear your input!

  • The Break - Learn From Schlechter, Botvinnik and Kramnik

A break is generally an unexpected or sacrificial pawn move that can serve multiple purposes:

  • Opening up files or diagonals
  • Gaining space
  • Undermining opponent's pawn structure/chain
  • Freeing up a square e.g. as an outpost for a knight

Inspiration for this book came from reading Vladimir Kramnik's collection of games which featured a special section on the pawn breakthroughs. Later studying the games of Mikhail Botvinnik, I also spotted his great ability to play with the pawns. And even later, I also came across several games by Carl Schlechter, who also played several instructive games. In the book, the games are presented in chronological order, to reflect the development of chess thought.

  • Endgames by Juniors - Instructive games and mistakes

The basis of this book is are the articles written about a couple of tournaments held in mid 2000's - Canadian Junior Championship 2004, World Youth 2003 Championship. Some of the players whose games are analysed - have since become established grandmasters and members of their national teams. One of the players - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has been one of the contenders for the world title in the latest Candidates Cycle. It is interesting to observe how high their endgame skill level was already in their youth years.

Another point of the book is to compare the precise play and deep understanding of endgames by top juniors, with the instructive mistakes made at the lower level. In both cases, a lot can be learned. Specifically, these games will hopefully encourage players and coaches to refocus on such strategic issues of the endgame as increased value of passed pawns, active placement of a rook, importance of careful evaluation of pawn endings, attack against king with limited forces.

  • Practical Rook endgames

It is well known that for improving their endgame skills, chess players generally need to work on two aspects:

  1. Understanding general rules and principles 
  2. Knowing precise positions and ability to find favourable ways of reaching them during the game.

This book applies these two points to a specific type of endgames - rook endings, the most common and difficult type of endings.

  • Sicilian Defence - Strategy and Tactics

Opening preparation in chess is always difficult and a lot of books have been written about this topic. The goal of this book is to illustrate how specific pawn structures should be studied for typical themes.

The book presents a straightforward repertoire for White after 1. e4 c5 and focuses on the Open Sicilian. Most major variations at Black's disposal are briefly explained and covered. The book is a follow up to "Exchange Slav - Strategy and Tactics" and "Spanish Opening - Strategy and Tactics" and is intended for chess players who want to learn the Sicilian Defence and are looking for a quick overview of the major variations. For each line, several sample games are followed by tactical positions typical for that line. Any player who plays the Sicilian Defence either as White or Black - can benefit from learning the specific middlegame themes presented here.

  • Isolated queen pawn - Strategy and Tactics

Opening preparation in chess is always difficult and a lot of books have been written about this topic. The goal of this book is to illustrate how specific pawn structures should be studied for typical themes even if it arises from different openings. The pawn structure with (typically) White's isolated queen pawn on the 'd' file has been known for over a hundred years, and different players have shown best plans for both sides over the years.

Historically, Mikhail Botvinnik popularized White's play and positional players such as Karpov have performed well on the Black side of the same structure in several modern openings. At the same time, all strong modern grandmasters are well familiar with the principles of the IQP structure for both sides, and the goal of the book is to translate that knowledge on to the readers.

  • How Learn from your Internet Games

This publication is a collection of combinations from games that I played on the internet over the past many years. The goal is to show that online games with blitz and rapid time controls are a useful material for analyzing and improving your games.

The format is similar to "Practical Tactics" series, with titles such as:
Counterattack with Alexander Morozevich, Play Like a Grandmaster - Tactics from Chess World Cup 2013, World Championship Preview - Combinations by Anand and Carlsen, Attack with Alexander Morozevich - Selected Games and Best Combinations, Play Like a Grandmaster - Best Tactics of 2013.

  • BC chess reports (Keres Memorial, BC closed)

This book is a collection of several reports on tournaments held in British Columbia, Canada in the early 2000's. The focus is on the local chess scene, instructive games, combinations and endgames.

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