Unfortunately this is the last Q&A Chess.com column from International Master Andrew Martin. I'm sure you will join me in thanking Andrew for his insightful columns and wishing him all the best for the future!
But if you still have an unanswered chess question, don't despair! As you may already have read, Chess.com is very pleased to announce that International Master Jeremy Silman will now be answering your questions!
Jeremy is a renowned chess teacher and writer, and he is eager to help answer all your questions, so what are you waiting for? The new email for your questions is AskJeremy@chess.com. Don't forget to include your real name and your chess.com member name, and let us know which you would prefer us to use. You can even remain anonymous if you wish!
So, for one last time it's over to Andrew for this week's questions and answers...
Chess.com member Zanmi Dear Andrew, I hope you will be able to help. I have recently been studying King and Pawn Endgames and I am having difficulty with the concept of Corresponding squares and Related squares. Firstly are these the same thing? And secondly and most importantly, how do I figure out which are the the corresponding squares in any given position? or are all corresponding squares automatically determined? Any help or clarification on this would be much appreciated. Thanks.
Dear Zanmi, To save your aching head let us be practical. Study whole games and game fragments which involve King and Pawn endgames. Please don't get involved with corresponding squares and the like because you just won't need to use this knowledge very often. What you need is a good grasp of how King and Pawn endgames are tackled over the board. They are difficult alright and very tactical. If I was to simplify the theory of corresponding squares I would say it's all about being on the right square at the right time.
Take a look at this ending from the MTel masters in Sofia. What would you do with Black?
1...h4+!! Well, if you found this move you have just rendered Vassily Ivanchuk speechless.
2.Kxh4 Kf3 The White King is stalemated and he must fall on his sword:
3.b4 [3.a5 is slightly more tricky: 3...b6! (3...b5?? 4.c4 b4 5.h3 Kg2 6.c5 dxc5 7.d6=) ]
3...b5 4.a5 Kg2 5.h3 Kh2 0–1
Have a look at Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics published by New In Chess. What a great book!
Chess.com member Mrki Hello Andrew, while I was playing my favourite Caro-Kann I stumbled on a variation called the Von Henning Gambit (1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Bc4 Nf6...). So I wanted to find out something about it, but it is very rare. So I wish to know what is your opinion about it? Thanks.
My opinion is that if it is rare, it is probably dubious. White can possibly effect a transposition to the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit or some offshoot, hoping to wrong-foot the solid Caro-Kann exponent, but objectively, why play this stuff when you can play the main line? In the following game even Nigel Short tries this dodgy motor; he is a man with no fear!
1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 dxe4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.f3 b5 6.Bb3 e6 7.fxe4 b4 8.Nce2 Nxe4 9.Nf3 Ba6 10.0–0 Bd6 11.c4 bxc3 12.bxc3 Nd7 13.Qc2 Nef6 14.c4 0–0 15.c5 Bc7 16.Bg5 h6 17.Bh4 Qc8 18.Rfe1 Bxe2 19.Rxe2 Nd5 20.Rf1 Qa6 21.Re4 Rae8 22.Rfe1 N7f6 23.Bxf6 Nxf6 24.Rh4 Qa5 25.Re2 Re7 26.g3 Rb8 27.Kg2 Rbe8 28.Qd3 Nd5 29.Ne5 Qc3 30.Qxc3 Nxc3 31.Rd2 Bxe5 32.dxe5 Nd5 33.Ra4 Rb8 34.Ra5 Kf8 35.Kf3 Reb7 36.h4 Ke7 37.Rd4 f6 38.exf6+ gxf6 39.Rda4 Nc3 40.Ra3 Nb5 41.R3a4 Rd7 42.Bc4 Nc3 43.Ra3 Nb1 44.R3a4 Nd2+ 45.Ke3 Rg8 46.Be2 Rxg3+ 47.Kf2 Rc3 48.Rxa7 Ne4+ 49.Kg2 Nxc5 50.Rxd7+ Kxd7 51.Ra7+ Kd6 52.a4 Rc2 53.Kf1 Ke5 54.a5 Kf4 55.Rg7 Ne4 56.Bd3 Ra2 57.a6 Nd2+ 58.Kf2 Nf3+ 59.Be2 Nd4 60.Rg4+ Ke5 0–1
Russell Whittington Hi Andrew, I'm coming up to my first year of playing chess seriously, I've taken stock of all of my games and found that almost two-thirds of my winning games have come from playing as black. This was a bit of a shock for me initially, but after thinking about it I'm certainly more comfortable playing reactively than pro-actively. My question, then, is how does a person go about working on proactive attacking skills?
There's a feeling of "what can I do now" that I have with white that I'm still not comfortable with, and I suppose this is where the problem lies. Sorry for the slightly abstract question, I'm just wondering if this is something you've worked on yourself, or know of people who have worked through something similar? Regards, Russell.
Dear Russell, Try learning a standard attacking formation like the Torre Attack, which will furnish you with good, aggressive positions and usually, an active middle game plan without too much risk. A lot of the problem you describe has to be with the way you think. Try not to agitate too much over it; just enjoy playing on your own, personal style.
I don't suppose White expended a great deal of effort on the coming game. It was easy to make his moves all through. Yet pressure built on Black and a mistake came. Game over!
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5.Qb3 d5 [White relies on a small advantage after 5...Qxb3 6.axb3 White has the a file and slightly more control of the centre. As Black gains nothing whatsoever from the exchange, Jolly refrains from the swap.]
6.e3 Nc6 7.Nbd2 Be7 8.Be2! This one made me sit up and take notice. Isn't the Bishop supposed to go to d3? [I think White rejected 8 Bd3 due to the line 8.Bd3 c4! 9.Qxb6 axb6 10.Bc2 b5 11.e4 b4 Now it's Black who owns the a file and has pawn lever on the queenside. Admittedly, this should not add up to much with correct play, but why give the opponent anything at all? Routine play leads to complacency. Judge each position on its own merits.]
8...Bd7 9.0–0 0–0 10.Ne5 Qc7 [10...Qxb3 11.Nxb3! gives Black surprising problems thanks to the threat of Bxf6 followed by Nxd7. I am sure Jolly underestimated the difficulties. Now, of course, White has his easy plan of backing up the Knight with f2-f4 and commencing the Kingside attack. 11...cxd4 12.Bxf6]
11.f4! Rfc8 12.Rae1 h6 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Ndf3 Be8 15.Qd1 The White Queen comes over to join the party. What Black needs is counterplay, but there is precious little to be found. He is sitting and watching White take him apart.
15...b5 16.Bd3 Qb6 17.Ng4! Be7 18.f5! Once the outright attack commences, it must proceed as quickly as possible.
18...exf5 19.Bxf5 Rd8 20.Bb1 Threatening the killing Qd3
20...h5 21.Nf2 g6 22.Nd3 c4 23.Nf4 Bf6 [This position is not so easy for Black, as can be seen from the following attractive lines. White can pulverize the Black King position: 23...Qb8 24.Qc2 Qd6 (24...a5 25.Nxh5) 25.Nxh5; 23...f5 24.Qc2 b4 (24...Rd6 25.Qf2 a5 26.Qg3 Kh7 27.Nxh5! gxh5 28.Ng5+ Kh8 29.Rxf5 Rg6 30.Ref1) 25.Qf2 bxc3 26.bxc3 Rd6 27.Qg3 Kh7 28.Nxh5 gxh5 29.Ng5+ Bxg5 30.Rxf5!! Bxe3+ 31.Kh1 Rg6 32.Qxe3 Qc7 33.Rxh5+ Kg8 34.Bxg6 Bxg6 35.Qe6+ Bf7 36.Rg5+ Kh7 37.Qh3+]
24.e4 dxe4 25.Rxe4 I can just see White (who is a very strong player), bashing out these moves on a kind of autopilot. With all honesty, masters can play standard attacking build-ups of this type with eyes closed. The need usually comes to pay attention to detail at the end, but even that is not necessary here.
25...Bd7?? [Naturally,Black is still much worse after 25...Rac8 26.Ree1 Bg7 27.Qc2 with ideas of Nxh5 in the air 27...Rd6]
26.Nd5 1–0 This was one standard plan nicely played by White. I would not call it complex or difficult to understand.
Ethan Hello, I am looking to play the Modern Dutch Stonewall as my new repertoire for black against 1.d4 and got a hold of Jacob Aaagard's new book on the subject. However, Mr. Aagard, for whatever reason, has nothing to say about the 2nd move anti-dutch lines...2. Nc3 2. Bg5 2. e4 2. Qd3 2. h3. I was perusing the internet looking for a reliable answer to prepare to meet those lines and your name came up in a book from 1990. My question is, if someone were to use said book as a source for getting a comfortable game for black against those lines, would they be okay....or, has the theory for any of those lines changed at all since then? Thanks in advance for any insight you may be able to shed on this small matter.
Hi Ethan, He didn't say anything about it because it would have doubled or even tripled the length of his book! Try my DVD, The ABC of the Anti-Dutch published in 2009 by Chessbase. I'm sure this will help you.
Chess.com member beatlemania I was wondering about a variation of the Berlin Defense in the Ruy Lopez. The line goes 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 and instead of 4. Nc3 with I believe is the book move, the move I've played for at least a year is 4.d3. I wondered what your thoughts or comments were on that Thanks so much.
Hi, The line you mention is perfectly OK and has been around for a long time, before even the Beatles were born. It is slow, but very playable and might take Black away from his theoretical knowledge.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 d6 5.c3 g6 6.d4 Bd7 7.Nbd2 Bg7 8.dxe5 Nxe5 9.Nxe5 dxe5 10.Qe2 0–0 11.f3 a5 12.Bd3 Qe7 13.Nf1! Be6 14.g4!? Rfd8 [14...Nd7 15.g5 f6 16.h4 fxg5 17.hxg5 Qf7? 18.Qh2 Qxf3 19.Be2 Qxe4 20.Ng3 Qc6 21.Qxh7+ Kf7 22.Rf1++-; 14...h6 15.g5!]
15.h4 Qd7 [15...h5! 16.g5 Nd7 Hooper]
16.Bc2 h5! 17.g5 Ne8 18.Ne3 Qc6?! [18...c6! 19.Nc4 Qc7 20.Be3 Bxc4 21.Qxc4 b5=]
19.c4! Nd6 [19...Rd4 20.Bd3 Nd6 21.b3±] 20.Bd3 Rab8?! 21.Nd5 Bxd5? 22.cxd5 Qd7 23.Bd2 Ra8 ?! 24.Rc1 c6 25.Rc5 cxd5 26.Rxd5 Qa4 27.a3 b6 28.Bc3 Qe8 29.Qf2! Nc8 30.Bb5 Qe7 31.Rxd8+ Qxd8 32.0–0 Na7 33.Bc4 Nc6?! [33...Rc8 34.Bd5 Nb5 35.f4]
34.Bd5 Rc8 35.f4! Qd7 36.f5 Ne7 [36...gxf5 37.Qxf5 Qxf5 38.Rxf5 Nd8 (38...Ne7 39.Bxf7+ Kh8 40.Rf3) 39.g6+-; 36...Bf8 37.Qf3 Bc5+ 38.Kg2 Nd8! (38...Ne7 39.fxg6+-) 39.Bxe5+-]
37.Ba2 gxf5 [37...Bf8 38.Bxf7+ Kxf7 39.fxg6+ Ke6 40.Qf7+ Kd6 41.Rd1++-]
38.exf5 Bf8 39.Qf3! e4 40.Qxh5 1–0
This will be my last column for chess.com for the time being. I would like to thank all of you for reading the column and the Chess.com staff for unfailing courtesy and kindness. I wish you all well. Andrew