Jul 20, 2010

U.S. Junior Championship: King's Indian--Fianchetto Variation

Harper pulls off a major upset to deny Robson the U.S. Junior Championship.

Jul 17, 2010

US Junior Championship: Sicilian Taimanov

Hughes is holding his own until he apparenly miscalculates at move 26.  Also, take a close look at Robson's novelty at 15.f4.

U.S. Junior Championship: Dutch Defense--Staunton Gambit

I'm not a fan of the Dutch.  To date I've never failed to beat it in correspondence games.  If you're a fan, however, or a 1.d4 player looking for something new against the Dutch, consider the following game from the ongoing US Junior Championship.  It features the Staunton Gambit, which makes for interesting chess.

Jul 14, 2010

French 101: Exchange Variation

This game provides a nice introduction to the French Exchange Variation.  Black slowly outplays his opponent until disaster strikes at move 28. 

Jul 12, 2010

US Junior Championship: Sicilian Moscow Variation

After avoiding outright disaster in Round 1, Robson strikes back with the Black pieces in Round 2.  If you play the Sicilian Najdorf, you have to be prepared to deal with 3.Bb5+.  Here, Robson plays the "solid" choice, 3...Bd7, undoubtedly expecting to outplay his outweighed opponent in the long term.  Compare this game to G23, where Carlsen plays the less safe but more dynamic 3...Nd7.

US Women's Championship: Queen's Indian Krush

Krush gives Marinello a little endgame lesson.  After the exchange of Queens at move 28, the game is not won for Black, but the Bishop pair is vicious and the game is difficult for White, too difficult as it turns out.

Jul 11, 2010

King's Indian 101: Fianchetto Variation--7.b3

The usual move in the Fianchetto Variation is 7.Nc3, but here Beliavsky faces the rare 7.b3.  Black must keep a close watch against the queenside storm, as in many Fianchetto Variation games. 

Jul 10, 2010

King's Indian 101: Fianchetto Variation

The King's Indian Fianchetto Variation is reached by several move orders, but let's begin with the most straightforward. 

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 d6 5.Bg2 O-O 6.O-O

Let's agree on this as the starting position for the KI Fianchetto Variation.  The Queen's Knight hasn't been committed yet, unlike the other KI mainlines, and the light-squared Bishop is coming in on the long diagonal, instead of to the usual e2 or d3.  White is likely going to push the e-pawn two squares as in other variations, but even that's in question.   This variation usually lacks the wholesale assault by Black on the White position due to the extra protection afforded by the Bishop, and the center will tend to be more fluid than in the other mainlines (it's more difficult for Black to focus an attack on the kingside when the center is not closed). 

Now White usually plays 6.O-O, but note that because the KI is a hypermodern opening Black is not tying White down to any particular move order. Black has several moves, with the principal being 6...Nbd7.  Others include 6...Nc6, c6, c5, a6, Bg4, Na6, and Bf5. 

6...Nbd7  The Knight is not ideally placed here, of course, but it's going to support Black's play into the center at e5.  In response, White has the major move 7.Nc3, the often-played 7.Qc2, and the minor moves 7.b3 (see G124) and 7.d5.  We'll look at Nc3 in the main, consider Qc2, and handle the other two moves in subsequent games. 

I.  7.Nc3 and now 7...e5 (diagram) is the best by theory.  Black's equalization in this position is still in the future, but he has no weaknesses.  White has the better grip on the center, and the Black Knight at d7, however necessary, is going to have to move again soon.

8.e4 White also plays 8.h3 here, but it has little independent significance.  Black now plays 8...c6 almost half the time and 8...exd4 a little over a quarter of the time.  The other two common moves are 8...Re8 and 8...a6.  After 8...c6, play may continue 9.h3 Qb6 10.Re1 exd4 11.Nxd4 Ne8 and Black is okay.  Continuing, 8.e4 c6 9.h3 (9.b3 Re8 10.h3 exd4) 9...Qb6 10.Re1 (diagram) 
10...exd4 11.Nxd4 Ne8 (11...Re8 12.Nc2 Nc5 =) 12.Nb3 a5 13.Be3 Qb4 14.a3 and White is slightly better (diagram) due to a space advantage and better coordinated pieces. 

II.  7.Qc2 e5 (the alternative is 7...c6 and it may be objectively as good 8.Rd1 Qc7 9.Nc3 e5 with a slight advantage to White) 8.Rd1 Re8 (8...Qe7 Nc3 9.c6 e4 10.exd4=) 9.Nc3 c6 10.e4 (10.b3 and now while 10...e4 has been the move of choice, this position deserves closer attention) 10...exd4 (10...Qe7 and look particularly at 11.b3 or d5) 11.Nxd4 (diagram) and Black is okay. 

Now a couple of games.

Jul 8, 2010

Pirc 101: Austrian Attack

Robson plays a nice game against Molner in the 5th round of the 38th World Open. The opening is the Austrian Pirc. The move to pay attention to is White's 9th, e5. The Rybka 4 Book (Jiri Dufek) gives 9.Qb5+, which has been the principal practice over the board.

Jul 3, 2010

French 101: Classical in Jermuk

Tatiana Kosinteva beats Hou Yifan in a French Classical in Jermuk, Armenia.  While the novelty in the game is 11.Nd1, which is dubious, the bigger flaw in the game is Black's plan to exchange the light-squared Bishops.  Black position is left stretched out of shape, and Kosinteva drives the point home.

Jul 1, 2010

July FIDE Rating List: Four Things

See the ChessBase story regarding Magnus' amazing attainment, which is now official.  Note several things about this all-time top ten list.  First, Carlsen's achievement at 19 is nothing short of amazing.  I anxiously wait to see just how much he will achieve.  Second, taken by itself, Fischer's inclusion on this list 38 years after reaching his peak rating is also amazing, but it is particularly so when one accounts for almost 40 years of inflation.  If memory serves, Fischer actually lost rating points by defeating World Champion Spassky.  Third, Kasparov's and Karpov's positions on the list are noteworthy because of the age of their ratings.  Karpov remains in the top ten despite the lapse of sixteen years and the attendant inflation, and Kasparov still holds the first position eleven years after his peak.  Neither Carlsen, nor anyone else, will likely bump him down anytime soon.  Finally, only one country has more than one player on this list.  Unsurprisingly, it is Russia with four.