We Need a Chess Historian

We have historians for war, fine art, films, mathematics, astronomy, and of nations. But we don’t, as far as I know, have an expert, who specialty is chess history.

Most of the history we can find on Internet is a brief overview of the game.

Here is an example, from The History Guy, who certainly knows his stuff and usually provides a well-rounded and complete video on many historical subjects.

A little more of Queen Isabella of Spain that is referenced in the video. These notes help complete the profile of the noble Queen.

She took the throne in 1474 and instituted many legal, economic, and political reforms. She is also the one who financed Christopher Columbus to find an alternate route to China (he failed of course).

By most accounts, she was a capable queen and more of a reformer and leader than King Ferdinand (her husband).

Chess was known in the kingdom of Ferdinand and Isabella.

In fact, Isabella learned chess along with her other studies while she was growing up.

And special note here. At the end of the video, the speaker makes the comment how the original board game was played on an “8 inch by 8 inch board”. If chess was first developed in about 500 AD as most accounts claim, then the British had not yet introduced their Imperial units of measures, which included the inch. Probably he meant, “8 squares by 8 squares board”.

While I learned a few tidbits, I wanted more. More than an overview. Much more.

Most of the information of players, opening theory, changes in tournaments (clocks, formats, etc.), players histories, and even many GM games, are scattered among many collectors and museums. There is no clearing house, no attempt to collect and format all the data for reference, or at least to provide an easy timeline.

I challenge you to discover which year 10 GMs earned their title. The only restriction is none of your 10 GMs can be a World Champion.

Indeed, there are several people online who, with abundant amount of time, can help fill some of the gaps and occasionally overturn many assumptions about the history of chess.

One of my favorites is “batgirl” on chess.com.

Here is a series of posts that generated a lot of responses.


So why am I making such a big deal over all this?

Well, last year (2019) a movie was being made. It was titled, “The Opera Game” and was to be a film about Paul Morphy.

It failed to come out this year. One reason might be because of the Corona-19 virus that forced the postponement or cancellation of many new movies in production.

Another reason might be is there are many gross errors both the main character (Paul Morphy) and the use of chess notation.

Here is what I wrote on the forum. Please know we only saw the trailer, a short film which is supposed to highlight the film (instead this trailer sank it).

In watching the trailer for the “The Opera Game”, I noticed several glaring errors that could have been resolved by resorting to the Internet (no books needed). I also did not know what century this movie was set.

First, Algebraic Notation (AN) was used by the Europeans, except for the British, who used DN. The United States also practiced DN. Morphy would have certainly used DN, and not AN as the movie alleges.

I am old enough to remember DN – I used it for a while in beginning years of chess. I changed to AN when it became popular in the 1980s.

It was a glaring error in the movie.

The chess sets were another problem. The sets displayed in the movie were not generally used by 19th century Southern aristocrats. I did a little research on the Internet. Here are the pieces Morphy would more likely to have used. I took me less than five minutes to find the images.

In fact, I found another photo of Morphy with a chess board on the Internet. It took slightly longer: about 5 minutes this time.

Finally, the dialog is again from the 20th or 21st century. People at that time were much more reserved and polite, especially in the South.

Morphy was shown to be young, when he played his uncle blindfolded, which the movie got correct. He was also frail, quiet, inquisitive, and probably introspective. But nothing like that was shown in the movie. What we got instead is snarky kid who didn’t show respect to his uncle. Unthinkable in the South.

A consultant or chess historian would have proven to be useful and essential to improving the quality of the movie.

A link to the trailer is given below.


This movie about our favorite board game would be greatly improved if they had paid a consultant who knew the history of the game. Instead, this movie, if it ever comes out, might give some potential players an inaccurate portrayal of chess and impede the growth of the game.

The worse is trying to convince the non-player that the movie is inaccurate, and he should ask an expert on chess history. But where is the expert?

Fun Opening Tasks

An opening task is simply a goal that must be met from the initial position of the pieces. All moves must be legal to reach the goal and complete the task.



Tasks have been proposed such as the finding or creating a game in which have the most consecutive pawn moves by one player.



Years ago, in my early twenties, I challenged myself to find the quickest way to deliver a smothered mate. To my surprise the solution was quite easy to find. In fact, there were two solutions.


1.Nc3 g6 (alternately White can mate by 1… e6 2.d4 c6 3.Ne4 Ne7 4.Nd6#) 2.Ne4 e6 3.d4 Ne7 4.Nf6mate 1-0



Then I wanted to find the quickest way to win a game by a promotion. Better, if I can find an underpromotion. So, in these pre-Internet days, I had to find the answer in a chess book.


I searched longer than my previous quest, but I did find such a game. If remember correctly, it was from a Chernev book.


Strasbourg, 1880
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.b3 Qh4+ 4.g3? fxg3 5.h3? (Black now has a forced mate in three.) 5…g2+ 6.Ke2 Qxe4+ 7.Kf2


7…gxh1=Nmate! 0-1


The time between these two tasks, and the third one presented below, was about 30 years. This third task was proposed by a member of chess.com who asked, “What’s the minimum number of moves to force a checkmate using 3 bishops, assuming the position is farthest from checkmate?”


This is what I came up with.


[Escalante, 2020]
1.e4 e5 2.d4 Ba3 3.dxe5 Bxb2 4.Bxb2 d5 5.Bc4 d4 6.Ba3 Kd7 7.e6+ Ke8 8.exf7+ Kd7 9.fxg8=B Nc6 10.Bce6+ Ke8 11.Bgf7mate 1-0




Of course, the King of such opening tasks is Sam Loyd (January 30, 1841 – April 10, 1911), who not only solved some very unusual opening tasks, but created literally thousands of chess problems, math puzzles, logic problems, and folding paper tricks.





One of his most famous tasks was to find the least number of moves in which a stalemate position can occur.


The solution may not be known to most players, but two enterprising young Swedish players decided to use it in one of their games. Apparently, they didn’t know or care what the organizers thought about their rather short game. Probably the latter.
Johan Upmark-Robin Johansson
Swedish Jr. Ch.
Borlange, 1995
[ECO: A10]
1.c4 h5 2.h4 a5 3.Qa4 Ra6 4.Qxa5 Rah6 5.Qxc7 f6 6.Qxd7+ Kf7 7.Qxb7 Qd3 8.Qxb8 Qh7 9.Qxc8 Kg6 10.Qe6 1/2-1/2

My Dictionary

I have used some chess dictionaries I found on-line and even some printed books. But I was unsatisfied with what I have read. Too often, it seems that many writers simply copy what has been printed, even if what has been printed is incorrect, misleading, incomplete, or confusing.


So, I created my own. Produced from an editor’s point of view, with many spelling mistakes and other errors removed, important information added to make the definitions more complete, and even updating recorded moves from Descriptive Notation (DN) to Algebraic Notation (AN).


This dictionary, like every other dictionary is not complete, nor can any dictionary be complete. This dictionary is meant to include only the most common terms used by players, writers, teachers, and those who  study the game.


But I have the satisfaction know that if I am missing something important, a kind, gentle reader would let me know.


My kind, gentle reader, please take some time off this Independence Day, shooting off fireworks, eating a hot dog, and enjoying your time at the beach. And let me know what I am missing.


On second thought, go ahead, enjoy your holiday, your weekend, your family and friends, and the fireworks. Come back when you are ready.


Have a wonderful and warm holiday!




Rob’s Chess Dictionary



ACTIVE [adj. (1) describing a piece that has movement, (2) describing a type of defence that involves counterplay, (3) describing a game that has time limit of 30 minutes per player.]

ADJOURN (+ED, +ING, +S) [v. to take a break from a game to continue later.]

ADJUDICATE (+D, ADJUDICATING, +S) [v. to make a judgment made by an impartial person to determine the result of a game.]

ADJUDICATION (+S) [n. the act of making a judgment made by an impartial person to determine the result of a game.]

ADVANCE (+D, ADVANCING, +S) [v. to move forward, esp. with a pawn]

ADVANTAGE (+S) [n. a lead in material, time, space, or position, in a game or study. See DISADVANTAGE.]

ALBINO (+S) [n. a classification of studies that specify a specific white pawn move a problem or study ; adj. referring to specific white pawn moves in a problem or study.]

ALGEBRAIC [n. the most popular chess notation for recording moves.]


ANALYZE (+D, ANALYZING, +S) [n. to work out alternate or better moves or plans.]

ARISTOCRAT (+S) [n. a study or problem which has no pawns in the initial position]


AUTOMATON (+S) [n. a mechanical device that appeared to make moves in a game by itself during the 18th and 19th centuries but were controlled by a human player concealed inside the machine. The most famous automaton was the Turk.]

BAD BISHOP (+S) [n. a bishop blocked by his own pawns]

BATTERY (BATTERIES) [n. a rook and a rook or a rook and queen, of the same color, on the same file.]

BIND (+S) [n. a situation or a position that has restrictive movement.]

BISHOP (+S) [n. a diagonally moving piece.]


(CLASSICAL) BISHOP SACRIFICE (+S) (n. AKA “the Greek gift”, it is a typical sacrifice of a bishop on an opponent’s kingside castled position which forces the king out which he may be attacked. See game below.]


Rome, 1620?
1.e4 e6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Bd3 Nc6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.h4 O-O 6.e5 Nd5 7.Bxh7+! (The classical bishop sacrifice. Black’s king has take the bishop and come out to face the upcoming attack, or he loses a pawn with a worse position.) 7…Kxh7 8.Ng5+ Bxg5 9.hxg5+ Kg8 10.Qh5 f5 11.g6 Re8 12.Qh8mate 1-0


BLACK (+S) [n. the side with the darker pieces that moves second in a game, (2) the defending side in a study.]

BLINDFOLD [n. a game which at least one of the players cannot see the board.]

BLITZ [n. a very fast game, esp. one with a five-minute time control.]

BLOCKADE (+D, BLOCKADING, +S) [v. to stop a piece, esp. a pawn from moving.]

BOARD (+S) [n. same as CHESSBOARD.]

BODEN’S MATE [n. AKA a Criss-Cross Mate, is a checkmate that occurs when the two bishops mate the enemy king, with each bishop coming from an opposite diagonal from the other.]

BOOK [n. a position or series of moves so well known it can be found in books.]

BRILLIANCY  (BRILLIANCIES) [n. a game with a beautiful combination or with spectacular moves.]

BUGHOUSE (+S) [n. same as SIAMESE.]

BULLET [n. a game with a one-minute time control.]

BYE (+S) [n. a pre-arranged score of ½ for not playing a game in a tournament.]

CAISSA [n. the goddess of chess]

CAPTURE (+D, CAPTURING, +S) [v. to take a piece or pawn]


CASTLE (+D, CASTLING, +S) [v. to move the unmoved King two squares to the kingside or queenside and placing the rook on the other side of the King. You may not castle while in check, through check, or end with your king in check. See also CASTLE, LONG and CASTLE, SHORT.]

CASTLE, LONG [n. queenside castling. Written as O-O-O.]

CASTLE, SHORT [n. kingside castling. Written as O-O.]


CENTER [n. collectively, the squares e4, e5, d4, d5 that reside in the middle of the board.]

CHECK (+ED, +ING, +S) [v. to threaten the enemy king with an immediate capture. It is common in casual play to announce check, but forbidden in tournament play.]

CHECKMATE [n. same as MATE]

CHESSBOARD (+S) [n. a piece of material (wood, plastic, vinyl, etc.) that is meant to have pieces placed on it for study or play.]

CHESSMAN (CHESSMEN) [n. a piece in a set]

CLOCK (+S) [n. a timer used in a game]

COMPENSATION [n. possession of having other advantages, such as an open file, for a piece or pawn that has been gambitted, sacrificed, or lost.]

COMPOSER (+S) [n. one who creates problems or studies]

COOK (+ED, +ING, +S) [v. to find another solution to a problem or study.]

CORNER (+S) [n. the squares a1, a8, h1, and h8.]
[n. a chess game played through the mail or email.]

COUNTERPLAY [n. potential or actual aggressive moves by the defender designed achieve equality or an advantage]
DECLINE (+D, DECLINING, +S) [v. to not accept a gambit or sacrifice.]

DECOY (+S) [n. a pawn or piece that lures away an attacker.] 



DEFENDER (+S) [n.  pawn or piece that thwarts an enemy attacking piece.]

DESCRIPTIVE [n. an old-fashioned notation used in English speaking countries until the 1980s.]

DEVELOP (+ED, +ING, +S) [n. to put a pawn or piece on a more useful square.]



DISADVANTAGE (+S) [n. being behind in material, time, space, or position, in a game or study. See ADVANTAGE.]

DOUBLED [adj. describing two pawns of the same color on the same file. See also TRIPLED.]

DRAW1 (+S) [n. a game ending in a tie.]

DRAW2 (+N +S, +ING) [v. to end the game in a tie.]

DRAWABLE [adj. describing a position in which a tie is the likely outcome.]

DUTCH [n. the opening 1.d4 f5.]
ECO [n. short for Encyclopedia of Chess Openings.]

EDGE [n. a small advantage]

ELO [n. the rating system most widely used. It was named after its inventor, Arpad Elo (1903-1992).]

EN PASSANT [n. French for “in passing”, it is a move that occurs when a pawn moves two squares from its starting position and passes an enemy pawn that has advanced to its fifth rank. The advanced pawn on the fifth rank may choose to capture the pawn as if the pawn had only moved forward one square.]

EN PRISE [n. a French term meaning “in a position to be taken”, “exposed to capture”, or simply, “a piece left hanging”. It is a piece or pawn that is unprotected and can be captured, usually the result of an oversight.]

ENDING (+S) [n. although it can be synonymous with ENDGAME, it is a term more likely to be used in a study rather than a game.]

ENDGAME (+S) [n. the stage of the game where few pieces, or no pieces, remain. Also known as the ENDING.]

ENVELOP (+S) [n. a flat paper cover in which a scoresheet of a game and a separate piece of paper that indicate a player’s next move (but unknown to anyone else) is inserted, sealed, and then presented to the tournament director for safekeeping until the game is resumed.]


EPAULETTE (+S) [n. a mate occurring when the opposing King is caught on the side of the board with both of his rooks preventing his sideward movement. The queen giving the mate stands in front of the king, close enough to mock and mate him but not close enough to be captured. See example below.]





EXCELSIOR (+S) [n. a pawn that promotes in a problem.]

EXCHANGE (+D, EXCHANGING, +S) [v. to trade pieces]

EXHIBITION (+S) [n. a chess game played for the public to promote the game, a tournament, a player, a group, or used as a fundraiser.]

EXPERT (+S) [n. a title just below a MASTER.]
EVALUATION (+S) [n. the analysis and assessment of a position.]

FAN [n. an acronym for Figurine Algebraic Notation.]

FEN [n. short for Forsyth–Edwards Notation, a concise method of recording a position.]

FIANCHETTO (+ED, +ING, +S) [v. to develop a bishop on b2 or g2 for White; or b7 or g7 for Black, and usually protected by three pawns; two on the sides, and one directly in front.]

FIDE [n. short for Fédération Internationale des Échecs, the international organization of chess, founded in Paris in 1924.]

FILE (+S) [n. a column of eight squares going from rank #1 to rank #8.]

FLAG (+S) [n. an indicator on a mechanical clock that moves (falls) when a certain time has elapsed.]

FLANK (+S) [n. the right and left files of the center.]

FOOL’S MATE [the shortest game that can end in mate. 1.f3 e5 2.g4? Qh4# 0-1]

FORK (+ED, +ING, +S) [v. to attacking more than one piece or pawn with a single piece.]

FM [n. short for Federation Master.]

GAMBIT (+S) [n. a move, typically in the opening and planned prior to the game, in which a player freely gives up a pawn, piece, or exchange, in the hope of either obtaining a tactical or positional advantage. See also SACRIFICE.]

GAME (+S) [n. the actual play of chess as opposed to problems, studies, and analysis.]

GM (+S) [n. short for GRANDMASTER.]

GRANDMASTER (+S) [n. the highest title in chess]

GRANDMASTER DRAW [n. a quick, uninteresting, listless, and even boring, draw.]

HOLE (+S) [n. a weak square which may easily be occupied by an enemy piece.]

HAUPTTURNIER (+S) [n. a German word that is freely translated as “candidates’ tournament”, or a tournament that one needed to win to be considered a master in Germany.]

ICCF [n. short for International Correspondence Chess Federation.]

IGM [n. short for International GrandMaster, an old term. It has mostly been replaced with GRANDMASTER or simply GM as “International” is implied.]

INFORMANT (+S) [n. well known periodical from Yugoslavia.]

INTERZONAL (+S) [n. a tournament to determine candidates to play in the World Championship.]

IQP [short for Isolated Queen Pawn. See ISOLANI.

ISOLANI [n. an isolated pawn on the d-file.]

ISOLATE (+D) [n. a pawn that does not have any other pawns of its own color on an adjacent file.]
[n. French word for “I adjust”. Spoken just before a piece being adjusted on its square. Used in “TOUCH MOVE” situations.]

KEY (+S) [n. correct first move in a problem.]

KIBITZ (+ED, +ES, +ING) [v. to give Illegal, and usually unwanted, advice given from one who is not a player in the game.]

KIBITZER (+S) [n. one who kibitzes.]

KING (+S) [n. the most important unit on the chess board. Losing the king means losing the game.]

KING PAWN OPENING [n. a game that opens with 1.e4.]

KINGSIDE (+S) [n. the “e”, “f”, “g”, and “h” files. The kings reside on the “e” file at the start of the game, hence the name. See also QUEENSIDE.] 

KING’S GAMBIT [n. an opening that begins with 1.e4 e5 2.f4. White is willing to give up his f-pawn to gain an advantage in the game. Black sometimes has difficulties keeping his extra pawn but he can try to attack as well.]

KNIGHT (+S) [n. the piece that can leap over other pieces and moves in an “L” shape.]
[n. an exercise in which a knight starting on any square on an otherwise empty board makes 63 consecutive moves, touching each square exactly once.]

LUFT [n. German word for “air.” Moving a pawn forward so the king has an escape square is an example of LUFT.]

MATCH (+ES) [n. a series of games between two players for a championship, prize, or bragging rights]

MASTER (+S) [n. a player who obtains a rating over 2200]

MATE (+D, MATING, +S) [n. a position in which a player’s king is in check and there is no way to remove the threat. Checkmate is a win for the player delivering the mate.]

MINIATURE (+S) [n. a game lasting than 25 moves or less, usually with a win for one of the players, (2) a problem with less than 7 pieces.]
MOBILITY  [n. freedom of a piece or the pieces.]

NAJDORF, Miguel [n. a Polish-Argentinian chess grandmaster (1910-1997).]

NAJDORF [n. a complex Sicilian arising from the moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6. It was named the GM who popularized it.]

NORM (+S) [n. a score a titled player would be expected to earn in a tournament.]
NOTATION (+S) [n. a system of writing down the moves.]

N.N. [n. a player in a recorded game whose name is not known. It may be short for No Name, Not kNown, or even the Latin phrase, “nomen nescio”, but there is no agreement.]

ODDS [n. a game in which a stronger player removes his pieces and/or pawns prior to game to make the game more equal. A stronger player may also offer time odds, when he would play when less time than his opponent.]

OLYMPIAD (+S) [n. a world team event held every two years.]

OPEN (+S) [n. a tournament which anyone can join]

OPPOSITION (+S) [n. the ability to force the other side to move into a disadvantageous position. See also ZUGZWANG]

OTB [n. short for Over The Board. As opposed to CORRESPONDENCE.]

PAIRING (+S) [n. a notification in a tournament informing the player what color he will be (Black or White), who is his opponent, and what board number they would play on.]

PATZER (+S) [n. slang term for a weak player.]

PAWN (+S) [n. a unit that moves forward and can promote to a more powerful piece upon reaching the eighth rank.]

PAWN CHAIN (+S) [n. two or more pawns of the same color diagonally linked. A pawn chain’s weakest point is the base.

PERPETUAL (+S) [n. a position on the board that a player is forced to repeat by his opponent.]

PGN [n. short for Portable Games Notation, a coding system that allows a game to be played on a computer or laptop.]

PIECE (+S) [n. the rook, knight, bishop, or queen. Sometimes the king is considered a piece.]

PIN (+NED, +NING, +S) [n. an attack on a piece that is in line within another, and usually more important piece, and cannot move without the piece behind it being liable to be captured.]

PLAYER (S) [n. a competitor in a tournament, match, or casual play.]

PLY (+S) [n. one-half of a whole move. The opening 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 involves three PLYS.]

POINT (+S) [n. (1) a numerical evaluation given to each piece. For example, a rook is worth 5 points, (2) A single point given to the winner of a tournament or match game. A draw means each player receives ½ of a point. The winner of a tournament or match is the player with the most points.]

POSITION (+S) [n. the arrangement of pieces and pawns on the board.]

POSITIONAL [n. a type of play that avoid tactics, instead relying on applying, maintaining, and increasing pressure on a position.]

POISONED PAWN (+S) [n. an unprotected pawn that, if captured, causes problems for the side that took the pawn, including positional problems, mating threats, and/or material loss. The two most common examples of a poisoned pawn can be found in 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 (The Poisoned Pawn in the Najdorf) and  1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4 (The Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Winawer).]

POSTAL [n. old term for correspondence chess]

PROBLEM (+S) [n. a puzzle where one side, usually White, can force mate or otherwise obtain a winning position]




New York Clipper, 1856


 White to mate in 2



PROMOTE (+D, PROMOTING, +S) [v. to advance a pawn to the 8th rank and exchanging it for a queen. See also UNDERPROMOTION]

PROMOTION (+S) [n. the act of advancing a pawn to the 8th rank and exchanging for a queen.]

PROPHYLAXIS [n. a technique of preventing a move, or series of moves, designed to prevent an opponent from developing his pieces on ideal squares or otherwise improving his position.]

QUAD (+S) [n. a tournament with four players]

QUEEN1 (+S) [n. a piece that combines the powers of a rook and bishop. It is considered the strongest piece in chess.]

QUEEN2 (+ED, +ING, +S) [v. to promote a pawn]

QUEENSIDE (+S) [n. the “a”, “b”, “c”, and “d” files. The queens reside on the “d” file at the start of the game, hence the name. See also KINGSIDE.] 

QUIET MOVE (+S) [n. a move that does not attack or capture an enemy piece but does increase the pressure to one’s opponent sometimes enough to force resignation.]

RANK (+S) [n. a row of eight squares going from the “a” file to the “h” file.]

RATING (+S) [n. a numerical estimation of a player’s strength.]

RECORD (+ED, +ING, +S) [v. to write down the moves of a game]

RESIGN (+ED, +ING, +S) [v. to formally give up a game]

RESIGNATION (+S) [n. the act of resigning.]

ROOK (+S) [n. a piece that moves vertically and horizontally and is involved in castling.]

ROOK LIFT (+S) [n. a move that places a rook in front of its own pawns, often on the third or fourth rank, in order to speed up an attack.]

ROUND ROBIN (+S) [n. an all-play-all tournament.]

SACRIFICE1 (+S) [n. a move in which a player freely gives up a pawn, piece, or exchange, in the hope of either obtaining a tactical or positional advantage or a drawn position (if losing). See also GAMBIT]

SACRIFICE2 (+D, SACRIFICING, +S) [v. to freely giving up a pawn, piece, or exchange, in the hope of either obtaining a tactical or positional advantage or a drawn position (if losing). See also GAMBIT.]

SCHOLAR’S MATE [n. a short game known by most scholastic players. 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Qf3 Nd4? (> Nf6!) 4.Qxf7# 1-0.]

SCOREPAD (+S) [n. a collection of bound SCORESHEETS.]

SCORESHEET (+S) [n. a piece of paper especially made to record moves in a game. See also SCOREPAD.]

SECOND (+S) [n. one who helps and supports a player in preparation and analysis before and during a tournament or match]

SET (+S)

SIAMESE [n. a variation with two boards, four players, and general mayhem.]

SIMULTANEOUS [n. an exhibition where one player plays many others at the same time. Often abbreviated as SIMUL.]

SKEWER (+S) [n.  an attack upon two (or more) pieces in a line.]

SKEWER (+ED, +ING, +S) [v. to engage in the act of setting up a SKEWER.]

SMOTHERED MATE (+S) [n. a mate in which a knight is attacking the enemy king who is surrounded by his pieces or pawns and cannot escape.]





SPRINGER (+S) [n. German word for “Knight”. The symbol “S” is sometimes used in studies in place of “N” (for Knight) in studies.]


STALEMATE1 (+S) [n. a position in which one side has to move but that has no legal moves and is not in check. The game is drawn.]

STALEMATE2 (+D, STALEMATING, +S) [v. to create a position in which one side must move but that has no legal moves and is not in check.]

STRATEGY (STRATEGIES) [n. long term gain]

STUDY (STUDIES) [n. an analysis of an actual or composed endgame with a stated goal in mind. White always moves first in a study.]

SWINDLE (+D, SWINDLING, +S) [v. gaining a victory from a lost position, usually playing on the overconfidence of the opponent.]

SWISS (+ES) [n. a type of tournament where players play others with similar scores.]

TABIA (or TABIYA) [n. a common position where analysis or play would start.]

TACTIC (+S) [n. short term gain]

TACTICAL [adj. describing a position or play that mainly features tactical play, which can include threatened forks, queen traps, promotions, checks, and mating threats.]

TD [n. short for Tournament Director]

TEMPO (TEMPI) [n. unit of time associated with a move, i.e., one move equals one tempo.]

THEMATIC TOURNAMENT (+S) [n. a tournament with all the games starting with the identical moves. Such tournaments are used for practicing or testing a variation or because it is a favorite opening among the participants.]

THEORY (THEORIES) [n. explanation of how to gain an advantage or save a lost position.]

TIME CONTROL (+S) [n. time allotted to each player to make his moves. The time controls need not to be the same for both players. See also ODDS.]

TN [n. short for Theoretical Novelty, a new move or idea in the opening.]

TOUCHED PIECE RULE [n. a player who touching a piece must move that piece on his turn if it is legal to do so.]

TOURNAMENT (+S) [n. a series of games between numerous players to determine a winner.]

TRANSPOSITION (+S) [n. a move, or a sequence of moves, that changes a recognizable position into another recognizable position. Most common in the opening stages of the game.]

TRÉBUCHET [n. mutual ZUGZWANG in which either player would lose if it were their turn to move.]

TRIANGULATION (+S) [n. a technique used in king and pawn endgames to lose a tempo and gain the opposition.]

TRIPLED [adj. describing three pawns of the same color on the same file. See also DOUBLED.]

UNDERPROMOTION (+S) [n. a promotion to a knight, rook, or bishop as opposed to a QUEEN.]





1.e8=N+ wins


UNRATED [n. one who has no rating ; adj. describing a tournament where no ratings are at stake.]

USCF [n. short for United States Chess Federation.]

VARIATION (+S) [n. alternate moves or lines from a main line]

WALLBOARD (+S) [n. a printed posting, usually attached to a wall of a tournament room, that displays the pairing, results, etc.]

WGM [n. short for Women’s GrandMaster]

WHITE (+S) [n. (1) the side with the lighter color pieces that moves first in a game, (2) the attacking side in a study.]

WIM [n. short for Women’s International Master.]

WINDMILL (+S) [n. a series of checks, alternating between a protected checking piece and a discovered check by another piece, ending with a material gain or mate.]

WING GAMBIT (+S) [n. the name given to variations of several openings in which one player gambits a wing pawn, usually the b-pawn. The two most common examples can be found in the French Advanced (1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 4.b4) and the Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.b4).]

ZWISCHENZUG (+S) [n. a German word for “in-between move”, which is unexpected and usually changes the evaluation of a combination or position.]

ZUGZWANG (+S) [n. a German word for “the compulsion to move”, where any move would result in loss of position, material, or game.]


From England, with Love

Martin Severin From (Apr. 8 1828-May 6 1895), an English player, came up with an intriguing gambit to deal with Bird’s opening (1.f4). It has proven to be so popular that it now the most common response to 1.f4 and is played in blitz chess, OTB games, and correspondence games.


But why this gambit so popular after 150 years? For one, it can lead to a quick mate for Black. Second, even if the game does not end in a quick mate, the initiative can quickly pass to Black. And all for the price of a pawn.


Many players have studied From’s Gambit and contributed to the it’s theory. It’s a labor of love, and because it’s chess, it is a complicated and forever friendship. Some players actually do fall in love with this opening.

Here is one of the earliest games played by it’s creator.


Copenhagen, 1862
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e4 Ng4 6.g3? (White falls into a thematic trap of the From’s.)



6…Nxh2! 7.Rxh2 Bxg3+ 8.Ke2 Bxh2 9.Nxh2 f5 10.Bg2 fxe4 11.Bxe4 Qh4 12.Qh1 O-O 13.Bd5+ Kh8 14.Qg1 Qh5+ 15.Bf3 Rxf3 16.Nxf3 Bg4 17.d3 Nc6 18.Bf4 Rf8 19.Bg3 Rxf3 20.Ke1 Qh6 21.Nc3 Nb4 0-1
Let’s look at some problems and early traps that can trouble and entrap White.

1.f4 e5


[White does not need to accept the offered pawn. He can play 2.f4 and the game is now a King’s Gambit. Which is another opening White having to learn. In any case, he is no longer playing a Bird’s. Or he can attempt other moves. But declining the gambit, unless it’s 2.f4, usually backfires.


Balatonbereny, 1992
1.f4 e5 2.Nf3 e4 3.Ng5 d5 4.e3 h6 5.Nxf7 Kxf7 6.Qh5+ g6 7.Qe5 Bg7 0-1


corres., 1986
1.f4 e5 2.Nh3 d5 3.g3 Bxh3 4.Bxh3 exf4 5.O-O Bd6 6.d3 fxg3 7.hxg3 Nf6 8.Kg2 h6 9.c4 c6 10.cxd5 cxd5 11.Nc3 Qb6 12.e4 dxe4 13.Nxe4 Nxe4 14.dxe4 O-O 15.Rf3 Na6 16.Qe2 Rae8 17.Be3 Rxe4 18.Bf5 Re5 19.Qd2 Bc5 20.Bxc5 Nxc5 21.Qc2 Rfe8 22.Rf2 Qc6+ 23.Kh3 g6 24.Bg4 Ne4 25.Rg2 Ng5+ 26.Kh2 Nf3+ 0-1


Berlin, 1959
1.f4 e5 2.d3 Bc5 3.Nf3 d6 4.fxe5 dxe5 5.Nxe5?? Qd4 6.Nf3 Qf2+ 7.Kd2 Be3+ 8.Kc3 c5 9.Bxe3 Qxe3 10.Kb3 c4+ 11.Kc3 [11.Kxc4 b5+ 12.Kc3 b4+ 13.Kxb4 (13.Kb3 Be6+ 14.c4 bxc3+ 15.Kxc3 Nd7 16.b3 Nb6 17.Kb2 a5) Nf6 14.c4 Nc6+ 15.Kc3 Ne4+ 16.Kc2 Nf2 is unclear.] 11…b5 12.a4 b4+ 13.Kxb4 Qb6+ 14.Kc3 Qa5+ 15.Kd4 (15.b4 cxb3+ 16.Kxb3 Be6+ 17.c4 Nc6) 15…Nf6 16.e4 Ng4 17.Qd2 Nc6+ 18.Kxc4 Be6mate 0-1.]


2.fxe5 d6


(Black can play 2…Nc6, delaying …d6, for a change of pace.)


3.exd6 Bxd6



[White now has a pawn but the pressure on his kingside is enormous. He can lose instantly with 4.h3?? Bg3#. He can also try the much stronger move, 4.d4. But even then, he has some problems.


London, 1866
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bg5 Nc6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.e3 Qd7 8.Bb5 O-O-O 9.Bxf6?! gxf6 10.d5 Qe7 11.Bxc6 Qxe3+ 12.Qe2 Qc1+ 13.Qd1 Rde8+ 14.Bxe8 Rxe8+ 15.Kf2 Qe3+ 16.Kf1 Bxf3 17.gxf3 Bc5 18.Kg2 Rg8+ 0-1


Warland-E. Eliassen (1758)
Norway U20 Ch.
Oslo, Apr. 12 2003
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.d4 Qh4+ 5.Kd2 Qxd4+ 6.Ke1 Qh4+ 7.Kd2 Bf4+ 8.e3 Qf2+ 9.Qe2 Bxe3+ 10.Kd3 Bf5+ 11.Kc3 Qxe2 12.Nxe2 Bxc1 13.Nxc1 Nf6 14.b3 O-O 15.Kb2 Nc6 16.Nc3 Nb4 17.Nd3 Nxd3+ 18.Bxd3 Bxd3 19.cxd3 Rad8 20.Rhd1 Rfe8 21.Rac1 c6 22.Kb1 Nd5 23.Kb2 Nb4 24.a3 Nxd3+ 25.Kc2 Nxc1 26.Rxd8 Rxd8 27.Kxc1 f5 28.Ne2 g5 0-1. So he, White, has to try 4.Nf3.]




[Now Black has a couple of very popular choices; 4…g5 (an aggressive attacking move) and 4…Nf6 (a more secure move, securing some initiative, but allowing White to breathe a little).


Just in case you were interested in the other moves, here are few more.


Thematic Tournament, 1961
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 f5 5.d4 Nf6 6.Bg5 O-O 7.e3 Qe8 8.Bc4+ Kh8 9.Qe2 Ne4 10.Nbd2 c6 11.O-O-O b5 12.Bd3 Qe6 13.c4 Ba6 14.Kb1 bxc4 15.Nxc4 h6 16.Bf4 Bxf4 17.exf4 Nd7 18.Nce5 Rfb8 19.Ka1 Bxd3 20.Rxd3 Ndf6 21.Rc1 Rb6 22.Ra3 Nd5 23.Qc4 Nd6 24.Qc5 Ne4 25.Qc4 Nd6 1/2-1/2


North Carolina, 1975
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 h5 5.g3 h4 6.Nxh4 Rxh4 7.gxh4 Qxh4mate 0-1


K. Zeh-Elm
Germany, 1963
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.g3 h5 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.c3 h4 8.Nxh4 Rxh4 9.gxh4 Qxh4+ 10.Kf1 Qf6+ 11.Ke1 O-O-O 12.Qb3 Re8 13.e3 Qh4+ 14.Kf1 Re6 0-1


Liege, 1965
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.g3 h5 6.Bg2 h4 7.Nxh4 Rxh4 8.gxh4 Qxh4+ 9.Kf1 Bc5 10.Qe1 Qf6+ 0-1


corres., 1966
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.g3 h5 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.d3 Qe7 8.Bg5 f6 9.Bf4 Bxf4 10.gxf4 Qb4+ 11.Nc3 Qxf4 1-0.


Now let’s take a look at 4…g5!?. Obviously the pawn wants to advance to g4, driving the knight away so the queen can come to h4, giving check and creating a mess of White’s position.


White must do something about this threat.
5.e4 does not work.


Hamburg, 1905
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.e4 g4 6.e5 gxf3 7.exd6 Qh4+ 8.g3 Qe4+ 9.Kf2 Qd4+ 10.Ke1 f2+ 11.Ke2 Bg4mate 0-1


USSR, 1969
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.e4 g4 6.Ng1 Qh4+ 7.Ke2 g3 8.Nc3 Qxh2 9.Rxh2 gxh2 10.Nf3 h1=Q -+


G. Stark-R. Buchanan
Colorado, 1980
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.e4 g4 6.e5 Qe7 7.Kf2 gxf3 8.exd6 Qh4+ 9.Ke3 Nf6 10.Qxf3 Nc6 11.Bb5 Qd4+ 0-1


Christoph Bohn-Michael Uhl
Multicoop Open
Budapest, 1992
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.e4 g4 6.e5 Bc5 7.d4 gxf3 8.dxc5 f2+ 9.Kxf2 Qxd1 10.Bb5+ Qd7 11.Bxd7+ Nxd7 12.Be3 Ne7 13.Re1 O-O 14.Bh6 Re8 15.Nc3 Nxc5 16.b4 Nd7 17.Nb5 Nd5 18.c4 a6 19.cxd5 axb5 20.e6 fxe6 21.Re3 e5 22.Rg3+ Kf7 23.Rg7+ Kf6 24.Kg1 e4 25.Rf1+ Ke5 26.Rxh7 Rxa2 27.Bg7+ Kxd5 28.Rd1+ Kc4 29.Rd4+ Kb3 30.Rh3+ e3 31.Rd3+ Kc2 32.Rdxe3 Rxe3 33.Rxe3 Ra4 34.Rc3+ Kd2 35.Rxc7 Nb6 36.h4 Ke3 37.Bh6+ Ke4 38.Bd2 Kd3 39.Be1 Ra1 40.Kf1 Ra2 41.h5 Bg4 42.h6 Nd5 43.Rc3+ Nxc3 44.Bh4 Ra1+ 0-1


Emily N. Patterson-Morgan Mahowald
Polgar Girls Open
Lubbock, 2009
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.e4 g4 6.e5 Qe7 7.Nd4 Bxe5 8.Ne2 g3 9.h3 Nc6 10.Nbc3 Bd4 11.Ne4 Qxe4 12.d3 Bf2+ 13.Kd2 Qe3+ 14.Kc3 Qc5+ 15.Kd2 Bf5 16.b3 O-O-O 17.Bb2 Bxd3 18.cxd3 Qe3+ 19.Kc3 Qe5+ 20.Kc2 Nb4+ 21.Kb1 Qe3 22.Nc1 f6 23.Qg4+ Rd7 24.Qxb4 Ne7 25.Bxf6 Nd5 26.Qh4 Rf8 27.Bb2 Qe1 28.Qe4 Be3 29.Qg4 Nc3+ 30.Bxc3 Qxc1mate 0-1.


But 5.d4 has promise as after 5…g4, he has 6.Ne5 and has some compensation for the pawn.]


5.d4 g4  6.Ne5

corres., 1962
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.d4 g4 6.e4 gxf3 7.Qxf3 Be6 8.Nc3 c6 9.Be3 Qh4+ 10.g3 Qg4 11.Qf2 Bb4 12.Bg2 Ne7 13.O-O Qh5 14.d5 Bd7 15.Ne2 Bd6 16.Bd4 Rf8 17.Bf3 Bg4 18.e5 Bb4 19.Nf4 Qf5 20.Bxg4 Qxg4 21.Ne6 Nxd5 22.Nxf8 Qg8 23.e6 1-0


Bird-Em. Lasker
England, 1892
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.d4 g4 6.Ne5 Bxe5 7.dxe5 Qxd1+ 8.Kxd1 Nc6 9.Bf4 Be6 10.e3 Nge7 11.Bb5 O-O-O+ 12.Kc1 Bd5 13.Rg1 a6 14.Be2 Be6 15.Nc3 h6 16.Bd3 Ng6 17.Bxg6 fxg6 18.Rd1 Rde8 19.e4 g5 20.Bg3 Rhf8 21.b3 h5 22.Rd2 h4 23.Bf2 Nxe5 24.Be3 h3 25.Bxg5 g3 26.hxg3 Rf1+ 27.Kb2 Rxa1 28.Kxa1 h2 29.Rd1 Ng4 30.Rh1 Bf7 31.Kb2 c6 32.Kc1 Bg6 33.Kd2 Rxe4 34.Nd1 Rd4+ 35.Ke2 Rxd1 36.Rxd1 Be4 37.Rd8+ Kc7 38.Rd1 Bxg2 39.Bd8+ Kc8 40.Bb6 Bd5 41.c4 h1=Q 42.Rxh1 Bxh1 0-1


Thematic Tournament, 1961
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.d4 g4 6.Ne5 Bxe5 7.dxe5 Qxd1+ 8.Kxd1 Nc6 9.Bg5 Nge7 10.Nc3 Bf5 11.e4 Be6 12.Bb5 O-O-O+ 13.Ke1 Rhg8 14.Bh4 Rd7 15.Bxe7 Rxe7 16.Bxc6 bxc6 17.Rf1 Rg5 18.Kf2 Rxe5 19.Kg3 f5 20.exf5 Bxf5 21.Rf2 h5 22.Raf1 Bh7 23.Rd2 Rc5 24.Rf6 Rg7 25.Rh6 Bg6 26.Ne2 Rxc2 27.Rxc2 Bxc2 28.Rxh5 Rd7 29.Rh8+ Kb7 30.Kxg4 Bd1 31.Re8 Rd2 32.Kf3 Rxb2 33.h4 c5 34.Kf2 c4 35.Ke1 Bxe2 36.Rxe2 Rb1+ 37.Kd2 Kb6 38.h5 Kc5 39.Kc3 Rc1+ 40.Rc2 Rh1 41.g4 Rh3+ 42.Kb2 Kb4 43.Rg2 Kc5 1/2-1/2


Gergel-V. Zilberstein
Leningrad Izt., 1973
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.d4 g4 6.Ne5 Bxe5 7.dxe5 Qxd1+ 8.Kxd1 Nc6 9.Bf4 Nge7 10.e3 Ng6 11.Bb5 Bd7 12.e6 Bxe6 13.Bxc7 Bd5 14.Rg1 Nh4 15.Bf1 Ne7 16.Nc3 Bc6 17.e4 f5 18.Bd3 fxe4 19.Bxe4 Bxe4 20.Nxe4 O-O 21.c3 Nd5 22.Bg3 Nxg2 23.Kc2 Rae8 24.Nd6 Re2+ 25.Kb3 Nde3 26.Nxb7 Rf6 27.Nd6 h5 28.Nc8 Kh7 29.a4 a6 30.a5 h4 31.Bd6 Rff2 32.Rgb1 Nf5 33.Ra4 Nge3 34.Bc7 Rxh2 35.Bxh2 Rxh2 36.Re4 g3 37.Ne7 g2 38.Nxf5 Nxf5 39.Rg1 h3 40.Ree1 Nh4 41.c4 Nf3 42.c5 Nxg1 43.c6 Nf3 44.Re7+ Kh6 45.c7 g1=Q 0-1
(Another try for White is 5.g3, securing h4 for his knight. Black could try 5…f5, but it doesn’t work too well.)


5.g3 f5

Kirrinis-von Sadern
corres., 1954/6
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 f5 6.d4 f4 7.e4 g4 (7…fxe3 8.Bxe3 g4 9.Bc4!) 8.e5 Be7 9.Bxf4! gxf3 10.Qxf3 Be6 (10…h5 11.Bd3!) 11.Nc3 Bb4 12.O-O-O c6 13.d5! cxd5 14.Nxd5 Qa5 15.Nxb4 Qxb4 16.Bh3! Bf7? 17.e6! 1-0


Klaus Bernhard-F. Felgentreu
Bundeswehr Ch.
Stetten, 1988
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 f5 6.e3 Qf6 7.Nc3 Ne7 8.Bc4 h5 9.Rf1 h4 10.g4 fxg4 11.Ne4 Qg7 12.Nfxg5 Bxh2 13.Nf6+ 1-0
[But 5…h5, applying more pressure on White’s kingside, seems to work to keep the balance, with Black still having a slight advantage in the Initiative department and White still keeping his extra pawn.]


5.g3 h5


Oliver Meschke (2007)-Joseph Nadrowski (1688)
Sparkassen Open B
Dortmund, 2006
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 h5 6.d4 g4 7.Nh4 Be7 8.Ng2 Nf6 9.Qd3 Qd5 10.c4 Qf5 11.Nc3 Nc6 12.e4 Qf3 13.Be3 Bb4 14.Rg1 Qxe4 15.O-O-O Bxc3 16.Qxc3 Qe7 17.Bd3 Nb4 18.Qb3 Nxd3+ 19.Rxd3 Bf5 20.Qb5+ c6 21.Qxf5 Ne4 22.Re1 Nd6 23.Qc5 Kd7 24.Bg5 1-0


Rolando Fesalbon (2113)-Mark Ozanne (1961)
Turin Ol.
Italy, 2006
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 h5 6.d4 g4 7.Nh4 Be7 8.Ng2 h4 9.Qd3 hxg3 10.Qxg3 Nf6 11.Nc3 Rh3 12.Qf2 Nc6 13.Be3 g3 14.Qg1 Bd6 15.Nf4 Rxh2 16.Rxh2 gxh2 17.Qxh2 Bf5 18.O-O-O Qe7 19.Bg1 O-O-O 20.e3 Re8 21.Bh3 Ng4 22.Bxg4 Bxg4 23.Nce2 Kb8 24.Kd2 Nb4 25.a3 Nc6 26.c3 Na5 27.Ke1 Nc4 28.Qg2 Bxe2 29.Nxe2 Nxe3 30.Bxe3 Qxe3 31.Kf1 a6 32.Qf2 Qg5 33.Rd3 Rh8 34.Ng3 Qc1+ 35.Kg2 Rg8 36.b4 f5 37.c4 f4 38.c5 fxg3 39.Qe2 Bf4 40.Rf3 Qd2 41.Qxd2 Bxd2 42.b5 axb5 0-1
[And Black still has 5…g4.]


5.g3 g4



White can still fail spectacularly with 6.Ng1? h5! 7.Bg2 h4! -/+ (Analysis by O’ Connell)


R. Runas-Escalante
Blitz Game (5 min to 1 minute)
Buena Park, CA, Nov. 7 1987
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 g4 6.Nd4 h5! 7.Bg2 h4 8.Nc3 hxg3 9.hxg3 Bxg3+ 10.Kf1 Qf6+ 11.Kg1 (11.Nf3 Rxh1+ 12.Bxh1 Qh6 13.Bg2 gxf3 14.Bxf3 Bh3+ 15.Kg1 Bg4 -+) 11…Qf2mate 0-1


Eduard Konovalov (2125)-Seit Karaev (2003)
Anapa Open, 2007
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 g4 6.Nd4 h5 7.Nc3 h4 8.Bg2 h3 9.Bf1 Bxg3+ 10.hxg3 Qxd4 11.e3 Qe5 12.Ne2 Nf6 13.d4 Qe4 14.Rh2 Bf5 0-1


Denmark, 1971
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 g4 6.Nh4 h5 7.d4 Be7 8.Ng2 Nf6 9.Nf4? (9.Bg5) 9…h4 10.Rg1 Nc6 11.e3 Ne4 12.Bd3 Ng5 13.Be2 hxg3 14.hxg3 f5 15.Nd2 Nxd4! 16.exd4 Qxd4 17.Rg2 Qe3 18.Rf2 Bc5 19.Nd3 Ne4!


20.Nf3 (20.Nxe4 Rh1+ 21.Rf1 Rxf1+ 22.Kxf1 Qg1# ; 20.Rg2 Nxd2 21.Nf2 Nf3+ 22.Kf1 Qxf2+! 23.Rxf2 Rh1+ 24.Kg2 Rh2+ 25.Kf1 Rxf2#) 20…Rh1+ 21.Rf1 Qf2+ 22.Nxf2 Bxf2mate 1-0

[But White should still be OK. He does win some games after all!]

E. Koscielny (1876)-Fabian Bouche (1588)
Cappelle la Grande Open
France, 2013
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 g4 6.Nh4 f5 7.d4 f4 8.Qd3 Qe7 9.Nc3 Nf6 10.Bxf4 Bxf4 11.gxf4 Nc6 12.O-O-O Nb4 13.Qg3 Nh5 14.Qf2 Rf8 15.e3 Bf5 16.Nxf5 Rxf5 17.Bb5+ c6 18.Bd3 Ra5 19.a3 Nd5 20.Nxd5 cxd5 21.Qe2 Rc8 22.Qxg4 Kd8 23.Qxh5 Rxa3 24.Qxd5+ Ke8 25.Qg8+ Kd7 26.Bf5+ Kd6 27.Qxc8 Qxe3+ 28.Kb1 1-0


Uwe Ritter (1991)-Jens-Ole (1676)
12th Lichtenberger Sommer
Berlin, 2013
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 g4 6.Nh4 f5 7.e3 Qe7 8.Qe2 Nf6 9.Ng2 Bxg3+ 10.hxg3 Ne4 11.Rh2 Nxg3 12.Qf2 Ne4 13.Qh4 Qxh4+ 14.Rxh4 Nc6 15.Bb5 Bd7 16.Bxc6 Bxc6 17.Nf4 O-O-O 18.d3 Ng5 19.Nd2 g3 20.Nh3 g2 21.Ng1 Rdg8 22.Kf2 Rg7 23.Nb3 Rhg8 24.Nd4 Bd7 25.Ndf3 Nxf3 26.Kxf3 Rg3+ 27.Kf2 R8g7 28.Rxh7 Rxh7 29.Kxg3 Bc6 30.Bd2 Rh1 31.Kf2 Kd7 32.Re1 Rh2 33.e4 fxe4 34.dxe4 b5 35.Nf3 1-0


[Now let’s look at at the more conservative 4.Nf3 Nf6. White has choices here. He can play 5.d4, which is again, equal in chances.]

4.Nf3 Nf6  5.d4

Denmark, 1966
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 (5.e4 Ng4 leads back to our first game.) 5…O-O 6.Bg5 Re8 7.Qd3 Nc6 8.a3 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bf2 Ne4 11.h3 Bf5 12.Qd1 Bf4 13.g4 Nxf2 14.Kxf2 Be3+ 15.Kg2 Nxd4 16.gxf5 Nxf3 17.Qxd8 Nh4+ 18.Kg3 Raxd8 19.Nc3 Nxf5+ 20.Kg2 Rd2 21.Rc1 h5 22.Nd1 Bb6 23.Kh2 Rexe2+ 24.Bxe2 Rxe2+ 25.Nf2 Rxf2+ 26.Kg1 Re2+ 27.Kf1 Ng3mate 0-1


R. Phillips-Escalante
1 minute game
Anaheim, 1986
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 Bg4 6.h3 Bxf3 (6…Bg3+!? 7.Kd2 Bxf3 8.exf3 Qxd4+ 9.Ke2) 7.gxf3? (>7.exf3 Bg3+ 8.Ke2 Nc6) 7…Bg3+ 8.Kd2 Qxd4mate 0-1


R. Klein-S. Mueller
PF Open
Eisenberg, Germany, 1993
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 b6 6.Bg5 Bb7 7.Nc3 Qe7 8.Qd3 O-O 9.O-O-O Re8 10.g3 h6 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Bg2 Qe7 13.Rhe1 Bb4 14.Nh4 Qg5+ 15.e3 Bxg2 16.Nxg2 Bxc3 17.Qxc3 Qd5 18.Nf4 Qxa2 19.d5 Qa4 20.Rd4 Qd7 21.e4 Qe7 22.e5 Na6 23.h4 Rad8 24.Nh5 Nc5 25.Rg4 Kh8 26.Rxg7 Rxd5 27.e6 Na4 28.Rh7+ Kxh7 29.Qg7mate 1-0


Bird-Steinitz, 1867
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 Nc6 6.Bg5 Bg4 7.e3 Qd7 8.Bb5 O-O-O 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.d5 Qe7 11.Bxc6 Qxe3+ 12.Qe2 Qc1+ 13.Qd1 Rde8+ 14.Bxe8 Rxe8+ 15.Kf2 Qe3+ 16.Kf1 Bxf3 17.gxf3 Bc5 18.Kg2 Rg8+ 0-1


Vienna, 1897
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 Nc6 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bf2 Ne4 9.e3 g4 10.Bh4 gxf3 11.Bxd8 f2+ 12.Ke2 Bg4+ 13.Kd3 Nb4+ 14.Kxe4 f5+ 0-1


London, 1879
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 Ne4 6.Nc3 f5 7.Qd3 Qe7 8.Nb5 Nc6 9.Nxd6+ Qxd6 10.c3 O-O 11.g3 Re8 12.Bg2 Qe7 13.O-O Nd6 14.Re1 Bd7 15.Bg5 Qf8 16.Bf4 Rad8 17.Ng5 g6 18.Bxd6 cxd6 19.Bd5+ Kg7 20.Qd2 Ne7 21.Be6 Ng8 22.d5 Nf6 23.Bxd7 Rxd7 24.Ne6+ Rxe6 25.dxe6 Re7 26.Qxd6 Qe8 27.Rad1 Rxe6 28.Qc7+ Re7 29.Qd8 Qf7 30.Rd6 Re8 31.Qa5 b6 32.Qb5 Qe7 33.Qd3 Qf7 34.c4 Re7 35.Rd1 h5 36.Qc3 Rc7 37.b3 Qe7 38.Qd4 Kf7 39.b4 g5 40.c5 bxc5 41.bxc5 Ne4 42.Qd5+ Kg7 43.Rd7 Rxd7 44.Qxd7 Kf6 45.Qxe7+ Kxe7 46.c6 1-0


England, 1892
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 Ne4 6.Qd3 f5 7.Nc3 O-O 8.Nxe4 fxe4 9.Qxe4 Bf5 10.Qxb7 Nd7 11.Qb3+ Kh8 12.Bg5 Qe8 13.Qe3 Qh5 14.c3 Rab8 15.Qd2 Nb6 16.b3 Nd5 17.Rc1 h6 18.Bh4 Bf4 19.Qb2 Ne3 20.Bf2 Rbe8 21.Bxe3 Bxe3 22.c4 Be4 23.Rc3 Bxf3 24.Rxe3 Rxe3 25.gxf3 Qxf3 26.Kd2 Qxh1 27.Kxe3 Qxf1 28.Kd3 Rf3+ 29.Kd2 Rf2 30.Kd3 Qh3+ 0-1


Paris, 1972
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 Ng4 6.Nc3 Bxh2 7.Bg5 Bg3+ 8.Kd2 f6 9.Bh4 Nf2 10.Qc1 Nxh1 0-1
[He can play 5.g3, which is more complicated, but still equal in chances.]

4.Nf3 Nf6  5.g3


corres., 1960
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.g3 Nc6 6.d4 Bf5 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bxf6 Qxf6 9.c3 O-O-O 10.Nbd2 Rhe8 11.Qa4 (11.Nc4 Be4!) 11…Bd3 12.Kd1 Bf5 13.Bg2 Qe7 14.Re1 Qe3 15.Ng1 Ne5 16.Qxa7 c6 17.Nh3 Nd3 18.Nc4 Nxb2+ 19.Nxb2 Bb4 20.Bxc6 Rxd4+ (20…Bc2+) 21.Qxd4 Rd8 22.Bxb7+ Kc7 23.Bd5 1-0


corres., 1968
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.g3 Nc6 6.d3 Ng4 7.Bg5 f6 8.Bf4 Bxf4 9.gxf4 Nd4 10.Na3 O-O 11.Qd2 Re8 12.Ng1 Ne3 13.h3 Qd6 0-1


Thematic Tournament, 1961
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 Bg4 7.d3 Bc5 8.Nc3 a6 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.Qd2 O-O-O 12.Rf1 Rhe8 13.Qf4 Qe6 14.e4 Nb4 15.O-O-O g5 16.Qd2 Nxa2+ 17.Kb1 Bb4 18.h3 Nxc3+ 19.bxc3 Ba3 20.Ka1 Qb6 21.Rb1 Qa5 22.Rb3 Bc1+ 0-1


European Ch., 1973/4
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 Bg4 7.c3 Qe7 8.O-O O-O-O 9.d4 Rde8 10.Re1 Ne4 11.d5 Ne5 12.Bf4 Bc5+ 13.Nd4 Nc4 14.b3 Ncd6 15.Qd3 Qf6 16.Nd2 Nxc3 0-1


Moscow Ol.
Russia, 1994
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 Bf5 7.d3 Qd7 8.O-O h5 9.Nh4 Bg4 10.Qe1 O-O-O 11.e3 Nh7 12.Qf2 g5 13.Nf5 h4 14.Nxd6+ Qxd6 15.gxh4 gxh4 16.h3 Be6 17.e4 Rdg8 18.Kh1 Qd7 19.Kh2 Ng5 20.Bxg5 Rxg5 21.Nd2 Rhg8 22.Rg1 Rg3 23.Nf3 Bxh3 24.Nxh4 Bxg2 25.Rxg2 Qh3+ 26.Kg1 Qxh4 27.Qf5+ Kb8 0-1


Hanegby-Maria Perez
WCCF, EQ2389, 2002
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.g3 Ng4 6.Bg2 h5 7.O-O h4 8.h3 Bxg3 9.d4 Qd6 10.Qd3 Nh2 11.Qe4+ Kf8 12.Nxh2 Bxh2+ 13.Kh1 Bg3 14.Bf4 Bxf4 15.Rxf4 Nc6 16.Nc3 g5 17.Rf2 Qxd4 18.Raf1 Qxe4 19.Rxf7+ Ke8 20.Nxe4 g4 21.Rxc7 gxh3 22.Bf3 Rh6 23.Bh5+ Rxh5 24.Nf6+ Kd8 25.Rg7 Bg4 26.Nxg4 Rh8 27.Rff7 1-0


B. Sharwood (1878)-T. Greco (2155)
1992 USCF Team Ch.
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 g4 6.Nh4 Ne7 7.d4 Ng6 8.Nxg6 hxg6 9.Qd3 Nc6 10.c3 Bf5 11.e4 Qe7 12.Bg2 O-O-O 13.Be3 Rxh2 14.Rxh2 Bxg3+ 15.Kf1 Bxh2 16.exf5 Re8 17.Bxc6 bxc6 18.Bd2 Qh4 19.Na3 Bg3 20.Be3 Qh1+ 21.Ke2 Qxa1 22.Nc2


22…Qc1! (Z) 23.fxg6 fxg6 24.Qxg6 Rxe3+ 25.Nxe3 Qe1+ 26.Kd3 Qb1+ 27.Nc2 Qf1+ 28.Ke3 Bf4+ 29.Ke4 Qf3+ 30.Kf5 Bd2+! 31.Ke6 Qd5+ 32.Ke7 Qg5+! 33.Qxg5 Bxg5+ 34.Ke6 Bd2 35.d5 c5 0-1

So, is this the end of From’s Gambit? No, just the start of the beginning.
“…I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Humphrey Bogart, “Casablanca”

Happy Birthday Andy!!

Today is Andy Soltis’ birthday!



Born on May 28, 1947 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, his contributions to chess has been enormous.


For those of you might have been hiding under a rock since 1980, he’s a prolific author, frequent contributor to Chess Life, and even made into the world’s elite of chess, earning his IM title in 1974 followed by a GM title in 1980.

Let’s go over some of his games first.



IM Andrew Soltis-GM Miguel A Quinteros
Cleveland, May 5 1975
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.a4 e6 7.Be2 Be7 8.f4 Qc7 9.O-O Nc6 10.Be3
(Both White and Black have solid positions. But White has more space which translates into greater coordination, mobility and freedom for his pieces. That is more than enough for White to have the advantage.) 10…Bd7 11.Qe1 O-O 12.Qg3 Rab8 13.Kh1 Kh8 14.Bf3 g6 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.e5 Ne8 17.Ne4 d5 18.Ng5 Rxb2 19.Qh4 Bxg5 20.Qxg5 Ng7 21.Bc5 Re8 22.Be7 Kg8 23.Bf6 Reb8 24.Bg4 Ne8 25.Be7 Qc8 26.Ra3 Rb1 27.Bd1 a5 28.Qh6 Ng7 29.Rh3! 1-0



Edward Westing-GM Andrew Soltis
Bermuda, Feb. 1 2002
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 c5 4.c3 cxd4 5.cxd4 d5 6.e5 Nc6 7.h3

[White has also tried :

7.Be2 Nh6 8.O-O O-O 9.Nc3 Bg4 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Bxf3 e6 12.Bg4 Qb6 13.Be3 Qxb2 14.Na4 Qa3 15.Nc5 b6 16.Nd7 Rfd8 17.Nf6+ Bxf6 18.exf6 Nf5 19.Bxf5 exf5 20.g4 Qd6 21.Qd2 fxg4 22.hxg4 Qxf6 23.Bg5 Qf3 24.Bxd8 Qxg4+ 25.Kh2 Rxd8 0-1 [Svoboda-Dobrovolsky (2387), Monravia Team Ch., 2000]


7.Nbd2 Nc6 8.h3 Bf5 9.Bb5 Qb6 10.Qa4 Bd7 11.Bxc6 Bxc6 12.Qa3 Bb5 13.Nb3 Qc6 14.Qc5 Qd7 15.Bd2 b6 16.Qc2 Rc8 17.Qd1 f6 18.Rc1 Kf7 19.Rxc8 Qxc8 20.Qc1 Qf5 21.Kd1 Nh6 22.Re1 Rc8 23.Bc3 Kg8 24.Qe3 Nf7 25.e6 Nd8 26.Kd2 Rc6 27.g4 Qxe6 28.Qf4 Qd7 29.h4 Re6 30.Re3 Rxe3 31.fxe3 Ne6 32.Qg3 Qc7 33.Qg2 Qc4 34.Nc1 Nd8 35.b3 Qc6 36.a4 Ba6 37.Na2 Bc8 38.Nb4 Qd6 39.Nd3 a5 40.g5 Bf5 41.Nfe1 Nf7 42.Nf4 fxg5 43.hxg5 e6 0-1 [Sequera (2378)-Macieja (2615), Ann Open, Curacao, Nov. 2 2002]


7…Nh6 8.Bb5 O-O 9.O-O Nf5 10.Nc3 Bd7 11.Nxd5 Nxe5! 12.dxe5 [Or 12.Bxd7 Nxf3+ 13.Qxf3 Qxd7 14.Be3 Rfd8 15.Nc3 Nxd4 16.Bxd4 Bxd4 17.Rad1 Qc6 18.Qxc6 bxc6 19.Rfe1 e5 20.Rc1 (-1.39 Stockfish)] 12…dxe5 Bxb5 13.Re1 Bc6 14.Nb4 Qxd1 15.Rxd1 Bxf3 16.gxf3 Bxe5 -+ 17.Rd5 Bd6 18.Bd2 Rfd8 19.Bc3 a5 20.Rxd6 Rxd6 21.Nc2 b6 22.Kg2 Rad8 23.Ne3 Nxe3+ 24.fxe3 Rd1 25.Rxd1 Rxd1 26.Kf2 f6 27.f4 Kf7 28.Kf3 Ke6 29.Bd4 b5 30.a3 Rf1+ 31.Kg2 Rb1 32.Kf3 Kd5 33.Bc3 a4! 0-1 (White can’t stop the Black king from entering on the queenside.)



Soltis didn’t confine himself to merely playing the game. An important variation in the Sicilian Dragon was named after him.


Let’s review the opening moves.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 (The main line in the Dragon. White usually castles queenside and attempts to storm Black’s castled kingside with his pawns and follow up with pieces. Sacrifices are common threats for both sides.) 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 O-O 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.O-O-O Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 (White has played this move to maintain and continue his threats of opening Black’s kingside. Experience has shown that Black usually ends up on the losing side if he allows White’s h-pawn to continue his advancement. So…) 12…h5!?



(Now White’s h-pawn is stopped. Does this mean Black is going to win? Not necessarily. Does it mean White is going to win? Not necessarily either. But it does mean White has to look for other way to infiltrate the kingside.)


Here is the inauguration of this variation.

Reggio Emilia
Italy, Jan. 1 1971
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.f3 O-O 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Rc8 11.h4 h5 12.O-O-O Ne5 13.Bg5 Nh7 14.Bh6 Bxh6 15.Qxh6 Rxc3 16.bxc3 Qa5 17.Kb1 Qxc3 18.Qd2 Qc5 19.Ne2 a5 20.Qd4 Qc7 21.Nc3 Nf6 22.a4 Rc8 23.Kb2 Be6 24.Rhe1 Kg7 25.f4 Nc6 26.Qd2 Nb4 27.Re3 Qb6 28.Qd4 Rc5 29.e5 dxe5 30.fxe5 Ng4 0-1


A good way to start off the New Year!


Here are two other games worthy of study.

S. Hwemp (2280)-K.D. Mueller (2445)
ICCF, 6/7 Cup, ½ Finals, 1990/1
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 O-O 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.O-O-O Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 h5 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.Nde2 b5 16.Bh6 b4 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Nd5 Nxd5 19.exd5 Qa5 20.b3 Rc5 21.Qd4+ Kh7 22.g4



22…Rxc2! 23.Nc1? (23.Kxc2 Qxa2+ 24.Kd3 Bb5+ 25.Ke4 Qc2+ 26.Kf4 e5+ 27.dxe6 fxe6+) 23…Rfc8 24.Rhe1? Qa3 0-1


IM Alexander Khalifman (2530)-Stanislav Savchenko (2480)
Simferopol, Ukraine, 1988
[Don’t fret about the titles. Both players earned their GM titles a few years later; Khalifman in 1990 and Savchenko in 1993.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 O-O 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Ne5 11.Bb3 h5 12.O-O-O Rc8 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Rxc3 15.bxc3 Qc7 16.Kb1 Rc8 17.g4 a5 18.gxh5 a4 19.Bd5 Nxd5 20.exd5 Qxc3 21.hxg6 fxg6 22.Rhg1 Bf5 23.Nxf5 Qxc2+



(A situation in which neither Black nor White can win. But they both can lose. A draw is best for both players.) 1/2-1/2


GM Soltis also promoted another, lesser-known, variation, in the Sicilian. Entitled the “Chameleon Sicilian” it runs as:



1.e4 c5 2.Ne2!?


The point being it is impossible for Black to know what White is attempting to do. White can play the Closed Sicilian with 3.d3, 4.g3 and 5.Bg2. Or he can open the game up with: .d4 cxd4 .Nxd4 at any time. It’s especially troublesome for Dragon addicts.










Andy Soltis has written a weekly chess column for the New York Post since 1972 and a monthly column (“Chess to Enjoy”) for Chess Life since 1979.





In addition to his weekly and monthly columns, he has written several books including; The Best Chess Games of Boris Spassky (1973), Pawn Structure Chess (1976), Chess to Enjoy (1978), Karl Marx Plays Chess : And Other Reports on the World’s Oldest Game (1991), Soviet Chess 1917–1991 (1999), Bobby Fischer Rediscovered (2003), and many others.




His books are a mixture of games, analysis, and fresh observations on the opening and other aspects of play. His column, “Chess to Enjoy”, covers historical viewpoints, human interest stories, computer analysis (and sometimes their failings), and literary perspectives. He is known to use humor to illustrate important points.




For his chess writings, he was named “Chess Journalist of the Year” in 1988 and 2002 by the Chess Journalists of America.





Happy Birthday Andy Soltis!!

Secret Games of Botvinnik vs. Averbakh

During his playing career Botvinnik battled played a number of players who were of GM strength in secret matches. They were all played in the USSR, and were meant to prepare him for Olympiads, important tournaments, and matches with Western (i.e., non-Warsaw Pact) players.

They were played in secret so Botvinnik could experiment with different openings, and of course to keep any loses away from prying Western eyes.

His most common match player during the 1950s was GM Averbakh.


As he put it, “As a sparring partner, I evidently suited Botvinnik, and over the next two years we played about 25 training games. The time control was the standard one of two and a half hours for 40 moves. If a game remained unfinished, it was not normally resumed.”


Here are four of those secret games.




GM Botvinnik-GM Averbakh
Training Game
Moscow, Oct. 1955
[By the mid-1950s, Averbakh was considered an expert in the endgame. But here, he never gets to the endgame!]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 O-O 9.g4 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Qa5 11.h4 Be6 12.h5 Rfd8 13.hxg6 hxg6 14.a3 d5 15.e5 Nd7 16.Qh2 Nf8 17.Bd3 f6 18.exf6 exf6 (White has the advantage and can win a number of ways. He chooses the most direct route.)



19.b4! (Trapping the queen.) 1-0



GM Botvinnik-GM Averbakh
Training Game, June 6 1955
[With everything else being equal, a passed pawn is worth more than a pawn.]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 c5 7.O-O Nc6 8.a3 (8.Qc2 is also good.) 8…Ba5 9.cxd5 exd5 10.dxc5 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Bg4 12.c4 Ne5 13.cxd5 Nxf3+ 14.gxf3 Bh3 15.e4! (White is willing to give up the exchange for a powerful, mobile pawn center.) 15…Nd7

[So why can’t Black take advantage of the exchange sacrifice?

Here is one answer:

Jesus Rodriguez-Oscar Vieira Ferreira (2065)
Argentina Team Tournament
Tucuman, 1971
15.e4 Bxf1 16.Bxf1 Nd7 17.Be3 f5 18.Bh3 fxe4 19.fxe4 Ne5 20.f4 Nc4 21.Qd4 Nxe3 22.Qxe3 Qf6 23.Rf1 Rae8 24.e5 g5 25.Qg3 Qg7 26.Be6+ Rxe6 27.dxe6 gxf4 28.Qxg7+ Kxg7 29.Rd1 Rf5 30.Rd7+ Kg6 31.Rd5 Kg7 32.e7 Kf7 33.e6+ Kxe6 34.Rxf5 1-0.

The text game provides another answer.]

16.Kh1 Bxf1 17.Bxf1 Nxc5 18.Be3 b6 19.e5 Qd7 20.f4 Rfd8 21.Bg2 Rac8 22.Qf3 Nb3 23.Rd1 Rc3 24.f5 Nc5 25.f6 Rd3 26.Rg1 g6 27.Qf4 Qe8 28.Bxc5 bxc5 29.Re1 R3xd5 30.Bxd5 Rxd5 31.Qh6 Qf8 32.Qh3 Qd8




33.e6! 1-0



GM Botvinnik-GM Averbakh
Training Game, Oct. 1956
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 c5 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Nc6 8.e4 cxd4 9.cxd4 Nxd4 10.e5 Qa5+ 11.Kf1 Ne8 12.Bb2!? [White has two good choices here; 12.Bd2 (ECO’s line), and 12.Bb2, which seems to be a Botvinnik TN.] 12…Nc6 13.Nf3 f5 14.Qc2 d6 15.Re1 dxe5 16.Nxe5 Nf6 17.h3 Qc5 18.g4 Ne4 19.Nxc6 Qxc6




20.Rg1! (White’s next moves are designed to open the diagonals for his bishops by eliminating the center pawns.) 20…Rf7 21.Re3 Qc5?! (21….Kf8 might seem anti-thematic, and perhaps even a little bizarre, but it’s important to get out of the soon-to-opened g-file.) 22.gxf5 exf5 23.Bxe4 fxe4 24.Qc3 1-0



GM Botvinnik-GM Yuri Averbakh
Training Game, 1956
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.d3 Nf6 8.Qe2 [Botvinnik has what he wants; a few small advantages (in this case, space and positional) he can take to the endgame.] 8…Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 Qd5 11.Bg5

[Also good is 11.O-O O-O 12.Be3 Rad8 13.b3 b6 14.Rad1 Qd7 15.Nxf6+ Rxf6 16.Qg4 Qd5 17.Qe4 Rg6 18.Kh1 Re8 19.f3 Rf8 20.Bg1 Bd6 21.Rde1 Re8 22.Re2 Rg5 23.Bh2 Rh5 24.Rfe1 Qa5 25.Qxc6 1-0, E. Szalanczy (2237)-M. Lyell (2225), First Saturday, Budapest, Sept. 4 2012.]

11…Nxe4 12.dxe4 Qf7 13.Qxf7+ Kxf7 14.Be3 Ke6 (Black’s king travels to the center to contest the center squares.) 15.Ke2


(White’s advantages are now easier to perceive. One is that two of Black’s queenside pawns are doubled. A bigger problem is that his e5-pawn is isolated. Finally, White’s bishop has more freedom of movement than Black’s. Black’s biggest plus is his strongly placed king on e6.)


[Black can also try 15…Rad8. After 16.Rad1 (not 16.Bxa7? b6!) 16…Rd6 17.Rxd6+ cxd6 18.a4 (Again, not 18.Bxa7? due to 18… a8). Stockfish prefers 15…Rad8 16.h4 h5 17.g3 Rd7 18.a4 g6 19.Rag1 a6 20.Ra1 Rhd8 21.f3 Rf8 22.Rhg1 Rdd8 23.Rgb1 Rf7 or even the more immediate 15….h5 16.h4 a6 17.g3 Rad8 18.a4 a5 19.Rag1 g6 20.Rc1 Rhf8 21.Ra1 Rh8 22.Rag1 b6 23.f3 Rhf8. Verdict: White has definite, and annoying (for Black), advantages. The big question is: “Can White win?” The answer is: “Probably yes, especially if you are a GM”.]

16.h4 Rf7 17.h5 h6 18.Rh3 Bg5 19.Rd1 Raf8 20.f3 a5 21.Rg3 Kf6 22.Rg4 a4 23.g3 Ke6 24.Rf1 Bxe3 25.Kxe3 Rd7 26.f4 Rf6 27.Rg6 Kf7 28.fxe5 Rxf1 29.e6+ Ke7 30.exd7 1-0


[30….Kxd7 31.Rxg7+ Kd6 (31…Kd8 is passive. White will eventually win by slowly, surely, and simply moving up the board. Black’s only chance to bring his king up and challenge White for control of the board. But White still wins.) 32.Rg6+ Ke5 33.Rxh6 Rc1 34.Rh8.]

50 Years Ago

On Apr. 17th 1970, just after the conclusion USSR vs. Rest of the World match, a blitz tournament took place in Herceg Novi, then part of Yugoslavia.


Many of the world class players who participated in the USSR match joined the blitz tournament. Among them were three ex-world champions (Smyslov, Petrosian, and Tal), one future world champion (Fischer would win the title two years later), other players who had participated in the world championship matches and tournaments, and still others who would in the future.


Despite several renowned Soviet blitz players, it was Fischer, then in his prime, who captured first place. By a large margin.


The difference between Fischer and second placed Tal (who was one of the renowned Soviet players), was an outstanding 4 ½ points.


Many of the games were not recorded, which was understandable in the pre-computer days. However, many Tal’s games (about half) could not be reconstructed or were not available after play. This is all more surprising given that Tal was known for his phenomenal memory.


Still we have some wonderful games from the tournament. Various games of the top two players from the tournament are given below. Their games are still popular and enjoyable five decades later.







GM Fischer-IM Ostojic
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
[This game has been published in various publications and blogs, including this one.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Ng8 8.Bc4 Bg7 9.Bf4 Qa5 10.O-O Bxe5 11.Bxe5 Qxe5 12.Re1 Qc7

13.Qd4! +- (13.Qd5 would also work but this is the fastest way to victory.) 13…f6 14.Bxg8 Rxg8 15.Qxf6 d5 16.Re2 Ba6 17.Nxd5 cxd5 18.Qxa6 Rf8 19.Rae1 Rf7 20.Qe6 Rd8 21.c3 Kf8 22.g3 d4 23.cxd4 Rxd4 24.Qe5 Qxe5 25.Rxe5 Rd2 26.R1e2 Rxe2 27.Rxe2 Rf6 28.Kf1 Rc6 29.Ke1 e6 30.Kd2 Ke7 31.Re4 Rb6 32.b3 Ra6 33.a4 Kd6 34.Rh4 h5 35.Rd4+ Ke7 36.Kc3 Rc6+ 37.Rc4 Ra6 38.Rc7+ Kf6 39.Kb4 Rb6+ 40.Kc4 a6 41.a5 Rd6 42.b4 Rd2 43.Kc5 Rxf2 44.Kb6 e5 45.Kxa6 e4 46.b5 e3 47.Rc1 Ke5 48.b6 Rg2 49.b7 Rb2 50.Ka7 g5 51.b8=Q+ Rxb8 52.Kxb8 1-0


GM Tal-GM Fischer
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
[For most of the game it is even. White eventually gets the advantage, only to see the advantage, and then the game, slip away.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4 Be7 5.d3 Nf6 6.O-O Nc6 7.Ne1!? (A move deserving of more attention. ECO gives 7.Ng5 O-O 8.f4 h6 9.Nf3 exf4, leading to an equal game.) 7…O-O 8.f4 [Despite position’s almost pacific appearance, the game has a lot of tension. From this position, played 33 years later, Black chose 8.exf4 and soon gained the advantage: 9.Bxf4 Be6 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.h3 Qe8 12.Bh2 Qg6 13.Nf3 Nh5 14.Ne2 Rf7 15.Nd2 Raf8 16.Rxf7 Rxf7 17.c3 Bh4 18.Nc4 d5 19.exd5 exd5 20.Ne5 Nxe5 21.Bxe5 Rf2 22.g4 Qg5 23.Bg3 Bxg3 24.Nxg3 Qf4 25.Nf1 Ng3 0-1 (Kim Pilgaard – George-Gabriel Grigore, Kings Cup, Bucharest, 2003).] 8…a6 9.a4 exf4 10.Bxf4 Be6 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.Bg3 Qb6 13.Qd2 Ng4 14.Nf3 Nd4 15.Rab1 Nxf3+ 16.gxf3 Ne5 17.Kg2 Ng6 18.Ne2 Nh4+ 19.Bxh4 Bxh4 20.b4 Qc7 21.bxc5 dxc5 22.a5 Rf6 23.f4 Raf8 24.Rb6 Bg5 25.e5 Rf5 26.Rxe6 Qf7 27.Rd6 Bxf4 28.Rxf4 Rxf4 29.Nxf4 Qxf4 30.Qxf4 Rxf4 31.Rd7 (White has the advantage due to his advanced pawns and Black’s isolated king on the back rank. But the game still needs to be won!) 31…Ra4 32.e6 Kf8 33.Rf7+ Ke8 34.Rxg7 Rxa5 35.Rxb7 Ra2 36.Kf3 Rxc2 37.Rxh7 c4 38.d4 c3 39.d5 Rd2 40.Ke4 c2 41.Rc7 Kd8 42.Rc4 a5 43.h4 a4 44.Ke5 a3 45.d6 Re2+ 46.Kf5 Rf2+ 47.Kg4 a2




48.d7?? (White falters at the moment of truth ; 48.e7+ Kd7 49.Rc7+ Kxd6 50.e8=Q Kxc7 51.Qe5+ Kd7 52.Qd4+ Ke7 53.Qb4+ Ke6 54.Qb6+ Kd7 55.Qb7+ Ke8 56.Qc8+ and it’s a draw!) 48…Ke7 49.Rc8 Rd2 50.Re8+ Kf6 51.e7 Rxd7 (Black promotes first and gives the first check. Bobby, like most of his games of the tournament, was also probably ahead in time.) 0-1


GM Tal-GM Uhlmann
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
[One does not give Tal a free tempo!]
1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.O-O a6 6.Na3 c5 7.Nxc4 e6 8.d4 Rb8? (The rook does nothing except to get itself into trouble. Better, and more enterprising, is 7…Nb6!?) 9.Bf4 Ra8 10.dxc5 Nxc5? (Better for Black is 10….Nd5, and while not winning, it has the dual benefits of not losing more tempi and getting somewhat out of the pin.) 11.Bd6 Nxc5 12.Bxf8 Kxf8 13.Qd4 Nd7 14.Rac1 h5 15.Rfd1 Qf6 16.e4 Qxd4 17.Rxd4 N5f6 18.Nd6 Ke7 11.Qxd8+ Kxd8 12.Rfd1+ Nfd7 13.Nb6 Ra7 14.Bb8!






GM Tal-GM Borislav Ivkov
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5 h6 5.Be3 b6 6.Nf3 Bb7 7.Bd3 Nd7 (When Black makes this move the message he sends out is, “I’m going to play …e5 or …c5.” If he doesn’t make either of these two moves, then the message becomes, “Attack me!”. Black doesn’t make this error, but Tal still attacks!) 8.Qd2 c5 9.O-O-O Ngf6 10.b3 c4 11.Bxc4 Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Bxe4 13.Rhe1 Bxf3 14.gxf3 e6 15.Bf4 Nf6



16.Bxe6! fxe6 17.Rxe6+ Kf7 18.Rxd6 (White also has 18.d5) 18…Qc8 19.Be5 Rd8 20.Rxd8 Qxd8 21.Rg1 Qd7 22.Qd3 Qf5 23.Qc4+ Qe6 24.Qc7+ Qe7 25.Qc4+ Qe6 26.Qd3 Qf5 27.Qc4+ Qe6 28.Qxe6+ Kxe6 29.Rxg6 … 1-0

GM Tal-GM Korchnoi
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 a6 5.exd5 exd5 6.Be2 c4 7.O-O Bd6 8.Re1 Ne7 9.b3 b5 10.a4 c3 11.Nf1 b4 12.Ne5 O-O 13.Bf4 f6? 14.Nd3 Bxf4 15.Nxf4 Qd6 16.Bf3! Nbc6 17.Ne3 Qxf4 18.Nxd5 Nxd5 19.Bxd5+ Kh8 20.Bxc6 Ra7 21.Qe2 Qxd4 22.Rad1 Qc5 23.Qe8 Raf7 24.Rd5 Qb6 25.Qxf7 1-0

The French Problem

Many years ago. I was playing a tournament. Sometime between my morning game and afternoon game I met a young guy.


He was asking for help against the French Defence, saying he had a problem trying to figure it out so he could win as White.


He didn’t have a board or a set. I set up my pieces on my board so I can both see the moves. By the way, if you ever attend a tournament, ALWAYS bring a set with you. You want to show off you are making some investment in learning more about the game.


Anyway, I set up the board.



I then asked if he knew the Advanced Variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5).



He said, “It’s been analyzed to death and the only way for White to try to gain an advantage was to play the Milner-Barry.” “But,” he continued, “White still loses”.


I don’t completely understand what he was trying to tell me. It sounded like he was repeating someone who knew the names of the variations, but little else. Maybe I’ll unravel it.


I figured we both have the time. Let’s keep the conversation going.



I replied, “Ok, how about the Classical Variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5)?”


He answered me, “But it’s even more drawish than the Advanced Variation!”


“Ok. So what do you think of the Winawer (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4)?”


“Too much stuff to remember! And I don’t have the time to study all the lines.”


It turns out he didn’t want an improvement it the main lines. He wanted a brand-new way to counter 1.e4 e6.



I told him the French Defence got its name from a correspondence game between the cities of London and Paris in 1834.



London Chess Club-Paris Chess Club
corres. 1834
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.Qe2+ Be7 7.dxc5 O-O 8.Be3 Re8 9.Bb5 Nc6 10.Nd4 Bxc5 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.c3 Bxd4 13.cxd4 c5 14.Qd3 Qb6 15.O-O Ba6 16.Qb3 Qxb3 17.axb3 Bxf1 18.Kxf1 Ng4 19.dxc5 Nxe3+ 20.fxe3 Rxe3 21.Nd2 Rae8 22.b4 Rd3 23.Rxa7 Rxd2 24.b5 Rxb2 25.b6 d4 26.b7 d3 27.Ra8 Kf8 0-1



But the basic ideas go way back to Greco.



Rome, 1620?
1.e4 e6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Bd3 Nc6 4.Nf3Be7 5.h4 O-O 6.e5 Nd5 7.Bxh7+! (yes, this famous sacrifice originated with Greco.) 7…Kxh7 8.Ng5+ Bxg5 9.hxg5+ Kg8 10.Qh5 f5 11.g6 Re8 12.Qh8mate 1-0



And I concluded, “To find a new way to combat the French may not be possible.”


“Please anything! Even if it might be bad for White. I want something to at least try.”


OK, the opened the door a little.


The Schlechter Variation is defined by the moves 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3. White’s bishop gets an early start in the game. However, it can be almost immediately challenged by Black’s knight.


But let’s not get too far ahead. Black can quickly lose the game (which is what my friend wanted to hear) if he falters.



Nuremburg, 1893
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 Nf6 4.e5! Nfd7 5.Nf3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.O-O f6 8.Re1 f5 9.Be3 c4?!(9…Be7, with the idea of 10…O-O is definitely better.) 10.Bc2 Be7 (Black plays this move a bit late and it doesn’t coordinate well with his previous move.) 11.b3 b5 12.a4 bxa4 13.bxc4 dxc4 14.d5 Ncxe5 15.dxe6 Nxf3+ 16.Qxf3 Nb6 17.Qxf5 Bf6 [Black has serious problems here. If 17…Rf8, then 18.Qh5+ g6 19.Bxg6+ hxg6 (or 19…Rf7 20.Bxf7+ Kf8 21.Bh6#) 20.Qxg6+ Rf7 21.Qxf7#.] 18.Bc5 Bb7 19.Qg6+! hxg6 20.Bxg6mate 1-0


Vega Gutierrez (2236)-Korneev (1630)
La Laguna Open
Spain, May 6 2009
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 c5? 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Nc3 Qd6 6.Nb5 Qb6 7.Bf4 Na6 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Ne5 Qa5+ 10.c3 Nd5 11.Bg5 Qb6 12.Qa4 Bd7 13.Nd6+ Qxd6 14.Nxd7 Be7 15.dxc5 Nxc3 16.bxc3 Qxd3 17.Ne5+ b5 18.cxb6 1-0


Toronto, 1934
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nf3 O-O 8.O-O Nc6 9.c3 (Seems solid and reasonable.) 9…e5?! (There are not too many games with this position. But even with lack of games, this move seems to weaken Black too much for further consideration by other French players.) 10.Bg5 Re8 11.Qc2 h6 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.Nbd2 Bb6 14.Ne4 Qe7 15.Ng3 g6 16.Bxg6 fxg6 17.Qxg6+ Kf8 18.Nh5 Qf7 19.Qxh6+ Ke7 20.Ng5 Qf5 21.Rad1 Bd7 22.Qd6+ Kd8 23.Ng7 Qg4 24.N5e6+ 1-0




But Black can equalize in the main line after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nf3 Nc6.




Moscow, 1925
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.O-O Qc7 9.Nc3 Bd7 10.Bg5!? (A move that may be slightly too aggressive.) 10…O-O-O 11.Qe2 e5 (ECO evaluates this position as equal. Personally, I think if any player has the advantage, it is Black.) 12.Be4 Bg4 13.Bxc6  Qxc6 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 Qxf3 16.gxf3 Bd4 17.Nd1 Rd6 18.c3 Bb6 19.Ne3 Nh5 20.Nf5 Rd3 21.Rad1 Rxf3 22.Nd6+ Kc7 23.Kg2 e4 24.Nxe4 Rf5 25.Be3 Re5 26.Ng3 Nxg3 27.Bxb6+ Kxb6 28.fxg3 Re2+ 29.Rf2 Rhe8 30.Rd2 1/2-1/2


Ruiz Sanchez (2455)-Gallego Alcaraz (2448)
Guillermo Garcia Elite
Santa Clara, Cuba, May 17 2017
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 c5 4.Nf3 dxe4 5.Bxe4 Nf6 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.O-O Qc7 9.Nc3 Bd7 10.a3?!  (A move that may be slightly too passive.) 10…a6 11.Ne4 Ba7 12.Qe1 Ng4 13.h3 h5 14.Qc3 Bd4 15.Qd2 f5 16.Neg5 Ba7 17.hxg4 hxg4 18.Qf4 Qxf4 19.Bxf4 gxf3 20.Nxf3 O-O-O 21.Rfe1 Rh5 22.Bc4 Rdh8 23.Kf1 g5 24.Bxg5 e5 25.Be3 e4 -/+ 26.Ng1 Bb8 27.f4 Rh2 28.b4 R8h4 29.g3 Rg4 30.Re2 Rh7 31.Bf2 Ne7 32.Rd1 Bc7 33.Red2 Bc6 34.Be6+ Kb8 35.Re1 Rh1 36.c4 Ba4 37.Re3 Bb6 38.c5 Bc7 39.Bd7 Bc6 40.Bxc6 bxc6 41.Rb3 Nd5 42.Re2 Kb7 43.Kg2 Rh7 44.Kf1 Rg6 45.a4 Nf6 46.b5 a5 47.b6 Bd8 48.Rd2 Nd5 49.Ne2 Bf6 50.Bd4 Bxd4 51.Rxd4 Rh1+ 52.Kf2 Rgh6 53.Rxd5 cxd5 54.Ke3 Rc6 55.Rb5 Rd1 56.Rxa5 d4+ 57.Kf2 Rd2 58.Ra7+ Kb8 59.a5 d3 60.Ke3 Rxe2+ 61.Kd4 d2 62.Kd5 Rxc5+ 0-1



Here’s a game which shows my suggestion to my friend is not so unique after all.



IM Yan Teplitsky instructed his women team competing in the 35th Chess Olympiad in Bled to play this variation. Maybe there is something more about this opening.



Dina Kagramanov-Elenoara Ambrosi
Women’s Ol.
Bled, 2002
[IM Yan Teplitsky, “35th Chess Olympiad – Bled, Slovenia”, En Passant (Canada’s leading chess magazine), Apr. 2003]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 (A rare line that does not have a very good reputation.)3…dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bf3 c5 6.Ne2 Nc6 7.Be3 Qb6 8.b3 cxd4?![Now White gets to untangle her pieces. Much better is 8…Nxd4 (also for Black is to develop her queenside with 8…Bd7) 9.Nxd4 e5 10.Ne2 e4.] 9.Nxd4 Qa5+(While 9…Ne5 10.O-O Bc5 11.c3 Bd7 12.b4 Nxf3+ 13.Qxf3 Bxd4 14.Bxd4 Qc6 15.Qg3 is just as bad for Black, here 9…Bc5 10.Nxc6 Bxe3 11.fxe3 bxc6 12.Kf2 led to comfortable position for Black in Sirlett-Benggawanm Bled ol f (2) 2002, from the same match.) 10.Qd2 Qxd2+ (A funny continuation is 10…Nxd4 11.Qxa5 Bb4+ but White can just recapture the knight.) 11.Nxd2


11…Nxd4?[Black is behind in development, and has a much better way of playing by depriving White of the bishop pair with 11…Ne5! 12.Nb5 Nxf3+ 13.Nxf3 Nd5 14.c4 (but not 14.Bxa7? Bd7 15.a4 Bxb5 16.axb5 Bc5 and Black wins.) 14…Nxe3 15.fxe3 Bb4+ and Black is better.]12.Bxd4 Bd6 13.Nc4 Be7 14.O-O O-O 15.Na5! Nd5 16.c4 Nb4?(Black now loses a pawn. Much better is 16…Bb4 although Black still isn’t happy after  17.cxd5 Bxa5 18.dxe6 fxe6 19.Rac1.)17.Nxb7 Nc2 18.Na5 Nxd4 19.Bxa8 Bd7 20.Rad1 e5 21.Bd5 Rb8 22.Rfe1 Bd6 23.Nb7 Bc7 24.Nc5 Bg4 25.f3 Bc8 26.Rxd4 1-0



A Review of Chernev’s “1000 Best Short Games of Chess”

The full title of this well-known chess book is “The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess: A Treasury of Masterpieces in Miniature”, but it is usually shortened to “1000 Best Short Games of Chess”.

The book was first published in 1955 and has been reprinted many times (see below for different front covers).



1000_Best_Short_Games_1 1000_Best_Short_Games_2



But why is this book so popular?

First, it is written for the club player.

This means the moves are in Descriptive Notation (DN) rather than in Algebraic Notation (AN). DN was popular in England and the United States during this time. And those countries stayed DN until the 1980s.

It also means the notation is kept brief. Even so, this short and simple notation brings the number of pages to 555. But it still easy to bring along to a tournament or to read while waiting for a bus or a college class to begin. Consider Bilguer’s “Handbuch des Schachpiels” runs 1040 pages and is hard bound. It is big, heavy and more appropriate for a library.

Secondly, there is ample space for the reader to add his own notes, provided of course, he is willing to write small. Personally, I prefer to put everything into a word processor and the I can always update the game. But, of course, this book was written well before anyone had laptops and word processors.

The manuscript was written on a typewriter, which is evident as the text and diagrams are not sharp (as one might expect on computer designed material) and there are blemishes and imperfections that occasionally appear in the book that only can come from using a typewriter.

So why doesn’t anyone offer an improvement or upgrade to this book?

It is extremely costly to rewrite a book from DN to AN. And the book still sells quite well 65 years after it was first printed. It is worthwhile to learn DN just to read and enjoy this book.

Last night I searched Amazon for another copy (mine is falling apart from decades of use), and it can still be bought there.

But you came here for short games. Here are some of my favorites from the book. Please know I’ve used other annotations than what Chernev provided when I found them more interesting or complete. I don’t have the space restrictions as Chernev struggled with.




Game #23
Rome 1620?
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 (White is willing to give up his rook to get the king.) 4…Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Nf6 (This is a huge error. Black has to play 6…Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.hxg8=Q+ Kxg8 and while White’s rook may fall, Black has to worry about his very exposed king. Amusing by the way, is 6.fxg6 e5? 7.g7+ Ke7 8.Qxe5+ Kf7 9.gxh8=N#.) 7.gxh7+ [White is now willing to give up his queen for the forced mate. King safety is more important than safety for the rook or queen, and even both. Note: While 7.g7+ Nxh5 8.gxh8=Q Bxh1 9.Qxh7 would eventually win, the text move is faster, and fast attacks are always better for winning the game (less mistakes possible) and for one’s own ego.] 7…Nxh5 8.Bg6mate 1-0

Game #212
Budapest, 1934
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 c6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bf4 e6 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Bb4 9.Be2 Nd7 10.a3 O-O-O

11.axb4! Qxa1+ 12.Kd2 Qxh1 (And now we have a Boden’s mate.) 13.Qxc6+! bxc6 14.Ba6mate 1-0


Game #222
F. Gobl-Jonas
Augsburg, Germany, 1926
1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e5 Nfd7 4.e6 fxe6 5.d4 Nf6 6.Bf4 c6 7.Nf3 Nbd7 8.Bd3 c5 9.Ng5 Qb6 10.Nb5 e5 11.dxe5 c4 12.exf6 Qxb5 13.f7+ Kd8 14.Ne6mate 1-0


Game #227
Copenhagen, 1941
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bd7 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bc4 Nc6 7.Nd5 Bg7 8.Be3 Nge7 9.Bg5 Bxd4 10.Qxd4 O-O (Has to defend his rook. He can’t take the attacking queen as 10…Nxd4? loses to 11.Nf6+ Kf8 12.Bh6#.) 11.Nf6+ Kh8 12.Ng4+ Nxd4 (Definitely not 12…f6?? 13.Bxf6+ winning.) 13.Bf6+ Kg8 14.Nh6mate 1-0


Game #780
Blindfold Game
Hamilton, Victoria, 1885
[Blackburne, “Mr. Blackburne’s Games of Chess”, #360, pgs. 286/7]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Nf6 7.O-O Bxc3 8.bxc3 O-O 9.Ne5 Be6 10.f4 Ne4 11.f5 Nxe5 (Bad now, though the Knight might have been taken at move 9 if Black were playing for a majority of Pawns on the Queen’s side.) 12.dxe5 Bd7 13.f6 g6 14.Ba3 (Better than Bh6.) 14…Re8 15.Bxe4 dxe4 16.Qd2 Kh8
17.Qg5 (Qh6 is not so good as it looks. Black would have replied with Rg8 and then and then have been able to wiggle out of his difficulties by g5.) 17…c6 18.Rf4 Qa5 19.Qh6 Rg8 20.Qxh7+ Kxh7 21.Rh4mate 1-0

An Introduction to Chess Poetry



Many poems and the like have been written about chess. They range from the simple to the epic, from the silly to the serious, and can include the profound and philosophical.


We’ll start with the simple, and sometimes, silly limerick.





The first two are from NM Bill Wall.



There once was a player from Maine,
Who played chess on a fast train.
He took a move back
And was thrown off the track,
And he never played chess again.



Postal chess is still played today
And no reason why I shouldn’t play.
It is nice and slow,
And I can use my ECO,
It’s the postage I can’t afford to pay.


With the Internet now, you don’t have to pay postage.



Here’s an old classic, first appearing in Chess Potpourri by Alfred C. Klahre (Middletown, 1931). It’s titled, “The Solver’s Plight


There was a man from Vancouver
Who tried to solve a two-mover;
But the boob, he said, ‘“Gee”,
I can’t find the “Kee”,
No matter HOW I manouvre.’

Like most people, I also prefer original material, always searching for something new.

A short poem that perfectly illustrates the frustrations of that search.
Some Editors – pretend to edit –
Use scissors and paste and give no credit.

(Columbia Chess Chronicle, 20 August 1887, page 66.)


Another short one. This one is slightly whimsical and yet, very accurate.


Chess is such a noble game,
How it does the soul inflame!
Ever brilliant, ever new,
Surely chess has not its due;
Sad to say, ’tis known to few!


Poem written by W. Harris and printed in the book, “A Complete Guide to the Game of Chess”(1882).


By The Way (or BTW in Internet lingo), the poem is also an acrostic. We’ll let you figure it out! =)



For another poem that is simply a delight, here is one by Alan Hall and printed in CHESS POST, Volume 33, No. 3 (or the June 1995 issue).


The Game of Chess


A poem about chess? Well, there’s an idea.
Hopefully this one will be one to hear.
What of the pieces? I’ll take them in turn.
And try to tell how each it’s living does earn.
The pawns can move straight or diagonally
Depending on whether it’s taking, you see.
Next comes the bishop – it moves across,
Of diagonals it is the boss.
Then there is the knight – some call it a horse
From its siblings it pursues a quite different
One square diagonally, then one straight.
It’s so crafty, you start to hate
It when you’ve lost to its smothered mate.
Stronger still than all these is rook.
If you’ve got two of them, you’re in luck.
The you may even beat the might queen.
A rook and bishop combined, she reigns

Last, but not least, is the humble king.
When you’ve mated him, you can sing.
Well, that’s all the pieces that make this game
of chess.


The playing of which can bring happiness.




We’ll end here with an appropriate form of poetry; the epitaph.


Surprisingly, chess epitaphs are more common than you might believe. Here is the best on I could find. It was written by Lord Dunsany (who was a chess player among many other inspired pursuits) and it was for Capablanca, first published in the June 1942 issue of CHESS (pg. 131).


Now rests a mind as keen,
A vision bright and clear
As any that has been
And who is it lies here?
One that, erstwhile, no less
Than Hindenburg could plan,
But played his game of chess
And did no harm to man.


If we could only aspire to be so talented and noble.



Here’s two games related to the poems, or rather the poets that created them.


Jim Murray (1876)-Alan Hall (1746)
Isle of Man Open – Major
Chess.com, Sept. 26 2017
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5!? (The Budapest is a surprising response for Mr. Hall, who regularly employs more solid and safe openings such as the London System. Nevertheless, he makes a fair attempt at winning the game.) 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.e3 Ngxe5 6.Be2 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Qxd2 d6?! (Black usually plays either 8…O-O or 8…Nxf3+. The text move allows White to simplify with 9.Nxe5!? dxe5 10.Qxd8+.) 9.O-O Be6 10.b3 O-O 11.Nc3 h6 12.Rad1 Qd7 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.f4 Ng6 15.e4 f5 16.e5 Rfd8 17.Qe3 Qe7 18.Bh5 Nh8 19.Nd5 Bxd5 20.cxd5 g6 21.Be2 a6 22.g4 Rf8 23.Kh1 Rae8 24.e6 c6 25.gxf5 Rxf5 26.dxc6 bxc6 27.Bg4 Rf6 28.Qd3 Ref8 29.Qxd6 Qxd6 30.Rxd6 g5 31.Rd7 Ng6 32.f5 Ne5 33.Rd4 Nxg4 34.Rxg4 Rxf5 35.Rxf5 Rxf5 36.Rc4 c5 37.Ra4 Kf8 38.Rxa6 Ke7 39.Kg2 h5 40.a4 Re5 41.Kf2 g4 42.Rc6 h4 43.a5 Rf5+ 44.Kg2 Rd5 45.a6 Rd2+ 46.Kg1 Rd1+ 47.Kf2 Rd2+ 48.Kg1 1/2-1/2


Capablanca-Lord Dunsany
Selfridges, London, Apr. 12 1929
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 b5 5.Bb3 Nf6 6.Ng5 d5 7.exd5

[After 7…Nxd5 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.Qf3+ Ke6 10.Nc3 Nce7 11.d4, we reach a position very similar to the Fried Liver Attack. Capablanca decided not to play into it. Apparently he remembered this game:

Capablanca-Pagliano & Elias
Consultation Game
Buenos Aires, June 1911
7.exd5 Nxd5 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.Qf3+ Ke6 10.Nc3 Nce7 11.d4 Bb7 12.Bg5 c6 13.O-O-O h6 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.Nc5+ Kd6 16.dxe5+ Kxc5 17.Be3+ Kb4 18.Bd2+ Kc5 19.Bxd5 Nxd5 20.Be3+ Kb4 21.Bd2+ Kc5 22.Be3+ Kb4 23.a3+ Ka4 24.b3+ Kxa3 25.Bd2 Bb4 26.c3 Qxe5 27.Kc2 Bxc3 28.Bxc3 Nxc3 29.Rhe1 Qc5 30.Qxc3 Qxf2+ 31.Rd2 Qf5+ 32.Kc1 Qf6 33.Qa5+ Kxb3 34.Re3+ Kc4 35.Rc2+ Kd5 36.Qd2+ Qd4 37.Rd3 c5 38.Rxd4+ cxd4 39.Qd3 Rab8 40.Qf5+ Kd6 41.Qc5+ Ke6 42.Re2+ Kf7 43.Re7+ Kg8 44.Rxb7 Rxb7 45.Qd5+ Kh7 46.Qe4+ Kg8 47.Qxb7 Kh7 48.Qe4+ Kg8 49.Qxd4 Kh7 50.Qe4+ Kg8 51.Qa8+ 1-0.]

7…Ne7 8.d6 Ned5 9.dxc7 Qxc7 10.Nc3 Bb7 11.a4 b4 12.Nxd5 Bxd5 13.Bxd5 Nxd5 14.O-O Be7 15.d4 O-O 16.dxe5 Qxe5 17.Re1 Qd6 18.Ne4 Qc6 19.Bg5 Bxg5 20.Nxg5 Rac8 21.Qf3 Nf6 22.Re2 h6 23.Qxc6 Rxc6 24.Nf3 a5 25.Nd4 Rc5 26.Nb3 Rd5 27.Rae1 Nd7 28.Re4 Nb6 29.Re5 Rfd8 30.Rxd5 Rxd5 31.Kf1 Nxa4 1/2-1/2