Friday, November 26, 2010

The Queen's Pawn Family 2 - Krause Variation

If you want to make your Queen's Pawn Opening an all round weapon, you may have to face the line 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5!? (D).

Now Lakdawala recommends 3.c3 in order to reach the London safely, and that may also be the best attempt for those hoping for something related to the Torre. For Colle players, 3.e3 is the obvious choice. Unfortunately it's less clear that this will give White an edge than the Nimzo move-order 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 - after all Black hasn't blocked his light-squared bishop.

However, none of these moves appears particularly threathening to Black's opening. It could be argued that Black is too optimistic trying to take on White's role in the early phase of the game. If that's the case, White now should play energetically in order to punish Black's arrogance. White's critical moves in the diagram position probably are:
      A: 3.dxc5
      B: 3.c4
      C: 3.g3
    Let's look a little deeper:

    (1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5)
    White is playing a reversed Queen's Gambit Accepted. I will not go into much detail here, as this move was the repertoire choice in "A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire". I will only point out one omission and one important alternative for White:
    3...Nc6?! probably is dubious and wasn't mentioned in the Killer Repertoire. One interesting attempt at refutation is 4.a3 a5 5.Nc3 and now:
    a) 5...e6 6.Na4!? seems sufficient to keep the c-pawn.
    b) 5...Nf6 6.Bf4 e5 7.Nxe5 Bxc5 8.Nd3 also gave White a safe extra pawn in Bogdanovich-Hubel, Crailsheim 1998.
    c) 5...d4 probably is too optimistic: 6.Nb5 e5 7.e3 Bg4 8.Be2 (even stronger may be 8.exd4 exd4 9.Qe2+ Be7 10.Nd6+ Kf8 11.Bf4) 8...Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Bxc5 10.exd4 Bxd4 11.Nxd4 exd4 12.0–0 with an obvious advantage for White in Matlak-Orsag, Karvina 1992.
    This is an important alternative to 4.c4 which was recommended in the Killer Repertoire.
    It seems White can keep an advantage after 4...Nf6 5.exd5 Qxd5 6.Bd3:
    a) 6...Bxc5 7.Nc3 Qd8 8.0–0 Nbd7 9.Bf4 a6 10.Ne4 Nxe4 11.Bxe4 Nf6 12.Qxd8+ Kxd8 13.Rad1+ += Kharlov-Cifuentes Parada, Leeuwarden 1994.
    b) 6...Qxc5 7.Nc3 Nbd7 8.0–0 Be7 9.Be3 Qa5 10.a3 a6 11.Qe2 0–0 12.Rfd1 Qc7 13.Bg5 b6 14.Ne4 Bb7 15.Nxf6+ Bxf6 16.Bxh7+ Kxh7 17.Qd3+ Kg8 18.Qxd7 Qxd7 19.Rxd7 Bxb2 20.Rb1 Bxf3 21.Rxb2 Be4 22.Rxb6 Bxc2 23.Rbb7 +=  Ki.Georgiev-Seirawan, Brussels 1992.
    5.exd5 exd5 (D)
    In this fairly typical IQP position it seems chances are roughly even. That doesn't mean it cannot be a good practical choice for a good technician. If White makes it to the endgame, he probably will have something to play for.
    5...Qb6 probably is too optimistic: 6.Qe2 Nf6 7.Qb5+ Kf8 8.Qxb6 axb6 9.dxe6 Bxe6 10.Nc3 Nc6 11.Bd3 Nb4 12.0–0 += Ruck-Balog, Hungary 2008.
    6.Bb5+ Nc6 7.0–0 Nge7 8.Nbd2 0–0 9.Nb3 Bd6
    Also 9...Bb6 seems fine: 10.c3 Bg4 11.Be2 Qd6 12.Nfd4 Bxe2 13.Nxe2 Rad8 14.Bf4 Qf6 15.Qd2 h6 16.Be3 Bxe3 17.Qxe3 Nf5 18.Qd2 d4 = A.Sokolovs-Howell, Germany 1996.
    10.c3 Bg4 11.Be2 Re8 12.Nfd4 Bxe2 13.Nxe2 Qc7 14.Ng3 Rad8 15.Re1 Qd7 16.Be3
    Chances were equal in P.Nikolic-Leko, Horgen 1994.

    (1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5)

    With this move White offers Black to play the Tarrasch Defence.
    3... cxd4
    Instead the Tarrasch would arise after 3...e6. This old defence has, as far as I know, a sound theoretical standing, but many of the resulting positions are hard to defend against skilled opposition. More independent alternatives are:
    a) 3...Nf6 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qxd4 Qxd5 6.Nc3 must be a shade better for White. A recent example is  Kovalyov-Gomez, Dresden 2008 where Black was close to equality after 6...Qa5 7.Ne5 Nc6 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.g3 Bb7 10.Qa4 Qxa4 11.Nxa4 c5 12.f3 e6 13.e4.
    b) After 3...dxc4 4.d5!? may be critical (4.e3 e6 leads to a quiet line of the Queen's Gambit Accepted). Two recent examples are: 
    b1) 4...Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.e4 exd5 7.exd5 Bd6 8.Bxc4 0–0 9.0–0 Bg4 10.h3 Bh5 11.Bg5 h6 12.Bh4 Nbd7 = Akopian-Shirov, Ohrid 2009.
    b2) 4...e6 5.Nc3 exd5 6.Qxd5 Qxd5 7.Nxd5 Bd6 8.Nd2 Ne7 9.Nxc4 Nxd5 10.Nxd6+ Ke7 11.Nxc8+ Rxc8 12.g3 Nb4 13.Bh3 Rd8 14.0–0 N8c6 15.Be3 Leitao-Matsuura, Santos 2007.
    4.cxd5 Nf6
    Black should avoid 4...Qxd5 5.Nc3, e.g. 5...Qd8 6.Qxd4 Qxd4 7.Nxd4 a6 8.Nd5 Kd8 9.Nb6 Ra7 10.Bf4 Nd7 and now Rybka points out that 11.Ne6+! fxe6 12.Be3 would have been the most efficient, even if White has several ways to a big advantage.
    5.Qxd4 Qxd5 6.Nc3 Qxd4 7.Nxd4 a6 (D)
    This is typical for what White can expect in this line. The pawn structure is symmetrical but White is somewhat better developed. It seems likely that Black can equalize with some care but White can create some difficulties. One sample continuation is:
     8.g3 Bd7 9.Bg2 e5 10.Nb3 Bc6 = Landa-Ovetchkin, Krasnoyarsk 2007.

    (1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5)

    This quiet move attempts to play a reversed Gruenfeldt Indian. The only problem is that there is no black knight to exchange on c6, so if White hopes for a genuine Gruenfeldt a tempo up, he has to bide his time.

    3...Nc6 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.0–0 e6 6.a3 b5 7.Bg5 Bb7 8.Nc3 h6 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.dxc5 Bxc5 11.Nxb5 Qb6 12.Nc3 +/- Young-Akobian, Chicago 2009.
    4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb3
    4...Nf6 5.0–0 (D)
    In a sense this is a critical position. Should Black play the obvious developing move 5...Nc6, allowing White to have his desired Reversed Gruenfeldt?

    This is Black's most popular move but there are alternatives:
    a) I don't know why 5...Nbd7!? is untested. Black threatens ...e5, so 6.Nxd4 e5 is natural. Then one possible line is 7.Nb3 Nb6 8.Nc3 Be6 9.f4 with complicated play.
    b) 5...h6 is a bit strange but on second thought it seems useful to avoid the potential Bg5 pin. After 6.b3 g6 7.Bb2 Bg7 8.Nxd4 0–0 9.c4 dxc4 10.bxc4 Qb6 11.Qb3 Na6 12.Nd2 Nd7 13.N2f3 Ndc5 gave equal chances in P.Nikolic-P.H.Nielsen, Wijk aan Zee 2005.
    c) 5...g6 is natural. Then 6.Nxd4 Bg7 7.c4 0–0 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nb3 e6 10.Nc3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Qc7 12.Rb1 with unclear play in Graf-Shomoev, Warsaw 2005 is one sample line.
    6.Nxd4 e6 
    That's the problem when White tries to play a sharp line with colours reversed. You will usually find that Black opts for a non-critical line which nevertheless gives good chances of equality. White has scored massively after 6... e5 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8. c4, but partly that may be because the white players have very clearly outrated their opponents. One recent and typical example is 8...Be7 9.Nc3 Be6 10.Bg5 e4 11.Qa4 O-O 12.Rad1 Qb6 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.cxd5 cxd5 15.Nxd5 Bxd5 16.Rxd5 Qxb2 17.e3 with a very clear advantage to White in Burmakin-Lochte, Bad Wiessee 2008.

    7.c4 Bc5 8.Nb3 Be7 9.cxd5 Nxd5 10.Nc3 Nxc3 11.Qxd8+ Bxd8 12.bxc3 Bf6 13.Rb1 Bxc3 14.Ba3 += Romanishin-Salmensuu, Linares 1999.

    Friday, July 30, 2010

    A New Barry Idea

    These days I am reading Cyrus Lakdawala’s “Play the London System”. It’s an interesting read and I will probably return to the subject.

    Our understanding of one opening is often influenced by our understanding (or lack of such) of other openings. I was curious when I saw Lakdawala briefly discard Black’s traditional mainline in the Barry attack (1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Be2 0–0 6.Nc3 c5 is the relevant London move-order) with the explanation that ‘7.dxc5 transposes to a favourable Reversed Catalan’ and some relatively brief variations. I must admit that the Catalan is not my field of expertise so I had to take a closer look at his variations - in particular as I had explored this line when researching ‘A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire’ (and concluded that Summerscale’s 7.Ne5 probably still is White’s best try):


    This is the most popular reply and the only one mentioned in the book although 7...Nbd7!? has been played by Khalifman among others.


    The exclamation mark is by Lakdawala and the move probably is White’s best try.


    This is clearly most popular. Somewhat mysteriously Lakdawala gives the rare 8...Ne4!? as his main line. After 9.Ncxe4 dxe4 10.0–0 Nc6 11.c3 f5 12.Nb3 of Hodgson-Gullaksen, Stavanger 1989 he concludes that Black doesn’t have enough for his pawn.

    9.Nb3 Qb6 10.Nb5!

    Again the exclamation mark is by Lakdawala. White has also tried 10.0-0, 10.a4 and 10.Nxd5?!.

    10...Ne8! (Dia)

    This is not mentioned in the book but has been played by Hebden and Lars Bo Hansen among others and is given an exclamation mark by Ftachnik in Megabase. Lakdawala only mentions 10...Na6 11.Be5! and White probably is better as ‘Bd4 is in the air’. The move is far from obvious but as there clearly are some threaths to c7 it's not particularly surprising either.


    What else? Black was threatening ...e5 as well as ...Bxb2.

    11...Bxb2 12.Rb1 Bg7 13.0–0 Nc6 14.c4 (Dia)

    Not 14.N5d4? e5! 15.Nxc6 bxc6 and Black wins.

    So far everything seems very natural if not entirely forced. Now it seems Black has at least two ways to equalize (as a matter of fact Rybka also thinks 14...a6!? and 14...e5 look OK):
    A: 14...Bf5 15.Rbd1 Nf6

    Or 15...Nb4 16.Qd2 Na6 17.Nc3 Nf6 18.Qc1 Rac8 19.Be5 Be6 20.Bd4 Qb4 = L.B.Hansen-Djurhuus, Reykjavik 1995.

    16.Qc5 e5 17.Bg3 Ne4 18.Qxb6

    Rybka claims that 18.Qa3 is equal. That may well be right; the position looks somewhat strange and I find it hard to evaluate.

    18...axb6 19.Ra1 Rfd8  and in Akselrod-Salinnikov, Tomsk 2003 Black was clearly better thanks to his activity.

    B: 14...Nf6 15.Qc5 e5! 16.Bg3 Ne4 (Dia)

    This too looks fine for Black who is active and has the bishop pair.
    a) 7.Qxb6 axb6 18.a3 Bf5 =+ Rogers-Fedorowicz, Groningen 1990.

    b) 17.Qa3 and now 17...Nxg3 18.hxg3 Rb8 (18...Rd8?! 19.c5 +/- Klimets-Gerasimovitch, St Petersburg 2002) 19.c5 Qd8 20.Rfd1 probably is a little better for White. However, Rybka thinks that 17...Bf5 as well as 17...Be6 is at least OK for Black.

    I have not found a path to advantage for White after 7.dxc5. That doesn't mean there isn't one, but Lakdawala's explanation clearly isn't sufficient for me. Maybe someone who knows more about the Catalan (and consequently more about the Reversed Catalan too) can point me in the right direction?

    Thursday, July 29, 2010

    The Queen's Pawn Family 1 - Overview

    I have somewhere promised an overview and comparison of the so-called Queen's Pawn Openings (also known as D-pawn Specials or even D-pawn Deviations). That is basically all White's alternatives to the Queen's Gambit and the Catalan. In this first part I will only give a list and some brief comments.
    Group IA: 1.d4 d5, alternatives to 2.Nf3 and 2.c4

    1...d5 is an older move than 1...Nf6, so this is the classical starting position for the Queen's Pawn Openings. By deviating at this early point White makes sure that the game will be played on his homeground.

    a) 2.g3?! - A poor relative of the Catalan. Black can equalize by an early ...c6 and ...Bf5.
    b) 2.e3 - Introduces the Stonewall Attack (Bd3+f4+c3). A critical line is 2...Nf6 3.Bd3 Nc6.
    c) 2.Bf4!? - The Neo-London. By some experts considered to revitalize the classical London system.
    d) 2.Bg5!? - The Hodgson Opening. Frequently used as a companion system to the Trompowsky.
    e) 2.e4?! - The Blackmar Diemer Gambit (BDG). Not entirely correct but many prefers to decline the pawn offer with 2...e6 (French) or 2...c6 (Caro Kann).
    f) 2.Nc3!? - Normally leads to the Veresov Opening after 2...Nf6 3.Bg5 but 2...Bf5 may be best.
    g) 2.a3!? - The Prie Opening. White argues that 2...c5 is too risky and all D-Pawn Specials are inferior (the more so a move down).
    h) 2.c3?! - A sly but slow move which may lead to the Colle, the London or the Torre. 2...Nf6 followed by 3...Bf5 should equalize.
    i) 2.Nd2 - Normally leads to some kind of Colle after 2...Nf6 3.e3.
    j) 2.b3 - May lead to a Colle Zukertort but I cannot see how White can benefit from delaying e3 and Nf3.
    k) 2.h3?! - A joke move favoured by some London players who will follow up with Bf4 and reach an only slightly inferior London.
    l) 2.f4?! - A too primitive attempt to play the Stonewall Attack. 2...Nf6 followed by 3...Bf5 at least equalizes.

    Group IB: 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6, alternatives to 3.c4 and 3.e3

    2.Nf3 is a sound and flexible move and the starting point of most Queen's Pawn openings. Black has a few interesting alternatives to 2...Nf6, such as 2...c5 and 2...Bf5!? but most alternatives, including 2...c6 and 2...e6 allow White to go ahead with his planned set-up.

    a) 3.g3?! - An inferior version of the Catalan 3...Bf5 or 3...c6 followed by 4...Bf5 equalizes.
    b) 3.Bg5?! - An inferior version of the Torre. 3...Ne4 equalizes.
    c) 3.Bf4 - The classical London System. 3...c5 4.e3 Nc6 5.c3 Qb6 6.Qb3 c4 7.Qc2 Bf5 is probably equal.
    d) 3.Nbd2 - A rare path to the Colle. 3...Bf5 probably equalizes.
    e) 3.c3!? - Lakdawala's path to the London. The idea is to meet 3...c5 with 4.dxc5 and most other moves with 4.Bf4.
    f) 3.Ne5 - A possibly underestimated attempt to reach a Stonewall Attack (with f4. White hopes to fight for an advantage after 3...Bf5 4.c4.
    g) 3.a3 - A version of the Prie System.
    h) 3.b3?! - Usually an attempt to reach the Colle Zukertort system. 3...Bf5 equalizes comfortably.
    i) 3.Nc3 - Looks similar to the Barry Attack but is rather pointless as long as Black hasn't played ...g6.
    j) 3.h3?! - Normally another way to reach a slightly inferior London system after a delayed Bf4.

    Group IC: 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 c5, alternatives to 4.c4

    After 3.e3 we are in Colle territory, and might reasonably stop at that, noting that 4.c4 would still be a (harmless) Queen's Gambit. However, the Colle comes in different flavours too:

    a) 4.dxc5 - This is an attempt to play the Queen's Gambit accepted a tempo up but 4...e6 probably gives theoretical equality.
    b) 4.b3 - This is not White's most promising variation of the Colle Zukertort. After 4...Nc6 5.Bb2 Bg4 Black is equal. Also Kaufman's 4...cxd4, taking advantage of the fact that Bc1 not can use two diagonals, makes sense.
    c) 4.c3 - Heads for the (Classical) Koltanowski Colle. The interesting question is whether Black now should play the modest 4...e6 or the more ambitious 4...Nc6.
    d) 4.Nbd2 - A seemingly sensible Colle move that isn't even mentioned in several works on the Colle.
    e) 4.Bd3!? - A slightly provocative attempt to stop ...Bf5 and keep open both the b3 and c3 options. The critical reply of course is 4...c4!?
    f) 4.a3!? - An attempt to reverse colours - perhaps planning dxc5 followed by b4 and c4. But is a3 really useful after 4...cxd4 5.exd4?
    g) 4.Ne5 - White intends to follow up with f4, Bd3 and c3, reaching a Stonewall Attack.

    Group ID: 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6, alternatives to 4.c4

    This is the traditional starting position of the Colle. It should be noted that this position is at least as likely to appear from the move-order 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 d5. White can still return to lines of the Queen's Gambit with 4.c4 but within the Colle there are these options:

    a) 4.Be2 - A reversed Queen's Gambit Declined. Solid for Black but unambitious for White.
    b) 4.b3 - Reveals White's plan to play a Colle Zukertort earlier than necessary.
    c) 4.c3 - Reveals White's plan to play a Colle Koltanowski earlier than necessary.
    d) 4.a3 - Attempts to play a Queen's Gambit Accepted a tempo or two up after 4...c5 5.dxc5 Bxc5 6.b4 but that's hardly sufficient for an advantage.
    e) 4.Ne5 - White intends to follow up with f4, Bd3 and c3, reaching a Stonewall Attack. Probably more promising with Black's light-squared bishop locked in than the 3...c5 version.
    f) 4.Nbd2!? - A seemingly sensible Colle move that isn't even mentioned in several works on the Colle.
    g) After the main move 4.Bd3 and the extremely natural 4...c5 White has these options:
    g1) 5.c4 - Still a Queen's Gambit (a rather harmless Tarrasch)
    g2) 5.0–0 - A provocative attempt to keep options open. 5...c4 6.Be2 b5 is the critical line.
    g3) 5.b3! - The Colle Zukertort, a legitimate try for an advantage even at GM level.
    g4) 5.c3 - The Colle Koltanowski, actually a reversed Slav and quite dangerous for the unprepared.

    Group IIA: 1.d4 Nf6, alternatives to 2.Nf3 and 2.c4

    With his first move Black displays a less compromising attitude than 1...d5 does. This can be seen as a reason for White to avoid a theoretical confrontation. However, it must also be said that it is probably harder for White to fight for a real advantage without an early c4 if Black knows what he is doing.

    a) 2.g3 - An inferior attempt to reach the Catalan. Black is equal after 2...d5 followed by ...c6 and ...Bf5.
    b) 2.Bg5 - The Trompowsky. Now almost mainstream and occasinally tested at the highest level. White will frequently capture the f6 knight if that doubles Black's pawns but also setting up a Stonewall with pawns on c3, d4, e3 and f4 makes sense.
    c) 2.c3 - Extremely flexible and extremely tame. One idea is to meet 2...g6 as well as 2...e6 with 3.Bg5 (which both may be categorized as Trompowskys).
    d) 2.Bf4 - A somewhat experimental branch of the Neo London. 2...c5 and 2...d6 must be the critical lines.
    e) 2.Nc3 - After 2...d5, 3.Bg5 is the Veresov Attack. Not very popular for the moment but that may be about to change.
    f) 2.Nd2 - Used to be a favorite of Varga's. White to some extent threatens 3.e4 and after 2...d5 3.Nf3 we have a Colle (IBd).
    g) 2.e3 - A possibly inferior version of the Stonewall Attack. 2...g6 is supposed to be strong but White can pretend he is playing a reversed French vs. King's Indian Attack.
    h) 2.f4 - An ugly attempt to play the Stonewall Attack. 2...d5 followed by 3...Bf5 possibly is the simplest solution but also a plan including ...d6 and ...e5 looks tempting.
    i) 2.g4 - The Gibbins-Weidenhagen Gambit. Almost certainly unsound but White has some practical chances after 2...Nxg4 3.e4.
    j) 2.a3 - This attempt to reach a reversed QP opening doesn't make much sense after 2...g6.
    k) 2.b3 - May lead to a Colle Zukertort but I cannot see how White can benefit from delaying e3 and Nf3.
    l) 2.f3 - May lead to a Blackmar Diemer Gambit after 2...d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nc3. Probably 3...e6 is a simpler cure. 2...g6 3.e4 d6 is a Pirc.
    m) 2.h3 - Looks rather pointless but if White follows up with Bf4 and Nf3 he will probably reach a playable London position.

    Group IIB: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6, alternatives to 3.c4 and 3.g3

    Nimzo- and Queen's Indian players may have a tougher task against the D-pawn Specials, (in particular the Colle) than others. Against this move-order the Colle Zukertort probably holds prospects for a small advantage.

    a) 3.e3 - White heads for some branch of the Colle but may need other ideas against 3...b6 and 3...c5.
    b) 3.Bg5 - The Torre System
    c) 3.Bf4 - An important branch of the London System
    d) 3.c3 - A tricky move, keeping open options to enter the Koltanowski Colle, the London or the Torre.
    e) 3.Nbd2 - Possibly an underestimated branch of the Colle. Black must decide whether he considers e4 a threat or not.
    f) 3.a3 - Another branch of the Prie System. White takes on Black's role with a marginally useful extra tempo.
    g) 3.b3 - Heads for a Colle Zukertort but White gains nothing by revealing his plan too early.
    h) 3.h3 - Another joke path to a playable if uninspiring London set-up.
    i) 3.Nc3 - Looks similar to the Barry Attack but is rather pointless as long as Black hasn't played ...g6.

    Group IIC: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6, alternatives to 3.c4 and 3.g3

    The King's Indian is one of the toughest tests for any Queen's Pawn System. Black develops quickly and has various ways to challenge the centre. Lines with ...d6 followed by ...e5 or ...c5 probably are the most challenging but quieter lines with ...d5 are also available.

    a) 3.e3?! - The Colle hasn't got a great reputation against the King's Indian, as Black can force ...e5 with relative ease. However, 3...Bg7 4.b4!? may well be OK for White.
    b) 3.Bg5 - Purists will say that this isn't strictly speaking the Torre Attack. The Torre versus King's Indian (which it's sometimes called) probably is slightly less promising than the 2...e6 version.
    c) 3.Bf4 - The third major branch of the London System.
    d) 3.c3!? - Delays the decision of where (if?) to develop the dark-squared bishop but there is little to be gained as White will soon have to commit himself anyway after 3...Bg7 or 4...0-0.
    e) 3.Nc3!? - introduces the Barry Attack after 3...d5 4.Bf4 (or a version of the 150-Attack after 3...Bg7 4.e4).
    f) 3.Nbd2 - Heads for a Colle after 3...d5 4.e3 or a quiet Modern after 3...Bg7 4.e4.
    g) 3.h3 - Once thought to be the most accurate move-order for White to play the London System against the King's Indian. However, the move is too slow to stop the ...Nfd7 and ...e5 plan.
    h) 3.b3 - Has been played by Smyslov and Portisch but is mainly a modest way of getting the pieces out.
    i) 3.b4!? - The Arkell System - at least if White keeps his c-pawn back and plays Nd2-c4, trying to restrain ...e5. I believe there is also a name for the more traditional approach with an early c4 but that line must belong to the King's Indian complex.

    That's all folks! (well, I am sure I have forgotten something, so I expect to edit and update the overview)

    The plan now is to take a closer look at some of the systems (mainly the Colle London and Torre), comparing them and perhaps suggest how some systems can be combined. I have also started collecting bibliographies.

    Updated September 1st
    I included some lines given by an anonymous reader.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Killer Repertoire in French

    I must admit I was surprised today to discover that "A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire" has been translated to French.

    The new title is "Répertoire d'ouvertures efficace" which I assume must mean "An Efficient Opening Repertoire". The subtitle "pour joueur d'échecs paresseux" I think must mean "for lazy chessplayers". A little less bloodthirsty than the original English title.

    As you can see, also the cover is a little less aggressive. I prefer Wolff Morrow's artwork, but the French one is quite nice too, in a very different way. Can anyone tell me the name of the artist (I assume his signature can be seen below the drawing, but I am unable to read it)?

    I am proud to now have been translated to two major European languages, and hope Gambit Publishing or the French publisher Olibris will be kind enough to send me a few copies.

    Update July 21st
    I found this advertisment which includes a review. My French is quite poor but I will try to translate the conclusion:

    Autre atout de l'ouvrage, le choix des parties illustratives, jouées par des joueurs qui ne sont pas des grands-maîtres. Une autre bonne idée car c'est bien ce qui se passe pour la majorité des tournois d'échecs pour nous autres amateurs. Avouons-le tout bonnement, c'est une idée géniale !

    Another asset of  the work is the choice of illustrative games, played by players who are not Grandmasters. This is a good idea because for us amateurs this is what occurs in the majority of chess tournaments. Let us acknowledge that this simply is a brilliant idea!

    Well, I hope that isn't too inaccurate. Please inform me if you can improve the translation. Anyway, "Chess & Strategy" appears to also be a chess vendor, so the 'review' cannot be expected to be very critical and I will not read too much into it.

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    Chessville Reviews Win with the Stonewall Dutch

    After a few long periods of dormancy, Chessville now seems to be fully activated again. Today I noted a review of 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch' by Bill McGeary.

    As the reader can easily confirm, McGeary is fairly detailed and in general quite positive. I will just quote his conclusion:
    I am sure that new ideas and valuations in lines have likely already come to light since the publication of this book, but it remains an excellent work for a player looking to bring the Stonewall into their armory. Because of the strength of the writers, and the complexity of material, this book might be a bit bewildering for players below the 2000 level, and even some above, yet it could well act as one of the steps along the road upward.

    My apologies to my readers for letting this blog become a list of reviews of my books. Some genuine chess content will appear in the near future.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    Donaldson's Review of A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire

    Yesterday I noticed that John Donaldson's review quoted at Gambit's info page is now available in Northwest Chess Magazine. Is it a coincidence that there now is a reader's review of 'A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire' by 'Northwest' at

    The magazine seems to be a nice product with a pleasant blend of games, analysis and local tournament information. It's not 100% clear to me exactly which area the magazine covers but it seems to be produced in Seattle, US.

    Unexpectedly I am having another busy week. I expect to be blogging more frequently the next couple of months.

    Update July 5th
    Now the review is also available at Silman's Chess Reviews. The review is identical but I believe the readership is far greater.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Play the London - pdf Extracts

    Just briefly noting that there are now pdf-extracts from Lakdawala's 'Play the London System' at Everyman's chess book site.

    I note with some surprise that the book now has reached 256 pages, which is 64 more than the last time I checked. It is still hard to judge how much analytical content there is and how well organized it is. However, the book still seems promising and I am pleased to note that the introduction contains a good portion humour.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Chess Cafe Reviews the Killer Repertoire

    In his influential monthly chess book column - Checkpoint, Carsten Hansen yesterday reviewed (among others) "A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire" under the heading 'Happy Days for Queen's Pawn Enthusiasts'. Generally his review is favourable and his conclusion is:
    'However, the meat of the book is on the Colle and Colle-related set-ups, and in those chapters the book really proves its worth. Overall, it is an easily approachable book; the repertoire is by and large not too difficult to follow, even if some of the surprise value has been eliminated by the original book being on the market for more than ten years. In many ways, this present work is a considerable upgrade over the original, and, even by today's high standards for opening books, it is a very good book. It can be enjoyed by players rated up to around 2000.'

    He awards the book with three stars (out of a maximum of four). I obviously would have liked one more star but cannot really complain. According to the Rating Chart three stars is 'good' and four stars 'excellent'. So when Hansen says it is 'very good' I will assume the extra star was within shooting range.

    I don't really agree that the chapters on the Colle (Zukertort) are the core of the book. As I see it, the book's starting point is the Barry Attack (1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4). With this as a basis it adds other low-theory systems - including some Colle related systems - in order to supply the reader with a complete 1.d4 repertoire. However, this is mainly a question of perspectives and in support of Hansen's view it must be admitted that Colle-related systems take up at least 68 of the book's 192 pages.

    I note with interest that Hansen recommends the book for players up to 2000. In his 'Introduction to the First Edition' from 1998, Summerscale writes: 'This book is aimed primarily at club-level players with a playing strength of up to about 2200 Elo (or 200 BCF)'. I briefly considered commenting upon this when writing my 'Updater's Notes' as I had a feeling that today's 2200 players generally prepare a bit deeper than they did a decade ago. When I after all decided not to comment on Summerscale's original estimate, it was because I felt that in general the added material compensated for theory's development.

    What I really don't understand is this remark:
    'There are even some bizarre recommendations towards the end of the book, such as how White is to meet 1 d4 d6, where the book recommends 2 e4, which allows Black to take the game to a Pirc or Modern Defense or even the Philidor after 2..Nf6 3 Nc3 e5 4 Nf3. I can't see too many club players, who employ the Colle as white, also going for 2 e4, which changes the entire nature of the game.'

    This is a bit mysterious as 2.e4 clearly isn't a bizarre move in itself. It leads to a positions of a different nature than the Colle but so do many other of the books proposed lines. Hansen's point must be that allowing a transposition to the Pirc, Modern and Philidor doesn't fit well with the rest of the book's proposed repertoire. This criticism would make sense if there wasn't a full chapter in the book on the 150-Attack against the Pirc and Modern.

    Summerscale's original work didn't mention 1...d6, and I must admit that I too originally missed this gap in the repertoire. So when Gambit's editorial staff pointed this out and suggested  2.d4 and a condensed repertoire to cover the non-Pirc lines, I was happy to accept their suggestion. The only sensible alternative seemed to be 2.Nf3, when 2...Bg4!? would require some analysis as well as some prose discussing the strategic points of Black's ...Bxf3 option. In addition there also was 2...f5!? which didn't quite fit into the proposed repertoire against the Dutch.
    So in my opinion the only bizarre aspect of 1.d4 d6 2.e4 is the book's attempt to offer a repertoire against the Czech and the New Philidor in half a column. This clearly isn't sufficient to be well prepared in the professional sense of the word. But for the sub-2200 readers it doesn't seem too bad. 1...d6 is after all only Black's 6th most popular move and will normally lead to the Pirc. The Czech (3...c6) seems to be out of fashion (I think there are theoretical problems in the 4.f4 lines) and not that hard to face unprepared anyway. That leaves the Philidor which is an interesting opening where Black has good prospects to outplay a weaker player in the middlegame. However, it's mainly Black that has to be careful in order to survive the first 15 moves.

    When re-reading the text on Black's non-Pirc options I notice one unfortunate omission. After 1.d4 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3, Black may try the Antoshin variation 4...exd4 5.Nxd4 Be7, which isn't mentioned at all. However, this too is a very quiet option where White scores well above average, so if a reader should happen to meet it and lose the game, I would expect him to blame his own middlegame play rather than the book.

    Sunday, May 30, 2010

    Relay Chess

    There are countless chess variants; obscure and popular; weird and playable. In an earlier entry I listed some of my favourites. However, I now realize that I forgot an important category of games - those variants that (mostly) retain the standard rules but add an element of physical skill. Chess Boxing seems to be the new big thing and I have already had an entry on Kung Fu Chess. I suppose Drinking Chess (Shots Chess) is still the best known, and may return to this activity as well as the related Valhalla tournaments in a later entry. However, for now I will concentrate on variants better suited for younger players.

    If you ever need an outdoor activity for young chess players, then Relay Chess may be the solution. The main rules are:

    1. Relay chess is a competition between two teams. On each team there should be somewhere between three and seven players. The teams don’t necessarily have to have the same number of players but the players should keep their place in their team's queue.
    2. The teams are placed some distance away from a chess board. The distance should be sufficient to make it difficult for the players to see what’s going on. Preferably there should be an arbiter near the board.
    3. Use a chess clock with a reasonable amount of time (e.g., 10 minutes for each team), so that the players will have to run and move quickly in order not to lose on time.
    4. The player first in the white row runs to the board, makes his first move and presses the clock. As soon as the white player has pressed the clock, the first player on Black’s team may start running.
    5. A player who has completed his move should immediately return and take his place (at the back of the queue). The next player on his team may not start his run before the previous player has returned (and the player on the other team has completed his move and pressed the clock).

    In addition it may be a good idea to agree on this (but remember that this should be fun and don’t spend too much time on the finer points of the rules - a rematch is usual the perfect way to resolve a discussion):

    • Should the players be allowed to inform their team about their latest move and the position on the board or give advice? Shout advice to the player at the board? 
    • What happens if a player makes an illegal move? Stumbles over the board? Loses a piece on the ground?

    I hope to add some pictures to this entry in a few days as there is an informal Norway-England competition coming up.

    Coming next: Basket Chess.

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    German Review of the Killer Repertoire

    Yesterday I stumbled over a very interesting German language blog 'Schachtraining' (yes, it means chess training) with a brief review of 'A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire'. If you read some German, you could do worse than following this apparently frequently updated chess blog.

    For those not reading German, here is an attempt to translate the summary:

    "Die meisten der vorgestellten Systeme können ohne großen Aufwand erlernt werden und erfordern nur geringe Variantenkenntnisse. Selbstredend dürfte dadurch sein, dass der Spieler demzufolge keine großen Stellungsvorteile erhoffen darf , aber die Solidität sichert ihm zumeist ausgeglichenes Spiel. Ein Repertoire für Praktiker auf Vereinsniveau. Wer im Besitz der Erstausgabe ist und die Systeme im Repertoire hat, wird voraussichtlich mehr von spezialisierter Literatur profitieren, anstatt das Update zu erwerben."

    "Most of the systems presented can be adopted quite easily and demand only modest knowledge of exact variations. This may be due to the systems offering no sizable opening advantage but their solidity will at least ensure you equal play. A repertoire for practical players at club level. Presumably, if you already have the first edition and have adopted the repertoire you will profit more from specialist literature than from getting this update."

    (My German is to a large extent based on the language's similarity with Norwegian and contains an element of guesswork. So any improvements/corrections will be appreciated.)

    I don't quite agree with this conclusion and may add some comments at a later point.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Killer Repertoire in Marsh Towers

    In his chess reviews today, Sean March among other reviews "A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire". The potential buyer can also find a snapshop from one of the new games I added and his impressions regarding the extent of the update. I don't think his estimate of 5 new game references on a double spread is far off but I know that the changes are far from uniformly distributed.

    Marsh has certain doubts about some of the repertoire choices but seems quite satisfied with the update and concludes:
    "This is a neat little book which can provide serious ammunition for keen club players."

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Elburg reviews "A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire"

    Only this Monday afternoon I got hold of some copies of the revised "A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire". Since then I have been very busy and haven't really had the time to examine the book closely. My first impression is that most (possibly all) of my late corrections/additions made it to the final varsion.

    Today I found the first review of the book at John Elburg's chess reviews. As expected he is quite positive. My guess is that Gambit on their info page will only quote his concluding line:
    Conclusion: Impressive update!

    Elburg points out that there is no bibliography and thinks this would have been useful for the reader. Well, he may be right. However, as a matter of fact I originally wrote a quite extensive bibliography but eventually decided to skip it as it would either have been somewhat misleading or would have needed a lot of comments. For instance it would have been somewhat misleading to list the large number of books that I consulted only to find out that they had nothing new to offer.

    Elburg also mentions my analysis on Trygstad’s 1.d4 f5 2.Bg5 h6 3.Bh4 g5 4.e4 Rh7!? which may be the part where I did the most analytical work (or more precisely: where I had Rybka slaving for the longest time).

    As a matter of fact only a tiny fraction of my analysis was actually included in the book. Initially I spent a lot of time trying to find a way to a clear advantages in the semi endgames resulting from Williams' mainlines in Dangerous Weapons: The Dutch. However, although I succeeded finding some quite promising paths, the positions remained difficult and there was a very real risk that Black would be better prepared for these positions. There were also space issues to be taken into consideration (the book's 192 A5 pages have been utilized more fully than I have ever seen in a chess opening manual). So in the end - just before the final proofs had to be sent - I retraced a few steps, searched for moves that Williams had ignored, and was happy to find a quite promising option that could be covered within the space available. Now I look forward to analytical feedback from Dutch players.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Killer Chess Opening Repertoire Available

    According to Gambit Publishing's Infopages, 'A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire' is now available. I don't know why Gambit now has the copyrights to the book (the previous edition was an Cadogan/Everyman book). Although I am listed as a co-author I really was more of an editor as my instruction from Gambit was to leave the original content unchanged wherever reasonable. Summerscale was not involved in the update; I don't know why and presume he must be busy with other matters.

    What I did was mainly adding recent game references and analysis wherever appropriate. However, this in turned forced a considerable restructuring of the book, as some of the notes were already overly long. I believe this was a fortunate necessity as it made the book a more comfortable read. Now the book is 192 A5 pages - an increase of 48 pages or roughly a third of the original 1998 version. I didn't do a lot of independent analysis but I did spend a lot of hours together with Rybka on a few critical lines.

    Now I am quite eager to get my hands on a copy - not least because of the cover artwork which looks great from the web images. Unfortunately, I fear my copies will take some time to arrive as deliveries to Norway have taken surprisingly long time lately.

    This entry was updated on April 8th, 2010. My apologies for making at least one of the comments below looking a little strange.

    Wednesday, March 31, 2010

    Vasily Smyslov 1921 to 2010

    World Champion 1957-1958, Vasilly Smyslov died the 27th March this year. He was one of the strongest players of all times and as late as in 1983, at the age of 62, he made it to the final in the Candidate finals (where he put up strong resistance against the young Kasparov).

    Differences in style are often exaggerated by authors and journalists. Smyslov was often said to have a harmonious or universal playing style. Well, that's probably as true for him as for almost all top players.

    Here is an example of him outplaying a weaker opponent, and it indeed looks simple. You may ask why I don't show a titanic struggle against Botwinnik or Kasparov. The answer is simply that I analysed this game when preparing a lesson on 1.g3, and I liked it.

    V.Smyslov - M.Fuller, Politiken Cup (Copenhagen) 1980

    Smyslov was a versatile player who mastered most openings - including the possible transpositions between them.

    1...g6 2.Bg2 c5

    An invitation to a Closed Sicilian...

    3.e4 (Dia)
    ...which Smyslov accepts. However, this exact position is less likely to arise from 1.e4 c5 2.g3, as then Black has 2...d5, which probably equalizes.

    3...Bg7 4.Ne2

    4.c3 may be slightly more flexible but after 4...Nc6, 5.Ne2 would transpose. We now have a position that could also arise from the move-order 1.e4 c5 2.Ne2 (an old Keres favourite).


    Now we reach positions that more frequently arise from 1.g3 c5 2.Bg2 Nc6 3.e4. A more independent line is 4...d6 5.c3 Nf6, when Karjakin-Carlsen, Wch blitz Moscow 2009 continued 6.d4 0–0 7.0–0 Nc6 8.h3 e5 9.Be3 cxd4 10.cxd4 exd4 11.Nxd4 Ne5 12.Nc3 Nc4 with equal chances.


    This can be said to be the point of White's set-up. By holding back his queen's knight, he is able to better control the d4 square.

    5...e5 6.0–0 Nge7 7.d3 d6

    Or 7...0–0 8.a3 d5 when Dorfman-Magerramov, Beltsy 1979 somewhat surprisingly continued 9.exd5!? Nxd5 10.c4!? (these ideas are well known from the King's Indian with reversed colours) 10...Nc7 11.Nbc3 Bf5 12.Ne4 Ne6 13.Be3 Ncd4 14.Nxd4 exd4 15.Bd2 h5 16.b4 and White's position had more potential.

    8.a3 Be6

    A famous encounter continued 8...0–0 9.b4 b6 10.f4 exf4 11.gxf4 d5 12.e5 Bg4 13.h3 Bxe2 14.Qxe2 f6 15.b5 Na5 16.Nd2 fxe5 17.fxe5 Rxf1+ 18.Nxf1 Nb3 19.Rb1 Nxc1 20.Rxc1 Qc7 21.Re1 Rd8 with equality in Keres-Fischer, Candidates Curacao 1962.

    9.b4 Qd7 10.Be3 b6 11.b5 Nd8 12.c4 (Dia)


    12...Rb8 13.Nbc3 f5 14.f3 0–0 15.Qd2 Nf7 16.a4 h6 17.a5 g5 18.axb6 axb6 19.Ra6 += Fuller-Franklin, Brighton 1980.

    13.Nbc3 Bh3 14.Bxh3 Qxh3 15.a4 f5 16.Bg5 f4

    Black is untitled and not quite in Smyslov's league but a strong player who uses the tactical resources available to fight the grand old man.

    17.f3 fxg3 18.hxg3 (Dia)

    18...Bh6 19.Qd2 Bxg5 20.Qxg5 Rf7 21.a5 Ne6 22.Qg4

    You could be forgiven for assuming that this queen exchange is an admission and expect the g-pawns will be a weakness in the endgame. However, as will soon be evident, the doubled pawns can not be attacked, they neutralize Black's kingside pawns, cover some useful squares, and the extra open file proves quite useful.

    23...Qxg4 23.fxg4 Rxf1+ 24.Kxf1 Nc7 25.Kg2 (Dia)

    This creates a new weakness and simplifies White's task. After 25...Nc8 26.Nd5 Nxd5 27.exd5, White's advantage is also huge, and he can combine play in the a-file with ideas of a5-a6, completely immobilizing a knight on c8.
    26.Nd5 Ncxd5 27.exd5 bxa5 28.Rxa5

    White is now clearly better - maybe even winning as Black has no counterplay.


    This probably is Black's best try, weakening c4 and taking away the e4-square from White's pieces. An example of more passive defence would be 28...Nc8 29.Nc3 Rb8 30.Na4 h6 31.Ra6 Kf8 32.Rc6 Ke8 33.Rc7 and Black is helpless.

    29.dxe4 Nc8 30.Ra6 Nb6 (Dia)


    In a sense this is the counterpart of Black's 28th move, weakening c5 and gaining access to e4 again.

    31...dxe5 32.Kf3 Nxc4 33.Ke4 Rd8 34.Nc3 Rd7 35.Rc6 Kg7 36.Rxc5 Nd6+ 37.Kxe5

    White is a healthy pawn up and has the more active pieces.

    37...Kf7 38.Ne4 Nxe4 39.Kxe4 Re7+

    39...Ke7 40.Ke5 is not better.

    40.Kf5 1–0

    I am not sure whether Black lost on time or resigned in view of lines like 40...h6 41.d6 Re1 42.Rc7+ Ke8 43.Rxa7 Rb1 44.b6! Rxb6 45.Ke6 Rb8 46.Rh7.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Killer Sample Available

    A pdf sample from 'A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire' is now available.

    It's just a few pages - the Table of Contents and two games featuring the Barry Attack. The first game is Hebden - Nunn, Hastings 1996/7, which gave White's opening system a lot of publicity and then it's Brousek - Rivest, corr. 2003 which is a more recent attempt to keep White's initiative alive.

    Table of Contents

    Symbols 4
    Introduction to the First Edition 5
    Updater’s Notes 6
    1 Barry Attack 9
    2 150 Attack 43
    3 Colle-Zukertort System 68
    4 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3: Beating the Anti-Colle Systems 92
    5 Classical Queen’s Indian 121
    6 Anti-Benoni 137
    7 Anti-Dutch 2 Bg5 167
    8 Odds and Ends 186
    Index of Variations 191

    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Book of the Year Update


    'Win with the Stonewall Dutch' was indeed shortlisted to ChessPublishing's Book of the Year contest.

    Both the two other finalists are from Quality Chess:


    Marin's Grandmaster Repertoire: The English Opening. Since the first voting session, Quality Chess has announced that this series will become a trilogy (not two volumes as originally announced).


    Schandorff's Playing the Queen's Gambit.


    Surprisingly there have been considerably fewer votes in this final voting session than in the preliminary one (only 50 when I write this entry). Maybe those who voted for books that are now eliminated are not voting in this session (one very good reason would be not having read those left). In that case the final result may be very close to the preliminary one.

    What is clear, is that with so few votes in total, every vote will count. The voting closes in a couple of days. So if you like 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch', and is a ChessPublishing member, please give it a vote (again)!

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Stonewall Review by Stephen Gordon

    Some time ago 3C's excellent book review section was taken over by IM (soon to be GM) Stephen Gordon. The immediate effect seemed to be a slowing down of the number of reviews but now there are ten new, mostly rather short reviews on offer. Gordon's reviews seem to be useful and he has demonstrated that he dares to warn if a book isn't suited for everyone.

    One of the books examined this time is "Win with the Stonewall Dutch" which is briefly but quite favorably reviewed. The conclusion is: "A book I could recommend to anyone looking to mix things up against 1.d4 players!".

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Identical Mates?

    When I recently co-authored a booklet on mating combinations, I included what I called a 'Mating Alphabet' with 29 frequently occuring mating themes (the Norwegian alphabet has 29 letters). One of my advisors asked me whether I had considered a more theoretical approach, taking the basic properties of each mate more into consideration. My answer was that, yes I did, and quickly decided that a more pragmatic approach probably would be more useful for our targeted audience. Let me illustrate my reasoning with a set of positions:

    Position 1

    Position 2

    Position 3

    I suppose that from a theoretical point of view, they are all three more or less identical. In practical play, however, I will claim that each of them has independent value, as they all occur in quite different kinds of positions.

    This, of course, doesn't imply that I find categorizing checkmating patterns an idle pastime without any practical value. On the contrary I find it a very interesting angle for further study and probably quite educating for an advanced student. As a matter of fact this may be a subject to which I will return in the near future.

    Sunday, January 31, 2010

    Opening Book of the Year Nomination

    At the Chesspublishing Forum there is now a pre-voting for their first 'Opening Book of the Year' contest where 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch' is among the nominated books. There are still some days before the voting closes. However, the voting seems to have slowed down and our book appears to have fair chances to be one of the three books to make it to the second round of voting. At the moment of writing it has collected 21 out of 131 votes and is in the second place after Marin's excellent 'The English Opening -Volume 1'.

    In my opinion such a contest makes a lot of sense as opening books very rarely win any of the yearly chess books awards. That's probably only to be expected as books in this category by nature are even more technical than other chess books, normally have a rather short shelf life, and probably most importantly: usually only are of interest to players employing the opening in question.

    There of course is no way to make such a voting contest entirely fair or even to completely avoid cheating, so it should be taken for what it is: entertainment. That being said, the Chesspublishing forum probably is the web's best chess discussion forum and the nominated books are all good, so we are sure to get a deserved winner.

    If you are a registered ChessPub member (or want to join) and like 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch', please give it a vote!

    Friday, January 29, 2010

    A Line with Personality

    For the time being one of the very few chess tournaments I play is the team tournament for companies in Oslo - 'Sjakkalliansen'. It's a relatively informal event but there are some GMs and IMs on the top boards. The games generally are of low quality as they are played on Wednesdays evenings after a full day's work and are unrated. However, sometimes I try to sit down and calculate variations in order not to completely lose touch with tournament chess. And sometimes the openings are interesting, hinting where I need to put in some work.

    This Wednesday I was reminded of an opening line I considered adopting myself some years ago.

    Sv.Johnsen-B.Byklum, Sjakkalliansen 2010

    1.d4 d6

    The Neo Old Indian.

    Probably 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 dxe5 4.Qxd8+ Kxd8 is the line in which I have scored best with Black lately.
    2...Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 (Dia)

    This is an interesting idea. I have never liked 3...g6 (the Pirc), and 3...c6 (the Czech) seems to be in theoretical trouble. I am not 100% satisfied with 3...a6 (which I have recently renamed 'the Lynx') or 3...Nbd7 (the Lion).

    4.Nf3 may be a more practical choice, but I am no longer well prepared for the Philidor mainlines.

    4...dxe5 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8 6.Bc4
    This must be best, developing a minor piece with a threat.


    This is the move that gives the line its personality. 6...Bb4 is a different story leading to positions where Black is quite close to equality:

    a) 7.Bd2 Ke7 8.a3 Bd6 9.Bg5 Be6 10.Nd5+ Bxd5 11.Bxd5 c6 12.Ba2 h6 (12...Rd8) 13.Bxf6+ Kxf6 14.0–0–0 Bc7 15.h4 += Smeets-Beliavsky, Amsterdam 2009.

    b) 7.Nf3 Nbd7 (7...Nc6 8.Bxf7 Nxe4 9.0–0 Ke7 10.Nxe4 Kxf7 11.c3 Be7 12.Bg5 += Beliavsky-Solak, Murska Sobota 2007) 8.Bxf7 Nxe4 9.a3 Bxc3+ 10.bxc3 Ke7 11.Bb3 Ndc5 12.Nxe5 Be6 13.Nf3 Nxc3 14.Be3 N5e4 15.0–0 c5 16.Rfe1 ½–½ Rublevsky-Radjabov, Almaty blitz 2008.

    7.Bxe6 fxe6 (Dia)

    This is the big idea. Black somewhat downgrades his pawn structure but the pawns are in a closed file and not easy to attack, and he gets some compensation:

    • The e-pawns cover important central squares (e5, e4, f4 and f5) and allows Black to concentrate on flank play.
    • The open d- and f-files enhance Black's grip on e4 and f4.
    • Black's king is relatively safe and useful in the centre.
    However, what's perhaps even more important in practical play is the fact that we have a somewhat unusual pawn structure with which Black is likely to have the more experience. Inexperienced players are quite likely to overestimate White's chances and may press too hard for an advantage which in reality is very small.

    8.f3 Bd6

    The main alternative 8...Bc5 9.Na4 Bd6 10.Be3 leads to a subtly different position. Probably the knight is better off on a4 than on c3:

    a) 10...b6 11.Nh3 Ke7 12.Nf2 c5 13.b3 Nc6 14.Nd3 Nb4 15.Kd2 h6 16.Nab2 Nc6 17.Nc4 Bc7 18.c3 += Gomez Esteban-Zvjaginsev, Terrassa 1996.
    b) 10...Nfd7 11.Nh3 Ke7 12.Nf2 Nc6 13.Nd3 Nb4 14.Nxb4 Bxb4+ 15.Ke2 b5 16.a3 Bd6 17.Nc3 a6 18.a4 += Vaisser-Epishin, Novosibirsk 1993.
    c) 10...Nbd7 11.0–0–0 Ke7 12.Nh3 b5 13.Nc3 Rhb8 14.Nf2 b4 15.Ne2 a5 unclear Gipslis-Moskalenko, Alushta 1993.

    9.Be3 a6

    It was only after this move I fully realized that Black plans to expand with ...b5 and ...c5 rather than with ...c6 and ...a5-a4 as he usually does in similar positions with the pawn on f6 rather than on e6. 


    I found this more flexible than immediately deciding where to develop my king's knight. However, transpositions are very likely:

    a) 10.Nge2 Ke7 11.0–0–0 Nc6 12.Rd2 ½–½ Aroshidze-Gelashvili, Sort 2007.
    b) 10.Nh3 Nc6 11.0–0–0 Ke7:
    b1) 12.Nf2 ½–½ Aroshidze-Gelashvili, Benasque 2007.
    b2) 12.Nb1 h6 13.Nd2 b5 14.c3 ½–½ V.Gurevich-Savchenko, Cappelle la Grande 1994.
    b3) 12.Ne2 b5 13.Nf2 Rhf8 14.Nd3 Nd7 15.Kb1 Na5 16.b3 Nb7 17.Rhf1 Rf7 18.Bg5+ Kf8 19.Bc1 Kg8 20.Bb2 ½–½ Mamedov-Ftacnik, Saint Vincent 2005.

    10...Ke7 11.Nh3
    11.Rd2 Nbd7 12.Nge2 Rhd8 13.Rhd1 Bc5 14.Rxd7+ Nxd7 15.Rxd7+ Rxd7 16.Bxc5+ Kf6 of Beliavsky-Fridman, Enschede 2005 seems unclear to me (but may have been crystal clear for Beliavsky).
    11...b5 12.Nf2 (Dia)


    This may not be a big mistake but it reduces Black's options on the kingside so he will no longer be able to generate much activity himself.

    After 12...Nbd7 13.Rd2 (13.Ne2!?) 13...Rhb8 (13...Nb6 14.b3 Rhb8 15.Kb2 Nfd7 16.Rhd1 h6 17.Ne2 Bb4 18.c3 Bd6 19.f4 exf4 20.Nxf4 += Nevostrujev-Zemerov, Novosibirsk 2002) some examples of play are:

    a) 14.Ne2 a5 15.Kb1 h6 16.Rhd1 a4 ½–½ Ovetchkin-Maletin, Nizhnij Tagil 2007.
    b) 14.Kd1 Nb6 15.Bxb6 Rxb6 16.Ke2 Nd7 17.Ncd1 Rbb8 18.Ne3 += S.Reppen-Markosian, Tromsoe 2007.
    c) 14.h4 Nb6 15.b3 Nbd7 16.Kb2 a5 17.a4 bxa4 18.Nxa4 Nb6 19.Nxb6 cxb6 20.Rhd1 +/- Karjakin-Kodinets, Internet blitz 2003.

    13.h4 Nc6 14.Nd3 Nd7 15.h5 Rhf8 16.Rh3 Rf7 17.Ne2

    After Black's 12th move g6 is a weakness, so I was considering f3-f4.

    17...Na5 18.Bf2

    I like this retreat. The bishop cannot stay in both the attractive diagonals (a7-g1 and h4-d8) but at least it can threaten to enter both.

    18...Raf8 19.c3 Nc6 20.Kc2 a5 21.b3 Ra8 22.Rg1 Raf8 23.Bh4+ Nf6 24.Bf2 (Dia)

    In reality this is a draw offer. It suited me well, as I was tired and my opponent was clearly higher rated than me. So speculating how to proceed playing for a win is mainly an academic exercize:

    a) Rybka initially likes 24.Rg3 (which was one of my ideas when playing 16.Rh3) but when I follow up Rybka's suggestions it doesn’t seem to lead anywhere.
    b) In the post mortem I suggested 24.g4 but I quickly got a position without potential. I wish I could remember the lines because now, in company with Rybka, 24...Kd7 25.g5 hxg5 26.Bxg5 seems moderately promising.
    c) My next post mortem suggestion was 24.Ra1 Ra8 and now 25.g4. This looks promising after 25...a4 26.b4 but 25...Kd7 26.a4 b4 must be OK for Black.

    24...Nd7 25.Bh4+ Nf6 26.Bf2 Nd7 27.Bh4+ ½–½

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Mating Combinations in Norwegian

    Title: Sjakk og matt

    Authors: Svetoslav Mihajlov and Sverre Johnsen
    Pages: 88
    Language: Norwegian
    Publishers: Self-published
    Pdf extract

    In a week or so the booklet 'Sjakk og matt' (Check and Mate) will be available in Norway. It is mainly a collections of mating combinations created by Svetoslav with some supporting prose (in Norwegian) by me. There is also a preface by GM Simen Agdestein, chess responsible in NTG - the Norwegian College of Elite Sport.

    The combinations are based on exercizes that Svetoslav created when he a year ago assisted as a chess coach during my chess club's tournaments for kids, (every Monday 18.00-20.00 in Bogstadveien 30 in Majorstuen, Oslo). One of the nice things with mating combinations is that there is no point discussing the solution - a mate is a mate and ends the game.

    I hope the book will be a useful addition to Norwegian chess literature which for obvious reasons is not very extensive.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Play the London System Announced

    Everyman Chess has now officially announced 'Play the London System' by Cyrus Lakdawala. It is scheduled for September 2010 in the US and October 2010 in Europe, but Everyman hasn't exactly stuck rigorously to their publishing scheme the last year. At 192 pages it will be be of similar size as our 2005 work.

    With this information I will take new contact with Gambit Publishing and suggest they publish an updated version of 'Win with the London System' early in 2011. There almost certainly will be an update but its extent is unclear (as is the timing).