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Ginger GM are excited to announce the long-awaited release of our new interactive course format with two new titles: Ultimate Attacking Guide - Volume 1 with IM Lawrence Trent and How to Win Chess Tournaments with GM Danny Gormally.

Take a look now, many of the videos and puzzles are available free on gingergm.com! There’s a huge introductory discount too.

What’s different about these courses?

If you purchase a course with the “streaming” option (free for the time being), you can log in to www.gingergm.com and:

Watch the videos online in your browser (no download required)

Play through the moves in our custom PGN viewer (no additional chess software required)

Solve the puzzles related to the videos you’ve just watched in our puzzles app

You may remember that a while ago we announced learn.gingergm.com - well, this is exactly what we had in mind, but instead of launching an entirely new website we’ve integrated the functionality into our existing website.

Ok, but can I still download the files?

Yes! You’re not obliged to take advantage of these new features. You can still download the videos and PGN files just like with any other Ginger GM product. Any puzzles will be provided as additional PGN files.

Ultimate Attacking Guide Volume 1 with IM Lawrence Trent

IM Lawrence Trent is a fine presenter and even better attacking player! In this 10 hour course, his first for Ginger GM you will learn:

  • Exactly how to attack!
  • The most important principles of attacking chess
  • Essential mating patterns
  • How to strike when the iron is hot
  • To reassess the value of attacking pieces
  • How to punish your opponent’s greediness
  • The importance of your piece’s teamwork
  • Important classical sacrifices for maximum advantage
  • Ways to lure your opponent’s King into the wilderness
  • Methods to attack the castled King

and much more. Lawrence has packed the course full of exciting games and combinations by some of the best attacking players of all-time.

How to Win Chess Tournaments with GM Danny Gormally

Our new courses would have been released much earlier, but we were waiting for GM Danny Gormally to win a tournament so we could optimise our marketing! [JOKE]

Finally, he’s just won the famous Hastings Tournament, and now he’s ready to share his secrets. In this ten hour course, Danny’s third product for Ginger GM, you will learn:

  • How to see one move further
  • The importance of understanding time
  • The value of imagination
  • Identifying your opponent’s plans and preventing them
  • -Killing your opponent’s threat stone dead
  • Sensing danger and snuffing out the attack
  • How to avoid playing passively
  • Psychological reasons for mistakes
  • How to combine calculation with intuition
  • How nerves can affect your intuition
  • Avoid losing the thread of the game
  • To check variations and see beyond the obvious

and much more, in Danny’s inimitable style.

We’ve put a lot of effort in to the new features, and we hope you enjoy them. Any feedback, good or bad, is welcome, just let us know what you think at sales@gingergm.com.

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The first ever raffle hosted by Hammersmith Chess Club in London and their affiliate 4NCL team Celtic Tigers is now live! With all monies raised going directly to towards the upkeep and continuation of Hammersmith Chess Club, only 150 tickets are available to all chess fans to win exclusive prizes.

You’ll have a 44% chance per ticket of winning one of the following £2000 worth of goodies, including DVDs from the GingerGM collection, a signed book by GingerGM DVD presenter GM Gawain Jones, one-on-one training sessions with top chess coaches, and more…

Prizes include:

  • 2 * 1 hour training sessions with Adam Taylor (200+ ECF)
  • 3 * 2-volume signed books from GM Gawain Jones
  • 4 * games analysed (from scoresheets) by WIM Sue Maroroa
  • GingerGM – 51 (yes, fifty-one!!) DVD’s to be won
  • 2 hour training session from Hammer’s Carsten Pedersen (197 ECF)
  • 2 hour training session from ECF Coach and Hammer, Tony Niccoli (188 ECF)
  • DGT 2010 digital clock worth £60
  • Kasparov Championship chess set, worth £50
  • My System Book, worth £10
  • Magnetic Wallet Set, worth £5
  • Kasparov International Master chess set, worth £24
  • Multiple Books from the Hammer Library

Tickets cost £10 or two for £15, but don’t delay, as 40% of tickets have already been sold to Hammersmith Chess Club members!

Contact Celtic Tiger team manager Chris Skulte at chrisskulte@gmail.com to purchase or see http://hammerchess.co.uk/2019/01/02/the-hammer-celtic-tigers-raffle/ for more details.

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How have computers influenced analysis? Over the last twenty, maybe even thirty years, there is little question that the single biggest influence on chess has been computers, in particular powerful chess engines. This has completely transformed the chess scene, so that post-mortems are almost a thing of the past, or seem irrelevant. Why bother to analyse with your equally weak flesh and blood opponent, when the machine waiting in your hotel room can give you the answers to the game in seconds?

In truth, there have been a number of ways that computers have transformed the game of chess, not least in opening preparation. But for this article I thought it would be an interesting experiment to compare some of the analysis from the past, with the computer analysis that we have access to now. Part of the inspiration for this article was scanning through an old book of mine, Jan Timman’s “The art of chess analysis.” It seemed to me that even without the computer, it was possible to identify some mistakes. Nevertheless, there is also some excellent analysis in there as well, that the computer often agrees with.

Let’s look at one game from that book. This was an important game as it was part of the 1974 match between Karpov and Korchnoi, and as Timman suggests in his analysis, there were plenty of other experts chipping in with their view on this game as well.

The very next game in the book is Timman’s own game with Boris Gulko. The position soon becomes very complex as Gulko feels obliged to sacrifice a piece. Unsuprisingly, the engine thrives in such positions, which rely heavily on calculation.

The dangers of over-depending on computers

While it seem that computers have no limitations in analysis, there is a danger in using them too much. Eventually, you can neglect your own brain. I went through a period some years ago when I got very lazy. Before every game in a tournament I would simply turn on the computer and think “what does the engine think here?” and didn’t do any analysis myself. Perhaps not surprisingly, my results weren’t great.

I think there needs to be a combination. It’s fine to check stuff with an engine, but you need to do your own analysis as well. One of the ways you can do your own analysis is to use training positions. This can be a useful tool, to sharpen your calculation. If you check out the books of Mark Dvoretsky, he has many training positions that he has tested on some of the strongest players in the world, who went through his training school. it was interesting to run these games through an engine as well, to check any holes in analysis, especially bearing in mind that these books were often written without any reference to a computer program.

Computers can also show us the key to a position

Let’s look at the following game that I played against Stockfish online. I’d like to say it was a “training game”, but in reality it was more like a “game I played because I was bored and had nothing else to do”. anyway, we reached the following position:

Why computer vs computer matches will never be popular.

I made the point on social media recently that the possibility exists that the top 10,000 chess games ever played, in terms of pure quality of chess ever, have been computer vs computer games. In fact you might even enlarge that, to the top million or above, so strong are engines now. I also made the point that in some sense it’s a little bit strange that such games don’t recieve greater attention from the wider chess public. Why are we bothering to look at games between 2700s, when there are games between 3500 players available?

And when you see some of the recent games of Alpha Zero, with some of the astonishing sacrificial play in it’s games against Stockfish, then you can’t even argue that this lack of attention is due to aesthetic reasons. Just as it’s inevitable that machines will eventually produce masterpieces of literature and art, the chess machines of today are already producing games that can be counted as great creative achievements.

Therefore the single reason why machine vs machine games aren’t as popular as human vs human ones is obvious. Machines don’t have a personality that we can identify with. They don’t make mistakes, they don’t get tired, they aren’t human like we are. They don’t grimace at the board like Nakamura, or tell us how they were winning at the press conference like Kramnik. There’s an emotion and feeling to chess matches that machines may never experience.

I was reminded of this a few days ago when I took part in the Harrogate congress. In the last round I played Alan Merry, and we were tied for the lead with 3.5/4. Although now I’ve slagged off computers, I’ll also put the other side of the argument. It was fascinating to go over the game afterwards with an engine, not just to understand what I missed, but to bury some misconceptions about the evaluation of the position, that I experienced during the game. For example I believed towards the end of the game that my opponent had a multitude of wins, but as we’ll see, although he missed a clear win at one point, it wasn’t quite as straightforward as I thought…

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Listen to a couple of radio interviews I did on the recently completed Carlsen - Caruana World Championship match. BBC Radio ScotlandLove Sport Radio]]>
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The British Rapidplay seems to be one of those events that are stalwarts of the British weekend chess calendar, particularly later in the year. You have the Edinburgh congress, Southend, Blackpool, Paignton, Scarborough and probably other events that I’ve failed to mention, that mentally you “pencil” in as tournaments you’d like to play in and try to win.

In the last few years I haven’t been playing that many of these sort of tournaments, and so this year I’ve been trying to make up for it. For me there’s nothing more frustrating than watching a tournament from the sidelines and knowing you could have won it, yet being powerless to do anything, because you blew the money you put away for that event on the 3.10 at Chepstow.

So I decided to travel to Ilkley, near Leeds, to play in the British Rapid Championships. It took place in the Craiglands Hotel, which was a pleasant, if slightly old-fashioned setting. The Open venue gave a view of the hotel grounds, and the whole thing brought to mind that hotel in The Shining, although probably every hotel I stay in reminds me of that hotel in The Shining. The chess was seemingly just as painful and bloody. In round two I blew a surely winning ending against Peter Shaw. I bounced back though very quickly when beating a strong junior player in round three.

Long Variations are Always Wrong!

The game that caused me most pain on the Saturday was against Sarakaukas. It ended in a draw, and after the game I went to a restuarant and started to play through variations in my head. The place was called the Moody Cow, to retain the bovine theme, as the tournament itself was played on Cowpasture Road. In the cafe itself to watch over my ruminations and make me feel guilty about my ribeye steak, a large picture of a cow loomed in my vision.

Is Weekend Chess Dying?

One thing I found disappointing about the tournament was that they reduced the prize fund after a few rounds. First prize was reduced from GBP 400 to GBP 375, second prize from GBP 250 to GBP 175, third prize was reduced as well and they got rid of the fourth prize altogether. Although the turn-out wasn’t great in the Open section it seems a reflection of the way it’s going now in weekend chess in this country, which seems to be slowly dying. Now the prizes are so low it’s difficult to justify even turning up. If I win GBP 375, well then with my over GBP 200 expenses, I’m barely making a profit. To make matters worse I didn’t even win the first prize anyway.

When I played the British Rapidplay about 15 years ago, the first prize was about GBP 700. So we can see that the prize fund has gone down considerably, and everything else has become more expensive. This is standard for most British weekenders. The Blackpool first prize has gone down, and the Edinburgh one is the same as it was twenty years ago. Paignton has gone down, as well. Obviously these tournaments don’t just exist to prop up professional players, but it is a shame as I cut my teeth in these events, and now it gets to the point where it becomes pointless even playing them. And if they become weaker year on year it’s a poor reflection on British chess.

One player who seems to still play a lot of these tournaments is Richard Bates. I faced him in round four in an interesting game.

Vertigo

On the morning of the Sunday (bear in mind that the British Rapidplay is played over 11 games and two rounds) I had a bad vertigo attack. Essentially the crystals in the inner ear become disturbed, and when I woke up in my bed and breakfast, it felt like I was on board a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic during a storm. I literally couldn’t get out of bed and felt so sick that I was very close to ringing up the organisers and withdrawing.

In the end I dragged myself in, to face not a great pairing at 9.30 in the morning however healthy you are feeling, against the wunderkind Yichen Han, who represents Netherlands but lives in the North East. This kid is only 11 but is already getting incredible results. I’d estimate his strength at around 2300 already. He made the right choice, went for the Najdorf and we reached the following position:

Kicking the Wall, After Being Kicked by the Wall

I’ve never been the best loser. And that tendency to get angry, if results don’t go my way. Even in the round two game, where I drew with Peter Shaw, the signs were there that I was close to losing control. I started swearing at the board. When I played Tim Wall in round ten, it seemed as if I had recovered - I was cruising along with 7.5/9.

Perhaps it was the pressure put on me by my co-leaders, Bates and Sarakauskus - I couldn’t shake them off. I also felt tired. I had three tough games already that day, and perhaps playing these marathon events is too tough for me now I’ve turned 40. Whatever the reasons, it all came crashing down against Tim Wall.

Calculation Kills

In the last round I was able to bounce back and win and salvage joint second place from a disappointment of a tournament. I would stop short of saying a disaster - I felt a lot of the players there were underrated and I still scored plus six. Against Tate it seemed like he missed a good opportunity. In a position where he should have gone for a concrete line, he played a safe move instead. Sometimes you have to seize the moment!

Thoughts on Carlsen - Caruana

My thoughts on the Carlsen - Caruana match are that this is surely the last time that we will see the 12 game format that the World Chess Championship final currently enjoys. As things stand the eventual winner is still unclear because as everyone will aware when they read these words, the 12 games in classical time controls were all drawn.

In a shared taxi to the 4NCL in Daventry, Hungarian grandmaster Tamas Fodor predicted that all 12 games of the classical section would be drawn. I thought he was joking at time - now he looks like a soothsayer. Clearly the players are very well matched, and very well prepared. And they play very accurately, they are both very young, so the chess is of a very high quality. Grischuk said in his commentary that in terms of least number of mistakes, it’s probably the highest quality match in chess history. So some draws can be expected.

I think the “perfect storm” of 12 draws, which is surely a horrendous advertisement for chess can only be explained by the fact that neither player felt the need to take huge risks. They only have 12 games - no time to recover from a loss. Just change the format to a longer one. 20 games should take care of this problem. Matthew Sadler did a very interesting analysis of the match using the Alpha Zero programme, that I watched last night on Youtube. One of the games from the match reached the following position. Here Alpha Zero suggested a very dangerous looking plan for Black:

One glimpse at the position can clearly show that Black has a very dangerous looking initiative. Perhaps if Magnus had found this idea, he would have won in normal time? Unfortunately we now have a situation where Caruana could become World Champion without not having won a game in classical time controls, during that match. In fact he can even become World Champion without winning a game in the play-offs, if he is so inclined to draw every game and then survive the armageddon game (assuming he gets Black in that game.)

If such a damning fact does not convince the people in charge to make serious changes to the format, then nothing will. I also feel that Carlsen has been disappointing in this match. He looks too nervous, and like in the Karjakin match he looks rather too desperate to win without showing anything really impressive over the board. If he were to lose the match now it has entered the play-offs I’m not sure it would be undeserved, because over the two matches, Carlsen-Karjakin and Carlsen-Caruana, could you really say he deserves to win both?

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With the upcoming world championship match due to take place in London very soon, I thought it was a good time to discuss who, if anyone, is likely to dethrone Carlsen over the next few years.

Clearly as he has first shot then the most likely candidate is Fabiano Caruana. If I had to describe Caruana’s style, then I would describe it as “relentless.” He has this ability to just keep going - to keep chipping away at the other guy, with relentless accuracy, engine-like chess that will inevitably induce a nervous collapse from the opponent sooner rather than later.

Leaving all the cliches behind for a moment (a difficult thing for a writer of my ilk to do, it must be said), what do I truly think of Caruana? What do YOU think of Caruana?

To be completely honest, there is nothing particularly memorable or interesting about Caruana’s chess. Not when you compare him to some of the great players from the past. Maybe I’m being harsh, but I feel that in fifty years time Carlsen’s games will be remembered, but Caruana’s won’t. Or maybe neither will be remembered. All swept away in the tide of cybernetic clones that appear in the meantime.

Perhaps I’m just a Carlsen fanboy, but if you think of his best games they seem quite memorable, even if a little bit boring - the long endgame grinds where he managed to win from seemingly unwinnable positions. Carlsen has that distinctive quality, which I feel that Caruana lacks.

Again, all this seems quite harsh, and again when you think of Caruana’s games, you think of this relentless accuracy, which reflects his work with the computer. Clearly he calculates very well, is extremely well prepared and is willing to take risks. He’s a bit of an all-rounder who can do everything well, which seems to be the fashion these days.

Gone are the lop-sided players of the past, who adhered to the “Big Claw” theory. The following game emphasises the influence of the computer. Caruana is willing to open up his king, not in any sense worried about any weaknesses that might have developed in his King’s position.

[Event "Norway Chess 6th"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2018.06.06"] [Round "8"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C01"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2822"] [Annotator "daniel"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2q1rk1/pp6/2npb2p/3p1pp1/3P4/2PB4/PPNQ1PPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 17"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2018.05.28"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [EventCategory "22"] [SourceDate "2018.06.13"] 17... f4 $1 {Typical of ana, who is very principled and will always try to play the best move in the position- Some players might have been concerned about opening up the b1-h7 diagonal- there's some obscure fear that a White queen might land on g6, for example. Caruana doesn't deal in obscure fears. Another feature of this move, as well as displaying the clear attacking intent of Black, is the fact that it limits the scope of White's pieces. White, given the opportunity, would surely have played f4 himself which would have rendered the Black pawn on f5 vulnerable to attack. It also takes away the e3 square from the White knight. All this reminds me of my experience of playing engines online, and how good they are at removing your counterplay and limiting your piece play. It truly is like the board game equivalent of bashing your head against a brick wall.} 18. Rae1 Qf6 19. f3 Rf7 20. Re2 Raf8 21. Ne1 Ne7 22. Bc2 a5 23. Bb3 Rg7 24. Qd3 Bd7 25. a4 Kh8 26. Qd2 h5 27. Nd3 Nf5 $1 28. Bxd5 ({Around abou t here White needs to think about how he is going to sacrifice the exchange, because he cannot tolerate a knight on e3 for very long.} 28. Rfe1 Ne3 29. Rxe3 fxe3 30. Rxe3 { might be a better version although even here I would prefer to be Black.} Re7 31. Rxe7 Qxe7 32. h4 $1 {with counterplay, for example.}) 28... Ne3 29. Rxe3 fxe3 30. Qxe3 Bxa4 31. Ra1 Re7 32. Qd2 Bb5 33. Rxa5 Bxd3 34. Qxd3 Re1+ 35. Kf2 Rfe8 {Black is now completely in control} 36. Ra8 Qf4 37. Rxe8+ Rxe8 38. Qd1 Qxh2 39. Qd2 Qh4+ 40. Kf1 Qh1+ 41. Kf2 Qh4+ 42. Kf1 Ra8 43. Ke2 Ra1 44. Kd3 b5 45. c4 bxc4+ 46. Kxc4 Qf4 47. Qe2 Qc1+ 48. Kb5 Qc8 49. Kb6 Qb8+ 50. Kc6 Rc1+ 0-1

The Iranian Matthew Sadler.

The chess world is a dynamic, ever changing place. New talents appear all the time. One player I hadn’t even heard of till about ten days ago was Parham Maghsoodloo, from Iran.

Parham is 18 and he won the World Junior Championships with a round to spare. There seemed something almost inevitable about his victory as soon as a youtube video emerged where Parham, when interviewed at an earlier tournament, claimed to be working up to twenty hours a day and at worst only ten hours a day (slacking?).

While I’m often sceptical about such pronoucements (where would you find the time to sleep?) and believe that sometimes such claims are made to intimidate the opposition, this one seemed to have the ring of truth. There’s no doubt looking at Parham’s games, given the depth of opening preparation, and his ability to find his way through the complications, that he’s working extremely hard on chess on a regular basis. It’s very hard to do these things purely on natural talent.

Chess has a history of rewarding the obsessional. Think back to the times of Bobby Fischer, who even with all his talent, at the end of his short-lived career simply outworked the opposition into submission. Perhaps that’s why his career was so short-lived; he may have suffered from burn-out. And whether working on chess for ten hours a day is in anyway more productive than working on chess for four hours a day, I don’t really know. What it will do is help your stamina. If you are prepared to sit at home for long periods studying chess then long gruelling games in tournaments are unlikely to hold any fear. That’s a big advantage over your opponent already. And I think that’s an advantage that Fischer used as well.

Personally speaking, if I spent at least ten hours a day studying chess, I’d be quite likely to go insane (some might argue I already am) and it’s also unlikely to help with developing any social skills. But if the ambition is there to reach the very top, then that kind of ability to work obsessionally hard is likely to give you an edge. From what I hear through the grapevine, even most of the top guys players don’t work that hard. They probably did at some point, then got on the Sinquefield Cup/Grand Chess Tour gravy train, and the hunger waned.

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Regular readers of these blogs have long since been bored with death (along with many other subjects that I’ve spoken about) with my talk about how “If only I could play more, my results would be much better.” Well, to some extent my argument has been borne out by my recent improved results. Starting with the last three rounds of the British Championships, when I finally felt I had begun to get into a better rhythm, I followed that up with winning two tournaments: the Jessie Gilbert Memorial at Coulsdon, and then the British Blitz qualifier at Newcastle.

Confidence I might define as the state where it becomes easier to make the correct decision than the wrong one. Certainly when you feel confident you realize you have more options, and in my view it’s difficult to get to that state unless you are fully match fit. Have a look at Tiger Woods this season as an example. On the PGA tour when he first came back, Tiger was pretty awful. But tournament on tournament he became stronger, to the extent that he came very close to winning one of the last two majors.

Another one of the advantages of playing a lot is that you can often use some of your analysis that you weren’t able to use in your previous tournaments almost straight away. Such was the case when I faced Conor Murphy at Coulsdon.

Will anyone ever replace Adams?

John Saunders made an interesting point in the latest copy of chess magazine that in some ways (although certainly not from Mickey’s perspective) it’s perhaps somewhat disappointing that Michael Adams is still the dominant figure in British chess and that no-one has been able to “knock him off his pedestal” as Fergie would put it, with more colourful language added.

It’s certainly true that while the likes of Howell, Jones and McShane have edged closer in recent years and can certainly be expected to supplant him over the next ten, they haven’t quite achieved the level of international success that he was able to. It’s hard to hit the very top, and it’s not getting easier - the standard in the World Junior Championships which is taking place at the moment is utterly ridiculous - there are so many good young players now. The top seed is a guy from Iran, who apparently does about 20 hours on chess a day, which easily eclipses my 20 minutes a month.

Unless you are prepared to work extremely hard, or are uniquely talented (a la Carlsen), you are probably not going to reach the very summit of the game. Which is one of the reasons why we now produce good, but not great juniors. 16 year old Borna Derakhshani came closest to achieving an IM norm in Coulsdon. One of his victims was the unfortunate Chernaiev, who fell foul of some deadly tactical ideas.

Stuck in time

When I arrived in Coulsdon it was like the last fifteen or twenty years had never happened. I first went down to that area in the late 1990s. Myself, John Naylor and a few others started to play for the team that the head of the Coulsdon Chess Fellowship, Howard Curtis, had put together. Howard was subsequently disgraced for events connected to the church, a sad episode. But most of Coulsdon hasn’t changed much. Sure, the cozy old pub, the Red Lion, that we used to hang out after matches has gone, as has so many similiar social hide-outs in England now.

The majority of Coulsdon though,seems stuck almost in time, perhaps because a large proportion of the population commute into London - it being part of the Surrey stockbroker belt, and don’t feel particularly inclined to reinvest in the local economy. Although commuting to London every day would completely exhaust me, playing chess is surprisingly tiring as well. And the problem with Coulsdon is that we had to play two games a day, which at my age is really too much.

It was only at the very end of the event that it hit me how tired I was. When I played Ali Hill in round six, I still felt fresh but one my weaknesses came to the fore, the inability to demonstrate patience. I went on the attack too early in the game, when White had done nothing wrong, and in some ways I was lucky to escape to an equal ending. And then things went wrong again, and when we reached the diagram position Black was very much in trouble.

the-lazy-najdorf improve-your-practical-play Cherniaev

Alexander Cherniaev is an interesting character. He comes across as being quite passionate about chess - sometimes too passionate, and like the guy who he used to work for, Anatoly Karpov, he loves to analyse. Sometimes this intensity can be a bit too much, like immediately before the game you don’t always want to be discussing intently a game that occurred several rounds ago - you want to be thinking about the matter in hand.

Still I like the guy - you need these passionate people in life, people who think deeply about chess, especially in this day and age when the obsession is what does the engine think about the position. If I had the money I’d hire him as a trainer because his knowledge of chess openings is very impressive. Although his result in Coulsdon was really dismal, and because of this he’s one of an ever-growing army of ageing chess pros to dip below 2400 (no doubt I’ll soon be joining the list).

He failed to win a game, and I think this was partly due to two factors, one of which was the fact he had to commute. I find it slightly sad in this day and age that the organisers could not find it possible to put up a Grandmaster in an IM norm event, so Alex had to commute from London. In fairness to Scott Freeman who was the main organiser, and who was kind enough to put me up in his house, he admitted he was running the event at a loss. The other factor in Alex’s bad result was no doubt the fact that he had to face so many underrated juniors. One of these was Conor Murphy, who bounced back immediately after his loss.

The wedding of the year

In the last round I took a quick draw against Gavin Wall and left for a lengthy journey to the Isle of Wight, where I was attending the wedding of Gary O’Grady to Marina, a Russian girl he met through work. It was rather surprising when I got to Southampton and got on the ferry to the Isle of Wight how short the journey was - only 15 minutes. Even better, the hotel was right next to the ferry terminal in West Cowes. Some of the other Grandmasters attending the wedding weren’t so lucky. Keith Arkell and Mark Hebden managed to take the slow ferry to East Cowes, because they assumed that was the only ferry terminal in the Isle of Wight. The only reason I managed to take the right boat was because when I was in email correspondence with Gary, he said take the fast boat. Mentally I patted myself on the back for making the right decision, as normally it’s the other way around.

https://d1mk9xp14s9l6x.cloudfront.net/blog/img2607-2.jpg Danny entertaining the kids at Gary's wedding

The wedding itself took part in the serene surroundings of Osborne House, which famously is the old residence of Queen Victoria in her later years. That can’t have come cheap at all to hire as a wedding venue, I thought. Gary in general is a very nice bloke, not just because he splashes out money on chess players which he doesn’t have to do, he’s just a nice guy in general. In chess you need these benefactors really, people who are aware that the money in chess is rubbish, and that us poor grandmasters need some help. Of course after the wedding everyone got completely smashed, and the usual sentimental platitudes came out.

Perhaps the most amusing incident of the whole weekend was when Simon Williams and Blair Connell got stuck in a local pub, and hitched a ride with two jet skiers - not your conventional way of getting to the reception, I’m sure you’d agree.

The next tournament I took part in was the British Blitz championship qualifer, which took part in Newcastle. There were eight qualifiers which took part in different locations up and down the country, and obviously by far the nearest one for me to get to was Newcastle. I was top seed and the two biggest rivals on paper were David Eggleston and James Adair, and it didn’t take me long to be paired with one of them.

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How we use our queen is often taken for granted because it’s such a powerful piece. In this article I want to look at games where the queen played a crucial role.

The following game is a real classic.

White’s defence seems to be overloaded almost to breaking point so the question is how to break through? The attacking genius Leonid Stein found a very elegant solution:

Now you know the theme, finding the right idea in the following position should be a matter of course:

An extremely beautiful final touch, but really the queen did all the “heavy work”.

Successful use of the queen in the middlegame is often about using your imagination, and also asking yourself “How can my queen be best deployed?” There comes a point in the game where you need to decide what to do with the queen. It’s often best in the centre, but of course that option isn’t always available to us. Never mind, because the queen can be a powerful attacking force from the side as well…

Queen in the Centre

Where the queen really comes into it’s own is the centre of the board of course, where it can command it’s power over the entire landscape. I’ve played a lot of blitz chess with Charlie Storey over the years, and one of the things he said he picked up from our sessions was how often I placed my queen in the middle of the board when I got the chance; before he had underestimated what an important factor this was.

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In this series, which will hopefully form the backbone of a future video series, I’m going to focusing on middlegame ideas and concepts which turn up on a regular basis.

Editor’s note: Danny’s new video series has been recorded and will be available soon exclusively for Ginger GM.

And not just strategical concepts either, but also more psychological ones, like what to do in certain situations when you’re under pressure, for example. In this first part we’re going to be focusing on mastery of knight play in the middlegame.

Knights in the Center Part 1 - Fragile Knights

In my last article we looked at my game against Stephen Gordon, where in the early middlegame I seemed to lose my way quite quickly. So let’s return to the critical position.

Careful use of the knights can gain the initiative. One player who perhaps understands dynamic play as well or better than any chess player in history is Vishy Anand. Perhaps then it’s unsurprising that in an early game Anand demonstrated his mastery of the use of knights in the center:

improve-your-practical-play Knight Exploiting Weak Squares

Knights can be very powerful attacking pieces due to their ability to exploit weak squares in the opponent’s territory. A classic example is the following Kasparov game:

In the next game, played at the recent 4NCL, Black also exploited this theme of a knight reaching the powerful square of d3 to win in comfortable fashion.

Knights Exploiting Unguarded Squares

The ability of knights to dictate the play is often related to time - for example if a player lacks the time to defend weak squares, or mobilise his own knights, which is exactly what happened in the next game.

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