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If Black wants to play for a win he has two general directions to choose from: he can try to equalize first and then outplay his opponent, or he can try to wrestle the initiative from White from the get-go.
I would like to discuss the second option as it is often the preferred one in all-or-nothing situations (though this does not mean that it will give more chances!).
Before looking at the concrete lines that characterize the immediate crisis-provoking strategy, I would like to note that the Sicilian is the best of both worlds. It is theoretically sound enough and it also introduces dynamism from the start. My own preference lies with the Najdorf and modern practice confirms this view.
The only problem with the Najdorf is obviously the line 3 Bb5+ and a few other sidelines, but these can be dealt with. Additionally, Magnus Carlsen’s choice of the Sveshnikov Sicilian (and the results he is having in it and its sidelines) show that this is another very good option to play for a win with Black.
In this post, I would like to take a look at other, less common and strategically riskier options that Black has at his disposal and may contemplate.
Black’s Secret Weapon #1: Alekhine Defence
Position after 1 e4 Nf6 2 e5 Nd5 3 d4 d6 with 4 Nf3
The first one is the Alekhine Defence (1 e4 Nf6).
This defense used to be considered quite acceptable (even Fischer played it twice in a World Championship match!) but the modern practice has shown that the knight on b6 is indeed a liability for Black.
It is the main line after 1 e4 Nf6 2 e5 Nd5 3 d4 d6 with 4 Nf3 that poses the most problems, but here I noticed a rare idea that may give Black practical chances.
The other popular line 4 c4 Nb6 5 ed can be dealt with both 5…ed and 5…cd, depending on taste; only bear in mind that after 5…cd 6 Nc3 g6 7 Be3 Bg7 8 Rc1 0-0 9 b3 you should go for either 9…e5 and be well-prepared for the endgame after 10 de de 11 Qd8 Rd8 (the endgame offers good chances as it is quite complex) while 9…Bf5 may be an alternative for those who prefer not to exchange queens early on.
After 4 Nf3 the interesting idea I mentioned is 4…Nc6. This was played by Nakamura in online blitz chess, so while probably not entirely sound, it can serve as a good surprise weapon against an unprepared opponent.
After the critical 5 c4 Nb6 6 e6 (6 ed ed transposes to the line 4 c4 Nb6 5 ed ed) fe 7 Nc3 (or 7 Be3) e5 8 d5 Nd4 Black has good chances to obtain a dynamic position.
Black’s Secret Weapon #2: Pirc/Modern
Position after 1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nf3 d6 4 Bc4
The second idea is the Pirc/Modern mix.
These positions give great flexibility to Black because as early as move 1 he can vary his choice, starting with 1…g6 or 1…d6. This can also be handy against 1 d4 though in that case other transpositions after 2 c4 should be considered, while the King’s Indian Defence remains a valid option. The only thing Black must be aware about the move-order is to perhaps try to avoid the system recently used by Carlsen, namely: 1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nf3 d6 4 Bc4 and if 4…Nf6 then 5 Qe2, keeping the option to play c3 and Nbd2. This system has proven to be very tough for Black.
To make it more problematic, there is only one way to avoid it and that is playing the Pirc directly by 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6, forcing 3 Nc3. In recent practice White’s most critical set-ups against both the Modern and the Pirc have been the aggressive Austrian Attack (when White plays f4) and the systems with Be3 and then either f3 or Nf3, depending on Black’s set-up. There is quite a lot of theory involved in these lines, but the dynamism in Black’s position remains and if he survives the opening in decent shape he has good chances to take over the initiative later on. Needless to say, Black is obliged to study the theory in these lines closely as otherwise he may be blown off the board.
Black’s Secret Weapon #3: King’s Indian
Position after 1 d4 g6 2 c4 Bg7 3 e4
Against 1 d4 the most dynamic options are those involving the fianchetto of the dark-squared bishop and avoiding initial central confrontation. Unfortunately, the Benko Gambit and the Benoni can easily be defused if White plays Nf3 instead of d5 or even 2 Nf3.
While I do not believe very much in Black’s chances in the Modern when White plays with a full center (1 d4 g6 2 c4 Bg7 3 e4), I think the King’s Indian Defence is the best choice of what remains, even though the King’s Indian has its own problems.
(For example the Exchange Variation after 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 0-0 6 Be2 e5 7 de – this one can be avoided by 6…Na6 or 6…Nbd7, but then there is no Mar del Plata and attack on White’s king.)
Still, we are looking for dynamism and we are not afraid of problems, right?
Black’s Secret Weapon #4: Dutch Defence
Position after 1 d4 f5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 g6
Another option to play dynamically against 1 d4 is the Dutch Defence after 1…f5 a then experienced players tend to prefer the Leningrad Variation (after 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 g6) rather than the Stonewall ( 3…e6 followed by …d5) or the Classical (3…e6 followed by …d6 and then either …Be7 or …Bb4) when looking for early imbalance.
Quite characteristically, the Leningrad Dutch was Nakamura’s choice in the last round of the 2019 US Championship when he was in a must-win situation against the young and very talented Jeffery Xiong. Nakamura won an exemplary game.
The other first moves like 1 c4 or 1 Nf3 are less problematic as then Black’s preferred set-up is not directly challenged in the center and he can achieve it without problems, for example, there would be no threat of an Exchange Variation in the King’s Indian.
As you can see, it is not easy to stir up trouble early on with Black. I hope these ideas provide some inspiration when you need it.
A game of chess goes through many phases and changes. Every strategic game must be complemented by the good tactical vision. Every good attacking player needs to have good positional skills.
It doesn’t matter how great a positional player one is if tactical opportunities are missed. Just the same, there are many good attacking players who commit basic mistakes when it comes to playing a quiet, positional game.
In order to become a strong and complete player, one must incorporate all types of positions in his training routine and give special attention to the parts that he likes to train less (for example, strategy), as here is where the voids usually are.
But these are not the only changes that happen during a game.
Secret 1: The pawn structure
Beside constant or occasional switches between positional and tactical play, another element that rarely stays the same throughout the whole game is the pawn structure. Here we must underline the importance of studying in depth the most common positional motifs and types of structure.
Secret 2: Weaknesses
There are many complex structures (often seen over the board, too), such as the isolated pawn or the hanging pawns, that are many times misunderstood. They are known as weaknesses, hence something bad that shouldn’t happen in our games. However, things are different with some structures and they can prove dangerous and sometimes pleasant to play with. It all depends on the piece coordination and the situation on the board.
Secret 3: Small advantages
Another point to remember during the game is that small advantages can and should be switched for something better for us or for a bigger one. Most of the times, if a player has a small positional advantage he will try to hang on to it and eventually convert it and win the game.
Secret 4: Trading advantages
While this can sometimes be done, we should always be on the look for trading our advantage for a bigger one or one that’s easier to convert. For example, the bishop pair is an important advantage, but sometimes not enough to penetrate the opponent’s defense and win the game. We should always keep open the option of trading one of the bishops for a better/ winning endgame, for example.
In continuation, let’s see some examples of such changes in practice.
The following position appeared on the board shortly after the opening was over:
Sgircea, R – Astengo, C, Dolomiti Open 2019
White to play
White’s plan is to have the d4 square well under control and then execute favorable exchanges in order to obtain a better endgame where the isolated pawn will be a weakness. In return, black will try to avoid trades and make use of the central squares that the pawn controls. In our position, the immediate threat is …Ne5 followed by …Ne4, after which Black’s position is probably preferable.
To stop this, the idea of trading the knight on c6 suddenly springs in mind. If black recaptures with the bishop, then white can continue increasing the pressure on d5 and improve the pieces.
The critical line is …bxc6, which means giving up playing against the isolated pawn and transitioning into a position with backward pawn/ hanging pawns. If black will manage to get his pawn to c5, then he will probably be just fine, but the pressure over the d5 pawn and white’s following idea make this impossible.
Can you find it?
Sgircea, R – Soto, M, Dolomiti Open 2019
White to play
In the second diagram, we have an endgame where white has the bishop pair, but it seems that black is still holding. With my last move, f4-f5, I was trying to create a second front of attack on the kingside.
However, it doesn’t look easy to break black’s defenses, so I decided to give up one of my bishops in order to obtain a winning endgame.
Most of chess training routines are oriented to develop and a player’s skills at typical scenarios that can appear on the chess board during tournaments.
That includes tactical training which develops intuition and combinative vision, calculation, positional play, endgame play etc., the list is large. In addition to this common training system, we add a player’s homework towards learning the opening phase.
A great amount of hours is invested into studying everything that has been played before, what can be played and accumulating data that will be useful in general to guarantee at least a comfortable position out of the opening, not also over the board but on the clock too. Although all this is totally fine, one small inconvenience that comes with training through the well-known patterns is that a player can become too dependent on the plan that he has previously designed.
Therefore, he might be unable to explore new and promising paths that can happen over the board simply because he has not seen them before, a phenomenon that is growing more and more, as there are now more players who follow “established theory”.
Here is a big secret that 99% of chess players overlook…
While one does not have to be original like Morozevich or Rapport, having an attitude of being open to improvisation and the unexplored paths over the board can be a good thing.
These decisions are particularly difficult to make at the chessboard for two main reasons:
the first one is simple: “You don’t have to”. If you have an option, then it easier to look the other way and go on with the game. Why make a committal decision and go into the unknown?
The second reason is also easy to understand: You have no guarantee except your own judgment. We are talking of decisions that you make at the board when the opportunity shows. No engine previously gave a +0.54 so you “know” that it’s fine.
Learning to improvise
If I have to mention two players who are great examples of improvising at the board, one would be Boris Gelfand and the other one Vassily Ivanchuk.
The first one will always choose a critical path, even if a quieter option is available. About Ivanchuk there is not much else to say, he is a player whose imagination knows no limits. One element that both players have in common is that neither holds back when it comes to taking risks.
One of the games that had an impact on me was Gelfand against another great player, Arthur Jussupow played in Munich 1992. In a classical Bogo Indian Defense, after 12 moves the players arrived in this position:
Gelfand – Jussupow
White to Play
White has an un-disputable advantage.
Actually, it is one of those positions where every reasonable move is OK.
Let’s quickly evaluate the position:
Black has poor coordination; the knight on a7 is temporally misplaced, he wants to play c5 on the next move, which will bring some relief to his position.
Gelfand could have continued with many moves here, castling makes sense and it is the top choice among my students. However, he sees a way to take over the initiative and does not hesitate to play 13.g4!
It turns out that the “hook” on g5 will allow white to open up the H-file causing immense problems for black. Jussupow could not defend and a few moves later his position was unplayable.
You can see the full game here:
Nowadays a move like 13.g4 is a well-known pattern and easy to recognize. What impresses me most is that white had more than one choice, safer, and leading to a better position. However, with his move, Gelfand created even greater problems for black by exploiting the lack of coordination and the rupture point created by the pawn on h6.
It is this kind of ability what one should remember; the lack of certainty at the board cannot be an obstacle when your judgment sees a promising opportunity.
We hope you enjoyed this article and as usual, feel free to share your thoughts with us.
This course is dedicated to one of the most popular openings played on all levels – The Ruy Lopez or as many people know it the Spanish game.
Here is how this opening starts: 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5
Position after 3. Bb5
A bit of history
Ruy Lopez was named after the Spanish priest from the 16th century. He conducted a systematical study on this opening and published a 150-page book on this very opening.
However, if we want to be even more precise the Ruy Lopez opening was mentioned in one of the German Chess Magazines dated back to 1490!
In the beginning, Ruy Lopez was not very popular, because the majority of players trusted the Italian game or the King’s Gambit and didn’t want to change their habits. Only in the 19th century, Carl Jaenisch reinvented and popularized this opening – making it a blockbuster.
Now let’s take a quick dive into the meat and potatoes of the Ruy Lopez.
What’s the idea after move 3. Bb5?
Taking on c6 is not a real threat because Black’s queen can easily recapture the material. That’s the reason why black usually continues with …a6. It is the most popular move and was introduced by Paul Morphy.
You may be asking what’s the point of the move 3. Bb5 if there is no “real” threat and Black can continue as they will?
It is still a good move.
First of all, we’re developing the bishop to an active square and preparing to castle. And even though we cannot win the pawn immediately, that pin will turn out to be unpleasant for black in later stages of the game.
And finally, white can decide to trade his bishop for a knight on c6 and spoil black’s pawn structure. Those double pawns will be favorable in the endgame.
As you can see the 3. Bb5 has many ideas and many continuations. This is what this course is all about. We will look at all reasonable lines and variations one-by-one, to make sure you are armed with a powerful most up to date weapon.
First, we will explore the move …d6 as was played by Wilhelm Steinitz.
Why focus on an opening that may give you a quick win once every twenty games when the Ruy Lopez will give you the skills to win every time?
GM Marian Petrov has just released The Complete Ruy Lopez, a 10-hour training program that explains the ideas behind every major variation, backing them up with model games played by World Champions from Steinitz to Carlsen.
The structure we are going to talk about in this lesson is, in fact, a form of hanging pawns.
From a strategic point of view, it represents a weakness for the side having it.
However, it can be successfully used in combination with a dynamic play.
There are a few typical plans and ideas in this type of structure.
For easiness, we are going to consider white as the side having the c3+d4 structure, but the plans are of course the same if the colors are reversed:
White should play dynamically in the center and king-side. The light-squared bishop is usually developed to d3, while the queen goes to e2, ready to create threats against the black king;
One advantage of the hanging pawns is their mobility. In our case, white can try to play c3-c4, followed by the rupture d4-d5. Here, he can develop the dark-squared bishop to b2, so that when c4 and d5 is achieved, white gets even greater pressure on the kingside;
Another idea white has is to advance a4 and a5. This way he gets rid of the weakness on a2 and fights for the initiative on the queenside;
Black’s plan, on the other hand, is to fix the pawns on c3 and d4, so he can afterward attack and eventually win them. He can do this with his light-squared bishop, after playing b5, Qc7 and Bd5 followed by Bc4, Rd8-Rd5 or with his knight. In this case, the plan is to play b5, Qc7, Rd8 and bring the f6 knight to c6 via e8-d6.
In the following example, we can see how white combines some of the above-mentioned plans. He starts by pushing a4, forcing black to always keep an eye on the possibility of a5, then continues with an attack against the king.
Black defended well and could have kept the balance, but a couple of mistakes led to white’s win. Note in this game the typical set-up for both sides: Bd3, Bd2, Qe2 and Rfe1 for white and Qc7, Rac8, Rfe8 followed by Bd5 for black.
Chess is a complex game that takes a lot of time and dedication. We all know that improvement does not come overnight and, to make things even better, it is not so easy to measure it either in chess. You need to play many tournaments and, even after a long period of training, things may go wrong due to other factors that are not chess-related.
There is a constant psychological battle and this is something that spectators don’t see and understand and it takes a lot of time even for us, as chess players, to understand how we work and improve our mindset.
As an adult, things are easier to understand and experience helps us a lot in this sense, but how to explain all this to a kid?
In this article, we are going to focus on the young ones and the role and influence the parents have in their chess journey.
So, how can the parents help their little chess players improve and deal with the difficult moments in tournaments or simply in general?
Here are some thoughts:
1. Moral support
Parents are a kid’s greatest support, from all points of view. But psychologically, parents are the ones who influence most of their kids’ morale.
They are the ones who can boost their self-confidence and help them get into the right state of mind before the game. Kids who choose chess over other sports do so because they like it, so it is important to allow them to enjoy the game. It’s important to not put a lot of pressure on them; winning a game isn’t everything and they shouldn’t be devastated when they lose one.
It’s part of the game and of the learning process.
2. Deal with Losses
Losses are difficult for every chess player, but for kids, they can have an even bigger impact, to the point they can say they don’t want to play chess anymore.
Parents are the ones who can help them the most in this part; they are the ones who the kids trust the most and whose opinion is the most important. You can’t win every game and this is something parents can help them understand.
It’s okay to lose a game, as long as they’ve given their best in every game. They are not their result and they should never identify with a failure – a bad tournament can be just that and there’s nothing hard work cannot make better.
3. Unless the parent is also his kid’s coach, his influence can be summed up as moral and financial support for the young player
This is a delicate issue, but the chess part should be completely handed over to the coach, once you have found a good and trust-worthy trainer. It often happens that parents who don’t know chess or know just a little, at the amateur level, try to learn a few things from their kids’ training sessions as well.
They hear advice that the coach gives or mistakes he underlines in the games they played. After a while, they start repeating those things to the kids themselves or pointing out mistakes, especially after a lost game.
This is not beneficial for the kids and most of the times, instead of helping them, it only makes things worse. They can become saturated with chess in general or start losing faith, either in their coach and his training method or in their parent.
We know that being a chess parent is not easy, there is a lot of stress to take and most of the times many hours of waiting in front of the playing hall without knowing how things are going.
Even so, we believe that a parent is the biggest moral support a kid can have and the right path to good results in chess can be found only with the right collaboration between parents and the coach.
If there is a player that everyone likes that has to be Viswanathan Anand or the way we all know him, “Vishy” the Tiger from Madras. Vishy has been in the selected group of elite players for decades, winning tournaments and leaving behind a thread of great games for chess history.
In recent years people have adventured to announce a certain decline in his play, but he keeps proving them wrong time after time.
I think with time and seeing the wonders players like MVL, Carlsen or Nakamura (to name a few of the younger stars) are doing, one can only admire Vishy’s chess career and how he has managed to keep standing among the best players even more. Anand’s playing style has always been characterized as universal. He is the kind of player who can play well in all types of positions.
Most of his games are simple to understand for the aficionados. His classical approach in his choice of openings does not limit him from having a top-notch preparation that has scored massively for him on many occasions.
However, if there is something Anand exceeds at, this is the calculation. For years, his fast calculation skills were the main factor to turn the tables in his favor. In this article, we are going to pay tribute to the wonderful Anand by remembering some of his best moves.
We recommend you take the following positions and think before checking the answer.
Anand, V – Karpov, A Las Palmas 1996
White to Play
Experienced players and coaches may recognize this position. Black has just played 20…Bb7-Ba6 offering the d5 pawn in order to complete his development after 21.Rxd5 Nc6 with a worse, but playable game.
However, here Anand found a route to win the game, can you spot the complete sequence?
See the answer here:
Anand, V – Topalov, V Wijk aan Zee 1998
White To Play
White’s position looks so much better and easier to play. However, it is time to make decisions and capitalize on a tangible advantage.
Can you see with what sequence Anand managed to kill all hopes for black in this position?
See the answer here:
Anand, V –Nisipeanu, L Bundesliga 2004
White To Play
Black has just played 21…Qc8 hitting on the knight on f5 and putting some pressure along the C file. Black was probably not aware that the end could be so close.
Find the winning blow for white!
See the answer here:
Anand, V – Timman, J Wijk ann Zee 2004
White To Play
After a well-carried attack in a Sicilian defense, Anand has reached a position where everything seems to be in white’s favor. However, one must be precise until the end.
Can you see with what sequence Anand took the victory?
See the answer here:
Anand, V – Adams, M San Luis 2005
White To Play
One of the best-attacking games Anand ever played. After introducing a stunning novelty in a well-known line of the Spanish opening, white reached this position that looks like a complete mess. Black has some hopes to survive due to his extra rook and seemingly active position. Nevertheless, according to sources, this was all part of amazing home preparation and Anand only spent a few minutes finding the next move to win the game brilliantly.
White to play and crush! See the answer here:
We hope you enjoyed reading and going through the positions in this small article on Anand’s attacking play. Whether you are a coach or an amateur wanting to improve, we sincerely hope the material above serves you for instructive purposes.
Thanks for reading and feel free to share this article.
Chess players are usually highly interesting people.
Chess stands somewhere between art, sports, and science, universes where a chess player can drift away from the real world for as long as he wants. The chess world is full of unique stories. Every player has hundreds of anecdotes with things that have happened during tournament trips, chess training, games, foreign countries, etc.
It is no wonder they say that chess players are very ‘’special people’’, characters. However, there is one thing that most chess players do have in common, nobody likes to lose and when they do, they always have one well-prepared repertoire of excuses and reasons to justify the defeat.
In this article and writing from our own experience, we are going to name seven of the most common excuses we have heard and even used ourselves to make the loss a bit less painful on ourselves.
‘’I just blundered’’ – This is far too common. Very often, chess players blame their entire defeat on one single moment. I did not see that they say. Although sometimes (a few actually) this is actually true, it does very little for your own improvement to fool your mind thinking that that is all that happened. There are causes why you missed a move and it is your task to seek deep within yourself if you do not want to fall for the same mistake again.
‘’I was winning but..’’ – In chess, as in any other sport, winning does not mean it’s WON. Many times, we are not 100% honest with ourselves to give our position the respect it deserves. When this sort of excuse is told, very often the case is of a position that is actually winning but it is not easy and there are still technical problems to sort out.
‘’I forgot my preparation’’ – One personal favorite. It is the perfect way to say that you were supposed to know something but do not know it. It could also mean that you have your homework done and it is on your computer at home but not where it matters, your brain.
‘’I forced it when it was a draw’’– Almost like admitting to losing on purpose. Basically decided the game by taking a chance his opponent does not find a move, like flipping a coin and let fate decide. Honestly, this works sometimes but it is not a strategy that we advise [this is the RIGHT strategy]. If it is a draw wrap it up and think about the next game.
‘’My opponent offered a draw and I declined’’ – A reverse way of excuse number 4. It’s like taking 0 responsibility for the outcome of the game and laying it all in that brave moment when you declined your opponent’s draw offer.
‘’I was low on time’’ – Time matters! It’s just part of the game. Nowadays when we have an increment in every tournament losing on time is unacceptable. True that being low on time leads to mistakes but instead of using it as an excuse you should work on improving your time management.
‘’Food poison’’– Yeah, sometimes poor nutrition can make you play horrible and other times telling your opponent you are sick is one fine way to justify what horrible moves you just played over the board! A similar excuse is lack of sleep or any physical discomfort.
If you have played chess for a long time, there is a big chance you feel familiar with the situations described in this article.
Our idea is to motivate you to reflect more on the real cause of your losses rather than fool your mind with superficial assessments.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have more excuses to add please do not hesitate to comment!
In every game we play, trading pieces in inevitable. However, this shouldn’t be done automatically and it is important to choose the right moment and the right pieces to trade.
Today we are going to talk about queens and when you should decide to trade them off and when to keep them on the board. As always in chess, there are no rules without exceptions, but we have tried to outline a few guidelines that could help you take the right decision in such a moment.
The queens should be exchanged if:
You are under attack and by doing this you ease the pressure he is putting on your position. It’s common knowledge that queens are extremely useful pieces in the attack, so it makes sense to try to swap them off when you are defending;
You get a superior endgame. It’s even better if you have a material advantage. In such cases, almost any trade should favor you. However, you should always pay attention to the particularities of the position;
You create favorable changes in your pawn structure. For example, if by trading the queens you manage to link two pawn islands;
After the exchange, tactics work in your favor. Of course, in this case, none of the positional approaches mentioned above applies anymore;
Your opponent’s queen is more active than your own.
Aside from this, remember that most of the times queen trades are neutral and exchanging them doesn’t necessarily change the position for better or for worse for one of the sides.
Here is the perfect example for you:
We can see how in this game black was constantly under pressure and had some difficulties in finishing his development. However, he didn’t rush into exchanging the queens when the opportunity arose and correctly assessed that the resulting position would be hopeless. Instead, he looked for a way to activate his pieces and offered the trade only later on, when the position was equal.
In previous articles, we have written about the importance of being practical in your opening choice. Following the sharp lines in the mainstream theory is not for everyone, but fortunately, chess is rich enough and can be played in many different ways. In this article, we would like to draw your attention to the exchange variation of the French as played by the French Grandmaster Etienne Bacrot. Bacrot is an extremely strong player with a wonderful chess career. Although for most of his career, he has been a 1.d4 player, Bacrot switches to 1.e4 every now and then.
It is quite amusing that against the French Defense he has employed with great success the exchange variation. This variation has a reputation of being harmless for black; nevertheless, as Bacrot shows by his games, things aren’t straightforward and there is plenty of room to outplay the adversary. The great upside of his opening choice is that the positions are less studied and not at all popular. From a very early moment in the game, his opponents need to start thinking on their own and so far practice shows that most of them aren’t making the best choices.
The exchange variation leads to a symmetrical pawn structure where the coordination of pieces takes a relevant role in order to determine the advantage. If black is not accurate he might end up in a passive position with almost 0 prospects of victory while white plays for two results.
This is not a theory article, it is simply a look into what can be more than a reasonable option if you are looking for an easy-go repertoire without much theory to learn.
Let’s have a look at some of the strategies used by Bacrot after the moves:
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.ed5 ed5 4.Nf3
The plans for White are quite simple: He wants to play Bd3 – 0-0 and then decide how the bishop on c1 will and knight on b1 will come out. It can be done like Nbd2-f1-g3 or Nc3-e2 all with the same route but keeping different options open.
In case black plays 4…Bd6 then Bacrot likes to go 5.c4 followed by c5 gaining space. If black does not want to allow it he must play 5…dxc4 which would transpose to positions from the Queen’s Gambit Accepted.
c4-c5 gaining space against 4…Bd6
White’s strategy is to keep his minimum lead in development and make the most of it in the middle game phase.
What Bacrot opponents have played in recent games:
Let’s see how a few examples of the line in action. In a recent game against GM Malakhatko, black chose to play a somewhat passive setup with the normal looking moves Nf6-Be7-00 and he even got to play Bg4. Sounds fine but just after 12 moves white had gained the bishop pair and had the more comfortable game.
Sounds almost too good to be true.
Grandmaster Thomas Fodor from Hungary decided to try the line with 4…Bd6 which was previously tried by Yu Yangi against Bacrot at the World Team Championship in December 2018 instead. Black again failed to find the comfortable ground and soon he was clearly worse.
You can see the game here:
It is also curious that against Caruana, the only game that Bacrot has lost in this line, he also obtained a clear plus after just 11 moves. True, it was only a blitz game but it is still Caruana, a world champion contender.
You can see the game here:
As you can see from the games mentioned above the exchange variation might as well deserve a try now and then. It is not so dull after all and your opponents might not expect it!
Thank you for reading and feel free to share your comments with us.