I recently played chess with a friend from church. The results may be instructive to lower-intermediate level players and possibly to some beginners. I played white.
- e4 e6
- Nf3 Nf6 The Petroff’s Defense (also called the Russian Defense)
- Nxe5 Nc6? Not a standard move, losing a pawn with little or no compensation
Diagram-1 after black made the questionable move Nc6
4. Nxc6 bxc6
5. Nc3 . . . . . .
After the game, I reconsidered this move. My knight would probably have been better placed at f3, which is possible if I had played d3 on my fifth move and then Nd2 soon thereafter. As the game progressed, I realized my kingside had limited defense.
5. . . . . . Rb8
Moving the rook to an open file is natural in the middle game. In the opening, however, the knights and bishops should usually be developed first. In this case, black’s move Rb8 might encourage white to play b3 within the next few moves (to keep that pawn from being captured by black’s rook). That would make developing the bishop to b2 natural, giving it a wonderful diagonal, which would not be in black’s best interest.
Diagram-2 after black moved Rb8
6. Bc4 d5
7. exd5 cxd5
8. Bb5+ . . . . .
Diagram-3 after white moved Bb5+
I anticipated that black would move Bd7. I was happy to trade those light-squared bishops, for I planned on putting my queen on f3, pointing at the white squares e4 and d5 without any worries about any white-squared black bishop messing with my queen. I felt that I could be patient, improving my position slowly, with patience, for I was a pawn ahead.
8. . . . . . Bd7
9. Bxd7+ Qxd7
10. d3 Bd6
11. O-O O-O
Diagram-4 transition from opening to middle game
By this time, I realized that my king side had little defense and that black had two minor pieces and a queen that might be able to mount an attack against my king. And I still had not developed my remaining bishop, as it sat defending my pawn at b2. I decided to get my queen into play immediately, preventing black from getting his queen to f5 by putting my own queen at f3.
12. Qf3 c6
13. b3 Rfe8
Diagram-5 after white moved Rfe8
This was about the time I noticed potential problems in the placement of some of my pieces. In particular, after I develop my bishop I would like to move a rook to e1. But if my opponent moves Bb4, my knight would then be pinned. That would be awkward for me because of the threat of black’s d5 pawn advancing. There could be solutions to those problems, but I wanted to find a way to prevent those problems if possible. I don’t want to be on the defensive if there’s any reasonable way to avoid it.
I found a move that could keep my opponent from playing Bb4. I attacked his knight, thinking this would have to put him on the defensive.
14. Bg5 . . . . . .
Diagram-6 after white moved Bg5
Only after the game, as I replayed it, would I see what my opponent could have done here: Be5, pinning my knight. I could have defended my knight with Bd2, of course, but my opponent would have had the initiative.
14. . . . . . Ng4 Apparently failing to see the better move of Be5
15. Bf4 . . . . Black now seems to have no chance of a successful attack on my king
Diagram-7 after white moved Bf4
I was hoping to exchange bishops at this point in the game. My opponent’s pieces are too active for my taste. He did not have to capture my bishop, in this position. He could have left it at d3 and doubled his rooks on the e-file. He might have tried Bb4, with complicated possibilities of exchanges. But he made life easier on me: He traded bishops.
15. . . . . Bxf4
16. Qxf4 d4
Diagram-8 after black moved a pawn to d4
I think that pushing the black pawn to d4 was a mistake. It drives the white knight away from a square on which it appeared to have only one purpose: protecting the e2 square from encroachment from a black rook. Yet white may soon put that knight on g3, if necessary, again protecting e2. White now gets control of the e4 square, and the white knight becomes active.
17. Ne4 f6 Perhaps black moved the pawn to f6 to keep the white knight off g5
Diagram-9 after black moved f6
My next objective was to exchange rooks by contesting rook-control of the e-file, for winning an end game with a one-pawn advantage is much easier with no rooks on the board. I was convinced my king was in no danger now.
18. Rfe1 Re5
Diagram-10 after black moved Re5
I never expected my opponent to put that rook in the middle of the board. What use could it be there? By moving Re5, he himself put that piece in a pin, for moving that rook anywhere other than where it came from (e8) would allow my queen to capture the other rook with check.
19. h3 Qf5?
Diagram-11 after black played Qf5
My opponent seems to have miscalculated in playing Qf5, for after the exchange of queens he loses his knight without compensation.
20. Qxf5 Rxf5
21. hxg4 . . . . .
The game lasted for many more moves before my opponent resigned, but the technique for winning such an endgame is easy for intermediate-level tournament players, for the defender cannot contest rook control of the e-file without the exchange of rooks. Being a knight and pawn ahead made the outcome, from this point, an assured win for white, although it does take patience.
The most important key position in most queen-versus-rook end games is the Philidor.
Why use the NIP method of chess training? By using nearly idential positions for different tactics and themes, students learn to look at a chess position more like a grandmaster would.
A young boy sees men playing chess in a city park and is fascinated . . . his father soon learns that his boy has a natural skill . . .
A new blog: “Beginning Chess”
I’ve read and studied dozens of chess books in the past 53 years [before I wrote “Beat That Kid in Chess”]. I don’t recall any of them that included nearly-identical positions for training.