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Coffee Break Chess

by GM Alexander Baburin

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  'Coffee Break Chess' No. 31, 5th May 2001

© 2001 by Alexander Baburin

Dear Friends!

It has been a long time since I produced CBC-30. Life seems to get busier and busier and I hope that keen CBC readers will excuse my long silence. Part of the problem was that I wanted to write about so much, that in the end I never had enough time to do it! Thus, now I will try a different approach - to keep CBC smaller, but produce it more frequently.

 My US Tour

In the end of February I went to USA, where I took part in the Linklater Memorial in San Francisco and in the National Open in Las Vegas. I shared 3rd place in both tournaments and from that point of view could be happy. However, I was very dissatisfied with my play, which was full of mistakes and even blunders. Other than that my trip was interesting and enjoyable as I met with some of my friends.

The Linklater Memorial was held in the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club in San Francisco - a truly wonderful city. The Mechanics Institute is essentially a library, which also has a large chess room. Board of directors of the Institute includes such chess players as Neil Falconer, Mark Pinto and IM Vincent McCambridge, which explains why chess life is busy at the Mechanics'. The club has a decent web site at www.chessclub.org and employs GM Alex Yermolinsky and IM John Donaldson, who organise weekly tournaments and give lectures for the public. They were also in charge of our tournament, which featured 11 players and offered GM and IM norm opportunities. In the end only one seeker was successful - Michael Mulyar got an IM-norm. Top rated players dominated the event, as GMs Yuri Shulman and Alexander Wojtkiewicz tied for first with 7 points out of 10, while I shared third place with IM Greg Shahade. Both winners played very solidly and did not lose a single game (neither did Shahade). I played more entertaining chess, but two losses and a few missing opportunities did not allow me to finish better.

Perhaps I could not quite adapt to the new FIDE time control, which was tried for the first time in USA at the Linklater Memorial. In a recent issue of New in Chess Joe Gallagher expressed his dissatisfaction with the new control (1h 15 minutes for 40 moves with 30 seconds increment) and I can join him in this concern. The quality of play does suffer indeed - you sink into a deep thought 2-3 times during the game and you are in time-trouble already! You can see this in the following game, which was full of rushed decisions. However, it saw some entertaining chess too!

Alexander Baburin (2598) - Cyrus Lakdawala (2436) [D30]

Linklater Memorial, San Francisco (4), 01.03.2001

Notes by GM Baburin, which first appeared in Chess Today (www.chesstoday.net)

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nbd2 Nbd7 6.Bd3 b6 7.0–0 Bb7 8.b3

Recently I played 8.e4, but after 8...dxe4 9.Nxe4 c5 10.d5?! exd5 11.cxd5 Nxe4 12.Bxe4 Bd6 13.Ng5?! Nf6 14.Qa4+ Qd7 15.Qxd7+ Nxd7 16.Bf5 Nf6 Black stood better in the game Baburin-Kelly, Bunratty 2001. Looking at that game I decided that perhaps delaying e3-e4 would be a good idea. 

8...Be7 9.Bb2 0–0 10.Qe2 Qc7 11.Rac1 Rac8. 

White commands more space and can go for e3-e4 at the appropriate moment. Perhaps here I should have done exactly that: 12.e4 dxe4 13.Nxe4 c5 14.dxc5 and White has a small, but pleasant edge. In case of 13...Nxe4 14.Bxe4 Nf6 he can choose between 15.Bc2  and 15.c5!?. Instead I decided to keep more tension in the centre:

12.Ne5 c5

This is correct, as after 12...Nxe5?! 13.dxe5 Nd7 14.f4 White stands better as he has good chances on the kingside and in the centre.

13.f4 dxc4 14.bxc4

It was probably wrong to block the c-file - better was 14.Bxc4 or 14.Ndxc4 Be4 15.Nd2 Bxd3 16.Nxd3, with a small edge in both cases.

14...Rcd8 15.f5??

This is an awful move, which undermines the e5-knight and blocks the d3-bishop. But of course, at that time I did not see what was wrong with it, otherwise it would have not played it.

15...Bd6 16.Ndf3 

After 16.fxe6 Nxe5 17.dxe5 Bxe5 18.exf7+ Rxf7 19.Bxe5 Qxe5 Black would be better, so I played 16.Ndf3. But now he could have played 16...Bxf3! 17.Nxf3 e5!, obtaining a strategically winning position - all his pieces are active, while the d3-bishop looks like a bit of an idiot... We both missed that idea. 

16...Rfe8? 17.fxe6 Rxe6?

This is a serious mistake. After 17...fxe6 18.Nxd7 Nxd7 19.d5 Black can't play 19...exd5? because of 20.Bxh7+! Kxh7 21.Ng5+ Kg8 22.Qh5+-. However after 19...Nf8 White would have problems with his central pawns. Thus, better would be 19.Qc2 Nf6 20.h3 and White is slightly better. 

18.Nxd7

Here I considered 18.Ng5, but did not like that Black would be able to sacrifice on e5: 18...Bxe5 19.dxe5 Rxe5 20.Bxe5 Nxe5 or 20...Qxe5 21.Bxh7+ Nxh7 22.Nxf7 Qe7 23.Nxd8 Qxd8.

18...Nxd7 19.d5?

White launches his attack incorrectly. Of course, it is nice to shut down the enemy bishop and to open up your own one, but this move give up control over the e5-square and allows the enemy rook to leave the vulnerable position on e6. White had to play 19.Ng5!, with winning advantage. For example: 19...Bxh2+ 20.Kh1 Rh6 21.Bxh7+ Kh8 22.Nxf7+ Kxh7 23.Nxh6 Kxh6 (23...gxh6 24.Rf7+ Kg8 25.Rcf1+-) 24.e4!? cxd4 25.Bxd4 Ne5 26.Be3+ Kg6 27.Rf5+-. I considered 19.Ng5!, but I missed that Black could not play 21...Kf8 because of 22.Nxf7+-.

19...Re7

expected mainly 19...Rh6 20.h3 Ne5 and Black is only slightly worse. Here Black offered a draw, but I was under the wrong impression that I had a chance to launch a winning attack: 20.Bxh7+?

This looks tempting, but is wrong... Better was 20.Ng5 Bxh2+ 21.Kh1 g6 22.Nxf7 Rxf7 23.Rxf7 Kxf7 24.Qg4=.

20...Kxh7 21.Ng5+ Kg8

21...Kg6? loses after  22.Qd3+ Kxg5 23.Qf5+ Kh6 24.Qh3+ Kg6 25.Qg4+ Kh6 26.Qxg7+ Kh5 27.Rf5+ Kh4 28.Qg5#; 21...Kh6 is bad too - 22.Nxf7+ Rxf7 23.Rxf7 Bxh2+ 24.Kh1 Be5 25.Rcf1+-.

22.Qh5 Nf8 23.Rf3  After making this move I had 7 and half minutes left (plus the increment), while my opponent had 42 minutes. It is harder to defend than attack, but White's attack should not succeed here, even though during the game I felt the opposite (that's why I played 20 Bxh7? in the first place!). 

23...Bxh2+? Black had to use the b7-bishop in defence by playing 

23...Bc8!. In general it makes sense to employ your idle pieces. Here the bishop, which had been watching the grass grow on b7, could stop White from playing Rh3. White does not have enough here, as the following lines show: 24.Rcf1 (24.g4? Qd7; 24.Bxg7?! Kxg7 25.Rcf1 f5 26.Rh3 Ng6–+) 24...f6. Now after both 25.Rxf6 gxf6 26.Bxf6 Nh7 27.Bxe7 Qxe7 28.Nxh7 Bxh2+ 29.Qxh2 Qxh7 30.Qxh7+ Kxh7 31.Rf7+ Kg6 32.Rxa7 Bf5 and 25.Bxf6 gxf6 26.Rxf6 Bxh2+ 27.Kh1 Be5 28.d6 Qxd6 29.Rxd6 Rxd6 Black should win. In the latter variation Black's pieces are much better than White's queen. If we look back at the position after 23...Bc8!, it looks only logical that Black can withstand White's attack - all his pieces are employed. OK, White has the h- and f- files, but this is not enough with Black's best defence.

24.Kh1! 24.Qxh2 is not what I sacrificed the bishop for! Objectively, this move is quite strong too, as White's attack is already strong now.

24...Rd6

This is what I considered the main line of defence too, but this was not the only move - 24...Bg3 looked equality tempting. There White already has a draw - by playing 25.Rcf1 f6 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27.Rxf6 Be5 28.Rxf8+ Rxf8 29.Qg6+ Rg7 30.Qe6+ Rgf7 31.Qg6+ Rg7 32.Qe6+=. But he can also play for more with 25.Bxg7 Kxg7 26.Rcf1 Rdd7 27.Qg4 Ng6 28.Rxg3 (28.Qh5 Nf8 29.Qg4=) 28...Rd6 29.Qh5 and White wins. Of course, it is hard to tell whether White and Black would have found these variations over the board. This also applies to the lines, which you will see later - don't get the wrong impression that I saw all or even most of them. Indeed, a man does not know his limitations until he has analysed with Fritz! :-)

25.Bxg7 Kxg7 26.Rcf1 Bf4?

Better was 26...f5!. The idea is that after 27.Rxf5? Bf4! already wins: 28.R5xf4 Rh6 29.Rf7+ Rxf7 30.Rxf7+ Qxf7 31.Qxh6+ Kxh6 32.Nxf7+ Kg6–+. White must play 27.Rh3 Ng6 and then 28.Rxf5 Kg8 29.Ne6 Rexe6 30.dxe6 Rxe6 31.Rg5 Qg7 32.Qg4!, when things remain unclear.  

27.Rh3 Ng6  

28.Rxf4!

This is better than 28.exf4. Then 28...Bc8 loses after 29.f5! Bxf5 30.Qh7+ Kf8 31.Rhf3 f6 32.Qh6+ Ke8 33.Rxf5 fxg5 34.Rf8+ Nxf8 35.Rxf8+ Kd7 36.Qh3+ Rde6 37.dxe6+, but  28...f5! looks good for Black.

28...Nxf4 After 28...Bc8 29.Qh7+ Kf8 30.Rxf7+! Rxf7 White has 31.Rf3!, winning.

29.exf4? This is a serious inaccuracy in time-trouble. Better was 29.Qh8+ Kg6 30.exf4! and Black's king is doomed. Now the king is given a chance to escape, but Black misses the opportunity. 

29...Re1+ 30.Kh2 Kf8?

Black had to play 30...Re8!. After 31.Qh7+ 32.Qh8+ Ke7 33.Re3+ Re6 34.Rxe6+ fxe6 35.d6+ Kxd6 36.Qxe8 Qc8 37.Nf7+ Kc7 38.Qxc8+ Bxc8 39.g4 White is better in the ending, but the fight still goes on.

31.Qh8+ Ke7 32.Qh4! Now it is over, as White picks at least a rook.  

32...Re2 33.Ne6+ Kd7 34.Nxc7 Kxc7 35.Qh5 Re7 36.f5 b5 37.Qh4 Red7 38.Qf2 Kb6 39.Rb3 1–0 Time: 1.31–1.18

I will talk about the national Open in Las Vegas and show one game from there in the next issue of CBC, which should be out soon. After LV I played 2 games in 4NCL (2 draws) and shared first place with GM Bordan Lalic in a small, but enjoyable open in Belfast. Still, my play was rather poor - I tried hard, but little seemed to work. Finally I decided not to fight it and take a break from tournaments, which is exactly what I am doing now. Instead I now concentrate on my Web projects and coaching.

  Chess Tourism

Ever since Kasparov coined the phrase 'chess tourist' during the Las Vegas FIDE World Championship in 1999, I keep thinking of myself as one of those tourists. Only I don't see anything bad with that - you coma to a different country, play chess, meet new people and move on. That's how I choose tournaments nowadays. Thus, I am a bit surprised to see that chess tourism has not taken off as much as it could. Perhaps the following initiative by the GM School from St. Petersburg will change that: the school offers to combine a trip to that wonderful city with playing in a tournament there and some serious training. I would really recommend this idea - you can find more at www.gmchess.com, which is a very informative site in its own right.

Chess Today – the first daily chess newspaper on the Net

I already wrote a lot about Chess Today in previous issues of CBC, so I'll be brief now. For a small fee our readers receive news, annotated games, tactical puzzles, interviews with leading players and young stars and much more! Of course, it is hard to compete with free stuff on the Net, but I believe that Chess Today provides a valuable service by saving time to chess fans and giving them carefully selected and well annotated games. At least our readers are very supportive about CT! You can see a few sample issues at www.chesstoday.net. There you can also find a very interesting interview with Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan, which was recently posted on the site.

That interview is also featured on my other site - Grandmaster Square (www.gmsquare.com). There I recently opened an auction site and plan to have a large chess auction next weekend. It will feature many rare books and also autographs by such famous players as Marshall, Keres, Petrosian and Fischer - keep an eye on it! The auction will take place on 10-12 of May and, as in order to bid one must register, it could be a good idea to do it now. The GM Square site also has a Chess Shop, which you are more than welcome to visit!

In the next issue of Coffee Break Chess I will share my views on the current situation in chess and chess politics, as well as talking more about chess on the Web - stay tuned!

Alexander Baburin, Istanbul, Dublin. www.gmsquare.com & www.chesstoday.net

Technical support. I am very grateful to Igor Yagolnitser for his help with this project. For assistance regarding CBC, please contact Igor at igor@yagolnitser.com.

The recipient is granted a limited license to re-send this Newsletter to another in electronic form, or post it on an electronic bulletin, board or World Wide Web site, as long as no fee is charged for such reproduction. Any such reproduction must contain this license and acknowledge the author's copyright. Such reproduction does not waive any rights to future reproduction by the copyright holder.

Excerpts from previous Coffee Break's 

Dear Chess Friends!

If you have interest in chess books, memorabilia or in collecting in general, I would like to invite you to visit my Chess Auction site. It has been just launched as part of the GM Square at http://www.gmsquare.com/chessauction. I've been involved in book trade since 1995 and last year started in Ireland the International Chess Auctions with my business partner James Hayes. We had two very successful auctions in 2000. Then there was a break, as we wanted to switch to fully automated real-time auction and had to find appropriate software. We are pleased with what we have now - come and see it for yourself!

You can browse the auction site freely, but to bid you will need to register, which is fortunately easy. You can find more information about that at the auction site. There you can also see the catalogues. Bidding is very easy as the software keeps you updated with current bids, etc. The only problem, which we have discovered so far, is that proxy bidding does not seem to work properly at present. But we hope to have it fixed before our next sale, which is scheduled in 2 weeks time.

This weekend we have 15 lots on sale. The oldest book on offer is 'An Easy Introduction to the Game of Chess' containing one hundred examples of games, and a great variety of critical situations and conclusions: including the whole of Philidor's Analysis. That book was printed in London in 1813 - this a nice book to amuse your friends with! :-)

Also very interesting is Lot. No. 2: 'Chess and Chess-players' consisting of Original Stories and Sketches, by George Walker, published in London in 1850. This is not just an important book, but this is also a dedication copy - signed and dedicated by the author in 1863. Many people around the globe are into collecting nowadays and autographs are always very popular. In 2 weeks we will have on sale a letter by Frank Marshall, book signed by the great Paul Keres and a tournament program signed by Robert Fischer and Tigran Petrosian.

If you like composition, we have an interesting book for you - 'English Chess Problems', which was published in London in 1876. We also have a number of magazines, for example 13 volumes of the British Chess Magazine from the 50s and 60s.

Those who are more into modern stuff should not miss sets of Olympiad bulletins from the Olympiads in Yerevan (1996), Elista (1998) and Istanbul (2000). These are highly collectible.

At the auction site you can see catalogues of our previous auctions in different formats. Again, please come and visit http://www.gmsquare.com/chessauction - there is no obligation to buy anything - simply enjoy your browsing and feed your curiosity! I am sending our catalogue in PDF format for your convenience. Please note that most our auctions close on Sunday evening (European time).

If you would like to offer something at our auction or simply get an appraisal, do not hesitate to contact me.

Have a good weekend!

With best wishes,

Alexander Baburin

©Alexander Baburin, Dublin.

The recipient is granted a limited license to re-send this Newsletter to another in electronic form, or post it on an electronic bulletin, board or World Wide Web site, as long as no fee is charged for such reproduction. Any such reproduction must contain this license and acknowledge the author's copyright. Such reproduction does not waive any rights to future reproduction by the copyright holder.

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My life seems to get busier and busier and this clearly reflects on the frequency, with which CBC comes out. Yet, there are many news to talk about, so I felt that I had to send out this issue before going to Sarajevo tomorrow. Hopefully in summer life will become quieter and CBC will come back to its intended 1-issue-in-2weeks frequency.

New developments on my site. Recently I added a few things to my Web site (http://ababurin.tripod.com): more questions were answered, more pictures posted (I have a pretty extensive GM gallery now!) and my student San Collins wrote his first book review. I enjoyed reviewing books for the Chess Café, but found that extra deadline each month was hard for me to deal with. So, I hope to review books using a more relaxed frame my own Web site. Another curious feature of my site is an on-line poll, where most people (me too!) seem to be much against allowing computers into official tournaments. In a few days my Web-master Michael Dooley will start posting ‘Sarajevo Reports’, where I will share my impressions about that super-tournament. BTW, my fans should not get excited – I will be only kibitzing there! :-) Upon my return to Dublin I will host yet another chat on my site (the first one went very nicely) – on the 27th of May at 18-00 Dublin time (19-00 in Paris, 13-00 in New York, 10-00 in San Francisco). So, keep an eye on my site!

My 2nd Internet chess auction. It will start in about 2 weeks time, but you can already view its preliminary list at http://chessauction.tripod.com. The auction will go on for one week, in the e-Bay style, when bids will be posted on the site daily. There are many very interesting items offered for sale already, but soon we will add a lot more, including a complete run of Deutsche Schachzeitung, book by Lolli (1763) and notebooks of Akiba Rubinstein. I am a partner in International Chess Auctions and our goal is make collecting chess items easier and more convenient for many chess fans. I believe that our auctions have bright future.

Chess training camps in Dublin. Ireland in general and Dublin in particular are very popular tourist spots nowadays, which gave me the idea to offer some tourist a special service. I am going to host chess workshops in Dublin this August and possibly September. The idea is simple: visitors can come for the weekend and combine some chess work (in the morning and afternoon) with sight-seeing and tasting Dublin’s rich social life (those famous Dublin pubs!). I will be able to help with information (list) on accommodation, etc. Training sessions will take place in a hotel and will involve lectures, training games and quizzes. It is possible to organise some blitz tournaments (for fun) as well. At this stage I am considering various formats for such chess camps – if you might like to take part in them, please share with me your thoughts, dropping me e-mmail. Your feedback is very valuable to me - please contact me at ababurin@iol.ie.

CBC in Swedish. Recently Coffee Break Chess started to appear in Swedish – at http://www.schacknyheter.com. This is already the 7th language of CBC - after English, Spanish, German, French, Dutch and Italian. Ironically, there is no Russian version... Anyway, CBC probably has already established some kind of a record, as I am not aware of any other chess periodical, which is translated into so many languages.

Chess Portals on the Web. There are a few sites, which can claim to be chess portals and which are worth watching. At The Chess Café (http://www.chesscafe.com) Hanon Russell recently wrote about how the site started 4 years ago; Alexander Khalifman’s GM-School (http://www.gmchess.com) had a major re-design recently and looks very attractive now, while ‘Kasparov Chess’ (http://kasparovchess.com) keeps adding new articles. In one of them, at http://kasparovchess.com/serve/templates/folders/show.asp?p_docID=2869&p_docLang=EN GM Levitt tells how GM Norwood and IM Hennigan hit a jackpot recently. The TWIC (http://www.chesscenter.com/twic/twic.html) is interesting as usual. Recently I tried their Web-TV channel and found it very good – you will need to install Real Player (often found on free CDs) and then you can see stuff like interview with Ivanchuk, etc. The quality obviously depends on your Internet connection, but it was quite reasonable in my case. Maybe when connection to the Net becomes much faster, we will have special chess programs or even dedicated channels on the Web.

GM Gipslis died. Recently Latvian Grandmaster Aivars Gipslis died in Germany. He was a strong GM with attacking style of play. I never got to play him, but I met him often - at Biel, Berlin, etc. Here is one of his games:

A. Gipslis – V. Savon, D42, USSR-ch29 Baku  1961

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 c4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Nf3 Be7 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 Bd3 Nc6 9 0-0 0-0 10 Re1 Nf6 11 Bg5 b6 12 Qe2 Bb7 [12 ..Nxd4 13 Nxd4 Qxd4 14 Rad1+- Qc5 15 Bxf6 Bxf6 16 Qe4] 13 Rad1 Nb4 14 Bb1 Rc8 15 Ne5 Qd6 16 Qe3!? Nfd5 17 Qh3 f5 18 Bd2 Nf6 19 a3 Nbd5 20 Nb5 Qb8 


21 Ba2! Once Black blocks the b1-h7 diagonal with ...f5, White should relocate his light-squared bishop to the a2-g8 diagonal. 21...a6 22 Nc3 Rce8? Better was 22...Qd6. 23 Nf3! On e5 this knight acted as a shelter for the e6-pawn, while now this pawn comes under serious pressure. 23...Bd8?! 24 Ng5 Qc8   

25 Rxe6! Rxe6 26 Nxd5 h6 27 Nxf6+ Kh8 28 Qxf5 Re1+ 29 Rxe1 Qxf5 30 Nf7+ 1-0

My recent tournaments and matches. After a very successful tour in USA in March, where I tied for 1st both at US Masters in Chicago and at the National Open in Las Vegas (http://www.64.com/natlopen), I scored 1.5 in my last BL weekend, playing against GMs Enders and Teske. My overall result in BL was quite good: +2-0=5, but could be even better, as I missed wins in 3 of the drawn games. My team – Delmenhorst – finished third in the league, but unfortunately we lost our sponsors and will not play in the top division next year. I really enjoyed the great team spirit, which our team had and will certainly miss it... I just hope that I will be equally lucky with my next club in Germany (I am looking for one!).

Two weeks ago British Team League finished in Birmingham. Alas, there I had one of my worst results in the entire career, losing all three games! Something went seriously wrong... Over the weekend I saw my rating dropping from its current height of 2610+ (which I gained during the season) to the more ‘normal’ 2590+ :-(

My team Wood Green finished only second due to unexpected loss in round 9. Anyway, I enjoyed playing on that team and hope that in the next season I can do much better than 6.5 out of 11. Hopefully I will have forgotten that last 4NCL weekend by then! For those who are follow BL and 4NCL, I can recommend the following site: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/John_Katrin_Sharp, which is quite informative. As for my tournaments, the next event is Politiken Cup in Copenhagen in July (www.kbhsu.dk). I like Denmark and usually do reasonably well there.

 In the next issue of CBC I will talk about Sarajevo and show one of the games, which I lost recently - stay tuned!

Alexander Baburin, Dublin, http://ababurin.tripod.com & http://chessauction.tripod.com 

©Alexander Baburin, Dublin.


Technical support. I am very grateful to Igor Yagolnitser for his help with this project. For assistance regarding CBC, please contact Igor at igor@yagolnitser.com

The recipient is granted a limited license to re-send this Newsletter to another in electronic form, or post it on an electronic bulletin, board or World Wide Web site, as long as no fee is charged for such reproduction. Any such reproduction must contain this license and acknowledge the author's copyright. Such reproduction does not waive any rights to future reproduction by the copyright holder. 

Some advice from Grandmaster Alexander Baburin's Newsletter.

I'm 33. I took up tournament chess about two years ago, and have really enjoyed it. However, I have yet to find any published material that sets out a method of systematic study for the class player that will allow them to work hard and progress to the expert/master level. I can only find general comments ("study the endgame", "master tactics", "review GM games", etc.), that frankly, are quite vague and give little help. I'm playing at about the 1600 U.S.C.F level at the moment and can't seem to get beyond that, despite serious study of the game for about an hour each day, and I have several friends who have the same trouble. I'm not particularly talented, but I managed to pass two bar exams, so I am probably of decent intelligence. I would think that careful study would allow anyone of reasonable ability to reach the expert level. But it continues to be way out of my reach, and I suspect that the vast majority of players are in this boat as well (I know that several players in my club express the same frustrations). In short, could you set out a system of study that would allow myself and my club-mates to progress? There is so much training material available now, but so little advice in the way of direction that we are overwhelmed (especially in learning tactics and endgames). I think that such a column would be extremely popular if it presented a comprehensive system to build on, rather than just a number of examples. Did that make any sense? :) You don't need to respond directly; please just consider writing such a piece. I suspect that about 90% of your readers are below 1800 and would find such advice to be worth at least as much as the several dozen chess books they own. I know I would! 

Thanks again. David M. Cole.

Some of my advice given above would fit in here, but answering David I'd like to concentrate on a couple of things. First, don't start with 'I am not particularly talented...'. Of course, different people have different degree of chess talent, but it's hard to say how much talent one has. I also believe that anyone with general intelligence can reach the level of an expert, provided enough time and effort is put into it. How to tackle the problem is the question. You are right, there is a lot of stuff available on chess nowadays and one must be very selective now and know what he is doing with his time spent on chess.

Surely, you cannot make progress because you make certain mistakes and most likely those mistakes are typical for your play. So, first thing would be to define what is your weakness in chess (there could be a good few!) and then try to fix it. If you miss simple tactics, it would be wrong for me to say "Study games of Lasker and watch your rating go up!". Surely, studying his games is not a bad thing to do, but you would do better with a book on chess tactics. Also, if you have bad knowledge of basic rook endgames, it would be wrong to suggest you to study Rubinstein's rook endings - you would be better off with a rook on basic rook endgames first and only then should move to more advanced stuff. So, the problem is that everyone needs his own program and it's hard to write one, which would fit everybody. Once you know your weaknesses, start working on them systematically - for example, if you don't understand a certain pawn structure, then study a few games when such pawn formation happened. Looking at just one or two examples may not do. Always prefer to study typical positions in order to develop pattern recognition. Consider working on chess in a small group with your chess buddies. One player (let's call him a 'mentor') selects a few good examples about one topic and then you discuss it. Ideally, that should be followed by playing training positions, which 'mentor' should prepare in advance. Then analyse your play in those positions.

Hello, Mr Baburin. I've only been playing for 18 months (through my son's interest in the game, he's 13) but I am seriously hooked now. One topic that I hope you might comment on in future is blunders, this of course is because I suffer seriously from them. Cheers, Alex Clark.

The only remedy I can think of is to write down your move first and then to make a check: does that hang a queen? Rook? Bishop, etc.? I think that this technique was suggested by Russian master Blumenfeld. He claimed that it helped him to cure the problem.

Hi Alexander! I am currently a strong club player, but I want to improve my game and be able to compete successfully in tournaments. I want to draw up a training program for myself , but I do not know where to begin. Any help will greatly be appreciated! Gregory Ainsborough, South Africa.

Again, my advice would be to start with assessing yourself as a player and making a list of problems you have in chess. Then you can work out a program. Try to separate long-term and short-term goals. For example, you may want to improve your technique in rook endgames, but also need to fix some holes in your opening repertoire. Then just before a tournament it may be better to look at your openings and study endings later, when you have more time. You may also need to deal with other problems, e.g. lack of understanding of certain positions, etc. But the first thing is to make a fair assessment of your play - a sort of diagnosis. Then you'll be both a doctor and a patient! Playing training games and selected positions with a sparring partner may be a good way of preparing yourself for tournaments.

©Alexander Baburin, Dublin.

The recipient is granted a limited license to re-send this Newsletter to another in electronic form, or post it on an electronic bulletin, board or World Wide Web site, as long as no fee is charged for such reproduction. Any such reproduction must contain this license and acknowledge the author's copyright. Such reproduction does not waive any rights to future reproduction by the copyright holder.


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