"My opponent left a glass of whisky 'en prise' and I took it 'en passant". - Henry Blackburne | SINCE 2007

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chess Summer

By Matt Rosse ( Oxford Times)

It was widely regarded as a mistake for Vishy Anand to agree to play BulgarianVeselin Topalov in Sofia. Last week, however, after a thrilling climax , the Indian, Anand, had won through. Exciting news is that it is widely predicted Anand’s next title defence will be against Norwegian Magnus Carlsen in London in 2012.

Chess is a full-time job for the likes of Anand, Topalov and Carlsen but for some Oxfordshire players, this weekend’s Town versus Gown match will be the last chess they play until the new season starts in October. Others will have already boxed away their pieces and will not give chess a further thought until autumn. For those who want to improve, it would be a pity not to make use of the summer break for study.

Do not presume this just means work on openings — even though such learning can bring instant results. There are many roads to improvement, and studying endings can be as important as tweaking one’s opening repertoire.

To me though, the average club player’s most glaring deficiency is in tactical ability and one of the fastest ways to improve this aspect of one’s game is to play online speed chess.
Then again, there are the games collections which populate every keen player’s shelves and which represent the other, more civilized, end of chess education.

In grandmaster Danny Gormally’s entertaining and recently published book for Everyman Chess, Play Chess like the Pros, the author notes that world-class players “have a far greater knowledge of chess culture and history”. With this in mind, a study of any of Kasparov’s My Great Predecessors series would undoubtedly improve the club player’s results.

Neil McDonald’s The Giants of Power Play is another recently published book which draws upon the works of the past masters. His earlier work Giants of Strategy had used the games of Kramnik, Karpov, Petrosian, Capablanca and Nimzowitsch. In contrast, Power Play concentrates on the more dynamic play of Topalov, Geller, Bronstein, Alekhine and Morphy. McDonald is one of my favourite chess authors and is here erudite and entertaining; but does not pitch as high as Kasparov and this book might better suit the average player. McDonald calls the following 150-year-old classic “a wonderful, if lightweight game”.

White: Paul Morphy Black: Duke of Brunswick and Count of Isouard
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4?! 4.dxe5 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 Nf6 7.Qb3! Qe7 8.Nc3 White could have grabbed a pawn with 8.Qxb7, answered by 8…Qb4+, after which Morphy would have won a long endgame and the game would have been forgotten.
8...c6 9.Bg5 b5? McDonald calls 9...b6 the ‘most solid’ of Black’s alternatives.
10.Nxb5! cxb5 11.Bxb5+ Nbd7 12.0–0–0 Rd8 13.Rxd7! Rxd7 14.Rd1 Qe6 15.Bxd7+ Nxd7 16.Qb8+! Nxb8 17.Rd8 1-0.

No comments: