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Chess Academy (125)




Master the Pawn Play

When I was a kid, I was always afraid of facing passed pawns. I remember that fear and I think, this was the first time in my career that I had seen a problem and consciously made a decision about it. The decision was simple: To avoid situations in which my opponent was able to sacrifice material to achieve passed pawns. Of course, it was not the smartest move, but at least it was a move. Now I would like to take a look at this problem armed with 25 years of experience and artificial intelligence. Our task is to see situations where one player sacrifices a piece or exchange for passed pawns and to determine which typical ideas can be used in such situations by both attacking and defending players. read more…
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Tactical Vision - Battery and Discovered Check

"Chess is 99 percent tactics" said the German master Richard Teichmann meaning that throughout the entire game our thoughts and decisions are continuously affected directly or indirectly by tactical possibilities. This article is the first in a series of articles dedicated to common tactical devices we use over the board, or behind the scenes, in almost every game. Trainers worldwide naturally use examples from master and grandmaster games but also more and more endgame studies and they have plenty of good reasons to do that. Composed positions demonstrate tactics in their purest form with the most relevant pieces at the focus. Solving studies have the power to improve one's calculating skills as well as endgame knowledge and understanding. In my book "Extreme Chess Tactics" (Gambit 2017) I emphasize also the importance of the sharpening of the crucial sense of pattern recognition and the appreciation of chess beauty in general as well as piece power and harmony. Our first theme in this series is battery play and discovered attack A battery is a set of two pieces of the same color targeted at an enemy piece, not just the king, or even a certain square. Moving the front piece exposes the target to the threat of the rear one. The rear piece may be any line mover (queen, rook or bishop), while the front piece may be any piece but the queen. Unleashing the battery may generate a Discovered attack or even a discovered check. read more…
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Rook Versus Knight

In a recently played super-tournament in Shamkir, the game between Veselin Topalov and Ding Liren drew worldwide attention as the Bulgarian lost the ‘elementary drawn’ rook vs knight endgame. If a world-class player can lose this endgame, it means that things may not be as simple in practice as they are in theory. Therefore, I decided to investigate rook vs knight endgame in this issue of Endgame series. After reading this article, you should get a better idea about typical ideas and dangers in this endgame, or at least refresh your memory of this endgame. read more…
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The Skill of Maneuvring

Ever wondered how strong players take their pieces effortlessly to the best squares? It seems, transferring the pieces from worse to good posts is their second nature. As an expert driver drives without really thinking about it, so does a strong Grandmaster Maneuvers his pieces without much conscious thinking. They can ‘feel' the way for their pieces. Maneuvering is essentially transferring pieces to better squares, where they can do a better job than what they are doing currently. Such a transfer of a piece may enhance our chances of achieving the desired result (gaining an advantage, equalizing, etc.). I consider maneuvering a skill just like driving which can be improved with proper training and practice. By solving a lot of positions on maneuverings, by studying the games with instructional maneuverings one can develop a good feel for the good placement of their pieces. read more…
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Understand the Najdorf Structures - Part 3

In this article, IM Quintillano completes his survey on the Najdorf structures. This time, he deals with 8 structures which arise from the sharpest Najdorf lines. Each structure is dealt with in the following way: Explanations of the general ideas, model game, interactive test position. read more…
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Understand the English Hedgehog - Part 2

In this article, GM Mihail Marin examines the ...d6-d5 break in the Hedgehog. In the introduction to the current article, the author says: It may seem that preparing and carrying out ...d6-d5 is simpler than ...b6-b5 as examined in the previous article. Black can coordinate many of his pieces to control d5 and advance the central pawn under normal circumstances whereas with ...b6-b5 certain tactical premises are needed in most cases. But the problem is that ...d6-d5 opens the position in an area of high interest for both sides, namely the center. White may have many of his pieces playing a part in the initiated fight as well, so things can turn tactical here, too. On top, the pawn contact is also more complex than after ...b6-b5. read more…
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The King Is a Strong Piece

One of the first things every kid learns in his first lessons is that he needs to secure his own king. In order to achieve it, we usually develop minor pieces and castle. When we become stronger we get the idea that we can also castle long and the whole play becomes more interesting. Having more experience we can even dare to leave the king in the center and sometimes it gives a positive effect. Of course, all three scenarios (short, long castling and leaving the king in the centre) do not contradict - simply different situations require different actions. But there is also one more possible role for the king... read more…
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The Danger of Making Natural Moves - Learn to Fight Your Reflexes

All humans are followed by reflexes. Wikipedia names more than 50 reflexes known to modern science. But I know one more reflex that is unknown to Web Encyclopedia. I call it “natural moves” reflex. ABSOLUTELY every chess player has a set of chess instincts that (1) make some moves undoubted or (2) makes some moves not possible for him/her. read more…
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Fortress - The Ultimate Defence

The fortress is a very important tool which often allows us to save lost endgames. Sometimes, even strong players fail to spot simple fortresses. Of course, this fact has nothing to do with their chess level and understanding. Very often, people are just not on alert for a fortress. read more…
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Endgame Series 21 - Simplifications in Difficult Endgames

The goal of simplification as a defensive strategy is to reduce the number of opponent’s fighting units, and thus his winning chances. Usually, this is done by exchanging our own pieces/pawns for opponent’s, but it can also be accomplished by sacrificing material for opponent’s important assets, such as a far advanced passed pawn. Considering the importance of pawns in endgames, simplification by reducing the number of pawns on the board usually increases drawing chances. read more…
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