Chess Academy (120)




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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Understand the English Hedgehog - Part 1

We cannot argue about the fact that the Hedgehog system (be it in the Sicilian or in the English opening) is one of the most paradoxical. It may appear that Black is playing awfully timidly, mainly aiming at defending on three ranks only. But this impression is false. In most cases, Black intends to outplay his opponent in the (possibly late) middlegame, by avoiding early exchanges and forced variations. White cannot convert his space advantage into something concrete that easily, while Black has several plans to create counterplay at his disposal. Among his main resources I would quote the pawn breaks ...b6-b5, ...d6-d5, ...e6-e5 (the latter usually with a white pawn on f4) or, if White refrains from e2-e4, a massive kingside expansion. All these plans need separate investigation, even though they sometimes interfere. The first article deals with ...b6-b5. Since White's normal development involves having knights on d4 and c3, this plan requires thorough preparation. One way or another, by creating minor threats against White's slightly over-extended position, Black could "convince" one of the knights to retreat, when his plan would become more realistic. read more…
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Understand the Najdorf Structures - Part 2

In this article, IM Quintillano keeps examining the typical Najdorf structures. This time, his survey is focused on 8 structures which arise out of the sharpest lines in the Najdorf - 6.Bg5 and 6.Bc4. read more…
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Endgame Series 20 - Active Rook in the Endgame

This article deals with an extremely important endgame topic - rook activity. As every practician knows, endgames including rooks are extremely likely to happen in a practical game. In the introduction to this survey, GM Kuljasevic states: According to the statistics published by Mueller and Lamprecht in 2011, the most common type of endgame is exactly rook vs. rook endgame (8.45% in all games played), while endgames involving at least one rook appear in approximately 37% of all games played. So, when you sit at the board, there is more than one in three chance that you will play a rook endgame on that day! I do not think that we need to give further reasons why it is important to have a good understanding of rook’s capabilities in the endgame. read more…
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French Structures - Closed Center

In this article, GM Mihail Marin deals with the closed French positions. The ability to play well in closed positions is crucial for everyone who aims at mastering the positional play. That is the reason why this survey is not limited to the French players. We believe that the explanations of Mihail Marin will contribute to your general chess understanding. read more…
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Tactical Rook Endings

In the current article, Afek provides a number of interesting tactical rook endgames. Here is what the author presents the topic himself: Solving endgame studies is recommended by the world's leading trainers as the best method to improve one's creativity and endgame understanding as well as to polish one's tactical and calculative skills and to sense the full energy of the pieces. Let's take for example a frequent guest in chess practice - rook endings. They are often regarded as rather technical and lacking brilliance. At the same time they are the most common type of endings thus they require a certain amount of knowledge and not always of the most exciting nature. Nevertheless, Chess composition proves time and again that rook endings might appear, contrary to their image, highly tactical and even most enjoyable! The article consists of 4 annotated examples and 22 studies which are presented in the form of a test. In the Answers Section, you will find detailed annotations of the exercises. read more…
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