Simple Chess

Mark Blackmore

The aim of this session is to suggest some simple rules for how to get from 100 grade to the dizzy heights of 150. If applied firmly, I am convinced they will lead to better results without any extra study.

  This first game is more or less the opposite of how you ought to model your play: an unattainable standard of mayhem...


Ivanchuk,V - Yusupov,A [E67] (cm 1/4), 1991 [MB]

1.c4 e5 2.g3 d6 3.Bg2 g6 4.d4 Nd7 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Nf3 Ngf6 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qc2 Re8 9.Rd1 c6 10.b3 Qe7 11.Ba3 e4 12.Ng5 e3 13.f4


|r+b+r+k+|
|0p+n1pgp|
|.+p0.hp+|
|+.+.+.H.|
|.+P).).+|
|GPH.0.).|
|P+Q+P+B)|
|$.+R+.I.|
+-----------------+

13...Nf8 14.b4 Bf5 15.Qb3 h6 16.Nf3 Ng4 17.b5 g5 18.bxc6 bxc6 19.Ne5 gxf4 20.Nxc6 Qg5 21.Bxd6 Ng6 22.Nd5 Qh5 23.h4 Nxh4 24.gxh4 Qxh4 25.Nde7+ Kh8 26.Nxf5 Qh2+


|r+.+r+.i|
|0.+.+pg.|
|.+NG.+.0|
|+.+.+N+.|
|.+P).0n+|
|+Q+.0.+.|
|P+.+P+B1|
|$.+R+.I.|
+-----------------+

That's the first move I've expected so far!

27.Kf1 Re6 28.Qb7 Rg6 29.Qxa8+

  [29.Bxf4 Qxf4+ 30.Kg1 Qh2+ 31.Kf1 Qh1+ 32.Bxh1 Nh2+ 33.Ke1 Rg1#]

29...Kh7 30.Qg8+ Kxg8 31.Nce7+ Kh7 32.Nxg6 fxg6 33.Nxg7 Nf2 34.Bxf4 Qxf4 35.Ne6 Qh2 36.Rdb1 Nh3 37.Rb7+ Kh8 38.Rb8+ Qxb8 39.Bxh3 Qg3 0-1

  Wonderful, exciting chess - but not, I believe, the way to get results. In fact, not even Yusupov believes this is the way to get results - this was actually a quickplay tie-break where nerves count as much as chess. Normally, Yusupov prefers the bear-hug.

  Fischer, although very sharp, was also a very strong positional player, achieving good results with apparently straightforward means. As an example, we can cite:


Fischer - Panno, 1970

1.c4, Black resigns

  After a solid opening by White, Black found he was unable to organise a defence. This illustrates how you needn't do anything very complicated to win games, just applying good sense may be enough.

  Let's see that approach at work in a slightly longer game.


Fischer - Spassky WCh [D59] (we (6), 1972 [MB]

1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 b6 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nxd5 exd5 11.Rc1 Be6 12.Qa4 c5 13.Qa3 Rc8 14.Bb5 a6 15.dxc5 bxc5 16.0-0 Ra7 17.Be2 Nd7 18.Nd4 Qf8


|.+r+.1k+|
|4.+n+p0.|
|p+.+b+.0|
|+.0p+.+.|
|.+.H.+.+|
|!.+.).+.|
|P).+B)P)|
|+.$.+RI.|
+-----------------+

19.Nxe6 fxe6 20.e4! d4 21.f4 Qe7 22.e5 Rb8 23.Bc4 Kh8 24.Qh3 Nf8 25.b3 a5 26.f5 exf5 27.Rxf5 Nh7 28.Rcf1 Qd8 29.Qg3 Re7 30.h4 Rbb7 31.e6 Rbc7 32.Qe5 Qe8 33.a4 Qd8 34.R1f2 Qe8 35.R2f3 Qd8 36.Bd3 Qe8 37.Qe4 Nf6 38.Rxf6 gxf6 39.Rxf6 Kg8 40.Bc4 Kh8 41.Qf4 1-0

  This game makes chess seem so smooth, so easy - even so attainable.

  If nothing else it should reinforce the importance of positional sense. Why did Gary Lane beat us all in the Simul., without seeming to do anything remarkable? I think one of the biggest obstacles to good positional play is muddy thinking - and I think there are three rules to avoid muddiness and improve your game.


Blackmore,M - Lane,P [C02] (Exeter Club Ch'p (6)), 1997 [MB]

The three rules of good positional play:

  (1) respect your opponent (don't play for cheapos)

  (2) ask yourself: what will the reply be?

  (3) think about a move before you make it - not after (Taimanov).

  From Game 1 we can add Rule (0): don't hack!

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Bd3 Rc8 7.a3 f6 8.0-0 fxe5 9.Nxe5 Nf6

  Illustrating the importance of rules (1) and (2). Peter was never going to miss the cheapo, so what else would he play?

  [9...cxd4 10.cxd4 Nxd4 11.Qh5+]

10.Bg5 c4 11.Bxf6 Qxf6

  Rules (1) and (3): White sees an opportunity to prevent Black from castling.

12.Nxd7 Kxd7 13.Bc2 Bd6 14.f4

  Rule (2).

14...Kc7

  The Black King is perfectly OK here.

15.a4 Rule (2) again:

15...Rcf8 If White was hoping for ...a5 he was disappointed.

16.Na3 Rule (2) again: what one-move threat does this move make, and what one-move reply is at least adequate?

16...a6 17.b4 Rule (2): White again is hopeful (...cxb3 e.p.)

17...Bxf4 18.Qg4 Rule (2): does this move really embarrass Black?

18...Be3+ 0-1

  Of course, you can argue that I was always going to lose to Pete, but I think my point stands. If I'd followed my own rules, I would at least have put up a better fight.


Ayress - Blackmore,M [C02] (5), 1997

The way to improve, I believe, is to do simple things well. Solid, harmonious moves, emphasising good piece play and good defence, provides the best basis for attacking and can win games just on its own merits. The ability to do this is, I am convinced, the main difference between a 100-grade and a 150-grade player.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.d3 Be7 5.Be2 0-0 6.0-0 d6 7.Nbd2 Bg4 8.h3 Bh5 9.Nh2 Bxe2 10.Qxe2 d5 11.a3 dxe4 12.Nxe4 Nxe4 13.dxe4 Bc5 14.Be3 Qe7 15.Rad1 Rad8 16.Nf3 Kh8 17.Rd2 Rxd2 18.Nxd2 Rd8 19.Kh2 Bxe3 20.Qxe3 Qd7 21.Nb3


|.+.4.+.i|
|0p0q+p0p|
|.+n+.+.+|
|+.+.0.+.|
|.+.+P+.+|
|)N).!.+P|
|.).+.)PI|
|+.+.+R+.|
+-----------------+

Without trying at all hard, Black has been gained a nice juicy open file. 21...b6 22.f3 a5 23.Rf2 Qd1 24.Nc1 f6 25.Re2 a4 26.Re1 Qd7 27.Re2 Na5 Adding to his collection of advantages. 28.Qf2 h6 29.Qe3 Nc4 30.Qf2 Qd1 31.Na2 c5 32.Rc2 Rd7 33.Kg3


|.+.+.+.i|
|+.+r+.0.|
|.0.+.0.0|
|+.0.0.+.|
|p+n+P+.+|
|).).+PIP|
|N)R+.!P+|
|+.+q+.+.|
+-----------------+

33...Rd2 34.Rxd2 Nxd2 winning because of the embarrassed White Knight. But it gets better: 35.Kg4 Nxe4 36.Qe3 Qd7+ 37.Kh4 g5+ 38.Kh5 Ng3+ 0-1

  Now here I obeyed all the rules and the game fell into my lap. Do the same, along with plenty of practice and you'll find you've picked up a lot of the basic positional stuff Dave keeps banging on about.

  I'm convinced your results will improve.

Chess Quotes

"Games like this [Penrose-Botvinnik] (and there were plenty in this tournament) impressed on me that 'wanting to win' was perhaps more important than 'playing good moves'."
— KEENE, 'Becoming a Grandmaster'.