The Chess Doctor at the DJCA Riviera Tournament 2015

We had lots of wonderful volunteers at the Riviera, which left me free to be a roving coach. Come and see the Chess Doctor, I said, and he will find our what's wrong with your chess, and suggest some treatments.

I have some suggestions for: Beginners Improvers Experts

I also have some advice for everyone...

EVERYONE: The 33rd piece

Oh dearie me... The most important prescription from the Chess Doctor is "SLOW DOWN!"

* In one round in the U14, the players had taken 2 minutes each - and the game was over! * In another U14 game, both players has used just 90 seconds each, which was time enough for both players to lose a whole Rook!

I daren't guess what is what like among the younger players...

If you know you can't spot everything quickly, slow down! It's much easier to add speed to accuracy than the other way around.

You had half-an-hour each for the whole game. Think of that as: * 5m for the opening * 10m for the middlegame * 10m for the endgame * 5m for emergencies!

What happens if your opponent moves faster than you? You might want to keep up with your opponent, in case you run short of time, but if you blunder, no amount of saved minutes on the clock can save you. So, if your opponent plays very quickly - ignore it! As long as you leave yourself enough time to win an endgame, it doesn't matter how much time your opponent has left.

"Never argue with an idiot - he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience." (? Mark Twain)

Here's a game where my opponent played too quickly:

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015. 0. 0"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Riviera 2015"]
[Black "Coaching"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C50"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d3?! ( 4. d4 ) 4... d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Nxd5 Qxd5 7. c4?! (7.Be2) 7...Qe6 8. Ng5?! (8.Be2) 8...Qg6 9. Be2 Be7 10. Nf3 {White has moved this Knight three times} 10...Be6 11. O-O O-O-O 12. a3 e4 13. Ne1 {White's one-move attacking ideas have led to a poor position where White is behind in development and d3 is weak.} 13...Bxc4 14. b3 Bxd3 15. Nxd3 exd3 16. Bxd3 Rxd3 {...} 0-1 

EVERYONE: Avoiding blunders

You must spot what your opponent can do to you.

Try to spot what they can do to you now.

Try to spot what they can do to you after your move.

Some players hope to play safely by moving a piece, then holding onto it while they check to see if anything can take it. This is a bad way to try and be safe..

* What if the piece has no good move, but now you've touched it, you have to move it? * What if your hand and arm get in the way of you seeing what you are threatened by? * What if your opponent is threatening something else?!

Here's a disaster or three from last season's U14 match:

[Event "Blunder-proofing"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015"]
[Round "?"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "NN"]
[Result "*"]
[FEN "r2q1rk1/1pp2ppp/p6B/3pPb2/1n1P4/5NQ1/PPP2PPP/R4RK1 b - - "]
[Setup "1"]
1...Nxc2?? 2.Qxg7#
[Event "Blunder-proofing"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015"]
[Round "?"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "NN"]
[Result "*"]
[FEN "r3kb1r/ppp1pppp/8/3q4/3N4/7P/PPPPbPP1/R1BQ1RK1 w kq - 0 10"]
[Setup "1"]
1..Qxe2?? (10.Nxe2!) *
[Event "Blunder-proofing"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015"]
[Round "?"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "NN"]
[Result "0-1"]
[FEN "r4rk1/pb1pppbp/2q2np1/2p5/1nP5/1PN1PN2/P2QBPPP/R1B2RK1 w - - 13 "]
[Setup "1"]
1.Ne5?? Qxg2#

The best way to play safely is to look for clues about threats: * What was your opponent's last move? * Are there any undefended pieces? (loose pieces) * Is there a check or a threat of a check? (exposed Kings) * What gets undefended if you make your chosen move? * What gets unblocked if you make your chosen move?

The way to get this right is to practice.

Do you every have a go at chess puzzles? White to play and win? Good!

Now, use that way of thinking to check for threats.

You must treat the position after your opponent's move as a 'play to win' puzzle for your opponent! Is there a smashing move that will win material or checkmate you? All the things that make tactics work in puzzles can and will appear in your games!

You must *also* treat the position *after* your chosen move in the same way.

If you think you know the next two or three moves that are going to happen, try and do the same at the *end of your variation*: imagine it is your opponent to play and win.

Of course, it's always nice to spot things for you to do yourself, but if you keep making blunders, thinking like I suggest should help avoid some of them.

[a name="begin"]Beginners[/a]

BEGINNERS: Is there a deadly disco move?

A deadly disco move is where a QRB hides behind another piece or pawn. If the one in front moves, there may be a discovered attack.

Here's an example:

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015. 0. 0"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Riviera 2015"]
[Black "Coaching"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
1.e4 e5
2.Qh5 Nf6
3.Qxe4+ Be7
4.Bc4 Nc6

The Bc8 has been hiding behind the d-pawn since the start of the game. The d-pawn hits the Bc4, the Bc8 hits the Queen, and White must lose something.

BEGINNERS: Marshall: The Perfect Opening Setup

The opening is a race to get your pieces out. It's as if a football match started with all the players in the dressing room, the referee blew the whistle, and then each manager could either send out a player onto the pitch, or give instructions to the players already on the pitch. Even the best player in the world couldn't beat a team of 11 players on their own. Get all your players on the pitch, as fast as you can!

Also: get them into the middle of the pitch. When you have done so, your position might look like this:

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015. 0. 0"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Riviera 2015"]
[Black "Coaching"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/2BPPB2/2N2N2/PPP1QPPP/3RR1K1" ]

Of course, your opponent is allowed to make moves too. After 1.e4 e5, you can't play 2.d4 and hope to keep your pawn there, so you have to adapt your Perfect Opening Setup and just hope to get get as close to it as you can. But I hope having the Perfect Setup as a picture helps you work out what moves you should be making.

BEGINNERS: What is the 4-move checkmate, and how do you defend against it? (Marshall)

The four-move checkmate (Scholar's Mate) goes like this:

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6? 4.Qxf7#

That was how my first game at a chess club went -- and I was Black!

Defending against it

I think the easy thing to do is to play differently at move 3:

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6

Later on, Black can hope for ...Bg4, gaining time for development, and perhaps trapping the Queen. Or the move ...Nd4 will hit the Queen as well as c2.

Mr. Bacon, our Devon U11 Team Manager, likes instead: 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nf6!?

After 3.Qxe5+ Be7,

Black has given up a pawn (a gambit), but after moves like:

4...O-O 5...Nc6

Black has got ahead in development and may be threatening moves like ...d5. The extra pawn will not matter if Black can trap the Queen!

[a name="mprov"]Improvers[/a]

IMPROVERS: Benny: a game

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015. 10. 03"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Benny"]
[Black "Dr.Dave"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C40"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6
 3. d4 exd4 4. Bg5 Be7 5. h4 d5 6. exd5 Qxd5 7. g3 Bg4 8. Qd3 Qxf3 9. Bg2 Qxg2 10. Rf1 O-O-O 11. Nd2 Nf6 12. Nb3 Rhe8 13. Kd2 Bb4+ 14. c3 dxc3+ 15. bxc3 Rxd3+ 16. Kxd3 Qf3+ 17. Kc2 Re2+ 18. Kc1 {...}

Lessons from this game: * Move pieces not pawns whenever you can * Especially, don't make holes with your pawns

IMPROVERS: Benny and Daisy: The Scotch

I think the Scotch is a fine opening for juniors from age 8 up to 80. I actually wrote a booklet about it which I have never yet published, but I'll give you a copy. The Scotch Game starts like this:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4!

This doesn't give you the perfect centre with two pawns on e4 and d4, but it does lots of good things: * it frees your other Bishop on c1 so it can come into the game * it gives your opponent something to worry about * it gives your opponent the chance to go wrong!

The best move for Black is 3...exd4

Now you have three choices, which are all worth playing at some time or other:

* 4.c3 - the Goring Gambit * 4.Bc4 - the Scotch Gambit * 4.Nxd4 - the Scotch Game

Just to start with, let's just take back the pawn with 4.Nxd4 - the Scotch Game

Now Black has two main moves: * 4...Nf6 * 4...Bc5

Let's look first at 4...Bc5

Now, your Knight on d4 is threatened. You can play one of four good moves here:

* 5.Nf5 * 5.Nb3 * 5.Nxc6 * 5.Be3

I think 5.Be3 is the easiest to play and the easiest to understand. It also sets a big trap! Can you see what White is threatening?

6.Nxc6 wins a piece! The N on c6 threatens the Queen, so Black must take back with


, and then


collects a free Bishop. So 5.Be3 is a very good move: it might be a good move even if it didn't set a trap, and it does that too!

So, Black must do something about the threat. The best idea is probably: 5...Qf6

when the next two moves should be: 6.c3 Nge7

Now White must decide where to put the Bf1, when White is ready to castle. If Black plays a boring couple of moves next, White will castle and then push ahead with Qd2, f4 and e5. White can quickly build up a strong attack, as Black has no stake in the centre.

There is lots more to say about this position, but for that, see the booklet.

IMPROVERS: Awen and Catriona: Desperados the Old Stodge Saloon

The most amazing game was played in the U11 section between Awen and Catriona. First of all, well done Awen for writing down the moves, so we can see it!

The game went like this:

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015. 0. 0"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Riviera 2015"]
[Black "Coaching"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C50"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 3... Nf6 4. O-O Bc5 5. Nc3 d6 6. d3 O-O 7.
Bg5 Bg4 8. Bxf6 8... Bxf3 9. Bxd8 Bxd1 10. Raxd1 Raxd8 {...Whew!  Things
seem to have settled down, and the game eventually ended in a draw...}

A piece that keeps on taking as much stuff as possible before it dies is called a desperado. If each player has a desperado, we get games like that one!

The most famous desperado game is this one, played between the legendary World Championship Contender Yefim Bogoljubow, and the young master Lothar Schmid (well, we was young in 1949!):

[Event "ch-BRD"]
[Site "Bad Pyrmont"]
[Date "1949.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Efim Bogoljubov"]
[Black "Lothar Schmid"]
[ECO "C47"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "50"]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Nxe4 6.Nxc6 Nxc3
7.Nxd8 Nxd1 8.Nxf7 Nxf2 9.Nxh8 Nxh1 10.Bd3 Bc5 11.Bxh7 Nf2
12.Bf4 d6 13.Bg6+ Kf8 14.Bg3 Ng4 15.Nf7 Ne3 16.Kd2 Bf5 17.Ng5
Bxg6 18.Ne6+ Ke7 19.Nxc5 Nxc2 20.Bh4+ Ke8 21.Ne6 Kd7 22.Nf4
Nxa1 23.Nxg6 Re8 24.Bf2 Nc2 25.Nf4 Nb4 0-1

Very greedy Knights!

Let's go back over the Riviera game and see if we can find some other ideas.

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015. 10. 04"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Riviera 2015"]
[Black "Coaching"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C50"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4
3... Nf6 4. O-O {Unusual.  Mr. Onions and I discuss White's choices in our Openings book.  The two main choices are:}
(4.Ng5 {Looks like an attacking move, but if Black plays the best moves, White will end up with an extra pawn, but facing an attack from Black!})
(4.d4 {This is the move if White wants to be the attacker.})
(4...Nxe4 {Well, Why didn't Black play 4...Nxe4?  I think Black can take this pawn, not with the idea of trying to keep it (which can lead to a lot of trouble), but let's take this important central pawn and follow up with ...d5 as soon as we can.})
5. Nc3 d6 6. d3 O-O 
{I have a theory that you can castle too early in this Old Stodge
position.  Both sides can plan to play to pin the opponent's King's
Knight (Bg5/...Bg4).  If you want to break the pin, you have to play h3
Bh4 g4, but with the King castled, you might meet the reply ...Nxg4 hxg4
Bxg4, when you are still in a pin, Black has two pawns for the piece,
and has ideas of ...Nd4 and ...Qf6, maybe winning back the piece, maybe
checkmating your King!  In some lines Black can even meet h3 with h5,
with the idea of hxg4 hxg4 and following up with Qh4, hoping for a quick
<p>7. Bg5 Bg4 </p>
{So, both sides have made their pins.  Now what?}</p>
<p>8. Bxf6
{This doesn't do much to attack or defend.}</p>
(8. Nd5 {is a good attacking move}) ( 8. h3 {tries to defend}) </p>
8... Bxf3 ( 8... Qxf6 {is better, threatening to make a mess of White's King's side e.g.}
9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 Qxf3 11.gxf3 Nd4! {attacking f3 and c2}) </p>
9. Bxd8 ({Instead, White can try the idea I just showed you:} 9.Qxf3
Qxf6 10.Qxf6 gxf6 11.Nd5)</p>
9...Bxd1 10. Raxd1 </p>
( {I got quite interested in} 10. Bxc7 {Has White won a pawn, or got the Bishop completely stuck?}10...Raxd8 {...} 1/2-1/2
{Lots to think about there!}

IMPROVERS: How do you defend against the Queen's Gambit? (Redmond)

I recommend the Swiss Defence.

Play like this:

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015. 0. 0"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Riviera 2015"]
[Black "Coaching"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C50"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7
{White has a big choice here: 7.Bd3, 7.Rc1, 7.Qc2, 7.cxd5}
7. Rc1 a6
{OK so far?
Now, let's say White plays 8.Bd3:
8.Bd3 dxc4
9.Bxc4 b5
10.Bd3 c5 *

Black will continue with ...Bb7 and ....Rc8, and probably ...Qb6 and ...Rfd8. This position is equal. This line was developed by Alekhin, and he used it when he beat Capablanca in the World Championship Match of 1927. Alekhin played it eight times, drawing 7 and winning one. White has better moves than 8.Bd3, but let's get that far first!

Black's first few moves can be played against almost any opening by White that doesn't start with 1.e4. If White starts with 1.c4, play 1...e6 and then 2...d5.

IMPROVERS: Philidor Defence in Black and White

I recommend, if Black wants to play the Philidor Defence, then after

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6!?

This is Black's best third move, as 3...Nd7 can lead to all sorts of trouble after 4.Bc4!

I recommend, if Black plays the Philidor Defence like this against you, then play

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6!? 4.dxe5 Ne4 5.Qd5 Nc5 6.Bg5

White gets a nice active position, either in a middlegame or an endgame.

6...f6 is awful: 7.exf6 gxf6 8.Bf4 and Black cannot castle while their position is full of holes.

What if Black plays 3...Nc6?

Now 4.d5 may be good, but leads to a blocked position that you may not like.

4.dxe5 dxe5 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8 is also better for White, but leads to an endgame, which you might not want to do.

If you are a Ruy Lopez player, then 4.Bb5 might be the move for you. It leads to a position you could get by 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 d6 4.d4

IMPROVERS: IQP against the Sicilian (Nick)

Against the Sicilian I often recommend c3.

White often gets an IQP position in the main lines:

And you should know what you are trying to do in IQP positions, for both sides.

IMPROVERS: Destroy all centres! The French Defence for Black (Nick)

The most common lines White plays against the French at junior level are the Exchange Variation and the Advance Variation.

The Exchange Variation is no threat: your position is solid and White will often find it hard to get going.

The Advance Variation is better. Understanding the Advance Variation helps you understand lots of other variations in the French Defence, and in other openings.

Once White has played e5, Black is a bit squashed, while White has all the space they need to attack. So, Black must plan either to distract White from an attack, or to destroy the centre -- or both!

Black will want to: * to attack down the Queen's-side where Black has most space * hit back at the centre with moves like c5 and f6.

If White wants to keep pawns in the centre, White must try to support the pawns on d4 and e5 with pawns on c3 and f4 (c3, f4) to make sure Black can't play c5 or f6 without problems (Re1, Bxh7+) give up the centre pawns but hope to control the squares where they once sat (Nf3, Bf4, Re1)

Got all that? A lot of that is true for all variations of the French where White plays e4-e5, and White nearly always plays that move.

Also, imagine the position after 1.d4 d6 2.e4 e5 3.d5.

Do you have any ideas how to play this position? You should do! It's a mirror image of the French Defence. So, if in the French Defence, with a White d4/e5 centre, Black is trying to play c5 and f6, in this e4/d5 centre, Black is hoping to play c6 and f5 to destroy White's centre. It's not exactly a mirror image of course, because of where the Kings will end up if they castle, but a lot of the ideas are similar.

[a name="xpert"]Experts[/a]

EXPERTS: Three steps to understand the Ruy Lopez (Nick)


The Ruy Lopez Exchange doesn't win a pawn

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5

White attacks the Knight. This is now the Ruy Lopez opening, named for a Spanish priest who was the strongest player of his age and who first described the opening in the 1500s. It's the house that Ruy built: attack the Knight that defends the Pawn that is attacked by the Knight!

In fact, White is not threatening to win the Pawn on e5 just yet, because even if it were White's move here: 4.Bxc6 Bxc6 5.Nxe5 Qd4!

and Black wins back the e-pawn. (5...Qg5 wins the less important g-pawn. So why is the Ruy Lopez such a good idea? Well, there are lots of good ideas for White in the Ruy Lopez. Let us see if we can explain some to you. The first idea is...

The Ruy Lopez Exchange can win the endgame!

The Exchange Variation is where White just chops off the Knight: 3...a6 4.Bxc6 T We saw that White is not threatening to win the e-Pawn just yet, but White has some other ideas, as Lasker showed. To be able to win back the Pawn, Black must recapture on c6 with the d-pawn. Now after d4 and a swap of pawns:

5.d4 exd4 6.Qxd4 Qxd4 7.Nxd4 T

...we have a situation with rival majorities. But can you see that White has a candidate passed pawn, but Black has not? There is lots of play left, but the nearer we get to an endgame, the closer White is to winning! Another idea for White is to make a couple of moves before playing d4. Then Black will have to defend the e-Pawn, or do something else they may not want to do, before White heads for the endgame.

5.0-0 T

This is the way Fischer played the Exchange Variation. White must make sure they know how to get an advantage after 5...Bg4!? 6.h3 h5!

One line is: 7.d3 Qf6 8.Nbd2 Ne7 9.Re1 Ng6 10.d4 Bd6 11.hxg4 hxg4 12.Nh2 Rxh2! 13.Qxg4! Qh4 14.Qxh4 Rxh4 15.Nf3 Rh5 16.dxe5 Nxe5 17.Nxe5 Bxe5 18.c3 += and White has the endgame they were looking for

The best Ruy Lopez is without the Bxc6 exchange.

If Black knows that White is heading for that kooky endgame, and knows how to avoid it, they may have a good game with the Bishop pair.

But we don't have to take on c6 before castling. White really will threaten to win the e-pawn after castling, so Black might have to make a move like ...d6. Then Black's position is solid but lacks space, and White will be able to move pieces into the attack faster than Black, on either side, or especially if White attacks on one side and then switches to the other.