Sunday, May 15, 2016

Chess960: How to see the power of the chivalry knights

The chivalry knights in Chess960 are amazingly strong attackers that can leap forward and pounce on the opponent if they are unaware. They tend to tread on each other toes since they compete for the same color squares, but that can also work in their advantage. Here is an example position:

SP110: White creates a weak d3 square on the third rank
that either one or both chivalry knight's can leap into

If black could exchange off white's light square bishop, white would have almost no hope of preventing the chivalry knights coming forward and sitting on the d3 square. The square is so weak it can virtually be considered an outpost square for a knight already. Notice that neither of white's chivalry knights can do anything about the d3 square.

Key point: So the chivalry knights are powerless against the enemies equivalent knights!

White's idea of playing c3 with the plan of breaking with d4 and opening up the c-file for the rook, is completely flawed because white has failed to grasp the power of black's chivalry knights.

So I thought it would be a good idea, to help players visualize the outpost squares that exist for the chivalry knights, without needing to do any calculation.

The threatened outposts squares of the chivalry knights
exist on the the enemies third rank

Compare the two diagrams above. You will see that the green squares are threatening to become outpost squares for the chivalry knights if the enemy were to leave them weakened.

Key point: No calculation is needed, just remember the pattern above (it is very simple). The squares are on the same file as the knights, always on the sixth rank.

and be open to the possibility that you or your opponent can fall for the trap of letting the chivalry knights come forward and rule the position.

Good luck
Enjoy 960.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Chess960: Transcript of Showdown in Saint Louis 2015 - SP436 Caruana v Nakamura (with a comment by me)

Here is a transcript of the second fischer random game between Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana at the Showdown in Saint Louis competition 2015.

Rumours have it that the organizers experienced technical difficulties during the event, so there are no PGN records for the games available in the public domain. I have had to reconstruct the games from the video recordings on Youtube and Chess24. In order to save time and effort, I have transcribed only the opening phases of each of the games, since that is what interests us in Chess960 - the rest is just chess!

To save space in the comment text, the three commentators are initialed as Yasser Seirawan (YS), Jennifer Shahade (JS) and Maurice Ashley (MA).

Game 1 SP436: Fabiano Caruana verses Hikaru Nakamura

NOTE: Some browsers may not display the game properly

Transcriptions of the other other games will follow over coming days......

My commentary:
Move 13 Caruana to play - how beautiful is that!

Nakamura playing black, deliberately drops a pawn and then offers a queen trade!?! That breaks all the conventions of normal chess (don't simplify when down in material). But like the commentators said, Nakamura is bluffing and Caruana doesn't fall for it. If white exchanges queens, black gets a really good game with a knight biff on b4 and an attacking rook and the bishop pair. Check out the beautiful X-RAY defense by Naka here. His queen is indirectly defending both his undefended bishops without a direct line to them. Naka is even prepared to expose his weak back rank and increase the risk.

Cool stuff. C'mon people, where is the excitement for Chess960 Fischer Random Style. You would never get a position like this is old chess. It is only move 12 and so much has happened already!

Enjoy 960

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Chess960 puzzle no.18

One of the most amazing queen entrapment tactical scenarios I've seen in Chess960 yet. Enjoy the puzzle.

SP598 White to play: Can white catch the queen
and get back to material equality?

Solution below

Solution: NO! Black's queen cannot be captured without significant losses. Best is to sacrifice the exchange to keep black's queen out of play.

Wrong solution:
6.Be3...cxd4 7.cxd4...Ng6! 8.f3...Bb4+ 9.Ke2...Nf4+ 
now follows the amazing line:
10.Bxf4 b6 11. Ndf2 Ba6+ 12. Ke3 Bxf1 13. Rd1 Nc6 14. Ng3 Bxg2 15. Rxg1 Bxh3

Correct solution:
6.Ng3...e5!! 7.Ne2...d6! 8.Qh5...Bg4!! 9.Qxg4...Qh2 
white is down an exchange but black's queen is out of play