Back to Basics

How would you defend this position with White?

Or back to work if you like. I have talked to a few friends who have returned from the Olympiad and seen the same everywhere. Everyone is tired beyond comprehension. I left the tournament a bit early, on the free day before the last round, in order to walk my youngest daughter to school on her first day in P1. I am very glad I did. She did not want to go and in the end it took 40 minutes for us to get her to wear the first sock. From there on it was easy, but those 40 minutes were more important than anything I could have done for the Danish team. If you are my Facebook friend, you can find the pictures from the first day on my thread.

Everyone I have talked to after the tournament is dead, dead, dead. Most prominent is probably is probably my own case. Three days after coming home, I had a slight incident in IKEA car park in Glasgow.

20140816_122651 20140816_122656

The red Skoda is ours. I do not think there is a hope in hell arguing that this was not my fault. I could blame FIDE, but it is not really my style.

The Chinese won the Olympiad. After Politiken Cup we were many that were surprised that Bu could not make the team. Now we see why. One main reason they won the tournament was this horrific blunder:

Zoltan Almasi – Yu Yangyi

81.Ke2?? Qe5+ 82.Qe3 Qxe3+ 83.Kxe3 f5 84.h5 a4 85.Kf4 a3 0–1

This of course looks appalling, but actually this is how Yu Yangyi wins his games. He just keeps on playing without doing much, winning one drawn ending after the other – which incidentally is where we come back to our starting position.

Laurent Fressinet – Yu Yangyi, Round 10

White is obviously struggling. The d-pawn might be advanced, but it is also in trouble. Fressinet decided to be active and quickly lost:

30.Ra1? 30.Kf3?! Kf6 does not improve things for White, even if he might still be able to hold somehow. 30…Rxf2+ 31.Kg1 Rg2+ 32.Kh1 Rh2+ 33.Kg1 Rbg2+ 34.Kf1 Rd2 35.Kg1 Rhg2+ 36.Kf1 Rxg3 37.Ke1 Rxd7 0–1

I gave this position to a few students today, just for a quick look, and to Colin. It was quite fascinating that something I solved immediately when I looked at the position can be so difficult for these guys – who on average have 100 points on me (if you include Fressinet). I guess this is the benefit of concrete knowledge.

The way I see it, White will lose the d7-pawn and have to position himself ideally for it. The first step will be not to lose the f2-pawn as well.

30.Kg1! Rb7 31.Ra1 Rdxd7 32.Rxd7 (32.Ra8!? also holds as a student pointed out) 32…Rxd7 33.Ra6! Kf8

This is the position I headed for in my head when looking at the game. The standard idea in this type of ending is to play f3+g4 and either get a passed pawn or create a weakness on h5. I was intending to attack it with the king, but apparently it can just be picked up.

The variation goes like this: 34.Kg2 Ke7 35.f3 Kd8 36.g4 hxg4 (36…Kc8 37.gxh5 gxh5 38.Ra5 and draws) 37.fxg4 Kc8 38.h5 gxh5 39.gxh5 Kb7 40.Rf6 and White draws easily.




29 thoughts on “Back to Basics”

  1. Hello Jacob.

    I have a question and I’m not sure where to ask it, and as I see you answer to comments usually, I try it here.

    I just played a tournament and did horribly (it was not the olimpiad, btw). I realized I made a beginners mistake in studying tons of openings and neglecting everything else, hence I made amends and I want to study some good chess books.

    As I have Quality Chess in high regard, is only natural this is the first site to search for some good books. There are lots of them, and I know some are correlated (GM preparation, Yusupov’s books).

    My question is: In what order is one supposed to read the Quality Chess’ books?

    For example, Yusupov’s series is:

    Build up your chess, boost your chess and chess evolution in this order, doing first the 1, then the 2 and lastly the 3.

    I know from reading the preface in some of the GM preparation books that there is an order there too, I have to read the Positional play before the strategic play.

    So what’s the whole picture?

    Thank you very much.

  2. @KevHun

    Yes, we are working on this. It depends which browser you are using. It looks weird using Internet Explorer but looks fine using Firefox. We will try to make it work on all browsers, but if you can’t wait, then try Firefox now.

  3. @John and Jacob

    I’m currently working trough your quality puzzle book and calculation book. (Great positions and comments, thanks for both great books). Figured I have to work on my tactical vision and on my calculation skills in order to make progress again. And I feel they go hand in hand.

    While there has been written a lot about calculation (candidate moves/Ideas for example) I wondered if you would have some advise for the aspiring player on vision ? Is there some specific aspects to take into account while solving exercises ?

  4. Michael Bartlett

    Very interesting. I had considered that white would lose the d-pawn and should look elsewhere for play but went for Kf3.

  5. @J.
    I have written n article for NIC on this. It will be in issue 6. I have promised not to talk about it before then, but to some extent it is also covered in Calculation, on the principles of seeing.

  6. When I saw this game first, I found it odd that white allows Rf2 with check. I would have played Kg1 and now whenever black plays Rf2 – Rde8 will threaten d8Q and force a perpetual. So
    1.Kg1 Ra2 (otherwise my next move is Ra1)
    2.Re1 Kf6 (otherwise my next move is Re7)
    3.Re4 and at least I don’t quite see how black is making progress. If a5-a4 Ra8 will pick it up in exchange of the d7. If Rf2 Rde8 seems to force perpetual … well, actually white seems to be winning. I don’t really see zugzwang because white can alternate between Re4 and Re3. Kf5 can be met by Rf4 Ke6 Re4 Kd6 Rf8.

  7. Ok, now that I come back and actually read the whole post, I realise that, although I was on the right track, I immediately missed blacks most logical move … Rb7.

    But I hope my lines are complementing the suggested solution.

  8. Jesse Gersenson

    rigao, the three ORANGE Yusupov books are first. Then the blue books. Then the green books.

    Within each color, the ordering is:

    1. Build up your chess (has a CIRCLE on the cover)
    2. Boost Your Chess (SQUARE)
    3. Chess Evolution (TRIANGLE)

  9. @Jesse Gersenson

    Yes, this is what I meant. Now my guess is that this is where someone should start (I read somewhere the books are aimed at 1800-2100 level), but after that, what book is the better one to follow? The attacking manuals, the excelling books?

    Moreover, which is the relation between the excelling books and the GM preparation books, and which is the natural order inside the GM preparation books?

  10. Well, I suppose that Fressinet is also wondering how he could have defended this better and especially since he was really OK in the middlegame phase …

  11. The series after the Yusupov books is indeed Grandmaster Preparation (in combination with a few of the Excelling books, though this is not essential).

    The only thing that I feel have some importance in the series is to do Positional Play before Strategic Play, but to be honest, even this is not essential :-).

    Excelling at Chess Calculation and Excelling at Technical Chess are decent books that I can still recommend; not that I would not recommend other books from that series; but those two are the best ones.

  12. I should mention that I gave Ganguly and Sabino & Marina Brunello 12 exercises from a Chapter in the 7th Yusupov book as a test. Ganguly scored 94%, Sabino a bit less and Marina maybe 60%. Soon after she made her first IM-norm! There is a lot to learn in those books. From 1200 to 2300 in rating, I would say.

  13. @Jacob Aagaard
    I can absolutely subscribe to this! I worked thorugh the whole series (my rating is around 2220), and learned a lot also from the first volumes. What I really like in this series is that it gives you a very good insight in your strengths and weaknesses. E.g., I did the tactics. calculation, and endgame excercises very well, but the positional play and strategy excersises poorly. Therefore, when continuing with the GM Prep series, I decided to start with Positional Play rather then Calculation.

  14. Gilchrist is a Legend

    To be this position seems like Kg1 is the only logical move to me, which came to me within 5 seconds. The point is that every other square whither the King moves leads to severe disadvantage, i.e. Kh3 simply looks bad due to a potential mate if somehow Black takes f2 after moving his King towards the d7-pawn, Kh1 leaves the pawn somewhat en prise, after Black advances the King toward the d7-pawn or just plays …Rb7, Kf3 protects the pawn but leaves the King to potential checks, and to me, any Rook move looks simply poor to me, either losing the d7-pawn if the d8-Rook moves, and serious problems if the f1-Rook moves. Moving the only legal pawn move, g4, is obviously no candidate move, so to me there is nothing else that White can do except Kg1. Then of course, I am only around 2300, which is more than 400 points lower than both players probably, so perhaps they saw something else.

  15. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Perhaps a bit off topic, but I wished to ask, during the Olympiad, had you tried to speak Norwegian? Much more similar orthography to Danish than to Swedish, at least in Bokmål. Of course, in general all three are very similar in the first place…

  16. @Jacob Aagaard
    And rightly so, I think! I haven’t finished it yet (too busy with openings as wel…), but I was thinking whether it would be a good idea to go through the exercises repeatedly – comparable to the ‘ woodpecker method’ advocated by Axel Smith for studying tactics, but then for positional play. The reason why this struck me as a possibly useful idea is that the test positions in your book are very thematic and broadly applicable in my opinion.

  17. Fascinating with another example of how Danes cant understand standard Norwegian while Norwegians never have any trouble understanding standard Danish. Must be some widespread mental thing, as surely one cant say Norwegians in general are superiour to Danes in the area of language?

    1. I think it is because Danes speak in a flat tone to some extent. Norwegian really is an improvement on Danish both phonetically and spelling wise. But we struggle with the pitch, we really do. Written I understand 99%+ in Norwegian. Just as I can read Dutch with some accuracy, but struggle to understand anything of it when spoken.

  18. The title of this thread reminded me of a book by GM Aagaard whose praises I have already sung, “Dutch Stonewall”—available here in German. For a low level player like me it is the perfect book—a slim volume that gives the history of the opening, discusses strategic and tactical points in plain language as ideas (not just concatenations of moves), and is very succinct in making its points by selecting key and decisive games that illustrate the points well. I am sure there is much there at a deeper level that I cannot even appreciate. I know Quality Chess was started in part (according to their own words) to move beyond and dwell at a deeper level than the latest wave of “Starting Out” books, and I have no idea about the chess book market in English; but I suspect that there is an audience for basic, direct, simple, and well written books like the one I mentioned. Schandorff’s Caro-Kann has a similar readability and discussion of themes beyond move chains so perhaps it is a Danish thing.

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