Scotland FM

Quality Chess, as you may know, is based in Glasgow, Scotland. So we like to keep an eye on the progress of Scottish chess players. In terms of players gaining higher titles, the last few years have seen slim pickings. But recently two Scots pushed their ratings over 2300, and so will become FIDE Masters. Congratulations to Clément Sreeves and Andy Burnett.

Andy’s elevation comes about a month after we sent some Quality Chess books his way, as a minor way of sponsoring his title-seeking efforts. Sadly we cannot claim any of the credit as Andy has barely had time to read any of the books. Andy’s blog is here but with all the events he has been playing, he has not had time to update it recently.

Clément and Andy join the ranks of Scottish FMs who have realistic chances of becoming IMs. In fact, FMs Graham Morrison and Alan Tate have all the IM norms required, and just need to boost their ratings to 2400 to collect their titles.

And our best candidate for next Scottish GM? IM Andrew Greet.

The following crushing win was played by Andy Burnett in the Czech Republic last year.

A. Burnett – F. Ludvigsen
Olomouc 2014

 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qf3

Intriguing, or maybe Andy really played 4.Qd3 and the game was input incorrectly in the database. Emanuel Berg did not cover 4.Qf3 in his French repertoire book, which is fine by me – you cannot cover every crazy move even in a ‘complete’ repertoire.


Rather compliant, regardless of whether the queen is on d3 or f3. 4…Nc6!? looks logical – attack the thing that’s not defended. White may well still be equal.

5 Qxe4

We are now back in a known theory line, though of course the queen normally gets here via d3.

5…Nf6 6 Qh4 c5 7 dxc5 Bxc5

A little slow. Normal is 7…Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 Qa5.

8 Nf3 Nc6 9 Bb5 Bd7

9…0–0 was simpler.

10 Bg5 Be7 11 Rd1 Qa5?!

More solid was 11…Qc7!?.

12 0–0

Actually the same idea that Andy plays next move was already playable.


12…Rd8 was safer.

13 Rxd7!

Ensuring the black king will never be safe is fine value for an exchange.

13…Kxd7 14 Ne5+ Kc7

The computer suggests 14…Kc8 but after 15 Nxc6 bxc6 16 Bxc6 White has more than enough compensation; or maybe a bishop and pawn is level material against a rook? Anyway, White’s better.

15 Nc4

Over the next few moves the queen is used as a punching bag.

15…Qb4 16 a3 Qc5 17 Be3 Qf5 18 Qg3+ e5 19 Bb6+ Kc8 20 Bxc6 bxc6

21 Re1!±

Calmly including all his pieces. The black king will wait.

21…Nd7 22 Ne4 Qe6 23 Qc3 Rb8

Ending his own suffering was probably for the best.

24 Ncd6+!

And mates. A fine game, showing how to keep the enemy king in the centre, then close in and finish him.


36 thoughts on “Scotland FM”

  1. I’m sure that, given the context, you won’t mind me putting in a plug for Andy’s book Streetfighting Chess (self-published). It’s an entertaining and instructional read!

  2. @Shaw out of interest would it be possible to know which books were sent to him? I would be interested to know which books you thought would best help him make the leap to FM.

  3. @James

    I let Andy decide the books rather than trying to say myself what he needs, so I hope I am not giving away any vital secrets when I say Jacob’s GM Preparation series featured heavily. When Andy has had time to study them, I hope they will spur him on to the next title.

    I think Andy’s actual leap to FM was based on playing lots of FIDE-rated games against good opposition – so practice and effort. For a Scot that means playing abroad is essential, as Andy has been doing, mainly in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

  4. While we’re talking about books, I got myself two QC books in hardcover for Christmas. Or actually 3 (1 softcover bonus) with the help of the Niggemann QC sale, which is still on. 😉
    One was Advanced Chess Tactics by Psakhis. I’ve only had a brief look at it yet, but it seems highly interesting and very advanced indeed.
    The third was the San Luis tournament book, which is of course a safe bet, especially for free. IMHO this is the best such book, together with Bronstein’s classic (which is completely different).
    The one I worked with for a couple of days is Mating the Castled King by Gormally. I’ve solved the first couple of exercises and consumed maybe 40-50 pages of text. I have to say that I’m very happy about this book. Really good stuff. The explanations – including the highly detailed solutions to the exercises – are excellent, the examples and accompanying texts both instructive and inspiring. Wonderful chess. About the difficulty so far I can say that as a 2100 player, who didn’t fully concentrate for private reasons, I felt challenged but was able to solve the puzzles to a significant extend (but not completely!), and I was able to follow everything the author wrote and ‘feel’ the flow of these examples. Of course this might change while I dig deeper. It’s obvious the author put a lot of thought and work into his book.
    So I really hope Mating the Castled King sells well enough to see more books by Gormally.

  5. Congrats to Andy! I drew with him in last round at a tournament in Slovakia where we ended up in 4th and 5th place, and he told me he had a bet with a friend (also from Scotland iirc) on who will become a FM first.. so also congrats on winning this bet 🙂

  6. @AntMan

    The difference is that the Gormally book exists and the Ziegler book does not. The Ziegler book was planned but nothing was ever written or printed. I will try to get Amazon to take down the page you linked.

  7. @Andre
    I like Gormally book. I am at 2200 and I find the positions of acceptable difficulty giving me some challenge. I may be at the higher spectrum of that book audience, though.

    I don’t know if it happened to you too, but I discovered some standard procedures that made the calculations really easy (for example in the 2nd chapter, the first theme has like 3 or for problems where you need to play Nd5 in order to disturb the f6 Knight. Once you know the resource is there, you don’t have to give it any thought, you know that Nd5 is the killer move).

    One more thing I like from Gormally book is that you don’t need to take notes or anything for the solutions. The book will present the diagram first and then show you the variations (excellently commented), so you know if you did it right (of course, if you don’t write anything down, you may cheat yourself).

    In normal tactical books you have to go back and forth between the diagram and the solution or you should take notes (and even then, if you fail, you need to go back and forth to see what the proposed solution is).

    I considered buying Psakhis book but from the excerpt it seemed it was going to be just a collection of annotated games. There are many good books with annotated games and that didn’t stand out. If it were centered more around solving exercises I would have gone there, as it was highly interested. Otherwise I settled for Sokolov’s book about structures.

  8. Dominik :
    Congrats to Andy! I drew with him in last round at a tournament in Slovakia where we ended up in 4th and 5th place, and he told me he had a bet with a friend (also from Scotland iirc) on who will become a FM first.. so also congrats on winning this bet

    Hi Dominik,

    Andy’s bet was with Clément, so I don’t think Andy won. I guess they will be officially awarded the FM title at the same FIDE meeting, but Clément went over 2300 first. Does that mean Clément won the bet? Someone call a lawyer…

  9. Looking on the Fide website, neither player seems to have reached 2300. Am I missing something, or is there a recent tournament they participated in that hasn’t been sent through to Fide yet?

  10. John Shaw :
    It’s recent tournaments that are not with FIDE yet.

    Also, it’s enough to reach 2300 “floating”, e.g., you’re at 2299 and gain just 1 ELO from the first round (I think .5 would even suffice but I’m not sure) and lose the rest of the games, you’ll still get the title.

  11. Actually the bet was between 2 other Scottish players, betting on Andy and myself. It’s possible that Andy bet against someone else also. I knew I would get to FM first because the individual who took my side is the luckiest person on earth.

  12. @wolfsblut

    If, as I suspect, you are asking about the Playing 1.e4 book that will include the Scotch against 1…e5, then yes, it is creeping ever closer. If the subject is drink, then I recommend something from Islay.

  13. @rigao
    I also noticed that you recognize the pattern more easily as you work through the chapter’s puzzles. But that’s the point, isn’t it? 😉
    To compensate for it I made it a habit to try to calculate the whole thing including all possible defenses, until I was sure I had seen everything. Slows down the progress quite a bit though.

    I know Sokolov’s book, and I like it a lot. It’s not that different to Psakhis’. Both are game collections sorted into chapters by topic. Psakhis explains the typical attacking plans in the chosen structure / opening. While doing so he is very close to the battle, especially in his own games. He explains flow of the game, the risks & opportunities both (should) have chosen to maximize their practical chances and gives some general advice based on the games shown.
    The overlap between both are isolani positions. The difference in annotation style is that Sokolov is always objective to help you understand the structures, while Psakhis presents attacking chess as a battle between two players and delivers practical advice on top of the objective analysis. I found Sokolov’s book refreshingly difficult, and the 3 random games I’ve played through from Psakhis in the meantime had mixed difficulty from slightly less than Sokolov to far higher.
    To sum it up, I don’t see that much difference in the two books so far. My impression is though that Psakhis book is clearly better than Sokolov’s other book about attacking chess.

  14. @Andre
    You made me want it, damn it! But I just received the 4th edition of Dvoretsky endgame manual and I still want the Chess Structures from Flores Ríos and considering very seriously the Gelfand book…

  15. @Andre
    Most of the positions I checked from Sokolov’s attacking book were poorly analysed. There are mistakes in all books, but this was too much…


    rigao :
    —-I just received the 4th edition of Dvoretsky endgame manual…


    How does 4th edition differs from older editions? Is is worth to buy it? And what about blue colored diagrams and text, is still there?

    Thx for reply

  17. Jacob Aagaard :
    Most of the positions I checked from Sokolov’s attacking book were poorly analysed. There are mistakes in all books, but this was too much…

    Thanks for the warning, Jacob. I heard the same thing from another source too. It didn’t really convince me either.

    See this review for details:

    Some advice for those who can read chess-German:
    I own the English 3rd Ed. and had the equivalent German 4th Ed. (2010) at home. The German version costs 50% more, but absolutely everything else about it is better! It’s in hardcover, has a great layout and clean print, and it stays open when put on the table. The difference in quality is so big that I actually regretted the 8 EUR i spent on the US version.
    So if a German 5th Ed. comes out, and Yusupov (the book’s new publisher) is willing to invest in delivering the same quality, be advised that it might be an option to spend 30+ EUR on the German hardcover.

  19. @rigao & Andre

    Advanced chess tactics is by far the best QC book.

    I had 2100+ elo when I started studying this book. Although it initially felt as banging my head against a wall, I persisted and ended up having several rating performances around 2350. It took me over a year to tame this monster, with several games spending over 20h on them. So money wise, this is a bargain for the countless hours you will spend on this book. Time wise you’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s worth it 🙂

    What I got out of this book:
    1) a strong intuition for seeing the candidate moves/ideas before embarking on calculation
    2) a good feel for the critical moments
    3) knowledge of typical moves and ideas in a wide range of positions
    4) an attitude that there is a lot of potential in even worse positions

    You’ll still have to do all the other work (endgames, openings and exercises) to hone your skills and raise your elo, but this book is the one that will instil and raise your raw strength.

  20. @banzaij
    Thanks. Unfortunately I didn’t see your comment earlier. I blame QC’s refusal to expand the “Recent Comments” column to 10-15 entries. 😉
    Could you explain *how* you trained with Psakhis book?

  21. Jesse Gersenson

    Recent comments has been increased from 5 to 12!

    Jacob, you can set the number as follows:
    login >
    click ‘Appearance’ >
    click ‘Widgets’ >
    expand ‘Recent Comments’ (page right) >
    enter number & save

  22. “Intriguing, or maybe Andy really played 4.Qd3 and the game was input incorrectly in the database. Emanuel Berg did not cover 4.Qf3 in his French repertoire book, which is fine by me – you cannot cover every crazy move even in a ‘complete’ repertoire.” John Shaw

    4.Qf3!? is my secret weapon against the Winawer 😉 Obviously it’s not a theoretically dangerous idea, but it does have some logic behind it, as well as practical value. If you want to know more, there’s an article on it in issue 1 of my SFC online mag.

  23. @Andy Burnett

    Hi Andy,

    “4.Qf3!? is my secret weapon against the Winawer”

    Ah, a little less secret now.

    “If you want to know more, there’s an article on it in issue 1 of my SFC online mag.”

    It took a few seconds for my brain to figure out this was ‘Streetfighting Chess’ (first thought was ‘Southern Fried Chicken’). Since the mag seems to be free to access on-line, I will make that my lunch-time reading.

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