Monday, June 24, 2024

Marathon Bishops on Boris Gelfand's birthday

"Never play a move without an idea even in blitz" -Tigran Petrosian

The above famous quote was told by the legendary Armenian World Champion in one of his training sessions to his then young protege Boris Gelfand who has religiously followed this advice throughout his rich chess career and quite successfully at that! Chess after all is a game where one outthinks an adversary, so the element of thought either by logic or intuition or inspiration remains a fundamental building block of a formidable chess player.

Recently I came across a very different term about describing a bishop, while browsing Axel Smith's book on color complexes. He described the bishop as a 'marathon bishop'!?  As I understand he describes a bishop which does have open diagonals (so, not a bad one in a traditional sense) but nevertheless lacking significant purpose or prospects in the context of the game in relation with the other pieces and pawn structure. He compared this with Marathon, where the athletes run such a great distance without any significant purpose!

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Theory of Corresponding Squares

 In Endgame theory, especially in King and Pawn endgames there is a concept known as Corresponding Squares (Sister Squares as mentioned by some Russian authors) which always seemed as quite a complex part of the endgame for me since my childhood. My memory vaguely wanders around some books by Jonathon Speelman and Averbakh. Personally, I have never had this concept in any of my endgames. I also, do not recall having even seen them in recent praxis. OfCourse Dvoretsky and Mueller have also dealt with this topic in their own endgame manuals in a very detailed manner. 

In a recent game of Rasmus Svane, I happened to notice an endgame with four pawns for each side and his opponent having the better minor piece and a better placed King.  My friend Thorsten Cmiel had shared the following position with a comment that it needed to be solved by the system of corresponding squares.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Thoughts on Anish and Sandipan master classes ( Pro Chess Diaries)

Grandmasters Anish Giri and Sandipan Chanda were giving a master class on the same day (Oct 21st, 2022) in Pro Chess, and I was given an opportunity to witness the interesting Chess Lessons being discussed in those sessions. Any Chess fan would of course be thrilled with it and my experience was absolutely the same too! In this article I share a few interesting positions and thought processes I encountered from these sessions, for the readers to get a view of the nuggets of wisdom that were unearthed there. 

Monday, October 10, 2022

You are your own enemy

 "आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मन:"

-Bhagavath Geetha

The above quote from the Bhagavath Geetha (the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna) means that the Self is one's own and friend and that it is also its own enemy! The verse is quite philosophical and has its own deeper meanings for the seeker. However, my idea of quoting the above statement was not with that in mind. From the perspective of a chess, can a unit of our army be a friend or foe depending on the circumstances? From experience we know that the answer is a resounding, yes!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Castling into it (King's Placement-2)

 Fischer used the term 'Castling into it'  to signify Castling into a flank with a risky or a weakened pawn shelter. I am using this term more broadly to signify a risky King placement because we show our cards too early.We had earlier looked at the factor of King's placement being an important one based on games of Maxime Vachier Lagrave and Ganguly. This is a time honoured problem, and one that is not easily understood even by the all time greats. From the games of Steinitz until modern ones, this has been something to ponder about. I was recently looking at a game from 1948 World Championship match tournament between Keres and Botvinnik, that sparked an interest to revisit this topic. 

Keres-Botvinnik Round 5 Hague/Moscow World Championship Tournament 1948

1.c4 e6 2. g3 d5 3.Bg2 d4!? 

An interesting attempt to grab more space. This was what Carlsen tried too in the most recent World Championship versus Nepo. Botvinnik does not rate this move highly, but his move has stood the test of time and is considered to be good even to this day!

Friday, May 20, 2022

Striking Originality

"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation" - Herman Melville

I agree with this quote in part, as the ideas of success or failure seems moot to me especially when viewing chess as an art. To me originality is even more important in this age of information than in any other time.

Today is the birth day of my friend and a long time colleague Grandmaster M.R.Venkatesh. On this occasion I happened to think about some of his games and some of his memories. I know him from the time he was perhaps 7 or 8 and what was always striking about his (chess) personality from then was his original approach to the game. Earlier I attributed  it ( incorrectly so!) to his lack of formal training. But with passing age I am able to keenly appreciate this quality in a chess player as the most profound one! There were always instances of awe, surprise, disdain and mockery too when coming across some of his decisions but with time when one grows over those immediate emotions they seem to show the unique chess artist that he indeed is.