Friday, February 16, 2018

February 2018 Tactical Training: Part 1

Happy Lunar New Year to all, and hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend!


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Tata Steel Chess 2018 Highlights: Part 1

Yet another major tournament ended last month: The Tata Steel Chess 2018. World Champion Magnus Carlsen won the tournament for a record sixth time. The event also marked the resurgence of Anish Giri, who had a plus 5 score—something one would not have expected from a player who was infamous for his “drawing” tendencies!

With 13 rounds and many decisive games, there was no shortage of interesting battles for me to choose from, so I can’t possibly fit all my choices into a single article. For today, we will look at 3 games from the early stages of the tournament.

The first game was from the very first round, where GM Wei Yi got onto the bad side of a Catalan against Vladimir Kramnik. The game is a magnificent display of what Kramnik excels at: Slow accumulation of positional advantages such as the open file and centre, before converting them into a crushing win. Karpov would have been proud!

Kramnik (left) vs Wei Yi (Image from

If our first game was a positional classic, then the next one was an exciting tactical battle where another former World Champion prevailed: Vishy Anand. His opponent, Caruana, tried an interesting knight sacrifice, but slipped up and paid the price for it.

What a way to end the game! It seems that both Anand and Kramnik are still going strong, even as their generation slowly gets displaced by upcoming stars like Carlsen and Giri!

If you thought endgames were boring, wait till you see our final game, which was a sharp endgame battle with both sides advancing passed pawns of their own. While Mamedyarov and Adhiban are not as well-known as the names mentioned earlier, the following game shows that both players are not to be messed around with:

Adhiban (left) and Mamedyarov at the start of the round (Image from

This was Mamedyarov’s second win in a row, and he later on won his third consecutive game to lead the tournament in Round 7; definitely something he can be proud of!

In Part 2, we will look at more highlights from the second half of the tournament.

To be continued…


Sunday, January 21, 2018

What goes round must come around

Today I will be looking through another 2 of my online correspondence games, both against the same opponent. Here’s the fun part: Both of us employed parallel ideas of kingside attack, sacrifices and square domination against each other. What goes round… must come around!

Without further ado, here’s the first game, where I offered relatively feeble resistance:

Funnily enough, the kingside sacrificial attack that my adversary wrought upon me seemed so effective, I decided to copy it. And who else to test it against than the same opponent? When they say that your opponent is your teacher, this can’t be truer over here.

Very good lessons from these games, and here’s to more exciting correspondence/OTB games in the future!


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sunday, January 7, 2018

My first OTB game of 2018

Without much ideas to write about since the year begun, I have decided to analyze my first over-the-board (OTB) game of 2018, played in last’s Wednesday’s Asia Square chess meetup.

Remember how I talked about how material is but a mere imbalance in the grand scheme of chess?
The following game was a very good lesson: Despite being material up, my advantage was blunted by two other imbalances: Poor king safety and bad queenside development. While it sounds like one of those typical “don’t go about grabbing pawns” games used to teach beginners about the importance of development, in this case I was lucky to get out alive.

Take a look at the following position:

Position after 14... O-O-O

Any patzer can spot that free pawn on g6, but was it wise to grab it? Black had deliberately given up the pawn to bring his own king to safety, and with good reason: White’s far-advanced pawns do no good in keeping their own king safe, so Black can look for counterplay based on the imbalance.

White can choose to grab the pawn immediately and worry about the threats to their king later, or play the safer g5, closing up the kingside and fixing g6 as a permanent target.

I chose the greedy path and played 15. Bxg6. Fast forward a few moves:

Position after 18... Rh6

Here, I was starting to regret that materialistic decision on move 15. White may be a pawn up, with a monster light-squared bishop that is dominating the kingside. But Black has strong counter-threats at their disposal: For example, doubling rooks on the h-file to pressure the h5 weakness, followed by … Qd8 bringing in more attackers to the kingside.

And White? I have already mentioned the problem with my king who is standing in the open, while the soldiers assigned to guard him have recklessly advanced far into enemy territory and are paying the price for it!


Adding on to my woes is the undeveloped queenside: With the sleeping dark-squared bishop, I will need to spend at least two tempi to develop it and connect my rooks. Until then, two of my pieces (c1 bishop and a1 rook) are effectively cut off from any potential kingside action.

Not surprisingly, a tough struggle awaits on the kingside. Unfortunately for my opponent, he failed to spot the correct combination, giving me time to bring my king to safety and activate the queenside, before simplifying the position and consolidate my material advantage.

Here is the full game:

A timely escape, and an important reminder that material isn't everything!


Monday, January 1, 2018

January 2018 Tactical Training: Part 1

A little late, but... Happy New Year to all!

Have fun! (:

Sunday, December 24, 2017

December 2017 Tactical Training: Part 2

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Image from: