#1 – December 13, 2002


Ask the MastersNinja Tactics
Analyze ThisTrial by Trivia

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Welcome to the first issue of White Belt. Each week we present 3-5 rotating content sections. Most are chess training sections on tactics, openings, game analysis, puzzles, and endgames.

We'll also include fun things like trivia, interviews, book and software reviews, and highlights from chess history. Make sure to let us know your favorite sections.

Q: I play a lot of blitz online but my rating isn't improving very much. I usually can only play for an hour or so and long games are pretty boring to me. Do I have to play long games to get better or am I doing something else wrong? Thanks. – Don Tchanow
Sharp-eyed blitz addict Alexander Morozevich

A: There is nothing wrong with online blitz. Don't believe anyone who says it will ruin your tournament chess or make you go blind! (World top ten Morozevich can be found playing blitz online at all hours.) On the other hand, moderation in all things is good advice. Consider online blitz to be chess junk food. It's fun, but to really improve your chess understanding and your results you will have to spend more time on your games. That can be with analysis and with longer games.

Instead of an hour online playing your usual twenty games, try playing just two or three longer games, and then just one. Once you get used to it you will really feel the difference and start to enjoy slower chess. So many ideas, so much happening! With more time you can plan deeper and see much more. Your concentration will improve and you will be able to analyze these games seriously. All of this will also make you a much better blitz player!

The pin is one of the most powerful tactical themes. A piece or pawn cannot move because moving would expose a more important piece. It's particularly deadly when a piece is pinned against the king, as then it cannot move at all. (Sometimes called an "absolute pin.") When an enemy piece is pinned you must pile on the pressure! Don't give your opponent time to break the pin or provide more protection.

You can't wait for pins and other tactics to appear by magic. Look for pieces on the same file or diagonal as the king or queen, or see if you can create those circumstances.

The pin is the key theme in most of the below diagrams. (Not all, we don't want it to be too easy.) Find the best move for the side to move. The answers are at the end of the page, but don't check them until you've spent at least a few minutes on each position.

Play over the positions and solutions online

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e6 4.e3 Nf6 5.Nf3 a6 6.Qc2 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.a3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5

This is a typical position out of the Semi-Slav Defense. Black's last move is double-edged. He gains space, plus time to develop his bishop to b7. The bad news is that the pawns can be over-extended and weak in an endgame.

A good example of that was seen in game two of the Kramnik-Deep Fritz match in Bahrain in October, 2002. The world champ picked the computer's pawns apart. The key difference here is that the queens are still on the board, so the aggressive ..b5 makes more sense. (The other difference is that here White isn't Kramnik!)

10.Bd3 Attacking h7, but leaving the bishop out in traffic. Safer is 10.Be2, which also adds some protection to the Nf3. 10...Nbd7 11.0-0 Bb7 12.e4 This looks like a terrible thing to do to the d3 bishop! However, Black is threatening to rip up the white kingside with ..Bxf3, and if White is to finish development and pressure Black in the center, this move is necessary.

12...Qc7 13.Bg5 Ne5 Classical play: the defender wants to exchange pieces to make his job easier. This move also sets a little trap, just in case White is sleeping. 14.Rac1?

Develops the rook, pressures the c5 bishop, which could be pinned against the queen. Great?14...Nfg4! Whoops, White hit the snooze button at the wrong time. That knight isn't pinned anymore! Black threatens the fatal ..Nxf3+ and ..Qxh2# mate!

15.Bf4 The only move to continue. [ 15.Nxe5 Qxe5 with a double attack on g5 and h2. f4 is illegal so White is kaput.] 15...Nxf3+ 16.gxf3 Qxf4 17.fxg4 Qxg4+ 18.Kh1 Qf3+ 19.Kg1 Qg4+ 20.Kh1 Qf3+ 21.Kg1

Standard Grandmaster shuffling. When you have a superior position and can repeat a few moves with no risk, it gets you a few steps closer to the next time control.

So what does Black have now that the fireworks are over? First of all, a nice juicy pawn. Secondly, the white king's protection has been smashed. Lastly, Black has the famous "two bishops."

This means he has two and White doesn't! Especially in open positions and endgames it is a big advantage to have the bishop pair. We'll see why here. 21...Bd6

22.Qe2 Qxe2 Black has faith in his pawn and his bishops. ..Qf4 was more aggressive, but if you have a concrete, simple advantage, there is no need to risk complications you're not sure about.

Any good Ninja knows it's not the style of the kill, it's the kill. 23.Nxe2 Ke7 Smack yourself in the head of you wanted to castle here. It's safe for the king and it's much better placed for the endgame now than on g8.

24.f4 Rac8 25.Kf2 Rhd8 26.Rxc8 Rxc8 27.Ke3 Bc5+ 28.Kd2 Rd8 29.Kc2 Another advantage for Black: White has three pawn 'islands' and compared to two for Black. This makes the white pawns much harder to defend, especially that stray puppy on h2.

29...g6 30.b4 Be3 31.Rf3 Rc8+ 32.Kb3 Bd2 33.Rh3 h5 34.Bc2 Rc4 35.Rd3 Be1 Black might be taking it a little TOO easy here. 35...Bxf4 looks like a simpler path to victory. On the other hand, Vera was probably in love with his dominating position, and who can blame him?

[ 35...Bxf4 36.Nxf4 Bxe4 37.Nh3 ( 37.Rd2 Bxc2+ 38.Rxc2 Rxf4) 37...Bxd3 38.Bxd3 Rh4 39.Bf1 Black shouldn't have any trouble winning with his mighty line of pawns. But there is at least a possibility of making a mistake here, with the queenside pawns being vulnerable to the white bishop. Black's choice to play 35..Be1 was a no-risk option. ]

36.Rd1 Bf2 This bishop continues to limit the knight's moves. That's one of the biggest advantages of a bishop over a knight in an endgame. 37.Bd3 Rc7 38.Ra1 f5 39.exf5 Bd5+ 40.Kb2 gxf5 41.a4 Good defensive strategy. Rustemov wants to liquidate all the pawns on the queenside. This would make it easier to defend his other pawns.

The long-range bishops can torture him on both sides of the board at the same time. The knight will gain power if it only has to work on one side of the board. 41...Bh4 42.Ra3 To avoid the ..Bf6+ x-ray attack. 42...Bf6+ 43.Kb1 Bc4 That's the bishop Black wants to exchange. He absolutely wants to avoid ending up with bishops of opposite colors, which would give White very good chances to draw. 44.Nc1 Bxd3+ 45.Nxd3 Rc3 46.Rxc3 Bxc3

Trading down to Black's main advantages. An extra pawn and bishop vs knight in an endgame with pawns all over the board. Even worse, white's pawns are stuck on the same color as Black's bishop, making them easy targets. 47.Kc2 Bd4 48.axb5 axb5 49.Ne1 Be3 50.Ng2 Bf2 51.h3 Kd6 52.Kd2 Kd5 53.Ke2 Ba7 54.Kd3 Bb6 55.Ne1 Bc7 56.Ng2 Kc6 57.Kd4 Bd6 58.Kc3 Kd5

With excellent "tempo play" Black has pushed the white king away. The bishop attacks b4 and f4, so the knight is frozen. Now the black king comes in for the kill. 59.Ne3+ Ke4 60.Nc2 White is practical. He can't protect the f-pawn so at least he will grab the b5 pawn and try to create chances with a passed b-pawn. 60...Kxf4 61.Na3 Kg3 62.Nxb5 Be5+

A classic domination square. Note how from this distance the bishop covers four of the knight's six legal moves! 63.Kd2 Kxh3 64.Na3 h4 65.Nc4 Bf4+ Domination again. 66.Ke2 Kg2 Shielding off the white king and the h-pawn rolls. 0-1

The power of the bishop was striking throughout the game. See how it easily it controls both sides of the board. The white pawn would never have a chance.

View this game online

How much do you know about chess off the board? The first reader to post the most correct answers to the Trial by Trivia message board at ChessNinja.com will be entered to win our monthly bookstore or subscription prize. Not to mention eternal fame in the next issue, when we will also give you the answers.

Who was the youngest World Champion ever?
2. Who were the participants in the first world championship match to finish in a draw?
3. Which World Champion was known as "the chess machine"?
4. How many world championship matches have taken place in Asia?
5. Name the three World Champions who died in the USA.

(1) Level 2
1.Rxe5+ Bxe5 The bishop has been drawn to the same file as the black king. Look for these opportunities! 2.Re1 Kf7 3.Rxe5

(2) Level 2
1.Rh1 [ 1.Rxd8+ Rxd8 2.Rh1] 1...g6 [ 1...Rxd1+ 2.Kxd1 g6 3.g4] 2.g4 Piling up!

(3) Level 2
1...d4 2.Kg2 Rxe1! Stronger than the immediate ..Rf8. [ 2...Rf8 3.Re4 Bxe4 4.dxe4 Now the ..d3 trick doesn't work.] 3.Rxe1 Rf8 4.Re4 Bxe4 5.dxe4 d3! 6.cxd3 c2

(4) Level 3
1.Rxd5! [ 1.Bc4? This gives time for Black to defend the pinned knight. 1...c6 2.Qe4 Qb6+ 3.Kh1 Rfd8] 1...Qxd5 2.Bc4 Winning the queen.

(5) Level 3
1.Rxd5! [ 1.Bxd5? Bf6! Black steps out of the pin with a gain of tempo (time) by attacking the queen. 2.Qf3 exd5] 1...Bf6 [ 1...exd5 The e-pawn is pinned because the e7 bishop has no protection. 2.Rxe7] 2.Rd4 And the rook steps into a pin! 2...Rad8 3.Qe3 Bxd4 4.Nxd4 White has a clear advantage with two pieces for a rook.

(6) Level 3
1.Re8+ Bf8 [ 1...Rxe8? 2.Rxe8+ Bf8 3.Bh6 A classic mating pattern. 3...Rxf2+ 4.Kxf2 f5 5.Rxf8#] 2.Bh6 f5 3.Bxf8




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