17-year-old Chinese super-GM Wei Yi is not only one of the world's strongest and most promising chess players, he's also one of the most exciting. He finished tied for second in the just-completed 7th HD Bank Cup in Vietnam, but when it came to aggressive, attacking chess he was number one. I look at five of his games from the tournament, including his one loss, in this week's World Chess column, hot off the press. Enjoy!
Entries in attacking chess (14)
Continuing our recent series of posts on Garry Kasparov...
I was looking through one of Kasparov's recent autobiographical volumes, and when describing his activities in 1985 between his two world championship matches against Anatoly Karpov that year he mentions a 10-board blindfold simul. He doesn't give any of the games but mentions with some pride a victory over a computer with sacrifices and a long mating combination. Naturally I was curious to find the game, but it isn't in ChessBase's Mega database. Fortunately it can be found online, so I downloaded it and added some very brief comments; you can replay it here.
Every now and then the past few days I've been browsing some of the many games from last week's World Rapid Championship, and some have caught my eye. One exceptionally impressive game was the round 4 battle between Baadur Jobava and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, won in brilliant style by the creative young Georgian grandmaster. As usual, he punted a slightly offbeat opening (the Veresov with 3.Bf4), and is also usual he managed to orient himself better in the unfamiliar setting than his opponent.
In this game, Jobava went all-out for the initiative, and managed to turn it into a sustained attack. Keeping it going required energetic and imaginative play, and rather than continuing to load on the adjectives I'll invite you to have a look and see for yourself. Very impressive chess, especially when played with a time control of game in 15 minutes, with only a ten second increment per move!
Ivan Sokolov, Sacrifice and Initiative in Chess: Seize the Moment to Get the Advantage (New in Chess 2013). 255 pp. $29.95/€24.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.
Ivan Sokolov may be the strongest active player writing books on middlegame theory, and the quality shows. Speaking of which, the compliment is an ambiguous one, and it works both ways: he is active in the sense that his professional career, unlike, say, Garry Kasparov's, is still underway, but he's also active in the sense of being an aggressive player. Sokolov is known for being a fine attacking player with a fine sense of the initiative, and that certainly comes out in this book. There are 92 games in this book, 21 of which (by my quick count) are his, and his mastery shows. Further, he writes and analyses with great enthusiasm and expertise, and the attentive reader will not just be entertained by the great games, he'll be educated as well.
There are two parts, each corresponding to the concepts highlighted in the title. Part 1, Initiative, comprises the first seven chapters; part 2, sacrifice, the remaining nine. Each chapter ends with a number of "tips" that generally emerge from that chapter's games. Sometimes they are a bit superficial and overly general, but they can be illuminating as well. Generally there are some implicit tips given in the chapter intros, so be on the lookout for those. As an example of what you might find in the tips section, here's one of the better sets, from chapter 9 (p. 141), on attacking the castled king:
1. In the ratio of attackers versus defenders, the king counts as a defender.
2. It is often clever to keep your defending pawns on their original squares.
3. If you cannot compromise the enemy's defences with pawn breaks, a rook lift may do the job.
4. In an attack on Black's kingside in Sicilian positions, the Bf8 is mostly a useless defender. The light-squared bishop, however, is often an important defender of the a2-g8 diagonal.
5. The defender may balance an attack on his kingside with a counterattack on the queenside.
6. The pawn push ...f7-f5 is often a good way for Black to stop White's attack against h7.
7. With a black pawn on g6, a white knight sacrifice on f5 may be a dangerous way to eliminate Black's pawn defences on the kingside.
Not too many club players will find tips 2 and 5 shocking and new, but the rest will be new to most club players and some of these points (e.g. #4) might be new even to masters.
The game selection is excellent, featuring a nice blend of older and contemporary games, mostly featuring top players. (Carlsen, Kasparov, Fischer, Spassky, Tal, etc.) the analysis is illuminating without being overwhelming, and there is plenty of explanatory prose; indeed, there is more of the latter than the former.
For me the book works both as a game collection and as a catalog of techniques, and as a book that can be read for pleasure and for training. Recommended to mid-level club players and up.
This week's show really belongs to last week, but it took a little longer than usual to get posted. Hopefully it will prove worth the wait, as I take a very deep look into the theory of the variation that starts 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 a6 6.0-0 c5 7.Bb3 Nc6 8.Nc3 cxd4 9.cxd4 Be7 10.Bg5 0-0 11.Qd2. That might seem pretty specialized, but even if the shadows from 1.d4 d5 never darken your board it's still the rare chess player who never plays either side of an IQP (isolated queen's/d- pawn) middlegame. The presentation shows many of White's attacking ideas in this variation, and they are generally themes that work in any typical IQP middlegame. And that's still another reason to watch - you'll see some very attractive games and variations illustrating the beauty of a powerful attack. A fourth motive to watch is for tactics training.
So if you're persuaded (or didn't need persuasion in the first place), have a look here. As always, the show is free (one-time free registration required) and will be available on-demand for at least the next month or so.
Francisco Vallejo Pons may not be a member of the world's absolute elite, but he's still a terrifically strong player with a very lively and combative style. On his day he can (and has) beaten just about everybody, often in spectacular style. In my ChessVideos show this week I take a look at the high points of two such games, and challenge the viewers to test their attacking skills against his. It's good practice, no matter how you do, and good entertainment as well. Have a look!
The show is free, as always (one-time free registration required), and will be available on-demand for the next month or so.
Every so often I take a look at games submitted on ChessVideos.tv by the viewers, and this was just such a week. This time around, I examine three games, all unified around the theme of all-in attack. In each case White's position is collapsing on the queenside and about to collapse everywhere else, too. The games are all very exciting, and there are principles we can generalize from these games for both the attacker and the defender to keep in mind.
Have a look! The show is free (quick, free registration is required if you haven't done it already) and will be available on-demand for the next month or so.
Only two games, but they're nice: one features a sound two-knight sacrifice, while in the second a simulee achieved a winning position against Nigel Short (before tragedy struck). In the questions department, pride of place goes to a fascinating rook ending. One side was two pawns up, but had a very difficult time dealing with the opponent's outside passer. The ending is instructive and entertaining, and the viewer's intro to that ending is priceless.
You can watch the show here, free (free registration required), available on-demand for the next month or so. Enjoy!
In this week's show I have a look at a couple of recent blitz games. The first was a GM vs. IM battle, with both sides making lots of errors in an ending. Nevertheless, several of the mistakes are instructive, and thus not only of schadenfreude value. The second goes in a different direction: it's a nice but short attacking effort by yours truly, complete with a winning combination. Consider it dessert.
The show is free as always (free registration required) and will be available on-demand for the next month or so.