Tag: Lasker Open

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Knight moves haunt the top boards – Part I

Chris Stychinsky and John Wright faced each other in the second round. I talked about their game one encounter already. In this post we are taking a closer look at their second game.

Chris seems to have moved on from his swashbuckling opening repertoire and played the Ruy Lopez against John’s 1 … e5. I can only recommend to follow in Chris’ footsteps. Playing complex openings such as the Ruy Lopez exposes us to a variety of pawn structures and strategic ideas. In the long run this will make us better chess players.

John countered Chris’ Ruy with the Zaitsev variation—the battle ground of Karpov and Kasparov in the 80s. The positions arising from this opening are often wild, black players seek their fortune of the queenside and white players try to deliver a quick checkmate. However, before launching queenside operations black puts pressure on e4 to slow down white’s queen’s knight attempt to join kingside operation.

The knight manoeuvre I’m referring to was introduced by Steinitz and is commonly used in Ruy Lopez and Gioucco Piano positions.

The best square for the knight on b1 would be f5. It gets there via d2, f1, and g3 and there is very little black can do in this particular situation. Also note, white only advanced the d-pawn to d3 and e4 is under firm control here.

We are now ready to have a look at the game:

Now would be a good time for a black strategy reset. The accidental pawn sacrifice offered white some hope to seize the initiative. Black’s main priority should be to thwart all of white’s active attempts. White enjoys some open diagonals and lines thanks to dropping a pawn. The white bishops are in good positions and both knights are already on the kingside and ready to move to more active squares. Thanks to white’s unfortunate pawn loss black already won the battle on the queenside. There is not much left to fight for.

Stay tuned for part two of the knight move series. I will talk about my game with Randy. Here is a little preview:

Why didn’t Randy take the rook on h2?

Randspringer
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Lasker Open: Striking Gold with Quirky Lines

Mikhael Tal quipped “You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one.”

This round we saw a number of games in which white invited black into the deep dark forest by choosing a provocative opening. We were treated to the Trompowski, the Jobova and the “regular” London, as well as the Bird Opening.

David decided to go for a no-nonsense approach when confronted with the Trompowski

and went for 2. … e6 and didn’t face any problems.

Russel went for his trusted Jobava London again and was rewarded with a quick victory.

Arturo got a fantastic attacking position by starting with 1. f4. The Bird is generally considered to be somewhat dubious, Stockfish NNUE actually prefers the moves a3, a4, or h3 to 1. f4. But if things go white’s way it’s easy to see why people like this opening.

John and Chris picked established openings to fight their battles. Here is their King’s Indian/Benoni game.

Randy showed again his versatility in positions arising from 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6. This time he picked the Bogo-Indian Defense and equalized without too much trouble.

The other games played in round two can be found here.

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Close calls dominate the start of the Lasker Open

The first round of a Swiss tournament is always special. The upper half of the field plays the lower half and the resulting pairings can be quite lopsided. Be that as it may, the rating favorites still need to win their games. And so they did, but some of the matches could have gone easily the other way.

On board one Arturo Armagnac with the black pieces completely outplayed yours truly. Arturo punished me for mishandling his Leningrad Dutch and was rewarded with the following position:

White’s position is pretty hopeless here. After 22 … b5 white will perish. (Un-)Fortunately, Arturo took on d5 and allowed counterplay on the b1-h7 diagonal.

On board two David Faulkner put up a good fight against John Wright. A Caro Kann yielded the following situation:

The bishop on b2 looks pretty sad. David had the chance here to transfer the bishop to the g1-a7 diagonal. Once the bishop appears on e3 black needs to watch out for sacrifices on b6. 26. Bc1 would have given white the upper hand.

On board three Russel Keating faced Randy Hough. Russel stayed faithful to his Jobova London and could have wiped the black pieces off the board:

Randy just played 15. … e5 hoping for 16. dxe5 Nxe5 which would solve all of black’s problems and this is what happened in the game. Can you spot how white could have punished black for opening up the position while being far behind in development? (You find the solution at the end of the post.)

When you saw this post you might have wondered why I picked a picture of an old Latin book. This book is actually a chess book from 1500 (give or take a couple of decades) and one of the openings it discusses features in our game of the week played on board four between Chris Stychinsky and Patric van Haeren, a truly epic battle.

It’s not too late to join us for round 2 this Friday.

Solution for the Russel-Randy game: