Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fremd Beats Prospect

After a twenty month hiatus, I am back to blogging about chess. My previous blog was Vinny's Chess Adventures which still exists. Unfortunately, Yahoo is shutting down GeoCities so the links to the games will only work for another two weeks. I still have most of the games on my computer so I may upload some of them to the new webhost if I think they have instructional value.

This week, Prospect lost to Fremd by 50.5-17.5, only managing wins on 5th and 8th boards. As was my practice in the past, I will analyze some of the games from each week's match with an eye towards illustrating basic chess principles that I hope will be helpful to high school players. I hope that no one will take any of my criticisms personally. I may say that a move is really awful, but there is no reason to be embarrassed. There are few moves so bad that I cannot show you one from one of my games that is even worse.

Question No. 1
In the starting position for the Ruy Lopez (or Spanish Game) that arises after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5, is White threatening to win a pawn with 4.Bxc6 and 5. Nxe5?

Answer No. 1
No, not yet. Although White can remove the knight that is guarding the Black pawn on e5, after 3... a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. Nxe5, Black can recover the pawn with 5...Qd4! with a double attack on the White knight and pawn.

This is a very basic opening tactic that everyone should know. As a general rule, White has to secure his own e-pawn as with 0-0 and Re1 before he can try to grab Black's. The most common move for Black is 3... a6.

Black can of course reinforce his e-pawn immediately with 3... d6 as Johnston did against Moskwa on 5th Board, although this is considered somewhat passive. Black should never, never do what White did on 1st Board, 3... Bd6?!.

There are very few moves I hate seeing in the opening as much as someone blocking one of his center pawns with his bishop. Essentially, this takes the bishop which is a very useful piece and turns it into a big pawn which is reason enough to hate this move. On top of this, it makes it much more difficult for Black to develop his other bishop. On top of this, it takes away Black's ability to open up the game with ...d5 if an appropriate opportunity should present itself. I won't say that it is never the right thing to do, but I can assure you that the situations in which blocking a center pawn with a bishop is the best move are pretty rare. Feldman v. Zwolenik bears this out.

Question No. 2

Black just captured a pawn with 31... Bxc7. What is White's best move.

Answer No. 2

32. Bxc7! Black cannot recapture with 32... Rxc7 because 33. Rb8+ leads to mate.

This game illustrates the need to keep concentrating even when behind. White had been playing down a rook for a dozen moves. One of his only hopes was that Black would be careless with his back rank, but when it came up, White still missed it in Burke v. Nanduri.

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