How the Champions Play as White - Part 3

Round 1
Now to Carlsen's Whites! For the first time, he shockingly employed the Trompowsky! “Carlsen clearly found inspiration in my Trompowsky series for chess24 — let us hope he has done his homework!” — Lawrence Trent. 

World Chess Championship

Round 3
In the next game it seemed that order was restored, at least to some extent. 

Round 5
“Time for the daily midnight wisdom from Giri. Quite shocking that Carlsen won all the theoretical battles so far?!” — Giri. I completely disagree with this statement! Carlsen won only three of the four theoretical duels so far in my opinion, because in the first game he got no advantage. Secondly, like Karjakin stated, Carlsen is very strong in the openings — maybe even the best in the world. It is just that the other aspects of his play are so incredibly strong that people say that his openings are a weakness. Also, people like to write narratives, and since Carlsen used to be not the best at openings, does not mean that he still is, especially after now three World Championship matches. 

Before this game I tweeted, “If Karjakin had to choose a game to lose, he would choose this one, because he has Black and he gets a double White in the next two games.” This was not to say that Carlsen would be indifferent to winning, but if he did win, it would probably have the least psychological effect on Karjakin compared to any other game he could lose.

This article was published in the 2016 December issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

This article was published in the 2016 December issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

Round 8
In the final game of this article, we are going to analyse the surprise that Carlsen sprung in the opening in game eight. It was doubly surprising that he would do this so late into a match — usually, players play their unusual openings (if they are going to) early in the match to keep the more serious preparation for later, when both players are more warmed up. 

How the Champions Play as White - Part 2

HOW THE CHAMPIONS PLAY AS WHITE: PART 2

Round 6

Carlsen shared his thoughts: "it goes on and as long as I am not down in the match it is OK. Yesterday I could have lost at some point. It was not forced, but it was a difficult position. I felt that today was not the day that I should be looking to do big things. I am quite satisfied with a short game and now I will go and try and prepare for the next."

    When asked, “Is every draw in the match in Karjakin’s favour?” Grischuk replied: “Of course. After all, before the start, Carlsen was the clear favourite, but now the fewer games that remain the less of a favourite he has become.” Short opined that “Karjakin’s great strength — a narrow but very well-analysed repertoire — is a liability when his opponent has months to prepare for it,” and I have to agree. Karjakin has not gained any advantage out of half of his White games, which does not bode well. However, I think that people generally underestimate Carlsen’s openings, and Karjakin expands on this when he states that, “as I said before Carlsen is very good in the openings, so it is not a big surprise also for me.” He went on to give a glimpse into how he thinks about the match when he stated, “basically I have a feeling that the match is interesting and maybe the only game with which I could be really unhappy was yesterday, so it is fine.”

    Grischuk also had some interesting things to say about the match thus far: “For now there are no particular grounds to think that Karjakin will win, but the main thing is that he is not losing! And in the fifth game for the first time at some point he outplayed Carlsen, so he has got a chance. I would suggest an analogy with boxing: if you face a stronger opponent you do not think about immediately trying to knock him out. At first, you try not to get knocked out yourself, then you try to box on a level footing, and only then do you try to break through.”

This article was published in the 2016 December issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

This article was published in the 2016 December issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

Round 7
After the game there was plenty of talk about draws, and how “boring” the match was, which I believe is unhealthy for chess:  “who knows, maybe they will draw all twelve games and kill classical chess once and for all.” — Nakamura. One person tweeted, “Did I hear Carlsen imply that there would be no more draws? He sounded serious to me.” Whilst others noted that “Karjakin leaps to seventh in live ratings,” since for every draw Carlsen lost 1.1 rating points and Karjakin gained the same amount. Whilst this was not on the forefront of the players’ minds I am sure, it is pretty significant at the top level since a few points here and there could propel you into or out of the top ten or five. Finally, let us finish Karjakin’s White games in this article with some prophetic words from Michal Krasenkow: “Either the World Champion will play some game badly (that has happened more than once even with him), or it will go to tiebreaks, a lottery of nerves, but Karjakin (in contrast to Carlsen, who barely has any such experience) has already emerged victorious from those lotteries in numerous World Cup battles.”

How the Champions Play as White: Part 1

HOW THE CHAMPIONS PLAY AS WHITE: PART 1

Photo by Max Avdeev

This article was published in the 2016 December issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

This article was published in the 2016 December issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

For this article I could not resist covering the World Championship Match that has just concluded in New York City. One of the things that I like about World Championship matches is the number of chess fans around the world - super GMs and lesser mortals - that share their opinions on social media. I even got involved, and it turns out that my tweets about this match have not gone unnoticed, since I took part in an enjoyable Twitter exchange with none other than super GM Peter Svidler.

Going into this match, Magnus Carlsen's main opening move was 1.e4 - indeed he used that opening move exclusively in his match in 2014 against Vishy Anand. Sergey Karjakin also prefers the opener that Bobby Fischer famously dubbed, "best by test." If anything, Karjakin's White repertoire is even more limited than Carlsen's. Of course, it has to be pointed out that when I comment on both players' respective strengths and weaknesses, it is all relative! Any world class player could play any opening for either side and still probably beat any untitled player! As Black, Karjakin tends to employ the (in)famous Berlin Defence, which seems a particularly good fit for a match, since the traditional match strategy is to equalise comfortably out of the opening with Black, and with White try to gain a slight edge, or at the very least a position that is easier to play.

Carlsen's repertoire looked very much the same, but he had been known to play the Breyer on occasion, usually when he wanted to keep a few more pieces on the board. However, few questioned that Carlsen would rely heavily on the Berlin in this match, assuming he did not fall behind. Since Karjakin almost always plays 1.e4, unless he completely changed his White repertoire between the Candidates' and the World Championship, I thought we would be in store for six Berlins when Karjakin had White, and more or less the same when the colours were reversed. With that in mind, let us move onto the games!

I have decided to analyse all of Karjakin's White games first, followed by all of Carlsen's White games. This is because what happened in the previous game often has very little relevance to what you will play in the next game because you played with a different colour (apart from games six and seven), unless you won or lost. And I am going to stick my chin out by assuming that every single reader of this Magazine already knows the result in every game from the match, because if you do not, then...well...you should follow more top games! :) Before the match, Vlad Tkachiev weighed in with his match preview: "How many decisive games there will be depends on the strategy chosen by Karjakin and his team. A quick win in one of the first games of the match is the only chance. Will Karjakin stake his hopes on a 'blitzkrieg'? I do not know the answer to that. It is more than ninety-five percent likely, meanwhile, that victory will be achieved by you know who - the clear favourite."

After Rio - Even More Olympic Golds for the USA! Part 2

In the next round, however, the Americans could only manage four draws against the Czech Republic and, if anything, they were lucky to finish on level pegging as Nakamura was quite lost at one point. This was surely a disappointing result for the US, considering that their average rating was 138.75 less than their opponents. Nevertheless, the USA bounced back straight away with a 3-1 victory over Serbia.

Then there was a second Serbian blunder.

Hikaru Nakamura won two short games by exploiting bad blunders. Photo © Lana Afandiyeva

Hikaru Nakamura won two short games by exploiting bad blunders. Photo © Lana Afandiyeva

In the next round the US scored an impressive victory over the strong Ukrainian squad, weakened by the non-partcipation of Chucky Ivanchuk. Caruana was the only American to win, but that was all it took for them to collect the two match points.

Thanks to Fabiano Caruana, the USA defeated Ukraine in a crucial match. Photo credit: Baku Chess Olympiad

Thanks to Fabiano Caruana, the USA defeated Ukraine in a crucial match. Photo credit: Baku Chess Olympiad

The next round was a mirror image of the previous day — Fabiano Caruana drew against Pentala Harikrishna, but Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, and Sam Shankland each won their games on the lower boards.

This brought the Americans to their biggest test yet against Russia. Caruana came under pressure on board one from world title challenger Sergey Karjakin, but eventually drew. Nakamura did not do much to trouble former champion Vladimir Kramnik on board two, and Ray Robson lost an equal endgame against the redoubtable Alexander Grischuk. So it was all down to Wesley So, playing Black, to overcome Ian Nepomniachtchi, a none too easy task as up to this point the Russian had scored seven wins from seven games!

Wesley So took the board four gold medal with 8½/10. Photo credit: Baku Chess Olympiad 

Wesley So took the board four gold medal with 8½/10. Photo credit: Baku Chess Olympiad 

Let's give a special mention for Wesley So, who continued his excellent form after winning outright the mighty Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis. In the Olympiad he gained twelve rating points, despite already possessing a very high Elo of 2782. His performance was duly rewarded with a gold medal for the best overall result on board three, therefore making it a double gold for him in Baku.

Next up was the match against Norway, who eventually finished very strongly to gain fifth place, but this time it was to be a fairly comfortable 3-1 win for the US outfit. Caruana held Magnus Carlsen on top board, and Nakamura and Shankland beat Jon Ludvig Hammer and Frode Urkedal respectively.

In the penultimate round the Americans faced Georgia, and it was a surprisingly close match. Caruana was up against Baadur Jobava, who won individual gold for his stellar performance on board one, and held him to a draw with the black pieces. Meanwhile Nakamura had a "complete loss of objectivity and madness," resulting in him losing with White against Mikheil Mchedlishvili. However, So and Shankland turned it around on boards three and four to give the US team a 2½-1½ win. It was quite ironic because in 2012 they tweeted, "The cruel and harsh reality of playing in a team chess event is that you are only as good as your team-mates."

In the final round, the US were drawn against Canada, and though Eric Hansen defeated Shankland on bottom board, victories by So and Caruana clinched gold for Team USA.

This article was published in the 2016 September issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade, a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

This article was published in the 2016 September issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade, a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

The record books will show that America had therefore won their first Olympiad gold medal for forty years, but in fact it took quite a while to confirm their victory, because of the complexity of the tie-break. Whilst the method of tiebreak can, and I am sure was, fiercely debated long into the night, I believe that it is objectively the best system for open team events. It was just unfortunate that at the end of a fantastic tournament, chess fans all over the world had to wait for hours to find out who had actually won. Still, I don't suppose Team USA are complaining now!

After Rio - Even More Olympic Golds for the USA! Part 1

AFTER RIO - EVEN MORE OLYMPIC GOLDS FOR THE USA!

by Theo Slade

Fabiano Caruana scored an undefeated 7/10 on board one for the USA.

Fabiano Caruana scored an undefeated 7/10 on board one for the USA.

Although I have never been to a Chess Olympiad, it is easy for me to see why it remains a firm favourite of players who have already experienced this unique gathering of chess players from all over the world. It is an open team event, staged every two years, giving the super grandmasters a chance to play against both known and unknown opponents whilst providing mere mortals with a golden opportunity to pull off an upset or two.

Personally I enjoy playing team chess because of the camaraderie. The fact that you want your team-mates to win and that they want the best for you too is a pleasant sensation and quite a change from individual events where you hope your rivals will drop points — and vice versa!

I have heard people say that attending an Olympiad is a wonderful opportunity to meet up again with friends from many foreign lands. And also that Baku was the best organised Olympiad ever! Indeed, this huge event took place in a modern, well-lit and spacious venue with ideal playing conditions. The hotel accommodation was very good and the great modernisation Baku has undergone in the past ten years or so made it a splendid location for players, captains, organisers, commentators and reporters alike. In recent times Azerbajian's capital city has also hosted the World Cup, so clearly FIDE has full confidence in its ability to stage even the most important chess events.

I have to admit that when following the excellent online coverage of the Olympiad, I cheated a bit by rooting for two teams, England and the USA!

As it happened, a member of the chess club that I sporadically attend, James "Jim" McTigue, was actually playing in the Baku Olympiad, representing the US Virgin Islands! He had competed in an Olympiad before, in Novi Sad 1990, and told me that he wanted to play in this year's Olympiad too, "whilst I still can." I admire his initiative and positive attitude, especially considering that he is entering his more senior years. To be honest, I can't understand it when players turn down invitations to represent their countries. After all, such an honour is usually a high point in the careers of most sportsmen and women. More often than not the reason given is that they have other commitments, but just imagine if Tom Daley said that he would not be able to go to the Olympics in 2020 because he did not want to take time off work!

That minor gripe aside, it seems that most countries fielded more or less their strongest possible teams, with a few notable exceptions: Vishy Anand (IND), Peter Svidler, Dmitry Andreikin, Ernesto Inarkiev, Nikita Vitiugov (all RUS), Boris Gelfand, Ilia Smirin, Emil Stuovsky (all ISR), Peter Leko (HUN), Vasil Ivanchuk (UKR), and Humpy Koneru (IND) were all missing for one reason or another. Armenia also did not compete due to their hostile political relationship with Azerbaijan, which of course meant that Levon Aronian, Sergei Movsesian, Vladimir Akopian, Gabriel Sargissian, and Hrant Melkumyan all missed out.

This article was published in the 2016 September issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade, a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

This article was published in the 2016 September issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade, a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

Anyway, back to business. Being a resident of the USA, what else could I write about than the fantastic performance of the American gold medal-winning men's team? Though only seeded second, their top three boards were all higher rated than their Russian counterparts, so even in a face-to-face match you could argue that USA were the stronger side. Of course, it is easy to say that with hindsight, but before the Olympiad the Russians were undoubtedly the bookie's favourite.

Anyway, the USA began their quest for gold by thrashing Andorra 4-0.

In the second round, USA eased past Scotland 3½-½.

Wesley So's ruthless exploitation of his opponent's mistake foreshadowed what was to be a fantastic Olympiad result for him, both individually and as a team member.

Learning Lessons in Philadelphia

LEARNING LESSONS IN PHILADELPHIA

by Theo Slade

Initially I was looking forward to writing an article about my experiences in Philadelphia, the first time since my arrival in the US that I was playing chess outside of Florida. There I played in both the World Open, which was a huge tournament, with the participation of 221 players, including 33 GMs, 24 IMs, and 47 FMs, and also the Philadelphia International, both of which were extremely difficult tournaments for me. If you exclude a default win in the final round of the World Open, I scored 2½/8 in the World Open and 3/9 in the Philadelphia International. This run of games was not without its highlights, as I achieved what I would say was my best ever result when I drew as Black against an International Master. It is true that I have drawn as Black against a Grandmaster before, but that was a short draw, whereas my draw against the IM lasted over five hours and finished past midnight. However, for the most part I was playing very bad chess in Philly. What was going wrong? There seemed to be three main reasons: 

1. Openings Normally openings are my strength, but I felt that Philly almost came too soon, as I did not have sufficient time before the tournament to look at all my openings, so as to

be comfortable with them. I had recently changed my repertoire with Black, while with White I decided to play various sidelines which I had studied closely. Nevertheless, when playing strong opposition it is very rare to gain an objective advantage from offbeat lines. Also I could have prepared more thoroughly before Philadelphia, but sometimes it is difficult to motivate yourself to work hard!

2. Time management In Philadelphia the time control was 2 hours for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes to completion, with a 10 second delay. This is obviously a very lengthy time control, so naturally I tried to use this to my advantage by spending a good deal of time on my moves in search of perfection. 

During the Philadelphia International, the Tournament Director asked me if I would like to use a MonRoi to record my moves, rather than a scoresheet. I had not used one before and was a bit dubious about it, but actually it proved to be really useful since my games could then be downloaded directly into my database. The Monroi also showed exactly how long I was spending on each move. What was interesting was that my mistakes were made on moves on which I spent a lot of time and, nine times out of ten, these were unnatural moves that were made on the basis of detailed calculation. But calculation tends to tire you out rather quickly, which can hurt you in back-to-back tournaments that require playing decided to do something about these problems. 

3. Confidence When playing badly, inconsistently, getting into time trouble, and being under-prepared, it is very difficult to maintain confidence. When someone has a lot of confidence, it is difficult to stop them. Just think back to 2014 when Fabiano Caruana ran away with the Sinquefield Cup on 7/7! So when I arrived home, I decided to do something about these problems.

Initially, it did not seem a very good idea for me to enter the Southern Open because it took place only two weeks after Philadelphia and I needed time to work on the games I had played there. However, in the end I decided to take part because I love playing, but moreover because I wanted to gain confidence. That explains why I opted for the U2100 section rather than the Open which I normally enter. I decided to play the three-day schedule as usual, because I have only had one previous experience with the two-day schedule and that did not go very well. However, because I had only a very short break in between, I found it difficult to mentally adjust between my games and to the different time control.

Next, I told myself that I would play more quickly in the Southern Open. As it happens, the time control in this tournament was identical to Philly, except that you had twenty minutes less at the start of the game. When you play faster, you doubt yourself less, play more natural moves and do not tire yourself out so much.

However, these are only decisions that relate to the tournament itself. What should I spend my time on at home? It is clear to me that long-term I need to play the main lines with both colours. As Black, that is not a problem as I am already playing the main lines, but as White this was clearly not the case. Ever since I started playing 1 d4 I avoided the King’s Indian by playing the Trompowsky. In fact I also learned the Barry Attack (which I have never played and never will, so all that work was for nothing!), but my coach GM Lars Bo Hansen made it clear to me that I should stop ducking challenges (also generally, in life, perhaps), and instead put in some effort and meet them! So I proceeded to do a great deal of work on the King’s Indian, watching Robin van Kampen’s excellent video series on chess24 entitled Cutting Edge KID and playing a lot of training games. I also watched Grandmaster repertoire: 4.Qc2 against the Nimzo by Jan Gustafsson, which was equally instructive, and compared it to Learn the Nimzo-Indian Defence by Niclas Huschenbeth. Finally, I spent some time on the Grunfeld, although I had previously worked on that opening when I was younger,so already felt comfortable there. I find that I learn best by watching chess videos because you do not have to do anything – you just watch an expert tell you what you need to know in any given topic.

Going into the last round at the Southern Open, I was in the joint lead with my opponent, with two players on 3½/4 paired against each other on board two. As it turned out, if I won, then I would pocket $1,500, draw $1,150, and lose $280. So the “normal” thing to do would either be to prearrange a draw (which is illegal and in my opinion morally wrong), or offer a draw at the beginning of the game to guarantee (assuming he accepts!) myself a decent prize, rather than risk losing a lot more than I would stand to win. As I learned from reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, we weight losses twice as heavily as gains, so according to Kahneman virtually any person would offer or accept a draw in my situation, especially with Black (as usual I had three Blacks in this 5-round tournament!). However, I have written about this subject before for BCM and my view is that you should always fight – the only exception being when a draw guarantees outright first and a win would not increase your standing or prize money. Anyway, before the game I did not do any calculations or even think about any factors that were not directly related to the game itself, because I have choked in enough last round games to know that you should just play chess!

 

This article was published in the 2016 August issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade, a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

This article was published in the 2016 August issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade, a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

So finally(!) I have broken my duck and won a tournament in the US, after nine months of hard work and disappointment. It shows that persistence and dedication does eventually pay off!

Still Searching for Bobby Fischer...

Still Searching for Bobby Fischer...

Following on from my article last month, where I discussed America’s insatiable quest to find a World Champion, I thought I would take a look at the state of US chess.

Do you realise that the top ten FIDE-rated players in the world are from Norway, France, Armenia, the Netherlands, China, two from Russia, and three from America? Ten years ago, the top rated player in the world was Veselin Topalov, our own Michael Adams was ranked eighth, and the top rated American was Gata Kamsky, down in twentieth place. How did that happen? Maybe the answer can be found by looking at the recent US Championships. In my opinion, only two of the twelve participants were “true” Americans: Sam Shankland and Jeffrey Xiong!

Aleksandr Lenderman, Gata Kamsky and Alexander Onischuk were all originally from the Soviet Union; Lenderman moved to New York when he was four, Kamsky moved to America when he was fifteen and became a GM a year later, and Onischuk immigrated to the US when he was twenty-six and already a GM. Although IM Akshat Chandra was born in America, he only discovered chess on a visit to India when he was nine and spent a few years there before returning to the US. Alexander Shabalov was born in Riga, Latvia and Varuzhan Akobian was born in Yerevan, Armenia; he is an Armenian-American who now lives in Los Angeles. Ray Robson was born in Guam, but later moved to Florida where he now resides. Wesley So was born in and represented the Philippines, but transferred to the United States Chess Federation in November 2014. Hikaru Nakamura was born in Japan but moved to the US when he was two. He once tweeted, “I am 12.5% German, 12.5% Swedish, 50% Japanese and 25% mix of randomness!” Note that he did not even mention America!

New U.S.Champion Fabiano Caruana Photo by Harald Fietz

New U.S.Champion Fabiano Caruana Photo by Harald Fietz

However, Fabiano Caruana is perhaps the most controversial case of all, as although he was born in Miami, he represented Italy from the age of thirteen until May 2015 when the USCF announced that he would be changing federations to play for the USA.

The game I have selected is one where Caruana played flawlessly, making virtually perfect moves!

After this game, Caruana went on to win the US Championships, playing some of his best chess. What is ironic about this is that he peaked right after the most important tournament of his life. Going into the Candidates’, he was the favourite. The stage was set for him to challenge Magnus Carlsen for the world title in his hometown, New York. Could we have a new “American” World Champion? However, as I am sure you all know, much to America’s chagrin, we now have the possibility of a Russian (Ukrainian!) World Champion being crowned in the USA! Will America ever get the World Champion it craves? It seems we are Still Searching for Bobby Fischer...

This article was published in the 2016 July issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade (2086), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

This article was published in the 2016 July issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM) which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade (2086), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

Searching for Bobby Fischer

SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER

by Theo Slade

I was recently given a book by WIM Jen Hansen called The Art of Learning (TAoL). Her husband, GM Lars Bo Hansen, is my coach, but I also get a lot of help from Jen on psychological aspects of chess as not only is she a very strong chess player in her own right, she is also an educational psychologist.

TAoL is a book by Josh Waitzkin. Does that name sound familiar? You may have heard of him because he was the protagonist in the book and film Searching for Bobby Fischer. The book was written by Josh's father, but the film uses artistic license (as do many chess films), particularly overstating his success.

Americans love winners — recently I played in a tournament in the US, and I played really well. I went into Sunday on 3/3, drew as Black against the top seed in round four, and finally, in the last round I needed a draw to tie for first place, and as it turned out a draw would have won me the tournament on tiebreaks. I had what seemed to me an overwhelming advantage, and was not content to merely share first place if I drew, so naturally I pushed for the win. However, at one point the position got extremely complicated and although there was a winning continuation, I blundered and lost. However, what was even more frustrating for me was that after that game it was almost as if I had not played in the tournament at all. It was all about my final round opponent who beat me to win the tournament. This is nothing against him – we are friends – but I found it incredibly annoying that no one even consoled me after the tournament; all anyone wanted to do was take pictures of the winner with the trophy, and I was a mere afterthought.

Searching for Bobby Fischer

Anyway, going back to TAoL, although it is true that Josh was an eight-time US Junior Chess Champion, he was not as successful on the world stage. In fact, he never even made GM (his peak rating was 2480), but this did not come across at all in his book. However, in 1994, he did come very close to becoming World U18 Champion. “Entering the final round I was tied for first place with the Russian champion, Peter Svidler. He was an immensely powerful player and is now one of the top Grandmasters in the world, but going into this game I was very confident. He must have felt that, because Svidler offered me a draw after just an hour of play.” Unfortunately, I do not know how late “just an hour of play” is into the game in terms of moves, but I would imagine that it is somewhere in the opening, where White is better simply because Svidler employed the Pirc in this game. “All I had to do was shake hands to share the world title – it was unclear who would win on tiebreaks. Shake hands! But in my inimitable leave-it-on-the-field style that has won and lost me many a battle, I declined, pushed for a win, and ended up losing an absolute heartbreaker.” 

Josh playing a junior match game against Cathy Forbes

Josh playing a junior match game against Cathy Forbes

However, Josh did manage to become World Champion eventually ... in Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands! On the face of it, chess and Tai Chi are totally different. However, Josh discovered that his chess education helped him enormously in his Tai Chi pursuits. Without wanting to write a boring book review, I will give you a flavour of it instead. Once you get into the book, it is actually very useful and entertaining.

The first thing that struck me is a concept that Waitzkin likes to call The Soft Zone. Josh writes in his book that when he was younger he used to get distracted when playing chess and do all in his power to eliminate the distraction. However, as he learned more about distraction, he realized that he could never fully eliminate it. He talks about this in the Making Sandals chapter. He writes, “to walk a thorny road, we may cover its every inch with leather or we can make sandals.” This is what The Soft Zone is. He learned to use the distractions to his advantage to drive him into a heightened state of awareness. The final step of this learning process was to create the distractions internally to put himself in the best possible state, without there being any need for external distraction.

The chess prodigy grows up...and becomes Tai Chi World Champion!

The chess prodigy grows up...and becomes Tai Chi World Champion!

Later, he elaborates on this point even more: “It has been my observation that the greatest performers convert their passions into fuel with tremendous consistency. There are examples in every discipline. For basketball fans, think about the Reggie Miller/Spike Lee saga. Lee is New York’s No. 1 Knicks fan. Reggie Miller was the star of the Indiana Pacers from 1987 to 2005. Throughout the 1990s, the Knicks and Pacers repeatedly met in the playoffs and Lee would be sitting in his courtside seat in Madison Square Garden for every home game. Time and again he would heckle Miller until Miller started to respond. At first this looked like a good situation to Knicks fans. Spike was distracting Reggie from the game. Sometimes it seemed that Reggie was paying more attention to Spike than to the Knicks. But then it became apparent that Miller was using Lee as fuel for his fire. Over and over, Reggie would banter with Spike while torching the Knicks with unbelievable shooting. After a while Knicks fans just hoped Spike would shut up. The lesson had been learned — don’t piss off Reggie.”

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Josh’s book, which demonstrates his remarkable ability to reinvent himself from a top chess player, to a Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands World Champion, to an author and motivational speaker, but was he the next Bobby Fischer...? Over forty years since Fischer was World Champion and eight years since his death, it seems we are still Searching for Bobby Fischer... 

This article was published in the 2016 June issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM), which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade (2059), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

This article was published in the 2016 June issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM), which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade (2059), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

Anish Giri, Will He Ever Win?! by Theo Slade

The following article was published in the 2016 May issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM), which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade (2059), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community. Photo by: Brendan O' Gorman

The following article was published in the 2016 May issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM), which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade (2059), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community. Photo by: Brendan O' Gorman

anish giri, will he ever win?!

asks Theo Slade

The biggest achievement for a chess player is to become World Champion. That is more important than being ranked number one, or playing immortal games, or even having plus scores against the World Champion! Therefore, in the super tournaments leading up to the Candidates’ Tournament, I did not feel the same excitement that I usually do. For example, did it really matter that World Champion Magnus Carlsen won his fifth Wijk aan Zee title ahead of Candidates Karjakin, Caruana, and Giri? It pales in comparison to the Candidates’, and you could tell by looking at their games – only Caruana looked in good form, so naturally he was the pre-tournament favourite.

As you read last month, I recently moved to the US, and since there were no British participants in the Candidates’, I was naturally rooting for either Nakamura or Caruana, particularly because the World Championship match against Carlsen is scheduled to be played in New York!

However, before the Candidates’ began it turned out that there was some off- the-board drama going on. Agon bought the broadcasting rights to five successive World Championship cycles, which includes the World Championship matches and the Candidates’ Tournaments. However, chess24, chess.com, and the Internet Chess Club showed the games anyway on their own websites with their own commentaries.

Agon broadcasted the games on worldchess.com, with commentary by GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Evgenij Miroshnichenko. To be fair, it was very professionally done, with commercial breaks, as if you were watching the action on television. Also, they published the highlights of the day’s commentary, such as Miroshnichenko’s mini-lectures on the on-going games and the press conferences of each game, on their YouTube channel.

I decided to watch the first game on chess24 because I prefer their commentary and interface, then I followed the rest of the tournament by reading the news articles published on chess24 after each round, followed by viewing every YouTube video published by World Chess. However, on the last day, I watched the whole round on chess24, but the stream cut out at one point, so I had to finally give in and watch the World Chess broadcast in the decisive moments of the Tournament.

Rumour has it that Agon is planning to sue chess24, chess.com, and ICC, and you can understand why, but I do not think that they are going to be successful. It seems a strange concept that you can purchase the rights to show chess games. After all, anyone present in Moscow could merely tweet the moves to the rest of the world, for example. On the other hand, if we as chess players want there to be more money in chess, it could be necessary for companies like Agon to buy broadcasting rights to increase sponsorship deals, prize money, and so on.

Moving on to the chess, it quickly became apparent that if there was to be an American challenger, it was much more likely to be Caruana, because Nakamura blundered against Karjakin in round two and lost again in round six, this time against Aronian. Meanwhile, Caruana had drawn his first seven games, which left him a point off first place, held by Karjakin, but his rut came to an end when he defeated his nemesis, Nakamura, in round eight.

Anish Giri didn't win a single game - but he didn't lose any either! Photo by David Llada

Anish Giri didn't win a single game - but he didn't lose any either! Photo by David Llada

Meanwhile, Giri had been quietly going about his business, drawing every single game, which was to be expected, some would say! Thus far, Giri’s only eventful game was in round six, where he pressed throughout with Black against Topalov, obtained a big advantage, but could not translate this into a full point. Naturally, then, when the youngest two participants in the Candidates’, and arguably the best-prepared players in the world, play an extremely important game, you know both of them will bring a huge amount of energy to the table!

Culture Shock by Theo Slade

The following article was published in the 2016 May issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM), which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade (2059), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

The following article was published in the 2016 May issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM), which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade (2059), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

culture shock

by Theo Slade

Just over five months ago my family and I moved from Cornwall, England, to Orlando, Florida, the Land of Opportunity. It was something that we had been thinking about and planning for a long time, and finally, we took the plunge. Orlando, known as The City Beautiful, is much more than just theme parks; it really is a beautiful place to live. And as for the chess, well, the only “Floridian” players that I knew of were Caruana and Nakamura, and if you ignore them, then who is there?! So you can get a good picture inside your mind of what I was thinking when boarding the Virgin Atlantic plane to make the giant leap across the pond. 

As you can tell from my headline, the chess culture out here is completely different from what I imagined it to be, even if my original interpretation was somewhat wishful. Oh, and another thing, not only did we move countries, away from family and friends, but I also moved from an Academy which had only just been founded two years before, to a virtual school in America. I now attend Orange Country Virtual School (OCVS), which is kind of a normal school; it is just that there is no building! I do my work online and submit it for my teachers to mark. I have to be disciplined, but if and when I am, it gives me time and flexibility to study and play chess.

Secondly, there are rarely “set” scoresheets. Most players merely record their moves in their scorebooks. Next, you have to bring your own set and clock to the game. As you can imagine, boards come in all shapes and sizes (mostly square!), and sets vary from the regulation Staunton pieces to the very ornate – nice to look at, but difficult to play with. Everyone also seems to have a different clock, although analogue clocks are unheard of (woo hoo!). The first battle with one’s opponent is to decide whose set to use! In my short spell here I have already had two disputes with my opponents before a pawn has even been pushed...

Overall, American events are less formal. Players are allowed to listen to music through their headphones, and if someone’s phone goes off the arbiters (or Tournament Directors (TDs), as it would be over here) do not mind it as much as they do in England. This leads to some funny scenarios. In one tournament, where several GMs were playing, someone’s phone went off extremely loudly, and everyone looked round. As you do, he just apologised nonverbally and walked out of the playing room quickly. As it transpired after the game, his phone went off because of a tornado alert! It was all over the news, and there was a possibility of it actually affecting us! Thank goodness it did not...

The game that I have chosen to feature is not necessarily typical of the tournaments I have been playing in. Maybe next time I can tell you about the choice between two- and three-day schedules, the option to buy yourself back into the tournament if you lose your Friday night game (!), and even different time controls for different rounds!! Normally I have no time to prepare, I have few, if any, games of my opponent, and I do not know my opponents anyway. However, this game was an exception because I had already played Cooke before. See Cooke – Slade, Turkey Bowl, 2015.

Just generally, I would say that I am quite an emotional person, and my coach has tried to curb this. One massive advantage of living here is that I am now coached by GM Lars Bo Hansen, and his wife, WIM Jen Hansen, who have a very innovative training system, which you can even access from the UK! If you are interested, you can find out more at orlandochesshouse.com. However, this tournament was a team event, and I always get a bit (!) more emotional in these events, because I have a passion for winning as a team, rather than just individually... 

In the featured game below, after 68.Qxb1: The only thing that can explain my emotional state is that it was just like...

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil after scoring a winning goal!

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil after scoring a winning goal!

My CFCC Experiences By Daniel Ludwig

2016 CFCC Club Championship held at UUUS near UCF's Main Campus. 

2016 CFCC Club Championship held at UUUS near UCF's Main Campus. 

Starting at the age of eight, I eagerly attended the [Central Florida] chess club from noon until closing playing countless blitz games with the usuals like Ted and Octavio. The CFCC was an essential part of every weekend for me, and tournaments such as tornadoes and the club championship were special opportunities to be in the company of the greats, namely Wilmer Chavira, Larry Storch, Nick Schoonmaker, and of course, Chuck Hall. This event always inspired me to play my hardest, and it represents many of the both good and bad memorable moments in my chess career

Daniel in 2003

Rated just 1041, I entered my first championship in 1999 as the second lowest rated player in the event, and ended in dead last with all losses—it was my worst performance up to that point. The year 2000 brought much better success, when as a 1236 I knocked off a 1900 and finished with 3/5 with losses to just Schoonmaker and Chavira. This was nothing compared to the next year when in the first round I played one of my greatest games ever, upsetting Chavira in just over twenty moves. It was my first victory over a master, and I finished the event undefeated and at a new all-time high of 1780. The next couple years were rather uneventful, except for the fact that another teenager, Francisco Guadalupe, was a surprise 2003 club champion at the age of 14. This put the pressure on me to win it the very next year, and break the record by several months. Rated 2190 and pre-seeded fourth, I felt like I had a great chance to win. After four rounds, I was in a place to do so with a victory over Alfonso Gabbedon and 3.5/4 going into the final round. I was paired against Francisco, a fitting opponent based on the situation we were both in. My game was almost completely mistake free, and my advantage was about 4 points according to the computers, but that’s when things completely fell apart. It was the biggest meltdown ever—in the course of several moves I dropped not only two pieces but the ability to become the youngest CFCC champion ever as well as one of Florida’s youngest masters.

It wasn’t until this year’s event (2008) did I make another attempt at the title, only this time nothing less than a perfect score was going to satisfy. The first four rounds when very easily, two of them lasting just sixteen and seventeen moves. At 4-0 I was calm and determined to win my final round, knowing that a draw would feel much more like a defeat even though it would clinch the title. Yilmer Guzman, the defending champion, sitting just below me in the standings with 3.5 points and the white pieces, was certainly not going let me win nearly so easily as all my other opponents, and after I won an exchange early on I found that things definitely were so simple. All the same, I still found a way to grind out the win in what should have been an easy draw for my opponent. Below is my decisive victory.

In closing, I would just like to thank all those people, Larry, Chuck, Harvey, George, Paul, and others who have made my time with the club so special, and I realize that without their help I would not be anywhere near where I am today. Winning this event really is a special accomplishment, no matter how easy it looked on paper. While I don’t see myself playing nearly as much as I once did in the central Florida area, I do see many other bright young stars rising up to take my place

Below is Daniel’s last round game against 2007 Champion Yilmer Guzman (LS)

Guzman,Yilmer (1963) – Ludwig,Daniel (2415) [D10]CFCC (5), 27.01.2008

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 A less popular alternative to the usual e6. I enjoy playing a6 against 4.e3 instead of against 4.Nf3, because the drawback in most cases to the move a6 is the response c5, leaving weaknesses in black’s position on the dark squares. However, c5 is only good when white can prevent e5. Without a knight on f3 and the bishop unable to move to f4, black has an easy time playing e5, thus making c5 bad for white and good for black. 5.Qc2 g6 6.Nf3 Bg7 7.b3 0–0? [7…Bf5 The obvious and much stronger move, especially now that after 7.b3, white cannot even play 8.Qb3. I really felt stupid after I played 7…0–0, and I started questioning my focus. After I made this error I really settled down and worked hard on bringing in the full point.] 8.Bd3 b5 [8…dxc4 9.bxc4 c5 10.0–0 (10.d5 b5!) 10…Nc6³ Looks very good for black.]9.0–0 Nbd7 10.e4 dxc4 [10…b4 11.Na4 dxe4 12.Bxe4 Was not quite what I was looking for. White has too much activity, and even though black has the bishop pair, his weak pawns make this position unpleasant.] 11.bxc4 e5This is a strange looking move that at first glance just loses a pawn. However, the more you look at the lines, the more things work out for the active minor pieces of black, and the white center pawns just fall. I was pleased with myself for finding this plan. Often times when your opponent has a strong center, but your pieces are better, leaving as many pawns hanging in the center as possible is a good solution. 12.cxb5 [12.dxe5 Ng4 13.Ba3 Re8 14.e6 Rxe6 15.Rad1 Nde5 16.Nxe5 Nxe5 17.Be2 Qa5³]12…axb5 13.a4?! This allows me to get a strong center pawn mass. [13.Ne2 Qb6 14.dxe5 Ng4 15.Bb2 Ndxe5 16.Nxe5 Bxe5³] 13…exd4 14.Ne2 [14.Nxd4?? Ne5 15.Nce2 Nxd3 16.Qxd3 c5 17.e5 Ng4 18.Qe4 Bd7–+] 14…c5 15.Bxb5 Bb7³ 16.Bd3? [16.Nd2 Re8 17.Ng3 h5 With good play for black.] 16…Nxe4! 17.Bxe4 [17.Rb1 Nd6 18.Bf4 Bxf3 19.Bxd6 Bxe2 20.Bxe2 Re8 21.Bb5 Re6µ This isn’t much better for white. Black retains the pawn plus a great moving center.] 17…d3 18.Bxd3 Bxa1–+ 19.Bb5 Bxf3 20.gxf3 Nb6?! [20…Qe7 is slightly more accurate. While the difference between the two moves is not great, it is important to take each move extremely seriously, as a serious of second or third best moves can be very costly. Such is the case in this game when I let a -2.00 advantage go completely to waste.] 21.Be3 Bg7 22.Rd1 Qh4 23.Bc6 Rac8 24.Be4 f5? This is where things really started going wrong. [24…Rfd8 25.Rxd8+ Qxd8 26.a5 Nd5 27.a6 c4 28.a7 f5 29.Bxd5+ Qxd5–+] 25.Bb7 Qxa4 26.Qxa4 Nxa4 27.Bxc8 Rxc8 28.Rd7! 

I was really impressed by this move. At first I thought nothing of it, and my sense of the position was that the rook would stay in front of the pawn. However, the bishop and knight are already doing enough, and in order for white to have a shot at drawing, he must go with the active rook. 28…c4 29.Ra7! Nc5 My main idea in exchanging down into this endgame was to trade off some minor pieces after I got this far. My idea was to play Nc3, where either I exchange the knight and have a simple winning edge, or the knight goes from e2 to c1, where it is made passive by the c3 knight and c4 pawn. Unfortunately this does not work thanks to the active white rook. [29…Nc3?? 30.Rxg7+ Kxg7 31.Nxc3; 29…Nb2?? 30.Rxg7+ Kxg7 31.Bd4+ Kf7 32.Bxb2] 30.Nf4 Nd3? [30…Nb3! The only move. After this I retain the advantage, and tricks like Nd5, Rxg7, Ne6, or anything else don’t work. If Nd5 Rd8, and if Ne6, Bf6. For some reason, during the game I saw ghosts and thought that I was forced to exchange the knights.] 31.Nxd3 cxd3³ 32.Rd7 Bf6 [32…Rc3?? 33.Rxg7+ Kxg7 34.Bd4++-]33.Rxd3 So I have successfully gone from completely winning position to a reasonably dead drawn position. One thing I have definitely learned from my chess career is that no position is completely safe from losing, no matter how drawn it seems. Also, considering that we were both down to about 16 minutes left for the rest of the game, I felt optimistic that my opponent could still make plenty of mistakes. All this is to say that I was not about to make a draw offer any time soon. 33…Rc7 34.Kg2 Kf7 35.h3 Ke6 36.Rb3 Be7 37.Bf4 Rc4 If you are trying to figure out some brilliant underlying plan behind all my or my opponents moves, then you are overthinking things. At this point I am simply probing around, poking here, poking there, hoping for some mistakes as well as taking some time off of his clock. 38.Re3+ Kf7 39.Bb8 Rc2 40.Ba7 White does need to be careful about the threat of 40…Bc5. 40…Bd6 41.Rd3 Ke6 42.Rb3 Rc8 43.Rb7 Rc7White was going to take the seventh rank with his rook, and if allowed to stay there could become annoying. On the other hand, my rook was accomplishing very little on the second rank so long as his bishop stayed on the g1–a7 diagonal. I also figured it would be helpful to avoid all the different checks. 44.Rxc7 Bxc7 This is the most important position. At this point white needs to envision a structure that will be impossible to penetrate, no matter how black sets up his pieces. With proper play this position is easily drawn, but before you laugh at how white lets this slip away, note that I set up this position with all of my students and not one of them drew it the first or second time around. Endgames do possess a lot more complications than people give them credit for, and even something this simple isn’t quite so simple. 45.Bd4 Kd5 46.Bf6 Kc4 47.Bg5 Kd3 48.Be3? 

This is the first move that makes it possible for me to win. So far white not doing anything is fine, but at the point it would be very wise to prevent the black king from getting to e2. There is only one pawn in this position on dark squares, and that is the f2 pawn. If white plays 48.Kf1!, then black is hopeless to find a way to win the pawn. After he spends all his time going back around to either f4 or h4, white can easily play Kg2 once again. Just because this is a bishop endgame, does not mean that kings are any less important. The same thing can be said for any other endgame. 48…Ke2 49.f4? The second major and necessary error. This one is probably the fatal one. Another important principle to keep in mind with endgames is to avoid moving pawns basically whenever possible. Often times pawn moves only take away from valuable tempi further down the road, simply because you weren’t creative enough earlier on. In this case, f4 is really bad because all it does is place another pawn on the dark squares for me to win with my bishop. Now white has a second weakness (keeping in mind the theory of two weaknesses). 49…Bd6! Patience is a virtue with endgames! Let the position come to you and don’t rush anything. Also, whenever you are struggling to find a forceful win, look for zugzwang. At some point, white needs to play Kg3, after which g5 is nearly decisive.50.h4? Technically this move is not a mistake, but principally it is, because it puts the final pawn on dark squares adding yet another burden to the white defenders. [50.Kg3 g5 51.h4 h6 52.h5 Bc7 53.Bc1 Bb8 54.Be3 g4=] 50…h6 51.Bc1? [51.Kh3! Kf3 (51…Be7 52.Kg3) 52.h5 gxh5 53.Kh4= This pawn sacrifice is the answer to white’s troubles.; 51.Kg3 g5 52.h5 Transposes.]51…Bc5+- 52.f3 Bf2 The rest is just technique. Now that all the pawns are on dark sqaures, winning isn’t difficult. 53.Ba3 Bxh4 54.Bf8 h5 55.Bd6 Ke3 56.Be5 Be7 57.Bc7 h4 58.Be5 Bb4 59.Bf6 Be1 60.Bg5 h3+ 61.Kxh3 Kxf3 62.Bd8 Bg3 63.Bb6 Bxf4 64.Bc5 g5 65.Bb6 Bg3 66.Bc7 g4# A nice finish to a tough game. One thing to take note of from an instructional perspective is that my opponent is a strong player, equivalent to low expert strength, yet even he could not hold onto the draw as simple as it was. Let this be a lesson for those out there who would hastily take a draw in such positions, that between pressure, nerves, time, and simply human nature to not play perfectly, there is always some hope. 0–1