Friday, 29 February 2008

15...Qxc5 16 a3

Latest moves in our correspondence game: The Hawk v The Rest of the World

The Rest of the World opted for: 15 ...Qxc5

The Hawk replied with 16 a3

What should Black play now? Two pieces are under attack, but Black is (temporarily) a piece ahead. It's complicated!

Please vote for the next move, using the usual methods. The easiest is to leave a comment on this site.

The full moves to date can be found here:

Friday, 22 February 2008


I'm delighted to say that Marsh Towers is currently receiving visitors not only from the United Kingdom but also from the United States, India, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Greece, Spain, Thailand, France, Denmark, Morocco, Bulgaria, Ireland, Singapore, New Zealand, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Brazil, Poland, Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg, and, last but not least, the Phillipines.

Hopefully all visitors find something of interest. Stay tuned because there's LOTS more content to come!

The Hawk v RoW: 14...Nxc3 15 0-0

The majority of the Rest of the World voted for the tempting 14...Nxc3. The Hawk replied by castling 15 0-0. So The Rest of the World has an extra piece! Is it all part of The Hawk's plan?

A very tricky position! What would you play as Black? Please vote in the usual ways!

Friday, 15 February 2008

The Hawk v RoW

After The Rest of the World played 13...Bd7,
The Hawk replied with 14 Bd3

What would you play for Black now?


...for further details!

Chess Reviews: 39

Fritz 11

Fritz has long been known as the leading chess software on the market. I was delighted to be able to review the very latest version.

It took just a few minutes to load the software onto my laptop and then suddenly Fritz was ready for action.

The first menu offers a choice between 'Play Fritz', '' and 'Chess Course'.

‘Chess Course’ takes one to two main features. One is a comprehensive ‘Beginner’s Course’, presented by IM Andrew Martin using video clips and board graphics. This is a fabulous teaching feature for total novices, taking the student quickly over the very basics, such the chess board and the names of the pieces, through to moves of the pieces and some demonstrations of standard checkmate patterns.

Next, there are samples from no less than 53 of the high-quality Fritz Trainer DVDs. Each clip features a top player (Kasparov, Kramnik, Korchnoy, Shirov etc) giving a chess lesson. Some of them are nearly 20 minutes. Each clip is accompanied by a direct link to the Chessbase shop, giving the viewer the opportunity to pursue their particular interests with ease.

Clicking on ‘’ is a quick and easy way into what is probably the best of all chess playing sites (at least, it’s the best one I’ve ever known). The online navigation is simple enough and within seconds it is possible to be playing an opponent from the other side of the world. There are some new features here, including a ‘tactical competition’, in which a player has five minutes to solve as many problems as possible.

Buying Fritz gives a free one year membership to play.

'Play Fritz’ takes one to the meat of the product. First, these an audible greeting! Straight away, there is a very strong temptation to take on Fritz in a blitz game. I’ve played against nearly all of the versions over the years, starting with Fritz 2, and have on occasion managed a very rare draw (and a even rarer victory). This time I played quote a few games in a row and found I could hardly ever get into a playable middle game. With an absolutely ruthless efficiency, Fritz mercilessly exploited every single mistake. It’s audio aspect didn’t take long to start gloating. I didn’t take too much longer to turn off the sound. Naturally, the latest version of Fritz is the strongest to date and even though I was just playing blitz games, the accuracy of the program gives a little indication as to the intensity of the struggle faced by (then-World Champion) Kramnik when he played a six-game match against it in 2006.

Finally resigning myself to fact that I’m not going to win a any games on this occasion (…well, what can I say? I haven’t played much recently and feel I am somewhat rusty…) it was time to investigate the other Fritz features.

There are two chess variants to play: Giveaway Chess and Chess 960. The latter is the one where the initial position is selected randomly from a total of 960 options. My first attempt started with this bizarre position.

It’s first move was 1 0-0-0 and I immediately understood I had a lot to learn!

There are also many training levels, in which a player can practice openings, tactics and endgames. The idea is simple: load up one of the given positions and play on against Fritz until the technique is mastered.

Some of the positions are classics, such as this ‘pawn breakthrough’

White to play and win

Others are of the tricky type we never practice enough:

White to play - could you beat Fritz from here?

There’s a massive database of games, stretching across the centuries from game 1 from the year 1625 (actually some analysis by the great Greco) all the way to game 1245231 (!), a blitz play-off game between Leko and Ivanchuk at the end of 2007. There are no annotations, but there are plenty of search options to quickly find a game, player or variation of interest and of course it is an easy task to load up an analysis engine to help study the game.

The chess board can be viewed in normal 2D or even 3D. A new feature for Fritz 11 is the magic eye. This shows laser beams scanning the board, revealing Fritz’s thoughts as it plays!

Fritz 11 will provide you with many hours of fun and also serious chess experiences. Any keen player - regardless of current age and playing strength - cannot fail to improve their chess strength with this magnificent product.

Highly recommended to all!

For further details of Fritz and other Chessbase products, please go to:

Friday, 8 February 2008

The Hawk v RoW

Recent developments in the correspondence game between The Hawk and The Rest of the World....

You voted for:


...and The Hawk has replied with: 13 Nd4

What would you like to play for Black in this position? Please vote in the usual ways. See here for further details on the whole game.

Chess Reviews: 38

Fritz Trainer DVDs

The three DVDs reviewed here all follow the standard Fritz Trainer format. Load up the disc and one's computer screen split into three windows. One is a chessboard, depicting the latest moves, one is for the notation and the third shows the author/presenter talking to the screen. It's very much like having a Grandmaster giving you his direct and complete attention.

Beating The French Vol 1
By Rustam Kasimdzhanov
(Running time: three and a half hours)

I have employed the French Defence many times since the early 1980s. Having spent many hours studying and playing one of the very best of all defences, I was intrigued to see what I could learn from the 'other side of the fence'.

Former World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov has already built up a solid reputation as DVD presenter; coupled with his experience at the highest of all levels he is a good choice to try and crack a tough nut.

He introduces volume 1 with a six minute video presentation to explain why he is advocating 3 Nc3 against the French rather than one of the other main tries and goes on to cover some of Black's plans after 3 …Bb4, heralding the Winawer Variation.

Straight away a big positive point can be seen. The lectures are in well-timed chunks and this gives the viewer important natural breaks in the learning experience.

Two theoretical sections follow the introduction. The first last just over 16 minutes and talks the viewer through the chosen path to the main recommendation, with plenty of explanations as to why other lines are less critical.

The main line is deemed to be:

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e5 c5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Ne7 7 Qg4

No fudging or half measures here! Kasimdzhanov clearly wants to take the bull by the horns. Later he takes a good look at 7 h4 also, to demonstrate some similar ideas and plans.
The second theoretical section is nearly 20 minutes long and takes a very good look at methods of play arising from 7 Qg4.

Following the first illustrative game, it's back to theory for the third and final time.
Then it's onwards again, with a fine selection of nine games presented as individual lectures. The length of these clips varies from just under nine minutes to over 22.

A lot of attention is given to the heavily-advocated 7 …0-0, which has gone some way to replacing the wilder 7 …Qc7 lines in recent years.

Other systems, such as the slippery 5...Ba5, are covered in depth too. Some of Black's early options - such as 4 …b6 and 4 …Qd7 - are either not covered at all or dealt with quickly. However, these do crop up at club level from time to time and it would have been good to see some critical analysis here too.

A short 'Outro' concludes the coverage of the Winawer Variation with a succinct summary and some final thoughts.

Playing the Winawer can become almost like a religion for Black players (local layers will know it is a cornerstone of the repertoire of the current Cleveland co-champion, David Baillie, and one with which he very rarely loses) so it essential to prepare very thoroughly if one is wanting to fight against it. Careful study of the material presented here will definitely boost your chances of success against 3...Bb4.

Beating The French Vol 2
By Rustam Kasimdzhanov

(Running time: three hours and 17 minutes)

The second volume takes an in-depth look at how to meet 3...Nf6, the Classical Variation. This is probably more popular than the Winawer at the moment, with lots of former 3...Bb4 specialists put off by the amount of theory.

This time, after the introduction, there is just one theoretical lecture before moving on to the 11 illustrative games.

Kasimdzhanov talks through his reasons for heading into the following position, via 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 (4...Ne4, the subject of a Daniel King 'Foxy Openings' video some years ago, is dismissed lightly along the way) 5 f4 c5 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 Be3

The basic strategies for sides are explained very well indeed. I have some experience of the Black side of the variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 Bxd4 10.Bxd4 Nxd4 11.Qxd4 Qb6 in which Black heads for an endgame where he has decent chances so I was intrigued to see what would be suggested here. The answer is the trendy 12.Qd2, offering a pawn. Should Black take?; b2 or not b2 - that is the question. The idea is to win tempi for pawns after 12 …Qxb2 13 Rb1 Qa3 14 Nb5

There don't appear to be any stones left unturned here, with all the main lines covered - at least in sidelines - over the course of the verbally annotated games. Even the rarer, surprise lines are covered, such as 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 5 f4 c5 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 Be3 Qb6. Black has a sacrificial option after 8 Na4 Qa5+ 9 c3 cxd4 10 b4 Nxb4 11 cxb4 Bxb4+

…but it is now under a cloud after 12 Bd2, when according to this DVD White has a very good position with the plan Na4-b2-d3 suggesting itself.

As with volume 1, Kasimdzhanov concludes matters with a summing up in the 'Outro'.
I have not seen volume three (which covers 3...dxe4, thus completing the repertoire for White) but it's safe to assume that the standard will be as high as the first two.

These are top-quality products (as one has come to expect from Chessbase). Anyone who wants to improve their understanding of - and results against - The French should definitely consider investing some study time in these volumes. French players will need to watch them too - to find out what is in store for them in the very near future!

1.…d6 Universal
By GM Nigel Davies

(Running time: five hours)

GM Nigel Davies is a top coach and has mastered the art of presenting excellent chess material to standard club and tournament players across a whole range of chess media.

The title of this DVD is a trifle misleading though; it is a universal repertoire only provided that White doesn't play 1 e4. The player wanting to base a whole Black repertoire on 1...d6 is advised to pick up what is essentially a companion volume: the Fritz Trainer on The Pirc, by Davies also.

At first , it's easy to think that Black players adopt 1...d6 merely as a transpositional device to offer White the chance to steer proceedings into a Pirc and heading for a King's Indian after 2 c4 or 2 Nf3. However, as Davies ably demonstrates, it is possible to head for fresh positions that could easily non-plus an otherwise well-booked up opponent. (In fact, players are invited to be honest and think to themselves - do they prepare properly for 1...d6 at all?)

In a nutshell, the lines considered arise from:

1 d4 d6 2 c4 e5
1 d4 d6 2 Nf3 g6
1 c4 d6 2 Nc3 e5
followed by 3 …f5

Despite first impressions, 1 d4 d6 2 c4 e5 can give Black some real chances of playing for the win. 3 dxe5 dxe5 4 Qxd8 Kxd8 is surprisingly easy for Black to play and amazingly the c4 pawn often wishes it could move backwards.

White can avoid the ending with the popular 1 d4 d6 2 c4 e5 3 Nf3 but after 3 …e4 Black is once again creating fresh positions and unusual problems for White.

Black naturally follows up with a rapid …f5 (a common theme on this DVD). Such pushy play could well reap its rewards.

1 d4 d6 2 Nf3 g6 is a very interesting choice; most sources on 1...d6 prefer 1 d4 d6 2 Nf3 Bg4. Davies is clearly giving White the option of going back into a Pirc with 3 e4, which Black should be happy with if he has the companion DVD. If White sticks to d4 territory, Davies recommends 1 d4 d6 2 Nf3 g6 3 c4 Bg7 4 Nc3 Bg4

There are some delightful twists and turns in the play from this position, with Black going all out to assault the key d4 point.

Davies is particularly good at covering all the annoying little sidelines and non-critical openings one encounters repeatedly in club chess. Thus suitable lines of play are given against The London System, Colle and others.

1 Nf3 is a problem solved by 1...d6 when transpositions to earlier lines are hard to avoid. Keeping the game in the realms of the King's Indian Attack can lead to trouble for White, as even Kasparov found in a simul game against Ziglio, presented here.

Wouldn't you just love this position against Kasparov? Black proceeded with 15...Rxf3 16 Qf3 Bd7! with the idea of 17…Rf8. Kasparov somehow held on to draw but it's easy to imagine his discomfort throughout the experience.

Indeed, the chosen games demonstrated the plans and schemes admirably and there are over 100 pertinent examples on this DVD, in addition to the ones presented in the video clips. Some of the games are by Davies himself; I think it essential that an opening salesman practices what he preaches and his own personal experiences are well used here.

With a running time of five hours, there is a lot of material to get through and even serious students will be kept busy for several evenings. With an r.r.p. of £18.99 such a wealth of material really is excellent value for money.

Provided the reader has knowledge of the Pirc or some other …d6 based opening against 1 e4 (to handle transpositions) then 1...d6 Universal will provide a very promising and relatively easy to learn repertoire against everything else. One major benefit is that the given lines are very sound yet one's opponents are still likely to be less than fully prepared to meet them. 1...d6 can lead to quick victories and the player who studies this DVD and takes up the recommendations will find themselves masters of the territory when the position appear on the board. Highly recommended!

For further details of all Chessbase products, please visit:

For the archive of my chess reviews, please see here:

Sunday, 3 February 2008

UK Chess Challenge

There's a report about one of our local chess tournaments here:

Chess Reviews: 37

Chessbase Magazine 121

I was delighted to receive a copy of the latest Chessbase magazine to review.

A 26 page booklet gives a written guide to what is on the DVD and gives a selection of tactical and endgame positions to whet the appetite before the DVD goes into the computer.

There’s an interesting editorial by Rainer Knaak. He makes the point that there are now 22 players above the 2700 rating barrier and strongly hints that the magical boundary has been devalued somewhere along the line.

Within three second of putting the DVD into the disc drive I was looking at impressive menu page, detailing the contents of issue 121.

Karsten Muller presents an overview in a video clip lasting over 18 minutes to set the scene of what is in store for the reader. It is here that one can start to appreciate just how material is packed onto the disc and what efforts have been taken to present it in a consistently concise and easily navigable way.

Further written highlights are presented on the first page, often with direct links to featured games of interest.

The two main featured events are the European Team Championship and the European Club Championship. Several other tournaments have reports and a full set of games. In total there are no less 1998 games from top events. The majority are unannotated but some of them have very good notes by a variety of players. The list of games can be sorted, at a single click, by a number of criteria such as opening, tournament, white player etc.

Of particular interest are the 12 opening surveys. These cover a big range of openings and ever layer should find something of interest.

Each survey consists of a very good and instructive text introduction to the variation in question, (which takes nothing for granted from the reader but instead gently guides him through the nuances) followed by a number of very well annotated games.

The subjects covered in this magazine are:

English Opening - a repertoire for Black by Efstratios Grivas

English Defence with 3 a3 by Hannes Langrock

A repertoire for the Stonewall by Viktor Moskalenko

A repertoire for White against the Sveshnikov by Dorain Rogozenko

The Najdorf System with 6 Bg5 in the limelight by Lubomir Ftacnik

Critical aspects of the Rio de Janeiro Variation by Mihail Marin

The old move 6...Nbd7 in the Ragozin Variation by Lars Schandoff

Grunfeld with 3 f3 - no problem for Black

Queen’s Indian and Bogo Indian combined by Evgeny Postny

Catalan with Bd2 - no disadvantage by Mihail Marin

A repertoire against the Nimzo Indian with 4 Bg5 by Dorain Rogozenko

The Karklins Variation 7...Nh5!? By Igor Stohl

One can easily imagine that over a number of magazines the reader’s specific opening knowledge could be steadily and firmly enhanced.

The Stonewall survey really caught my eye as it demonstrated several interesting ideas and positions. Moskalenko uses his own games as a basis for the survey and shows what he thinks is the best response to the annoying English move-order position:

6...dxc4 with a quick …e6-e5 to follow. The illustrative games show Black enjoying good positions.

Here are two other good demonstrations of Stonewalls having fun.

Kekki - Moskalenko
Black’s surprising 27...e5! set him on the road to victory.

Oms Pallise - Moskalenko
The Stonewall Bishop enjoyed life a lot more after 31...d4!?

In addition to the main database and opening reports, there are many regular columns. Daniel King, a natural teacher, presents a move by move game in which the reader is invited to have a go at guessing virtually every played by a GM Speelman (playing against Stefan Macak).

Oliver Reeh’s piece on tactics follows a theme of ‘Raving Rooks’. A video example sets the scene nicely and then there are a number of timed exercises for the reader to try.

Here’s the first test; fairly simple but it provides a good little warm-up for the tougher material.

Guygusuzoglu v Lagerman

Black to move

Endgame expert Karsten Muller presents some very interesting examples on ‘liquidating to a pawn ending’. Just as in the tactics column there are a some exercises to test the powers of the reader.

Ibarra Chami - Mamikonian

White to play
What nuance would have earned White the full point?

Rainer Knaak demonstrates an opening trap that could well be a valuable addition to your repertoire, starting with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 g6 3 d4 Bg7 4 c4 Qa5+ and now White has to be very careful how he proceeds…or he could end up in this position:

Black to play

What is the best continuation?

Often there is a very popular column on strategy by Peter Wells but this is promised for issue 122.

Telechess is a section concerning correspondence chess. This time it features seven article sand 3002 games.

New products are also given a fair bit of coverage. Of particular interest are the snippets from the three new French Defence DVDs by Rustam Kasimdzhanov and two of the new ones by Alexi Shirov. Each of these is accompanied by a bonus annotated game, typically lasting about 18 minutes, with the DVD author speaking via video clip directly to the viewer.

Chessbase Magazine is a top quality product and one which should give the reader an immense amount of chess pleasure, instruction and entertainment. The material is very well chosen and is presented in an extremely effective way. I’m not sure how the makers manage to keep up such a high standard but serious chess players everywhere should greatly appreciate their efforts.

For more information on this magazine, please visit:

For more information on Chessbase products in general, please go to:

Entertainment! 4

The Return of the Kings

It’s been a while since I last saw Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings. I had previously enjoyed their concerts at Darlington, York and Harrogate but after the last one it was announced in various places that they were to retire from touring. Fortunately, this has clearly not been the case and I was pleased indeed to catch up with them again at Harrogate on 25th January.

The line up of the Rhythm Kings is usually in a state of flux; more so on the CDs but there are always slight variations between tours. This is the first time I’ve seen them without Mike Sanchez. Georgie Fame was absent too so the keyboard duties were very ably taken by Geraint Watkins.

Dennis Locorriere, the ‘voice of Dr Hook’, was a brand new Rhythm King and he seemed genuinely delighted to be on board, ‘singing the songs I always wanted to sing’.

There was no support and the Rhythm Kings took to the stage just after 8.00 p.m. Bill Wyman came on first and introduced each member of the band as they appeared, one by one.
The versatility of the band was well demonstrated by the fact the first five songs featured different vocalists. The changes in personnel led to changes in the chosen songs too. Some were taken from the earliest of their CDs and were ones I had not heard live before. Indeed, their whole repertoire appeared very fresh.

Bill Wyman’s talents on bass guitar are of course very well known; less so, his vocal skills but he took the lead on several songs including ‘You Never Can Tell’ and ‘Green River’ (fun was made of how appropriate the latter was due to his cold).

Other Kings who have been ever-present over the four shows I have seen are Terry Taylor (guitar), Albert Lee (lead guitar), Beverley Skeete (vocals), Graham Broad (drummer), Frank Mead and Nick Payn (horns/flute/harmonica/percussion).

It all makes for a very easy-going musical experience, with Bill and others often telling little stories before the songs, such as meeting Chuck Berry, or why they decided to cover a particular song.

After an hour or so the band took a short break and then came back to do another session. They returned again for an encore, the highlight being a well-chosen duet with Beverley Skeete and Albert Lee on The Everley Brothers classic ‘Cryin' in the Rain’.

Then suddenly, at 10.30 p.m, it was all over for another show. Hopefully they’ll be back another time. Meanwhile it would be great to see another new CD; it seems a very long time since 2004's ‘Just for a Thrill’.

Keep an eye on the tour dates over at:

Death of a Clown

I’m sure most of us were taken by surprise by the death of Jeremy Beadle, at just 59, last week. It is difficult to remember the last time was on TV though; I suppose it was assumed he was always working on his next project.

For many, he was the man they loved to hate - a smug joker and champion of the annoying wind-up.

However, I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon in his company a few years ago when he visited The Links Primary School. I was a Governor there at the time and this gave me the opportunity to get to know him a little better and see the man beneath his TV persona.

I revised my opinion of him throughout the day. He gave an excellent school assembly during which he spoke a bit about his career and how he started as a writer for stars such as Willie Rushton before one day appearing on the other side of the camera. He patiently took lots of questions from a large number of children, but first made sure that he asked their name and then spoke a little bit about them. For example, he related to a ‘Becky’ that she had a famous namesake the book ‘Vanity Fair’ and to an ‘Alexander’ he told a brief story about Alexander the Great.

At the end of a busy day he happened to walk into the school hall during my after-school chess club. Without any prompting, he happily sat down to play some of the children and stayed for the full hour.

I speak as I find and I found Jeremy Beadle to be an impressive and erudite man.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Chess Reviews: 36

How to Play Chess Endgames
By Karsten Muller and Wolfgang Pajeken

Endgame specialist John Nunn starts things off with a with a well-written foreword. Then after the authors' preface and introduction it's straight into the action.

The material is split into 18 chapters:

The Art of Pawn Play
Do Not Rush!
The Right Exchange
Thinking in Schemes
The Fight for the Initiative
Prophylaxis and Prevention of Counterplay
The Bishop-Pair in the Endgame
Converting an Advantage
The Art of Defence
Typical Mistakes
Rules of Thumb

Encouraging the study of endgames is easy advice to give but there are clear reasons - or excuses - used by players of all calibres as to why such advice isn't always followed. The average club and tournament player has little time to study. It's easier to fill that time with the study of an opening variation that is likely to occur in a particular league encounter but it's not so easy to predict what sort of endgame knowledge is going to prove useful.
Therefore, most players will attempt to cram more information about the latest Sicilian Defence theory rather than spend the equivalent time studying the finer points of a tricky endgame study.

This principle is very difficult to overturn; humans tend to put effort only into things from which they are likely to get a speedy reward. So to appeal to the masses, an endgame manual must meet certain criteria to make it appealing. The material must never be dry and an encyclopaedic approach should be avoided. Explanatory text must be included all the way through (languages annotations are neither enticing nor enticing) and must be informative and lucid. The authors of endgame texts must have a great love of the subject matter.

Slim volumes on popular openings will sell regardless of how much effort an author applies to his work (there's plenty of rubbish to be found amongst the gold) but there is little scope for sloppiness if an author wishes to make endgames appealing.

How does 'How to Play Chess Endgames' measure up to these criteria?

It's certainly not a dry encyclopaedia. There are, typically, three game snippets for every two pages.

The extensive bibliography clearly shows the impressive depth of research that went into creating this substantial and informative work; this is clearly a labour of love and definitely not the sort of book to be knocked together in a weekend or two (another habit that some opening books get away with, depending on the popularity of the opening in question).

The required explanatory prose is very much in evidence throughout the book and as far as I can see, the reader should never feel left in the dark.

Opening a page at random rarely fails to reveal an instructive comment, presented as a perfectly digestible bite-sized chunk.

For example:

'The rule of thumb 'knight endings re like pawn endings;' is also based in part on the fact that the knight is unable to lose a move and therefore zugzwang plays a similarly great role here as in pawn endings'

'By the way, it is absolutely typical that positions with many pawn weaknesses are particularly suitable for knights, since in that case they have more secure bases and can frequently gain the upper hand, at least if the opponent has few or no dynamic possibilities available. However, with an unweakened structure, the side with the bishop can operate more easily against the knight.'

'If you have everything under control, it is often a good idea to bring all your forces into position and only then proceed with concrete action.'

'In rook endings in particular it is often important to retain full control and eliminate any activity.'

There are pertinent quotes from famous players at the start of each chapter too, inlcuding this classic from Capablanca:

'I know at sight what a position contains. What could happen? What is going to happen? You figure it out. I know it!'

Recurring themes crop across many different chapters.

Smyslov - Fuller
Copenhagen 1980
White increased his activity with the surprising pawn sacrifice 1 e5! In particular, the King has an easy route into the action. This is just the sort of concept a club player often lacks in the armoury. However, anyone reading this book should pick up the ideas pretty quickly. For example, later in the book this position is given:

Petrosian - Spassky
World Championship (12) 1969
(The book gives this as being from their 1966 match - a rare error.)

Petrosian's 40 g4! is magnificent (giving the King game-saving scope - a draw was agreed shortly afterwards) and hopefully the reader won't find it too difficult to fathom having already assimilated the lesson from the Smyslov game.

Each chapter presents a number exercises (approximately 250 in all) to test and improve the reader's developing skills. The 'Solutions to the Exercises' cover 60 pages and provide a full answer and explanation to all of the problems.

There's a good index for the players involved in the examples - running to five pages - but the lack of an index for pieces makes it more difficult to use the book as a reference for specific endgames.

This is a fine book and one which should give the reader many hours of pleasure. With an r.r.p. of £18.99 for 351 pages of instruction and fun it represents good value for money too.
Here are a couple of randomly chosen exercises to give you an idea of what to expect:

How does Black draw easily?

Can you see how White tried one last trick here and Black promptly fell for it?

Calculate the consequences of 1 Nxe4
This is an inspirational and educational book, packed with excellent material. I am certain that chess players of all standards will find it a valuable addition to their chess libraries.
For further details about Gambit books, please visit:

The Hawk: 12 Bxb8

In our continuing correspondence game between Jonathan 'The Hawk' Hawkins and the Rest of the World....

....the rest of the World settled for 11...Bf5, developing a piece with various threats. We are still very much in the realms of Grandmaster theory.

The Hawk has replied with 12 Bxb8.

What happens next is up to you! Please vote in the usual ways. There's more information about the game here: