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Basic Formulas, Wonders of Defense, and King Safety

  • IM Silman
  • | Jun 6, 2012

All the positions this week are in "test" format. However, though finding the right answer is nice, what I really want is for everyone to read the copious prose that I've added. Thus, after you try your hand at the solution, PLEASE click on "Move List" (or "Solution" and then "Move List") so you can actually read the prose and learn something. Remember: a bunch of moves won't teach you much, but the added instructive prose will.  




~ Lessons From These Examples ~

* Sometimes one has no choice but to curl up into a defensive cocoon, but often the best defense is to the grab the initiative. Never stop trying to make use of the plusses in your position. In our first example, Black failed to notice the holes on e4 and g3, which would have made his moves easy to find and powerful.

* Often the right plan is found by simply verbalizing the plusses and minuses of the position (for both sides), and then insisting you find a way to make use of these things.

* When you have a lead in development and the enemy King is still uncastled, do everything you can to rip open the center and rend him limb from limb!

* If both players are low on time, or if the game is a complex one (the material imbalance made the last game a tough one), in general the side with the safest King will rule the day.


If you want me to look over your game, send it to askjeremy@chess.com

I need your name (real or chess.com handle), your OPPONENT’S name (real or chess.com handle), both player's ratings, where the game was played, and date. If you don’t give me this information, I won’t use your game! BTW: I’ve noticed that many people are reluctant to give me their opponent’s name. This is very strange! Showing the names of both players is the way chess games are presented in databases, books, magazines… everywhere! Permission from the opponent isn’t necessary. If permission was necessary, everyone who ever lost a game wouldn’t allow their name to be on it!


  • 3 years ago


    Very nice!

  • 3 years ago


    it would be good if some kind of assessment of one's play were to be given

  • 3 years ago


    nice article

  • 3 years ago


    Thank you very much for the enlightening article, Mr. Silman. I was just wondering what would happen if in position 2, after 17. ...d4 white answered 18. Qc1 instead of 18. Qd2 and got a sequence like 17. ... d4 18.Qc1 Nd5 19.cxd4 Ndb4 20. Kf1.  What happens too if instead of 18. Qd2, white answers with 18. Qf2? Thank you again

  • 3 years ago


    Perfect article! All instructive positions given in the form of a puzzle! 

    Keep it up!!


    @NM Splane You failed to read this article. 

    Silman said in the beginning to look at the moves list.

    1..f5 is a bad move which loses the game,a move which i fell for too (so i got 2/3 positions) and is explained perfectly well in the moves list...


    Silman,thx again!

  • 3 years ago


  • 3 years ago


    I did the same as NM Splane, motivated by the thought that an obstruction on f5 would make my king safe long enough to activate my pieces better (and thereby guarantee my safety in the long run).  How wrong that was!

    Did not spot the poster's comment until reading the "move list," motivated by private Learoyd.  Could you list the punishments for bad moves in your running solution commentary please?  This was fairly confusing.

    By the way, this is a much better format.

  • 3 years ago


    1... f5 2. Nf4 which is in the comments Silman posted.

  • 3 years ago

    NM Splane

    In position 3 I saw that Qf6+ is the main threat but instead of reacting to White's threats I wanted to play actively with 1 ... f5  2. gf5 Ng5 and the threat is ...Ngf3 and ...Rh2#. How would White defend against this plan?

  • 3 years ago


    In game 1:

    24... a5 also seems like a nice try. 25. Nd4 Bxd4 26. cxd4 Rc2 with the plan of Kh8 and loading the rooks on the g2 pawn and vulnerable g3 square.

  • 3 years ago


    I concur with the previous posters; this is a very effective format. Thank you!

  • 3 years ago


    the old format always seemed a slightly odd mix of highly-advanced opening theory followed by patient explanation to the baffled patzer of what went wrong in the rest of the game, so no complaints about the format change here. covering several games in one article is a definite plus but it would be nice to have the whole pgn, even if only the key positions get commented on

  • 3 years ago


    I also like the puzzle format.  It's interesting to play puzzles that don't win material or mate outright, but instead are just normal good moves.

  • 3 years ago


    I like your book The Complet Book Of Chess Strategy.

  • 3 years ago


    I like this format you've chosen Mr. Silman. Keep up the great work!!

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    Very nice, cutting to the chase!

  • 3 years ago


    I will have to agree with dgmisal ....only two articles and I am missing the old format very much already....

  • 3 years ago


    Great article, the first game was my fav. Thanks Jeremy!!! :)

  • 3 years ago


    I hate to be the Debbie Downer, but I really miss the old format already.  Looking at puzzles is fine, and reading a little prose on them is great too - but I really liked the WHOLE game progression - seeing how such positions developed from scratch.  Ah well.  Still very good.

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