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Fire in the Mailbox

  • GM Gserper
  • | Aug 19, 2012

I receive a lot of messages from fellow chess.com members. Sometimes I am frightened when I open my mailbox since I know very well that I won't be able to reply to many of them. There are requests like "I am an attacking player, what opening should I play as White and what openings should I play as Black against 1.e4 and 1.d4."  make me wonder: did the sender expect some superficial advice like " Play King's Gambit for White, and Najdorf Sicilian for Black against 1.e4 and the King's Indian defense against 1.d4"? Or were they asking me to devise a complete opening repertoire, something that takes tons of time?  As a rule I answer questions like this by referring to my series "Openings for Tactical Players". You can find them on chess.com and pick the opening that appeals to you the most.

But sometimes I get questions that are impossible to answer, unless I invest a lot of time.  When I get a game and a request to review it then what should I do? My advice is to send requests like this to Mr. Silman. In his weekly column he deals exactly with this kind of questions and I am sure you'll enjoy his instructional and witty writing. 

Fortunately, recently I got two messages that I enjoyed a lot. Both of them were regarding my hit parade in this article: http://www.chess.com/article/view/positional-rxe6-sacrifice-part-two

 One of them was from IM David Pruess (dpruess on chess.com).  He mentioned a game with a Rxe6 sacrifice that I had never seen.  You must see this gem to understand the mix of the feelings I had after playing through the game:

From one side I was ashamed, because how could I not know such a beautiful game, especially one where the great Anatoly Karpov was completely annihilated? Being a nice person, David tried to comfort me that it was just a blitz game and that no one knows all the games.  True, and yet to miss such a beauty was almost a crime on my part.  Fortunately the joy of playing through the game far outweighed anything else.  Of course if I knew this game my hit parade would have been different and Mikhail "The Magician" Tal would easily be the winner. 

The second message that I enjoyed came from FM  Kostya Kavutskiy (hellokostya).  He sent me a game that I knew very well, but somehow just forgot to include into my article. Here I offer the game as three exercises for you to compare your attacking skills to Tal's main apprentice - GM Shirov.

It looks like White completely dominates in the center, doesn't he?

How should Black increase his initiative?
Now finish Black's powerful attack in style!
Having two hot attacks like these sent to me (and considering the title of Shirov's book "Fire on Board") I felt like my whole mailbox was on fire. But these are exactly the kind of messages that I enjoy and appreciate.  Thank you guys!


  • 23 months ago


    (in the Tal-Carpov game) @Caliphigia, after 24. Nf6 Q:e1+, 25. Kh2 h6, What about 26.Qg6?

    Then the only option I see to avoid mate is 26..Qe5+ but there is 27.f4

    What then?!

    Mr Gserper, very nice article, thanks for posting.

  • 23 months ago


    For players such as this with questions and queries in this area I recommend the book Attacking with Tal.  It is very good and the Rxe6 is covered as well as many other great themes and ideas.

  • 23 months ago


    personally i find it slightly disconcerting that my silicon assistant finds 13.Rxe6 instantly, and even more disconcerting that it evaluates the resulting position as +0.3(ish). they should be banned, really

  • 23 months ago


    I send this guy hate mail every day, and sometimes twice a day.  Oh, that's not what he meant.  :-p

    I'm surprised Karpov went so long.  It was mate next turn, right?  I'd think such a great player would have seen it a few turns earlier.

  • 23 months ago


    Mikhail Tal famous games are really awesome. I watched all of these games from Mato Jelic chess videos. Tal is really a chess genius. He beat Fischer, Karpov, Botnivik and even Kasparov. What a very exciting games he left to chess enthusiast. Thanks for sharing this nice article of yours.

  • 23 months ago


    Very goos article and very interesting games, thanx for sharing...

  • 23 months ago


  • 23 months ago


    well yes, 28. Bh7+ IS mate - 

    28...Kxg7, 29. Qg6 and 30. Qg8 ends it

  • 23 months ago


    pt1992, -- ah, yes-- thanks--

  • 23 months ago


    Crazy game

  • 23 months ago


    jpr1, Kxg7

  • 23 months ago


    in the first game, wouldnt 28. Bh7 be checkmate?  

    thanks for sharing such a great game

  • 23 months ago



  • 23 months ago


    alexei is my favorite player aside from kasparov

  • 23 months ago


    Yes-Alexey is very good student of Tal.Greate Riga school (of course ,we remember Nimzowitsch -as first GM from Riga).

  • 23 months ago


    Great games thank you so much for your blog; sheer beauty and artistry!

  • 23 months ago


    Brilliant Stuff

  • 23 months ago


    Thanks for opening my mind!

  • 23 months ago


    @Faygooner: 21...d:c3, 22. h:g6 h:g6 (else 23. Qh5), 23. Qg4

    @hypernovae86: after 24. Nf6 Q:e1+, 25. Kh2 h6, 26. B:h6 R:f6, 27. Bd2+ Kg8, 28. B:e1 Rh6 black has an extra Rook. 

  • 23 months ago


    Only on chess.com will a GM put his hand in a flaiming mailbox for you.

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