More Questions From Chess Players
IM Silman gets lots and lots of questions.

More Questions From Chess Players

| 34 | Chess Players

@Jed1w1zard writes:

I am a club-level chess player. I was wondering if you could clear up an issue for me that I have repeatedly been encountering in my games. When I play as White, I typically like to play the London System since it’s a very flexible position and it suits the style of game I prefer (namely, a slow positional build-up rather than a complex and aggressive tactical position). There’s one problem that I come across frequently, however, regarding the dark-squared bishop.

JS: This part of the article is about 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4, though here Black plays the poor 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6. 

Why is Black’s 3...Nc6?! inferior? Because it’s blocking Black’s ...c7 pawn, which makes Black’s position a bit cramped. Thus, instead of 3...Nc6, Black should play 3...c5 4.e3 Nc6 when Black is putting pressure on White’s center and also make use of the c-file by ...Rc8.

Let’s look at both 3...Nc6 and 3...c5 so you will get a visual picture.



OK, you are really wondering about the two dark-bishops facing each other, so let’s look into it via another gentleman (@robvilarr) who also pondered the face-off.

@robvilarr writes from Kenya:

 I would like to know your opinion about my comments in my game. First decision is about pawn structure: Is it preferable to retreat the dark bishop if the other is glaring at you, or allow double pawns on the f-line? My decision was to allow doubled pawns in order to take control of e5. Moving 4.e3, I am doing something in favor of developing my pieces. My light-squared bishop will move along the f1-a6 diagonal and castle will follow. I never consider a bishop trade on d6 because d6 is a good square for the queen.

JS: Bravo! Here are the first moves: 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.Nf3 e6 4.e3

On the Stonewall:

@winston_weng writes:

I’ve played against the Stonewall as Black quite a few times now but I can never seem to find a way to attack White. Could you please give me some tips/pointers in positions with the pawn structure down below?


Finally, if you really want to learn that opening, buy Win With the Stonewall Dutch by Sverre Johnsen, Ivar Bern and Simen Agdestein.

Now let's look at one of the most crazy pawn structure ever (let your eyes pop at 17...gxh5)!

Living in the Past:

@Arady71 comments:

Silman lives in the past and never talks about modern chess.

JS: Ah, a kick in the face, how refreshing!

Now I’ll tell you why I do articles about low-rated players (I like to help them) and why I do articles about old masters from the 1600s to the 1980s.

Ready for the big why? Here it is: New in Chess magazine is full of the latest grandmaster games, ChessBase is as modern as modern can be (though they also toss in some historic stuff) and (which seems to be taking over the chess world) also writes a lot about the top players (though it also has some very good historical writers).

Since most people look at modern games, and since I really like old games (the old guys were crazy...I really, really love crazy), I decided to follow this historical path.

Here’s another reason for my love of old players: I adore history. Dinosaurs, the advent of man, music from the 1960s and 1970s, cosmology, etc. But my favorite thing is chess history; I love it!

Old games are easier to understand than the modern games, which means that lower-rated players will learn basics. Also these old timers were (and still are) our teachers: Gioachino Greco, Francois Andre Danican Philidor, Louis Charles Mahe de La Bourdonnais, Adolf Anderssen, Paul Morphy, Wilhelm Steinitz, Siegbert Tarrasch, Emanuel Lasker, Jose Raul Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Max Euwe, Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosian, Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer.

Bobby Fischer.

The next step in chess is the “time of computers.” If you want to live in the computer chess world, by all means do so. But without the teachers from the past, you certainly won’t understand what a computer groks.

So, Mr. Arady71, by all means enjoy the modern games (I do too), but don’t ignore the past.

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