Raging Tactics and Geometric Beauty

  • IM Silman
  • | Jul 18, 2012

IMPORTANT: [At the end of the puzzles, you should click MOVE LIST so you can see my instructive notes and variations. If you are having trouble solving a problem, just click SOLUTION, and then MOVE LIST. Even if you solve everything, DO click MOVE LIST or you might miss an important bit of prose.]

I’m giving this whole game for the simple reason that it’s GREAT FUN! At first White looks to be a rather weak player, but after the oddities of the opening and an overzealous leaping about with a Knight, White suddenly turns into a killer robot that not only sees some cool tactics, but also has a keen eye for geometric beauty.

I’ve added plenty of boards and puzzles so you can get personally involved, and (of course) gave the full game in the final board for those that prefer such things. I hope you enjoy this game as much as I did.

Epoqueepique (1591) – kaspa (1723), 2ème CHAMPIONNAT DE FRANCE chess.com 2012

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nc6

Playable if one knows what he’s doing, but in general in queen-pawn openings, neither side wants to block their c-pawn. Thus, Black will usually play the pawn to c6 or c5, and White will play it to c3 or, most commonly, c4. For Black, the pawn on c6 gives d5 a firm defense while the Knight can eventually develop on d7. For White, the pawn on c4 followed by Nc3 adds serious pressure to black’s d-pawn, and also prepares to open the c-file (which White can use by Rc1) by an eventual cxd5.

3.Bf4 Nf6 4.e3 Ne4 5.Qe2

A very poor move that blocks the f1-Bishop. What’s its point? Why does the Queen need to be on e2 when so many other white pieces have to be developed? As it turns out, White is trying to get all the queenside pieces off the back rank as quickly as possible so she can castle queenside. Typical female chess: no subtlety, just raw, animalistic aggression. Really ladies, you need to cut back on those testosterone injections! 

Anyway, castling queenside shouldn’t be a priority here. The simple 5.Bb5 followed by 0-0 is fine, as is 5.Nbd2, challenging black’s advanced Knight. However, the usual 5.c4 runs into a problem:

5...e6 6.Nbd2 Bd6 7.g3 Bxf4 8.gxf4 Bd7 9.Rg1 g6 10.0-0-0 Qe7 11.Nb3

More natural was 11.Nxe4:


There is simply no excuse to ever play such a move unless it’s a blitz game, you drank too much between moves, you’re in desperate time pressure, you were giving a blindfold simultaneous exhibition, or your eyesight has gone to seed: intending to push white’s Knight around with 11...a5 followed by ...a4, you somehow grabbed the Knight by mistake.


DOH! White is now a full piece ahead with a good, solid position. The game should be over, but holding onto one’s stuff proves to be harder to do than to say. Anyway, thank goodness it isn’t over, otherwise we would miss all the cool stuff that occurs.


I can imagine black’s thinking here: “Please, please, please... leave your Knight there. Please!”


More Imaginary Black thinking: “!DamnX!*%!”

13...f6 14.Ne1

It’s hard to understand this move, since d3 will prove to be no more active than f3. One should always try and have all their pieces participate. With that in mind, the b3-Knight stands out like a sore thumb. What does it do? It can’t move to a5 or c5, and d4 is also impossible. Thus, I would play 14.Nbd2 bringing it into the fight:

14...Nd6 15.Nd3 Bb5 16.h4 a5 17.a3 a4 18.Nd2 c5


Not very good since it opens up queenside lines, makes black’s pawns mobile, and (in effect) swaps the central d-pawn for black’s far less important b6-pawn. 19.c3 is a sane move, stopping any and all enemy counterplay based on …c5-c4-c3 ideas.

If you’re up a piece for nothing and easily winning the game, don’t give your opponent even the slightest bit of play if it can be avoided.

19...bxc5 20.Qg4 c4


Wow! This has nothing to do with tightening white's position. Instead, White tosses her Knight into the wilderness where it’s all by itself with nothing protecting it. Why risk so much for a one-move threat against e6 (easily defended) when the extra piece will lock in the full point if White just avoids enemy counterplay? 21.Nb4 c3 22.bxc3 is still easily winning for White, even though white's King position has been disrupted. The Knight on b4 is a defensive powerhouse. 

21...Rc8! 22.Nxe6 

Avoiding 22.Qxe6 Rxc5.


White hung the piece back, but retains a clear advantage since Nf3-e5 or Nf3-d4 leaves White with pressure against d5, an extra pawn, and a kingside attack based on h4-f5. 22...Bd7 was also possible:

23.Qg5 Qxe6 24.c3!

At last! White stops the pawn shattering …c4-c3.

24…Nf7 25.Qg3 Nh6

Black has no plan (getting to play ...Ng4 isn’t a plan!), he’s just moving his stuff about in a fog.


White stops the ...Ng4 nonsense. Now White has a simple way to dominate the position (other than the obvious h4-h5): Nd2-f3-e5, followed by Bf3, Rd4, Rgd1, and even Qg2 with a full-on attack against d5.


Black fantasy comment: “Hurt me! I deserve it. Hurt me!” 


White fantasy comment: “If you insist on pain, I’ll dole it out. But only because you remind me of my first husband.”


Black fantasy comment: “I’ve changed my mind! Don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me!”


Wonderful! After her poor opening and misguided 21.Nc5, White has pulled things together and is playing very well. She now brings up the reinforcements, insisting that all her pieces participate in the upcoming execution.

28...Ng4 29.hxg6 Bxg6 30.Ng5 Qd7 31.Rh1?

Much too tame for such a drool-inducing position. However, it still gets the job done. Nevertheless, our puzzle asks the question: "What's better than 31.Rh1?"


31...h5 32.Bf3 Rc5 and black’s holding on like grim death (though he’s still completely lost). 


Missing the move she missed on move 31. 


Black slits his own throat. Better was 32...Rc5 followed by a prayer.


A strong, logical move that, unfortunately, isn’t best.


Giving White another chance at glory.


Missing the same idea she missed on move 33.


Poor Black has no idea what’s going on. Like it or hate it, he had to try 34...Kh8, though that still falls short: 


She misses the instant kill again, but her move is actually geometrically beautiful: it doubles on the h-file and continues the pressure against d5. However, in chess “pretty” has to take a back seat to clubbing the enemy over the head and eating his brains:

35...Re7 36.Nxh7!

Strangely, White plays this sacrifice in its most complicated form! 


36...Bxh7 37.Rxf6. 

37.Rxg6+ Kf7 38.Qg2 Ke6 39.Rd4?

Sigh. Black’s side of the board is on fire, and White decides to pose by putting the Rook on d4. It wins of course - everything does. But why not finish with style? 

39...Rf7 40.e4!

Yay! She finds this too! In both cases, it’s better late than never. 


40...fxe4 41.Bg4+.

41.e5 Qc7 42.Bxd5 

This wins, but White has better.


42...Nxd5 43.Rxd5 also wins easily for White, but at least Black wouldn’t go through the total hell that his 42...Rxd5 brings.


43.exf6+ is so obvious and delicious and sadistic that I can only guess our dear Epoqueepique decided to be merciful.

43...Nxd5 44.Qxd5 Kf8 45.Qa8+ Ke7 46.Rg8 Qd7 47.Rb8 Qd3 48.Re8+ Kd7 49.Qc8 mate.

Lessons From This Game

* There is absolutely no reason to hang pieces in midair. Be aware of where every one of your guys is, and be aware if they are vulnerable to attack.

* Do this same “safety laundry list” when you’re about to move something in enemy territory. The closer a piece of yours gets to the enemy camp, the more chances there is of it being snapped off!

* If you’re up a piece for nothing and easily winning the game, don’t give your opponent even the slightest bit of play if it can be avoided.

* If you have an overwhelming position ripe with juicy tactical possibilities, take extra time to try and find the most brutal way to end the game.

* If you are able to end the game, do so since allowing things to linger often results in a painful turnaround.



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 players’ 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, websites – 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!


  • 4 years ago


    Substitute IQs for a sense of humor, and I think Ripley is onto something.


  • 4 years ago


    LaskerFan: "Mr. Silman, maybe better to be be more guarded in your remarks when selecting games from women?"

    only sexist comment i see on this page

  • 4 years ago

    IM dpruess

    Jeremy's columns always include humor, and always include criticisms. They also include other things like instructional material and caring for both his subjects and his readers. If anyone does not like how Jeremy goes over games, then don't send your games in to him! He is offering a tremendously valuable service for free, and there are many others who would be happy to have your place in line.

    Also, if someone says something positive about you, and you get offended that it could be sarcastic and thus an insult... that's a problem that they can't do much about. Jeremy has been totally frank and forthright here, and as someone who knows him personally, I can further vouch for that.

    *He is on your side, folks*

    all of you. He's rooting for you, and he's trying to help you the best he can with his coaching. To enjoy the game, and to improve your thought processes and understanding of the game.

  • 4 years ago


    ^  ^

  • 4 years ago


    a very great article, 

  • 4 years ago


    I feel that the article was neither sexist nor insulting.  These articles are always critical of the players, and anyone who thinks otherwise hasn't read any.  But not badly critical, just hammering home points so that you understand them better.  If JS says, "Missing the point again!" it's not a mockery of your play, merely stating that that element is something to pay special attention for in future games.  

  • 4 years ago


    @feygooner : I hope he was joking. Because that was good good bad joke.

  • 4 years ago


    @siwei: Unless I'm missing something, black would be disappointed after 29. fxe3.

  • 4 years ago


    What do people get ofended? We all know Jeremy sarcasms and jokes, don t we? That is why we love Him and his smart commentaries!



  • 4 years ago


    Why didn't black do Qxe3+ on move 28?

  • 4 years ago



    Women are generally more sex-conscious than men (proof: dress and makeup codes), and take offense more readily than men (proof: comments on this article). So, Mr. Silman, maybe better to be be more guarded in your remarks when selecting games from women?"

    I hope to god you're joking. 


    EDIT: LaskerFan seems to have edited his statement -.-

  • 4 years ago


    Jeremy has sent a message to me in the meantime, which I will post, for those of you who have understood my reaction and sent very sweet messages to my inbox. Again, I am not reacting to the sexism some were offended by, just the personal ridiculing. Sorry to those who believe this is a misunderstanding on my part. Thank you Jeremy for your message.

    I'm very sorry!

    Delete Reply


    Jul 19, 2012 @ 8:04am

    Send Friend Request

    I'm genuinely sorry that I offended you. I honestly felt you'd be delighted with the article. I really WAS cheering you on when I viewed the game for the first time, and wanted to share that joy with the readers too. I get very few games that feature such nice tactics, and it was a great pleasure commenting on it.

    None of my humor was meant to be sexist. I don't view style as having anything to do with gender. However, men are often labeled as cave men (aggressive) while women are more subtle. I wanted to have a bit of fun with these stereotypes, but none of it was meant to be taken seriously, or be offensive. Everything was meant to highlight your aggressive, effective, and entertaining style.

    I'm deeply saddened that you misunderstood my intent.



  • 4 years ago


    Jeremy Silman, you know how much I love your sense of humor, but this was not LOTS OF FUN as you announce in your intro, this is MAKING FUN.

    yes I would have been just as shocked if you had adressed a male player, I am not very sensitive to sexism. I am sensitive to personal rudeness, be it directed to me or to others, and the breach of trust when I submit a game I know is flawed to analysis and you turn it into an embarassment for me.

    There might be no raging tactics in your remarks, but there isn't any beauty either.

  • 4 years ago


    Silman was characterizing the play of white and linking that characterization to the few facts he knew about the player.  That the characterization and link to the player happened to be on the basis of gender is incidental.  What should be the prominent point under evaluation is how Silman was able to connect opening play by white to human characteristics, thus allowing that kind of play to be better understood.

  • 4 years ago

    IM Silman

    PawnAvalanche said: "Can somebody please post a copy of the game in interactive form?"

    I always give a lot of boards so you can play the variations and moves interacively. AND, at the end of every article, I give a board that allows you to play through the whole game. It's all there, sir.

  • 4 years ago

    IM Silman

    epoqueepique said: "What I see is a series of insults such as "Yay ! She finds this too! Better later than never!" and other hurting remarks..."

    I guess it's not sexist if I say, "Yay! He finds this too!" I said, "she" cause you're female, I will say "he" when it's a male. Nothing sexist intended. Oddly, I meant it as praise since the moves you played were very difficult to find and very advanced. I was literally cheering you on, and very impressed. Yes, you missed many of these tactics at first, but you almost always noticed and used them a move or two later. I'm shocked that some people think these comments were meant to be hurtful. Nothing can be further from the truth.

  • 4 years ago


    I really appreciated one of the first paragraphs explaining basic ideas in queen pawn openings. The combinations in the middle were interesting to puzzle over. Great article (and game), and an enjoyable read. Thanks!

  • 4 years ago



    The fact that the next line is about ladies cutting down on testosterone injections suggests that Silman thinks raw, animalistic aggression is something typically associated more with men. Either that or he decided to put two completely random sentences together. The only way the second sentence makes sense as part of the paragraph is if in the first one, Silman is making a play on gender stereotypes.

  • 4 years ago


    steveattagged57 appears to be reading a different article to me.

    'Good analysis but totaly sexist you are out of line suggesting woman cant play .which is what you suggested at the intro,why stop there?'

    Silman does not suggest women can't play chess in the introduction at all. To verify this, here is the introduction in its entirety:

    'I’m giving this whole game for the simple reason that it’s GREAT FUN! At first White looks to be a rather weak player, but after the oddities of the opening and an overzealous leaping about with a Knight, White suddenly turns into a killer robot that not only sees some cool tactics, but also has a keen eye for geometric beauty.

    I’ve added plenty of boards and puzzles so you can get personally involved, and (of course) gave the full game in the final board for those that prefer such things. I hope you enjoy this game as much as I did.'

    Not even a mention of the fact that white is female, let alone generalising his remarks to apply to all female players. Galileo182 (thank goodness someone has some sense) has already explained the one remark that could be seen as sexist - 'Typical female chess: no subtlety, just raw, animalistic aggression' - a simple play on and inversion of gender stereotypes.

  • 4 years ago


    Wot Gargleblaster said:)

    (and: a really enjoyable game:))

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