Your Questions Answered By Andrew Martin

Your Questions Answered By Andrew Martin

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International Master Andrew Martin from England presents a regular series of articles to answer any questions that readers have about the game of chess.

If you want to ask Andrew a question, then send an email to and next time your question could be featured!

Now it's over to Andrew for this week's questions and answers...

Anonymous asks about 2 b3 in the Sicilian. Why isn't this fianchetto played more often?

My answer is: Perhaps it should be and certainly at club level! White's plan is perfectly clear and that is to start a Kingside attack.

1.e4 c5 2.b3 Nc6 3.Bb2 d6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.f4 [5.Bb5 is a thematic move in this variation, intending to exchange off the light-squared Bishop and then hit with f2-f4.] 5...Bg4 6.Be2 Bxe2 7.Qxe2 Nd4 8.Qd3 e6 9.0–0–0 Be7 10.Nf3 Nc6 11.Qe2 0–0 12.d4

A peculiar form of Open Sicilian has been reached where White has better chances 12...cxd4 13.Nxd4 Qb6 14.Nxc6 Qxc6 15.g4! This is why! The Kingside pawn storm begins and Black has precious little counterplay to set against it.

15...Rac8 16.g5 Nd7 17.Rhg1! If Black had a pawn on g6, White would be open the h-file by h2-h4-h5xg6 and then to use his rook on that file. As there is no target on g6, White uses a rook lift to further his attack. 17...Nc5 Perhaps, Black should have sent this knight to f8, where it would take care of the h7-pawn. 18.Kb1 Rfe8 19.Rg3! Bf8 20.Rh3 g6 21.Qe1! Bg7 22.e5! Excellent. White prepares to transfer his Queen to h4.

22...dxe5 23.Qh4 Red8? [Better was 23...exf4 24.Qxh7+ Kf8 25.Nd5 Bxb2 26.Nf6! which seems to lead to a draw after 26...Na4! 27.Qg8+ Ke7 28.Qxf7+! Kxf7 29.Rh7+ Kf8 30.Rh8+ Ke7 31.Rh7+; Meanwhile 23...h5 is simply met by 24.gxh6 Bh8 25.h7+ Kf8 26.fxe5!] 24.Re1 Rd2 [Now 24...exf4 loses on the spot to 25.Nd5!+-] 25.fxe5 Qg2 26.Rc1 Kf8 27.Nb5 a6 28.Nd6 Rc6 29.Nc4 Re2 30.Ba3! b5? 31.Qd4 Qd5 32.Qxd5 exd5 33.Na5 Rc7 34.Rc3 Pin and win!. 1–0

The traditional best reply to 2 b3 or offshoots is to block the long diagonal by means of ...e7-e5 and play on the KInsgide with ...g7-g6, Bf8-g7 and the subsequent plan of ...f7-f5.
  Here is Black's plan working to perfection in a fondly-remembered game of my own.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.b3 d6 4.Bb5 e5 5.0–0 g6 6.Bb2 Bg7 7.c3 Nge7 8.d4 exd4 9.cxd4 0–0 10.Qd2 Bg4 11.dxc5 Bxb2 12.Qxb2 Bxf3 13.cxd6 Qxd6 14.Bxc6 Nxc6 15.gxf3 Nd4 16.Nc3 f5! 17.Kg2 Qf4 18.Rfe1 Nxf3 19.Re3 Qxh2+ 20.Kxf3 fxe4+ 21.Kxe4 Rae8+ 22.Kd3 Rxe3+ 23.Kxe3 Qe5+ 24.Kd3 Rf3+ 25.Kc4 b5+ 26.Kb4 Qd4+ 27.Kxb5 Rf5+ 28.Kc6 Qb6+ 29.Kd7 Rf7+ 30.Ke8 Qb8#

2 b3 is certainly playable and will reward study as the old cliche goes. For both colours!! 0–1



Dario Dell Orto asks about the Scotch Game after watching one of my Foxy Opening DVD's.  Do I play the Scotch and do I plan on making more in the Foxy Opening series?

I only played the Scotch once Dario, in a weekend tournament a long time ago and was very lucky to win.  Normally I stick with Queens Pawn or Flank Openings.  There is nothing wrong with the Scotch. Kasparov revived this venerable opening for his 1990 match with Karpov, carried on with it in 1993 against Short and since then it has probably become the second most popular Open Game after the Ruy Lopez.  Open Games demand precise development and in particular, the Scotch, where the centre opens up early accuracy is required by White if he is to obtain any advanatge whatsoever.  It is possible to work up a big attack, as we see from this recent game.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Qh4!?

The Steinitz Variation. Black will probably win a pawn, although he has to endure suffering as a result. 5.Nb5! [5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Be2 Qxe4 7.Ndb5 is also rather interesting....mainly for White!] 5...Bb4+ 6.c3 Qxe4+ 7.Be3 Ba5 8.Nd2 Qe7 9.Nc4 a6 10.Nd4 [The sacrifice on d6 bears no fruit: 10.Nbd6+ cxd6 11.Nxd6+ Kf8 12.Be2 Bc7 13.Bc5 Qe5 14.Ba3 Nge7] 10...Bb6 11.Nf5 Qf6 12.Nxb6 cxb6 13.Nd6+

This is rather typical of the hot water Black can get himself into if he is not well-prepared. Tseshkovsky is merciless in this game. 13...Kf8 14.Bc4 Ne5 15.Bb3 Nh6 16.Bxb6 Nf5 17.Bc5 Kg8 18.Qd5 Nxd6 19.Bxd6 Nc6 20.0–0+- Black is all gummed up and White has all the time in the world to muster his pieces for the final assault. 20...b5 21.Rfe1 Bb7 22.Re3 Na5 23.Rae1 h5 24.Qd3 g6 25.Be5 Qc6 26.f3 Rh7 27.Bd4 With the idea of Re8+ 27...Kf8 28.Re7 Nxb3 29.axb3 h4 30.Qe3 d6 31.Qf4 h3 32.Rxf7+

Nice! After 32...Rxf7 comes 33 Qh6+ 1–0

David James asks if there is a mental checklist one should run through after the opponent makes a move before replying.

I would keep it simple: 1)  Note all the checks and captures. 2) Ask yourself: 'What is he trying to do? '3) Ask yourself: 'What am I trying to do?' 4) Finally, check for surprise moves - have I missed anything?  Laborious at first, this routine soon becomes second-nature.  You will avoid blunders using it!

With reference to the above checklist, Mike Butross finds himself losing time and time again to the FORK. Is it inevitable or there something he can do?

Mike, I would refer you to our 'blundercheck' precedure. Keep it simple and aim to avoid the BIG mistakes. A game is rarely lost after one mistake; a position is usually salvageable. You ask whether masters sometimes lose to FORKS? Of course they do. But masters generally know when and how to break the basic rules,should this be necessary. To know what is required at any stage of the game is the essence of mastery.I present two games to finish, where Black ALLOWS himself to be forked at a very early stage.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5 The famous Traxler or Wilkes Barre Variation. Black offers vast amounts of material in order to get on the attack! 5.Nxf7 Bxf2+! The point. White thinks he is a computer and embarks on a death march. 6.Kxf2 Nxe4+ 7.Ke3 Qh4 8.Nxh8?? [8.g3 Nxg3 9.hxg3 Qd4+ 10.Kf3 d5 11.Rh4 is a rather crazy line. Place your bets after 11...e4+ 12.Kg2 0–0! 13.Rf4 dxc4] 8...Qf4+ 9.Kd3 Nf2+ 10.Kc3 Nxd1+ [10...Qd4+ 11.Kb3 Qb6+ 12.Kc3 (12.Bb5 Qxb5+ 13.Ka3 Qb4#; 12.Ka3 Qb4#) 12...Qb4#] 11.Rxd1 Qd4+ 12.Kb3 Na5+

The least said about White's play,the better. 0–1





Lest you think Black has all the fun, here he is regretting his early adventure.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5 5.Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6.Kf1!? The onus is on both players to demonstrate theoretical knowledge. 6...Qe7 7.Nxh8 d5 8.exd5 Nd4 9.d6! An interesting suggestion of Estrin. Marzolo seems taken aback. 9...cxd6 10.Kxf2 d5 [10...Bg4 11.Qf1 0–0–0 is what looks like a better way for Black. Nevertheless, in this upcoming recent game the White King crawled away: 12.Kg1 d5 13.Bd3 e4 14.c3 exd3 15.cxd4 Nh5 16.Qf2 Rf8 17.Qe3 Be2 18.h3 Qxe3+ 19.dxe3 Ng3 20.Nd2 Nxh1 21.Kxh1 Rxh8 22.e4 1–0 Krueger,H (2252)-Gilles,R (2235)/ 2005/Corr 2008] 11.d3 [Or 11.c3 Bg4 12.Qf1 Nc2 13.Bb5+ Bd7 14.Bxd7+ Kxd7 15.Qb5+ Kc7 16.Na3 Nxa1 17.Re1 Rxh8 18.Kg1+- a6 19.Qa5+ Kb8 20.d4 Ng4 21.Bf4 Rf8 22.Bg3 Ka8 23.h3 Nf6 24.Bxe5 Nd7 25.Bg3 Qg5 26.Kh2 Qg6 27.Qxd5 Nb6 28.Qa5 Rf5 29.Qb4 Ka7 30.Re5 Rxe5 31.dxe5 Qe6 32.Bf2 Qxe5+ 33.Kg1 1–0 Schnabel,F (2062)-Fechner,J (2074)/GER email 2007/Corr 2008] 11...dxc4 12.h3 cxd3 13.cxd3 Bd7 14.Re1 0–0–0 15.Kg1 White has consolidated and wins with ease. 15...Rxh8 16.Be3 Qd6 17.Nd2 Bc6 18.Nc4 Qd5 19.Qd2 b6 20.Rac1 Kb7 21.Bxd4 Qxd4+ 22.Qf2

Tactical blunders abound at all levels in chess but they are obviously less frequent the higher one climbs up the greasy pole. Quite often at club level they are caused simply by tiredness.Stick to the blundercheck procedure mentioned earlier and you will give yourself the best chance of avoiding them. 1–0


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