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!  Please include your real name and your member name, but you can ask to remain anonymous if you wish!

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

My apologies for missing a week; that is the price of having 4 kids and travelling away from home a lot. Occasionally one has to remember there is life outside chess!  Anyway, we are back again with more excellent questions this week. I hope you enjoy the column.

David Casey
- I don't know if this is a rookie question or not - but it sort of has baffled me.  Whenever I castle, I notice the almost knee-jerk reaction from my opponent is to immediately fling a couple of pawns forward on the side I castle to.  I am usually able to adjust to this - as I have seen it played against me so many times.  Is there some sort of chess rule that says that whenever an opponent castles you are supposed to fling a couple of pawns in that direction?

Pawn storming the King is a regular occurrence. There are two types of scenario: one where the players are castled on the same side and the other where the players are castled on opposite sides. In the latter case speed is of the essence, in the former one has to be more careful before coming forward. Pawn storms can sometimes rebound!

The upcoming game is a masterpiece, and was very influential in promoting the Pirc Defence to the forefront of chess fashion. White's pawn storm completely rebounds.

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be2 Bg7 5.g4 c6 Flexible. Black prepares ...b7-b5 and lets his Queen out. It's possibly the best reply.

6.g5 Nfd7 7.h4 b5 8.h5 Rg8! White was threatening h5-h6, so 8... Rg8 was essentially forced, although it gets an exclamation point from me all the same. Black cedes the h file in order to regain that same file later on.

9.hxg6 Perhaps White should not have been tempted, although it is very hard to see Black's deep plan, even for a strong Grandmaster. [9.a3 was recommended by most commentators, holding up Black's queenside counterplay, and this does seem to be a much better move. For instance: 9...a6 (9...Nb6 10.Nf3 N8d7 11.Be3 Bb7 12.Qd2 Qc7 13.Nh4 with the idea of f4-f5.; 9...Bb7 10.Nf3) 10.Nf3 c5 11.Be3 Nc6 12.d5 Nce5 13.Nd2! It is difficult to draw firm conclusions about a board congested with pieces, but White's extra space must count for something.]

9...hxg6 10.Nf3 b4 11.Nb1 a5 12.a4 c5 Quite correctly Black musters counterplay against e4. g2-g4 came at the price of weakening the long diagonal down to h1 and Seirawan is acutely aware of this feature. 13.d5 So Kovacevic blocks the centre to try to cover up his light-square deficiency. 13...Nb6 14.c4?! Taking the idea too far. [14.c3 was certainly better,keeping the option of levering the position open.  With 14.c4, White renders his whole position inflexible.]

14...Kd7!! A move that made the whole chess world sit up and take notice! In the style of Nimzowitch, Petrosian and Larsen, Seirawan evacuates e8.  The point is to regain the h file he gave away all those moves ago. White's development is so congested he cannot contest this plan. 15.Nbd2 Rh8! 16.Rg1 Who would have believed this 'echo' of 8...Rg8. 16...Kc7 17.Rb1 Rh3 18.b3 Qh8! Black assumes total control of the position. He has a safe King and wonderfully active pieces.

19.Nf1 N8d7 20.Bf4 Ne5 21.Nxe5 White tries to dampen Black's enthusiasm by trading,although this merely attracts the Black queen into an even better square than h8. [21.N1d2 is possible,with 21...Nxf3+ 22.Nxf3 Bc3+ 23.Bd2 Rh1 Black is making steady progress towards White's King.]

 21...Bxe5 22.Bxe5 Qxe5 23.f3 Bd7 24.Qc2 Qd4 25.Rg2 Rh1 26.Rf2 Qh8! The respective King positions make the difference. White is unable to construct a defence because his King on e1 hampers the coordination of the rest of his pieces.

27.f4 [An attempt to rectify the situation with 27.Kd2 fails miserably to 27...Qh4] 27...Qh4 28.Rd1 f6 Opening up lines at just the right moment. 29.gxf6 exf6 30.e5 Desperate. [However, once the e file has been opened there is little chance for White to survive: 30.Bf3 Trying to keep it tight 30...Rg1 31.Qd2 Re8 32.Ke2 Bg4]

30...fxe5 31.fxe5 Rf8 32.exd6+ Kb7 33.Bd3 Re8+ 0–1  He does not wish to see 34 Be2 Rxf1+! 35 Kxf1 Qh1 mate on the board.What a game! And certainly enough to put 4 Be2 and 5 g4 into the dustbin of chess fashion for quite some time.


This time it's Black cashing in his pawn storm. Note the blocked centre. There can be no doubt that White makes a big mistake at the end, but the final attack is a work of art!

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 0–0 5.e4 d6 6.Be2 e5 7.0–0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Nd2 Ne8 10.b4 f5 11.c5 Nf6 12.f3 f4 13.Nc4 g5 As usual, both players ignore each other until they really have to, but Black is going for the throat,whereas White's approach is more long-winded.

14.a4 Ng6 15.Ba3 Rf7 16.b5 dxc5 17.Bxc5 h5!? Hitherto this position was assumed to be good for White. It may be that Cvitan's novelty doesn't necessarily change things but play becomes very tricky, so much so that even King's Indian conoisseur Ftacnik is confused.


19...g3 They are quite happy playing their own little game. 20.Kh1! Absolutely necessary in order to defend with the Bishop on g1. 20...Nh7 21.d6 The alternative shows the same brilliant idea that happens in the game. [21.Nb5 Qh4 22.Bg1 Bh3 23.Re1?! Bxg2+ 24.Kxg2 Qh3+!! What a move! 25.Kxh3 Ng5+ 26.Kg2 Nh4+ 27.Kf1 g2+ 28.Kf2 Nh3# Ouch !]

21...Qh4 22.Bg1 Bh3 23.bxc7?? it gets crunchy. Cvitan unleashes a wonderful combination. 23...Bxg2+! 24.Kxg2 Qh3+!! 25.Kxh3 Ng5+ 26.Kg2 Nh4+ 27.Kh1 g2# 0–1 Combinations such as these keep the King's Indian popular.Moral of the story:  Plans should be as flexible as possible.


Stephen Wefer - I am starting to learn about the kings Indian defense and have the following dilemma: A common variation among high level players in the Kings Indian Defense against Bd3 is ...Nh5 BEFORE the typical ...e7-e5! What is the point? Are there better alternatives? This contradicts basic rules of keeping the knight in the center. How will one know when to break such rule?  Is there a fight over the f4 square? 

An early Nh5 in this particular position hits d4 and facilitates ...e7-e5 after which Black hopes to get unleash the typical KID expansion with ...f7-f5. The Knight may hop into f4 later. So far this approach has scored well for Black.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Bd3 0–0 6.Nge2 Nc6 7.0–0 Nh5 8.Bc2 [8.Be3]

8...e5 9.d5 [9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.b3 Qh4] 9...Ne7 10.a4 [10.Kh1!? is possibly a more testing move: 10...f5 (10...a6 11.Rb1 Kh8 12.b4  0–1 Flear,G-Hebden,M/FrTCh, Montpellier FRA 1998 (47); 10...c5 11.f4  1–0 Conquest Stuart-Hebden Mark/Ch France (team) 1997 (40)) 11.exf5 Nxf5?! (11...gxf5 12.f4 Ng6 13.g3) 12.Ne4 Nf4 (12...Nf6!?) 13.Nxf4 exf4 14.Bxf4 Bxb2 15.Rb1 Bg7 16.Bg5! Qd7 (16...Qe8) 17.c5!± Nd4 18.Ba4? (18.cxd6 cxd6 (18...Nxc2 19.Qxc2 cxd6 20.Rbc1!±) 19.Ba4±) 18...Qf5 19.f3 dxc5 (19...Qxd5?? 20.Bb3+-) 20.Be7 b6! (20...Rf7 21.d6±) 21.d6 Be5 22.Bxf8 Kxf8 23.dxc7 Bxc7 24.Ng3 Qf6? (24...Qf4!; 24...Bxg3!? 25.hxg3 Qg5„) 25.Qe1 Bb7 26.f4! Kg7 (26...Rd8!?) 27.Ne4 Qe7 (27...Qf5) 28.Ng5 Qd6 (28...Qf6 29.Rd1 Bxf4 30.Rxf4 Qxg5 31.Qf2) 29.Qe5+ Qxe5 30.fxe5 Bd5 31.e6!+- Bd8 32.Rf7+ Kg8 33.Rd7 Nxe6 34.Rxd5 Nxg5 35.Re1 (35.Rd7) 35...Bf6 36.Rd7 Rc8 37.Bb3+ Kf8 38.h4 c4 39.hxg5 cxb3 40.gxf6 b2 41.Rb1 1–0 Georgiev,V (2540)-Balogh,T (2475)/Krynica 1998; 10.h3 f5 11.exf5 gxf5 12.f4 Ng6 13.fxe5 dxe5 14.c5 Kh8 15.Qd2 f4 16.Be4 Nh4 17.Qd3 Nf6 18.Bd2 b6 19.Be1 Nxe4 20.Nxe4 Nf5 21.Bf2 f3 22.Qxf3 Nd4 23.Qd3 Nxe2+ 24.Qxe2 Qxd5 25.Nc3 Qc6 26.Qe4 Qxe4 27.Nxe4 Bf5 28.Rae1 Rad8 29.Bh4 Rd4 30.Be7 Rf7 31.Ng3 Bg6 32.Rxf7 Bxf7 33.Nf5 Rd2 34.cxb6 axb6 35.Nxg7 Kxg7 36.Rxe5 Rxb2 37.Rg5+ Bg6 38.Bd8 Rc2 39.Rd5 Be4 40.Rd7+ Kg6 41.Bxc7 Rxg2+ 42.Kf1 Rxa2 43.Bxb6 Bg2+ 44.Kg1 Bxh3 45.Ra7 Rg2+ 46.Kh1 Re2 47.Ra3 Bg4 48.Ra5 h5 49.Bd8 Bf5 50.Kg1 Re4 51.Ra6+ Be6 52.Kf2 Kf7 53.Ra7+ Kg8 54.Re7 Bf5  ½–½ Dittmar Peter-Mandel Andreas/Bundesliga) South 1996]

10...f5 11.exf5 gxf5 12.Ng3 Nf4!  Here we see Black effecting a perfect strategy.

13.Nh5 Nxh5 14.Qxh5 Ng6 15.f4 e4 16.Be3 c5 17.g4 Qh4 18.Qxh4 Nxh4 19.Nb5 Nf3+ 20.Kg2 Nd4! 21.Bxd4 cxd4 22.Nxd6 d3 23.Bb3 Bxb2 24.Rad1 Ba3 25.Nxc8 Raxc8 26.d6 Kg7 27.d7 Rcd8 28.c5 Kf6 29.gxf5 Kxf5 30.Ra1 Bxc5 0–1 A nice game by Hebden.


Gabe Carson  I cannot visualize the chessboard in my mind. As much as I try, I haven't figured out how to do this. Are there methods of increasing powers of visualization?

Not without sytematic training. An old book by the Polgars was very good in this respect (5334 Problems, Combinations and Games by Lazlo Polgar? – Ed), giving a huge number of exercises of gradually increasing difficulty. Visualization is often a question of accumulating experience. As well as putting in the hard work needed to plod through the exercises, play as much as you can. member  Draco_alpine  On last times theme of queens gambit declined, I thought of a question that has been bothering me for a while:  What is the most offensive yet solid (by which I really just mean viable) option for White in the queens gambit declined?

The exchange variations in both the orthodox QGD and Slav variations are the simplest to begin with. White tends to get a small edge in both lines at little risk to himself. Here is the consummate technician GM Bogdan Lalic at work.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 0–0 7.Bd3 h6 8.Bf4 c5 [8...c6 9.Qc2 Nbd7 10.Nge2 Re8 11.0–0–0! gives advantage to White who is ready to throw his pawns forward on the Kingside. ...h7-h6 has only provided White with a target.]

9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.Nge2 Nc6 11.0–0 a6 12.Rc1 Ba7 13.Bb1 Be6 [13...d4 14.exd4 Nxd4 15.Nxd4 Qxd4 (15...Bxd4 16.Qb3) 16.Qxd4 Bxd4 17.Rfd1 Bxc3 18.Rxc3]

14.Rc2!N [14.Qd3 Qe7=] 14...Qe7 [14...d4? 15.Rd2] 15.Rd2 Rfd8 16.h3 Rd7 17.Qa4 Qd8! 18.Rfd1 Rc8 [18...b5? 19.Qxa6 Bxe3 20.Qxc6 Bxd2 21.Rxd2 b4 22.Na4!±]

19.Bg3 Na5 20.b3 b5 21.Qh4 [21.Qa3?! Bc5 22.Qb2 Qe7!] 21...Nc6 [21...Bc5!? 22.b4? Be7 23.bxa5 Ne4] 22.Nf4 Ne7 23.Nxe6 fxe6 24.Ne2 Qf8 [24...Nf5?! 25.Bxf5 exf5 26.Be5±] 25.Be5 Nc6 26.Bb2 Bb8 [… g5]

27.f4 Ba7 28.Qg3 Ne7? [28...Qc5! 29.Nd4 (29.Bxf6?? Qxe3+–+) 29...Nxd4 30.Bxd4 Qe7] 29.Qf3 Qf7 30.g4!± 30...Rf8 31.Nd4 Ne8 32.Rf2 Nd6 33.Kh1 Bb8 34.Rdf1! [34.Rg1?! Ne4! 35.Bxe4 dxe4 36.Qxe4 e5]

34...Ne8 35.f5!+- exf5 [35...e5 36.Ne6+-] 36.Nxf5 Nd6? [36...Nf6 37.Nxh6+ gxh6 38.Bxf6+-; 36...Nxf5 37.Bxf5+-] 37.Nxe7+ [37.Nxe7+ Rxe7 38.Qe2+-] 1–0

Uri Tibon  I find it hard to come up with game plans. I understand the concept of a plan, but most of my plans aren't that good.  Is there a thought process I should stick to?

PLAY WITH A PLAN A plan,simply stated, is some idea of where you are going and what you are going to do next. The clash of plans over the board is just about the most interesting aspect of the game of chess. Ideally, plans should be both FLEXIBLE and ADAPTABLE; well, that's the aim anyway.  Start simply, with short range ideas. As you gain experience, you will automatically deepen your planning skills.There is no substitute for actually PLAYING chess to develop this ability. No amount of study will teach you like your OWN GAMES.


The quickest way to learn about planning is to examine your own games closely. You will soon see what you need to address. Now comes a rare personal disaster using the Scandinavian. I had been meaning to experiment with 3...Qd6 for some time; what a beginning!

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6!? I think the punctuation is correct. Some things I like about this move; particularly the dynamic aspect of the centralized Queen. But the Queen is exposed and blocks in the Bishop on f8 for the time being.Black's plan of ...a6,...b5,...Bb7,...e6,...Nbd7,...Be7 and eventually ...c7-c5 is easy to understand though.

4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 a6 6.Bd3! This prevents 6..b5 for the time being : 6...Bg4 [6...b5 7.a4 b4 8.Ne4 and Black is already much worse.]

7.h3 Bxf3? There is no excuse for this move. Ceding the Bishops at this stage is weak. I thought I might be able to make up for this concession by developing quickly, but this is simply the wrong view of the position. MY PLAN IS JUST DOWNRIGHT WRONG. [Instead 7...Bh5 is correct and then Black should be able to equalize comfortably: 8.g4 (8.Ne4 Nxe4 9.Bxe4 Nc6 10.c3 Bg6!; 8.Be3 Nc6 9.Qe2 Nb4) 8...Bg6 9.Bxg6 hxg6 10.g5 Nd5= Looking at it now I really cannot find any reason for playing 7...Bxf3. I must have been having a very bad day!]

8.Qxf3 Nc6 9.Be3 0–0–0 10.0–0–0± Nb4 This seemed absolutely necessary in view of White's idea of Ne4,which is his main trump. For instance  [10...e6 11.Ne4! Nxe4 12.Bxe4 and already the White position is winning.]

11.a3 Nxd3+ 12.Rxd3 e6 13.Re1! A nice move. I'd analysed [13.Rhd1 Be7 14.d5 exd5 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Rxd5 Qg6 and saw that Black was surviving. The point of 13 Re1 is to play  d4-d5! again,but this time with added power.] 13...Be7 14.Bg5 Qd7 [14...Qb6 15.d5 seemed horrible.]

15.d5! Ne8 After much thought and mental torture. Actually, I could have saved myself the mental recrimination by simply admitting that Black is lost and resigning. Yes, it's that bad! [15...exd5 16.Bxf6! (16.Nxd5 Nxd5 17.Bxe7 Rhe8 18.Re5 c6 might just be surviveable) 16...Bxf6 17.Nxd5 is disgusting.]

16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.Qe3! I must say that Ansell finishes the game incisively . I was already getting short of time and could find no answer to the direct attack on the King. 17...Nd6 To try and cover the possible need to play ...Kd7 18.Qa7 Rhe8 [18...e5 19.Na4!] 19.dxe6 Qg5+ 20.Kb1 Rxe6 21.Rxe6 fxe6 22.Ne4! Game over.

22...Qe5 23.Nc5 c6 24.Rb3 Re8 25.Rxb7 1–0  One mistake in the 3...Qd6 variation and you get gunned down. That was the valuable lesson taught to me from this game. 



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