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... member fionn5 Hi Andrew, I really enjoy reading your articles.  As a fairly new player I am taking up your suggestion for using a minimum type opening repertoire (Scandinavian + Slav, although I might go with the Colle instead of Trompowsky). I had a question regarding my opening repertoire as white.  I was wondering why a Slav type opening done by White hasn’t received more attention?  For example, the Slav is kind of similar to the Colle setup, except the black square bishop seems in a better spot in the Slav.

Are there any problems that makes this opening sequence not popular, or less feasible than playing the Colle? 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4 If I had to guess, I'd say maybe this doesn't pack much of a punch?  Since it's similar to the Torre Attack (3. Bg5), and most people think the Torre attack doesn't have a lot of punch, so maybe this would have less punch than the Torre Attack?

Hi Fionn, This opening is known as the London System.  If you want to know everything about it purchase the Gambit Book by GM V Kovacevic and Sverre Johnsen on this very subject. It is a very reasonable way to play for the person who has limited time to study, although Black is given plenty of leeway to develop his pieces as he pleases. I guess this is the reason more masters don't use it. They usually like to put more pressure on with White, forcing accuracy from the opponent rather than allowing him to do his own thing.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4 c5 4.c3 Qb6! This is one good way for Black, forcing White to think about b2.

5.Qb3 [5.Qc2 g6! points at the White Queen. 6.e3 Bf5 7.Qb3 c4 8.Qxb6 axb6 9.Nbd2 Nc6 10.Ne5 b5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.a3 Nd7 13.f3 f6 14.e4 e5! 15.Be3 Be6 16.exd5 cxd5 17.dxe5 fxe5 18.f4 exf4 19.Bxf4 Bc5 20.0–0–0 0–0 21.Bh6 Rxa3 22.Nf3 Ra1+ 23.Kd2 Rxd1+ 24.Kxd1 Ra8 25.Nd4 Bxd4 26.cxd4 Ra1+ 27.Kd2 b4 28.g3 Nf6 29.Bg2 Ra2 30.Rf1 Bf5 31.g4 Rxb2+ 32.Kc1 Rb1+ 33.Kd2 c3+ 34.Ke2 0–1 Varchenko,G (2125)-Mischuk,D (2299)/Kharkov 2009]

5...Nc6 6.e3 c4 7.Qxb6 axb6 8.Na3 [The queen exchange leaves Black very comfortable,as can be seen from 8.Nbd2 b5 9.a3 b4!]

8...Bf5 9.Nb5 Ra5 10.a4 Bc2! Quite so!

11.Be2 Rxa4 12.0–0 [12.Kd2! seems better to me, stationing the King centrally, ready for the endgame.  All the same, Black can defend and remain a clear pawn up: 12...Bb3 13.Rxa4 Bxa4 14.Nc7+ Kd7 15.Ra1 b5 16.Ng5 Nd8]

12...e6 13.Ne5 Be7 14.Nc7+ Kf8 15.Na8 Bd8 [I think 15...Nxe5! is more accurate: 16.Bxe5 (16.Rxa4 Bxa4 17.dxe5 Nd7 18.e4 dxe4 19.Bxc4 b5 20.Be2 h5 21.Ra1 g5) 16...Nd7 17.Bc7 b5]

16.Nxc6 bxc6 17.Bd6+ Ke8 18.Rxa4 Bxa4 19.Ra1 b5 20.Bd1 Bxd1 21.Rxd1 Kd7 22.Bc5 Ba5   0-1

It's just a pressure thing. Against good players you have to create the type of situation in a game that provokes a mistake. The London System is considered a little too simplistic for master chess, although it does crop up from time to time. member khpa21 Mr. Martin, I have recently been at a loss for how to deal with situations when white develops the light-squared bishop early against my Sicilian. This comes in the form of either 2. Bc4 or 2. Bb5+. Against Bc4, I usually play for the d5 break, but I don't know how to handle Bb5+.

Dear Sir, An early check on b5 in the Sicilian is a very solid way of continuing for White. Black must show respect and not try for too much. But if he does so, then he can expect equality in most lines.  Here is a typical game.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 Simple and good.

4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.0–0 Nf6 6.Qe2 With 6 Qe2, White contents himself with a rather quiet opening, planning Rd1 and then c2-c3 and d2-d4. Black is not threatened by these means and the position can only creep up on him if he is careless. Needless to say, Grischuk is on the ball.

6...Nc6 7.Rd1 g6 8.c3 Bg7 9.d4 cxd4 10.cxd4 d5! This is the way to nullify White's ambition.

11.e5 Ne4 12.Ne1 [After 12.Nbd2 taking is very satisfactory for Black: 12...Nxd2 13.Bxd2 0–0 14.a4 Rfc8 15.Bc3 Nd8 16.Ne1 Ne6 17.Nc2 f6 Svetushkin, D (2557)-Esen, B (2419)/ Kusadasi 2006 The computer will show equal, but I think I quite like Black's prospects in view of the poor White Bishop on c3.]

12...h6 To give the Knight a retreat. 13.Nc3 [After 13.f3 Ng5 14.Bxg5 is the only move to keep an equal position for White!: 14...hxg5 15.Nc3 0–0–0 16.Rac1 Kb8 17.Na4 b6 18.Nc3 Rh4 (18...g4!? 19.fxg4 Bh6 20.Ra1 Bf4 21.h3 Qe6 22.Nc2 f5)]

13...Nxc3 14.bxc3 Rc8 Hardly a difficult move to find. Black focuses on the c3 pawn. [Meanwhile 14...0–0 15.Nd3 b6 16.Nf4 was the course of the following high-level game, which probably encouraged Fressinet to play the White side himself. 16...Rac8? (16...e6= was much better: 17.h4 Rac8 18.h5 g5 19.Nd3 f6) 17.e6! Qd6 (17...fxe6 18.Nxg6±) 18.Qg4 g5 19.exf7+ Kxf7 20.Qf5+ Kg8 21.Qxd5+ Qxd5 22.Nxd5 e6 23.Ne3 b5 24.Ba3 Rfd8 25.Bc5 b4 26.cxb4 Nxd4 27.Kf1 a6 28.Rac1 Rb8 29.Rd3+- Tkachiev, V (2670)-Fressinet, L (2501)/Bordeaux 2000)]

15.Nd3 Nd8! This time Black carefully covers e6. 16.Bd2 0–0 17.h4 h5 18.Qf3 Ne6 19.g4 hxg4 20.Qxg4 Nc5 21.Qxd7 Nxd7 22.Kf1 Kh7 [Just 22...Nb6 23.Ke2 Nc4 24.Rg1 Nxd2 25.Kxd2 Bh6+ 26.f4 Kh7 would have been satisfactory]

23.Ke2 Bh6 24.h5 g5?! [24...Bxd2 25.hxg6+ Kxg6 26.Kxd2 Kf5 (26...Nb6!? 27.Rg1+ Kf5 28.Rg3) 27.Rh1 Rh8 appears simple enough as well, but Grischuk's choice is sharper and was probably an attempt to win.]

25.Rab1 b6 26.Rg1 Rg8 27.Rg3 f5 [27...e6] 28.Rbg1 f4 29.Rg4 Rg7 30.Nb4 Rd8 31.Nc6 Ra8 32.Nb4 Rd8 33.Nc6 Ra8 34.Nb4  ½–½ A decision prompted more by the rapidity of the game than anything else. Many students baulk at the idea of using blitz games to illustrate key theoretical points, but if they are useful, why not?



Anonymous Hi Andrew, I have a general question about the Sicilian Defence. What do you think about 1.e4 c5 2.b4?

I think it is a poor choice by comparison with virtually every other Sicilian or Anti-Sicilian line for White.

1.e4 c5 2.b4 I must admit that I have never been able to understand the lure of the Wing Gambit. White sacrifices a pawn for what seems to be very little compensation. There is a degree of dark-squared pressure and the open files on the queenside must count for something, but my general feeling it that it cannot be enough. Perhaps in the hands of Frank Marshall or Paul Keres 2.b4 can be made to look good but they were playing chess in a different era.

2...cxb4 3.a3 [3.c4!? I've seen English Master Charlie Kennaugh play 3 c4, perhaps that's the future!]

3...d5! It has been known for quite some time that this is the antidote. 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Bb2 Nc6 [5...Nf6 6.Nf3 Bg4! is simple and effective. Black develops sceptically. 7.Be2 e6 8.0–0 Nc6 9.d4 Qd8 10.h3 Bh5 11.Re1 Rc8 12.c4 bxc3 13.Nxc3 Be7 14.Qa4 0–0 15.Rad1 Qb6 16.Ba1 Rfd8 17.Rb1 Qc7 18.Nb5 Qb8 19.Ne5 Bxe2 20.Rxe2 Roth, P-Hoelzl, F/Vienna 1996 White's simply a pawn down with a fractured position.]

6.Nf3 [6.axb4 Qe4+ 7.Be2 Qxb4 8.Qc1?! (8.Ba3 Qf4 9.Nf3 e5 10.Bxf8 Kxf8 11.Nc3 Nf6 12.0–0 Kg8 13.Ra4 Qh6 14.Qb1) 8...e5 9.Nc3 Qb6 10.Nf3 Be6 11.Ng5 Bf5 12.Bc4 Bg6 13.0–0 Nf6 14.Kh1 Be7 15.f4 exf4 16.Rxf4 0–0 17.Ra4 a6 18.Bb3 Qd8 19.Nce4 Nxe4 20.Nxe4 b5 Hrabinska, M-Iltchouk, E/Alushta 2003]

6...e6N [6...e5! much stronger, blocking the long diagonal. 7.c4 Qe4+ 8.Be2 Nf6 9.0–0 bxa3 10.Nxa3 Bc5 11.d4 exd4 12.Bd3 Qg4 13.h3 Qh5 14.Re1+ Be6 15.Nb5 0–0–0 (Why not 15...0–0 playing without risk? 16.Nbxd4 (16.Nc7 Rac8 17.Nxe6 fxe6 18.Qb3 b6 19.Rxe6 Rfe8 20.Rxc6 Rxc6 21.Rxa7 Rd6) 16...Nxd4 17.Bxd4 Bxd4 18.Nxd4 Qxd1 19.Raxd1 Bd7) 16.Ra4 a6 17.Qa1 Kb8 18.Nbxd4 Nxd4 19.Bxd4 Bxd4 20.Nxd4 Qc5 21.Nxe6 Sonnet, J-Meynard, T/France 2002 White was given unnecessary chances.]

7.axb4 Nxb4 Of course if he had played 6...e5, he would have been able to take with the Bishop.

8.Nc3 Qd8 9.Ne5 Nf6 10.Ba3?! [10.Bb5+ is the best chance to make something of this position. White gets momentum going and prepares to castle: 10...Bd7 (10...Nd7 11.0–0 Qc7 12.Qh5! a typical strike. 12...g6 13.Qe2 Bg7 14.Nxd7 Bxd7 15.Ra4! a5 16.Rxb4!! axb4 17.Nd5 I recall the book by Bezhgodov on 2 a3 when I see this line.) 11.Nxd7 Nxd7 12.0–0 a6 13.Bxd7+ (13.Ba4 b5 14.Bb3 Nc5) 13...Qxd7 14.Ne4!  Eyeing the Bishop on f8. 14...Qc7 15.Qf3]

10...a6 11.Qb1 Nbd5 12.Bxf8 Kxf8 13.Qb3 Qc7 14.Nd3 Nxc3 15.dxc3 e5 16.Be2 Be6 White has nothing now and he already has to resort to random attacking.

17.Qb4+ Kg8 18.Ra5 e4 19.Rc5 Qb8 20.Ne5 h6 [20...Nd5 21.Qxe4 Qd6 22.Qd4 holds the White position together.]

21.Bc4 b6 22.Bxe6 fxe6 23.Qc4 Kh7! [But not 23...bxc5 24.Qxe6+ Kh7 25.Qf5+=]

24.Nc6 Qf4 25.Re5 Qc1+ 26.Ke2 Qxh1 0–1 To be absolutely honest I cannot recommend 2 b4 although it must be admitted that a scrappy struggle will almost always result. Maybe 2.a3 is the best lead-in, delaying the fatal advance or Kennaugh's 3.c4 is worth a look, but when there are so many interesting ways to play against the Sicilian, why leave yourself with no Plan B? member Klunk Hi Andrew,Your column is great and I do enjoy reading it. My question is this: I have been experimenting with the English opening for a while, but I feel as if I lack the correct ideas to really utilise it. I want to lure opponents away from their theory and give myself an early advantage. To that extent I have often found myself developing a position with c4, d3, a3 and g3 every game and perhaps sensing that my opponents were unsure of how to proceed, but as I am also unsure of where to go with this and how to build it into an advantage, I quickly lost this initiative.

So are there certain ideas and moves that I should look to put into practice and are there moves that should be avoided? How does one attack with the English opening? Also, are there any particular GMs past/present who are well-known for using the English opening?  Thanks.

Dear Sir/Madam, There are many good books on the English Opening. GM Tony Kosten wrote one of the best for GAMBIT Publishing a few years ago called 'The Dynamic English. IM John Watson has just refreshed his tremendous series on the English from the 1980's in a recent volume from the 'Mastering the Chess Openings ' series, again published by GAMBIT. You could do worse than buy both these books.

However, another effective method of learning an opening is to take the games of a prominent Grandmaster, who in this case plays the English regularly and learn from him/her.  Let them do the preparation and work for you! Allow me to make perhaps the slightly surprising suggestion of veteran German Grandmaster Wolfgang Uhlmann. His interpretation of 1.c4 is very aggressive and will teach you a lot about the way the English works. This is a really good way of training yourself. Here is Uhlmann at his best, demolishing Smyslov.

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 Bb4 5.Bg2 0–0 6.0–0 e4 7.Ng5 Bxc3 8.bxc3 Re8 9.f3 exf3 10.Nxf3 d5 11.cxd5 Nxd5 12.e4 Nb6 13.d4 Bg4 14.h3 Bh5 15.e5 Nd5 16.Bd2 Qd7 17.g4 Bg6 18.Ng5 Na5 19.h4 h6 20.h5! hxg5 [20...Bxh5 21.gxh5 hxg5 22.Qf3 c6 23.Bxg5±]

21.hxg6 fxg6 22.Qf3 c6 23.Bxg5 Nc4 24.Qh3 Qe6 25.Rf2 Rf8 26.Bf3 Nxc3 27.Raf1 Threatening Rh2

27...Rxf3 [27...Nd5 28.Rh2+-] 28.Qxf3 Nb5 29.Kg2 Nxd4 30.Qf8+ 1–0 Superb! After the capture and recapture on f8, it will be mate with Rh1.






Cody L  Is there a viable line for black on move 3 in scotch game, beside pxp?

Dear Cody, The correct answer to your question is probably not and that's why 99% of Scotch games continue 3..exd4. There is a trappy line with 3...d5 that is played once in a blue moon, but it really isn't very good.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.d4 Nc6?! OK, we have reached the Scotch by transposition. If the opponent panics or gets frightened easily,then 3...d5 might be viable, although both 4 Bb5 and 4 Nxe5 look good for White.

4.Nxe5! [4.Bb5! dxe4 5.Nxe5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Bg5 Be7 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Nxe4 Qxd4 12.Qxd4 Bxd4 13.0–0–0 0–0–0 14.c3 White has effortlessly acheived a better endgame. 14...Be5 15.g3 Rxd1+ 16.Kxd1 f5 17.Ng5 Bf6 18.Nf3 Re8 19.Re1 Rxe1+ 20.Nxe1 Kd7 21.Kd2 Kd6 22.Kd3 Kc5 23.Nc2 g6 24.a4 Kd5 25.Ne3+ Ke6 26.f4 Be7 27.Kc4 Kd7 28.Nc2 Bf8 29.Nd4 Bg7 30.Nf3 Kd6 31.b4 Bf6 32.a5 Kd7 33.a6 Kd6 34.Ng5 h6 35.Nf3 Kd7 36.Nh4 Bxh4 37.gxh4 Kd6 38.h3 c5 39.b5 1–0 Cuartas,C (2405)-De Greif,B (2345)/Bogota 1975/EXT 2003]

4...Nxe5 5.dxe5 Qh4 looks and is dubious.

6.Nc3 [6.Qxd5 Ne7 7.Qd4 Nc6 8.Bb5 Bd7 9.Bxc6 Bxc6 10.Nc3 Rd8 11.Qc4 is the desire of Deep Hiarcs 12]

6...dxe4 7.Be3 Bb4 8.Qd4 Qe7 9.0–0–0± Whereas humans prefer to develop quickly.

9...c6 10.Nxe4 Be6 11.Bg5 1–0

If you have a predominantly trappy or unsound style and you like to play in a cavalier manner, then 3...d5 fits the bill!

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