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 Mortis Dear IM Andrew Martin, I was interested in knowing about an evaluation for a sideline of the Vienna Game/King's Gambit Declined. The move order of the line is: 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 d6 5. f4 Ng4?! 6. f5 ... Most books dealing with the Vienna Game only give a vague commentary that white is better in the attack, I'm thinking of Gary Lane's analysis in particular. Yet I don't see the immediate knockout blow after 6... Nf2 7. Qh5 g6 8. Qh6 Nxh1 9. Qg7 Rf8 10. Bh6 Nd7 White's not doing well here, I think. Where am I wrong?

Hi Mortis, Let's run through your line until a certain point.

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 d6 5.f4 Ng4 6.f5 Nf2 7.Qh5 g6 8.Qh6 Nxh1 Now I much prefer

9.Bg5! to your Qg7, when the following selection of (brief) games gives an indication of Black's plight:

9...f6 [9...Be3 10.Qg7 Qxg5 11.Bxf7+ Kd7 12.Qxh8 Kc6 13.Qxc8 Qxg2 14.Be8+ 1–0 Rosch,H (2276)-Schuster,S (1873)/IECG email 1996/Corr 2008]

10.fxg6! This is the move that Black does not want to see! [10.Qg7 may also be good: 10...Rf8 11.Nd5 Nd7 12.Qxh7 fxg5 13.Qxg6+ Rf7 14.Nxc7+ Qxc7 15.Qxf7+ Kd8 16.Qg8+ Ke7 17.Qxg5+ Ke8 18.Qg6+ Kd8 19.Qg8+ Ke7 20.Nh3 Qb6 21.Ng5 Bf2+ 22.Kd1 Nb8 23.f6+ Kxf6 24.Nh7+ Ke7 25.Qf8+ Kd7 26.Nf6+ Kc6 27.Qxc8+ Qc7 28.Bb5+ 1–0 Mazuchowski,T-Bond,M/Dearborn 1992/EXT 1997]

10...fxg5 11.g7 Kd7 12.Qe6+ Kc6 13.Qd5+ Kd7 14.Qf7+ Kc6 15.Bb5+ Kb6 16.Be8 Qxe8 17.Qb3+ 1–0 Henkes,H (1832)-Sadek,E (1667)/IECC email 1998 and 1–0 Morano,A (2293)-Alvarez,J (2271)/Argentina 1999.



Sebastian Hoefleri Hi, Mr Martin, I am pretty new to the game and I was wondering if there is any good standard opening that works well against the standard King pawn opening. Or does it depend on which king pawn opening it is? Thank you for your time.

Hi Sebastian, By far the best reply to 1 e4 for newcomer to chess is 1...e5! This leads to the Open Game where the basics of chess are most easily discussed. I featured a checklist on open games in a previous column, which you might like to recover from the archives [Ed Note: Andrew is referring to the answer to PeterArt in this column]. Essentially, 1...e5 is the most straightforward.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.c3 Nf6 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Nbxd2 d5! The classic, freeing thrust on the Black side of the Open Game. Black opens up prospects for all his pieces, later including his Queen and Rooks now that the centre is opening up.

9.exd5 Nxd5 10.0–0 0–0 11.Nb3?! Amateur vs Master! The Knight is not well placed on b3. Instead, 11 Re1 would have been more appropriate.

11...Bg4 12.h3 Bh5 13.Rc1 Nf4 14.Bb5 Qf6 The Grandmaster really does know where to place his pieces to put maximum pressure on the opponent. With 14...Qf6, threats start to build on White's kingside.

15.Bxc6 bxc6 16.Nbd2 Qg6! 17.g3 Nxh3+ 18.Kg2 Nf4+ 19.Kg1 Rfe8!

Simply bringing a dormant piece into the game.

20.Qc2 Ne2+ 0–1  By learning how to play Open Games (1 e4 e5) you will be ordering your chess education in the right way.


Antoine Solis Dear Master Martin, Since I retired, I've suffered two strokes which paralyzed my left side; the only pleasure I have is trying to improve my chess game as I am a beginner with an unofficial rating of around 1200. My question is, who is the greatest Grandmaster of the Caro-Kann defense and what is the best book that details all the variations and explains the purpose of each move? Thank you.

Dear Antoine, I think the book you need is 'Starting Out, the Caro-Kann' by  Grandmaster Joe Gallagher, published by Everyman Chess. There you will see a wealth of games by all the great exponents of the Caro-Kann and a rundown on all the variations, so that you can make an informed choice. Strategical players like the Caro-Kann and there now follows an appropriate example.

I had the pleasure of meeting Elmar Magerramov after a gap of 15 years on my recent trip to Dubai. He's the current coach at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club and I wonder if they all know how lucky they are. What a set-up in the Emirates! Many of the chess clubs have independent, sumptuous facilities, buildings in their own grounds and the best of everything, including top coaches. It is surely only a matter of time before a world-beating youngster emerges. I suppose one could consider Magerramov a veteran now, but he can still play excellent, strategical chess.

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6 6.Bc4 Bd6 7.Ne2 0–0 8.Be3 Re8 Gentle development. The alternatives: [8...Nd7 9.Bb3 Re8 10.Qd2 Nf8 11.Ng3 Qc7 12.0–0–0 Bg4 13.Rde1 Rad8 14.h3 Bxg3 15.hxg4 Rxe3 16.fxe3 Bxe1 17.Qxe1 Qe7 18.Qf2 Ne6 19.c3 Bubis, L-Delander, A/Bad Homburg 2005; 8...Bg4 9.f3 Bh5 10.Qd2 Nd7 11.0–0–0 a5 12.h4 h6 13.g4 Bg6 14.Nf4 Bh7 15.Nh5 b5 16.Bd3 Nb6 17.Bxh6 Nc4 18.Bxc4 gxh6 19.Qxh6 1–0 Blake, C-Oxley, D/Dos Hermanas 2004; 8...Qc7 9.Qd2 Nd7 10.Bb3 b5 11.c3 Nb6 12.Nf4 Re8 13.0–0 Bg4 14.h3 g5 15.Nd3 Bh5 16.Rae1 Nd5 17.Bxd5 cxd5 18.f4 g4 19.Qd1 f5 Medvegy, N-Lenart, E/Harkany 1993; Finally 8...Na6! Korchnoi's move, must also be considered. The Knight moves to c7, controlling the influential e6 and d5 squares.]

9.Qd2 Nd7 10.Bf4 Nb6 11.Bd3 Bg4!= 12.Bxd6 Qxd6 13.0–0 White gets better results against 5...exf6 castling long.

13...Rad8 Full development is complete and Black can count on equality with his active pieces. 14.c3 c5 15.Rfe1? Far too casual. Instead [15.f3 Be6 16.Qc2 keeps equality.]

15...Bxe2 16.Bxe2 cxd4 Black is instantly slightly better.

17.Rad1 [17.Qxd4 Qxd4 18.cxd4 Rxd4 19.Bf3 Rxe1+ 20.Rxe1 Kf8 21.Bxb7 Rd2]

17...g6 18.cxd4 Re4 19.Bf3 Nc4! 20.Qc3 Rxe1+ 21.Rxe1 Qxd4 22.Bxb7 Nxb2 In this situation White must have realised that he is lost. It is a question of time. The precise problem is the lack of any counterplay.

23.Qb3 Nd3 24.Rf1 Nc5 25.Qf3 Kg7 26.g3 Qe5 27.Bc6 Rd3 28.Qg4 Rd4 29.Qf3 h5 But just how will Black win? The answer lies in this pawn prod. By combining play exclusively on the dark squares with threats to white's King, Black can inch forward.

30.Qa3 a6 31.Rc1 Nd3 32.Rf1 a5 There is no rush.

33.Qc3 Nb4 34.a3 Nxc6 35.Qxc6 Rd3 36.a4 Rc3 37.Qd7 Rc4 38.Rd1 Qe4 39.Ra1 h4 0–1 The pawn on a4 or the King must perish. Maybe that order.



William Bell  Hi Andrew. I was just wondering if you had any advice for a newish chess player who can play chess but struggles with coming up with strategic attacks. Nothing comes to mind when i am playing against other players other than to protect my own pieces and to make attacks which seem always to be found out before i get a chance to execute the move. Any advice would be great.

Hi William, In my opinion you need to think about planning. It sounds like you occasionally struggle to find the right plan in a given position. This where the great masters make chess look easy, as they always seem to play the right move when it counts and the moves all miraculously come together to form a well-played game. Try a couple of books by Jeremy Silman called 'The Amateur's Mind' and 'How to Reassess your Chess'. I think they will help you greatly.



Tom Lake Hi Andrew. I always look forward to your column, and the sensible way you have of explaining complex concepts in simple language and with good examples.  Like many players, I have plateaued at around the 2000 mark. Rather than asking a grand question like, what's the prescription for breaking through to that next level, I thought I'd ask you a concrete, pointed question about attacking particular castling formations.

For example, I almost always start looking for other parts of the board to play on if I see a Knight on f8. Or if both players have castled kingside and my opponent has a fianchetto set up with Knight on f3/f6, the old standby of exchanging that Bishop and storming with Pawns doesn't look so attractive when it means exposing my own King, so again, I have trouble making such attacks succeed.

Do you have any advice, examples or techniques, general or specific, that you can share with what tends to work in these cases and more importantly what the prerequisites for attack are in these cases? Thank you Andrew!

I seem to be recommending a lot of books this column!  Try 'The Art of Attack’ by Vladimir Vukovic, which is my opinion a classic work which describes how to attack in various situations such as the ones you describe.  Experience is the best teacher, so please do not stop attacking; that is the way to win more games. I suppose the main message must be that winning attacks always require preparation; they do not appear by magic!

Now comes a classic from Gary Kasparov. The patient way he builds up, gaining a positional stranglehold before launching the final attack is most instructive.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Qc7 7.Bd3 [7.a3 d6 8.Be3 Be7 9.Rc1 0–0 10.g4 Nc6 11.g5 Nd7 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.f4 Velimirovic,D-Abramovic,B Stara Pazova 1988 -Inf.46/221]

7...Be7 [7...Nc6 8.Nde2 (8.Nxc6!?) 8...Bc5 9.0–0 Ne5 10.h3 d6 11.Bg5 Nfd7 12.Rc1 Nxd3 13.Qxd3 Ne5 Suetin -ECO S.242]

8.f4 d6 9.Qe2 Nc6 10.Nf3 [10.Nxc6!?]

10...Nd7 11.a3 [11.0–0 Bf6 12.Bd2 Qb6+ 13.Kh1 Qxb2 14.Rab1]

11...Bf6 12.Be3 [12.Bd2 Nd4 13.Nxd4 Bxd4]

12...Bxc3+ 13.bxc3 e5 14.f5 [14.0–0 exf4 15.Bxf4 Nce5]

14...Ncb8! Who would believe this could be the best move? Yet Black is arguing that White has pawn weaknesses that cannot be repaired and thus he has plenty of time to regroup. [14...Nc5 15.Bxc5 dxc5 16.0–0 gives White more chances, who has the long-winded plan of trying to put a Knight on d5 eg Rd1, Nd2-f1–f3-d5.(16.Nd2? Qa5)]

15.0–0 Nc5 16.Bc2 Nbd7 17.Rfd1 Nf6 18.Nd2 Bd7 19.Bg5 Bc6 20.Qf3 0–0–0µ 21.Re1 h6 22.Bh4 Rdg8 23.Kh1 Nfd7 24.Nf1 g5 25.Bf2 h5 26.Qd1 h4 27.Qb1 Nf6 28.Bxc5 dxc5 29.Ne3 Qa5 30.Qb2 [30.Nd5!?]

30...h3 31.g3 Nxe4–+ 32.Bxe4 Bxe4+ 33.Kg1 Rd8 34.Ng4 Bxf5 35.Nxe5 Qc7 36.Qf2 Be6 37.Rab1 Rd6 38.Rb2 Rhd8 39.Rbe2 f6 40.Ng6 Bxc4 0–1

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