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.

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

Master Vj Hi, I have a hard time choosing opening systems. I am well-versed in openings, but I keep changing around and don't have any that I stick with. I always end up changing to something else after a couple of weeks. I am starting to become serious about chess, so I want to have a consistent repertoire.  My style is more or less one of counter-attack and I can accept cramped positions in the opening if I can start to unravel them. I was wondering if you could think of any openings that would fit my style.

Hi VJ.  Counterattackers like to chose REACTIVE openings. They wait to see what the opponent is doing and respond accordingly. So openings like the King's Indian/Modern and Pirc would probably be good for you as Black and maybe Reti/English/King's Indian Attack formations with White.  I would leave you with the caveat that this style of play requires good nerves and judgement as well as consummate skill. To allow the opponent the run of the game early on is a dangerous thing to do, especially against very strong players. Of course at lower levels, left to his or her own devices a weaker player might go wrong!  Indian defences require strong theoretical knowledge as there invariably several strong attacking schemes which the defender must know how to counter. But the rewards are there in terms of point-scoring if you can make this style work for you.

Lets take a look now at a typical King's Indian game where White starts the action with 10 c5!?. Precision is required from Black,but that is exactly what is forthcoming.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0–0 5.Nc3 d6 6.Nf3 Nbd7 7.0–0 e5 8.e4 c6 9.h3 Qb6 10.c5!? Stand by for a theoretical duel in this sharpest of lines! 10...dxc5 11.dxe5 Ne8 12.e6 [12.Na4 is also an interesting move, White doesn't have to go ballistic immediately. 12...Qa6 13.Bg5 b5 14.Nc3 Nc7 15.Be7 Re8 16.Bd6 Ne6 17.a4 was the continuation of Hubner-Kasparov Dortmund 1992 when Hubner now recommends (17.Qd2! Nef8 18.Qf4 with pressure against Black's kingside. Instead, after) 17...b4 18.Ne2 Qa5 19.Nd2 Ba6 20.f4 c4 21.Kh2 Black would have been much better had he now played 21...Nb6 22.Nf3 Nc5 23.Nfd4 Rac8 24.Nc1 Red8 25.Rf2 Bf8; 12.Na4 Qb4 (12...Qc7 13.Bf4 Nxe5 14.Nxc5 Nxf3+ 15.Qxf3 Qb6 16.Nd3 Nf6 17.Be5 Ne8 18.b3 a5 19.Rab1 Be6 20.Bb2 Nc7 21.Rfd1 Bxb2 22.Nxb2 Nb5 23.Nc4 Qa7 24.Qf6 c5 25.h4 Bxc4 26.bxc4 Nd4 27.h5 gxh5 28.Qg5+ Kh8 29.Qf6+ Kg8 30.Rxd4 cxd4 31.Qg5+ Kh8 32.Qf6+ Kg8 33.Rb5 1–0 Kirov, N-De Roode, P/Amsterdam 1978) 13.Bg5 (13.Bd2 Qxe4 14.Re1 Qd3 15.Bf1 Qf5 16.g4 Qe6 17.Ng5 Qe7 18.e6 fxe6 19.Nxe6 b5 20.Bg5 Nef6 21.Nxf8 Qxf8 22.Nc3 h6 23.Bf4 b4 24.Bd6 Qd8 25.Bc4+ Kh7 26.Na4 Nb6 27.Nxb6 axb6 28.Re7 Ba6 29.Bf7 Nd5 30.Bxd5 cxd5 31.Qxd5 Qg8 32.Rxg7+ 1–0 Kirov, N-Pekarek, A/Prague 1983) 13...b5 14.Nc3 Nxe5 15.Be7 Qxb2 16.Bxf8 Kxf8 17.Rc1 Be6 18.Rc2 Nxf3+ 19.Bxf3 Qb4 20.Qd2 c4 21.Rb1 Qe7 22.Rcb2 Qf6 0–1 Bunkens, R-Vetemaa, J/Huy 1992]

12...fxe6N 13.Ng5 Ne5 14.f4 Nf7 There is also 14...c4+ and 14...h6 to consider. I summarise: [14...c4+; 14...c4+ 15.Kh2 Nd3 16.e5 Nc7 (16...Bd7 17.Nce4 Rd8 18.Qg4 Rf5 19.Qh4 h6 20.Nf3 c5 21.Qg4 Bc6 22.Nh4 Nxc1 23.Raxc1 Qxb2 24.Rce1 Bxe4 25.Rxe4 Rd2 26.Qxg6 Nc7 27.g4 Rf7 28.f5 c3 29.g5 c2 30.gxh6 c1Q 31.Rxc1 Qxc1 32.h7+ Kf8 33.f6 Ne8 1–0 Landenbergue, C-Loginov, V/Kecskemet 1992) 17.Nce4 (17.b3 Nxc1 18.bxc4 Nxa2 19.Rxa2 Na6 20.Rd2 Nc5 21.Rd6 Qb4 22.Qd4 Nb3 23.Qe3 c5 24.Rb1 a5 25.Na2 Qxc4 26.Qxb3 Qxb3 27.Rxb3 a4 28.Rb5 Bxe5 29.fxe5 Rf2 30.Rxc5 1–0 Mozny, M-Sykora, R/Prague 1990) 17...Nd5 18.Qe2 Rb8 19.Nd6 Qa6 20.Be4 Nxc1 21.Raxc1 c3 22.Bd3 Qxa2 23.Nxh7 cxb2 24.Rb1 Rd8 25.Bxg6 Rxd6 26.exd6 Bd7 27.Qh5 Rf8 28.Ng5 Rf6 29.Bf7+ Rxf7 30.Qxf7+ Kh8 31.Qxd7 Nf6 32.Qc8+ Ng8 33.d7 1–0 Heck, N-Schlitter, A/Giessen 1995; RR 14...h6 15.fxe5 Rxf1+ 16.Qxf1 hxg5 17.Bxg5 Bxe5 (17...Qxb2 18.Rd1 Qxc3 19.Rd8 Qxe5 20.Rxe8+ Kh7 21.h4 Qa1 22.Qxa1 Bxa1 23.e5 Bxe5 24.Be4 Kg7 25.Re7+ Kf8 26.Bxg6 b6 27.Re8+ Kg7 28.h5 Bf6 29.Bf4 Bb7 30.Rxe6 Rd8 31.Be8 Bd4+ 32.Kg2 Bc8 33.Rg6+ Kh7 34.Rh6+ Kg7 35.Rg6+ Kh7 36.Rh6+ Kg7 37.Rg6+ 1/2–1/2 Rogozenko, D-Solak, D/Brasov 1998) 18.Be7 Bg7 19.e5 Qxb2 20.Rd1 Qxc3 21.Rd8 Qxe5 22.Rxe8+ Kh7 23.Qf7 Qxg3 24.h4 Qe1+ 25.Kh2 Qe5+ 26.Kh1 Qe1+ 27.Kh2 Qe5+ 1/2–1/2 Supatashvili, K-Mariano, N/Parnaiba 1995]

15.Nxf7 Bd4+ 16.Kh2 Rxf7 17.e5 Qc7 [17...Nc7 18.Ne4 Nd5 19.a4 a5 20.Ra3 Qc7 21.Nd6 Rf8 22.h4 b6 23.h5 Qg7 24.hxg6 hxg6 25.Be4 Ba6 26.Re1 Ne7 27.Kg2 Rad8 28.Rb3 Bxe5 29.fxe5 Qxe5 30.Qg4 Rxd6 31.Bf4 Rxf4 32.gxf4 Shirov, A-Kasparov, G/Linares 1993/1/2–1/2; 17...Bxc3 18.bxc3 Qc7 19.h4 Ng7 20.g4 b6 21.Qc2 Bb7 22.Be4 c4 23.h5 gxh5 24.Bxh7+ Kh8 25.g5 c5 26.Bg6 Rd7 27.Be3 Rad8 28.Rad1 Qc6 29.Rxd7 Rxd7 30.Qe2 Kg8 31.Bc1 Qd5 32.Bc2 Zugic, I-Ross, D/Brantford 1999]

18.h4 b6 19.Qa4N The first new move of the game. White derives compensation from a superb Bishop on g2 and the possibility of Ne4. However, I tend to prefer Black as it's not immediately clear where White's attack is going if Black leaves his Knight on e8 and there's a queenside pawn majority to push and how is White going to stop it in the long run? [19.Ne4 Ba6 20.Rh1 Rd8 21.Ng5 Bxb2 22.Bxb2 Rxd1 23.Rhxd1 Re7 24.Rac1 Be2 25.Rd2 Bg4 26.Ne4 Rd7 27.Rd6 Qd8 28.Rc2 Nxd6 29.exd6 Bf5 30.Nf6+ Qxf6 31.Bxf6 Bxc2 32.Be5 Ba4 33.Kg1 c4 Hulak, K-Zapata , A/ Wijk aan Zee 1995 illustrates the main point. White drew this game later on-he must have played phenomenal chess to get it!]

19...Bb7 20.Ne4 Rd8 21.Ng5 Re7 22.Be4 Ng7 Black's Knight can move now that's there's no immediate danger of Ne4-d6 or Ne4-f6+

23.Qc2 Ba6 24.Re1 Nf5 25.Qg2 h5 26.Nf3 Bc4 27.Nxd4 cxd4 28.Bxc6 Bd5 29.Bxd5 Rxd5 With excellent play, Kotronias has taken over the game. Look at the Knight on f5 and the Rook on d5, both solidly entrenched. The Bishop on c1 is awful and White's major pieces lack scope. Add to this the passed pawn on d4 and we can safely say that White is lost.

30.Bd2 Qc2! 31.b3 Nh6 32.Rec1 Ng4+ 33.Kg1 Qd3 34.Rc8+ Kf7 35.Rac1 Kg7 36.Be1 Red7 37.Qd2 Qf3 38.Qb4 Rc5! Neat. With the help of a tactical shot, Kotronias finds an attractive conclusion.

39.R1xc5 Ne3! 40.Rg8+ Kxg8 41.Rc8+ Kh7 0–1 The ball is firmly in White's court as far as I'm concerned. 19 Qa4 didn't impress.

Keilor Miranda Solano
  I would like you to explain about the crazy Halloween Attack! Thank you. 

Hi Keilor, I think I'm right in saying the Halloween Attack features in the following game.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nxe5 Nxe5 5.d4 This is crazy chess, although if Black doesn’t understand that he is in danger he can be blown away by White's pawn avalanche. It is probably playable for White as a complete surprise weapon or on a regular basis if you just play chess for fun. As usual, the master recipe is to give back what has been gained to obtain a good position and that is exactly what Robert Bellin does here.

5...Nc6 6.d5 Bb4! I like this move. Black gives back the piece to get his own development going. That's common sense!

7.dxc6 Nxe4 8.Qd4 Qe7 9.Be3 [9.Qxg7 Nxc3+ 10.Be3 Nd5+ 11.c3 Rf8 12.cxb4 Nxe3 13.fxe3 Qxe3+ 14.Be2 dxc6 puts the boot on the other foot. I would not want to be in White's shoes.]

9...f5 10.cxd7+ Bxd7 11.Be2 Bc5 12.Bh5+ Kd8! 13.Qd3 [13.Qd5 Bxe3 14.fxe3 Nxc3 15.bxc3 Qh4+ 16.g3 Qxh5 17.Rd1 Qe8 18.Qxb7 Qxe3+ 19.Kf1 Qe4–+]

13...Bxe3 14.Qxe3 Nxc3 15.Qxe7+ Kxe7 16.bxc3 Bc6 Black has effortlessly obtained a better endgame

17.0–0–0 g6 18.Rhe1+ Kf6 19.Be2 Bxg2 20.Rd7 Rhe8 21.Rxh7 Rad8 22.Rd1 Rh8 23.Rxc7 Rxd1+ 24.Kxd1 Bc6 25.Ke1 Rxh2 26.Ba6 Rh1+ All the way through Bellin looks for counterattacking opportunities which completely unsettle his opponent.

27.Kd2 Rb1 28.f4 g5 A passed pawn is what is needed.

29.fxg5+ Kxg5 30.Bd3 Kf4 31.a4 a5 32.Rf7 Be4 33.Bxe4 Kxe4 34.Re7+ Kf4 35.Kd3 b6 36.c4 Kf3 37.c5 bxc5 38.Re5 f4 39.Rxc5 Rd1+ 40.Kc3 Ke4 41.Rxa5 f3 42.Ra8 f2 43.Re8+ Kf3 44.Rf8+ Ke3 45.Re8+ Kf3 46.Rf8+ Kg3 47.Rg8+ Kh4 48.Rf8 f1Q 49.Rxf1 Rxf1 50.Kb4 Kg5 51.Kb5 Kf6 52.a5 Ke7 0–1 My conclusion is that the Halloween Attack should only be used once a year!  Laughing member jpd303  Sir – I’ve been playing the French for years and the line that goes 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Qb6. White will usually do something odd here (I play around 1450–1500 strength).  I dont see this line in master play. Is there something wrong with it that I haven’t faced because of my opponents’ strength, or is this an ok line?  What is a good continuation after 5.a3?  I play the uninspired Nc6 against almost any white reply here.

The good news is that you are playing a move-order for Black which avoids the Milner Barry Gambit as after 5 Nf3 Bd7 6 Bd3 Black has 6...Bb5!  Here's a recent game with the majority of notes by GM Psakhis,which will help you to understand what to do after 5. a3.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5.a3 a5 6.Nf3 Bd7 7.Be2 a4

 This line has become very popular in modern practice.

8.0–0 Nc6 9.Bd3 [White get nothing after 9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.c4 Nge7 11.Nc3 Nd4! 12.cxd5 Nxe2+ 13.Qxe2 Nxd5 14.Nxd5 exd5 15.Rd1 Bb5 16.Qe1 Bc4= ½–½ Peng Xiaomin-Kaidanov,G/USA-China Summit Seattle 2001/CBM 82 (25)]

9...Na5 10.Bc2 Nc4 11.Ra2 This move looks quite strange, but it is not bad. [11.Ng5!? leads to big and unclear complications after, for example  11...Be7!? 12.Nxh7 g6 13.Ng5 Nh6 14.Ra2 Nf5 15.Nf3 cxd4 16.cxd4 Nh4 ½–½ Shirov,A-Volkov,S/EU-Cup Halkidiki 2002/CBM 92 (41)]

11...Ne7 12.Nbd2 [12.Re1 Nc6 (12...Bb5!?) 13.Bxa4 N6xe5 14.Bxd7+ Nxd7 15.b3 Nd6 16.c4!? dxc4 17.d5 Qxb3 1–0 Grischuk,A-Gurevich,M/Cannes World Cup of Rapid Chess 2001/CBM 82 (86)]

12...Nxd2 13.Bxd2 Bb5 14.Re1 Nc6 15.Be3 h6!?N Novelty. [White got clear edge after 15...Bc4 16.Ra1 Qxb2 17.Rb1 Qxc3 18.Rxb7 Ba6 19.Rc7 Rc8 20.Rxc6! Rxc6 21.Bxa4 Bb7 22.Qb1 Grischuk,A-Gurevich,M/World Cup-qf Cannes playoff 2001/ 1–0 (63)]

16.Ra1 Qa7!? 17.dxc5 Bxc5 18.Bxc5 Worth consideration [18.Nd4!? Nxd4 19.cxd4 Be7 20.Qg4 with some initiative.]

18...Qxc5 19.Qd2 [19.Nd4!?] 19...0–0 20.Rad1 Bc4 21.Bb1 Afek is just wasting time, he will get small, but stable advantage after [21.Re3!? f6 22.exf6 Rxf6 23.Rde1]

21...f5!? 22.exf6 Rxf6 23.Nd4 [Again 23.Re3!? was not a bad idea - …23...Raf8 24.Qc2] 23...Re8 24.Re3?! A mistake after which Afek will find himself in trouble. [He could continue 24.Qc2!? …e5 25.Qh7+ Kf7 26.Nf5 Qf8 27.Ne3 with nice position]

24...e5 Without special effects, Black obtained great position. 25.Rde1?! [25.Qc2!?] 25...e4 [25...Ref8] 26.f3 Ref8! 27.h3 [There wasn't a rescue in 27.Bc2 Ne5 28.Bxa4 Ng4!]

27...Nxd4 28.cxd4 Qd6 It is clear now that Black has an advantage all around the board.

29.Qf2 Rf4 [29...b5!?] 30.Qg3 h5! Legky systematically improves his position, and White hasn't already chances for successful defense.

31.Bc2 Qf6 [31...h4 32.Qf2 b5] 32.Kh2 h4 33.Qf2 Qxd4–+ Black has both positional and material advantage, so the rest is pretty clear.

34.Bxa4 exf3 35.Rd1 [35.gxf3 Rxf3 36.Rxf3 Qxf2+ 37.Rxf2 Rxf2+ 38.Kg1 Rxb2–+]

35...fxg2!? 36.Rxd4 Rxf2 37.Rxh4 Rxb2 38.Re1 [38.Re8 b5] 38...Rf1 0–1

A word or two about databases before we leave. A lot of my serious students ask me which is the best database program and I unhesitatingly respond 'Chessbase'. Once you get to know how to work the program it is easy to use and you will have theory at your fingertips instantly, as well as the opportunty to read illuminating notes from strong players.  'Chess Publishing' is a good website where you can augment your knowledge.   

One of my own students Matthew Wadsworth (an extremely promising young player) asked me about attacking play. Are there any rules which govern this area of the game and what should the would-be attacker be looking out for? I'm not a great fan of 'hard and fast' rules, especially with regard to chess, but here are a few thoughts:


1) Never think you have a winning attack until you actually deliver mate.
2) Be as economical in attack as you would be in defence. Make sure each piece has a role to play in the concluding attack.
3) Use more pieces than the defender. Attacks rarely succeed when the count is equal.
4) Look for weaknesses in the enemy camp and target them. One cannot hope to win by direct attack when the opponent has no weaknesses.

There now follows a brilliant game from the recent British Championships, where Stuart Conquest shows us all how to attack.

1.c4 Nf6 2.d4 c6 3.Bf4!? As long as b2 can be safely protected there seems nothing wrong with this unusual Bishop move. It forces Haslinger to think at a very early stage in a variation with which he presumes he is very familiar.

3...d5 [3...d6 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Nf3 Qa5!? going into an Old Indian set-up, might be a good option for Black.]

4.e3 a6 Black sticks to what he knows. [Instead 4...Qb6!? looks reasonable: 5.Qb3 e6 6.Nc3 Nbd7 7.Nf3 Be7 8.h3 0–0 9.Be2 Izoria,Z-Belov,V/Kusadasi 2006  and now 9...Qxb3 10.axb3 b6 11.0–0 a5=]

5.Nf3 [5.c5 Bg4 6.f3 Bf5 7.g4 Bxb1 8.Qxb1 Nbd7 9.Bd3 e6 10.Ne2 Be7 11.b4 b5 12.a4 Nf8 13.axb5 axb5 14.Bg3 N6d7 15.Nc3 Ng6 16.Ra2 0–0 17.0–0 Bh4 18.Rxa8 Qxa8 19.Bxg6 Bxg3 Hartmann,D-Ouadi,A/France 2007]

5...e6 6.Nc3 Bb4N [I wonder why Stewart didn't continue with ....b7-b5, as that is what he seems to have been preparing: 6...b5 7.cxd5 (7.c5!? Nbd7 8.Bd3 Be7 9.0–0 Nh5 10.Be5 0–0 11.Qc2) 7...cxd5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0–0 Nc6 10.Rc1 Be7 11.Nxb5 axb5 12.Bxb5 Qb6 13.Qb3 0–0 14.Bxc6 Qxb3 15.axb3 Bxc6 16.Rxc6 ½–½ Ferrero,P-Montagard,G/France 2000]

7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 Qa5 9.Qb3 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Nd5 11.0–0 0–0?  The source of Black's difficulty. He should certainly take the Bishop: [11...Nxf4 12.exf4 0–0 13.Rfe1 (13.Bd3 c5 14.Qc2 h6 15.Ne5 Nd7=) 13...c5 (13...Qf5!? 14.g3 b5 15.Bf1 c5 16.Bg2 Ra7) ]

12.Bg3 b5 13.Bd3 Qxc3 14.Qb1 Qa5 Black finds to his consternation that he cannot protect his kingside with obvious moves: [14...h6 15.e4 Nf6 16.Bd6 Rd8 17.Bb4+-; 14...g6 15.e4 Nf6 16.Bd6+-]

15.Bxh7+± Kh8 16.Bd6 Rd8 17.Ne5! From here on,Conquest's manner of finishing the game is a joy to behold. he looks for the best move every time, rather than settling for any routine continuation.

17...f5 18.Bg6 Rxd6 19.Nf7+ Kg8 20.Nxd6 Qd8 21.Nxc8 Qxc8 22.e4! [Many would have settled for 22.Bh5 Nd7 23.Bf3 with the win in sight, but not immediately.]

22...Nc3 23.Qb3! Ne2+ [23...Nxe4 24.Bxf5 Ng5 25.Rae1+-]

24.Kh1 Nf4 25.exf5 Ra7 26.Rae1 Re7 27.Qf3! Nxg6 [27...Qc7 28.Re5 comes to the same.]

28.fxg6 Nd7 29.Rxe6 1–0 A very fine performance by Conquest against a tough, resilient opponent.

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Your Questions Answered By Andrew Martin

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Your Questions Answered By Andrew Martin