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...


Richard Patterson Andrew, In Trends - Scandinavian Defense (1991) you stated in your introduction that the defense has "always teetered on the edge of respectability".  I know quite some time has passed, and I wonder, what are your feelings on it today?  (Forgive me if I've missed any literature where you've updated your opinion already!)  I am also curious if you still believe 2...Qxd5 is more sound than 2...Nf6.  If so, can you provide the specific refutation of the latter?  I prefer 2...Nf6; In my own studies of the opening I haven't found any variations in which White is obviously better (with exception to poor performance of Black!).Best Regards, Richard.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since 1991 and the Scandinavian has transformed itself since then from a fringe opening into a fully-fledged, respected response to 1 e4. The current thinking is that 2...Qxd5 is still a sounder bet than 2...Nf6, although as we are about to see, that variation is also quite playable too.  Responding directly to Richard I still play the Scandinavian on occasion, almost exclusively with 2 ...Qxd5 and it has served me well. I recommend it.

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.d4 Nxd5 Most masters understand that White gets the edge after 2...Nf6; the question is: can this edge be contained and kept to manageable proportions? Around the time of this featured game, Kamsky was using the Scandinavian against very strong opponents, presumably with the intention of encouraging them to overreact. Such a strategy is common at higher levels, where technique is so good that unusual psychological methods such as this are often employed.

4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 Nc6 6.c4 Nb6 7.d5 Bxf3 8.gxf3 I'm not sure I like this move at all, but Anand is unbalancing the position in order to create winning chances. This is what Kamsky is provoking, so both players are happy. [8.Bxf3 Ne5 9.Be2 c6 (9...e6 10.Nc3 Bb4 11.Qd4 Qf6 12.Qe4 exd5 13.cxd5 Bxc3+ 14.bxc3 0–0 15.0–0 Rfe8 16.Rd1 Rad8 17.Rb1 Nec4 18.Qc2 Qe5 19.Bd3 g6 20.Qb3 Rxd5 21.g3 Rxd3 22.Rxd3 Qe1+ 23.Kg2 Qe4+ 24.Rf3–+ Zaninotto,F-Zappe,B/Ticino op (1)/1993/0–1 (25)) 10.Qd4 Ng6 11.Nc3 e5 12.Qe4 cxd5 13.cxd5 Bd6 14.Bb5+ Nd7 15.0–0 (15.Qa4 a6 16.Ne4 Be7 17.Be2 b5 18.Qb3 Nf6 19.Nxf6+ Bxf6 20.a4 0–0 21.axb5 axb5 22.Rxa8 Qxa8 23.0–0 Ne7 24.Bxb5= Rachels,S-Dzindzichashvili,R/Manila izt/1990/0.5 (27)) 15...0–0 16.Qf5 Nc5 17.b4 Na6 18.a3 Ne7 19.Qh3 Nc7 20.Bd3 f5 21.Bg5 e4 22.Bc4 h6 23.Bd2 Ng6 24.f3 Hellers,F-Dzindzichashvili,R/New York op/1987/0–1 (28)]

8...Ne5 9.f4 Ned7 10.Nc3 [10.b3 e6 11.dxe6 Bb4+ 12.Bd2 Bxd2+ 13.Qxd2 fxe6 14.Bh5+ g6 15.Bf3 Qf6 16.Qc3 0–0–0 17.Qxf6 Nxf6 18.Ke2 e5 19.fxe5 Rhe8 20.Rd1 Nbd7 21.Nc3 Nxe5 22.Rxd8+ Rxd8 23.Ne4 Rf8 24.Nxf6= Polgar,J-Dzindzichashvili,R/New York op/1989/0.5 (44); 10.f5 g6 11.Be3 Nf6 12.Nc3 Bg7 13.Bf3 Qd7 14.Qd3 Qxf5 15.Qxf5 gxf5 16.Rg1 Rg8 17.c5 Nbd7 18.d6 c6 19.0–0–0 0–0–0 20.dxe7 Rde8 21.Ne2 Rxe7 22.Nd4 Re5 23.b4 Nd5 24.Bxd5 Svidler,P-Gipslis,A/Gausdal Peer Gynt/1992/1–0 (41)]

10...c6 [10...Nf6 11.Be3 c6 12.0–0 g6 13.a4 Nbd7 14.a5 c5 15.Qa4 Qc8 16.a6 b6 17.Qc6 Bg7 18.Qxc8+ Rxc8 19.Nb5 Ne4 20.Nxa7 Ra8 21.Nb5 0–0 22.Ra2 Nd6 23.Rb1 Rfc8 24.b4± Gallego,R-Haas,G/Manila olm/1992/1–0 (36)]

11.dxc6 [11.Be3 cxd5 12.cxd5 g6] 11...bxc6 12.Be3 e6 13.Qc2 Nf6 [13...Bc5?! 14.0–0–0]

14.Bd3 Qc7 15.0–0–0 Be7 [15...Ng4 16.Ne4]

16.Ne4 [16.Rhg1 0–0 17.Ne4 h6] 16...Nxe4 17.Bxe4 f5!? [17...g6 18.h4 Rb8 19.h5]

18.Bg2 0–0 I often feel the opening can only be said to be over when both players have castled. Let's try and assess what is going on:

1) White has raking Bishops and a backward pawn on e6 to aim at.

2) White may be able to use the g file for attack, but the Black Bishop defends from f6 easily enough.

3) White's King is not entirely safe and his pawns are nothing to write home about.

4) Black's position is well-coordinated; all of his pieces work together. All in all chances are equal, although nothing is clear. Three results are possible.

19.Rd3 Rab8 [19...Rad8 20.Rhd1 Rxd3 21.Rxd3 Rd8 22.Rxd8+ Bxd8 23.b3]

20.Rhd1 c5 21.h3 Rfd8! 22.b3 Nd7 [22...Rxd3 23.Rxd3 a5 seems better to me, retaining coordination.]

23.Qb2 Nf8 [23...Bf6 24.Qa3 e5? 25.Bd5+ Kh8 26.Be6±]

24.Qe5 [24.Qa3 Rxd3 25.Rxd3 Ng6]

24...Rdc8 [24...Qxe5?! 25.fxe5 Rxd3 26.Rxd3 g5 27.Bd2]

25.Qxc7 Rxc7 26.Kc2 White suddenly holds the upper hand. He has control of the open file and most of Black's active counterplay has disappeared with the exchange of queens. We are now about witness Kamsky's finest trait; he is an incredibly tough defender. 26...Kf7 27.a4 a5 [27...h6 28.a5 g5 29.Bf3]

28.Bd2 Ra7 29.Bc6 Rc8 30.Bb5 Rcc7  This position is pretty unpleasant for Black but not yet lost. The key to defence without counterplay is not to make things worse. Just sit, keep a tight line and wait. 99% of chessplayers are not capable of this so let us admire one who is.

31.Be3 h6 32.Rg1 Ng6 33.Kd2?! [33.Be8+ Kxe8 34.Rxg6 Kf7 35.Rg1 Rd7=; 33.Rgd1!]

33...e5! Finally, an active move! 34.Be8+? [34.Rd5 Nh4 35.Ke2 e4 36.Rgd1 g5 37.Re5 looks the way to go for White, keeping up the pressure.]

34...Kxe8 35.Rxg6 Kf7 36.Rb6 [36.Rg1 g5 37.fxg5 f4 38.gxh6 fxe3+ 39.fxe3 Bf6]

36...g5! 37.Ke2 [37.fxg5 f4 38.gxh6 fxe3+ 39.fxe3 Rcb7 40.h7 Kg7 41.Re6 Kxh7 42.Rxe5; 37.fxe5 f4 38.Bxf4 gxf4 39.Rxh6 Kg7 40.Rb6 Rcb7 is interesting only for Black, because the White Rooks aren't working together.]

37...gxf4 38.Bd2 Rcb7! 39.Rb5 [39.Rxb7 Rxb7 40.Bxa5 e4 41.Rd5 Ke6 42.Bd2 f3+ 43.Kd1 Rxb3–+]

39...Ke6 40.Rc3 Bd6 41.Rc1 [41.f3 e4–+] 41...e4 42.Rg1 f3+ 43.Ke1 [43.Ke3 Be5 44.Rg6+ Kf7 45.Rxh6 Rd7–+]

43...Rg7 44.Rf1 f4 45.Kd1 [45.Bxa5 Rg2 46.Bc3 e3 47.fxe3 Rc2–+] 45...Rg2 46.Rb6 [46.Bxa5 Rd7 47.Kc1 e3 48.fxe3 f2 49.Kd2 f3 50.Kc2 Bg3 51.Rb6+ Kf5 52.Bc3 Rf7–+]

46...Rf7 The game has turned right around and Anand proves less obdurate in defence than Kamsky.

47.Re1 [47.Bxa5 e3 48.fxe3 fxe3–+] 47...e3! 48.fxe3 [48.Bxe3 fxe3 49.Rxe3+ Kd7–+]

48...f2 [48...Rd7! was more efficient still and polishes White off: 49.Bxa5 (49.exf4+ Kf7! 50.Kc1 f2 51.Rf1 Rg1; 49.Rf1 Kf5! 50.e4+ Kxe4 51.Bxa5 Ra2 52.Bd2 Bc7 53.Re6+ Kf5) 49...Ke7! 50.Kc1 (50.Bc3 Bc7+) 50...f2 51.Rf1 Rg1]

49.Rf1 f3 50.Kc2 Kd7 51.Rb7+ Ke8 52.Rxf7 Kxf7 53.e4 Bg3 54.Be3 Rg1! 55.Rxg1 [55.Rxf2 Bxf2 56.Bxf2 Rg2–+] 55...fxg1Q 56.Bxg1 f2 57.Bxf2 Bxf2–+ 58.Kd3 Ke6 59.Ke2 Bd4 60.Kf3 Ke5 61.Kg4 [61.h4 h5–+]

61...Kxe4 62.Kh5 Be3 63.Kg6 Kd3 64.Kf5 Kc3 65.Ke4 Bd4 66.Kd5 Kxb3 67.h4 Kxa4 68.h5 Kb4 69.Kc6 a4 70.Kd6 a3 71.Ke6 a2 72.Kf5 Kxc4 73.Kg6 a1Q 74.Kxh6 Qg1 75.Kh7 Qg7# 0–1

I would say with a bit of prior study, Richard could safely employ both 2...Qxd5 and 2...Nf6 at any ordinary level and hope for good results. One needs to be a good defender and have a sharp eye for counterplay. Those are the main qualities needed to play the Scandinavian today.



Gerry Smith Andrew, My question is about one's opening preparation. Are there certain openings that you would not advise playing based on ones rating? For example as Black I play the French against e4, and I go for Nimzo/Bogo Indian against d4.  As white I play 2.Nc3 and f4 against Sicilian, for a Grand Prix type of game. Against the Spanish I play the Exchange line. Against the Caro I play the classical line. I am rated 1700. I remember Mark Orr saying some years ago that GM Hort had advised players under a certain level not to play the KID as it was to difficult this was in a talk he gave to the Scottish team. Love the articles I find they are just right!!! Gerry

Gerry has raised a very interesting question.  The biggest mistake I see a lot of my students making is trying to run before they can walk. The most important thing is to have had a good grounding in classical chess, when one is wondering what openings to choose. All players should have learned how to handle the positions after 1 e4 e5 and 1 d4 d5 as Black and have started with a 1.e4 repertoire with White. The point is that this teaches you exactly how chess works and the value of exact, pointed development.  Hort was quite right. The King's Indian is a highly complex opening of correct timing. Black allows White to form a big centre and then he hits back at the right moment. If he does not find the right moment, he can be suffocated. This is unlikely to happen in a classical opening where the fight for the centre starts right away. Ultimately Gerry will play what he likes. That's the fun of chess. But I assure you that if you try out this classical repertoire for a while ( if you have not done so already) your understanding of chess will greatly improve. member rockettorque Hello Andrew,Thank you for all of your great articles. I recently read that when facing a Kings Indian the goal is to launch a queenside attack before the kingside attack explodes into action. Everytime that I have faced a King’s Indian I have had fairly good success by launching an attack against the kingside. Can you explain why this would not work in higher levels of play? Thank you for all the excellent articles.

Hi Rocket, There’s no reason why your kingside attack should not work out at all. Here is a rather extreme example.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 c5 6.d5 0–0 7.Be2 e6 8.dxe6 fxe6 9.g4 Nc6 10.h4 Nd4 11.h5 d5N [RR 11...b5 12.Qd3 Qe8 13.hxg6 hxg6 14.g5 Nxe2 15.Ngxe2 Nh5 16.Bd2 Ba6 17.f5 exf5 18.exf5 Bb7 19.Rxh5 gxh5 20.f6 Bxf6 21.gxf6 Rxf6 22.Nd5 Bxd5 23.Qxd5+ Kh7 24.0–0–0 Rd8 25.Nf4 Qf7 26.Nxh5 Ishbulatov,S-Uchitel,S/Ufa 1996/EXT 2002/1–0; RR 11...Qa5 12.Qd3 d5 13.Bd2 dxc4 14.Qh3 Nc2+ 15.Kd1 Nxa1 16.hxg6 Rd8 17.Nf3 Rxd2+ 18.Nxd2 hxg6 19.g5 Nh5 20.Bxh5 gxh5 21.Qxh5 Bd7 22.Qh7+ Kf8 23.f5 exf5 24.exf5 Ba4+ 25.Ke2 Re8+ 26.Nce4 Kopp,A (2145)-Maurer,J (2170)/Bayern 2008/EXT 2009/1–0 (32); RR 11...a6 12.hxg6 hxg6 13.g5 Nh7 14.Bd3 e5 15.f5 Nxg5 16.Qg4 Nh7 17.Qxg6 Nf6 18.Bh6 Qe7 19.0–0–0 b5 20.Nh3 b4 21.Rdg1 Ra7 22.Nd5 Nxd5 23.Bxg7 Qxg7 24.Qxd6 Nf6 25.Rxg7+ Rxg7 26.Qxe5 Bleis,C-Kabisch,T (2285)/Niedersachsen 1989/GER/1–0 (40)]

12.e5 Ne4 13.hxg6 hxg6 14.Qd3 b5 15.Nxe4 bxc4 16.Qh3 dxe4 17.Qh7+ Kf7 18.f5 exf5 19.Rh6 Nc2+ 20.Kf1 fxg4 21.Kg2 Ne1+ 22.Kh1 Nd3 23.Qxg6+ Kg8 24.Qh7+ Kf7 25.Be3 Qe7 26.Rf1+ Ke8 27.Qg6+ Rf7 28.Qc6+ Qd7 29.Re6+ Kf8 30.Bxc5+ Nxc5 31.Qxc5+ Kg8 32.Rd6 Qb7 33.Rxf7 Kxf7 34.Bxc4+ Ke8 35.Bd5 Qe7 36.Qc6+ Kf8 37.Qxa8 Qh4+ 38.Kg2 1–0

 The Kings Indian formation, with a Knight on f6, Bishop on g7, pawns on f7,g6,h7, King on g8,  gives the Black King a tight screen around him. All the squares are covered. That's why you don't often see Black getting smashed on the kingside in the King's Indian.  For me the key is to strip out the fianchettoed Bishop. Then White has a much greater chance of successfully smashing Black to bits. Note that in this extraordinary game, the dark-squared Bishop was the only piece holding Black's game together after a certain point.



S. Sarkar When someone plays 1. d4, then someone answers with 1...c5 why should people not take the pawn?

1.d4 c5 2.d5 [2.dxc5  1 d4 c5 is an opening which has found favour with many blitz and bullet players. It promotes a messy situation. At slower time limits Black can often get a rather passive position usiing the Old Benoni, but there are many unchartered areas. One thing is for sure: White's best second move is 2 d5! which gains space and drives a wedge into Black's camp. By contrast 2 dxc5 gets rid of the tension in the centre and allows Black to painlessly get the pawn back.  2...e6! 3.Nc3 (3.e4 Bxc5 4.Nf3 Qb6!?) 3...Bxc5 4.e4 (4.Ne4 Nf6 5.Nxc5 Qa5+ 6.c3 Qxc5 7.Nf3 d5 8.Bf4 0–0 9.e3 Nc6 10.Bd3 Qe7 11.Ne5 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 Nd7 13.Bg3 e5) 4...Nc6  Obviously 2 dxc5 is not a bad move at all; it just doesn't put as much pressure on Black as 2 d5. But if you think your opponent knows the Old Benoni better than you,then why not give it a try?]

2...e5 3.Nc3 d6 4.e4 g6 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.Be2 Nf6 7.Nd2 0–0 8.0–0 Na6 9.Nc4 Nc7 10.a4 Nfe8 11.f4 f6 12.f5 b6 13.Qe1 Rb8 14.Qg3 g5 15.h4 h6 16.Bh5 a6 17.Bg6 b5 18.Ne3 bxa4 19.Qg4 Rb4 20.Ncd1 Nb5 21.c3 Rb3 22.Rxa4 Bd7 23.Ra1 Rf7 24.Qh5 Re7 25.Ng4 Nec7 26.hxg5 hxg5 27.Qh7+ Kf8 28.Nh6 1–0



A club player friend of mine, John Upham, is a great researcher on original thinkers in chess. He asked me if I knew anything about a Yugoslavian Grandmaster called Sahovic. Not a great deal, but nevertheless...Sahovic died a few years back, which was a great loss to chess. He was one of the most original players around. I met him only once at the Andorran Open towards the end of his life. Tall, gaunt and lonely, he was obviously a difficult, highly intelligent and singular man. I felt for him, but that's not what he would have wanted at all. He had his own style and in chess we celebrate diversity and we don't turn strangers away. As a simple tribute, a game.

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Nbd2 Not exactly setting the house on fire, but pretty solid at the same time. Many go in for this defensive set-up with Black, which utterly mystifies me.

6...Be7 7.Ne5 0–0 [7...Qb6 could well be preferred, if Black must play this way, the point being to displace either White's Queen or his Queen's Rook.]

8.Bd3 Bd7 9.Qf3 White has an automatic attack commencing with the Queen transfer to h3 and so Black must be very careful.

9...Rc8 [prepares ...f7-f6, ejecting the Knight, but as we shall see, that is not a complete solution: 9...Ne8 10.Qh3 g6 11.Ndf3 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 f6 Knezevic, M-Cekro, E Sarajevo 1981 and now not 13 Nxd7 as played but 13.Nxg6! hxg6 14.Bxg6 looks devastating to me: 14...Rf7™ 15.Qh5! Rg7 16.Bh6 when Black cannot unravel in time: 16...Rxg6 (16...Rh7 17.Bxh7+ Kxh7 18.h4! e5 19.0–0–0 exd4 20.Bf4+ Kg7 21.exd4 Be6 22.Bh6+ Kg8 23.Rd3+-; 16...Bf8 17.0–0–0 Qa5 18.Bxg7 Bxg7 19.Kb1 cxd4 20.exd4 Nd6 21.h4 Nc4 22.Qh7+ Kf8 23.h5+-) 17.Qxg6+ Kh8 18.h4 cxd4 19.exd4 Qb6 20.0–0–0 Rc8 21.Rd3 One can forgive Knezevic for not seeing all this the London System is a lazy man's opening when all said and done.]

10.Qh3 [10.g4 cxd4 11.exd4 a6 12.g5 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Ne8 14.Qh5 g6 15.Qh6 Ng7 is not quite as effective.]

10...g6 11.Bh6N [A modern example continued 11.0–0 Nh5 12.Bh6 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Ng7 14.e4! f5 (14...Qc7 15.Qg3 f6 16.exd5 exd5 17.Rae1 b5 18.f4 fxe5 19.Rxe5 Bc6) 15.exd5 exd5 16.Qf3 Bc6 Annaberdiev, M-Seitaj, I/Bled 2002/ when 17.Rfe1± would have been most effective.]

11...Re8 12.f4 An excellent Stonewall for White with all pieces in the optimal launching positions for attack.

12...Nxe5 13.fxe5 Nh5 14.g4 Ng7 15.0–0 Rf8 16.Nf3 b5 17.Bf4 h5 [17...f6 is a better stab at defence, but there is no doubt about White's superiority after 18.exf6 Bxf6 19.Qh6 Ne8 20.Be5!]

18.gxh5 Nxh5 19.Bh6 Ng7 20.Kh1 b4 21.Rg1 Effortless chess and perfectly played by the Grandmaster.

21...Nf5 22.Ng5 bxc3 Spot the finish! 23.Bg7! 1–0

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