Fire on the board at the Tata Steel Chess Amateur Tournament
Analysis at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament

Fire on the board at the Tata Steel Chess Amateur Tournament

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The other day a colleague asked me for my hobbies, and I answered that chess was one them. “Ah chess,” he said, “I have not played that game in a long time. I used to play it with my brother in front of the tent when we were on vacation. Each day, after dinner we would set up the board and would play our games until the sun would set.”

“How nice that must have been,” I thought. Just the joy of chess, unencumbered by the burden of opening lines, tactical motives and endgame strategies. Just two people exploring chess together, while enjoying each other’s company while the sun went down.

With all the knowledge we acquire we are losing that initial innocence and if we are not careful we risk losing some of the joy of chess. Now think about how we teach children to play the opening. Pawns in the center, develop your pieces, knights and bishops first, bring you king into safety, make sure your knight does not get pinned and do not lose your bishop pair. So time and again, they end up with the following position:

We teach them the all typical plans and nuances of the position. Whether to trade bishops or not, when a6 and when a5, when is h6 a weakness and when not etc. Of course, this is all well and good, but haven’t we lost part of the Joy of Chess along the way?

That is why I created two simple opening courses at Chessable for relative beginners (rated 1000-1800): the Evans Gambit and the Scotch Gambit.  Both courses lead to unbalanced positions with concrete plans and attacking play!

One of the Scotch Gambit students, Carrinthe, is currently playing at the ‘Wimbledon of Chess’: The Tata Steel Chess Tournament. Fifteen hundred amateurs are playing alongside the best of the world, including world champion Magnus CarlsenDing  LirenShakh Mamedyarov and Anish Giri.

In round 3, Carrinthe actually got the Scotch gambit on the board. Please have a look at his game. It is a real gem and a celebration of the game of chess. This is the Joy of Chess!

Critical moments:

Position after 17... Qd7. White opened the position with 18.e6!
Position after 20... f5. White sacrificed a piece to attack the king with 21.Nxf5!!
Position after 24... Bc5. White continued with 25.f6! to Rb1 with tempo into the attack
The full game with annotations: