Challenger's Corner: Opening Traps and Upcoming Tournament on!
Are you a strong daily chess player? Then you're going to want to join the fun!

Challenger's Corner: Opening Traps and Upcoming Tournament on!

Aug 1, 2018, 7:16 PM |

It's been a few weeks! As you know, my stream, Challenger's Corner, has been going through a lot of changes these past few streams. With the introduction of my online club, streaming has been a lot of fun: arenas, tournaments, and getting to know some of you better. If you've been missing out, here are a couple of the best moments - if you want to watch more, check out my Youtube Channel!

Karpov System Falls Short Again

If you've been following my blogs, you'll know that the Karpov System offers Black a pretty simple set-up:

Last Monday night, I got to use a nice trap to win a piece out of the opening. As I mention in the clip, I'd actually had this position on the board (though somehow missed the tactic!!) in a tournament game years ago against a 1900+ rated player. People really miss this stuff  Since, I've stashed it as a opening trap and have used it a fair number of times on Check it out:

This is a really simple trap, but it shows how complacent your opponents can be in the opening - even in unfamiliar territory! Moral of the story: always ask what your opponent's threats are. Even though my opponent is 1300, I'm pretty sure if I gave him this position as White, he would be able to find the win. The game didn't last much longer:

Make sure to remember this one for your own games if you decide to play the English!

Punishing the Weak King!

I'm not sure why, but a lot of people have tried a particularly odd attack against me: moving the g-pawn in front of their king. While I enjoy getting free attacks against my opponents, it's time to set a new rule: don't play g4 if your king is on g1!

So I know what happens now - a bunch of you guys give me brilliant examples of exceptions, and try to prove me wrong. All I'm saying is, if Ben Finegold has a "never play f6" rule, I get to have a "don't play g4" rule  Let me try to convince you once, and I'll get off my high horse:

How did the London System turn into this decisive position? I think the problems for White start in this position:

White's position is actually perfectly fine - perhaps not advantageous, but certainly enough for equality. So why did he play 16. g4? here? If you look at White's position, the obvious question is: Well this is nice, but what's next? Because nothing immediately stood out, White probably thought with all of the pieces developed, it's okay to take some risks. In my experience, I find it best to use these moments to identify what your opponent's motives are rather than exposing yourself. For that reason, I'll recommend 16. a3, with the simple idea of stopping Black's thematic Carlsbad pawn structure ideas.

Endgames are Cool too!

I've noticed that a lot of my opponents offer me draws as soon as we simplify into endgames. The most memorable was probably this pure knight endgame finish:

Funnily enough, I actually broke my own rule earlier in this game, in playing 16...g5!. However, this time the purpose was concrete, and was actually the engine's best move!

Even though for a moment White had equality, we saw how easy it was for me to take over and win. The key to improving at endgames is simple - practice, practice, practice. Always play for two results and look for your opponent's weaknesses.

I had another example of this last Monday night as well, where my opponent thought his knight and three pawns can stop my bishop and four:

As you noticed, even with the pawns all on the kingside, I was able to make the most of my bishop by following these steps:

1) Create a Passed Pawn

2) Activate my King

3) Fix my Opponent's Pawns on Dark Squares

4) Sacrifice my Bishop to Reach a Forced Win

Abstractly, this sounds difficult, but if you noticed in the video, breaking down this endgame into steps was surprisingly easy - the knight is a really clumsy piece anyways...

First Ever Daily Tournament!

As I mentioned before, my club on has really helped the stream take off. With nearly 100 members joined in less than a month, weekly arenas are becoming a regular event, and now, thanks to the help of my new partner in crime NJ_Greg, we are introducing our first-ever daily chess tournament!


I'll be playing alongside members of the Challenger's Corner club, so if you want to play, make sure you join the club so you can register!

If you haven't yet, follow me on Twitter (@isaackaito), as I'll be tweeting some of my best tactics and moments throughout the tournament!

Next stream: Sunday, August 5th at 8PM to 11PM EST

I got bumped from my usual Monday night spot for next week, so I'll be on this Sunday night for an extra hour to play with all of you Make sure to join this weekend's online extravaganza as the Challenger's Corner Club puts on its longest arena challenge yet!

Follow me on Twitch to get notifications about when I go live, both on my own channel, and chessTV!