No better time than now - stop procrastinating and start working on chess!
The VHS...a violent hacking sideline for the attacking player...methinks...

No better time than now - stop procrastinating and start working on chess!

CM juniortay

There isn't much to celebrate in these troubled times as most of us are more or less jammed at home. Well, there is Kevin Goh's confirmation as a Grandmaster, the first for Singapore in 2 decades (on April's Fools day, no less) so at least we have something to cheer about. What we do have is more family time and more hours in general to do things which we've procrastinated over in the past.

In the past, I only had to do online lessons with 50% of my students while for the rest, I either travel to their homes or they come over to my place for lessons. But now, I work with all of them online  from home, no thanks to the Covid 19 outbreak, and now, I have a lot more time to work at chess analysis.

At one point in the recent past, I was on the way to finish The Grand Prix Attack: Move by Move book (already 70+% complete then) but just couldn't find the energy to do justice to it, as regrettably,  the student load just did not allow me to put anywhere near the same effort as I did for the previous books I have written. My apologies to my Everyman Chess editor, IM Byron Jacobs (who has been extremely patient and understanding throughout) as well as Facebook  and chess-friends who have been asking me about it.

So then, my writing stints has been reduced to blogging (thank you readers for your support!) and articles for CHESS Magazine.

However, I was intrigued by the Chessable platform, especially after reading how Magnus Carlsen has bought out the startup. Fellow chess buddy FM Andrey Terekhov has also used it to devise a Two Knights defence course for his kids, and in the process, decided to make it totally free for viewers!

I found it very interactive for learners and for sure, now have the time to work on an appropriate course for it. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it

'This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it'.

If not now then when?

I had previously prepared my students who participated in the Singapore National Championship Premier 2019 (started on January 2020, actually) with a particularly aggressive gambit in the QGD Tarrasch, with some new theory added...but they did not get any games with it during the event. So why not put it to good use, since the theory is ready, and the platform is there to 'cut and paste' the material. Anyway, we aren't going to see any OTB events in the near future.  Of course, proper formatting is required to make it interactive, and I have to thank Jeroen Weggen, Head of Quality Control and Content Creation of Chessable for guiding me as well  and editing the work.

The Von Hennig Schara Gambit line...which my gang and I have shortened to VHS (very hot stuff!) since it's quite a mouthful, is not very well regarded, certainly not placed on the same pedestal as the Benko Gambit or King's Gambit, though some might consider them dubious anyway. But recent analysis by GM Ivan Salgado in Gambit Killer (New in Chess 2018)  and subsequent successful tournament praxis play in the past 2 years made me rethink the line, which I (as well as IM Terry Toh and CM Malcolm Tan) have used to play it 30 years ago.

One of the first things I did after fleshing out the theory was to ask IM Hsu Li Yang, undoubtedly the best defender in my gang, for a thematic 4-game match in the VHS with me taking black throughout. Although I eventually lost 3-1, the ferocity of the line convinced him that it was at least playable (in online blitz, since he has virtually retired from tournament play).

Here is game 4 of our match and although I had him on the back-heel for most of the game, his legendary endgame skill notched a draw.

In the meantime, the course will be undergoing beta testing, and hopefully, will be up and ready for sale soon. Two days ago, IM Hsu Li Yang demonstrated how to attack with the VHS in this awesome miniature crush.

So you know why we call the line the VHus in our fb chats (the Europeans used to mispronounce his surname Hsu as Hus) when discussing the games. Now, the trick is... how do I get GM Kevin Goh Wei Ming to play the line so that I can get more soundbites for my forthcoming Chessable course...?