Mastery: Openings

A Kaleidoscope of Openings

A Kaleidoscope of Openings

A Kaleidoscope of Openings - Former US Champion John Grefe takes the novice and early intermediate level players (USCF or Elo ratings between 1000 and 1500) on a guided tour of many popular openings. Fundamental opening principles such as rapid development, mobility, struggle for control of the center and sound pawn structures are illustrated through practical examples. Grefe also gives numerous examples of tactical possibilities and traps in various innocent looking positions.

  • Albin Countergambit

    WHAT PRICE THE INITIATIVE? The privilege of moving first gives White a slight opening initiative which Black can meet in various ways. One of the riskiest strategies he can employ is trying to wrest the initiative for himself with a countergambit, giving...

    • 8 challenges
  • Queen's Gambit Accepted

    A QUICK CRUSH The flamboyant grandmaster Janowski was a world-class player who got squished as the challenger in two world title matches against cigar-chomping mathematician and philosopher Emanuel Lasker. No matter. Janowski's French patron loved his...

    • 9 challenges
  • Queen's Gambit Accepted: 3.Nf3

    A PARADOXICAL OPENING The Queen's Gambit Accepted comes about after the moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4. Black's first move grabs central terrain and stops his opponent from playing 2.e4. But his second move, 2...dxc4, surrenders the pawn foothold d5 in the...

    • 7 challenges
  • Sicilian: Nimzowitsch/Rossolimo

    THE BISHOP OR THE KNIGHT? The question of which minor piece is stronger, the bishop or the knight, has been kicked around for a long time. In certain types of positions one of them is definitely better. In blocked positions the knight is superior and...

    • 8 challenges
  • Modern Defense

    STRAIGHT FOR THE JUGULAR Everyone knows that checkmate is the name of the game. But is it reasonable to make a bee line for the king within a few moves? Yes, in some cases a blitzkrieg is clearly the correct plan. It flows effortlessly from the particular...

    • 14 challenges
  • Double e-pawn Opening

    REFUTING A PREMATURE ATTACK An early mating attack can spring naturally from some positions. There's every reason to expect success only if the opponent has committed an error. Sometimes the attacker might overestimate his chances, choose the wrong plan...

    • 6 challenges
  • Petroff's Defense: 3.Nxe5

    A TOUGH NUT TO CRACK Petroff's Defense is also called the Russian Game because it was analyzed by the masters Jaenisch and Petroff of Russia during the mid-1800s. It features battles converging on the e-file. Grandmasters usually opt for this defense...

    • 10 challenges
  • Evans Gambit

    THE OPEN E-FILE Mating attacks mostly occur during the middlegame. But if the king tarries in the center mate can occur even in the opening. An open e-file is often the reason that an early king bashing succeeds.

    • 11 challenges
  • Alekhine's Defense

    HORSING AROUND Alekhine's Defense, 1.e4 Nf6, is a radical departure from classical opening strategy. Instead of sending in the pawns to challenge the opponent's central ambitions, Black thumbs his nose at traditional strategy. He tosses away tempi while...

    • 4 challenges
  • Caro-Kann

    FORTRESS OR TIN CAN? The ultra-solid Caro-Kann starts with 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5. It's passive but hard to beat. Most pros choose either 3.Nc3 or 3.e5 against it. 3.Bd3 is eccentric but can confuse the uninitiated. Black should counter it with 3...dxe4 4.Bxe4...

    • 4 challenges
  • Caro-Kanned

    EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Qd3 e5 6.dxe5 Qa5 7.Bd2 Qxe5 8.0-0-0 Nxe4 was the lead-in, from a game between the grandmasters Dr. Savielly Tartakower and Richard Reti, circa 1910. The witty Tartakower, playing Black, was...

    • 2 challenges
  • English Opening: 1...e5

    A LOST ART? Grandmaster I.A. Horowitz was a mainstay of U.S. Olympic chess teams of the thirties and longtime editor of Chess Review, which eventually merged with USCF's Chess Life. An excellent teacher and author of numerous books for the novice, he...

    • 3 challenges
  • King's Indian: 7.Be3

    NOT A CHANCE In game three of the 1990 world championship match between Karpov and Kasparov the first nine moves were 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Qe7 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Nd5 Qd8. Karpov played 10.Bc5 attacking the rook on f8....

    • 2 challenges
  • The Dilly-Dallying King

    DON'T FIDDLE IN THE MIDDLE Whenever the king is uncastled and the board swarms with active pieces, there's the danger of a quick knockout. Black's position is solid and he's developed all his minor pieces, yet White's pieces are so well coordinated that...

    • 4 challenges
  • Center Game

    BULLSEYE! Anyone familiar with British tabloids knows that royalty-bashing can be fun. In the antiquated Center Game - 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 - White's cheeky queen has street-fighting fantasies but has to endure potshots from the proletariat. The further...

    • 2 challenges
  • Ruy Lopez: 3...Nf6

    OLD WORLD CURIOSITY The Berlin Defense to the Ruy Lopez was the darling of the nineteenth-century masters who frequented the cafes of the German capital at the turn of the century. World champion Emanuel Lasker loved this trappy line, but today, like...

    • 2 challenges
  • Queen's Gambit Declined

    THE TRAPPER TRAPPED 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 c5 5.Bg5 cxd4 6.Nxd4 e5 7.Ndb5 a6 8.Nxd5 introduces this challenge, which has been the downfall of more than one grandmaster. Theory recommends answering 4...c5, the semi-Tarrasch Defense, with either...

    • 2 challenges
  • The Weakest Square

    ACHILLES HEEL In the opening f2 and f7 are the weakest squares because this spot is only guarded by the king. The opposing queen, king bishop and king knight can often pounce on this inviting target in a trice.

    • 3 challenges
  • Double KP Opening

    BEWARE POISONED PAWNS The moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Nxe5 set the stage for this challenge. Black's third move, offering a pawn, flies in the face of good opening sense by neglecting development. But White's unbridled optimism with 4.Nxe5 is...

    • 4 challenges
  • Ruy Lopez

    AN OLD STANDBY Our challenge begins after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.d4!? b5 6.Bb3 Nxd4 7.Nxd4 exd4 8.Qxd4?. 4...d6 is the Steinitz Defense Deferred to the Ruy Lopez (3.Bb5). White's pawn sac with 5.d4 is reasonable, but he follows...

    • 4 challenges
  • King's Gambit: 3.Nc3

    THE STEINITZIAN STROLL Wilhelm Steinitz, the first official world champion, exhibited more than a few eccentricities both on and off the board. For one thing, he claimed that he could give God odds of pawn and move. And even though he was the first to...

    • 4 challenges
  • Out of the Books

    HIGHLY IRREGULAR GM Isaac Kashdan was a Groucho Marx look-alike who was once roasted on the maestro's TV show 'You Bet Your Life.' Groucho kept referring to him as "Mr. Ashcan." Here he does some trashing of his own against the ubiquitous N.N.

    • 2 challenges
  • Sicilian: Smith-Morra Gambit

    YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 is the Smith-Morra Gambit. Our challenge comes about after the further moves 4...Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Qe2 Ng4 9.h3. Grandmasters shy away from this gambit because it's hard for White...

    • 2 challenges
  • Queen's Gambit Declined: Cambridge Springs Defense

    HANG 'EM HIGH Let's take a look at a position from the Cambridge Springs Defense to the Queen's Gambit: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 c6 6.Nf3 Qa5 (the Cambridge Springs) 7.Nd2 Bb4 8.Qc2 0-0 9.Bd3. Shunning the defensive mentality inherent...

    • 2 challenges
  • Queen's Indian Defense

    CONTROLLING THE CENTER WITH PIECES After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3, White isn't ready for e2-e4 yet. This gives Black the option of playing the Queen's Indian Defense, 3...b6. His plan is to fight for the center primarily with pieces, using his pawns later...

    • 3 challenges
  • Sicilian: Dragon Variation

    LAGGING DEVELOPMENT SPELLS DEFEAT 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 is the Dragon Sicilian, one of the feistiest lines at Black's disposal. With 6.Be3 White bolsters the d4-knight while readying the fearsome Yugoslav Attack. This hack 'n'...

    • 2 challenges
  • Legal's Mate

    REMEMBER TYPICAL MATING PATTERNS Chances are the venerable snare illustrated after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bc4 h6 5.d4 Bg4 6.dxe5 Nxe5 has claimed more victims than any other trap. Though the actual moves leading to the setup may vary,...

    • 3 challenges
  • The Uncastled King

    BEWARE OF HAVING NO FLIGHT SQUARES White leads in development and Black has lost the right to castle. But if White can't find a way to take advantage of these factors right away, Black will consolidate and try to turn his bishops to account.

    • 2 challenges
  • Slav Defense: 3.Nf3

    ATTACKING TWO WEAKNESSES The game Schlechter-Perlis, 1911, opened 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Bf5 4.Qb3 Qb6 5.cxd5 Qxb3 6.axb3 Bxb1, bringing about our starting position. The idea behind the Slav Defense, 2...c6, is to reinforce d5 with a pawn while keeping...

    • 3 challenges
  • King Hunt

    WANDERING KINGS DIE YOUNG Black is ahead in material, but his king has been prodded from his throne and is surrounded by hostile pieces.

    • 3 challenges
  • A Stunning Novelty

    EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED There's no foolproof way to avoid playing a variation that's supposed to be good, but turns out to be bad. Even grandmasters who've played the same opening dozens of times can suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of a mating...

    • 5 challenges
  • Budapest Countergambit

    IN-BETWEEN MOVES (ZWISCHENZUEGE) 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 is the Budapest Countergambit, an opening full of mind-numbing traps. Black hopes to lead his opponent astray by getting him to weaken his position or misplace his pieces trying to hang onto the gambit...

    • 5 challenges
  • Bogo-Indian: 4.Bd2

    BOGO THE CLONE 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ is the Bogo-Indian Defense. It honors the exuberant Russian grandmaster Efim Bogolyubov, who exclaimed, ?When I am White I win because I am White. When I am Black I win because I am Bogolyubov.? Despite the...

    • 3 challenges
  • Gruenfeld Defense: 5.Qb3

    TRIPLE JEOPARDY The Gruenfeld Defense, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5, invites White to build an impressive pawn center in the hope of wrecking it with flanking blows. Black's strategy relies heavily on a strong fianchettoed bishop on g7 to put pressure on...

    • 2 challenges
  • The Old Guard

    PIECE POWER IM Hans Kmoch, renowned for his Old World courtesy, crossed swords with numerous famous GMs back in the thirties. Years later he became the director of the prestigious Manhattan Chess Club. Author of the classic book "Pawn Power in Chess,"...

    • 2 challenges
  • Owen's Defense

    RECKLESS DISREGARD FOR KING SAFETY Fianchetto defenses to 1.e4 are hardly new. But it wasn't till the 60s and 70s that grandmasters started employing openings like the Pirc (pronounced Peertz) and Robatsch Defenses (1...d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 and 1...g6,...

    • 5 challenges
  • Center Counter: 2...Qxd5

    CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE In the Center Counter - 1.e4 d5 - Black takes out your e-pawn without bothering about preparatory moves like 1...c6 or 1...e6. This causes him to lose time with the queen (or knight after 2...Nf6) and has always made the opening...

    • 4 challenges
  • Ruy Lopez: Open Variation

    KEEP AN OPEN MIND 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 is the Open Variation of the Ruy Lopez. Black's idea is to eliminate the White e-pawn, insuring good play for all his minor pieces. The further moves 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.c3 Be7...

    • 2 challenges
  • Sicilian: Dragon

    NAGGING NAGS Our challenge starts after the moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 a6 7.Qd2 Nd7 8.Be2 g6 9.Nd5 h6 10.Bh4 g5. Black enters the Dragon via a strange move order featuring weird knight maneuvers and lost tempi. Kids, don't...

    • 3 challenges
  • King's Indian: Averbakh

    A LITTLE LEARNING IS A DANGEROUS THING... 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Nf3 e5 is the standard way for Black to meet the Classical Variation (5.Nf3 and 6.Be2 or 5.Be2 and 6.Nf3) of the King's Indian Defense. If White captures twice on...

    • 3 challenges
  • Ruy Lopez: Main Line

    CHOICE OF CHAMPIONS When Black counters 1.e4 with 1...e5, White must soon decide how he's going to get in d2-d4. If he doesn't play this thematic central pawn break it will be almost impossible to maintain an opening initiative. For the last one hundred...

    • 9 challenges
  • Pirc Defense

    HYPERMODERN STRATEGY Fianchetto defenses to 1.e4 have been around a long time but it wasn't till the 1970s that grandmasters began to trust them. Black's strategy is to invite his opponent to form a classical pawn center unhindered. The method in this...

    • 9 challenges
  • Slav Defense

    THE BENEFITS OF THE FIRST MOVE How meaningful is White's advantage of moving first? Grandmaster consensus is that with perfect play chess should be a draw. But if White plays actively, pressing his opponent on every move (somewhat like having the serve...

    • 7 challenges
  • Caro-Kann: 4...Nd7

    LIKE A ROCK The moves 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 introduce the Caro-Kann Defense. The idea of challenging the unprotected White e-pawn with Black's d-pawn is common to the French Defense and Center Counter as well. But in the French (1...e6) the c8-bishop is hemmed...

    • 6 challenges
  • Orangutang

    MONKEY BUSINESS If you swing into action with 1.b4, the Orangutang, it's not unthinkable that your opponent will go bananas trying for an immediate refutation. The witty Dr. Tartakower, no doubt struggling to keep a straight face, claimed he was inspired...

    • 4 challenges
  • King's Indian: Saemisch

    KNIGHT-ERRANT David Bronstein failed to become world champion by the narrowest of margins when he tied Botvinnik 12-12 in their 1951 title tussle. He was probably Ian Fleming's inspiration for Grandmaster Kronsteen, a character in the James Bond tale...

    • 5 challenges
  • Slav Defense: Meran

    THE STRONGPOINT After 1.d4 d5, Black has momentarily stopped White from carrying out the natural advance e2-e4. With 2.c4, which brings us to the starting position of this challenge, White begins hammering away at the d5 'strongpoint.? We're going to...

    • 9 challenges
  • Benko Gambit

    A POSITIONAL PAWN SACRIFICE In well-known openings players generally gambit a pawn for either a lead in development or a lasting central superiority. If the gambit is reasonable and sound it's usually White that's playing it by virtue of his extra move....

    • 9 challenges
  • Sicilian: Velimirovic Attack

    OPPOSITES ATTACK The moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 bring about a typical open Sicilian formation. 1...c5 fights for the center in a way that will create an asymmetrical pawn structure. The result, after White breaks with...

    • 7 challenges
  • Colle System

    FLEE FROM DOGMATISM The Belgian grandmaster Edgar Colle successfully introduced his system to the chess world during the 1920s. In double-QP debuts (1.d4 d5) the break c2-c4 had long been considered mandatory if White wants to get anything out of the...

    • 6 challenges
  • Closed Sicilian

    A CLOSED ENCOUNTER 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 starts the action. White's plan is to hold the line in the center and queenside while he masses for a mating attack on the other wing. Former world champion Boris Spassky, noted for his attacking play, loved the Closed...

    • 8 challenges
  • Sicilian: Alapin

    CENTER STAGE A good way to sidestep the main variations of the Sicilian is to play the Alapin Variation, 1.e4 c5 2.c3. With the proliferation of faster time controls making unusual ideas more attractive, a number of top grandmasters have recently taken...

    • 8 challenges
  • Sicilian: Accelerated Dragon

    STEALING A TEMPO In normal Dragon lines Black has to stop for ...d7-d6 to prevent the f6-knight from being kicked around by e4-e5. In the Accelerated Dragon - 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 - Black tries to do without ...d7-d6 so he can get in...

    • 7 challenges
  • Gruenfeld Defense

    MISTER THEORY Ernst Gruenfeld, an Austrian grandmaster who bumped heads with the legendary Alekhine and his contemporaries back in the twenties and thirties, invented the opening which bears his name. Besides creating a new system, he had the reputation...

    • 8 challenges
  • King's Indian Attack vs 2...e6 Sicilian

    A FISCHER FAVORITE Throughout his career Bobby Fischer was partial to 1.e4 but he also loved to play the King's Indian Attack, which he employed with great success. He managed to blend these diverse ideas by opening with 1.e4 and switching to the KIA...

    • 10 challenges
  • Two Knights Defense

    TACTICS CAN OCCUR ANYTIME Our challenge started out 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6, the Two Knights Defense. White decided not to get embroiled in the complications that arise in the most common continuations, 4.Ng5 and 4.d4, but instead played the quiet...

    • 6 challenges
  • King's Indian Defense: Classical

    PURE PROVOCATION Imagine what happens when one player loves to establish a big pawn center and the opponent lets him do it without a fight. This is exactly the case with the King's Indian Defense, world champion Garry Kasparov's favorite answer to 1.d4....

    • 7 challenges
  • King's Indian Defense: 4 Pawns Attack

    KASPAROV's CHOICE It wasn't so long ago that a fair number of grandmasters were expressing doubts about the theoretical soundness of the King's Indian Defense. This was at a time when White was scoring well, and they began to wonder whether Black could...

    • 8 challenges
  • Torre Attack

    A "SYSTEM" Grandmaster Carlos Torre of Mexico evolved his system of mobilization during the twenties in games against the leading players of the time. His most famous victory came at Moscow 1925. He defeated ex-world champion Emanuel Lasker in a brilliant...

    • 9 challenges
  • Queen's Gambit Declined: Exchange Variation

    IT KEEPS ON GOING AND GOING... Our challenge begins with the moves 1.d4 d5, often referred to as a double d-pawn opening. Each player stakes an immediate claim in the center using a pawn to cover important squares. This prevent the other player from further...

    • 8 challenges
  • French Defense

    CONSTANT TACTICAL VIGILANCE Our challenge begins after the moves 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7, the Rubinstein Variation of the French Defense. Its inventor rose from the Polish ghettoes at the turn of the century to become a world title contender,...

    • 7 challenges
  • Old Indian Defense

    EASY STREET Some openings require you to become familiar with a large number of variations and intricate tactical subtleties in order to play them without getting mashed right in the opening. Others, like the Old Indian, are much simpler to learn because...

    • 6 challenges
  • Danish Gambit

    COFFEE AND DANISH? The Danish Gambit arises after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3. It's a high- powered gambit which gets the adrenaline flowing quickly, so you might not need a caffeine boost if you start off with the Danish. Today this type of gambit...

    • 13 challenges
  • Philidor's Defense

    SOUL FOOD Andre Philidor was born near Paris in 1726 and grew up to be an accomplished composer, musician and chessplayer. His great contribution to the game was his realization of the importance of the pawns in an era that gave undeserved precedence...

    • 6 challenges
  • Dutch Defense: Stonewall

    THE HOLE TRUTH Our challenge begins after the moves 1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.c4 d5. Black's first move brings about the Dutch Defense, a longtime favorite of the legendary late world champion Mikhail Botvinnik. With 1...f5 Black...

    • 7 challenges
  • English Opening: Fischer's System

    BREAKING THE SYMMETRY The English Opening, 1.c4, has often been likened to a Sicilian with colors reversed because Black can try to bring about a role switch, though a tempo down, by countering with 1...e5 and then a quick ...d5. But this is not the only...

    • 8 challenges
  • Nimzo-Indian Defense

    THE MISSING LINK In double-d-pawn openings like the Queen's Gambit and Slav both sides employ classic strategy by occupying the center at once with pawns. In openings like the King's Indian and Gruenfeld, Black uses hypermodern principles, letting White...

    • 8 challenges
  • Nimzo-Indian: Saemisch

    AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION In the Nimzo-Indian Defense - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 - Black initially fights for the center with pieces. This allows his minors to take up more aggressive posts than in double d-pawn openings like the Queen's Gambit Declined,...

    • 7 challenges
  • Nimzo-Indian Defense: 4.Qc2

    GIANTS OF CHESS The Nimzo-Indian Defense arises after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4. Black strives for more activity than he can expect in double d-pawn openings but shuns more ambitious, and riskier, debuts like the King's Indian, Gruenfeld, Modern Benoni,...

    • 8 challenges
  • Modern Benoni

    MIXING IT UP WITH BLACK It wasn't till Fischer's and Tal's successes in the fifties and sixties that grandmasters in general realized Black could legitimately fight for the initiative from the very first moves without taking extraordinary risks. Prevailing...

    • 8 challenges
  • Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

    SOUNDNESS An important concept to understand is 'positional soundness.' Positionally sound moves are those which are aimed at improving our game without creating any weaknesses. There should be at least one such move in every position unless we are in...

    • 6 challenges
  • Scotch Game

    TOO STRAIGHTFORWARD? The question of which opening is best is one which grandmasters have debated for some time. It's not merely a matter of idle speculation, for if one particular opening proved to be superior to all others the rest would disappear...

    • 8 challenges
  • Slav Defense: Dutch Variation

    CLOSE RELATIVES Some openings exhibit important characteristics that are very much like others even though they may arise differently. Take, for example, the Slav (1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6) and the Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5). In both debuts Black stakes out...

    • 6 challenges
  • Center Counter

    THE PRICE OF FREEDOM The idea of the Center Counter - 1.e4 d5 - is to eliminate White's e-pawn, attaining freedom for the Black pieces while not giving White any pawns he can target to throw Black on the defensive. But the lack of pawn support for the...

    • 5 challenges
  • Petroff's Defense: Boden-Kieseritzky Gambit

    PSYCHOLOGICAL ADVANTAGE There can be no doubt that the player who's willing to sacrifice material for an attack has both a practical and psychological advantage. The former is due to the well-known phenomenon that it's much easier to conduct an attack...

    • 6 challenges
  • Vienna Game

    FORCED CONSTITUTIONAL 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3, the Vienna Game, leads to our starting position. It's a close relative of the King's Gambit and other 'Romantic' debuts of a bygone era. Today it's hardly seen at all in international events because White's second...

    • 6 challenges
  • English Opening

    IT HAPPENS TO THE BEST THE WAY IT HAPPENS TO THE REST The English Opening, 1.c4, mostly leads to quiet maneuvering games where tactics recede to the background, at least till the middlegame is in full swing. But even in 'quiet lines' tactics lurk just...

    • 6 challenges
  • Sicilian Dragon

    SHARPEST OF THE SHARP An opening or variation is said to be sharp if it leads to positions in which the players must solve knotty tactical problems. The sharpest way to meet 1.e4 is the Sicilian Defense, 1...c5. And of all the variations of the Sicilian,...

    • 5 challenges
  • Torre Attack Gone Bad

    BEWARE 'AUTOMATIC PILOT' The Torre Attack arises after the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5. White has in mind a particular piece/pawn setup with knights on f3 and d2, the bishop at g5 and pawns at c3, d4 and e3. The placement of the f1-bishop and major...

    • 6 challenges
  • Blumenfeld Countergambit

    KNOWING WHEN TO OFFER AND WHEN TO DECLINE Theory considers the Blumenfeld Countergambit - 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 c5 4.d5 b5 -to be shaky, but paradoxically suggests that the best way to meet it is to decline it. A good way to do so is 5.Bg5, and if Black...

    • 6 challenges
  • Chigorin Defense

    A HYBRID After 1.d4 d5 2.c4, most of the time Black adopts a classical strategy in fighting for the center. He plays either the Queen's Gambit Accepted, 2...dxc4, or supports the d5-strongpoint with 2...c6 or 2...e6 so that he can maintain a pawn presence...

    • 9 challenges
  • Alekhine's Defense: 4 Pawns Attack

    CONTRARIANISM Alekhine's Defense - 1.e4 Nf6 - is the most radical hypermodern strategy that can be played in answer to 1.e4, if you discount unproven ideas like 1...g5 and 1...a6. Black invites upon himself the loss of several tempi as the f6-knight...

    • 7 challenges
  • King's Indian Attack: 1.Nf3

    REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY "What's good for the goose is even better for the gander," seems to be the philosophy of players who adopt 'reversed' openings. Their thinking is that if an opening is reasonable for Black it should be even better with White, as they...

    • 7 challenges
  • King's Gambit: 3.Nf3

    A REAL GAMBIT Rudolf Spielmann, himself a great attacking player who flourished in the early 1900s, wrote one of the earliest systematic texts on sacrifice, the classic The Art of Sacrifice. He defined a 'real? sacrifice as one which the attacker ventures...

    • 6 challenges
  • Giuoco Piano

    THE 'QUIET GAME' 'Giuoco Piano' is Italian for "Quiet Game." It first bloomed in Italy during the 1700s when that country was one of the leading powers of chess. Back then the dominating concept of the game was "Romanticism." Everyone strove to create...

    • 6 challenges
  • King's Indian

    A LITTLE LEARNING IS DANGEROUS In the King's Indian, Black's initial target is d4. Not that the square is weak, but White's annexing of the center with the c-, d- and e-pawns allows Black to drum up counterplay by targeting the center square that can...

    • 6 challenges
  • Caro-Kann Defense: 4...Nd7

    SAFE AND SOUND The Caro-Kann Defense - 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 - has long had a reputation for being solid. Black's main idea is to get out of the opening with a decent game while preventing White from conjuring up any attacking chances or tactical complications....

    • 7 challenges
  • French Defense: Winawer

    COUNTERATTACK In the French Defense - 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 - Black goes straight for the White e-pawn at the cost of hemming in the c8-bishop. His idea is to keep hammering away at e4 till he forces White to commit himself in the center by an exchange of pawns...

    • 7 challenges
  • Center Counter Defense

    SO MANY OPENINGS, SO LITTLE TIME You might think that the process of choosing which chess openings to play is fairly cut and dried, but you'd be wrong. Many factors contribute toward making an opening or variation suitable. Your playing strength, style,...

    • 8 challenges
  • Sicilian: Najdorf 6.Bg5 variation

    A FISCHER FAVORITE It's common knowledge that the Sicilian Defense is one of the best ways to play for a win against 1.e4. It blends positional soundness with tactical sharpness. One of the most complex lines in the Sicilian is the Najdorf Variation....

    • 7 challenges
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