Roots of Positional Understanding

  • IM Jeremy Silman
  • Avg Rating: 2067
  • Strategy

The Roots of Positional Understanding, by IM Jeremy Silman. Are you ever at a loss for what to do when there are no immediate tactics in sight? If so, then you need to learn the basics of positional play. The master seems to optimally place his pieces with effortless ease where they coordinate well and control key lines and squares. This is because he sees the board as a structural entity. Using 300 hundred brief Challenges, Silman gives you the basics of this same positional sense and vision. This module will help you to build strength into your quiet positions. This course module was initially intended for intermediate players with USCF or Elo ratings between 1200 and 1800. However, at least half of the challenges are suitable for those rated between 1800 and 2200 and even higher. Experts and Class A players will find this course module more than challenging with the advanced material and very useful review with the intermediate material. Intermediate players will build a solid foundation with the intermediate challenges and gain more and more from the advanced material as they progress in chess strength. (Initial release date of November 20, 1998)

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  • Thematic Opening Idea

    In the opening White often achieves a nice pawn center (with pawns on e4 and d4) that is accompanied by a seemingly strong Bishop on c4. However, an interesting tactical idea is common in such positions. What move makes Black's defense easier? The first moves were 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bc4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3 (though the idea we're looking for can come about from many different openings).
  • D.Durham-J.Shapiro, Los Angeles 1997

    A normal game is in progress. White has more central space, Black is already castled. How should Black handle this type of situation? Should he look for some kind of power move? Should he simply develop and wait for chances to arise later in the contest? The ability to see the needs of any given position is an important one in chess. Are you able to read the board here and ascertain the correct way to proceed?
  • Crossing the opponent's plans

    This position arose from a Modern Benoni (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5, etc.). White's correct move should be almost automatic in this kind of situation. Do you see what must be done?
  • Expanding your possibilities

    This well-known opening position usually occurs after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 (it's known as the Semi-Slav). White has a bit more central space (White's pawn stands on c4 while Black's only stands on c6); Black enjoys a solid position. What is the best way for White to continue with his development?
  • Pieces working together

    This position (from an opening known as the Closed Sicilian) is just a few moves old (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 d6 4.Bg2) and doesn't appear to be critical to much of anything. However, it teaches us to develop our pieces so that they all work together. A big lesson for such an unassuming situation!
  • Plugging the holes

    White enjoys a clear advantage in this position. Can you spot the factors that give the first player this pull and, if you can, how can White take maximum advantage of these things?
  • Fischer-Gheorghiu, Buenos Aires 1970

    The game (the first moves were 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 Be7 6.Bd3 Nf6) appears to be fairly equal, except for the fact that White enjoys a slight advantage in central space (pawn on d4 versus pawn on d6). How can White make the most of his position?
  • Motoc-Assad, 1996 World Youth Festival (girls under 12)

    Black has to come up with a useful and clear plan. This is easy to say but very difficult to do!
  • Perunovic-Zivanic, World Youth Festival 1996 (Boys Under 12)

    White has the more comfortable position. Black would like to eventually equalize the chances but he has to catch up on development before this happens. Where should Black place his pieces and how will he seek counterplay?
  • Bhat-Paragua, World Youth Festival 1996 (Boys Under 12)

    Vinay Bhat, the young American Master, is a fine positional player and also excels at tactics. Here he finds a simple way to increase his advantage. Sometimes the simple moves are the most effective.
  • Minority Attack

    The plan shown here is a bit advanced but is also very, very important. It allows the side using it to create weak pawns and weak squares in the enemy camp, and open files for his Rooks. The ability to create a useful imbalance is clearly critical for chess success. The "minority attack" is one of the best examples of a crisp, clear plan that takes us from the opening to the middlegame.
  • Chinkevich-Anceyta Tejas, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 14)

    White has two glaring advantages: an attack against the enemy King and potential pressure down the c-file against the weak c6-pawn. While making use of these two factors, how can White introduce a third advantage into the equation?
  • Sargisian-Bacrot, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 14)

    White has played in a classical manner (the first moves were: 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Nf3 c6 5.a4 Nd7 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Ngf6 8.dxe5 dxe5) and enjoys a comfortable edge. However, such advantages often disappear if a plan that takes maximum advantage of the plusses in your position isn't found. Etienne Bacrot is the youngest grandmaster in history and was a huge favorite to win this event. The loss he suffered in this game knocked him off the top and surprised everyone.
  • Siegel-Vallejo Pons, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 14)

    Both sides are trying to get something started in this closed, slow position. Your job is to find a Black maneuver that improves the position of his pieces.
  • Mah-Acs, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 16)

    Both sides have a solid position, but White has just attacked Black's Bishop on c5 with Na4. How should Black deal with this threat?
  • Smetankin-Anchev, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 16)

    White's pieces are more active than Black's. The proper move, a typical maneuver in these situations, considerably adds to the pressure against the enemy position.
  • Fontaine-Fressinet, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 16)

    Both sides enjoy certain advantages in this position. What thematic idea drastically improves the Black cause?
  • Vescovi-Banikas, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 18)

    White has a big pawn center and an advantage in space. Now he must find a way to consolidate his position. This means that he wants to defend all the weak points in his camp. If he can successfully do this, making his center indestructible at the same time, he will leave Black without any counterplay.
  • Mirzoev-Baron Rodriguez, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 18)

    Black intends to take on c3 and then, after bxc3, follow up with ...Na4, creating pressure against the c3-pawn. What plan should White adopt?
  • Filipek-Stevic, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 18)

    This problem demonstrates a typical and highly important maneuver. White has to develop his forces, but he must do this in a way that aids future plans and pawn advances.
  • The right capture

    Black is a pawn down and must recapture his pawn on f5. His choices are very limited and, as can be expected, only one is correct.
  • Dealing with a threat

    This position came from a Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4). White has just created a threat which stops Black from any immediate development. How should Black deal with White's anticipated h4-h5?
  • Using care when you develop

    This position comes from the Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3) and is known to offer Black a solid game. How should Black continue his development?
  • The big break

    This position demonstrates a common structure and the equally common way that Black seeks to free himself. The idea we are looking for can be used in many different kinds of positions and, as a result, is very valuable to players of all strengths.
  • Freezing a weakness

    This problem shows us a way to freeze a pawn so that it can't move to a better position. By making it immobile, you turn it into a weakness that will need to be defended for the rest of the game.
  • The art of restraint

    We are still in the opening, and both sides are preparing their respective middlegame plans and developing their pieces. Find White's most promising move. If you succeed, it will show that you understand quite a bit about positional play.
  • Claiming a square

    This problem shows the student the correct way to conquer a square. This may not seem important, but such a "minor" strategy is often enough to pick up the full point.
  • Correct development

    This simple position (from an English Opening) has come up many times and, in amateur circles, has been botched on a number of occasions. What's the best way for White to complete his development?
  • Advanced maneuver

    Finding the best squares for your pieces is far harder than one might suppose. This problem takes an innocent position and challenges you to make a slight adjustment in Black's setup.
  • How to nurture a pawn center

    White has a full pawn center. In general, when you own such a center you should do everything you can to protect it and make it indestructible. If you succeed in doing this, the center will restrict the opponent and leave him in a helpless situation.
  • Getting the Bishop outside the pawn chain

    This position is a typical Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5) where Black must solve the problem of how to develop his pieces. It's clear that White has more space and will have an easier time getting his stuff out, so this is quite an important moment for the player with the Black pieces!
  • When simple development is simply bad

    Both sides are developing their pieces and Black has just played his Bishop from c8 to f5. He did this to avoid getting it trapped inside the pawn chain after ...e7-e6. Very commendable, but in this case quite wrong. How can White punish Black's "safe and sound" development?
  • Creating a proper development

    After 1.e4 c6 (the Caro-Kann) 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 White must decide where his pieces belong. Remember that your pieces and pawns must work together; don't just throw your men anywhere and hope that they will end up doing something useful!
  • London System Reversed

    This position, typical for a London Reversed (1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4 Bg7 4.e3, etc.), may seem easy but is actually misplayed by many amateurs. How should White continue?
  • Forward or backward?

    Black's Knight on d5 is under attack and he must figure out the best way to deal with it. He can consider a few replies, but only one of them is good.
  • Hitting the right spot

    White has lots of reasonable-looking moves to choose from, yet only one makes real sense. Coming about from the Dutch Defense (1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 d5 4.Bxf6 exf6 5.e3 c6 6.Bd3 Bd6), this move may prove to be harder to find than you might suppose.
  • Subtle Threat

    This well-known opening position from the Dutch Defense (1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 d5 5.c4 c6 6.0-0 Bd6 7.b3) gives us an excellent illustration of the importance of good and bad minor pieces.
  • Refuting a common space grab

    Black has just played ...c5-c4 followed by ...b7- b5, grabbing queenside space. No doubt feeling good about himself, Black doesn't realize that his whole concept is badly flawed. The solution will prove very useful since this kind of thing comes about in many different positions.
  • Van Wely-Kramnik, Arnhem 1990

    This position may seem drawish but Black is actually better (and went on to win). How can Black prove his superiority?
  • Variation of Novikov-Kramnik, Moscow 1991

    This is a typical type of Dutch Defense situation. Black's minor pieces are worse than White's and the first player also has a queenside space advantage. How can Black deal with these problems?
  • Yusupov-Spasov, Skara Echt 1980

    The position looks quiet and neither player appears to have anything to attack. How can White drastically change this assessment?
  • Variation of Yusupov-Spasov, Skara 1980

    Neither side is burning down any bridges, but White enjoys an edge thanks to his nice Bishop (compared to Black's undeveloped Knight). This type of quiet position comes about all the time and it's important to be able to find the correct plan when they do arise.
  • Yusupov-Timman, Tilburg 1986

    This position is full of tension and difficult strategic ideas. One could easily get confused here, but White's next move is thematic is such Benoni positions. Once you learn it, you will be able to use the same basic idea again and again and again.
  • Yusupov-Timoshchenko, USSR ch. 1982

    This position came about from a Caro-Kann (by transposition). After 1.c4 c6 2.e4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qb3 Bxf3 9.gxf3 Nb6 10.d5 Nd4 11.Bb5+ Nd7 12.Qa4 Black allowed the center to be opened with the mistaken 12...e5? 13.dxe6 Nxe6. Such a White position should inflame your soul and make you want to do wild and daring things. Why? How? These are the questions that must be answered!
  • Yusupov-Wirthensohn, Hamburg 1991

    Black is badly tied up but White doesn't have too many pieces left to play with. How can White continue his drive for a victory?
  • Botvinnik-Keres, USSR ch. 1952

    Keres was trying to win this game so he placed his Bishop on the dynamic d6-square (it usually stays on e7), ignoring the pin on the f6-Knight. Does this idea give Black good play or did Botvinnik find a problem with Black's strategy?
  • Gottschall-Nimzovitsch, hannover 1926

    Black has all the chances because his two queenside pawns stops White's three (an excellent strategy to keep in mind!). How did the legendary Nimzovitsch improve his position? This problem teaches us the virtue of patience and the usefulness of small gains.
  • Wang Zili-Yusupov, Novi Sad (ol) 1990

    Black has a clear advantage, but me saying this and you proving it are two very different things. First try and figure out what Black has that will annoy the opponent. Then find a way to make use of it.
  • Botvinnik-Zaguriansky, Sverdlovsk 1943

    This type of isolated d-pawn position is very common. Usually its owner plays for piece activity while the opponent (in this case White) tries to exchange minor pieces (thus reducing Black's attacking chances), plays to dominate the square in front of the isolated pawn (d4) and ultimately places pressure against the weak pawn. In the present situation White has a clear advantage because too many minor pieces have been traded. This means that Black no longer has any realistic attacking chances; White's...
  • Rubinstein-Takacs, Budapest 1926

    Black is in big trouble but he has managed to create an adequate defense to the threats against b7. This problem allows us to explore an advanced idea known as the "principal of two weaknesses." One target can usually be adequately covered. However, if you can create a second weakness, the lack of maneuverability in the enemy camp of causes his position to crumble into dust.
  • Petrosian-Suetin, USSR (ch) 1960

    The great World Champion Tigran Petrosian was known as a very safe player who would slowly tie you up in an unbreakable embrace. However, if a situation called for more dynamic measures, even a Petrosian wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger. In the present problem we see how a World Champion deals with an uncastled opponent.
  • Ilyin Zhenevsky-Ragozin, Leningrad 1929

    Ragozin was a strong Soviet player who could beat anyone on a good day. In the present game he enjoys a superior position with the Black pieces. However, care is always called for; the first order of business appears to be the defense of his loose Knight.
  • Fischer-Petrosian, Buenos Aires 1971

    This well-known game shows why many players compare Fischer to Capablanca. His endgame skills mixed with the purity of his ideas made him one of the greatest players (many say THE greatest) of all time. You're not looking for anything complicated here. Simple and to the point is what your search is all about.
  • Uusi-Simagin, Gorky 1954

    At times we have several choices of plan and can base our decision on personal style or taste. More often, though, the correct path is already laid out. Then our job is to find that path and do what the position needs. Sometimes this calls for patience, sometimes courage is called for; in chess you have to be flexible or you really won't stand a chance!
  • Spassky-Simagin, USSR (ch) 1961

    The great Boris Spassky didn't lose many games in the 60's, but here we see the relatively unknown (outside of the USSR) Simagin take him apart in nice fashion. A glance might tell us that White is doing alright, but a closer examination shows that the first player is in real trouble. The proper move begins a strong plan that ultimately brings Spassky to his knees.
  • Sokolov-Brunner, Oakham 1988

    After the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 (the Nimzo-Indian Defense) 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 d5 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Ne2 c5 8.a3 cxd4 9.exd4 Bd6 10.0-0 Nc6 we arrive at a position that looks rather boring but is, in reality, quite interesting and exciting. What are the plans available to White and how can he go about realizing them?
  • Sokolov-Wilder, Haninge 1989

    This is a fairly simple position where White's space advantage gives him the better of it. The question is, how does one play simple positions?
  • Sokolov-Wilder, Haninge 1989

    Black appears to have a satisfactory position but one simple move makes it clear that Black, in reality, is in terrible trouble.
  • Sokolov-Korchnoi, Novi Sad (ol) 1990

    It doesn't look like White has anything special. Surprisingly, one move destroys this illusion and cements White's advantage.
  • Sokolov-Beliavsky, Belgrade 1991

    Things seem a bit complicated and some players might panic about the attack on b2. How should White deal with this?
  • Tukmakov-Karpov, Leningrad 1973

    Karpov is considered to be one of the greatest players of all time. Here, facing a strong Russian grandmaster, he finds an idea that turns Black's passive-looking position into something with obvious dynamic potential. The first moves (for those interested in the openings) were: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Nb8 10.d4 Nd7 11.c4 c6 12.Bg5 h6 13.Bh4.
  • Karpov-Kuzmin, Leningrad 1973

    When Black has an isolated d-pawn (as he does in the present position) he usually must play for a kingside attack or a ...d5-d4 advance. How should White deal with Black's intentions? Karpov is famous for his ability to squeeze every drop of advantage from even the most sterile positions. Here we see another case of the Karpov magic at work.
  • Karpov-Gligoric, Leningrad 1973

    Gligoric was Yugoslavia's best player throughout the 50's and 60's and clearly one of the strongest players in the world. He doesn't do well in this game, most likely because Karpov has proven himself to be one of the greatest players in the history of chess. In the present game we are barely out of the opening (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Rfe1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Nb8 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 c5 13.d5 Ne8 14.Nf1 g6 15.Bh6 Ng7 16.Ne3 Nf6 17.a4 Kh8), but White's next...
  • Karpov-Spassky, Leningrad 1974

    This game is the 9th from Karpov's match against Spassky. Spassky, as former World Champion, was favored to win, but the young challenger showed his talent by crushing Boris and turning the chess world on its ear. Here we see Karpov pushing back his famous opponent in a typical display of positional domination.
  • Karpov-Spassky, Leningrad 1974

    By winning this 11th match game against Spassky, Karpov put himself in a position to play Korchnoi for the right to challenge Fischer for the World Championship. In the present position White enjoys a clear advantage. How can White demonstrate this?
  • Karpov-Korchnoi, Leningrad 1974

    This 24th match game would decide who was going to meet Fischer in a match for the World Title. Karpov (playing White) was a point up so a draw would suffice, while Korchnoi had to go all out for a win. The actual position must have been depressing for Black: he has very little counterplay and almost no hope of winning. If Karpov can keep Black under wraps, he will at least draw the game and move on to Fischer (who ultimately refused to play and, as a result, forfeited the title to Karpov).
  • Karpov-Andersson, Stockholm 1969

    Karpov's victory in this event gained him the coveted title of World Junior Champion. Before he triumphed, however, he was forced to face off against the incredibly solid U.Andersson. Ulf is one of those players who almost never lose a game, and who are almost as happy to draw as they are to win! In this game Karpov surrounds his opponent without giving him any chances at all. Your job is to find the way to keep Black's counterplay to a minimum.
  • Karpov-Zaitsev, USSR Championship 1970

    This game had been a wild affair with White's King running from e1 to e4 (!) and finally to safety on b1. Now the situation has dramatically changed, and White must look for ways to make quiet gains. Karpov is considered to be one of the greatest players of all time. The simple move he finds here is typical of his style.
  • Karpov-Parma, Caracas 1970

    White can't claim any advantage in this position but it's still important to come up with a plan and make whatever gains are possible. Karpov's move, far from obvious at first glance, takes care of a critical detail.
  • Karpov-Bagirov, Riga 1970

    White stands better, but just how great is his advantage? A glance might suggest that Black's isn't doing too badly, but Karpov feels that Black's game is already beyond salvation! Can you find the way Karpov proved his point?
  • Karpov-Stein, Leningrad 1971

    Karpov, the 12th World Champion, is well-known to all chess fans. However, Leonid Stein is largely unknown to the younger generation. This great Russian player was exceptionally strong. Winning one strong tournament after another, Stein was looking forward to the candidates tournament with relish (he honestly felt that he had an excellent chance to win the World Championship). Sadly, Stein died (at only 39 years of age!) a few weeks before the event began. In the present game Karpov gets the best...
  • Karpov-Mecking, Hastings 1971/72

    Brazilian Grandmaster Henrique Mecking was considered a serious candidate for the World Championship when he suddenly withdrew from chess (in 1979 at the age of 27), convinced that he was terminally ill. In 1991, after training for the priesthood, he claimed to have been cured by Jesus and began to play again, though without any real success. In the present game he is getting destroyed. How did Karpov administer the coup de grace?
  • Karpov-Huebner, Graz 1972

    Huebner has been Germany's strongest player (and a candidate for the World Championship) since the early 70's. In this game he's been outplayed by Karpov and is on his way to defeat, but saying it is one thing and proving your superiority is quite another.
  • Karpov-Uhlmann, Madrid 1973

    Germany's Wolfgang Uhlmann was once one of the World's best players. In the present game he is subtly outplayed by Karpov. Your job is to find Karpov's idea (not easy by any means!).
  • Karpov-Unzicker, Nice Olympiad 1974

    Karpov has obtained a position where he enjoys a spatial plus thanks to his advanced pawn on d5 (Karpov was always very fond of territory). The pawns on b4 and d5 take away lots of important squares from the Black army and make it difficult for him to maneuver. How can Karpov prove that this space will lead to anything concrete?
  • Typical Maroczy Bind decision

    This position comes about after 1.e4 c5 (the Sicilian Defense) 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 (the Accelerated Dragon) 5.c4 (known as the Maroczy Bind) 5...Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Bg5 0-0 10.Qd2 Be6 11.Rac1 Qa5 12.f3 Rfc8 13.b3 a6 14.Na4 Qxd2+. What is the correct recapture and why?
  • Karpov-Spassky, USSR 1975

    Former World Champion Boris Spassky was a great master of the correct use of isolated and hanging pawns. Here he faces a player who loves to rip apart these structures and, as a result, we get an interesting battle of philosophies that is eventually won by Karpov.
  • Karpov-Gligoric, Milan 1975

    Svetozar Gligoric is a legend in his home country of Yugoslavia. A World Championship contender for many years, Gligoric was known to always play the Ruy Lopez as Black versus 1.e4 and the King's Indian as Black versus 1.d4. Here he goes for a head to head battle in his favorite Ruy, though it was well-known that Karpov played the White side with great gusto. In the present position White enjoys the better position but the threat against his b-pawn must be answered in an accurate manner.
  • Karpov-Unzicker, Milan 1975

    Though Karpov won this game quickly, it's important to build the attack in an accurate manner. How did the legendary 12th World Champion handle this position?
  • Karpov-Portisch, Milan 1975

    Black is in big trouble (he went on to lose this game) since his pieces aren't anywhere as active as their White counterparts. Black's pawns are also vulnerable and ready to fall. How should he defend in this situation? Karpov was superb in the endgame and most players would fail to hold slightly inferior positions. Portisch, a seasoned veteran of the World Championship cycle, showed that he was little different than anyone else; he also failed to hold on in face of Karpov's endless pressure.
  • Karpov-Vaganian, Skopje 1976

    This position appears to be very complicated. To many, it may not be clear who's better! How can White clarify this question and demonstrate a clear plus?
  • Uhlmann-Karpov, Skopje 1976

    Chess is all about the creation of weaknesses and this game is no different. Karpov, playing Black, is famous for creating weak points in the enemy camp. See if you can figure out how he does it.
  • Torre-Karpov, Bad Lauterberg 1977

    This position arose after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4 Qc7 6.a3 Nf6 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.Be3 Be7 9.Rc1 Ne5 10.Be2 Ng6 11.0-0. White has more space and appears to stand better. However, this kind of Black formation is remarkably hard to break down. His position doesn't have any weaknesses and his pieces stand quite well. Ultimately White must stop Black's two main breaks (...d5 and ...b5) and slowly make inroads into the enemy camp. Saying this is one thing, of course, and doing it is quite another!...
  • Karpov-Gheorghiu, Moscow 1977

    This position may look simple enough, but both sides must solve some very definite problems before they can accomplish their goals. What is White's correct path?
  • Tatai-Karpov, Las Palmas 1977

    The first moves (1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.g3 g6 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.Qa4+ Nc6 8.Ng5 e6 9.Ne4 Nb6 10.Qb5 c4 11.Na4 0-0 12.Nxb6 axb6 13.Qxc4 e5 14.Qc2 Nd4 15.Qb1 f5 16.Nc3 e4 17.d3 b5 18.Be3 b4 19.Nd1 Rfe8 20.dxe4 fxe4 21.Bxd4 Qxd4 22.a3 Bg4 23.Qc2) saw Black sacrifice a pawn in the opening for a strong initiative. Black's still a pawn down, but his two Bishops, lead in development, active Rooks and safer King give him an overwhelming advantage. See if you can find the knockout blow.
  • Karpov-Smyslov, Tilburg 1977

    Ex-World Champion Vassily Smyslov (playing Black) appears to have an excellent position. How can White change that assessment?
  • Anand-Inkiov, Calcutta 1986

    Anand is the strongest player to ever come out of India and, at present (1998), is the number two player in the world. Famous for his quick sight of the board and the incredible speed of his moves, Vishy is also one of the nicest players on the professional circuit. How did Anand demonstrate a clear advantage in this position?
  • Anand-Ninov, Baguio City 1987

    This tournament, the World Junior Championship, was ultimately won by Anand, who caught fire after this game. The Indian Grandmaster is well-known for his fine handling of the White side of the Sicilian. Find the move that gives him the best chances for success.
  • Anand-Benjamin, Wijk aan Zee 1989

    Black has won the White Queen (after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.0-0-0 0-0 9.Nb3 Qb6 10.f3 Rd8 11.Kb1 d5 12.Bxf6 dxe4 13.Bxe7 Rxd2) and it appears that the second player will have excellent chances. However, Anand (playing White) has seen further and now uncorks a move that brings his opponent back to reality.
  • Tal-Anand, Cannes 1989

    The late World Champion Mikhail Tal was a brilliant player who's career was constantly plagued by serious illness. In the present game Tal is quite lost, but the young Anand still has to prove the win. What's the best way of doing so?
  • Anand-Spassky, Cannes 1989

    Black had actually resigned the game on the previous move, but what had White intended if this position had been reached?
  • Kuijf-Anand, Wijk aan Zee 1990

    White (Kuijf) tried the unusual Ponziani opening (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.d4 Nxe4 5.d5 Ne7 6.Nxe5 Ng6 7.Bd3 Nxe5 8.Bxe4 Bc5 9.Qh5 d6 10.Bg5), no doubt hoping to catch his opponent by surprise. Unfortunately, Anand developed in a simple and logical fashion, easily gaining a fine position. White's last move, Bg5, appears to be very strong. How did Anand respond to it?
  • Petursson-Anand, Manila 1990

    It looks like Black is in trouble, since two of his pieces are hanging. However Anand, who is known for his tactical prowess, had prepared a nice answer. Can you find it?
  • Beliavsky-Anand, Munich 1991

    White's pawns on d5 and e5 look very threatening? Does White stand better? How should Black handle this situation?
  • Kasparov-Anand, Reggio Emilia 1991/92

    Kasparov has dominated international chess for many years, but lately Anand, the number two player in the rating lists, has earned a growing number of fans who consider him to be the best player in the world. In the present position, Anand outplayed his illustrious opponent to score a nice win. Unfortunately for Anand, Kasparov created a solid plus score in their future contests.
  • Kasparov-Anand, Reggio Emilia 1991/92

    The present World Champion, Garry Kasparov, is universally recognized as one of the greatest attacking players in history. In this game Kasparov throws everything he can at his opponent but Anand (as Black) refuses to break.
  • Anand-Bareev, Dortmund 1992

    Bareev is a great specialist in the Black side of the French Defense. Here he tries a popular variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 b5 9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.Bxc5 Nxc5 11.Qf2 Qb6 12.Bd3 Rb8 13.0-0 Nb4 14.Rfd1 0-0) but still falls victim to some of the opening's positional flaws. Can you spot these flaws?
  • Anand-Bareev, Linares 1993

    I've heard many descriptions of Anand's style. Some see him as a tactical player (and his tactical sight is extraordinary!). Some simply call him a "natural talent" (whatever that means). Some even liken him to Capablanca. In some ways, this isn't completely off the mark. Though Anand is hardly the world's greatest endgame player (as Capablanca was in his day), his speed of play and his ability to handle all kinds of positions with originality and grace does bring to mind the immortal Cuban. This...
  • Anand-Izeta, Madrid 1993

    This problem explores a simple but very useful concept: should one place the Queen in the middle of the board or should it live on a safer square?
  • Opening line of the Slav Defense

    Try and figure out the best way for Black to develop in this position. The first moves were: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.e3 b5 6.b3.
  • Typical Sicilian idea

    This problem demonstrates one of Black's main ideas in the Sicilian Defense. It's not rocket science, but it is extremely important if you play either side of this opening.
  • Anand-Kamsky, Las Palmas 1995

    How can White demonstrate a positional advantage? Black's King is open, but his pieces on the f-file appear to give him some dynamic opportunities.
  • Anand-Kamsky, Las Palmas 1995

    White stands better in this typical Ruy Lopez position. What's the best way to finish up his development? In this match, Anand played very exactly and more or less dominated the whole contest. His victory here led to a World Championship match versus Kasparov which, unfortunately, didn't go well for the Indian grandmaster.
  • Anand-Kamsky, Las Palmas 1995

    This appears to be a normal position coming out of the Sicilian Defense. However, Black's done something wrong and White can punish him. What could this Black error be? This is the game that ended the match and gave Anand the right to play Kasparov a match for the world title.
  • Anand-Ivanchuk, Las Palmas 1996

    Endgames tend to be very difficult for amateurs to play. The reason may be that one tiny error can lead to a quick debacle, while in a middlegame you usually have time to make up for minor mistakes. In the present game White should win, but great care must be taken.
  • Anand-Karpov, Las Palmas 1996

    White has some pressure on the Black position but it's far from clear how he's going to increase it. If White relaxes, the isolated d-pawn can turn into a weakness, so it's very important for him to find a way to strike while the iron is hot. Former World Champion Anatoly Karpov (playing Black) is no longer the tower of strength he once was (due to age), but he's still a magnificent defender and a threat in any individual game.
  • Keres-Barcza, Sczawno-Zdroj 1950

    Black threatens both ...Bxf3 (doubling White's pawns) and ...Be6 (allows Black to castle). How can White address these problems? Paul Keres was one of the very strongest players in the world for several decades. Indeed, many people felt he should have won the World Championship at some point in his career though, for some reason, he never quite succeeded in doing so.
  • Keres-Borisenko, Moscow 1950

    We are in the opening phase, but Black's original play is making every decision critical. Can White take advantage of the h6-Knight's placement? Will Black prove that his advanced f- pawn is beneficial? Does anyone know what's going on here? For those interested, the first moves were: 1.c4 e5 2.g3 g6 3.d4 d6 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.e3 f5 7.Nc3 Nh6.
  • Averbakh-Keres, Moscow 1950

    After the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bb4 (known as the Four Knights Game) 5.0-0 0-0 6.d3 d6 7.Ne2 Ne7 8.c3 Ba5 9.Ng3 c6 10.Ba4 Ng6 11.d4 Be6 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Re1 we reach the problem position. Can Black equalize, or dare he try for more?
  • Keres-Smyslov, Budapest 1952

    This heavyweight game saw Keres, one of history's finest players, face off against the great Smyslov (who won the World Championship over Botvinnik in 1957). In the present game Keres prevailed, and even went on to win the tournament. How should White play this position?
  • Keres-Geller, Budapest 1952

    White is a pawn up but the win is still a long way off. What can White do to make things easier?
  • Keres-Korchnoi, Moscow 1952

    This position arose from a Leningrad Dutch (1.c4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.Nc3 d6 6.d4 0-0 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Na5 9.Qa4 c5 10.dxc6 Nxc6 11.Rd1 Na5). Black's last move (11...Na5?) decentralized the Knight (you should really try and keep your pieces in the center!). How can White punish this error?
  • Keres-Sajtar, Amsterdam 1954

    This problem illustrates one of the most common pitfalls Black has to face in the Sicilian Defense. Things seem safe enough for Black, but hidden dangers luck around every corner, as Keres decisively points out! The first moves were: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Bc4 e6 8.0-0 Qc7.
  • Keres-Alexander, Hastings 1954/55

    This problem shows the importance of going beyond surface considerations. In the actual game Black thought he was doing reasonably well, but that turns out to be far from the truth.
  • Keres-Szabo, Hastings 1954/55

    Black has played well in the opening thus far (1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.b3 Bg7 4.Bb2 0-0 5.g3 d6 6.d4 c5 7.Bg2 Ne4 8.0-0 Nc6 9.Nbd2) and must now make a big decision about his hanging Knight on e4. What would you do in this situation?
  • Keres-Taimanov, Moscow 1955

    This position (achieved after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bg5 Bb7 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bg3 Ne4 9.Qc2 Bxc3+ 10.bxc3 d6 11.Bd3 f5) was played in an earlier game of Taimanov's, in which Black did quite well (and it has been played in thousands of games since then, right up to the 1990's). Keres had seen that game and had come prepared with a very important improvement. Can you find Keres' secret weapon?
  • Fischer-Sherwin, USA 1957

    Black's position appears to be safe and solid. How can White get something going? The legendary Bobby Fischer was only 14 when this game was played. His opponent couldn't have dreamed that this young man was destined to become World Champion.
  • Petrosian-Fischer, Portoroz 1958

    During Fischer's day, the players who dominated world chess were Botvinnik, Tal, Spassky and Petrosian. In the present game we see why Petrosian was so good: almost impossible to beat, the great Armenian often left his opponent's hog-tied and helpless.
  • Pilnik-Fischer, Mar Del Plata 1959

    This position was achieved after White used a system (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Be3 Be6 10.f3 Qc7 11.Qe1 Nbd7 12.Rd1) that was popular at the time, but is now known to be completely innocuous. How does Black gain counterplay here?
  • Fischer-Rossetto, Mar Del Plata 1959

    White's a piece down for the moment and must figure out how best to recapture on d5.
  • Fischer-Larsen, Portoroz 1958

    In the actual Fischer-Larsen game, the moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Bb3 Qa5 12.0-0-0 b5 were played. In our problem, we are taking a look at White's reply to 12...Bxb3. Why did Black avoid this move?
  • Fischer-Unzicker, Zurich 1959

    Fischer always loved the two Bishops, so he must have been happy here. However, Black's Knight isn't such a bad piece, and White's Bishop on c2 is hardly burning down any bridges. How can White improve his position?
  • Gudmundsson-Fischer, Reykjavik 1960

    White appears to have a promising position, due to his advantage in central space. However, a player of Fischer's caliber won't allow this state of affairs to linger. What did he do to turn the tide in his favor?
  • Szabo-Fischer, Leipzig 1960

    This kind of position is commonly reached in the King's Indian Defense. How does Black grab equality?
  • Reshevsky-Fischer, New York Match 1961

    White's a-pawn seems to be very fast. How can Black stop it? Reshevsky was America's finest player for many years until Fischer appeared and took the wind out of his sails. This hard fought match (intended to be sixteen games) captured the imaginations of chess fans worldwide at the time. Unfortunately, the temperamental Fischer got into a fight with the organizers and walked out towards the end (the score was tied at 5 points each).
  • Reshevsky-Fischer, Los Angeles 1961

    This was the final game of the ill-fated match between these two players. Fischer walked out and forfeited while the score was tied at 5 each. What's the best way for Black handle this position? Nothing too thrilling is going on, and these quiet positions are often harder to play than something with more dynamism.
  • Fischer-Geller, Bled 1961

    A sharp position has been reached (after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.0-0 Bg4 6.h6 Bh5 7.c3 Qf6 8.g4 Bg6) that Geller (playing Black) thought was good for him. However, Fischer quickly shows his opponent that White is the one in charge. How did he demonstrate this?
  • Fischer-Petrosian, Bled 1961

    This was Fischer's first victory over the late World Champion, Petrosian. The young Fischer played beautifully in this tournament, coming in second (behind Tal). He was the only undefeated player, and made it clear that he was going to be a real candidate for the title in the years to come. In the present position, Black's game is completely acceptable. How did he make Fischer aware that White had gained nothing from the opening?
  • Fischer-Trifunovich, Bled 1961

    White has more or less refuted his opponent's opening line (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 exd4 8.Re1 d5 9.Nc3 Be6 10.Nxe4 dxe4 11.Rxe4 Be7 12.Bxe6 fxe6), and now he has to find the best way to finish his development. Trifunovich was considered something of a drawing master, and he was very hard to beat. This was his only loss at Bled 1961.
  • Bertok-Fischer, Stockholm 1962

    Black's playing a fairly quiet opening (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5 0- 0 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 b6 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nxd5 exd5 11.Be2), but this line (known as the Tartakower Defense) is known to be very sound. Since Fischer had already clinched first place, he wasn't in the mood for more aggressive (and risky) systems. What's the best way for Black to complete his development?
  • Fischer-Bolbochan, Stockholm 1962

    White enjoys a clear positional advantage. How can he turn this into a winning positional plus?
  • Fischer-Najdorf, Varna 1962

    Fischer loved to play the Najdorf Variation as Black, and when he faced it as White he tried several different ideas. In this game he plays Najdorf himself, and throws a very unorthodox idea at his experienced opponent (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 b5 7.Nd5 Bb7 8.Nxf6+ gxf6). How did Fischer handle this position?
  • Fischer-Robatsch, Varna 1962

    Grandmaster Robatsch tried a rare line of the Center Counter Defense as Black in this game (1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.d4 g6 5.Bf4 Bg7 6.Qd2 Nf6 7.0-0-0 c6 8.Bh6 0-0 9.h4 Qa5), but Fischer completely refuted his plan in this game. In the position in question, White already stands clearly better. How did he pursue his attack?
  • Fischer-Fine, New York 1963

    Fine was one of the World's best players in the early 40's, but he suddenly gave up chess and devoted himself to a career as a psychoanalyst. The present game was one of several "fun games" played between Fine and Fischer at Fine's home. This position (arrived at from an Evans Gambit: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.0-0 dxc3 8.Qb3 Qe7 9.Nxc3 Nf6) is very dangerous for Black. How did White try and make use of these factors?
  • Fischer-Benko, U.S. Championship 1963-64

    The U.S. Closed Championship is supposed to be a meeting of the twelve best players in the country, and the competition should be close and difficult. How then, do you explain Fischer's amazing 11-0 score in this event? The present game was the last of the tournament. Fischer already had 10-0 and really wanted to get the perfect score with a win here. To that effect, Fischer has played a sharp opening. How did he continue?
  • Fischer-Bisguier, U.S. Championship 1963-64

    At the time this game was played, Bisguier was a solid Grandmaster but he couldn't seem to stand up to Fischer's might. Things were no different here. Using his favorite Ruy Lopez, Bobby played a new move in a well-known theoretical line. However, Black still seemed to be doing alright until this position was reached. How did Fischer demonstrate an advantage here?
  • Fischer-Smyslov, Havana 1965

    Fischer played this tournament while sitting in New York! Unable to get a visa to Cuba, Bobby sent and received his moves via long-distance telephone. In this game he's playing former World Champion Vassily Smyslov, who only lost this one game and ended up winning first prize in this event (Fischer came in second). Bobby has an obvious advantage in this position due to his superior pawn structure. How did he continue?
  • Portisch-Fischer, Santa Monica 1966

    The great tournament in Santa Monica (the Piatigorsky Cup) started out very badly for Fischer. In fact, he was in one of the last places after the first half was over. Then, suddenly waking up, Fischer caught fire and made a bid for first with one win after another. In the end he got clear second, just half a point behind Spassky. How did Fischer demonstrate Black's superiority from this position?
  • Fischer-Bednarski, Havana Olympiad 1966

    Fischer has chosen a very sharp variation against Black's Najdorf Sicilian. In the game, the complications proved to be too much for his opponent, and Bobby won in just 22 moves. How did White handle Black's nasty threats?
  • Larsen-Fischer, Monaco 1967

    For many years Fischer and Larsen were known to be the strongest two Western players, and certainly the only players outside the Soviet Union who had a real chance for the World Championship. Naturally, both players considered themselves to be superior to the other, and this feud was only resolved when Bobby humiliated Larsen in their 1971 Candidates Match by the lopsided score of 6-0. That result so traumatized the great Danish player that it effectively ended his career! In the present game things...
  • Kholmov-Fischer, Skopje 1967

    Fischer had lost to Kholmov in the only game they had played, but here Fischer got revenge rather easily. In the present position White's position looks rather nice. How did Bobby burst his opponent's bubble?
  • Taimanov-Sliwa, Moscow 1956

    Taimanov was a strong Soviet player who excelled in opening theory and in sharp, tactical situations. He was a legitimate challenger for the World title until Fischer came along and humiliated him 6-0 in a match. In the present game we see an interesting theoretical position in the Nimzo-Indian defense (arrived at from 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.d4 Bb4 5.e3 0-0 6.Bd3 c5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.a3 Bxc3 9.bxc3 Qc7 10.Bb2 dxc4 11.Bxc4 e5 12.Be2 Rd8 13.Qc2 Bg4 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.c4 Nxf3+ 16.gxf3 Bh3 17.Rfd1 Rxd1+...
  • Taimanov-Browne, Wijk aan Zee 1981

    Grandmaster Walter Browne has won the U.S. Championship no less than six times. However, in this game he falls victim to Taimanov's superior preparation. How can White take advantage of Black's weakened kingside?
  • Taimanov-Geller, Zurich 1953

    Geller (playing Black) was a great master of the King's Indian Defense, but here he falls on his face to Taimanov's superior understanding of this particular line. What is White's correct response to Black's last move (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nbd7 8.Re1 c6 9.Bf1 Re8 10.d5 c5 11.g3 Nf8 12.a3 Ng4)?
  • Unzicker-Taimanov, Wijk aan Zee 1980

    This game started out with a Taimanov Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nge7), a line invented and popularized by Taimanov himself. In the present position, Black has an excellent game. How should he continue?
  • Mnatsakanian-Taimanov, Yerevan 1986

    As is usual in the Sicilian, Black has excellent chances on the queenside, while White must seek his own play in the center or on the kingside. In the present position, White has just played Qf2, stopping Black from playing ...Na5 due to Bb6. What should Black do now?
  • Kuzmin-Taimanov, Leningrad 1977

    Another odd Taimanov Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nge7 7.0-0 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Nc6 9.Qe3 Bd6) eventually led to this very favorable position for Black. How can Taimanov (playing Black) bash White's position on the head?
  • Taimanov-Botvinnik, Moscow 1953

    When Botvinnik created a plan that focused on the advance of his center pawns in the Nimzo-Indian Defense to beat Capablanca in 1938, everyone was impressed. It's odd then, that Taimanov is able to use this exact same plan to beat Botvinnik fifteen years later! In the present position Black is trying to exert pressure on e4 and insure that White's e-pawn can never safely advance. How did Taimanov refute this idea?
  • Taimanov-Spassky, Tbilisi 1959

    This innocent position actually boasts a violent battle for one lone square: both sides are trying to gain control over e4. How can White try and win this fight?
  • Taimanov-Kuzmin, Kishinyov 1976

    A very tough battle is in progress. Who stands better and how should White continue?
  • Taimanov-Nedeljkovic, Leningrad 1957

    Taimanov was known to be a great expert on both sides of the Nimzo-Indian Defense. Here he once again takes up the gauntlet from White's perspective and scores a resounding success. The going looks slow (the first moves were 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.d4 Bb4 4.e3 c5 5.Bd3 0-0 6.Nf3 d5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.a3 Bxc3 9.bxc3 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Qc7 11.Ba2 e5 12.h3 e4 13.Nh2 Bf5 14.Bb2 Rad8 15.Qe2 Rd7), but Taimanov finds a way inject lots of life into this position.
  • Taimanov-Hort, Tallinn 1975

    This position was reached after 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bc5 5.e3 d6 6.a3 Be6 7.b4 Bb6 8.d3 Qd7 9.h3 0-0 10.Nge2 Nd8 11.Na4 c6 12.Nxb6 axb6 13.Bb2 Ne8 14.f4 f6. White's position appears to be quite nice. How did he improve it further against his well-known Czech foe?
  • Taimanov-Minic, Vrnjacka Banja 1965

    Though Taimanov was a specialist in Queenpawn openings, he would occasionally venture other lines like 1.c4 or 1.e4. In the present game he gives the Closed Sicilian a try, and reaches this position after 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 e5 4.Bg2 g6 5.Nh3 Bg7 6.0-0 d6 7.f4 Nge7. How would you play this position for White?
  • Taimanov-Uhlmann, Reykjavik 1968

    Germany's Uhlmann is a dynamic player who loves to be on the attack. He plays less well if he has to defend. The position here appears to be dull, which isn't at all to Uhlmann's taste. However, things soon turn out to be worse than they first appeared!
  • Nezhmetdinov-Taimanov, Baku 1951

    This seems simple: Black's in check and must either capture the pawn or move his King to h8. Aside from picking the right move, you must show a full understanding the ideas behind it. Perhaps it's not so simple after all?
  • Keres-Taimanov, Moscow 1952

    As is so common in the Sicilian Defense, both sides are beginning attacks against the enemy Kings. Who's going to come first and why?
  • Taimanov-Geller, Moscow 1955

    This game was played between two very uncompromising, aggressive players. The present position reflects that assessment of their styles: White has many advantages, but the attack against c4 is a problem. How should White address his position's only defect?
  • Hoffmann-Taimanov, Bad Wildbad 1993

    White appears to have a good game, but sometimes appearances are deceiving. How can Black change the assessment of the proceedings?
  • Portisch-Taimanov, Leningrad 1959

    The opening has been a bit strange (1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.e4 c5 4.Qg4) and Black must decide how to defend his g7-pawn. What decision would you make?
  • Taimanov-Flohr, Leningrad 1948

    In his prime, Flohr was one of the finest players on in the world. In fact, it was considered to be almost impossible to beat him. Here he goes into an inferior endgame against a young Taimanov, not expecting his opponent to handle that phase of the game very well. Sadly for him, he was due for a disappointment.
  • Taimanov-Flohr, Leningrad 1948

    This problem reminds you to pay attention to even the most obvious of moves.
  • Taimanov-Averbakh, Moscow 1951

    A quiet game is in full swing with both sides vying for their share of the center. How should White finish his development?
  • Taimanov-Smyslov, Tbilisi 1966

    White's advantage is obvious, but winning a won game has always been a difficult task. In the present situation, Taimanov's opponent is none other than Vassily Smyslov, a former World Champion and one of the greatest endgame players in the history of chess.
  • Taimanov-von Elst, Neisse 1993

    White has a very pleasant position. However, increasing the pressure in such situations is easier said than done. What should the first player do to make life less pleasant for his opponent?
  • Taimanov-von Elst, Neisse 1993

    White has an undisputed advantage since his pawn structure is superior to Black's and all his pieces are more active. Since a passive opponent is a helpless opponent, White should be looking for ways to snuff out Black's counterplay.
  • Levenfish-Taimanov, Leningrad 1952

    The legendary Levenfish was playing chess before the Russian revolution. Here he gets beaten by Taimanov who, at that time, was a student of his. In the position in question, White has just played the aggressive e3-e4, gaining space in the center. Was this decision justified? How did Black answer White's idea?
  • Taimanov-Polugayevsky, Leningrad 1959

    From the Pirc Defense, we've managed to transpose into a line of the Benoni (after 1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Be2 Nf6 5.Nc3 0-0 6.0-0 c5 7.d5 Na6 8.Re1 Nc7 9.a4 a6 10.h3 Bd7). What is White's correct plan in this position?
  • Taimanov-Najdorf, Moscow 1956

    We have reached a fairly common opening position (after 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.e4 d6 6.Nge2 c5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.a3). What is Black's best plan?
  • Donner-Unzicker, Santa Monica 1966

    Black appears to be doing well, but the reality is that he's strategically lost! How can White prove this?
  • Petrosian-Reshevsky, Santa Monica 1966

    Petrosian was World Champion at that time, and he was famous for his handling of "boring" positions like this. White has a slight edge, but how does one handle this situation?
  • Spassky-Larsen, Santa Monica 1966

    White appears to have a clear advantage thanks to his superior pawn structure. However, this doesn't turn out to be the case.
  • Fischer-Donner, Santa Monica 1966

    The first half of the Piatigorsky Cup tournament in Santa Monica was a disaster for Fischer; nothing went right for the poor guy (the second half saw Fischer make a brilliant comeback and almost win first). This game is typical of Fischer's mistakes. Having achieved a winning position, Fischer played his Bishop to d3, only to realize that his move was a horrible blunder! What can Black do about his sad looking situation?
  • Petrosian-Matanovic, Portoroz 1958

    The late World Champion T. Petrosian was famous for squeezing his opponents to death in a manner that reminded many of his colleagues of a boa constrictor. Here he's built up a very nice position with the White pieces. How did he increase his advantage?
  • Petrosian-Suetin, Riga 1958

    Things appear to be very tactical and sharp. How should one respond to such a situation? Should you increase the game's tempo even more? Should you try and slow things down? Should you panic?
  • Petrosian-Suetin, Riga 1958

    White has a technically winning position but a player like the late World Champion T. Petrosian had a way of wrapping these things up that was all his own. Can you find the "Petrosian-solution" to this problem?
  • Petrosian-Yukhtman, Tiflis 1959

    This was one of the initial games in which Petrosian used his patented "Petrosian System" against the King's Indian (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Nf3 e5 7.d5 Na6 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 Nh5 11.Nd2 Nf4 12.0-0 Nc5 13.Bg4 a5). How should White continue here?
  • Petrosian-Smyslov, Moscow 1961

    This was a game between two chess powerhouses. Petrosian hadn't earned the title of World Champion yet (that was still a few years away), while Smyslov was an ex-World Champion. In the present position things look a bit dangerous for White. Normally, you don't want your Queen to face off against an enemy Rook. How did White avoid the "danger?"
  • Petrosian-Pachman, Bled 1961

    Pachman was a well-known opening expert, so to see him with a lost game after a dozen moves (1.Nf3 c5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 g6 4.0-0 Bg7 5.d3 e6 6.e4 Nge7 7.Re1 0-0 8.e5 d6 9.exd6 Qxd6 10.Nbd2 Qc7 11.Nb3 Nd4 12.Bf4 Qb6) is outrageous. In the present position White is clearly better. How can he continue to cause Black headaches?
  • Fischer-Petrosian, Curacao 1962

    Fischer reached this position after trying a horrible opening idea that he had spotted in a Russian magazine. After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Bb4 5.e5 h6 6.Bd2 Bxc3 7.Bxc3 Ne4 8.Ba5? 0-0 9.Bd3 Nc6 10.Bc3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 f6 12.f4 fxe5 13.fxe5 Black must figure out how to make the most of his position. What would you do?
  • Petrosian-Korchnoi, Curacao 1962

    Black has played a terrible opening (1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 d5 6.Bg5 dxc4 7.e3 Qa5 8.Bxf6 exf6 9.Bxc4 Bb4 10.Rc1 a6 11.0-0 Nd7 12.a3 Be7 13.b4 Qe5) and is already in terrible trouble. Korchnoi, playing Black, is well-known for his great defensive skills, but in this case he's bitten off more than even he can chew!
  • Pein-de Firmian, Bermuda 1995

    The opening was a Nimzo-Indian (a long-time de Firmian favorite) but things haven't gone very well for Black. White's two Bishops will prove to be stronger than Black's Bishop and Knight, though me saying it and you proving it are two different things.
  • Martin-Ward, Oakham 1994

    A Nimzo-Indian Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4) led us to the usual fight between White's Bishops and Black's Knights. How can Black turn the position into a favorable one for Knights?
  • Johner-Nimzovich, Dresden 1926

    This is a famous game and is now considered to be a classic. Nimzovich gives future generations a beautiful lesson in prophylactics and restraint. Can you figure out how he set the cogs and wheels in motion?
  • Botvinnik-Capablanca, AVRO 1938

    A classic game between World Champions. Botvinnik, the great Russian champion, was making his bid for the World title. Capablanca, the legendary Cuban, was champ from 1921 to 1927. In the present game, Capablanca has misplayed the opening, allowing Botvinnik to use a strategic plan that eventually came to bear his name. Can you figure out what this plan is?
  • Conquest-Emms, British (ch) 1990

    Sometimes appearances are very deceptive. In this position White looks like he has a significant advantage. How can Black prove the opposite?
  • Timoshchenko-Emms, London 1993

    White owns two Bishops in an open position. This gives him an obvious advantage, but it's not clear how he should continue. How can White get the most bang from his two Bishop-buck?
  • Nimzo-Indian main line

    This position comes about after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 b6 5.Nge2 Ne4 6.f3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 Be7 8.e4. Black must decide how he's going to complete his development. Before doing this, he must find a plan. Do you see Black's plan?
  • Farago-Kuzmin, Polanica Zdroj 1977

    In a perfect world you label your imbalance and instantly know what set of rules to follow (rules, of course, that benefit the imbalance that you possess). Sometimes, though, you end up with two different imbalances whose proper use appears to cross each other. In the present game we have such a situation. Black can make use of two imbalances, but the rules involving one is the opposite of the rules involving the other. Can you see those imbalances and can you decide which one should be given preference?
  • Speelman-de Firmian, Brussels 1992

    The first moves in this game were 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 b6 5.Nge2 Ne4 6.a3. White's last move actually falls for a positional trap. How can Black spring it?
  • Kubreichik-Vaganian, Moscow 1976

    This is a typical situation, often arising from the French Defense (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5). Black has a host of interesting ideas at his disposal. Which one do you think is best?
  • Nikolaidis-Moskalenko, Agios Nikolaos 1995

    This position could easily confuse many players. Can you cut through the fog and find Black's correct plan?
  • Kosten-Brunner, Altensteig 1989

    This position is full of interesting imbalances. In light of these differences, how should White complete his development?
  • Renet-Mellado, Palma 1989

    This position (from a French Defense) looks reasonable for Black, but White can initiate a long-term plan that demonstrates a deep understanding of minor pieces and squares. Can you find this plan?
  • Romanishin-Nikolic, Leningrad 1987

    The concept of improving the life of each piece is an important one. In the present example, Black shows us how such a maneuver can change the nature of the whole position.
  • Canepa-Alekhine, Carrasco 1938

    The legendary Alekhine was nowhere near his prime in 1938 (thanks to an interest in alcohol), but he was still a force to be reckoned with. In the present position White is about to take over. Will Black allow this, or will he find a way to impose his own will on the game?
  • Ciemniak-Matlak, Polish Championship 1993

    At times you will attack, and at other times you will have to defend or find some answer to your opponent's plan. In this game White is going to play Nd2-b3-c5 with a queenside bind. What can Black do about this?
  • Kozel-Malakhatko, Yalta 1996

    White has given up some long-term static advantages for shorter-term dynamics. His queenside and central space, combined with the open f-file, all force Black to tread carefully. Can you find a good plan for the second player?
  • Nunn-Schmittdiel, Dortmund 1991

    White has an obvious advantage, but it's far from easy to find a way to increase that edge. What is White's correct plan?
  • Nimzowitsch-Salwe, Carlsbad 1911

    Black's pieces seem to be active and he seems to be putting pressure on White's center. How can White dispel these illusions?
  • Gonzalez-Gurevich, Havana 1986

    The position is simplified and, perhaps to some, boring. Nevertheless, whether a game is exciting or dull, you still have to find a plan and play the best moves available. What is Black's plan?
  • Illescas-Speelman, Linares 1992

    Black has the better game, but there's no winning continuation. This means that the second player must continue to build up his game and look for new possibilities. How can Black increase his edge?
  • Adams-Epishin, Ter Apel 1992

    Both sides are involved in a violent battle for e5. How can Black increase the pressure and also create more harmony in his game as a whole?
  • Sveshnikov-Bareev, Poliot 1991

    Black is piling up on e5 and also threatens ...Bxc5. What can White do to turn the tide?
  • Nimzowitsch-Levenfish, Carlsbad 1911

    This position was reached after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 f6 (a line in the French Defense known as the Advanced Variation). Black is putting quite a bit of pressure on the White center. What can be done about this?
  • Waitzkin-Gurevich, New York Open 1993

    White's King is castled and he's started active play in the center. What can Black do about this? Josh Waitzkin, featured in the movie "Searching For Bobby Fischer," plays all over the world. In this game things didn't go well for him.
  • Maliutin-Mamadshoev, USSR 1991

    Simplified positions are often very hard for amateurs to handle because normal attacking ideas are no longer valid. Can you find a plan for White in this position?
  • Adorjan-Tringov, Varna 1972

    A tough Queenless middlegame is in full swing, and it's not clear who is better. How can White keep Black's counterplay to a minimum?
  • Van der Wiel-Van der Sterren, Dutch Championship 1997

    The Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0) often leads to this kind of position. White hopes that his superior pawn structure will overshadow Black's two Bishops. In the present game, what should White do to improve his position?
  • Iskov-Villeneuve, Stockholm 1974

    This endgame favors White, but me saying this and you proving it are two different things. How should White start his buildup?
  • Boensch-Litkiewicz, East German Championship 1974

    Because the center is locked up, White has to decide which side of the board he's playing on (you play on the wings when the center is dead). Once that is done, he must pursue his plan with all the energy he can muster, lest his opponent strike first.
  • Timman-Kasparov, Hilversum 1985

    Dutch Grandmaster Jan Timman has played many games against World Champion Garry Kasparov. Unfortunately for Timman, the score hasn't gone well for him. In the present game (the first moves were 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 f6 6.d4 Bg4 7.dxe5 Qxd1 8.Rxd1 fxe5 9.Rd3 Bd6 10.Nbd2 b5 11.b3 Ne7 12.Bb2 Ng6), which was eventually drawn, how did White lock in a slight edge, keeping his opponent on the defensive throughout the game?
  • Dvoretsky-Southam, Philadelphia 1991

    One often reads how a position is now "a matter of technique." This is easy to say but very hard to demonstrate! The present position is such a case. But what's the first step towards proving this statement?
  • Fischer-Portisch, Havana Olympiad 1966

    Both sides seem to be quietly developing their respective armies. However, every innocent developing move must be carefully considered. In the present game Portisch, a Hungarian Grandmaster who was one of the top ten in the world for many years, erred with ...Bd6 (the first moves were 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 f6 6.d4 exd4 7.Nxd4 c5 8.Nb3 Qxd1 9.Rxd1 Bd6?). Fischer, perhaps the greatest player of all time, finds a way to punish the Bishop move. How did he do it?
  • Adorjan-Danov, Wijk aan Zee 1971

    White has a very pleasant position, but choosing the right way to improve his game is rather difficult. How should he proceed?
  • Van der Wiel-Pinter, Rotterdam 1988

    White stands better since Black is behind in development and various weaknesses exist in his position. Now White must figure out how he intends to increase the pressure.
  • Kovalev-Dimitrov, Moscow Olympiad 1994

    Sometimes you see a simple, attractive move and yearn to play it. However, a closer examination may show that, though you are in no danger of losing, your move really isn't pushing the enemy over the cliff either. Never play something because it is visually striking or because it allows you to be lazy. In the present game, take note of what you would like to do, and then look deeper and find out what should be done!
  • Botvinnik-Sorokin, USSR 1931

    White's game is clearly superior but there's still a lot of chess left to be played. Though White is a future World Champion, you can find the same move that he did if you look for something simple and to the point.
  • Lundin-Yanofsky, Groningen 1946

    White's pieces are more active than Black's. However, there aren't any clear objects of attack at the moment. This means that White must find a way to increase the advantages he already possesses.
  • Fischer-Spassky, Belgrade 1992

    Both sides are clearly pursuing attacks against the enemy King. White is clearly ahead in this race. How should he continue this assault?
  • Averbakh-Kholmov, Minsk 1952

    Lots of things are going on in this sharp position. Confusion easily sets in when these situations appear. What to do? Should White attack on the kingside, play in the center, or try and defend against Black's queenside play?
  • Kasparov-Smyslov, Vilnius 1984

    In this game between heavyweights (White is the present World Champion while Black is a former World Champ), White enjoys a large advantage thanks to his two Bishops and extra center pawn (which cramps Black's pieces). At this point Kasparov played an important move. Can you find it?
  • Oppenrider-Moiseev, corr. 1957-59

    Many players take one look at a sharp position and go blind to anything but the basest threats. While it's true that both sides will do a lot of threatening here, that doesn't mean you can't keep your eyes open for subtle ideas. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to walk in a subtle manner and carry a big stick.
  • Typical Maroczy Bind situation

    This position, or positions like it, usually come about from an English Opening (1.c4) or an Accelerated Dragon (from the Sicilian: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4). How should Black strive for counterplay?
  • Tal-Padevsky, Moscow 1963

    This problem gives us a taste of a particular chess dilemma, though what that dilemma may be can't be said quite yet (take this as a bonus clue). So, find White's correct plan, play the move that caters to that plan, and solve the mystery dilemma at the same time!
  • Miles-Morozevich, London 1994

    White has good chances on the queenside and also has some pressure against Black's pawn on d5. How should White continue his attack?
  • Activating one's forces

    White has obvious chances along the c-file. However, after Black's last move (...b5- b4), a new opportunity has appeared. Can you find it?
  • Botvinnik-Capablanca, Moscow 1936

    White is kicking his illustrious opponent all over the map. Now he must find a way to add to the pressure.
  • Larsen-Tal, Leningrad Interzonal 1973

    Two of the greatest players in history and the two top chess writers square off in one of their many games. The great Dane Larsen was, for many years, fighting it out with Fischer for the title of "best non-Russian player." His many stories and wonderful humor made anything he wrote well worth hunting down and reading. The late World Champion Tal was one of the most beloved figures in the history of chess. Absolutely brilliant over the board, Tal was a delightful and very funny presence away from...
  • Spassky-Petrosian, World Championship Match 1969

    White's pieces make a nice impression in the center, but now he must choose the best way to recapture the pawn on d5. What decision would you make? It might interest the student to know that this was all pre-game preparation for Spassky (in other words, he had studied this particular position at home and deemed it very favorable for himself), who went on to win this match and wrest the title of World Champion from Petrosian.
  • Alatortsev-Capablanca, Moscow 1935

    Though many players might consider the game to be even, Black is actually the one with a significant advantage. Capablanca, whose legendary technique often made these positions look simple, once again turned a tiny something into victory. How did he start the process?
  • Ljubojevic-Smyslov, Skopje Olympiad 1972

    White is a pawn up but he's missed something unpleasant. You can be sure that former World Champion Smyslov, playing Black, pounced on the chance!
  • Ribli-Tal, Montpellier 1985

    The Hungarian Grandmaster Ribli has always been a very hard man to beat. However his opponent, the late World Champion Tal, has always been a very hard man to withstand! In the present position White isn't very comfortable. How did Tal place his own stamp of dynamism onto the position?
  • Smyslov-Ragozin, Leningrad-Moscow Match 1939

    In many positions we are faced with moves that seem obvious. These natural moves are, indeed, often the correct way to handle the position. However, sometimes you have a sight beyond this "black and white" reality to the hidden features of a position. Former World Champion Smyslov is the type of player who is very good at doing just that.
  • Bondarevsky-Smyslov, Moscow 1946

    Many players would be happy to have this quiet position with White, since he has a lead in development and a passed pawn. Can Black equalize or do even better? Let's see what you come up with.
  • Larsen-Torre, Brussels 1987

    White has a clear advantage but his last move (g5-g6) gave Black a nice defensive possibility. Can you see what both Grandmasters missed in the game?
  • Rubinstein-Johner, Carlsbad 1929

    White must decide how he intends to recapture his pawn. One way wins, the other draws. Naturally, this decision wasn't hard for the Polish Grandmaster Rubinstein, who was one of greatest endgame players of all time. Will it be as obvious to you?
  • Zubarev-Alexandrov, Moscow 1915

    This kind of position is usually winning for the owner of the Knight. You won't find any exception here! How should White improve his situation?
  • Matulovic-Korchnoi, Ohrid 1972

    The two strongest players in history who never achieved the title of World Champion were Paul Keres and Victor Korchnoi. In the present game, the great Korchnoi outclasses a solid Grandmaster with seeming ease. What important first move did he find?
  • Fine-Botvinnik, AVRO 1938

    The American Grandmaster Ruben Fine did extremely well against the world's elite. Here we see him smashing future World Champion Botvinnik. Even though Fine's skills were considerable, he eventually gave up chess in favor of a career in psychology. In the present game White has to figure out a way to resolve the mess that's appeared on the board. What would you do?
  • Polugaevsky-Balashov, Leningrad 1977

    The ability to win this kind of endgame is essential if you want to improve at chess. There's no doubt that White's in control, but how can he really make progress?
  • Beliavsky-Matulovic, Sombor 1972

    In 1973 Beliavsky won the World Junior Championship (one of only three Russians to do this; the other two were Spassky and Karpov) and, since that time, has taken his place as one of the World's strongest players. In the present game he faces a strong Grandmaster. However, Matanovich's best years were behind him while the young Beliavsky's were just beginning.
  • Beliavsky-Marjanovic, Teesside 1973

    By winning this last round game against the one player who was tied with him, Beliavsky became World Junior Champion. In this problem, we're going to try and find an improvement for his opponent.
  • Spassky-Beliavsky, Riga 1975

    As a Soviet Grandmaster, it's only natural that you face legendary players like Tal, Karpov, Kasparov, Petrosian and, as in this game, Spassky. However, playing them is one thing and beating them is quite another! In the present position Spassky has sacrificed a piece but appears to have strong threats. How did Beliavsky survive?
  • Beliavsky-Andersson, Cienfuegos 1976

    Swedish Grandmaster Ulf Andersson is known as a very hard man to beat. In this game Beliavsky manages to score the full point, but a calm buildup of his position was necessary to make this happen.
  • Basic development

    Beginners must learn to develop in a smooth and natural manner. They must also take note of, and deal with, basic threats. In the present position (achieved after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6) White must find the best way to get the rest of his pieces out.
  • Calm in the face of a storm

    In chess there are two things you will always be asked to do. The first is to notice and defend against enemy threats. The second is to follow your own agenda with enormous verve. This problem gives you a very basic taste of both of these ideals.
  • Who's got the file?

    We've all heard that Rooks belong on open files. In essence, an open file is a road into the enemy position. Penetration into the enemy camp often takes on decisive significance, and this concept should be employed whenever possible.
  • To take or not to take?

    Basic books on strategy constantly refer to the advantage of a Bishop over a Knight. Beginners, though, fear enemy Knights and often try to chop them off at the first opportunity. The problem of when to trade a Bishop for a Knight is a perplexing but very important consideration for every aspiring chess player.
  • Knowing when to bail out

    Sometimes things will be falling apart on the chessboard. When that happens, you will first have to notice it, and next you'll have to undertake some kind of damage control. This problem shows a typical Black bailout.
  • Beliavsky-Petrosian, Vilnius 1978

    The late World Champion Tigran Petrosian was famed for his positional mastery and defensive powers. In fact, during his prime years it was almost impossible to beat him. His final years, though (he died of cancer in 1984), were marked by some harsh defeats. In the present example Petrosian's position is under heavy pressure. How would you defend?
  • Beliavsky-Romanishin, Tbilisi 1978

    Grandmaster Oleg Romanishin was, in the late 1970's, thought to be one of the best players in the world. His star has dulled since that time, but his hyper-aggressive style still makes him extremely dangerous for anyone. In the present game White has won a pawn but faces considerable difficulties on the way to the victory. How would you proceed?
  • Beliavsky-Kasparov, Minsk 1979

    Little did Beliavsky know that his opponent, then only 16 years old, was eventually going to become World Champion (and, to add insult to injury, Kasparov would also beat Beliavsky in a match on the way to the title). This problem shows a happy memory for Beliavsky. Here he enjoys a clear advantage. How would you handle the White pieces if your opponent was Kasparov?
  • Rashkovsky-Beliavsky, Vilnius 1980

    Beliavsky had to win this game to become USSR Champion. However, some help from the opponent was needed since a draw was not suitable for either player. Thus both sides played to win. Pushing aside psychological and sporting considerations, the position is a very sharp one. How should Black deal with its complexities?
  • Portisch-Beliavsky, Moscow 1981

    This position looks boring, but Black has any chances that exist. What is White's best method of defense? In the actual game Portisch (who was one of the World's best players for many years) made an error and lost rather quickly!
  • Beliavsky-Geller, Moscow 1983

    Soviet Grandmaster Efim Geller was known as a very sharp player who often competed for the World Championship. As with most people in sport, things weren't as easy for him in his later years. Here he gets axed by a younger foe who also loves to attack. Both sides are engaged in a sharp battle. How should White deal with Black's aggressive last move (...f7f5)?
  • Beliavsky-Portisch, Thessaloniki Olympiad 1984

    An imbalanced opening has been employed and now both sides have to make the most of their respective chances. Why should White do?
  • Geller-Beliavsky, Sochi 1986

    One might think that White simply stands better here, but Black has quite a bit of counterplay (in fact, he won in another 15 moves after White failed to find the best plan). Can you find White's most dangerous idea?
  • Karpov-Beliavsky, Tilburg 1986

    This fairly common position came about from a Queen's Gambit Declined Exchange Variation (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 c6 7.Bd3 Nbd7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 10.Qc2 Nf8 11.h3 Be6 12.Bf4 Bd6 13.Bxd6 Qxd6 14.a3 Qe7). Do you know White's correct plan? It's a very useful idea, and can come about from a myriad of other openings.
  • Beliavsky-Bareev, Minsk 1987

    The opening was a Stonewall Dutch (1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 d5 5.Nf3 c6 6.0-0 Bd6) where Black accepts a weakness on e5 in exchange for central space. In the present position White must decide how he's going to get the rest of his forces out. This may seem easy, but a deep look into the subtleties of the position is necessary to find the right idea.
  • Beliavsky-Bareev, Minsk 1987

    At times it's very hard to find a concrete and effective plan. Lots of natural moves suggest themselves, but which (if any) should you choose? This is such a case, and I leave it to you to decide what in the world White is to do.
  • Seirawan-Beliavsky, Brussels 1988

    Yasser Sierawan has been one of the best American players (for several years he was clearly #1) for many years now. His deep positional style has proven highly effective against the world's best, but in the present game something goes terribly wrong. How did Beliavsky knock out his powerful foe?
  • Beliavsky-Vaganian, Odessa 1989

    Vaganian won the Soviet Championship in this tournament, while Beliavsky came in second (due to a final round loss). However, Beliavsky's victory in this game made things a bit more palatable. In this problem, White stands better but Black's pieces are active. How can White turn the tide in his favor?
  • Smirin-Beliavsky, Odessa 1989

    Here we focus on a very sharp position. Perhaps a quote from Beliavsky is the best way to step into this problem. "In intensely dynamic positions the value of every move is exceptionally high." Can you find the most valuable move in this position?
  • Dolmatov-Beliavsky, Moscow 1990

    Black is winning this game, but I've seen so many students toss easy wins out the window that I'm giving you a chance to show how it should be done.
  • Beliavsky-Salov, Reggio Emilia 1991

    An interesting game has led to this very imbalanced position. How can Black take the fight to his opponent?
  • Romanishin-Beliavsky, Belgrade 1993

    This position, from a French Defense, arose after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd3 dxe4 5.Bxe4 Nf6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Nge2 h6 8.Bxf6 Nxf6 9.Bf3 0-0 10.0-0 c6 11.Ne4 Nxe4 12.Bxe4. People are always saying that they need to know the openings, but logical play beats memorization any day. In the present position Black gets good play by showing a simple understanding of the position.
  • Korchnoi-Beliavsky, Leon 1994

    The legendary Victor Korchnoi keeps winning tournaments, even though he's in his late sixties. Famous for his love of material, he must now decide whether he should capture the offered pawn. What would you do?
  • Rublevsky-Beliavsky, Novosibirsk 1995

    Both sides have castled on opposite sides of the board and a very sharp battle is in store. If you know the rules for this type of situation, then the proper move won't be too hard to find.
  • Beliavsky-Ehlvest, Yerevan Olympiad 1996

    White has a winning endgame, but claiming a win is one thing and actually scoring the full point is often quite another. How would you play this position?
  • Beliavsky-Strikovic, Cacak 1996

    White has built up an impressive pawn mass in the center. How does one play such positions?
  • Beliavsky-Khalifman, Ubeda 1997

    A typical opening position from the King's Indian Defense has occurred (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.h3 0-0 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Nf3 e5 8.d5 h6 9.Be3 Nc5 10.Nd2 a5). What is White's stock plan in this kind of position?
  • Averbach-Simagin, Moscow 1943

    This problem comes under the title, "How to win a won game." We all get winning positions, but how often do you effortlessly score the victory? How should White proceed?
  • Taimanov-Averbach, Leningrad 1947

    Black has the advantage in this endgame, and he has several moves that qualify as tempting. What move would you choose?
  • Taimanov-Averbach, Leningrad 1947

    White has just played 1.Ra8 and, no doubt, expected his opponent to resign. However, a rude surprise was about to be sprung. What would you do as Black?
  • Averbach-Veresov, Moscow 1947

    A seemingly simple endgame is the source of this lesson's anguish. How can White win the game?
  • Averbach-Lilienthal, Moscow 1948

    An interesting Bishop versus Knight battle is under way. How can White make his minor piece superior to Black's?
  • Averbach-Goldberg, Tula 1950

    White's position looks very nice, but how does he handle the threat to his c-pawn?
  • Averbach-Ravinsky, Moscow 1950

    Both sides are preparing their respective plans. How should White react to Black's last move (1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Bd3 Re8 9.Qc2 Nf8 10.0-0 c6 11.Rab1 Bg4)?
  • Averbach-Ravinsky, Moscow 1950

    It's clear that White should be winning, but what's the best way to prove it?
  • Averbach-Moiseev, Moscow 1950

    Both sides are pursuing their play on opposite wings. Who's going to come first? What can you find for White?
  • Golovko-Averbach, Moscow 1950

    Black has to deal with his threatened c-pawn. What's the best defense?
  • Kotov-Averbach, Moscow 1948

    Many players would be very happy with White, but I'm handing the Black pieces to you. What are you going to do with Black's position?
  • Averbach-Smyslov, Moscow 1951

    The position appears to be quite unclear, but White shows that he's actually dominating the play. How did he do this against a player of Smyslov's strength?
  • Averbach-Kholmov, Minsk 1952

    The present position was reached after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Qc2 h6 7.Bh4 b6 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nxd5 exd5 11.Rc1 Na6 12.e3. The Tartakower Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined is still very popular, though this particular position is no longer played for White. Why?
  • Unzicker-Averbach, Stockholm 1952

    Black hasn't played well and, as a result, White has managed to build up a powerful queenside attack. How should the first player continue this assault?
  • Pilnik-Averbach, Stockholm 1952

    At the time this was an accepted opening (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 d6 6.c3 Nxe4 7.d4 Bd7 8.Re1 Nf6 9.dxe5 Nxe5), but now it's known that this position heavily favors White. The present game was the first time this became obvious. How did White prove his point?
  • Averbach-Taimanov, Zurich 1953

    A very sharp position has appeared where White must play with as much energy as possible. What would you do?
  • Najdorf-Averbach, Zurich 1953

    The position in this problem came about after 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.0-0 Be7 6.d4 (now we've transposed into the main lines of the Queen's Indian Defense) 6...0-0 7.Nc3 Ne4 8.Qc2 Nxc3 9.bxc3 (a rare move. Usual is 9.Qxc3). What is Black's best answer?
  • Averbach-Euwe, Zurich 1953

    The legendary Max Euwe was playing Black here and has some problems to solve, but only if White finds the right continuation. How can White make a claim for the advantage?
  • Averbach-Ragozin, Kiev 1954

    Black's position may look nice at a glance, but some severe tactical problems are waiting to be found. What can White do to turn the game in his direction?
  • Averbach-Bannik, Kiev 1954

    White's advantage isn't in doubt, but it's far from easy to find a way to improve his position. How would you handle this situation?
  • Averbach-Panno, Buenos Aires 1954

    This position was reached after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 c5 7.d5 a6 8.a4 Qa5 9.Bd2 e5. How did White respond to this move?
  • Averbach-Aronin, Riga 1954

    A very sharp battle is being fought, and it's not clear who stands better. Or is it? What would you do with the White pieces? Remember, a sharp position often requires a sharp resolution.
  • Averbach-Botvinnik, Nikolina Gora 1956

    It's clear that both sides will be seeking play on their respective sides of the board, but what's the best way to go about it? First you have to know where you should be playing. Then you have to know the correct plan for that specific situation. Finally, you have to find the most accurate way to implement your chosen plan.
  • Averbach-Botvinnik, Nikolina Gora 1956

    This position, a favorite of the late World Champion's, was reached after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 b6 7.Ne2. What is the point of Black's play?
  • Averbach-Botvinnik, Nikolina Gora 1957

    Visually White stands better, but Black's game isn't as bad as one might suppose. How can Black chip away at this illusion?
  • Averbach-Spassky, Leningrad 1956

    We are down to the final part of the battle, and accuracy is obviously required. How did White gain a draw?
  • Averbach-Fuchs, Dresden 1956

    This position, from the Averbach Variation of the King's Indian Defense, came about after 1.c4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.d4 Nf6 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 c5 7.d5 a6 8.a4 e6 9.Qd2 Qa5. White appears to have a safe position, but it's important to always know what your opponent intends. Once you know what Black intends, then you can safely make a move. What should White play?
  • Euwe-Alekhine, World Championship Match 1937

    This position, achieved by 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Nge2 d5 6.a3 Be7 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Ng3, seems to offer Black many possibilities. However, his best move is something that might not appeal to players who are filled with dogma. What might that move be?
  • Averbach-Polugayevsky, Riga 1958

    Having stopped Black from castling, many players would think only of attacking the enemy King. However, positional considerations must always be taken into account, and this situation is no different. How should White continue?

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