Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A recent game in an unusual Morra Gambit Declined

I recently beat a higher rated player as White in an unusual line of the Morra Gambit Declined.

4...g6 looks like a slightly inferior way of declining the gambit, allowing White a classic two-pawn centre.  After 5.cxd4 the database gives 569 games with 5...Bg7 (probably best) when White is scoring 59.6%.

Over the board I spent a while deliberating over 5...d5 6.exd5 or 6.e5, and correctly selected exd5.  I was playing by analogy with some Göring Gambit Declined lines that I'd looked at before, where Black has to beware of the d4-d5 pawn push if White can get a knight out to c3 without it being hit by the pinning ...Bf8-b4.  I gave 6.exd5 Qxd5 7.Nc3 Qa5 in the notes, but most often played has been the retreat 7...Qd8, albeit with White still scoring a hefty 71.2%. 

I got very tempted by the possibility of trapping the black queen.  Fritz says that Black can survive, but admittedly has to walk a proverbial tightrope.  Overall I thought it was a pretty well-played game, though as usual at club level there were some mutual inaccuracies.

Meanwhile over at my gambits site I'm working on updating the Urusov Gambit coverage, as that is rather out of date at the moment.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Playing two sharp gambits in serious games for the first time- without knowing much theory!

I had a couple of recent serious games when, true to form, I played gambit lines, but it was the first time I had used them in serious games, and I haven't covered either of them at my website.  The games contain a fair number of mistakes, but they were 25 minute rapid games.

Game/Gambit #1 - The Geller Gambit

The more successful experiment was in the Geller Gambit (yes, I've also re-added 1.d4, 2.c4 lines to my repertoire, having been attracted to some of them back in my childhood).  1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.e4 b5 is the normal move-order, but I stumbled into it via 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 dxc4 4.e4 b5 5.Nf3!? (5.a4 is the normal move, according to the database, where White generally regains the pawn) 5...Nf6.

I had a close look at this line with someone from my local chess club back in 2014, but have to admit that I don't recall much of the theory.  My 6.e5 Nd5 7.Ne4?! was clearly inferior to 7.a4 and 7.Ng5, but was not punished.  Also, I could have got a strong attack with 13.f5 or 14.Nxe6 (both of which I actually looked at during the game, but didn't see far enough ahead).  The experiment paid off in the end though, and I have every intention of continuing to try out these Queen's Gambit lines.

My impression is that the Geller Gambit has been held suspect for many years, but that "the Ginger GM" Simon Williams has advocated it in some recent videos of his.  I associate Simon Williams particularly with the Dutch Defence (1.d4 f5) and some crazy queen sacrifices, notably this one.  He also tried the interesting deviation 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.e4 b5 6.Qc2 against Andrey Sumets at Hastings 2013, but lost.

Game/Gambit #2 - Rubinstein Four Knights

The line goes 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Nd4, from Black's point of view.  It's well-known to be a sound line for Black, where White often ducks out of the complications with 5.Nxd4 or 5.0-0.  I had recently taken this up in my online games, and sacrificed the pawn on e5 in several of them with good results.  However, I hadn't learnt many of the ideas behind the sacrifice of the pawn on e5, and so in this serious game played too "automatically" in the opening and didn't get enough compensation. Indeed, if I had found 10...Bg4! I would probably have gone on to win.

The games are available here:

Thursday, 16 February 2017

An End In Sight to the 2015/16 Hiatus

Hi all,

Apologies for the long period of time without any updates.  I also see that I've had several comments to my earlier blog posts, which I've neglected (during late 2015 and 2016).  I got a full-time job, lost the resolve to keep up what I'd previously been doing, and ended up leaving readers in limbo.

I am in the process of rebranding my site; the new address is at and has moved to a paid hosting service.

Over the past year I also experimented with producing my own PDF articles.  Here's one that I came up with on the "Anti-Max Lange", 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4.
The main source of inspiration for this was the old articles, particularly Tim Harding's often-excellent Kibitzer column.

As I felt I was able to express myself and my enthusiasm more through that type of article, I have a general idea of creating web articles in that sort of style with the aid of the new ChessBase dynamic diagrams, thereby allowing viewers to play through the lines or just generally experiment, without the need to be tied to the PGN format.  They also have a new game replayer which is good with PGNs with relatively short notes, but tends to be buggy if more than one replayer is used on a single web page.  But I'll need to experiment with this a bit.

I'm also preparing to move my chess blog to the new site, .  I hope to update that blog more frequently with other chess-related stuff as well as the progress on the openings/gambits articles, so that it doesn't go for long periods without any updates.

I expect progress on the chess gambits coverage to be quite slow this time around due to greater pressures on my time, but I haven't given up on it.  I am tempted to look into more in the way of 1.d4 lines, having played the Queen's Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4) from the white side quite a bit recently.

I'll have a look over some of the replies to my earlier articles over the weekend.