Monthly Archives: April 2017

Yusupov Challenge, week 6

Another busy week, in which I managed to complete three chapters.  I am about three quarters of the way through the first book now, which is not as far as I had hoped I would be, but I imagine a lot further than I would be if I hadn’t started this challenge.  I am going to try switching to solving in the mornings before work, when my brain will hopefully be a little fresher than after.

Book 1, Chapter 15

This chapter is about combinations, and features fairly standard tactics problems.  Some of the exercises took me a while, but I did manage to get almost all right.  The exception was 15-3, where I chose Bxc5, which should still be winning or at least much better for White, but is much less convincing than the (with hindsight rather obvious) solution, Rd8+!

Time spent: 1 hour 50 minutes (35 reading, 65 solving, 10 marking/reviewing)

Score: 21/22

Book 1, Chapter 16

It’s amazing how complex and interesting positions with only four pieces (including kings) left on the board can be!  This chapter is about queen vs pawn (on the 7th), and I found some of the mate/stalemate motifs really pleasing.  The only exercise I dropped points on was 16-4, which with hindsight is laughably simple.

It is White to play and win.  I immediately noticed that after Qb3+ Ka1 White does not have to worry about stalemate straight away, as Black still has his h-pawn.  However, I only thought about using the extra tempi to bring White’s king closer to the a-pawn.  As it is clearly too far away for this plan to work, I gave up and assumed it was a draw.  In fact White mates with the simple 2. Qc2 h2 3. Qc1#

16-8 is a real treat, which I was pleased to solve correctly, but I will leave that position for people who have the book.

Time spent: 1 hour 20 minutes (10 reading, 60 solving, 10 marking/reviewing)

Score: 27/29

Book 1, Chapter 17

This chapter is about stalemate motifs.  As with some of the earlier chapters, the theme is so well defined that it makes finding the solution quite straightforward in most cases, and I managed to get them all right.  The most challenging was 17-2, for good reason – whilst the ‘solution’ given in the book is the best try, it doesn’t actually work with best play!

I ‘found’ Bg4, where the book gives only Nxg4 stalemate.  I wasn’t sure what was going on after Nc6 (or even Bf6, which is still a draw, but worth a try rather than giving immediate stalemate).  It turns out that Black’s knight can dance around and eventually give mate, despite the White bishop’s best efforts to defend the key squares.  Hopefully this will be corrected in a future edition.

Time spent: 1 hour (15 reading, 30 solving, 15 marking/reviewing)

Score: 15/15

Those of you who are doing this challenge with me, let me know how you got on this week in the comments below.

Yusupov Challenge, weeks 3-5

As expected, week 3 was a write-off, due to having too many evening matches.  Unfortunately week 4 went the same way, as I was ill at the start and then had to work night shifts later.  Week 5 has been much more productive, with five chapters completed in spite of having two mid-week matches.  That means I am slightly under half a book behind the pace set on the Quality Chess blog, but I may be able to catch up over the coming month.  For those who haven’t seen it, Artur himself has now given his thoughts on the challenge, providing those of us doing it with an extra boost of motivation.

Book 1, Chapter 10

This is another pawn ending chapter, talking about the opposition.  I was expecting to ace the exercises, as a lot of them were similar to those in the first chapter of Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual, but I carelessly missed a few details, dropping four points.

Time spent: 1 hour 10 minutes (10 reading, 50 solving, 10 marking/reviewing)

Score: 22/26

Book 1, Chapter 11

The topic of this chapter is the pin – a tactic players become familiar with very early on – and unsurprisingly it was fairly straightforward.  I still dropped a couple of points on the last exercise, missing that after my proposed solution of Bxc5 Rxc5 Qd4 Qc7 Qxc7 Qxc7 Qxb4, Black escapes with a perpetual check.

Time spent: 55 minutes (25 reading, 25 solving, 5 marking)

Score: 19/21

Book 1, Chapter 12

Another chapter on an elementary tactical motif – the double attack.  The exercises were once again fairly easy for me, but I still dropped two points.

Time spent: 50 minutes (20 reading, 25 solving, 5 marking)

Score: 15/17

Book 1, Chapter 13

The topic of this chapter, ‘Realising a material advantage’, was very interesting for me, as it is something I routinely struggle to do.  Some of the exercises required careful thought, though I eventually managed to solve most of them.  The only exception was 13-6, though I feel a little robbed here, as my solution (Re7) also seems to be winning but is not mentioned in the book.  If anyone knows of more exercises available anywhere on this theme, please let me know in the comments section below.

Time spent: 1 hour 30 minutes (20 minutes reading, 60 solving, 10 marking)

Score: 19/21

Book 1, Chapter 14

This chapter deal with open files and ‘outposts’ on them.  ‘Outpost’ in this context seems to mean ‘square on an open file defended by a pawn, and not able to be attacked by an enemy pawn’.  The idea of occupying outposts on open files is not as ingrained in me as some other strategic ideas, so it was a useful read.  I recently failed to make use of just such an outpost in one of my games (Taylor – Jaszkiwskyj, Middlesex vs Essex 2017):

Here Rc5 is the best move, keeping control of the open file, and if Black captures with Rxc5 then dxc5 give White a protected passed pawn and a useful square on d4 for the knight.  Instead I played the planless Rc3 (I was very low on time), and my opponent played Rxc3, missing the chance to occupy his own outpost with Rc4!?  This is a more difficult move to make, as it sacrifices an exchange, but after Bxc4 dxc4 Black has great practical chances along the a8-h1 diagonal, as well as a protected passed pawn on c4.

Having completed this chapter, I hope I will make the right move automatically the next time I get a position like this.

Time spent: 1 hour 5 minutes (20 reading, 40 solving, 5 marking)

Score: 16/20

I feel a bit fortunate to have dropped only four points, as I was tired and impatient and so rushed a bit on some of the exercises.

There’s still time to join the challenge, so comment below if you would like to.