Takchess Chess Improvement

A Novice chessplayer works to get better at chess using an improvement program based upon the methods of Michael de la Maza and the teachings of Dan Heisman

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The two headed Traxler

If you have read some of my chess blog during the past couple of years, you have read of my facination with the Traxler Counterattack lines. White has just played Q f1 and I mistakenly played d5. Here is the game as it was played and a composed game given what Fritz said should of been played by Black Rf8. I find it difficult to keep track of all the lines. Hopefully this will help.
also here are the search results from my past mentions of the Traxler

Monday, December 24, 2007

Chapter 1 : Attack the Uncastled King ( F7 Square Portion) updated

Square f7 is Black's weakest square on the board before castling is f7 (f2 for White). This can occur in the begining stages of the game before the castling as with castling the rook protects this square. The most straightforward attacks on f7 are to be seen at the beginning of certain open games, especially in the Petroff Defence and the Philidor Defense.

I am beginning by playing through these Keres games. Both which are Sicilians and contain interesting ideas.



Update. I notice that this chapter does not have alot of global statements about the attack on the e file and the f7 file . I think that VV wants to let the games "do the talking". If you look at the first link Keres has an interesting sacrifice that reduces the mobility of the opponents queen while the second is a ubergambit. Keres gives up 4 pawns before winning the game.

Also of note is this game Asgeirsson-Raud which is nicely annotated in this video by J'adoube.


Chessgames just added the Raud game to it's collection


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Updated Annotation of the Steinitz Game


I ran the Steinitz -Von Bardeleben game through Fritz ,removed the extraneous comments and added some of my own. It can be viewed at the link above. To properly view the game and see all the variations, one must click on the Move List button below the board.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Art of Attack in Chess C1 Steinitz vs Von Bardeleben

Diagram 3

Question 2 Diagram

Question One Diagram

One of the Chapter one games which illustrates the attack on the e file is the Battle of Hastings : Steinitz vs Van Bardeleben from the Hasting Tournament in 1895 . This is perhaps Steinitz most famous game and is analysed in Masters of the Chessboard, The World's Greatest Chess Games and other books. This was Tal's favorite Game. I can picture him as a young man analysing this game and enjoying it.

There is a lot too this game and it is remarkable one is the depth and the precision of the threats and combinations . A large portion of this game is played on the edge; Steinitz is one move away from being checkmated but can ignore it due to the strength of his attack. Playing on the edge makes this a very dramatic game.

It would be a good advanced tactical exercise if you were able to come up with the refutation of all blacks defenses to moves 22 on and determine the mating net after Von B walked out after move 25.

Here are some self study exercizes .

Question 1: in this Position Black on Move ;Von B played 7...d5 what is considered to be the modern move for black? See position above .



Whites moves 11-14 are a textbook case of making a series of trades to hamper your opponent with a weakness in the center. The weakness is the Knight on e7 and blacks inability to castle without losing the knight .This also seals in the King side rook keeping it out of action.

see link below


Question 2: See Diagram above White to move played the strong Qe2 there is another strong alternative. Answer not provided. The lines are spelled out in World's Greatest Games.

Diagram 3: WTM what is played ? see move 19 and the follow up move 20!

I will be back later to update this post

Game in PGN format

(1875) Steinitz,William - Von Bardeleben,Curt [C54]
Hastings Hastings (10), 1895
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 d5 8.exd5 Nxd5 9.0–0 Be6 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Bxd5 Bxd5 12.Nxd5 Qxd5 13.Bxe7 Nxe7 14.Re1 f6 15.Qe2 Qd7 16.Rac1 c6 17.d5 cxd5 18.Nd4 Kf7 19.Ne6 Rhc8 20.Qg4 g6 21.Ng5+ Ke8 22.Rxe7+ Kf8 23.Rf7+ Kg8 24.Rg7+ Kh8 25.Rxh7+ 1–0

Game is nicely annotated here


Friday, December 14, 2007

Art of Attack in Chess Book Club C1 Part 1 The Attack Against the Uncastled King

Chapter 1: The Attack Against The Uncastled King. Part 1

(in this chapter,VV teaches mainly through game examples)

Mate against the uncastled king is often seen in amateur playing against a stronger player who has failed to castle at the right time. The initial position of the king before it castles contains two main weaknesses. One is that it is exposed if the e-file is opened up; the second is that the square f7 in Black' position (f2 is the corresponding weak point for White) is vulnerable, since it is covered by the king alone.

The Attack Along The e-File

Conditions for an e-file attack is 1) the opponent's king should be on that file, and that for some reason it is impossible or difficult for it to move away. If all the adjacent squares are occupied by the king's own pieces or controlled by the opponent's, its escape is absolutely impossible. If the player is simply being prevented from castling but other squares are not covered, the movement of the king is only relatively restricted . It can move at the cost of losing the right to castle. Castling can also be thwarted indirectly if the king has to guard one of the pieces which is protecting it.

The second condition for an attack of this kind depends on the attacker's situation 2)the e-file is open or can be opened by the attacker . The attacker needs to have a major piece (rook or queen) on the e-file . It is often necessary to strengthen pressure on the e-file, doubling rooks or by attacking one of his opponent's pieces which is on the file and protecting the king. The opponent tends to have a chain of defense and the attack is carried out against the central unit of the chain (that is the piece protection the king)

If this piece is on the square directly in front of the king (e7 or e2) the attacker may be able to mate by capturing it with his queen (or rook), i.e. by making the square into the focal point. An attack on the e-file tends to occur most frequently at an early stage of the game.

The following games are the examples for attacking on the e-file. (the f7 attacks to follow in another installment)

Pins to the King and a Mating Focal-Point play a big part in the following game.

Meesen Muller pg15

Sometime the problem to be solved is how to open the e file as in the Chigorin Burns Game

Chigorin and Burn

Vienna Gambit

A Famous Steinitz Game

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Art of Attack in Chess Book Club

I recently read SamuraiPawn's blog and about his fascination with the Art of Attack in Chess by Vladmir Vukovic . He convinced me to spend some time on it. I am have sampled it various times during the past year but have not read it with any consistency. I now intend to read it straight through, take notes on this blog and slowly study the games. I invite anyone who wants to join me to follow along and add any notes you care to in the Comment Section. (feel free to do this even if it is weeks, months or years after this initial blog was posted)

The Art of Attack in Chess Vladmir Vukovic

About the Book

Written in the mid-sixties, Vukovic's intermediate book is considered to be a classic of learning about Attacking in Chess. Many Grandmasters have spoke of it's influence in their play. It is an important book in it's attempt to explore why some attacks fail while others succeed. From this analysis, the author tried to determine some general principles to assists one play.

It is not an easy read and I am using the updated John Nunn's 1998 EVERYMAN CHESS edition which translated the games to Algebraic Notation, added more diagrams, checked the analysis, added footnotes and polished the language.


(VV had a historical perspective and often talked of the development of the rules of the game and style of play. My sense is he felt that the modern chess players of his time were somewhat wimpy and risk adverse) .

During the period from Morphy to Steinitz to Lasker the value placed on attack decreased with perfection of defensive technique. This was followed by a new Attacking period where Capablanca and especially Alekhine perfected the technique of Attack on the castled position based on sound positional play. Style of play again turned away from the risk of direct attack to a more safety first approach based on opening study. He felt there would be a time when Alekhine principles would be completely understood and we would enter a new phase of attacking play.( I wonder if Kasparov's play might be this new phase ?)

VV points out that learning attacking play is fun (The Takchess Creed)

There exists an extremely large group of chess players who are no longer beginners nor, on the other hand, masters or point hunters, but players who aim primarily at deriving an aesthetic satisfaction from the game. For such players an attacking game is more attractive than positional technique and they will continue to attack regardless of risk., for their stormy contest are not going to be noted down in theoretical textbooks.

Various kinds of Attack (VV 3 categories)

1. Latent Attack: The main action is not in fact an attack on the king, but there is the possibility of such an attack latent in the position, some threat or other is being nurtured, or else the attack is concealed in a least one variation. (this is a double attack with mate or a check as one of the attacks )

2. A player's action really does contain a direct threat to his opponent's king, but his opponent can stave off this threat at a certain price by giving up material or spoiling his position. (the majority of attacks fall in this category)

3. The attacker carries out an uncompromising mating attack in which he can invest even a considerable amount of material, as long as he is certain of mating in the end. (the highest degree of attack)

(VV breaks attacks into further categories which serve as the following chapters )

Chapter 1 The Attack Against the Uncastled King

Chapter 2 The Attack on the King that has Lost the Right to Castle

Chapter 3 On Castling and Attacking the Castled Position in General

Chapter 4 Mating Patterns

Chapter 5 Focal-points

Chapter 6 The Classic Bishop Sacrifice

Chapter 7 Ranks, Files, and Diagonals in the Attack on the Castled King

Chapter 8 Pieces and Pawns in the Attack on the Castled King

Chapter 9 The Attack on the Fianchettoed and Queenside Castling Positions

Chapter 10 Defending Against the Attack on the Castled King

Chapter 11 The Phases of the Attack on the Castled King

Chapter 12 The Attack on the King as an Integral Part of the Game

( Vukovic goes on to create very basic definitions and observations on which he builds his theories)

The Basic Pattern of Mate

For mate to be obtained, the king must be deprived of nine squares in the middle of the board, six squares on the edge or four squares in the corner. Some of these squares may be blocked by the kings own supporting pieces but the rest must be taken by the attacker through the agency of his own pieces or pawns. If all the squares surrounding the king are taken from it and if the square of which on which the king is also in check and without means of defence, then the king is checkmated.

The Mating Pattern (def)- is the final position where these conditions are met ( picture a diagram of the board). Mating patterns can be typical (common) or atypical (uncommon).

Mating Squares and the Focal-Point

Mating Square (def) is that square where the King sits when it is mated . (the kings final resting spot).

Mating Focal-Point (def) is the square from which an opponents piece (other than a king, knight or pawn) mates the king at close quarters. (note- the spot where a bishop mates from a distance is not considered a mating focal-point)

Vlad's tip -To carry out a mating attack successfully it is always useful to

1) survey the possible matings patterns

2) to prepare a mating net accordingly

3) to concentrate on the focal point.

In many cases it is important to clear the focal point to deprive any opposing pieces of their control over that focal-point .

VV points out these common players errors regarding mating patterns

* The attacker fails to perceive that he can neither stop his opponent from moving his king nor drive him into a mating net but still plays for mate. It is futile which at best may lead to perpetual check . ( Yup, I'm guilty as charged)

*The attacker plays uses typical mating patterns overlooking atypical mating patterns in a continuation.

* The player sees all the possible mating patterns based on one focal-point but doesn't realize that it is negated by the king moving and what matters now is new patterns which he hasn't prepared for.

*The player decides on a course of attack based on a certain focal-point, without realizing that he cannot provide cover for it or even clear it of the influence of his opponents pieces . This mistake is to be found even in Master games.

The Art of the Mating Attack

VV puts forth the following questions:

How does a mating attack relate to the other operations which take place in a game of chess ?

How much is a mating attack conditioned by the actual position on the chessboard and how much by the skill of the attacker?

Where does the risk attached to a mating attack lie ?

About which points are the minds of players today still unclear with respect to carrying out the mating attack ?

here is his complex response to these questions.
The mate is the final objective of which all other considerations are only contributory. The mating attack requires more preconditions than other operations. There exists a number of definite preconditions for a mating attack and these combine to require a considerable superiority on the part of the attacker. If he has abundant superiority, little skill is need but if his superiority just borders on a correct attack then maximum skill is required to carry out the attack.
The present day formula is to carry out a series of preliminary operations which require only a small degree of advantage and then (in theory) you will obtain a large degree of superiority that makes a success mating attack. However this tendency has cause players to fail to exploit the attack when the opportunity arises and masters have a tendency to overweigh the risk in attack.
It is not clear what are the minimum requirements for attack what kind of advantage is required. It may be available for a single moment in a game which never returns. Another unresolved question is in that of a players skill to properly weigh up the obligation. The order of preparatory moves are extremely important.
An important rule: Moves that require fewer obligations should be carried out before moves which are more strongly binding. (this is what we learn from Alekhine's play)
A few words about the kind of superiority needed. When one is superior in time and space. The attacker as a rule is stronger where the attack is occurring but must have considerable superiority. Even a queen on a mating focal square requires a piece to support it. For such pieces to be brought into an attack one needs a temporal advantage where the opponent can't organize a timely defense or a sufficient counterattack. Normally this condition is based upon the comparable immobility of the opponents pieces. In order to judge if an attack should begin one must look at all these factors .
The correct launching of an attack is the crucial difficulty that has cause many masters to steer away from attack onto a more positional approach( which often leads to drawish play) Without studying the art of attack there will be no advancement in chess. It is a spark that sits in every corner and must be nutured till one turns it into flame. Lasker once observed if there is ever an opportunity for an attack one must carry it out otherwise one advantage will evaporate.

(this concludes notes on the introduction,Chapter 1 The attack on the UnCastled King to follow next week )

I gave myself a little homework -study this game from Chapter 1.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Traxler I need to study

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

step right up and see the Traxler

Sunday, December 02, 2007

New Book I read

Now as I enter my Errant Knight retirement years, I am looking for non chess related things to do. A few year years ago, I was reading alot of nonchess books and listened to alot of nonchess related books on tapes and I am starting to do that again. With listening to books on tapes from my commute and books I read outright I read apprx 100 books a year .

I enjoyed reading Everything Bad is Good for You recently

The premise is that some of the new trends in pop culture are making us smarter . That popular media Television, Video Games, Movies are becoming increasing more complex and engaging and are improving our analytical skills.

The author keeps this blog