Friday, 27 August 2010

All things being Scheveningen!

Sicilian Defence: Classical Scheveningen
Today I am pleased to be able to bring readers the first of what I hope will become a regular series of study posts on opening theory. The objective of these features is to:

1.) Explore the strategic ideas behind an opening variation rather than advocate the memorisation of long sequences of moves

2.) Make the openings feel more approachable by analysing them through the games of Hebden Bridge chess club members rather than Grandmasters.

3.) Provide some inspiration for newer HBCC members (and experienced players looking for new ideas) to have fun with some of the game’s most interesting opening lines!

We begin this new series with Nick Sykes’ expedition into the Classical Scheveningen variation of the Sicilian Defence.

“The Scheveningen has the reputation of being a solid line of the Sicilian that creates no unnecessary pawn weaknesses and so its structure is basically sound. The variation became particularly popular after Garry Kasparov's 1985 World Championship Match win over Anatoly Karpov in which Kasparov utilised the Scheveningen to great effect. I myself have played the opening, on and off, for about 15 years and enjoyed some interesting games with it. Let’s get straight into some analysis of the key lines using a stem game that I played on the correspondence chess website Redhotpawn last year.”

"So, how should we assess this interesting variation of the Sicilian Defence? In my opinion the Scheveningen requires a lot of deep understanding and expertise to be played successfully by black at a high level. However, at a club level, where defensive technique and defending in general is not so great, I feel that this variation allows White to generate an attack very easily and without Black having any real obvious attacking threats himself (unlike, say, the Sicilian Dragon variation). This view is borne out by some of the games in this feature, where Black comes out of the opening OK but still has to defend accurately in the middle game in order to avoid disaster. Playing accurate defensive moves for long periods of a game is very difficult and particularly so for club players."

Thanks very much to Nick for putting so much work into this post. If you have any questions for him about the analysis or the opening in general then please add a comment below by clicking on the little pencil icon. If readers would like to see any particular opening variations covered in future posts please add a comment here or e-mail me with your suggestions.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Burger King Grandmaster has it his way

I'm sure I saw a sachet of ketchup in here somewhere
I mentioned here recently that Grandmaster Daniel Gormally (the self-dubbed ‘Burger King GM’) was giving a simultaneous display at Leeds Chess Club. I am now able to update readers with the outcome of the event and publish my own futile effort against Danny.

As you might expect GM Gormally made mincemeat of the opposition winning all of his games to record a score of 25-0. Indeed, he even offered to play a second game against many of the participants who had suffered a swift demise and promptly went on to beat them all again!

From a personal point of view this was an interesting experience for me as it was the first time I’d played in a simultaneous event (let alone against a Grandmaster) and also the first time I’d had the opportunity to exchange anything more than the briefest of pleasantries with a titled player. I know that every one of the participants found Danny to be very friendly and easy going and he certainly gave everybody who had entered full value for their entry fee.

As I sat watching a few boards further up the line I couldn’t
help thinking that GM Gormally was trying to tell
me something about my position
Danny generously gave a couple of copies of his books to opponents whom he felt had given him the sternest test of the afternoon and it is in one of these (Play Chess Like the Pros) that I found the reason for his moniker.

“If I could describe myself in chess terms, it would probably be as 'Burger King GM'... in the sense that a player of my level can expect to make the same amount in a Burger King.”

Well Danny, let me just say on behalf of all the lads who played you in Leeds that Saturday, “Many thanks and good luck with the new job!”

For what it’s worth here is my game against Danny.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Time to Raise the White Flag?

Today I'd like to tackle the thorny issue of resignation etiquette. Or, more precisely, the question that all chess players have to consider on a regular basis: "Is it time for me to resign yet?"

It can be a delicate judgement. Clearly it is bad form to insult or irritate our opponents by playing on when they have an enormous material advantage and yet... perhaps there is a potential mating net in one variation that they may have overlooked. Is all hope lost?

In my quest to bring HBCC members interesting and amusing food for thought I have roamed far and wide across the web and selected the choicest chess-related morsels for your delectation. Today I bring you thoughts on today's subject from Redhotpawn's (RHP) veteran chess blogger Greenpawn34:

“To resign or not to resign, that is the question.

A regular post this one with some player complaining a player will not resign in a lost position.

Again the camps are split in a healthy 50/50.
The main argument for not resigning is you never win by resigning.
The main argument for resigning is that not to is bad manners, an insult.
A middling bunch state that as long as there is a chance of a win or a draw then do not resign. But what is a chance? How do we judge a chance?

I bet each one of us have lost a game we should have won when our opponent had 'no chance' and visa-versa. (In my case a lot of visa-versa). What right does any of us have to say ‘no chance.’ when in the back of minds there lurks that blown game. You cannot force a player to resign. It is their choice.

However, you can still be creative and at the end of this post you will see the tail end of four games played on RHP where the winning player decides; “Well if you won’t resign, I’ll do this…”
Then we are onto who is insulting who? The player for not resigning, or the winner for taking the mickey."

Here then are the four examples that Greenpawn34 has dug out of the Redhotpawn archives. I've taken the liberty of adding some comments of my own...

Exhibit A: "Three Rooks Mate"

Exhibit B: "Four Bishops Mate"

Exhibit C: "Five Queens Mate"

Exhibit D: "Four Knights Mate"

And finally... I'd like to dust off an antiquity of my very own to demonstrate that sometimes, even in the direst of circumstances, you should carry on playing because you just never can tell how stupid your opponent is going to get.

Take a look at the starting position below. Imagine that you are playing white. It is you to move and things are looking promising. As you consider how best to proceed you suddenly notice that you have a killer touch at your disposal. You get all excited as you begin thinking that you can play this move and black will have to resign. You can go to the bar and have a drink with a smug grin on your face. Have you seen the move? Take a look...

This example proves the point of view that "no one ever won a game by resigning". Although, I must admit, after 1...Qxg5+ I was not playing on in the hopes of swindling my opponent but merely because I was too angry to stop!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Pit Your Wits Against a Grandmaster

Today I bring readers news about two forth coming opportunities to test their skills against Grandmasters. These kinds of events don’t happen all that often so listen up!

First of all my friends at Leeds Chess Club are hosting a simultaneous display by British Grandmaster Daniel Gormally (currently the UK’s number 18) on Saturday the 14th of August – yes, that is this coming Saturday! At the time of posting there are still 9 places left for this event and so the organisers have decided to give players from other clubs the opportunity to take part. The event starts at 2.30pm and takes place at the North Leeds Working Men’s Club. The entry fee is £7.50.

More information can be found on the Leeds Chess Club website. If you’d like to take part please e-mail the event organiser at

I will be attending this event myself so if anyone would like to take part and needs a lift from Hebden Bridge please let me know as soon as possible so that I can arrange to pick you up. Either add a comment to this post or e-mail me at News on how I get on against GM Gormally will appear here next week.

Now onto the big one! Fashion brand G-Star Raw are (slightly bizarrely I must confess) organising “Magnus Against The World”, a collaborative game against the Danish wunderkind and youngest ever world number 1, Magnus Carlsen (pictured above modelling for G-Star). The game will be played online on Friday the 10th of September and has none other than Garry Kasparov (Carlsen’s current trainer) acting as ambassador for the event. Three top Grandmasters (Maxime Vachier-Legrave, Hikaru Nakamura and Judit Polgar) have been selected to nominate candidate moves to the general public who will vote on which move gets played at the board.

As far as I’m aware this kind of event has never been tried before and it should offer a fascinating insight into Grandmaster play as well as the opportunity to take part in the biggest collaborative chess game ever! I encourage you all to register for the event and news updates.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Hello and welcome to the new Hebden Bridge Chess Club blog. This site has been designed primarily for club members but anyone and everyone is welcome to participate. As the site develops I hope that we will be able to bring you:

  • Updates and information about what’s going on in the chess club
  • Match reports and results from our teams taking part in the Calderdale league (and other relevant competitions) 
  • Interesting games and practical advice from a varied range of sources
  • News and comment relating to the wider chess world

This website will work best if members and visitors participate and feedback on the content that gets posted. I certainly don’t want to develop all of the posts myself so if you have an idea for a post that you would like to see here or write yourself, or if you spot an error in the information that you find on the site please or have a comment to make please drop me a line at
I look forward to hearing your points of view.

Happy chess playing!