A Typical Chess Club Game

The following game may be instructional to many beginners. It was played early in 2016 at the Harman Senior Recreation Center chess club in West Valley, Utah, a ladder game.

White: Alan (third place on the ladder)

Black: Jonathan (second place on the ladder)

1. e4     c5

2. Nf3  e6

3. Bb5  . . . .

Of the 281,678 games played in major tournaments in 2014 and 2015, this move was made only three times, and not one of those three players was a chess expert. Yet unorthodox opening moves, unknown in chess books, are common in club games.

Black to move in a Sicilian opening

Diagram-1  after White moved Bb5

White’s third move accomplishes little except to pin Black’s d-pawn. Do you see an easy solution for Black?

3. . . . .  a6

This drives the bishop away. Notice that White cannot retreat that bishop to a4, for it would be lost after Black’s b5 and c4 pawn advances. White avoids that particular trapping of the bishop but it falls into another trap later.

4. Be2   Nc3

The position is almost the same as if White had played Be2 on the third move, except that Black’s a-pawn has advanced to a6. This pawn move is sometimes useful to Black, in the Sicilian Opening, so White has lost a tempo in playing Bb5 and then retreating with Be2. According to the Stockfish chess engine, Black now has equal chances in this position, meaning White has lost the small advantage of moving first.

5. c3    d5

6. e5    d4

According to Stockfish, Black now has a small advantage in position, calculated to be equivalent to about a third of a pawn.

White needs to prevent d3

Diagram-2  after Black moved d4

Both sides now have a pawn advanced into enemy territory. Do you see any potential problem for White if he now castles?

Black is threatening to advance the d-pawn again, but White was now thinking only in a general strategic way instead of looking at simple tactics.

7. O-O?   d3

White's bishop is trapped

Diagram-3  after Black advanced a pawn to d3, trapping the bishop on e2

The black pawn at d3 is attacking the white bishop. Notice that the bishop has no square to move to except in capturing that pawn, but the black queen would then capture it. White choses another way to gain a pawn in exchange for that bishop. For beginners, be aware that a bishop is generally worth about three pawns, so White loses material here.

8. Re1   dxe2

9. Rxe2  Bd7   Black would have done better with Nge7

10. d4    Qc7

11. Bg5   h6

12. Bh4  Be7

Black should have played Nge7 or cxd4 instead of Be7.

13. Bg3  . . . .

Black may be a piece ahead but the minor pieces are cramped, with no square yet available for the kingside knight. Black was preparing to castle on the queen side, but overlooked a combination in which White can win a piece.

13. . . . . O-O-O?

Like White’s castling blunder, Black throws away a piece by castling, what a coincidence with tit-for-tat blunders!

White should now move d5

Diagram-4  after Black castled queenside (which was a blunder)

White should now win back a piece by moving the pawn at d4 to d5. How is that? If Black’s e-pawn captures the d5-pawn, the white pawn at e5 will advance with a double attack: against the bishop at d7 and (by the bishop at g3) against the black queen. But if, instead of the original capture, Black moves the knight from c6 to another square (to avoid capture after White’s move of d5), then White will continue to advance the d-pawn to d6, making a double attack against the queen at c7 and the bishop at e7. This would be very similar to how Black had won a bishop several moves early: by advancing a pawn far into enemy territory. Less-experienced chess club players often take turns making blunders.

Yet the position shown in Diagram-4 is more complicated than the one in Diagram-2. In fact, Alan (ranked #3 on the chess club ladder and playing White in this game) overlooked the combination entirely. Jonathan (playing Black) maintained his material advantage into the endgame and checkmated the white king on the 43rd move. He was thus able to maintain his #2 rank on the ladder.



Books in a chess club in West Valley, Utah

  • The following are a few of those books:
    ◾The Chess of Bobby Fischer (published in 1975)
    ◾Chess – 5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games (2013)
    ◾How to Play the Middle Game in Chess (by Littlewood)
    ◾Psychology in Chess (by Nikolai Krogius)
    ◾Bishop versus Knight Endings (by Averbakh)


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The first sentence of the first chapter in the book Beat That Kid in Chess makes it clear: “What’s the most important thing to see in  chess? See how to get an immediate checkmate.”


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