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The Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Grunfeld

We know from chess openings like the Grunfeld Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5) that Black may control the center with pieces instead of pawns. But what about the Grunfeld’s poor cousin, 1.d4 d5 2.c4 g6, clearly a member of this hypermodern family? The first issue of Kamikaze Times (November, 2002) called this line the “Alekhine Defense” against the Queen’s Gambit. Alekhine did play this opening, but the editor correctly notes that Blackburne takes precedence. Unusual and seldom seen, there is not much theory to learn nor many games to consult; those who enjoy offbeat chess openings may investigate further. First we have Blackburne at work:

http://www.chesscentral.com/Chess_Knowledge_Base_a/518.htm

The Steinitz Gambit

Check out Kevin Butler’s new chess video introduction to the Steinitz Gambit, covering the important ideas underlying this wild chess opening! After 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.d4 Qh4+ 5.Ke2 the White King is perfectly comfortable behind his strong central pawns, and the monarch even plans on better placement in case of any endgame. Very bold! Kevin’s video explains what’s going on, and shows how you can use the fighting King in your chess openings.

 

Chess Players – Starting Early, Staying Positive

A group of children in southwest Philadelphia are using chess to stay positive and avoid violence in their city. Will any of them be the next chess prodigies?

Check out this CNN video story where everyone wins:

 

Piracy and Plagiarism in Chess

We just found this notable blog entry by chess author Lubomir Kavalek at the  Huffington Post. He talks straightforward about plagiarism in the chess world, naming names – an excellent article which calls to mind some observations from our own experience.

In the role of publisher, ChessCentral has produced many fine print books and e-books found in our catalog. Unfortunately, each passing year exposes more web sites that choose to sell, share or give away our copyright protected property, our books and articles. Recently we found an eBay seller with over 100 chess books from many publishers, all scanned and placed on CD and ready to ship. When contacted he claimed some “obvious right” based on his work of scanning. A generous interpretation of the law!

Other portals frequently offer chess book downloads that are copy protected. To the credit of Chess.com, for example, once an infraction is brought to their attention they remove it immediately from the site. But many outlaw domains remain silent and await enforcement. Most chess book publishers could keep a cadre of copyright lawyers busy.

Another area often pirated is chess software. In fact, many “warez” sites frequently appear in searches for popular software products before listings from legimate chess shops. We’ve even seen Google ads hawking illegally obtained chess software. If weeks of programming must be added to protect software from theft, the price goes up and honest consumers pay.

Mr. Kavalek suggests that most victims of piracy don’t talk about it, and so the author has spoken out for them. The intellectual pirate is a thief who forces everyone to suffer equally at the cash register.

World Champion Viswanathan Anand vs The World

Get ready, on Sunday, August 12 you will have a chance to play against World Champion Viswanathan Anand. Anyone with an Internet connection can partake in this duel between individual genius and “the wisdom of crowd. You can be part of a team of chess players from around the globe willing to pit their skills against the world’s number one player.

Anand is scheduled to play a number of exhibition games on August 13th, against on-site participants at the Metro Chess Invitational Chess Camp in Los Angeles at 1:30 EST. You and your team mates will be one of the boards, with a human making the moves for your team.
 
Good luck!
 

The Making of Chess Sets

Many people possessed of a creative bent, aspiring craftsmen, have learned how to make chess pieces and chess sets. The artist has a wide choice of medium, some preferring ceramic and resins while others like metal working. Even exotic materials such as bone and rock can be fashioned into beautiful and decorative chess pieces.

Naturally the most popular chess sets are made of wood. Today the majority of chess pieces are mass produced in factories using expensive wood turning equipment, modern tools far beyond the reach of most woodworkers. But really all that is needed to make your own chess set is wood and a sharp knife, right? There is much to be said for primitive methods; forget about fancy electric tools!

At ChessCentral we encourage craftsmanship. If you’d like to make a fine wooden chess set from scratch we recommend the Moroccan Bow Lathe – a must for any basic tool kit. Check out the following amazing chess video to learn more about this important device for making chess pieces:

A Discarded Chess Opening

Chess opening variations are subject to fashion, or rather periods of intense examination, as players explore sub-systems of popular ways to start a chess game. Naturally certain methods of playing chess openings recede into the theoretical background, perhaps for decades – perhaps never to be seen in Master practice again. In the case of Bird’s Opening with 1.f4 we find one such example in Lasker’s variation of From’s gambit, arising after 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5, an attacking idea introduced by world chess champion Em. Lasker. Here almost complete attention is focused on 5.d4 and 5.g3 for White, with thousands of chess games available for our perusal. But what about the sneaky little move 5.c3, invented by Henry Bird himself?


A mere handful of chess games exist featuring this continuation – probably because Bird lost horribly when he played 5.c3 against Isidor Gunsberg in their Hastings 1892 game. Several more rapid defeats for White ensued, and the whole line was quickly forgotten. However, a few recent internet blitz games show that Bird’s idea is worth a second look, and several hundred hours of computer assisted analysis confirm that 5.c3 is not only playable but may be as good as other White continuations. So let’s survey this – what to name it? – Bird’s Defense to Lasker’s Attack in the From’s Gambit variation of Bird’s Opening!

We called 5.c3 “sneaky” because it’s based on a trick of sorts. After 5…g4 (natural and best) White plays 6.Qa4+, thinking to make a place for his King when his Knight moves and he has to face the nasty …Qh4+ attack. The main sequence of moves, then, is 5.c3 g4 6.Qa4+ Nc6 7.Nd4 Qh4+ at which point Bird’s original 8.Kd1 gives us the following weird chess position:


Now the fun really starts, as Black tries to prove that his pawn minus was well invested. And unless Black plays one key move right now (the move Gunsberg played here) White has no problems at all, usually going 9.Nb5 next. Furthermore, even if Black plays exactly White has apparently the resources to meet any threat. But what is Black’s best try now, on his eighth move? While you work on that chess puzzle, consider that White can also choose a gambit of his own – instead of 8.Kd1 in the diagram above he can play 8.g3 instead:


This sacrifice is a recent invention never imagined by Henry Bird. Black is forced to go in for 8…Bxg3+ 9.hxg3 Qxh1, and when White continues 10.Nb5 the second player has nothing better than 10…Kf8 11.Nxc7 Rb8 to save his Rook. In the end White has a pawn for the Exchange, the Bishop pair and a compact central pawn structure. It is White’s move, in addition, but is all that enough compensation?

Chess players who like gambit play will want to consider these positions in more detail. Extra suggestions and ideas in this chess opening can be found here at the Free Chess Area, and a free chess download with games and plenty of analysis and commentary is available to ChessCentral Members; it’s easy to join, free to use and full of great chess downloads and articles. Those players who want to know more about Bird’s Opening should click here for the Big Bird PowerBase, the most complete resource on this interesting chess opening.

Until next time!