Category Archives: Training

Active Defense

The other day I was analyzing the recently game played in the Russian Team Championship between Grandmasters Nepomniachtchi and Sjugirov and one variation caught my eye, so I decided to share it with you. The game was a Najdorf Sicilian, namely the Adams Attack, where both sides have been fighting to mate each other’s king. After 27 moves, the game reached the following position:

In this position, black played 27…Be8, allowing white to play 28. h5, followed by g6. The game ended with a beautiful queen sacrifice by Nepomniachtchi. If you haven’t already seen the game, I recommend you replay it and try to find the final blow.

Having seen what happened in the game, I wondered if black could have played 27… g6 instead of 27…Be8 in this position. The variation I looked into looks like this: 27… g6 28. h5 gxh5 29. Rh1 e5 (freeing the light squares bishop) 30.Read more

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Rocket Rooks


Rooks are strong pieces. That’s no secret, but do you really know how to use them and get the maximun of their potential? In the next examples we’re going to see some fantastic rook lifts that will change the way you look at this piece.

Our first example is the game Zhigalko,S -Antipov,M Yerevan, 2014 in which, after 12 moves of an English opening, the players reached a typical Isolated Queen’s Pawn position:

Zhigalko-Antipov1Zhigalko,S -Antipov,M Yerevan, 2014
White to Play

We can see that black has firmly blocked the pawn on d4. However, he still has some problems to solve – it is not easy to develop the Knight on b8, as Nd7 would allow white to trade on d5, forcing black to take with the e6 pawn and losing the blockade. In that case of symetrical pawn structure white would have some advantage due to the more active pieces. Capturing on c3 is also a dubious option for black since the white pawns would gain considerable space after white plays c3-c4.… Read more

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Cappelle La Grande 2015. Game analysis

Today we will have a look at my game from Round 7 in Cappelle La Grande. I had white against Yovann Gatineau (2092), a young talent from France who in the previous round had defeated (!) the legendary master Kamran Shirazi. I was aware that my opponent was not going to be easy despite the 400 points rating difference.

GatineauYovann Gatineau

He played the Kan variation of the Sicilian defense. It was a pleasant surprise for me because it’s one of the openings I play as black. So I was familiar with the positions and the fears of getting suprised by any opening preparation dissapeared very early. After 26 moves we reached the following position:

Castellanos-Gatineau1Castellanos,R (2479) – Gatineau,Y (2092)

Here the position is just slightly better for white but only because it’s his move. If it was black to move then he would seize the initiative and put white on the defensive side by playing b6-b5 or Rc8.… Read more

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Monday’s excercise.

The position in the diagram is taken from the analysis of a game recently played by a friend of mine. We would like to ask you what would you play as black here?

TrainMondayBlack to play
What would you do?
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