07 November 2010

GM Yusupov : Lesson 1

I ended my previous post, Chess960 Universität, with a promise to look more closely at one of the sample lessons offered by Chess Tigers. Any of the lessons would have been suitable, but I chose IPS 2100: Lektion 1 from 2005, because it is aimed at more expert players (Elo ~2100) and because it is signed by Artur Jussupow, better known to English speakers as GM Artur Yusupov, a candidate for the World Championship in the 1980s.

I used Yusupov's work in a recent post on opening theory -- Yusupov's 'General Principles of Opening Play' -- making it appropriate to examine his thinking about chess960. Lektion 1 (Lesson 1) is titled 'Unprotected Pawns / Weak Points' and starts with the same small table I gave in Undefended Pawns in Chess960 Start Positions, showing the number of start positions with specific counts of undefended Pawns. This is followed by an example game, Bacrot - Lanka, from the 2005 FiNet Open at Chess Classic Mainz (CCM5). The start position is shown in the following diagram.


Here are Yusupov's comments on the first few moves. (I used Google Translate for a basic translation, then cleaned it up based on my own limited understanding of German. It's still a rough translation, but the meaning comes through.)

If we look closer at this start position, we see that the Pg2 and of course its counterpart on g7 are unprotected. These Pawns [Google: 'farmers' (!)] are currently considered weak. Of course, it is not necessary to defend them immediately, but you should not forget them!

1.e4 c5? - 1...e5 would have been better, but Lanka gladly plays the Sicilian defense in traditional chess, and can not resist to achieve this structure here. His reflex move leads to big difficulties.

2.f3! - White now attacks the Pawn on c5 with the Bg1 and at the same time opens the diagonal e1-h4 for his Queen.

2...Bb6? - Overlooks the second and far more serious threat. After the better 2...d6 follows also 3.Qg3 Ng6 4.Bxc5, and if 4...Qb5, White can protect both attacked pieces: 5.Nd3, and it is very questionable whether Black can demonstrate enough compensation for the Pawn.

3.Qg3+ - Wins neatly the Pg7.

Here GM Yusupov ends his analysis of the game. The second example in the lesson is an analysis of the complete game Shirov - Naiditsch from the same event. It starts with SP897 BRKBQRNN, one of four start positions with three undefended Pawns at the beginning.

The first lesson is followed by 39 more lessons. The complete course of 40 lessons is just one of eight courses, ranging from beginner to expert level. Is there a better exposition of chess960 available in any language?

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