QUEEN SACRIFICE by Magnus Carlsen

This is a very cool game between Anish Giri and Magnus Carlsen.  I mistakenly told someone it was with Wesley So.





I wrote this 5 years ago on Facebook.

Chess is a complex game. One grandmaster said that it is too complicated for any single mind to comprehend completely, which is true, but the human race has made a reasonable stab at it. Thousands of books have been written about the game, and an inexhaustible list of strategies has been developed.

I have been thinking about chess skill. I wonder if anyone has tried to study all the components of chess skill? On personal reflection, I think that chess skill can be broken into four parts:

1. Vision. This is something I developed at the age of 14 when I realized I could see all the moves available on the board at the same time. Chess vision is the ability to see things instantly that others would have to think about.

2. Pattern recognition. This is similar to vision, except that chess can create many complex patterns. Through experience and study, skilled players have developed the ability to recognize these patterns in their games, sometimes almost instantly.

3. Knowledge. Many complicated strategies have been worked out about chess, and players have to memorize some of them to compete seriously. I have spent a great deal of time committing chess strategies to memory.

4. Understanding. This is by far the most important. There are areas of the game that I understand so well that they require almost no thought or effort on my part. I can play these positions with ease. There are other areas of the game where I feel completely ignorant. For example, sometimes I get into positions that make me uncomfortable because I don't understand them very well.

The reason why understanding is so important is that the more we understand something, the easier it is to learn. This worked really well for me on my computer studies, because the concepts came easy for me, so it didn't take much effort to learn them.

I think many players try to learn things in chess without fully understanding them. At times I have been guilty of this. It can be difficult because chess is a hard-to-comprehend game. There are many different areas in chess, each of which can be a separate field of knowledge.

So to be a good student at chess, one needs either good coaches or good books that explain the concepts well, and the student needs to make sure that he really understands what it is that he is learning. The same thing could probably be said about any field of study.

Best wishes,
John Coffey


WIN WITH 1. E4 | The Vienna Gambit

I watched this video, recorded all the moves shown, and I added some computer analysis to the lines that I thought needed it.


This might be messy, but all the lines and analysis are below.  This could be useful for someone wanting to explore the opening.

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2021.08.10"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Gotham Vienna Analysis"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C25"]
[Annotator ", John"]
[PlyCount "47"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 (2... Nf6 3. f4 d5 (3... exf4 4. e5
Ng8 5. Nf3 d6 6. d4 dxe5 7. Qe2 Bb4 8. Qxe5+ Qe7 9. Bxf4 {
With a huge lead in development.}) (3... Nc6 4. fxe5 Nxe5 5. d4 Ng6 6. e5 Ng8
7. Nf3 d6 8. Bc4 dxe5 9. O-O exd4 10. Bxf7+ (10. Ng5 dxc3 11. Bxf7+ Ke7 12.
Re1+)) (3... d6 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bb5 Bd7 6. d3 {
If Black plays a6 at some point, then Bxc6 and castle and open the F file.}) 4.
fxe5 Nxe4 5. Qf3 {This is Gotham Chess main line.} (5. d3 Nxc3 (5... Qh4+ {
leads to a trap that John Coffey has played for 30  years.} 6. g3 Nxg3 7. Nf3
Qh5 8. Nxd5 Na6 (8... Nxh1 9. Nxc7+ {Leads to a chaotic position.}) 9. Nf4 Qh6
10. Ne2) 6. bxc3 {White would like to play Nf3, d4, Bd3, and O-O.}) (5. Nf3 {
is considered the main line.}) 5... Nc6 (5... f5 6. d3 Nxc3 7. bxc3 d4 {
Otherwise White will play d4.  This is a tricky system.  Black knows what he
is doing.} (7... Be6 8. d4 ({Or} 8. Ne2 {headed to f4.}) ({
Stockfish barely prefers} 8. Nh3)) 8. Qg3 {White chooses to sacrifice the pawn.
} {If they take...} dxc3 9. Be2 {The point is to threaten Bh5.} g6 (9... a6 {
Stockfish gives} 10. Bh5+ g6 11. Bxg6+ hxg6 12. Qxg6+ Kd7 13. e6+ Kc6 (13...
Ke7 14. Bg5+) 14. e7+ Qd6 15. e8=Q+ Bd7 16. Qxd6+ cxd6 17. Qf7) 10. Bf3 {
Intending Ne2 and castle.}) (5... Nxc3 6. bxc3 {
Intending to rebuild the center.  Now Black can do many things.} ({You can play
} 6. dxc3 {with the goal of} Be6 7. Bf4 c5 ({Stockfish prefers} 7... Nd7 8.
O-O-O {Which is equal.}) 8. O-O-O {
With an advantage to White.  Maybe intending Bc4.} {Stockfish likes} Nd7 (8...
Be7 {would be a mistake} 9. Bc4) 9. Nh3 {Intending Ng5.}) 6... c5 {
He doens't recommend d4 here.} (6... Be7 7. d4 O-O (7... c5 8. Bd3 {
is still fine.} c4 9. Bf5) 8. Bd3 Be6 {This is a mistake.} 9. Ne2 {
Intending to castle and attack the Kingside.} ({Stockfish prefers} 9. Qh5 g6
10. Qh6 f6 11. Nf3 Rf7 12. O-O Qf8 13. exf6 Bxf6 14. Qe3 Qe7 15. Re1 Bd7 16.
Qd2 Qd6 17. a4 c5 18. Ba3 Na6 19. Ne5 Bxe5 20. dxe5 ({Or} 20. Rxe5) 20... Qe6
21. Bxa6 Qxa6 22. Bxc5 Qa5 23. Qe3)) 7. Qg3 {
To punish Black for not moving his bishop.} ({You can't play} 7. d4 cxd4 8.
cxd4 Bb4+ {And White is going to have a  hard time defending his pawns.} ({
According to Stockfish, much better is} 8... Qh4+ 9. Qf2 Bb4+ 10. Ke2 Qe4+ 11.
Kd1 Bc3 12. Nf3 (12. Rb1 Bxd4 13. Qe2 O-O (13... Bb6) (13... Nc6) (13... Bc5) (
13... Bg4 {Are all also good.})) 12... Bxa1) {Stockfish:} 9. Kd1 {
Black has just a 0.6 advantage.}) {Some people will freak out with} 7... g6 8.
Nf3 {Develope. Now White has a choice to respond to Nc6 with Bb4 and take it,
or respond to Bf5 with Bd3.} Bf5 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. cxd3 {
Long term White benefits from the open F file.}) 6. Bb5 {
You need to pin the knight.} (6. Nxe4 {is bad.} Nd4 7. Qc3 dxe4) 6... Nxc3 {
Now you should take with the D pawn.} 7. dxc3 {
Because you need to open up your Bishop and get developed quickly.} (7. bxc3 {
This is an option, but he is not fond of it.}) 7... Qh4+ 8. g3 Qe4+ {This is a
common line, but if they don't know the theory, then you will never face this.}
9. Be3 Qxc2 (9... Qxf3 10. Nxf3 {is minuscule better for White according to
Stockfish 14.  White plans to castle queenside.}) 10. Ne2 Qxb2 11. O-O Qxb5 12.
Qxf7+ Kd8 13. Nd4 {Stockfish 14 likes} Qc5 (13... Nxd4 14. Bg5+) 14. Nxc6+ bxc6
15. Bxc5 Bxc5+ 16. Kg2) 3. Bc4 ({Gotham Chess does not like} 3. f4 exf4 4. Nf3
g5 (4... d6 5. d4 {transposes back to a Vienna Gambit.}) {
Stockfish 14 gives the line} 5. g3 (5. Bc4 g4 6. O-O gxf3 {
Which is technically losing for White.}) 5... Bg7 6. d4 d6 7. d5 Ne5 8. gxf4
gxf4 9. Bxf4 Bg4 10. Be2 Bxf3 11. Bxf3 Qf6 12. Bxe5 Qxe5 13. Qe2 O-O-O 14.
O-O-O Kb8 15. Kb1 Nf6 16. Rhg1 Rhg8 17. Bg4 Bh8 18. Bh3 {
with a 0.46 advantage for Black.}) 3... Bc5 {Gotham Chess calls this the
copycat variation.  He says that it is losing for Black.} (3... Nf6 {
This is just the Two Knight's defense.  Gotham Chess likes ...} 4. d3 {
Black can play Bc5, Bb4, or ...} Bc5 {This is the most common.} (4... Bb4 5.
Nge2 {Reinforce the knight.  Intending to castle and f4-f5}) (4... Na5 {
"The professional move."} 5. Bb3 (5. Qf3 Nxc4 6. dxc4 {
with the idea of castling queenside as quickly as possible.}) 5... Nxb3 6. axb3
{and try to play for f2-f4.}) 5. f4 {This is a cool trappy variation} d6 6. Nf3
Bg4 (6... Ng4 {Inaccurate.  This looks scary like you have blundered something.
} 7. Ng5 {Counterattacking.} O-O (7... Nf2 8. Qh5 {is winning.} g6 9. Bxf7+ Kd7
10. Be6+ Ke8 11. Qh6 {is winning for White.} Qf6 (11... Nd4 12. Qg7 Bxe6 13.
Nxe6 Qh4 14. g3 Nxe6 15. Qxh8+ Kd7 16. Qxa8 Qh3 17. Qg8 Qg2 18. Qf7+ Kd8 (18...
Kc6 19. Qe8+) 19. Qxe6 Qxh1+ 20. Kd2 (20. Ke2 Qg2 21. Ke1 Qg1+ 22. Kd2 Nxe4+
23. Nxe4 Qe3+) 20... Qxh2 21. Ne2) (11... Bxe6 12. Nxe6 Qe7 13. Nd5 Qf7 14. Rf1
) 12. Nd5 Qf8 13. Qxf8+ Rxf8 14. Rf1 {Stockfish 14: 1)} h6 ({Stockfish 14: 2)}
14... Nd4 15. Bxc8 Nxd3+ 16. cxd3 Rxc8 17. Nxh7 Rf7 18. Ng5 Rf8 19. Kd1 c6 20.
Nc3) ({Stockfish 14: 3)} 14... Rb8 15. Nxc7+ Ke7 16. Bb3 h6 17. Nd5+ Kd8 18.
Nf3 Nh3 19. fxe5 g5 20. Be3 Nf4 21. Bxf4 gxf4 22. exd6 Be6 23. O-O-O) ({
Stockfish 14: 4)} 14... a5 15. Nxc7+ Ke7 16. Bd5 Rb8 17. Rxf2) ({
Stockfish 14: 5)} 14... Nxe4 15. dxe4 Nd4 16. Nxc7+ Kd8 17. Nxa8 Nxe6 (17...
Nxc2+ 18. Kd1 Nxa1 19. f5) 18. fxe5) 15. Nxc7+ Kd8 16. Bxc8 hxg5 17. Ne6+ Ke7
18. Nxf8 Rxc8 19. Nxg6+ Kf6 20. Bd2 exf4 (20... Kxg6 21. f5+) 21. Nxf4 gxf4 22.
Rxf2) 8. f5 {This is a really nice move.} Nf2 (8... h6 9. Qxg4 {0}) 9. Qh5 h6
10. Nxf7 Rxf7 11. Qxf7+ Kh8 12. f6 gxf6 13. Bxh6) 7. Na4 {
Gotham Chess describes this as the most important move of this entire lesson.}
Nd4 8. Nxc5 dxc5 9. c3 {Trying to induce} Nxf3+ 10. gxf3 {
with a very solid center intending to castle queenside.}) (3... d6 4. d3 {
Intending f4, Nf3 and 0-0.}) 4. Qg4 {Stockfish likes this move.} Qf6 {
and here comes the magic...} (4... g6 5. Qf3 Nf6 (5... Nd4 6. Qxf7#) 6. Nge2 {
To prevent 6... Nd4.  White intends d3 with Bg5 with a "much better position"
because they have weakened their dark squares considerably.} d6 7. d3 Bg4 8. Qg3
{Intending Bg5 and Qh4.}) (4... Kf8 5. Qf3 {With the same idea.}) 5. Nd5 Qxf2+
6. Kd1 g6 (6... Kf8 7. Nh3 h5 8. Qg5 Qd4 9. d3 Be7 10. Qg3 {
Gotham chess claims that this position is so rare that you would never face it.
} {And that Black has to play this move.} b5 ({Stockfish 14: 1)} 10... Nf6 11.
c3 Qc5 12. Rf1 h4 13. Qf3 Nd8 14. Bg5 Qd6 15. Ne3 b5 16. Bb3 Qxd3+ 17. Ke1 Qd6
18. Nf5 Qb6 19. Nf2 Ne6 20. Be3 Bc5 21. Nxg7 Bxe3 22. Nxe6+ dxe6 23. Qxf6 Rh6
24. Qxe5 Qc5 25. Ng4 Qxe5 26. Nxe5 {0.65/45}) ({Stockfish 14: 2)} 10... b5 11.
Bxb5 h4 12. Qf3 Qc5 13. Bc4 Nd4 14. Qf2 c6 15. c3 Ne6 16. Be3 Qd6 17. Rf1 f6
18. Nxe7 Nxe7 19. Kc2 a5 20. Rad1 Ba6 21. Kb1 a4 22. a3 Ke8 23. Bxa6 Rxa6 24.
d4 Ra5 25. Ka1 Rb5 26. Qc2 {1.43/45}) ({Stockfish 14: 3)} 10... h4 11. Qf3 Nd8
12. Nxc7 Nf6 13. Nf2 Rb8 14. Nb5 Qb6 15. a4 a6 16. a5 Qc6 17. Na7 Qd6 18. Ng4
Nxg4 19. Qxg4 Qd4 20. Nxc8 Rxc8 21. c3 Qf2 22. h3 Ne6 23. Re1 Rc7 24. Ra2 Nf4
25. Bxf4 exf4 26. Bd5 {1.72/45}) ({Stockfish 14: 4)} 10... Nd8 11. Nxc7 Rb8 12.
Nd5 h4 13. Qf3 b5 14. Bb3 a5 15. a4 Nf6 16. axb5 Nxd5 17. Bxd5 Rxb5 18. Rf1
Rxb2 19. Bxb2 Qxb2 20. Ra2 Qc3 21. Bxf7 Bb4 22. Bc4+ Ke8 23. Qe3 Nc6 24. Ng1
Nd4 25. Qg5 d6 26. Ne2 {1.86/44}) ({Stockfish 14: 5)} 10... Qc5 11. Rf1 Nf6 12.
Be3 Qd6 13. Ng5 h4 14. Qf2 Nd8 15. Nxf6 gxf6 16. Nf3 b5 17. Bd5 c6 18. Bb3 Qc7
19. Nxh4 d5 20. exd5 cxd5 21. Bxd5 Bg4+ 22. Kd2 Rc8 23. c3 Be6 24. Bxe6 Nxe6
25. Nf5 b4 26. c4 {2.03/44})) 7. Nh3 Qd4 8. d3 {
Gotham chess says that the Queen is trapped, but Stockfish gives...} Be7 (8...
h5 9. Qf3) 9. Qf3 f5 (9... Qc5 10. Nxc7+) (9... b5 10. Nxc7+ Kd8 11. Nxb5 Qb6
12. Be3 Qa5 13. Qxf7) 10. c3 ({or} 10. Nxc7+ Kd8 11. Nxa8) 10... Qc5 11. exf5
b5 12. Bb3 Bb7 13. Ng5 Nd8 14. Be3 Qd6 15. Ne4 Qc6 (15... Qxd5 16. Bxd5 Bxd5)
16. f6 Bd6 17. f7+ Nxf7 18. Nxc7+ Qxc7 19. Qxf7+ Kd8 20. Bg5+ Ne7 (20... Be7
21. Qf8#) (20... Kc8 21. Qe8+ Qd8 22. Qxd8#) 21. Qf6 Qc6 22. Nxd6 Kc7 23. Nxb7
Kxb7 24. Qxe7 1-0


Magicnus Carlsen


Even though the first game is a short draw, I found some of the lines interesting.  This is a neat opening.

However, the second game is both pretty amazing and funny.


Interesting blitz game.

[Event "Casual G/10"]
[Site "Columbus Chess Club"]
[Date "2021.07.29"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Coffey, John"]
[Black "Hollars, Isaiah"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2016"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventType "blitz"]
[TimeControl "600"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 O-O 7. e3 c6
8. Bd3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 b6 10. e4 Bb7 11. e5 Nd5 12. Bxe7 Nxe7 13. O-O Nd7 14. Ne4
Qc7 15. Nd6 Rfd8 16. Qc2 Nc8 17. Nxf7 Kxf7 18. Qf5+ Kg8 19. Bxe6+ Kh8 20. Ng5
Nf8 21. Nf7+ Kg8 22. Nxh6+ Kh8 23. Nf7+ Kg8 24. Ng5+ Nxe6 25. Qxe6+ Kh8 26.
Qh3+ Kg8 27. Qh7+ Kf8 28. Qh8+ Ke7 29. Qxg7+ Ke8 30. Qg8+ Kd7 31. Qe6# 1-0


The 35 most important chess principles

Most serious players already understand these, but I think that we all know people who could benefit from basic principles.

This video didn't teach me anything I didn't already know, except #32 which states that opposite-colored bishops are dangerous in the middle game.  I didn't know that.

I like principle #35.  If he didn't state it, I was going to mention it.

It is too bad that he didn't get to King opposition.  


The first 3 minutes talk about a Grandmaster tournament game being stopped midway because of COVID.



Bobby Fischer beats a Grandmaster in 10 moves! (But Reshevsky plays on)

Compare this 4-year-old video to a more recent one ...


This is a bit monotone.  It sounds like he has a cold or is tired.  I'm glad that his presentation improved over time.

At one time I thought that I would like to do chess instruction videos, but there are a ton of players better than me doing a really good job.  It is a very crowded field.

My presentation would not be near as interesting.


Centaur Smart Chess Set


BTW, at the Columbus Chess Club last night I helped a guy named Paul Chestnut use his new chess computer.  This thing is pretty interesting.  It typically sells for about $450.   The board can sense where you move the pieces.  Want to start a new game?  Just set the pieces back to the beginning.  Want to take back one or more moves?  Just move in reverse.  You can take back the computer's move and play a different move for the computer, which might be useful if you want to play against a specific opening, or if you want to analyze.

There are circular lights under each square that highlight where the computer wants to move.

The pieces are the same size as my nice $35 chess pieces, although my pieces aren't as tall as some brands.  The board is just barely smaller than a standard tournament board, which makes for a pleasant playing experience.  The pieces and the board seem like they are made of lightweight plastic.  The pieces don't have much weight to them except that I think that they have a magnet on the bottom.  Underneath the board, there is no covering over the electronics that sense the movement of the pieces, so overall this device feels cheaply made.

There is a small screen that shows what position the computer thinks is on the board, which is helpful in case something got mixed up.  It can also display a chess clock.

All the brains seem to be on the narrow right side panel.  I suspect that it is using something equivalent to a phone processor, or maybe something cheaper.  It is running Stockfish, which potentially makes it a very strong chess computer.

Unfortunately, it only has 3 modes of difficulty.  There is "Friendly" that tries to automatically adjust to your level, however, Paul and I playing together lost to this mode.   There is "Challenge" that tries to be tougher, and then there is "Expert".  Given that it is running Stockfish, this "Expert" mode probably plays like a strong Grandmaster or better.  The Stockfish program running on a desktop computer is far better than any human player.

An ideal chess program would allow you to set the playing ability by ELO rating, which for computers can go up to about 3600.  My rating is around 2000.  Magnus Carlsen is rated 2847.   Ideally, it could also go down to zero.  


Top 10 Chess Players (2000-2020)

I think that this is interesting.  Magnus Carlsen appears on the list at 1:20 in the video.  By 1:38 he is #1. 

Here are the top computer chess programs:

In the final standings, I am surprised that AlphaZero is not on top.

Giveaway INC - GM Simon Williams | iChess.net

I'm not suggesting that anyone purchase this course.  However, the sample videos here are interesting.