Exeter Chess Club Centenary Simul 1996

"There is really only one mistake in chess -

  underestimating your opponent"





Last year, I led a session on "What makes a difference? How 120-graded players beat 100s", and another following up last year's simul by IM Gary Lane. This is an attempt to do the two at once. The conclusions, but not the examples, from that other session are appended.

  Also, last year I tried to stress the differences in quality between classes (e.g. county players play on in endgames); and this time I want to look more perhaps at the differences in degree - like, we all play theory, but the better players play more of it as a rule. It's mostly opening and middlegame stuff this time (he didn't have to play too many endgames...). Gary commented that the play was of quite high standard: he may say that to all the boys, but we did take 3 1/2 points off him which is probably 3 1/2 more than he drops some nights!

  He also commented that he was in more trouble when in unfamiliar openings. The most spectacular example of that was in Chris' game, but others also gave him trouble. Now that does not mean avoiding theory at all costs - unfamiliar means unfamiliar to Gary, not unknown to theory or unorthodox . When we played unorthodox (like the Hedgehog) we usually struggled (Robin, Bruce, Eddie, Ray). When we played well-founded openings that we knew a bit about, we lasted longer (Matthew, Dave).

  Trouble also arose when the opponent had counterplay - this is almost what we mean by 'trouble'. This is the problem with the Hedgehog - it's solid enough but you never know where your counterplay is coming from. Masters can make use of this system but club players tend to drift. In other formations you know what sort of plans are usually going to be available (French: attack on d4; Sicilian: attack on e4/down the c-file). Our play in the Hedgehog is more hopeful than well-founded; curling up and hoping may delay the end but cannot affect the result!

  The second positional theme, which you can see in the games with the Hedgehog and other openings, was share of centre: you need to grab some of it it (easiest: see the games by Hunshank and Matthew) or plan to disrupt it (Bruce, Sean) or have a go at it later (harder: see Dave's treatment of the Modern).

  The other problems we had were tactical: one over-cautious and one over-optimistic. Two problems with the same cure: analyse and live in knowledge, rather than guess and live in hope.

  I think there were one or two Gary Lane sacrifices which were played more from inspiration than calculation (Hunshank, Robin). Our response was to decline - on principle? This is declining from fear, not knowledge. Analyse and find out if there is a win for your opponent, don't panic and refuse material that you could have for free. You may get it wrong if you analyse, but you may guess wrong if you try to make some overall judgement. You can see some grown-up decisions in the games by Dan and Chris.

  The other problem was just the opposite: letting Gary get off a snap attack (Alan (not given below) and Dave). We seemed to hope that we would be OK, but were proved wrong. This may be poor positional judgement, but in fact analysing a couple of moves deeper may have revealed what sort of trouble we were getting into. Again, this is playing in hope, not knowledge.



Player Grade Result Moves Theory W Castled B 
Rowston, B 89 1-0 17 3B 10 15 
Coates, AE 106 1-0 18+ 5W 11 12 
Bazley, RJ 110 1-0 29 2B 7 17 
Cubbon, R ug 1-0 32 3B/4W 5 18 
Czerniawski, E ug 1-0 33 3B 6 - 
Ehtesham, YAH 84 1-0 38 6B 10 20 
Hill, D 160 1-0 38 8B/10B 14 17 
Regis, D 168 1-0 41 9W/9B 8 6 
Pope, S 156 1/2-1/2 40 5W 6 6 
Leigh, M 152 0-1 33 7W 7 15 
Homer, S 129 ha! 160 0-1 29 3W 6 6 
Bellers, C 162 0-1 25 5W?? 9 - 


The gallant losers

Lane, G - Rowston, B (89), (1-0, 17)

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4



3...Bb4 [3...d5]

  There is no reason to avoid playing into healthy theory with ...d5, which also insists on a share of the centre. In this game Black hits back straightaway with ...c5, but in other games the challengers were more generous with the centre.

4.Bd3 c5! 5.dxc5 b6?! [5...Na6 6. Be3 Qa5] 6.cxb6 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Qxb6 8.Nf3 Bb7 9.Qe2 d6 10.0-0 Nbd7 11.Be3 Qa5 12.Bd2 Nc5 13.e5 Bxf3 14.Qxf3 Nd5 15.exd6 0-0 16.Rfd1



Black is worse, but...

16...Nxc3 17.Bxc3 1-0

  ...that's fatal. This three-mover is a characteristic type of error: after the forced sequence which I want to make, can my opponent then spring a trap? This three-mover is also the sort of thing that I expect we would all come up with in answer to: why can't Black take the Pc3?

  We all make mistakes in calculation (in consecutive rounds of the U170 Paignton congress this year my opponents missed mates in one, and I missed a disrupting check at the start of a combination one round later!).

  It is plain that better players make fewer errors. This is partly experience (better players often play more, or played a lot more as juniors) but there are some habits we could all adopt. Kotov's recommends "Blumenfeld's rule" - before you play a move, write it down, and have another, fresh, look - "through the eyes of a patzer" - what have I missed?


See also An important note about Blumenfeld's rule.

Lane, G - Coates, AE, (106), (1-0, 18+)

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 [5.Bc4] 5...Ngf6 6.Bd3 [6.Ng3, 6.Nxf6 are known to theory] 6...Nxe4 7.Bxe4 Nf6



Black's handling of White's opening has been exemplary; White loses a tempo or the Bishop pair. I might venture the same comment as above; there was no reason to avoid the recommendations of theory.

8.Bd3 Bg4 9.c3 e6 10.h3 Bh5 11.0-0 Be7 12.Re1 0-0 13.Bf4 Qd5 14.g4 Bg6 15.Bf1 h5 16.Ne5 hxg4 17.hxg4 Bh7 18.Bg2 ... more? 1-0


Lane, G - Bazley, RJ (110), (1-0, 29)

1.d4 e6 2.e4 g6 [2...b6] 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Be3 c6 [4...b6] 5.Nf3 h6 6.Be2 Ne7 7.0-0 d6 8.Qd2



Black's set-up has some positive points but this hedgehog approach places no difficulties in White's way except to decide where to point his cannons. Black needs to expand or create some counterplay somewhere, or else White will be able to pile up on a point that Black is too cramped to defend properly. Gary had this type of advantage in several games, and his approach was usually to sit on his plus and prevent Black breaking out, rather than rush to attack.

8...b6 score says ...P-QB3 [8...Nd7] 9.a4 Bd7 10.h3 a5 11.Bf4 Qc7 12.d5 Bxc3 13.Qxc3 e5 14.Nxe5 Rh7 15.Nxd7 Nxd7 16.Rad1 c5 17.Bb5 0-0-0 18.Qg3 Nf6 19.Qf3 Nh5 20.Bh2



20...Ng8 [20...f5?!; 20...Rf8!?]

  Same problem: Black cannot curl up and hope, he needs space and counterplay.

21.e5 dxe5 22.d6 Qb7 23.Bc6 Qa6 24.Bxe5 Kb8 25.d7+ Ka7 26.Bc7 Ne7 27.Bxd8 Nxc6 28.Qxc6 Qb7 29.Bxb6+ 1-0


Lane, G - Cubbon, R (ug), (1-0, 32)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5



3...Nge7 [3...Bc5; 3...d6] 4.Nc3 [4.c3]

  I don't know who was avoiding what here; 3...Nge7 (Cozio Defence) is (just) known to theory but 4. Nc3 is not considered a testing reply. However, in response to an unknown variation a solid response is most practical.

4...d6 5.0-0 a6 6.Ba4 Bg4 7.h3 Bd7 8.Re1



8...h6 [8...g6; 8...Ng6] 9.Bb3 Ng6 10.d4 exd4 11.Nxd4 Be7 12.Nf5 Bf6 13.Nd5 Nge7 [13...0-0]

  In his Art of Attack, Vukovic blames late castling for most of the slaughter that goes on at simuls. That's not really true for most of this simul., but Black here is a bit too shy of it. The opposite fault is also seen ("castling into it"), but usually you can and should castle as soon as possible - not just to protect the King, but also to connect the Rooks, so you can contest open files.

14.Nxf6+ gxf6 15.Qh5 Ne5 16.Bxh6 Bxf5 17.exf5 Qd7



18.Rxe5 0-0-0

  I can see a check on f7 coming, I can see Black in trouble, but I can't see the mate. Accepting had to be tried in the absence of a forced win, because declining is a forced loss. Also, a sacrifice to get at the King is a Frying Pan where both sides feel the heat, but giving up material is a Fire where only Black burns.

  [18...fxe5 19.Qxf7+ (19.Bxf7+ Kd8 20.Be6 Qb5 21.Bb3 Qe8 22.Qxe8+ Kxe8; 19.Be6 Qc6 20.Qxf7+ Kd8 21.Bg5 Qe8 22.Qf6) 19...Kd8 20.Qg7 Re8 21.Bf7 Nxf5 22.Qg5+]

19.Qxf7 Melodramatic; retreating the Rook was OK too. 19...fxe5 Mistimed! 20.Be6 Rxh6 21.Bxd7+ Kxd7 22.f6 Re8 23.fxe7 Rxe7 24.Qf5+ Rhe6 25.Re1 c6 26.Re3 Kc7 27.Rg3 b5 28.Rg6 Rxg6 29.Qxg6 a5 30.h4 e4 31.h5 e3 32.fxe3 Rxe3 1-0


Lane, G - Czerniawski, E (ug), (1-0, 33)

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3



3...e6 [3...g6, 3...c6]

  Again, I think the hedgehog approach is giving White just what he wants.

4.Nf3 h6 5.Be2 a6 6.0-0 Be7 7.Be3 Bd7 8.h3 b5 9.a3 Bc6 10.d5 exd5 11.exd5 Bd7 12.Nd4 Qc8 13.Bf3 g5 14.Be2




  Brave but misguided: White is better developed and should be able to shrug off the attack.

15.gxh3 Qxh3 16.Bf3! g4 [16...Nbd7 17.Bg2 Qh4 18.Nf3 Qh5 19.Qd4+-] 17.Bg2 Qh4



This next bit is a shame, but Black didn't really have much reason to be optimistic.

18.Nf5 Qh5 19.Ng7+ Kd8 20.Nxh5 Nxh5 21.Qxg4 Nf6 22.Qf5 Nbd7 23.Bd4 Rg8 24.Rfe1 Rg5 25.Qf3 Rb8 26.Ne4 Rg6 27.Nxf6 Bxf6 28.Qe4 Ne5 29.Kf1 Kc8 30.f4 Nc4 31.Qe8+ Kb7 32.Qc6+ Kc8 33.Bh3+ 1-0

Lane, G - Ehtesham, YAH (84), (1-0, 38)

1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Be2 cxd4 [6...Nh6: the exchange gives White the chance of Nc3] 7.cxd4 Nge7 8.Nc3 Nf5 9.Na4 Qc7 10.0-0 Bd7 11.Be3 Na5 12.Rc1 Qd8 13.Nc5 Bc6 14.b4 Nc4?! 15.Bxc4 dxc4 16.Rxc4



Black has dropped a Pawn, and is behind in development, but plans to put the White centre under pressure with good French moves. But right now...

16...Bd5 [16...Bb5!? 17. Nxb7 Qd5! and I think Black is better] 17.Rc2 b6 18.Nd3 Be7 19.Nf4 Be4 20.Rc1 0-0 21.a3 Bxf3 22.Qxf3 Nxd4

  Black breathes a sigh of relief! And soon picks up another one...

23.Qe4 Nf5 24.Rfd1 Qe8 25.Rc7 Rd8 26.Rdc1 Qa4 27.h3 Qxa3 28.Nh5 Nxe3 29.fxe3 Bxb4



30.Nxg7 [30. Qg4 is natural but 30...Qxe3+ and 31...Qxe5]

  Was this bluff, miscalculation, inspiration, or necessity? White's pieces are good-looking but the Black Pawns will win the game, given time.


  The first ? is for declining. Don't take his word for it! If you can't see a mate, make him show you! But the ! is for a move with a good point - disconnecting the Rooks and hitting the e-Pawn. Yet, the Knight can hop out with a threat to come to f6, and with a Rook on the seventh, White suddenly has a winning attack.

  [30...Kxg7 31.Qg4+ Kh8 32.Qg5 Be7! [32...Bc5!?] 33.Rxe7 Qxc1+ 34.Kh2 Qf1] 31.R1xc5 bxc5 32.Nh5 Qa1+ 33.Kh2 f5 34.exf6 Rf7 35.Qg4+ Kf8 36.Rxf7+ Kxf7 37.Qg7+ Ke8 38.Qe7# 1-0

  You can see from the game and the overall statistics that Hunshank played out of his skin - our visitor may have felt lucky to get away with this.


Lane, G - Hill, D (160), (1-0, 38)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.f4 Nc6 7.Ndf3 Qa5 [7...Qb6; 7...Nb6] 8.Be3



8...cxd4 9.Nxd4 Nxd4 10.Bxd4

  I'm no expert in this line but the exchanges seem to have helped White.

10...Qc7 11.Bd3 Nc5 12.Bc2 Bd7 13.Nf3 Ne4 14.0-0 f5



Black isn't over-developed but the strangle on e4 cannot be ignored. We now get one of the standard French Pawn formations.

15.exf6 Nxf6 16.Ne5 Bd6 17.Qf3 0-0 18.Rae1 Bc5 19.Bb1 Bxd4+ 20.cxd4 Bb5 21.Rf2 Qb6 22.Rd2 Rac8 23.h3 Rc7 24.Kh2 Qa5 25.Rdd1 Qb4 26.Qf2



White has been angling for a King's-side attack for some time - however, Black has started to make concrete progress on the other side. I wouldn't be brave enough to play Black's next, but is was played I think from calculation and not from either blind faith or desperation, and is (whatever its "objective" merits) to be applauded.

26...g5! 27.Qg3 [27.Nf3 g4 28.Nh4=+] 27...Qxb2 28.fxg5 [28.Qxg5+ Kh8 opens the g-file for Black] 28...Nh5 29.Qg4 Nf4 30.Nf3 Be2 winning the exchange

  ...more moves were played; Black is winning but eventually lost. Towards the end, the few survivors get put under increasing pressure!

31.Rd2 Qxd2 32.Nxd2 Bxg4 33.hxg4 Rc3 34.Nb3 b6 35.Nd2 Nd3? 36.Re3 oops 36...Rf2 37.Nf3 Nf4 38.Rxc3 Rxg2+ 1-0


Lane, G - Regis, D (168), (1-0, 41)

1.e4 g6 2.d4 d6 3.Nc3 c6 4.g3 Nf6 5.Bg2 Bg7



This is not a hedgehog: Black has some very concrete plans to attack the White centre. The set-up with ...c6 is not particularly recommended against White's system, but Black believes he deterred the dangerous Austrian attack because of the finesse 4.f4 d5!?

6.Nge2 0-0 7.h3 Nbd7 8.0-0 e5 9.Be3 exd4 10.Bxd4 c5



Exposing the d5 point, but Black reckons to get enough pieces covering it to play ...d5. This is correct, but only just!

11.Be3 Ne5 [threat ...Bxh3] 12.f4 Nc4 13.Bc1 Be6 14.b3 Nb6 15.Be3 Qe7 16.a4 Rad8 17.a5 Nc8

  Black shouldn't have sat still for this, or should have tried ...Nb4.

18.Qd2 Rfe8 19.g4 d5



Black has to play this or die: White controls every other inch of the board. Because it threatens ...d4 Black gets some exchanges and his pieces start to come out.

20.e5 Nxg4 21.hxg4 d4 22.Nxd4 cxd4 23.Bxd4 Bxg4 24.Nd5 Qd7 25.Qf2 Bh3



White still dominates the board.

26.c4 Bxg2 27.Qxg2 Qf5 28.Rad1 h5 29.Ne3 Qe6 30.Qxb7 f6

  Again, Black must try this. He eventually gets his pieces out but has shed a lot of Pawns by then. Nonetheless, this is a much better approach than curling up and hoping.

31.exf6 Bxf6 32.Bxf6 Qxf6 33.Qf3 Rxd1 34.Rxd1 Qc3 35.Qd5+ Kg7



Black has counterplay but the poor Knight still lives in early retirement. Black allows the King to be exposed, and dies acordingly.

36.Ng2 Re2 37.f5 Qc2 38.Rf1 gxf5 (38...Ne7) 39.Rxf5 Ne7 40.Qd4+ Kh6 41.Qh8+ 1-0


A noble draw

Lane, G - Pope, S (156), (1/2-1/2, 40)

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.d4 Nxd5 4.Nf3 g6 5.Be2 Bg7 6.0-0 0-0 7.c3 c5!

  Belt that centre!

8.dxc5 Na6 9.Bc4 Be6 10.Qe2 Nxc5 11.Rd1 Nf4 12.Qc2 Qc7 13.Bxe6 Ncxe6



With the disappearance of the centre Pawns Black can even claim to be better mobilised.

14.Be3 Rfd8 15.Na3 a6 16.Rxd8+ Rxd8 17.Rd1 Nd5 18.Bc1 b5

  A minority attack based more on opportunism than exploitation of a file; the Rooks in fact soon come off the board.

19.h3 b4 20.cxb4 Nxb4 21.Rxd8+ Qxd8 22.Qb3 Nd3 23.Qc2 Nec5 24.Nc4 Nb4



Black nabs a Pawn; White may have hoped that the Knights would get in a tangle.

25.Qe2 Nxa2 26.Bg5 Ne6 27.Be3 Nb4 28.Ne1 Qd5 29.Kf1 Bd4 30.b3 Qe4 31.Qd2 Nc6 32.Nc2 Bxe3 33.N4xe3 Ne5 34.Qa5 Qd3+ 35.Kg1 Qb5 36.Qa3 Nc6 37.b4 Ncd4 38.Qb2 Nxc2 39.Nxc2 Qe2 40.Qc3




  You can't blame GL for offering the draw, or Sean for accepting it, but don't do this in a match, will you?

The glorious winners

Lane, G - Leigh, M (152), (0-1, 33)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Be2 f6 7.0-0 cxd4 8.cxd4 Qb6 9.Nc3 Rc8 10.Re1 fxe5 11.dxe5 Bb4



Black places his pieces actively; White doesn't seem to have got going yet.

12.Bd2 Nge7 13.a3 Bxc3 14.Bxc3 Nf5 15.Bd3 0-0 16.Qe2 h6 17.Rac1 Ncd4 18.Nxd4 Nxd4 19.Qg4 Nf5 20.Bb4 Rf7



White seems to be doing better (two Bishops, etc.) but Black shows that his position is not without chances, despite the dismal light-squared Bishop.

21.Qg6 Rxc1 22.Rxc1 Qd4 23.Bb1 Qxe5 24.g4 Rf6 25.Qh5 Qxb2 26.Rf1 Ne3 27.fxe3 Rxf1+ 28.Kxf1 Bb5+ 29.Kg1 Qxb1+ 30.Kf2 Qf1+ 31.Kg3 Be2



The light-squared Bishop has got the other side of the Pawns and now roams without hindrance - or opposition.

32.Qe5 [32.Qe8+ Kh7 33.Qxe6 Qf3+ 34.Kh4 g5+ 35.Kh5 Qh3#] 32...Qf3+ 33.Kh4 Qxg4# 0-1

Lane, G - Homer, S (129 - ha! 160?), (0-1, 29)

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 c5 3.e3 b6 4.Nf3 e6 5.Bd3 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.e4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bb7



Sicilianish: no idea how they got that out of that start!

9.Re1 d6 10.Kh1 Nc6 11.Be3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 e5

  In all these later games White is not allowed to dominate the centre. White tries again to occupy space with f2-f4, but it is snapped off, giving a situation where both central pawns are isolated.

13.Be3 Rc8 14.f4 exf4 15.Bxf4 Rc5 16.Be3 Re5 17.Bd4 Rg5 18.Qf3 Ng4 19.Qe2 Bf6 20.Bg1 Be5 21.h3 Nf6 22.Be3 Nh5



White's nicely centralised pieces look a bit aimless; Black's risky attack pays off.

23.Kg1 Nf4 [23...Bf4] 24.Qf3 Rxg2+ 25.Kf1 Nxd3 26.Qxg2 Nxe1 27.Kxe1 f5 28.Kd2 f4



29.Bd4 [29.Bf2] 29...Bxd4 0-1


Lane, G - Bellers, C (162), (0-1, 25)

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5 4.Nf3 Qa5



In an unfamiliar opening, White plays something active rather than something solid [5. Be2] and comes badly unstuck. Chris nabs a piece but doesn't just go solid but tries to create problems at every turn, and gradually gets the initiative. There are lots of little tactical points which Chris had steer around - at an increasing rate as others fell by the wayside.

5.Bc4? cxd4 6.Nxd4 Qc5 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Be3 Qa5 9.0-0 Nf6 10.f4 d6 11.Nb3 Qh5 12.Qd3 Ng4 13.h3 Nxe3 14.Qxe3 Nc6 15.Rae1 Bxc3 16.Qxc3 Be6 17.f5 gxf5 18.exf5 Bd5 19.Qd3 Nb4 20.Qb5 Rhg8 21.Rf2 Qxh3 22.Ree2 Rg5 23.Qd7 Nc6 24.c4 Ne5



25.Qc7 25...Bxg2 0-1

  [25...Bxg2 26.Rxg2 Nf3+ 27.Kf1 Qh1+ 28.Kf2 Rxg2+

A) 29.Kxf3 Qh3+ A1) 30.Kf4 Rg4#; A2) 30.Ke4 Rg4+ 31.Kd5 Qf3+ 32.Re4 Qxe4#;

B) 29.Ke3 Qg1+ 30.Kxf3 Qf1+ 31.Ke3 Rxe2+]

  A classy combinational finish, some of which Chris saw at the time! The Bishop sac. is more or less forced anyhow, so that wasn't the hard bit.

What makes a difference? Thumbnail sketches of classes of player

Minor BCF 80-100 (1240-1400 ELO)

The games of Minor players are often marred by tactical oversights, and the games are often decided that way. Is there any point in commenting further? Yes, because of two very important reasons:

  firstly, Alexander's observation that blunders only occur in losing positions (not always, but more than a grain of truth), and

  secondly, that there are other things about their games which could be improved by greater understanding, even while blunders may appear.

  In the opening, development is often started well and general rules are followed (e.g. move each piece once) but is at times too straightforward and is not always complete. After this the game may appear episodic, with not all the pieces being used to effect. In the endgame there may be some caution about using the King and theory is often not properly understood, but can win and advance pawns properly.

Good reading for Minor players:

An Opening Repertoire for the Attacking Player - Keene/Levy

Chess Openings for Juniors & Attacking the King - John Walker

Logical Chess - Irving Chernev

Chess Endings: Essential Knowledge - Averbach

Winning Endgames - Tony Kosten

Winning Chess - Chernev/Reinfeld

Intermediate BCF 100-120 (1400-1560 ELO)

Intermediate players are usually pretty efficient - solid, get their pieces out properly, play sensibly against odd moves and have mastered the King's-side hack. There is a tendency to adopt fortress-like defensive blockades in the middle-game, and may overlook unobvious moves, or tactics in quiet positions. They know basic book wins in the endgame but may only defend rather than seeking counterplay.


Good reading for Intermediate players:

Repertoire books e.g. Winning with...

Think/Play like a Grandmaster - Kotov

Rate Your Endgame - Mednis/Crouch

Test Your Chess IQ (Book 1) - Livshitz

The Middle Game (I/II) - Euwe & Kramer

Simple Chess - Michael Stean

Major BCF 120-150 (1560-1800 ELO)

Major players usually have a well-worked-out opening repertoire and can set their opponents problems in each phase of the game. Even 200-grade players cannot dismiss the better Major contenders as easy prey.

  There are standard plans and "clockwork" attacks which the Major player understands and plays well. Where a solid formation is adopted there is usually also a view to some flexibility and keeping the pieces at least potentially active. They will seek counterplay and know how to limit the play of their opponents. They usually notice all the relevant featires of the position even if they choose the wrong move/plan.

Good reading for Major players:

Specialist monographs e.g. The Complete...

Practical Chess Endings - Keres

Batsford Chess Endings - Speelman et al.

Secrets of Grandmaster Play - Nunn/Griffiths

  Reading as for intermediate players too.

County BCF 150-180 (1800-2040 ELO)

The County player is an alert player of openings - they will often know some of the theory outside their own repertoire, and play their own lines with some depth - in fact, they play any sort of position pretty well.

  They are beginning to master the art of analysis, being able to sustain assessment of a main line with variations throughout a tactical game, and in complex positions can isolate a theme and crystallise it. They defend much better than weaker players and swindle well.

  In the endgame they do know a bit of theory, and can calculate well enough to improvise a strategy for unknown positions. How often I have embarked optimistically on a slightly worse endgame against county-strength players, only to be ground down without mercy. I often feel, as was once said about Alekhin, there are three games to be played at this level before you can secure the whole or half- point: once in the opening, middle and endgame.

  Obviously there are still things that separate the lower from the higher (approaching 200) boards of county teams: things like judging positions on their merits rather than by analogy, and the coordination of their pieces. And of course, all the common threads (spotting tactics, depth of analysis, thinking for the opponent as well as oneself, knowledge of theory of opening and endgame) can all be expected to be stronger in the better player.

  To conclude:

  1. All chessplayers make mistakes all the time. Moreover, you cannot extract a win from a position by effort alone, or the application of only your genius, your opponent must make a mistake.

  2. There are some mistakes that everybody makes. These probably include misjudging (or simply failing to spot) combinations and other opportunities, attacking without justification, inadequate technique, and thinking only for yourself.

  So, mistakes are inevitable, but to be worked on - for example, try to eliminate one-move mistakes, then two-movers, and so on. I'm sure becoming more efficient or more consistent would for most of us result in a rise in grade without any great new insights being gained.

Books with annotated amateur games

Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur, Euwe & Meiden

The Amateur's Mind, Jeremy Silman

The Improving Annotator, Dan Heisman

Thinkers' Chess, Stephan Gerzadowicz (Correspondence games)

Magazines: Rabbits Review, Chess Circuit