Campaign, Schmampaign, What If My Opponent Plays Something Different?

You funny!?! The whole point of having a campaign is that every move they make is either expected, slightly off the beaten trail, or bad! You actually have 3 choices every time your opponent moves… You can continue the campaign because you still have tons of stuff to do, abandon your original campaign for the alternate campaign, or punish them for making a mistake! Remember this is all about variations, transpositions, branchpoints, and errors. The only reason to abandon your campaigns is to collect your reward for your opponents errors. If your opponents are constantly causing you to abandon your campaigns and lose the game, your campaigns are too small, rigid, ill conceived, or not properly researched! Let’s get started.

Here white can play Qe2, h3, Re1, a4, Be3, Qd3, Bg5, d5,

No matter which one they pick, black’s move will be 7… c7-c6. The game continued, 7.Re1 c6 8. a4
Qc7 9. dxe5?! dxe5 10. Bg5?!

It’s highly unlikely that white knows they’ve already made 2 mistakes and black has the initiative!?

This is a vote chess game. A whole team of players had 3 days for each move. It’s obvious to me that they spent no time on books written by grandmasters, databases, or moving the pieces around. Having a campaign let’s me know that I already have a substantial advantage! More importantly, it let’s me know that my opponents don’t have a campaign or a plan. They are on their own, I’m still reading directly from my homework!! 10…Nc5!? 11. b4? (11. h3 Rd8 12. Qc1 Ne6 13. Be3=) 11…Rd8! 12. Qe2?! Because shadowing the queen is part of my campaign, I have to prepare for the most creative types of redevelopment for her. I actually got this idea after studying the London’s recapture of the knight on b1. Analysis taught me that if I refuse the queen a home on the e and d files, I’d need to be ready for this development of the queen… (12. Qb1! Ne6 13. Qb3 h6 14. Bh4 a5 15. b5 Bb4 16. Red1 Rxd1+ 17. Rxd1 Nc5 18. Qb2 Bg4 19. bxc6 Bxf3! 20. gxf3
Qxc6=/+) Diagram

Analyzing your campaign games prepares you for everything!

12… Ne6! This is the end of the campaign! From here black should be able to win! 13. Be6?! Bxe6 14. Rab1 h6 15. Bh4 a5! 16. b5 Bb4 17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Qe3 cxb5 19. Nxb5 Qxc2 20. Rec1 Qxa4 21. Nc7 Rac8

22. Qxh6? Rxc7! 23. Qxf6 Rxc1+ 24. Rxc1 Rd1 and white resigned.

The next game is another vote chess game. I used to play a lot of vote chess until it got to be too much work! There was always early voting or garbage 1/2 moves instead of whole continuations to compare. It did teach me a lot about how lazy most chess players are. Fun, fun, fun, all the time. They lack the discipline to follow grandmaster advice to end or consistency!?! It was very encouraging to realize that learning to win more games was going to be infinitely easier than I had originally thought!?!

This early variation will transpose and/or be punished.

Alekhine was the 1st player to condemn Bg5?! in the Philidor. It is a relief that black will not have to deal with any fireworks on f7 or in the center since the f3 knight can’t get to g5. I’m getting help with my campaign on the 5th move of the game! 5… c6 6. dxe5 dxe5 7. Bc4 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Qe2 Qc7

Look Familiar? 2 errors already again!

Some you may be wondering why I’m not rushing to play …b5. My campaign analysis has proved that if I play it too soon, the pawns will become targets. It’s better to let my opponent play a4 and then a5 so that I get the tempos and the stealth I need to mask my kingside intentions. To run a campaign you must have patience! 10. Rad1? Wrong move and wrong rook. Remember, how many times I’ve said you must watch games in the openings you intend to play to learn where to put the rooks? They had to play 10. a4. (10. Rfd1 b5 11. Bb3 a5 12. a4 b4 13. Nb1 h6!?= would have kept things level) 10… b5 11. Bb3 a5 12. a4 b4 13. Nb1 Ba6 14. Bc4 Bxc4 15. Qxc4 h6??

Campaigns are more error tolerant than planlessness!

Campaign protect you because you always have possibilities. Here I could have played 15…Nb6! and followed it up with c5 and c4. Again, mistakes come in pairs so my opponent didn’t take. Knowing when to abandon the campaign for other gains can be as difficult as conducting the campaign itself! I played 15…h6?? with an eye to doubling in the knights, control of f4, g and h files, King lifts and slides, etc... Every time you analyze a game, there is room to tweak and improve your campaigns. Don’t miss them!! The game continued with the new campaign being to put the queen in jail!! 16 Bh4?? Nb6! 17. Qb3 c5 18. Nbd2 c4 19. Qa2 Rad8 20. Bg3 Bd6 21. Rfe1 Rfe8 22. h3 Rd7 23. b3?? c3 (the nail in the coffin)

Even when she gets out on move 31 sitting on f7, she only has 2 squares.

24. Nc4 Nxc4 25. bxc4 Qc6 26. c5? Qxc5 27. Nxe5 Bxe5 28. Bxe5 Rxd1 29. Rxd1 Rxe5 30. Rd8+ Kh7 31. Qxf7 Rxe4 0-1 Their team abandoned the game!

“Look for opportunities to play d5” I didn’t used to get many opportunities for d5 until I reread my analysis of the main line and realized that 90% of the time I would not take back immediately if they played e4xd5. Some of the best ideas in your campaign have been overlooked because of improper piece development and placement. This game breaks from the normal campaign and shows how you can still make a killing of what you have left. This used to be the main line of the Hanham Variation until I busted it. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 Nbd7 5. Bc4 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Qe2 c6 8. a4
Qc7 9. a5 h6 10. Bd2 Re8 11. Ba2?

Reexplore your main line!!

The bust goes… 11….exd4! 12. Nxd4 d5 13. exd5 Bd6! 14. Be3 Bxh2+ 15. Kh1 Ne5! and black has a complicated but real initiative. Now watch this game and see how they played something different but I still did the same thing!!

I don’t have to change anything about my campaign to deal with this novelty!
  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Qe2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. c3!? Not a bad move in and of itself. The position is equal with white still having a little 1st move initiative left. The game continued with 6…c6 7. d4 Qc7 8. Rd1 Bg4! With the queen being the only protector of the e pawn, Be3 is unlikely for a while, and h3 may never get played. (induce h3 or f3) 9. Nbd2 Nbd7 10. h3 Bh5 11. Nf1 Rfe8 12. g4 Bg6 13. Ng3?
Different position, same combo because my campaign includes a rook spy on the queen!!

13. exd4! 14. cxd4 (14. Rxd4 d5 15. exd5 Bd6 16. Qf1 cxd5 17. Bb5 Bxg3 18. fxg3 Qxg3+ 19. Qg2 Qd6-+) 14…d5 15. exd5 Bd6 16. Qf1 cxd5 17. Bb3 Bxg3 18. fxg3 Qxg3+ 19. Qg2 Qd6 and black won. A 7 move winning combo that I didn’t have to give 1 thought to because the elements of my campaign were present. 19 moves of absolutely stress free chess! Schmampaign that!!!

Even if someone designs a campaign for you, there will be a good amount of material you will have to study. I’ve got more openings, games, and campaigns coming every week! Do you have a campaign? Do you want a campaign, or do you want to keep having fun, fun, fun, whether you win, draw, or lose? I want to work with some people that are determine to never lose!? Chess isn’t about winning all the time, it’s about never losing. You started with 1/2 not zero!! It’s time you learned how to keep yours and take theirs.

Your coaching dollars will never be better invested!?! Call Coach Mike and let’s get started today! 804-426-6058. If you are not ready for coaching, we’ll get you ready for free!!

Over The Board Chess Is Back!

Remember this?

Go back to 2020 and this was what the Tournament Life Announcements looked like. Chess is probably the only sport that has grown during the pandemic!? Now all the Queen’s Gambit and E-Chess enthusiast are coming out to test their online skills in real tournaments.

The pages are full again with opportunities to test your disciplines. We reopened 2 December. The questions coming from people transitioning from online, or back to Over The Board chess have the same underlying theme. The Screen is for your casual eye and the board is for your slow/tournament eye. They mentioned it as fast or slow in this month’s issue of Chess Life, but I’ve been teaching the difference between the casual and tournament eye for more than 3 decades. Experience makes you good at tactics, study and analysis make you good at strategy. Study and analysis sticks better when you use a board!

Play, teach, direct, and organize is back! It takes a tournament or going to a club to make players realize how much they’d forgotten study, play, analyze, reflect and repeat!! For the prepared student, the next couple of years will be the easiest points ever gotten at a chess board!! E player weaknesses will become the articles of insight!? E-chess service providers will be selling everything you need to correct following their, instead of grandmaster advice?!

If you are ready to get to work,(go to tournaments), SCBC is poised as always to give you the training that will get you in the top 100 of your age category, with 40%- 60% less games than players that are just getting better by experience! Virginia’s own Praveen Balakrishnan, broke 2600 in 2020 and was awarded the title of grandmaster in Feb of 2022, I’m sure that he’d agree it can and should be done in less than 1960 games and 14 years!! I hope someone gives his parents a trophy. They had a 3 year period where they took him to 764 games!

We can give you lessons on how to use one of these!

Getting some help, even on a short term basis, is better than spending thousands of dollars a year trying to get good at chess from experience. Why go out and make your own mistakes when you can learn what to do from everyone else’s. Consultations are free and informative! If the student is not ready for coaching, we get them ready for free!!

Guaranteed Results Starting $25.00 an Hour!

The benchmark for being an, “intermediate” chess player is 1000 -1200 OTB. OTB is, ” Over The Board”. Intermediate also means having to play in other than scholastic events to find competition! Online ratings are accurate plus or minus 200 points for the time control you got that rating in. Translation, your a great, bullet, blitz, 15/10, daily, or what ever other type of on line rating you have. So you need to be playing at tournament time controls to have an idea of what your OTB would be. 90% of on line games and tournaments are 30 minutes or less, the computer scores the game, hits the clock, and if you lose, time was all you lost! In OTB you have travel, meals, lodging, and if you lose, you will have to spend money again to get those points back. The play may appear the same but the risk is like comparing grapes and pineapples!! Being a competitor is about maximizing your efforts and your return. You should be trying to get the most out of every real world trip.

We specialize in developing the complete chess personality! The one colleges and employers are looking for… someone who plays, coaches, directs, and organizes. If you just want to beat your friends and family, we can teach you how to do that in just 6-8 weeks!! If they are still winning after 6-8 weeks of our instruction, you are not doing what you were taught or they are tournament players.

We have 3 types of custom training available. Instructor/No Homework, Teacher/Homework, and Coaching/Monitored/Managed

Instructor/No Homework; This is for the enthusiast or person that is on the go all the time and just wants to beast up on the people they know and love. Our unique approach to the properties of the pieces, selecting a move, studying, and analysis, should make them a referrer for life. These programs usually last anywhere from 4-16 weeks!

Teacher/Homework; This takes it a step farther and allows us to customize the learning even more. This person is definitely playing in tournaments, wants to walk out of one with something to show for all their hard work, and wants to know about the total chess personality even if right now they are not interested in becoming one. Typical term for them is 8 – 24 weeks!

Prodigy! This combines homework with monitoring and management. Students learn all the material in the Instructor and Teacher programs and are monitored to aid in faster use and development of SCBC principles and strategies. In addition, we select the tournaments, train them in coaching and directing principles, provide for national recognition, and teach them how to organize! Prodigy training can also be a source of employment!

Like we said… Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise For All Ages! Call for a free consultation today! if you’re not ready for lessons, teaching, or coaching, we’ll get you ready for free! Coach Mike C 804-426-6058.

We will be conducting free analysis and selling equipment at the Maggie Walker Tournament At Maggie Walker High School on March 6th from 9 am til 330 pm. Come have a look around!?!

How to Study and Play “Reverse” Openings!!

If you ever get good at any opening the next idea you get will be to try that opening in reverse! The viability is determined by whether of not a single tempo is enough to approve or dismiss the idea.

What happens is there is usually a lot of theory on what ever color has gotten the most use. If you want to play the Bird, I think it’s best to have a book or 2 on the Dutch. With an extra tempo, why hasn’t theory made the Bird more feared than the Dutch? It’s up to you to discover that!? When you find the answer, and it is out there, you will have a tournament weapon that no one reading a book can prepare for!! The other good news is you may have found a move or sequence that is dangerous as White and as Black.

The way you check viability and find out where the tempo matters has definitely been improved by the computer. To find white’s best move, put the position on an engine with 12-16 lines showing and see what it says. Now, take the position on the right and put it on the engine but tell the computer that it’s black’s move. As white my engine chose c2-c4, b1-a3, and c2-c3. As Black it chose c7-c5, b8-a6, and c7-c6, but the numerical evaluations were off by +/- .10 – .25. If it’s the exact same position and color is the only thing that’s changed, why isn’t the evaluation exactly the same?? That’s why in my chess laboratory the computer is the tool, not the boss! Try this with any opening!?!

The basic consensus is that the English is one of the most boring and drawish openings ever created. Translation; Your endgame has to be at, “A” level or higher to handle the endings!?! lol With a tempo down, the Sicilian not only invokes more uncertainty, but it is not called a reverse English in any variation!? If you want to get good at the Bird you must also buy books on the Dutch, but if you really want to understand the Sicilian and the struggle for the tempo they lost, you must study the English!!

So now comes the challenge of transpositions. The Philidor starts with 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6. The Philidor in Reverse for me starts with 1. Nf3 to prevent an unprotected e5 by black. The extra tempo eliminates the traps and sharp lines I usually have to face. Since there is so little theory for black and virtually none for white, I’ve been able to execute middle game campaigns that punish my opponent’s clocks because after castling, they are always in unfamiliar territory and I have a few, “Novelties”. Again, set your opening position up on the computer, If it’s white’s move, change it so that it’s black’s move. If it’s black’s move, change it so that it’s white’s. Now watch what can and can not still be done!?! Even if you decide not to play the reverse of your favorite opening, you are sure to come away with a better understanding and some fresh ideas!

As you play your opening in reverse, be aware that your opponent, whether a move a head or behind is going to try to steer the game back into familiar territory. Your break away, if possible, should avoid the theoretical or classic lines unless they are still good for you. Move order is very important when playing the reversed. Watch carefully for variances and make sure there is no way back to familiar territory as soon as possible. When one comes up that’s forced in your favor, study it, practice it, and add it to your arsenal!!

Remember, grandmasters beat other grandmasters by creating unfamiliar middlegames from familiar openings. Now you have the key to planning better middlegames and surprising your opponents. Chess.com’s analyzer is good enough if you don’t have an engine. Go to settings on the top right hand side of your analysis diagram and you can change the number of lines it shows you from 3 -5!! Don’t be intimidated by the number of equal lines. Select lines and moves that are sound and suit your tastes!!

We have reopened! Come visit us at the club on Thursdays, take a class, get some lessons, or register for our monthly tournament!! Need equipment or recommended books… We’ve got them at competitive prices, no shipping and no waiting! The other thing is … Call when chess is on your mind, it’s that important to us. 804-426-6058, 8 am til 10 pm.

Healthy, Wealthy, And Wise For All Ages,

Mike C