1st of all, Congrats to the ACC for it’s Grand Re-Opening! Chess is getting back to normal in so many places. Rumor is that the competition is fiercer than ever before. Some people have been pulling a Botvinnik! That simply means studying and not playing until it counts. They know their openings, they improved their tactics, they’ve even begun studying the endgame, but do they have a, “Campaign”? For the last 2 months this blog has been about variations, transpositions, branchpoints, errors, and now the campaign. What tools does one need to create a campaign? When does the campaign start? How long does it last? When is it done?
The tools you need are a grandmaster written book on the variation you are aiming for, a database of what has been played by masters, a chess board, a notebook, an engine, and most importantly, a willingness to watch whole games that were won, drawn, and lost by grandmasters! Leaving out any one of these items is a recipe for disaster, not a campaign. So let’s explain…
Books talk! I can’t stress enough about the tidbits, secrets, and maneuver information that’s in books. The books when compared to the database let you know how well the general field of players are preparing. Books also give you comparisons, contrasts, and history. There are gems in the notes of books that are rarely being played even when the results are both favorable and desirable! The best lines are always in the notes!?! Depending on the year it is published, the book should explain all the moves you are seeing in the data base.
The database you pick is very important. Chess.com, Lichess, and ICC have databases. You can not design a campaign strictly based on what online players are playing!! Why?! 2 reasons… 1.) It’s online… none of those players ultimately cares deeply about their performances. I watch 2600, 2700, 2800, and 2900 players make blunders all the time. I’ll guess a move, they play something else, I check it with the engine, and I was right, but that game still goes into the database. 2.) All the online databases are made up of games were at blitz or near blitz time controls. If you are preparing for a blitz tournament then it is a great database. If you are preparing for a real tournament with real time controls, you need to give more reliability to your books and your engine!?!
A student and I were going through a variation. We decided to ask the engine what was the best continuation. Even when we made sure to match our settings, the engine lines, evaluations, and order of priority never agreed!!! Do you know how to get the truth out of an engine?
Let’s face it, if we could really just snap our fingers and have someone prepare, or teach us how to prepare a logical and reliable campaign that’s good for 15, 20, 25 moves, it would be a no brainer. Just pay for the training or pay for the preparation!?! Grandmasters know it’s possible but for the mere mortal, human, novice, amateur, or never read a chess book cover to cover chess player, it’s an impossibility… The beauty of campaign training is that you only need to be shown 1 time and you can use it for life! After that, you’ll always know if you are getting what you paid for!
This is a game played on line in 2015. We each have 3 days to decide on our move. Most players that are playing e games just look at the board without ever moving the pieces around, without checking a book, or a database!?! This is how that got punished. 1. e4 e5 2. f4 Bc5 3. Nf3 d6 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. d3 Nc6 6. a3?! It’s the 6th move of the game and already white has made a serious error!? 6… Bg4 7. h3 Bxf3 8. Qxf3 Nd4 9. Qd1 b5 10. Ba2?! Diagram (10. b4 Bb6 11. Ba2 O-O -/+)
The game concluded with 10… Nxe4!! 11. dxe4 Qh4+ 12. Kd2 Qf2+ 13. Kc3 Ne2+ 14. Kb3 a5 15. a4 Nxc1+ 16. Qxc1 Qd4 17. c4 Qd3+ Resigns
How long can a campaign last? I have documentation for a campaign lasting 22 moves!! That’s right 22 moves!! I published my campaign for the Callaham Attack in the Hanham Variation of the Philidor Defense in the 2010-1 issue of the VA Newsletter. All campaign work has to start with the main line and usually after castling. This was considered to be the main line of the Hanham Variation. 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nd7 4. Nc3 Ngf6 5. Bc4 Be7 6. O-O O-O. Every player can make it this far.
So here is black’s campaign: Gain space on the kingside to induce h3 or f3. Eliminate the useful forward movement of the knight on f3. Take 100% control of f4 to prevent the opening of the f file. Use the knights to pressure the g and h files as well as f3. The king will need to slide, lift, or both to allow the rooks onto the g and h files. The queen will need a couple of tempos to get over and out on the wing. The king may also need tempo help for his lifts and slides. Give away the whole queenside if you have to!! Eliminate white’s dark squared bishop if at all possible… pawns left on a5 or a7 will usually draw it out to where it can be taken with the a8 rook. Stay alert for opportunities to play …d5, and for bringing the knights into f4 and h4, even when g3 has been played!? Understand that any white pieces returning to save their king must use e2, f1, or the 3rd rank. Other squares are too far away and will take to much time. Lastly, remember that there is no turning back. Sooner or later something always comes if you’re ready to sac and attack.
This is white’s favorite position in the Philidor!? It is still subject to the campaign! The game continued… 10… Rd8! 11. a5 Nf8 12. d5 Ng6 13. Nd2 Re8 14. Qe2 Bd8 15. Rf1 Ne7 16. Qd3 Bd7 17. b4 cxd5 18. exd5! Nf5! 19. Bb5 a6 20. Bxd7 Qxd7 21. Nde4 Nxe4 Nxe4 Nh4! (…and for bringing the knights to f4 and h4 even when g3 has been played)!!
The campaign has been a success. Now that the opponent has been softened up, it’s time to reap the rewards. This was a vote chess game. That’s right, vote chess. It was coach against coach. His rating was 2178 and mine was 2117. He had actually insulted me before the game asking, “The Philidor is an inferior opening?! Why would someone ask for that kind of beating with trainees watching”!?! The game continued… 23. c4?! f5 24. Nc3 Bf6! The trainees kept asking why we weren’t pushing the pawns. I explained that it would make it too easy for white, and that we should patiently redevelop and wait for another melt down! 25. Rac1 Qf7 26. Bd2 Rad8 27. Ne2 Rd7 28. Kh2
Rc7! Redevelopment is complete!
29. c5? e4 30. Qg3 Ng6 31. Kh1 Bh4 32. Qb3 dxc5 33. bxc5 Ne7-+ They never responded and lost on time. No one on the whole team voted for 3 days to make that happen!!! This is the tip of the Iceberg!
Tournaments are back and they are close. Arlington has $1900.00 a month, The Atlantic Open 30K, The VA Closed in Sep, Fredericksburg Oct, Zofchak Nov, Eastern in Dec 25K, Northern VA Open in Jan, North Carolina Nov, National Chess Congress Philly Nov, K-12 Nationals in MD…
Every opening has a campaign, you just have to research it enough to discover what it is. If you don’t know how to do it, hire someone to show you how to do it or do it for you. We would love to be your coach or your 2nd to add campaigns to you road arsenal. Our rates are very reasonable and hurt a lot less than repeated weekend hotel stays that produce 12-15 rating points. At $600.00 + per weekend, (gas, food, room, entry fee, time off work, kennels, and baby sitters) not to mention the time away from your family, you are paying $40.00 – $50.00 per rating point?? That’s insane!
Call Coach Mike for a free consultation today. 804-426-6058. If you are not ready for coaching, we will get you ready for free. Let us save you some trips and some money!
Watch for more Campaigns and campaign games the whole month of August!
Coach Mike C