All posts by Justin

Super Blitz #24: Why We Book Up, The Englund Gambit Refutation

This game here is a perfect example of why knowing theory is important, even early on against lower rated opponents. The opening we play into is called the Englund Gambit and is incredibly dangerous if you don’t know how to respond. Our position starts below.

Black’s next move is Qb4+ hitting the b2 pawn and the bishop on f4 while checking the King, all the threats can’t be answered. You can’t save everything so the best move is to play Bd2 and attack the Queen giving up the b2 pawn, which is Black’s whole purpose. Black is already losing at this point, however, precise play is needed or get White ends up in a terrible position. So from the above position we get 1…Qb4+ 2. Bd2 Qxb2 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Rb1

Black played Bb2 to double attack the knight on c3 with only the bishop defending it, there are all kinds of tactics involved between the Queen, bishop and c6 knight depending on response if the c3 knight moves which it shouldn’t in any circumstances. Those lines looked at in the full analysis.

We end with the position above where Black doesn’t have time to capitalize on the double attack on c3 because the Queen is under attack. This is a tactical defensive idea and the core to why the opening is refuted. At this point with optimal play from Black’s side it’s around +2 to +3 for White. The game follows with 1…Qa3 2. Rb3 Qa5 3. a3 and then Black slips up going from +3 to +7. They play 3…Bxa3 and the Queen is going to end up trapped with a threat of a fork on c7.

In the above position Black’s Queen is feeling extremely cramped and is going to be the source of much misery. After 1…Qa6 2. Nd5 there is the threat of Nxc7+ forking the Queen and King so naturally 2…Kd8 then the subtle 3. e4! which opens the bishop on f1 to the Queen on a6.

This is the final position we’ll look at in the overview, Black panics and decides to capture the rook on b5 with the Queen allowing the bishop to recapture. From there the game is a matter of converting an advantage while the Black King is stuck in the center. The link for the full analysis is below.

Full Game Analysis


Bullet Time #2: No One Knows How to Play This Line!

Last time I posted a bullet game from my bullet account it was about 1250 from the initial 1000, we’ve made it to nearly 1600 after this last game which I wanted to show. It ended up being a perfect 0-0-0 against a 1715 in an Exchange Slav which I love. There is a very sharp line that happens in the opening that’s surprisingly popular and not many people seem to know what to do.

Our analysis starts in the position above where Black played Bg4. It’s normally played to pin the knight to the Queen provided e3 has been played. This is the 4th most common move in all of Lichess’ database so it’s not rare by any means. Black is immediately posed a question, do you take the knight, move the bishop, play e3? For lower rated players it can be a bit much so early on, especially in a bullet game where calculation is kept to a minimum. The best move is Bd7 admitting Bg4 was inaccurate, however that is the 5th most common move in this position and surprisingly Nxe5 which is an inaccuracy is the most common!

The evaluation after Nxe5 dxe5 is +2 for White, essentially putting White into a winning position immediately. We’ll see why the position is so good but it most of it relates to the weakened Queen side and the initiative White gets. This position alone I spend at least 30minutes reviewing, the Lichess analysis has all the lines and comments which would be too much for the blog.

Instead of taking on e5 my opponent plays a similarly bad move which is the 4th most common played. Do you see the tread of players who can’t navigate this position? The average rating is 2142 for those who played it. There are a lot of arrows below but it’s pretty simple why this move is a blunder. White starts with Qa4 pinning the knight on c6 to the King and proceeds to follow with e3 readying Bb5. Black simply can’t defend it properly with the Queen, knight and bishop hitting c6. My opponent plays a terrible defensive move after 1. Qa4 Rc8 2. Nxc6 Rxc6 3. e3 a6 which is below.

The idea here is Black wants to stop me from playing Bb4 and adding an attacker to the rook but there is a tactical shot here. Bxa6! Black cannot recapture the bishop with the b pawn because the b pawn defends the rook on c6. Taking would allow Qxc6+ and it would be even worse for Black. After 1. Bxc6 e6 2. Bb5 the game becomes a matter of simplification and pushing my outside passed pawns. The tactics in the opening get a much deeper analysis on Lichess but the simple overview does it some justice here.

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Bullet Time #1: Best Moves with No Time?

I was never much of a bullet player but lately I wanted to start playing 2-0 for fun as a way to decompress from playing 10-0. It’s also nice to let the tactics and opening knowledge work their magic when they come with out calculation. I started from about 1000 recently and was working my way up to see how long it would take to reach my 1600-1700 range of my other time controls. I played a game today that was nearly perfect against 1651 bullet 1850 blitz player so I had to dive into it and figure out why it all worked out.

Bullet all comes down to tactics and previous knowledge, in this game we played into the second most popular line of the exchange slave. It’s a position I’ve been in a ton of times and didn’t have to think about at all.

It’s Black’s move in the position above, to me there is really only one move I’d play here and it’s h6 asking the bishop what’s up. The c8 bishop will most likely end up on b6 and the a rook on the c file opposite my Queen which is exactly what happens. There is pressure on h7 which is why h6 is a good idea proactively, I have a tactical sequence to remove the knight from f6 guarding h7 once the rook lands on c8.

Typically a rook opposite the Queen is ideal but in the position above Black can’t stop the knight being removed from f6 regardless of how they recapture. In the game I played 1. Nxd7 and the Queen or knight must take back, Black plays 1…Nxd7 2. Bxe7 Qxe7 3. Bxh7+. Even with the sequence of 1. Nxd7 Qxd7 then 2. Bxf6 Bxf6 3. Bxh7+ still.

The plan from here is very simple, control the c file, double the rooks and try to expand on the Queen side. Black doesn’t have any weakness at the moment so I would need to create and probe, if I am able to get a rook to the 7th rank or harass the a7 pawn that would be a start. Black makes a terrible mistake and gives themself a weakness with doubled pawns with: 1…Nf6 2. Rc1 Ne4 3. Bxe4 and Black now has doubled e pawns with a bishop on b7.

This is enough to be game winning now, the e pawn is a target, the c file is under my control and after Rd1 the center is under control as well. I go into the full review on Lichess.

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Correspondence 5: Don’t Rely on the Books

I don’t play against the Grunfeld too often and I usually don’t enjoy it when I do. Black’s goal of a swift Queen side attack in conjunction with the g7 bishop is completely different than the standard QGD or QGA which I feel more comfortable in. I’m not quite sure of my opponents rating since they were the default 1500 rating but they seem to be in the 1700s classical and 1500s blitz which seems low, however it’s a new account.

They played well, only 5 inaccuracies and 2 mistakes. I think they used the opening book and chose the highest win percentage lines, something common in correspondence games, it’s noticeable when 7…Nc6 is played instead of c5 which is the thematic break in the Grunfeld. Nc6 scored 41% winning for Black but is seen as an inaccuracy and the game changes completely without the c5 break as Black’s main plan. I follow up Blacks move with f4 which takes us out of book and they immediately make a mistake.

The typical Grunfeld opening, Black is looking to play c5 and pressure the Queen side while opening up the g7 bishop.

I mentioned in the intro that Black immediately started to make mistakes when taken out of the opening book. After f4 they played e6 allowing Ba3 and preventing the King from being able to castle. This one mistake plagues Black til move 15, wastes time having to move the bishop back to swap it off and removes their castling ability anyway as the King recaptures.

The Queen side structure is something you’d see from a Grunfeld opening where Black has more pawns on the Queen side but in this position Black is about to lose the a and b pawns after axb5 axb5 Bxb5 Rxb5 and left with only the c pawn which becomes a target.

The c pawn is eventually lost and we end up in this position where Black appears to have a tactical shot. Black plays Ne6 with a discovery on my Queen and an attack on the d4 rook. Play follows as 1…Ne6 2. Qxc8+ Kg7 3. Qb7 Nxd4, if you’re following along mentally there is a attack on the f7 pawn 4. Rxf7+ Kh6 5. Nxd4 Qd1+ 6. Kg2 Qxd4.

The below position picks up from the above with 7. Qe7 and Black is simply lost here. There is no perpetual since my King can hide on h3, mate is coming after Qh4.

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