Jon Speelman's Agony Column #29

by Jonathan Speelman
11/24/2016 – If you know your openings and have an eye for strategic plans and tactics you are a dangerous opponent, no matter your rating. Of course, all these qualities do not protect against the occasional bitter loss but they certainly help to win fine games. As Han Schut, father of former Dutch women's champion Lisa Schut, demonstrates.

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!

Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!


Jon Speelman's Agony Column #29

This week's pair of games are by Han Schut, a Dutchman who is currently on sabbatical after five years in New York heading up a company, Minteq, which services the steel industry worldwide.

Han Schut

The game of Han Schut (right, with the cape) catches
the eye of an onlooker (Photo: Tournament page Bilbao 2016)

Han's whole family, he, his wife Heleen and daughters Donna and Lisa all play chess. Donna was Dutch under 14 champion in 2006, beating among others future  grandmasters current GMs Robin van Kampen and David Klein. But she quit playing when she was 16 and currently works for Google in Dublin.

Lisa, his younger daughter, became Dutch women's champion in 2014 at the age of 19 and has also won several medals at World and European championships. She played in the C group at Wijk aan Zee in 2012 and  had a very honourable draw with Matthew Sadler in which she was appreciably better (or indeed winning) at one moment. However since 2014 she has only been playing occasionally, concentrating instead on her academic studies (Operations Research at the Erasmus University Rotterdam).

Lisa Schut

Han is rated just 2120 but this must be due to inconsistency since the underlying standard in both of his two games is considerably higher.  

They come from the Hoogeveen Open last October with the Agony a game he contrived to lose against a good FIDE Master from a winning position and the Ecstasy a nice win against an IM. He provided excellent notes which I've mainly left intact with  a few interventions as JS.

[Event "Hoogeveen Unive op 20th"] [Site "Hoogeveen"] [Date "2016.10.18"] [Round "4"] [White "Schut, Han"] [Black "Beerdsen, Thomas"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B72"] [WhiteElo "2128"] [BlackElo "2404"] [Annotator "Schut, Han"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2016.10.15"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "NED"] [SourceTitle "Mega2016 Update 56"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2016.10.29"] {My Agony game. My opponent is an 18 year Dutch FM who is having a good year. In July he beat Hoogeveen tournament director Loek van Wely in the Leiden Open .} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 {I was expecting another Dragondorf as Thomas had played this line previously in a game against Dick de Graaf and had prepared to meet h5 with h3 and g4.} (5... g6 6. Be3 a6 7. f3 Bg7 8. Qd2 h5 9. a4 Nc6 10. Be2 Bd7 11. O-O Rc8 12. Nxc6 Bxc6 13. a5 O-O 14. Rfd1 Qd7 15. Ra3 Rfd8 16. Bb6 Re8 17. Qe3 Qe6 18. Bd4 Nd7 19. Bxg7 Kxg7 20. Qf2 Nc5 21. Bd3 Qf6 22. f4 e5 23. fxe5 Qxf2+ 24. Kxf2 Rxe5 {0-1 (59) De Graaf, D (2195)-Beerdsen,T (2404) Hoogeveen 2016}) 6. Be2 {What to play against the Najdorf? I used to play the sideline 5.f3 but have decided now to play the mainlines instead. As a Najdorf player myself I find it difficult to get active play against the Be2 line.} g6 {A Dragondorf after all!} ({An example of the drawish character of Be2.} 6... e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Be3 Be6 10. Qd2 Nbd7 11. a4 Rc8 12. a5 Qc7 13. Rfd1 Rfe8 14. Nc1 Qc6 15. f3 Qc7 16. Nb3 h6 17. Rdc1 Qc6 18. Rd1 Qc7 19. Rdc1 Qc6 20. Rd1 {1/2-1/2 (20) Sjugirov,S (2674) -Nepomniachtchi,I (2703) Sochi 2016}) 7. Be3 Nc6 $6 8. f3 (8. Nd5 Nxd5 9. exd5 $14 {JS the point being that if} Qa5+ 10. c3 Qxd5 $2 11. Bf3) 8... Bg7 9. Qd2 Qc7 $6 {JS This isn't a move Black makes in the Yugoslav Attack against a normal Dragon but I suppose it does try to use the fact that a6 has been played.} 10. g4 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 e5 12. Be3 Be6 13. O-O-O O-O-O {Diagram [#] I decided to start an attack on his king by Na4, Qa5 followed by the rook lift Rd1-d3-c3 and Bb6 or Ba7, Nb6 - Nc5, depending on the reaction of my opponent. The set-up also prevents Black's freeing move d6-d5 as Rd8 is under threat of Nb6 or Bb6.} 14. Na4 Qc6 15. Qa5 d5 $2 {Diagram [#] Kb8 was the only move.} 16. Ba7 $1 (16. g5 {was easier though. JS Agreed. Black's problem is that if} d4 { which he presumably intended to cause confusion, the confusion is very short lived:} 17. Nb6+ Kb8 18. Qxe5+ Qc7 19. Qxc7+ Kxc7 20. gxf6 Bxf6 21. Nd5+ $1 Bxd5 22. Bf4+ {and wins.}) 16... Bh6+ 17. Kb1 b5 18. Bb6 $1 {A nice Zwischenzug attacking the rook and eliminating the defence of pawn a6. Here Thomas was looking at his notation sheet in disbelief wondering how he ended up in such a lost position after just 18 moves. And this against a much weaker senior chess player who in the chess world is better known as a chess dad than a player. After the game Thomas told me that he had missed Ba7 and Bb6.} Rd6 ({ Taking on a4 is not possible.} 18... bxa4 19. Bxa6+ Kd7 (19... Kb8 20. Bb5 Qb7 21. Bxd8 $18) 20. Bb5 $18) 19. Qxa6+ Qb7 20. Bxb5 $2 ({Much better is} 20. Qxb5 {and the attack continues. White is threatening Qa5 - Ba6 etc. A lesson from this game for me: do not exchange active pieces when you have a winning initiative. JS Absolutely. This is the moment when Han started to go wrong even though it's still "winning" in theory.}) 20... Qxa6 21. Bxa6+ Kb8 22. Bb5 Rxb6 $1 {Diagram [#] A good practical choice with White short of time. It gives white the opportunity to go wrong .... and so I did.} 23. Nxb6 dxe4 24. Bd7 $2 {Now the pawns become monsters. JS Han must have been in bad time trouble here and extremely tense. It's crazy to allow such powerful pawns.} ( 24. fxe4 Nxe4 25. Bd7 {JS keeps control. An example line goes} Kc7 26. Bxe6 fxe6 27. Nc4 Nf2 28. Rhf1 Nxd1 29. Rxd1 e4 30. Re1 Rf8 31. a4 {the e-pawn gives Black some minuscule chances but White should certainly win and would have to play appallingly to lose. Once Black gets connected passers though it's up for grabs again.}) 24... exf3 25. h3 (25. Bxe6 fxe6 26. Rhf1 (26. Nd7+ Nxd7 27. Rxd7 e4 28. Rf7 Rf8 $1 29. Rxf8+ Bxf8 30. c3 Bc5 31. Kc2 e3) 26... e4 27. h3) 25... e4 26. Bxe6 fxe6 27. Nc4 $6 {JS This position is almost impossible to play as White in time trouble and I'd be desperately looking for a way to give up the knight for the e- and f-pawns. Even if you then lost the exchange then an ending with R v R+B and three connected passed pawns might be okay depending on how fast the remaining black e pawn could advance though I'm far from confident about this in a vacuum. Over the next few moves, engines suggest that White could have done better but from a practical point of view the damage was done earlier. As Han quite rightly said 20.Qxb5 was much stronger than 20.Bxb5; and 24.Bd7 was horrible.} (27. Rhf1 Bf4 28. Na4 $1 { is given as equal by my (JS's) engine.}) 27... Nd5 (27... Rc8 28. Nd6 Rd8 $1 { JS is very nasty}) 28. Rde1 e3 29. Rhf1 f2 30. Re2 Rc8 {Diagram [#]} 31. Nxe3 $6 (31. Nd6 Rf8 32. c4 Nb4 33. a3 Nc6 34. Kc2 {and White can still fight.}) 31... Bxe3 32. Rxe3 Nxe3 33. Rxf2 e5 34. Re2 $6 (34. Kc1 Rd8 35. b3 Rd1+ 36. Kb2 {JS is still something of a fight}) 34... Rf8 35. b3 Rf3 36. h4 Nxg4 { and resigned. Ouch! Yes, Agony for sure. JS What a shame when Han played the first half of this game so very well.} 0-1


[Event "Hoogeveen Unive op 20th"] [Site "Hoogeveen"] [Date "2016.10.17"] [Round "3"] [White "Kerigan, Demre"] [Black "Schut, Han"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B51"] [WhiteElo "2362"] [BlackElo "2128"] [Annotator "Speelman,Jonathan"] [PlyCount "98"] [EventDate "2016.10.15"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "NED"] [SourceTitle "Mega2016 Update 56"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2016.10.29"] {My Ecstasy game. My opponent is a 23 year old IM from Turkey who is studying in the Netherlands.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 {More combative than Bd7.} 4. O-O a6 5. Bd3 Ngf6 6. Re1 b5 7. c3 Bb7 8. Bc2 Qc7 {More common is} (8... Rc8 9. a4 b4 10. a5 {as played by Nakamura against Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi. I wanted to invite my opponent to repeat a pawn sacrifice he had played successfully before.}) 9. d4 {This implies a pawn sacrifice. White gets a lead in development and pressure on Black's king in exchange for a pawn.} cxd4 10. cxd4 Rc8 11. Bb3 (11. Bd3 {does not protect the e4 pawn as Bc1 hangs after taking twice on e4.} Bxe4 12. Bxe4 Nxe4 13. Rxe4 Qxc1) 11... Nxe4 12. Bf4 (12. Nbd2 Ndf6 $2 13. Nxe4 Nxe4 14. Bf4 g6 15. Qd3 (15. Rxe4 Bxe4 16. Ng5 $18) 15... Nf6 16. Rac1 Qd7 17. Rxc8+ Bxc8 18. Qc3 Bb7 19. Ng5 Bd5 20. Be5 dxe5 21. dxe5 Bg7 22. exf6 Bxf6 23. Qxf6 {1-0 (23) Kerigan,D (2327)-Kolodkin,D (2051) Delft 2014}) 12... Qb6 {I targeted a set-up with e6, d5, Be7, 0-0 and limiting the scope of Bb3. The disadvantage is that it temporarily boxes in Bb7.} 13. Nbd2 ( 13. Nc3 {JS feels more natural and prevents the game continuation since if} Nef6 (13... Nxc3 14. bxc3 {may well be a better line for Black but White has gained time and if Black wants to spend a tempo taking on c3 then he's welcome) }) 14. a4 d5 15. Ne5 {the d pawn will hang}) 13... Nef6 {Applying the concept of the superfluous knight (Dvoretsky) of (avoiding) mobilizing opponents pieces by exchanging. Nxd2 or Ndf6 increase White's lead in development as can be seen in the previous game of Demre.} 14. a4 d5 15. a5 $6 {JS This drives the queen back but leaves the pawn weak and the queenside totally under Black's control. If he can get organised now without allowing an accident, then he will have a big advantage.} Qd8 16. Ne5 (16. Qe2 {JS was better first because now Black can't play e6.} e6 $2 (16... g6 $1 17. Rac1 (17. Ng5 h6 18. Nxf7 Kxf7 19. Nf3 Kg7 {My engine doesn't believe this at all but it doesn't look all that easy to play for Black}) 17... e6 18. Rxc8 Qxc8 19. Ne5 Nxe5 20. Bxe5 Bg7 21. Qf3 Qd8 22. Rc1 O-O 23. Rc7 $2 {gets hit by} Ne4 $1) 17. Ng5 $1 { tees up to play Nxf7 without allowing the exchange of knights on e5} Qe7 18. Rac1 {is most unpleasant} Rc4 19. Bxc4 dxc4 {Here my first reaction was Nxc4 but White can also play Ne4} 20. Nxc4 (20. Nde4 Nxe4 21. Nxe4 Qh4 22. Qe3 { with a very dangerous attack}) 20... bxc4 21. Qxc4 Nd5 22. Qxd5 exd5 23. Bd6 h6 24. Bxe7 Bxe7 25. Rc7 hxg5 26. Rxb7 Rh6 27. Ra7 {is a splendid line given by Houdini. Vladimir Kramnik would love this ending for White}) 16... e6 17. Qe2 { With the threat Nxf7.} Nxe5 18. dxe5 Nd7 19. Qg4 {Diagram [#] Here I took a pause to develop a plan. I did not like the pawn formation after Black plays g6. If Black includes h5 then g6 gets weak, and without h5 White can set up an attack with h4-h5 and with additional ideas of Rc1-Bc2 or Re3-Rg3 or Rh3. So I decided to try to seduce my opponent to reposition an attacker to defend a pawn and then try to exchange pieces based on the loose coordination of Bb3-Nd2-Qg4. More concretely my plan was: Nd7-b8-c6 attacking a5 followed by Qe7-b4 and then to finalize my development with Be7 0-0 depending on my opponent's reaction. It would also bind the Ra1 to the defence of pawn a5 after Qb4 or after an exchange by Bb4. I did not consider the engines plan h5-h4-h3-hxg2 loosening White's king position.} Nb8 {Felt like a reverse Ruy Lopez Breyer manoeuvre.} (19... h5 20. Qg3 h4 {JS is also interesting} 21. Qg4 h3 22. gxh3 $2 (22. g3 Nc5 $17) 22... Qh4 $19) 20. Be3 Nc6 21. Bb6 {This B looks active at b6 but actually does not do much.} Qe7 22. Rac1 ({I (JS) wanted to try} 22. Bxd5 exd5 23. e6 f6 24. Nf3 {but after} g6 25. Rac1 Bh6 26. Bc5 Qc7 27. Qh4 Bxc1 28. Qxf6 Rg8 29. Rxc1 Qg7 {say is very unconvincing}) 22... Qb4 {Diagram [#] Look at the White's black bishop which used to be on f4 and is now on b6. I was happy my plan of seduction worked!} 23. Qg5 h6 24. Qe3 Be7 25. Nf3 O-O 26. Qd3 Nxa5 27. Bc2 g6 28. Be3 {When playing 27... g6 I missed the idea Be3-Bd2 winning the knight on a5. Aren't tactics based on retreating a piece easy to miss? Fortunately for me it did not change the assessment of the position. Black is still winning.} Nc4 29. Bxh6 Nxb2 30. Qe3 Nc4 31. Qd3 Nb2 {I was not playing for a repetition but repeated once to gain on time and ask my opponent to make his intentions clear.} 32. Qe2 Rfd8 33. Ng5 $2 {A bad move in a losing position. I expected 33.Rb1. Black has the crucial 33... d4 and is OK.} (33. Rb1 d4 34. Bxg6 fxg6 35. Rxb2 Qc4 $19) 33... Qh4 34. Nxf7 Kxf7 35. Qf3+ Ke8 36. Bxg6+ Kd7 37. Qe3 Nc4 {Black is a full piece up. A faster win was 37... d4 but I preferred to improve the coordination of my pieces first. JS Now that the king has run, he's totally safe so White is quite lost.} 38. Qa7 Rc7 39. Rxc4 {JS quite rightly trying to muddy the waters. } bxc4 40. Be3 c3 41. Rb1 Ra8 42. Qb6 Rg8 43. Bf7 {Diagram [#] I was evaluating here 43... Rxg2 but decided to keep it simple and reduce the risk of a tactical oversight.} Qg4 {This gives an exchange up but makes it technically much easier to win. White immediately misses his defender of square c2.} 44. Bxg8 Qxg8 45. Qa5 Qg4 46. h3 Qe4 47. Qa2 c2 48. Rc1 d4 49. Qa4+ Bc6 {JS A tremendous game by Han. His opening preparation was excellent, he remained admirably calm in the face of what might have turned into a nasty attack and then converted excellently returning material to eliminate the last vestiges of White's play before crashing home} 0-1

Submit your games

Did you enjoy the column and instructive analysis by GM Jonathan Speelman? Do you wish you could have a world-renowned grandmaster analyzing your play? You can! Just send in two of your games: one success story (Ecstasy) and one loss (Agony). Tell why you chose them, where or when they were played, and if they are selected, not only will you get free detailed commentary of your games by one of chess’s great authors and instructors, and former world no. 4 player, but you also win a free one-month Premium subscription to ChessBase Account.

A one-month Premium subscription to ChessBase Account, means that for one month you get:

  • Premium access to the Playchess server with ratings, simuls, lectures, and live commentary of top games.
  • Access to all Web apps with no restrictions, such as the Cloud database (, and more!
  • Full access to the Video archive, which not only includes all the past lectures by Daniel King, Simon Williams and others, but also a large number of full ChessBase products you would normally need to buy in the ChessBase Shop, but that you can view for free as a Premium subscriber.

Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register

Resistance Resistance 11/25/2016 07:27
Good games.