CBM 193: Learning from losing

by Nagesh Havanur
2/12/2020 – ChessBase offers a window to the world of professional chess. Our thoughtful columnist NAGESH HAVANUR reviews issue #193 which offers a bird’s eye view of three major events, the FIDE Grand Swiss / chess.com IOM Open, European Team championship and World Chess Grand Prix in Hamburg. 1618 games, 11 opening surveys, demo lectures and exercises for training. Games annotated by Fabiano Caruana, Wang Hao and Peter Heine Nielsen, to mention a few. | Photo: Nadja Wittmann

ChessBase Magazine 193 ChessBase Magazine 193

Analyses by Caruana, Giri, Duda, Wang Hao, So, Vidit, Vitiugov, McShane and many more. Plus videos by Williams, King and Shirov. 11 opening articles with new repertoire ideas and training sessions in strategy, tactics and endgame!


Find the right questions

In chess as in life it’s more important to ask deep and searching questions than to find pat answers. A young player wants to know how a game is won. An old player wants to know why how it is lost. The second bit is not easy to come by as the loser does not tell you what went wrong, especially in the opening. He would rather wait for another chance with the same opponent.

When you see a good game, applaud the winner by all means, but do try to see what lay behind the defeat. The results can be rewarding. This is what I discovered while I was checking out the current issue of ChessBase Magazine. Among other things it offers games from three major events, Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix, Isle of Man Open and European Team Championship.

MVL explains

First, we start with the Hamburg Grand Prix as it’s a qualifying event for the Candidates’.

When I looked at the Grischuk-MVL mini-match from the Semi-finals, I was baffled. In the first game MVL was White and only drew in 27 moves. There was no attempt at initiative, let alone attack. In the second game with Black he was outplayed.

But what prevented him from going for more in the first game? Finally, I found the answer in a post on his blog:

With white, I was surprised by his choice of the Arkhangelsk Spanish. As a result, I hesitated between 13.♗c2 and the resulting ton of theory, and 13.e3, which is less risky. I chose the latter and got a very small plus, but I started making small miscalculations…


Especially when here I played 23.a4?! and instantly noticed that I was allowing 23…♞d5!. What Sasha and I both missed is that after 24.♘c6, black doesn’t only have 24…♛h4 25.g3, but also 24…♛f6! 25.♕xd5 ♛xf4, and the position turns in his favor. So, while Sasha was thinking, I had decided, in case of 23…♞d5, to go for 24.♕f3 with a slight advantage for black. Maybe if I had focused a little more on the position, I would have chosen 23.♗a2 with the idea, ♕d2-♖ad1, and a microplus for white. The rest of the game was a quick path towards the draw (1/2, 27 moves).”

Here is the game and I have inserted a little commentary for readers unfamiliar with opening theory.


Semi-final Game 1 | World Chess on YouTube

Where MVL and Krasenkow concur and differ

The second game is comprehensively annotated by Michal Krasenkow in this issue. I compared it with MVL’s own analysis. Krasenkow is thorough and, in places, more objective than MVL. But if you want to see what went on in MVL’s mind, you need to check out his words. Here I have done both and offered my own commentary:


Semi-final Game 2 | World Chess on YouTube

The Grand Prix had both talent and experience jostling for space, with Dubov, Duda and Yu Yangyi slugging it out with Svidler, Radjabov and Nakamura. Is time is running out for older players? Ask Sasha Grischuk. Now that he has qualified for the Candidates; he has every reason to be happy.

Caruana stops Carlsen

The games from the Isle of Man Tournament form the second segment in this DVD. This was a Swiss event with as many as 154 players, and the field included Aronian, Nakamura and Grischuk among others. The contest was won by Wang Hao slightly ahead of Caruana on tie-break, with a score of 8/11. Carlsen was among others sharing the third spot with 7½/11. The world champion was bogged down by draws and I still wanted to see how he was pipped at the post. I was surprised by the following game throughout, expecting Magnus to win any time.


A fighting draw! Caruana is one of the few players who can take on the world champion in any contest. Let's not forget, he recently won the Tata Steel Masters in Wijk aan Zee tournament with a round to spare, ahead of Carlsen.

It’s a pity that I cannot do justice to Wang Hao here for reasons of space. In this issue he annotates his win over Luke Mcshane.

How team captains play

Finally, let us take a look at the games from the European Team Championship in this DVD. In recent years former Soviet republics, Russia, Ukraine and Armenia have dominated the event. This time it was again Russia that won the title on tie-break. It was followed by Ukraine and surprise of surprises, England. The Ukraine Team did well under the leadership of Ivanchuk and only his defeat in the hands of Dmitry Andreikin was a bit of setback.

Michael Adams of England and Dmitry Andreikin of Russia withstood enormous pressure on the first board and their perseverance enabled other team members to fight on round after round. As is known, collapse of the leader on the first board can be demoralizing for the players on other boards and they tend to lose heart.  Adams and Andreikin kept up the morale of their teams till the end. For this reason I was keen to see their encounter in the penultimate round in this issue.



Photo: ruchess.ru / Mark Livshits

A smooth performance by the English veteran. What went wrong with Andreikin? He had played the French against Markus Ragger in the second round and secured a draw after a tense game. Now in the 8th round he expected his experienced opponent to be ready for him in the same opening. So he opted for a lesser line and came to grief. Fortunately, his teammate, Nikita Vitiugov won against Luke McShane (the game is annotated in this issue). With two draws on the remaining boards the score was 2:2. In the last round Ukraine and Russia were with level points. Russia scored 2½-1½ over Poland and Ukraine missed the bus with “only” 2:2 against Croatia. So Russia won Gold, Ukraine, Silver and England, Bronze medal.

Among the young stars the hero was Daniil Dubov and his games with Bjerre and Svane were indeed a spectacular performance. They are highlighted in this DVD.

I missed the games from European Team Championship for Women. Hopefully, they would appear in the next issue.

This brings me to the rest of the DVD. Apart from standard features on middlegame tactics, endgame play and training this issue has as many as 11 opening surveys ranging from the Berlin to the King’s Indian. Among them I would single out the articles on the Traxler Counterattack in the Two Knights’ Defence and the unusual line 3.h4!? against the King’s Indian.

Tal is Tal!

The Traxler Counterattack has a chequered history and much of its theory was developed in correspondence chess and I would have liked to see some of those games. The only exception here is a telephone game that Tal played with readers of Pionerskaya Pravda This was a newspaper for young readers (not to be confused with the regular newspaper, Pravda). Apparently the game started in 1968 and finished in 1969.

Misha revelled in offbeat games and loved meeting the young.

Tal at a simul

Photo: https://chess-boom.online/

In this game he “faces” invisible opponents whose zest for chess matches his own.

He enjoys himself and so do the young players thrilled at the prospect of beating a legend. Here is what happened (I am giving it here without major notes so that readers can analyse it on their own and compare it with the annotations in the DVD)L


“Pionerskaya Pravda” versus Mikhail Tal, Telechess 1968-1969

How to intimidate King’s Indian players

The second line, 3.h4!? against the King’s Indian was analysed by Simon Williams way back in 2011 (SOS No.13, New in Chess). An update is only appropriate. Currently, the ball is in Black’s court.

The main database of the issue has 1618 recent games of which 33 are deeply annotated.

Apart from the GMs I have already mentioned, the commentators include Fabiano Caruana, David Navara, Yu Yangyi, Lars Schandorff  and Igor Stohl. It may be noted that there are more annotated games in the sections on opening theory and training.


ChessBase Magazine 193

Analyses by Caruana, Giri, Duda, Wang Hao, So, Vidit, Vitiugov, McShane and many more. Plus videos by Williams, King and Shirov. 11 opening articles with new repertoire ideas and training sessions in strategy, tactics and endgame!

ChessBase Magazine Extra 193

Videos by Mihail Marin, Adrian Mikhalchishin and Georgios Souleidis. "Lucky bag" with analyses by Alireza Frouzja, Peter Heine Nielsen and many more. Plus over 35,000 new games for your database!


Prof. Nagesh Havanur (otherwise known as "chessbibliophile") is a senior academic and research scholar. He taught English in Mumbai for three decades and has now settled in Bangalore, India. His interests include chess history, biography and opening theory. He has been writing on the Royal Game for more than three decades. His articles and reviews have appeared on several web sites and magazines.


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