Leo and their Strategy

by Dagmar Seifert
7/31/2022 – Of all chess players, Fabiano Caruana is currently the most well-known Leo. We do, however, have a second one in the wings with Praggnanandhaa. But Judit Polgar and Mikhail Botvinnik, two other notable Leo's, tower over both players. The world champion and top female chess player have contributed to the development of the game massively. But even Polgar and Botvinnik can't compete with one of the most well-known celebrities in history who also knew how to play chess - Napoleon Bonaparte. | Foto: Pixabay

Master Class Vol.10: Mikhail Botvinnik Master Class Vol.10: Mikhail Botvinnik

Our experts show, using the games of Botvinnik, how to employ specific openings successfully, which model strategies are present in specific structures, how to find tactical solutions and rules for how to bring endings to a successful conclusion


Star sign of the current weeks: Leo

He fights like a lion, they say. So that should actually be the pinnacle of martial arts.

On the other hand, if you examine a specimen of a this huge, gorgeous big cat in a zoo or a documentary about the desert, you'll notice that it mostly sits around yawning, taking in the sun or the sight of its harem, scratching itself here and there, and giving attention to beauty sleep.

Fabiano Caruana, with his soothing, light voice, doesn't have much in common with a roaring lion. Nevertheless, hardly any other player has the board that well under control, as the US Super Grandmaster | Photo: David Llada

Navigating the Ruy Lopez Vol.1-3

The Ruy Lopez is one of the oldest openings which continues to enjoy high popularity from club level to the absolute world top. In this video series, American super GM Fabiano Caruana, talking to IM Oliver Reeh, presents a complete repertoire for White.

To be honest, star sign Leo is not necessarily the most aggressive sign in the zodiac. He actually doesn't enjoy fighting all that much. A typical Aries is easily provoked and enjoys a good fight whenever it arises; Scorpio, who is passionate and profound, wants to destroy his "enemies" (whoever or whatever made them that way); Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius like to fight for what is right and are capable of being quite violent if necessary.

Leo exudes a regal ease and prefers to let others engage in conflict before taking the initiative. He is a born monarch, and is skilled at delegation. Only these large cats of their breed engage in group hunting. Simply put, the boss sends his females out first. (We'll get to the lionesses later.)

Mikhail Botvinnik - The only World Champion Leo, played at the top of the world for decades. The later world champions Karpov, Kasparov and Kramnik were trained in Botvinnik's chess school.

It would be misleading to assume that just because he is lounging around, he isn't interested or even concentrated. The Leo is in charge. The commander's mound is where he is located, not some place on the sidelines. He does it without hesitation if he decides it is necessary to lend his strength to the fight. He always displays bravery.

The Leos throughout world history, including Fidel Castro on August 13, Deng Xiaoping on August 22, Benito Mussolini on July 29, and, most importantly, Napoleon Bonaparte on August 15, demonstrate that this sign of the zodiac generates effective strategists. (No one made the assertion that any of them were very endearing.) They were in charge, whether you called them geniuses or despots.

Napoleon Bonaparte I is already known to chess players, as his games were integrated in the first ChessBase disks. | Photo: Pixabay

By the way, Napoleon enjoyed playing chess when his plans for conquering the world allowed him to do so, which was infrequently and with similarly mediocre results. At least there is 'Napoleon's Attack', which immediately brings the queen into play on f3. (See: a lion first sends his lionesses into battle. But we'll get to that ...)

Some games with companions in arms have been handed down. The Duke of Bassano, for example, judged: "The Emperor was not skilled with openings in a game of chess. From the beginning he often lost pieces and pawns, but his opponents did not dare to take advantage of this. He wasn't inspired until the middle game; the confusion of pieces sparked his intellect; he predicted more than three or four moves and produced elegant and cunning combinations."


However, the beautiful and clever combinations were not enough to defeat the "supposedly" automatic 'Turk'. After the fourteenth move, the great emperor's queen was already lost.

So how does someone who was born between July 23 and August 22 play chess? And how might one effectively defend themselves from them? He basically displays a strong, focused demeanour. Don't be deceived if he appears a little sleepy - he rarely makes mistakes. Under pressure, or when there is time trouble, his eyes become more alert. Now it could become dangerous ...

Vugar Gashimov was probably on his way to becoming one of the best chess players in the world. Tragically, we never got to know that, as he died in January 2014 as a result of his illness.| Photo: Nadja Wittmann



His legendary rook ending against Daniel Stellwagen is without equal! Comments by Vugar Gashimov

And now we finally come to the Lionesses!

The very strong Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, *6 August, is one, super-discovery Tania Sachdev, *20 August, too - but above all the regal Judit Polgar,*23 July. Her father experimented a little with his three clever daughters: How long does something have to be studied for mastery to be achieved? Susan and Sofia, Aries and Scorpio, became International Champions and Women's Grandmasters (Susan World Champion 1996 to 1999).

(f.l.)  Polgar sisters Susan, Judit and Sofia | Photo: Susan Polgar Twitter

Judit, the youngest of the sisters and a true lioness, *23 July, became the strongest woman in chess history. The only one so far to reach the top ten in the (overall) world rankings. She started participating exclusively in events for males fairly early on and frequently. In July 2005, she reached 8th place in the world ranking.

In 1993, she wiped former world champion Karpov off the board in a rapid game. In 2002, she did the same against Garry Kasparov, who enjoyed making remarks about the modest cognitive limits of women. World-class player Nigel Short lost to her several times and said appreciatively: "She is a killer and can smell a mate 20 moves in advance".

Bobby Fischer, who at the age of nineteen had said: "All women are stupid compared to men, women shouldn't play chess, they lose every game against a man" - the Polgar family had a friendly relationship for a while when he hid in their house in 1993 because his home country was waving with an arrest warrant. At that time he played with the Polgar sisters and analysed games with them. But shortly before an announced blitz game against Judit was to take place, Fischer had an argument with her father and cancelled the match.

ChessBase Magazine #204 has a special on Judit Polgar, where CBM authors comment on their favourite games of the great Hungarian.

After all, the lioness had pushed him off the throne for the youngest titleholder in 1991; Bobby Fischer became grandmaster at the age of 15 years and four months - Judit managed it one month younger ...

Famous Leo chess personalities + birthdays:

Polgar, Judit - 23 July 1976
Gashimov, Vugar - 24 July 1986
Hodgson, Julian M. - 25 July 1963
De Firmian, Nick - 26 July 1957
Caruana, Fabiano - 30 July 1992
Cori, Jorge - 30 July 1995
Davies, Nigel R - 31 July 1960
Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter - 1 August 1976
Wang Hao - 4 August 1989
Pfleger, Helmut - 6 August 1943
Čmilytė, Viktorija - 6 August 1983
Praggna­nandhaa R - 10 August 2005
Ghaem Maghami, Ehsan - 11 August 1982
Maghsoodloo, Parham - 11 August 2000
Kotov, Alexander - 12 August 1913
Adhiban B. - 15 August 1992
Pruijssers, Roeland - 16 August 1989
Botvinnik, Mikhail - 17 August 1911
Rogozenco, Dorian - 18 August 1973
Zvjaginsev, Vadim - 18 August 1976
Vallejo Pons, Francisco - 21 August 1982

Leo has it's own opening - The Black Lion. GM Simon Williams has taken on the interesting opening, and it is being played more and more!

The Black Lion — an aggressive version of the Philidor Defense

Looking for an interesting, exciting, aggressive and flexible opening to play against 1 e4!? Then the Black Lion is just the opening for you! The Lion gets ready to roar after 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.0–0 c6 – and now Black wants to attack with an early ...g5. Grandmaster Simon Williams suggests a simple to learn, yet deadly system of development for Black. He explains the main ideas of this opening in an easy and entertaining manner, using examples from such maverick players as Baadur Jobava. In what other opening do you get a chance to attack White’s castled King with an early ...g5? Let the Lion roar and the fun commence!


Dagmar Seifert is a North German journalist, author and astrologer. She loves chess, but is by no means an overly good player. After all, she was the one who taught ChessBase staff member Arne Kähler how to move the pieces, when he was six years old.