Jon Speelman: Fireworks old and new

by Jonathan Speelman
11/5/2023 – Marking Guy Fawkes Day in the UK, Jon Speelman goes over a number of suitably pyrotechnic games. Three correspondence-chess marvels from the 1980s are followed by recent games from the Qatar Masters and the FIDE Grand Swiss. Fire on board!

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.



[Note that Jon Speelman also looks at the content of the article in video format, here embedded at the end of the article.]

Guy Fawkes DayA fortnight ago, I noticed that my next column today would be on November 5thGuy Fawkes Day in the UK — and asked readers for any suitably pyrotechnic games to mark it. I’m very grateful to the Portuguese Correspondence Grandmaster Alvaro Pereira for heeding my call by bringing my attention to three splendid examples.

I’ve always been too impatient to play correspondence chess myself, and also too consumed by games when they are in progress to contemplate having a number hanging over me for months and years. But before modern engines, top-class correspondence chess was a marvel, and the three games he has chosen from the 9th Correspondence Olympiad in the early 1980s all very much fit the bill. They are a draw between Jonathan Penrose and Pereira, and their two wins as White against Yugoslav Borislav Vukcevic.

I’ve finished with some recent games which you may or may not have seen. The first is a victory by Nodirbek Yakubboev, who went on to win the Qatar Open after beating his fellow Uzbek Nodirbek Abdusattorov in a rapidplay play off. And I’ve got two games from the FIDE Grand Swiss, which finished today on the Isle of Man: Jan-Krzysztof Duda’s heart-pounding win against Iranian Pouya Idan in the first round, and a truly mind-blowing endgame between Arjun Erigaisi and Rinat Jumabayev.

[Pictured: A Guy Fawkes wax model burning on the bonfire at the Billericay Fireworks Spectacular in Lake Meadows Park, Billericay, Essex | Photo: William Warby]

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Middlegame Secrets Vol.1 + Vol.2

Let us learn together how to find the best spot for the queen in the early middlegame, how to navigate this piece around the board, how to time the queen attack, how to decide whether to exchange it or not, and much more!


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.