Wesley So: Learn to play the Queen's Gambit

by ChessBase
8/7/2018 – Here's the deal: you invest a small amount of time, reading a few paragraphs about an interesting opening line, selected for you by one of the world's top grandmasters. After that, you try it out, right there in your browser, against an engine that matches the playing strength of your potential opponents. You can play any number of games and test different ideas, as far as possible following the instructions of an experienced chess trainer. We have a brand-new application to support this kind of learning. Take a look — and admit: it is great fun!

How to play the Queen's Gambit How to play the Queen's Gambit

Garry Kasparov took to the Queen’s Gambit at a relatively late stage of his chess career, but then had the best training anyone could imagine: in his first match for the world championship against Anatoly Karpov, this opening appeared on the board no less than 19 times. Now he shares his knowledge with you.


Wesley So's 30-minute opening training

In the August 2018 edition of CHESS Magazine Executive Editor IM Malcolm Pein writes:

The 2018 Grand Chess tour kicked off in Leuven, Belgium with the Your Next Move Rapid and Blitz, and then moved to Paris, where the tournament was again staged in a TV studio just outside the city.

Wesley So’s pragmatic approach proved very effective at Rapid and he managed to win the Rapid sections at both Leuven and Paris. He came under more pressure at Blitz, but still emerged victorious overall at Leuven before being overhauled by Hikaru Nakamura in Paris.

Wesley is currently the number six player in the world. In rapid chess he is higher up in the August rankings, second only to Magnus Carlsen:

Rank Name Title Country Rating Games B-Year
 1  Carlsen, Magnus  g  NOR  2880  0  1990
 2  So, Wesley  g  USA  2852  0  1993
 3  Dominguez Perez, Leinier  g  CUB  2826  0  1983
 4  Nakamura, Hikaru  g  USA  2824  0  1987
 5  Fedoseev, Vladimir  g  RUS  2810  0  1995

The Queen's Gambit

by Wesley So

The line we are dealing with is this: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Qa4+ Nc6 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bxf6 Qxf6 9.e3 O-O 10.Be2 Be6 11.O-O a6 12.Rfc1 Bd6 13.Qd1


In our diagrams: jump to the initial position, play forwards and backwards, and get help from an engine

The above position arises from a typical variation of the Queen's Gambit. White has sacrificed the bishop pair in return for harmonious coordination of his pieces, easy development, and the small fact that Black's knight on c6 is quite vulnerable. White's strategies are:

  1. The typical queenside minority
  2. Queenside pressure
  3. To snatch one of the bishops back while at the same time keeping the White king relatively safe.

Black in return has the bishop pair, a solid pawn structure, completed development and some of black's pieces are aiming towards the white king. Therefore Black's main strategies are straightforward:

  1. To put pressure on White's king (and maybe the e-fie) while at the same time holding the queenside firm;
  2. To improve the position of the c6 knight;
  3. To not give up the bishop pair so easily.

The position is balanced, but if you'd ask me I like White a bit better.

Play 13.Qd1 and try to beat Fritz with Wesley's line

In the window above you have buttons for the following functions (hover with the mouse for info): New game, Take back move, Play move forwards, Play now, Get hint, Very weak opponent, Serious amateur, Club player, Master, Switch colours, analyse with a chess engine. Choose an opponent to match your playing strength and try your luck. This is a good way to prepare for your next beach game, a more serious encounter, your next club tournament, or the international GM event.

Were you able to beat the program? If you were you should try the next-higher level — click or tap the New Game button on the left of the ribbon and the program will jump back to the end of the variation we are learning. Keep doing this to try alternate continuations. You will find that you are learning the ideas behind the Queen's Gambit. It will help you in your games against human opponents.

Tell us what you think.

So DVD covers

These are the two Fritztrainer DVDs Wesley has recorded for us. You can buy them in the ChessBase Shop.

Wesley SoWesley So is a grandmaster who lives in and plays for the USA. He was born in the City of Bacoor, Philippines on October 9th 1993, and was only six, when he learned how to move the pieces. After memorising them, chess set in hand, he explored the streets of his neighbourhood daring people to play with him. At nine years old, he began to compete in local, junior chess tournaments.

In 2006, at the age of twelve years, Wesley became the youngest ever Filipino International Master and the youngest member of the national men’s team to participate at the 37th Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy. At the age of fourteen years, one month and twenty-eight days, he became a grandmaster, the ninth youngest in chess history.

In the years to come, Wesley So became a rose up the world ranks, winning many tournaments along the way. After launching his career as a full-time professional in 2014, he vaulted in the Top Ten with a peak rating of 2822 ELO in early 2017. He's switched federations to the USA in 2014 and represented the country at the 2016 Chess Olympiad in Baku, winning individual Gold on board three and team Gold for the first time since 1976.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register