French Defense, Part 4: Steiner Variation

A Resource for Chess Francophiles About a year ago, I wrote a multi-part series on the French Defense (first part here), the opening that I often cite as having saved my chess career. I played it from 1998-2008, and would not have reached 1900+ without it. Subsequent parts of my series can be found here:

Chess Tactics: Tatai — Kortschnoj, 1978

Viktor Kortschnoj (1931-2016) was born in Leningrad, USSR (now Saint Petersburg, Russia). A four-time Soviet Champion and two-time World Championship Challenger (1978, 1981), Kortschnoj is universally considered one of the greatest chess players never to become World Champion. Other players in this category could include Akiba Rubinstein, Reuben Fine, Paul Keres, David Bronstein, and Vassily

Chess Tactics: Mecking — Tan, 1973

Henrique Mecking (born 1952) was the first Brazilian to become a Grandmaster (1972) and won back-to-back Interzonals at Petropolis 1973 and Manila 1976. He was ranked as high as World #3 in January 1978, behind only World Champion Anatoly Karpov and Challenger Viktor Kortschnoj! Unfortunately, he contracted a serious illness in the late 1970s, and

How to Get Better at Chess: Chess Masters on Their Art

Wide-Ranging Opinions by Chess Pros How to Get Better At Chess contains answers from Grandmasters and International Masters about their thoughts on chess improvement, motivation, study methods, etc. I can’t remember how I discovered this book, but I’m glad I did. It was hard to put this book down, and I read it all in a

Chess Tactics: Spassky — Rashkovsky, 1973

Boris Spassky (born 1937) was the tenth World Chess Champion (1969-1972). Before that, however, he was one of the greatest prodigies of early modern professional chess. Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Spassky defeated Mikhail Botvinnik in a simul as a ten-year-old in 1947, a year before Botvinnik became World Champion. With a third-place finish

Chess Openings Discussion

A Lively Chess Openings Debate Chess Openings are always a contentious topic! My recent post “The Smith-Morra Gambit, and How to Beat It,” generated spirited discussion on Facebook, as I expected it might. I don’t consider the Smith-Morra (1.e4 c5 2.d4) completely unsound or without merit, but a Sicilian player should embrace the Morra, Alapin,

Happy Birthday, Anatoly Karpov!

My Favorite Chess Player Anatoly Karpov was born May 23, 1951 in Zlatoust, Russia (then part of the USSR). Karpov first gained widespread international attention after winning the 1969 World Junior Championship with 10 points out of 11 in the final. He won the Moscow 1971 tournament (tied with Leonid Stein) ahead of World Champion

Beating the Smith-Morra Gambit

The Smith-Morra: A Controversial Anti-Sicilian Faced with the Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5), many white players avoid the Open Sicilian that comes about after 2.Nf3 and 3.d4. Instead, they choose an Anti-Sicilian like the Smith-Morra Gambit (1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3) At club level, an unprepared black player can quickly find themselves in serious danger. White

French Defense, Part 2a: Winawer & Classical Variations

In Part 1, we looked at French Defense lines where black exchanges pawns on e4. Now we’ll start looking at the most common center type in the French: white plays e4-e5. In this post we’ll look at the Winawer and Classical Variations. The next post will feature the MacCutcheon and the Tarrasch. White locks the

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