Luke McShane(born 1984) is an English Grandmaster who won the World Under-10 Championship in 1993 and Wijk aan Zee B in 2011. He reached a peak FIDE rating of 2713 in July 2012, and his peak world rank of 29 in November of that year.
He has scored victories over Michael Adams, Levon Aronian, Etienne Bacrot, Magnus Carlsen, Sergey Karjakin, Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Morozevich, Hikaru Nakamura, Ruslan Ponomariov, Nigel Short, Wesley So, and Radoslaw Wojtaszek …
…in classical chess.
McShane added another notch to his belt when he took down Ivan Cheparinov in just 20 moves during the 2009 European Team Championship.
Longtime readers of the Chess Essentials blog know I’m not fan of sidelines, espeically with White. Many are playable, some even good. But I think players sometimes get into trouble overthinking how they should play these lines. If your line calls for an all-in attack, go for it!
I don’t know how Cheparinov felt, but I would be taken aback by such shameless aggression! I don’t recommend this approach every game against strong players, but I’ve long said that simple, direct plans executed well are easier to play and very effective. Luke McShane provides a great example with this Closed Sicilian/Grand Prix Attack hybrid.
Gashimov reached a peak rating of 2761 in January 2012, the same month as Wijk aan Zee. As it turned out, this would be his last tournament … epilepsy and a brain tumor forced him to retire from chess at just 25 years old. He died two years later, only 27, reminiscent of Pillsbury, Charousek, and other top talents a century before.
His notatble tournament victories include the Cappelle la Grande Open (2007 and 2008), the FIDE Grand Prix(2008) in his home city of Baku, and Reggio Emilia(2010/2011). He also won the decisive last round game that clinched gold for Azerbaijan at the 2009 European Team Championship.
The Gashimov Memorial has been held annually since 2014 in Shamkir, Azerbaijan.
Gashimov wins a minature against the formidable Boris Gelfand. The Belarusian-Israeli legend was only the fifth player in chess history to achieve a 2700 Elo rating (after Fischer, Karpov, Tal, and Kasparov). He nearly reached the chess Olympus in 2012 when he drew a 12-game World Championship match with Viswanathan Anand (+1 =10 -1) but lost the rapid tiebreak.
White to play. How did Gashimov end the game quickly after Gelfand’s untimely castling?
Loek Van Wely (b. 1972) is one of the greatest Dutch players ever, becoming Champion of the Netherlands eight times so far.
A notable tournament victory was the 1996 New York Open. He is also a fixture at the prestigious Wijk aan Zee super tournaments.
In October 2001 Van Wely achieved a career-high rating of 2714 while climbing to 10th in the world rankings, also a career high.
Van Wely wins a sparkling game against Kiril Georgiev, another former top player (=9th in the world, January 1993), and author. This game was played in the first FIDE Knockout World Championship in 1997. This tournament has since become the World Cup.
White to play. How did Van Wely punch his ticket to the Quarterfinals of the grueling knockout?
Studying tactics and checkmates is usually the first step for new chess players. Next comes classic. short attacking games: the miniatures. They’re exciting and more straightforward for inexperienced players than technical masterpieces.
What is an Attacking Style?
Sometimes, the position requires you to attack the enemy king. Even the most conservative players will launch an attack when it is clearly the right plan. Does this, then, make everyone an attacking player? Not quite.
An attacking player is one who most often chooses to attack when the best available plan is a matter of taste. In the same position, a different player might try to gain space, press a queenside initiative, or go for a promising endgame.
It’s more a question of a player’s mentality and approach to chess.
Let’s take a simple example from the Pirc Defense (1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6):
As I warned when challenging the idea that 1…e5 players need to worry about a lot of lines, while others have a much easier task: white has plenty of options against the Pirc, too.
Sedate players like Anatoly Karpov or Ulf Andersson would choose simple development with something like 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Be2 0-0 6.0-0 and play for central control:
Another treatment is the positional 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Bd3 favored by, e.g., Bobby Fischer:
An attacking player would not hesitate to pursue a kingside attack, for example with 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.f3:
No one knew that one of the greatest games in chess history was about to begin.
Risk and Reward
Playing attacking chess in “borderline” situations increases the likelihood of a decisive result — either the aggressor breaks through or the defender repels the assault and winds up with extra material. You have to be willing to accept more losses with your wins.
There is also a greater burden on a player’s ability to calculate, even more so if they play sharp opening lines. We saw an example of this in Svidler — Vallejo-Pons. The player making the first mistake can lose outright. Some players love this kind of play, however!
What Kind of Player are You?
You have to play a lot of games and honestly assess what kinds of positions you feel more “at home” in. Does active play suit you…and how active are we talking? Do you prefer to initiate play or to play against your opponent’s ideas? Above all, don’t experiment too much in tournaments — that’s what online chess is for!
Another hint: which famous player’s games “speak” to you? It’s unlikely you’ll ever play as well as your hero, but finding a role model to emulate can be very helpful.
Don’t hesitate to keep tweaking your openings until you find a set of lines that you know how to play and actually want to play. If you would be happy to employ a line against a player rated 200 points higher than you, keep it in your repertoire!