Give In – A Lesson for Juniors
Olivia was struggling at school with her
maths and general concentration. She was in Year 2 and a few things
had gone wrong. To help with this, I decided to start teacher her how
to play chess, having returned to playing myself after a back injury
permanently stopped me playing cricket. Her brother, Jacob was
staring at me and the boards as I was teaching her. ‘Why are you not
teaching me this instead?’ was the look my four-year-old son gave me.
I guess that was the moment I started
There is one game from my youth that is
permanently seared in my memory that I frequently use to teach juniors some
valuable chess lessons. It often elicits laughter from adults too.
My (ahem) ‘brilliance’ was also published 30+ years ago in the Bradford
Telegraph and Argos, by my long-suffering and wonderful coach IM Bill
Lumley of East Bierley Chess Club.
Here we go!
Date: Not sure. Sometime
around 1991. It was a very early competitive game
Location: East Bierley,
White: Memory does not
go that far back
e5 2. Nf3 Nf6
The Petrov’s Defence! Named after the
Russian Alexander Petrov from the mid-19th century. With a
drawish reputation it has been adopted by many of the greats of the game,
such as Smyslow, Petrosian and Karpov. The opening has huge pedigree
and I should have felt huge pride in adopting such a classical approach.
Actually, what I was thinking was ‘I wonder
what happens if I do this?’.
Lesson one –
try to know what you are doing when starting a game of chess…
Nxe4 4. Qe2 Nf6
White playing Qe2 has a 73% win rate for
white on my chessbase app. The following by myself gives the opportunity to
wallop this up to 95%.
Pause the lesson –
What is the BEST move for white here? Think about discovered checks…
I am an idiot. Can I say that?
I certainly felt it at the time, with my cheeks hotting up and head
in hands. For those juniors that have not noticed it, wannabe GM
Westmoreland is just about to drop his queen through the previously hinted
at discovered check.
moving the win bar to white to 97% 7. Nxd8 Kxd8 8. d4.
It is time for white to now crush the
moron. d4 commences this task, allow pieces to be freed. I
wanted to resign at this point but..
Lesson two –
Never give in! Many games can be won or lost from incredibly good
positions. Make your opponent work hard.
7… Rd1 with the idea to attempt a pin on
the queen. I thought the potential to pin the queen with my rook may
help a bit. Note Chessbase has white at 100% here. 8. Qd1.
Frustration! I again nearly threw
down my King and in annoyance played my idea anyway.
My opponent tried to block with his c-pawn
but I pointed out the Rook had him in check. He then went to move his
bishop but my bishop had him in check! We were both puzzled.
At that point some of the adults started
laughing and a crowd gathered.
Question: Why were people
laughing and how does white move out the checks?
Answer: White doesn’t.
It is double check and mate. #
So, what are the key take aways here:
at the consequence of your actions on the board
to know a bit about what you are doing when starting a game of chess
is won by the person who does not make the last big mistake.
So, what happened to a young Steve after
he get that dreamed of title? Absolutely not and I remain the
clubbiest of club players.
he walk away knowing he had just refuted a key line in the Petrov? I
had not and did not know the name of the opening for a long time after.
he take up the Petrov from here and play it with success over many more
years? No, as a junior I just played Nc6 on move 2 from then on. Like
most other people.
Steve feel the pain of his coaches based on his actions as a junior? Yes –
sorry Bill, Eric and co. A huge thanks for your patience and support
through my teenage years.