Hastings Congress starts today


“Of course, if King Harold had consulted me, the Battle of Hastings would have had a completely different outcome”. 


Product Review – Killer c3 Sicilian, by IM Sam Collins

First of all, I must apologise to GingerGM and co. for the delay in publishing this review. The DVD has been sitting on my desk for a couple of months , but I have been too busy to get round to reviewing it (books to write, articles to translate, termites to wind up, etc…). I hope the phrase “better late than never” is applicable here.

As readers of previous reviews will know, I am a great fan of the GingerGM DVDs, and I should say right now that this one maintains their high standards. The professionalism of the production once again stands out, and is well above that of other chess DVDs. The links between chapters are, as usual, filled with footage of frantic (if speeded-up) blitz games, with a profusion of dark glasses, not to mention pint pots filled with the obligatory amber liquid. The subliminal message is clear – chess is FUN and chess is COOL.  If Simon Williams and his colleagues at GingerGM have not yet approached the breweries for sponsorship, then they should do so at once – you are missing a trick, guys!

As to content,  this is the first GingerGM disk that I have seen, presented by anyone other than Simon Williams himself, and it is the first Sam Collins presentation I have seen anywhere. I was very impressed with his relaxed and articulate style.  He explains the material in a clear and concise manner, not over-burdening the reader with variations, but stressing the importance of particular tactical sequences when relevant.

The c3-Sicilian is of course, the bane of any Sicilian player’s life. Apart from a brief flirtation with the Scheveningen in my youth, I have never been a Sicilian player, and have not opened 1.e4 with White, so 2.c3 is not a line I have ever had to worry about. However, it has always seemed to me that the variation is to some extent based on a bit of a bluff. I mean this in the sense that, if Black is content to equalise, into a quiet position with few winning chances, then he can usually do so by playing one of the main lines with 2…Nf6, but if he wants to preserve chances of playing for a win, his task is much more difficult, and he usually has to play an objectively inferior variation as Black. However, I suspect Collins would take issue with this characterisation, as he emphasises that the c3-system is aiming at creating a position with real attacking chances for White. Objectively, much depends on his recommended line against 2…Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d6 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bc4 Nb6 – if Black can find a reliable way to neutralise Collins’ suggestion here (no, I’m not going to tell you what it is – you’ll have to buy the DVD!), then he will still be able to ensure a quiet life for himself, but until then, 2.c3 remains a surprisingly dangerous weapon.

See trailer here

The big point about 2.c3 is its sheer practicality. It is a simple, logical, easy-to-understand system, in which White avoids a mass of main line theory, yet still reaches positions which, against anything but the best defence, offer dangerous attacking chances.  In fact, it beats me why any player below 2500 would play anything else against the Sicilian.

Collins’ DVD runs to four and a half hours, and equips White players with everything they need to know to play the c3-Sicilian with great practical success. I can only recommend it highly.

The Killer c3 Sicilian is available at £19.95 from GingerGM.com 

Termitewatch (6)

I know Christmas is a time for tall stories and fantasy, but things seem to have gone a little too far in that direction on the Termite Colony. The Egregious Forum’s censor-in-chief, Carl “Old Mother” Hibbard, announced today that “I close down my brain and this computer on Saturday and don’t return until Wednesday”.

 “I’m sure I had an intelligent comment in here somewhere…” (photo: alephbet.com)

Come on now, my friend – believing in men with long white beards flying around the world with reindeer, and dropping down chimneys to deliver presents, is one thing, but surely we cannot seriously be expected to believe that “Old Mother” has ever had his brain switched on?

The greatest story ever told

“Of course, if Mary and Joseph had consulted me, I would have ensured they got a room at the inn.” 

Gefeliciteerd, Grootmeester!

Today marks the 60th birthday of Jan Hendrick Timman, a player second only to Max Euwe in the history of Dutch chess, and one of the strongest players in the world for much of the past 40 years.

Timman’s playing career has been well documented, not least in his own books – he is amongst the most prolific of grandmasters, for the depth and frankness with which he has chronicled his own play. But there is another side to Timman’s chess, and that is his lifelong love of the endgame study. In recent years, as his OTB activity has declined (largely through lack of invitations, rather than any loss of energy or appetite for playing on his own part), he has also forged a fine career as an endgame study composer. A few weeks ago, he published his latest book, The Art of the Endgame.

Subtitled “My journeys in the magical world of endgame studies”, it is a true labour of love, and not to be missed at any price.  I was privileged enough to be asked to do some proof-checking of the English in the book, and was absolutely knocked out by the quality of the content. I could not wait to get my copy, when it appeared, and I have not been disappointed. If this does not win the next ECF “Book of the Year” award, then they should just stop making the award.

Here is just one of Timman’s many fine compositions.

J Timman 11-12 pr, WCCT 2004

White to play and win

The theme of the tourney was positions where White has to play a manoeuvre, which offloads a piece or pawn, and then returns to the start position, minus that unit. Here, 1.Rh7+? fails to 1…Kg6, so instead White plays:

1. Ng3+! Kxh4 2. Nf5+ Kh5  

reaching the initial position, but without the Bh4. Now:

3. Rh7+ Kxg5

The difference is that now 3… Kg6 is met by 4. Nh4+.

4. Rg7+ Kh5 

It is not over yet. White cannot take the queen, because of stalemate. Instead...

5. h4!!

A beautiful finish. There is no defence to 6.Rg5+.

5… Qg1 (5… Qc2 6. Rg5#) 6. Rg5+ Qxg5 7. hxg5 1-0

A very nice, if lightweight piece of work.

I, for one, will raise a glass to Grandmaster Timman this evening. You can order The Art of the Endgame here.


Spelling error found in FIDE rules!

“Of course, if Fowler had consulted me first, his book on English usage could have been a best-seller. Innit” 

A taxi-driver writes

Grievously stung by criticism over our failure to allow third party comments here on the blog, we have decided to invite a well-known Liverpool taxi-driver to comment on an issue of topical importance. This week, Dave “The Prof” Robertson (cab no. 859245) writes about the Egregious Chess Forum:

“Did you see that stuff goin’ on over at the Forum, guv? Bleedin’ disgrace, if you ask me. I mean, fancy bannin’ a bloke, just for sayin’ that women ‘ave got more commonsense than men!  Stands to reason, dunnit? They’re just a bunch o’ friggin’ prigs, if you ask me, mate.

You know what I’d do wiv’ them moderators? String ’em up, that’s what! That’s the only language these people understand.

I ‘ad that Judge Jeffries in the back o’ the cab once. Now ‘e talked a lot o’ sense, y’know….”


 “You moderating me?” (photo: idioland.com)