Dana's Bio


News & Events




Since October 2006, I have been recording chess videos regularly for ChessLecture.com. This is a subscription website, where you can listen to lessons from a whole team of strong players, including two grandmasters (Eugene Perelshteyn and Jesse Kraai). I think that this is the best way to learn chess that I have seen yet. I have trouble reading chess books; they tend to put me to sleep. But with ChessLectures, you can get inside the mind of a master and see how he thinks.

Here is a list of the videos I have recorded so far, with short descriptions. One of the links (the 4/12/2007 lecture) is active; you may watch this video for free. (Thanks to ChessLecture for giving me permission to post this one!) Because this is a copyrighted video, you should not make or distribute copies of it without explicit permission from ChessLecture.com.

January - June 2009

1/15 33:13 Irina's Deep Strategy in the Dutch

Irina Krush smashes Marc Esserman's Dutch Defense. This game is an impressive example of force imbalance in one part of the board. Marc has plenty of pieces, but they're all on the queenside (not on the kingside where they are needed). Krush makes sure they stay there.

1/19 41:22 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode XII: Creating and Defusing Counterplay

Attila Malinik versus Phil Hopkins (CL subscriber from England). Black plays well in the opening and wins a pawn but then gets careless and gives his opponent too much counter-play. Haven't we all had games like this? (Phil did win in the end, though.)

1/30 37:07 The Best Combination I Never Played

Going back over my old games, I found this strange gem from 1985. My opponent walked into a mating net and so I won easily, but what if he had defended properly? My computer found an amazing combination with a queen and rook sac to checkmate with a pawn! I had no idea, of course.

2/10 49:28 Tactical Motifs 301: Loose Pieces, Part I

Undefended pieces are often a red flag for combinations, even if they are not currently being attacked. They are the ones most likely to be victimized by pins, forks, etc. John Nunn has a saying: LPDO (loose pieces drop off). I invented a new acronym: LPCRF (loose pieces cause red faces).

2/16 39:55 Tactical Motifs 302: Loose Pieces, Part 2

More examples of undefended pieces. "You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended." -- Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

3/20 49:59 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode XIII: Star Moves and Superstar Moves

Kenneth Jackson versus Allan Jiang (CL subscriber). Allan pointed out a couple of "star moves" that he played in this game. But one of them was actually a mistake: He missed a "superstar" deflection sacrifice! However, he redeemed himself by finding a similar sac later in the game.

4/9 28:14 Rook and Pawn vs. Rook: When You Can't Reach Philidor's Position

For intermediate to advanced players, this lecture addresses an important question -- what happens when you can't get to either the standard "book draw" (Philidor's position) or the "book win" (Lucena's position).

5/5 26:00 The Clock Giveth and the Clock Taketh Away

Time trouble can affect the psychology of both players. In this game an International Master (Vladimir Mezentsev) loses his way against me, even though I had less than a minute on my clock and he had more than 20. Was he trying to rush me, or did he just get overconfident?

5/21 35:42 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode XIV: The Good, the Bad, and the Bogus

Chad Bam (CL subscriber) versus Eric Putney. One big challenge, when you are starting out, is learning to tell the difference between real threats and bogus ones. There are plenty of both in this entertaining game.

6/5 38:12 A Rook Ain't What it Used to Be

I analyze a fascinating game from the U.S. Championship between Ildar Ibragimov and Gata Kamsky, where the two players combined to offer (according to my count) ten exchange sacrifices. Didn't anyone ever tell them a rook is supposed to be worth more than a bishop?

To Come   Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode XV: Phalanx!

Klaus-Guenther Besenthal versus Ralf Adloff (CL subscriber from Germany). Somewhat like my 11/27/2008 lecture, but even more extreme. Even though White has an extra queen and rook, he has to settle for a draw against Black's phalanx of 4 connected passed pawns.

July - December 2008

7/10 41:01 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode VI

David Hayes versus Josh McClellan (CL subscriber). A nice example of counterattack against a hyper-aggressive opponent.

7/29 46:55 The Lighter Side, Part III: Checkmate with the King

The famous king-chase game between Edward Lasker and George Thomas, which ends with the unique move 18. Kd2 checkmate. Also, the game Prins-Day (1968) could have ended with 31. ... O-O-O checkmate (but alas, White resigned first).

8/25 43:58 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode VII: Desperadoes Galore

Sebastian Fernandez (CL subscriber) versus David Schell. The finish of this one is amazing, as both players put their rooks en prise and neither one can be taken. Unfortunately, Fernandez did take his opponent's gift and lost as a result.

9/12 42:37 The Lighter Side, Part IV: Double Queen Sacs

Most of us are lucky if we play two queen sacrifices in our lives. Can you imagine playing two in one game? Rudolf Charousek did it. So did Vladimir Kramnik, Larry D. Evans, and noted chess blogger Dennis Monokroussos.

9/23 49:20 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode VIII: Red Flags

i12c (online handle) versus Jim Krooskos (CL subscriber). Games between lower-rated players are often more instructive than master games, because the players allow the tactical shots that masters have learned to avoid. Here, I talk about the "red flags" that you need to notice to avoid blunders -- such as loose pieces, pins, and discovered attacks.

9/26 37:06 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode IX: See the Mate

Jacob Parrish versus Allan Jiang (CL subscriber). Another way to avoid blunders is to consciously visualize your opponent's biggest threat -- the worst thing that could happen to you -- and make sure it never happens. Clearly, there is no threat bigger than mate. In this game, both players overlook mate threats and lose material as a consequence.

10/14 38:05 The King is a Fighting Piece

I had a couple of amazing endgame saves in the fall of 2008 -- both in the last rounds of tournaments with prize money at stake. Here I won a double-rook endgame, even though I was a pawn down, by remembering a cardinal rule: "The King is a fighting piece."

10/31 47:48 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode X: Dark-Square Domination

Diogo Franco (CL subscriber) versus HollowPlayer (online handle). The title says it all.

11/13 49:09 Another Endgame Miracle: Winning with R+B vs. R+3P

My second endgame miracle of fall 2008. Even R+B vs. R (with no pawns) is supposed to be a draw -- so how can you win when your opponent also has three pawns? Answer: Some R+B vs. R positions are wins. I knew that and my opponent didn't. So I just ignored the pawns and headed for one of the winning setups.

11/27 49:46 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode XI: When 3P = 1R

Matthaeus Weiss (CL subscriber from Austria) versus H. Koller. When are three pawns as strong as a rook? When they are on e5, d6, and c7. Rooks are rather bad at controlling far-advanced connected passed pawns.

12/15 22:03 My Oldest and Favoritest Trap

Around 1982 or 1983, when I was a grad student, I discovered this trap in the French Defense that isn't in any books. I finally got a chance to play it in a tournament game in 2008 -- 25 years later!

January - June 2008

1/2 41:36 Strategic Decisions 105: Using Your Rooks Together

Sort of a sequel to my December 13 lecture, covering things like entry squares, the eighth rank, and minority attacks, but most of all emphasizing the coordinated power of two rooks. Examples this time were all from my own games.

1/23 39:22 Learn From Your Fellow Amateurs: Episode I

The first of my longest-running series. Listeners send in their most interesting or instructive games and I lecture on them; the submitter wins a free month subscription. The first game was between Stan Nawrocki and Michael Oldehoff (CL subscriber). Michael blunders his queen for a couple pieces, but doesn't give up and pulls off a remarkable comeback.

2/11 54:06 Tactical Motifs 203: Mating Nets

When you least expect it, your king might get caught in a web! Examples from Petrosian, Capablanca, and my all-time favorite, the last game from the Kramnik-Leko world championship match in 2004.

2/27 35:30 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs: Episode II

Outstanding game between Larry Tamarkin (CL subscriber) and Ilya Solonkovich in the Two Knights, Modern Variation. Relates to both my 11/29/2007 lecture and my 5/14/2008 lecture.

3/10 45:15 Tactical Motifs 204: Berserker Pawns

Not a standard term, "berserker pawns" is my name for passed pawns that suddenly break free in the middlegame. Usually such a pawn is either created or its path is cleared by a surprise sac. Every chess player knows about the importance of passed pawns in the endgame, but they can be important in the middlegame, too.

3/28 31:22 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs: Episode III

John Wagner versus Matthew Hass (CL subscriber). A classic permanent pin -- as I wrote in my notes to the game, "White has a bishop surgically implanted in his gut."

4/22 51:05 A Prize-Winning Endgame

An oldie but goodie from 1990. This is the only time I ever won a best-endgame prize. In fact, it may be the only time I played in a tournament that even had a best-endgame prize! I pulled out a tough win in a queen-and-pawn endgame.

4/30 57:42 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs: Episode IV

Weinstein versus Florian Biermann (CL subscriber from Israel). A very complicated game with lots of big changes in momentum.

5/14 22:31 Tactical Motifs 205: The Hit and Run

After the lecture I found out that this tactical motif, which I had not seen discussed before, is actually called "rubber banding." Because it's not so well known, it's easy to miss. This lecture was inspired by the listener submissions for my 2/27 and 4/30 lectures, which both featured rubber-banding (or hit-and-run) combinations.

5/20 37:02 The Lighter Side, Part I: Quadrupled Pawns

This series didn't last too long, because listeners didn't seem to care about it. My idea was to lecture on some weird and wacky things that happen on a chessboard. In this lecture we see two occurrences of quadrupled pawns, and one time the pawns even won!

5/21 36:21 The Lighter Side, Part II: Krabbe's Kuriosity Kabinet

I take you on a tour of Tim Krabbe's website, a repository of everything weird and wacky on the chessboard. Example: A bona fide tournament game where the players castled three times total. (Yes, one of the castles was illegal, but neither player realized it!)

6/6 41:54 Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs: Episode V

Nick Panico III (CL subscriber) versus Thomas Pattard. In the Long Island Industrial Chess League, Panico pulled off the amazing, Fischer-esque feat of going 15-0. Before the Internet, who would have ever known about his accomplishment?

6/9 31:25 Learning from My Own Lectures

In a King's Gambit Declined, I got a chance to apply some of the lessons I learned from the game Bronstein-Kostro that I lectured about on 1/15/2007.

6/25 41:44 Basic Endgames Matter

This lecture covers one type of endgame in particular: R + 2P versus R, where the two pawns are separated by one file. It is notoriously difficult, especially when the two pawns are a bishop pawn and a rook pawn.

July - December 2007

Date Run Time Name and Description
7/13/2007 31:42 Tactical Motifs 202: Reversing the Move Order

This is a very little-known idea that can sometimes help you spot unexpected combinations. When you're analyzing a line where Move A seems to come "naturally" before Move B, stop yourself and ask whether it might work even better to play Move B first, then Move A.

7/30 50:05 Eight-Dimensional Chess (Inspired by Jeremy Silman)

My reformulation of Jeremy Silman's system of imbalances, packaged in an easy-to-remember mnemonic device. With some great illustrations from the Sveshnikov Variation of the Sicilian Defense. This lecture turned out to be very popular, and I have rewritten it as an article that will appear in Chess Life in 2008.

8/14 42:31 Fun With a Supposedly Inferior Variation

The variation in question is the Marshall Defense to the Queen's Gambit Declined (1. d4 d5 c4 Nf6), a move so unorthodox that some opening books don't even mention it. But I've had some very interesting games with it -- including draws against two grandmasters.

8/31 53:05 Two Knights Defense, Part I: The Fighting Fritz

A listener requested a lecture on the Traxler Variation of the Two Knights Defense. But first I just had to talk about the line I actually play in my own games, the Fritz Variation. It's exciting, dangerous, and little-explored. What more could you want?

9/14 49:44 Two Knights Defense, Part 2: The Terrible Traxler

Here I finally responded to the listener request. It was fun, because I had never carefully studied the Traxler Variation before. My conclusion: after White's move 6. Bb3, it's really the "Toothless Traxler," because White can get a risk-free advantage.

10/18 56:03 Dueling Masters: Crouching Ruy, Hidden Bird (featuring IM Josh Friedel)

Another listener suggestion -- why not show a game between two ChessLecturers, with comments from both? This game was a real back-and-forth struggle between me and Josh Friedel. The lecture was a little bit chaotic. Well, more than a little, because neither Josh nor I knew what the other was going to say.

10/31 32:41 Shifting Gears Between Strategy and Tactics

Sometimes you get stuck in a mental rut. In a strategic, maneuvering game, you overlook some tactical possibilities. Or in a tactical, sacrificial position, you forget to think strategically. Good players (including computers) can think both ways at the same time.

11/12 37:12 Two Knights Defense, Part 3: A Recipe from my Secret Underground Laboratory

If you play the Two Knights Defense for very long, you'll find that most White players don't play the greedy 4. Ng5 (as in my first two lectures) but play the much more sensible 4. d4. Here's a pet line of mine for dealing with that move.

11/29 49:49 Two Knights Defense, Part 4: Modern Variation (or the "Nimzo-Two-Knights")

I conclude my series on the Two Knights by talking about what I think is the best and most thematic line for both sides, the Modern (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 ed 5. e5). White's strategy, in particular, is very Nimzovichian, which accounts for the subtitle.

12/13 49:48 Strategic Decisions 104: Where Should I Put My Rooks?

Two games from former world champion Alexander Alekhine illustrate most of the classical themes of rook play: open files, half-open files, pawn breaks, doubling rooks, the seventh rank, and rook lifts.

January - June 2007

Date Run Time Name and Description
1/15/2007 49:41 King's Gambit Declined: Inspiration from David Bronstein

The King's Gambit Declined is less familiar for a lot of players than the King's Gambit Accepted. Who better to learn from than Grandmaster David Bronstein, the former world championship candidate? I analyze a 1970 game between Bronstein and Jerzy Kostro.

2/7 34:03 Tactical Motifs 101: Forks, Part I

A lot of ChessLecture subscribers have been requesting more basic instructional material, so I started a series on the nuts and bolts of chess -- the tactical motifs everyone should know. This lecture focused on forks in the opening.

2/20 34:48 Tactical Motifs 102: Forks, Part II

Continuing the previous lecture with examples of forks in the middlegame. One of the examples, incidentally, features another lecturer on the website, International Master Bryan Smith.

3/1 45:35 Tactical Motifs 103: Skewers and X-Ray Attacks

More basics. Examples from Kasparov, Kasimdzhanov, Chigorin, the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer," and a couple of my own games.

3/19 44:49 Tactical Motifs 104: Discovered Attacks and Armageddon

Carlos Torre's famous "windmill" combination against world champion Emmanuel Lasker, a modern-day version of the windmill by Jerry Hanken, a smothered mate by Jan Timman, etc. Also I rant against "Armageddon" playoffs. (This had no relevance to the main topic.)

4/3 59:09 A "Nuke the Sicilian" Twin

After seeing my article in Chess Life, life master Stephen Tomporowski sent in two games of his own in a very similar opening variation. Not quite the same but close enough to be its twin. In this lecture I analyze both games.

4/12 46:26 Tactical Motifs 105: In-Between Moves (Zwischenzugs)

A suggestion from a listener. "Zwischenzug" sounds like a Scrabble word, but actually it's a very important way to surprise the opponent and seize the initiative. You can listen to this lecture for free by clicking on the link!

4/27 1:03:07

Tactical Motifs 201: Trapped Pieces

In this lecture I talk about typical ways to trap a knight, a bishop, a rook, and a queen. The examples get progressively more difficult. The last one (from a game between me and National Master Renard Anderson) involves some really cool computer analysis.

5/10 46:20 Strategic Decisions 101: When Should I Chase the Bishop?

I decided to start a new series with a lecture about a question that always bothered me when I was a beginner. I contrast an amateur game, with a much too early bishop chase, to a Bobby Fischer game where Fischer times it just right.

5/24 44:14 Strategic Decisions 102: When Should I Trade Queens?

Here I debunk a couple myths about early queen trades -- that they are drawish and they favor the weaker player. The last example is especially nice, a game where Grandmaster Gregory Serper demolished me by using a queen trade as a surprise weapon.

6/6 46:45 Pon-ishing the Ponziani

What an awful pon! In this lecture I go over a key game from the 2007 U.S. Championship between Hikaru Nakamura and Julio Becerra. Nakamura played the seldom-seen Ponziani Opening, and Becerra was more than ready for it.

6/18 48:44 Hikaru's Long March

After the last lecture I felt bad about picking on Nakamura, so I devoted this lecture to a fascinating game he played in the National Open against Renier Gonzalez. This was a must-win game for Hikaru, and just from looking at his face, I never doubted that he would win it.

6/29 34:44 Strategic Decisions 103: What Should I Do When My Opponent Doesn't Play the Book Move?

This is a question asked by a subscriber, and I think that it's a frustration everyone has felt after reading an opening book and then not being able to apply it to real games. Basically, my answer is that you have to understand the book moves, not just memorize them.

October - December 2006

Date Run Time Name and Description
10/20/2006 54:33

Nuke the Sicilian! How to Sac Your Queen on Move Six and Win

In my first lecture for ChessLecture, I present the game with International Master David Pruess where I first played the Queen Sac Variation. I also explain five principles to playing the variation successfully.

11/1 52:20

Nuke the Sicilian, Part II

I continue the series by showing two games with the computer that helped me understand the ideas behind the Queen Sac Variation. One game against Fritz 9, one against Crafty 19.19.

11/17 48:12 How to Save Lost Games (Sometimes)

A favorite game from 1994, where I managed to draw against International Master Timothy Taylor in spite of being three pawns behind. In this game I first grasped the principle that in a losing position you should look for small ways to improve your position, not try to save the game all at once.

12/4 12:51 The Hook and Ladder Trick

A neat little tactical trick that remains surprisingly little known, perhaps because it didn't have a catchy name. Now it does! This was my first attempt at a really short lecture, and apparently it worked because it is my second most popular lecture, after Nuke the Sicilian!

12/15 44:56 Computer Chess: 24 Years Ago Versus Today

Here I present my analysis of a game I played against Belle, the world computer chess champion, in 1983. I compare its analysis with that of Fritz, currently one of the world's best commercially available chess programs. Conclusion: Belle and Fritz aren't very different! Fritz just runs on better hardware.

12/29 39:34 King's Gambit Accepted: A Model Game for White

Some ideas on how to play the Bishop's Variation of the King's Gambit, using a 1992 game between Grandmaster Heikki Westerinen and Jukka Pakkanen as a guide. This opening is a favorite of mine.

Listeners' Top 10

According to ChessLecture's statistics, these are the 10 lectures of mine that have been listened to the most often. I'm not sure how meaningful this "popularity contest" is, because it's heavily biased towards older lectures that have been up longer. But it does give me some idea of what the listeners are most interested in. Data as of 5/12/09.

  Name of Lecture (Date) # of times viewed Rank among all ChessLectures
1. Forks, Part 1 (2/7/07) 1595 8
2. Skewers and X-Ray Attacks (3/1/07) 1357 19
3. King's Gambit Accepted: A Model Game (12/29/06) 1354 20
4. The Hook and Ladder Trick (12/4/06) 1332 21
5. Forks, Part 2 (2/20/07) 1330 22
6. Trapped Pieces (4/27/07) 1301 24
7. Eight-Dimensional Chess (7/30/07) 1273 29
8. Nuke the Sicilian! (10/20/06) 1224 38
9. In-Between Moves (Zwischenzugs) (4/12/07) 970 96
10. Discovered Attacks (3/19/07) 969 97

ChessLecture also gives the viewers a chance to rate each lecture on a scale of 1 through 5. This feature has only been in place since 2008, and it seems to have the opposite bias: The more recent lectures rank much higher on this list. Either there is a subtle psychological tendency to rate a brand-new lecture higher, or else my lectures are getting better. I hope it's the latter!

Data as of 6/23/09. To save space, I have abbreviated "Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs" as "LFYFA."

  Name of Lecture (Date) Avg. User Rating # of Votes
1. Another Endgame Miracle (11/13/08) 5.0 13
2. LFYFA XIII: Star Moves and Superstar Moves (3/20/09) 5.0 11
3. LFYFA X: Dark Square Domination (10/31/08) 4.9 21
4. LFYFA XI: When 3P=1R (11/27/08) 4.9 17
5. Tactical Motifs 302: Loose Pieces, Part 2 (2/16/09) 4.9 13
6. A Rook Ain't What it Used to Be (6/5/09) 4.9 11
7. Irina's Deep Strategy in the Dutch (1/5/09) 4.8 18
8. Tactical Motifs 301: Loose Pieces, Part 1 (2/10/09) 4.7 19
9. R+P vs. R: When You Can't Reach Philidor's (4/9/09) 4.7 19
10. My Oldest and Favoritest Trap (12/15/08) 4.7 16
11. The Best Mating Combination I Never Played (1/30/09) 4.7 15
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