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
||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
||Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode XII: Creating and
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.)
||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.
||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).
||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.
||Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode XIII: Star Moves and
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.
||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
"book draw" (Philidor's position) or the "book win" (Lucena's
||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?
||Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode XIV: The Good, the Bad, and
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.
||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
||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
July - December 2008
||Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode VI
David Hayes versus Josh McClellan (CL subscriber). A nice
example of counterattack against a hyper-aggressive opponent.
||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).
||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.
||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.
||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.
||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.
||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."
||Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode X: Dark-Square Domination
Diogo Franco (CL subscriber) versus HollowPlayer (online
handle). The title says it all.
||Another Endgame Miracle: Winning with R+B vs. R+3P
My second endgame miracle of fall 2008. Even R+B vs. R (with no
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.
||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.
||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
||Strategic Decisions 105: Using Your Rooks
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.
||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.
||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.
||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
||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
||Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs: Episode
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."
||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
||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.
||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
||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!
||The Lighter Side, Part II: Krabbe's
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!)
||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
||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.
||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
||Name and Description
||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.
||Eight-Dimensional Chess (Inspired by Jeremy
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
||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 Knights Defense, Part I: The Fighting
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
||Two Knights Defense, Part 2: The Terrible
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
||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.
||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.
||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
||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.
||Strategic Decisions 104: Where Should I Put
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
||Name and Description
||King's Gambit Declined: Inspiration from
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
||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.
||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
||Tactical Motifs 103: Skewers and X-Ray
More basics. Examples from Kasparov,
Kasimdzhanov, Chigorin, the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer," and
a couple of my own games.
||Tactical Motifs 104: Discovered Attacks and
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
||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.
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!
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
||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.
||Strategic Decisions 102: When Should I
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
||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
||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.
||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
October - December 2006
||Name and Description
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.
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
||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.
||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!
||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.
||King's Gambit Accepted: A Model Game for
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
||Forks, Part 1
||Skewers and X-Ray
Accepted: A Model Game (12/29/06)
||The Hook and Ladder
||Forks, Part 2
||Nuke the Sicilian!
||In-Between Moves (Zwischenzugs)
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
||LFYFA XIII: Star
Moves and Superstar Moves (3/20/09)
||LFYFA X: Dark Square
||LFYFA XI: When 3P=1R
||Tactical Motifs 302:
Loose Pieces, Part 2 (2/16/09)
||A Rook Ain't What it
Used to Be (6/5/09)
||Irina's Deep Strategy
in the Dutch (1/5/09)
||Tactical Motifs 301:
Loose Pieces, Part 1 (2/10/09)
||R+P vs. R: When You
Can't Reach Philidor's (4/9/09)
||My Oldest and
Favoritest Trap (12/15/08)
||The Best Mating
Combination I Never Played (1/30/09)