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Women vs. Men

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Written by Natalia Pogonina   
Tuesday, 02 March 2010

by Natalia Pogonina for her Tuesday column

There is nothing that disgusts a man like getting beaten at chess by a woman.
Charles Dudley Warner

Playing in mixed events is enjoyable since it allows one to learn more about chess and psychology, and to improve more rapidly. So why, one might ask, are women often segregated? The problem is that most organizers dont support female players by introducing special prizes for women. Therefore, each time you play in a mixed event, you have to be ready to bear expenses and earn nothing, which is not what a chess pro is looking for. As a result, most strong female players prefer to participate in tournaments that can offer them a chance to gain a title and win a prize. The obvious drawback of this is that its harder for them to progress just imagine that you are regularly beating 2000-2400 FIDE players and learning hardly anything instead of clashing with the titans! Thats also one of the reasons why there are so few GMs among women. You just cant obtain the norms no matter how well you perform, unless there is a certain percentage of GMs among your opponents. And where would you get those in a female tournament?

Nonetheless, if one can afford it, its always nice to face top male grandmasters. Today I would like to share with you one such encounter. My opponent for this game, GM Igor Glek, is a very strong player, winner of about 100 international tournaments. In 1996 he was rated 2670, good for 12th place in the world rankings. I understood perfectly well that he was a favorite against me, but what strategy should I pursue? Sometimes people try to play solidly and wait until the opponent starts incorrectly pressing for a win. Usually this strategy doesnt work out that well. However, if you like to stay on the defensive, that could be an option. On the contrary, I am an active player who values experience and the opportunity to learn something new more than rating or tournament points. Anyway, in the long run the active approach brings more dividends.

Our game is an example of exciting attacking chess; I hope you will like it:

Natalia Pogonina - Igor Glek

P.S. You can find some more of my thoughts on the topic of women and men in chess in a special article.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 02 March 2010 )

Your tactics at

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Written by Administrator   
Monday, 01 March 2010

In another episode of "Your tactics at" the featured guest is Alexey Zabaykin. Highlights:

Name: Alexey Zabaykin
Age: 21
Country: Russia
City: Novosibirsk
Chess level: candidate master, FIDE 2005
Education: BSc of Mathematics from the Novosibirsk State University, studying for MSc
Occupation: web developer
Hobbies: volleyball, taekwondo, badminton, snowboarding, swimming, programming

Alexey likes classical chess, takes his time to think on every move, and likes to prepare seriously for the games. However, lately he hasn't been playing chess, so the tactics comes from as far as 2004.

Alexey Zabaykin - Evgeny Kovalev (2257), White to move

This one is relatively complicated.

P.S. Becoming a featured guest at is easy - just contact us!

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Last Updated ( Monday, 01 March 2010 )

Trivia: geography in chess openings

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Written by Natalia Pogonina   
Friday, 26 February 2010

It is amazing how many countries, cities and nationalities are involved in chess openings. Let's have some fun and compile a full list!
I will be adding the replies from the comments to the post until we have all of them.

To warm-up, here are some obvious ones:
1. The French Defense: 1.e4 e6
2. The Sicilian: 1.e4 c5
3. They Ruy Lopez (aka Spanish opening): 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5

More? Please rely on your memory only, no googling!

4. Dutch Defense (Bob Clowar): 1.d4 f5
5. Scotch Game (Ciaran Ruane): 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4
6. Italian Game (Ciaran Ruane): 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4
7.Scandinavian Defense (Ciaran Ruane): 1.e4 d5
8.Catalan Opening (Ciaran Ruane): 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2
9. Indian defenses (Ciaran Ruane)
10. Petroff's Defense (aka Russian Opening, karpidis): 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6
11. English opening (karpidis): 1.c4
12. Vienna Game (Felipe Pait): 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3
13. Austrian attack (Ganesh): 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4
14. Berlin Defense (Ganesh): 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6
15. Budapest gambit (Jerry Weldin): 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5
16. Moscow variation of the Sicilian Defense (Jerry Weldin): 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5
17. Meran variation (yvind Pedersen): 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4
18. London system (yvind Pedersen) : 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4

Not bad, but I know a few more!

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 27 February 2010 )

Guess the players-4

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Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Do you recognize this famous grandmaster and theoretician (Black)?

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 February 2010 )

Rock, paper, scissors

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Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 23 February 2010

by Natalia Pogonina for her Tuesday column

One of the reasons behind the nemeses and customers theory is that each chess player has his own style. It reminds me of the Rock, Paper, Scissors game where there is no one dominant item.

The main three chess characters are:
    Positional guy. A solid player with a great positional understanding. Maneuvering, finding the right spots for his pieces, creating minor weaknesses that is his cup of coffee. Unless he blunders something, you will most probably end up being strangled by his powerful chess grasp. Example: Kramnik.
    Tactical guy. Hot, impatient, attack-attack-attack. He likes sacrifices, open positions with lots of tactical shots in the air, double-edged games. Always aims for the king, often succeeds, sometimes ends up in a wrecked position and down material. Example: Chigorin.
    Calculator. A universal player who is a nerveless killer trying to find the best move in every position. He sees very many moves ahead and uses this to his advantage. Traps, tricky combinations, unpredictable moves. Oops, where did your knight go? The only problem for such people is that they are not chess engines. They still make mistakes, their calculations are not always perfect. Example: Kasparov


Vladimir Kramnik and Garry Kasparov, London, 2000

When people of the same style collide, the more skillful one usually wins. However, if they play differently, a lot depends on psychology and cunning. For instance, in the 2000 London World Championship match Kramnik managed to lure Kasparov with Black into relatively dull Berlin endgames where Kramnik felt like a fish in water. Kasparov was getting frustrated by not being able to win a single game, but was too proud to admit it and choose a different opening. Sounds very simple, but this was one of the main reasons why Garry, probably the greatest chess player ever, lost his crown!

Therefore, it is very important to dictate the game, put pressure on your opponent and make him/her play the type of positions you like. That is a very serious advantage!

Example 1
A young NM is playing with White against a wizened A-class grandpa. He is anxious to finish the game as quickly as possible. Nonetheless, the old man is fighting back: his position is a bit worse, but very solid. The youngster gets excited about a kingside attack and offers a piece sacrifice. What a surprise his opponent declines it and offers the young man an endgame with a slight advantage. The NM is angry (how dare he keep struggling?), so he is starting to play carelessly. On the contrary, the more experienced old player is playing calmly and taking advantage of his partners mistakes. The game ends in a win for Black. The NM storms out of the room muttering what a lucky patzer, he cant even calculate three moves ahead!

Example 2
The young man learnt his lesson well. Next time he was facing a positional player with Black. Being under pressure all game long, he kept waiting for a chance to spice up the game. Suddenly, instead of trying to hold a draw-or-lose endgame, he sacrificed a pawn to gain the initiative. Objectively speaking, White had excellent winning chances. However, it was hard for him to switch gears and play aggressively. In a few moves White found himself in time trouble, blundered a smart tactical shot from his opponent, and resigned.
You can recall many such stories yourself if you have played in chess tournaments.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 23 February 2010 )

Your tactics at

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Written by Administrator   
Monday, 22 February 2010
Last time we announced that will be publishing tactics played by its visitors. Please welcome our first guest:

Name: Ivan Prokhorov
Age: 21
Country: Russia
City: Novosibirsk
Chess level: candidate master, FIDE 2089
Occupation: online trader, poker player
Hobbies: skiing, darts, chess, walking, tennis, beach volleyball

Ivan is a solid positional player, so most of his games are decided strategically. Nonetheless, he had provided us with an example of his tactical abilities:

Turbin (2028) - Prokhorov (2076), Black to move

Can you see the winning combination?

Becoming a featured guest at is easy - just contact us!

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Last Updated ( Monday, 22 February 2010 )

Book review by Natalia Pogonina: "Olympiad United! Dresden 2008"

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Written by Natalia Pogonina   
Sunday, 21 February 2010

Chess is still not a part of the Olympics, but every 2 years we have our own very special Chess Olympiad. Last time it was held in Dresden, Germany in 2008. Players from 152 countries have played 5546 games at the event, made new friends across the globe, enjoyed the city and have generally had a great time. For me it was the first Chess Olympiad, so I have particulary enjoyed it and scored pretty well: 6 ouf of 7 (+5 =2 -0).

I was happy to relive the holiday once again when my good friend WGM Anna Burtasova presented me with a splendid book about the tournament. Thanks to her, Harald Fietz and Josip Asik for their outstanding collaboration.

Some of the features of the book include:
  • Exciting day-by-day narrative about the event
  • Analyses of chess games played at the Olympiad provided by the top players themselves - Vachier Lagrave, So, Nielsen, B. Socko, Bu Xiangzhi, Akopian, V. Georgiev, S. Zhigalko, Onischuk, Sargissian; Chiburdanidze, A. Muzychuk, Paehtz, Kosintseva sisters, Cramling, Arakhamia-Grant and many more
  • Interviews with players, coaches, star guests including Alexei Shirov, Teimour Radjabov, Dmitry Jakovenko, Arkadij Naiditsch, Bu Xiangzhi, Zhao Xue, Tigran Petrosian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Sergey Zhigalko, Anna Muzychuk, Artur Yusupov and others

The concept of this book excited me so much that I couldn't abstain from making my own small contribution. In the book you can find an interview with me, lots of pictures and commentary of my win against WGM Vesna Rozic.

Not everyone has the opportunity to participate in a Chess Olympiad, but each of us can get a taste of what it feels like by reading this awesome book!

"Olympiad United! Dresden 2008" is available at:

Schach Niggemann (Germany)

London Chess Center (UK market)

London Chess Center (US / Canada market)


New in Chess Shop

Van Stockum (Den Hague / Netherlands)!.html

Variantes (Paris / France)

Due Torri (Bologna / Italy) (Karel Mokry / Czech Republic)

Related materials:
Photo Gallery: Natalia Pogonina at the 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden
Other books reviews by Natalia Pogonina: "Diary of a Chess Queen" by Alexandra Kosteniuk

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 21 February 2010 )

Chess Love Story

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Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 20 February 2010

An exciting and adorable movie about a White Pawn which fell in love with the Black Queen! Awesome animation and many hidden senses!

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 20 February 2010 )

Guess the players-3

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Written by Administrator   
Friday, 19 February 2010

Do you recognize the super grandmaster on the left?

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Last Updated ( Friday, 19 February 2010 )

Customers and Nemeses

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Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 16 February 2010

by Natalia Pogonina for her Tuesday column

The transitivity law does not hold for chess. That is, if player A usually beats player B, and player B usually beats player C, it does not imply that player A usually beats player C. In fact, sometimes its quite the opposite.

While playing against some opponents of similar rating is a walk in the park (we call such players customers), some of our rivals pose an insurmountable barrier for us. For some reason be it chess style, psychology, or something  else they act as relentless nemeses, beating us over and over again.


Garry Kasparov: "Chess is mental torture."

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 February 2010 )
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