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is chess in the Olympics

  There is currently no chess in the Olympiad. The Chess Olympiad is a chess competition officially organized by FIDE since 1927 and takes place in even-numbered years. Before World War II the event was occasionally held every year. There was also an unofficial Chess Olympiad series that ended in 1976. Although chess is covered in the sports sections of many newspapers around the world, it is not one of the recognized sports in the Olympic Games. However, FIDE is now a member of the International Olympic Committee and follows its rules. This means that chess could one day become an Olympic event, although most knowledgeable observers say this is unlikely. The World Chess Championship is a competition held annually by the international chess organization FIDE to determine the World Champion of chess. Both men and women are eligible to participate in this championship. The World Champion does not have to be the player with the highest Elo rating: the 2006-2007 World Champion, Vladimir Kr

5 Traps in the Philidor Defense

The Philidor Defense is one of Black’s opening responses to 1. e4. It is characterized by playing the moves 1. e4 e5 2. d6. In this opening, Black simply defends the e-pawn with another one of his pawns. Technically, it is not the best way to defend the pawn since it blocks the dark-square bishop, keeping it hemmed in on its starting square.

I would say that this isn’t the most popular replies to 1. e4 that Black has, certainly there are better options out there which are more theoretically sound. However, there is an advantage to playing this opening in a few instances. The fact that it’s not as popular as say the Ruy Lopez or the Sicilian would make it easier to catch an opponent by surprise if they weren’t expecting it or if they don’t know how to deal with it.

In either case, having lines prepared in this opening would give you a slight advantage especially if your opponent doesn’t know how to respond. That being said, most of the games that we will have here as examples show how White would usually thrash Black in this opening with various tactics and traps. Unknowingly, Black was falling into his own demise.

Of course, it is also in this opening where we see one of the famous opening traps, the Legal’s Trap and the Legal’s Mate. Now, this doesn’t mean that the person after whom the opening takes its name was a poor chess player. On the contrary, he was considered one of the best in his time.

Greco – NN, 1620

Being one of the earliest recorded chess masters, Greco has explored various openings and sprung his traps on many unsuspecting victims. In this game, c3 was the trap he set against his opponent.

A temporary sacrifice that baits the knight to take the undefended e-pawn. However, Greco reveals the idea behind c3 as it opens the diagonal for the queen to give a check to the king and forking the Black knight in the process.

This is one of the quickest ways to gain a material advantage in the Philidor and one of the reasons why we often do not take sacrifices unless it is completely necessary. And even if they were necessary, that would usually mean that there is a tactical combination behind the sacrifice.

De Legal – Saint Brie, Paris, 1750

The namesake of the famous Legal Trap and Legal Mate, here we see the game that placed his name in the annals of chess history. This trap takes advantage of the structure in the Philidor Defense which does not leave much breathing room for the king before Black’s pieces develop.

Again, the tactical motif of hitting the f-pawn is seen here and this combination makes use of three pieces to deliver a unique checkmating pattern that is made possible by having the pawn structure of the Philidor Defense.

There are variations of the Legal Trap and the Legal Mate but this was the game that started it all.

Von Kolisch – Geake, Cambridge, 1860

Once again, White attacks the f-pawn this time with his queen and bishop. Black tries to block the attack with his knight however, the queen simply shifts to the other side of the board forming a battery with the bishop, hitting the f-pawn one more time. At the same time, the queen is also attacking the b-pawn.

Perhaps, Bg4 was not the best move to play in the position rather taking the d-pawn would have been better as it simplifies the position and removes the possibilities of inaccuracies being made because of doing the wrong move order. But this game also shows how pins don’t always work, just as in the game with de Legal.

Black made his last mistake when he tried to alleviate the pressure on his pawn by attempting to exchange queen which only led to the monarch being lost and with it the game.

Koltanowski – Denhaene, Antwerp, 1931

Black neglected to address the threat against his king right away in this game and so it cost him dearly. When you see a battery of the queen and bishop against the f-pawn, you have to defend it.

However, in this case, Black’s previous moves with his knight and bishop simply didn’t give him enough space to defend his king. It left too many holes in his position which allowed White to pile up the pressure.

The knight and bishop should not go on the d7 and e7 squares respectively since those squares would block the other pieces and leave the king defenseless. Rather Black should have simply developed his pieces normally. Because of that, Black’s king would be forced out to walk in the open and be harassed by the White pieces until he is finally mated.

Szigethy – Deak, 1988

By far, this is the game where Black has played the most standard moves and has been able to get a decent position out of the opening. It is White in this case who makes an error and has to lose a piece in the end because of a tactic that he overlooked.

Essentially, White was fine until move 9 where he made the wrong capture. Instead of Bxf3, the move gxf3 would have been better and prevented the tactic. After gxf3, if the queen and bishop formed a battery, forking White’s bishop and the h-pawn, then simply playing f4 would have dealt with both problems easily.

The squares around the king

The common theme in all these games and in several openings is that the squares around the king should be protected. One must always play moves that wouldn’t interfere or leave the king vulnerable to attack.

The e4 openings are filled with these kinds of tactical combinations and that’s why it is best to look into them. There’s a lot of opening theory on these games and though I don’t suggest to go deep into them, it would be best to know the gist of a lot of them and to stick to solid principles.


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