The FICS Academy
The FICS Chess Academy provides a medium for interaction
between stronger players and those wishing to become
stronger. Over the last few months, the Academy has
concentrated its efforts on
The FICS Chess Ladder.
Volunteer members of the Ladder review games played
by FICS users, providing useful advice on how weaker
players can improve their chess skills.
Any FICS registered player can
submit a game.
A Ladder reviewer will receive the game and annotate it
usually within 2 weeks. All annotated games are available on web.
The following game played by a 1500 FICS standard player shows the
kind of insight provided by the Ladder reviewers. Player
comments are shown in blue, annotator comments in black.
naughtybishop - Nordanyan
French - Exchange Variation, C55
notes by naughtybishop, akryl
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. c4
I play the Exchange French described by IM Josh Waitzkin in
Chessmaster 8000. I like the system because it gives
you a nice open game at the cost of an isolated
d-pawn. One disadvantage of the system is that it
may be widely known after being published in
I sometimes use the exchange system, too; I am +6 over
ten games. But to use it effectively, you need an opponent
that is desperate for the full point.
4... Nf6 5. Nc3 Be7 6. Bd3 h6 7. Nge2
I tend to put the knight at f3 to try for the bishop
pair. And some additional tactical motifs based on
pushing the black bishop around.
7... c6 8. O-O O-O 9. Re1 Nbd7 10. Nf4 dxc4 11. Bxc4 Nb6 12. Bb3
So far this is all of the idea of the opening as described
in CM8000. Instead of simply defending the d4-iso,
White is actually challenging Black's control of d5,
and threatening to push d4-d5. I like this a lot more
than the normal closed smelly French positions.
12... Bb4 13. a3 Bxc3
The plan of shedding the black bishop and the pair is
suspicious and seem totally unneccesary. Black will
suffer mightily later due to the weakness on the black
squares and the inability to oppose White's black-squared bishop.
With this, Black has relieved White's isolated pawn. White
has a strong center, and more space.
And the bishop pair. A pretty nice fallout of the opening.
14... Nbd5 15. Qd3 Re8 (see diagram below)
Position after 15. ... Re8
Black is in trouble. He has no real defences for his king.
16. Re5 A dynamic approach. If Black exchanges
rooks, White will get a nice battering ram on the e5 pawn.
16... Rxe5 17. dxe5 +/-
16... Nxf4 17. Bxf4 Rxe1+ 18. Rxe1 Nd5 19. Bc2 Be6!
This excellent move gets the bishop to an excellent square
while closing off the e-file.
This is in fact a bad move. See the comments after White's reply.
19... Nxf4 20. Qh7+ Kf8 21. Qh8#
19... Nf6 20. Be5
This is the best play. And Black is on the verge of a
20. Qh7+ Kf8 21. Bd2! And Black is toast due to the
This move only looks passive. Now White's dreams of a
kingside attack are over.
White's new plan will be to push d5-d5, which is actually
just his old plan renewed. I realize now that this is
an impossible plan, since Black can control d5 more times
than White can.
This will allow Black counter play based on the pressure on
the White pawns and a possible b7-b5 creating an outpost on
d5-c4. But you still have the possible Bc3 d4-d5
manoeuver. And the prospects are still good for you.
21... Qc7? 22. Bb3?
22. Bc3! b5 23. cxb5 cxb5 24. d5 Bf5 25. Qf3!
Black has equalized. To get some play. You will have to
re-train your pieces at Black's king.
23. h3 ?!
I didn't want to allow Ng4, but there is a worse problem
It actually creates a few complications so it's not all bad.
23... Qd6 24. Bc3
or this variation: 24. Qf3 Qxd4 25. Bxh6
(or this even better move 25. Bc3 Qh4 26. Re5
and White has got game)
25... gxh6 26. Rd1 Qb6 27. Qxf6 Rxd1+ 28. Bxd1 Qb1
29. Qd8+ Kh7 30. Kh2 Bxc4 with some chances due to the
lack of pawns round the black king.
24... Qxa3 25. Qc2
Now, I could win the pawn back if Black were to leave his
queen on a3, But in the spirit of his 19th and 20th moves,
25... Qd6! (see diagram below)
Position after 25. ... Qd6
Actually a bad move.
This looks a bit strange, but I want to prove that the b6
square will be a problem for him. I want to control
b6, and then attack his immobilized b7 pawn.
26. d5!! The main theme in this game.
26... Bd7 27. Be5 Qb4
And White can choose from a few different ideas:
28. Qc3 Qxc3 29. Bxc3
28. Bc3 Qd6 29. Be5
26... Bxb3 27. Qxb3 Qd7 28. Rb1 28Nd5
And as you realized. This is a perfect position for black
to capitalize on the extra pawn.
I cannot allow Nd5-c7-b5!
29... Rb8 30. Qb2 b6 31. cxb6 axb6
Here is the failure of my plan. I can't do anything to his
b-pawn with my queen leading the battery. If my queen
and rook were switched, I would be OK.
32. Rc1 Qa7 33. Bb4 Nxb4
Black is better off keeping the superior blockading
knight. Not that it really matters.
34. Qxb4 Qd7 35. Rb1 b5 36. Rd1 Rd8 37. Qc5 Qd6 38. Qb6 b4 39. d5
cxd5 40. Qxd6 Rxd6 41. Rd4 Rb6 42. Rxd5 Kf8
I totally missed this move in my calculations. The only
line I had calculated was 42... b3 43. Rd8+ Kh7
in which I thought that maybe I could draw
A really good move from black. Shows he is keeping his
concentration. Black is winning anyway. He can force the
white pawns to move and then pick them up.
43. Rd2 Ke7 44. Kf1 b3 45. Rb2 Kd6 46. Ke2 Kc5 47. Kd3
Kb4 48. Kd2 Ra6 49. Kc1 Ra1+ 50. Rb1 Rxb1+ 51. Kxb1
Kc3 52. Kc1 f5 53. f4 g5 0-1
You got a good opening and should have won fairly easily. But
when Black played non-obvious moves you failed to keep your
vigilance and accepted them at face value. You should
practice caution and try to keep you concentration and
then your opening preparations will reap benefits