Blog Archive

This is the jumping-off point to my chess blog. If you’re looking for my latest news, analysis, and ruminations on all things chess-related (and occasionally some things not chess-related), what are you waiting for? Jump!

If you’re still reading, I assume that you have come to this page to look something up in my blog archive. I have collected on this page a few of my posts that may be of ongoing interest to chess players. Of course you can find these posts in the normal way, by going to the blog and clicking on “Search,” but that presupposes that you know what you’re looking for. But if you don’t know what you’re looking for or you just want to browse, here are some of my “greatest hits.”

“Bird by Bird” Series

One of my favorite and most reliable opening variations for Black is the Bird Variation of the Ruy Lopez. In particular, I advocate a rather uncommon subvariation, which I call the Blackburne Variation, that starts with 5. … g6. This series is a relatively complete survey of the Blackburne based on my tournament play. (No, I don’t have any games from other people here.)

  • Bird by Bird, Part 1 (November 16, 2008). General thoughts on the Bird Variation of the Ruy Lopez, 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4.
  • Bird by Bird, Part 2 (November 21, 2008). Analysis of the “Egg on Face Subvariation,” 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4. Nxd4 ed 5. c3? Qg5.
  • Bird by Bird, Part 3A (November 25, 2008). Analysisof the Blackburne (Sub)variation, 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4. Nxd4 ed 5. O-O g6, focusing on plans where White plays f2-f4. The principal line examined in this post is 6. d3 Bg7 7. f4 c6 8. Bc4.
  • Bird by Bird, Part 3B. This continues where the last post left off, investigating the other branch of the f4 Variation, 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4. Nxd4 ed 5. O-O g6 6. d3 Bg7 7. f4 c6 8. Ba4. The big issue turns out to be whether Black can still get away with 8. … d5!? here. In the original post I reluctantly concluded that this was dubious, and recommended 8. … d6 instead.
  • Bird by Bird, Part 3C. An unplanned installment of the series! Reader James Burke sent in some computer-assisted analysis that “saves” 8. … d5!?, which I had found wanting in Part 3B. Extremely detailed, but important because it allows a unified approach to the defense, i.e.: after 7. f4, Black plays 7. … c6 and 8. … d5 no matter what.
  • Bird by Bird, Part 4. In his blog, IM Mark Ginsburg criticized the whole Blackburne Variation and said that the refutation was 6. c3! (instead of d3). This was a perfect setup for me, as I had intended to discuss this line all along. The key thing for Black to realize is that recapturing on d4 is not obligatory. The correct plan is (as usual) to play … c6 and … d5, allowing White to capture on d4. Blockade the pawn on d4 first, and then win it later!
  • Bird by Bird, Part 5. Here I discuss the “Bashful Bishop Variations” of the Bird, where White voluntarily retreats his bishop without being forced to. The three lines are 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 and now (A) 4. Bc4; (B) 4. Ba4; or (C) 4. Nxd4 ed 5. Bc4.

Top Ten Posts

When you first arrive at a blog with hundreds of posts in the archives, it’s natural to wonder, “Where do I get started? What is really worth reading here?”

Here are two ways of answering that question:

  • The Top Ten Posts, as determined by the number of page views by readers.
  • My Favorite Ten Posts, as determined by yours truly. (Still under construction.)
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