I issued a second Facebook challenge for members of the Unconventional Chess Corner and we had an acceptance. This is the first of two parts as Part 1 will cover the game I lost while the second will cover the game I won. I decided to continue on the theme of playing a traditional book opening with an unusual diversion. I haven’t played the English opening in quite a while so let’s see what happens if my trick to play unusual opening moves in a book opening is successful.

Opening: The Knights On The Rim are Not Dim!

It is kind of interesting how most chess books out there tell you not to develop your knights on the side squares and only aim the knights towards the center. After white castles with 5. 0-0,

the position is still equal and when white does play in the center, black has a lot of flexibility in determining how to respond with either creating a blockade or creating a new counterattack. In fact, after white advances with 6. d4, the knight on the side proves to be an excellent supporting piece to challenge white in the center after I play c5

. We then transition into the middle game.

Middle Game: The Art of Minor Piece Exchanges

The Middle game doesn’t start off with too much theatrics. White starts off by attacking my knight to which I reply with 11. Nf5

13. e4 by white is a very interesting move because it creates complications. I thought about taking the bishop on f4 but did not because of (13. gxf4. 14. exf5, 14. fxg3, 15. fxg3 15. Bxf5 which gives me a  free pawn but no way to take advantage of it as white has a an open f-file and mounting kingside pressure

). I instead went with 13. Nd4 which puts my knight on a great outpost square in the center while giving me options on queenside play.

. 15. g4? was a mistake on my end because it blocks my own light square bishop instead of taking advantage of putting the bishop on the h3 square gaining a tempo attacking white’s rook.

Endgame: When Complications Backfire

I like to think of complications similar to leverage when taking on debt. Complications are very dangerous because they can either work in your favor if you know what you are doing or they can backfire and make you lose everything. Black’s position is holding after white plays 21. Rf4

but then we see how white has a spatial advantage since it is much more difficult for black to break through. 23. f6 protects my pawn from white’s tripling on the f-file and making my king more secure.

Later towards the end, I blundered with 26. Re5?? which leaves my f6 pawn hanging and my king falls apart which white takes with 27. Rxf6!

. I then take back but after 28. Qxf6+, I resigned.

The position for black is completely hopeless as no matter where my king moves, my bishop will be forked or will be mated in 3 moves.

Lessons Learned:

Knights that develop on the side early in the game do not cause inherent problems. The knight on the side only becomes a problem if the opponent has an early spatial advantage as the knight would have a lack of squares to take advantage of setting up an outpost. When playing for complications, it is easy for things to go wrong very quickly. This was apparent after I blundered with 26. Re5 which took a position that was okay for black and then suddenly everything unraveled. I should have played a “waiting move” which would let things unfold to give me many options. Always remember that making a position complicated is like taking on a lot of debt. It is dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing as one slip-up  can suddenly backfire against you.

I hope you enjoyed this post and If you have any questions and/or wish to provide feedback, please do not hesitate to comment and I will be happy to answer!


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4 replies
  1. R.J.
    R.J. says:

    Hey MenLife, awesome post. I’ve been a fan of chess since I was in 10th grade, and I like your post despite not hearing or reading about the Facebook challenge. Ultimately, you’re right about the knight and its awesome power; the knight is capable of knocking out some of the pawns and really dealing some damage to the enemy side of the board.
    I haven’t played chess since then but it does kind of make me feel like getting back into it. Bravo!

  2. Timothy
    Timothy says:

    WOW, I like playing chess, however you are so far advanced than I that I found the article to be hard to follow. This however is because I have never dove that deeply into the game. That being said, i believe you have done a great job and showing and describing the moves you made to win the game.
    As with everything, we get better with practice. You must have put many hours into the game to be able to write so fluently about the subject. This does not leave out your devotion to the game . I myself had a hard time understanding at first glance, yet after i read the article i found it to be written beautifully.
    My lack of depth in my knowledge of the game made it difficult for me.
    Great Job.

    • Elan
      Elan says:

      Hey Timothy,

      It is true that chess is a hard game to learn. It took me many years before I finally got to the skill level I am currently at. I am continuously getting better at the game and no other resource in my mind has done such a superb job at making me a better chess player than chess.com.


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