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Solitaire Chess / Instruction

How Offhand Is Casual?

This month, a friendly game involving Capablanca

WHAT CONSTITUTES A CASUAL CHESS 4. 0-0 Par Score 5 This allays some of Blacks central concerns,
game? Clearly, a game is not considered casual but it also ensures that White gets the better
By castling, White secures his king and
if it takes place in a tournament or a match. But of it in the middle zone. With Whites e4-pawn
prepares for the possibility of opening the center
just because a game is played on more friendly facing off against Blacks d6-pawn, White gets
with a pawn advance. Full credit for either 4.
terms doesnt mean that it cant be interesting a spatial edge, often described as the little
Nc3, transposing into a Spanish Four Knights
or entertaining. Need we point out that the most center.
Game, or the quiet 4. d3.
famous chess game of all time (the celebrated 8. Nxd4 Par Score 5
Morphy Opera House Game of 1858) was played 4. d6
in maybe 10 minutes, with nothing in particular Nothing special going on yet. Black has a
Black solidifies his e-pawn, which generally
at stake other than possibly pride? Heres another position with slightly less scope, and that gives
remains a source of attack for White in the
such casual engagement, played in New York White a playing edge, offhand or not.
Ruy Lopez.
in 1918 between the great Jos Ral Capablanca 8. Nxd4
and Marc Fonaroff (Black). An old-time Berlin 5. d4 Par Score 5
Defense to the Ruy Lopez, it began quietly: Avoiding doubled pawns on c6, but also, by
With the c6-knight now pinned, this advance
exchanging a couple of pieces, Black hopes to
makes a good sense. Its also in line with Whites
RUY LOPEZ, plan of opening the center. As a rule, its more relieve the pressure on his cramped position.
STEINITZ DEFENSE (C66) prudent to open the center only when castled. 9. Qxd4 Par Score 5
Jos Ral Capablanca
5. Bd7 Whites queen comes to the center. New-
Marc Fonaroff
Casual Game, New York, NY, 06.18.1918 comers are often dissuaded from bringing the
The pin is broken. Blacks ace in the hole is
queen to the center since it may be possible to
his counterattack against the white e-pawn,
1. e4 e52. Nf3 Nc63. Bb5 Nf6 drive the queen from the center with advantage.
though taking it properly is often a matter of
But if that cant be done, or if driving the queen
timing and king safety. (One must be careful
from the middle can only be done by incurring
about opening the center with ones king still
disadvantage, then a queen can be well posi-
in it.)
tioned in that busy area.
6. Nc3 Par Score 5
9. Bxb5
Another straight-forward developing move,
Black continues to simplify the game, hoping
with the additional merit of guarding the e4-
it will then become easier to hold things
pawn. Capablanca often seems to be merely
together. But Capablanca never seemed to need
developing his pieces, but for the most part,
much to get the upper hand.
they usually wind up on excellent squares.
10. Nxb5 Par Score 3
6. Be7
Black clears the back rank and prepares to 10. 0-0
Now ensure that the above position is set up
on your chessboard. As you play through the castle. But his pieces are not very active, and By castling, Black pulls his king out of the
remaining moves in this game, use a piece of White has an edge in space. center, rendering his position generally safer.
paper to cover the article, exposing Whites next 7. Re1 Par Score 5 His main problem still consists in Whites
move only after trying to guess it. If you guess superior space, reflected in the slightly ham-
White strengthens his center while activating
correctly, give yourself the par score. Sometimes pering d6-pawn.
the rook for king-file work, accentuating his
points are also awarded for second-best moves,
greater mobility. In some lines, White is also 11. Qc3 Par Score 5
and there may be bonus pointsor deductions
able to utilize f1 for retreats and maneuvers. This may look like a pointless attacking move,
for other moves and variations. Note that 
means that Whites move is on the next line. 7. exd4 since Black can defend by driving away the

46 September 2017 | Chess Life

Solitaire Chess / Instruction


ABCs of Chess Mating net Mating net Mating net

These problems are all related to key

positions in this months game. In each
case, Black is to move. The answers can
be found in Solutions on page 71.

September Exercise: A problem for

many students is inconsistency in their
opening choices for white and black.
One winds up playing at least some
systems at odds with ones basic nature.
How can you avoid this? Zero in on a PROBLEM IV PROBLEM V PROBLEM VI
top player you admire. That player has Mating net Mating net Mating net
likely already done the work. That is,
he or she, if truly a leading proponent,
has probably selected a set of openings
and defenses consistent with a style.
By adopting his or her choice of open-
ings and defenses, at least youll know
youre playing within a comfort zone,
and that can make all the difference.

white knight. But actually the retreat clears up Black, at least for now, defends both targets. 18. Rd1
d4, which gives the knight a great jumping off This maneuver also enables the knight to block
Black thinks he has a saving trick. Does he?
spot to reach the black kingside. the g-file from g6, if needed.
19. Rxd1 Par Score 5
11. c6 15. Bf4 Par Score 5
With mate threatened at e1, White doesnt
Go away knight! Unfortunately for Black, A simple developing move that emphasizes
have much choice.Deduct 5 points if you played
theres a wonderful place to go away to. Whites overall advantage. Pressure is mounted
the ridiculously casual, 19. Bxc7??.
along the h2-b8 diagonal, with Rad1 in the
12. Nd4 Par Score 5 19. Bxe5
This is a better withdrawal than retreating 15. Qc7 Black has held the fort, so to speak, but he is
to a3. From d4, Whites knight remains focal down a pawn. He will soon be down more.
and active. Black keeps d6 guarded, while preparing the
possibility of posting a backup rook soon to be 20. Nh6+ Par Score 5
12. Nd7 moved to d8. This forces the black king to the corner. If
By this withdrawal, Black exposes the a1-h8 16. Rad1 Par Score 5 Black had moved the other rook (16. ... Rf8-
diagonal temporarily, hoping to secure his camp d8), f8 would now be clear and Black could
by shifting his bishop to f6. These offhand games, especially when played have replied 20. ... Kf8.Cest la guerre.
by Capablanca, seem to play themselves.
13. Nf5 Par Score 5 20. Kh8 
16. Rad8
Mate is threatened, and no matter what, 21. Qxe5 Par Score 8
Whites knight has assumed an imperious This was expected, but it turns out to be a
post, overseeing d6 and g7, anchored by the case of the wrong rook. What now happens 21. Qxe5
e4-pawn. is not so casual, and it could have been avoided
by playing 16. ... Rfd8 instead. A dying man can eat anything, even a hang-
13. Bf6 ing queen.
17. Rxd6 Par Score 7
Give yourself 1 bonus point if you had seen 22. Nxf7+ Par Score 6
ahead of time that 13. ... g6?? would allow mate Does this work? Isnt d6 guarded adequately?
Take that. Give yourself1 bonus point if you
in one, 14. Nh6 mate or 14. Qg7 mate. 17. Rxd6 
realized that, before Black played 21. ... Qxe5,
14. Qg3 Par Score 5 this was Whites point: that the knight couldnt
18. Bxe5 Par Score 5
A nice shift across the third rank. Like the be taken because of the ensuing back rank mate.
So thats Whites point. Add1 bonus point if Accordingly, and most casually ...
knight, the queen also does double duty against you realized that 18. ... Bxe5 would be answered
d6 and g7. 22. Black resigned.
by 19. Qxe5, threatening mate at g7 and the
14. Ne5 rook at d6. See scoring box on page 71. 47