This book is the chess book that I have always wanted. I have managed to collect together many chess books, all very good, but each has its flaws. I am not writing this book as a master attempting to explain good chess, but as a student who is learning. Here is where I will gather all the knowledge I have learned thus far, in the hopes that it will help others, as well as myself.
Black is the most important side of the game, because its response to the opening move of white determines the game, the lines, and all the strategies to be employed. White is, in a sense privileged with the first move, but at a disadvantage if black is well prepared. A well prepared black player will also be a well prepared white player.
It is for this reason that this entire book will be from the perspective of black, and that is why it is called The Black Grimoire.
There are many different ways to present and annotate a chess game, most of them are rather irritating. The first is the practice of using chess piece dingbats, which in this book will be conspicuously absent. I prefer the letter notation, it is clearer, and more in line with the internet and fonts.
The next issue which I have, and perhaps I am alone in this, is that annotations usually serve to confuse and irritate you when trying to play through the game. Most annotations are completely useless, sycophantic, or so obscure as to be pointless to anyone who isn’t a grand-master. In this sense, the average annotated game is written for those who wouldn’t read it and read by those who can’t understand it.
On top of this, games are presented, unnecessarily, as a long unbroken string of text, or broken by the aforementioned pointless comments, which makes them devilishly difficult to follow. I find most chess games harder to read than LISP code, which is saying something. There is of course the argument that one should learn to read the game in the way it is normally presented, which is like saying we should still be programming Python, or Ruby like they used to program Assembly. I think not.
Notation and Symbols
|Chess Piece Notation|
|P or Absent||Pawn ♙/♟|
Individual moves are often ‘spiced’ up with long and complicated variations. Not here. Variations and Comments to a move come after a game, in the format of endnotes.
|Chess Move Symbols|
|?||bad or weak move|
|??||blunder, really bad move|
|©||move is cautious, passive|
|Ω||only move, forced move|
|↕||lead in development|
|↔||leads to counterplay|
|▲||with the idea of e.g. ▲(Nxd5,b5,Bxf2+)|
|▼||counter, prevents e.g. ▼(e4,Nd3)|
|■||black to move|
|□||white to move|
|=||position is equal|
|==||position is drawish|
|+=||white has a slight advantage|
|=+||black has a slight advantage|
|+-||white has the advantage|
|-+||black has the advantage|
|%||fork, double attack where only one can be saved|
Games are to be presented in a structured format that is easy to read by people. Presenting them in a format that is easy to parse for a computer, or to produce from a computer program is a mark of laziness. Computers are very good a parsing textual information. They perhaps used to not be, and so presenting textual games in the easy way for a computer to parse them too made sense, however readable formatting hardly interferes with parsing these days, so let’s do away with it entirely.
This presentation format is to ease the most important task when reading chess books: memorization. Each column is given 16 spaces on which to put information about the move. Also, I have done something rather evil, I have altered the symbols for castling kingside and queenside to 0 and 00 respectively, instead of the wholly useless but well recognized O-O and O-O-O. My desire for efficiency overrides my natural traditionalism.
Game annotations appear after the games themselves, not interspersed with the moves.
R. Fischer - R. Burger
San Francisco, 1963
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5
5. exd5 Nd4 6. c3 b5 7. Bf1 Nxd5 8. cxd4 Qxg5
9. Bxb5+ Kd8 10. Qf3 Bb7 11. 0 e4 12. Qxe4 Bd6
13. d3 Bxh2+ 14. Kxh2 NF4 0-1
1. e4 is the most common, and most logical move to make for white. Anything else is substandard, including 1. d4. 1. e4 does not endanger the King, like 1. d4, and allows both the Bishop on f1 and the Queen to move out freely.
1. … e5 is a common response from black. While it removes some of black’s best defensive lines from the table, it is still a very strong response for the same reasons that 1. e4 is.
2. Nf3 targets black’s e5 pawn, forcing him to defend it. Defending it with f6?? is the worst possible move because [ 2. … f6 3. Nxe5 fxe5 4. Qh5+ g6 5. Qxe5+ Qd8 6. Qxh8 Qg7 7. Qxg7 Bxg7 +-], d6 is very passive, but it can lead to [ 2. … d6© 3. Nc3 Bg4!? 4. d4 Nc6 5. d5 Nd4!? ] which is almost an octopus, but we haven’t traded off the dark square bishops yet, so 6. Be3 wins out, but at least we have [ 6. Be3 Nxf3 7. gxf3Ω Bd7] but white is still somewhat better here and that can only improve over time. Most continuations from here lead to white having the advantage. That is of course if white plays well, or even perfectly, but d6 has to be dubious at best.
Of course black isn’t compelled to defend it, but if he doesn’t he drops a pawn, and an important pawn at that, and gives white a powerful outpost for his knight, or even worse, a powerful lever on the kingside. Best case scenario, [ 2. … Bc5 3. Nxe5 Nc6 4. Nxc6 dxc6 5. Bf2 +-]
3. Bc4 is a classic developing move. The threat here is on f7, a notoriously weak square, where a Scholar’s Mate can take place. A somewhat trivial example, possible only against a very inexperienced player would be [ 3… h7 4. Ng5 hxg5 5. Qf3 g4 6. Qxf7# ] I recently played almost the exact same game against my little sister.
The real intention here is to play the Two Knights Defense, ECO 57 which goes 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5.
3. … Nf6 an excellent developing move to get ready to castle kingside. This Bishop when placed here is an anti-mate piece, and makes the castled King very difficult to assail (if black chooses to castle kingside). A few mates against the kingside start with some method of levering this Knight away. The same is true of the Knight on f3. Consider the following diagram.
4. Ng5▲( 4. … d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 Two Knights(Fegatello Attack or better known as the Fried Liver) is a bit old school.
4. … d5 naturally defends, develops, and attacks.
5. exd5 seems like a good idea, white invades black’s territory, attacks the knight and levers him away and he is expecting Wilkes-Barre/Traxler Nxd5(C57), only it levers him to
5. … Nd4 has no intention of falling into this classic trap that has been known and played since the 1600s.
6. c3 is about the only response here, white cannot allow black to establish his knight so close.
6. … b5! white’s ideas are crumbling at this point.
7. Bf1 is really passive, white doesn’t know what to think > cxd4 with 7. cxd4 bxc4 8. dxe5 Qxd5 9. 0.
7. … Nxd5 is the best move centralizing the Knight and revealing an attack on white’s Knight on g5.
10. Qf3 is not the best move, castles here would have been a bit safer then [ 10. … Bb7 11. Qf3 exd4 12.
d3 Qg6 ] but from here on out, it’s pretty standard moves.
11. … e4 puts pressure on the Queen, but c6 is an alternative, as white’s Bishop is too close for comfort. Especially if the Queen takes the e4 pawn, with a sincere mate threat.
12. Qxe4 white is really hanging on, the mate threat is real, but it’s black to move and this is a bit too obvious.
12. … Bd6 as the rule goes, never make your plans so obvious. Black finds the best move in this situation. It’s still in the air, will white make the best move?
13. d3 doesn’t cut it, Re1 keeps the pressure on and goes for the jugular. Sure white is cramped like hell, and black looks better, but d3 is just too direct.
13. … Bxh2+ is the winning move here, completely disregarding the threat of Bxg5 and sacrificing the Bishop.
14. … Nd4 Bobby calls it quits here, because Qh4+ and Bxe4 losing the Queen, he’s cramped, his threats are hosed, and he is down a Queen. Black simply outplayed him.
Unlike most books, colors are easy to use on the web. When I take chess notes in a notebook, I use different color pens to make different types of notes and annotations. This is especially useful when dealing with variations.
Openings appear in this color, this means that it is a known/common opening sequence
[ variations will often appear like this [ second level variations (a1) appear like so [ and rarely, third level (a2) ] ] ] when inline text.