Craig Evans

Why am I still here?

Craig Evans  Wednesday, April 4, 2018

"I mean, come on... no-one is reading these anymore. It was funny the first few times, maybe, but really we need to come up with something new at this point. People aren't going to keep submitting games to be torn apart by a patzer with no chess knowledge or education, and... wait, I've just had something through..."

Today's game features two heavyweights of the UK Correspondence world's admin department; our very own Article-smith (and Top 3 player within his household), Russell Sherwood, against the long-time English stalwart and legend, Ian M Pheby.

The game is a lifeless, drab affair, with pointless shuffling, little suggestion of a plan or attacking inten... oh sorry, I forgot that we're not featuring Mr Yeo this month. This game is bizarre, far too complicated for engines to understand, and therefore the only option is to wheel out a patzer (yours truly) to give it a casual once-over and then make vague, ill-considered judgements on it. Well, here goes nothing.

Chess Lesson: 7.Qe2 is *NEVER* a good move.

Craig Evans  Sunday, March 11, 2018

I have been criticised in the past for my game analysis being not-too-serious, and not offering enough insight into positions. Whilst the educated amongst us will know that this is both a ridiculous and a false criticism, I thought I would look at a game from one of the top players in Wales to see what golden nuggets I could glean from it for the eager improving player.

What a waste of time that was. It turns out that 2300 players aren't even taking the game seriously any more in CC. Moves such as 5...a6 have been employed by quirky free spirits with mixed results over the years, but white decides to take the mickey with 7.Qe2, a move so patently awful that the in-built language filter censors any attempt to give a full description.

So, the only lesson I can really give you here is: Never, ever, ever play 7.Qe2.*

[*Disclaimer: The author is an idiot. Do not follow any chess advice from him. There are almost certainly some openings in which 7.Qe2 is a good move, although I am struggling to think of any right now. Actually, no, he's probably right**. It's a truly awful move.]

[**Disclaimer to the disclaimer: This was also written by the author, and as such cannot be trusted either. Never trust a person talking in third-person.]

"No no... That's not how chess works."

Craig Evans  Sunday, December 24, 2017

The near-immortal words of GM Peter Svidler (now 8-time Russian Champion, and one of my favourite players, nay, people of all time), in a streamed online Banter Blitz game against IM Lawrence Trent. Peter went on to get utterly smashed in that game as Lawrence hacked and sacked his way to a very fun and impressive win.

Since I'm a bit short on offers from others to rip their games apart, I've offered this one instead as a Christmas treat, fresh from the WCCF 4th Invitational where I've secured the CCE Title and a CCM norm. So, in typical Welsh/me tradition, I've ripped into the victor as much as I can, whilst also providing a (hopefully) fun and interesting game against fellow Welshie, Danny den Drijver. I'd like to think I played in the spirit of Lawrence, and that Peter would here, too, give his famous (but, fortunately, not last) words.

Paul Scott - The Destroyer

Craig Evans  Sunday, September 17, 2017

Paul has quickly established himself as a strong CC player, playing in an enterprising, interesting and aggressive manner. As a fellow hacker, I can only applaud this when so many CC games are stale affairs between two draw-happy players. This is one of his best efforts, showing the dangerous KID in all its glory!

John Claridge - IM not going to mock him...

Craig Evans  Sunday, July 16, 2017

It seems to have become the Welsh way that, when one of our strongest players plays a blinder of a tournament and earns a title, instead of celebrating this and congratulating them, I am asked to mercilessly taunt them through a 'comedy roast' of their play. With people like Glyn and Gareth this was easy, but surely not someone as respected as John?

Well... he was up for it, and submitted this game (from the tournament which earned him his first IM norm) which he admitted to being very proud of. As well he might be, as he played a beautiful game... I can only assume his opponent was hoping for a share of the brilliancy prize though, as he goes wrong from the very first move... Enjoy!

Tooting My Own Horn

Craig Evans  Monday, July 3, 2017

This week for a change (and somewhat inspired by Russell's interesting discussion on the British penchant for self-deprecation), I thought it would be interesting to analyse one of my own games. Not only this, but to choose a game I won, and be positive about it. I have spent a lot of time over the years putting myself and my chess-playing down, so I've picked a game I am quite proud of, and instead of picking holes, looked for the moments I am happy with. It is far from perfect I'm sure, and in years to come I'm sure the opening I chose to play will be picked apart... but until then, this was one of my first 'good' wins.

There is little in the way of substantive analysis - there isn't meant to be really. It's more the psychological side that I am interested in beyond the opening, as it was one of the first CC games where I played with confidence and aggression from the get-go.

One other interesting sub-plot was the speed at which my opponent was moving - another issue that Russell has commented on elsewhere is players playing too quickly (something I am also prone to!). It was this, in part, that tempted me to play in such enterprising fashion. So, here's the game - I hope it is entertaining in some way.

Clough vs Grieve - Some Additional Discussion

Craig Evans  Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I am aware that some of my analysis articles have gotten many people talking (usually about how they will inflict revenge!), but it was lovely to hear from the protagonist himself recently about some additional information regarding his Ponziani preparation.

Hello Craig Evans.  Thank you for your sympathetic and insightful articles featuring my recent Ponziani games. I agree with everything you say about the probability that the Fraser Gambit (5.....Bc5) is likely to be a refutation of the Ponziani, given that White has little option to avoid it after 3....Nf6. There is an interesting prologue to this game v. Grieve . I have for several years been running a thematic choice correspondence tourney for the BCCA which offers Gambit and Counter choices from a range of options. This year (my last before retiring from this post) I included the Fraser Gambit for the first time. My introductory comments in the BCCA journal 'Correspondence Chess No. CC196 Summer 2016) said that Taylor and Hayward ('Play the Ponziani' 2009) had concluded the gambit to be "basically unsound". My view differed and I went on to write 'Perhaps that is also the conclusion reached by various other reputable modern writers on the Ponziani who have chosen to completely ignore the move 5....Bc5 in their analyses. Well don't believe them! Fraser's move 5...Bc5 is extremely dangerous for both sides and leads to fascinating double-edged chess of uncertain outcome. Have a go and reach your own verdict on this neglected, and I believe underestimated, 19th Century gambit'.

Given that I had never actually faced this Gambit before, It was then something of a shock to find that my opponent in the Ward Higgs (Grieve) confronted me with it this year!!  Moreover I believe his 7....Bb6 is a significant improvement over the Taylor and Hayward 7....bxc6 mainline recommendation. So I had to work hard on my analysis and concluded that my 12 Qd5   c6 13. Qd2 was the best hope (to draw!!) A possible desperate alternative here might be 12. Qxb6 Rxb6 13. Kxf2, but really I think there is no way forward for White who is simply struggling to draw in all variations. I thought you might like to hear this little story. I shall still play the Ponziani OTB and perhaps occasionally CC , but since you have perhaps made this gambit more popular I may have to be better prepared to meet it more often! Incidentally, Russell played in my Gambit Tourney, but I've not yet asked him whether he tried or faced the Fraser Gambit!  

Some very interesting stuff from Fred; it is a relief to know my feelings about the gambit's strength were not misplaced!

In terms of 'resurrecting' the line for white, 12.Nbd2 and 12.Na3 seem to warrant closer attention - things are not as clear as they seem in these lines. 12.Nbd2 was discussed very briefly in the analysis to the game (see my previous posts!) as leading to an advantage with an edge for black; however, this is not necessarily a won endgame and OTB may be well worth a crack. 12. Na3... well, I leave analysing that as an exercise to any interested readers, but the idea is to again go for a material balance of two pieces against rook and two pawns, where white has a pair of bishops as some compensation for any nominal material defecit. Any engine will help the reader find the only playable continuation (for both sides almost!) - you can judge for yourself whether you think the endgame for white is worth a shot!

Finally, I hope that the gambit doesn't put Fred (or others) off the opening - I think it will remain a well-kept secret on these pages for some time, and there's something romantic about openings like the Ponziani being played still in the 21st Century - it would be a shame for it to be disposed of in this brutal fashion!

It's a Yeo-sy game.

Craig Evans  Monday, June 5, 2017

I've accused Gareth of playing boring chess in the past. Many times. However, he provided this game (and some excellent part-analyses) to show that he is not all stodgy openings and draws on move 10... a very impressive piece of work Gareth!

Death of a Ponziani?

Craig Evans  Sunday, April 30, 2017

This week's game is another stirling effort in the Ponziani by Fred Clough. This time, however, it is black who goes on a sacrificial attack right from the opening, and the brutal reality is that Fred is lucky to escape with a half-point. Could 5...Bc5 refute the Ponziani? Stay tuned...

Responding to a cannibal's 'Wanted' advert...

Craig Evans  Wednesday, April 12, 2017

This week I've been asked to take a look at a rather brutal game by one of our finest veterans, Fred Clough. His opponent, Nicola Robinson, plays in sharp fashion against the Ponziani opening and tries to use pins to hold her position together; but Fred is wily and shows why the experts use cement rather than pins for holding things together. Enjoy!

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