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A Question of Personality

By IM Jose Gonzalez Garcia

In this article, IM Jose Gonzalez Garcia talks about personality and chess style, and asserts that a player should stick to his guns and play the sorts of positions that he or she truly loves, even when there are a few rough moments...

How to select the variations, to form one's opening repertoire?
This is an everyday question among chess players. When choosing which openings to include in one's repertoire we are usually influenced by leading Grand Masters. This a reliable criteria, but only if we consider that not everyone has the same tastes and skills. So the first step to form one's repertoire is to know ourselves better: tastes, strengths and weaknesses. This may sound too obvious, but it is not a simple task...

I went to live in Budapest in 1995, with the goal of becoming an I.M. At that time, my chess style was very aggressive, especially when playing black pieces: I was playing the Sicilian and the King's Indian defenses. I was very fond of those two, but one day my Hungarian friend and trainer, I.M. Karolyi Tibor, asked me to give him some statistics of my results with each opening I played. I was astonished when I saw how poor my performance was with the aforementioned defenses. We discovered that despite the fact that I was getting good positions from the opening, I would get into time trouble and lose control.

The games I'd won were beautiful, but unfortunately a tiny percentage! For this reason, he suggested to me that I quit both defenses - at least while becoming an I.M. I accepted his advise and started some hard theoretical work on the Caro-Kann and Queen's Gambit Accepted. Playing the "Caro", it was hard to lose- but also difficult to win.

The time to test myself playing my new repertoire came soon. I got invited to the "Statistika Pettofi" international tournament, in May 1995, where I played the Caro-Kann, and of course, made a lot of draws.

With two rounds to go, I was in a must-win situation for the I.M. norm. I needed to beat slovenian F.M. Riegler with the black pieces. To play the Caro wasn't too promising an idea, so I decided to go for the Sicilian. In this situation, losing and making a draw was exactly the same. Fortunately, I won my game against Primoz Riegler, and the next also, making the norm and some months later becoming an I.M.

The Sicilian and the King's indian are fantastic counter-attacking defenses. Due to their explosive nature, they are ideal for fighting chess, and of course for must-win situations. Today I know that I will never leave them even I have to go against statistical facts.

Riegler,P - Gonzalez Garcia,J [B57]
Budapest (10), 1995
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1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bc4 Qb6

6...Qb6 is a very popular way of fighting against white centralized knight, has the advantage of avoiding some dangerous attacks that may happen after the "normal" 6...e6 - the Velimirovic and the Fischer-Sozin.

7.Nb3 e6 8.0-0 a6

Another possiblity is 8...Be7 9.Bg5 0-0 10.Bf6 Bf6 11.Qd6 Rd8 and black gets good play for the pawn.

9.Bg5 Ne5 10.Be2 Be7 11.Kh1 0-0 12.f4 Ng6 13.Qe1

13.Bh5 is an important alternative that keeps a tiny edge. 13 Qe1 is more ambitious, planning to organize a kingside attack.

9...Bd7 14.Qg3 Kh8 15.f5 Ne5 16.Rf4

Bringing more power to attack black's kingside. Now black needs to organize his counterplay before is too late. 16 Rad1 was played in P.Marin-K.Spraggett, Barcelona 1993.

16...exf5 17.exf5 Rae8 18.Raf1 Bc6 19.Rh4 Ned7!

White selected h7 as a target, so now black reinforces the defender of this crucial square. White's "attack" is stopped and black is ready to start actions on the open e-file.

20.Be3 Qd8 21.Qh3 d5 22.Rd1 Bd6 23.Bg1

23.Nd5? Bd5 24.Rd5 Re3 wins for black.


After this move, black has a sound position. The queen is pointing at c2 with "X rays", while the white pieces are stranded on their attacking positions.

24.Bf3 Be5 25.Nd4 Bf4!

Threatening Bg5 and also looking for the exchange of black squared bishops.

26.Nde2 Bg5 27.Rhd4 Be3

Warranties the invasion on the balck squares, and secures black good chances..

28.Rh4 Bxg1 29.Nxg1 Re3 30.Nxd5 Bxd5 31.Rxd5 Ne5

31...Qc2? 32.Rd7 wins.


The losing move. 32.c3 was also bad due to Nd3. 32.Rd2 was best. Black would have enough compensation for the pawn after the quiet 32...Re8 -it's never too late for developing your pieces- (32...Nc4 33.Rdd4 Nb2 34.Rh7 winning on the spot) 33.Rhd4 Nf3 34.gf3 h6 with an interesting struggle.

Qxc2 33.Rdd4 Nd3 0-1


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