Former World Champion and legendary chess teacher Mikhail Botvinnik was the originator of the “Every Russian schoolboy knows” chess aphorism, which alluded to the fact that thousands of unknown schoolboys back in Russia - due to the intense training methods they received from a young age - likely knew more about the game than most professionals did in the West.
One player who came through that legendary Soviet training camp is former U.S. Champion GM Alexander Yermolinsky. And each Sunday in his hit show, “Every Russian Schoolboy Knows”, Alex will explain and expand on all the top tips and tricks gleaned from those famed training methods.
Today's show is: The English-Catalan - Part 1
We all remember the dramatic conclusion of the 2019 Sinquefield Cup. AS Magnus Carlsen caught up at the finish line with the long-time tournament front runner, Ding Liren, a tie-break match was to take place. Given Carlsen's unbeaten streal in such situations, dating back to 2007, most experts predicted yet another victory for the World Champion. The reality proved to be different. Ding won 2-0 in the first rapid chess stage to clinch the biggest success of his career. How was it done? Game One set the tone. Ding employed his favorite opening, a version of the Catalan with the white pawn still remaining on d2, and, with surprising ease, obtained a large advantage on both board and the clock. Later in the game, Magnus did let some drawing opportunities go by, largely because of severe time trouble. This time around the World Camp was unable to mount a comeback. For our purposes, we need to answer one question: how could Ding reach such an advantageous position in an opening, that for a long time had considered to be a peaceful one. This short 3-episode series is designed to answer that. Black's major issue in the Catalan structures is the development of his light-squared bishop. The traditional Catalan gives Black an opportunity to do so, but in the English version of it - remember the white d-pawn remains on d2 - it takes very precise handling for Black to equalize. Supplemental games, covered in the following two videos, demonstrate Black's different approaches to this issue.