Added on 11/15/2017


This final show started began with the announcement that ICC is discontinuing this particular format, at least for now, and I’ll be creating video series with chess material of all sorts. Stay tuned for an announcement of the new series. I’d love to do more shows with audience participation in the future and will look into ways to do this. In the meantime, thanks to everyone for their email and chat participation.

The first question this week was about the Owen Defense, 1 e4 b6 2 d4 Bb7. This is an ancient and not very reputable opening that has had a limited comeback recently, with a boost provided by Magnus Carlsen’s use of it. After 3 Bd3, the viewer had the odd response 3…Nc6 from Black, intending to play …Nb4 and win the bishop pair. Here is some of the analysis I gave in my answer, citing some old ideas from Kaissiber Magazine:

Download HERE the pgn files with John's annotations.

In the chat, was asked about the Fort Knox variation of the French Defense, 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 (or 3 Nd2) 3…dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bd7 and 5…Bc6. I think that White has some advantage, but this wouldn’t be a bad opening for a club player to use as Black, because it’s quite solid.

I showed a game in which one of our viewers beat someone rated 300+ points above him. It’s an Accelerated Fianchetto Sicilian Defense, and both the opening and game illustrate a near-ideal strategy for White:

On the chat, someone asked about a fun way to play the Sveshnikov Sicilian, which has declined somewhat in popularity for Black. I think the Sveshnikov is sound enough, but it’s so well-worked out that Black has a hard time producing interesting chances. Another viewer said that he was having problems as Black after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 Bb5+ Bd7, so we looked at some ways for Black to set up by challenging the center. There was also a question about what positions beginners should start out with. The viewer himself mentioned mating patterns and endgames (both equally important and necessary), which are indeed great starting points.

Finally, we discussed who the best players in history might be, using comments from earlier chats and a very interesting top-10 list that I was sent by email. Thanks again to everyone for their participation and great contributions!