Lichess4545 Ledger 009

Lichess4545 Ledger

Issue #009 - November 21, 2016

State of the League

Season 5 of 4545 has come to a close! Congratulations to Blunder-Mifflin the Season 5 winners. They squeaked out the victory by the narrowest of margins. They tied The Tactitans with 12 match points but edged them out by 1/2 a game point overall. Thanks to all who participated and contributed in any way during this season and a very big thanks to lichess. There has been a lot of progress made by a number of people to implement new ideas that make the experience of the league that much better. From all the features of the lichess4545 website, to the new features of lichess, the 15+15 six hour tournament, and the chess content and community initatives (ChessLeagueTV, #handandbrain, the Lichess4545 Ledger etc), season 5 has been the best yet. It has been fun this season to kibitz games, talk chess, learn and improve, and meet you all across the chessboard.

If you continue to have ideas for improvement do something about it and let us know specifics about how you want the league to be improved.


  • Please fill out the End of Season Survey (To be announced shortly)
  • Season 6 will start after a break (typically 4-5 weeks). We plan to take the time to aggregate feedback, implement any new changes, and take a break :)

  • Everyone will need to fill out a new registration form for season 6. The registration form will be announced a few weeks prior to the start of season 6.

  • We are planning to accept nominations for best games of the season for a Youtuber Review. Nominations will be done via the website. Like last season, each player can only nominate 1 game. When you have a game in mind send @chesster a DM with nomination 45 and you will be given a link to enter your nomination. The link will expire after 1 hour.

  • Stay tuned for updates in the next issue of the ledger

Chess Content
Lichess4545 members have made a ton of great chess content to check out. From this past week:

  • Atrophied consistent with the content. smiley Perhaps his best video this week is the review of some crazyhouse opening theory (link)
  • TonyRo finally puts out another video. Help him pick a middle name for his dog (link)

Stats from Week 8: Stay tuned during the break while we compile the Season 5 Awards and Stats in the next issue of the ledger. Who wins this year's Giri Award, Marathon Man and much more?!

Disclaimer: All info accurate to the best of our ability. However, since games occur up until the time the ledger is released, we may have missed something.

  • Biggest upset: 200 point difference petruchio 1397 beats carbon752 1597 Gamelink
  • Lowest ACPL game: 6 ACPL ChukoDiman in draw vs TheKnug Gamelink
  • Lowest combined ACPL game: 13 combined ACPL ChukoDiman vs TheKnug Gamelink
  • Highest ACPL game: 136 ACPL OuterHeaven92 in loss to society Gamelink
  • Highest combined ACPL game: 250 combined ACPL society vs OuterHeaven92 Gamelink
  • Longest game: Reached move 104 Beauvain vs hetraie Gamelink
  • Shortest game: Ends on move 17 EsolcNeveton vs sahkal Gamelink
  • Quickest mate: Mate on move 27 skillet in win vs AngBorxley Gamelink

Chess For You

Book Review:

Understanding Chess Move by Move, by John Nunn.

By @Petruchio

Every developing chess player receives two solid pieces of advice: learn sound general principles and study the games of masters.  Irving Chernev’s book, Logical Chess Move by Move attempts to combine these two methods while aiming at beginning and low intermediate players.  Chernev works through game after game, explaining each move, the principles involved, and some alternative suggestions.  It’s a great grounding, and the deservedly popular book finds its way on to most lists of must read chess books and is often recommended in places like  Despite the accolades, the games would be considered quite traditional and conservative by contemporary standards.  Chernev advises repeatedly for White to never move the h-pawn for fear of weakening and destabilizing the castled king.  Likewise, all but one of the games starts with  1. e4 or 1. d4 and only two games display a fianchettoed bishop. 

John Nunn set out to rectify this situation in his book Understanding Chess Move by Move.  Nunn updates Chernev’s book and others like it, only to surpass the original and dig into greater detail.  Most chess players are probably familiar with John Nunn in name, if not with his books.  Nunn was at one time one of the top ten chess players in the world (in 1989 with an Elo of 2620) and was twice gold medalist in Chess Olympiads.  He is best known, however, as a chess writer whose insight, lucidity, and clarity exceeds most of the field. 

Nunn knows exactly what he is up to in Understanding Chess, stating in the Introduction, “There are plenty of other general chess books, but in my view many of these have failed to keep pace with the developments of the game” (6).  While he agrees that the general principles of the game are not invalid, “The modern outlook on the game is far more flexible than that which persisted for the bulk of the 20th century. General principles are seen to have a place, but their limitations are now more clearly recognized.  Much greater emphasis is placed on the concrete requirements of the position than on obeying abstract principles” (6).

The book is divided into three “Themes,” reflecting the three phases of the game.  The middlegame section is further sub-divided into three sections, “Attacking Play,” “Defensive Play,” and “Positional Play.” Thirty contemporary grandmaster games are analyzed instructively, each with a specific purpose.  For example, Game 5, in the opening section, is titled “Modern Gambit Play”; Game 11 in the “Attacking Play” section is “The Deadly Long Diagonal”; and Game 15 in the “Defensive play” section is titled “Grim Defense.”  The major sections of the book each have a lengthy introduction, as do the sub-sections.  Each game is preceded by a solid introductory explanation that lays out the specific issues and history related to the game in a clear and instructive fashion.

Within the games, each move is explained and commented on.  Unlike Chernev’s book, however, Nunn digs in, providing both practical issues in the position and snippets of theory, history, and general principles both traditional and modern.  Nunn will when necessary burrow down into several variations to explain the logic and consequences of the position.  As he warns, “If the evaluation of a position depends on a tactical finesse eight moves deep, then it is misleading to pretend that the position can be assessed using general principles” (7).  He does not always dig so deeply but makes sure that the reader understands the issue at hand and why alternative moves could have led to a better or worse outcome.  A quick example comes from Game 2, Khalifman-Sveshnikov, when after considering a number of variations for both players on move 13, states on move 14 (Qxa4): “Black has solved the problem of White’s threats to his b5-pawn, but at the cost of setting up a pin along the a4-e8 diagonal, which will in the end prove decisive.”  It is this kind of consideration and clarity that permeates the entire book.

Another interesting example is Game 15, “Grim Defence,” in which Nunn examines a game between Kramnik and Anand.  Probably most players here on Lichess 4545 have experienced the desolation of defending a seemingly lost game, but there appears to be hope.   By move 11, Anand (as Black) is getting into trouble and by move 14 is up a bishop for a pawn but is in a terrible position with 5 pieces still on their original squares and a severely exposed king on the open f-file.  (I feel some consolation knowing that for all my poor playing I have never been in such a terrible situation!)  Nunn notes in the comments that Anand defends with accuracy and that the rule is “not to give up, and to put the maximum difficulty in the way of the opponent by not allowing him a clear-cut win” (115).  Throughout the remainder of the game, Nunn shows how Kramnik tries to press a slow bind but by not being active enough allows Anand to gain space and make a defensive sacrifice, eventually pulling out the win. The meticulous consideration of both defensive and attacking moves provides insights into both positional and tactical play.

Clearly, Understanding Chess Move by Move  is not a replacement for Irving Chernev’s book as a guide for beginners. A reader should have an understanding of the general principles and how they come into play.  However, an intermediate player (such as myself, at the lower end of the rating range) should be able to gain insights from the book and, with some effort, adapt the principles to actual play.  Stronger intermediate and advanced players should be able to gain much.  Despite the thorough, detailed, and well explained information for each move, a reader should still play out the positions on a chess board or a computer; the variations, especially when there are many of them, can become difficult to follow.  The book is rich in its analysis and I suspect that as players improve, they will gain new understandings from the text that were unclear earlier in their progress.  That has to be a sign of a good book—one that is not only practical but that will grow with you as you yourself grow.

Chess Puzzle

From a board 3 match during round 8: CoachAleks vs swingkyd. Black just played Rxg4. 8 pawns and 2 rooks on each side. White to move. A easier one if you spot the idea, but it's still a nice idea nonetheless.


For the answer see gamelink.



Creative Commons License

Lichess4545 Ledger #009 ©2016 by Thienan Nguyen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Book review ©2016 by @petruchio.

Thanks to @petruchio for his help in editing this issue.