Raymond Keene rss

Raymond Keene is The Spectator’s chess columnist.


Reichenbach falls

23 May 2015

The former world champion Vladimir Kramnik recently espoused an opening system which I elaborated in a tournament in Germany in 1975. Remarkably, in the first two rounds of the Mannheim competition,… Read more


Puzzle no. 363

23 May 2015

White to play. This is from Kramnik-Svidler, Russian Team Championship, Sochi 2015. The black pieces are in a tangle and vulnerable to tactical strikes. How did Kramnik now launch just… Read more



16 May 2015

During the World Championship qualifier of 1959, grandmaster Pal Benko wore dark glasses to counter the hypnotic gaze of his dangerous opponent, world champion-to-be Mikhail Tal. This precaution did him… Read more


No. 362

16 May 2015

White to play. This position is from Tal–Benko, Candidates 1959. Black has just advanced with … e5, attacking the white knight. What has he overlooked? Answers to me at The Spectator… Read more


Brain games

9 May 2015

This week I continue with my analysis of Nigel Short’s recent animadversions upon the differences between the male and female brain and his opinion that women cannot match up to… Read more


No. 361

9 May 2015

White to play. This is from Polgar-Short, -Buenos Aires 2000. Here we return to the theme of Judit Polgar’s massive plus score against Nigel Short. Nigel’s logical brain no doubt… Read more


Nigel’s controversy

2 May 2015

British chess grandmaster Nigel Short has form when it comes to provocative statements. When competing in a tournament in France as a junior player, some years ago, he was asked… Read more


No. 360

2 May 2015

Black to play. This is from Short-Polgar, Madrid 1995. Judit Polgar is the strongest female -player ever, with an overwhelming plus score against Nigel Short. This is the conclusion of… Read more


So there

25 April 2015

Hikaru Nakamura has won the US Championship in convincing style with 8/11, ahead of Ray Robson and Wesley So. Things might have turned out differently had So not been disqualified… Read more


No. 359

25 April 2015

Black to play. This position is a variation from Troff-Nakamura, US Championship 2015. How can Black conclude his kingside attack with a standard tactic? Answers to me at The Spectator… Read more


Hit for six

18 April 2015

The Hamilton Russell trophy for London clubs has been dominated in the past by the RAC. This year, though, they were knocked for six in the final decisive match by the… Read more


No. 358

18 April 2015

White to play. This is from Lee-Zakharov, Vrnjacka Banja 1963. Black has just captured on c3 and now 1 Qxc3 runs into 1 … Qxf1 mate. However, White can do… Read more



11 April 2015

I learn from The Problemist, the organ of the British Chess Problem Society, that the polymath Dr Jacob Bronowski also composed chess problems. According to the article I read, Bronowski… Read more


No. 357

11 April 2015

Black to play. This is from Cochrane-Staunton, London 1842. How did Staunton exploit his menacing build up of pieces on the kingside? Answers to me at The Spectator by Tuesday… Read more


From Russia with love

4 April 2015

In the James Bond film From Russia with Love there is an evil mastermind named Kronsteen. The character is in some ways based on the Russian chess genius David Bronstein,… Read more


No. 356

4 April 2015

White to play. This position is a variation from Bronstein-Zilberstein, Tbilisi 1973. Bronstein has just given up a piece on d5 but has a clever tactical idea in mind. Can… Read more


Caro can

28 March 2015

The Caro-Kann Defence, 1 e4 c6, has always appealed to me. It has the advantage of staking a claim in the centre by means of … d5, without the disadvantages… Read more


No. 355

28 March 2015

Black to play. This position is a variation from Ganguly-Vitiugov, Gibraltar 2014. The game started as a Caro-Kann and is mentioned in Houska’s book. Although Black is a pawn down… Read more


Just So

21 March 2015

Last week in a perceptive piece for the Times, Will Pavia animadverted upon the fact that the USA appears to be actively recruiting top chess grandmasters. Pavia focused on attempts… Read more


No. 354

21 March 2015

White to play. This is from Pillsbury-Tarrasch, Hastings 1895. White has only one move to bring his kingside attack to a successful conclusion before Black lands on the other wing.… Read more


Bright blues

14 March 2015

The boat race for the brain, as it has become known, took place at the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London last Saturday. The 133rd Oxford v Cambridge Varsity chess… Read more


No. 353

14 March 2015

Black to play. This is from James-Sugden, -Cambridge 1972, as featured last week. It’s a win by the Cambridge player Dr J. N. -Sugden of St John’s College. In the… Read more



7 March 2015

On Saturday 7 March the annual Varsity Match between the teams of Oxford and Cambridge takes place. The contest is at the Royal Automobile Club starting at noon, and spectators… Read more


No. 352

7 March 2015

Black to play. This is a variation from Chandler-Whiteley, Brighton 1979. Here Black can bring his attack to a successful conclusion thanks to a fine tactical idea. Can you see… Read more



28 February 2015

The elite tournament at Zurich, which finished last week, has adopted a system for determining the ultimate trophy winner which seems to me virtually impenetrable. Zurich consisted of three separate… Read more