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Finding Your Chess Future

What makes a good chess player? Some say it is talent or hard work or both. Nonsense — what distinguishes a good chess player from a bad one is the precise knowledge of his chess horoscope! You need to know your good and bad days — when to trade off queens early and when to get involved with the Najdorf Variation. Not many know their chess horoscopes though — this precious knowledge is carefully protected by Tibetan monks, KGB agents and Chess Today editors. But once a year we lift the cover of the future and let our readers look into it! Actually, we can do it on a regular basis — provided you are prepared to cough up a modest fee of $999 for an individual assessment. If interested, please send your money as soon as possible (your chess future won’t wait!) to our accounts in Moscow Chase or Credit Russia First Novgorod banks. This is a really small price to pay, as you will soon see!

Before we start, a legal disclaimer is in order. You see, we are so honest that we don’t bury it in a small print in the end of the article — instead we say it out openly: all are predictions are 99% accurate (so many people have confirmed that to us last year!), but we refuse to take any responsibility for any of them!

Capricorn - The Goat
December 22 to January 20

Well, you did not expect anything good, did you? The truth is that this year you will learn the all of the following sayings are correct: "doubled pawns are weak", "knight on the rim is dim", "rook endings are always drawn" and so on. And on all those occasions you will be on the receiving end... Sad, really, but there is a hope — move to chess composition and you will avoid bitter defeats, while making beautiful positions for which you will be remembered! If your are still itching to play chess, try correspondence chess, but use the slowest rate of play possible — so the games won’t be finished till 2003 — by then you chess luck might change. And did not say we did not warn you!

Aquarius - The Water Carrier
January 21 to February 19

A rocky year is ahead of you: you will find that changing from Alekhine Defence to the Berlin Wall is not as easy as you once imagined. Avoid gambits, particularly if FIDE succeeds in implementing its desired time-control: 1 second per move with a 0.3 second increment — you may not have enough to digest all those snatched pawns! For you Internet Publishing (particularly chess!) is an ideal business to be in this year — prepare to a great windfall — you may find that by the end of the year Garry will abandon all his plans to challenge Vladimir and will want to play you instead. Accept the match only if:

  • The prize fund is not less than $3m
  • It is distributed 51-49 between the winner and you
  • You use the desired FIDE time control

Pisces - The Fish
February 20 to March 20

Good year all round for you: you will succeed in studying all those books in the wonderful ‘;Beating the...’ and ‘;Smashing the..." series. In the FIDE knockout of 2002 your middlegame play will be worthy of Rubinstein, your endgame technique will make Capablanca jealous and Garry Kasparov will want you in his team as an opening expert — great success awaits you! No FIDE knockout this year?! Sorry, pal — try to practice in your local club, while waiting then!

Aries - The Ram
March 21-April 19

It is time for a radical change this year — we hope that you followed our advice last January. If so, now you are truly fed up with the Colle, the Torre, the London and all other boring stuff. Good news: this year you can play gambits! A little hint: Latvian Gambit is good on Sundays (and no other day!) — your opponent might still a hangover from the previous night, thus greatly increasing your chances to pass move 20. The Smith-Morra is good for Fridays, when the adrenalin is low in your opponents. On all other days of the week stick to the trusted Queen’s Gambit!

Taurus - The Bull
April 20 - May 21

You are the Bull and this is a year of Dark Horse — you know what this means for you, don’t you?! Yet, there is hope — if you choose the right colour. Study writings of a certain Hungarian Grandmaster to find the correct answer. If you fail, in the end of the year you can write a book ‘;White is not OK’ — the massive honorarium ($482 — typical for chess authors, you know!) will help you to get by.

Gemini - The Twins
May 22 - June 21

Danger is creeping around every corner — in openings, in middle game and, worst of all, in endings... Try to avoid queen endings, unless a queen up. Rook endings will be indeed all drawn, but only if you are 2 (or more) pawns up. You will not be successful with your bishops, so try the following manoeuvres: Bf1-b5xc6 and Bc1-g5xf6. Beware that this may not work well against the Karo-Cann and 1.d4 e6.

Cancer - The Crab
June 22 to July 22

Difficult year for you — you will blunder a lot, particularly when playing in last rounds in USA, when big money is at stake. But there is a solution: exchange pieces as much as your can and as early as possible. Remember: the more you trade off, the less you can blunder! Recommended openings: Exchanged Ruy and Exchange Slav. Bright spots: your endgame technique will be superb, particularly in pawnless and piecesless endings — refer to John Nunn’s latest book to improve it further!

Leo - The Lion
July 23 to August 22

This is a good year for you. We hope that you studied your defences against 1.b4 and 1.g4 last year. This year it is time to broaden your repertoire: analyse 1.a3 and 1.h3. These are vastly different openings, so do not examine them during the same week. You may start playing them with White too — at least you are not hanging anything loose! This opening will work particularly well against Gemini (you’d be surprised how often they will play ...Bb4 and ...Bg4) and Cancer. The latter will blunder a lot, so it does not matter what you play.

Virgo - The Virgin
August 23 to September 23

You will get great success in chess over the Internet this year, if you can prepare for the tournaments properly. I hear you say "opening study, endgame work and over-the-phone lessons with Alexander Baburin". Wrong! All nonsense!! The correct preparation involves having two computers at home — one is Pentium-75, which you shall use for connecting to the FIDE server (that is a clean machine — even the arbiters will pity you!) and the other one is for ‘;consulting’. It should be Pentium-9 with 4096 Mb of RAM and the latest databases. Having a few GM-friends is useful too. Practice on Net chess servers. Don’t be afraid of ethical problems — soon most others will have no choice but to cheat while playing on the Net too!

Libra - The Scales
September 24 to October 23

In January introduce King’s Indian Defence to your repertoire, but avoid playing 1...Nf6 to 1.e4 — that is not exactly the KID, as you might find out! February is good for bishop pair in the ending, particularly against a lonely knight. May will be a difficult month for you, so play only on the Internet. However, avoid Virgo then — his ‘;consultant’ is too powerful! Try not to get (or take!) isolated pawns, particularly in September. Study rook endings — although with new time controls you will get them in 0.05% of all your games, they will still represent 50% of all your endings!

Scorpio - The Scorpion
October 24 to November 22

Be brave: play the Sicilian, Gruenfeld, KID and the lot — no boring stuff, no endings, nothing but attack! You may lose a lot, but you can always boost your rating using our old formula — a holiday break in Burma or a training (but rated!) tournament in Macedonia. If you can afford it, play a few matches in Romania, if you can find the right opponent. Visiting Tula (Russia) might help too — the city is famous not only for its samovars and handguns, but also for generous rating hand-outs!

Sagittarius - The Archer
November 23 to December 21

This year your best area is certainly South Africa — you will certainly qualify from there to all world championships! Try to relocate, if you don’t live there already. But beware that your Petroff Defence will show serious cracks in June and switching to the French will not help much either — it will be virtually refuted by then. Try Caro-Kann instead. Don’t forget to exchange your prize winnings (peso) into dollars on the same day as the tournaments end, before it loses most of its value!

To all our readers: please do not forget that staying with Chess Today is the best way to make sure that your chess future is bright!

All text Copyright Alexander Baburin unless otherwise noted