Archive for November, 2007

How to Play Chess: Facing a New Opening Reaction

November 28, 2007

In 1995 I had the opportunity to battle with Gary Wallace from Pierre, SD in a titanic struggle of an offbeat opening system that Gary decided to try against me. I had never seen it before but decided to try to just play logically. I was in for a little surprise due to the fact that this offered black some sizzling play in the opening but as time went on, the white forces repelled and then conducted a winning central operation.

DR (KindredSpirit) white; Gary Wallace black; Irregular Def.

     1.e4 g5 This shocked me a bit but I said to myself “calm down now and use your training and look for a logical means of developing. I knew Gary had good results and so I had to assume his ploy possessed some poison. The question was: Just how much poison!

     2.d4  Bg7 3.Bxg5  c5 4.Nf3  Qb6 5.Nbd2 cxd4 6.Nb3 Nc6 7.a4 e5 8.a5 Qc7 9.Nfd2 d6 Black can congratulate himself on this position which is dynamic and imbalance seemed to me an interesting turn of events and Gary’s ultimate hope.

     10.Bc4 h6 11.Bh4 Bf6 12.Bxf6 Nxf6 13.c3 dxc3 14. bxc3 The point I was aiming for with this exchange was to defend b4 and d4 with the c pawn and open lines.

     14…Bg4 15.f3 Bh5 16.a6 b6 17.Bb5 Ke7 18.Qe2 Rac8 19.c4 Nd7 Frankly probably both sides are fairly happy with their game plan. I now spent nearly a half hour deciding on a course of redeploying my forces and trying to create some threats. A look at the following several moves seems to verify the progress white makes while black seemed to struggle with a good way to equal that redeployment. Consequently my long-range idea was to build up threats basically using the central complex as a springboard.

     20.Qf2 f6 21.0-0 Rcf8 22.Rfe1 Bg6 23.Nf1 Nd8 24.Ne3 Kf7 25.Nd5 Qc8 26.Qh4 Nc6 27.f4 exf4 28.Qxf4 Re8 Note how white square count is beginning to affect the position.

     29.Qxd6 Ncb8 30.Qf4 Re6 31.Re3 Qd8 32.Nd4 Re5 33.Bxd7 Nxd7 34.Nc6 Qc7?? 35.Nxc7 Resigns 1-0. Black must have suffered depression at this development and wanted to end it in order to find new paths to explore.

     What can be gained from this game? First, I did not provide much analysis especially in the opening because it is quite unfamiliar to me even as to what the black objective is other than to offer the g-pawn in exchange for rapid development in the center counter action by c5 and Qb6 with the B pointing down that long diagonal. I try to always play with a plan, not necessarily the best but sufficient to keep the play in my own grasp from practice, learning and study. You may therefore explore other ideas for both sides and any questions or suggestions are welcome and I promise to respond to those.

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How to Play Chess: Overworked Pieces

November 23, 2007

A rather interesting battle in the Sicilian Defense between Nunn (white) and Sokolov (black) illustrates the danger that exist when a player ignores development in the opening for an attempt to create aggressive play with the hope of being able to remedy a developing shortfall once the objective is attained. In recent decades it has often become almost normal to delay castling in order to effect some imbalance in the position when adopting the Sicilian Defense.

     1.e4  c5 2.Nf3 e6 For the student who is not too familiar with openings, a good plan is to study the King Indian Attack (KIA). Here 3.d3 d5 4.Nbd2 Nf6 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 Be7 7.0-0 would tend to short-circuit a well prepared Sicilian player. The lines are less complex and easily learned. Bobby Fischer used to play both the KIA and KID while ripening his chess fangs.

     3.d4  cxd4  4.Nxd4  Nc6  5.Nc3  a6  6.Be2  d6  7.Be3  Qc7  8.f4  Na5  Black’s opening moves are cat-like in that he does not tell white what his intentions of defense are. He could play the popular Taimanov line or one of the sidelines. Here he makes the conscious decision to head for a hedgehog type defense (maintaining a compact position) but first wants to try to be more aggressive by creating a threat (Nc4) to disrupt white’s general strategy. Is there a flaw? The old adage still holds that one should normally refrain from moving a developed piece again without just cause. Hence, white decides maybe that this is a premature opening adventure that should give him the better position.

     9.0-0  Nc4  With castles, the R is now located on the f-file in support of the advancing pawn and he has moved his monarch into safety. N on c4 needs to be captured.

     10.Bxc4  Qxc4 Here the trouble is that the Q ends up on a rather weak c4 square away from a defensive role on c7. There is no such thing as a worthless exchange. The situation that seems futile or absurd can be the key to a meaningful purpose. White surrenders the so-called 2-bishop advantage to black but gets in return the opportunity to attack the black camp straight away.

     11.f5  White wastes no time in launching an attack and is justified largely by the fact that enemy forces are still at home. In fact white has a tactical way to upset a normal looking Nf6 by 12.fxe6 fxe6 13.Rxf6 gxf6 14.Qh5+ which catches the King in the center to suffer continued threats.

     11. … Be7 12.Qg4  h5 Taboo is Qxg7?? as Bf6 wins the d4N. But now white must retreat Qf3 so why to g4 in the first place? Enticing h5 has created a small but significant pawn and square weakness.

     13.Qf3  Bf6 14.fxe6 fxe6 Apparently black figures that Bxe6 developing a piece would be met by Nf5 which digs deep into the enemy camp.

     15.e5 Vacating the e4 square for a nice N hop that increases his square count.

     15. … dxe5 16.Ne4 Threatening the K/Q fork Nd6.

     16. … Qc7  17.Qg3  Ne7 Ever notice it is easier to attack than to defend? Note that the pawn is currently pinned.

     18.Rad1 h4 19.Nxf6+ A valuable lesson to learn here is that the chessboard as I describe in my lecture on the subject is seen vividly displayed in this position. His whole purpose of the exchange is to gain g7 for the Q.

     19. … gxf6  20.Qg7  Rf8 The alternative …Rg8 21.Qxf6 wins in a more pretty fashion. Try to work out the finish and check your analysis with that listed at the end of this article.

     21.Rxf6 Rxf6 22.Qxf6 Intending to answer ..exd4 23.Qh8+ Kd7 24.Rxd4+ Nd5 25.Qg7+ Ke8 26.Qg8+ Ke7 27.Rxd5 exd5 28.Qg7+wins the Q after either Kd6 29.Bf4+ or Ke8 29.Bg5+. Odd that this inactive bishop plays the decisive role!

     22. … Qd6 23.Bg5 exd4 24.Rxd4 Nd5 White has stripped away much of the pawn cover defending the K and with open lines his life expectancy in this game is short. If black had tried Qc5 pinning the R and keeping e7 N protected, then 25.b4 hits the overworked Q forcing it to c7 when 26.Qh8+ snatches up the Q after Kf7 27.Rf4+ Nf5 28.Qh7+.

     25.Rxd5 Black Resigns. 1-0.

Lessons learned: (1) Loss of a tempo or tempi resulting from a faulty plan of aggression in the opening before forces are adequately deployed even in the making by a strong GM will likely be punished. (2)White held a square count edge that translates into a pressure-spatial inroad of the enemy position or right into his camp. (3) A spatial advantage usually gives the superior force more maneuvering room, attacks enemy points in his portion of the board while keeping better control of weaknesses in his own defensive theatre. (4)A sharp position should be met head on with self-confidence because weaknesses left undisturbed often finds the tables turned. For such an example, see:How to Play Chess: Don’t Give Up the Ship!

     Answer to your assignment: 20…Rg8 21.Qxf6 exd4 22.Qf7+ Kd8 23.Rxd4+ Bd7 24.Qf8+ Rxf8 25.Rxf8#check&mate!