How to Play Chess: Overworked Pieces

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!


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