Kindred’s Kaleidoscope: When and when not to apply principles of pawn structure

Did you ever sit at the board and think how to retake given an exchange option? This column presents two games that exhibit such choice.  Both games are Queen Indian Defenses that feature two independent ways to handle the opening from both sides. It gives you a good learning experience both in strategic and tactic motifs.

1.d4  Nf6  2.Nf3  e6  3.c4  b6  4.Nc3  Bb7  5.Bg5

Capablanca’s principle of “compound development” that says strong usually is digging deep into enemy territory so long as it is safe to do so.

5…h6  6.Bh4

6.Bxf6 would offer a different course with the idea to save time and eliminate the pesky Knight from central influence and defense of the Kingside.

6…g5  7.Bg3  Nh5  8.e3  Nxg3?!

Is time an element here? I believe it is for this reason: both sides have moved the pieces for exchange 3-times but on the capture of the Knight, White will be left with double pawns but also a half-open file regardless how the Knight is taken off.  Why, you might ask do I give the capture a ?! mark. Should the capture take place at this point in the game? Black need not be in a hurry with it and could have just as easily played 7…Bg7 keeping the option of the exchange open for the moment. Here, critical thought carries sway with two different ideas but in the latter case, the Bg7 might be looked upon as in-between-move to the capture. Thus, after 8…Bg7 White is required to move.  Now, if 9.Qc2  Nxg3 10.hxg3  g4!? kicks the Knight out of f3. Just a thought.


An enterprising idea which suggests a possible exception to the rule of pawns capturing toward the center.  With the black Knight far from the Kingside area for the moment, White hopes to make use of this after castling to use the f-file for his Rook.

9…Bg7  10.Bd3  d6  11.O-O  Nd7  12.Bc2

With this move White aims to play Qd3 that might lead to a Kingside mating attack using the theme of Queen backed up by the Bishop on the diagonal eying the h7 square.

12…Qe7  13.Qd3  a6

Defending b5 ala using my sq/ct theory to defense of squares in your own camp. Still, the move is slow and come hell or high water would personally go in for 13…O-O-O. Maybe he thought the 13th move might prove unlucky, too!

14.Nd2  c5?

Loosening the compact pawn structure when your opponent has a good position where future pawn exchanges will favor the one having a spatial edge is hardly recommendable.

15.Nde4  f5

Black suddenly finds himself with little safe haven for his own King whereas White has a secure King position. This pawn sally however seems bad but what can Black do here?  The Knight’s occupation of e4 must be challenged but now White comes up with a tactical combination that if you have discovered it on your own is worthy of a gold star!

16.dxc5!  Nxc5

Absolutely no good is 16…fxe4 17.Nxe4 Bxe4  18.Qxe4  O-O-O  19.Qc6+  Kb8  20.cxd6.

17.Nxd6+  Kf8

Work out for yourself what happens if 17…Kd7 instead. Also, note how my sq/ct operates with the next moves almost pointing out the right course of action move after move.

18.Nxf5  exf5  19.Qxf5+  Kg8  20.Nd5  Qe8  21.Rad1  Rc8

If you noticed that …Rd8 leads to mate your progress is excelerating and my lesson columns are helping. 22.Ne7+ Qxe7 23.Rxd8+ Qxd8 24.Qf7mate!

22.b4  Ne6

If he tries to bring the Knight to d7, then 23.Ne7+ Qxe7  24.Rxd7  Qxe3+ 25.Kh1  Rf8 26.Rxg7+ Kxg7 27.Qg6mate.

23.Nxb6  Rc7  24.c5  h5  25.Rd6  (1-0).

              ***             ***             ***

1.d4  Nf6  2.c4  e6  3.Nf3  b6  4.Nc3  Bb7  5.Bf4  Be7  6.e3  Nh5  7.Bg3  d6  8.Bd3  Nbd7  9.Qc2  h6

Here again is a judgment call. One look at the position and knowing that the h-file will become half-open would suggest …g6 as better.

10.Be4  Bxe4  11.Qxe4  Nxg3  12.hxg3

Here White chooses correctly to take back with the h-pawn which gives White a half-open h-file.

12…c5  13.d5  Nf6  14.Qd3  exd5  15.Nxd5  O-O??

Here the exchange of Knights would be in keeping with my sq/ct theory. Another point is that Black lacks defensive skills in that he is castling right into the attack.


Oh, those pesky Knights. Years ago, I used to play skittles (friendly games either with or without a clock) with a chess buddy who loved his Knights over everything else. Every-so-often I would fall prey to his zealous nature.

At this point Black may have seen 16…g6 doesn’t help because of 17.Ne6 or 17.Rxh6.

16…Re8  17.Rxh6! (1-0).

There is no defense. After 17…gxh6  18.Nxf6+ Bxf6 19.Qh7+.

The difference in chess strength among these players, expecially this second illustrative game is stark. To always study the games of the great masters can sometimes discourage a player who might think he or she will never become good enough to play with enjoyment.

Play for enjoyment of the battle. Fischer said he liked to see his opponents squirm. He certainly got his share of enjoyment from that! You are lucky because you have a place to grow in the game. Those at the top have to work hard just to maintain their position in the chessworld. You have the good fortune to ever look upward to the stars and see improvement in your individual performance as you wage a non-lethal battle.

Adios for now!

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