Years come and go and so do thoughts about what this board game called chess contributes to my spirit. I came across some games from Canada that gives life to those wooden pieces; it reminds me of a club player at home who just loved his Knights. He swore that they were what made chess the romantic game it is. He distained the Bishop-pair that lectures, books and positional chess writers cranked out in numerous illustrations that Bishops disclosed positional advantages. He would tell me furiously that the ‘bad Bishop’ was a point where you never heard anyone ever claim a ‘bad Knight’ because it’s movement made allowance for it to be of future use. That comes with FAITH he told me.
Here is a game from Lone Pine, 1978, where Canadian Duncan Suttles gives the teacher of chess lessons a real life lesson. This is an example of the power of the Bishops while the Knights do the Tango!
White: Jeremy Silman vs. Black: Duncan Suttles
Opening: The Rat – (1…g6)
1. e4 g6 2. d4 d6 3. Nc3 a6 4. a4 Bg7 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Be3 Nc6 7. Be2 e5 8. d5 Nce7 9. Nd2 Bc8 10. O-O f5
One might call Duncan Suttles a sidewinder when it came to classical chess positions. His attacking skill is honed to a fine edge so I guess I could justly call his play as unique. He liked to fianchetto his King’s Bishop.
11. f4 e:f4 12. B:f4 Nf6 13. Bc4 O-O 14. e5 Ng4 15. Nf3 d:e5 16. Bg5.
Black has, if White had chosen 16. d6+ Kh8 17. d:e7 Q:e7 18. Bg5 Qc5+ winning the Bishop. Getting rid of the d and e pawns opens lines where square count will play a role.
16. … Kh8 17. h3 Nf6 18. N:e5 Qd6 19. Bf4 Qb6+ 20. Kh1 Nh5 21. Bh2 f4 22. d6 c:d6 23. Nf7+ R:f7 24. B:f7 Nf5
25. Re1 Bd7 26. Nd5 Qf2 27. Ra3 Rf8 28. Be6 B:e6 29. R:e6 Nhg3+ 30. B:g3 N:g3+ 31. Kg2 Nf1+ 32. Kh1 Bd4 33. Ne3 B:e3 34. Re:e3 N:e3 White Resigns (0-1).
The next game is an example of Knights cooperating in a nice checkmate.
White: Kevin Spraggett vs. Black: Desautels
Opening: Queen’s Indian Defense
1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. e4 c5 5. e5 Ng8 6. d4 Ne7
The black Knight makes three moves and helps to smother the King’s mobility.
7. Bg5 h6
Now the Knights dance a foxtrot around the dance floor.
8. Nb5 d5 9. e:d6 h:g5 10. Nc7+ Kd7 11. Ne5+ K:d6 12. Nb5 checkmate. (1-0).
White: Lawrence Day vs. Peter Nurmi
Hypermodern Classic Defense
1. e3 g6 2. Ne2 Bg7 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Nf6 5. f4 Nc6 6. a3 e5 7. O-O h5 8. b4 h4 9. b5 Na5 10. Bb2 Nc4 11. B:e5 N:e5 12. f:e5 Ng4 13. Nbc3 N:h2 14. B:d5 N:f1 15. Q:f1 O-O 16. d4 Bh6 17. Ne4 B:e3+ 18. Kh2 h:g3+ 19. K:g3 Be6 20. Qf3 B:d5 21. Nf6+ Kg7 22. Q:e3 Rh8 23. Qd3 Qc6 24. Nf4!
Day has kept his Knights and now makes excellent use of them.
24. … c6 25. c4 Be6 26. d5 c:d5 27. c:d5 Bf5 28. Qd4
Centralizing the Queen where it sweeps the rank and files.
28. …. Qc2 29. e6
The question is: Whose King is in the greater danger?
29. … Qb3+ 30. Kg2 Qc2+ 31. Kg3 Qb3+ 32. Kg2 Bh3+ 33. Kf2 Qc2+ 34. Ke3 Qb3+ 35. Kd2 Kh6 36. Rh1 Kg5 37. Qe5+ Bf5 38. Ne4+ Kg4 39. Rg1+ Kh4 40. Qf6+ (1-0).
Well, I would say that it takes the whole team to play chess. Favoring pieces may be your thing. Still, the chessmen are given roles to play. Their individual movements are designed to exhibit a bond where the geometric patterns form a flow of beauty in strategy and tactics. If you get the chess bug and desire to understand the elements of the opening, middlegame and endgame, perhaps–just perhaps–the mysteries the minor pieces posed over time will be more understood.
I have attempted to show through selected games that these wood pieces we call minor pieces deserve their reputations as key units in the hands of players everywhere and add artistry to the joy of gamesmanship.