Chess Strategy and Chess Tactics: Balancing Act?

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Many may continue on the same path for a distance, but you never know where they will end ultimately! We are talking of chess games.

This divergence becomes more prominent when one game is controlled by a player who follows the dictates of chess strategy (should we say sanity?) and the other by one who could not care less, a maverick who cannot let go of any opportunity to shock his opponent (and the world at large)!

Before we open the ‘show’, here is a brief introduction to the ‘actors’ in the ‘plays’.

The first game was played in 1961 between Bobby Fischer and Sam Reshevsky, the second one in 1962 between Rashid Nezhmetdinov and Oleg Chernikov.

Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) certainly does not need any introduction. The World Champion in 1972, he was a master in all areas of chess games – be it chess strategy, chess openings, chess tactics in attack and defense and chess endgames.

Sam Reshevsky (1911-1992) is a well-known Grandmaster who started as a child prodigy in Poland where he was born. He later moved to USA and won US Chess Championship no less than eight times. He was a superb positional player but also capable of brilliant chess tactics.

I presume you have already gone through the “Importance of Chess Strategy” and know about Rashid Nezhmetdinov and his playing style.

Oleg Chernikov (1936- ) was a Soviet National Master when this game was played, but went on to become a Grandmaster in year 2000.

The opening in these games follows the Accelerated Fianchetto variation of Sicilian Defense with Black’s 8. … Ng4 introduced by Reshevsky during the fourth game of his match with Fischer in 1961 (the present diagram was taken from the 6th game of that series).

Al Horowitz remarked in his book on Chess Openings: “This move (8. … Ng4) gained popularity as after this move, White can hardly avoid the exchange of minor pieces which eases Black’s game considerably”. The result of the first game vindicates Reshevsky, but you be the judge how easy it made for Chernikov in the second game!

In the second game, both players followed the same theoretical lines and subsequent variations in the footsteps of players in the first game. It is possible that Nezhmetdinov did not like the way the first game ended after Fischer’s response to Black’s 11th move and decided to chart his own path thereafter in the only way he knew, the way of a sacrifice!

Position after 11. … Bf6:

start on same footing

Can you guess what Nezhmetdinov saw in this position that Fischer did not? Was it a sudden intuition/imagination or a speculation or a pre-calculated move?

This is how the games proceeded.

  12. Qg4 d6   12. Qxf6 Ne2+ White starts on his new path with a Queen sacrifice!
  13. Qd1 Nc6   13. Nxe2 exf6  
  14. Qd3 b6   14. Nc3 Re8  
  15. Qd2 Ba6   15. Nd5 Re6  
  16. Rfd1 Bxc3   16. Bd4 Kg7  
  17. bxc3 Ne5   17. Rad1 d6  
  18. Bd4 Nc6   18. Rd3 Bd7  
  19. Qh6 Nxd4   19. Rf3 Bb5  
  20. cxd4 Rac8   20. Bc3 Qd8  


In game 2, Black has the materials, White has all the space and moves. What follows will make you understand Averbakh’s warning about Nezhmetdinov in “Importance of Chess Strategy”.

Positions after 20 moves just for comparison of the two games and to show that Nezhmetdinov was not yet done with sacrifices!

the position mid-way

  21. Re1 e5   21. Nxf6 Be2 For 21. … Bxf1 22. Ng4+ Kg8 23. Bxe6 Qg5 24. Bxf7+ Kf8 25. Bxg6+ Ke7 26. Bf6+ Qxf6 27. Nxf6 hxg6 28. Kxf1, White wins back everything and then some
  22. dxe5 Qxe5   22. Nxh7+ Kg8 22. … Kxh7 23. Rxf7+ Kh6 24. Bxe6 Bxf1 25. Bd2+ g5 26. Bf5 Qh8 27. h4 wins for White
  23. Rad1 Bc4   23. Rh3 Re5  
  24. Qd2 Bxb3   24. f4 Bxf1  
  25. cxb3 Rc6 Drawn 25. Kxf1 Rc8  
    26. Bd4 b5  
    27. Ng5 Rc7  
    28. Bxf7+ Rxf7  
    29. Rh8+ Kxh8  
    30. Nxf7+ Kh7  
    31. Nxd8 Rxe4  
    32. Nc6 Rxf4+  
    33. Ke2 Resigns  



  1. Pit says:

    Its too difficult to think that way, but its useful.

  2. ChessMaster says:


    Certainly my friend, you speak for all of us who are not in Fischer or Nezhmetdinov category! But please do keep trying to understand and you may soon be able to grasp the ideas better!

  3. Having read this I believed it was rather informative.
    I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this
    information together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!


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