Chess Tactics: The King’s role in attack – part 1

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“The King is a fighting piece. Use it!” is a remark ascribed to Wilhelm Steinitz who is regarded as the first World Champion in Chess. Nevertheless, your common experience may make you think of your King only as a liability, which needs to be protected at any cost and the cost sometimes becomes so high that you give up your efforts! Only when you have been able to survive till an endgame with only pawns around that you possibly appreciate the thoughts behind the remark of Mr. Steinitz!

But a search through chess archives will show you many games where a player did use his King as a fighting piece who traveled all the way into the opponent’s territory to capture pieces and pawns and to provide support to his own attacking forces for delivering checkmate!

I have picked up six such examples and divided those into two groups. In this article, we present three games with a little ironic twist because it was the opponent who was mostly attacking but the fighting King took opportunity of these checks to move where it wanted to go without loss of tempo! The opponent ultimately realizes that he has brought the doom upon himself by his failure to see the intention of the King taking a walk!

In the second article Chess Tactics: The King’s role in attack – part 2, we show another three games where the King boldly stepped out on his own by taking advantage of opponent’s constricted position and took the battle to the enemy King to create a winning position.

First game –

position after 31 moves:

king-takes-a-walk1

32 Bc4+ Kg7
33. Re7+ Kg6
34. Bb3 Rg2+
35. Kh1 h3
36. Rd1 Rc8
37. Rd6+ Kf5
38. Rxa7 Rc1+
39. Bd1 Ne2
40. Ra5+ Kf4
41. Rf6+ Ke3
42. Re5+ Kf2
43. Rxe2+ Kf1 White looked at 44. … Rg1# or 44. Rxg2 hxg2# and resigned.

 

Position at the end of Black King’s journey:

king-takes-a-walk2

 

Second game –

position after 19. … Qa3+:

king-takes-a-walk3

20 Kd1 Nb2+
21. Ke2 Qa6+
22. Ke3 Nc4+
23. Kxe4 gxf6
24. Qxf6 Qb6
25. Kf4 Qc7+
26. Kg5 Bd5 26… Rfe8 27.Kh6 Kf8 28.Qh8+ Ke7 29.Rxe6+ Kxe6 (29… fxe6 30.Qg7#) 30.Nc5+ Ke7 (30… Kf5 31.g4#) 31.Re4+ Kd8 (31. … Ne5 32. Rxe5+ Qxe5 33. Qxe5+ Kd8 (33. … Kf8 34. Nd7+ Kg8 35. Qg7#) 34. Qd6+ Kc8 35. Qd7+ Kb8 36. Qxb7#) 32. Qxe8#
 
27. Kh6 Resigns Black cannot prevent Qg7#

 

Position at the end of White King’s journey:

king-takes-a-walk4

 

Third game –

position after 23. … Rd1+:

king-takes-a-walk5

The analyses are as given by Shashin himself, who considered this as the best game of his life.

24 Kh2 Qd6+ Shashin considered this as the losing move and according to him White could force a draw here by repetition of moves with the following line of play. (But if Korchnoi thought he was winning, he would not go for this!)
24. … Ng4+!! 25. hxg4 Qd6+ 26. Qg3 Nxg3 27. Rd7+ Kf8 28. Bxg7+ Kc8 29. Rxd6 Nf1+ 30. Kg1 Nd2+ 31. Kh2 Nf1+ 32. Kg1 Nd2+ etc.
25. g3 Ng4+
26. Kg2 Nh4+
27. gxh4 Qh2+
28. Kf3 Qxf2+
29. Ke4 Qe2+ Not 29. Kxg4 because of 29. … Rg1+ 30. Kh5 g6+ 31. Kh6 Qxh4#
 
Black’s 29. … Qe2+ is a losing move. After 29. … Re1+ 30. Kd5 Rd1+ 31. Kc4 Kxf7 32. hxg4 Ke8, the game is still open.
30. Kf4 Rf1+
31. Kg5 h6+
32. Kg6 Ne5+
33. Qxe5 Rg1+
34. Qg5 Qxb2
35. Rxg7+ Resigns 35. … Kf8 36. Rg8#

 

Position at the end of White King’s journey:

king-takes-a-walk6

 

In Chess Tactics: The King’s role in attack – part 2, you will see examples of one King stepping out to approach and corner his opponent.

 

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