We have discussed earlier that chess tactics rather than chess strategies come to the fore during the middle game. And unless you are one of those with a gift of intuition (remember Intuition vs. Logic?) it needs a deep thinking to work out the tactics in the complex middle game positions so as to come out on top!
Many beginners want to know how they can chalk out these chess tactics. Since every chess game is different, there is no magic ‘one size fits all’ type of formula. Of course, if you know those 20 Golden Rules for successful attacking chess, it helps you to identify the possibilities. But the best way to learn their application is to follow the games of those great players who are known for their combinatory skills and attacking flair, like Alekhine and Tal. So here is one game from the latter player who had the Black pieces and you study carefully how he conjures up his attack.
Here we start from the beginning to see how the middle game position develops with only one exchange of pawns.
Position after 11 moves.
You can see that Black’s Q-side pawns have come so much forward as to hamper White’s development. His QN could not move to the usual c3 square and had to move to d2 to support his KP under attack by Black’s N and R. The semi-open e-file gave Black a potential pin and White’s unsupported QB on the long diagonal was facing Black’s KB. White has not been able to castle yet as he has been busy in countering Black’s attacking probes and his King is therefore standing exposed in the center. Having such weak spots while playing Tal was like shaking the red rag before the bull! But you will probably note all this only after seeing Tal’s tactics to target the weak areas for launching his attack.
Position after 18 moves
Though he has not been able to castle (because of Black Knight on d2 and then the Black QB forcing White’s KR to move), White seems to have recovered from those pins on his K and Q, freeing his Knight to move for supporting his QP under attack. Unfortunately, Black is a player who does not care for the weakening of his castle if he gets to hound his opponent! White’s QP was at his mercy and most people would pick it up, but Tal saw bigger things in this position! And true to his tactical sense, Black Knight soon got a fork holding White’s Q and R. With an inferior strength in pieces and pawns, including the isolated QP, White gave up the fight!
Here is one lesson to take home on setting up your defensive strategy when faced with such attacking players. To launch the attack, your opponent will need space to maneuver his pieces. So try to deny him that space by keeping the position as closed as possible. If you are a positional player preferring to build up advantage through slow step by step process, this kind of chess strategy will suit you but frustrate your attacking opponent. His impatience may ultimately force him to commit mistakes which you can exploit to your advantage.
Again using one of Tal’s games, we will examine in another article how some positional players were able to prevail upon Tal by using aforesaid strategy.