A Pawn storm on a chessboard can be as devastating as Hurricane Katrina!
White has just moved his Rook to b3. You can see that, in terms of chess pieces, White has material advantage in the form of a Rook against Black’s Bishop. But Black has a superiority in terms of Pawns which came as a result of an exchange sacrifice by Black a few moves earlier. Morover, Black’s four pawns on the Queenside are massed against a single pawn of White. White’s King is also fairly exposed. Look how Black uses his pawns for a march to the White King with support from his Queen and the Bishop (notice the long open g6-b1 diagonal to the White King) and Rook also ready to join the battle.
White is looking really helpless against the pawn phalanx and will have to give up a Rook and even that may only be a temporary relief.
Does it remind you of the word “juggernaut”?
Another Pawn Storm: But no hurricane, just a long-lasting storm
How to launch attack on enemy King’s position? A common advice says: use pawn advance when players have castled on opposite sites, use pieces when castled on the same side. The following game by Fischer as White disregards the common wisdom and the pawn attack starts as early as the tenth move!
At the given position, you will see that White’s pieces are much better developed while Black seems to have a cramped position. This has been due to the retarded position of his central pawns. Fischer takes advantage of his greater space to start his attack.
It is instructive to go through the moves to see how such an attack can be orchestrated.
Black King has to go for White’s Pawn, allowing the Rook to capture the QB after the check. White’s Rook and Knight plus the passed pawn at h2 against Black’s single Bishop are more than enough to win the game.
Tit for Tat in Chess Tactics?
White was considered the best player in the world when this game was played in the 19th century, and he was famous for his sacrificial attacks. But here, he was paid in his own coin by a player who is practically unknown today.
It will look that each player was trying to challenge the other to refute his tactical move! But Black had the last laugh. The game proceeded:
Black’s Qxf2 was expected but what about Qxg2? And look at the irony of it all. White gave a Queen to get back his Queen, Black gave a Queen to get opponent’s King!
I found a very interesting anecdote in Wikipedia.
The 1961 chess tournament at Bled, Slovenia is considered among the strongest tournaments in chess history. Bobby Fischer was among the participants.
It seems Fischer said that he intended to beat “all the Russians” at the tournament. Paul Keres reminded him that there were no “Russians” in the tournament! Mikhail Tal was a Latvian, Petrosian an Armenian, Efim Geller a Ukrainian, and Keres himself was an Estonian!
In any case, Fischer remained the only unbeaten player in the tournament and defeated the ultimate winner Mikhail Tal (a former World Champion, Fischer was yet to become one). Fischer came second after Tal.