Monthly Archives: August 2009

A vivid example on importance of center control in chess

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Starting from our article on winning chess strategies in various posts we have stressed the importance of controlling the center in your chess games. In our latest series of articles, we mentioned this strategy as one of the aims for any chess opening as can be seen in Chess Opening: Control of Center, showing the theoretical analysis of some popular openings. This idea was further developed through examples of master games which showed how such opening theories are put into practice in these games.

We now show you a vivid example of how the aggressive play by one GM against another who was somewhat passive in this respect made a very short shrift of the game in only 15 moves. This may be an extreme example and was chosen only to stress our point, therefore don’t expect to get such quick results in your games. However, the idea remains valid.

The game employs Pirc Defense (ECO code: B07) which gives Black an advantage of adapting his center policy to the development strategy employed by White. But this has the drawback of giving White a much greater freedom in the center. As a result, in case of aggressive play by White, Black gets so busy in tackling White’s thrusts that he may miss out on his own plans unless he treads very carefully.

This game was played out in a tournament at Tashkent in 2008. In the FIDE list of Grandmasters as on April 1, 2009, White was ranked at 67 and Black at 393.

Igor Kurnosov
Marat Dzhumaev

1. e4 d6  
2. d4 Nf6  
3. Nc3 g6  
4. Bg5 Nbd7   Black’s text move is considered unfavorable. The recommended line is 4. … h6 5. Bh4 Bg7. Other lines like 4. … Bg7 or , to remain more flexible, 4. … c6 followed by b5 and Qa5 for action on Queen side are also expected to give Black a better game.
5. Qd2 a6  
6. 0-0-0 b5  
7. e5 b4   Black overstretched himself by this move if you consider the lines suggested by theory.
8. exf6 bxc3  
9. Qxc3 e6   The unopposed progress of the advanced White pawns so close to the hemmed in Black King and Queen remain a thorn in the flesh, seriously affecting the normal development of Black pieces
10. Re1 Nb6  
11. d5 Na4   11. Nxd5 would not help against what followed
12. Qc6+ Bd7  
13. Rxe6+! fxe6  
14. dxe6 Bg7   A case of too little too late! If 14. … Bxc6 15. f7#
15. exd7+ Resigns  
  The final position


15. … Qxd7 16. f7+ Kxf7 17. Qxd7+ Kf8 18. Qe7+ Kg8 19. Bc4+ d5 20. Bxd5#

15. … Kf7 16. Bc4+ Kf8 17. fxg7+ Kxg7 18. Bxd8 Rhxd8 19. Qxa4 gives White overwhelming material superiority.


Endgame technique: King and Queen against Pawn on 7th rank with Support of King

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King and Queen vs. King and Pawn on seventh rank

White to play and win.

We have started with White King and Queen quite far removed from Black’s King and Pawn though in actual such situations they may be closer – but the tactics remain the same.

Let us see what strategy White must follow.

  1. Queen must keep Black King in check to stop the pawn promotion except in situation at 6.
  2. Primary aim is to capture the pawn after which checkmate is easy as it becomes a King and Queen vs. King endgame.
  3. Except for giving checks, Queen alone can achieve nothing. To capture the pawn, White King has to occupy one of the three squares on sixth rank that are in contact with the pawn.
  4. To move White King, Queen has to stop moving (i.e., giving check) and this is possible only if Black King can be made to block its own pawn.
  5. To force this on Black, the Queen must be able to give check from a square on Black’s sixth rank which is on a file next to the pawn’s file
  6. When the Black King moves to a square on 7th rank next to the pawn, Queen can take the square on the other side of the pawn.
  7. If the Queen gets an opportunity to move to the promotion square, the fight is over.

In the position shown, if the Queen can force the Black King to d1 or f1 square, then a check from d3 or f3 respectively will compel the King to move to e1 blocking the pawn. The White King can use this opportunity to advance one square and through this process reach d3 or e3 or f3 square after which the Queen can capture the pawn.

Black’s strategy is not to allow the Queen to move to e1 as that virtually ends the fight. His King should remain within one square of the pawn and avoid moving to e1 square if possible.. Even when it is forced to e1, it should go to f2 or d2 on next move depending on whether the Queen is on d3 or f3. If Black King goes to f1 or d1, the Queen will simply move to f3 or d3 to force the Black King back to e1 and the end will be faster!

Use the following to create a .pgn file and use a program like Winboard to play the moves.

1. Qd7+ Kc2 2. Qc6+ Kd2 3. Qd5+ Ke3 4. Qe5+ Kf2 5. Qf4+ Kg2 6. Qe3 Kf1 7. Qf3+ Ke1 8. Kd7 Kd2 9. Qf4+ Kd1 10. Qd4+ Kc2 11. Qe3 Kd1 12. Qd3+ Ke1 13. Kd6 Kf2 14. Qf5+ Ke3 15. Qg5+ Kd3 16. Qg3+ Kd2 17. Qf2 Kd1 18. Qd4+ Kc2 19. Qe3 Kd1 20. Qd3+ Ke1 21. Kd5 Kf2 22. Qd2 Kf1 23. Qf4+ Kg2 24. Qe3 Kf1 25. Qf3+ Ke1 26. Kd4 Kd2 27. Qd3+ Ke1 28. Ke3 Kf1 29. Qxe2+ 1-0

This technique does not work if the pawn is in bishop or rook file. With a bishop pawn, when the Queen checks Black King at b1 (or g1) from b3 (or g3) square, Black King will move to a1 (or h1) square, as the case may be. If the White King now tries to advance, the pawn gets promoted. The pawn can be left unprotected as it will be stalemate if the Queen captures the pawn!

If it is a rook pawn, Black will shuttle his King among squares a1-b1-b2 or h1-g1-g2. If the Queen delivers check from b3 (or g3), Black King goes to a1 (or h1). On check from c3 (or f3) square, Black King moves to b1 (or g1) so that no baseline check is possible from c1 (or f1) and for check from other baseline squares, the King moves to b2 (or g2). White Queen cannot go to b3 (or g3) with Black King at a1 (or h1) as it becomes a stalemate. So White King does not get any opportunity to advance.

But win is possible in these cases if the White King happens to be much nearer, within two steps of the Black King. The pawn can be allowed to Queen but taking advantage of this interval, the White Queen can deliver checkmate with support from the King. Try it out yourself keeping the strategy in mind.

Chess Opening: Sicilian Defense Theory to Practice

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In Chess Opening: Queen’s Gambit Theory to Practice and Chess Opening: Nimzo-Indian Defense Theory to Practice, you have seen that starting with the basic theory of the respective openings discussed in Chess Opening: Control of Center – Part 3 and Chess Opening: Control of Center – Part 2, how some actual games proceeded to bring win to White as well as Black. The idea was to enable you to look carefully at the moves by the players to understand where White or Black went wrong in following the rules of chess strategy as well as chess tactics, which handed over the game to their opponents.

In continuation of the same theme for developing your comprehension about the opening theories, we now take up two games using Sicilian Defense that was discussed in Chess Opening: Control of Center – Part 1. Here also, White wins one game and Black wins the other within practically the same number of moves. None of the players may be known to you but all had ELO ratings in 2300-2600 range.

Since you have seen the first five moves of Sicilian Defense Najdorf variation in Chess Opening: Control of Center – Part 1, here we start with move 6 in both the games (ECO code: B95)

Borek Bernard-Tomas Civin
Prague, 2003
  Leonid Milov-Robert Ruck
Griesheim, 2002

6. Bg5 e6     6. Bg5 e6  
Position after move 6   Position after move 6
sicilian1   sicilian1
7. Qf3 Nbd7     7. Qf3 h6  
8. 0-0-0 Qc7 Had 5. … a6 not been played, White Knights would be able to move to b5 to harass the Black Queen.   8. Bh4 Nbd7  
9. Qh3 Nc5     9. 0-0-0 Qc7  
10. Bxf6 gxf6     10. Qh3 Be7  
Position after 10 moves   Position after 10 moves
sicilian2   sicilian3
You may note that White’s position is nearly identical in both games, but Black’s position looks cramped in both, though more solid in game 2.
11. Be2 b5     11. f4 b5  
12. a3 Rb8     12. a3 Rb8  
13. b4 Nb7     13. e5 dxe5  
14. Bh5 Nd8     14. fxe5 Nxe5  
15. Rhe1 Bd7     15. Bg3 b4  
Position after 15 moves   Position after 15 moves
16. Nd5! exd5     16. axb4 Rxb4  
17. exd5+ Be7     17. Nf3 Nfg4  
18. Rxe7+ Kxe7     18. Qh5 Bf6  
19. Qe3+ Ne6     19. Re1 g6  
Position after 19 moves   Position after 19 moves
sicilian6   sicilian7
20. Bxf7 Kxf7     20. Nd5 exd5  
21. dxe6+ Kg7     21. Nxe5 0-0!  
22. Nf5+ Kg6     22. Nxg4 Bxb2+  
23. Rd5 Resigns   White was threatening 24. Qh6#
23. … h6 24. Qg3+ Kh2 (24. … Kh5 25. Ng7#) 25. Qg7#
23. … Bxe6 24. Qh6+ Kf7 25. Qg7+ Ke8 26. Qxc7 (threatening 27. Qe7#) Bxf5 27. Qxb8+ Kf7 28. Qxh8 etc.
White missed a quicker win by:
23. Qh6+ Kxf5 24. Qh5+ Ke4 (24. … Kxe6 25. Re1# or 24. … Kf4 Rd4#) 25. Qd5+ Kf4 26. Rd4#
  23. Kd1 Rd4+   White Resigned.
After 24. Ke2 Qxc2+ 25. Ke3 Qd2+ 26. Kf3 Bxg4+ 27. Qxg4 Rxg4 28. Kxg4 Qg5+ 29. Kf3 (29. Kh3 Qf5+ 30. Kh4 Bf6#) Qh5+ etc. with checkmate only a matter of time.
The final position   The final position
sicilian8   sicilian9


Chess Opening: Nimzo-Indian Defense Theory to Practice

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Like we did in Chess Opening: Queen’s Gambit Theory to Practice to expound with examples on how QGD opening theory in Chess Opening: Control of Center – Part 3 can turn out in practice, here we show practical examples on Nimzo-Indian Defense theory discussed in Chess Opening: Control of Center – Part 2.

To show both sides of the defense, we picked up two games, one going in favor of White and the other in favor of Black. What should be interesting is that in both these games of approximately equal length, Garry Kasparov was on the Black side and both were played around the same period. It gives a better opportunity to understand what Kasparov (or his opponents) did right or wrong to produce different results! Both games use the chess opening of Nimzo-Indian Defense Normal Variation (ECO code: E53).

Vladimir Kramnik-Garry Kasparov
London, 2000
  Evgeny Vladimirov-Garry Kasparov
Batumi, 2001

1. d4 Nf6     1. d4 Nf6  
2. c4 e6     2. c4 e6  
3. Nc3 Bb4     3. Nc3 Bb4  
4. e3 0-0     4. e3 0-0  
5. Bd3 d5     5. Bd3 d5  
6. Nf3 c5     6. Nf3 c5  
7. 0-0 cxd4     7. 0-0 cxd4  
8. exd4 dxc4     8. exd4 dxc4  
9. Bxc4 b6     9. Bxc4 b6  
nimzoindian1   nimzoindian1
Identical position has been reached as the same moves have been played in both games.
10. Bg5 Bb7     10. Qe2 Bb7  
11. Re1 Nbd7     11. Rd1 Bxc3  
12. Rc1 Rc8     12. bxc3 Qc7  
13. Qb3 Be7     13. Bb2 Bxf3  
  Position after 13 moves
14. Bxf6 Nxf6?   Black’s move creates all the subsequent problems. 14. … Bxf6 would be better. But there are records of other games where the same moves were played and the games ended in a draw but in those games, Black did not accept the offer of Bishop sacrifice by White at move 15.
  14. Qxf3 Qxc4!   With the offer of this exchange sacrifice, Black laid a nice trap for White’s Queen!
Position after 14 moves
15. Bxe6! fxe6   As pointed out earlier, Black could possibly do better to play 15. … Rc7
  15. Qxa8 Nc6  
16. Qxe6+ Kh8     16. Qb7 Nd5  
17. Qxe7 Bxf3     17. Re1 Rb8  
18. gxf3 Qxd4     18. Qd7 Rd8  
19. Nb5 Qxb2     19. Qb7 h5  
20. Rxc8 Rxc8     20. Bc1 Na5   The White Queen is pathetically trapped! When Black offered the exchange sacrifice at move 14, he must have envisaged this situation.
Position after 20 moves   Position after 20 moves
nimzoindian4   nimzoindian5
21. Nd6 Rb8     21. Qxa7 Qc6  
22. Nf7+ Kg8   22. Ne8 would fail against 22. … Ng8
  22. Qa6 Nc4  
23. Qe6 Rf8   White’s move created Philidor’s position, which possibly made Black to bring his Rook to f8 but the Rook became vulnerable as shown by White at move 25. 23. … h5 could provide stiffer resistance.
  23. Rb1 Nc7   White resigned as he has to lose his Rook to save his Queen
  The final position
24. Nd8+ Kh8      
25. Qe7   Black resigned as 25. … Rg8 26. Nf7# or 25. … Re8 26. Qxe8+ Nxe8 27. Rxe8#. The only line that could offer a longer resistance is 25. … Rxd8 26. Qxd8+ Ng8 27. Qd5 and White would need to play carefully to translate his advantage into a win with Black trying to avoid a Queen exchange.
The final position


Chess Opening: Queen’s Gambit Theory to Practice

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While learning the theories behind the chess openings especially with an eye to center control and development of pieces, you must understand that if both players could continue along the best theoretical lines, the game would end in a draw! But theory cannot take you to the end because if it could, there would not be any point in playing that kind of chess!

So a stage will come where theory comes to an end ideally with both players at level, and thereafter the players are on their own. The game is then decided through one player making some mistake, however slight it may be, and the other player being able to identify and exploit it. You will often notice that one may be able to get away with a minor mistake but situation keeps getting worse with each additional wrong move. Of course, a palpably bad move will draw the curtains on the game that much faster!

In the three-part article on Chess Opening: Control of Center, we just showed how the initial moves for different openings aim to seize control of center. What happens after those initial skirmishes depends on how each player carries forward his ideas. Unless you examine practical games arising out of those opening moves, your grasp of the potentials will remain a little nebulous. For this reason, we plan to show you at least two master games on the openings discussed, one going in favor of White and the other in favor of Black, so that you get an idea of why those games produced opposite results!

In Chess Opening: Control of Center – Part 3, we took you up to the sixth move. In the following two games, you will see identical development up to the 12th move after which those take their own path.

Max Euwe-George Thomas
Hastings, 1934
  Milan Vidmar-Movsa Feigin
Hastings, 1936

1. c4 e6     1. d4 d5  
2. Nc3 d5     2. c4 e6  
3. d4 Nf6     3. Nc3 Nf6  
4. Bg5 Be7     4. Bg5 Be7  
5. e3 0-0     5. e3 Nbd7  
6. Nf3 Nbd7     6. Nf3 0-0    
QGDgame1   QGDgame1
Though the first game started differently, it has ultimately reached the same standard position. These initial moves were shown to impress on you that even when you are on unfamiliar ground, it is often possible to bring the game back to known territory through transposition of moves.
7. Rc1 c6     7. Rc1 c6  
8. Bd3 dxc4     8. Bd3 dxc4  
9. Bxc4 Nd5     9. Bxc4 Nd5  
10. Bxe7 Qxe7     10. Bxe7 Qxe7  
11. 0-0 Nxc3     11. 0-0 Nxc3  
12. Rxc3 e5     12. Rxc3 e5    
QGDgame2   QGDgame2
After the previous position, moves 7-12 are identical to bring both games to same identical position as dictated by theory of ECO code D68. If ECO code D69 is followed, the next two moves would be 13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. Nxe5 Qxe5. If you see the next two moves of the first game, you will see that it stuck to this route with a little difference in sequence, but the second game went into a different variation which went astray at move 15.
13. Nxe5 Nxe5     13. d5 e4!  
14. dxe5 Qxe5     14. Nd4 c5!  
15. f4 Qe7?   By retreating the Queen there, Black allowed the unhindered progress of White’s KBP   15. Nb5 Nf6   By chasing the Knight with his pawns, Black gained in tempo while acquiring more space. Black is eyeing the g4 square for his Knight taking advantage of the absence of defensive pieces close to White’s King. 15. Nc5 Qe5 16. Ng3 Nf6 would give White a better but complicated game.
16. f5! b5     16. Qb3 Qe5   White probably planned to advance his QP but Black’s Queen move pre-empted this by creating threats on White King’s position with a possible Ng4.
17. Bb3 b4   Black offered his c6 pawn to get White’s e3 pawn. White has no objection, he just wanted to time it right!
  17. Be2 b6   Not 17. … Nxd5 as 18. Rxc5 would pin the Knight. But after the text move, this would be possible.
18. f6! gxf6   The Black Queen’s position enabled White to sacrifice his KBP to break open Black’s castle.   18. Rd1 Rd8   Trying to support the QP, White left his KBP weak and Black’s QB can force the exchange of White’s defender Bishop pinned against his Rook at d1.
19. Rxc6 Qxe3+   White timed the exchange of the pawns to bring his Rooks to exploit the broken castle of Black King. You may also notice how White’s pawn moves were gaining tempo whereas Black’s pawn moves were not getting anywhere!
  19. f4 exf3  
20. Kh1 Bb7   Though Black opened a line to the White King for his Bishop, White’s threats are more real. 20. … Be6 could provide a defense against White’s threats.
  20. Bxf3 Bg4  
21. Rcxf6 Qe4   Black goes through his plans oblivious of White’s threats!
  21. Rcd3 a6  
22. Qd2! Kh8   Black vacated g8 square to position his Rook but White continued to be one step ahead!
  22. Na3 b5   The Knight has practically been forced out of the game!
23. Bxf7 Rac8   Black was hoping to get his QR to the 7th rank at c2 as the option of Rg8 has been taken away.
  23. R3d2 c4   Black’s pawns keep marching ahead, severely restricting the movement of White pieces.
24. R6f2 Rcd8   White defends his KNP and prepares his Queen to take control of the open g-file.
  24. Qc3 Qh5  
25. Qg5 Rd6   Black prevented 26. Qf6# but did not anticipate White’s stunning response!
  25. Bxg4 Nxg4   White had to give in to allow the Knight’s move.
26. Bd5!! Resigns   Black cannot handle the mating threats by White Rook at f8 and by White Queen at g8.   26. h3 Nf6  
    27. Rd4 Rd6  
    28. Nc2 Re8  
The last board position is shown below.   29. Qa5 Rxd5   White kept alive a mating threat on Black’s base rank and threatened to decimate Black’s Queenside pawns.
QGDgame7   QGDgame6
    30. Rxd5 Nxd5  
    31. Rd2 Qg6  
    32. Rxd5 Qxc2   White accepted the exchange of Knights hoping to save his KP by virtue of his threat of baseline mate of Black King.
    33. Re5? Qd1+   White resigned as he cannot avoid losing his Rook. White could offer greater resistance by 33. Rd8 Qc1+ 34. Kh2 Qxe3 35. Rxe8+ Qxe8 36. Qxa6 though Black would retain a marginal advantage because of his extra pawn.
The last board position is shown below.