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Alonso Zapata: Useless pieces

Concept This happens when one or more pieces are trapped inside a pawn structure or remain enslaved defending weaknesses. It occurs frequently in endgame and middle game situations. It is rare to see it in the early stage of the opening. Aim at neutralizing the strength or activity of the opponent's pieces, to the point of making them useless. That is a strategic search and an ideal aim for the competitive chess player. At first, before we start a game, the nominal value of each of our pieces is exactly the same as that of our opponent's pieces. Of course, there is no advantage for either side, except for White's having the first move. Once the game starts, it is up to each of us to optimize our respective positions, with better technical execution (both strategic and tactical). It is a constant purpose to keep our pieces more useful and valuable, in order to attain the initiative. A next step is when, in addition to securing an advantage, we neutralize our opponent and make his pieces useless, avoid any counterplay and execute a strategy of tiresome defense. This frequently brings to the scene a motif that reminds us of our yearned Zugzwang and of the Domination theme; in which one side is dynamic and the other becomes a mere spectator. Generally, when there is a useless piece on the board (having a useless piece is frequently like being a piece down!) the total harmony of that side's position is harmed, and often the result of the game turns on that element. Having a useless piece, with no activity, which is not contributing to the overall aims of the position, is a headache. Frequently, the opponent's attacks become deadly; or the winning side artfully simplifies the position FIDE Surveys Alonso Zapata

by exchanging material, so that the imbalance between his active pieces and the opponent's useless ones becomes clearer and the weakness of the useless piece is emphasized. Basic strategy: simplify the position, but let the opponent keep his useless pieces. By applying this principle, we will regularly prevail easily. Control of mobility: How often do we see a bishop that, because of its limited mobility it resembles a pawn and we say that its side has one extra pawn but one piece less! Or a knight totally neutralized by the opponent's control of the squares to which it can move. It is really like being a piece down. We are reminded of endings in which one side has a decisive advantage, consisting of a knight in a dominating central position against a bishop blocked and trapped by its own pawns; or of endings in which a powerful bishop in an open position controls all the possible escape squares of a trapped knight. Something similar happens to any other piece that because of its lack of mobility or functionality becomes useless. We also see it in king and pawns endings in the case of the opposition or with respect to the concept of related squares Example

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This is a clear example of Domination; note that the black knight becomes a useless piece. Pawns in a6 and b5 soon will fall. 1...Kd7 2.Kb6 Kd6 3.Kxa6 Kd5 The counterplay is harmless, by the speed of "a" pawn. 4.Kxb5 Kxd4 5.a6 1:0. Bishop against useless knight

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1.Bd3+ Similar to the previous example, the black knight becomes useless and white wins by using the opposition. 1...Kg7 2.Ke6 The victory is elemental. 2...Kg8 3.Kf6 Kh8 4.Kg6 And the black pawns fall. 1:0. Schweser's composition Incredible example of useless pieces. This is a great funny and antique example, composed by Schwers. Apparently black have a winning position, but white used a fantastic idea, inspired by the theme of Zugzwang, where black have to play and sadly must make himself the "harakiri".

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1.a6+! Ka7 1...Kc8?? 2.Qe8#. 2.Qc6!!

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2...Nxc6 3.Bf2!!

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Marvelous example compound useless pieces (Zugzwang). White has sacrificed most of his material, but have just what it

FIDE Surveys Alonso Zapata

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takes to win! The black figures spectators and have became authentic decorative pieces. Black has to play and waste their moves becoming "useless", which will lead to checkmate. 3.Bf2 f4 4.Bg1 f3 5.Bf2. 3...f4 4.Bg1 Once the black movements are consumed, the game is over. 4...f3 5.Bf2 g1Q 6.Bxg1 f2 7.Bxf2 Nb4 8.Bxd4+ c5 9.Bxc5# 1:0.

to play! Other options lost after: 1.Be5 g4 +; 1.Bb8 g4+. 1...Qf4+ Nothing to do in view of: 1...Qe1 2.g3+; 1...g4 2.Be7+ 2.g3+ Qxg3+ 3.Bxg3# 1:0. Zapata A. : Velez B. Santo Domingo 2012

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Queen useless

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In this example we will see, the typical problem of ineffective bishop locked in their own pawns, which is almost like having a piece down. If White could simplify to only the strong knight against the useless bishop that would be enough to win. 19...g5 19...Rfe8!? To defend e6 and capture on c6 e6 with bishop. 20.Bxc6 bxc6 21.Nd3

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This is a fantastic Kaminer's composition (1925), with just a four pieces per side and although White has a disproportionate disadvantage (a bishop against a queen) curiously, the queen is a useless piece! 1.Bd6!!+ Simple and sufficient. This is an incredible position Zugzwang, the calamity of having FIDE Surveys Alonso Zapata

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It is clear that White wants to improve their
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knights on the black weaknesses squares e5 and c5, to attack e6, c6. 21...Rfb8 22.Nfe5 Be8 23.f3 Nd6 24.Rxa8 Rxa8 25.Nc5+ Note that the black bishop has an unhelpful role. 25...Ra2 26.Ned3 Nc4 27.b3 Nd2 28.Rxe6 Bf7 29.Rxc6 Ra1+ 30.Kf2 Ra2 31.Ke1 Nb1 32.Ne5

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bg2 Qe7+ 6.Qe2 Nc6 7.Nc3 Qxe2+ 8.Kxe2?

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White has enhanced the value of its pieces and "the bishop was quoted limited less and less". It threatened Rc8 and Rc7. 32...Ra7 33.Ncd3 The away Nb1 becomes another headache. 33...Rb7 34.Kd1 g4 35.Nc5 Ra7 36.Kc2 Na3+ 37.Kb2 37.Kd3+. 37...gxf3 38.gxf3 Nb5 38...Kg7 39.Rb6+ trapping the knight. 39.Rb6 Nc7 40.Nc6 1:0. 40.Nc6 Ra8 41.Rb7+ (41.Ne7++) 41...Ne8. Abreu C. : Zapata A. Santo Domingo 2012 Useless pieces in the opening phase: this item is an example. This topic occurred in the early stage of the opening and it affected the remaining of the game.

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This error is the cause of all the subsequent difficulties. 8.Nxe2. 8...Bg4! 9.Re1 9.Kf1 Nf6+. 9...000 10.Kd1 10.Kf1 Nb4 11.Ne5 Be6 12.Rb1 Nxc2 13.Re2+. 10...Nd4 11.Re3 Nf6 Stronger is 11...h5!! I missed this important tactical resource; the idea was to value immediately Rh8.

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A) 12.Ne2 Nxf3 13.Bxf3 d4 14.Ra3 (14.Rb3 c4+) 14...c4! 15.Bxg4+ hxg4 16.Rxa7 (16.Ra4 b5 17.Rxa7 Rxh2 18.d3 Rh1+ 19.Kd2 Bb4+ 20.c3 dxc3+ 21.bxc3 Rxd3+ 22.Kc2 Re1+) 16...Kb8 17.Ra4 Rxh2 18.d3 b5+;
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FIDE Surveys Alonso Zapata

B) 12.h3 Nxf3 13.hxg4 hxg4 14.Bxf3 gxf3 15.Rxf3 d4 16.Ne4 Rh1+ 17.Ke2 Nh6+ 18.d3 f5+ 12.h3 Bh5 13.g4 Bg6 14.Ne1 14.d3 Nxc2 15.Kxc2 d4 16.Re1 dxc3 17.Ne5 cxb2 18.Bxb2 Nd5 19.a3 f6. 14...Ne6 15.Ne2 h5 16.f3 Note, the marginalized position of practically all the white pieces. 16...d4 17.Ra3 a6 Better was 17...Kb8 18.d3 Bd6+. 18.d3 Bd6 19.Bd2 Nd5+ 20.c4 dxc3 21.bxc3 21.Nxc3 Ndf4 22.Ne4 hxg4 23.Nxd6+ Rxd6 24.Bxf4 Nxf4 25.fxg4 Nxg2+. 21...c4 22.Ra4 Nb6 23.Ra5 cxd3 24.Nd4 Nf4 24...Nc4! 25.Nxe6 (25.gxh5 Bxh5) 25...fxe6 26.Rg5 Be8+. 25.Bxf4 Bxf4 26.Bf1 hxg4 27.fxg4 Nd5 28.Rc5+ Kb8 29.Nxd3 Nxc3+ 29...Bxd3 30.Bxd3 Rxh3+. 30.Rxc3 Rxd4 31.Kc2 Be5 32.Rb1 Rhd8 32...Rf4!+ 33.Rc5 Rd8 34.Rxe5 Rxf1+. 33.Rcb3 b5

Carlsen M. : Anand V. Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2012

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26.Qh6 Nf6 27.Ng5 d3 28.Re5! With the creative idea of isolating the king's side and force Kh8. 28...Kh8 Only move. Threat is Nh7. If 28...Qc7 29.Nxe6 Rxe6 30.Rxe6 Qd7 31.Qe3+; 28...Rd8 29.Nxh7! Nxh7 30.Qxg6++. 29.Rd1 Black is paralyzed, the black pieces abruptly became useless. 29...Qa6 29...Qa5 30.Rxe6 Rxe6 31.Nxe6 Rg8 32.Qe3. 30.a4 1:0. Safarli E : Grachev B. Moscow 2011

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34.Rd1 Bf6 35.Ra3 Ka7 36.Rb3 Kb6 37.Be2 Rc8+ 38.Kb1 a5 39.a3 a4 40.Rb4 Rc3 41.Rxd4 Bxd4 42.Bf1 Rxa3 43.Kc2 Ra2+ 44.Kc1 44.Kb1 Rf2. 44...Be3+ 0:1. 44...Be3+ 45.Kb1 Rf2+. FIDE Surveys Alonso Zapata

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25...Rxf1+ 26.Kxf1 Rb1
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It's notable the difficulties in coordinating white's knight and the rook which are about to become useless figures. It is also true that the structure and the central pawns, c4, d3 and e4 on white squares are not helpful to white. The bishop is strong and the pawn on d4 doesn't allow any counterplay to the knight. 27.Rd2 a5 28.Ke2 e5 29.Nf2 29.Rb2, with the idea of a4 and a3 for a2 29...Ra1. 29...Kf7 30.Rd1 Rb2+ 31.Rd2 Rb1 32.Rd1 Rb8 33.Rd2 Ke6 34.Nh3 If 34.Nd1 back 34...Rb1. 34...h6 With rook paralyzed, defending the weak a6, also wants to limit the white Knight jumps and prevent any counterplay. Then goes to the next level, save space. 35.Kd1 Rb1+ 36.Ke2 Nothing gets 36.Kc2 Rh1 37.Rg2 Ba4+ 38.Kb2 Rd1 39.Ka3 Bc6 40.Nf2 Rd2+ the black is paralyzed! 36...Ra1 37.Kf2 a4 38.Ng1 a3 39.Nf3 Ba4 Several decisive threats looming on a2, as Rb1b2 followed Bb3. 40.Ne1 Rc1! Playing against Nc2! 41.Ke2 Kd6 Threatening Kc5 via b4 - c3. 42.Nf3 Rb1 43.h4 Rb2 With the idea Bb3. 44.c5+ Ke6 45.Ne1 h5! 0:1. White has a sort of zugzwang. There is nothing to do, before the imminent Bb3 45...h5 46.Nf3 Bb3. Zapata A. : Vasquez R. Mar del Plata 1996 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 g6 5.d4 exd4 6.Nxd4 Bg7 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.00 Rb8 8...Bb7. 9.c3 Nf6 10.Re1 00 11.Nd2 Qe7 12.Nb3!? Re8 FIDE Surveys Alonso Zapata

12...c5 13.e5. 13.Bf4 Rb7 14.Bg5 Qf8 14...h6 15.e5 hxg5 16.exf6 Qxe1+ 17.Qxe1 Rxe1+ 18.Rxe1 Bf8 19.Re8 Rb8 20.h4+. 15.Qf3 Qd6

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Here, it is very difficult to coordinate a good plan. 16.Na5 Qe5 Fails 16...Rb8 17.e5 Rxe5 18.Nc4 Rxe1+ 19.Rxe1 Qd5 20.Bxf6. 17.Bxf6! Better than: 17.Nxb7 Qxg5 18.e5 Rxe5 19.Nd8! (19.h4?! Rxe1+ 20.Rxe1 Qd2 21.Re7 Kf8). 17...Qxa5 18.Bb3 Bxf6 19.Qxf6 Rf8

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20.Rad1 More accurate is 20.e5! c5 21.Qf4 stopping c4 and threatening h4h5. 20...c5 21.e5 c4 22.Bxc4 Rxb2 23.Rd3 Qb6 24.Bb3
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24.Qf4. 24...Qxf6 25.exf6 c6? 25...d6 26.Re7 Be6 27.h4. 26.Rd6

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Paralyzing the counterplay in the center. 26...a5 27.h4 a4 28.Bc4 h5 29.f3 Rc2 30.Re3 Kh7 31.Kh2

39.Be2 Kg8 40.Bd1 Ra2 41.c4 Ba6 42.c5 Bb5 43.Rxd7 Ra1 44.Bc2 Rc1 45.Bxg6+ Rxc5+ 45...fxg6 46.Rg7+ Kh8 47.Ree7. 46.Kh6

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Finally, concluding the idea of bringing the king to h6! 46...Bc4 47.Ree7 Ba2 48.g5 Rc3 49.Bh7+ Kh8 50.g6 fxg6 51.Bxg6 1:0.

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The plan is to bring the king to the square g5 and eventually to h6! 31...Kg8 32.Kh3 Kh7 33.g4 hxg4+ 34.fxg4 Rc1 35.Kg3 Kh6 36.Kf4 Kh7 36...Rh1 37.Re7 Rxh4 38.Bxf7+. 37.Kg5 Because of the lack of coordination and the limited game, the black's pieces are useless. 37...Rg1 38.a3 Rg2 If: 38...Ra1 39.Re7 Kg8 40.Kh6 Rxa3 41.Bxf7+ Rxf7 42.Kxg6.

FIDE Surveys Alonso Zapata

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