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Let's Take A Look

Let's Take A Look...


Nigel Davies

We invite you to submit games to be considered by Nigel in this column. For all games submitted, please provide the following information: (1) Names of both players; (2) Ratings of both players; (3) When and where the game was played; (4) The time control used in the game; and (5) Any other information you think would be helpful for us to know. Please submit the games (in PGN or CBV format if possible) to: nigeldavies@chesscafe.com . Who knows, perhaps you will see the game in an upcoming column, as Nigel says to you, "Let's take a look..."

Mastering Typical Positions


One of the best ways to improve your chess is learn how to play certain typical positions. Good candidates for this approach might be isolated Queen's Pawn positions, which arise from all sorts of closed openings plus the 2.c3 Sicilian and Caro Kann. Another option is to master hedgehog formations (after playing c7-c5 and c5xd4, Black puts his pawns on a6, b6, d6 and e6), which can arise from a wide variety of openings from the English Opening to the Sicilian Defence to Nimzo and Queen's Indians. Once you develop a familiarity with such positions it becomes much easier to find the right sorts of plans and candidate moves in your own games. This in turn leads to increased efficiency and confidence which can have a huge impact on your practical results. I've noticed in my own games that there are certain positions in which I feel very comfortable and play with ease and assurance. When, on the other hand, I'm in unfamiliar territory, I might often struggle to find the right plan and drift into time-trouble. Lev Alburt has his own particular slant on the study of typical positions, and that's to select a single concrete position and analyse it exhaustively. In his excellent book, 'Test and Improve Your Chess', he cites a long list of benefits to players who are willing to do this kind of work:
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Achieve total mastery over a new and important position. Attain absolute confidence in your ability to play that position against anyone - from either side of the board.

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Increase your comprehension and enjoyment of published games featuring that position. Learn the various opening lines and move orders which will transpose the game into your position. Broaden your opening repertoire and theoretical knowledge, while improving your study habits and research techniques. Become better acquainted with positions of similar pawn structure or theme. Absorb motifs and finesses which you can also apply to other positions. Dramatically improve pattern recognition and combinative skill. Improve both long and short range planning. Analyse more deeply, accurately, and efficiently. Train yourself to think objectively, and reduce dependence on dogmatic principles and stereotyped opinions. Heighten your awareness and respect for the myriad possibilities and hidden resources in a given position. Expand your sense of creativity and capacity for discovering original ideas. Discover that your analytical potential is not as limited as you perhaps thought. Increase your concentration and attention span. Sharpen board visualization, and develop a facility for piece coordination and spatial relationships. Develop patience and perseverance, and control impulsive tendencies. Discover the importance of adequate home preparation. Stimulated your appetite for studying and playing chess.

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Improve your results in adjourned positions. Raise your rating and overall playing strength to a much higher level.

Alburt goes on to analyse an isolated queen's pawn position in great depth. Alexander Baburin went much further than this by devoting an entire book,
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'Winning Pawn Structures', to the isolated queen's pawn. Yet for most club players it's difficult to carry out such extensive research on a single positional type, two of the main reasons being family and job. The idea is good, but for most people it should be carried out on a smaller scale. A good way to do this is to see if any typical positions occur repeatedly in your games; if so, mark them down for special attention. The second step is to find some games by very strong players from this kind of position, the most convenient way to do this being a search in ChessBase or some other chess database. Pick 10 or so of these games, print them out and play through them with a board and pieces, which I find this is a much better way to retain information than just playing through them on screen. This month's game was sent to me by Flavio Patricio Doro from Sao Paulo in Brazil who wondered how he could improve his play. It features a typical position from the Queen's Indian Defence, which was first shown to me by Lev Psakhis over vodka and pickled cucumber. Once I'd sobered up I looked at it more seriously and started to use it in my own games with excellent results. Following this example, a good way for both winner and loser alike to progress would be to play through some GM games after 4...Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 d5 7 Ne5 0-0 8 Nc3 Na6 and 4...Ba6 5 b3 Bb7 6 Bg2 Bb4+ 7 Bd2 Be7 8 0-0 0-0 9 Nc3 d5 10 cxd5 exd5 11 Ne5 Na6, and perhaps select those in which Psakhis, Leonid Yudashin and Lembit Oll played Black. In doing so they would almost certainly improve their understanding of these positions, with a resultant increase in their chess strength. Doro,F (Unrated) - Lodi,D (2045) Queen's Indian Defence Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2003 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Bb7 Following Psakhis's example, I've often played the line 4...Ba6 5 b3 Bb7 6 Bg2 Bb4+ 7 Bd2 Be7 8 0-0 0-0 9 Nc3 d5 10 cxd5 exd5 11 Ne5 Na6. This reaches positions similar to the game, except that White has played b2-b3 and Bc1-d2. These differences probably favour Black, as White's queen can no longer come to a4 (see Neckar - Abramovic in the next note) and a rook on c1 might be hit with ...Ba3.

5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 d5 7 Ne5 0-0 8 Nc3 c5?!


Premature. Black should play 8...Na6 , keeping the option of playing ... c7-c5 at
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a more opportune moment, for example 9 cxd5 (9 b3 c5 10 Bb2 Nc7 11 dxc5 Bxc5 12 Nd3 Bd6 13 cxd5 exd5 14 Nf4 Bxf4 15 gxf4 Ne6 wasn't clear in Novikov - Oll, Uzhgorod 1987) 9...exd5 10 Qa4!? Qe8 11 Qxe8 Rfxe8 12 e3 c5 13 Rd1 Nc7 14 dxc5 bxc5 15 b3, when White was slightly better in Neckar Abramovic, Prague 1983. 9 dxc5 bxc5?! Losing a pawn. Black had to try 9...Bxc5 after which 10 Bg5! (10 cxd5 Nxd5 11 Nxd5 Bxd5 12 Bxd5 exd5 13 Nd3 is only slightly better for White) 10...Be7 (If 10...Qc7 there follows 11 Bxf6 gxf6 12 Ng4 f5 13 Nf6+ Kg7 14 cxd5! Kxf6 15 d6 Bxd6 16 Bxb7 Qxb7 17 Qxd6 with a clear advantage for White because of Black's poor king and after 10...h6 White can play 11 cxd5 hxg5 12 dxe6 Qxd1 13 Rfxd1 Bxg2 14 exf7+ Kh7 15 Kxg2 with more than enough compensation for the piece) 11 cxd5 exd5 with an inferior but playable position (11...Nxd5 12 Bxe7 Qxe7 13 Nxd5 exd5 14 Bxd5 Rd8 15 Bxb7 Rxd1 16 Rfxd1 wins material). 10 b3? This quiet move lets Black off the hook. White can obtain a clear advantage with 10 cxd5 Bxd5 (Both 10...exd5 11 Qb3 Qb6 12 Nxd5 and 10...Nxd5 11 Qb3 lose a pawn) 11 Nxd5 Nxd5 12 Qb3 threatening 13 Qb7. 10...a6?! It makes more sense to play either 10...Na6 or 10...Nbd7 . There are some uses for the move 10...a6; Black could, for example, meet 11 cxd5 exd5 12 Bg5 with 12...Ra7, which by protecting the bishop on b7 prepares ...d5-d4. But the problem is that it loses time, giving White the opportunity to attack the c5 pawn.

11 Bb2 Qc7 12 Na4?


As outlined in the previous note, White should play 12 cxd5! as after 12...Qxe5 (12...exd5 13 Na4 followed by Ne5-d3 and Ra1-c1 generates strong pressure against c5) 13 d6 White recovers his piece with a good game. 12...Rd8?! Returning the favour. He should play the immediate 12...d4 after which 13 Bxb7 Qxb7 14 e3 Rd8 is better for Black because of his strong centre.

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13 Qc2?
This was the last chance for 13 cxd5. Now Black gets the right idea. 13...d4! 14 Bxb7 Qxb7 15 Rad1 Nbd7 16 Nxd7 Rxd7 17 Rd3?! I don't like this move because rooks make rotten blockaders. White should probably improve the position of his queen's bishop with 17.Bc1. 17...Ne4?! Allowing White to play the useful f2-f3 with gain of tempo. Just 17...e5 looks better. 18 f3 Nf6 19 Rfd1 Rad8 20 Ba3 Qc6 21 Qd2 e5 22 e4! dxe3? With White having consolidated a previously dodgy position, Black makes a very serious mistake after which White gets a potential outpost for his knight on d5 and the c5 pawn becomes weak. Black should play just 22...Qc7, ruling out Qd2-a5 by White.

23 Qxe3 e4 24 fxe4 Rxd3 25 Rxd3 Rxd3 26 Qxd3 Nxe4 27 Qf3 Qb7?!


A passive move. A better way to play it for Black is with 27...Bf8 28 Nc3 f5.

28 Nc3 Nd6??
And now a blunder. The only good way to protect the knight was with 28...f5, but even then Black is in trouble after 29 g4 g6 30 Bb2, because of the weakness of his king position.

29 Nd5! Nc8
29...Bf8 30 Bxc5 would not be pleasant.

30 Nf6+ 1-0 Recommended Reading


Test & Improve Your Chess by Lev Alburt (Pergamon Press, 1989) Winning Pawn Structures by Alexander Baburin (B.T.Batsford, 1998) The Power Chess Program (Books 1 & 2) by Nigel Davies (B.T.Batsford, 1998)

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Copyright 2003 Nigel Davies. All rights reserved.

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