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Let's Take A

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: Who knows, perhaps you will see the
game in an upcoming column, as Nigel says to you, "Let's take a look..."
All That Glitters
With such a multitude of resources at his command, many
of them of a spectacular nature, the learner is at first
disappointed to find that manoeuvres of this kind are not
always occurring. He loves to believe that truth is beautiful
and the beautiful true.
Emanuel Lasker (Laskers Manual of Chess, Dover 1969)
Most of us like to see spectacular games in which one side sacrifices some of their
pieces in order to deliver checkmate, but herein is situated a great danger. If you
look at too many such games, at the expense of positional play and endgames, its
easy to get a lopsided view. You can start believing that spectacular chess is also
good chess and that the way to play the game is to throw all your pieces forward.
This is not the case. Good moves take many different guises, from the little pawn
push to the gritty defensive move. It is in fact quite rare to have the chance of
playing a spectacular move that is also good, most of the time the best move will be
quite dull and mundane, slightly improving the position of your pieces or bringing a
badly placed piece into the game.
When someone starts to understand this, their chess strength can improve
enormously, mainly because theyll have level material during most of their games
rather than being a piece or two down. Yet it can be surprisingly difficult to
convince students of this, and even when you convince them they often cant help
themselves. For a sacrifice addict one of the great problems can be that they just
dont know how to win a game unless its via checkmate.
This is where my lesson about the importance of endgames comes in, and I then
spend the next two years trying to convince them that endgames are fun! The reason
its such an uphill struggle is that theres so much out there about attacking chess,
from books about attacking players to various opening repertoire suggestions. The
kind of product which best meets this particular market demand is one about the
attacking opening for club players which requires no theory. That way you get
your fantasy about being the club players version of Tal and dont even have to
work for it.
The only problem is that you wont get any better and might possibly get worse.
Creating an attack needs more than a repertoire book, you need to understand what
makes positions tick and where your opponents weaknesses are. Once again
Laskers great work offers timeless advice on the matter:
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Only after the balance of the positions has been disturbed, so that one
player holds and uncompensated advantage, may this player attack with
intent to win. And here Steinitz elevates himself to the level of a genuine
philosopher in demanding that players must attack with intent to win or else
be punished by being deprived of his advantage.
The following game was submitted by the loser with a request for advice. I have to
say that he looks like quite a talented player, but he needs to go cold turkey as far as
spectacular moves are concerned. Looking at the moves 18 Nxg5, 39 g6 and 43 Bf6
it has to be admitted that they are all truly spectacular. Still none of them served the
greater good of helping White get some kind of positive result from the game.
Akanksh (1648) - Progresser (1892)
Queens Indian Defence E21
Internet 20 Minute Game, 2004
1 d4
If someone really wants to be an attacking player, the best way to get the right
kind of positions is by playing 1 e4.
1Nf6 2 c4
And here the aspirant attacker should consider 2 Nc3 or 2 Bg5.
2e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 a3
Forcing Black to carry out one of his main ideas, the book moves are 5 e3, 5 Qc2, 5
Qb3 and 5 Bg5 with this latter move leading to positions similar to the game after
5h6 6 Bh4 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 d6, but with White having saved a tempo by omitting 5
5Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Bb7 7 Qc2 0-0 8 Bg5 h6 9 Bh4 d6 10 e3 Nbd7 11 Bd3 c5 12 e4
e5 13 d5
Closing the position like this also helps Black, Whites bishop pair will only be a
problem for him if the game opens up. Accordingly White should keep the tension
in the centre for as long as possible, say with 13 0-0.
13g5 14 Bg3 Nh5 15 0-0-0 Rc8
At first sight this looks rather odd, but Black wants to play ...b6-b5. He could also
have considered an immediate 15...b5!?, for example 16 cxb5 c4! 17 Bxc4 Qa5
gives him a dangerous attack.
16 a4 Qe8
Black apparently gives up on the ...b6-b5 lever, 16...a6 looks more consistent to me.
17 Qd2 Nb8 18 Nxg5?!
Wow! The first in a series of spectacular
moves as White reveals his true colours. The
only problem with this sacrifice is its
soundness, but Black needs to defend well.
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18hxg5 19 Qxg5+ Ng7 20 h4 Qd8
It seems more accurate to play 20...f6 after which 21.Qe3 Qg6 leaves White with
only nebulous chances for his piece.
21 Qg4 Rc7?!
Missing another chance to beat off the attack, here it seems better to play 21...Qd7,
forking White's queen and a-pawn. Now White has a real opportunity to breathe life
into his attack.
22 h5
An interesting alternative was 22 f4 after which 22...f6 (22...exf4 23 Qxf4 hits the
d6-pawn after which 23...Rd7 would be strongly met by 24 Qh6) 23 h5 Bc8 24 f5
would make Black's life far from easy.
22...Bc8 23 Qe2 Qg5+ 24 Kb2 Bg4
Playing to win the h5-pawn looks attractive at first sight but White gets the open h-
file, 24...Qh6 is more solid.
25 f3 Bxh5?
It wasn't too late to back down with 25...Bd7 after which 26 Bh4 Qh6 inhibits the
flow of White's attack, at least for a while. Over the following few moves White
plays excellently.
26 Bh4 Qf4 27 Rh3 f5 28 Rf1!
This is a subtle move, 'shadowing' Black's queen. 28 Rdh1 was also possible.
A very serious mistake after which Black's position collapses. Yet even with a
better move his position is far from easy, for example after 28...fxe4 29 Bxe4 it's
not easy to find a way to neutralize White's pressure.
29 g3 Qh6 30 g4!
This nicely exploits the position of Black's
king to gain a huge and mobile mass of pawns
on the kingside.
30...Rg8 31 exf5 Ne8 32 g5! Qf8
If Black tries to give up the exchange with
32...Rxg5 then 33 Qd2 would be decisive.
33 Be4 Ke7 34 f6+
There was another, perhaps simpler route to
victory in 34 g6+ Kd7 35 Bg5 Rh8 36 Rfh1
Nf6 37 Bxf6 Qxf6 38 Rxh5 etc.
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34...Kd8 35 Qc2 Rh8 36 Bf5 Nd7 37 Be6 Kc8 38 Rfh1 Bf7 39 g6?
And here White can play 39 Bxf7 Qxf7 40 g6, winning a massive amount of
material. The text is more spectacular and at first sight looks strong, but Black
manages to cobble together a defence.
39...Bxe6 40 g7 Nxg7 41 fxg7 Qxg7 42 dxe6 Nb8 43 Bf6!?
Here we go again, but is this really better than the dull 43 e7?
43Rxh3 44 Bxg7 Rxh1 45 Bf8 Nc6 46 Qf5?
46 Qe4 is much better, stopping Black from activating his rooks and keeping up the
threat against the d6-pawn. Black would then be under serious pressure whilst after
the move played he takes the initiative.
46...Kb7 47 Bxd6 Rg7 48 Qf7+
Again this is a spectacular move, but one that
leads to a lost endgame. I think that White
now has a lost game, but other moves might at
least have offered better practical chances.
48...Rxf7 49 exf7 Rh2+ 50 Ka3 Rh8 51 f8Q
Rxf8 52 Bxf8 Na5 53 Bg7 Kc6 54 Bxe5??
Losing a piece, but White's position is lost in
any case. The rest seems rather unnecessary
but Black might have been short of time.
54Nxc4+ 55 Kb3 Nxe5 56 a5 Nxf3 57
axb6 axb6 58 Kc4 b5+ 59 Kb3 Nd2+ 60 Kc2 Ne4 61 Kd3 Nxc3 62 Kxc3 Kd5 63
Kb3 Kd4 64 Kc2 c4 65 Kb2 Kd3 66 Ka3 c3 67 Ka2 c2 68 Kb2 Kd2 69 Kb3 c1Q
70 Kb4 Kd3 71 Kxb5 Kd4 72 Kb6 Kd5 73 Kb5 Qb1+ 74 Ka6 Kc5 75 Ka7 Kc6
Recommended Reading
Laskers Manual of Chess by Emanuel Lasker (Dover, 1969)
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay
(Wordsworth Reference, 1995)
The Veresov by Nigel Davies (Everyman, 2003)
Winning with the Trompowsky by Peter Wells (Batsford, 2003)
Copyright 2004 Nigel Davies. All rights reserved.
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