Pawn structures often determine on which side of the board each player tries to attack, but as World Chess’s columnist explains, there are quite a few exceptions.
In many openings, particularly those with fixed central pawn structures, one player often controls one side of the board and the other player dominates the other. For example, when White plays e4-e5 in the French Defense he will usually strive for play on the kingside because his e-pawn gives him control of more space there, while Black will aim for counterplay on the queenside. Something similar occurs in the King’s Indian Defense. Consider the following position:
The usual plan for Black is to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at White’s king in an all-out attack, while White aims to open lines on the queenside (typically with c4-c5) and to outflank Black before Black’s kingside pressure becomes too much. There are plenty of thrilling, spectacular games that follow that template, but sometimes White flips the script by playing 11.g4. It isn’t White’s main option, but it is an important alternative that Black needs to know and understand. So Black’s standard plan in the Classical King’s Indian isn’t a rule, it is at most a rule of thumb.
Another example is in the Carlsbad pawn structure (White pawns on d4 and e3, Black pawns on d5 and c6, where the White c-pawn has been traded for the Black e-pawn, or the mirror situation in which White’s pawns are on d4 and c3 and Black pawns on d5 and e6). This can arise from multiple openings, including the Exchange Variation of the Caro-Kann Defense. Here’s a representative position from that opening:
Benjamin, Joel vs. Christiansen, Larry Mark
USA-ch/zt |South Bend |Round 12 |1981.??.?? |ECO: B13 |1-0
White has a beautifully posted knight on e5, which he will soon reinforce with f4. After that his heavy pieces will migrate to the kingside, hoping to deliver a mating attack. Black, who has just played …b5, is trying to start a minority attack with …b5-b4. He hopes to break up and weaken White’s queenside, and to exploit it and break through before White’s attack succeeds. The following games illustrating the basic template.
Benjamin, Joel vs. Christiansen, Larry Mark
USA-ch/zt |South Bend |Round 12 |1981.??.?? |ECO: B13 |1-0
1. e4c62. d4d53. exd5cxd54. Bd3Nf65. c3Nc66. Bf4Bg47. Qb3Qd78. Nd2e69. Ngf3Bxf310. Nxf3Bd611. Bxd6Qxd612. O-OO-O13. Rae1Rab814. Ne5b5[#] 15. a3a516. f4b417. axb4axb418. Qd1bxc319. bxc3g620. Re3The chances are equal but not in a static, boring way. White's c-pawn is a
serious liability that cannot be safely liquidated by playing c4, as that
would doom his d-pawn. So White needs to make something happen on the kingside
before his positional problems present permanent problems. 20... Nd7
29. Re3Rf630. Qg3Nf831. Kh2Qf732. Be2Rf433. Bg4Rf634. Re2g535. Qe5h6White's
advantage is pretty serious, and the weakness of his c-pawn is purely
theoretical. 36. Rb2Rf437. Re2Rf638. Re1Kg739. Ra1Kg640. Ra8?
( 40. Ra6 )
40... h5?This further weakening of Black's kingside proves
( 40... Rf1 )
41. Be2Rf242. Kg1Kh643. h4Rf544. Qh8+Nh745. Bd3gxh446. Bxf5Qxf5And White converted his material advantage without any
serious trouble. 47. Ra7Qb1+48. Kh2Qg649. Qe5Nf650. Qf4+Qg551. Qxg5+Kxg552. Rg7+Kf553. Kh3Ne454. Kxh4Nxc355. Kxh5Ne256. g4+Ke457. g5Kxd458. Rf7Ng3+59. Kh4Ne460. g6Nd661. Rf8
Ho Chi Minh City HD Bank op-A 6th |Ho Chi Minh City |Round 4 |10 Mar 2016 |ECO: B13 |1-0
1. e4c62. d4d53. exd5cxd54. Bd3Nc65. c3Nf66. Bf4Bg47. Qb3Qc88. Nd2e69. Ngf3Be710. O-OO-O11. Qc2Bh512. Ne5Qe813. Rae1Rc814. Qb1Bg615. Nxg6hxg616. Nf3Again White shuffles everything to the kingside. The
knight is in touch with both e5 and g5, the rooks are on the e- and f-files,
and White will build an attack as best he can. Black isn't as well set up for
queenside counterplay as he was in the previous game - or in the next game
we'll see - and tries to put out the kingside fires instead. 16... a617. Qd1Qd818. h4Re819. g3Nd720. Re2Nf821. Rfe1Bd622. Bc1!Black is
cramped, so it makes sense for White to avoid the swap. Further, White's
bishop on c1 may be able to participate in the kingside festivities, so for
both reasons it makes sense to keep it. 22... Qc723. Ng5Ne724. f4A reasonable
decision, though not the only good one available to White. White's Darth
Vader-like grip on e5 suffocates Black in the center; the only question for
White is whether this bit of central overkill is worth the pain it causes the
bishop on c1.
( 24. Kg2followed by Rh1 is also very promising. )
( 29... fxe530. fxe5Qd731. h5g532. Bxg5Bc733. Qd2Bd834. Bxh6gxh635. Qxh6Qg736. Qf4Black's pieces are mostly cut off from
meaningful contact with the kingside, and h5-h6 will only make it worse. White
is winning. )
30. fxe5f531. Bxh6gxh632. g4Black's kingside is about to
collapse, and with no queenside counterplay on the horizon the rest is
predictable. 32... h533. gxh5Re734. Kf1gxh535. Rg1+Kh836. Rfg2Nh737. Rg6b5Way too late. 38. a3Qe839. Qxh5a540. Qh6Rcc741. Ke2b4See the
previous comment. The net effect here is that it gives White a second extra
pawn - a passer. 42. cxb4axb443. axb4Qc844. Kd2Qe845. h5Qc846. b5Qe847. b6Yes, it's a genuinely useful passed pawn! 47... Rb748. Ba6!Taking
advantage of the overloaded rook. 48... Rxb649. Rg7Forcing a speedy mate. 49... Rxb2+50. Kd3
( 50. Ke1Rb1+51. Kf2Rb2+52. Be2was the most expeditious finish. )
1. e4c62. d4d53. exd5cxd54. Bd3Nc65. c3Nf66. Bf4Bg47. Qb3Qc88. Nd2e69. Ngf3Be7Almost 1200 games have reached this point, and now David Howell
comes up with something brand new. 10. Kf1!?Clearing e1 for one rook - an
idea we've seen before - while keeping the other rook free for different
adventures. It isn't that bad, but it should be acknowledged that no one has
followed his lead in the intervening six and a half ears. 10... Bh511. Re1a6The counterplay begins. 12. Qc2b513. b4A very consequential decision.
White stops the minority attack plan dead in its tracks, but it comes at a
cost. White is weakening at least two squares on the half-open c-file, c3 and
c4. Black hurries to take advantage. 13... Bg6Black would like to use the c4
square, so it makes sense to trade off one of the pieces that can defend it.
This also makes e4 a potential outpost for a Black knight. 14. Bxg6hxg615. Qd3a5!16. a3
( 16. Qxb5?axb4 )
16... axb417. axb4Qb718. Nb3Hoping to plug up one of the two open queenside files. 18... O-O
( 18... Ne4 )
19. h4Ne420. Nfd2Ra321. Rb1Rfa822. Kg1Nd823. Rh3Qc6Black has the
initiative here, but objectively White is still okay. 24. Na5
( 24. Nxe4!?dxe425. Qe3Qd526. Nc5 )
24... R8xa5!25. bxa5Nxc326. Rb3Ra1+27. Nb1b428. Bd2Na2White is still hanging on -
barely. 29. Re3?This makes sense, hoping to bring the rook back to e1
(castling would have been much simpler!). Unfortunately for White, there's a
fatal tactical problem.
( 29. Rb2!was forced, and kept White in the game. )
29... Nc1!30. Bxc1Qxc1+31. Kh2?
( 31. Qf1 )
31... Nc632. g3??
( 32. Re2Nxa533. Rc2Qh634. Rbb2Nc435. Rb3g5 )
32... Nxa5Black is winning
a full rook from here, so White called it a day.
White owns the kingside, Black the queenside, and whoever’s attack strikes first wins. Everything is clear, right?
Perhaps not. The following game from the World Rapid Championship featured a seemingly completely different opening – the London System – that reached a Carlsbad structure. Instead of following the well-established plan, White changed the strategy – and won because Black failed to follow suit.
Carlsen, Magnus vs. Bok, Benjamin
World Rapid 2016 |Doha QAT |Round 6.1 |27 Dec 2016 |ECO: A45 |1-0
1. d4Nf62. Bf4d53. e3c54. Nc3cxd45. exd4a66. Bd3Nc67. Nce2Bg48. c3e6From a very different opening, we suddenly see something that looks an
awful lot like an Exchange Caro-Kann. 9. Qd2Bh510. Bg5
10... Bg611. Nf4Bxd312. Nxd3Bd613. Nf3Black is completely fine in this
middlegame, and his decision to liquidate to an ending doesn't harm his
position a bit. 13... Ne414. Bxd8Nxd215. Kxd2Rxd8
( 15... Kxd8looks sensible
too. Black's king doesn't need to castle but should get out of the rooks' way.
It may turn out that the rook should stay on a8, however, or go to c8, so this
recapture may be the most time-efficient of Black's options. )
16. Rhe1O-O17. a4!?Up to now we may have thought about this position under the influence
of the previous three games, but now things go upside down. White starts to
play on the queenside, and it turns out that at least one very good plan for
Black here is to go ...Rfe8, ...f6, and ...e5. Black drifts for a little while,
and by the time he comes to Carlsen has taken over. 17... Rc8
( 19... Nxe5was better, as Black's bishop can keep watch over both c5 and e5. )
( 20... f6 )
21. Rxe5f622. Re3Kf723. Ra4!?The rook
would like to snake its way to b4 and then maybe b6, so Black tries to nip
this plan in the bud.
( 23. f4is natural (and good), but Carlsen has a
completely different idea. )
23... Rc4?!24. Rxc4dxc425. b3!!It looks as
if nothing is going on or should be going on, but Carlsen finds a way to make
something happen in a drawish-looking ending. 25... Rc8?!
( 25... cxb326. c4Rc827. Kc3This is dangerous for Black, but with a precise series of moves it
seems he can survive. ...b2!28. Re1Rc6!29. c5!e5!30. Rb1exd4+31. Kxd4Rc7!32. Rxb2Rd7+! )
26. Re1!cxb327. Rb1Rc4?!Active play is generally one's best bet
in a rook ending, but this is a case where it will backfire. 28. Rxb3Ra4?29. Rxb7+Kg630. Rb6Rxa531. Rxe6Black's biggest problem isn't his one
pawn deficit; it's that White has two connected passers. 31... Ra2+32. Kd3!This wasn't necessary, but it highlights the power of White's passers. 32... Rxf233. c4Rxg234. c5Kf535. Re1Rb236. c6
( 36. c6Rb837. c7Rc838. Re7followed by d5-d6-d7, and Black is kaput. )
Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at ChessLecture.com. Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
After 9 days of intense chess battles at the last leg of the World Chess Grand Prix series 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, the two winners of the series were finally determined: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, overall 340 points in the series) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 336,4 points). They qualified for the Candidates Tournament – the next part of the World Chess Championship cycle, which leads up to the Championship match.
The sole leader of the Palma de Mallorca Grand Prix Levon Aronian made a quick draw with Evgeny Tomashevsky today, inviting the group of rivals to join him at the top. But same as in the previous rounds all games on the top boards finished peacefully and not a single player came close to catching up with him.
After seven rounds Aronian is in the lead with 4,5 points. A group of 8 players is half a point behind, including Vachier-Lagrave. In order to qualify for the Candidates, the Frenchman needs to win at least one more game. Boris Gelfand defeated Alexander Riazantsev, Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer, while Teimour Rajabov outplayed Li Chao. After the victory the Azerbaijani Grandmaster still hopes to qualify, but in that case has to win both games.
Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, made the first symbolic move to start the fourth round, which turned out to be the most exciting round of the tournament so far, with six decisive games out of nine.
In the Third Round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Palma de Mallorca games between the four leaders, Vachier-Lagrave-Aronian and Rajabov-Giri, finished in a draw. Peter Svidler joined the group of leaders by beating Jon-Ludvig Hammer in the third round.
The world’s best chess players and chess establishment came together in Bellver Castle to celebrate the opening of the final leg of the FIDE 2017 World Chess Grand Prix Palma de Mallorca – a prestigious qualifier for the World Chess Candidates Tournament.
Katerina Lagno, one of the strongest Russian women-grandmasters won the historic Moscow Blitz Tournament, beating her fellow Russian Olympic team members Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya.
After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players