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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Endgame Strategy 19

Pin It 30...-- A cruel test of which I'm quite proud. Strategically, Black has a

won position. White is completely stymied on the Kingside as the g7-pawn is well fortified. Furthermore, it is nearly impossible for White to conjure up any type of real threat. If White spends two tempi to advance the h4-pawn to the h6-square, the subsequent ...g7-g6 is quite safe for Black.[If you thought 30...a5 was a good move, you were right. It is an excellent move. Black's plan of ...a5-a4-a3 is crystal clear and White hardly has a good answer. It is likely that White would have to play 31.Re1 Rge8 32.Qd3 a4 33.Bd2 when White is on the defensive. In fact, White is devoid of useful moves. Black can continue quietly reinforcing his Queenside attack and without an adequate counter White's position is terrible.(In this line, it is important to note that 33.Rxe6 would have failed to 33...Rxe6 34.Qxf5 Re1+! 35.Ka2 Nf6 , preparing ...Qb7-f7+.) ; In his wonderful book "Improve Your Chess Now", Jonathan Tisdall writes on page 166: "I heard Kasparov say something to the effect that an attack begins when you get a pawn near the (enemy) King. He should know..."When first reading this piece of wisdom or advice I objected. A host of middlegame positions flooded my mind from various openings and defenses like the Sicilian Dragon, the Grünfeld, the Open Ruy Lopez and many others where play is dominated by the pieces, with pawn attacks tending to be rare. As Kasparov's main defense was the King's Indian. where a pawn storm is a key strategy, I realized that the influence of the KID was having a too pronounced effect. Kasparov's observation couldn't possibly serve as a broad general rule. Satisfied that I could dismiss Kasparov's tip, I double-checked to be sure and began to think more carefully about attacking play and the role of the pawn. Recalling patterns from our Queen and Pawn checkmates, I began to have second thoughts. I soon realized how I'd desperately try to wedge a pawn into my opponent's castled King

position and changed my mind. Kasparov was completely right. An attack does begin when we get a pawn near the enemy King!In our test position, the discussion concerns whether Black should play the violent 30...b4 or the creeping 30...a5, followed by the a-pawn advance. An excellent example proving the validity of Kasparov's insight. Black is trying to create an attack by advancing his pawns.As combinative play is the art of forcing moves, we absolutely have to consider the ramifications of 30...b4! , when Black is ready for either ...b4xc3 or ...b4-b3 jamming White's King as the assault begins in earnest. White cannot allow the opening of the b-file so we are certain that 31.c4 must be played 31...-- a) , and the further move 31...b3 will force White's Bishop to move. White will have to play 32.Bd3 ,(as 32.Bd1 Qa6 wins immediately in view of the invasion of the a2-square.) ; b) . Before playing 31...b3, we note that 31...Nc3+ 32.Kc1 Qxf3 , does indeed snag a pawn for which we are deeply grateful. Practically speaking, White's only move is 33.Bd3! Ne4 34.Qe2 Bf4+ 35.Kb1 when, annoyingly, White is still in the game. Breaking the attack against the King in order to win the doubled f3-pawn is a meager reward. Thus 31...b3 is infinitely superior and the response 32.Bd3 is forced.; ; Now we are at an important crossroads in our analysis. The moves 30...b4! 31.c4! b3! 32.Bd3 are all forcing and good. The time has come to introduce the Queen into the attack. 32...-- a) . The move 32...Qa6 is most compelling but is it the best move? Black's Knight cannot be captured as this would open the c-file and cost White the game immediately: 33.cxd5? Qa2+ 34.Kc1 Qa1+ 35.Bb1 Rgc8+ 36.Kd1 Rc2! , with a decisive attack. This motif of playing ...Qb7 - a6 - a2+ - a1+ will force White to play Bd3-b1, blocking the check. White's b1–Bishop will be in an absolute pin and the open c-file will accelerate White's defeat. Indeed, with the Bishop on the b1–square a Rook will rush to the c-file as the c4-pawn will lack protection. It would seem that White will be forced to play c4-c5 in order to keep the c-file closed. At this point, we should note that with White's King on the c1–square, it would be very useful for the d6-Bishop to play a role on the a5-e1 diagonal. With the Bishop on b4 controlling the d2-square, White's King would be further hemmed in. Best of all, this move would come with tempo.(36...--) ; b) . Since we now expect that White will be forced to play a future c4-c5, playing 32...Bb4 first is the best route in our crossroads. White is forced to choose between 33.Qd1 and 33.Qe2. It is an easy choice. On the d1–square White's Queen is useless, further hemming in White's King. As we can dismiss 33.Qd1 Qa6 34.Qxb3? Bc3 as suicide, White will have to play 33.Qe2, when Black's Bishop has joined the attack with gain of tempo. We should be constantly vigilant for opportunities of bringing pieces into the attack with tempo. All of these forcing moves have been very attractive for Black.; ; We have reached the following position in our analysis: 30...b4! 31.c4! b3! 32.Bd3 Bb4 33.Qe2 . Now Black is ready for the introduction of the Queen with 33...Qa6 , when White is facing insurmountable threats. Besides the invasion of Black's Queen, there is the crushing blow ...Nd5-c3+ in the offing. It would appear that White has little else except 34.c5 Qa2+ 35.Kc1 , when Black has many attractive choices, such as 35...Rbc8 , preparing a sacrifice on the c5-square. While alluring, the b8-Rook is doing excellent work on the b-file.At this point in a practical game, I would stop calculating and play the moves. My reason for plunging ahead is that my reluctance to play 30...b4 was entirely due to 31.c4, attacking my unassailable Knight. Once I realized that White would shortly have to play c4-c5, when my Knight is no longer under threat of capture, my reluctance to play 30...b4 would disappear. I'd make the moves on the board. After realizing that c4-c5 is virtually forced, getting the d6-Bishop out of harm's way with tempo, would make that decision easy. Such a series of moves is completely in Black's favor. He has wedged the b-pawn nicely into the b3-square while White has had to react by moving the protective c3-pawn up the board and away from White's beleaguered King.; Having realized the following moves are all forced, as Black I'd play 30...b4 31.c4 b3 32.Bd3 Bb4 33.Qe2 Qa6 34.c5 Qa2+ 35.Kc1 and start to calculate that position once it was on the board. 35...-- a) . I would be drawn to 35...Rbc8 briefly; b) , then to 35...Ba3 which looks splendid; c) , and finally my eyes would latch onto the move 35...Nc3! , when everything falls neatly into place. White's Queen is attacked, the move ...Qa2-a1+ is decisive as the d3-Bishop cannot block on the b1–square. The only move is 36.bxc3 b2+! and the pawn cannot be captured because 37.Qxb2 (if White plays 37.Kd1 Bxc3! is a winner) 37...Ba3 wins White's Queen. Therefore 30...b4! leads to a winning position.; ; The actual moves of the game were: 30...b4 31.c4 b3 32.Bd3 Bb4 33.Qe2 Qa6 34.Bh6 this could be classified as a desperate last fling. As we've seen, White's position is lost even after the relatively best move 34.c5, so why not take a parting shot? 34...Nc3+ 35.bxc3 Bxc3 36.Kc1 Qa3+ 37.Kd1 Qa1+ 38.Bc1 b2 39.Qe3 Bxd4 40.Qd2 bxc1Q+ 41.Qxc1 Qa2 0–1