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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bad Pawns and Bad Pieces.

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It is always a dedicated judgment to advance pawns farther than needed merely to develop pieces and to control the centre. Sometimes pawns are not sufficiently advanced and may become backward and drastically reduce mobility; those advanced too far may exceed the reach of other units and thus become indefensible.

Black incurs a couple of weak, isolated pawns as the result of an opening novely by Tal. Such a purely defensive task is surely not what Black hopes for in the Sicilian Defense; but if Najdorf had chosen to avoid those weak pawns, he would have had a life less, passive position, and for Najdorf that is intolerable.

1    e4              c5
2   Nf3             Nc6

Not the Najdorf Variation! That line has developed to such an extent that it
bears little resemblance to the system popularized by Najdorf so long ago. Pehaps it no longer suits his style?!

3     d4                cxd4
4     Nxd4            e6
5     Nc3              Qc7
6     g3                 a6
7     Bg2              Nf6
8.    0-0               d6
9     Re1              Bd7
10   Nxc6            bxc6

If 10 ,,,Bxc6  11  Nd5  Qd8  12  Bg5  with pressure. the weakening of Black's Queenside pawns has begun.

11   Na4             e5
12   c4                --

White's plan is clear : to further weaken Black's pawn structure on the queenside and via the open files, to attack the pawns directly.

12   ---               Be7

To be considered is 12 ...c5  13  Bg5  14  Nc3  Bc6 with scarcely perceptible advantage for White, but not a hint of play for Black.

13   c3               0-0

Since 13 ... dxc5 does not win a pawn, that move would simply lose tempo.

14   cxd6           Bxd6

Black's two weak pawns, particularly the c-pawn, stifle his pieces. Not great subtlety is needed here; the pawns are clearly vulnerable targets for which Black has no discernible compensation. However, Najdorf is always dangerous, and so Tal sees no reason to complicate matters.

15   Bg5             Be7

15 ..Bb4 can be satisfactorily met by 16 Re3  Ng4  17  Rd3  Be6 18  h3  etc.

16   Qc2             h6

17   Be3             Rab8
18   Rac1           Rfd8
19   h3               Nh7
20   Bc5             Be8

Because he has to tend his weak pawns, Black cannot become active. Little by little, White's pieces occupy better positions and Black's become more passive.

21  Red1            Rxd1

22  Rxd1            Ng5
23  Bxe7            Qxe7
24  Nc5              Ne6
25  Nxe6            -----

Better than 25. Nxa6 Rb6  26  Bf1  Nd4  with sufficient play for the pawn.

25  ----              Qxe6
26  b3                b3
27  Qc3             -----

Putting pressure on the e-pawn with the intention of following up with Bf1 attacking the a-pawn. Black's defensive problem is very difficult.

28  h4               f6
29  Rd3             Kh7

Unsatisfactory is 29 ...c5  on account of 30  Rd5  c4  31  bxc4  Bf7  32 c5  Rb1+  33Kh2  Bxd5  34  exd5, and the two passed pawns would win easily.

30   Bh3            Bg6

31   Rd7            ----

Obviously White's Pieces are bette placed. he has a rook on the seventh rank, Black's queen is tied to the defense of the king, and Black's Bishop is a defensive piece only. Meanwhile, Black's weak pawns are about to fall.
31   ----            Qf8
32   Qxc6         Rxe4

If 32 ...Bxe4  33  Qxa6  Qc5  34  Qxf6   Qc1+  35  Bf1   and wins

33   Qxa6         Re1
34   Kh2           f5

No relief is offered by 34 ... Be4   35  Bg2  Bxg2   36  Kxg2   Qb4   37  Qxf6  Qe4+   38  f3  Qc2  39  Kh3  Rh1  40  Kg4  and wins.

35  Rd6           Bh5
Finally Black Resigns.