Angus Dunnington-Understanding the Sacrifice

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understanding the sacrifice sacrifice your way to success

Angus Dunnington EVERYMAN CHESS Everyman Publishers pic www.everymanbooks.com

First published in 2002 by Everyman Publishers pIc, formerly Cadogan Books pIc, Gloucester Mansions, 140A Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8HD C~pyright

© 2002 Angus Dunnington

The right of Angus Dunnington to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN 1 857443128 Distributed in North America by The Globe Pequot Press, P.O Box 480, 246 Goose Lane, Guilford, CT 06437-0480. All other sales enquiries should be directed to Everyman Chess, Gloucester Mansions, 140A Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8HD tel: 02075397600 fax: 020 7379 4060 email: [email protected] website: www.everymanbooks.com

EVERYMAN CHESS SERIES (formerly Cadogan Chess)

Chief advisor: Garry Kasparov Commissioning editor: Byron Jacobs Typeset and edited by First Rank Publishing, Brighton. Production by Book Production Services. Printed and bound in Great Britain by The Cromwell Press Ltd., Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

CONTENTS

I

Preface

7

Introduction

9

1

The Importance of Structure

20

2

The Colour Complex

51

3

Pieces for Pawns

65

4

Rampant Knights

75

5

Bishops at Work

86

6

Exploiting Key Squares

99

7

The Exchange Sacrifice

109

8

The Vulnerable King

121

9

The Restrictive Sacrifice

128

The Queen Sacrifice

137

10

I PREFACE I

There are numerous 'puzzle' books available that feature spectacular combinations involving one sacrifice after another, the victim obligingly accepting an army of pieces on the way to finding his king being caught in the heart of enemy territory. These examples are indeed entertaining and can be quite instructive, but they also take us a step further from an area of the game about which many players are already rather apprehensive - positional chess. In fact if weighing up the implications of isolated or doubled pawns (or - even more complex - weak squares) can be intimidating, then the subject of the positional sacrifice might seem alien to some players. In order to maximise our chances it is important to study the positional aspects of the game to such an extent that we are able to develop an internal alarm system designed to alert us to weak squares, pawns and structures as soon as they are created. In this way we are open to (our own) sacrificial suggestions when the opportunity arises, material investment sometimes being the only way forward. Many players are handicapped by a lack of confidence in their ability to accurately assess the positional characteristics of a sacrificial variation, and/or (equally important) their ability to conduct such situations properly if and when they happen. The result is, of course, coundess missed opportunities. This book is aimed at helping those players who rarely contemplate a positional sacrifice, with sixty examples providing a reasonably detailed, practical guide to the pros and cons of investing material for positional gain. Angus Dunnington, Casdeford, June 2002

7

INTRODUCTION

I

Because positional sacrifices revolve around one or more specific aspects of the game the net result is a new situation that must be accurately evaluated in advance - otherwise material has been given away for nothing. By reminding ourselves of the fact that the 'points score' is just one factor in the chess equation it should become a natural part of our thinking process to consider this or that positional motif as standard procedure, just as strong players do. Marshall-Ed. Lasker New York 1924

Let's start with a few introductory examples. White has an· extra pawn but Black has a good bishop pair against two knights in a fairly open position. In fad: 1 ttJe3 'i'f4 seems to favour Black, while 1 ttJc3 'i' cS 2 ttJd2 runs into 2....txc3 3 bxc3 .txh3! due to 4 gxh3 'i'gS+, picking up the remaining knight with a decisive structural advantage. Instead White used a well-known sacrificial· idea in an effort to convert his current material lead into an albeit modest positional advantage. 1 e5! i.xe5 1...'i'cs 2 b4 would be embarrassing, while dropping back to b8 or d7 removes Black's compensation. 2 .xe5 cxd5 And certainly not 2......xeS? 3 ttJe7+. 3 .xd6 llxd6 4 c5! The point. The game has undergone quite a transformation, with Black finding himself with an isolated pawn and without the luxury of the bishop pair (the surviving bishop is the poorer of the two). Meanwhile White has control 9

Understanding the Sacrifice

of the traditionally desirable d4-square and the advance of the c-pawn has created what is effectively a· 3-2 queenside pawn majority.

the target on d5. Knights can be difficult creatures at times and the search for a decent resting place is a common problem. Strong players think nothing of parting with a pawn (or more) in return for an influential outpost. As the next example demonstrates, such a policy is quite normal even as the ending approaches. Gelfand-Markowski Rubinstein Memorial 1998

Of course these add up to only a slight edge for White, but this is neverIheless considerably more preferable to the alternatives facing White when we joined the game. There followed: 4 .. J:ta6 5 a4!? .td7 6 l:Ud1! :xa4 7 l:txa4 .txa4 8 :a 1 (part of the grand plan) 8 ... .tc6 9 :xa7 :e8 10 b4

White has something to bite on here, although Black managed to hold the draw. Perhaps 5 ttJd4 :ta4 6 :tfd1 is a more patient continuation, planting the knight in the centre and reminding Black about 10

Both sides have minor weaknesses on d6 and e4 but White's main problem is the prospect of Black's knight coming to the perfect e5-square. For example 22 l::td2 ttJe5 23 :ted1 ~f8 24 :txd6 l::txd6 25 l::txd6 rJi;e7 is fine for Black. On the other hand, 22 c5?! dxc5 23 e5 1:[f8 24 e6 addresses ...ttJe5 in aggressive fashion and seems very good for White, but Black can ignore the challenge to his d-pawn with the thematic 22...ttJe5!, when 23 cxd6 .tg4 24 i.e2 i.xe2 25 l::txe2 l::td8 offers sufficient compensation thanks to White's broken pawns and the superior knight on e5. However, White has another resource available which effectively turns the tables

Introduction

on his opponent. 22 e5!! Now 22 ... 4JxeS 23 4Je4 l::t£8 24 4Jxd6 leaves White clearly better, e.g. 24 ... 4Jf7 25 4Jxc8 l::taxc8 26 l::td7 Consequently Black's next is forced. 22 ... dxe5 23lDe4

Far from establishing his knight on eS, Black has had to watch as White 'steals' his plan and achieves exactly the same posting! There is no longer a pawn on d6 but the square itself is still a concern for Black, and he has yet to sort out the queenside pieces. Meanwhile the 'extra' eS-pawn is a long-term weakness that will probably be mopped up at some stage. It is safe to conclude that White has more than enough compensation. 23 ... :f7 23 ... l::t£8 24 4Jd6 4Jf6 25 l::txeS gives back the pawn without a fight and White is left with the more active forces. The text prepares to defend the pawn from e7 in order to free the knight and complete the development of the queenside. 24 c5 Standard, although 24 bS!? has been suggested. However, the text steps up

the pressure by clamping down on d6 and making c4 available for the bishop.

24 .. .'itg7 25 .i.c4 :e7 2684 Expanding and ruling out ... b7-bS. Also possible is 26 :d6, e.g. 26 .... bS 27 .tb3 .tb7 28 :ed1 4J£8 29 :d8, when it is arguable whether Black's bishop ~s . better than before, or 26 ... aS!? 27 bS b6' 28 cxb6 4Jxb6 29 .tn and White restores material parity with advantage.

26 ... :e8? A lesser evil is 26 ... b6 27 ':'d6 bxcS (27 ....tb7 28 as) 28 bxcS, when Gelfand evaluates the position after 28 ... 4J£8 (28 ....tb7 29 as) 29 ':xc6 .tb7 30 l::td6 l::tc8 31 .tdS .txdS 32 ':'xdS as clearly better for White. 27 :f1 ':'e7 11

Understanding the Sacrifice

If 27 ...J::tf8 then 28 ltxf8 'it>xf8 29 J::tn +.

Ibragimov-Shchekachev

Russian Championship, Moscow 1999

28 Itd2 b5

An instructive line is 28 ... aS 29 J::tdf2 axb4 30 J::tf7+ J::txf7 31 :xf7+ ~h6 (31...~h8 32 lDgS) 32 g4 gS 33 .ltd3 l:txa4 34lDd6

The above diagram represents a pleasant culmination of White's overall positional approach! 29 axb5 cxb5 30 i.d5 1-0

This time White already has well posted knights, but he wants more. Black is behind in development, his kingside pawns are suspect, he is slighdy cramped and only the rook is keeping the king company. With thes'e factors in mind White's opener is rather easy to appreciate. 23 g4!

The problem with the fIxed pawns on f5 and e4 is their susceptibility to such a pawn break. White decides to strike now while Black's queenside pieces are yet to join in the fun.

It seems that not a great deal has happened during the last ten moves, but White's fantastic knight has restricted Black's forces to such an extent that there is now no adequate defence to the threat of an invasion on f7 after 30... J::tb8 31 J::tdf2 etc. 12

23 ... fxg4 24 f5

Introduction

Cutting the communication between the bishop and g4-pawn and adding to White's already greater control of the e6-square. 24 ... h5 25 h3! gxh3 26 ~h2

N ow White will be able to combine the idea of tDe6 with a build-up on the g-file. 26 ... i.d7 After 26 ...tDc5 27 tDe6+ i.xe6 28 fxe6 ~g7 29 tDf5+ ~h7 the situation is not clear, but 27 ~xh3 presents White with sufficient compensation in the form of his more active forces, the e6square, the g-file and the 'isolated' hpawn. 27 tLle6 + ~f7 27 ....txe6 should benefit White after either recapture. 28 fxe6 gives White one impressive pawn island whereas all of Black's kingside pawns appear vulnerable. Perhaps 28 dxe6 is the more accurate of the two, however, giving White two connected, protected passed pawns. Again Black's kingside is in ruins and White can offer further support to his own pawns by lodging the king behind on f4. 28 :g 1 :g8 29 :xg8 ~xg8 30 :g1 + ~h8 31 ~xh3

White is only a pawn down and each of his pieces - including the king - has an important role to play in exerting pressure on the kingside. Black has sitting ducks on e4 and h5, while the c7pawn is also under attack. Consequently Black now seeks some activity of his own. 31 ... tLlb4 32 ~h4 tLld3 33 ~xh5 :f7 34 ~g5

Unfortunately for Black the knight on e6 is as much trouble off the board as it is on, since a replacement pawn will be even more deadly. 34 ... tLlf2? This accelerates proceedings, but with fS-f6 and the introduction of the other knight to come, Black's days were anyway numbered (34 ... i.xe6 35 l::th 1+). 35 :f1 tLld3 36 :h1 + :h7 Or if 36 ...~g8 then 37 tDg4 i.xe6 38 dxe6 l::tg7 + 39 ~f6 l::txg4 40 7 is decisive. 37 :xh7 + ~xh7 38 tLlf8+ 1-0 Another uncomplicated example, where a combination of Black's structure, vulnerable kingside, tardy development and the massive e6-knight proved decisive.

e

13

Understanding the Sacrifice

Ehlvest-Markovic

Elista Olympiad (Men) 1998

Here the removal of Black's darksquared bishop coincides with the potentially damaging advance of pawns in front of the king, with g6 and h6 in particular (and h5 in some cases) attracting our attention. 15 g4!

Again a lead in development affords White the facility to sacrifice a pawn in favourable circumstances.

so Black prefers to keep the move. 17 ... ~xg4 1S 'ii'xg4

1S ... .!iJc6

Planning ...'iIi'c8. Otherwise Black could consider 18 ...ltJd7 in order to send the knight over to the kingside after 19 :xffi+ ltJxffi. Then 20 h4 e6 21 ltJf3 'ili'f6 22 hxg5 hx.g5 23 ltJxg5 'ili'g6 24 ':£1 is awkward for Black, e.g. 24 ...:e8 25 'ili'h4 :e7 26ltJe4! etc. 19 h4 'ii'cS 20 ':xfS + 'itxfS

15 ... cxd5

The alternative is less desirable: 15 ... fxg4 16 ':xffi+! (16 .txg4 ':x£1 + 17 ltJx£1 cxd5 18 ltJe3 e6 permits some sort of consolidation) 16 .. :ili'xffi 17 .txg4 cxd5 18 .txc8 'ili'xc8 19 'ili'h5 cj;g7 20 :£1 leaves Black terribly exposed. 16 gxf5 i.xf5 17 ~g41

White wants to maximise his options on the light squares as well as eliminate a defender. Now 17 ... e6 18 .txf5 exf5 19 'ili'b3 'ili'd7 20 'ili'xd5+ cj;g7 21 :ae1 (21 ltJc4 ':f6) 21...ltJc6 22 :e6 and 17 ...'iIi'd7 18 :xfS! :xfS 19 'iic2 e6 20 .txfS exfS 21 :£1 ltJc6 (21...f4 22 'ili'g6+) 22 'ili'xf5 'ili'xf5 23 :xf5 see White win back the pawn with interest, 14

20 ...'iIi'xffi 21 :£1 'ili'g7 (21...'iic8 22 'ili'h5) 22 'ili'e6+ cj;h8 23 ':£7 wins for White, 23 ...ltJd8 24 ':xg7 ltJxe6 25 ':xe7 giving the rook too much fun . 21 'ii'f3 +

White is ready to collect. 21 ... 'itg7

Introduction

21...'itfe8 22 hxg5 hxg5 23 'i'xd5. 22 hxg5 "e6 22 ... hxg5 23 'i'xd5. 23 gxh6 + "xh6 23 ... 'itfxh6 24 'i'f4+ 'itfg7 25 :f1 is also very pleasant for White. 24 :f1!

With Black's defences having been stripped away it is not surprising that this is possible. Obviously 24 ... 'i'xd2 loses to 25 'i'g4+ 'itfh6 26 :f5. The game ended 24 ...:g8 25 :f2 ~h8 (25 ...'i'g5 26 tbf1!) 26 "xd5 e5 27 lLlf1 "g6 28 g3 exd4 29 cxd4 :e8 30 :f4 :e7 31 :f8+ '1-0

12 c5! Always look for the most uncompromising continuation! This is particularly important when the opponent has a specific, thematic plan in mind, for in these circumstances only those moves that seem positionally natural or forced tend to be considered. Here, for example, d4-d5 is almost automatic, keeping the centre closed for the knights as well as shutting out the b7-bishop, but the text is strong indeed. 12 ... dxc5

Our next example is a good illustration of why we should be alert to positional sacrifices during each stage of the game, even if it seems that the opening is yet to warm up. Chatalbashev-Todorov

Krynica Zonal 1998 Black has just played the sensible looking ... e6-e5, seeking to undermine White's already modest influence on the dark squares by winning control of the c5-square. However, White has the other colour complex in mind.

The other way to accept the pawn is 12 ... exd4 when, after 13 cxd6, Black must be careful as 13 ... .txd6? 14 e5! tbxe5 15 tbxe5 .txe5 16 tbc4 wins for White, while 13 ...'i'xd6 14 e5 'i'b6 15 75

Understanding the Sacrifice

as is excellent for White, who is ready to push the e-pawn. 13...cxd6 is forced, leading to a clear advantage to White after 14 tbb3 (rounding up the d4-pawn as well as threatening tbaS) 14...tbeS (14...tbcS 15 eSt) 15 tbfxd4. Hoping to side-step any trouble with 12 ....lte7 runs into 13 c6! .ltxc6 14 ':cl. 13 dxe5 ttJxe5 14 ttJxe5 'ii'xe5 1 5 ttJc4

The game has undergone quite a transformation, with two important black pawns having been removed from the centre. Not surprisingly this is part of White's strategy, the chief aim of which is to take control of the light squares. 15 .. :ife6 1S ...'iWd4 looks a bit too active, 16 'ii'c2 leaving White with tbaS, ':adl, e4eS etc. 16 ttJa5 "b6 Unfortunately for Black he will suffer on the light squares with or without his bishop, as 16....ltc8 17 .ltc4 is strong. 17 .. :ii'b6? loses to 18 'it'dS, so Black must choose between 17 ... 'it'd6 18 'ii'hS!? (18 'it' B 'it' f6) 18...g6 19 'it' B or 17 ... 'it'g6 18 .ltdS .ltg4 19 .ltxt7+!? 'ii'xt7 20 'it'xg4, with a clear advantage 16

to White in either case. 17 ttJxb7 "xb7 18 e51 Black's extra pawn means absolutely nothing. The light squares and Black's exposed king are enough to give White a decisive lead. In fact damaging Black's structure and chasing down the lightsquared bishop has resulted in there being no safe haven for the king. Castling long, for example, loses on the spot to 19 .ltf5+. 18 ... i.e7 A fitting finish would be 18... ':d8 19 e6 'ii'dS 20 ext7+ ~xt7 21 .ltc4!

Returning to 18... i.e7, with Black just one move away from relative safety it is imperative that White strike while the iron is hot... 19 e6! Also very good for White is 19 .lte4 c6 20 'ii'B ':c8 21 e6 0-0 22 ext7+ ':xt7 23 .ltfS lId8 24 .lte6 .ltf6! but the nononsense text really hits Black hard on the light squares. 19 ... 0-0-0 19... 0-0 20 ext7+ lIxt7 21 .ltc4 is quite unpleasant, while 19... fxe6 20 .ltg6+! ~f8 21 .lte4 c6 22 'it'B+ nets White a rook. 20 exf7 i.f6 21 "e2

Introduction

25 ...'ilxe6 26 .tc4+ is final, which 26 'ilxc5+ b8 27 leaves 25 ... 'ilf4 r 'iib5+. Pawns make the most important contribution to every game, and the subject of structural strengths and weaknesses can be found throughout this book. Here Black drastically alters the landscape in a symmetrical and ostensibly drawn ending. Now Black does not even have a pawn to show for his troubles, and there is nothing he can do to contest the light squares.

Zalkind-Finkel

Israel 1998

21 ... 'iii>b8

21...l:td6 defends one rank at the cost of another: 22 .txa6! l:txa6 23 'ile8+. 22 i.xa6 'it'd5

22 ...'ilc6 23 .tb5 is a lesser evil, although the route to inevitable defeat is an unenviable one. 23 'it'b5 + 'iii>a7 24 'it'a5 'it'd6

24... b8 25 llad1! .td4 (25 ... 'ilxdl 26 'ilb5+) 26 :e7 and the end is nigh ... 25 ':'e6 1-0

31 ... h4!

With two face-offs there are obvious concerns for White on the h2-b8 diagonal. 32 gxh4 gxf4 33 exf4

In the space of two moves White has seen his hitherto healthy looking mass of united pawns break into three pawn islands, each requiring a certain level of protection as the ending unfolds. Meanwhile it is true that Black has a backward e-pawn but, in this situation, at least there is no danger of losing it. A nice thematic move with which to end the game, accentuating White's total control of the light squares. Now

33 ...i..h5!

Of course Black is now looking to exploit the structural weaknesses he has 17

Understanding the Sacrifice

inflicted upon his opponent, and from h5 the bishop reminds White about his other weakness on b3. Note that Black need not be so concerned about b6 as White will be too occupied defending d4 and f4 to have the time to attack. 33 ... 'i'xh4?! recaptures the pawn but after 34 'i'g3+ 'i'xg3+ 35 e3 :e8 40 'itf2 :e6 41 :e 1 'itg6 42 'ifi>e3 'ifi>f5 43 g4 + 'ifi>g6 43 ...g8 33 l:tg1 + 'it>f7 34 'ifxd5+ 'it>f6 is unclear according to

Rampant Knights

Ftacnik) 31...'it>e8 32 i.xfS 'ii'd8 33 'ii'g6+ 'it>d7 34 i.xe6+ 'it>c7 35 'ii'g3 with a slight edge to White. Fair enough, but I prefer his other suggestion, the direct 28 liJh5 'ii'f8 29 'ii'e5 l:tc6 30 l:te3!

30 ':'c3 'ii'a2 31 'ii'd4 sees White homing in on Black's king. 28 liJh5 ~f8 29 "h8 + ~e 7 30 "f6+ ~8 30...'it>d7 31 ':'xd4+. 31 liJf4 1-0

This seems to do the trick. 26 ':'xd3 "c4 27 "e51 d4 27 ... ':'e8 28 liJh5 'it>f8 29 'ii'g7+ 'it>e7

The knight ends the game: 31...':'d6 (31...'it>g8 32 g6! hxg6 33 ':'h3) 32 'ii'h8+ 'it>e7 33 'ii'xa8.

85

CHAPTER FIVE

I

Bishops at Work

In the opening phase of the game we tend to 'see 'classic' development of the bishops - giving them room to manreuvre by placing them on f4, gS or c4, for example. In other, not uncommon circumstances, holding back the bishops (deliberately or otherwise) might call for more patient development, while other means of activation could involve the sacrifice of one or more pawns. The sudden change in fortune of a hitherto dormant or average bishop can in itself alter the course of a game, while the transformation of a bishop pair can be extremely effective.

serves only to maximise the scope of Black's bishop. Note that ... £7-£5 undermines the defence of the dS-pawn but, at the same time, does Black no favours as far as the dark squares are concerned (erecting a barrier on f6 is no longer possible). With this dark square bonus and his bishop pair in mind White judged that his positional plus outweighed the (modest) material cost of the dS-pawn.

Vaisser-Dvoretsky

Kiev 1970 In the diagram position Black has parted with his dark-squared bishop and White's queen is already potentially well placed on the a1-h8 diagonal. However, there is currendy th~ matter of the dSpawn, which is under threat. Protecting the pawn costs what might be an im.: portant tempo, while trading on e6

86

1 b4!7 exd5 2 .i.b2 11f7 Now 3 11d1 dxc4 4 .i.xc4 d5 5 0-0 c6 6 b5 was played, and this time

Bishops at Work

it is the defence of a black d5-pawn that is being undermined. 6 ... c5 7 i.xd5 i.xd5 8 'ii'e5 sees White restore material parity with the dominant minor piece, so the game continued 6 ... cxb5 7 .i.xb5 .!iJd7 8 f3 ]:tc8 9 'i'd4 with compensation for White in the form of the two bishops, superiority on the dark squares and better structure. Of course a pawn is a pawn but, being so vulnerable on the dark squares, it is clear that the points score has little relevance here. Since this game there has been a suggested improvement for White, namely 3 O-O-O! - again the rook comes to d 1 with the threat of capturing on d5, but there is a difference in that White's rooks can be more rapidly connected. The point is that after 3... dxc4 4 i.xc4 d5 5 b5!? we reach the following position:

The idea is to exploit the new-found friendship of White's rooks with the threat of 6 ':xd5 i.xd5 7 ':d 1, when Black is under pressure on the a2-g8 and al-h8 diagonals. Not surprisingly this has been assessed as clearly better for White, although 5... c6 6 bxc6 i.xc6 7 lhd5 i.xd5 8 ':dllbd7 9 ':xd5 ~h8 10 ':xfS ':e7 does not look too bad for

Black. Nevertheless these variations do demonstrate how we can make the most of an 'extra' bishop through the sacrifice of a pawn. Remember, also, that a by-product of such a policy tends to be that the bishop pair assumes greater significance. Diagonal Clearance Solozhenkin-Drei

Reggio Emilia 2000

Black has just played ... a6-a5, no doubt directed against b2-b4 as well as seeking to accentuate Black's would-be control of the dark squares - particularly after a subsequent ... b7-b6. Of course White does not want his bishop to be hindered by his own pawns, hence his next. 18 c5!? Prompted by Black's own action on the queenside, White strikes first, judging that the sacrifice of the d5-pawn will pay dividends in the near future ~anks to the greater scope of his bishop. 18 ....!iJexd5 18... lbfxd5 19 'ii'b3 a4 20 'ii'c4 lbf6 transposes to the game continuation .. 19 'i'b3 87

Understanding the Sacrifice

. The point. The queen works with the bishop to exert pressure on b7. 19 ... 84 19.)t:Jb4 20 ttJxb4 axb4 21 'ii'xb4 d5 might be okay for Black, but 21 cxd6 'ii'xd6 22 i.xb7 leaves White with the superior minor piece. 20 'ii'c4 0,e7 The tricky 20 ... b5? backfires after 21 'ii'd4, when Black has helped maximise the power of his opponent's bishop. 21 cxd6 21 'ii'f4?! ':fd8 looks fine for Black. 21 ...'ii'xd6 22 :fd1

The removal of three centre pawns has done away with Black's plans to engineer a positional advantage based on control of the dark squares and fixing White's pawns on the same colour complex as the bishop. In fact the bishop is now the strongest minor piece on the board and, with Black's queenside pawns quite vulnerable, White (also with aggressively posted rooks) has sufficient compensation. 22 ...':'fc8 23 0,c5 'ii'b6 After 23 ...'ii'b8!? 24 'ii'b5 White anyway gangs up on the b7-pawn. 24 a3 'ii'a7? Black fails to appreciate the weakness 88

of his back rank. 24 ... 'ii'xb2 25 i.xb7 ':xc5 (25 ...'ii'xb7 26 ttJxb7 ':xc4 27 ':xc4) 26 i.xa8! would be a nice finish to White's positional sacrifice, the bishop travelling the full distance to win the game. Black's best is 24... ':ab8! 25 . ttJxa4 'ii'a5 with a slight pull for White' thanks to his more active pieces, not least the bishop. The text should have met with the same fate as ...'ii'xb2, namely 25 i.xb7! ':xc5 (25 ... 'i'xb7 26 ttJxb7 ':xc4 27 ':xc4) 26 i.xa8! etc (26 ... ':xc427 ':d8+), but instead White played: 25 'ii'b4?! Although after... 25 ...:ab8 26 0,d7! ... White was still on his way to victory. The game ended: 26 ... 0,xd7 26 ... ':xc1 27 ttJxf6+ gxf6 28 ':xc1 ttJg6 29 ':c7 is a lesser evil, if very unpleasant for Black. 27 ':'xc8 + ':'xc8 27 ...ttJxc8 28 l:txd7 ttJb6 29 'i'd4!. 28 'ii'xe7 ':'c2 28 ... ttJf8 29 i.d5 h8 30 'ii'xf7 ttJg6 31 'i'xg6! hxg6 32 g2. 29 :d4! 0,f8 29 ... 'ii'xd4 30 'i'd8+ ttJf8 31 'i'xd4. 30 ':'f4 1-0 A surprisingly simple demonstration of diagonal clearance. White would have had a slight edge after correct play from Black but, practically, the sacrifice had the bonus of putting Black under considerable pressure. This is an important feature of White's strategy, whose principal aim was to reverse the potential positional roles by denying Black the

Bishops at Work

desired dark-square bind in favour of activity on the long diagonal. In the next example we see both sides seeking to clear away the obstacles that impede bishops. Wang ZiIi-Dreev

5th Tan Chin Nam Cup 1999

22 ... i..d7? can now be met with 23 ~b6, when 23 ... .:tad8 24 ~xd7 .:txd7 25 i..xfS is decisive thanks to White's hitherto unemployed bishop. However, part of the game is frustrating your opponent's plans, and this often leads to finding a good one of your own in the process. Consequently Black's next is a good practical decision. 22 ... e4!

Simultaneously denying White's bishop the desired freedom while providing the d6-bishop with possible inroads into White's half of the board. 23 fxe4 f4!

White's knights have been given blockading duty on the queenside, although they have also teamed up to keep Black's dark-squared bishop busy in the defence of c5. Of course Black would like to make his presence felt on the dark squares and White has similar ambitions on the other colour complex but, at the moment, the bishops lack breathing space. This situation soon changed. White's most automatic reaction here is to try to prise open the b 1h7 diagonal with 21 g4, but after 21 ... i..d7 22 ~d2 b3!? 23 axb3 ~b4 24 'ii'c3 ~xd3 25 'ii'xd3 .:tab8 Black seems to be making progress. With this in mind White came up with a clever dualpurpose sacrifice.

Two can play at this game! White's initial sacrifice was designed to nip Black's potential queenside counterplay in the bud in order to enjoy an initiative on the other flank created by the opening of the b1-h7 diagonal. Now, however, Black's counter-sacrifice keeps the diagonal in question closed while taking over' ownership of the important e5square! White's next should not be too difficult to find ...

21 d61 .i.xd6 22 g4

24 e5!

The point of White's opener is that the capture on d6 has forced Black to take his eye off the b6-square, so that

White will not be outdone in the pawn sacrificing stakes. 24 ....i.xe5 25 .i.xh7 + ..ti>h8

89

Understanding-the Sacrifice

pawn, although -there is still much work to be done.

For some reason White now played 26 iUS?!, which abandons the strategy altogether and even failed to give White enough in the ending that followed 26 ... i.xfS 27' ...~f5 "'xfS+ 28 gxfS l:ad8 29 "Llaxc5 lDxc5 30 "Llxc5 ltxdl + 31 lhdl f3 32 lift i.d4 33 "Lld3 lte3 34 ..t>c2 ..t>g7 35 c5 ct>f6 36 c6 i.b6 etc. In fact Black, -with a flexible bishop, eventually won the game. Instead 26 .i.e41 is _the logical and very strong culmination of White's play thus far, exploiting the fact that the initial sacrifice of the d-pawn cleared the h 1-a8 diagonal.

A fan of the hypermodern approach involving a fianchetto or two, over the years I have found the presence of a bishop on g2 and g7 to be quite reassuring. It is not unusual to be given (or to create oneself) the opportunity to capture a rook in 'the opposite corner during the opening or early middlegame phase and, despite the gain in material terms, such a trade can quite easily lead to difficulties. The following game is a typical example.

Tregubov-Aseev Russian Championship 2000 1 d4 ~f6 2 c4 e6 3 ~f3 b6 4 g3 i..a6 5 ~bd2 c5 6 i..g2 ~c6 7 ~e5

Seeking to exploit the pin on the long diagonal, this advance is given a 'I?' by the talented young theoretician Gershon ofIsrael. 7 ... ~xd4

After 26 ...:a7 27 ~bxc5 ~xc5 28 ~xc5 i..d4 29 ~b3 .i.e3 30 :d5 Black does not have enough for the 90

Continuing the discussion (with himself), Gershon also likes Black's sacrifice. 8 e3

Bishops at Work

With Black's last move netting a pawn, White obviously has little choice but to take the rook, the only decision being whether to fIrst evict the knight from d4. In Vladimirov-Dautov, Frunze 1988 White postponed such action, the game continuing 8 i.xa8 'ii'xa8 9 0-0 i.e7 10 b3 d6 11lLle£3lLlx£3+ 12lLlx£3 'i'c6 13 i.b2 i.b7 14 h3 0-0 15 'i'c2 lLle4 16 'It,lh2 f5

With a goo,d bishop and centre pawn for the rook, Black's influence on the h 1-a8 diagonal combined with his knight and control of key centre squares should be enough for a slight advantage. After 17 %lad1 g5! Black was ready to rid his opponent of what control he had left of the h1-a8 diagonal. Note that the thrust of the g7-pawn opens the other long diagonal for White's remaining bishop, but this factor cannot realistically be exploited. In fact 18 'ilc1 ltf7 19 'ife3 g4 20 lLle1 i.g5 21 f4 (21 'ifd3 lLlxf2 and 22 llxf2 allows the thematic culmination of Black's exchange sacrifIce with a mate on h1) 21...gx£3 22 'i'x£3 lLld2 23 'ili'xc6 lLlxfl + 24 'It,lg1 i.xc6 left Black with a clear lead. The text deals with Black's knight but at the cost of further weakening the

light squares. S ...lDf5 9 "a4!? Gaining an important tempo and improving on 9 i.xa8 'ili'xa8 10 0-0 i.d6 11 lLle£3 h5 (again 11...'ilc6!?, followed by dropping the bishop back to b7, looks sensible) 12 %lel lLle4 13 lLlxe4 'ili'xe4 14 lLld2 'ili'c6 15 b3 h4 16 'iIi'£3 hxg3 17 hxg3 i.b7 18 'ili'xc6 .txc6 19 e4lLld4, which favoured Black in Hertneck-Dautov, Bad Wiessee 1997. With pretty ineffectual rooks White offered to return the exchange with 20 i.b2, but after 20 ...lLlc2 21 i.xg7 :h7 22 i.f6 %lh6 23 .tg7 %lh7 24 i.f6 lLlxa1! 25 .txa1 f5 the problems on the light squares continued. 9 .....cS 10 .i.xaS "xaS 11 :g1

The idea behind White's 9 "a4 is to castle queenside, when Black's dominance of the long diagonal will be less significant. 11 ....i.cS A necessary defensive retreat in view of 11.. ..tb7 12 g4 (threatening to highlight the weakness of d7 with g4-g5) 12...'iIi'b8 13 gxfS 'i'xe5 14 'ilxa7, when White is on the offensive. 12 b3 lDe4 13 .i.b2 13 lLlxe4 'ili'xe4 embarrasses the 91

Understanding the Sacrifice

knight, so White allows his king to be inconvenienced. 13 ... ttJxd2 14 ~xd2 f6 Believe it or not this was a new move at the time of the game! It is time to concentrate on the light squares, for which Black originally parted with his rook. 1 5 ttJd3 ~b 7 16 :ad 1 ~c6 16 ... J.f3!? 17 l:.del J.c6 18 'ii'a6 is also possible, the decision being based on where Black prefers his bishop. 17 "a6 ~f3

Neither White's king nor queen are where we would have expected them to be by now, but the occupation of the h 1-a8 diagonal is exactly what Black has been working toward since calling White's bluff with °7 ...llJxd4. The text highlights the plight of White's rooks which - for the moment - show no sign of ftnding a way into the game. Meanwhile Black has an extra centre pawn, decent pieces and no real weaknesses. 18 :de1 ~e7 19 '1fi>c1 0-0 With his queen wonderfully placed in the corner Black has 'now completed his development. White's rooks are both being monitored by the bishop on f3 and his queen now seems out on a limb

92

over on a6, too far from the kingside, where White would like to generate an attack but where Black is well in control. 20 ttJf4? Understandably at a loss for something to do, although bringing the queen back into the fold with 20 'ii'a3 followed by J.c3 and 'ii'b2 makes sense. 20 ... ttJd6 21 g4 ttJe4 Black nelps himself to another juicy square on the long diagonal. 22 ttJd3 ~d6 23 h4 ~h2 Teasing the rooks with the prospect of an inevitable capture. 24 :gf1 ~g2 °

It is nice - after sacriftcing the exchange - to see rooks being dominated in such a fashion by a pair of bishops! 25 f4

Much worse for White is 25 f3 J.xfl 26 l:.xfl llJg3 27 l:.£2 (27 l:.el 'ii'xf3) 27 ...J.g1 28 l:.g2 'ii'xf3 etc. 25 ... ~g3 25 ... J.xfl 26 l:.xfl d5 clearly favours Black, but the text is loyal to the mighty light-squared bishop. 26 :g1 26 l:.d1 J.xfl 27 l:.xfl J.xh4. 26 ... ttJf2! 27 ttJxf2 ~xf2 28 ~c3

Bishops at Work

Here Black - inexplicably - presented his opponent with the opportunity of exchanging queens, although. after 28 .. :ii'b7? 29 'ii'xb7 .txb7 30 gS .txel 31 ':xel fxgS 32 hxgS .te4!, with an extra pawn, the better bishop and ... d7dS coming, Black was in charge. Instead 2S ... i.xe1 29 ':'xe1 "iWe4! is a big improvement, cashing in while maintaining the positional superiority afforded by the long diagonal, not forgetting White's terribly isolated queen. The point is that 30 'ii'xa7 'ii'd3 spells the end for White, e.g. 31 ~b2 .i.e4 etc. Meanwhile 30 "iWa3 d5 31 exd5 exd5 leaves Black with a decisive advantage. I t is interesting to note that from the moment White's light-squared bishop left the board the hl-a8 diagonal played an increasingly significant role throughout the game, culminating in the possible 'finish', above, where Black's queen takes centre stage on e4. By concentrating on the long diagonal Black was able to reduce his opponent to utter passivity. In the previous example we saw an exchange sacrifice earn Black a slowly developing initiative thanks to a powerful bishop posted on a key diagonal. Next we come to another common positional sacrifice of rook for bishop, this time the aim being to nip an attack in the bud as well as to create a 'shut-out' of enemy forces. Herrera-Dominguez Guillermo Garcia Premier (II) 2000

I t is not difficult to see that White has been busy trying to attack on the

kingside, the result being a positional inferiority on the other flank. Black exploited this with a sacrifice designed to alleviate the pressure.

24 ...i.e5! The most secure square available to the bishop is also the best, and acceptance of the offer by White will leave the bishop unopposed. After 25 i.xfS ':'xfS 26 "iWh6 f6 27 ':'h3 "iWg7 Black's offer to trade queens was fully justified. White's hopes of an attack have disappeared with the defence of h 7, and there is nothing left to target in Black's camp, the knight being almost as impressive as the all-seeing bishop on eS. As is often the case we should concentrate on the influence of Black's bishop on both sides of the board rather than the exchange sacrifice required to elevate its status. The game continued 2S "iWxg7 + ~xg7 29 ~g2 ':'eS 30 ':'b1 ':'e7 31 ':'e3 ltJd7 32 i.d3 ~S 33 ':'h3 ltJe5 34 i.e2 ~g7 35 ':'e3 ltJd7 36 i.d3 ltJe5 ~ - ~ White's rooks can do nothing and Black's bishop is a match for anything. Notice how White's bishop, which looked so menacing when we joined the

93

Understanding the Sacrifice

game, has been demoted to 'bad' bishop - a positional factor that Black will have considered when inviting White to part company with his better Oong-term) bishop (and, in doing so, surrender the dark squares).

knight is ready to quickly hop into the particularly inviting eS-square, from where several sectors of the board can be monitored. White acted quickly... 1 e5!

Yet another example of the opponent's key plan pointing us in the right direction in the quest to fInd one of our own. By focusing on the eS-square White sets in motion the fIrst of a brilliant series of positional sacrifIces de.signed to transform the bishop from awkward bystander to game-winner. Now 1...fxeS 2 f6! 'i'xf6 3 'i'xg4+ h8 34 :gg4

39 ~fl leads to disaster for Black, e.g. 39 ... 'ifxd3+ 40 l:te2! 'ifxh3+ 41 ~xe1 'ifc3+ 42 l:ld2. Instead 37 ... 'iff8 is very good for Black. 37 ...'ii'f8 38 f4

38 ...i.c3

Not 38 ... liJxd3? 39 fxeS i.xe4+ 40 l:lxe4 liJf2+ 41 ~g2 liJxe4 42 'ifxe4 'ifg7+ 43 ~f3, when ~te's active king makes a crucial difference. However, 38... liJf3 39 'ifg3 liJd2, preparing to capture the rook with the knight rather than the bishop, keeps Black well on top as 40 fxeS 'iffl + is fInal in view of 41 'ifgl 'ifxh3+ 42 'ifh2 'ifxg4 43 'ifxd2 i.xe4+ 44 dxe4 'ifxe4+ or 41 34 ...ltJf3

The immediate 34... 'ii'f7! seems very strong, leaving f3 available for the queen. 35 'ii'h6 'ii'f7 3S ... liJxh2 looks tempting but after 36 l:lgf4!! i.xf4 37 'ii'xf4 i.xe4+ 38 dxe4liJfl 39 ~gl the knight falls. 36 h3 ltJe1 37 'ii'h4 37 'ifgS 'iff3+ 38 ~gl i.h2+ could go either way, depending on ~te's response. Black wins after 39 ~xh2? 'ii'xf2+ 40 ~hl 'iffl + in view of 41 ~h2 liJf3+ or 41 l:lgl 'ifxh3 mate, but 112

~h2liJf3+. 39 'ii'g3 ltJc2 40 ~h2 ltJd4?!

40 ... i.xe4 41 dxe4 i.d4 is clearly better for Black. 41 'ii'e3 i.xe4 Both 41...i.d2?? 42 l:le8 and 4L.liJfS?? 42 l:le8 deservedly backfIre. 42 'ii'xe4 Y.z. Y.z Here - for some reason - a draw was agreed. After all Black's hard work he might as well have continued with 42 ... liJfS with at least an edge. The natural 43 l:lg2?!, for instance, meets with 43 ... dS!! (found by Badea), the point

The Exchange Sacrifice

being th1t 44 cxd5 White's broken pawns.

tiJd6 exploits

The desire to deny our opponents a smooth exehS 23 lbfl + ~gS 24 lbd6+ ~hS 25 114

Ftacnik-Rozentalis Bundesliga 1999 During the last few moves White has

The Exchange Sacrifice

been stepping up the pace on the kingside, where Black's knights look rather ill at ease. However, after Black's next 'spoiling' move the advance of White's pawns holds considerably less venom.

28 .. Jld4!1 Whether this sacrifice is accepted or not takes nothing away from the effectiveness of this excellent counterattacking response. 29 i.xd4 White should avoid 29 hS ii.xf3 30 l::txf3 lbxeS 31 l1e3 lbgS!? 32 ii.xd4 ':xd4

In return for the exchange Black has a pawn and phoenix-like knights that can both enjoy the game from excellent outposts (note that eS is protected

thanks to the fork on f3). Meanwhile the dark squares are a potential problem for White, and the remaining bishop is awful. Another, more tenable option for White is 29lbd2 "ile7 30 ii.xd4 cxd4 31 l1e2 lbxh4, when Black has obvious compensation, if not the clear advantage afforded him in the previous diagram position. Ftacnik takes the expected route. 29 ... cxd4 30 .l:le2 i.xf3 31 'ii'xf3 ttJxh4! 31 ...lbxeS? is different here because the gS-square is not available to the other knight after the pin with 32 "ilg3. In fact after 32... f6 33 gS! the position opens up in White's favour. After the text White's kingside play comes to a standstill. 32 'ii'g3 ttJg5!

The knights are untouchable and the bishop is poor. Again we see how comfortably minor pieces are able to contain rooks. We joined the game at a point where Black was in danger of being over-run on the kingside and in need of an effective resource, which is what he found in ...:d4. However, although the mission has been accomplished and. Black is now quite safe, he is not in a 115

Understanding the Sacrifice

position to reverse roles and put White tinder pressure. There followed 33 1If1 ttJg6 34 .i.g2 ttJf8 when Black was indeed attempting to assume the advantage by sending his knight to cS via d7.

Portisch-Chiburdanidze Cancan Veterans-Women 1998

29 ... d4!?

White responded by monitoring the d4-pawn with 35 llf4!, when 3S ... 'i'cs 36 'i'el introduces the possibility of 'i'b4. Consequently 35 ... ttJg6 36 l:tf1 ttJf8 37 llf4 ttJg6 saw a stand-off that prompted the players to agree a draw. Rooks, of course, operate best when there is one or more open line on which to work, and they are at their least effective when the situation is generally cramped. During the middlegame in particular it is' not unusual to see a territorial advantage being exploited by an exchange sacrifice designed to earn even more space and, consequently, further reduce the influence of the enemy rooks, thus creating a platform for more versatile minor pieces or a wall of pawns. Watch how Chiburdanidze is so insistent on adopting such a policy that she sends her rook on a suicide mission through sniper fire and into the heart of enemy territory... 116

Black begins by exploiting one of her opponent's positional weaknesses - the vulnerability of the g I-a7 diagonal. 30 .i.a5 l:td5! Black's forces are better placed and she has much more space, so she !turns down the likely draw resulting from 30.. J::td6 31 llJc4 l';Id7 32 llJeS :d6 in favour of an interesting rook sortie. 31 f4l:txe5 32 .i.xb7 The alternative route is 32 fxeS i.xg2 33 d2 i.c4 54 ....e7 a4 55 "'a7 i.b3 56 'ito>c1 tZ)xd5 57 "'a5 tZ)xf4 58 "'d2 tZ)e6 59 ~b2 d5 60 "'g2 + 'ito>f6 61 "'e2 d4 62 ~a1 c4 63 "'d2 c3 64 "'c1 tZ)c5 65 "g1 tZ)e6 66 "'c1 'iit>e7 67 "g1 ~d6 68 "'g3 + tZ)e5 69 "'e1 tZ)c5 70 "g1 i.d5 71 'ito>b1 d3 72 "'e3 c2+ 73 'iit>b2 tZ)c4 + 0-1

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