How to Think in Chess

August 4, 2017 | Author: Ahthos Arouriss | Category: Chess, Chess Theory, Game Theory, Traditional Games, Abstract Strategy Games
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Copyright © 1998 Daniel King and Chris Duncan First published 1998 by Cadogan Books pic, 27-29 Berwick St., London W1 V 3RF Distributed in North America by The Globe Pequot Press, 6 Business Park Rd, P.O. Box 833, Old Saybrook, Connecticut 06475-0833, USA. 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, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 1 85744 135 4

Typeset by ChessSetter Printed in Great Britain by BPC Wheatons Ltd, Exeter

Contents Bibliography Preface Introd uction 1 First Steps 2 Tactics and Combinations 3 How to Calculate 4 Positional Play and Planning 5 How to Win Won Positions 6 Practical Play

7 Endings

6 8 9 25 47 65 85 116 137 169

Bibliography M.M. Botvinnik: analysis and critical work 1942-56 M.M. Botvinnik (Moscow Fizkultura I Sport 1985)

Chess Coaching John Littlewood (Crowood 1991) Chessercizes Bruce Pandolfini (Fireside 1991) Chess for Tigers Simon Webb (Cadogan 1994) Chess Tactics Paul Littlewood (Crowood 1993) Chess Tactics for Advanced Players Yuri Averbakh (Batsford 1984) Combination Challenge Lou Hays (Hays 1991) The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov K.J. O'Connell, D.N.L. Levy, J.B. Adams (Batsford 1976)

Danger in Chess Amatzia Avni (Cadogan 1994) Dynamic Chess Strategy Mihai Suba (Pergamon 1991) The Fine Art of Swindling Ali Mortazavi (Cadogan 1996) From Morphy to Fischer Israel Horowitz (Batsford 1973) The Golden Dozen Irving Chernev (Oxford University Press 1976) A History of Chess Harry Golombek (Routledge 1976) How to Be a Complete Tournament Player Edmar Mednis (Maxwell Macmillan1991)

How to Win at Chess Daniel King (Cadogan 1995) Korchnoi vs. Spassky: Chess Crisis Raymond Keene (Allen and Unwin1978)

Logical Chess (Move by Move) Irving Chernev (Faber 1981) Mastering Chess G. Chandler, Kopec, Morrison, Davies and Mullen (Cadogan 1994)

My Best Games ofChess 1924-37 Alexander Alekhine (Bell1939) My Sixty Memorable Games Robert Fischer (Batsford 1996) My System Aaron Nimzowitsch (Hays 1993) Pawn Endings Y. Averbakh and I. Maizelis (Batsford 1974) Play Like a Grandmaster Alexander Kotov (Batsford 1990) Praxis der Turmendspiele Viktor Korchnoi (Olms 1995) CJS Purdy, His Life, His Games and His Writings J. Hammond and R. Jamieson 1982 Rook Endings G. Levenfish and V. Smyslov (Batsford 1971) Technique for the Tournament Player Mark Dvoretsky and Artur Yusupov (Batsford 1995)

Test Your Tactical Ability Yakov Neishtadt (Batsford 1991) Think Like a Grandmaster Alexander Kotov (Batsford 1971)

Bibliography Three Steps to Chess Mastery Alexei Suetin (Pergamon 1982) Winning Chess Tactics Yasser Seirawan (Microsoft 1995) World Chess Championship 1995: Kasparov-Anand Daniel King (Cadogan 1995)

Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953 David Bronstein (Dover 1978)


Preface Have you spent years playing chess but still can't seem to make any progress? Or perhaps you are just starting out and aren't sure which of the hundreds of chess books is the best to study? Then you are at the right place. This is a no-nonsense guide to how you can improve your chess. In this book we aim to set players on the correct learning path, ex­ plaining how and what to study. By careful examination of our own play we have sought to iden­ tify the skills needed to become a chess master. To help us do this we have each analysed one of our own games, which we give in the introduction which follows. This turned out to be a revealing exer­ cise for both of us- it opened our eyes to techniques that we were commonly using, but had never really appreciated.

Having identified the different skills that we use during a game, we have then examined each of them in the following chapters. Examples and exercises are given in order to test you on these skills, as well as some advice as to where to find further study material. We are not trying to fool you into thinking that reading this book will turn you into a stronger player overnight. Studying chess is a little like studying a musical instrument: only by constant prac­ tice will you be able to develop; but this book will at least show you the best way in which to make use of your study time. There is great mystique sur­ rounding what it takes to become a leading chess player. This book lets you into those secrets so that you will be able to choose the right move.

Introduction To help us identify the skills of a chess master, we have both anno­ tated one of our games, without too much hindsight, giving the reasons why we played the moves, und our thoughts at the time. Us­ ing these thoughts as a basis, we have broken down our play into Heveral essential elements.

King-Ernst Gausdal 1993 1 g3 My (DK) opponent, Thomas Ernst from Sweden, has a fear­ some reputation as an openings specialist. When he is not re­ searching the purest of pure mathematics at the Royal Acad­ emy of Sciences in Stockholm, he is back home relaxing in his apartment, refuting the Najdorf, reviving the Dragon, burying the Archangel, or discovering assorted stunning novelties in the Griin­ feld. Would it be sensible to risk my favourite first move 1 e4 against such a player? Surely, if I had enough faith in my abilities, then I would rise to the challenge, play 1 e4 and then improvise my way through his web of home analysis. Yes, that's the spirit that made Britain 'Great'; somehow we'll battle through against adversity,

never surrender, fight them on the beaches and all that. Don't be daft. If your opponent has a strength, avoid it. Lure him onto territory that's familiar to you, but not to him. Hence my choice of first move. I have some experience in play­ ing systems with a kingside fian­ chetto (g3 and .i.g2), so even if I don't have reams of variations in my head backing up the move, I should be able to get out of the opening with my head still on my shoulders. 1 g3 is my equivalent of the slice serve in tennis: it's not going to blow him away, but it's more dangerous than it looks. l. c5 First blood to me. Tommy took five minutes over this move, and looked distinctly crestfallen that I wasn't going to take him on in one of his main lines. 2 .i.g2 ttJc6 From this position White may employ several different set-ups (flexibility is the main asset of the fianchetto system). 3 c4 is prob­ ably the most orthodox, and cer­ tainly the most common, move in the position and I've played it a few times; the problem was, I had a feeling my opponent knew much more about it than I did. In any case, today I preferred to attack. I thought it was too ..


Choose the Right Move

dangerous to hand over the initia­ tive to an opponent who has justly earned the sobriquet Tommy 'the Hitman' Ernst. 3 e4 e5 4 d3 g6 5 f4 .i.g7 6 lLlf3 d6 7 0-0 lLlge7 8 c3 This is a slightly unusual move that I had already seen a couple of times in similar positions, but had never played before this game. The more usual move here is 8 lLlc3, when the game has trans­ posed to a fairly standard Closed Sicilian type position. I don't wish to go into the relative merits of the two systems. I chose to play 8 c3 entirely on the grounds that I mentioned before: in order to reach a position that was unfamiliar to my opponent, even if it meant that it wasn't altogether familiar to me. 8 0-0 9 lLla3 A strange square for the knight? Not really. It may end up moving to c4 or b5 to attack the d6 pawn; and besides, having played c3, where else am I going to develop it to? . Even though Black's position is quite satisfactory, Ernst looked worried. He spent twenty min­ utes ruminating before playing ... 9 b6 (D) A blunder. ...


10 f51 I'd seen and played this kind of sacrifice several times before, so I knew what I was getting into. For instance, in the second diagram on the right:

Aarland-King Stavanger 1989 12 ...f4! 13 gxf4 exf4 14 .i.xf4 lLlg6 15 .i.g3 lLlh5 16 h4 lLlhf4 ... with a strong attack, or, a line from the Leningrad Dutch: 1 d4 f5 2 g3 lLlf6 3 .i.g2 g6 4 lLlf 3 .i.g7 5 0-0 0-0 6 c4 d6 7 lLlc3 lLlc6 8 d5 lLle5 9 lLlxe5 dxe5 10 e4 f4!

10 gxf5 ...

If Black leaves the pawn on f5, then White plays g4, and Black



will always be in danger on the kingside. lllllli4

I played this move fairly quickly.

I was happy if Black continued

ll. ..fxe4 12 dxe4, but I stopped just long enough to consider the consequences of 1 l . . .f4. As well us 12 gxf4 lDg6 13 lLlf5 ! , there is 12 'ii'h5!?, both of which keep con­ trol over the f5 square. It turned out afterwards that Ernst had been wrapped up in calculating 11 tLlg5 !? He reeled off some long and complicated variations with­ out coming to any conclusion. They were quite interesting, but totally irrelevant: 1 1 lLlh4 is the most logical move in the position, fighting for control of the crucial f5 square. I didn't even consider 11 tLlg5. ll fxe4 12 dxe4 This is exactly the position I'd been aiming for. For the small material investment, White has tremendous positional compensa­ tion: the f5 square is available for the white knight; White's rook is situated on the open f-file; Black's king is slightly exposed; the pawn on d6 is backward and exposed; and the d5 square is weakened. All for a pawn. Already I had in my mind's eye such a position (see diagram at top of next column): This is what Heaven or, if you end up with the black pieces, Hell will look like. Black would have to play fairly ineptly to allow such a

position, but it's good to have a goal in mind. See Chapter 4. Having thought through in gen­ eral terms what my plan was to be (occupation of the d5 and f5 squares combined with a kingside attack) I got down to specifics while my opponent was thinking.


First of all, I dealt with Black's most radical freeing move, 12 . . . f5; this gives back the pawn, but pre­ vents White from using the f5 square. 13 lLlxf5 looks the most


Choose the Right Move

sensible reply, and if 13 . . . lDxf5 14 exf5, when Black has tremendous problems now that the line of the bishop on g2 has been opened, e.g. 14 . . . �b7 15 lDb5 ! and the d-pawn falls. 13 . . . i.xf5 14 exf5 d5 !? is a better try, but then I could either attempt a pawn roller on the king­ side with 15 g4, or break up Black's centre with 15 c4. Enough on this . I have two satisfactory continuations to choose from if he goes for 12 . . . f5. 12 . . . �e6 is the most obvious move in the position, but it oc­ curred to me that 13 lDf5 would cause Black tremendous prob­ lems. 13 . . . lDxf5 14 exf5 .td7 15 'ii'xd6 is out of the question; and if 13 . . . �xf5 14 exf5, Black has diffi­ culty meeting the threat off6, for if 14 . . . f6, then 15 �xc6 lDxc6 16 'ii'd 5 + 'iL>h8 17 'ii'xc6, wins a piece. The only move to keep going is 14 . . . �f6, but then 15 g4 sets a le­ thal kingside attack in train: 15 . . . d5 16 g5 �h8 1 7 'ii' h 5, with the simple but effective plan of l:.f3-h3 delivering checkmate. Having seen this line, I began to feel optimistic. If Black's most natural developing move isn't vi­ able, then he must be in trouble. 12 ...�a6 Preventing the knight on a3 from entering the game via b5 or c4, but taking away some of the protection from the f5 square. 13 l:lf2

Not much doubt about that one. I want to keep the rook on the

f-file; on f3 it blocks all my pieces; and getting flash with 13 l:t£5 seemed unnecessary, as it doesn't even need to be taken. 13 ...'ii'c7 14 lDc2 Remember my dream of the knights on f5 and d5? With this move I get one step closer. 14 ... i.c4 15 lDe3 i.e6

The bishop arrives at e6 any­ way, but via a strangely circuitous route. Shifting the knight from a3 to e3 took me little time and calcula­ tion. It is obviously a wonderful square, but it was at this moment that I paused for reflection. I had the feeling that I was already close to winning, and I wanted to find the most precise continuation.

I have three attractive ideas: 1. Playing a knight to f5. 2. Playing a knight to d5. 3. Playing the queen to h5 (put­ ting off making a decision with the knights!).

Introduction The positions after 16 tDef5 ap­ l"'ured attractive, but I was first druwn to the consequences of 16 li\d5 as the lines were so forcing. 'l'nking with the knight loses a pioce, and if 16 . . . i.xd5 1 7 exd5 ti \d8 18 i.e4!, followed by 'ii'h 5, the ut.tack is irresistible . (Note how important it is to make sure that llluck is unable to play . . . f5 in these positions.) So Black must play 16 . . . 'ii'd 7 in­ HI.ead of capturing, but then I have I 7 tiJf6 + i.xf6 18 l:txf6, knocking out the king's most important de­ fo nder, the bishop on g7. This looked like the business. Just one thing to check: is it possible to drive the rook from f6 by 18 . . . 'it>g7? No. 1 9 'ii' h 5 is a simple reply (if 19 .. 'it>xf6 then 20 'ii'g5 mate) and if' 19 . . . tiJg8, 20 l:th6 wins simply. I hardly bothered looking at the other moves: this seemed by far the clearest continuation of the nttack. 16 ttJd5 'ii'd 7 17 tiJf6 + i.xf6 18 :.xf6 �h8 .


Everything according to plan. Now it was time to take stock again. I had already realised that 18 . . . �h8 followed by . . .tiJg8 would be Black's only chance to defend, and had intended to meet the knight retreat by i.g5 . However I now saw that my intended 19 'ii'h5 tiJg8 20 i.g5 actually allows my queen to be trapped by 20 . . . i.g4! Under no circumstances did I want to retreat my rook; after . . . tiJg8 I wanted to keep Black on the defensive. So I came up with another idea . . . 19 tiJf5 If 19 . . . i.xf5, 20 l:txd6 recovers the pawn with a good position (he should probably play this, though). 19 ...tiJg8 20 i. g5 Now I'm back on track. Mate is swift if the rook is captured: 20 . . tDxf6 2 1 i.xf6+ �g8 22 tDh6 or 22 'ii'g4 ; and with the rook em­ bedded on f6, Black's forces will not be able to come to the aid of their king. 20 ....1:lad8 2 1 'ii'h5 ttJce7 .

Choose the Right Move


The time has come to look for the kill. From this moment on it ought to be possible to calculate through to the finish. The first move I considered was 22 :h6. 22 . . . �h6 23 .tf6+ mates, so Black's only way to defend h 7 is 22 . . . .txf5 23 exf5 'ti'xf5, but then I couldn't see a way to deflect Black's queen from defending the h-pawn. I might well have gone for this ifl had seen nothing else. I have a sneaking suspicion that White has a way to win this posi­ tion but I saw a clear cut way to finish off the game. See Chapter 3 for a full discussion of this skill. 22 �e7! 'ifxe7 If instead 22 . . . tbxe7 23 l:lh6, and the h-pawn drops. 2 3 llafi Simple but effective. The rook is maintained on f6. (Incidentally, 23 llh6 would have been a mis­ take as 23 . . . f6 saves.) 2 3 :de8 24 .th3 ! •••

Black has no defence. The threat is .txe6 followed by llxf'S. If Black continues 24 . . . .txa2, then 25 .tf5 wins. 24 .txh3 25 llxf7 Ibd7 26 .:xf7 "ifixf7 27 'ii'xf7 :ea .••

Now I have a winning position: a queen is stronger than a rook and minor piece, especially when, as here, the queen has lots of tar­ gets. Compared with the rest of the traffic on the chessboard, the queen is like a guided missile with a nuclear warhead. But the game must still be fin­ ished off. The secret of good tech­ nique is good calculation. Here, for instance, it looks at first glance as though White may play 28 'ifh5, winning the bishop on h3, but Black defends with 28 . . Jig6. The second move that I consid­ ered was 28 'ifxa 7. Why not take some pawns? I was sure this posi­ tion was winning, but I was a lit­ tle uneasy about playing like this,

Introduction Why? Because of my king. Let me show you this position, and you will understand what I mean:

Hamed - Short Subotica Interzonal 1987 There was a keen fight for the

•JIIItlifying places at the top of the

tournament and Nigel needed to wlu this game. However, trying a lelll.uu h ard, the game had turned "M"IuHt him. The Russian contin­ wuul., do li gh ted that a rival was �euluw down to the tournament ll\ll�:111dor, lin ed up in the front 1 uw of tho auditorium to gloat. Wllll.c' huH a winning position. tlltwk c•n11 do nothing at all: he is 1 ''''"'''•ell.o pus hin g his queenside ''"w""' up tho bo ard; but instead ul 111111 pnying atten tion to the po­ llllluu of hiH king, he got greedy: 1111 l11hrl ( not fatal, but the calm 1111 *,c:.t would have been better) IHI t .. u :S4 .J:b6?? (poor chap; lfattllltl, l'rom Egypt, had had a


rotten tournament, and this could have been his moment of glory) 34 . . . �h3 (with much shaking of heads and eyes rolling skywards, the Russians filed out of the hall as soon as this move appeared. There was no need to stay for the end of the game. White has no satisfactory method of defending against the mate on fl) 35 .J:b8 lhb8 36 0.f7 + 'ifxf7 37 'ile5 + 'iifg8 38 1i'xb8 + ri;g7 39 'ife5 + 'iifh6 and White resigned. Witnessing such an incident makes a strong impression. Re­ turning to the game, take another look at the position of my king. I know the rook can't get to the f­ flle immediately, but it still seemed to me that my best policy would be to remove my king from the po­ tential mating net. See Chapter 5 for more practical tips. 28 'it>f2! l:g6 29 �d8 a6 30 �e3! This is the other reason for moving the king out: the e-pawn is defended.

Choose the Right Move


30 b5 31 'ii' f 8l This is more to the point than chasing after the queenside pawns. As well as pinning the knight and reducing the rook's mobility (it must take care of .i.f6), an attack on the centre pawns is threat­ ened. 3 1 . .i.g4 32 .i. e7 . . . and here Black resigned, as it is impossible to prevent 33 .ixd6 followed by 34 .ixe5, winning two more pawns, and at the same time starting a mating attack against Black's king. For me, that was not a very dif­ ficult game to play. I knew the opening much better than my op­ ponent, and the resulting attack was straight-forward and hardly original. It is curious, but in my first ever game against Ernst, in a junior tournament in 1979, I had won in a similar way: •••








King - Ernst Eeklo 1979



Don't the weaknesses on f5 and h5 look familiar? The kingside at­ tack is equally effective here: 13 'iti>h8 14 l:.ad1 ..t f8 15 'ii' f3 l:te6 16 lt:)f5 l:tc8 17 'ifh5 l:te8 18 l:td3 ..tf5 19 'iff5 .ig7 20 l:th3 h6 21 lt:)e3 l:te6 22 'ilfh5 1-0 By now you are probably begin­ ning to feel a bit sorry for poor old Tommy but please don 't; in the very next tournament after play­ ing the 1993 game, he thrashed me convincingly (but you don't get to see that one). •••

The next game was played be­ tween Keith Arkell and myself (Chris Duncan) during the Mid­ lands Championship, a gruelling tournament with six rounds in a weekend. Round 1 on Friday night finishes at 1 1 .00pm, then we pick ourselves out of bed on Saturday morning to start round 2 at 9.30am, grab a bite to eat before round 3 starts at 2.30pm and then hope to survive for round four at 7.30pm. If you're lucky you can be back in bed by midnight, but don't forget to be ready for round 5 at 9 .30am on Sunday morning, followed by the last round at 2 . 30pm. This punishing itinerary means that players really have to earn their prize money and goes by the name of 'the weekend cir­ cuit'. Often it can be more strenu­ ous than a week on an army survival camp. Anyhow, it was 7 .25pm on Sat­ urday evening and time for the

Introduction fourth round. I looked at the draw nnd thought 'What a nightmare,

( lrandmaster Arkell on a Satur­

clny night. I'll never make it to the

hur before closing time! ' (Keith Arkell is renowned for his boast of winning rook and bishop vs. mok eight times out of eight and nil from drawn positions!) Then I t.hought a bit longer. Keith Arkell iM a very strong positional and l.nchnical player, but his opening rnpertoire never seems to be that c·onvincing. I decided my best plan of action was a tactical opening with as much theory as possible. llunce my choice of this line of the '�uoen's Gambit Accepted.


drawing chances in the later stages, to which he responded, 'I've played that endgame before, it just looks like you have got drawing chances, but really you are lost.' 5 ...b5!

Arkell - Duncan Midlands Championship 1995 l d4 d5 2 c4 dxc4 3 e4 c5 4 d" ltJf6 5 lbc3 In our most recent encounter I

hnd blundered straight into my opponent's hands with 5 . . . e6. This IH not a bad move, but it is totally l.lw wrong plan against Keith Arkell. Within three moves (6 .t xc4 exd5 7 tLlxd5 tLlxd5 8 .i.xd5 .tn7) he was able to get the type of Hirnple position he excels in and ultimately I was ground down in a l'fHik and pawn endgame. I thought game was particularly boring, hut Keith gained what can only be dt,Hcribed as sadistic pleasure in l.orturing me throughout the end­ wume. After the game I told him lhnt I believed I had had some

This was my surprise weapon. At the time it was relatively new theory and I figured that Keith may not have looked sufficiently deeply into this variation. It is known as the Linares variation af­ ter a number of players employed it in the 1993 Linares super­ grandmaster tournament. In par­ ticular, Anand played a superb game against Gelfand. 6 e5 Just as I thought, Keith plays the old move. The fashionable move is 6 .i.f4, but the resulting positions can be very messy. The following extract shows the type of tactically hair-raising positions you can get from this opening.

Choose the Right Move


Gelfand - Anand Linares 1993 6 i..{4 'flia5 7 e5 lDe4 8 t'iJge2 tiJa6! 9 f3 %4/ A brilliant invention. 9 . . . lZ'lxc3 was played in the game Beliav­ sky-Anand earlier in the same tournament. 10 fxe4 0d3+ 11 'it;d2 g6!! Mter this move Black's pieces seem to control the whole board, despite the sacrificed material and his lack of central pawns. Should Black capture the white f-pawn with his e-pawn or g-pawn? 8 tZ'ld7! Neither, development is more important! The idea of this move is to force White to capture either the g-pawn or the e-pawn, after which Black will be able to develop his dark-squared bishop and cas­ tle quickly. In an open position like this it is imperative to de­ velop as quickly as possible. (A good example of the merits of speedy development is the game between Paul Morphy and the team of the Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard de Vauvanar­ gue in Chapter 1.) If White does not capture either of the black pawns, then Black will simply take the f6 pawn with his knight, thereby saving the pawn struc­ ture from any damage and allow­ ing a fianchetto on the kingside. 9 'ii'a4 A clever move which is designed to stop Black from carrying out •••

12 b3? i..g 7 13 bxc4 lZ'lxf4 14 lZ'lxf4? . 14 cxb5 i.xe5 15 'ii'b 3 would still have left Black on top. 14... i.xe5 15 lLlfe2 b4 1 6 'ii'a4+ 'ilxa4 17 lZ'lxa4 i.xa1 1 8lZ'lxc5 0- 0/ . . . and Black's extra exchange helped him to convert the win. Back to the game . . 6 b4 Attack is the best form of de­ fence. 7 e:xf6 bxc3 8 bxc3 .


Introduction his intended ... lLlxffi. However the last two moves have seen Black develop his knight and White de­ velop his queen, and that can only be good news for Black. The prin­ ciples of good development sug­ gest that you should only develop your queen later in the game. I think White must have regretted this luxury later in the game. 9 ex:f6 Black's position has been con­ siderably improved by the inclu­ sion of the moves . . . lLld7 and it'a4 and he is now able to play 9 . . . exf6. 10 .txc4 White should have played 10 .tf4, as after the text move Black gets all his pieces to ideal squares. 10 .td6 When I have castled my knight will no longer be pinned and I will be able to play . . . c!Db6 or . . . lLle5. 11 .te2?! 11 'ifc6 is tempting, but after ll. . .'ii'e 7 + 12 lLle2 White 's queen looks very misplaced on c6. 1 1 0-0 12 c!Df3 So far I have developed nor­ mally, just playing natural moves which anyone can find. I have only used one move with each piece, castled quickly and placed my rook on an open file. White has brought his queen into the game and moved his light-squared bishop twice, so it is no wonder that he is already in trouble. We will look at the advantage of development in greater detail in the next chapter. 13 c4?!





White was hoping to guard all his pawns, develop his pieces and castle all at the same time. It would have been better to play 13 .te3, preparing to castle, but then 13 . . . lLlb6 keeps the pressure on White. 13 it'e7! 14 'ii'c2 Here White found that he was unable to castle: 14 0-0? (or 14 .te3 .tf4) 14 . . . 'ii'xe2 15 .:.e1 'ii'x el + 16 lLlxe1 .:.xe1 mate. We must con­ stantly watch for this type of tac­ tic and Chapter 2 will help you to spot these possibilities. 14 lbe5! Continuing the theme of stop­ ping White from castling: 15 0-0? lLlxf3 + 16 .txf3 it'e5! , threatening 1 7 . . . 'ii'xh2 mate and 17 . . . it'xal. 15 .tea c!Dg4 16 o-o White decides to sacrifice a pawn in order to castle. 16 c!Dxe3 17 fxe3 'it'xe3 + 18 .l:f2 .tg4 Another simple development move. •••



Choose the Right Move

20 19.l:afl

19 .l:ab8 Having reached a winning posi­ tion (a pawn up with White's pieces tied down), it is important that every piece is made productive. Clearly the rook is better placed on b8, from where it could enter the fray down the b-file or ma­ noeuvre to b7-e7 to reinforce Black's grip on the e-flle. 20 g3 h5 Now that my pieces are on their ideal squares, I can try and break down his king position. There is also the hidden benefit of creating an escape square for my king, just in case I get back-rank mated! 2 1 �g2 'ii'a3 ?! Not a bad move, but I should have played 2 1 . . .h4, a move I re­ jected because of 22 ttJxh4. How­ ever, I could then have played (see small diagram) 22 . . . 'ii'xe2 ! ! (I had missed this and only considered the variation •••

22 . . . J.. xe2 23 l:el 'ii'e4 + 24 'ii'xe4 :Xe4 25 l:.fxe2). 22 J..d l l:e3 With the threat of 23 . . . h4 24 tbxh4 and now either 24 . . . l:xg3 + or 24 . . . J..h3 + first. 23 'ii'd2 h4 24 J..b31 Effectively blocking the co-or­ dination between my queen and rook on the third rank. Not 24 tbxh4? J.. h 3 + 25 'iltxh3 .l:xg3 + 26 hxg3 'ii'xg3 mate. 24 h3+ •••

8 7 6 5


Introduction At this point I have to be hon­ est and admit a little prayer went up to the heavens. I was hoping my opponent would play 25 �hl. 25 �gl Of course not 25 �h 1? .Ubxb3 26 axb3 i.xf3 + 27 :xf3 llxf3 28 ltxf3 'ir'a1 + . 25 .Ube8 Now that the b-file is blocked, my rook on b8 is doing nothing, so I have two choices: either to sacrifice it for the bishop on b3 or to bring it to the e-file. Although 25 . . . .Ubxb3 is a reasonable alter­ native, in general I never sacrifice material if I think I can win by normal means. If you sacrifice and things go horribly wrong you nor­ mally lose, whereas if you don't sacrifice material and things go wrong sometimes you can fall back on a draw. 26 :tel lhel + 27 tLlxe l i.e5 I had calculated that White must stop me playing 28 . . . i.d4, either by 28 tLlf3 or 28 tLlc2, both of which have drawbacks. 28 tLlc2 Although this move does stop the bishop from coming to d4, it does have the drawback of allow­ ing my queen back into the game. After 28 tLlf3 i.xf3 29lbf3 i.d4 + 30 �fl 'ii'a6 I considered White 's king position to be indefensible in the long run. There is nowhere for the king to hide and opposite­ coloured bishops always helps the attacker (see also the game Dun­ can-Molyneux from Chapter 5).


28 ft2 29 tLle3 ..•


White has laid a few traps with this move - time for some serious calculation (see also Chapter 3). 29 1Wal + The idea of this move is to force the rook back to n before playing .. ."i!i'd4. When I played this move I felt I had calculated it to a win, but the first move I considered was actually 29 . . . 1Wxd2, then 29 . . . 1Wd4 and only then 29 . . . 1Wa1 + . Let us look at the alternatives in turn: a) 29 . . . 1Wxd2 30 ll.xd2 i.d4?? (Black should still be able to win after 30 . . . i.xg3, but Keith is an endgame specialist, so I would like to polish him off quicker if possi­ ble) 31 .Uxd4! (oops!) 3 1 . ..cxd4 32 tLlxg4 f5 33 d6 fxg4 34 c5 .Ud8 35 i.a4 .Ub8 36 c6 .Ub1 + 37 �f2 .:tb2 + 38 �fl %lb1 + 39 �e2 and White's pawns are unstoppable. b) 29 . . . 1i'd4 doesn't achieve a great deal because the knight on e3 is not pinned: after 30 tLlxg4 •.•

Choose the Right Move


'ifxg4 3 1 'ii'e3 White is still in the game. So 29 . . . 'ii'a l + was the correct move. 30 lUI 'ii'd4 The in-between move 29 . . . 'ii'al + ensures that the knight is now pinned. 3 1 .:t2 White has nothing better. 31. 'it'xd2 32 :Xd2

the dangers of 32 . . . i.d4 and sets up a picturesque combination (which at the time I thought was stronger than it really is) . 33 .l:.d3 .:.Xe3! The sneaky combination that I needed to see when I played 3 1 . ..'ii'xd 2. 34 .:.Xe3 i.d4 35 �f2


As you enter the time trouble stages of the game, you must al­ ways be on your guard. Chapter 6 (practical play) offers an insight into how'to avoid the pitfalls wait­ ing for you in time trouble. 32 i.c3 Not 32 . . . i.d4?? 33 l:lxd4! cxd4 34 tbxg4 f5 35 c5 fxg4 36 c6 and White's c- and d-pawns are too strong. This would have been a typical time trouble disaster, and after the game I would have used the immortal words 'If only I hadn't played . . . ' My move avoids •••

This whole concept of immobi­ lising the white rook and king came from the following study that I remember seeing as a child.

Introduction Black can win a whole rook by making sure that White is unable t.o extricate himself from this uwful pin. White's only attempt to free himself is by playing g5, so 13lack gets in first. 57... :Xf4 58 :Xf4 g5 59 hxg5 xe3 'iti>e7 The tactics have finished and we now begin the endgame phase of the game. Fortunately for me the position is an easy win. But too often game commentators just say 'and the rest was technique' . Believe me, you still cannot afford to make any mistakes. The phrase 'and the rest was technique' seems to suggest that the game will play itself; but far from it, you must be as vigilant as ever. I think a better ph_rase to use might be 'as long as Black plays accu­ rately and precisely he should win the game' . Too often I have seen players throw away games in win­ ning positions. If you don't want to be a victim of this, make sure you study Chapter 5. .•.


40 i..b 5 f6 With the time trouble over, I have a simple plan in mind: re­ route my light- squared bishop to e6 to pick off White's dangerous d 7 pawn. Then help my kingside pawns advance while attacking White's weak queenside pawns with my light-squared bishop. 41 i.. a4 i..h5 42 i.. c2 First problem - I cannot get my bishop to e6. Oh well, Keith will have to put his bishop back on a4 to defend his d-pawn and then I can get on with my plan. 42 i.. g6 43 i.. d3? •••




5 4 3 2

This allows Black to finish off the game straight away with a tactic. 43 f4 + 44 gx:f4 i.. xd3 0-1 After 45 'iti>xd3 g4 White has fi­ nally made it back to material equality, but he cannot prevent Black promoting a pawn: 46 f8 Have a think about what you would play here if you were White. How, for instance, are you going to deal with the threat to the d­ pawn? 9 d5?? Not like this I hope. I must have imagined that with the black king stuck on f8 I could play al­ most anything, and that would be sufficient to win. The move shows that I had no understanding of the fundamentals of opening play - I had never seen any ofMorphy' s games. The move 9 d5 closes the position, instantly giving Black more security. When one has a lead in development it makes sense to open up the position (or in this case simply to keep it open) in order to take advantage of it. At this point, someone has writ­ ten on my scoresheet, 'Too many pawn moves - play with your pieces! ' and that just about sums it up. The natural move here is 9 .te3 followed by castling on the queenside, with a tremendous at­ tack. It is a shame it didn't seem natural to me then. The game has a curious, but just, conclusion. 9 lt:lf6 •••


Choose the Right Move

The effects of closing the posi­ tion are immediately apparent: Black is able to complete his de­ velopment unhindered, and his king is safe. 10 g3 .tf5 11 .tg2 1i'd7 12 0-0 lLla6 13 a3 lLlc7 14 lLlh4 l:te8 It is Black with his lead in de­ velopment who is able to assume the initiative. 15 'ifd2 lLle4 16 lLlxe4 .txe4 1 7 c4 f5

first (and only) chess coach, Nigel Povah, who appeared on the scene around this time . The Austrian Attack against the Modern/Pirc was given the boot, and I began playing 1 e4 g6 2 d4 .tg7 3 lLlc3 d6 4 .tc4 lLlf6 5 'ii'e2 At that stage in my develop­ ment this was just the right sys­ tem for me: White brings out his pieces rapidly, and at the same time, Black is unable to develop straightforwardly as e5! is a threat. For instance, 5 . . . 0-0 6 e5 ! dxe5 7 dxe5 lLle8 8 e6, and White already has the attack. Most of my oppo­ nents played . . . 5 c6 6 e 5 dxe5 7 dxe5 lLld5 8 .td2 .te6 9 0-0-0 •••

I should play 18 lLlf3 here, when Black has a pleasant choice be­ tween 18 . . . b5 undermining the d­ pawn, or 18 . . . h6, preparing . . . q;f7, connecting the rooks. However, by this stage I had obviously lost the run of myself, and I came up with . . . 18 .:.b1?? . . . and I resigned before he took the rook off. Sad, but true. Luckily, help was at hand. I re­ ceived some good advice from my

. . . when White has a pleasant lead in development: he has al­ ready castled; Black's queen will soon have to move as there is al­ ready a rook facing opposite; and finally �lack has yet to castle.

First Steps White already has the initiative. There are of course drawbacks to White's system, as I discovered later, but it gave me a much bet­ ter idea of what I should be trying to achieve when playing with the white pieces, and to this day I don't play the Austrian Attack against the Pirc/Modern. (I gener­ ally play the so-called ' Classical' system: 1 e4 d6 2 d4 lDf6 3 lDc3 g6 4 lDf3 i.. g7 5 i..e 2 0-0 6 0-0 - you get your pieces out, get castled, and two pawns in the centre is good enough for me.) I'm not say­ ing that the Austrian is a poor system - it isn't - it is just that it doesn't suit me. But not only that. If one plays too many pawn moves in the opening, then there is the danger of falling behind in development; and if you do con­ struct a pawn centre, then it re­ quires delicate handling or it will merely become a liability. Unfor­ tunately, Fischer didn't mention that anyone below grandmaster level would have a hard time with the opening! My advice is to play a system which enables you to bring your pieces out easily. There are many ways to mess up the opening, and at that time, I discovered several of them. Pawn-grabbing was a problem. Even today I am a bit of a materi­ alist - I like capturing pawns and pieces and I like hanging on to them once I've got them - but in those days I was just downright greedy. This was a fairly typical


encounter. So far we have mainly considered examples where the advantage of the first move has gone to White's head, and he be­ lieves that he is indestructible. Now we return to situations where Black is in some peril.

D. Lynch - King Islington Open 1976 1 e4 c5 2 lDr3 lDc6 3 i..b5 g6 4 0-0 i.. g7 5 c3 Everything alright so far, but after this move I'm faced with the threat of d4, seizing control of the centre. What to do? Nowadays I would prefer 5 . . . lDf6, and if 6 e5, the knight settles on d5. Then I'm ready to castle, and to break up White's centre with . . . d6. 5 e5 •••

That one seemed reasonable to me, preparing to bring the knight out to e7, and at the same time preventing d4.

Choose the Right Move


6 d4! I said, preventing d4. What's this? 6 cxd4 7 cxd4 lDxd4 8 lDxd4 exd4 9 i.f4 I think White's best move here is probably 9 e5, followed by iixd4 and lDc3 - White has a lovely posi­ tion, but the move played was quite good enough for me. 9 ..'iVb6? Instead, 9 . lDe7 is better: 10 i.d6 'iVb6 11 i.xe7 �E::18��{

, .::g8 45 i.e6 + Wf8 46 "ikf7 mate. In the next example Black has a number of different defences; we must be able to visualise the win in each line.

Sometimes you calculate a vari­ ation and for some reason it just does not work. In this position I wanted 16 lDxe6 to work, but on closer examination I saw that Black could play 16 . . . i.xe6 and then meet 17 llxe6 with 17 . . . 'ii'd5 forking my bishop and rook. Al­ though I then have a number of tricks involving a discovered at­ tack from my bishop on g2 to the queen on d5, they just don't work because when Black captures on c5 it will be with check. I decided patience was called for and set up my combo with . . . 1 6 �hi! i.d7? Black does not appreciate the point behind my last move and simply develops another piece. This casual move allows my idea to work. 17 lbxe6 i.xe6 18 lb:e6 'iid5

8 7 6 5

Duncan - Payen Paris 1994

19 Jbf6! After 19 lbg5 'it'xc5 20 lbxf7 �xf7 2 1 'it'xf6 + �g8 it looks as if

How to Calculate


W h l huH a dominating position, huL I l!Unnot see a follow-up. I U . . . 'I'xc5? IU . . . .l:lxf6 would have put up 11l l11 h tly more resistance: 20 i.xe7 ,O \att7 (or 20 . . . .1:le6 2 1 llJg5 ! 'ii'd 7 22 /1\aetfl 1i'xe6 23 i.f6 when Black's l1u•k of a dark-squared bishop lllttii iiH Lhat he is permanently in a 11111 U n g net) 2 1 'ii'xf6 llJc6 22 llJg5 ••11:.! 23 h4 .l:lf8 24 'ii'd6 and the t.h rttn LH against the black king are ju11L Loo great.

110 ll:xf7 �7 21 llJg5 + �e8 Or 2 1 . . .c;l;>g8 22 llJe6 attacking Lhu queen and threatening mate till v.7 . I:& 1i'h8 + �d7 23 'ii'xa8 'iVb4 14 h4 llJf5 25 c.th2 llJd8 26 1Vxa7 •d:& 27 �h3 1i'e1 28 llJe4 �c8 IU 1i'c5 + �b8 30 1i'e5 + 'ii?a7 3 1

•.,a 1 -o

Keeping control

N uvur play for tricks if your oppo­ nunt can side-step them and leave

.v u u

i n a position where you have

lu11t control. The following posi­ t.l c m is roughly equal, but Keres duvotes a lot of time to calculating 1mcri fices and combinations only IA I HUe Smyslov side-step the com­ J I I i cutions to leave Keres's pieces uflidde. ·

1 7 . . .i.f6 18 .l:lh5

( >bviously this is not an ideal

Nq uare for the rook, unless a win­ n i ng attack can be delivered. The l. h ruat is 19 lhh7 �xh7 20 'ii'h 5 + oJ.og8 2 1 llh3 i.h4 22 .l:lxh4 f5 23

Keres - Smyslov Zurich Candidates 1953 1i'h7 + with a strong white attack. 18 ... g6 19 .l:lch3 dxc4l Keres avoids the temptation of 19 . . .gxh5 20 1Vxh5 .l:le8 2 1 a4! 1i'd6 22 c5 bxc5 23 1i'xh7+ (or 23 1i'h6) 23 . . . 'ii?f8 24 9h6 + . 2 0 .lb:b. 7 c3 21 1i'c1 Threatening 1i'h6 with mate to follow. 21 ...1i'xd4! Black's dark-square control en­ sures that he comes to no harm. Not 2 1 . . .cxb2?? 22 9h6 1i'xd4 23 llh8 + i.xh8 24 1i'h7 mate. 22 'ii'h6 l:[fd8 23 i.c1 i.g7 24 'ii'g5 1i'f6 25 \i'g4 c2 26 i.e2 l:.d4 27 f4 .l:.d1 + 28 i.xd1 9d4 + 0·1 Watching your opponent

It is much easier to see a winning combination for yourself, than a clever defensive resource for your opponent. The following game is


Choose the Right Move

an example of what happens when you do not analyse your oppo­ nent's moves thoroughly. To avoid this pitfall, always make sure that you analyse your opponent's re­ sources properly. Remember that your opponent is trying to beat you. Keep your wits about you and always maintain a watchful eye on his manoeuvres. In the next game I failed to ap­ preciate my opponent's ideas and paid the price!

25 .id7 26 l:a7? Without considering all Black's defensive options properly, I de­ cided that a rook on the seventh must be good. Unfortunately for me, following such rules blindly can often lead to trouble. 26 l:b81 For some reason I missed this move and only considered 26 . . . .ic8 27 .idl, with the idea of control­ ling the a4-e8 diagonal. 27 lCJd3 After I had played this move, it suddenly dawned on me that I could be in serious trouble. Black is going to route his knight to c8 to attack my b-pawn. Not only will I have trouble defending the b­ pawn, but he will play . . . � with tempo. Now what is my rook do­ ing on a7? 27 lCJe7! The tables have turned and Black has the advantage. 28 g3? Things go from bad to worse. I decided to attempt to justify my play by trying to smash open the kingside. It would have been a better idea to concede the loss of the b-pawn and look for some com­ pensation for it. Note that . . . �b6 is unstoppable after either 28 .ic3 lCJc8 29 lCJxe5 dxe5 30 .ixe5 lCJxa7 3 1 .ixb8 �8 or 28 l:al lCJc8 29 .ia5 .l:.a8. 28 lCJc8 29 l:a2 �b6 30 h4 Once you start a faulty plan it is difficult to go back. 30 gxh4 31 gxf4 �c4 •••



Duncan - Harestad Gaus dal (Troll Masters) 1996 25 l:al There is nothing wrong with this move, but there was some­ thing wrong with my general atti­ tude to this position. I was under the impression that because I had made it to an endgame against the King's Indian and I had some initiative on the queenside, I must be winning.



How to Calculate b






II 7



j. s 'i ' '%) 4

1\ 4

'• '


� /

3 2






M y opponent correctly calcu­ IA lod that he need not worry Ahuu t any knight moves uncover­ In" un attack on his knight. 82 o!Llxc5

l >osperation sets in.

82 ... lLJxd2 33 lLJxd7 .l:d8 l l tlre I might have been able to hulrl Lhe position, but once again I


Now I cannot stop his h-pawn from reaching h2. It is time to see if I can find a drawing line - but alas it is too late! 36 .l:c2 h3 37 i.fl h2 + 38 �h1 :as 39 d6 .l:.a1 40 .l:.f2 �f7 41 �g2 �e6 42 i.c4 + �xd6 43 .l:.fl :xf1 44 i.xf1 �c6 0-1 I learnt a hard lesson from this game. Always watch and calculate your opponent's moves. It is a relief to see that at least I am not the only player who suf­ fers from missing his opponent's defensive moves. Karpov had had the better of Kasparov through­ out this World Championship game, but, probably due to over­ optimism, he embarked on a faulty rook manoeuvre (similar to mine).

utulurestimated Black's threats. U4 o!Llxe5? :14 �ffi + �f7 35 l£lxh5 l£lb3 was • lt�MHor evil. U4 . . dxe5 35 lhd2 i.xf4 .







h 8



j. s .4

1\ ..



Karpov - Kasparov World Championship, Seville (4) 1987 33 ...�g7 34 :t'6 i.b6 35 .l:tc6??








Choose the Right Move


35 .tf2 would have kept the ad­ vantage. 35 l'Da5! The easiest move to overlook a backward moving knight! (It was also a backward moving knight manoeuvre that I had missed.) Never become a victim of the back­ ward moving knight (it sounds like a horror movie). 36 .txb6 l'Dxc6 37 .tc7 lU8 + 38 �e2 38 l'Df5 + !? gxf5 39 dxc6 fxe4 + 4 0 �e2 J:lc8 4 1 i.xe5 + �g6 4 2 c7 a5 also wins for Black. 38 .... lU7 39 .i.d6 .l:td7 40 .tc5 l'Da5 41 l'Dfl :c7! 42 .i.d6 :c2 + 43 �d3 :xa2 44 l'De3 �f7 45 l'Dg4 l'Dc4 46 l'Dxe5 + l'Dxe5 + 47 .txe5 b4 48 .i.f6 b3 49 e5 :xg2 50 e6 + �8! 0-1 •••

In the following position the reigning World Champion believed that he was winning and contin­ ued . . . 36 1i'xg5 ••.

A. Sokolov - Kasparov Reykjavik World Cup 1 988 Question 3.2: What manoeuvre had the World Champion missed? Understanding critical positions

It is very important to realise when you have reached a critical position during a game. This is the make or break part of the con­ test. If you do not spend enough time analysing the key continu­ ations, you are likely to make the wrong decision and lose. There are a number of clues that should help you to identify a critical position. First, if your op­ ponent spends a long time consid­ ering his next move and then plays a slightly unexpected move, be suspicious. In the following position a set of pieces have just come off. Black now thought for about half an hour before playing . . .

How to Calculate b


>%':!% #�

' n 1\ .. :t

• �

• �*f;{ wY;J&: . , . •;;;.�% ;


� ' ,� ,;; ?;> ./':




I f�i-




Duncan - G. Flear llastings Challengers 1993/94 35 l:tf3 I had been expecting 35 . . . l:tbl + :16 �g2 b3 3 7 l:lh8 d4 ..ti>b5 55 ..ti>d5 a5 56 ..ti>d4 ..ti>a4! 57 ..ti>xc4 This is the stalemate trap that Sokolov had spotted when he played 49 . . . ltxc7. If he had not considered the initial position to be a critical position, he may well have missed this trap. However, he realised the importance of ana­ lysing the king and pawn end­ game and was rewarded with a well-earned draw. %-lf2


3. 1 36 'iVe4+ ..ti>b5 37 'iVb4+ ..ti>a6 38 ..ti>b2 . . . and 39 .:al + is unstoppable,


Choose the Right Move

completing the lawnmower style checkmate.

3.2 37 'ii'e 3! A brilliant move that Kasparov had completely missed. He cannot meet both threats: l::t£8 + winning

the queen and l1xe2. 37 l1xe2 l:txcl + 38 tLlxc l 'ii'xf4 37 l1xd6 tLlg4! 38 l:t d7 h5 would have left Black very much on top. 37 .th5 38 l:tf8 + l:txf8 39 'ti'xg5 tLlg4 40 tLlc3 .te5 41 h3 .tf4 42 'ti'e7 l:tce8 43 'ti'd7 tLle3 44 l%f2 1-0 ...

4 Positional Play and Planning

(Daniel King)

C )riginally, it was my intention to

write two separate chapters, one 1 1 11 positional play and the other 1m planning. However, now that I ' m here and thinking about the lhomes properly, I find that posi­ tional chess and planning are in­ uxtricably linked, so I'm treating thorn together. If you are imagin­ l nK that I am going to give you a huckneyed list of positional con­ llopts, then I'm afraid I'm going to huve to disappoint you: there are "lroady plenty of books that deal w i th the subject in a more system­ �ttic way. Besides, it is difficult to .r l vo hard and fast rules about Jllu nning and positional play: in •orne cases it will merely be a mutter of taste as to which plan to dwose; and I also feel that you '�'m read all that you like in a book, ln1t positional understanding is M omething that is built up through asxperience. (It is sometimes said of a player that he has a 'good li10 l ' for where the pieces belong 1 1 11 the board, and while it is true t.hut some players have a better 11unse than others, such an in­ •ti nct is really the result of accu­ mulated experience, as I hope will hl!come clear.) Every chess player thinks in a d i fferent way, in the same way as

every musician plays in a unique way, and that doesn't mean that only one of them is right. Style is personal - and crucial. Instead of a didactic list, I'm going to discuss how I think about the game, and in some cases, why I think about the game in a certain way, in the hope that it will stimulate you into finding your own under­ standing. Perhaps we should first at­ tempt a definition ofpositional play so that we all know what we're talking about. There seems to be a fair consensus among chess theorists on what positional chess is. Cecil Purdy (an Australian who held the World Correspon­ dence Championship from 1953 to 1958) was a prolific and pro­ found writer on the game, and his definition is typical and I think apposite: 'Position play . . . does not necessarily involve a "plan" . . . but primarily a much simpler thing, and that is the idea of strengthen­ ing one's position or weakening the opponent's' (my italics) . I'm not exactly sure when that passage was written, probably sometime in the sixties, but it still holds true. I agree with him that to play positionally does not nec­ essarily involve having a plan


Choose the Right Move

(though that might sound a little odd; I'll attempt to deal with that one later on) , but in most cases it does. Playing positionally is what we are doing when we are not cal­ culating, and it involves a differ­ ent skill, namely the weighing up of various factors on the board, resulting in the formulation of a plan. The Dutchman Max Euwe, World Champion in the thirties, wrote that, 'Strategy demands re­ flection, tactics demand a pene­ trating glance. ' Good stuff, but I'm in danger of theorising too much. Perhaps it's because I've just been reading from a worthy tome (it is 200 pages long) enti­ tled Three Steps To Chess Mastery by Grandmaster Alexei Suetin: Chess strategy comprises ques­ tions of the general interaction of the forces for the attainment of the most important goals at vari­ ous stages of the battle . ' Lan­ guage worthy of a Soviet Party Congress. Quick. Let's go back to the game I gave in the introduction and see what I .was doing there. Usually, the first thing that I consider when assessing a position is the pawn structure. For me the pawn structure is like a skeleton, and the rest of the pieces have to ar­ range themselves around it as efficiently as possible. (This anal­ ogy is slightly complicated by the fact that this is a skeleton which is mobile and can change shape, but it still works for me.)

King - Ernst (structure) Gausdal 1 993 Looking at Black's pawns there are several weaknesses. First, the 'backward' d-pawn (a backward pawn is one that cannot be sup­ ported by another pawn and is re­ strained by an enemy pawn on an adjoining file) . That means that not only is the pawn itself poten­ tially weak, but that the square in front of it is also weak, i.e. if I were to land a piece on d5, then it might be exchanged, but it could never be driven away by a pawn. The same applies to the pawn on f7: it is backward, and the squares in front of it on f6 and f5 are therefore vulnerable (particularly f5 as the white pawn on e4 could lend support to a piece). Then there is the black king, which is potentially vulnerable due to the absence of the g-pawn. And how is White' s structure? Well; it is fine! My pawns on the

Positional Play and Planning kingside and queenside are in no danger. My e-pawn is isolated, but us it does not stand on an open file, it shouldn't be in any trouble. However, I am a pawn down. I think the main danger that I have to look out for is that Black might break out with either pawn on d6 to d5, or pawn on f7 to f5, which could threaten my central con­ trol . Of course, it is artificial to look at the pawn structure in iso­ lation to the rest of the pieces on the board, and that is not how I think during the game; I just wanted to make it absolutely clear what I was talking about when I mentioned the structure. Let's re­ turn to the actual position.

King .: Ernst Gausdal 1 993 My pieces are actually beauti­ fu lly placed for controlling the position (I wouldn't have arrived here if they hadn't been!). The


knight on h4 is already looking at the f5 square, along with the rook and pawn on e4, so the break by Black with the pawn on f7 to f5 is unlikely to occur so long as I am careful. Having said that, Black's knight on e7 is excellently placed, guarding d5 and f5. My isolated e­ pawn is not really a consideration - it cannot be attacked very easily, and anyway, it is guarded by the bishop on g2. The bishop on cl is reasonably well placed looking at the kingside, but the problem is that it blocks in the rook on al. As I haven't completed my develop­ ment, launching an immediate at­ tack therefore does not seem a good option - think back to Paul Morphy. Having said that, it is not entirely clear where that bishop belongs. There is another piece which is poorly placed and des­ perately needs re-deploying, that is the knight on a3, and looking at the two critical squares in the po­ sition, d5 and f5, it is absolutely clear where this belongs, namely e3. Therefore . . . 14 ltJc2 . . . is the move. Somewhere in the back of my mind I have that dream position which I mentioned in the introduction of the two white knights on d5 and f5 ; but that is really only a guide. In the meantime, one should just play step by step, which brings me on to my next observation about my play in this game. I wrote the notes to this game not long after I

Choose the Right Move


played it, perhaps a month or two, so I was able to describe my thoughts during play with reason­ able accuracy. Unless I had writ­ ten them down 'verbatim' , then I wouldn't have realised that I was thinking in a particular way. It is clear that although I have a Grand Scheme in mind, the game can ac­ tually be broken down into a se­ ries of short operations, lasting between two to four moves (like my knight manoeuvre here from �a3-c2-e3) . After completing the operation I then take stock, and form the next plan. Naturally, if my opponent interrupts my ma­ noeuvring with a threat, or tac­ tics, or something unexpected, then I also have to stop and think again. Purdy mentions this kind of thinking: 'Masters proceed by a series of short-range plans, re­ vised at every turn according to the opponent's play. ' And so does Artur Yusupov in his writing: 'In essence, the entire game is an ag­ gregate of mini-operations united by a general strategic idea that has its basis in the opening you have chosen. ' Well, it is nice to get some confirmation of one's ideas. If we return to the game again, it is possible to break it down into those 'mini-operations'. 14 .tc4 15 �e3 .i.e6 Operation over; rethink. 16 �d5 'ii'd7 17 �f6 + .txf6 18 hf6 �h8 Operation over; rethink. 19 �f5 �g8 20 .t g5 l:ad8 .••

Operation over; rethink. 21 1Vh5 �ce7 Unexpected move; rethink. 22 �e7 'ii':x: e7 23 .:an l:tde8

Operation over; rethink. 24 i.h3 i.:x:h3 25 :U7 ll:t:x:f7 26 hf7 'iV:x:f7 27 'ik:x:f7 :e6 Operation over; rethink. 28 c,i;1f2 l:g6 Operation interrupted by threat; rethink. 29 i.d8 a6 30 �e3 b5

Positional Play and Planning

Operation over; rethink. 31 'ii'f8 i.g4 32 i.e7 1-0 Unfortunately my games don't always run as smoothly as this. It was, I admit, a one-sided affair, but it serves to illustrate the gen­ eral points I am making. So what is it that made up my positional understanding of this game? There are two elements: the 'Grand Scheme' in the back of my mind which acted as a guide, based on my knowledge of games where a similar structure occurred; and my ability to construct short-range plans based on these positional considerations. The question is, how does one build up that kind of positional experience? To an­ swer that I would like to look back at one of the first openings that I considered with any seriousness. But first let me show you this position (D). It is Black to play. What is the best move? I'll come back to this later.


Palkovi - King German Bundesliga 1 996 The Sveshnikov was perhaps the first opening that I had any clue about. 1 e4 c5 2 lt:Jf3 lt:Jc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 lt:Jxd4 lt:Jf6 5 lt:Jc3 e5

I'm not saying that I didn't have my usual share of disasters mainly, I think, because I was still learning variations by rote - but


Choose the Right Move

at least I had some idea of my long-term goals; and the aims that arise from the opening are fairly clearly defined: Black has a lot of weak squares, but in return has a dynamic pawn structure with sev­ eral possible pawn breaks, and the two bishops can prove power­ ful. What helped me to develop this understanding was that for the first time I considered the opening as part of the whole game rather than painstakingly playing through the first ten moves and stopping there. 6 li:)db5 d6 7 i.g5 a6 8 li:)a3 b5 9 li:)d5 i.e7 10 i.xf6 i.xf6 This is one of the common starting positions in the Svesh­ nikov. White's most reliable move here is . . . 1 1 c3

Intending to bring the knight back into play via c2 to e3 or b4 to support the knight on d5. Doesn't that manoeuvre look familiar?

That's the great thing about look­ ing at positional chess, not only is it directly relevant to the opening you are interested in, but it can so often be applied to other kinds of positions that you might encounter. The games of the Russian grand­ master Evgenny Sveshnikov, the player who rehabilitated this whole system, are always worth looking at, and at that time they gave me a grounding in the opening. The following was a typical encounter.

Smyslov - Sveshnikov USSR Championship 1977 11 0-0 12 li:)c2 i.g5 This was another thing I learned about: exactly what a 'bad' bishop was (one that is hampered by its own pawns) and that it was best to try to activate it - like this, for instance. 13 a4 bxa4 14 llxa4 a5 15 i.b5 li:)e7 . . . and challenging the powerful knight on d5 is also a sound idea. 16 li:)xe7 + 'it'xe7 17 0-0 'it'b7! An excellent manoeuvre. The black queen aims at the pawns on e4 and b2, as well as attacking the bishop; but there is another point to this move. 18 'it'd3 i.e6 19 c4 i.d81 The queen made way for this typical 'Sveshnikov' manoeuvre. The bishop bounces off the back rank to the b6 square, from where it guards the a5 pawn, and looks down at f2. Imagine, if Black were .••

Positional Play and Planning


mind that I would be blockading on d5 and f5, but circumstances changed and it seemed best for me to blockade on the f6 square instead. ) You can see the effect that such model games have in the following encounter.

Geller King Berne 1988 -

able to open up the f-file with . . . f5, bringing the rook into the game as well . . ? That would be danger­ ous. Smyslov decides to simplify the position before Black can get anywhere near that. 20 1i'xd6 1i'xe4 21 lLle3 'ill'd4 22 'ii'a3 .i.b6! 23 .l:[d1 .i.c5 24 :Xd4 .ixa3 25 l:[d2 .i.b4 26 .l:[d1 .l:[fd8 27 .:taa1 l:td4 28 lLld5 The opposite-coloured bishop ending that arises after 28 lLld5 .ixd5 29 cxd5 is not very interest­ ing, so the players agreed to a draw. .

Games such as this worked as models on which I could try and base my play; note base, not copy. With a few exceptions there are rarely exact 'doubles' in chess; that's why it is best to use these games only as guides. The slight­ est difference in a position can mean that one strategy works and tmother doesn't. (Think back to my game with Ernst. I had in my

1 e4 c5 2 lLlf3 lLlc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 lDxd4 lLlf6 5 lLlc3 e5 By 1988, when this game was played, the Sveshnikov had almost disappeared from my repertoire, but the ideas remained in my head at least. 6 lLldb5 d6 7 .i.g5 a6 8 lLla3 b5 9 lLld5 .ie7 10 .ixf6 .i.xf6 1 1 c3 0-0 1 2 lLlc2 l:lb8 1 3 .id3 .i.e6 14 0-0 .i.g5 15 1i'e2 'it'd7 16 .:tfd1 i.xd5 17 exd5 lLle7 18 a4 bxa4 19 lLla3 aS 20 .i.b5 'it'b7 2 1 c4 1i'b6 22 lLlc2 lLlc8?! 22 . . lLlg6 looks stronger. 23 l:lab1 .idS! .

Choose the Right Move


Several years on and I'm still using Sveshnikov's manoeuvre! After . . . 2 4 .i.xa4 . . . we agreed a draw. I suppose the position is roughly equal, al­ though there is still plenty of play left. Black's next move should be 24 . .'fia7, followed by . . . .i.b6. The bishop keeps an eye on White's c­ pawn (sometimes the sacrifice with c4-c5 , creating a passed d-pawn, is dangerous) , and just as in the Sveshnikov's example, the a-pawn is guarded, and there is a long­ term threat to the pawn on f2. Now return to Palkovi-King on page 89 and try to find the best move again. .

Digging out model positional games is not an easy business. For one thing, the games should be personal to you, they have to be relevant in some way to your thinking, and that's why I would recommend trying to find classic games from your favourite open­ ing. For instance, you might chance upon a game in a recent maga­ zine, or perhaps in a specialised opening book. (Incidentally, if you've ever bought one of those opening books that has lists of variations that stop at around move 15 with a ;!; symbol, you've been done! Make sure you find one that has complete games with good annotations. The only reasonable way to study an opening is to look at the game in its entirety.) There

is another way ofdiscovering these model games. On occasion I have been wiped out so convincingly by a particular strategy that I have used it myself as a model. This next game is one such example. It is painful to play through it again, but it was a lesson worth learn­ ing. My one consolation is that I have since employed the strategy that my opponent uses here with great success.

King - Keene London 1 982 1 tt:Jf3 tt:Jf6 2 g3 d5 3 i.g2 c6 4 d3 i.g4 5 tt:Jbd2 tt:Jbd7 6 0-0 e5 7 e4 i.d6 8 l:tel 0-0 9 h3 .i.h5

I had never before played this set-up with White - and it shows. Black's formation is sensible and solid; he has occupied the centre, and it is as though I am playing with the Black pieces. I felt at a loss � to what to do.

Positional Play and Planning

10 b3?! l%e8! Supporting the centre, but also clearing the f8 square; this is a far-sighted move, as we shall see. 1 1 i.b2 d4! My idea of increasing the pres­ Hure on the e-pawn and develop­ i ng the bishop at the same time looked plausible enough, but this move bluntly refutes it. Now the bishop just looks misplaced on b2, us does the rook on el. 12 a3 c5 Now I was stuck again. It ap­ peared to me that Black was tak­ i ng the initiative on the queenside, und that I should start attacking on the kingside. Wrong again, I'm afraid. If I had played 13 ttlc4 i.c7 14 a4, my position would have been solid enough. 13 ttlfl b5 14 g4 This is the move that Black has been begging me to play ever Hince he moved the bishop to g4. It looks as though I am on the at­ tack, but a cold shower awaits. 14 i.g6 15 ttl g3


Mull this position over and try

to find the manoeuvre that puts a

dampener on White's attack. 15 ... ttlf8! 16 i.c1 ttle6! I couldn't quite believe it during the game, but this simple ma­ noeuvre effectively puts an end to my offensive. Control of the f4 square makes it difficult for White to develop any play on the king­ side. 17 ttlf5 i.c7 It is important to keep this bishop: maintaining control over f4 is vital. 18 i.d2 ttld7 19 h4 h5 20 i.h3 hxg4 21 i.xg4 ttlf4 22 ttlg5 ttlf8 I thought I had time to deflect Black's attention to the queen­ side, but I was just dreaming.


23 a4? 23 i.xf4 exf4 24 'ii'f3, bringing the queen over, would have given me reasonable chances to defend. In the game I never managed to counter Black's queen.

Choose the Right Move


23 lLI8e6! 24 axb5 lLlxg5 25 hxg5 'ii'xg5 26 lLlg3 'ii'h4 27 .td7? I must have been hoping to play 'iVg4, but I hadn't anticipated Black's next move. 27 ...l:.e6! 28 .txe6 fxe6 Without that bishop my king cannot be defended. 29 .txf4 exf4 30 lLlh 1 .th5 31 f3 l:tf8 32 .l:.fl l:.f6 33 l:.f2 l:.h6 34 'ii'e2 'ii'xh1 + 0-1 It is mate after 35 �xhl .txf3 + 36 g8 38 d6 1-0

1 e4 c5 2 tiJf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 ttJxd4 tiJf6 5 tiJc3 a6 6 .i.c4 e6 7 .i.b3 b5 8 0-0 .i.b7 9 f4 ttJc6 10 ttJxc6 i.xc6 1 1 f5


Before you can put a minor piece on an outpost, you need to create the outpost! This push practically forces . . . l l . . . e5 .. . and the d5 square is in White's sight. 12 'fid3 .i.e7 13 .i.g5! 'fib6 + 14 �hl 0-0 15 .i.xf6

Positional Play and Planning The knight covers the d5 square, Ho Fischer eliminates it. 15 ..txf6 16 .idS! .•.

Putting the knight in straight­ away was playable, but this is far stronger: the exchange ofbishops means that the knight will land on d5 completely unopposed. 16 ... l:tac8 1 7 ..txc6 l:txc6 18 .l:ad1 .l:fc8 19 �d5 1i'd8 20 c3 ..te7


This was exactly the position that Fischer was aiming for when he played 1 1 f5, forcing . . . e5 and creating the weakness on d5. White has a strategically winning position now, as the knight domi­ nates on all sides of the board, but he needs to decide how he wishes to break through into Black's po­ sition. The brutes among us might play for an attack by swinging the rooks along the third rank in the direction of Black's king, but Fis­ cher's solution is more elegant. 21 .l:al ! Black cannot stop White play­ ing a4, opening a file on the queen­ side, and once the rook invades the end is nigh. Black's rooks can­ not defend as the knight controls too many squares in Black's camp. 21 ...f6? 22 a4!

22 ...l:tb8? 23 �xe7 + Black blunders a rook, but the situation was in any case dire. 1-0


Choose the Right Move

Take a look at the following po­ sitions, with particular reference to the pawn structures.

Question 4. 1 : White to play. Identify the outpost and devise a plan to occupy it successfully.

Question 4. 2: In the preceding diagram it is White to play. Iden­ tify where the outpost is and de­ vise a plan for its occupation. Palkovi-King Bundesliga 1 996 Let's return to that position on page XX. I hope it was clear what I was driving at. 1 e4 c5 2 c3 e6 3 d4 d5 4 exd5 exd5 5 .tea cxd4 6 .txd4 tbc6 7 tLlf3 tbxd4 8 '1Vxd4 tbf6 9 i.b5 + i.d7 10 .txd7+ 1Wxd7 1 1 0-0 .te7 12 tbbd2 0-0 13 llfe1

Hracek - Almasi Odorheiu Zonal 1995

Botvinnik - Konstantinopolsky Sverdlovsk 1943

At first glance, a natural move for Black is to play 13 . . . llfe8, bringing the rook to the open file. This is certainly not bad, though the queen on d4 is in a dominat­ ing position, and it is irritating that it is glancing over at the pawn on a 7. Even though the pawn structure is quite different, the manoeuyre . . . .td8-b6 is the best

Positional Play and Planning course of action; compare with the Sveshnikov games. 13 .i.d8! 14 1Wd3 .i.b6 The bishop has found its per­ fect square, cutting down towards the traditionally weak point on f2 . With . . . .i.d8-b6 I complete my first 'mini-operation' - the mid­ dlegame has begun. It is often possible to use a typical piece ma­ noeuvre from one type of position and apply it to another. The link here is the f2 square. I was going to stop there, but the rest of the game is worth look­ ing at, for two reasons. First, it is a good demonstration of the idea of short-range plans; and second because, unusually, with so many pieces on the board, the game consists almost entirely of ma­ noeuvring. 15 �d4 Even though the knight blocks out the bishop, Black has still gained something. With the knight on d4 it is now difficult for White to build up any pressure on the d5 pawn; and this move also weak­ ens White's claim on the e-file. 15 :fe8! If the knight were still on f3, White could attempt to simplify the position by exchanging on e8, and then bringing the next rook over to el. Now, exchanging on e8 would simply cede the e-file. If White tries 16 �2f3, with the idea of trading all the rooks as above, then 16 . . . �e4!, occupying the out­ post, seizes the initiative. ...



1 6 �fi Now I had to think again. 16 g6 .•.

When Purdy talked about posi­ tional play not necessarily involv­ ing a plan, but being primarily about strengthening one's posi­ tion, this is the kind of move which I think he would have had in mind. 16 . . . g6 is a waiting move - I wanted to see where White was going to move his pieces be­ fore I committed mine - but it is also extremely useful. At some point in the game my king will need a flight square from the back rank, and . . . g6 also takes away the f5 square from the knight, so that I am restricting White's op­ tions. 17 �e3 It is time for my next mini-op­ eration. 17 lle4 This move, plonking the rook on the central outpost, makes a •••

Choose the Right Move


solid impression. If White does 'nothing' on this next move, then I will simply double rooks on the e-file and that will represent a significant strengthening of my position. 18 f3 White has to play this eventu­ ally, as the rook cannot be toler­ ated on e4 for too long; but this move was exactly what I wanted to see. Although White's king is quite safe at the moment, there may come a time, if the position should open up, when the weak­ ening of the second rank could prove awkward. Compare this with my king's position: I'm glad to have that pawn on f7. 18 ....l:te5 The threat of doubling rooks is still irritating, so White decides to relieve the pre3sure by offering an exchange. 19 lL!ec2 l:tae8 Not much choice there - I want to maintain my presence on the e­ file. 20 :Xe5 l:txe5 White could have exchanged all the rookS here with 2 1 .:tel . I got as far as 2 1 . . .l:txe1 + 22 lbxe1 li'a4 23 a3 'ii' b 3! 24 li'd2 li'a2, and con­ cluded that White still had a few problems to solve before he could equalise the position. 2 1 li'd2 Time for my next mini-opera­ tion. (I'm not sure I like this term, but I'm stuck with it now!) 2 1 'ii'b5 •••

For the time being, I've achieved all I can on the kingside and in the centre; so it seems logical to try and force some weaknesses in White's queenside pawn struc­ ture. 22 lL!e3 My queen has to move on, but that's alright: the knight is on a slightly exposed square on e3. 22 Ji'a4 23 b3 I was quite glad to see this played, as the c3 pawn is weak­ ened; and if c3 is more vulnerable, then so is d4 - the rock that holds White's position together. Instead 23 a3! would have been a stronger move; don't the queenside pawns look healthier in that case? They would all be protected, apart from b2, and that is much more diffi­ cult to attack than c3. 23 .'i'a3 There is no harm in keeping my queen down there for the mo­ ment, though it will probably have to retreat before too long. 24 g3 Understandably, White feels the need to remove his king from the same diagonal as the bishop, and as �h1 would still leave him with a back-rank problem, he de­ cides to put the king on g2 ; but it sorely lacks a pawn on f2 to pro­ tect the second rank. 24 l:e8 I'm not entirely sure how I should make progress from here, but bringing the rook back in­ creases my options : I might play .•



Positional Play and Planning it to c8 to attack the c-pawn, for i nstance. Over the next few moves there is more of this 'jockeying for position' ; I'm making moves that look good, waiting for a moment w hen my opponent gives me a hreak. In the meantime, the most important thing is not to make any concessions, to keep my pieces as flexibly placed as possible, and not to make any pawn moves that would weaken my position. 25 l::r.e l Is White threatening tt::lxd5? No, I would exchange rooks, then cap­ ture on d5. However, it could be useful to take away the g4 square from the knight, so . . . 25 ...h5 And you never know, it might be possible to push the h-pawn down the board to help with an attack on the king. 26 Wg2 Now White is threatening tt::lxd5 - check it! 26 'ii'c5 27 b4 White becomes impatient; this move may or may not turn out to be significant, but it is certainly unnecessary: pawns cannot move backwards! 27 .'flc8 28 tt::l dc2 :e5 Played with the vague thought of . . . WeB and . . . 1Wa4, returning to hassle the queenside pawns. That was enough to worry White who lashed out with . . . 2 9 a4?! a5 ! (D) With the time control approach­ ing, the game starts to hot up. •••



White's problem is that the a­ pawn is now fixed, and weak. 30 tt::ld4 30 bxa5 would have been much sharper. The nature of the game would change completely and some calculation would be needed, for instance, 30 . . . J.. xa5 3 1 tt::lb 4 'ii'e 6 (3 1 . . .'ii'c 5? 32 tt::l exd5 ! l::r.xd5 33 tt::lxd5 'ii'xd5 34 'ifxd5 tt::lxd5 35 l::r.e5) and both sides have to tread with great care. 30 'ife8! 31 b5? For better or for worse White should have captured on a5. This way, I can attack the weaknesses on the queenside without worry­ ing about counterplay against my own pawns. 31. 1i'f8! Threat: . . . 'ii'a3 and . . . 'ii'xa4. 32 tt::lec2 .lhel 33 'ii'xel tt::ld 7 I was slightly concerned about the queen arriving on e5, so this move made sense. Now I can also think about . . . tt::lc5 , attacking the a-pawn. •••



Choose the Right Move

34 'ii'd2 'it'c5 Now that the queen has moved away from the e-file, I felt brave enough to move my own queen over to the offensive. The threat: . . .'Wc4 and . . . 'ii'xa4. 35 l/Je3 l/Je5 The knight belongs on the out­ post c4. 36 l!Jdc2 And that is the final mistake that I've been waiting for. 36 ...l!Jc4! 37 tiJxc4 'ii'g 1 + ! I knew that eventually I would get a shot at White's king! 38 'iPh3 'ii'fi + 39 'it'g2 White is forced to play the queen to this dismal square as 39 �h4 .i.d8 + is embarrassing. 39 ...'ii'xc4 40 'ii'd2

was only on the 76th move after a tedious bishop versus knight end­ ing. Mistakes always seem to come after the time control at move 40, but that is another story! I mentioned in my chapter on the opening that in order to strive for the initiative, it was important to aim for a healthy pawn struc­ ture - and then I never really mentioned it after that. Then again, this is really a subject that deserves to be treated under the middlegame, or possibly even the endgame. I saw the following game in Bronstein's book on the 1953 Zurich Candidates tournament and I couldn't believe how fitting his comments were to this theme. ' . . . in the middlegame - and some­ times in the opening - the master discerns the outlines of the forth­ coming endgame ... Here, by moves 12-15 he had already visualised the coming knight vs. bishop end­ game . . . ' Najdorfhas a pawn weak­ ness which Averbakh latches on to, and the game is effectively de­ cided in the opening.

Najdorf - Averbakh Zurich Candidates 1953 The simplest way to win is to capture on a4, move the queen out of the way and push the a-pawn. Instead, I got a bit too clever try­ ing to force a quicker win and, though I got there in the end, it

1 c4 l/Jf6 2 l!Jf3 e6 3 g3 b6 4 .i.g2 .i.b7 5 0-0 .i.e7 6 d4 0-0 7 l/Jc3 l/Je4 8 'ii'c2 t2Jxc3 The usual move here is 9 'it'xc3, keeping a sound pawn structure. Najdorrs decision to double the white pawns is not necessarily a

Positional Play and Planning


mistake; it just means that he has to take care that they don't turn out to be a liability. 9 bxc3

9 tbc61 This immediately highlights White's problem: the black knight is ready to move to a5 to attack the pawn on c4. Bronstein thinks that White should play 10 tbd2 li)a5 1 1 J.xb 7 lbxb7 12 lbb3, pre­ venting the knight moving back lo a5, but it might appear at d6 one day, and besides, what is the w hite knight doing stuck out on play on b3? I still prefer Black's chances. 10 tbe5?1 tba5 11 J.xb7 lbxb7 1 2 "ii"a4 d6 13 tbd3 tba5 (D) The white pawn on c4 cannot bu protected by another pawn, in other words it is chronically weak. White has no counterplay to off­ Hut this weakness, so he already H tands worse. The only thing to do is to advance the pawn, but •••

that still leaves the c4 square weak, and that is enough to ensure that Black's advantage is perma­ nent. 14 c5 "ii"e 81 15 "ii"xe8 l:.t'xe8 16 .:tb1 .:teeS! A prescient move. Averbakh knows that the c-file will open. 17 h4 d51 Fixing the c4 square. Minor pieces, especially knights, need outposts. 18 J.f4 f6 19 lbb4 a6 20 cxb6 cxb6 21 J.d2 tbc4 22 J.e1 J.xb4 Reducing the position down to its bare elements. The ending of knight against bishop should be winning, because the bishop is blocked by its own pawns, and the knight has such a wonderful out­ post . . . 2 3 cxb4 tba3 24 .:tb3 lbb5 25 e3 l:c2 . . . and Black controls the only open file. 26 a4 tbd6 27 a5 b5 28 :c3 llc8 29 :xeS + tbxc8 30 f3 tbe7


Choose the Right Move

3 1 .if2 b1 'ii'e 5 20 f4 'ii'e6 21 'ii'e2 Exchanges are unavoidable. 2 1 ...:xd4 22 l:xd4 'ii'b 6 23 'ili'd2 Gulko keeps control of the posi­ tion beautifully. 23 ...'ili'a6 24 'ii'd 3 'iic6 25 a3


1 6 . . l:txc3 1 7 bxc3 defends the

1 7 l:tc4 18 l:td4 :ac8


This useful move is safe now that a pair of rooks have been ex­ changed. White has taken his last consolidating measure and is now ready for the final phase: advanc­ ing his pieces onto dominating central squares (rook on d6 and queen on d4), so that Kasparov will lose quickly if he refuses to exchange them. 25 ... 'it'g2 26 :d6 .:tb8 27 'ii'e 2 'it'h1 + 28 �a2 l:.e8 29 'iid3 :e1 30 'ii'd4 1-0 Kasparov still has his queen and rook, but they are lurking uselessly in the comer. 30 . . . l:.a1 + 31 d2 a3 12 �c1 �d4 13 f4 �e4 14 'iPb1 J:.b8 + 15 a1 J:.b2 16 lha3 lhh2 Material is still level, but Kar­ pov' s better placed king wins the day. 1 7 'iii>b 1 J:.d2 18 lla6 �f5 19 J:.a7 g5 20 .l:r.a6 g4 21 :xb6 Kasparov had to capture this pawn, otb.erwise it would press on: 21 l:ta3 h5 22 �c1 l:.d5 followed by •.•

How To Win Won Positions 23 . . . h4 24 gxh4 �xf4 and the ad­ vance of the g-pawn. Note the way in which 22 . . . lld5 cuts White's king from the kingside . Karpov is now a pawn down(!), but he has it all under control.





Lopez (Spanish) . White appears to be relatively unscathed, how­ ever Black does have some initia­ tive for the pawn. I decided that it was best to return the pawn and reach an advantageous endgame. Unfortunately my powers of end­ game play are seriously inferior to those of Karpov, so whether I would be winning the resulting endgame was not clear to me. Having just spent twelve hours on trains, ferries and buses to get to Dublin, I thought the best option was to play an endgame where I held a significant advantage.

l:r.g2 22 l:r.h5 + �e4 23 f5

Stopping the f-pawn in its tracks. The king is the more appropriate piece with which to capture on g3, because it can then guide the g­ pawn through to its coronation. 24 �c1 �f3 25 �d1 �xg3 26 �e1 �g2 27 l:r.g5 g3 28 l:r.h5 l:r.f4 29 �e2 l:r.e4 + 30 �d3 �f3 31 l:r.h1 g2 32 l:r.h3+ �g4 33 llh8 :f4 34 �e2 :xf5 0-1 The position· after 35 llgB + �h3 36 l:r.hB + �g3 37 l:r.g8 + �h2 38 l:r.hB + �gl is a well-known win ( the Lucena position - see the chapter on endings). 'fhe following position resulted f'rnm a Marshall Attack of the Ruy

Duncan - Moynihan Irish Open Zonal 1993 26 tl)f31 Sacrificing the f-pawn in order to swap off my bad bishop and transfer my knight to e5. 26 ... gxf4 27 .txf4 .txf4 28 lhe7 1Wxe7 29 gxf4 1fe3+ 30 1Wf2 'ii'xf4


Choose the Right Move

Black has managed to win back his pawn, but now we see the rea­ son for 26 ttJf3. After . . . 31 ttJe5! .. . Black cannot avoid swapping queens. The resulting endgame is very good for White, but can you explain why? 1 . Black's pawn structure is in ruins: he has four pawn islands. Let me just explain why pawn is­ lands are bad. For every pawn is­ land you have there must be at least one pawn not guarded by an­ other pawn. In this position Black must use s piece to guard every pawn weakness (except b5) ; and this will prove impossible. On the other hand White has a strong pawn structure. After a3, b2 will guard a3 and c3, while c3 in turn guards d4. 2. A classic case of good knight verses bad bishop. After a3 Black will not be able to attack any of the white pawns with his bishop; and this bishop is hemmed in by

his own pawns, thus restricting its scope. The white knight com­ mands a strong central outpost from which he cannot be moved ­ as we see in the course of the rest of the game when it returns to e5 a number of times. 3. White's king is better placed. Black does have a passed f-pawn, so White must remain vigilant, but thankfully my king is already blocking its path and as we shall see, in fact the pawn becomes a target. 3 1 . .. 11i'xf2 + 32 �xf2 �h7 33 ttJd3 Now I begin to probe Black's weak queenside pawns . 33 ...f4 Black seeks active counterplay, which was probably the best prac­ tical decision as it will be impossi­ ble to defend his weaknesses. At least this way his bishop gets some life. 34 ttJb4 ..te4 35 ltJxa6 It is not always a good idea to send a centrally placed knight on a mission to win an a-pawn. How­ ever, in this position I realised that my king is excellently placed on f2 to stop any attack and there is really nothing that Black can do. Having won my opponent's a­ pawn, I will be able to quickly cre­ ate a passed a-pawn of my own. 35 l:tg8 36 An offer that Black cannot ac­ cept. Black must move his rook, thereby �ng the g-file. The white rook will then be strongly placed •••

How To Win Won Positions on the g-file, as it cuts off the black king and is able to attack the f-pawn from the side. 36 l:ta8 37 tLlb4 :f8 38 tLlc6 Now my knight heads back to


your pieces are being continually attacked or when some other im­ passe has been created.



38 1tf5 39 l:tg4 :th5 40 h4 This snuffs out any activity Black might have been hoping for. 40 l:tf5 41 tLle5 Back at last! 4l :f8 42 tLld7 Off we go again. This time the knight will sit on c5, from where it can guide the queenside pawns. 42 l:lf7 43 tLlc5 l:tf6 44 b31 Now it is time to create a passed n-pawn. 44 ... 45 a3 I could have played 45 a4 im­ modiately, but I was enjoying my­ lllttlf too much. 45 ... .i.c2 46 a4 bxa4 47 bxa4 J1f7 48 a5 f3 49 l:tgl This stops the black bishop from l(uing to d1 and then e2. 49 ... .i.e4 50 ltlxe4 The time has now come. This Pnding is straight-forward win be­ •'tHIHo Black still cannot use his •••




k i ng. ISO ... dxe4 51 c4 :f4 52 a6 1-0 li2 l:txh4 53 �g3 l:h5 54 .:.a1 lll(l'i + 55 f4 f2 56 a7 fl'ii' + 57 ll x fl l:ta5 58 r.itxe4 l:txa7 59 c5 . . .

winK for White.

'l'ho technique of returning ma­ h• rl n l in order to quash the oppo­ nttni.'H initiative, in order to regain I I. lntur, is particularly useful when

J. Rogers - Romilly

Darlington 1995

White must find a way to dodge the checks. 1 c;i;>e41 1 e2 would not have helped because the checks continue, e.g. l . . .l:ta2 + 2 �d3 l:a3 + 3 r.itc2 (3 l:lc3 l:ta4) 3 . . . l:ta2 + 4 'ii;lb 3 l:th2 ! , when White's king i s i n n o fit state to support the march of his kingside pawns. He could main­ tain his extra pawn with 5 h5 (5 l:txa7 l:txh4 would easily draw for Black after 6 l:g7 'ifilc5 7 c3 'iii>d 5 8 d3 lte5 9 'iii> e 3 l:h3 + 10 f2 f4), but 5 . . . l:th3 + 6 'iii>b 2 l:h4 7 lha7 (7 l:.g7 a5) 7 . . . :Xg4 8 h6 l:h4 9 h7 r.itc5 is a draw. These variations clearly dem­ onstrate the dangers of failing to consolidated one's position, and


Choose the Right Move

clinging to extra material at the expense of poorly placed pieces. Instead, in the game White sur­ renders his pawns on the fourth rank. In return, his king becomes active and consigns Black's king to the edge of the board. t. ..:.a4+ 2 �d5 .:.Xg4 There was no choice since White threatened 3 g5. 3 .l:lxa7 .:.xh4 4 .l:lb7 + �a6 5 l:bl The win is now elementary be­ cause the black king is cut off from the kingside and White's king is poised to capture on f6. 5 �a5 6 'i#i>e6 l:th6 7 �f7 1-0 .

the beginning of the sequence White had three pawns to two, but by the end a simple 1-0. How to keep control

So far we have looked at consoli­ dating a position. In the next game we shall look at how to keep con­ trol. It is always tempting to snatch extra material when it is offered. You have probably heard the say­ ing 'there is no such thing as a free lunch' - it applies in chess too.


The endgame is a simple text­ book win. Black cannot stop 8 �g7 and 9 'i#i>xf6, after which White's f­ pawn is unstoppable. Here we saw another benefit from consoli­ dating by the temporary sacrifice of extra material: when the player regained his investment, he had also simplified the position. At

Tann - Duncan Midlands Open Championship 1996 In this position Black has a se­ rious advantage. Material is level; so what do I mean by a serious ad­ vantage? 1. A secure king position. On the other hand White's king is very draughty, having to permanently

How To Win Won Positions

•r· hiM queen around to guard

.. m•l mating threats. I , A MLrong outpost for Black's IL is difficult to remove the lllk k n i ght from f4, and even if It hi ra moved it has plenty of other


ftiHI �tca u ares to head for, such as .. . II . An excellent pawn structure. has an awful pawn struc­ Martt w h ich will lead to pawns be­ lftl picked off.


My opponent offered me the IJJMtrLunity to take his e-pawn. Wl1y d i dn ' t I take it? Is it poi­


Nu, i t is not poisoned, but the III•ILiun becomes amazingly murky tftMr 2H . . . 1Wxe5?! 29 l:r.d8 + �g7 30 .t4 ( now the queens come off and

th• l nMocurity of the white king is "n lnntcor a factor; the white rook 11 lal't us the strongest piece on lh• IJCmrd and will prove a menace tu Uw black pawns) _30 . . . 1i'xd4 3 1 lad4 �o6 3 2 :d7 b 5 3 3 l:r.a7









. . . leading to a position where Black has definitely lost control. Back to the main position. In­ stead I played . . . 28 b5 This move gives my king the extra square and at a later stage I may play . . . h4-h3, adding to the mating net already surrounding White. 29 h4? This is just another weakness in White's position. 29 1Wxe5 It is now safe to take the pawn as White gains nothing from 30 .l:ld8 + �h7 31 1i'd4? 1i'e1 + 32 �h2 1Wxh4 + 33 �g1 1i'g3 + 34 �n 1i'g2 + 35 �e1 1We2 mate. 30 :el 1i'f6 31 :dl 11Vc6 32 g3 'fi'd6 42 'fi'a3 The end is swift and brutal now that White has left the defence of his king. 42 ... tLle2 + 43 'iii>f2 'fi'h2 + 44 'it>e3 'it'e5 + 45 � tLld4 White is completely helpless as Black's queen and knight domi­ nate the centre of board. 46 'ft'a2 'fi'f4 47 'ii'd5 'fi'd2 + 0- 1 Simplification

Assuming that you have consoli­ dated the position and have every­ thing under control, the issue remains as to which pieces you should seek to exchange. The cor­ rect choice is by no means always self-evident. The first point to make is that you must be satisfied with the po­ sition which will arise after the exchange. The classic case of a po­ sition which you might aim for, by means of simplification, would be a winning king and pawn end­ game. Here Fischer simplified by re­ moving all the pieces on the board, thus reaching a position which is easily won on account of the out­ side passed a-pawn which can be created at will.

Lombardy - Fischer USA Championship 1961 l . l:txc3 + 2 bxc3 .l:.xe5 + a 'iii> d2 .l:txe1 4 xe1 'it>d5 5 �dJ 'iii>c4 6 h5 b6 7 'iii> c2 g5 8 h6 f4 8 g4 a5 10 bxa5 bxa5 1 1 �b2 a4 12 'iii>a3 �xc3 13 �xa4 �d4 14 'iii>b4 'iii>e3 0-1 ..

J. Rogers - Duncan Nottingham League 1991

How To Win Won Positions

hus just played 30 l:.d4,

Wltl l.CJ

...rh•M rook exchange in a bid I ftt!U t rllliHo the black initiative. n

fltllltlion 5. 1 : Should this offer .. lt!C1t1Jll.od? ·

nnl,v rurely will you want to IIM tt llfY i nto a rook and pawn or • •• l t. u - c o loured bishop ending, • lh• ••, u re notoriously difficult

..... er

' """" to

convert. But what if npponent tries to tempt you unn of these endgames. Ifyou eYP t.hat with best play the lfMtlnM IH winning for you, should � •twt�pt the invitation? N•Lu rully it depends on the cir­ ltm•t•ncos; but the following .... numples suggest that the lftlwur is normally 'no'. If your fii i Liun is comfortably winning, I ll ttCJtt.o r to be patient and await M •••liur opportunity. ·













, .&

. ' •I 4

I '


Karpov - Larsen Tilburg 1980


In our first game, Bent Larsen is offered an opportunity to sim­ plify into a winning opposite-col­ oured bishop endgame, but he prefers to keep the rooks on the board. l ....i. xf5 Larsen could have continued l . . Jlxf5 2 'iii>g3 l:.xf4 3 'iii>xf4, when his three to one majority on the queenside should secure victory. There is however the danger that White will put his king on the queenside and blockade the pawns: then the game will be drawn be­ cause Black's king will be unable to make headway on the kingside - this is why so many opposite-col­ oured bishop endgames are drawn . With correct play, Black's queen­ side pawns should not become blockaded, but it is instructive to note that even a world-class grand­ master such as Larsen eschews the difficulties, even though the game will take longer to convert with rooks on the board. Larsen: ' I don't agree with an­ notators who say that I should have forced the exchange of rooks . . . it wins, but if you make a cou­ ple of small mistakes it draws. With rooks there are no draws. ' 2 c 3 .i.e6 3 'iii> g3 l:.d5 4 .l:.e4 '1f.?d7 5 .i.e5 .:.d2 6 e 6 13 .i.g3 'iW5 14 �h6 After 14 :Xa7 . . . •••






Larsen now methodically ad­ vances his pawns. 15 �g7 'iii> g4 16 ..WS a4 17 lle3 i.f3 18 .i.e1 l:cl 19 l:e7 �h3 20 i.d2 llc4 21 lle3 c;i;>g2 22 .i.e1 l:tc1 23 .i.d2 l:.d1 24 .i.c3 c5 25 l:te7 b5 26 .i.e5 a3 27 l:th7 b4 28 h5 b3 29 h6 b2 30 l:lg7+ � 31 i.g3 + 'ote3 0-1 We can now return to the ear­ lier game Duncan-Molyneux. With the knowledge of Karpov-Larsen, I figured that the best way to try and defend my position was to reach an opposite-coloured bishop endgame.

8 7 6 5


4 3 2

Duncan - Molyneux British Championship 1996 a








Karpov would have been mated by 14 . . Jlc6, threatening both 15 . . . .i.f7 + and 15 . . . i.f3 + . 14 a5 •••

42 i.c3 �e8 Black has an extra pawn and a dangerous kingside majority, but here tries to win another pawn. Although he succeeds, he pays a price.

How To Win Won Positions 43 d4 .ie6?! ll would have been better to play

4:1 h5 ! , with the idea of continu­ lnw 44 .id3 or 44 . . . .ig4 and then 41\ g5 . . . .

. . .

. . .

44 i.b4 llf7?! 'l'his gives Black the chance to rt�Rch an opposite-coloured bishop

1111ding. 4 6 :x£7 r.f;xf7 46 d5 46 c5 would have severely lim­ l�ad th e power of my bishop, so I

docided to sacrifice a pawn to l'tlllch a position I felt gave me ex­ liCII Iont drawing chances. 46 ... cxd5 47 cxd5 .ixd5 48 �18 15 49 a4 'ifilg6 50 a5 h5 51 A•7 �f5 52 .idS h4 + 53 �h3 &o4 54 .ic7 .ie2 55 'ifilh2 �g4 II .tds �h5 I t has suddenly become very dif­ ftcm l t for Black, who must leave hhc king on the passive square h5 &.41 ho able to advance his kingside


My king heads for f4 where it will be able to help set up a dark­ squared blockade of the kingside pawns. 61. g3 62 �f4 g2 63 .ib6 Y2-Y2 Mter 63 . . . h3 64 �g3 .id7 65 'ifilh2 Black cannot make progress. This game illustrates just how difficult it is to play for a win in an opposite-coloured bishop end­ ing. ••

By contrast, here follows per­ haps the most infamous example of a player hurrying to exchange pieces and thus acquiring an un­ necessarily difficult rook ending. The perpetrator of this (unchar­ acteristic) error was none other than Bobby Fischer:


57 �h3 .ifl + 58 rl;b2 .ib5 59

*112 .tc6+ 60 � g4 61 �e3 II

Botvinnik - Fischer Varna Olympiad 1962 Fischer is a pawn up and has control of the position to boot. Be­ lieving that a rook endgame would


Choose the Right Move

be winning, he hurried towards it with . . . l tLle4+ 2 iLxe4 lhe4 But the ending is not straight­ forward. Mter some inaccuracies the game was drawn. Indeed, Bot­ vinnik later claimed that the rook ending was tenable, but whatever the correct assessment, clearly Fischer should not have played into an endgame in which he had so little room for error. A useful rule of thumb is that you should exchange pieces which are about as strong as each other in the overall context of the posi­ tion; but if you exchange a strong piece for a less well placed one, then you may compromise your advantage to such an extent that you are no longer winning. In this example, Fischer's knight, on a safe outpost near the centre, is far more effective than White's bishop, which has no outpost and no weak black pawns to attack. In princi­ ple it was a mistake to exchange these pieces. In fact, in the diagram position Fischer's pieces seem to have reached their optimal positions already. If this happens and yet there is no good way in which to exchange pieces, then it often pays to look at the position from your opponent's perspective, and to consider what his next moves will be. If he is apparently holding the position in spite of a material defi­ cit, it may be that his pieces are stretched to breaking point and •••

that he will be in Zugzwang if left to his own devices. In this posi· tion, Fischer should have noticed that Botvinnik has no moves left: a king move allows Black to play . . . �h4 and then manoeuvre a knight to attack the h3 pawn; 1 iLbl allows 1 . . .l:r.d l 2 iLc2 :cl; and a rook move allows Black to make progress with . . . .l:lc4 (for ex· ample, 1 l:ta3 l:tc4 2 iLd l .l:.c3 + ! 3 .l:.xc3 ttlxc3 and the endgame with minor pieces is an easy win as White's pawns are so vulnerable), So according to Botvinnik, a wait· ing sequence such as 1 . . . .l:tb4 2 a3 l:r.d4 3 f3 a5 would have had a dev· astating effect. Wi nn ing the won endgame

When (or if) we manage to reach a winning endgame, how should we play the position? One thing that we should not do is hope that the position will play itself. By this I mean playing moves with no pur­ pose and hoping our opponent will make a mistake. Opponents are far more likely to make a mistake when you apply some pressure. In the following position Black should devise an active plan. What would your plan be? If given the chance what would you exchange? Pawns, pieces or rooks? You should advance the king­ side pawns and try and create mating threats. The knight must stay on the kingside or in a cen­ tral position. The rook is best

How To Win Won Positions

I , I • • • • •

J. Richardson - Duncan

#flua· Nations Chess League 1994 phu�ncl on the sixth or seventh

Pll l k , where it can impede the w h l l.n king and also pressure the wh lt.u kingside pawns. It is no use

hlcllnJ{ the king behind the pawns. 'rh., king is a powerful piece in &h11 cmdgame and so must be used tu nld the attack!

l� xchanging pieces: If given the

11hn nce you would definitely not

"•c·hnnge off the minor pieces. 'l'h iH would reach a drawn rook l Ull I puwn endgame - see the Bot­ ¥ 1 n n i k-Fischer game. I� xchanging pawns: The more JIAWnH you exchange the harder it w I l l he to win for two reasons. I 'fhe last thing you want is k i nK, rook, knight and pawn vs. k l r t K, rook and bishop, which is .

c l t·nwn.

:l . The more pawns that White 11 11chunges, the less weaknesses he w i l l have to defend.


Exchanging rooks: If anything is to be exchanged, it should be the rooks. There is a general prin­ ciple about endgames involving knights against bishops and that is: if there are pawns on both sides of the board and the position is open, then the bishop will be stronger. However, if the position is blocked or the pawns are only on one side, the knight is often stronger. The reason for this is that the bishop is able to move and create threats on both sides of the board easily, whereas the knight takes time to move from one side of the board to the other. In this position the knight vs . bishop endgame will be hard for White to defend. 35 ...f5!

Starting the kingside push. 3 6 �g2 h4 If Black is allowed to get in . . . h3 + then the back-rank conse­ quences for White will be disas­ trous, hence his next move. 37 h3 l:td4 A consolidating move, stopping White from pushing the black king back with .l:.b4 + . 38 i..f7 tt:Je5 Centralising the knight. 39 i..e6 tt:Jd3 Eyeing up the f2 pawn, while when the black king moves from f4 the knight will land there. 40 i.. f7 'it>g5 Guarding the g6 pawn and moving aside for the black knight. 41 I:tb3 tt:Jf4 + 42 �h2 .l:.d2


Choose the Right Move

White has an impossible task of defending his weak pawns. 43 c;Pgt lbd3 44 l%b6 White will lose the f2 pawn, so he goes on the counterattack. 44 ... lbxf2 45 .l:.xg6 + 'it>f4 46 .l:.b6 c;i{g3

We can see the whole plan coming together beautifully. 4 7 l%b3 + lbd3 White is now in a mating net. 48 e4 gxf4 35 �xd4 �fB White will be left in Zugzwan1 again. 34 � e51 This move wraps up the game, Black will simply take the dS pawn and march his own d-pawn through to coronation. Notice how ineffective the white kingside paWD majority is. •••


a-pawn or 32 dxe5 + �xe5 and the d-pawn drops off. Finally, if 32 �f3 exd4 33 �e4 d3 34 �xd3 �e5 35 �c4 b6 and Black wins. 8 7 6 5 3 2

White will eventually be in Zug­ zwang and will lose his d-pawn. 32 exd4 33 'iW3 It looks as if White will be able to play �e4 and then �xd4. But . . . •••

35 'it>e2 'it>xd5 36 �d3 b6 37 h4 �e5 38 h5 'it>d5 39 g4 'itte 5 40 h6 'itd5 0-1 White is in Zugzwang again. If he moves his king backwards, the black king will mop up the queen­ side pawns.

8 Practical Play (C h ris Duncan) A, Ttme trouble l l n r ry : ' I lost on time in a win­ ttiiiM J H IHition.' C �uorge: 'Why do you always get lnlu li mo trouble?' A vt� ry good question. We have

•Il iuM I. on time and sworn blindly Ut�al. wo will never do it again.

Ancl of course, although we rarely •••h ut l ly lose on time, numerous I•"'"" are thrown away in time &�111 h lo . Time management - a

by 11xpression in the nineties - is Ill

when they clearly only have one move. How many times have we wondered whether to put our queen's rook or our king's rook on the d-file, only to find that the rooks are soon exchanged and the decision was irrelevant? The perfectionist will always argue that one move will be stronger than the other, but that is exactly what we are trying to get away from in this chapter. Perfectionism can seriously harm your chess results.

I mportant concept. In this sec­

Uun we shall investigate how to \llllt o u r time wisely, but first of all I•L us try and eradicate time

lrcnablo from our repertoire.

Why do we get into time trouble?

'l'hiH question can be broken down lnl.o four reasons: I . We spend time needlessly on ll'l'l'lt•vant decisions I I. is very easy to fritter away l i 111o

on straight-forward deci­

•lnnH. We can all identify with the fo l l o wing scenarios : You know w hnt your next two moves are go­ h • .c t o be, but you spend time de­ l ' i c l i ng on which order to play them ln.

Worse still is when players -. pcmd time analysing positions

Hennigan - Duncan Budapest 1 992 2 l .lbc3 ..

I reached this position with 15

minutes left on my clock. Con­ vinced that it was won, I won­ dered what move my opponent


Choose the Right Move

would play. With less than two minutes left on his clock Michael played . . . 22 �b3 Not 22 .l:.xc3 bxc3 + and Black wins. 22 .l:.b8 I spent 10 precious minutes on this move, trying to found an out­ right win. As it happens any of three checks(!) would win this po­ sition, but in my quest for perfec­ tion over half my remaining time disappeared. The winning moves were 22 . . .'ii'a4 + 23 'iii> c4 b3 + 24 c;txc3 'ii'xg4; 22 . . . 'ii'a2 + 23 �xb4 'ii'a4 + 24 c;txc3 'ii'xg4; and finally 22 . . . 'ii'a 3 + 23 c;tc4 'ii'a2 + 24 �xb4 'ii'a4 + with the same position arising after 22 . . . 'i¥a2 + . •••

23 tlxb6? Conscious of the amount of time I had spent over the last move, I quickly checked that I wouldn't get mated on the back rank and then took the bishop. 23 . . . 'ii'a4 + would have won the queen: 24 'iii>c4 b3 + 25 �xc3 'i¥xg4. 24 'it'c8 + .tf8 25 'iii>c4 The only way to avoid . . . 'ii'a2 mate. All of a sudden with only a few minutes left on the clock I have 101 different options avail­ able - there must be a mate ! ! I de­ cided to cut off the d4 square to the king by playing . . . 25 ••• dxe5 25 . . . 'ii'b 5 + was also winning, but I started seeing ghosts at this point in the game. Imagine that the white pawn was on h6 instead on h5 . White could then play 26 'ii'xfS + �xfS 27 l:ldS mate. 26 J:td8 Suddenly White has threats of his own. At this point I will be the first to admit that it took me too long to spot how to win the white queen. The point is that as you get shorter and shorter of time, you can never produce your best chess. 26 'ii'b 5+ 27 �b3 'i¥a4 + 28 'iii>c4 :tc6 + Now I have finally won the white queen, but at what price? My flag was now hanging. 29 'ii'xc6 'ii'xc6 + 30 hb4 'ii'b6+ ? O r 3 0 . . . tLld5 + 3 1 l:xd5 e6 + 3 2 c;tb3- 'ii'xd5 + and wins. •••


2 3 .tb6! What a fighter. This was the only move, allowing the white king a flight square on e3! 23 c;tc4? would have allowed the pretty fin­ ish 23 . . . 'ii'a2 + 24 c;td4 'ii'd5 mate.


Practical Play
















31 'ili>xc3 'ii'xd8 32 .tc4 .tg7 33 lbg5 'iVd4 + 34 �b3 1Wb6 + 35 � 'ii'a5 + 36 'ili>b1 'iVM+ 37 .tb3 e6 38 hxg6 fxg6 39 lbxe6 1-0 With the game 'won', unfortu­ nately my flag fell as I made my 39th move. What a disaster, being a perfectionist cost me dearly. The players who win tourna­ ments regularly (such as the Eng­ lish grandmasters Adams and Hebden) are experts at making practical decisions; it is no coinci­ dence that you will rarely find either of these two players in time trouble.

2. We lack the courage of our convictions Okay, so you 're playing against a strong player, it's not surprising that you feel intimidated. Does this mean that you have to double check every move you make? This is a fairly typical scenario. When we are playing stronger

players there is always a feeling inside that we have missed some­ thing in the position. This type of self-doubt can only be harmful. It is very tempting to believe that a stronger opponent will beat you as soon as you make a slip. You tend to check every move very carefully, in fact too carefully be­ cause normally you will get into time trouble. Of course it is wise to respect a strong opponent, but don't let it interfere with your normal calculation process. When you believe that you have found the correct course of action, don't dither wondering whether you have missed something. Un­ fortunately I did just that in the following example.

Sadler - Duncan British Championship 1996 (The total times taken are given after each move.) d6 0 lbf6 0 lbbd7 1 3 lbc3 1 4 g3 3 e5 4 exd4 8 5 lbge2 6 6 lbxd4 8 g6 9 My preparation had gone well; this wasn't one of Matthew's fa­ vourite lines. 7 .tg2 8 .tg7 9 0-0 10 8 0-0 8 9 .l:.e1 1 0 lle8 12 10 h3 12 lbc5 25 As I was unfamiliar with this known theoretical position and 1 d4 0

2 e4 0


Choose the Right Move

scared of making a mistake, I thought for thirteen minutes. l l ltlb3 1 5 ltle6 40 A TN (theoretical novelty) but, as you can see from the clock times, not one that I had prepared ear­ lier.







12 J.e3 20 h6 50 Here I started to worry about f4-f5. Worrying never helps; it only costs you valuable clock time. 13 1Wd2 23 �h7 53 14 a4 27 a6 62 The idea of this move is that I can now play 15 . . . ltlg5 and after 16 J.xg5 hxg5 1 7 1Wxg5 i.. h 6 the queen cannot come to b5 and then e2. The only square left for the queen is a5 , and this will give me some play for the pawn. 15 ltla5? 30 I couldn't believe it. Now that the a5 square has been occupied I can win his queen if he takes on g5 ( 1 5 . . . ltlg5 16 i.xg5 hxg5 17 'ii'xg5 J.h6! 18 jfh4 g5) .

ltlg51 88 1 5 ... A strong move. White must ex­ change his dark-squared bishop, which allows my bishop domina­ tion of the dark squares. I saw this move instantly and against most opponents I would have played it in less than five minutes, but against Matthew I was convinced that I must have missed some­ thing. It took me 26 minutes to play this move; carefully checking all the variations over and over again. 16 i..xg5 40 hxg5 89 17 l:tad1 43 Mter the game Matthew admit­ ted that he had simply missed 15 . . . ltlg5, so all that worrying was for nothing. ltld7 96 17 ... Countering the threat of 18 e5. ltle5 99 18 ltlc4 47 19 lbxe5 50 i.xe5 99 J.e6 1 02 20 ltle2 55 I had now reached a very com­ fortable position on the board, but

Practical Play disastrous situation on the clock 20 moves in 20 minutes. Now I wus going to pay the price for cloubting my earlier play. 20 . . . 'iti>g7, w i th the idea of . . . l:th8, would huve been better. 21 b3 59 n

Only now did it hit me how Hhort of time I had become. I de­ cided to play quickly and, of course, Htraight away I blundered. 'ii'd7?? 103 2 1 ... Simply throwing away my im­ portant g5 pawn. 22 'ii'xg5 64 'ito>g7 1 06 Not 22 . . . i.xh3 23 'ii' h4 + 'iti>g7 24 'ii'xh3. i.g4 1 08 23 h4 67 i.h3 109 24 f3 71 i.xg2 1 1 0 25 tD£4 74 26 �xg2 74 i.xf4 1 1 0 27 'ii'xf4 75 'ii'c6 1 12 1:te5 1 1 3 28 'ii'd2 79 .l:.ae8 114 29 l:te2 81 �g8 1 1 6 30 ..d4 85 l:.c5 1 1 7 3 1 :t2 90


32 l:.dd2 92 l:t.ce5 118 1:tc5 118 33 l:td3 95 a5 118 34 'ii'h2 97 b6 118 35 c4 99 36 l:.d5 1 02 1:te5 1 19 37 'ii'd2 1 04 'ii'e8 119 38 'ii'd3 105 'ike7 119 39 l:.e2 1 05 f5 1 1 9 40 � 1 1 0 fxe4 Here I lost on time while press­ ing my clock, but White can play 41 :Xe4 l:tcxd5 42 cxd5. I'm not sure whether the result of this game would have been dif­ ferent if I had utilised my time better, but I certainly could have given a better account of myself. Having seen these first two games, you are probably thinking that I always lose on time. Fortu­ nately this is not true: they both stick out in my memory for all the wrong reasons.

3. We find ourselves in unfamil­ iar territory It is much easier to run short of time when you are unaccustomed to the opening that arises in the game. The phrase 'I was move-or­ dered, ' springs to mind: this is when your opponent employs a clever move order and gets you into a position that you were not intending to play. An example of this is would be: 1 lLlc3 d5 2 d4 Your opponent started with the unusual move 1 lLlc3 and, although you are normally a King's Indian


Choose the Right Move

player, you decided to follow the principles of chess and place a pawn in the centre. Your oppo­ nent then returned to normality with the move d4, and all of a sud­ den you are in a Veresov Opening. This opening is not bad for Black, but it has taken you out of your normal opening lines. If you fmd yourself in a position you are unfamiliar with, it will often mean that you will fall be­ hind on the clock as you try to fathom all the possibilities over the board. Whereas if you are con­ fident that you understand a posi­ tion you will be able to play the position better as well as faster. Preparation can be very important in this respect. If you can reach a position you have prepared at home, the results can be fantastic. A few years ago I found an un­ usual move in the main line of the Closed Sicilian. It was not really a novelty, I think it was first played in 196 1, but then disappeared un­ til 1986. I stumbled onto it in 1990 and achieved excellent re­ sults -. six wins, two draws and no losses. It slowly became very popular until about 1993, when black players decided to take it se­ riously. So what was this move? 1 e4 c5 2 �c3 �c6 3 g3 g6 4 .ig2 .ig7 5 d3 d6 6 f4 e6 7 �f3 �ge7 8 0-0 0-0 9 .ie3 �4 10 e5! The beauty of this move is that it initiates a very complicated po­ sition with many possibilities that need to be considered. I found that

all my opponents knew little or nothing about this position, and would usually lapse into deep thought at this point. There are several moves that Black can play, for example 10 . . . �ef5; 10 . . . 'i\Vb6; 10 . . lDec6; 10 . . . trucf3; or 10 . . . . dxe5. The most common move played against me was 10 . . . �ef5, allow­ ing me to instantly reply 1 1 .if2. My opponents would then go into another long think and come up with either: l l . . . �xf3; 1 l . . . .id7; 1 1 . . .l:lb8; l l . . . dxe5 or ll . . . d5 . Little did they know that I had prepared all of these lines at home, although some did become rather suspicious of the speed at which I was able to play. I have to admit that I rarely came out of the opening with a winning ad­ vantage, but almost without ex­ ception I would be an hour up on the clock! The moral of this story is that a little home preparation can save a lot of time at the board. .

Practical Play 4. We allocate our time incor­ rectly In a tournament game you often have a time limit of 40 moves in two hours, and it is sometimes very difficult to decide how to ap­ portion this time. Here I shall of­ fer some basic guidelines. After you have reached the end of your opening knowledge, you may have a further 30 moves to play in an hour and 55 minutes. This is almost four minutes a move, but I like to think of it as three minutes a move plus a re­ serve. At this point you need to make some estimations about the ensu­ ing position. Is it likely to be a tac­ tical melee and end in 25 moves or is it likely to be a deep posi­ tional manoeuvring game? If the answer to this question is the lat­ ter then you should keep a close watch on the clock and make sure that you do not fall into the trap of spending too much time on ir­ relevant decisions; after all, there is a good chance that the game will be resolved by a mistake in time trouble. If the opening has suggested a tactical, open battle then make sure that you spend enough time on the clock, so as not to miss any tricks. My two guiding principles are: A. Make sure that you are ahead on the clock. This is not al­ ways possible, but if you can man­ age to get ahead on the clock, it will be your opponent who will


come under pressure during time trouble. If you do fall behind, make sure you never fall too far behind, as this often decides the game. In a difficult position it is easy to drift into time trouble, only to find your opponent making a mess of the position. Then you find your clock situation does not give you the opportunity to take ad­ vantage of his mistakes. B. There are no rules regarding the amount of time you should spend on a particular move. It would be impossible for me to sit here and say 'rigidly stick to three minutes per move. ' It depends on the situation and how compli­ cated your choice of move is (see the chapter on calculation) . An exception to this arises when you have already been thinking about a move for a lengthy period of time. You are unlikely to change your mind about a move after half an hour's thought, so you should go ahead and make your move. How to avoid time trouble

Having seen the main reasons why we get into time trouble, let us look at the four main ways in which we can avoid it.

1. Make a plan The Russian chess trainer Al­ exander Kotov suggested that we should analyse concrete calcula­ tions in our own time and look at plans during our opponent's time.


Choose the Right Move

This is a certainly a good idea as it can save a lot of unnecessary time wasting. Establishing a plan of action will go some way towards countering the first reason for us getting into time trouble - spend­ ing time needlessly on irrelevant decisions.

2. Calculate accurately and swiftly One of the main reasons for getting into time trouble is that you check and re-check your analy­ sis . If you can ensure that your calculations are accurate, there should be no need to go back and check them. (The chapter on cal­ culation explains how to make maximum use of the calculations that you make.) 3. Prepare beforehand Home preparation in one form or another is a vital part of gain­ ing time on the clock. There are different types of preparation that you can undertake. I recommend that you decide on the amount of time you can spend on chess with regard · to preparation and then decide on a course of action. If you do not have much time I suggest that you play systems that you can get to know well and thus become familiar with the set-ups involved. The more time you have, the more time you can spend looking at critical positions and lines where knowing the lat­ est theory is all important.

4. Use the opponent 's time Use your opponent's time wisely. Consider the move he is likely to play and try to work out what is happening in the resulting posi­ tions. You should also use this time to think about your various plans and manoeuvres. It is always very inviting to get up from your game and chat to your friends and colleagues dur­ ing your opponent's thinking time. Avoid this temptation, as it is a good recipe for time trouble. An occasional breath of fresh air and physical movement are good to keep your head clear and mind fo­ cused, but note the use of the word occasional. Never think about what you could have done with your pre­ vious moves - torturing yourself like this is only detrimental to your play. It is easy to think about past moves, but, unless they have any direct influence on the future of the game, forget about them until the post-mortem. Taking advantage of your opponent's time trouble

At the start of the game it is diffi­ cult to know whether your oppo­ nent will get into time trouble, but if he starts drifting towards it why not help him along the way? After all, if your opponent wants to hang himself, then why not provide the rope. Consider the fol­ lowing ideas:

Practical Play 1. Steer the game towards posi­ tions with many choices The easiest positions to play are forcing positions; as soon as your opponent finds the forcing continuation he will play it. You should therefore try to find tense positions with lots of alternatives to think about, as your opponent's time will soon disappear in need­ less calculations . It is very time­ consuming to consider a number of moves in a tense situation. I like to remember the quote from Nimzowitsch: ' The threat is stronger than its execution. ' I find this particularly true in time trouble. Many players fall apart when they perceive a strong threat about to land. They try some pre­ ventative course of action which leaves them in even deeper trouble. than before. 2. Play non-committal moves I decided to conduct a survey of time trouble addicts and asked them what they thought about during their time trouble - the unreserved answer was tactics. They spend all the available time analysing tactics. Assuming your opponent is similar to the norm, it would be pointless playing for tac­ tical tricks if your opponent is spending his whole time looking at them. If you do play for cheapos, the likelihood is that your oppo­ nent will fight his way out of a corner and leave you wondering why you placed your pieces on


such strange squares. The best approach is to play non-committal moves which have some posi­ tional finesse behind them. In the following position my opponent was already becoming short of time, and although Black is in a better position he is by no means winning. I decided this was the ideal time to put into practice my time trouble principles.

A. Edwards - Duncan Leicester Championship 1 996 26 'ii'e2 e4! At this point in the proceed­ ings, it is time to reveal the law which lets time trouble addicts off the hook more than anything else. It is known as the 'hope' law, not after Bob Hope, but after all the players who hope their opponent will make a mistake in time trouble. Don't play a move just in the hope that your opponent will miss


Choose the Right Move

the correct defence. It is far better to make the 'best' moves and wait for your opponent to surprise you with weaker continuations. How to avoid the 'hope ' law ­ admitting you were wrong: Your first instinct may be to catch your opponent out with a clever tacti­ cal trick, but ask yourself a ques­ tion. If someone had played that move against you, what would you do? For example, in my game it would have been very tempting to play for tricks with the move 26 . . .'ii'g7, but, to be honest, a trick is all it is. Don't get me wrong, it was the first idea I had in this po­ sition (and I'm sure it was the first move my opponent consid­ ered) . It looks like a clever idea, so I checked it out. As soon as I real­ ised that White had a good de­ fence, I disregarded the move. This is one of the hardest parts of chess, to admit that your first in­ stincts were wrong. After 27 f4! (not 27 .l%xd6?? - this is what those who follow the hope law would be hoping for - 27 . . . l:.xg2 + 28 �h 1 .l%g1 + 29 · �h2 'ii'g2 + 30 tbxg2 l:[8xg2 mate) Black must do some­ thing about his bishop on d6 : 2 7 . . . i.c5 + 28 'iii> h 1 e4, when al­ though Black is still better, White has played two forced moves and now has a clear plan of trying to blockade the dark squares. 27 �h1 There were so many moves to consider that my opponent ate up

even more of his time at this point. 27 ...'ii'c5 Although 2 7 . . . 'ii'g 7 still looks attractive, this time it is tactically flawed. After 28 .:xd6 .l%xg2 there is only one move to save White, but one move is all it takes: 29 l:[d8 + ! :xd8 30 tbxg2 and wins. 2 7 . . . 'ii'c5 maintains the pressure, while attempting to play . . . Yi'e5 which will force g3, a concession White can ill afford to make. 28 'ii'd2 Okay, so he spotted my inten­ tions, time for a non-committal retreat. 28 ...i.c7 29 'ii'd4 Wise guy, huh, wants to get the queens offi One of the key ideas if your are in time trouble is to sim­ plify the position. 29 .. .'ii'c6 ! It is always a good idea to put your queen on the same diagonal as the opponent's king. In this po­ sition White's g2 square is becom­ ing a prime target for my forces. White now has to meet two threats, 30 . . . e3 and 30 . . . .l%d8 . 30 "ii'd2 'ii'b5 Having probed White's soft spots with my queen, I will now be able to reach the key square e5. 31 l:lg1 A difficult choice after which White has very little time left. He also had to think about 31 �gl 'ii'e5 32 f4 exf3 33 tbx£3 (or 33 :xf3 'ii' h 2 + 34 �fl i.g3, threatening

Practical Play to remove the defensive knight, ufter which White's position will fall apart like a house of cards) 33 . . . l:xg2 + 34 'ii'xg2 .l:xg2 + 35 �xg2 'ii'g3 + 36 �h 1 'ii'xh3 + 37 �g1 �b6 + winning; and 3 1 �g1 ..,e5 32 g3 l:xg3 + 33 fxg3 'iixg3 + 34 'ii'g2 'ii'h 2 + winning. 3l 'ii'e 5 •••

Finally the queen has made it! 32 g3 f4 Black's forces will now smash through, with devastating conse­ quences. 33 'ii'e 2 fxg3 34 fxg3 l:txg3 35 l:xg3 :Xg3 36 1i'b2 �c8 I wanted to play 37 . . . iif5 with­ out allowing the riposte 38 l:td8 + i.xd8 39 'ii'xg3. 37 'ii'd2 lhh3 + 38 �gl �b6+ Here my opponent decided to call it a day. Did you notice that I didn't allow my opponent any opportunities to simplify or com­ plicate the game, I just kept the position nice and tense.


3. Make a tactical draw offer If you are in a worse position or don't mind a draw, then try punt­ ing the draw offer. I have found that the best time to offer a draw is when your opponent has about ten minutes left on the clock. There can be a double effect of of­ fering a draw. First, the opponent may not have enough confidence to play out the win and so accept the draw, and second, he may use up a large amount of time consid­ ering the draw offer, then play on. Not only will this cost him valu­ able time, but in the back of his mind he will be thinking about taking greater risks to justify the fact that he has just declined a draw. A good example of the first of these scenarios is the following position, where Black's king is se­ riously exposed:

Cole - Duncan British Championship 1 996


Choose the Right Move

I managed to misplay this game, having earlier held a big advan­ tage. My position had gradually gone downhill, thanks to my oppo­ nent's instinctive attacking play, and I am now in big trouble. What should I do? 27 ... lhc4 Coupled with a draw offer! Thankfully my opponent took the draw because he was short of time. If he had played on I'm sure that he would have found 28 ttlf6 + �f7 29 'ii' h3 ! (or 29 'ii'f3), when White' s threats against the black king are too hot to handle.

8 7 6 5

3 2

Hill arp Persson - Liss Copenhagen 1996

But what happens when there are just a few minutes left for your opponent to complete his moves? If you are winning, just play your natural game and enjoy making your opponent suffer. You may employ the type of tactics that were discussed in the last section, but never employ the type of tactics that we are about to discuss� When you feel the game is be­ coming desperate try these tac­ tics, but don't expect them always to work.

Black had just played 39 . . . l:.c8, with the intention of queening the c-pawn. His flag was hanging, so he was working out his re­ sponse to 40 �c2, stopping the c­ pawn from queening ( 40 . . .b5 is the obvious choice) . However, White played . . . 40 �d4?! The question mark is for a very dodgy move. The exclamation mark is for the choice of move given the situation. White knew that this move would throw his op­ ponent. Black must have thought, 'What is this? Am I getting mated? ' And as he thought about it, his flag fell!

1. Don 't play the obvious move If your opponent only has a small amount of time left and you consider your position lost, then why not try to confuse him.

2. Blitz your opponent This is a technique whereby you allow yourself to get very low on time as well, in an attempt to randomise the position. The laws

Taking advantage of serious time trouble

Practical Play of chess say that you must record your moves until you have five minutes on the clock. Some play­ ers (although I would never ap­ prove this!?!) deliberately allow their clock time to fall below five minutes and then start blitzing out their moves, the effect of which is that it is difficult to know when the time control has been reached. Indeed I have often seen games where the time control has been at move 40 and the players were still bashing moves out at move 45 and beyond.

3. Let your opponent stew When you have plenty of time, don't speed up your play. Take your time, but move at regular in­ tervals. The idea of this technique is to give yourself plenty of time to spot any mistakes that your op­ ponent makes, while allowing his nerves to affect him as much as possible. 4. Use the barrage technique This is a highly acclaimed method that was brought to pub­ lic attention in the book Chess for Tigers by Simon Webb: 'This tech­ nique consists of playing several moves at once! Well, actually you have to let your opponent play moves in between, but the idea is that you play two or three moves instantaneously. ' The idea behind this cunning technique is not to allow your op­ ponent thinking time; hopefully


he will panic and blunder. First of all you must plan your barrage consider a number of moves and their responses. You decide which variation you are going to play, having checked all the sub-vari­ ations, and then bash it out, giv­ ing your opponent no time to work out his responses. For exam­ ple, if you are about to exchange some pieces, consider what your move will be after his obvious re­ capture and play both moves in­ stantaneously. However, if your opponent deviates from your main variation, then you must stop to consider the consequences. What to do if you a re in time trouble yourself

This is the part of the game where your instincts take over and you have to fight for survival. If you have ignored all the advice al­ ready given about avoiding time trouble, then please, please make sure you take note of the advice below; it might be your last chance!

1 . Remain calm Do not let your lack of time in­ fluence your thought process. Of course you will have to restrict your analysis to take into account your lack of time, but make sure you calculate any tactical melee. One good way to practise time trouble is to play five-minute chess with your friends, where you have five minutes each on the clock to


Choose the Right Move

complete all your moves. The best five-minute chess players are those who can calculate accurately and quickly, and some of the best time trouble players are also very good at five-minute chess - as much through practice as anything else. When I was young, I grew up playing five-minute chess with players like Michael Hennigan, Aaron Summerscale, Gary Quil­ lan, Ali Mortazavi and Ilya Gure­ vich, and it is no coincidence that they are all time trouble experts.

2. Control your nerves We all have different ways of dealing with our nerves; try to see which method best suits yourself. Some players find drinking water or coffee calms them down, others like to go for a walk, while others manage to block the whole world out and just concentrate on the game. Some rock in their chair, while others (like me! ) just seem to shake. Of course, many psychology books have been written about con­ trolling one's nerves, normally under th� heading of stress man­ agement because that is exactly what it is. The main advice that is common to all is to eat and sleep well, along with doing some physi­ cal exercise to keep fit. 3. Use your opponent's time sensibly Try to guess your opponent's next move; tune into his thinking.

Check all the tactics because the last thing you want to do is blun­ der. Ifyou need to look at the clock, do so during your opponent's time, not your own!

4. Simplify the position If you get the chance, simplify­ ing the position will reduce the number of variations and moves that you need to consider. Some­ times sacrificing some material in time trouble to give yourself the initiative makes life easier. In the position below I held a positional advantage, but in time trouble it is often the player who holds the initiative or attack who emerges on top.

Hammond - Duncan Thames Valley League 1996 23 ....ixa4?l The best practical move would have been 23 . . . :Xd3! 24 �xd3 �e4 25 'ii'g4 f5 26 'it'h5 .ixa4 27 �e5. I

Practical Play could have removed his best piece, l(uined control over e4, hemmed h is pieces in and won his weak 11ueenside pawns at leisure. The main advantage of this move, however, is that in mutual time trouble I would have held the in­ itiative and snuffed out his king­ Hide attack before it had even Htarted. As it is, after 23 . . . i.xa4?! White gets massive kingside com­ pensation. 24 e4 lhc3 25 e5 tl:Jd5 25 . . Jidxd3 26 exf6 1:r.xg3 27 fxe7 J::r.gd3 28 tl:Jxd3 ltxd3 29 l:r.d1 is better for White.

26 tl:Je4? Here my opponent missed the best continuation, 26 f5. Mter plenty of fun in the time scram­ ble, the game ended in a draw. B. Style

Everyone has their own style; some players prefer complications and

15 1

others positional manoeuvres . In this section we deal with the prac­ tical question: Under what cir­ cumstances should you consider adopting a different style of play? The three most common situ­ ations are: 1. In critical situations 2. Against stronger or weaker opposition 3. To play on your opponent's weaknesses 1 . Critical situations

Let us take a look at the frrst sce­ nario. You are in second place in the local club championship - half a point behind the leader. The fi­ nal round sees you up against the leader. A draw is not enough, how should you play the game? Before we answer this ques­ tion, let us see how Karpov and Kasparov would handle it. The scenario in the next example is virtually the same! Karpov needed to win to retain his World Cham­ pionship, Kasparov only needed a draw. The hallmark ofKarpov's games is fluency and control; he has the reputation of being a near perfec­ tionist. Karpov's killer instinct is never expressed by an overt show of over-aggression, but by a ma­ chine-like persistence, wearing down the most stubborn of oppo­ nent's. Kasparov on the other hand loves double-edged positions, and he is often prepared to sacrifice


Choose the Right Move

material to gain the initiative. It is interesting to see how a critical situation affected their normal styles of play.

Karpov - Kasparov World Championship, Moscow (32) 1 985 As expected, Karpov opens with 1 e4, the most aggressive move. Kasparov replies with the Sicilian. 1 e4 c5 2 tDf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 tDxd4 tDf6 5 tDc3 a6 6 .te2 e6 7 0-0 J.e7 8 f4 0-0 9 �h 1 'ii'c 7 10 a4 tDc6 11 .tea l:.e8 12 J.f3 l:.b8 13 'ii'd2 J.d7 14 tDb3 b6 15 g4?

move befitting his style. Here, for the first time in any of their matches, Karpov started a direct onslaught on the king from the opening. 15 ... J.c8 16 g5 'In for a penny, in for a pound. ' 16 tDd7 17 'ii'f2 J.f8 Kasparov is at home in these type of positions; ready to strike out with his usual counter attack at any moment. 18 .tg2 .tb7 Kasparov completes his devel­ opment, relying on the flexibility and soundness of his position. His knowledge of the various nuances in this type of position is second to none. 19 l:.ad1 g6 20 J.c1 With the idea of l:.d3-h3. 20 l:.bc8 21 l:d3 tDb4 22 l:h3 Karpov continues his blistering attack. 22 J.g7 22 . . .f5 may have been stronger. •••



The question mark given is not for the move itself, but for the choice of move played by Karpov. As we have already seen, this is not Karpov's normal style. Un­ doubtedly the match situation in­ fluenced his choice of move. Earlier in the match Karpov had chosen the quieter 15 J.f2, a

Practical Play 23 ..ie3?!

Kurpov adopts his normal tac­ l. h�H of strengthening his position, ltu t this is not a normal Karpov l.ype of position. Undoubtedly a p l nyer such as Tal or even Kaspar­ I I V himself would have continued the attack with the move 23 f5! 23 ... l:te7 24 �g1 l:tce8 'l'he doubling of rooks on the e­ fl le deters White from the thematic fl'i break. 25 .:td1 f5! 26 gxf6 26 'ii'd 2 is met by 26 . . . e5! 26 lbxf6 27 l:tg3 l:tf7 28 .ixb6 'ii'b8 29 .tea �h5 This is the kind of messy posi­ tion that Kasparov revels in: he has Kood compensation for the pawn. 30 l:tg4 �f6 31 l:th4 White cannot allow a repetition of moves, as this would leave Kas­ purov as World Champion. 31. g5 32 fxg5 �g4! .•.


Karpov finds himself on unfa­ miliar ground.


33 'ii'd2 �xe3 34 1i'xe3 �xc2 35 "ili'b6 .taB Offering to swap queens. 36 l:txd6? A blunder in time trouble. It would have been to play 36 'ifxb8, entering an unclear ending. 36 ...l:tb7 37 'ii'xa6 l:txb3 37 . . . �b4! would have been even stronger. 38 l:txe6 l:txb2 39 'ii'c4 �h8 40 e5 'ii'a 7 + 41 �h1 .i.xg2 + 42 �xg2 �d4+ 0-1 In this game Karpov changed from his usual style game plan, whereas Kasparov played to his own strengths. Our next example shows an­ other World Champion, Tigran Petrosian, changing his style and playing right into his opponent's hands. In his famous book The Golden Dozen, Irving Chemev provides the following description of Petrosian's style of play: 'Petrosian does not play for the attack; you get the impression that he regards a kingside attack as a primitive attempt to force a win. Nor does he try to improve his position at every turn, nor play to weaken that of his oppo­ nents . Very often he seems to be devoting his time to manoeuvring his pieces to the first rank, or even into a corner of the board.' Looking through the next game you will be surprised to discover that Petrosian had the black pieces.


Choose the Right Move

This was a key game in the 1969 World Championship match. Spassky was leading the match 9lh-8lh with six games to play. If the scores were tied Petrosian, as defending champion, would re­ tain the title. Under such circum­ stances one would have expected Petrosian to play a solid line with Black and try to snatch a win with White. However, this is what hap­ pened:

Spassky - Petrosian World Championship, Moscow (27) 1969 1 e4 c5 2 lbf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 lbxd4 lbm 5 lbc3 a6 6 .tg5 lbbd7 7 .tc4 Wa5 8 Wd2 h6?! 9 .t xf6 lbxf6 10 0-0-0 e6 1 1 l:the1 .te 7? A mistake. l l . . . .td7!, intending 0-0-0, was recommended by Tal and Boleslavsky. 12 f4 0-0 13 .tb3 l:te8 14 �b1

14 ....tf8

Petrosian manoeuvres immacu­ lately, but this is hardly his usual French or Queen's Gambit De­ clined type of game. 15 g4! Spassky is at home in this posi­ tion; when there is an opportu­ nity to attack he will come out with all guns blazing. 15 . . lbxg4 If this pawn is not captured Spassky will boldly march it fur­ ther up the board. The other op­ tions were not very appetising: 15 ... lbd7 16 h4 lbc5 17 g5; 15 ... .td7 16 l:lg1 ; and 15 . . . e5 !? 16 fxe5 dxe5 1 7 lbf5 .txf5 18 gxf5 l:ad8 19 "ii'g2, when White has a strong at­ tack along the g-file and a strong and aggressively placed bishop. 16 "ii'g2 lbf6 16 . . . e5 1 7 lLlf5 .txf5 18 exf5 lbf6 19 Wxb7 is better for White. 17 l:.g1 .td7 18 f5! �h8? .

In a difficult and unfamiliar position, Petrosian does not find


Practical Play the best moves. He had to try nither 18 . . . exf5 or 18 . . . e5. 19 .l:tdfl 1i'd8? 19 . e5? would not have fared much better due to the tactical re­ Hponse 20 ti::le 6! fxe6 21 fxe6 .i.xe6 :.!2 l:xf6 gxf6 23 .i.xe6 with mate on g8 or g7 to follow. However, l 9 1i'e5 !? would have been the best chance of putting up real re­ Histance, as after 20 ti::lf3 Black can try and weather the storm with either 20 . . .'ii'c5 or 20 . . . 'ilff4. 20 fxe6 fxe6 Or 20 . . . .i.xe6 2 1 ti::lxe6 fxe6 22 l,i)e2 with the idea of ti::l f4 putting pressure on e6 or heading for g6. 21 e5! dxe5 22 ti::le4 ttlli5 22 . . . exd4 23 lhf0 and 22 . . . tLlxe4 23 :Xf8 + and are also hopeless. 23 'it'g6! exd4 . .

24 ti::lg5 1-0 Petrosian has to give up his queen to avoid mate by 24 . . . hxg5 25 1i'xh5 + �g8 26 1i'f7 + �h7 27 .l:tf3 . This was one of the shortest de­ cisive games in the history of the World Championships.

. . .












Against 23 . . . ti::lf4 Spassky was planning the spectacular finish 24 l:xf4! exf4 25 ti::lf3 'ii'b 6 26 .l:tg5 ! ! i.c6 (26 . . . 'ii'd 8 2 7 ti::le 5) 27 ti::l ffi i.e4 28 1i'xh6 + ! !

During the Hastings Centen­ ary tournament in 1995, I had to draw or win against Dirk Poldauf to keep my chances of an interna­ tional master norm alive. I de­ cided it was time to play the white side of a King's Indian, Fianchetto variation, and this wouldn't have been such a bad decision if I had ever played this type of position before! My whole plan was based on the dubious merit of having found a clever manoeuvre that I believed my opponent would let me play.

Duncan Poldauf Hastings Centenary 1995 -


Choose the Right Move

14 l:tab1 'ii'e 7 15 l:tbd1 The clever idea was to wait for the black queen to commit itself to e7 before playing my queenside rook to d l . Wow, it worked! But what now? 15 ...�d7 16 �g5?! One move out of theory and al­ ready I start to go wrong. 16 �f4!, putting pressure on Black's d6 pawn, would have been stronger. 16 'iff8 1 7 b4 ax:b3 18 ax:b3 .!Dh5

I shall cut the game short at this point (to relieve my painful memories) and move straight to a conclusion. In my own play, I have never found an occasion when changing my style of play has been beneficial. If you need to win a crucial game, I think that the best advice is to play your own, natu­ ral game with a slight hint of ag­ gression.


Not being used to King's In­ dian positions, I was completely oblivious to Black's threat, which involves the (positionally unex­ pected) exchange of his dark­ squared bishop. 19 lle2?? hd4! 20 lbd4 .!beG! How could I have missed such a simple trick? Because I am simply not used to these standard tricks, as I have never played this type of position before. 2 1 �e3 tbxd4 22 �xd4

2. Agai nst stro nger or weaker opposition

Playing a weaker opponent When you play a weaker oppo­ nent, you should play your nor­ mal game. However, you should have a greater determination to win, which sometimes involves tak­ ing more risks. It certainly makes sense to play to your strengths, but only you can be the judge of the risks you should take. Person­ ally, I have always found that it is better to give a lower rated op­ ponent more respect than their rating would suggest. After all, everyone can play a good game. In my experience, many weaker players are apprehensive about playing strong opponents, which leads them to play without confi­ dence. This has two direct results: they often get into time trouble and they are forever expecting their opponents to deliver the kil­ ler blow, focusing on short-term tactics without considering long­ range , plans. Therefore I would

Practical Play udvise you to confidently play your natural game, whether it is tacti­ cal or positional. You will then en­ Hure that your opponent has to play well above himself to get anything out of the game.

Playing a stronger opponent Having conducted some market research amongst strong players, I have discovered some interest­ i ng secrets. In general, they are only too pleased to see a weaker opponent come out fighting and willing to take risks to randomise the position, because they can rely on their vast amount of experi­ ence, intuition, ability, etc. to win the scrap. Take for example the 1996 World Championship fight be­ tween Holyfield and Tyson. Tyson was an overwhelming favourite to win. Did Holyfield try to blast Ty­ son out of the ring? No, in the same way that you shouldn 't try to blast a stronger player off the board. They (like Tyson) are likely to heighten their levels of aware­ ness and pull out all the stops to protect themselves, and then come back at you with everything they have got. How did Holyfield win this fight? He fought his own fight with his usual style, waited until Tyson had worn himself out and then counterattacked when Tyson was least expecting it. How do we put such a strategy into practice over the chess board?


Undoubtedly you should play to your strengths - choose the open­ ing you are most comfortable with. If you play the Trompowsky, don't be afraid that your oppo­ nent might know the latest Kar­ pov antidote to it. Don't back out of playing the Smith-Morra Gam­ bit because someone told you last week that it is unsound. If that is your best opening, play it. Now I would like to explode a myth that affects the moves that many players make. After you have decided which move is the best in a position, for heaven's sake play it! This might sound like obvious advice, but just look at how my opponent played in this game:

Kane - Duncan Hastings Weekend 1994 1 c4 e5 2 g3 ttJc6 3 .tg2 g6 4 ttJc3 .tg7 5 e4 d6 6 d3 f5 7 exf5 .txf5 8 tiJf3 tiJf6 9 0-0 'i¥d7 10 d4 0-0 11 dxe5 dxe5 12 'fi'xd7 tiJxd7 13 ttJg5 tiJb6? 14 c5 I had missed this simple move, forcing the black knight to move and allowing .td5 + . 1 4 ... tiJd7 1 5 .td5 + �h8 16 .te3?! My opponent said afterwards that he thought this would sur­ prise me, as he imagined I was expecting 16 tiJf7 + . More to the point, I was fearing 16 tiJf7 + ! , e.g. 16 . . . l:txf7 1 7 .txf7 tLlxc5 18 .te3 with an advantage for White.


Choose the Right Move what to do about my opponent's obvious centralisation ofhis king's rook, putting pressure on my d­ pawn. Fortunately he decided to play a move that he thought that I would not have considered. 22 lDb6?! This was certainly a surprise move, a pleasant surprise ! I only have one playable move, so no need to think - excellent. 22 lDxb6 23 cxb6 a6 Leaving White with trebled pawns. 24 lDc5 i.f8 25 c,i.?g2 Another surprise move, trying to complicate matters. 25 b4 would have been better. 25 l:.f5 26 lDxb7 l%b8 With my rook on the b-file, the pawns are easy pickings. 27 lDa5 :Xb6 28 lDc4 :Xb3 29 l:r.xa6 l%c5 •••

16 ...lDd4 17 i.xd4?1 1 7 lDf7 + would still have been good: 17 . . . .l:txf7 18 i.xf7 lDxc5 19 lDb5. 17 exd4 Now the lDf7 + option has gone. 18 lDa4 i.c2 Trying to harass the knight. 19 i.b3 i.xb3 20 axb3 c6 21 lDe6 l:.f3 •••

At this point I was already short of time and was wondering


30 .l:tb6? Once again the attempt to com­ plicate the position with a surprise


Practical Play move fails. 30 l:. a4 would have been a difficult defence to break down. 30 3 1 ti:Jxb6 l:r.c2 With the threat of capturing the b-pawn and advancing the dangerous d-pawn. 32 lL'ld7 i.. d6 33 l:.e1 d3 34 l:.e3 d2 35 l:.d3 i..b4 White has run out of tricks and there is no salvation from the ad­ vancing d-pawn. 36 lL'lb6 l:.c1 0-1 My opponent believed the myth of the surprise move, deliberately avoiding the best move on a number of occasions in the hope of catching me out.

try and randomise right from the start. I have to say it never worked. In this game I was scared of try­ ing my usual Queen's Gambit Ac­ cepted and instead tried to mix it, with disastrous effects.

G. Flear - Duncan Isle ofMan 1992 1 d4 d6 2 e4 c5 Trying to tempt my opponent into the Sicilian, but he was hav­ ing done of it. 3 d5 lL'lf6 4 lL'lc3 I had never seen this position before and in fact didn't have a clue what I was doing. 4 e6 5 lL'lf3 g6 6 i..b5 + i.. d7 7 dxe6 fxe6 8 'it'e2 i.. g7 9 e5 dxe5 10 lL'lxe5 •••

There are two flaws in this the­ ory: 1 . 'You should always play the best move, rather than the sur­ prise move, as this may turn out to be the surprise move! ' (Mihai Suba in his book Dynamic Chess Strategy) The point is that you have no way of knowing which move your opponent thinks is strongest, so the move you believe to be strongest could in fact be a surprise to him. 2. It is unlikely that the stronger player will have decided what to do against the best move. How­ ever, if you play a weaker move he is likely to seize his opportunity to punish you. I used to be scared of playing grandmasters, so I would often

My attempts to randomise the position had played right into my opponent's hands and I was already lost, due to the weakness of my e-pawn. Needless to say I


Choose the Right Move

continued to battle, but with such a horrible position after ten moves against a grandmaster there was only going to be one result. Remember we talked about how you would try to beat a weaker player? We agreed that in general the only difference is that you would have an increased determi­ nation to win - which sometimes results in more risk-taking. Now let us try and reverse this theory against stronger players. As long as you are still in the game they will take risks to beat you. There­ fore all you have to do is play your natural game, frustrate them, and then take your chances when they overextend their position. I am convinced this is the way to beat stronger players. It also has the added advantage of being the best way to improve your game. You learn very little by playing sur­ prise moves, randomising the po­ sition or changing your opening against a stronger player. Play your natural game, don't be intimidated and see the frus­ tration on their faces. Watch how the American grandmaster Yasser Seirawan managed to frustrate Garry Kasparov in the following game. Here is the description of this game from the Dubai Olympiad tournament book: ' Seirawan was quite content to set up a solid po­ sition with White and wait for Kasparov to do something. Black could have agreed a draw at any

point, but, feeling that he had whatever initiative there was in the position, the game had to con­ tinue. Right at the end of the ses­ sion, Kasparov committed himself to complications that could have waited, went wrong and adjourned in a dead lost position. That was that. Perhaps we know a little more about Seirawan now that we have seen this game. He is very patient indeed. '

Seirawan Kasparov Dubai Olympiad 1 986 -

1 d4 ltJf6 2 c4 g6 3 ltJc3 d5 4 ltJf3 i.g7 5 i.g5 ltJe4 6 cxd5 ltJxg5 7 ltJxg5 e6 8 ltJfa exd5 9 b4 'ii'd6 10 a3 0-0 11 e3 c6 12 i.e2 �f5 13 0-0 ltJd7 14 ltJa4 a5 Kasparov is slightly better be­ cause Seirawan has embarked on a minority attack that has back­ fired, due to the wasted tempo 10 a3. 15 'ii'b3 b5 16 ltJc5 a4 Kasparov has played very well thus far. He has closed the queen­ side and now turns to the king­ side. 17 'ii'c3 ltJb6 18 ltJd2 J:.ae8 19 ltfe1 lte7 20 i.f3 ltfe8 21 g3 i.h3 22 i.g2 i.xg2 23 �xg2 f5 24 h4 This is where Seirawan starts employing excellent tactics. Kas­ parov was hoping to expand his kingside activities with . . . g5 , but Seirawan frustrates him by play­ ing h4. >

Practical Play


50 l:ld4 g5 5 1 hxg5 hxg5 52 .l:f.edl .l:f.xd4 53 .l:f.xd4 l:[b7 54 �e2








24 lbc4 25 lbf3 ..tf6 26 .l:f.e2 l:[g7 27 .l:f.hl ife7 28 .l:f.eel h6 With this move Black shows he is serious about playing . . . g5. 29 'iid3 :rs so lbd2 'iie s 31 l2Jxc4 dxc4 32 'iid 1 .l:f.e7 33 .l:f.efl 'fif7 34 'iif3 Seirawan continues to frustrate Kasparov. Now Kasparov must exchange queens or risk losing the initiative. 34 'iid5 35 'iixd5 + cxd5 36 �f3 A sensible move, centralising the king. 36 ..tg7 37 .l:f.dl .l:f.ff7 38 .l:f.d2 1:.e8 39 l:lddl ..tf8 40 l:ldgl ..tg7 41 l:ldl �f8 42 l:ld2 �e7 43 l:[ddl �d6 44 l:lh2 �c6 45 l:lhhl .tf8 46 l:ld2 ..td6 47 l:lddl .txc5 48 dxc5 At last Kasparov has decided to alter the basic structure of the po­ sition. 48 l:le4 49 l:lhel l:ld7 Kasparov wants to force the po­ sition open with . . . d4. .••




54 ...l:lh3?! Kasparov starts to get impa­ tient. 55 g4! Seirawan strikes back, obtain­ ing counterplay. 55 f4 56 exf4 .l:f.xa3?! Kasparov is still playing for a win. 56 . . . gxf4 would have held the draw. 57 fxg5 l:la2 + 58 �f3 c3 59 l:ld1 d4 60 g6 d3 61 �e3 l:lxf2 62 g7 1-0 •..

Having looked at a number of Seirawan's games on my data­ base, I have found that he often has long games. So, although he appeared to be very patient, this was in fact his natural game. He is a very patient player who seized his opportunity against the World Champion.


Choose the Right Move

3. To play o n you r opponent's weaknesses

Another scenario in which you might possibly consider changing your style of play is when you are up against a player with a marked preference for either a tactical or positional battle. You might then choose to avoid or head for com­ plications to counter this. Shirov' s understanding of tac­ tics and combinations is second to none. With the initiative in his hands, even at the cost of mate­ rial, he is a very dangerous player. He likes to get unbalanced posi­ tions with room for his imagina­ tive manoeuvres and ideas. Mickey Adams is a pragmatic player, brought up on the hard Swiss system circuit in Britain. In this game he shows his under­ standing of Shirov' s strong points and plays on his weak points. Take a look at the following game.

Adams Shirov .Belgrade 1995

gaining a massive lead in develop­ ment after 5 . . 'ii'xb2 6 l:b1 'ii'a3 7 tDf3, would have been the wrong option. Shirov revels in these types of double-edged positions. 5 d6 6 lhf3 tDf6 7 .i.e2 'ii'c 7?! Adams has simply developed his pieces on natural squares, while Shirov has already moved his queen twice. 8 0-0 tDbd7 9 a4 0-0 1 0 tDd2 e5 Black stakes his claim in the centre. .



1 e4 g6 2 d4 .i.g7 3 tbc3 c6 4 .i.e3 'ii'b 6!? This is a typical Shirov idea, putting the cat amongst the pi­ geons, disobeying all the opening principles in an attempt to unbal­ ance the position. 5 l:bl!

An excellent decision, keeping control of the position. 5 'ii'd2?,

1 1 dxe5! Adams keeps it nice and simple. 1 1 f4 would have been the move to play against a solid player like Petrosian, but against Shirov the best thing to do is keep the posi­ tion symmetrical and solid. l l dxe5 12 tbc4 Adams simply takes advantage of the one weakness in Black's po­ sition, the d6 square. 12 .1d8 13 'ii'd 6! ...



Practical Play The queens are now forced off, t.uking away Shirov's number one weapon. 13 ...lLle8 Or 13 . . . 'ili'xd6 14 lLlxd6 i.f8 15 .l:lfd1 with a slight edge. 14 'i\i'xc7 lLlxc7 15 lLld6 lL!e6 16 i.c4 16 lLlxc8 would have been pre­ mature since Black equalises afLer 16 . . . l:.dxc8 1 7 l:tfd1 lLld4. 16 ... lLlb6 17 i.xe6 l:txd6 Forced due to the variations 1 7 . 1..xe6? 18 lLlxb7 and 17 . . . fxe6? 18 lLlxc8 lL!xcB 19 l:.fd1, when the endgame with the bad bishop and crippled pawns would be one-sided. 18 i.b3 18 J.. xc8 :XeS 19 a5 lLlc4 is only equal. 18 ... lLld7 Not 18 . . . J.. e 6?! 19 J.. c5 l:.d7 20 J..xe6. 19 l:tbdl J..f8 20 lLlbl ! The start of a simple but effec­ tive manoeuvre. Adams tries to bring his other knight to d6, via a3 and c4. 20...l:txdl ?! Now Black doesn't manage to get his queenside pieces into play on time. He should have done something about his develop­ ment, e.g. 20 . . . lLlffi 21 l:.xd6 J.. xd6. 2 1 .:.Xdl �g7 Or 2 1 . . .lLlffi 22 .l:.d8, intending i.h6 or J.. g5. 22 lLla3 J..xa3 Shirov did not like the conse­ quences of the knight reaching d6 after 22 . . . J..e 7 23 lLlc4 ffi 24 lLld6. . .

23 bxa3 Adams has secured the posi­ tional advantage of the bishop pair; now he needs to open up the position to his advantage. 23 ...�f8 Black also stands worse after 23 . . . lLlffi!? 24 f3 (24 l:td8 b6!?) 24 ... J.. e6 (not 24 . . .b6? 25 l:.d6 J.. b 7 26 J.. g5) 25 J..xe6 fxe6 26 a5. 24 a5 q;e7 Or 24 . . . b6 25 l:td6 c5 26 J.. g5 bxa5 27 J.. a4 and wins. 25 f4! This move, opening the position for the bishop pair with a huge lead in development, is decisive. 25 .. .ttJf6? Shirov cannot stand his slow positional demise and so tries to complicate matters, but with his bishop and rook out of action it is hardly surprising that this at­ tempt backfires. 25 . . . exf4 26 J.. xf4 ffi 27 J..d6 + 'ilteB 28 :n ! b6 29 e5! fxe5 30 l:tf7 was also winning for White. 26 fxe5 lLlxe4 a















Choose the Right Move

27 .Ud4! Here is the antidote! The knight cannot move because of the threat of .tg5 + . 2 7 .tf5 2 8 g4! c5 2 9 l:tc4 . . . and Black resigned in view of 29 . . . .txg4 30 .lhe4. •••

C. Swindling

In this section we look at the art of swindling. A swindle is a move, plan, concept, tactic etc., which radically changes the fortunes of a game; it is seeing an idea that your opponent misses. You can only swindle someone from a worse po­ sition, so the first rule of swin­ dling is to recognise that you are losing. Once you have accepted that, keep a look out for things that your opponent might have missed. The chances of a success­ ful swindle are greatly enhanced if your opponent is in time­ trouble, has become wrapped up in his own ideas or is becoming frustrated by your continued de­ fence. Here is an example of what I mean. I had had a horrible position for a long time. His bishop on e4 is slicing my king's position apart, my pawn on d4 is weak and I've just lost control of my back rank. Things couldn't be much worse. Do I have any form of compensa­ tion? Yes, but not a lot. My knight has found a strong outpost on e5 and my opponent still has to make

Duncan - McEwan Scottish Open 1993 half a dozen moves to reach the time control. I will try to explain how my mind was working at this point. 'If I could hyperspace my queen to e8 it would be checkmate. Not being greedy I would even accept my rook landing on dB! The prob­ lem is that my king position is too loose to even consider trying to get my major pieces to the other end of the board. My first priority is to safeguard my king, only then can I try to achieve a counterat­ tack. ' 35 .:tcl + 36 b2 'ii'c 7 My opponent simply threatens to play . . . 'ii'c3 and then . . . .Uhl mate. 37 'ife3 There is no chance of a coun­ terattack yet; I must first defend the realm. 37 J�hl + 38 g3 •••


Practical Play M.v ki ng heads for its safest

IMIIIIlro: h4! HH . . .'it'cl

My opponent is clearly think­

l Ull of only one thing at the mo­ lncml: checkmate. :SD :e2 'ii'fl 40 �h4

n ' fl


4 3


.. .1. h


Here Black, having reached a completely winning position, but with no time to find the win, picked up his queen and played . . . 40 'it'al ?? Both 40 .. Jhh3 + ! 41 'it'xh3 'lli'xe2 and 40 . . . .i.g2 4 1 lhg2 'it'xg2 would have won. 41 d5! Out of nowhere, I suddenly have some counterplay. A single move has completely changed the game. Black now has to rethink his whole position, as it is he who now needs a swindle. 41 1icl? Black should now have played 4 1 . . .'ti'fl with a draw after 42 dxe6 lhh3 + 43 'it'xh3 'lli'xe2 44 e7 •••



'ii'e 1 + 45 �h5 'lli'e 2 + , but it is very difficult to reconsider a position which you should have won the move before. 42 d6 'ifi>fS 43 d7 'ifi>e7 44 l:[d2 .i.d5 45 'it'c5 + 45 'lli'b6 would have been faster: 45 . . . l:[xh3 + 46 'ifi>xh3 'lli'h l + 47 'ifi>g3 'it'el + 48 'it'f2. 45 .. .'iixc5 46 bxc5 l:[fl 47 c6 l:[xf4+ 48 'ifi>g3 :n 49 c7 f4+ 50 �h4 1-0 This game had many of the key elements associated with swin­ dles: my opponent was in time trouble and had to make his most important move at the time con­ trol (move 40) ; he was wrapped up in his own attack and un­ doubtedly never even considered a counterattack; and he became frustrated by my continued de­ fence and allowed me the one op­ portunity I needed to swindle him. While playing Fritz 4 (a piece of computer software) recently, I began to wonder why I would al­ ways get a won position against it and then be swindled. There are a couple of good reasons for this: Fritz never misses an opportunity and Fritz never gives up. In the following game I fol­ lowed the philosophy of never giv­ ing up (see diagram on following page). 38 �fl Trying to get out of the pin along the second rank.


Choose the Right Move

Duncan - Lund Manchester Open 1993 38 bxc4 39 bxc4 a5 40 ..W2 .tf8 41 :eel Wa6 42 'iW1 Not only am I lost, but it is even very hard to find a move. My knight, Iring's rook and bishop can­ not move, my queen's rook can only go to e2 and my queen needs to cover the d-pawn. The only piece worth moving is my king. 42 ... a4 43 At last an active move! 43 .. .'iVa8 44 'ii'c2 Finally I have developed some threats: ·my queen wants to come to b2 from where it can take part in an attack against the black king. 44 ...1:t8h7 A good defensive move; plan­ ning to swing the rook over to the b-file when required. 45 �f2 My pieces are still tied up, so why not tempt him to play . . . d3 . •••

45 ... d3 46 'ii'd l Now I have managed to loosen his position: his d-pawn and g­ pawn are both undefended and his bishop is tied to the a-pawn. I expect that he thought I would take the d-pawn here (46 'iVxd3?? i.xe4 47 'ii'xe4 'ii'xe4) . 46 ...1:tb7 Oh dear! Now he is threaten­ ing to win my knight on e4 by playing . . . 1:txbl. I've got to defend my knight, but how? 47 �e3 Stubborn defence. 47 ...'ii'd8 The threat of . . . 'ii'd4 + looks ter­ minal . 48 lDd6! A bolt from the blue! The knight has been unable to move for the last ten moves, but now suddenly White 's position has come alive. The threat of .txc6 will destroy Black's position. 48 ...:Xbl 49 'ii'xbl 'iVa5? The natural move, but we both missed the strength of 49 . . . .txd6! 50 i.xc6 1:te2 + 5 1 �xd3 .l:lb2 (Wow, what an idea! As you can guess this was picked up by Fritz). 50 lDe4 d2 Once again this looks strong, but I have a saving move. 51 'iVd3! dl'ii'? ! Great! All my stubborn defend­ ing is starting to pay off, as Black starts to get desperate. Realising that 1:txdl leaves the bishop on g2 undefended, he presumed that I would , play 52 'ii'xd l . What he

Practical Play missed was that after 52 . . . .txe4, I could play 53 �xe4! 52 'ii'xd1 .txe4 53 'iitxe41 I have some sympathy for my opponent, as it must have been easy to overlook this move. Now the tables are turned. Black's rook on h2 and his bishop on f8 are do­ ing nothing, while White is ready to penetrate with his queen and whip his rook over to bl. Not 53 i.xe4? 'ii'c3 + 54 'ii'd3 'ii'b 2! when White is defenceless. 53 �b7? As usual, when the situation changes, it is difficult to adapt. Black had to bring his rook back into the game by 54 . . . l:.h7. 54 'ii'd7+ 1-0



Duncan - Alperovitch Israel 1993 player in this all-play-all tourna­ ment) . l l lLlxt'21! Suddenly it was time to take stock. I 'm completely lost! Of course I tried to fight back, but look where all my pieces are. 12 'iitxf2 .th4+ 13 g3 f4 Simply blowing my whole position away. 14 'iitg2 fxg3 15 hxg3 .th3 + ! An impressive follow-up. 16 'iitxh3 .txg3 17 .txh7 + Unfortunately taking the third piece is terminal: 1 7 �xg3 'ii'g5 + 18 'iith 3 l:.f4 with a quick mate to follow. 17.. /�hS 18 lLlf3 l:.xf3 With so little defence around my king, it was hardly surprising that I lost quickly from here. •••

D. How to avoid blun dering

Finally, let us consider another practical issue, how to avoid those terrible blunders which cost so many points. The other day I was looking through the book Danger in Chess by Amatzia Avni, and came across this position under the heading 'leaving the king with insufficient support from other pieces' : 10 'ii'c 2?1 0-0 l l lLlfd2? What a stupid move ! Hold on this position looks vaguely famil­ iar. It's me! ! How could I leave my king with no defence like that? Well, I was young, naive, inexperi­ enced. Or could it have been that I simply underestimated my oppo­ nent (after all he was the weakest

This game taught me an im­ portant lesson, unfortunately one


Choose the Right Move

that I am reminded of every few years never underestimate your opponent. I feel that blunders are as much to do with off the board factors as anything else. If you are ill, think­ ing of other matters or think you will beat your opponent whatever -

you play, your normal thinking patterns are bound to be ad­ versely affected. The key to avoiding blundering is to have a professional attitude and to avoid anything that will cloud your usual thinking proc­ ess.

7 Endings (Daniel King) Hludy of the endgame is, on the whole, neglected in western coun­ tries, perhaps partly because, fu11 1 led by fast time limits, a death or glory attitude to the game still prevails: if your opponent hasn't ��ollapsed by move 35, then it's just too much effort to keep plug­ ICing away; endings are for all those oustern European chaps who've nothing better to do in the eve­ nings but go through endless end­ game studies by Grigoriev. It is a pity, for when there are just a few pieces remaining on the board, lhe beauty of the game is often displayed in its purest and most beguiling form. In this position, composed at lhe end of the 19th century, White plays and wins.

1 c7 White threatens to get a new queen, and as queen versus rook is a theoretical win, Black must react. l ...l:[d6+ A tricky move. If 2 �b7, then 2 . . . .:.d7 draws instantly as Black will be able to give up the rook for the pawn, while if 2 c 5 l:d l ! draws as 3 c8'fi' : c l + would win the queen. Thus . . . 2 �b5 . . . is the only way to keep play­ ing for the win. 2 :d5+ . . . and that is Black's only move to keep in the game. 3 'itb4 Once again crossing to the c­ file would be impossible because of . . . l:[d l, so the king and rook continue their strange dance down the board. 3 :d4+ 4 'iti>b3 :d3+ 5 �c2 Now it seems like the end for Black as the skewer is no longer there, and the rook cannot get back to stop the pawn queening. However . . . 5 .l:td4! If White makes a queen, 6 c8'if then, 6 . . . .:.c4 + ! 7 'ifxc4 is stale­ mate. But White has an answer. 6 cs:u Threatening :as mate. Black has only one defence. •••



Saavedra, 1895

1 70

Choose the Right Move

6 :.a4 7 �b3! The final surprise. The rook is threatened, as well as :.c1 mate, and this time there really is no de­ fence. (As a rule, I don't like chess compositions - unless they look as though they could have occurred in normal play, and this one does; it is actually based on a position from a game.)

example above encapsulates what the endgame is about: one side or the other will attempt to win by promoting a pawn, and the oppo­ nent will have to use every means at his disposal to stop that pawn, or even promote a pawn himself. That is the basic idea, but within that can be included tactics, at­ tacks on the king, weakening of pawn structures, and a whole va­ riety of other themes. It is best to start at the beginning and build up from there.


Mter that, please don't imag­ ine that I'm going to present a se­ ries of beautiful studies for your edification. This is a practical guide. I'm going to show how it is possible to improve your endgame play without going through three hundred pages of rook and pawn positions, though having said that, there are a few basic positions that one simply must know about. Apart from those, I think the same technique that I described when I was examining positional play of using 'model games' can be applied in the endgame. The

Basic king and pawn endings

And if you feel that this is too basic for you, then don't worry, it quickly becomes more compli­ cated. This position is a draw, no matter who is to move. Black must just be careful not to allow White's king in front of the pawn. 1 d5 + 'it1d6 2 �d4 �d7 Black's king can always be driven.back - but that's okay!


Endings 3 �e5 �e7 4 d6+ �d7 5 d5

However, if the king is in front of the pawn, then the story is dif­ ferent. With White to play, this position is still drawn, e.g. 1 'iPc5 �c7 2 'iPd5 �d7 3 �e5 e8 7 d7+ �d8 8 �d6 stalemate

This is the critical position. The king must retreat, and only one move draws. 5 �d8l To secure the draw, the king moves back directly in front of the pawn. The other two moves lose: 5 . �cB 6 �c6 �dB 7 d7 d7 3 �ffi wins. 2 'ili>xe5 �e7 3 �d5 �d7 and it is a draw since Black's king holds the opposition.

7.8 No. If 55 . . Jbg6 56 Wxg6 and this is a winning position. In the game Black played . . . 5 4 .1:ta7 5 5 l:h6 l:g7 + . . . and a draw was agreed. •••

7.9 Yes, Black should exchange rooks ; the position is a draw after L.l:xh6 2 '1t>xh6 'ili>f7. 7. 10 Amazingly, after 43 .l:th5! White succeeds in getting the rook behind the passed a-pawn. 43 �e4 44 l:h3 l:bS 45 :aa . . . and the position should be winning. An unusual ruse, though I was kicking myself for missing it afterwards. In the game I played 43 lle5 + , but Black's pieces were too active for me to win : 43 . . .'it>d4 44 l::t f5 'iite4 45 llf8 l%a3 46 l:e8 + �d4 4 7 .l:ta8 l::t a2 48 �gl l:al + 49 �f2 �e4 50 a5 lla2 + 5 1 Wgl f3 52 gxf3 + �xf3 53 a6 :tal + 54 Wh2 .l:ta2 + 55 �h3 56 �h4 �f4 57 �h5 V2-'h. ••.

7. 1 1 l..J1b8! Defending against the mate, and at the same time preparing to bring the rook behind the passed pawn. If instead l . . .'iit f8? 2 l:a7! �e8 3 l::tc 7 and the only way for Black to make progress is to sacri­ fice his kingside pawns: 3 . . . �d8?! 4 .l:txf7 o5 5 �fl intending to use

Endings the king to blockade the pawn; but now White stands better. . 2 'iii>f3 g6 3 l:ta7 l:tc8 4 'ltte 4 �g7 5 g4 c5 6 g5 c4 7 l:ta2 'lttf8 8 l:tc2 'iii> e 7 9 f4 �e6 10 l:tc3 l:tc7

White IS m Zugzwang. All I have to do is make waiting moves with the rook, and White, having exhausted his run of pawn moves will have to give ground. 1 1 h3 l:tc8 12 h4 l:tc7 White resigned as 13 'ltt f3 'lttd 5! 14 'iii>e 3 l:tc8 15 �d2 'ltt e 4, and the king mops up.

7. 12 A simple plan for Black is to play . . .


4l. .. �e4! . . . and it is impossible to stop the king from moving over to the queenside to support the a-pawn, e.g. 42 �fl �d3 43 'iti>e1 'itxc3 44 'itd1 �b3

Black continues with . . . a3, etc., and wins comfortably thanks to the a-pawn.

7. 13 Mter 1 7 g4, Black may con­ tinue 17 . . . f6 18 'iti>g2
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