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Monday, September 15, 2008
The Fragile King I
There are two clues that the pawns give us. First, the pawns tell us on which side of the board an attack is most likely to succeed. Let’s look at an early sign. Here is the position in the Steinitz variation of the French defense after White’s fourth move:
In this position the pawns tell us that White will more easily attack on the kingside, and Black will more easily attack on the queenside. This is determined by the side toward which the pawns “point”. Simply look at the advanced pawns in echelon and consider them a pointer.
The second clue the pawns give us is control of the center. In this position, white has more space, but neither side controls the center.
The center is a major consideration in an attack on a wing. An attack on either wing must be met by an attack on the center. In this position, if white begins a Kingside attack, Blacks’ best defense is an attack! If Black has withdrawn his f6 Knight to d7, the center attack begins with c5.
In a tertiary role a pawn is a lever, often employed on the a-file or the h-file to dislodge a defender.
Let’s take a moment and look at the effectiveness of the outside pawn in this role.
This is from game #6160217, on chessmaniac, a Morra Gambit Declined:
The conditions are right for an attack on Blacks’ castled position. The white pawn formation is right and the center can be held. The h-pawn is poised and White’s pieces all aim at the Kingside. The strongest defender of a castled position is the Knight. Here, Black has his knight in position, for the attack to succeed, White needs to remove the knight.
15. Nd5 Nxd5 White plays to remove the best defender of the black kingside, and to strengthen the pawn center. Often it can cost a rook, but in this case White can exchange for a knight. The knight is stronger in defense than in offense, so White happily exchanges.
16. exd5 Nb8 The pawns now show the direction of attack clearly.
17. Nd4 a6 a5 may be better for Black. Black needs counterplay, and the center cannot be easily attacked, so he will go for a queenside attack.
18. a4 a5 White plays to hold b5, Black creates a home for his Knight on b4.
19. Rfe1 Na6 White’s rooks will participate in the attack on the Black king, the Black Knight comes to his home.
20. Bh6 Bf6 Now, White moves to remove another defender. Black wants to free his position by recapturing with the e7 pawn.
21. Re3 Qb6 White brings his rook into the attack, overprotecting b3 to allow the knight to attack. Black brings his Queen into the game, putting pressure on the queenside.
As Whites’ kingside attack jells, Black’s inability to stir up an attack on the center forces queenside play, creating a distraction on the queenside for White. Space and time are on the side of White.
22. Nb5 Nc5 Blacks’ knight reaches his best post.
23. Bc2 Bxb5 White again overprotects b3, Black plays to reduce Whites’ forces.
24. axb5 Be5 Black threatens Bf4.
25. h4 Ra8 The time is right for White’s attack, Black persists on the queenside.
26. h5 a4 Both attacks continue.
27. Rf3 Nxb3
28. Qg5 Nd4 Forking Bishop and Rook.
29. Rxf7 Bf6 The rest is straight forward. The Black King is fragile.
30. Qg4 Kxf7
31. Bxg6 Kg8
32. Bb1+ Kf7
33. Rxd4 e5
34. Qf5 Ke7
35. Rg4 Kd8
36. Qxf6+ Kc8
37. Qf7 Rd8
38. Rg7 a3
39. Be3 resigns
The conditions for an attack on the King were right: White was developed, the attack would go to the side on which White had strength and mobility, the primary defender could be removed, and White could bring enough force to the attack to assure success. In “The Fragile King II” we will look at attacks with the enemy king in the center. Al (alfredjwood)
posted by ChessManiac.com Team Member at
Monday, September 15, 2008
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