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A Key Tactical Theme

  • IM Silman
  • | Aug 29, 2012
  • | 8087 views
  • | 15 comments

IMPORTANT: [At the end of the puzzles, you should click MOVE LIST so you can see my instructive notes and variations. If you are having trouble solving a problem, just click SOLUTION, and then MOVE LIST. Even if you solve everything, DO click MOVE LIST or you might miss an important bit of prose.]

C. Peterson (2024) – C. Yarbrough (1545), [B64] Denver Chess Club, 2012

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0

9…Qb6 

Rare. Black’s main moves are 9…Nxd4 and 9…h6 10.Bh4 e5, which both lead to theory-intensive lines.

10.Ndb5 

10.Nf3 is white’s most popular reply.

10…Rd8 11.Na4

11.Bxf6 is a critical choice: 

11…Qa5

11…Qa6!?

12.Qxa5 Nxa5 13.e5?!

This move risks a weak e5-pawn (that’s right – push your pawns too fast and they become fodder for the enemy pieces) for the promise of material gains, but this win of enemy wood turns out to be an illusion. In a way White’s 13.e5 is going “all in” (to borrow the poker term), but bluffing doesn’t work too well in chess, and if you go all in you better make sure you have the cards! 

Instead of 13.e5, White could have tried 13.Bxf6 gxf6:

13…dxe5 14.Rxd8+

14.fxe5 Rxd1+ 15.Kxd1 Nd5 is less than nothing for White.

14…Bxd8 15.fxe5 h6!

This refutes white’s try at material gain. It's a common device in such situations. See the examples under this note for more on this theme. 

16.Be3

Of course, 16.Bh4 is the critical move, when Black shows the final bit of his saving idea: 

16…a6?!

Black gets fancy when the simple 16...Ng4! would have been the way to go:

17.Nd6

White also fails to get anything after 17.exf6:

17…Nd5

Also possible was 17…Nd7!? 18.Be2 Nc6, targeting e5.

18.Bf2 Bg5+?!

The check wasn’t going away, so this move wasn’t necessary or even desirable (since the Bishop on d8 makes sure nothing will infiltrate on b6). Far more interesting was 18…b5:

19.Kb1 Bd7 20.Nc5 Bc6 21.c4

21…Ne3 22.b4 b6 23.Nxa6?

The higher rated player cracks! He should have played 23.h4!:

23…Nxf1?

Missing his chance! The straightforward 23…Rxa6! should have been played:

24.Rxf1 Nb7?

A big step towards the abyss. Black could have retained the better game by chopping on c4: 

25.Nc7?

And White returns the favor. Instead, 25.b5 was very strong:

25…Bxg2??

Black steps off the cliff. Now he’s dead lost. 25...Ra4! was the way to go, when we get some very interesting positions:

26.Nxa8 Bxf1 27.Nxb7?

27.Nxb6! (clearing the way for the a-, b-, and c-pawns), followed by the comment, “Release the hounds!” was crushing. 

27...Bg2 28.Nd6?

28.Nxb6 was still correct.

28...Bxa8 29.Bxb6 Bf4 30.Bd4 Bxh2?

Taking this pawn gives White a free tempo to roll his pawns forward. Instead, 30...f6 creates some counterplay, and would at the very least give White a chance to go wrong:

31.c5

31.b5 was stronger.

31…Bc6??

31...f6 still put up a fight!

32.b5 Bd5 33.c6 f6 34.c7, 1-0. A great, extremely complicated, battle! Mr. Yarbrough, who was much lower rated than his opponent, did himself proud.

LESSONS FROM THIS GAME

* The anti-pin theme that we explored on move 15 should be easy to master. Take the time to do so!

* Pawns can’t move backwards, so don’t push your pawns too fast or they might become fodder for the enemy pieces!

* If you don’t have time to study opening theory in detail, pick openings that demand understanding over endless memorization. The Sicilian usually demands both!

HOW TO PRESENT A GAME FOR CONSIDERATION

If you want me to look over your game, send it to askjeremy@chess.com

I need your name (real or chess.com handle), your OPPONENT’S name (real or chess.com handle), both players’ ratings, where the game was played, and date. If you don’t give me this information, I won’t use your game! BTW: I’ve noticed that many people are reluctant to give me their opponent’s name. This is very strange! Showing the names of both players is the way chess games are presented in databases, books, magazines… everywhere! Permission from the opponent isn’t necessary. If permission was necessary, everyone who ever lost a game wouldn’t allow their name to be on it!

Comments


  • 16 months ago

    umupfumu

    WOW.  I had no idea you had analyzed this game of mine until Life Master Brian Wall mentioned it to me at the Denver Chess Club today.  What a fantastic, in-depth analysis.  Greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Chase

  • 22 months ago

    g-levenfish

    Great analysis as usual

  • 22 months ago

    g-levenfish

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 23 months ago

    Rook98

    thanks this was awesome 

  • 23 months ago

    SummersIron

    Useful, thorough analysis as I have come to expect. At least one of the lessons at the end can always be applied to my own game to help me improve. However, I'm not sure I will ever cure my bad habit of hurling pawns forward before they are ready!

  • 23 months ago

    WowlX

    Excellent piece. I'm still having a hard time figuring out how to connect all those chess anotations clearly in my head but this one helped me; it was very well explained. Thank you sir for helping a 1400 without much theory knowledge

  • 23 months ago

    GM_AdamLambert

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 23 months ago

    thought_control

    Thanks for the 411 RyanMurphy5.  What is the best way to take on and learn this massive body of "theory"?

  • 23 months ago

    g-levenfish

    Nice!

  • 23 months ago

    RyanMurphy5

    Chess theory, or opening theory at least, is a term describing the development of best ideas in a given opening for both sides.  Think of it as a scientific experiment where two players test out an opening idea (a variation) and then play out the game and record the result.  They "publish" their result and it usually ends up in a database for other players to observe, critique and test on their own in order to find improvements.  Theory, then, gives us white's best tries for an advantage in an opening and black's different attempts to get "equality" (another term thrown around a lot I imagine).  Theory improves over time as masters play out different lines of different openings and come up with their own ideas to add to old ideas, and can be improved upon either in otb tournaments or in correspondence games.  Computers often allow masters to do lots of opening preparation in deep theoretical lines so that they can test out their plans before seeing an opponent otb.

  • 23 months ago

    thought_control

    I have a hard time pin-pointing the definition of chess "theory".  I hear it thrown around from time to time but can anyone actually say what chess theory is all about?

  • 23 months ago

    Ironknight777

    This is a brilliant article & thanks for ur hardwork, silman. 

  • 23 months ago

    ebham33

    Good Article.

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