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A Useful Waste of Time

  • GM Gserper
  • | Jan 15, 2012
  • | 18129 views
  • | 53 comments

Today I am going to talk about the h2-h3 (h7-h6 for Black) move in an opening.

Let me tell you right away that in the majority of the cases when my students (mostly kids) play this move, it means only one thing: they find themselves in an unfamiliar situation, they don't know what to do, so they play h2-h3 'just in case'. Of course in this case the h2-h3 (or h7-h6) is practically always just a waste of time. Moreover, in some cases such a move can actually hurt your position since the pawn structure of your future king's side castle will be potentially weakened (we will discuss such a situation later). But sometimes the h2-h3 or h7-h6 moves can be useful and today we are going to discuss such cases. 

The most popular case of the useful rook pawn move is the prevention of a very unpleasant pin. Sometimes such a pin can be so bad that it actually ruins your whole game! The following game is a very good example.

 

White is already experiencing some serious problems.  There is a nasty threat Nc6-d4 and white's kingside will be completely ruined after Black captures the white Nf3. But for now White can easily prevent this threat by pinning and then eventually eliminating the dangerous Nc6.

 

So, black's Nc6 is gone and therefore there is no immediate threat, and yet White's position is still quite unpleasant. The pin has really paralyzed White pieces since the Nf3 cannot move due to the obvious loss of the Qd1, but the Qd1 cannot move anywhere besides the e2 square (where the Nf3 will be still pinned) because then Black captures the Nf3 and ruins white's whole kingside.  White has suffered for a long time and being desperate to break the pin, he played g2-g4. But such moves usually make your whole kingside very weak and lead  to serious consequences.

For example, in the recent article ( http://www.chess.com/article/view/classical-games-everybody-should-know-isolated-pawn  ) we analyzed four cases of such a dangerous pin-breaking pawn move.  Try to find the way Black punished his opponent for his mistake:

 

Now, don't you think White's life would be easier if he played h2-h3 to prevent the pin? Let's say White played 6.h3 to prevent this hazardous pin. Besides being a good prophylaxis it is also a tricky waiting move. Now if Black simply castles in response, then he will be suffering for a long time due to the same pin!
So, if it was smart for White to play 6.h3, why can't Black do the same? The resulting position is quite interesting.
It looks like now, when the threat of the pin is gone, it is safe to castle.  But by playing h2-h3 and h7-h6 both sides made potential targets for the opponent's attack. So, it is a good idea to refrain from castling to the King's side at least for now. In the next classical game, both opponents were delaying 0-0 for a while, but White blinked first. Black's attack was both swift and deadly. In the position on the next diagram try to play like the legendary Adolf Anderssen!
 
In the second part of this article next week we'll discuss other cases of the useful h2-h3 move.

Comments


  • 3 years ago

    Zakb

    this is so useful -very interesting article!

  • 3 years ago

    Shibin123

    @rollo

    Why not 8.Bxc6??? The reason is quite simple:-

    8.Bxc6 bxc6 .And now after White's move, Black can play 9...d5 which would lead to 10.exd5 cxd5. And now Black has a strong hold over the center with 2 strong connected pawns there.This would be a big advantage and could well decide the result of the game.

    And dont forget, the Bg4 pin is still  standing there causing further troubles for White...

  • 3 years ago

    Shibin123

    Thanks for the article...

  • 3 years ago

    Schaak-International

    Cigarettes come nowadays with warnings about dangerous side effects of smoking. I think this article should contain also such a warning because in most cases move like h3 are bad.

    There are 3 reasons for that:

    1. h2-h3 can be useful as a defense against a back rank mate or to chase a dangerous piece from g4. But to play such a move before there is a sign of a threat is usually a silly waste of time. Ever saw a soccer team building a wall while their opponents didn’t have a free kick? That would be stupid, don’t you think so?
    2. Most often h2-h3 is far worse than just loosing time. If black is pushing pawns on the king side he can cause white obvious serious trouble after g5-g4. Without h2-h3 it would take black one move more to cause a messy situation because in that case his party starts after g4-g3.
    3. And moves like h2-h3 makes it much much easier to mess up the king side pawn chain with a sacrifice of a piece on h3, g3 or f3. Or g2!

    An example from 'Winning Chess Combinations' by Dutch GM and chess teacher Hans Bouwmeester:

     

  • 3 years ago

    amrita1

    @rollo  

    Though i am not very good at chess,i shall try to explain within my limits...

    Why 8.Be3 by white & not 8.Bxc6 to exchange the knight !

    I think ,the reason is that -

    7.Bb5  is just a threatening move ,which was meant to pin the knight while advancing the central pawns ! 

    Now with black playing 7...0-0,the pin is removed ,then in this situation 8.Be3 becomes more meningful which aims at exchanging the black square bishop of black which is targetting the crucial 'f2' pawn castling the King !Even if BxB ,it will open the file for the attack of Rf1 for white !

    Instead ,8.Bxc6 will lead to bxc6 ,which will lead to an open 'b' file for the attack of R of black + loss of a developed white square bishop for white for the less developed knight of the black !

  • 3 years ago

    amrita1

    Thanks a lot Gregory for such a beautiful article !!!

  • 3 years ago

    NM Flicflac

    good article!

  • 3 years ago

    Assured

    Extremely enlightening!

  • 3 years ago

    Delacorta

    Thanks for the article. Very instructive.

  • 3 years ago

    rollo

    Can someone explain the move 8. Be3 on the second board? If the point of 7. Bb5 by white is to prevent black moving his knight then why not just trade the knight on c6 at the earliest available opportunity ie 8. Bxc6?

  • 3 years ago

    jonswin

    Nice article, as always. Some of the ideas are familiar - see the article "The Two Faces of a Pin". The Salwe-Chigorin game was illustrated there too, although not in as much detail.

  • 3 years ago

    bolshevikhellraiser

    something to consider on the 1st position if white is lacking the white squared bishop the knight sacrifice is just as good w/ the plan of qf6

  • 3 years ago

    TheWorksOf

    Wow, thanks so much!  This article was very instructive.

  • 3 years ago

    Spektrowski

    @ mjosa

    16. Nh2 still loses, though not so spectacularly, for instance: 16... Bh3 17. Re1 Qg5+ 18. Bg4 Rf4 19. f3 exf3 20. Qxf3 Bxg4 21. Nxg4 Rxg4+ 22. Kf1 Rf8.

  • 3 years ago

    mjosa

    Great stuff to know, thanks Cool

    I wander though game between  Georg Salwe vs Mikhail Chigorin. White probably should know his king is naked after exchange of pawns with knight, right. then move 16. Nd2?? instead of covering his king at least partially with 16.Nh2!. I find this funnyYell

  • 3 years ago

    buks_narans

    Now i learn a lot how to deal with h2-h3 or h7-h6 for black. I always had a hard time how to deal with my opponent with such moves. Great article!!!

  • 3 years ago

    Altha

    nice article :)

  • 3 years ago

    SpaceBrother

    great article!

  • 3 years ago

    Spektrowski

    @ Mimchi

    No, no, of course. The annotation is by Alexander Alekhine.

  • 3 years ago

    Mimchi

    @Spektrowski: Very intersting game and annotations! It almost seems Janowski became hypnotized by his own spell (deciding not to take on d3)! Did you annotate this game yourself? 

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