The third installment of the best-selling series of attack books - Formation Attacks, Formation Attack Strategies, and now, Positional Attacks is another 500 page book, full of great attack information with 533 fabulous attack games from all openings and all eras. The aim of Positional Attacks is to uncover the artistic side of attacking, one that is primarily centered on the creation and exploitation of weaknesses. Oh sure, there will be tactics; after all they cannot be avoided in chess - nor would we want to exclude them. But there is nothing quite like witnessing chess masters dissect their opponents with smooth, elegant, aggressive, positional attacking maneuvers.
And, once again, the games provided in the book came from an in-depth global search for unique, inspirational, and original attacks from some of the world’s greatest attackers. Many of them toil in remote areas of the planet and have only a local following. Let me introduce you to attacking players like Alexey Korotylev of Russia, Kidambi Sundararajan of India, Richard Forster of Switzerland, the late Andrija Fuderer of Belguim, Hans-Joachim Hecht of Germany, Andrew Sacks of Fontana, California, Aleksander Indjic of Serbia, David Zimbeck of North Dakota, Philip du Chattel of the Netherlands, to name a few.
For chess.com users, I have included a chapter from the book:
Attacking Pawn Chains
A Pawn Chain is a series of two or more Pawns connected along a diagonal. Together, they form a serious attacking weapon, as demonstrated in “The Wedge” chapters in this book and in Formation Attack Strategies. Pawn Chains can provide a spatial advantage and can work to separate the defender’s pieces from his King.
The next game is another example of an attack facilitated by a large Pawn Chain. Strategically, the White Pawn structure in combination with the poor Black piece placement enabled White to abuse the Black kingside on the way to an easy victory.
----------- Game #148 ------------
As a result of games like this one, attackers must possess techniques for combating and attacking Pawn Chains.
Pawn Chain Attack Strategy:
Attack the Base
Historically, the preferred method of attacking Pawn Chains had been to attack the base (the backmost Pawn) of the Pawn Chain.
Where is that exactly?
In the above diagram, which occurs in the Advanced French Defense after 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5, you could say the base of the White Pawn Chain, headed by the Pawn on e5 would be b2, as c3 seems inevitable to defend d4.
A typical continuation of the game would be 3. ... c5 4. c3 with an eventual trade of Pawns on d4 likely to occur. This would lead to the position shown above.
Why do I bring this up? The reason is to highlight your awareness of how the position changed. Did you realize that the net effect of the Pawn trade on d4 was to alter the base of the Pawn Chain. The new base is located on d4 now, not b2. As such, the new focal point of your attack should also change accordingly to the d4 Pawn because it is the new base of the Pawn Chain. Some players may even state that right from the start, d4 is the base, because they can easily foresee this string of events happening.
The next three games (Games #149 to #151) illustrate simple examples of the dismantling of small Pawn Chains by capturing the base Pawn.
----------- Game #149 ------------
White rips apart the Black kingside Pawn Chain (f7, g6, h5) by deep-sixing the base Pawn on f7.
----------- Game #150 ------------
Once again, White annihilates the base Pawn on f7.
----------- Game #151 ------------
White destabilizes his own Pawn Chain with an untimely Pawn Break; Black capitalizes by capturing the base of the Pawn Chain to ignite an attack..
“A Pawn Chain is a series of two or more Pawns connected along a diagonal. Together, they form a serious attacking weapon”
Pawn Chain Attack Strategy
Attack the Point
Another method of attacking Pawn Chains is to attack the Point of the Pawn Chain.
In the position shown above, the Point of the White Pawn Chain would be e5. Black could attack the point of the Pawn Chain by playing f6. Should White decide to play exf6, Black could continue with his strategy of attacking the point with a subsequent e5 move.
The next two games (Games #152 and #153) demonstrate the dismantling of the White Pawn Chain from the Point.
----------- Game #152 ------------
Once the White Pawn Chain is wrecked, the active Black pieces seize control of the game.
----------- Game #153 ------------
This game has a similar theme and opening variation as the last game, but in this game, White decides his King would be safer on the queenside.
----------- Game #154 ------------
Black plays c5 and cxd4 to create a new base for the White Pawn Chain. Afterwards, Black also attacks the Point of the Pawn Chain on e5, followed by a Pawn Lever (g5). The intense pressure on the White Pawn Chain leads to a catastrophe for White.
Pawn Chain Attack Strategy
Sacrifice a Piece
Another method of attacking Pawn Chains is to sacrifice a minor piece to break up the Pawn Chain, a form of “Divide and Conquer” strategy.
In the above partial position, Black can sacrifice a minor piece to break up the White Pawn Chain with any of the following moves:
Nxg4, Nxe4, Bxg4
Afterwards, Black could win a second White Pawn with his other minor piece.
Therefore, the possible continuations would be:
1) 1. ... Nxg4 2. fxg4 Bxg4;
2) 1. ... Bxg4 2. fxg4 Nxg4;
3) 1. ... Bxg4 2. fxg4 Nxe4; or
4) 1. ... Nxe4 2. fxe4 Bxg4.
Frequently, the attacker gets two Pawns for his minor piece plus tons of compensation in the form of active piece play.
This maneuver is common in the Yugoslav Attack variation of the Sicilian Dragon and in the Samisch Variation of the King’s Indian Defense.
----------- Game #155 ------------
Black sacrifices a minor piece to break up the Pawn Chain guarding the White King.
----------- Game #156 ------------
Black sacrifices a Knight on g4 and later an exchange on c3. The end result is a huge mass of Black kingside Pawns that cannot be contained.
----------- Game #157 ------------
Black captures on e4 this time around in the Yugoslav Attack of the Sicilian Dragon.
----------- Game #158 ------------
Black wastes no time with his capture of the White g4 Pawn.
----------- Game #159 ------------
In a different opening, the same concept works just as well.
What people are saying about Positional Attacks:
Life Master Brian Wall, Thornton, CO, seven time Colorado State Champion:
I knew Joel when he was a systems analyst. He has always been
marvelously organized. Joel is a perfectionist who truly believes the games he finds deserve a worldwide audience. He is like a gardener of greenhouse orchids who constantly prunes and replaces his delicate plants for maximum customer effect. Life Master Johnson wants you to be in awe as soon as you breathe his rarefied air. Joel loves his colorful orchid collection so
much he resists hundreds of requests each year to put a games index in the back because that would mean so many orchids would have to be left behind.
Joel explains things so simply and thoroughly that total beginners are whipping out Grandmaster attacking games in no time. I have never seen any chess coach create so many scary tournament players from scratch. One method is watching them play blitz games with attack openings and then coaching them to play sharper. It's a remarkably powerful method.
Jesús M. Seoane Sepúlveda, Madrid, Spain
I received your new book and this is really wonderful!!! Congratulations for your great work! The book is very nice, well structured and the games are simple amazing! This is awesome!
Life Master Steve Mayer, Gilbert, AZ
Over the last few years, USCF Life Master Joel Johnson of Phoenix has embarked on a three volume series of books devoted to a variety of methods of attacking the king. While Johnson self-publishes through Lulu.com, the books have the production quality of the typical chess book.
His latest book is entitled Positional Attacks. I want to make clear immediately that this is yet another expansion of Johnson's series on attacking the king.
The games selected are also remarkable in that they range from games played between relatively low rated class players all the way up to the vaunted Super GM level, with time controls ranging from VERY fast blitz games to "slow play" national championship and Super GM tournaments. There are well over 500 games included in this 500 page book and I can practically guarantee you that that you will have seen very few- if any- of them before. This is true of the entire series and it brings a welcome freshness to the topic of attacking chess.
Johnson gives you x-ray insight of what an "all out" attacker looks for. Are all these games 100% sound. I doubt even Johnson would say so. But, with the increasingly faster time controls featured, even in "serious" tournaments, there is no doubt that at least for now the practical advantage lies with the player who aims to seize the initiative and go on a mating attack. Rather than with the patient defenders of the past who would suffer for 25 moves in the middle game in hopes of cashing in an extra pawn or superior structure in the ending. Ultimately, Johnson's series aims to awaken or improve the inner Tal that chess players of all ages and ability levels have.
Danielle Rice, Denver, CO
I have read the previous two volumes "Formation Attacks' and 'Formation Attack Strategies' by Joel Johnson so I was eagerly waiting on this new volume. I only received it on Thursday evening 3/13 and had just began reading it over the weekend and it surpasses my expectations. Very well structured with plenty of exciting games.
Stephen Dann, Worcester Telegram, Worcester, MA
Joel Johnson's new "Positional Attacks" has it all.
Brian Wall 9
Young Rising Stars 27
Daniil Dubov 27
Wei Yi 30
Section A – Pawn Roles 36
Pawn Structure 37
Ugliest Pawn Structure Ever? 38
Alien Pawn 48
Pawn Lever 63
Pawn Break 72
Center Pawn Mass 75
Isolated Pawn 94
Black Strategy 95
White Strategy 96
Eliminate the Isolated Pawn Weakness with d4-d5 96
Sacrifices on e6 & f7, Often with f2-f4-f5 Played 99
Rook Lift Attack 104
Queenside Play 111
This Is Not Just A White Thing – Black Can Do It Too 111
Something Different 112
Backward Pawn 114
Doubled Pawns 123
Hanging Pawns 131
Strategy for Attacking Hanging Pawns 131
Strategy #1: Force a Pawn Advance 132
Strategy #2: Divide and Conquer 136
Failure to Control Hanging Pawns = An Attack 138
Minority Attack 140
White Strategy 140
Black Strategy 142
Attacking Pawn Chains 146
Pawn Chain Attack Strategy – Attack the Base 146
Pawn Chain Attack Strategy – Attack the Point 150
Pawn Chain Attack Strategy – Sacrifice a Piece 153
Section B – Positional Attack Concepts 158
Pawn Roll 159
Pawn Power 165
Passed Pawn 165
Create an Alien Pawn to Assist with Checkmate 167
Plug an Escape Route 167
Checkmating Pawn Storm 168
Slow Moving Pawn Storm 169
Pawns as a Battering Ram 169
Separate and Draw Forces Away from the
Defense of the King 170
The White Passed Pawns Form a Mating Net
Directly in Front of the Black King 171
Prevent a Pawn Pass to Force Open the h-file 172
An Amazing Pawn Game 173
Bad Bishop versus Good Knight 185
Exchange Sacrifice Reasons 189
Removing a Key Defender 190
Separation of Forces 190
Damaging a Pawn Structure 192
Weaken Squares 193
Prevent Castling 195
Precise Value of the Pieces 196
Long-term Positional Pressure 198
Place a Rook on a File 201
Piece Activity 202
King Exposure 210
Space Control 217
Fatal Weaknesses 223
Weakness – g8 Square 223
Weakness – f7 Square 223
Weakness – h7 Square 224
Weakness – h-File Square 225
Weakness – f7 & Back Rank 225
Weakness – Dark Squares 226
Weakness – Light Squares 228
Weakness – Squares Around The King 231
Weakness – Kingside Squares 233
Section C – Positional Attack Motifs 236
Positional Exchange Sacrifice 237
Localized Material Advantage 268
Overwhelming Force 295
Positional Attacks 305
Section D – Mixed Attack Motifs 327
Mixed Attack Motifs 328
Bxh6 Sacrifice 329
Bxh7 Sacrifice 335
Fishing Pole 341
H-File Mate 354
King Hunt 357
Lay Down Sacrifice 384
Nd5 Sacrifice 395
Nf5 Sacrifice 403
Opposite Side Castling 412
Pawn Storm 427
Separation of Forces 442
The Wedge 450
Bullet Chess 454
Aggressive Defense 463
Who Needs a Queen 483
Book News 498
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Thanks for your support, Joel Johnson