Beware Of Alekhine's Gun

Beware Of Alekhine's Gun

| 21 | Tactics

The 1930 San Remo International was a rather one-sided affair. World Champion Alexander Alekhine stormed through the field, winning 13 games and conceding only two draws. Yet this tournament is remembered not for Alekhine's magisterial performance, but for one game in particular: his third-round battle against Aaron Nimzowitsch.

There is no need to belabor the obvious. Alekhine's Gun — a queen behind a pair of doubled rooks — is an extremely potent attacking formation. Loading the gun usually takes quite a bit of patience and finesse, but it is always time well spent! 

The following strategic duel between two former world champions is a case in point. Just when it appears that Black has alleviated the pressure, Karpov fires the gun. 

An amazing positional display. By constructing the gun, Karpov totally immobilized Black's position and created unbearable pressure along the d-file. Spassky tried to stop the bleeding with a pawn sacrifice, but to no avail. In a rather cruel twist of irony, the knockout blow came on the adjacent file! 

Spassky and Karpov (different game) via altervista

We can observe a similar pattern in the next game. 

A textbook example if there ever was one! Van Wely's technique was not perfect, but it was more than good enough. With no counterplay to speak of, Stupak had no choice but to wait in total passivity. As soon as the d6 pawn was eliminated, the gun roared to life. 

And now, dear reader, it is your turn to operate Alekhine's Gun. Good luck!

If you discovered the solution on your first or second attempt, give yourself a round of applause. In this case, the gun was not itself decisive. Rather, it exerted such immense pressure on White's position that Kore was entirely unprepared to deal with the sudden transformation. Furthermore, with so many pieces on the f-file, Hungaski could afford to sacrifice one of them! 

Hopefully, I've succeeded in illuminating an aspect of positional mastery that many players tend to overlook. Do not underestimate the power of Alekhine's Gun. 

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