Are You A Giant Of Positional Chess?

Are You A Giant Of Positional Chess?

| 12 | Strategy

In our article last year, we talked about how to improve your positional chess. Today, I want to give you an opportunity to test your strategic skills. The game we'll use for our quiz is quite remarkable. Anatoly Karpov is rightfully considered one of the finest positional players in chess history, yet in the following game, he was completely outplayed by GM Peter Svidler. Try to find the key moves from this gem!

Yes, this fine move actually improves White's position since it keeps the two bishops and prevents Nf4!. In some cases, the bishop can find new opportunities on the diagonals a1-h8 and a3-f8!

This beautiful, symmetrical retreat attacks the e5-pawn (12.dxe5 dxe5 13. Nxe5? was bad due to 13...Nc7 and the Bishop on b5 was hanging!) and prevents Black's expansion on the queenside by a6 and b5.

The masterful Karpov is starting to smell a rat!

This simple move eliminates Black's hopes for counterplay on the queenside after b5.

With this not very obvious maneuver, Svidler has won the fight for the key d5-square in the center and acquired a strategically winning position. Now finish the game in style!

After Svidler's beautiful combination, the rest of the game is simple.

You are probably wondering: How could Svidler find so many beautiful ideas and combinations in a game played in a rapid tournament? Let me reveal his secret. He knows many classical games. In particular, he is inspired by the game Botvinnik vs Panov from the Soviet Championship in 1939!  Let's compare the ideas.

Guys, I stole all those moves... Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik was retreating bishops before Svidler's parents were in diapers!

Even the move 22.f4! that decided the game in Svidler's favor was played by Botvinnik. It was even played on exactly same move number: 22.f4!

The moral of the story is simple. If you want to become a wizard of positional chess, study classical games!

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