Can You Understand These Positions?

Can You Understand These Positions?

Silman
IM Silman
Sep 22, 2016, 12:00 AM |
27 | Other

This article is about four interesting positions. Much of this is moderately advanced to very advanced, so hold onto your hats and see if you can meet the storm head-on!

I've also discovered some incredible tactical possibilities in one of our tests. You'll know which one it is since when you see it your mind will (figuratively but, hopefully, not physically) explode in awe.

The first two games feature Silman-losses from one tournament. It wasn't a happy experience (I ruined good positions), but the games are instructive, and my ego will (I hope!) survive the humiliation. 

Test 1:

What are the pros and cons of 15...Na5 and 15...Ne5?

Test 2:

This position has pluses and minuses for both sides. What are White's and Black's basic ideas?

Test 3:

Is 9.b4 any good? If it’s good, figure out why. If it’s bad, fully understand why it’s bad. Also, whether 9.b4 is good or bad, what overall strategy should White aim for?

Test 4:

Here we have a classic game. White has several logical moves to choose from, but we'll focus on three: 33.N5e4, 33.h5, 33.Rf2. One is flawed. Can you figure out which move is flawed?

Which move doesn't pass quality control?

What do you think is best?

Answer To Test 1

What are the pros and cons of 15...Na5 and 15...Ne5?

We will start with 15...Na5:

Summation: Black allowed his pawn structure to be damaged, but in return, he had two bishops and the potential to make the weak square on c3 his own via an eventual ...Ne7-d5-c3.

Next up, 15...Ne5:

Summation: Sometimes obvious moves are the best moves, but if you see something that looks interesting (15...Na5), do yourself a favor and give it a try! In this case (in the line after 15...Ne5), White's knight is stuck on the side of the board since moving it gives up the c3-square.

Answer To Test 2

This position has pluses and minuses for both sides. What are White's and Black's basic ideas?

White's Pluses

  • White hopes to prove that his two bishops will give him a long term advantage.
  • White is putting a lot of faith in the ultimate power of the dark-squared bishop, which can dominate the game if the a1-h8 diagonal is eventually opened.
  • White has an obvious advantage in queenside space.
  • A well-timed c4-c5 (only after White castles kingside, of course) might rip open the center, which would help White's bishops show their stuff.

Black's Pluses

  • Black would like to take advantage of the fact that White's king is still in the center. This doesn't necessarily mean that Black will be able to kill the central king, but it might allow Black to gain other advantages while White is trying to castle.
  • When the enemy king is in the center, tactics are often possible.
  • Black wants to place a knight on the nice e4-square.
  • In some lines, after White moves his knight off of f3, Black may attack. For example, the White knight might need to recapture a pawn after ...exd4. This could allow ...Qh4 or ...Qg5 with pressure against White's kingside.
  • Advancing the e5-pawn to e4 gains central space, but it also gives White hope that the a1-h8 diagonal might be opened (which would make the b2-bishop very happy). The ...e5-e4 advance also takes the e4-square away from Black's f6-knight. Thus ...e5-e4 is a double-edged sword.
  • At times, Black's rooks can penetrate into White's position along the a-file via ...a7-a5 or (if White pushes his b-pawn to b5) ...a7-a6.

Let's look at some examples.

Black Plays 10...Nxd4!?

Black Plays 10...e4 And White Plays Conservatively
Black Plays 10...e4 And White Goes For The Gusto
Black Plays 10...Ne4

After 36...Ne6, see if you can wipe Silman out, just like Mr. Lobo did.

Answer To Test 3

Is 9.b4 any good? If it’s good, figure out why. If it’s bad, fully understand why it’s bad. Also, whether 9.b4 is good or bad, what overall strategy should White aim for?

9.b4 is an excellent move. Yes, it leaves the c3-pawn backward and also creates a hole on c4. These are things we are taught not to do. However, it makes perfect sense when you realize that White’s strategy is to totally dominate the e5- and d4-squares. In general, if White can grab those two squares (or in many cases just one of them) in the French Defense then Black will find that he has to suffer for a long, long time.

This space disadvantage could come with a lengthy sentence.

Here’s the full game which brilliantly illustrates White’s strategy.

Answer To Test 4

Here we have a classic game. White has several logical moves to choose from, but we'll focus on three: 33.N5e433.h533.Rf2. One is flawed. Can you figure out which move is flawed? And what do you think is best?

White Played (In The Actual Game) 33.N5e4?

White Plays 33.h5

White Plays 33.Rf2!

From here on out, White finds strange and very creative ways to breach Black's defenses.

Where's the fun in ordinary breaches of Black's defenses?

These positions deserve a lot of exploration, but I simply don't have the time to do it justice. So if you think you have found errors in my rather hasty analysis, please write and let me know.

Black’s 43...Bd5 gave him hope to stave off mate by sacrificing an exchange with ...Rxc5. Trickier is:

A Look At The Tricky 43...Rd8

Now I'll create two more puzzles. I don't expect anybody to solve them, but giving it a try will make the solutions far more meaningful. The first comes about after 43...Bd5.

Black Plays 43...Bd5

 The other puzzle takes place after 43...c3+.

Black Tries 43...c3+

For those that enjoy classic games, here's the full score of the actual game:

More from IM Silman
How To Start Out In Chess

How To Start Out In Chess

How To Cure A Serious Chess Disease

How To Cure A Serious Chess Disease