Classical Games Everybody Should Know, Part 6

Classical Games Everybody Should Know, Part 6

| 27 | Tactics

Wilhelm Steinitz is widely known as the founder of a new positional school of chess, so you might expect to see long boring games played by the first official World Champion.  In fact, Steinitz created many beautiful attacking gems, so we can learn from him more than just the art of maneuvering. Look at the next little-known game. In the position shown in the diagram Black has extra material and if he is given just one move to castle, then his position would be totally fine.  Unfortunately he never got this chance.  Try to demolish Black's position the same energetic way Steinitz did!

(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your chess skills, so the games are given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".)



I strongly encourage you to replay the whole game and all the possible variations a couple of times to better learn how to attack when your opponent's King gets stuck in the center. I am almost 100% sure Bobby Fischer did exactly that. How do I know, you may ask? Well, first of all, Fischer was a well known student of classical games; and secondly, look at the next game. There GM Reuben Fine's King also never had a chance to castle.  Don't you find some similarities?
You could see how easily Fischer beat GM Fine (who was one of the strongest players in the World around WWII) by following the classical rule: when your opponent's King is stuck in the center, open a file against him!  Also I have a suspicion that the great Bobby knew the next cute oldie:
Don't you think the final combo in this game is pretty similar to the one executed by Fischer?!
But if you should remember just one thing from the Steinitz game we analyzed in the beginning of this article, I would recommend to remember the Ba3 idea that stops your opponent's castle by controlling the f8 square.  Note for beginners: contrary to what you might have read in the comments section to one of the previous articles in this "Classical games" series, it is illegal to castle if the Rook lands on the square attacked by the opponent's pieces.  So, even if Black wouldn't mind sacrificing his Rook for the Ba3 to get his King to the safety, still castling is illegal since at the end his Rf8 would be attacked by the Ba3.
World Champion Tigran Petrosian was well known for his defensive skills.  His nickname "Iron Tigran " shows how difficult it was to beat him. But in the next game GM Leonid Stein managed to destroy him in just 26 moves using the same Ba3! trick. Unable to castle, the Black King falls victim to a swift attack.
To recap the main principles of an attack against a King that got stuck in the center:
1) Keep your opponent's King in the center, preventing castling.  Ba3 is a handy trick to do so.
2) Open files against such an un-castled King. The attack is usually very quick and deadly.
Good luck in your future King hunting!
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