Dreams: The Secret Formula For Chess Success, Part 3

Dreams: The Secret Formula For Chess Success, Part 3

IM Silman
Mar 24, 2015, 12:00 AM |
12 | Strategy

What in the world is a chess dream? And how can such a thing help your game?

For those that want the full introductory prose, please go to part one of this series. For the busy masses who have things to do and places to go, here’s a nutshell explanation:

This series is all about dreams (okay, it’s also about imbalances and patterns), and it’s presented in a question-and-answer format. Some of the positions will be hard to deconstruct, some will be very basic, but all of them should prove instructive once you do your best to solve the puzzles and then carefully read the prose in the answers.

Chess dreams: No, we’re not talking about a chess dream where hordes of models –- in awe of your chess skills -– flock to you. The chess dream I’m talking about is:

A) You break down the nuts and bolts of the position (imbalances, dynamics, tactics, pawn structures, etc.) as best you can (more concepts than moves!).

B) Then you imagine (Dream!) the ideal position based on your earlier breakdown. No move-by-move, “I go there and he goes there” analysis!

C) That’s enough, but if you wish to go a bit deeper down that rabbit hole, then look for a sequence of moves that actually makes (or at least aims at making) your dream come true.


Puzzle One:

White’s dream is pretty clear: smash Black’s d5-pawn into submission! Or, at the very least, tie Black’s pieces down to the defense of d5. Does Black have a dream that will come to his rescue?

Puzzle Two:

It’s clear that White’s better, but he has to avoid some tactical tricks (Black threatens to win on the spot with 1...Rxd4 and 1...Bxc5) and also figure out what his dream position is (if you don’t know your goal, you won’t find the right moves to get there). So, what’s the dream?


Puzzle One Answer:

Thanks to his a-, c- and d-pawns, Black enjoys more queenside and central space. Another perk is that the c5 and d5 pawns deprive White the use of the c4-, d4-, and e4-squares. Things look good for Black. Or perhaps not.

White’s plan is a no-brainer: double his rooks on the d-file, pressure d5, and then throw in moves like Qf5, Bf4, and Ng3. Sounds great!

This kind of position takes a lot of skill to handle. Some players (playing Black) would calmly accept that some defense was called for. Others would look for tactical nuances to keep his position afloat. And then there’s the dreamer (and if anyone was a dreamer, it was Nimzowitsch!).

The dreamer takes all that information in, but tosses it in the garbage and asks himself, what would be really cool? How can I improve the position of my pieces, continue to place pressure on White’s queenside pawn structure (Black’s ...a7-a5 advance was played with that in mind since ...a5-a4 would weaken b3) and nullify those nasty white rooks?

A knight on d3! THAT would be cool! Then White’s rooks would have zero influence on the d-file and Black’s knight would reach out in every possible direction. And so, the dreamer, loving his dream, asks: “Okay, how do I make this happen?”

Some of you might say, “Wait a second! Black’s knight never made it to d3, so what’s the point of his dream?”

The answer to this is that your chess dreams should be based on the imbalances and the ultimate needs of the position. Black’s ...c5-c4 not only continued with his dream of weakening White’s queenside pawns, but it also made the d3-square accessible. Due to the possibility of the knight landing on d3, White overreacted with 24.bxc4.

Yes, it stopped that one dream but gave Black’s knight another wonderful square on c4. In other words, the dream had a very positive effect on the overall flow of the game.

Puzzle Two Answer:

The dream is total minor piece domination. As the following diagram shows, the horse rules the universe and, after White calmly marches his king to e3 or d4, Black’s a-pawn will be eaten and the a2-pawn will turn into a queen. 

The dream is clear and effective. The problem is, how to make it a reality? The answer is to swap the dark-squared bishops when White’s knight would lead its army to victory. As you’ll see in the actual game, that’s exactly what Tartakower played for.


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