Formation Attacks Book (June 2010)
As a Chess Master that has spent many years playing aggressive and attacking chess, I was quite dismayed during a past visit to my local bookstore. I was in search of a book that covered a wide array of attacks against many Pawn formations in an organized fashion. Needless to say, my search came up empty. The books on attacking fell short in many ways. Many of the books were simply a small collection of attack games with no instruction about the art of attacking or about the skills required to become a great attacker. None of them provided the reader with any reference information about attacking or the weaknesses of various Pawn Formations. None of them contained games with attacking themes like the Traxler Variation of the Two Knights Defense, and the Jack Young “Fishing Pole”. None of them contained any wild attacking ideas that can stream from opening gambits such as the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, King's Gambit, Scotch Gambit, Nakhmanson Gambit, etc. So, as a result, I felt compelled to write the ultimate attack book, and this is it!
The above paragraph was the promotional text on the back cover of the my first book, Formation Attacks. And, while the general premise of the paragraph is true, what actually propelled me into writing had nothing to do with a trip to my local book store.
During the winter of 2001, I was working as a Senior Software Engineer in the Greater Boston area - an occupation I had been gainfully employed for 27 years. And along with my chess addiction, which led to basically a seditary way of life, my overall health would have been described as very poor. I felt sick every day and thought a heart attack was my destiny unless I broke the cycle. So I packed up my belongings and relocated to sunny Phoenix, Arizona. I spent seven weeks driving across the United States, enjoying nature, taking in the sights, and just relaxing. My trip ended on the evening of September 10, 2001 and I woke up to the events of 9/11.
After 9/11, it become increasingly apparent that my Computer Software carreer was over. What I decided to do was work on creating a new carreer path centered around my love of chess. Why not? This was something I always wanted to do. I had been a Chess Master for over 25 years. My computer, writing, and communication skills were all very strong. So for the next six years I worked to build up a business centered around teaching chess. As time went along, things got better and better. However, it was not all peaches and cream. I found things were very difficult during the summer months when loads of students went on vacation. The actual decision about writing books came about because of a need to fill my spare time with an activity that would generate more income.
Once I had come to the decision about writing chess books, the next step was figure out what to write about. This was where the trip to the bookstore came in (along with browing the internet). In the end, my research showed a great lack of quality attack books. As a result, I embarked on a project to create a special attack book unlike any ever written, based around Pawn structures (Formations) guarding the enemy King. The basic premise was if players understood all the weaknesses of the Pawn structure surrounding the enemy King and saw a slew of great examples attacking those structures, then when it came time to exploit the situation in their own games, they would have an awesome idea of how to proceed. The first part of the book, would contain chapters related to attacking skills and general attacking info.
The other key component of all my books are the games - loads of great attacking games - many of which I guarantee you have never seen before - and, even if you think the book may be over your head, the games are so entertaining that the book is well worth the investment.
For chess.com readers, I have included a preview of the chapter entitled, "Formation: Fianchetto Bishop without an h-Pawn".
Formation: Fianchetto Bishop without an h-Pawn
This Pawn formation occurs more than it should. Players are taught to make Pawn captures toward the center. As a result, many players, even Masters, frequently will play hxg6 instead of fxg6 when recapturing on g6, without thinking about what is best for their King position. The lack of an h-Pawn is a severe weakness by itself.
Position above is from Game #48 after White's 15th move.
In the position above, White played Bh6 to prevent Black from being able to defend his h7 square adequately. Why is this true? It is because after White captures Black's Bishop on g7, Black cannot both simultaneously recapture the White Bishop and protect his h7 square. So why do I bring this up in this section? Because when the defender does not have a h-Pawn, you do not need to play Bh6. This dramatically speeds up the attack and has to be considered a major flaw in the defender's Pawn formation.
------------ Game #104 ------------
Here is a simple example of what having no h-Pawn means to the Fianchetto Bishop formation. White's attack is powerful and swift.
------------ Game #105 ------------
Another very simple example of what having no h-Pawn means to the Fianchetto Bishop formation. White's attack comes too fast and too easy when Black has no h-Pawn.
------------ Game #106 ------------
Much like Game #104, except Black gives up a Pawn in an attempt to generate some counter-play.
------------ Game #107 ------------
Here, Black decides to play Kg7 so that he can defend his h7 square with the move Rh8.
------------ Game #108 ------------
This time around, Black decides to play f5 and run her King towards the center.
------------ Game #109 ------------
In the next two games, Black knocks out White's kingside Knight quickly to prevent any kind of Queen and Knight checkmate. However, the end result of this preventive action is to accelerate White's remaining pieces toward the h-file weakness, which still remained.
------------ Game #110 ------------
Much like the last game, Black knocks out White's kingside Knight quickly to prevent any kind of Queen and Knight checkmate. However, the end result of this preventive action was to accelerate White's attack down the h-file.
------------ Game #111 ------------
The next three games illustrate further the h-file weakness in combination with overwhelming force at the point of attack.
------------ Game #112 ------------
More of the same, further illustration of the h-file weakness in combination with overwhelming force at the point of attack.
------------ Game #113 ------------
Another h-file issue rears it's head after White attempts to pry open Black's King and finds himself exposed after Black trades in his Queen.
------------ Game #114 ------------
While White is trying to fend off the basic checkmate idea of Qh5 and Ng4, Black is able to build up an overwhelming attack force, which leads to another nice finish.
------------ Game #115 ------------
The power of White's light squared Bishop creates a major distraction and White is able to take down Black with a powerful In-Between move.
And the table of contents of the book:
Harry Lyman 9
Purpose of the Book 10
Section A – Attack Skills 11
Analyzing Chess Positions 12
Candidate Moves 12
Move Searching 12
Move Search Order 13
Basic Attack Techniques 15
Chasing Pieces to Better Squares 16
Defender Attack 16
The Role of Pawns 17
Trojan Pawns 19
Opening Gambits 20
Automatic Moves 23
In-Between Moves 23
Rejection of Moves 24
Missed Opportunities 27
Advanced Attack Techniques 30
Threat Pins 33
Invisible Defenders 35
King Hunting 37
Sacrifice or Not? 39
Attack Guidelines 41
Attacking Elements 44
Number of Attackers 46
Pawn Structure 48
Weak Squares 49
Attacking Process 49
Identifying Weaknesses 50
Creating Weaknesses 52
Exploiting Weaknesses 57
Section B – Attack Info 59
How do computers affect a game of chess today? 61
Using my computer as a tool 61
Checking your analysis 63
Working on new opening lines 63
Computer abuse 63
Interpreting computer output 63
Preparing for an Opponent 68
Most Thrilling Game Ever? 78
Amazing Endgame Mates 81
Section C – Attack Games 87
Fianchetto Bishop 88
Games #048 - #088 88
Fianchetto Bishop with h5 133
Games #089 - #093 133
Fianchetto Bishop with h6 139
Games #094 - #103 139
Fianchetto Bishop without an h-Pawn 151
Games #104 - #115 151
Fianchetto Bishop with f5 165
Games #116 - #119 165
Fianchetto Bishop with Open f-File 172
Games #120 - #125 172
Fianchetto with Bishop on h8 177
Games #126 - #129 177
Fianchetto without Bishop 181
Games #130 - #150 181
No Pawn Weaknesses 204
Games #151 - #251 204
Capture on f6 (f3) or h6 (h3)
Games #151 - #155 204
Capture on h7 (h2)
Games #156 - #173 210
Capture on g7 (g2)
Games #174 - #187 226
Capture on f7 (f2)
Games #188 - #193 239
"Laying" a Bishop or Knight on f6 (f3) or h6 (h3)
Games #194 - #211 245
Force weakness by threatening checkmate
Games #212 - #235 262
Queen and Bishop Point at h7 (h2)
Games #212 - #222 262
Queen and Knight Point at h7 (h2)
Games #223 - #229 272
Queen/Rook and Bishop/Knight Point at g7 (g2)
Games #230 - #235 279
f6 (f3) to weaken Pawn formation
Games #236 - #241 284
Overwhelming force at the point of attack
Games #242 - #251 291
Open f-File 303
Games #252 - #261303
Games #262 - #267 313
Games #268 - #269 322
Games #270 - #291325
Games #292 - #373 348
Capture on f7 (f2)
Games #292 - #318 348
Check along e-file
Games #319 - #327 370
Check along h5-e8 (h4-e1) diagonal
Games #328 - #334 378
Games #335 - #346 383
Defender moves King on his own
Games #347 - #356 391
Check along a4-e8 (a5-e1) diagonal
Games #357 - #368 400
Capture on d7 (d2)
Games #369 - #370 408
Capture on d8 (d1)
Game #371 410
Back rank check
Games #372 - #373 410
f5 Played 413
Games #374 - #377 413
f6 Played 418
Games #378 - #392 418
h5 Played 430
Games #393 - #394 430
h6 Played 432
Games #395 - #429 432
Capture on h6 (h3)
Games #395 - #407 432
Capture on g7 (g2)
Games #408 - #412 442
Games #413 - #419 445
Placing or capturing on f6 (f3)
Games #420 - #421 453
Threaten checkmate to create a weakness
Game #422 454
Overwhelming force at point of attack
Games #423 - #427 455
Games #428 - #429 458
Mating Net 460
Games #430 - #435 460
Glossary of Terms 467
Players Index 470
Openings Index 488
What people are saying about Formation Attacks:
Ricky Kennedy, Chessville:
"Formation Attacks is full of heart, wisdom, aggression, – and, at 500 pages, is a seriously heavyweight contender. This title easily goes the distance, and those who read it and study with it are sure to come away with some champion-sized results."
Leonard McLaren, New Zealand Chess:
“An entertaining instruction manual on attacking the king (..) many attacking brilliancies by the world's best players of the last 180 years (..) The book has high production values. (..) Johnson writes in a straightforward robust style."
Life Master Brian Wall, seven-time Colorado State Champion:
"I piled up Chess books and asked everyone to choose based on being stuck on a desert island. The big winner was Joel Johnson's 'Formation Attacks'. (..) Everyone I showed the book to loved it (..)."
Harold Dondis and Patrick Wolff, The Boston Globe:
"A detailed and rich collection of chess themes (..) This book has required intense preparation and is already a popular book. It is a valuable source for those players interested in viewing the attacking aspects of chess."
Anthea Carson, author of "How to Play Chess Like an Animal":
"Section by section "Formation Attacks" lists and then explores the methods of attack (..) In the end you have to ask yourself, do you want to play chess like you are at a tea party with the queen? Or do you want to play chess like... well like an animal? If the later, 'Formation Attacks' is for you."
Thomas M. Peterson, Madison, WI
The games in this book have really shown me how to aggressively checkmate my opponents. I am a solidly improving player with great motivation, and this book has given me examples of how to shape my attacks based on the patterns that my opponent throws at me in a live game - No need to memorize - Just play through the games and work thoughtfully through the checkmates, and you will become a creative, and dangerous opponent.
This book has made all the difference for me. I play with a lot more confidence and my games are a lot more fun. Thank you Joel!!!!
Danielle Rice, Denver, CO
A Definitive Manual on Attack
I have searched extensively for books on attack (having read IM Jacob Aagard's two volume set for example) and always was disappointed in the lack of a comprehensive outline of methods dealing with various pawn structures. This book fills that void. Extensive examples with full games, and focused on the means and methods to attack various pawn formations in front of the opposing King. Highly recommended!
I bought one for myself, and when I showed it to my chess instructor, he loved it. So I bought him a copy as well. He carries the book everywhere he goes and uses it often in other lessons. The games are relatively short and show many interesting attacking ideas/motifs. I like the follow-up by Johnson as well - "Formation Attack Strategies," though I haven't studied it quite as much as the first book. Attacking ideas against particular pawn/piece structures is an under-addressed area in chess literature. I have purchased many MANY chess books in the last year, and this is the first book about which I have written a review. That should say a bit about how much I enjoy this book.
Dennis Pinion, Glendale, AZ
Brian Wall is right. The book is an excellent piece of work on attacks.
James Bursley, Tempe, AZ
Great Book Joel! Tons of information, the reader can tell you put a lot of effort into this work. I've accumulated many new ideas and can't wait to test drive some of them. I've also learned a lot more about you. You put your heart and soul into this book and it comes right through the pages.
Joshua Zhu, Gilbert, AZ
I love this book. It's everything I would have expected from you and more! lol!
Austin Cambon, Joshua Tree, CA
I have been reading the "Formation Attacks" book. I really like it! Your ideas of aggressive play are very good! I really want to be an attacker now, but as your book said, it will take lots of practice and hard work.
Great book! I look forward to finishing it and then reading it again!
My books are available at the following websites:
Chess Books From Europe
Thanks for your support, Joel Johnson