Heritage in Modern Play, End

Heritage in Modern Play, End

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We will wrap-up this series about heritage in modern play by looking at one more position with a typical pawn structure. This position can arise from many different Queen's Gambit openings after massive pawn exchanges in the center where both sides end up with isolated d-pawns.

The position we will look at here arises when the white bishop is on d3, as in many Queen's Gambit games, and the black bishop is on b7. The difference of the power between the light-squared bishops is evident: whereas the white bishop is active and controls both the f1-a6 and b1-h7 diagonals, the black bishop's range is limited by the d5-pawn.

One of the major strategies for White in this position is to develop an attack on the black king. If White concentrates his pieces on the kingside, Black will effectively play without a bishop, which is stuck on b7. Black can try to bring the bishop into the game by playing Bc8 but then the d5-pawn will become undefended, so it is not so easy to do. Moreover, often an endgame is reached when Black manages to defend against the kingside attack and trades queens. White is still better, because Bb7 is so unfortunately placed. We will see some of these ideas in two classical games and three examples from a modern play.

The first game is, of course, from Botvinnik's practice. The 6th World Champion played these QG-type of positions flawlessly. In the starting position he has a clear advantage as the black pieces are discoordinated. Notice now the f3-pawn takes away the e4-square from Nf6. His queen is controlling the e-file, whereas the rook is controlling the c-file. Botvinnik's pieces are perfectly placed for a kingside attack. The knight is going to f5, the other knight is transferred through e2 (which becomes a classic maneuver) to either f4 or g3. The queen joins the attack through h4. Pilnik defended well and managed to trade queens, but Botvinnik missed a pawn win. He transferred to a much better endgame where Bb7 was limited not only by both the d5- and e6-pawn.

I especially like the next example, where the game is approaching the endgame but is not quite there yet. The black king is still in trouble because the queens are still on the board. The two bishops attack along the a1-h8 and b1-h7 diagonals, and White only needs to bring the queen into the game. Ideally, it should form a battery with the bishop on the b1-h7 diagonal as after the pawn moved to h6 the g6 and h7-squares become weak. It is not that easy to get the queen on this diagonal as Black can cover most of the squares with the queen and bishop. However, White managed to trick Black and achieved the ideal set-up. After that Black's position collapsed as the king took a walk across the board.

The following example is from modern play but it reminds me of Botvinnik's game a lot. The white pieces are harmoniously regrouped to attack the black king. There's knight maneuver Ne2 from Botvinnik's game, and Sasikiran decided to transfer it through g3 because the f5- and h5-squares looked very desirable. It is also instructive to see how White led the dark-squared bishop into the game by the Bb2-c1 transfer. In the end White had six attacking pieces, whereas Black had just four defending pieces.

The endgame in Botvinnik's game was pretty gloom for Black, partially due to Bb7 being locked behind the d5- and e6-pawns. In the example Morozevich - Timofeev the starting position is only slightly worse for Black but it is extremely hard to play it for him and it deteriorates into a much worse position quickly. Notice how Morozevich first ties the black pieces by attacking along the e-file and with pawns on the kingside. Then he switched to the attack along the c-file. Black was too passive to defend against all the threats and had to lose a pawn.

The last example is a cute miniature that has the pawn structure of our interest. Once again, White positioned his pieces ideally with the two bishops along the diagonals facing the king, Ne5 and Qh3. The only missing maneuver is Nc3-e2. The f4-f5 push is also possible in the given set-up. However, Black rushed with Bc8 move, which turned out to be a blunder and didn't let White to demonstrate the attacking plan. Moiseenko ended up winning with a fork connected to the h7-mate.

I hope you enjoyed this series on heritage in modern play! Next week we are starting a new series.


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