Learn to Attack!

  • GM Gserper
  • | May 30, 2013

Last December the chess community celebrated the 100th birthday of Rashid Nezhmetdinov, one of the most creative attacking players in the history of chess.  He is one of my most favorite players and the game we'll analyze today shows why he was truly an attacking genius.

When we talk about an attack we immediately think about tactics and sacrifices. But as one of the grandmasters (I think it was Tartakower, but I can be wrong here) noticed about Alekhine's games, many chess players miss the real point. "Give me the position where Alekhine executed one of his famous combinations and I'll do it just like him. The really difficult part is how to get such a position!" (This is how I remember this phrase even though the wording might be different).

In today's game (played by Nezhmetdinov when he was not even a master), you'll get an opportunity to create a nice attacking position and then execute a wonderful combination. 

(The game is 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".)

Black's move looks strange to put it mildly. We are talking about an attack and Black is moving back - what kind of an attack is it? But in fact Black is preparing his attack! And one of the principles of an attack says: Do not trade pieces when you attack; each trade makes your opponent's defensive task easier. Of course you shouldn't use this rule blindly (just like almost any other rule of chess). Here the Bishop's retreat is especially good because White's position is cramped and he doesn't have space for all of his pieces, therefore Black avoids the trade of Bishops.
When you have an advantage in the center and also your pieces are active, you can sometimes push the pawns in front of your King in order to use them to gain more space and start a direct attack against your opponent's King.  This principle is very common in the Sicilian Defense, like for example in the next famous game (sorry Judit!).
Now back to the Nezhmetdinov's game. How should Black continue his attack?
The Rook lift is your best friend when you attack. Some openings (like the Dutch Stonewall) are even based on this idea. Check out for example the following classical game:
Now you need to finish preparation for the final combination:
Never forget to bring as many pieces into your attack as possible. Beginners tend to attack with just two pieces (based on my experience somehow it is usually a Queen and a Knight), but such "attacks" are usually repelled easily. Remember, the more pieces that you use for your attack, the more powerful it gets! 

Finally the most exciting part. Find the winning combination!
As you can see, in most of the cases the preparation for a beautiful combination is much more difficult to do than the combo itself! I wish you many beautiful attacks!


  • 7 weeks ago


    Good job and thanks

  • 2 months ago


    Ironically, one of the best places to learn on how to handle an agressive player is by replaying Nezhmetdinov 's games against top players of that era

  • 3 years ago


    For a video biography of Nezhmetdinov, start here:


  • 3 years ago


    nice article. 

  • 3 years ago


    it was a real pleasure, watching and learning from this article. 

  • 3 years ago


    awesome article thanks Gserper!Cool

  • 3 years ago


    thanks i learned a little something

  • 3 years ago


    TQ SIR

  • 3 years ago


    what if #20 white plays c4 instead of b4? is there's a change? or will that matter?

  • 3 years ago


     "A chess combination is the triumph of spirit over matter."




    I like Tal: "You need to drag them into the forest... something something something...." Cool

  • 3 years ago


    its really great..thank you 

  • 3 years ago


    A great article by GM. Serper, his ideas in this article is something to strive for and it will take a lot tactical studies to become good in tactics; and get a good book in how to attack. If you are not a expert otb player you will not be able to play like this, be satisfy playing a sound combination or sound attack: if you cannot see the mate or win material don't sacrifice, this advice help me when I was a low rated player. Get a good book on tactics and study it and review again and again, plus include tactical trainer and you see your tactics improve.  

  • 3 years ago


    Man! That's cool!

  • 3 years ago


    This is how its done, like a baws, I will learn more about attacking and shall strike mah opponents down and make em wet there pants

  • 3 years ago


    I can't just think an attack like it. Someone says, "chess is 99% tactics". With a little time I am almost able to find any tactic that exists in 4-5 moves(9 ply) ahead. but Maybe they occur a little in my game. A friend tell me that I have to manage my rival to fall in tactics. How is the Idea about? And Is there a way exists to do so?

    Also when i come with a new idea and try it in game, Most time I lose badly. But i am not fear losing. Is it occur for most of us? If no, how to cope with?

  • 3 years ago


    Games like this make me realise how little I understand chess.

  • 3 years ago


    O.o why are there random white letters all over the article?

  • 3 years ago


    Very nice attack! But regarding of the picture above, are those war medals or chess medals? :D

  • 3 years ago


    Oh! My god! He is Tatar, just like me!

  • 3 years ago



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