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# Logical and Atypical Plans

| 8 | Strategy

A chess player has to know how to use a variety of methods of chess strategy. Super grandmasters mastered numerous methods of leading chess battles. This is why it is good to go over their games and learn typical plans. Today’s two examples are taken from Kramnik’s play. He is famous for knowing how to play slow strategical positions very well. He is a master of nuances, of small details and piece placements.  That is why his games are especially useful to study planning and general strategy. We will look at two of his games that are rich on strategical ideas.

In the first example white has to decide where to retreat with the bishop. The bishop has to retreat because there is no need to give black the advantage of the bishop pair. So, Bd3 or Be2 are the normal moves. Each move has its advantages/disadvantages. The bishop on d3 is more active, it creates a possibility of attack on the b1-h7 diagonal, and has control of the important light squares e4-f5. The bishop on e2 does not block the d-file and also gives white the additional possibility of protecting the d4 pawn with Rd1. The bishop from e2 also protects the knight on f3 in case the black bishop goes to c6. So, one can see that the two moves are almost equivalent in their strength. So, which one should you choose? Let us ask a simple question “What is black’s plan?” And the answer is obvious: with the last move of Na5 black has prepared the c5 break. Without it black can suffocate and the knight will be out of play. So, white has to find a way to counter it. A good way to counter it would be to push d5 but in this position it is unrealistic. Another possibility is to place a rook on d1 so that when the line opens white will have a piece that controls it. Thus, if the rook has to stand on the d-file, where should the bishop go? Of course, to e2, in order not to block the rook. Ivanchuk chose the other continuation, which is good too but with Be2 it is easier to play and it presents more problems for black.

The next example is a type of position that I really like and that I really have a hard time solving because the solution is not that obvious. Black is ahead in development and the knight on e4 is super-strong. One naturally wants to develop Bc8 to f5 for example. White will counter it with Bd3 and there is no clear plan of how to continue. The only way I can think of explaining this phenomenon is that black is ahead in development and all of his pieces are placed very well.  The only way to improve the position is to grab space with pawn moves. Under the strong cover of the Ne4, black is not afraid to come under attack on the kingside simply because the knight shields the whole flank. The solution comes to mind right away. The game has a very interesting moment at move 19… Black made a controversial decision to exchange queens, when most of the commentators thought that keeping the queens on the board would help black’s attack and would not give the drawing chances that opposite color bishops allow. Kramnik saw this possibility but he calculated far enough to assess that white had good drawing chances with queens on the board. Sometimes, it is not enough to get the right strategic ideas, it is more important to calculate the lines far ahead to reach a final position and make a correct evaluation of it.

As always, the two positions for the next week

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