Playing On Both Sides Of The Board

Playing On Both Sides Of The Board

spassky
spassky
Sep 3, 2009, 12:00 AM |
7 | Opening Theory

Just as circumstances in one part of the world can affect events in far-flung places, moves on one side of the chessboard can have a dramatic effect on the other side of the board.  In this game, White creates some threats on the queenside, but Black carefully arranges his pieces to cover everything.  But then White nudges one piece on the kingside, Black chooses the wrong retreat square, and his position collapses like a house of cards.

It is interesting to note that Black, a well-known master from Maryland who has been rated as high as 2318, told me after the game that he had "never lost from this position", referring to the position after 15...Qc6, which indicates he had a lot of experience with this opening (in order to get to a position 15 moves deep a lot of times).   I think I may have thrown him off by combining elements of different lines into one game.  I looked in a database and could find no instances of g4 played on move 16, as played in this game.  I found 16. Qe2 and 16. Qf3, both of which were met by 16....d5.  In this game, 16....d5 would have been met by 17. g5, leaving d5 underdefended by Black.  In addition, I was unable to find any games with the move 19. Rb4, which seemed logical to me.  So all of the individual moves I played have been played before, but perhaps not in that particular order. 
The take home lesson here is that when playing a strong player, you have to know some opening theory to keep from getting beaten right at the beginning of the game.   After that, you just try to play thematic ideas and hope you can catch him napping.  Commenting on the book "Opening Preparation" by Dvoretsky and Yusupov, Tim Harding in an article on Chess Cafe says: "A note by Yusupov in the third illustrative game clearly contrasts with the kind of openings education I got in the 1960s where a typical remark was “Your only object in the opening should be to develop your pieces and get your king into safety for a playable middle-game”. That kind of advice may be good for the total beginner but is very misleading for any improving player with hopes of becoming an expert or master.  Yusupov notes: “Modern opening structures are firmly linked to a middlegame plan of action…” (page 12) and “In essence, the entire game is an aggregate of mini-operations united by a general strategic idea that has its basis in the opening you have chosen”.  In this game, the general strategic idea was to attack the king and, with the center basically closed, White's mini-operations were: play on the queenside, then the kingside, win material on the queenside, then attack on the kingside.  It doesn't always work as well as it did in this game, but you have to go into the game with some knowledge and some kind of plan. 
More from spassky
How Do You Win a Chess Tournament?

How Do You Win a Chess Tournament?

What are "weak squares"?

What are "weak squares"?