Positional Pondering

Positional Pondering

| 13 | Amazing Games

IMPORTANT: [At the end of the puzzles, you should click MOVE LIST so you can see my instructive notes and variations. If you are having trouble solving a problem, just click SOLUTION, and then MOVE LIST. Even if you solve everything, DO click MOVE LIST or you might miss an important bit of prose.]

Statics versus Dynamics

Here we have a classic battle between black's lead in development (dynamics) and white's superior pawn structure (statics). What do these factors tell Black to do?


A Nimzovich Favorite

The opening didn't go well for Black and he's a pawn down. Nevertheless, he can still put up an epic fight! At the moment, Black has no less than 11 possible Knight moves! Which one is best?

Tiny Things Can Have Grave Consequences

Black just played his pawn from b7 to b6. If you hate it, then figure out what's wrong with it. If you like it, defend it!

A Tough Decision

The key questions in the position below are: Should Black play 15...e5 or 15...Ne6? Are both okay? Is 15...e5 logical or idiotic? Why would anyone want to play 15...Ne6 and block the Bishop on d7?

Before going into actual variations (available in the board), here is my two cents worth about the above Qs:

15…e5, the move that Black played, is a typical device in Marcozy Bind structures to fight for the d4-square. It's not a bad move at all, but 15…Ne6 is a bit better (at least for my "give the opponent as few chances as possible" style). There are a few reasons for this:

* 15…e5 allows White to initiate a small tactical pawn break (16.c5) that may or may not improve white’s position. However, if I feel I rule the position I often go out of my way (if possible) to avoid all potential counterplay.

* 15…e5 does create a long-term hole on d5 and a potential target on d6. This usually isn’t a big deal with this structure, but why give White anything if an excellent and less committal alternative exists?

* 15…Ne6 doesn’t just target the d4-square, it also targets the c5-square via …a7-a5. Since 15…Ne6 aims at d4, prepares for the annexation of c5, and also keeps black’s position nice and tight and weakness free (while retaining the ...e7-e5 option), I would have to go with that move.


* A static advantage offers its owner a long term plus, while a dynamic advantage offers short term candy. This usually means that the side with the dynamic advantage needs to strike hard and fast (since it will eventually fade away), while the side with the long lasting static advantage (structure, material, etc.) can slowly but surely make use of his longer lasting stuff.

* Sometimes if things are going badly, the best reaction is to stay calm and centralize your pieces so they maintain maximum activity and flexibility. Indeed, centralized pieces that are working together are often a wonderful thing to behold. 

* Creating holes in your position can have long-term repercussions, or can even lead to an immediate smackdown! If you must create a hole in your camp, be aware that you're doing so, and be  prepared to show why it's no big deal in that instance. If your opponent creates a hole in his camp, train yourself to notice it, and do everything possible to take advantage of it!

* Knowing as many pawn structures as possible is extremely important if you wish to reach master level. This kind of knowledge tells you, at a glance, whether creating a hole is or is not okay, what minor pieces to retain or exchange, and a host of other bits of key information.

* In our final example, creating a hole on d5 with 15...e5 is perfectly acceptable, while in many other positions it wouldn't be correct at all. It all comes down to what you get in return. As Fischer once said, "You gotta give squares to get squares!"


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