Sicilian Defense #4 - Surviving Napoleon's March to Moscow

| 8 | Strategy

Russians called Napoleon's 1812 invasion "The Patriotic War".  The largest army up to that point in history, 690,000 French troops, crossed the river Nemen intent on taking the Russian capital Moscow.  After brave defenses and dire predictions of the city's fall, the Russian army engaged in scorched-earth tactics to slow the French advance.  As Napoleon's army approached Moscow two-thirds of the city's population evacuated, the remaining third burned and pillaged any stores left in the grand city.  As the french troops, known as the Grande Armee, entered the abandoned city, they were faced with limited supplies and a tremendous conflagration soon broke out in the streets and Russian dwellings.  Napoleon and his army soon left the city, threatened with a Russian maneauver, and suffered incredible losses.  According to popular legend only about 22,000 French soldiers survived from battle, starvation, and the bitter cold of a Russian winter.  This tragic story speaks of the Russian resolve to defend their way of life at all costs.  They never gave up even when the situation looked hopeless.

Sometimes in chess you may feel defeat is inevitable and you want to resign.    The enemy's pieces are surrounding your king and your defenses seem inadequate, your pieces meander around without any sense of direction or purpose.  Any chess player in the iron grip of a relentless attack gets the same old grim-reaper feeling of despair and hopelessness once in a while and chess just doesn't seem fun anymore.  It seems more like work.  I played a game recently (Sicilian Defense - Godiva Variation [4...Qb6]) and began to suffer from that same chess depression under an incredible onslaught. 

However instead of submitting to my anxiety and worrying about time pressure, I thought, "What would a great player do in my situation?"  My answer had to be, "Keep looking for the best defense, a tactical play, and don't give up!"  I rubbed my eyes, cracked my neck, and got down to work defending.  By not panicking, I survived the onslaught. 

The white pieces of Napoleon march to Moscow, leaving destruction in their wake.  Can Russia survive?


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