Smooth Criminal, Part Four.
Last week we analyzed games where Anatoly Karpov suffered because his opponents used the dynamic power of their "criminals" and with a timely push of their central pawns completely destroyed Karpov's position (http://www.chess.com/article/view/smooth-criminal-part-three). Today we'll see the opposite examples. In the next game Karpov decided to literally follow Nimzowitch's advice "a criminal should be kept under lock and key" and completely blockades his opponent's central pawns even if he has to sacrifice his own pawn!
The next game is one of the most instructive examples of dealing with an isolated central pawn. You can notice that even though Karpov didn't physically blockade the pawn, he made sure that the square in front of it was controlled by five of his pieces!
The following game is one of my personal favorites. I enjoyed it since my childhood due to its logic and simplicity. Try to guess the beautiful elements of Karpov's strategy:
Notice that not only did Karpov stop the d4-d5 break, but he also traded a pair of minor pieces which is usually very useful when you play against an isolated pawn since it reduces your opponent's active possibilities.
If you found this brilliant positional idea you should be really proud of yourself! Many Grandmasters in the press center missed this idea when the game was being played. Karpov avoids a Rook trade because he'll need the Rook to attack the weak isolated pawn on 'd4'. The concession of the 'c' file is irrelevant in this particular case since White cannot use it anyway. Notice how Karpov again controls the square in front of White's central pawn five times (just like in the game against Spassky)!
Now try to find the way Karpov finished off his opponent. Again, no one in the press center saw this brilliant sequence of moves during the game.
Now you can imagine how happy I was when the French GM allowed me to use my knowledge in the decisive tie-break game of our match!
I hope that this series of articles will help you to play this kind of position whether you have a passed pawn or are fighting against it.