Snow Storm not a Chess Storm

Snow Storm not a Chess Storm‎

WIM energia
8 | Strategy

The two positions that I posted for you to solve are new to me as well. The first one David sent me and I believe it is as a position from a TV lesson, while the second position my coach gave me to solve. These two positions are not that easy; they have more than one solution. I would like to start from the second exercise, as I happened to invest some time into solving it today. To tell you the truth, at first I did not manage to grasp the strength of the plan that White followed with. Only after spending some time looking and analyzing the position one can see small details that the position is constructed with. Thus I recommend spending some time looking at the position, reading the following thoughts and absorbing the information.

I got the assignment to find a plan in this position more than two weeks ago. My procrastination set in, and I did not manage to open it and solve it until today. Partially, this is because the position did not look too interesting to me; there didn't seem to be much going on tactically or in the way of crazy attacks. I figured that many moves can give White an advantage in this position. But as I analyzed the position over Skype with my teacher, it became apparent that Black happened to have a resilient position with tons of counterplay. Black just accomplished the ...e5 break and he has two other ideas: either ...exd4 or ...e4 in addition to simply just waiting. My initial instinct was to push e4 for White to grab some space in the centre. It turns out that Black manages to set a blockade on the dark squares with ...Ne5 and ...Bb6 or ...Bc7 after playing ...exd4. The second idea, which is more sound, is to put the rook on e1 and if Black wants to take on d4 then we will have a rook entering the game. The third idea that came to mind was to grab some space with b4. This does not resolve the tension in the centre, in fact it just helps Black to consolidate – his bishop on a5 is misplaced. As I understood the position more it came to me that the Bc4 is not ideally placed: in some lines Nb6 will attack it, in the other lines when Black’s bishop goes to c7 we would want to have the Nb5 move – a tactic. Thus, the Bc4 has to go somewhere. At first I thought that Be2 is the right square, as I want to regroup with Nxd4-Bf3 and the b4 push to weaken c6. On Be2 Black can play e4 and Rf8. The bishop has to stay on the a2-g8 diagonal to keep an eye on the f7 square in case the Rf8 would want to move somewhere. Thus, the Ba2 move came to mind. Still, I did not see the strength of this move.

Sometimes, a quiet move is worth more than ten forceful moves. After Ba2, Black is in some kind of zugzwang. Exchanging in the centre will only open the e-file for the White rooks. A plan to fix the centre with ...Re8 does not work as there is the weakness of f7 highlighted by the Ng5 move for White. Black might try to regroup with Bc7 to control the key e5 square but again magically the tactic comes up due to undefended Bc7 – Nb5 followed by Bb4. On the other hand, White already has a serious threat – Nd5, a tactical move that attacks the Ba5 and Qe7 after which White would have a decisive advantage. The move is possible because the bishop retreated and is not under attack after ...cxd5. Thus, Ba2 is a multifunctional move that creates a number of threats and does not let Black achieve counterplay.

The next position is something I have always dreaded to analyze. The Poisoned Pawn Najdorf has associations in my head with chaos, uncertainty, unpredictability, and extra long theoretical lines. It does not scare me as much as it used to due to my everchanging philosophies in chess. I believe one can figure out any position at the board with the clock ticking just by following general positional criteria and having a decent calculation ability. Right away, my experience tells me that White will push f5 not e5. The point of f5 would be to fix the weakness on f6 and to attack it as well as the f7 square with Qh6—Bh5. It seems Black cannot prevent this idea, he can only prepare well to meet it adequately. After all black has an extra pawn thus transferring to an endgame is a good idea. Let us think how can we set up our pieces. The Black queen has to stay on c5 or a5. The Bf8 can stay on e7 or on h6 after Black plays ...h5. Playing ...h5 is creating a weakness but prevents the Qh6-Bh5 plan by taking control of the h5 and h6 squares. One has to be careful in evaluating the pros and cons of this plan. The Bc8 is well placed, since it controls important b7 square against White penetration.

If you expect something normal and classical in this position it won’t happen. More often you will see some piece coordination that is rather rare. One example is pushing ...h5-h4 and playing ...Qa5, followed by transferring the queen to the kingside in some lines. Overall, we can consider a couple of setups: 1. Pushing ...d5, a very specific, all-or-nothing approach, taking the position by force; 2. Developing with ...h5-h4, active and also does not let White play on the kingside; 3. Leaving the pawn on h7 and trying to keep everything as compact as possible.

For the next week assignment I chose two positions that were played a few days ago in the Aeroflot Open Festival in Moscow. I highly recommend going over all of the games from the tournament ‘A’ there, as the fighting spirit there is high and the games are both creative and of high quality.







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