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The Deadly Pawn Sacrifice
A chess pawn.

The Deadly Pawn Sacrifice

In last week's article we learned some of the favorite chess patterns of super-GM Ding Liren. As you probably remember, he loves to play for domination when his opponent's pieces can barely move. His most common recipe to get this kind of a position is an exchange sacrifice. 

However, in the next game he achieved his goal by a mere pawn sacrifice. Nevertheless, by move 23 he controlled all the key squares of the board. Judge for yourself:

I recommend you remember this pawn sacrifice since it is quite typical:

By playing 12.f5! White weakened Black's whole kingside and established a strong outpost on the f5 square. The idea is well-known, so when the legendary GM Polugaevsky executed it in our match I was sure that I was going to lose.

Somehow, I managed to hold my kingside and was so happy to survive, that I didn't even realize in the final position I could try to play for a win by 44.Rc7.

Actually, there is an opening where this pawn sacrifice is very common. In fact, it is the main point of the whole opening line! This variation is very treacherous as it happens in the Closed Sicilian that is supposed to be a quiet, positional opening. Moreover, White develops his knight to h3, which looks just ridiculous and can give Black the idea that White doesn't know what he is doing.

Don't be fooled by the weird appearance; the variation is extremely dangerous! The following game was one of the first that demonstrated what can happen if White manages to execute his idea:

Don't look at the rating of the chess player who played Black; it is just a database quirk. The Romanian super-GM Florin Gheorghiu was one of the world's best players. He beat Bobby Fischer just two years before this game was played, and yet he was helpless against this deadly pawn sacrifice! 

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In the following game White's attack achieved it' goal even faster! Try to find the winning moves:

Here are more games for you to enjoy:

In the next game, GM Hort decided to delay castling kingside and when ex-world champion Boris Spassky still sacrificed a pawn, Black castled queenside. Look what happened there:

I hope that this typical pawn sacrifice will be a useful addition to your chess tool box!

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