Try Your Hand at Planning...Continuation

| 15 | Strategy

I am very happy to see a large number of comments to the first article in the series about planning. I read through all the comments and was impressed with the numerous creative ideas that the readers came up with. With strategic positions there is no one correct solution: there might be a few equivalent continuations and a player is free to choose from one based on his own personal style and tournament situation.

The first position is from Chekhov- Psakhis in 1978. As most players pointed out in the comment section White is better due to his space advantage in the centre and on the queenside. Black is underdeveloped with the knight still on b8. The position has a fixed pawn structure in the centre, and c6 breaks will only weaken the queenside. Let’s go over the “technicalities” of a, b and c, mentioned in the first article. 

So, first plan A- regrouping the  pieces. White has Ra1, Rf1, Bc1 that do not participate in the game. Therefore the possible candidate moves are Re1, Be3 or Bf4, and there is a possibility of Nb5-Nd4 too. Qb3, aiming at the weak b7 square is a possibility too.

Plan C– exchanges. Black has less space and would like to trade one of the knights. Ne4 is an idea for black, then Bf6 and Nd7, followed by Re8 would give him a nice setup and play on the e-file. White should keep in mind not to allow exchanges. A trade on d3 should favor white, since the Nd3 is misplaced as many readers pointed out in their comments. Also, b7 and f5 would be weak without the light-squared bishop.

Plan B- pawn structure. White can grab space with either b4 or g4. b4 seems to me to be premature, one has to deal with unpleasant a5, letting the black rook into the game. Also, it does not stop Ne4, allowing black to free himself, and to transfer the bishop to the long diagonal. A good move would be the one that solves many problems at the same time. It would be a multitasking move--  b4 while grabbing space does not really address any other problems. With that in mind, we'll look at g4.

Therefore, preliminary analysis revealed that we have couple of decent moves: Bf4, Be3- developing the bishop, and Qb3- hitting b7.  Nb5-Nd4 I would eliminate because it takes two moves and because the Nc3 is placed well. Re1- to develop rook and g4- grabbing space on the kingside at the expense of weakening the king’s position should be looked at as well. These are about equivalent continuations. We will look at all of them in the position below. It seems to me that White has to do something decisive, because after Ne4-Bf6-Nd7-Re8 black will equalize. Thus, I would prefer g4, the move that prevents Ne4 and has a clear follow-up with something like f4-Qf3-Bd2 and Rae1, building the position.

The next position is harder. White is better, since Black has the Bc8 and Ra8 out of play, though Black does have the queenside majority which could be of importance in the future. Thus, before Black plays Rb8, b6, and Bb7, White has to realize his advantage somehow. Since most of black pieces are on the queenside, as you pointed out in comments, White has to play on the kingside or in the centre.

Let’s do the technical procedure again of getting our candidate moves. A- Be4 and Rc3, followed by Ke3 improves the pieces. B- it seems that White has to look for candidate moves in this section, since e4 or g4 with the idea to transfer rook on the 3rd rank looks promising. C- there are no exchanges that favor White.

I would go with two moves, improving the king usually is the best idea in the endgame, but I would do it under a pawn shield. Rybka proposes the Ke3-Kf4 march, it seems to me a bit risky. Thus, there are two moves: e4 and g4, which one to prefer? I know from rook endgames that Black would like to set up his pawns in the f7-g6-h5 formation and White stands in good shape if he manages to prevent that setup with g4. However, in this case I am not sure how setting up pawns on the same light squares as the bishop would help Black. e4 is more associated with the pawn break in the centre and should give White a small edge. I would prefer g4 because it sets more problems before Black-- he has to calculate much more, while White just plays Rc3-Rh3 bothering Black’s pawn structure. Let’s look in detail at this position. The long variations are taken from Kortschoj’s annotations.

In the end, I would like to offer two positions for next week.







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