What does Dorfman have to Say on Planning?

| 30 | Strategy

There are different theories of how one should choose a move. Some of the theories are systematically developed and are presented as practical methods. Deciding on a chess move, unless you are a computer, is a very complex process. The decision-making process has to take into account numerous elements of the position and to assess value to each of them. For example, having an isolated pawn in the opening is ok but in the endgame can be fatal, unless it is a rook endgame or opposite color bishop endgame… you can see that for every rule there are numerous exceptions. Still, it is better have some rule with flaws than no rules on how to make a decision while playing.

                Recently, a leading chess trainer I.Dorfman wrote two books under the title of “The Method in Chess.” I have mentioned his method in my previous column about exchanges. Here, I would like to apply it to the past week's assigned positions. For future articles I will use the methods of other famous players to give you a different perspective on the selection of plan and moves. I will not discuss the correctness of his method. It is just one of the possible guidelines to follow when making a move.

                So, Dorfman states that there are static and dynamic elements in a position. The side with advantage should play statically, to slowly improve the position and use long term advantages. The side at a disadvantage should try to bring the pieces and pawns into contact with the opponent to get some energy out of the position. He gives four major guidelines to determine whose position is better. The first one is the position of the kings. The second one is the material balance. The third one is whose position would be better if we take off the queens. And the last one is who has a better pawn structure.

                In today's first position the position of the kings is about the same. The material is equal. It is hard to say who would be better without queens. White has a weakness on b4, black has two on b5 and d6. Black has a protected passed c4 pawn but it is blocked now. It seems that b5 will collapse sooner than b4 and after that c4 and d6 would be weaker. So, in the last two guidelines I would give white the advantage. Therefore, white should do something to improve their position, no need for aggression – good news! Numerous candidate moves come when one tries to improve the position: Qd2, Be2, Nc2, Re2 and f4. According to Dorfman’s theory, the f4 move is dynamic- it pushes a pawn next to the king, weakening it, thus we will not consider it. Be2 does not have much of a plan behind it. White should try to fight for the only open file “a.” Qd2 has a similar intention to Nc2: the idea is to play Ra1. It seems too slow, and taking an active knight from a central square where it attacks the b5 pawn is undesirable. Therefore, Re2 with the idea Ra2 is the main consideration. It leaves the queen to defend Nc3 and Nd4 on their active squares. Let’s take a more detailed look at the position.

                In the following position the king placement is not equal. There is a clear imbalance – white’s king is castled and does not have to defend against threats. Black’s king is stuck in the centre and has no safe haven. White has a plus in the first guideline. The second one is the material. It is equal. Black would be better without queens because his king is active and white has weak pawns on e4 and e3. Black also has a better pawn structure. The doubled pawns on f7 and f6 are protected by the king and cannot be easily attacked, while the e4 and e3 pawns are weaker. If white plays Nd5 it will improve the pawn structure but fix it at the same time. According to Dorfman a fixed pawn structure benefits the side, which has a knight over the side with a bishop.  Let’s sum up the static balance: white has an advantage because of the black king but if he doesn’t use it then black would be better due to the better pawn structure. White has to act now. Qc1 has to come to attack the king, there are two moves: Qd2 or Qe1. The other idea is to play Nd5. The exchange of the knight does not give much to white; it is black who wants to trade pieces due to the potential for a white attack. Now, we have to determine which maneuver Qd2-f2 or Qe1-h4 is better. Black can defend the f6 pawn with the maneuver Rg8-Rg6. Thus, it is good to have the queen on h4 because then it lines up with the black king through the f6 square and R:f6 is possible. On the other hand white has to pay attention to the e3 pawn as from h4 the queen does not protect it. Let us look at these possibilities.

Finally, the positions to solve for the next week.







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