Before you Attack...

Dec 21, 2008, 12:00 AM |
14 | Strategy

In serious tournaments, I am more of a passive player, choosing more modern openings such as the Pircs or the Alekhine's as black, and occasionally Larsen's Opening (1.b3) as a surprise weapon when playing white. In the middlegame, I don't rush out for an attack at the earliest opportunity, simply because I don't think the position is right for a full out invasion.

So when is the right time to invade? Allow me to put it into one simple, plain, understandable phrase - attack only when it's the best thing to do.

Before I go on any further, I'd just like to point out that the purpose of 'attacking' does not have to be checkmate the opponent's king. It can be done just for the sake of weakening the defence of opponent's king. Or, the target may not even be the king. Pawn structures, holes in your opponent's side of the board, weak squares, unprotected pieces excepture, can serve as excellent targets.

Everyone wishes to play games which includes brilliant sacrifices when the Middlegame has barely started. But before you excute any exciting (if it really is at all) manuveures, have you considered all the possible replies from your opponent? And have you considered the position after your  opponent takes your piece which you are about to give away?  And finally, have you made sure that the value of the piece you are throwing away is really worth the position that you are striving for - in other words, is there a better, safer move which will arrive you at the same position? Because if you said no to any of the questions above, then there is a serious chance of the move being played described as stupidity instead of a brilliancy.

Many positions are lost due to an unexpected counter attack. This is especially true when you and your opponent have castled on opposite sides. Before you push your pawns towards your opponent's king, make sure that any counter attack in the centre won't have much effect in your position. After assesing and disregarding the possibility of a counter attack in the centre, it is still not the time to pawn storm your opponent's king. Why? There is the matter of safety of your king. First, calculate who is going to reach each other's king first. If the answer is you, then, happily, I can say, you may proceed with your pawn-pushing. However, if your opponent  will reach your king first, then, unfortunately for you, a little bit more of calculation is required. Is there a need to put up a few shields first?

Finally, to conclude this article off, I'd just like to briefly summarize some important points to remember, before giving you a couple of puzzles and one of the most famous game ever played.

1. Make sure that attacking is the best thing to do in your current position before you attack. 

2. Is there another, better way to attack your opponent's position than to try and checkmate his or her king?

3. Asses the possibility of a counter attack in the other flank or the centre.

4. Lastly, before you attack, always ask yourself, just how safe is your king?

Now, with those points tattoo-ed to your brain, I'd just like to thank you for reading this. I've left the game - 'the Opera House Massacre', and a puzzle below for anyone interested.

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