How To Win Games On The Long Diagonal

How To Win Games On The Long Diagonal

| 55 | Tactics

The FIDE World Cup 2021 is like a breath of fresh air after the series of tournaments where we see the same players playing the same openings achieving mostly the same results. The match between GMs Michal Krasenkow and Praggnanandhaa R, in particular, was a special treat. The proverbial youth versus experience contest turned into a real slugfest where opponents demonstrated a lot of creativity. Who could forget this exquisite move of the Polish grandmaster?

White castled on move 25 (!) leaving his queen and knight hanging. You don't see it every day, and might never see it again if the guys who are trying to steal our ability to castle succeed!

The very next day the young Indian star produced the following masterpiece:

Look at the final position, the pressure on the long diagonal a1-h8 is killing Black. This diagonal (and the corresponding diagonal a8-h1 for Black) is the most important one since it usually points directly at the opponent's king.

Chess history has seen many brilliant games where these diagonals were used to execute dazzling combinations. The following is probably the most famous, so I am sure you won't have trouble finding the final moves that lead to checkmate. Hint: the white e4-bishop guards the all-important long diagonal and should be eliminated!

As you can see, it is well worth it to sacrifice some material to grab the long diagonal that leads directly to the opponent's king. While GM Akiba Rubinstein's combination is extremely beautiful, it is not that difficult to calculate for a trained chess player since the sacrifices lead directly to a checkmate. However, a queen sacrifice executed in the following game was way more complicated since it was purely intuitive. 

I really like the next game, since Alexander Alekhine envisioned the attack along the big diagonal early in the opening. Look at the position after 14...Bb7, would you be able to guess that the light-squared bishop is going to be Black's main attacking piece? Of course, the final combo is quite simple (especially for Alekhine!), but very cute.

I was happy to witness a very similar combination played by GM Evgeny Sveshnikov on the board next to my own game. Can you find the final shot?

I am sure that many of you, my dear readers, are very excited to learn such a powerful attacking pattern and cannot wait to use it in your games. Luckily, we have opening lines designed specifically for this kind of attack. Look at the following game:

We already discussed this opening line over 12 years ago!

If you noticed, Praggnanandhaa started his game with the move 1.b3. It is a direct attempt to grab the long diagonal as quickly as possible. Black should be very careful or the consequences could be dramatic. Here is how a 2700+ GM lost in just 9 moves!

It is amazing that Black has no defense against an unavoidable checkmate as early as move 9!

Happy king-hunting along the all-important long diagonals! Do you have any games that you'd like to share where you won using the long-diagonal? Show us in the comments below!

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