Wrap-Up: Final Solutions and Rewards

Wrap-Up: Final Solutions and Rewards‎

WIM energia
8 | Strategy

This article wraps up the column that we had for half a year on planning. I believe that we covered some of the main ideas on how to plan and you can always go to the archive to review the relevant topics. My next column will be on endgames. I am very happy about the answers and discussion that you left in the comments section; some of the ideas were really great.

The solutions to the exercises are presented below. If you would like to have a collection of exercises that are good positional exercises and are gathered in one book, the “Critical Moments in Chess” by Paata Gaprindashvili is an excellent book for this purpose. The positions are rather advanced but he has an excellent explanation for each position with both words and lines. Writing the column on planning and concentrating on this issue helped my chess too. I just came back from the World Open chess tournament, which is the biggest Open in the US with the biggest prize fund. I played in the section with rating limit of under 2400, which gathered 120 players. My tournament result was 7/9 with 5 wins and 4 draws; this was one of the best results in open tournaments in my career. My games were very solid, where almost in every game I had a small plus, didn’t do anything extraordinary  but managed to score that many points.

I think that this is due to working so much on strategic elements in chess: the thinking process that I have is not in terms of specific lines anymore but in terms of structures and plans too. I encourage you to keep working on typical positions and plans and not worry much that you do not get the results immediately. It took me a year since I started serious work on strategic elements to show a great result. Here, I would like to present one of the games and thought process. I will not give too many lines to overload you, just general ideas.


In test position 9, the positional evaluation tells us that black is better because the white pieces are all tangled up. How white can get rid of the pin? One way is to play a4-Bb2 and Ra3, the other way, which is more natural is to play Kf2-Ke2 and the rook has to step back. Meanwhile, black has to get the knight on f6 and the bishop into play. Where will the knight stand perfectly? It looks like the weak g3 square is a perfect square for the knight. From g3 it will not let the white king chase away the rook, also it will threaten Ne2, with the idea to win the white knight. It is enough for you just to see that the knight on g3 is very well placed and then find the bishop maneuver if white attempts to push a4. There was a big discussion about the Nd5 sacrifice in this position. The idea is interesting but it gives white the advantage of a pawn majority on the queenside for an opportunity to win a piece. When performing such a tactical operation one should always ask if the acquired advantages are enough to compensate for what the opponent gets. In this case the passed pawn is more important than an extra piece.



This position happened in my game against IM Bercys. White has more space and he placed his pieces ideally. My pieces are a bit cramped, therefore it is good to exchange one pair of pieces. Bc8 has no prospects: on e6 it will run into some f5 and on d7 it will leave d6 undefended. Therefore, black plays Bg4 with the idea to trade it for the knight, since black has less space I am willing to trade pieces.



This position is from my game too. It took me very few minutes to decide on the Rd6 exchange sacrifice. I cannot even call it a sacrifice because the knight on a4 is not worse than any of the rooks. A rook is better than a knight when there are open files. In the given position there are no open files for rooks to get active. The knight has a perfect square on b6 and can possibly be transferred to c4. The passed d6 pawn ensures white a long lasting advantage even without queens. Moreover, after the exchange sacrifice black has no active plan because he has to defend the weak pawn on c6 for example.


The next position happened from the Sicilian Dragon. Black has comfortable play but how to proceed? White has the problem of a weakened diagonal g1-a7 where black created a pin. With the next move white will play Kh1 and possibly c3; still the position will remain equal. Here, one should think more of tactical motifs rather than positional. How to exploit the pin? I found an interesting idea that puts white under tremendous pressure. The idea has to do with the fact that if there was no f3 pawn black can play Ng4 and win a piece. Therefore, we wonder how to get rid of the f3 pawn?



I am leaving for a week to play in the US Women’s Championship. I promise to give you a recap after the tournament and share the games and news then.

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