A recent game of mine against a computer came down to the following crucial position. White is attacking the black center, but can't win material yet. Can you figure out a path to an advantage for white?
White wasn't quite ready to win material, but with one move to eliminate any counterplay, the position almost played itself. To find moves like this it helps to stick with what feels like th right plan and look for ways to overcome hurdles, rather than switching to a less ambitious idea. In this case defending one piece, made all of the difference.
My opponent overlooked a similar example of this in a training game of ours and had to settle for the draw. White is up material, but needs to eliminate counterplay.
Knowing when to play these preperation moves is important, but it's essential not to delay too long. Sometimes they can be a waste of time or even weakening. I'll close with two famous examples. One game was won by a simple pawn move and the other game lost by it. See if you can match or improve on the Grandmasters.
In this position Fischer planned Qf4 to bring yet another attacker towards black's king. Is it better or worse to insert the move pair a3, Qb7 first?
In Korchnoi - Spassky white had to decide whether it was necesary to prepare Qb7 with h3. Is it needed or is a waste of time?
How did you do on the puzzles?
I'm thinking of preparing a lesson on this topic, so any examples in the comments are appreciated.