The Stranded Knight

The Stranded Knight

NM CoachJKane
Feb 27, 2018, 6:43 PM |

Hi Chess Friends,


A recent game by Magnus Carlsen reminded me of a tactical motif that I’ve missed in a couple of tournament games. I don’t know of any chess literature on the topic, so I thought I’d give a brief intro and see if any of my readers might have their own good examples.

What struck me about the following Carlsen game, played in the Pro Chess League, is that he happily stayed down material for multiple moves, knowing that his opponent’s piece would have a difficult time getting back in the game. Notice how Carlsen lets his opponent capture on a8 and keep an extra knight for a long time, but the knight isn’t very relevant the rest of the way. Carlsen leaves it the rest of the way finding useful moves and waiting to capture at a convenient moment.

Obviously, my own tournament games have more mistakes than that masterpiece. I’ve had a couple of example where I completely missed similar ideas, and fortunately my opponents did as well. In each game the best defense in a difficult position relies on delaying a re-capture until the right moment. I think it’s not uncommon for one attacking piece to get lost in enemy territory and it’s important to realize it won’t need to be captured immediately.

Here are two games where my opponents had a narrow path to a decent position. In both cases, they missed a good opportunity to play around my knight until the right moment.

 Do you know of any good examples of this motif from high level games, or your own play? I appreciate any thoughts.