Beauty of positional play

Apr 19, 2011, 2:40 AM 6,331 Reads 22 Comments

In my previous blog post, I presented the game that I see as my best so far. Since I am full time employer in Chess Informant, I shared my small presentation with fellow colleagues from Editorial board. Therefore, we got an idea! They said to me, c’mon, we also have some nice games of ours! You would understand that I couldn’t escape these requests! In the same time, I hope you will find this material interesting.


Just like myself, starting from November 2010, new member of our Editorial board is IM Goran Arsovic. I guess that he and his identical twin brother Zoran Arsovic are strongest twin IM duet in the world. From my point of view, Goran Arsovic, deserves to have grandmaster title, but until now, he got only one GM norm. His peak rating is 2540 ELO points, achieved in 1997 and again he was higher than GM mark in 2008 with ELO 2504. Recently, he becomes a father of baby boy, named Lazar, and I don’t expect that he would find too much time for competitive career, at least in near future!:) 


IM Goran Arsovic chose to present game against GM Branko Damljanovic, one of the legends of Serbian chess and well-known expert of Kings Indian defense. Annotations are made by winner himself with the small help by my side. I think that the game would be very instructive in positional play. We all likes to see sacrifices and combinations but I strongly believe that  real master level play is mostly seen in positional play. You know this feeling, when the position looks fine but you can’t do anything against slow force on the other side of the board? And on the end, in addition, you don’t know what mistake you made?


So, lets go!


Arsovic,Goran (2419) - Damljanovic,Branko (2588)

Serbia and Montenegro championship, Kopaonik, 15.04.2005.

Anotations by IM G.Arsovic and GM Tadic

ECO code E60


1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 c5 4.c4 Bg7 5.Bg2

5.d5 b5 6.cxb5 a6 My intention was not to play Benko Gambit with g3.


Interesting move that Damljanovic is playing occasionally. I was prepared to this line.  [More common is 5...0–0 6.0–0 d6 (6...Nc6!?) 7.Nc3 (7.d5 b5 8.cxb5 a6 9.bxa6 Bf5 10.Nc3 Ne4 again we would be in unwanted Benko Gambit.) 7...Nc6 and we are in one of the main lines of the King's Indian; 5...cxd4 6.Nxd4 Nc6 transposes to the English Opening.



Usual answer is 6.Nc3 but this move was part of my preparation.

 6...Qb6 7.Nc3

Other options are 7.dxc5 Qxc5 8.Qb3 d6 (8...Ne4 - Izeta-De la Villa Garcia, Leon 1997 ) 9.Nc3 0–0 - Beliavsky-Shulman, Koszalin 1998 ; and 7.Bc3 Ne4.


7...Qxb2 8.Rb1 Qa3 9.Nb5+-

8.Na4 Qc6

For a moment I cant capture d4 pawn. However, Qc7 looks as more natural response. [8...Qc7 9.Nxd4 0–0 10.Rc1 (10.c5 d5 11.cxd6 Qxd6 12.Nb5 Qe5 (12...Qd7?! 13.Qb3±) 13.Nac3 Rd8 14.Qc1 Nc6= and Black is very fine.) 10...d6 In this case the Q would be better on d8. (10...Nc6?! 11.Nb5! Qd8 12.c5! b6 13.cxb6 (13.0–0 bxc5 14.Nxc5 Rb8=) 13...axb6 14.Be3 (14.Bf4 Ba6 15.Nc7 (15.Bc7 Qe8 16.Nd4 Nxd4 17.Qxd4 Bb5 18.Nc3 Bc6 19.Bxc6 dxc6 20.Be5 c5 21.Qc4 Qc8 22.0–0 Qh3 23.Bxf6 Bxf6 24.Nd5 Qe6 25.Rfd1 Rfd8 26.Nxf6+ 1/2–1/2 Manninen-Moldobaev, Elista 1998) 15...Ra7 16.Nxa6 Rxa6 17.Nc3² White is better because of pawn structure and pair of bishop.) 14...Rb8 15.Bf4 gains a tempo.) 11.0–0 Nc6 12.Nb5 Qd8 13.Nbc3 Bg4 14.h3 Bd7 15.Kh2 Rc8 16.b3 Na5 17.e4 Bc6 18.Be3 b6 19.Qe2 with small advantage. Davies-I.Sokolov, Preston 1989]

 9.0–0 0–0

Of course, c4 pawn is untouchable.

10.Rc1 d6 11.Nxd4

Finally I was able to retain d4 pawn without any problem.


Again the position of the Queen looks unnatural but Damljanovic is following his own idea.

12.h3 Nc6 13.Be3

With 12.h3 I was preparing this move.



Its obvious that Black cant find good place for Queen.

14.Nc3 Bd7 15.Qd2

I can tell that this is ideal position for White. I have better development since Black lost some time with Queen moves.

15...Nxd4 16.Bxd4 Bc6 17.e4!

Very important! Now position looks like Maroczy Sicilian. Black dont have enough space so any exchange of pieces would give him chance to take breath.


With idea Nd7-c5 fighting for the dark squares.

18.b3 Nd7 19.Be3

Readers should see that black bishop on g7 is controlling "empty" diagonal. With many pieces on the board, I can think about slow attack. Since he don’t have space for maneuvering, its better to escape exchanges. 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.f4 Qd8 21.Kh2 with small advantage.


Black dont want to sit and wait but he is weakening his central squares. He also trying to find a place for his Queen.


20.exf5 Rxf5 21.Nd5


20...fxe4 21.Bg5 (21.Nc7 Qf7 22.Nxa8 Rxa8) 21...Rf7 22.Nc7 wins material. 22...Qc8 23.Nxa8 Qxa8 24.Bh6 with better position.

21.Bg5 Nf6


Pawn f5 would be weak spot for Black

22...gxf5 23.Qd3

Natural plan. Pressing the weak pawn.


Not easy to find good answer.


Now there are more weak spots e7, e6, f5. Also White has the pair of bishop and the c file. Black at least managed to save f5 pawn.

24...Qg6 25.Be3 Rf7 26.Rc7 e5 27.Rxf7 Kxf7

[27...Qxf7 28.Qxf5+-]


Black finds a way to remove one rook but here is another.

28...Kg8 29.Rc7

Black cannot avoid material losses.



Only chance that left is to try to find some attack.

30.Rxb7 e4 31.Qd2 Nh5 32.Re7! Be5 33.Bd4 f4

33...Bxd4 34.Qxd4 Qf6 35.Qa7+-

34.Bxe5 dxe5 35.d6

Pawn d6 decides the battle. Threat is Qd5.

35...Nf6 36.Rxe5 e3 37.fxe3 f3 38.Bxf3 Nd7 39.Qd5+ Kh8 40.Rg5 Qb1+ 41.Bd1 1–0







Here is full game:



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