Yet Another Epic Clash at the Illustrious Arcata Chess Club

Yet Another Epic Clash at the Illustrious Arcata Chess Club

NM GargleBlaster
Nov 18, 2010, 11:30 AM |

Hi folks.  It's time for another installment of the Chernoff - Shields show at the Arcata Chess Club. This time, I (playing White) managed to turn a vaguely decent opening position into a mess.  Then, in mutual time pressue, things got funky.

Anyhow, here we go:

OMG, it's the Sämisch! - one of the more aggressive and forcing lines of the Nimzo-Indian.  Of course, White pays a fairly steep structural price for his initiative in the form of icky queenside pawns, but I wasn't in the mood for niceties.

Perhaps I should explain some things about this variation, actually.  First off, it's not nearly as popular as many other approaches for White vs. the Nimzo, as its drawbacks are clear: White spends a valuable tempo with a3 to force Black to take the c3 Knight, which he likely would do in any event.  Furthermore, White can't even recapture with a piece, and must instead ruin his queenside pawn structure with bxc3.  So why would anyone play this way as White?  Good question.  Lemme think about that for a sec.

OK.  The main reasons for playing the Sämisch are:

1) It allows white to construct a large pawn center with f3 and e4.  This is often difficult to achieve in other lines where Black plays c5, as then White generally needs to play e3 to bolster the d4 square.  Here, because of the "weak" pawn on c3, the d4 pawn is already supported by a comrade and the e pawn is thus free to advance two squares.  (Unless, of course, Black plays d5, allowing White to liquidate his doubled pawns).

2) The main variations of the Nimzo-Indian are often very complicated and offer Black a wide variety of plans.  This line is, in contrast, relatively forcing and gives White a decent practical chance of achieving a middlegame he's familiar with.

3) The name Sämisch sounds cool.

A critical position has now been reached - should White attack or defend? 

OK.  Time to take stock: White has a pawn and a fairly strong attack for the exchange.  However, my next move was probably far too speculative, and the game enters a mutually tense stage as zeitnot looms..

Another critical juncture has been reached.  Both sides have roughly a dozen minutes for the rest of the game (time control was game/90).  Does White accept a draw, or does he play on, down an exchange with vague compensation?

The third and final critical juncture in this game now arises.  White has, with difficulty, barred Black from making any inroads along the d-file, and plans to simply push his kingside pawns with the intention of exposing Black's King and/or creating dark square weaknesses (preferably "and").  Alas, faced with this and increasingly severe time pressure, Black makes an unfortunate blunder.

I think this game, in spite of (or perhaps because of) some errors, is a good example of how various material and positional imbalances (pawn structure, exchange sacrifices, king safety, etc.) can shape a game from the opening right through to the endgame.  Also, it demonstrates some of the typical psychological and practical factors that abound in OTB chess, from opening preparation to draw offers, time pressure, and the difficulties in finding a balance between aggressive and defensive play.

I hope you enjoyed it.

- GargleBlaster