How NOT to Defend Against Flank Attacks

How NOT to Defend Against Flank Attacks

Aug 31, 2009, 5:25 AM |

Hi all. I'm analyzing another painful loss against strong opposition. You probably have heard the common saying "the best way to defend is to attack."

Well, not always! This time, the game was all about defending against flank attacks, and I failed to do so, not even realizing the scope of my opponent's threats. I was a little too ambitious, I thought I could neutralize the weaknesses in my position by simply opening lines against my opponent's uncastled king and counterattack. However, it was certainly the wrong plan.

Sometimes you just have to sit back, defend patiently and stubbornly, finding one accurate defending move after another, reaching every vulnerable spot in time and fill up the holes. After an opening gone slightly wrong, struggling to admit that I was the worse side, I just didn't try to see the actual threats I was facing and it was too late when I finally decided I had to concentrate on defending.

Here's the game with in depth analysis.

Here are two key positions from the game:

This is the position after white's 13th move (h5).

This is the kind of positions where one has to adjust to the transition from the opening into the middlegame, and spend some time to come up with a decent plan.

I think it comes down to 3 choices here:
Should black castle queenside, castle kingside, or keep the king in the center and try to launch a counterattack?

I chose the last, and the wrong plan. If I had castled queenside here, my position would be rock-solid if I could find the right defending ideas. However, playing 13...Rg8?! and trying to open up lines against white's king-side just didn't accomplish anything and lost valuable time.

White played 14.a4! and we reach the following position:

OK, now what to do? Once again, black has to decide if he needs to defend or try to counterattack. What would you do?

I played the move 14...g6?, again, failing to admit I was facing pretty dangerous threats from white and trying to open up lines and attack. Well, you'll see how that decision worked out in the actual game.

These two positions are analyzed to death in the game diagram, I strongly suggest you to follow all variations and how black actually can set up a solid fortress with the defensive idea 14...c5!

I guess the theme of the game could be put this way: Sometimes the best way to defend is to simply defend. Heading for complications or agressive play doesn't always solve problems when you have a slightly weak position and you are facing immediate threats. 

I've decided I seriously lack on actual game-play experience, and I'm planning to play more games in the future, so perhaps you'll be hearing more from me. Any comments, suggestions or questions are welcome. See you soon!