Sensing Danger!, Part 2: Dealing with Danger!
In part one I reviewed one of my own games where I did not sense the danger and payed heavily. In Part 2, I outline my thought process in another of my own games and outline methods to use in your own games to appropriately Deal with the Danger! (Image from Ginger GM|Blog)
Please check out Part 1:
Dealing with Danger!
Sensing the danger and identifying a critical moment is an essential aspect of a chess game. Deciding when to spend a chunk of your time and alerting yourself when these moments arise is crucial. However, when you do identify a critical situation, what is the best way to approach such a situation? How can you make the most of your time and reach a good decision? I will use my own practical example to address this issue.
This game was played at the Mid-America Open in St. Louis. It was one of the best games I have played. I did not make too many flashy or impressive moves, however, I identified and dealt with my opponent's threats effectively and made a few of my own.
This position is still very theoretical. I was somewhat familiar with this position but had never played the King's Indian for either color prior to this game. I took a few minutes to orient myself with the position. After 9. ...Qe8 Black has trapped his rook on f8. This signals that he strongly intends on using his rook to facilitate the ...f7-f5 push in the near future. I decided to try to make Black carry out his main idea in less favorable circumstances.
Black has achieved his main goal with his ...f7-f5 pawn break. I decided to immediately challenge Black's pawn break with activity of my own on the queenside.
The red-alert alarm is blaring and I was well aware of Black's initiative. The important factor, as I discussed in our introduction, is once you have identified a critcal position, what are some steps in dealing with the position? As we go through the remainder of the game, I will give puzzles in crucial moments in the game and outline my thought process.
White is being attacked. There is no disputing that. However, what is Black's main idea in this position? First off, his knight is rather annoying on the g4-square. It puts additional pressure on the f2-pawn, facilitates the ...e4-e3 pawn break and gives ...Qe8-h5 some extra kick by hitting h2. Yikes! So first thing is first, eliminate Black's threats and a very dangerous piece. (Also note, White is potentially breaking up black's center if he responds with ...fxg4).
Black responds with 19. ...Nb3 hitting my queen. Where is the best square for White's Queen?
A very strong move! It is tempting trade queens with 20. Qe7. However, it is important to remember when defending that trading pieces does not necessarily lessen the intiative of the opponent. Very often, by forcing unnecessary trades instead of dealing with the serious threats at hand, black can continue on with his attack!
Instead, white puts his queen on a very active square. White moves his queen to saftey and at the same time creates future threats.
Black has some serious threats. Find a way to use the position of your queen to deal with these threats and at the same time create your own threats.
The point of 20. Qa6! White is able to protect his bishop and at the same time create additional threats.
How does White deal with Black's threat and simultaneously lessen the pressure?
White moves his bishop and looks to trade of the annoying knight on d2!
White has snuffed out the intiative and is pretty safe. Now it is time for some more threats of my own! My knight makes a very visual impression creating threats on Black's pieces and his exposed king.
Here is the complete game:
1. Identify your opponent's threats.
It may sound obvious, but figuring out what you opponent is trying to accomplish is essential in dealing with the danger.
2. Don't trade pieces without a good reason.
Just because your opponent is attacking doesn't mean that ANY trade on the board will allieviate the pressure. Look to trade off your opponent's pieces which are crucial in supplying his intiative.
3. Don't forget to create your own threats.
Passive defense is not ideal. Look to parry you opponent's threats while simultaneously creating your own!
Sensing the danger is only half the battle. Dealing with the pressure effectively is imperative to alleviate your opponent's intiative. Please post any questions or comments you may have in the section below!