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Master the Grunfeld Structure - Part 1

GM Mihail Marin

The Exchange Gruenfeld - White plays e4-e5 The provocative hyper-modern spirit of the Grunfeld defence consists in allowing White to build a strong centre with a wide range of systems grouped under the generic name "The exchange variation":





White's space advantage would make a dogmatic like Tarrasch suspicious about Black's

chances, but decades of practice have shown that he can get counter-chances by attacking d4 with all available resources (starting with  and ). True, White has several ways of dealing with the increasing pressure against his centre, but how to make use of the d4 and e4 tandem remains an open question. Theoretically, we can identify two main approaches:

1) playing  2) playing  This article will deal with the first situation. It doesn't take a skilled eye to understand that is White's most committal plan. After the exchange onBlack gets a perfect blocking square on  while most of the endings are bad for White as his central majority is immobile while Black's queenside majority can advance unhindered. Advancing the e-pawn usually makes sense if Black has previously played or, due to the threat , he needs to react this way to The weakened f6square offers White chances for a slow attack based on and followed by eitheror an exchange on g6 followed by somehow doubling the major pieces along the h-file. Sometimes, the knight transfer to  or  is possible, but since White has to use for the transit e4square, Black can usually prevent this plan with . Another thematic idea is breaking the blockade with . In order to be effective, White typically needs his knight on f4 while Black's queenside minor pieces should be placed far from the d5square (for instance the bishop on c8 after general rook exchanges on the c-file and the knight on ). For Black, a good control on  is essential in order to maintain the equality or even take over the initiative. Another important aspect is the status of the bishop. After  its direct pressure on d4 disappears and in many cases Back's usual "pride" in the Gruenfeld can

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become the most passive piece. In manoeuvring games, the bishop is supposed to look for new horizons with  but this can happen only if there are no immediate kingside dangers. Alternatively, tactical blows onorare possible but even if Black's coordination is superior. We will start with a few games illustrating some of White's main ideas.

Carlsen,Magnus (2690) - Ivanchuk,Vassily

(2750)

Morelia/Linares 24th 2007








When I included the  Exchange variation in
my repertoire with White about a quarter of a
century ago, Black's system of developing was
considered at least risky. Freed of the usual
pressure in the centre, White can build up a
dangerous positional kingside attack. In this
modern game the then still future World
Champion proves that some things do not
change that much over the decades.

If  White traps the daring queen:  

is

with insufficient material compensation for the

queen.

even

worse


This is a good moment to advance the e-
pawn since Black's blockade with  can be
easily questioned with  when Black has no
reserve minor piece to sustain the bishop.
Black has
managed to carry out the main idea of this
variation, bringing the game closer to an ending.
But with queens on board this does not diminish
White's attacking chances.

As we will see, this is not the best square for the queen as Black will get under a

deadly pin soon. was more stubborn. White's most dangerous plan would have been the same as in the game: 

(The best chance as 

wins)  (It is important to

exchange the knight while

possible.

still

If  with powerful

attack.)

  is also

unpleasant, but not necessarily lost for Black.)





Black seems on the edge of losing but after the apparently decisive  he has drawing

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chances with  for if    with a perpetual.

The start of the invasion on dark squares. With the knight on d5 and the bishop on b7 Black would have a dream position but he does not have time for such a perfect regrouping.

 The most stubborn defence.   Threatening .   followed by  wins; or if  the simplest is  The most accurate move order. Inserting the bishop exchange before activating the queen justifies Black's last move:  followed by the knight transfer to d5. Against the thematic  Carlsen gives the beautiful (though not only) winning line:  Not the only winning queen retreat but the most spectacular one. White keeps an eye on the kingside while pinning the knight. The only way of maintaining the kingside integrity. A thematic break clearing the d4–square for the knight. The rest is simple.     After seeing this game I was curious to check my lines in my old notebook and found the following instructive example on the same theme:

Vladimirov,Evgeny (2525) - Semeniuk,Alexander A (2380) USSR, 1987

      

So far play has been similar to that in the previous game, with the difference that White has delayed e4e5. But now the right time has come for it:

due to  but he

underestimated White's attacking resources. You will find this position in the test section. is relatively harmless since after  Black can start checking.

Desperation. mates

while if

followed by e5e6 is killing. The only way to

parry it is  but the hanging knight

a

offers

tactical possibility:

 the threat d4d5

White

such



The connected passed pawns combined with the permanent danger on g7 make Black's position hopeless.

due

is

premature

and White won.

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5

 In the previous games, Black's bishop turned being a bad one despite the optically spectacular activity along the h1–a8 diagonal. But Black's task is not easier if he exchanges this bishop for a knight, especially if he cannot transfer his own knight to d5 at once. Here is an illustrative example. Parligras,Mircea Emilian (2598) - Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2729) EU-ch 12th Aix les Bains 2011      The familiar signal to the kingside attack.Unblocking the centre yields very little after  Black usually faces a difficult choice of principle about how to meet the advance of the h-pawn.Ignoring the kingside plan is not without dangers: (The

most principled continuation even though the central break makes some sense, too, under the

changed circumstances: 

The main difference with respect to the similar line above is that Black should be aware of the potential pin along the e-

file as, for instance, after 

A typical way of activating the rook along

the h-file. followed

by

and with a decisive attack. Black's

kingside

fortress

does

not

seem

too

reliable

after either, for instance 

The plan of transferring the knight to d5 is time-consuming but there was little Black could do anyway.

Black has maintained his kingside stability, but the weakening of the diagonal will soon tell.

Preparing to set up the  battery against the black king.

This loses a pawn but after

Black's position is

joyless.

The most elegant and probably strongest continuation is  followed by 

Here, too,  would have been strong but there is no reason for rejecting the offered pawn.



10

The Gruenfeld fans can now breathe a deep sigh of relief: the worst is over! We will now switch to situations when Black can make full use of the weaknesses induced by e4e5. We will start with two classical examples.

6

Gligoric,Svetozar (2595) - Tukmakov,




Black is perfectly regrouped and so far has
managed to keep White's centre under control.
White is doing quite OK, but Gligoric suddenly
loses patience.
Since White cannot set up the 
battery along the c1–h6 diagonal this does not
offer realistic attacking chances. Any half-
waiting move such as  would have been
preferable.
Freed of any dangers along the long
diagonal, Black hurries to re-activate his bishop.
The threats  and  ensuring the
control over the c-file practically force White
weakening his queenside.

Renewing the threat  and creating a new one: 



A very elegant and effective retreat. Black not only removes the queen from an exposed position, but also defends e6 and clears

the b4square for the knight's transfer to d5.White's previous move had set up a series of traps:

 loses the queen to  allows  with a strong attack.  (Had Black played the comparatively better  instead of  in the beginning of this line, he would

could

 But in this line White can win the undefended b7bishop with 

 retrieving the material with interest.

have

forced

a

draw

by

perpetual

with

Anticipating the manoeuvre  but Black's knight has an alternate route available.

7



Exchanging queens would bring White closer to an unpleasant ending.

This is more of a prophylactic than
an attacking move. White simply avoids back
rank problems.If  Black could force the
queen exchange with 
 winning the a4–pawn.

Black has invaded the weakened queenside and
has strong initiative. The immediate threat
(highlighted by Tukmakov) is 

 This unexpectedly proves
the decisive mistake. Tukmakov recommends
 which, indeed, offers White some saving
chances in an ending with a pawn down after


You are kindly invited to find the winning move in the test section.

Under certain circumstances, some of them explained below, it makes sense to provoke  with the resolute 

Gligoric,Svetozar - Smyslov,Vassily URS-JUG Kiev 1959









White's previous play has aimed at creating attacking chances with f4f5. Smyslow immediately takes preventive measures:

In the short term, Black could have prevented the start of the attack with 

since  wins a

piece. But in the long term, he would most

probably have had to play  anyway.

White cannot maintain the tension with  since after  he would lose the

 d4–pawn. 

Ensuring the d5square for his minor pieces and

8

preparing the queenside majority attack. There are two main elements making the structure favourable for Black. First of all, there is no way White could create a strong passed pawn with d4d5. He would at least need transferring his light-squared bishop to f3 and the knight to e3. This not only looks impossible to carry out due to the huge amount of time needed, but it would not necessarily ensure the success of the break either. Secondly, the f4pawn restricts White's attacking possibilities, typically based on

 and


The only way to display some activity, but in the
long run the weakness of the long diagonal will
be decisive.


This apparent strategic concession
speaks about Black's intentions to play for a win.
With White's actual regrouping, breaking with
b5–b4
looks improbable so the only chance
remains opening a queenside file.


Another paradoxical pawn capture away from the centre. It is essential to keep the g3knight passive.  would suddenly offer White some initiative. As revealed by the game course, White's central connected passed pawns are not dangerous.

Time has come to invite you to spot Smyslow's secret plan when giving up the queenside tension (check the test section).

In the introduction I have mentioned that Black sometimes has tactical ways of dismantling White's solid centre, thus activating his g7bishop. Here is such a game featuring this idea, played between a famous veteran against a much younger opponent.

Naumkin,Igor (2412) - Kortschnoj,Viktor

(2642)

Saint Vincent 2003









White's major pieces are dominated by the light- squared bishop and partly by the knight. But there was no need for Naumkin's positional concession on the next move.

This only weakens the light squares without generating realistic attacking chances.

Black completes his

development taking measures against White's planned attack.  and  can both be answered with  or  when the absence of a white rook on d1 can be felt. Or if  over-defending the queen, 

9

would be annoying. Please compare the knight's balance around the a5square with the same issue from Gligoric-Tukmakov above.


Naumkin obviously hoped to force  in
order to proceed with his plan, but Kortschnoj
A strong positional exchange sacrifice,
dissolving White's centre and leaving the enemy
pieces poorly coordinated.
The errant knight has
finally reached a dream square.
Or if  the queen does not have
good squares due to the threat 
Very youthful and consequent play. The
opening of the centre strengthens Black's
initiative since White cannot make use of the d-
file.

Avoiding  mating.

Things start looking ugly for White but the next move should have led to immediate defeat.



This hesitating move lead to Naumkin struggling for several dozen moves.Strong experienced players sometimes overlook simple

possibilities:  with a

decisive double attack.  Obviously the only move.   also wins, even though it looks as if Black unnecessarily gives

away a pawn:   followed by 

With the decisive threat



01

White in his turn should be careful maintaining the integrity of his centre. Symptomatically, even strong players sometimes let themselves be led astray by the temptation of creating a black weakness afteror getting some dynamic chances after the opening of the d-file, forgetting that this mainly endangers the e5pawn. Here are two more games from Kortschnoj's practice, played at a distance in time of almost three decades.

10

Lilienthal,Andor - Kortschnoj,Viktor URS-ch21 Kiev 1954









Even though Black has delayed pawn action in
the centre, White's pawn mass is not easy to put
into motion.
After having examined the previous
examples it is easy to spot that this is premature.

Black had no reasons to refrain from this standard move anymore. The immediate positional threat is followed by  but Lilienthal had some dynamic ambitions. Apparently White wins material. You are invited to prove this wrong in the test section.Here is the modern interpretation of the same theme:

Kasparov,Garry (2690) - Kortschnoj,Viktor

(2610)

Candidates sf1 London (1) 1983

I admit this is not a

proper Gruenfeld Defence, but it will soon transpose to positions of the same character.





 True to his style, the then young World title candidate strives for initiative as soon as possible. The cunning veteran's next two moves will provoke White's already familiar positional concessions. In My Great Predecessors V, Kasparov quotes Kortschnoj: "This move is hard to understand." Having his memories from the game with Lilienthal, Kortschnoj must have played this strong move without hesitation. The e5– pawn is doomed while the queenside structure will favour Black. Kasparov obviously hoped for  forcing Black to exchange the bishops and thus releasing the pressure on e5. For instance  with pleasant play for White. 

11

 The best way to start undermining the e5–pawn. Black threatens  followed by  He could also consider  on the way.  allows White keeping his extra pawn 3) after   Apparently a principled move, dominating Black's knight.If  Kasparov gives allows  with more than enough compensation for the exchange due to White's ruined structure all over the board.There is a hidden drawback to White's How last move though. Try yourself with this position in the test section. Black? Tests 4) 1)

to increase the queenside pressure with

How could Black make use of the weakening of the e5pawn?

How to continue the attack with White?

2)

5)

Black to move and win.

Black to move

12

Test Solutions

only

weaken

pawns



and

diagonals:

both

threatening

 1)  (This shatters Black's structure from  and Black can defend.) and its basement, since his minor pieces are far from the d5–square.  is not effective due to This allows a tactical trick but the more cautious  would not spare White  (After a neutral move such as  one possible winning line is  problems:   The position is  Attacking the rook

finally ripe for this. and White's far advanced pawns will decide.)   A very strong "quiet" move defending the g4pawn and preparing to unpin it with

 loses the bishop to  Threatening   followed by  with a

won ending.

2) This optically paradoxical knight retreat creates a decisive double attack against

the bishops.   

01

3)



This

is

reminiscent

of

Black's in the famous game Reshevsky-Petrosian, Zurich 1953.

Just as in the old example, Smyslow's positional exchange sacrifice aims at increasing his control over the light squares.

This allows Black to prove his main strategic idea but there was no simple way to

defend the c3pawn: 

with initiative or 

A familiar pattern. The

bishop

long

nothing

to

do

on

the

 diagonal.The greedy  allows White to solve his strategic problems:

 But

activating the other bishop with  was an important alternative, for instance:



threatening and

 The advance of the massive centre would

and

threatening



 mate.

 

  followed by  is lethal (Smyslow).

If  Black

neutralizes

the

counterattack

with



 (Smyslow)

There

no

mate, for

is

satisfactory

defence

against

instance:  or finally Therefore, Gligoric resigned.

01

4)  This typical move highlights the drawbacks of White's positional concession. White cannot save his e5pawn.  is wrong for at least two reasons:  (The simple  is also good, leaving Black in difficulty proving his compensation for the pawn.)



13

Hoping to profit from White's hanging minor

pieces. 

 with overwhelming initiative for the sacrificed piece.; Other squares than c7 are less favourable for the queen. For instance  allows White to stabilize the position, leaving the g7bishop passive and the black queenside weak.

An old commentary suggests  as an improvement, but Black can insist on attacking the central pawn:   (An important intermediate move. If   White consolidates.)  with similar play as in the game.; With the queen on c7

 does not work so well:



better

structure.

and

once

again

Black

retains

the

It appears that the white
knight is not only passive but also vulnerable. To
make things worse, the d3–square is not
available.
Black has emerged out
of the complications with the better structure
and Kortschnoj went on winning confidently.

01

5) Black retrieves the pawn using the hanging position of White's bishops. allows White getting close to equality with

 (Kasparov).

As

 fails to 

pointed

out

by

Kasparov,

After this passive retreat White could have obtained enough compensation for his shattered structure. was better, for instance:  (White does not get enough compensation for the queen, but  is not too rosy, either.) Kasparov examines several continuations, but I find strongest. After the forced exchange of the light-squared bishops White does not have any attacking chances left.



Missing his chance:  followed by  with dynamic compensation for the structural defects. (Kasparov)

has

completed his development, retaining the better

structure.

Black

It is obviously unwise to leave Black with a knight on board. After

 the maximum Black could hope for would have been a drawn rook ending with four pawns versus three on the same wing.

knight is

obviously stronger than the bishop, adding to

the better structure. Kortschnoj went on winning an instructive ending.

Black's

01

14

Methods of Playing in Positions with Closed Centre - Part 2

GM Grigor Grigorov

Dear Readers, In the first article on the positions with closed centre, we have examined different ideas allowing White to create an attack on the queenside. Furthermore, the reader already knows that before starting his queenside expansion, White is advised to prevent his opponent from creating an attack on the opposite side. In order to achieve this goal, White could make use of the Borisenko's idea ( followed by ) which was successfully implemented in the game Gelfand - Gawain. In this article, I am going to deal with another popular idea for White - the  advance. When should we go for the  pawn break? Sometimes, in the structure  against , Black is the first to start active actions on the queenside. This could be done by means of  followed by . Usually, a number of Black's pieces are engaged in the preparation of

the  pawn advance. For example, Black could prepare it by means of moves like  , and only after that  followed by . This is a very typical scenario in openings like Classical Benoni and Ruy Lopez. In most of the cases, in order to prepare the  advance, Black loses control over the centre (e5square). That is the reason why White could consider going for active play on the kingside. In such situations, by playing , White tries to make use of the fact that Black's control over the e5square is not sufficient. This is very often the case in openings like Ruy Lopez where White's minor pieces are mostly concentrated on the kingside. Let's take a look at one typical example: The diagram position arose in the game Zhigalko, S - Deepan, C played in 2015. It is obvious that we have a Ruy Lopez type of position. It is easy to spot that two black minor pieces and a rook are engaged in the preparation of the b7b5 advance. On the other hand, White is ready to execute the  pawn break. This advance is quite logical since Black doesn't have a good control over the square and white pieces are ready for an active play on the kingside. Zhigalko played

Zhigalko,S (2655) - Deepan,C (2496)

4th Al Ain Chess Classic Al-Ain UAE (4.15),

26.12.2015

 At this point, I would like to make an important point. Under ideal circumstances, Black would like to meet  by means of 

15

followed by . Since black knights do not control the square, this idea is impossible here. That is why in such kind of structures, Black prefers to have a knight on  In that case, we are going to play  only if we could challenge the e5knight later (for example with a move like ). In this position, White has two sensible plans:

1) play  after  2) go for  after 

 The rook definitely belongs to the f-file. It becomes clear that Zhigalko is planning to follow up with the f4f5 advance. Later on, White could bring new forces into the attack by playing 

 Sooner or later, Black must go for this move. By playing f7f6, he not only protects the centre but prevents White from playing f4f5f6.



We have a typical position with a space advantage. As we could see, White's pawn structure restricts Black's minor pieces. Furthermore, Black has problems to establish coordination between his major pieces. In my previous article, I pointed out that when we have a space advantage, we enjoy better communication lines. That is why in such kind of positions, we could easily play on both wings. For example, in this concrete situation, besides his active actions on the kingside, White could go for a queenside play by means of b3b4 advance.



The

desire

to

open

a

file

on

the

queenside and simplify the position is quite natural. Nevertheless, it is obvious that only White could make use of the open b-file. As a rule, when there is only one open file, this file is usually taken by the side which has the space advantage. This principle could be explained by the better communication lines.

In any case, Black should reckon with the idea  with the idea to meet by means of destroying Black's position. How to do it without giving White a free hand on the queenside? A logical idea that comes to mind is



intending to follow with a5a4. This plan, however, has some serious drawbacks. First of all, by playing b5b4, Black releases the tension on the queenside and White could concentrate all his pieces on the kingside. The idea a5a4 seems to be too slow. Instead of directly starting active play on the kingside, White could apply the prophylactic thinking by playing After closing the queenside, White could bring all his pieces on the kingside. We could create the following plan:

1) double the rooks on the f-file 2) evacuate the king to the queenside (a2 is a perfect square) 3) open the kingside by means of moves like  followed by h4h5.

Given the fact that Black has no space, he couldn't easily bring his pieces to the kingside. Also, it is difficult to create a fortress since White has a number of pawn contacts and piece sacrifices.

16

(The computer advocates the straightforward ignoring Black's queenside counterplay.

Indeed, after   It seems that White

prevails since his kingside threats are very dangerous while Black could hardly create something interesting on the other side of the board. Nevertheless, I would like to point out an important practical consideration. For a strong engine it is not difficult to decide exactly how "insufficient" are the resources of our opponent. During the game, however, even the slightest counterplay could cause us practical problems. That is why it is better to prevent our opponent from creating any counterplay.)  The pawn structure on the queenside is highly favorable for White. The a6pawn will be a permanent weakness, while the b3b4 advance should always be considered. This break will work extremely well when all black pieces are engaged in the defence on the kingside. Black has no counterplay at all.; After taking into account the above-mentioned considerations, we could conclude that Black's most flexible approach is 

Now is not working anymore since Black could play  Of course, White will proceed with the execution of his kingside attack. For instance, moves like followed by  and h4h5 always come into consideration.

 I am not sure if this is the most precise move in the position.

Maybe White should have seized the chance to immediately occupy the open b-file by taking with the rook Probably Zhigalko was afraid not to lose the f5pawn. Nevertheless, this is an illusion since White could make use of the weakened b1h7 diagonal. For example, after

 , he is just winning after 

The knight is going

nowhere. Black is doomed to passivity, while White could play on both wings. Even if we give Black some extra time, he couldn’t improve his position, because his pieces lack good squares. Such is the nature of the space advantage.



 Very useful move. White not only prevents his opponent from closing the kingside by means of g6g5, but at the same time, at a suitable moment, he could weaken Black's kingside by playing fxg6 followed by h4h5.

 Black managed to

concentrate some forces on the kingside, but White immediately starts active actions on the other side of the board. Now, Black has to reckon with a possible invasion on the b-file.

 The idea of this move is obvious - White wants to follow with followed by  That is why Black's next move is forced.

 Forcing the bishop to retreat. In case of Black would have played Nevertheless, as I pointed out in my previous article, when having space advantage we could afford to exchange major pieces, but it is necessary to keep the minor pieces on the board. That is why in response to Black's last move, White could go for 

with initiative.

17



By this strong prophylactic move Zhigalko prepares  This time, Black couldn't play

 since after the exchange of the rooks the f6pawn will be hanging. For example, after



winning.

 Somehow, Black has found a way to bring his rook to b7. Moreover, he intends to protect the f6pawn by playing . The drawback of this plan could be explained by the fact that black rook couldn't participate in the defence on the kingside. That is the reason why White decides to return on the kingside.

White is

 Protecting the g4knight and threatening to win the f6pawn. Another idea is to weaken Black's kingside structure by means of followed by h4h5.



This is the point! Black couldn't keep his kingside structure flexible anymore. The f5square will become a terrible weakness.

 Another option is 

Even in that case, however, White obtains a huge

 Black has passive pieces, weak light squares, terrible structure and vulnerable king. He will hardly survive in such position.



Another wonderful positional decision by Zhigalko. In this structure, Black's only chance to obtain some counterplay is based on the advance a6a5a4. With his last move, White not only prevents this idea, but at the same time frees the e3square for the knight. Also, in some positions, the bishop could invade Black's camp via the a5square.





18

We can see the triumph of White's strategy. Black is deprived of the slightest chance for a counterplay. Besides his tactical ideas on the kingside, at a suitable moment, White could even consider opening the queenside by means of b3b4. In such a difficult position, the defender usually goes wrong rather quickly. Black lost in just a few moves.

 This is an

obvious mistake, but it is already impossible to provide Black with reasonable advice.



This is the final blow. Black resigns in view of



10

Nepomniachtchi,I (2725) - Bu Xiangzhi

(2723)

7th Hainan Danzhou GM Danzhou CHN (8.4),

16.07.2016

In the previous game, we have seen how powerful the f2f4 advance could be when Black's pieces are not well-coordinated. Let's take a look at another Spansh position.The diagram position was reached in the game Nepomniachtchi - Bu Xiangzhi played this year in the Hainan Danzhou GM tournament. A brief look at the position is sufficient to understand that something had gone wrong for Black. His pieces are extremely passive, while the queenside is completely closed. Of course, the thematic f7f5 advance is impossible, either. It is clear that White must come up with creative ideas, while Black is going to react accordingly. What is the right plan for White in this position? Given the fact that the queenside is closed, his only constructive idea consists in executing the typical f2f4 advance. This advance becomes even more obvious when we consider the fact that black minor pieces couldn't establish a firm control over the e5square. In the game, the Russian grandmaster managed to find an astonishing idea.

 This wonderful positional move shows a very deep understanding of the position. More straightforward way to prepare f2f4 is followed by  and  What is the idea behind White's last move? Actually, White already intends to double the rooks along the f- file. For instance, after playing  on the next move, he is going to prepare f2f4 by means of . After playing f2f4, he is ready to double the rooks along the f-file. It is astonishing that Black could do nothing against this plan.



19

This move is connected with a wrong idea. Since Black intends to answer  with , the move  is designed to cover the weak f5square. As we are going to see, however, the move g6g5 is never acceptable in such structures.

Despite the fact that Black's last move is a mistake, it is already difficult to find a suitable system of defence. As I have already pointed out, we should always try to meet f2f4 by means of exf4 followed by  That is why Black must have a knight on d7. But where to put the queen?A logical attempt would be  From "c7" the queen doesn't participate in the

defence. 

Even in this case, however, White could execute his typical idea. Let's take a look.  This is a typical way to play against White's g3knight. Nevertheless, we should know that such an approach weakens the kingside (when possible, the pawn should stay on h7). (After the passive  White's play is very natural

 Followed by 

and  As the reader could see, Black doesn't have enough resources to support his central knight (with a knight on d7 instead of c8, the situation would have been different). After the exchange of the e5knight, White's pressure is

irresistible.) 

a)  This move is rather dubious since the g4square is already available for white knights.

 Very original move. The white knight is heading for the g4square. Black should reckon with the manoeuvre . For example, after

 (Nothing changes 

since White could prepare  by the simple  White is ready to exchange the e5knight after which Black remains with his weakened kingside. As the reader already knows, in such positions, White's attack is

unstoppable.) 

b) As usual, the move  is very well met by  followed by ;

 This is by far the most principled continuation. After exchanging the bishops, Black wants to install his knight on the weakened e5square. (In case of   again, White makes use of the weakened g4square  followed by  with a decisive attack.)  White protects the bishop and at the same time intends to play  thus fighting for the e5square.

other black knight been on d7, Black's position would have been more or less OK. Now, however, the central e5knight could be easily challenged.  And here, instead of immediately exchanging the knights, White could go for the active 

Intending to exchange the black knight by means of the manoeuvre  After the exchange, White could make use of the attacking potential of his pieces.

20

 The preparation is over. White is ready to play f2f4 on the next move.



After this move, Black position is positionally lost. The squares "f5" and "h5" are very weak while almost all black pieces are extremely passive. In this position, Nepomniachtchi finds an elegant way to exploit the weaknesses in Black's camp.

 White's idea is rather simple - he wants to bring the queen to h5 while the knight goes to

g4.

 Black activates his light-squared bishop but it is already too late. The next few moves are obvious.



This is the position Black was aiming for. It seems that despite his passive position, he managed to protect everything while White has run out of attacking resources. Nepomniachtchi, however, comes up with an amazing idea.

This move is designed to open up the



 kingside. At this point, the pawns are not important.



This is the point. White is going to open the g- file. Later on, he will just transfer his rook to g2. Once again, we could see how deep was the idea . Black couldn't take the pawn because h6 is hanging.

 Despite his difficult position, Black goes for the most stubborn defence.

After White manages to bring all his

pieces

energetic

into

play

by

means

of

the



21

(After White could go for the following forced sequence   Black is helpless. For

example 

follow.)

White's idea is to eliminate the e5

pawn



 After this final blow, White is winning. The bishop is untouchable.

by



after

With

mate

to

followed







White completed his plan. Now he has a decisive kingside attack. After putting his king to the safe h1square, he could play  followed by  and . Black has no reliable defence against this plan. That is why I leave the remaining part of the game without comments.









10

Anand,V (2770) - Van der Sterren,P (2555) Hogovens Wijk aan Zee NED (7), 24.01.1998

As we have already seen, even when Black could answer the f2f4 advance by means of exf4 followed by , he is confronted with considerable problems. Unsurprisingly, his position is almost hopeless considering that he has no space, his pieces are not coordinated and the queenside is closed. In our last example, we are going to see that even if the abovementioned problems did not exist, Black's play is far from simple. The diagram position arose in the game Anand - Van der Sterren played in 1998. White has made all the necessary preparations for the f2f4 pawn advance. Note that except the b1bishop, all white minor pieces stand just perfectly. After f2f4, the e3bishop is ready to occupy the ideal f4square while the d3knight is directly controlling the e5square. Furthermore, White's d2knight could come to f3, thus challenging Black's e5knight. Another important advantage for White is the possibility to immediately double the rooks along the f-file. Now, let's take a look at Black's position. This time, he has enough resources to keep the blockade on e5 since in case of necessity, the f8knight could go to d7. Moreover, Black's a6rook controls the only open file in the position. Nevertheless, the invasion via this file doesn't achieve anything. On the other hand, the fact that Black has a pawn on h5 instead of h7 is in White's favour. In this position, Anand played

22

 We know that this move is the only constructive idea in the position. Anand allows his opponent's knight to reach the e5square since he has enough resources to challenge it. Black's reaction is obvious.



Black's blockade is far from being solid. At the
end, Black will be forced to occupy the e5–
square with his queen, which is never desirable
when the opponent has a minor piece which
could chase away the queen.


Let's try to evaluate this position. Despite the fact that for the moment Black managed to occupy the e5square, White retained a considerable pressure. The pressure along the f-

file is always annoying. Now, Black should tie one of his major pieces to the defence of the f7pawn. Furthermore, Black's important defender (g7bishop) is already exchanged. Also, if we take into account the pawn on h5, we could say that Black's kingside is rather vulnerable.



This move is designed to prevent White from playing 

From my point of view, however, the idea to exchange the queens by playing 

is much more logical. I am almost sure that Van der Sterren rejected this move in view of  creating pressure against the f7pawn. During the game, such threats could be very unpleasant

23

from a psychological point of view. Of course,
when analyzing with an engine, everything is
simple. Black should find the move  (Bad
is  in view of 
Remember this typical break. White opens the
way of his bishop and frees the e4–square for
the knight. After  Black is just
worse.)  This powerful resource works
again. Despite the fact that after

 Black could
hold this ending, White still retains some edge.


Very tricky practical move. White renews the threat of and creates another one - Qh6. We shouldn't forget that at some point, moves like e4e5 followed by  should also be considered. My engine insists that Black is doing well in this position, but during the game, when the clock is pressing, computer evaluations mean nothing - it is all about practical problems. Being under pressure, Van der Sterren made a mistake



Black's obvious idea is to answer  with . He missed, however, the simple invasion . This is a typical mistake which happens when our attention sticks to only one of the opponent's ideas. Of course, Black has some other continuations like  or . Since there are a lot of possibilities for both sides, I find the detailed analyses of these moves to be pointless. I will limit myself to affirming that White keeps some pressure by preparing the e4e5 advance in different ways.

 

is coming. Black has no reliable

defence anymore.



 Again, this typical blow decides the game. The rest is simple.



 Black resigns.

10

24

Exercise 1. We have a typical Spanish position. Could you find the right way to continue? White to move.

Exercise 2.

Here we have a known theoretical position. By following the logic of the article, could you find White's best continuation according to the theory? White to move.

Exercise 3.

It is easy to spot that White has a considerable pressure along the f-file while Black's knight is far away from the "key" square "e5". It seems, however, that White has run out of attacking resources. Do you agree? White to move

Exercise 4.

White had managed to develop an overwhelming initiative on the kingside. How are you going to develop the attack? White to move

Exercise 5.

Despite the fact that Black had established a solid blockade on d5, White's kingside initiative looks dangerous. How to continue? White to move

25

KID Manual - Understand the Botvinnik Structure

GM Petar G. Arnaudov

Introduction Dear Chess Friends, In this article, we continue to deal with the typical King's Indian structures. As in the first article on this subject, I am going to show all the typical positional and tactical motifs in the structure. The structure that will be examined in the article is pictured in the diagram just above. It arises when White meets the move f7-f5 by

means of exf5. The exchange exf5 is good when Black can't respond with  If Black takes on f5 with the bishop, then after g2-g4, White obtains a full control over the e4-square. If , the most popular response then is f2-f4, fixing the pawn on f5 and provoking e5-e4. In this position, the rule is that if Black has a pawn on c5, he has an acceptable position because he controls the important d4 - square; if Black's pawn is on c7, then White is better, because he could use the d4-square. In the game, Flor - Petrosian we will see one of the rare examples when  is a good move. This is usually the case when the dark-squared bishops are missing. In Botvinnik - Boleslavsky, the Patriarch of the Soviet chess school shows us how to handle this position with White. In Petrosian - Stein and Bronstein - Petrosian, we can see Black's defensive ideas. In Kuzmin - Taimanov, we can see why exf5 does not give any advantage when Black has a Knight on e7 and can answer it with . The last example is

a recent game of mine against the silver

medalist from the European Championship 2016. I managed to outplay my high-rated opponent and eventually lost a completely

winning position in a time trouble.

Flohr,Salo - Petrosian,Tigran V Moscow Moscow (9), 24.11.1950

This is our starting position. How can we evaluate it? White has a space advantage as

usual in KID. On the other hand, Black managed

to exchange the dark-squared bishops, which

26

will definitely be in his favor if White decides to transpose to the Mar Del Plata - pawn structure

after 

 White decides to open the game and leaves Black with three options:   and the move played in the game 



I will try to explain why this move is the correct one here. You should remember one simple rule:

without dark-squared bishops it is preferable to take on f5 with a bishop instead of taking with a pawn. Taking with the pawn seriously weakens the kingside and after an eventual rook lift on the third rank, in the future, Black's king will be in danger. An important nuance is that without dark-squared bishops Black shouldn't be afraid to put his pawns on the dark squares (g6 - g5) and to try to fight against f2-f4. Also, by taking with the bishop, Black wins a tempo and can use the e4 square for exchanging the knights.

 This move shouldn't be considered at all. Even if in this particular position, it is not so bad. The reason is simple - Black is not fighting for the light squares or for the important e4 -

square.  White has

an obvious plan -   with an advantage.;  The most obvious and typical move. Here, however, this is a mistake since Black allows  with a pleasant position for White.  Even if Black postpones this move for a while, sooner or later, it would be provoked. Afterwards, White will have at least two very promising ideas. One is to play

, bring the queen to c3 and the rook to e3. In this position, Black's king will be in danger. Another idea is the classical approach of bringing the queen to d4 followed by transferring the knight to e3 with a good play on both flanks.

 Petrosian is consistent with his plan.





At this point, the draw was agreed. I think that Petrosian's decision is premature, because Black can enjoy a risk-free position. Some ideas to improve the position can be   and so on. In any case, this is a very instructive example of when to take on f5 with a bishop by the 9th World Champion.

1/2

Botvinnik,Mikhail - Boleslavsky,Isaak URS-ch12 Moscow (2), 06.09.1940

27

 Now, let's take a look at a model game of how to play this pawn structure with White. The diagram position can arise from all the variations of KID.  The rule that you should remember is that this move is good when Black can't take on f5 with the knight! Now, Black has 3 options:  This move is just bad.  White is more prepared for opening the position.    This is the key idea for White. White takes control over the very important e4-square and leaves Black with a passive bishop and no counterplay.  This move should be played in order to stop any f5-f4 ideas for Black. White's idea is to fix the pawn structure and to provoke e5-e4. Then White has a variety of good plans. First of all, he could undermine the e4-pawn by playing g3-g4, opening files on the kingside and making the e4- pawn vulnerable. Another idea is to exchange the dark-squared bishops via d4-square and later to install his queen on d4 and to block the pawn with a Knight on- e3. Furthermore, in some positions, White could consider playing  with the idea to exploit the week - c6 and e6 squares in Black's camp.



The mission is completed - the centre is fixed and Black has no counterplay at all. Very important nuance is that Black's pawn is on c7, not on c5. Now the d4-square is under White's control.

 This useful move frees the f1square for the bishop and overprotects the b2 - pawn.

 White improves his pieces before starting concrete actions.



It is important to block e4 - pawn. Sometimes, Black tries to play e4-e3 and even at a cost of a pawn tries to achieve some counterplay.

28

 The best square for the

bishop is e2. From there it supports g3-g4 and
frees g-file for White's rooks.
 This is not an attacking move.
It is just prophylactic against g3-g4.

White
shouldn't hurry. He has the situation under total
control, allowing him to make all the useful
moves before starting any concrete actions


Desperation! Black can't stand being without counterplay and starts playing on the kingside, but this only helps White.

 White's rooks

are perfectly placed on g-file. Now  followed by  is a threat.

 Black has no other way to cover h5square.



Nice resource in already winning position.



  This simple move is winning on the spot.



It looks like Black has some counter play, but Botvinnik, with accurate play, didn't give his opponent any chance to survive.



Unfortunately for Black he has nothing more than a couple of checks

29





A really nice game by Botvinnik which has been used as an example for White for generations.

10

Petrosian,Tigran V - Stein,Leonid October Revolution 50 Moscow (15), 1967

At this classical encounter, we achieve our position of interest at move 20. White played  and fixed the pawn structure achieving the same structure as in the game of Botvinnik. The significant difference here is that Black's c-pawn is on the c5-square. This makes White's task much harder because White does not have the important d4 - square under his control.

 White is threatening to take on e5 and also freeing f2-square for his knight.

 Again, White is threatening to take on e5 and h6

 With this multi-

purpose move, Black is preparing b7-b5 and is ready to transfer the queen on the kingside via

g6.

 Stopping g3-g4

Black is ready to open the queenside with b7b5

 White is forced to close the queenside. After that, there is no real chance to penetrate Black's position. The only chance is g3-g4, but Black easily stops this threat.



Both sides are maneuvering, White is preparing to play g3-g4, Black is preparing to meet it.



 Black's next move is  and it is obvious that White can never play g3-g4 without losing material so the draw was agreed.

½

30

Bronstein,David I - Petrosian,Tigran V Candidates Tournament Amsterdam/Leeuwarden (11), 16.04.1956

David Bronstein decides to enter our pawn structure, but Petrosian’s reaction is very strong and he easily levels the game.



If

White

plays

 something else, then  could be very annoying.



 White

has some compensation, but probably not enough to achieve equality.

deserves

attention



An amazing move which completely levels the game. Both of White's bishops are passive and blocked by his own pawns. Also, White has no longer ideas to penetrate the queenside by playing b2-b4. Petrosian said in his comments that this move is hard to make only psychologically.

 Playing in a Benko style also gives Black good play.  Black has the initiative.

only

constructive idea for White is g2g4, but Black

can easily stop this.



the







Draw in a slightly better position for Black. He has an idea to make a passed pawn on the queenside later.

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31

Kuzmin,Gennadi P - Taimanov,Mark E URS-ch35 Kharkov, 12.1967

In this position White decides to take on f5. As we already mentioned, this move is a mistake when Black can answer it with 

 White has e4-square under his control, but Black controls the d4 which levels the game. This particular position looks better for Black, because of the g3-pawn which weakens White's kingside.



structure.

Nice

move

which



ruins

White's

This position is a perfect example of the character of the position. White has a full control of the e4-square, while Black controls the d4 - square. Now, both sides will start to consolidate their positions. Black's play looks easier to me:

 doubling the rooks on the f - file.





Black decides to simplify the position.

 Black can keep the tension.



 The position is absolutely equal, because neither side can break on the queenside. White's bishop looks active on e4, but not attacking anything. Black's bishop will come on h6-c1 diagonal.

  Now it is equal again.



This

brave

move

gives

White

an



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32

Arnaudov,G (2474) - Kovalenko,I (2651) Oslo Open 2016 Fornebu NOR (4.1), 03.10.2016







What to do now? There are 3 options: to play f2- f3, to stay or to take on f5. The important factor in this position is that the pawn is not on c5. Also, I want to point out that Black's light- squared bishop is missing. So, entering our familiar structure by playing  followed by -  is the right decision.

Black realizes that after

e5e4 his position will be very passive and tries to avoid it.



Useful move. The king is very safe here.

Interesting move.

opening g-file and covering f4square.



 This move looks like a loss of tempo, but it makes a lot of sense after a5-a4. Now, the a4-pawn is hanging and Black can't activate his rook. Moreover, from the c2-square, White's queen puts additional pressure on the

f5-pawn.

 The structure is fixed. White is clearly better. There are 2 possible plans. To transfer the Knight to the weakened e6-square or to block the e4-pawn with a knight and later to open either the queenside or the kingside.

Interesting idea. Black is planning

.



The Knight is going to d4square

The point of White's idea. The queen covers b4 square.

e4pawn should be blocked and I decided to do this with the rook.

33



White opens the queenside, Black's knight will be kicked from the nice c5square.

It is obvious that

White is much better, but now it is time for decisive actions. I decided to transfer my Knight to e6-square.





This is a multi-purpose move. It is a prophylactic

against  and then my rook

would have been hanging on.In addition, it also occupies the a-file and puts additional pressure on the a6-knight.

 My idea was to transfer the king to b3 - square and then to open the kingside with h3g4.

 I decided that transferring the king with all major pieces on the board could be dangerous in time trouble and found a new plan. Transfer the knight to e3-square and then open the queenside. Since the position is not forced, losing a tempo is not a significant factor. I still believe that --- was also winning.

Black has no active plan, he should just wait passively.

 Preparing 

 If  And it is

Black who is under attack.

 Unfortunately, there was no additional time after move 40 and at this point, both myself and my opponent were short on time, which explains some later mistakes.

7 Unfortunately, I didn't realize that I could avoid the exchange of the queens.

 With queens on the board Black's position is just hopeless 

(?

is not working 



34

Nice tactical shot.   Black's

position is just collapsing. White has too many

threats, such as or

 I saw

this position in my calculation and evaluated it as winning for White, but it is not so easy at all.

White is

preparing to double on the a-file.



this move simply blunders a pawn.
 The simple activation of the king should
have been enough. Black is paralyzed and White
can do whatever he wants.
I was frustrated and decided to
keep 4 rooks on the board hoping to play for a
win anyway.


Unbelievable mistake! My only excuse is that I
had only 30 seconds left on the clock.



5 This is the move that I didn't

evaluate properly.  and

Black can simply resign.

 As you know, one mistake never comes alone.  just keep the position equal.



The final mistake.

White can resign here.



 Nice game, with an unfortunate (for me) result. On the bright side, it makes a perfect example to illustrate White's idea in this structure.

01

35

Exercise 1. How should White proceed? White to move.

Exercise 2. How should White regroup his pieces?

Exercise 3.

How should Black continue here?

Exercise 4. Black has just played f7-f5, challenging the centre. How to react?

Exercise 5. How should Black capture on f5?

36

Practical Decision-Making Part 1

Boris Chatalbashev

Best practical decisions. A guide to human chess - when the computer can not show you which is the best move.

Dear Chess Friends, Every move in every game is a decision time - we make a choice according to our strength, understanding and preferences. Quite often, however, our decisions are determined by various psychological factors. It certainly affects our game, for example, if we play only for a win as opposed to considering a possible draw as a decent result. Or if we fear an attack. Or even in better positions, we might not go for a favourable ending, presuming that it is a draw anyway or not trusting enough our technique. How do top players deal with such situations? Well, generally, if they feel a certain move to be the best one, they make it no matter what. But in many positions there is no “absolute best move” - the engines might evaluate even 4 or 5 moves the same. In such situations, a good GM tries to understand which is the best practical decision, i.e. which move poses the most problems (both psychological and pertaining to chess) for his opponent. Hence the universal approach in chess - always try to make it tough for the opponent, in every position, be it better, equal, worse or even lost. Sometimes a player might favour such a practical decision even in cases where a certain move is objectively suspicious. The logic behind it being that although there is

some risk involved, there is also hope it might pay off. In this article, however, I shall deal only with cases where the players manage to find the best practical chances and do everything possible to confuse the opponent whilst their moves are also correct, and they have simply made the best practical decisions! Those decisions may not have been the computer’s 1st or even 2nd choice, but the resulting moves are the absolute best when playing a human.

Carlsen,M (2855) - Giri,A (2785) 9th Masters Final 2016 Bilbao ESP (9.2),

22.07.2016









It does not come as a surprise that Magnus Carlsen is a master of such decisions. Let's not forget that he faces a high-level opposition, the guys on top are not easy nuts to crack. So he has to keep them at bay not only with good moves but also with unpleasant practical choices! Here he has played the opening in a modest manner and despite that the position is about equal, I would be a little concerned as White. Our bishop is worse, with all the pawns on squares of the same colour and also Black enjoys some space advantage on the queenside.

37



Not doing well at the other side, White feels obliged to open a second front on the kingside. It is not that he has any immediate threats, but Black should always keep some piece(s) there just in case, thus improving on the queenside will be more difficult. All this, of course, if Black decides not to take on h4, now or at the next move. But to do this he must give up the control on "a" file and lose 2 tempos

At the board I would have surely gone for  trying to create a weak pawn on d5. Though

after 

 with possible knight jumps on e6 or g6 and  idea, Black is playing risk-free. It is not easy to attack d5 pawn -  allows the unpleasant 

 One of the problems for Black is that he has too many logical continuations. He might go for f5, might consider taking on h4, destroy the pawn structure with c3 or calmly develop with . And his position is not worse in any of those cases. Giri might have also felt that White's last move was a little bit loose - thus the need to search for an advantage. But how? This is the huge psychological merit of : not only does it give the opponent a broad choice, but it is also somewhat provocative - try to punish me if you can! A peek forward - Giri blew up the game in the time-trouble, the time spent here and on the next moves proved costly

If 





Black

can

not

hold

d5



pawn

 Black is dominating in the center after



 Even after the most solid  the play might get very complicated in the future



so I am sure Magnus was happy about his provocation -  was not a bad move objectively but now there is play for both sides.

 The idea is very sound - to open up the play at the queenside, while White's bishop and queen are cut off from there.

38

Again  is not a bad move objectively,
but only Black might face problems in the future,
White's play is easier.  is
double-edged






A

punishment.

blunder,

though

Magnus

also

missed

the

After  the play is

balanced.





was winning. But to be honest, for sure I would miss this also - the idea with clearing 6th rank is not typical at all. All this just shows how easily a seemingly innocuous position has turned into such a complex one - that even top players could not handle it with precision.

39



Generally, Magnus could only dream of such position 10 moves ago - when it seemed that Black will not face a single threat the whole game. Now White is a pawn dawn, but with so many weaknesses in the opponent's camp and so many threats around the king, he is surely on top. After some slight inaccuracies from both sides Giri succumbed to the pressure.



Again practically the best move - trying to create threats on every move avoiding simplifications and counterplay.

For example, engines might like  but after   Black's play is much easier.

 Even if Giri had enough

time on the clock, I am not sure if he could find









reasonable

successful defence







with

chances

for

a

Do you wonder how Carlsen manages to turn even the most boring and dull positions into interesting and fighting ones? With such subtle moves as 17.h4 - seemingly vague idea, no threats yet, but posing maximum problems for the opponent!

10

40

Caruana,F (2804) - Giri,A (2790) Vugar Gashimov Mem 2016 Shamkir AZE (7.3),

02.06.2016

Now we will have a look at another high-profile game. The players are dealing with practical decisions in a position where White is slightly better but it is hardly possible to calculate everything.

 What would you play with Black? Let me tell you - the simplicity here is quite deceiving



Giri is not afraid of the rook endgame, but he should have forced it! This is just a little careless. I suppose he thought he should be able to hold anyway.

First it is obvious that 

does not make sense.After  and e5e6 next, the pawn will become dangerous in combination with mating threats.; 

looks more logical, but again after  we have problems because taking on b2 is not possible immediately. Still - the computers say that it is not so dangerous after  - but it is hardly good from a practical point of view Black is walking on very thin ice.







41



 is the same.; The best practical decision - even though it is not in the top 3 choices of the engines - 



 (otherwise Black can take on b2 managing to go back on b8 just in time) 

  

Now the plan for White is 

 For these simple, prophylactic moves the players thought for a long time - another sign that the position is far from easy



Caruana changes the plan and as the calculation is tough - probably not entirely convinced that this trust is strong. But he makes an excellent practical decision - it is even tougher for Black now!

42

After



but Black should be

able to hold

suddenly it becomes obvious that there is no improvement for White. 

 Objectively it is losing, but this is the move that the vast majority of the players would make









Just shows that  sacrifice was purely

intuitive and practical

Caruana could not believe that his position could

In the time-trouble







nice prophylactic move that just shows that Black is helpless, almost in zugzwang. Next, the rook is joining the attack via c2 or c1, for

example  



 Two purely practical decisions from both sides -  and  could have turned around the logical course of the game. Nice example, although left unfinished.

1/2

43

Chatalbashev,B (2545) - Skomorokhin,R

(2396)

7th Vaujany Open 2016 Vaujany FRA (8.3),

23.07.2016

In this example from my practice, I thought for a long time, first searching for a miracle win, then for just a way to put some practical problems for my opponent to solve in the time-trouble. White is a piece and a pawn down, but he has thousands of ways to force a draw. Even if it was Black to move he can not prevent this, he is just a little short of useful moves. So it is logical to think about some improvement of the position, some way to build up the attack. The only problem for White is the insecure position of his own King, in many cases perpetual from g3 and e1 saves the day for Black.



Nice try and a nice combination, but I do not consider it best from a practical point of view. You see, "best" is rather relative here also, the computers will estimate almost all of White's moves as 0.00. Let’s see some other options :

 intending to take with the knight on f8  

This is the move that I consider "practically best". Of course I had a look at it, cutting the bishop out of play, but I rejected it because he can simply take with the queen. And most probably this was the move that would follow in the time-

trouble

is now winning! Let’s have a look: (Black

has only one way to draw, but very tough to find -

Completely

missed that my idea with 





 this is the difference - he can not go on d8 because he loses the queen   



44




Well my try paid off - my opponent obviously noticed the mating  idea just now and panicking, either did not see the only defence, or just thought that the bishop from c5 is controlling e7 square

But 

was fairly easy to find. And now 

+ the only

problem for him would be - where to go with the King?  (The most obvious move

suddenly loses -

 and now

there

is

no

perpetual

and

 is coming -  

or and this time Black gives perpetual next.



Let's go back to the initial position

-

if

played the obvious 

and there would be no winning chances even in the time-trouble, Black's play is very easy. On the contrary both  and  create problems, more or less, so even if he had time the outcome was far from sure. And it does not matter that the engines see everything as "dead equal"

10

45

Exercise 1. This position arose in the game Carlsen - Grishchuk played in 2015. It is not difficult to understand that the chances are roughly equal. How did Magnus Carlsen manage to pose practical problems for his opponent? White to move.

Exercise 2. We are still following the game Carlsen - Grishchuk. Carlsen is about to make his move 40 (after move 40, players gain additional time). Grishchuk is still in a time trouble and you should pose to him the most difficult practical problem. White to move.

Exercise 3. This position was reached in the game Kiril Georgiev - Grigor Grigorov played in 2012. Objectively, the position is drawn but White could pose a practical problem. Could you find the best move? White to move.

Exercise 4. Black has just put his rook to b8 with the idea to invade White's camp via b1. White should prevent this idea and occupy the b-file. What is the best continuation from a practical point of view? White to move.

Exercise 5. Let us look at another game played by Magnus Carlsen. This time, his opponent is Vladimir Kramnik. In this symmetrical structure, it seems that Black is very close to the equality. In order to pose some practical problems, White must play in a very creative way. How to continue? White to move.

46

Endgame Series Part 10

GM Davorin Kuljasevic

Hello Dear Chess Friends! Today we will talk about "zugzwang". This tongue-twisting term is an interesting phenomenon in chess and other games. Basically, when in zugzwang, a player would rather forego his right to move since he does not have any good move at his disposal. But, as we know, in chess one is obliged to make a move when it's his turn, so "zugzwang", or in German:

"compulsion to move", is a position where the player is forced to make "a bad" move. Zugzwang can be decisive in certain positions, usually in the endgame. Why is that so? Well, the simplest explanation is that the material on the board is limited in the endgame, so the number of possible (and good) moves is limited, too. Let us begin with the simplest example:

Zugzwang 1

We have looked at this kind of position many times throughout the Endgame series. Black to move loses as neither of his two legal moves are good enough to stop white pawn. He would certainly much rather skip his move, because with White to move the game is drawn, but this is against the rules. In other words, Black is in zugzwang.

 Or  and the pawn promotes.

Zugzwang is very common in pawn endgames, which is why every tempo counts. For example, in the following theoretical position, the positioning of white a-pawn is of outmost importance for achieving zugzwang and winning the game.

Zugzwang 2

If the a-pawn was just one square ahead, on a3, the game would be drawn! We will shortly see why:

47

 The only way forward

for White, as winning the a-pawn with 

 just drawn.

 Without the a-pawns,

this position is obviously drawn due to stalemate. But here, Black can still play with his remaining pawn:

  is similar:  Black king is in zugzwang. 



This is the crucial pawn tempo that puts black king in zugzwang and the reason why a similar position with pawn on starting square a3 is drawn.

We encounter zugzwang as the key winning idea in another familiar theoretical position:

Zugzwang 3

The point of the famous study by Troicki is delivering smothered mate to black king in the corner. For this, we need to force Black to move his pawn from h3 to h2.

 Precision is required.



 White has no

is

wrong

as

after

way of forcing black pawn to h2.

 In case of  White would

deliver the mentioned checkmate 3.¤g3# but Black does not have to play that way, does he?

 Again, keeping an eye on g3 square, so that h3h2 leads to checkmate.

 on the other hand, would allow Black to create a "self-stalemate" with 



Clearly, Black is just going to move his king back and forth (h1h2). We need to find a square for the knight from which we control g3 and also h2 (so that  is not possible). Fortunately, there is just the square we are looking for: f1!

  is a common beginner mistake. Stalemate!

 Now Black is in zugzwang as  is illegal and h3h2 is forced.



And another one…

48

Zugzwang 4

This check is the most

Winning v. is less than trivial if one does not know how to put Black in zugzwang like in this position (see next game for what happens if White fails to do that). Black's defensive setup is based on his king and rook being close together, defending each other from White's assaults. It would seem logical for White to continue with checks or threatening moves to break the setup, but ironically, the winning move here is the quiet:

 putting Black in zugzwang! The point is that black rook has to abandon the safety of his king's lap and soon has to find out that it is a wild world out there

Aggressive attempts like 

or