Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Analysis of Tactics Just by Piece Placement

Petrosian - Botvinnik, Moscow 1963 - White to move
Please study this position for at least a few minutes before reading on.

We had eleven players Monday for open chess. It was a very nice group size, considering the bitter cold outside. But the chess action was warm and friendly inside!

Our Club Championship returns next week, Monday at 7pm. Club opens at 6pm for warm-up games. Also, if you are not in the tournament, don’t fret. There will be players open for a casual game too!

So come on by and check out the chess action.

Now on to the position to study.

This position came out of an English Opening that transposed into a Leningrad Dutch - which just happened to be one of GM Mikhail Botvinnik’s favorite openings. But this time - not so much!

Except for his g7 bishop, Black’s pieces are not in good spots. His Queen is stuck on the back rank. The white squared bishop is back ranked also and hemmed in, and his rooks are disconnected.

Alarm bells went off in the great GM Tigran Petrosian’s head. Good chess thinking involves looking for problems not only in your own camp, but in your opponent’s. After all, your camp may be a shambles, but if you can take advantage of a small problem your opponent has IMMEDIATELY, then you don’t have to clean up your camp because you are moving forward to victory.

But as an added bonus, in this example, White’s camp has few problems. The King is safe. White’s black squared bishop has great scope. The rooks are on good files, and are connected and working in unison. The White Queen is pestering pawns and owns almost the entire queen side.

White is ready to pounce. But where? Very few opponents will resign to you just because your pieces look pretty. You have to turn your positional advantage into real pain.

If you have studied the position as requested, you may say “This doesn’t look too hard. We have a choice between two pawns to capture; a7 and d5.”

Well both captures could lead to complications. 1. Bxd5 Rxe2 doesn’t win anything.

Rxd5, Bc6 allows Black to trade white-squared bishops with 2. Rd3, Bxf3 etc., and frees his position greatly.

Qxa7, Bb5 threatens to trap the queen as well as capture the e2 pawn.

This is not to say a pawn capture here is necessarily bad, but there is more here than a pawn capture.

Notice that White’s c1 rook is x-raying the queen. Can we clear a path to Her Majesty?

Notice that the black rooks are asking to be skewered by a bishop or queen on the a3-f8 diagonal. Can we oblige them?

These are the types of positional gems the strong players look for and the weaker players overlook in their opponent’s position, and/or create in their own camps.

Now that we are looking at these weaknesses too, do you see Petrosian’s beautiful move played over 50 years ago?

Answer to be in the Comment section soon. Thanks to GM Gabriel Schwartzman - Chess Life 2003

1 comment:

  1. All the great chess minds reading this blog and the writer has to answer the post? Oh well, the writer's job is never done! Petrosian won after Bd6! After cxd6, then cxd6 Black loses a rook since he has to move his queen.