Friday, July 19, 2013

The Amateur's Mind - Final Installment

Alekhine - Marshall - What will a 2100 player do with it?
The premise is that players of different strengths (1500, 1700 and 1800) took over Alekhines position with the white pieces against Marshall, and shared their thought process as they played it against their teacher – IM Jerry Silman. 

The amateurs all went down in flames, while Alekhine won the game kind of quickly against Marshall. The amateur’s rating is in brackets and his comments follow. Jerry’s are [JS].

Now let’s see how an expert handles this position:

[2100] The major imbalance is a kingside majority vs a queenside majority. If White can break the blockade on e5 and push his pawn to e5, his bishop will be more active and his pawns will push the Black pieces back. This will not be easy to accomplish.

On 1. O-O Black can play Nh5 and create a blockade on f4 and my dark squares would be conquered. I have four moves to consider. 1. O-O I already found a response to.  1. Ne2, giving up the b-pawn but I don’t think I can open up the center fast enough to justify the cost of a pawn. 1. Qc2 with the idea of Ne2. This covers the f4 and d4 squares. 1.Qd2 is also possible but Qc2 gives extra protection to the e-pawn.

From Black’s point of view, he wants to maintain his blockade and prevent f4. He doesn’t want to castle queenside as there are several open files. Black could try to work on the e4 pawn but that might be too slow. He should probably try and use his queenside majority and get his king to safety with O-O.

[JS] Nicely done! He was off on his assessment of where Black should castle, but his efforts to take the dark squares away from Black is highly praiseworthy. Notice how he looked for ways Black could fight against his plans. That was something the C thru A players did not do.

1.      Qc2    Bd7
[2100] Now I will take away those squares on f4 and d4.

[JS] Notice how the other players never even mentioned the existence of squares. Any class player will make great strides if he realizes that the control of individual squares is as important as any other strategy in the game.

2.      Ne2    Bc6
3.      f4       Qa5+
[2100] I knew he was going there. If 4. Qd2 he can simply trade. 4. Nc3 is my best option. The knight has done it’s job allowing me to play f4. After Nc3, I can castle queenside and get my kingside majority into play.

4. Nc3    O-O-O
5. O-O-O
[JS] Though White’s play was not the very best, he came up with a logical plan and this sufficed to give him a good position with a safe king and an active central majority.

1)      Don’t become entranced in your own plans. You must also consider your opponent’s possibilities and gauge just how dangerous they really are.
2)      Part of your plans should be to prevent his goals. For example, you may be playing to take advantage of a weak pawn, but you should also take time to prevent your opponent from posting his knight on a good square.
3)      In an open position, the first person to dominate an open central file will usually gain the initiative.

Hope you enjoyed the series!

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