Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Amateur’s Mind – Part 3

Two installments have been posted. We are taking a position from an Alekhine – Marshall game in 1925. First we showed how Alekhine masterfully turned White’s small opening advantage into an 18 move crush.

We then showed how a 1500 turned that same position into a probable loss against IM Jeremy Silman. Silman wrote this article for Chess Life back in 1993 and it is re-printed here for your enjoyment. IM Silman’s notes are marked with [JS] and the student’s [rating] show his thoughts. In this installment we will see how an [1800] player approached this same position.

[1800]  I like White. He has his minor pieces out and he has a pawn controlling the center. He has both the Queen-file and a Queen-bishop file to work with. He has a pawn majority on the King-side while Black has one on the Queen-side. We have to kill his majority and get ours going. How do we do this?
1. Qb3 slows his development, but he just goes ….b6 and fianchettos. At some point I could play b4 stopping his pawns. But I can’t do this at the moment so I’ll just castle and prepare to get my own pawns going with f4.
[JS] As a higher rated player, he looked deeper than the other two. Never the less, his error is basically the same. By seeing the game as some mad race between rival majorities, he fails to take into account other possibilities for Black and falls to the same pressure on the d-file of which the others ran afoul.
1.  O-O     Be6
[1800] He has a pin coming up but there is nothing he can do with it yet. I’ll get my majority rolling.
[JS] Like the 1700 player, he sees Black’s first move but discounts it’s usefulness.

2. f4    Qd4+
3. Kh1   O-O-O
[1800] I’m pinned and I don’t see any counter play for me.
[JS] Here we go again! All the players saw the punch coming, but did nothing about it. They refused to give it credence until it kicked their teeth in.
How can C to A players avoid this type of position reversal? By working harder at the chessboard than these players did. They only gave the position a cursory examination. It’s good to come up with an aggressive plan for yourself, but you have to take a look at what your opponent can do. Then work to stifle his initiative, before or while creating your own. Go back and study Alekhine’s method for doing this.

4. Bc2   …..
[1800] I need to consolidate and this does it.

4. ……    Qe3
[1800] He’s in my position and I don’t know what to do!
[JS] A once confident commander of the White pieces succumbs to panic.

5. Qf3   Qxf3
6. Rxf3   Rd2
[1800] Black stands better. I need to sacrifice a pawn and get out of this bind.
[JS] White is a little too eager to give up material. Your position may be unpleasant, but you must hold on tight and refuse to give up anything!

7. Bb3  Rxb2
In Part 4, we will look at how a 1700 player handled this position.


  1. You forgot to post the 1700 installment.

  2. My mistake! 1700 will be the next installment.