Embarrassment of Riches

July 21, 2010

Holy Game Collection, Batman: found this today and thought I would share.

Update: In the comment section Hank has kindly provided a link to another amazing collection of “database books” at gambitchess.com.

The Battle for Intrusion Squares

July 18, 2010

I present two plans I gleaned from Silman’s Amateur’s Mind, one from the chapter on hanging pawns, the other from the chapter on initiative. The two go nicely together, though, because they are in fact both about initiative, in particular how to maintain as much of your own initiative as possible by taking control of what I like to call “intrusion” squares. Intrusion squares grant your opponent access to your position and create nasty opportunities for counterplay (or, if the opponent has the initiative, denying you counterplay by forcing you to defend).

By reinforcing intrusion squares, you deny your opponent this counterplay, which in turn reinforces your own initiative. As Silman likes to point out, the best defence is most often the potential for a counter-attack; the best offence, accordingly, is the offence that at the same time denies your opponent any form of counterplay.

In the example with the hanging pawns, you see how Qa5 reinforces the d5 square and in so doing keep an advance of the hanging pawns alive. Black’s plan is to make sure that the hanging pawns maintain some kind of dynamic potential and to prevent them from becoming a mere weakness.

In the second example, White has the initiative and a potential kingside attack. The move Qe3 does not develop another piece, nor does it further the attack, but it defends the d4 square and prevents Black’s queen from intruding on d4, thus stalling potential counterplay on the open d-file or avoiding exchanges that would dampen White’s initiative. Silman posits that in open positions, as a rule of thumb, the party who occupies the open centre file first gains the initiative; so Qe3 could be seen as an application of that principle as well.

Good Philidor and Bad Philidor

July 11, 2010

For some reason, this just popped into my head. Anyway! Another shout-out to Jeremy Silman’s Complete Endgame Course. Today’s topic: good Philidor and bad Philodor. The Philidor position is a key position in rook versus rook and pawn endgames. If the defender is able to reach a Philidor position, he can hold the draw. The good Philidor is a very easy draw if you know the move. The bad Philidor is slightly more complex.

In the good Philidor, the defender simply occupies the 6th rank. If either White’s king or pawn advances, the defending rook moves to the 1st rank where it has an easy time keeing pawn and king in … wait for it… check. (I admit I have a soft spot for atrocious puns. I probably have used this one before, but I just couldn’t resist.) If king and pawn stay put, the defending rook simply stays on the 6th rank.

In the bad Philidor, White gets to the 6th rank first, so Black has to come up with a different plan. This time, he uses the principles of “short side of the pawn” and “checking distance” by situating his rook behind the pawn and using his king to add an additional defender to the square in front of it, denying White any chance of making progress that way. If White tries to push the king away from the defence of the square, Black uses his long checking distance on the long side of the pawn to threaten infinite checks or a pawn capture by the rook.