Act in Concert

October 9, 2010

In case I haven’t mentioned it yet: Jeremy Silman’s The Amateur’s Mind is a gem. Two easy chunks inspired by one of his practice games with an amateur:

1) Decide where your “area of influence” is (usually the area on the board where you’ve got more space) and develop your pieces so that they strengthen your hold on that area. Don’t scatter the power of your pieces all over the board. Instead, focus on your area of influence and have your pieces act in concert. This will make it easier for you to develop a consistent, logical plan. In the position below, White’s area of influence is the queenside. Therefore, says Silman, developing the white-square bishop to e2 is more logical and more consistent than fianchettoing the bishop.

2) Fianchettoed bishops (like bishops in general) prefer an open centre. Fianchettoing the bishop to g2 is not only questionable because of White’s queenside space, but also because Black’s pawn on d5 disrupts the bishop’s diagonal and is safely guarded by his peer on e6. Of course, if Black’s centre pawn was weaker, then pressuring it with the fianchettoed bishop would be a more viable plan.

Attacking the Castled King: Open File versus Pawn Lever

October 7, 2010

If you’re attacking the king in the position below, what’s the better asset: an open g-file or the g-pawn lever? According to Vukovic’s The Art of Attack, the g-pawn lever is more powerful than the open file, perhaps because White no longer has a dark-square bishop to attack h6. Hence Vukovic advises the second move order: 1. h3 …, preparing 2. g4.

Intrusion on the 7th Rank

October 4, 2010

A common continuation once you have taken control of a file is to invade on the 7th or 2nd rank, respectively. Vukovic’s The Art of Attack uses that very same strategy to launch an assault against the castled king. The procedure is as follows: dominate the file > weaken the pawns in front of the king with pawn levers or by exploiting backrank weaknesses > occupy the 7th rank for mate. As an example, he cites the game Rubinstein – Maroczy, Goteborg 1920.

Notice the interplay between your piece control and your opponent’s pawn structure. The more I play chess, the more my thought process and my assessment of a position revolves around these two factors; the potential of my pieces on the one hand and the potential pawn weakness of my opponent on the other.