Saturday, May 12, 2007

Exploiting advantages

Here is a position from a recent game of mine. A comparison of space, king safety and mobility suggests that Black is on the defensive, but White must still find a way forward. In this context the bishops of opposite colour are a feature of interest. White's bishop is temporarily restricting Black's knight, while White's knight stands ready to block the long diagonal in anticipation of the manoeuvre ...b6-b5-b4 with an attack against c3. Tripling the heavy artillery on the h-file with the idea of Rh8+ followed by Qxh8# is perhaps White's most obvious plan. If Black does nothing significant over the next few moves his position will become critical.

23.Ne5 Nd7
Black's knight is not doing much so exchanging it for White's more active knight is a natural idea.
White gets nowhere after 25.Ba4 Nxe5! 26.fxe5 (if 26.Bxe8 Nc4! 27.Bxf7+ Kxf7 and Black is better) 26...Rb8 with adequate counterplay for Black. With the text move White avoids the exchange and creates an opportunity to play either Nh6+ or Nf6+ as convenient.
When a wing attack threatens it is often effective to strike a counterblow in the centre. The problem with this pawn lever is that White's is able to keep the centre files closed by simply bypassing the pawn. Much stronger was 24...Qc5 25.Qh3 Kf8 26.Qh7 Qc4, but after 27.Kb1! Qxf4 28.Nh6 Bxh6 29.gxh6 Ke7 30.Bxg6! Nf8 31.Qg7 Nxg6 32.Rhf1! Black must surrender his queen for two pieces in order to stop White's attack.
25.f5! gxf5 26.Bxf5 e4
Also unavailing is 26...Nf8 27.Rdg1 Ng6 28.Qh3! Qxg5+ 29.Ne3! Qf4 30.Bxg6 fxg6 31.Rxg6 with irresistible threats. The text move allows White to win immediately.
27.Rxd7! Rxd7 28.Bxd7 Qxd7 29.Nf6+ Bxf6 30.gxf6
After the exchange of his key defenders Black has no adequate defence against the mating attack with Qe3-h6, and therefore he resigned.

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Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
National master (Canada) since 1984. B.C. Champion 1977 and 1984. Runner-up 1991 and 2002. B.C. Open Champion 1972 and 1982. B.C. U/14 Champion 1964-65-66. Mikhail Botvinnik once wrote that publishing your analytical work forces you to be accurate because it exposes you to criticism. Hence this blog.