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Subject: Chess is War rss

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Steve Bernhardt
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Chess is War

This isn't a game where a scintillating attack ended the game. In fact, there aren't too many tactics at all, this game is mostly positional chess. I chose it because it illustrates that chess is generally not about seeing X number of moves more than your opponent; it is more about recognizing themes and features of a given position. In this game, I rarely calculated more than a few moves ahead.

This game is really an exercise in assessing a sacrificial attack by your opponent, refuting it, denying him counterplay, and going on to win the resulting endgame. I consider this game to be workmanlike. The initial sacrifice of a bishop for two pawns was probably unsound, but winning is not a given because the loss of one pawn later on would bring us to material parity. Anything goes then, so the challenge is how to clamp down on his chances.

The psychological game is important as well, because defending a difficult position turn after turn can demoralize your opponent which might lead to further mistakes.

I haven't bothered checking for better lines with a computer or anything like that. I also could have made some more accurate moves at times, but chose a less optimal, more practical solution that wouldn't require a lot of calculation. Since I play in about 30 games at a time, I save my heavy-duty calculating for games where I am desperately fighting for a draw.

[Event "Clan challenge"]
[Site "http://www.redhotpawn.com"]
[Date "2006.10.07"]
[White "wargamer66"]
[Black "Red Hot Pawn Player"]
[WhiteRating "1794"]
[BlackRating "1757"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. d4 e6

Okay, he is possibly angling for a transposition into the French Defense if I play 2. e4

2. c4 b6

Since he signaled his willingness to enter the French Defense I will avoid it. He wants to lure me, a queen-pawn player, into an opening that he presumably knows better. Little does he know, I play the French as my defense against king-pawn players. Even so, I play the
French because I think it gives black good chances, something I don't want my opponent to have. With 2. c4 and b6 we are sliding toward something like a Queen Indian Defense.

3. Nc3 Bb7
4. e4 Bb4 (the e pawn now hangs because it's defender is now pinned)

I tend to play classical openings which are generally ones where you fight for the center by actually occupying it with pawns and fairly direct moves. My opponent seems to prefer a Hypermodern style where you influence the center from the flanks and attempt to induce weaknesses with well-timed pawn breaks. Both are valid ways to play as we each seek to impose our will on each other.

5. f3 Bxc3 (black induces a pawn weakness, but gives up a bishop for
a knight to do it)
6. bxc3 Bxe4

This is a very surprising move. The variation I am sure he is going for is fxe4 Qh4+ g3 Qxe4+, winning the rook at h1 next turn. Naturally, that is losing for me. I figure that I am okay to take the bishop because most of black's pieces are not developed. Sacrifices
like this are only scary when your opponent has a lot of pieces able to take advantage of your vulnerability. Ordinarily, having my king in the open with queens on the board is concerning, but I was not too worried because I was surrounded by my army. My opponent violated a basic rule of chess here: Do not embark on offensive operations without enough strength to carry out the attack.

7. fxe4 Qh4+

If your opponent sacrifices material and you feel that the position is defensible, take it and make him prove that his sacrifice is sound. If it isn't, the pressure is on your opponent because he just gave you endgame odds.

8. Kd2 Qxe4 (I was a expecting Qf4+ Kc2 Qxe4+ somewhat, but that doesn't do much for him)
9. Qf3 Nf6

Qf3 is bad for him, he wants to exploit the exposed nature of my king, not trade queens. He has difficulty avoiding the trade, as his rook is hanging at a8 on that diagonal. I don't want to trade queens right now because he might cause trouble with the knight. I dont want that knight coming to rest at f2. So...

10. Bd3 Qxf3
11. Nxf3 O-O
12. Kc2 d5

I might be ahead in material, but his position is fairly tough to crack. He has all of his pawns and no real weaknesses. I have two bishops to his two knights and more open lines, but I have some pawn weaknesses. My goal is to deny him counterplay and trade into a endgame at this point.

13. Ne5 dxc4

Ne5 is good, in that it prevents black from developing his knight to c6 or d7 without trading or losing it. He wants to avoid trades.

14. Bxc4 Nd5
15. Re1 c6

Re1 takes aim at e6 because I expect him to chase my annoying knight with f6 very soon. This move develops my rook on a half-open file and forces him to consider the eventual defense of e6 if he moves the f-pawn.

His move of c6 threatens to support b5 next turn, which chases my bishop and allows him to develop his knight to a6 and then to c7....which frees his game quite a bit. My next move prevents this plan. Notice how controlling the squares on black's queenside cramps his play and prevents him from doing anything meaningful?

16. a4 Rd8

Developing his rook. He would love to play Nd7, but it is tied to the defense of the c6 pawn. I am expecting my knight to get chased at any point now.

17. Bd2 a5

I am simply clearing my back rank to link my rooks. 17...a5 surprised me! I think this is the losing move. Right now, it is pretty hard for me to break into his position, just as it is difficult for him to develop his pieces. With a5, his b6 pawn is now a serious liability because it is backward (cannot be defended by other pawns) on a half open file and cannot be pushed because I firmly control the b5 square. In chess, good play dictates that when you see a weakness like this, you must pile up on it because it forces your opponent into a defensive posture and, should the attack succeed, shatter your opponent's position.

18. Re1b1 f6

I attack the weak pawn with Re1b1, and he responds immediately with f6. This is necessary because his only defender of the b-pawn is the knight at d5, which I can capture...he needs to chase my knight away and develop his b8 knight to shore up b6. Notice how his play is now totally dictated by this pawn weakness?

19. Nf3 Nd7
20. Bxd5 exd5

This is the part of the game I am most proud of. 20. Bxd5 starts a plan wherein I winnow my black squared bishop into his backfield. If I get it to c7, I will have 2 attackers on the b-pawn, and the bishop's control of the b8 square makes it impossible for a black rook to come to the pawns aid.

21. Bf4 Re8

He knows what is coming, so he embarks on an active plan himself. He would like to penetrate a rook onto the e-file and pick up some pawns on the kingside to compensate for losses on the queenside. My plan must be put on hold for a few moves while I deal with the counter-threat.

22. Kd3 Re6

My 22nd move covers the squares he would like his rook sitting on. In the endgame, the King should be an active piece! His 22nd move signals his desire to double his rooks on the e-file and penetrate anyway. This would give him considerable counter-play, so I must respond
and fight for the e-file. I know his weakness will still be there on b6 to haunt him after this interlude, and the trading of heavy pieces might be to my advantage since I am a roughly a pawn ahead at this point.

23. Re1 Ra8e8
24. Rxe6 Rxe6
25. Re1 Rxe1
26. Nxe1 c5

c5 is a good try, he knows he has a positional problem and tests me to see whether I will trade pawns, eliminating the weakness at b6. When losing a game, you should always present your opponent choices where he may go wrong.

27. Bc7 c4+

Okay, the position has clarity now. I am up a piece for two pawns. With 27. Bc7, a move I planned many moves ago, I tie his knight down to the defense of the b6 pawn. Now my knight may roam freely. Notice how black's king cannot come to the aid of the b6 pawn because the bishop controls d8 and d6.

28. Ke3 Kf7

Black knows that it is time to get his king into the fray, as it's his only active piece.

29. Nc2 g5

My knight move here is the start of a plan to win the b-pawn. Once the b-pawn falls, black will have no way to defend his pawn on a5, which currently blocks my pawn at a4. My objective is to win those pawns and queen my a-pawn. My knight wants to move from c2-a3-b5-a7-c8. In endgames, patience is really key. In a dynamic middlegame it would be hard to conceive of a plan like this because it is so slow, but in this position, black can only watch as the knight makes its way over there.

30. Na3 Ke6
31. Nb5 f5

Black knows he has no play on the queenside, so he is looking at his 3 to 2 pawn majority on the kingside and hopes to get some counterplay there.

32. g3 Nf6

My pawn move simply is an attempt to slow down any counterplay he is contemplating. It is probably more accurate to continue my knight's tour of the queenside, but I dont want to be bothered with checks. Black, for his part, knows exactly where my knight is headed and
abandons the b-pawn to it's fate. He knows he loses for sure if he allows me to do what I want, so he shifts his knight to the kingside in the hope of getting some counterplay there.

33. Bxb6 Ng4+

Finally! The culmination of a plan that started on move 17. The downside is that black forks my king and pawn. I don't worry too much about his kingside play, as I still have 1 pawn to slow him down, and my king is in the area. I will play to e2 so that he doesn't get any freebie checks after taking the h-pawn.

34. Ke2 Nxh2
35. Bxa5 f4

Okay, my outside passed pawn on the a-file pretty much guarantees a win. In fact, an outside passed pawn will garner a win in probably 90% or more pawn endgames because it can be used as a distraction to draw defenders away or simply advance to become a queen. Black is trying to get his own passed pawns as well.

36. gxf4 gxf4
37. Bc7 Kf5

My 37th move has two purposes. It clears the path for the a-pawn and covers the diagonal that has black's f-pawn and knight. He cannot push the pawn because after Kf3, the knight has to move and I take the f-pawn.

38. Bxf4 Kxf4

I can probably weather the storm if his king penetrates and he starts advancing the f-pawn. I didn't care to calculate the variations so I removed the threat. Of course, this is safe because he cannot stop my a-pawn from becoming a queen.

39. a5 h5
40. a6 h4
41. a7 Ng4
42. a8=Q h3
43. Qa8xd5 h2
44. Qf3+ Kg5

45. d5 and black resigns.

My opponent showed good fighting spirit by continuing the game until all of his options were gone. Make your opponents prove that they have the technique to beat you!


 
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Czech Mate
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Nice analysis, and nice win!

Some potential corrections...(I'm a stickler for details)

In the second description paragraph after move 15, do
you mean "His move of c6 threatens to support b5 next turn"?

In the paragraph after move 37, do you mean
"He cannot push the pawn because after Kf2,
the knight has to move and I take the f-pawn."?
Or do you mean ..Kf6 (you lost me on that descr)

And finally, isn't move 44 a 'check'
"44. Qf3+ Kg5"?

Thanks, I really enjoyed your analysis!
mikey.


 
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Steve Bernhardt
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You are correct in all cases. I edited in your comments
 
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Corey Butler
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Nice example of how solid positional play leads to a win, especially when combined with a long range plan, as you demonstrate in the second half of the game. I think 9. Qf3 absolutely refuted the sacrifice as it guarantees an exchange of Queens with no compensation for Black. Then a series of solid moves (13. Ne5, 16. a4) clinched it. Half of Black's pieces were paralyzed, and as you said, 17. ...a5 is terrible.
 
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Benjamin Emmanuel
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If chess is war, and war is hell (so I've heard), then doesn't than mean that chess is hell? I can relate to that, I played in the World Open last year.
 
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Steve Bernhardt
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Necessary Truths wrote:
If chess is war, and war is hell (so I've heard), then doesn't than mean that chess is hell? I can relate to that, I played in the World Open last year.


I can buy that. I am happily retired from playing in tournaments
 
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