USA Championships

The USA championships finished yesterday in Saint Louis. There was no need of tie-breaks in both the events. In the men's part Fabiano Caruana proved superior to the field, scoring 8.5/11, a clear point ahead of his closest rivals Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura.
One of the important games of the event was played in round three:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "U.S. Championship 2016"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.04.16"]
[Round "3.1"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2773"]
[BlackElo "2795"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "184"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:06:48"]
[BlackClock "0:07:21"]

1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. e3 e6 5. d4 d5 6. a3 a6 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. b4
Bd6 9. Bb2 O-O 10. cxd5 exd5 {[%csl Yd5] Diagram [#] A typical picture for the
Semi-Tarrasch. The isolated pawn on d5 might be both strenght and weakness.}
11. Be2 Be6 12. O-O Qe7 {Intending both Ra8-c8 and Rf8-d8. And something more.}
({Another way to play it is the immediate} 12... Rc8 {which gives an
additional option of Bd6-b8 followed by battery on the h2-b8 diagonal. This
however also leaves more options to White.} 13. Rc1 Qe7 14. Qd3 (14. Na4 {
is the other idea.}) 14... Rfd8 15. Rfd1 b5 {Le,Q (2703)-Pelletier,Y (2587)
Belfort 2012}) 13. Rc1 {Intending Nc3-a4-c5. But now Black reveals the other
ideabehind his Qd8-e7 maneuver.} a5 {[%csl Ya3][%cal Ga1c1] Diagram [#] The
pawn on a3 was left loose and Caruana makes use of it.} (13... Rfd8 14. Na4 Ne4
15. Nd4 Nxd4 16. Qxd4 $14 {led to a typical slightly better position for White
in Guimard,C (2410)-Agdamus,J (2200) Santos Lugares 1977}) 14. Nb5 $146 {
So sacrifices a pawn for initiative. A predecessor saw} (14. b5 Ne5 (14... Nb8
$5 {is another route to d7.}) 15. Qa4 Ned7 {and White had problems with his
queenside, Lee,F-Sergeant,E Scarborough 1909}) 14... axb4 (14... Bb8 15. bxa5
Nxa5 16. Nbd4 {is good for White.}) 15. Nxd6 Qxd6 16. axb4 Qxb4 17. Bxf6 gxf6
18. Rb1 Qe7 19. Rb5 {[%csl Yb7,Yd5,Yf6,Yf7,Yh7] Diagram [#] As a result White
managed to destroy all the black pawns and he may try to profit from this in
two ways- attack the weaken kingside or patiently try to harvest all the crop.
The problem with the latter is that if he even wins both "b" and "d" pawns
(for free) he will have to trade some pieces and there is a very good chance
that Black reaches an endgame four versus three on the same flank which is an
easy draw. In fact, the presence of double "f" pawns makes the draw easier!}
Rfd8 20. Nd4 {Nothing gives:} (20. Qb1 d4 21. Rxb7 Qa3 22. Nxd4 Nxd4 23. exd4
Rxd4 $11) 20... Kg7 21. Re1 {In the light of the above-mentioned I have the
feeling that White should have tried to play for more with} (21. Bd3 Nxd4 22.
exd4 {although I do not really see a way for White to capture both "b" and "d"
pawns for free.}) 21... Nxd4 22. Qxd4 Bf5 $1 {[%csl Gg7][%cal Gf5g6,Rb7b5,
Rb5b4,Rb4b3,Rb3b2,Rb2b1] Diagram [#] Now Caruana practically takes away the
loss as a possible result from the board. The only one who can play for the
win in the endgame is black.} 23. Rxd5 Rxd5 24. Qxd5 Be4 25. Qd1 Qb4 26. Rf1
Ra2 27. Qd7 {There are still problems for White in the line:} (27. Bf3 b5 28.
Bxe4 Qxe4 29. Qb3 Qa4 30. Qd5 Ra1 $15) 27... Bg6 {The position of the black
king is secured and the "b" pawn is quite fearsome thanks to the support of
all the black pieces.} 28. Bf3 b5 29. h4 $1 {[%csl Yg7][%cal Gh4h5] Diagram [#]
So tries to open the king again to saveguard a draw.} (29. Bc6 Rb2 {followed
by Rb2-b1 seems bad for White.}) 29... Rd2 (29... Qxh4 30. Qxb5 $11) 30. Qh3 h5
31. Qg3 ({Black still pushing after} 31. g4 hxg4 32. Bxg4 Qc5 (32... Be4) (
32... Kh6)) 31... Qd6 {In the coming time trouble Caruana decided to
completely secure himself. In the line} (31... Qc5 32. Ra1 b4 33. Qb8 b3 $4 34.
Ra8 {Black gets under mating attack all of a sudden.}) 32. Qxd6 Rxd6 33. Rd1
Rb6 {Black's active pieces are his main advantage.} (33... Rxd1+ 34. Bxd1 {
is a draw.}) 34. e4 {Since the bishop cannot be blocked, it made sense to
bring the white one out first with} (34. Bd5 $5 b4 35. Bb3 Rc6 36. Rd4 Rc1+ 37.
Kh2 Rb1 38. Bd5 ({Not} 38. Rxb4 Bc2) 38... Rb2 ({And not} 38... b3 $2 39. Rb4
b2 40. Ba2) 39. Kg3 Bf5 $11) 34... b4 35. Rd2 f5 36. exf5 Bxf5 37. Bxh5 b3 38.
Rb2 Bc2 {[%csl Yb2][%cal Rb6a6,Ra6a2,Ra2b2] Diagram [#] The white rook is
trapped and Black intends Rb6-a6-a2 trapping it.} 39. Bf3 (39. Kf1 $2 {loses to
} Ra6) (39. Be2 Rb4 {will win the pawn easier.}) 39... Rb5 $1 {A clever way to
win the "h" pawn.} (39... Ra6 40. Bd5 {gves nothing to Black here.}) 40. Be2
Rb4 41. Bf3 Rxh4 42. Bd5 Rb4 {Caruana won the pawn back and managed to keep
the rook on b2 locked, but the reduced material allows a chance to So to
defend.} 43. Kf1 f5 44. Ke2 Kf6 45. f4 $1 {[%csl Yf5][%cal Gg2g4] Diagram [#]
Stops the black king and fixes the pawn on f5 in order to swap it off.} Ke7 (
45... Rxf4 46. Bxb3 $11) 46. Bg8 Kf8 47. Bd5 Kg7 48. Ke3 (48. g3 {is also
possible.}) 48... Kg6 49. Bf3 Kf6 50. Bd5 {So is patient and this is good. The
hasty} (50. g4 $6 {leads to trouble after} fxg4 51. Bxg4 Re4+ 52. Kf3 $2 Ra4 $1
$19) 50... Kg6 51. Bf3 Rc4 52. g4 {Diagram [#] Now it is good. Although White
can also hold after} (52. Bd5 Rc3+ 53. Kd4 Rd3+ 54. Ke5) 52... Rc3+ 53. Kf2 Bd3
54. Bd1 Bc4 55. Ke1 Rg3 (55... fxg4 56. Bxg4 Rg3 57. Bd1 {would be similar to
the game.}) 56. Kf2 Rh3 57. Ke1 Be6 58. Re2 (58. gxf5+ Kxf5 59. Kd2 {should be
OK too.}) 58... Bc4 59. Rb2 Kf6 60. Kd2 Rd3+ 61. Kc1 Rc3+ 62. Kd2 Rg3 63. gxf5
Kxf5 64. Kc1 Kxf4 65. Rh2 Ke3 66. Kb2 {Now that the king made it to the "b"
pawn the draw is unavoidable.} Kd4 67. Rh4+ Kc5 68. Ka3 Bd5 69. Rh5 Kd4 70.
Rxd5+ {Diagram [#] Stirring the game into theoretical draw. The white king is
where it is needed-in the correct corner.} Kxd5 71. Bxb3+ Kd4 72. Kb2 Rg2+ 73.
Ka1 Kc3 74. Ba2 Rg7 75. Bb1 Rb7 76. Ba2 Kc2 77. Bd5 {The only danger for the
defender in this endgame is to keep his bishop too close to the enemy king.} (
77. Bc4 $4 Rb1+ 78. Ka2 Rb4 {[%csl Rc2,Yc4,Rd3][%cal Rc4d3] Diagram [#] loses
only because the white bishop cannot give a check to the black king.}) 77...
Re7 (77... Rb1+ 78. Ka2 Rb5 79. Be4+ $11 {is the crucial difference in
comparison to the previous line.}) 78. Bg8 Re1+ 79. Ka2 Rh1 80. Bd5 Rh4 81.
Bb3+ Kc3 82. Be6 Rf4 83. Bg8 Rf2+ 84. Kb1 Rb2+ 85. Ka1 Kc2 86. Bh7+ Kc1 87. Bg8
Rb1+ 88. Ka2 Rb8 89. Bf7 Rb2+ 90. Ka1 Rb7 91. Bd5 Ra7+ 92. Ba2 Kc2 {Diagram [#]
} 1/2-1/2



Tricks and Traps in the Opening QID

A couple of weeks ago when browsing through the live tournaments I bumped into this short game played by a former teammate of mine.
The Queens Indian Defense has a reputation of very solid opening, especially from White's perspective.
Still miniatures are possible and one should be very careful not to violate the opening principles. In particular- to try and hide his/her king as quick as possible.


Modern Chess 2

As I promised you a month ago, here comes the second part of the wonderful course by GM Gavrikov about the isolated pawn for "Modern Chess".
“Modern chess” is a magazine of educational type, publishing Grandmaster’s lectures concerning all the stages of the chess game – opening, middlegame and endgame. The articles are interrelated, each one of them being a part of a comprehensive course on a specific topic. Besides the opportunity to read the magazine in PDF, you are offered an interactive version, accessible from the web site.
Therefore, “Modern chess” is a digital educational platform, suitable for anyone who has the ambition to improve his knowledge on the chess game. For more information about Modern Chess Magazine, please visit it here.
We now continue with the typical plans for the side owing the isolani:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Nottingham"]
[Site "Nottingham"]
[Date "1936.08.25"]
[Round "13"]
[White "Botvinnik, Mikhail"]
[Black "Vidmar, Milan Sr"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D40"]
[Annotator "GM Viktor Gavrikov"]
[PlyCount "47"]
[EventDate "1936.08.10"]
[EventRounds "15"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]

{2) Advance of the "f" pawn The advance of the "f" pawn is another standard
approach in positions with an isolated queen's pawn. In order to make easier
the understanding of this idea, I can make a parallel with the knight
sacrifice on "f7" which was examined in our previous article. As some of you
may recall, there are three necessary condition to make a knight sacrifice on
"f7" - White's white-squared bishop must be on the "a2 - g8" diagonal, Black's
white-squared bishop must not be on the "c8 - h3" diagonal and there must be a
considerable pressure along the "e" file. However, sometimes only the first
two conditions are met ( very often the rook is not on "e1", but on "f1"). In
such situations, the side which plays with "isolani" can't sacrifice his
knight on "f7", because there are is no pressure allong the "e" file. In this
type of positions, the idea to advance the "f" pawn by f2-f4-f5 becomes very
attractive. This idea has two main goals: - activate the rook on "f1" - weaken
the "a2-g8" diagonal On of the biggest advocates of the plan connected with
the "f" pawn advance is the creator of the Soviet chess school, the World
champion Mikhail Botvinnik. As an example, I am going to examine one of his
games in which he executed the abovementioned plan in a very instructive
manner.} 1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. Nc3 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Bd3
c5 8. O-O cxd4 9. exd4 dxc4 10. Bxc4 Nb6 11. Bb3 Bd7 12. Qd3 {[%cal Ga1d1,
Gf3e5,Gd3h3,Gb3c2] Diagram [#] Mikhail Botvinnik goes for his favourite plan
in such kind of positions - Ne5, Bc2 and Qh3. Black has to be very precise, in
order not to find himself in a big trouble.} Nbd5 {It's understandable that
Black want's to block the "d4" pawn as soon as possible. However, his last
move is not flexible enoughe, because by playing in this way, he shows his
cards too early. Now, nothing can stop White from building his attack on the
kingside.} ({Black could have tried the move} 12... Bc6 {, but even in this
case, he doesn't manage to solve his problems. Let's see how the game could
continue:} 13. Bc2 g6 14. Ne5 Rc8 15. Rad1 a6 16. Rfe1 Nbd5 {Diagram [#]} 17.
Bb3 $1 {A key move! Remember that when your opponent closes the "b1 - h7"
diagonal by means of g7-g6, your light-squared bishop must be relocated to the
"a2 - g8" diagonal.} b5 18. Qh3 {[%cal Gg5h6,Ge5f7] Diagram [#] The queen
occupies it's optimal position. Now, as you can easily see, all the conditions
for a knight sacrifice on "f7" are met - White's light-squared bishop is
situated on the important "a2 - g8" diagonal, while Black's light-squared
bishop is not on the diagonal "c8 - h3". Moreover, the pressure along the "e"
file is very strong. Now, white is threatening to play 19.Bh6 followed by N:f7
and Q:e6. Here, I would like to bring to your attention some possible lines
which illustrate White's attacking ressources in such kind of positions.} Qd6 {
This move is designed to parry White's direct threats. Even though, given the
fact that White is ahead in development and his peaces are more active, he
could go for a symmetrical pawn structure. Also, the weakened Black's kingside
favours this transition.} ({The move} 18... Bb7 $2 {loses on the spot, because
of} 19. Bh6 Re8 $140 20. Nxf7 $18) ({Now, after the careless} 18... Nxc3 $2 19.
bxc3 Bd5 20. Bh6 Re8 {White has at his disposal an original mating idea:} 21.
Nxf7 $1 Kxf7 $140 $2 22. Qxe6+ Bxe6 23. Bxe6# {Diagram [#]}) 19. Nxc6 Rxc6 20.
Nxd5 exd5 (20... Nxd5 $2 21. Bxd5) 21. Re5 {White has a pair of bishops,
controls the open "e" file and exercises a considerable pressure against the
weak "d5" pawn. His advantage is undisputable.}) ({The move} 12... Nfd5 {
is clearly better. Black tries to exchange as much pieces as possible.}) 13.
Ne5 Bc6 14. Rad1 Nb4 ({Even in this position, Black could have tried to
provoke some exchanges, but White is still able to go for a favourable version
of the symmetrical pawn structure:} 14... Nh5 15. Bxd5 Bxd5 16. Bxe7 Qxe7 17.
Nxd5 exd5 18. Rfe1 $14 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#] Despite of the simplifications,
white retains some edge due to the activity of his peaces.}) 15. Qh3 Bd5 ({
Now, the move} 15... Nfd5 {could be met by} 16. Bc1 {Diagram [#] In this
position, the awkwardly placed "Nb4" makes Black's life difficult. At the same
time, White is very well prepared for the advance of his "f" pawn - he
controls the "a2 - g8" diagonal, whereas Black's light-squared bishop is not
on the "c8-h3" diagonal.}) 16. Nxd5 Nbxd5 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#] The
exchange of the light-squared bishops always favours white. It's important to
point out that when black's light-squared bishop is not on the board, the
advance of the "f" pawn becomes much more dangerous, because after the
weakening} 17. f4 $1 {Diagram [#] Now, the f4-f5 threat becomes obvious.} Rc8 (
{The move} 17... g6 $2 {Loses on the spot, because of} 18. Bh6 Re8 19. Ba4 $18)
({White is winning effectively.} 17... Ne4 $2 18. Nxf7 $1 Kxf7 (18... Rxf7 19.
Qxe6 $18) 19. Rde1 $18) 18. f5 exf5 $2 {After this move, White's attack is
unstoppable.} ({Even though, their position is already very difficult, Black
should have played} 18... Qd6 $16) 19. Rxf5 Qd6 $2 {Last mistake in a
difficult position. However, we can hardly come up with a better suggestion.} (
19... Rc7 20. Rdf1 a6 $140 $2 (20... Nb6 21. Be3 (21. Qh4) 21... Qd6 $140 $2
22. Qg3 $18 {[%cal Ge3h6] Diagram [#]}) 21. Nxf7 $1 Rxf7 22. Bxd5 Nxd5 23. Rxf7
Bxg5 24. Qe6 $18) 20. Nxf7 $1 {Diagram [#] After this effective strike, the
game is over.} Rxf7 21. Bxf6 Bxf6 (21... Nxf6 22. Rxf6 $18 {[%cal Gh3c8]
Diagram [#]}) 22. Rxd5 Qc6 23. Rd6 Qe8 24. Rd7 1-0

The next plan is the advance of the "h" pawn:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "URS-ch FL"]
[Site "Yerevan"]
[Date "1955.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Kotov, Alexander"]
[Black "Khalilbeili, Sultan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E57"]
[Annotator "GM Viktor Gavrikov"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r1bq1rk1/1p2nppp/p3pb2/8/3PQB2/P4N2/BP3PPP/3R1RK1 w - - 0 17"]
[PlyCount "51"]
[EventDate "1955.??.??"]
[EventRounds "21"]
[EventCountry "URS"]

{Diagram [#] 3) Advance of the "h" pawn As the reader already knows, when we
play with an isolani, our long-term plan is to launch a kingside attack. In
some positions, however, despite of the fact that our pieces are transferred
to the kingside, we don't manage to create any serious threats against the
opponent's king. Most often, this is explained by the lack of weaknesses in
our opponent's camp. A classical way to deal with a pawn fortress is to strike
with our own pawns. In this line of thoughts, the only pawn that we can
advance, without exposing our king to possible dangers, is the "h" pawn. Very
often this pawn is some kind of "kamikaze" that sacrifices his life in order
to clear the way for the other pieces. It's important to mention that the
march of the "h" pawn is much more effective when our opponeng had already
played the move g7-g6. Generally, we can provoke that advance by putting our
queen and bishop on the "b1 - h7" diagonal. All the typical attacking ideas
connected with the advance of the "h" pawn are perfectly illustrated in the
classical game "Alexander Kotov - Sultan Khalilbeili played in 1955. In the
diagram position, White can't make use of the typical ideas that we have
already examined. Moreover, I don't see a way to increase the pressure created
by our pieces. That's why Kotov decides to go for the advance of his "h" pawn.
} 17. h4 $1 Bd7 18. Bb1 $1 {[%csl Rh7] Diagram [#] Diagram [#] A very precise
move! As I have already mentionned, White tries to provoke the move g7-g6
after which his "h" pawn enters the fight with a great effect.} g6 19. Be5 $1 {
[%csl Yf6,Yf8,Yg7,Yh6,Yh8] Diagram [#] Important idea! After the exchange of
the dark-squared bishops, White can make use of Black's weaknesses. At the
same time, the queen is ready to be transferred to the kingside.} ({Premature
is} 19. h5 {, because Black has at his disposal the natural} Bc6 {and white
queen is forced to go backwards.}) 19... Nd5 20. h5 Qe7 21. Qg4 Rfd8 22. Rfe1 {
White has an obvious pressure - the opposition along the "e" file is very
dangerous and the pawn on "g6" is a critical point.} Rac8 23. Nd2 {White goes
for a dubious manoeuvre. He is planning to provoke the exchange of the
dark-squared bishops by means of Ne4, but that threat could be parried quite
easily.} Ba4 24. Rc1 Bg7 $1 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#] Here is the problem! It
becomes clear that to move Ne4 will be met by the simple f7-f5.} 25. Nf3 Be8 $2
{This passive move gives White the possibility to compensate his previous
mistake.} ({More precise was} 25... Rxc1 26. Rxc1 Bb5 $132 {[%cal Gb5e2] With
a counterplay. Black is threatening to play Be2.}) 26. Rxc8 Rxc8 27. Ba2 $1 {
[%cal Ga2d5] Diagram [#] Diagram [#] Just in time! The light-squared bishop
has no work anymore on the "b1 - h7" diagonal. Due to the unprotected position
of Rc8, White is currently threatening to take the knight. The oppoisition
along the "e" file is also very annoying.} Nf6 28. Qh4 Bc6 29. hxg6 hxg6 30.
Ng5 {Diagram [#] A picturesque position! The "h" pawn has completed it's
mission. Now, White's attack is more dangerous than ever.} Bd5 $2 {A mistake
in a very difficult position. However, white can go for rook transfer to the
kingside against pretty much everything.} (30... Re8 31. Re3 $40 {With a
dangerous attack.}) 31. Bxd5 exd5 {White has a fantastic version of the
symmetrical pawn structure. Their attack is unstoppable. I leave the rest of
the game without comments.} 32. Re3 $1 {Diagram [#]} Qd7 ({Or} 32... Qd8 33.
Bxf6 (33. Rf3) 33... Qxf6 34. g3 {[%cal Ge3f3]} Qd6 (34... Qxd4 35. Qh7+ Kf8
36. Rf3 $18) 35. Qh7+ Kf8 36. Nxf7 Kxf7 37. Rf3+ Qf6 38. Rxf6+ Kxf6 39. Qh4+
$18) 33. Bxf6 Bxf6 34. Qh7+ Kf8 35. Ne6+ $1 {Diagram [#]} Qxe6 36. Rxe6 fxe6
37. Qxg6 $18 Ke7 38. Qh7+ Kd6 39. Qxb7 Rc1+ 40. Kh2 Bxd4 41. Qb4+ Bc5 42. Qf4+

There will be part 3 of this article where we shall see what one needs to do when playing against the isolani. Until then, do not forget to use the promo code dbojkov for 15 % discount on any of the products of "Modern Chess".


Two First-Class Knights

Today's video is featuring an extremely beautiful endgame study, freshly made in my own town Shumen, Bulgaria. The name of the composer-Petromir Panaiotov is worth remembering. Enjoy!


Anand back in Business

After a bad performance in Gibraltar the former world champion Vishy Anand is in his element in Zurich. First he did well at the blitz event, sharing the second place and defeating the sole winner Hikaru Nakamura. Yesterday was even better for him after a convincing start of the rapid part of the event. First there was a blitz-krieg against Aronian:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Zürich Chess Challenge 2016"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.02.13"]
[Round "1.3"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Aronian, Levon"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2784"]
[BlackElo "2792"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "37"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:28:15"]
[BlackClock "0:23:36"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Nc3 {[%csl Gc3,Gc6,Gf3,Gf6] Diagram [#] One
more way to avoid the Berlin- just get into the Four Knights.} Bd6 {A fighting
move. Aronian avoids the heavily explored lines after} (4... Bb4) ({Or} 4...
Nd4 {which both have somewhat drawish reputation.}) 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 Re8 {
One of Black's plans is to transfer the knight to g6 and go for regroupment
with c7-c6 and Bd6-c7. The immediate} (6... Ne7 {however allows the highly
entertaining} 7. Nxe5 Bxe5 8. d4 d6 9. dxe5 dxe5 10. Be3 {with advantage for
White in Michiels,B (2462) -Stefanova,A (2527) Antwerp 2009}) 7. a3 h6 8. Bc4
Bc5 9. Be3 Bxe3 (9... d6 {looks more solid.}) 10. fxe3 {[%csl Yf7,Rg8][%cal
Gf1f7,Gc4f7,Gf3h4,Gh4f5,Rd1f3,Rd1e1,Re1g3] Diagram [#] Now that the "f" file
has been opened White's plan is crystal-clear- Nf3-h4-f5 followed by either
Qd1-f3 or sometimes Qd1-e1-g3 and mate on the kingside.} d6 11. Nh4 ({Also
good is} 11. Qe1 Ne7 12. Nh4 c6 13. Qg3 {with kingside attack in Bicho,
N-Santos,A Aveiro 2003}) 11... Be6 $146 {This is Black's best bet but his
position remains highly suspicious after Anand's reply.} ({The only
predecessor saw:} 11... Na5 $2 {When instead of White could have won with the
beautiful} 12. Bxf7+ $3 {Diagram [#]} Kxf7 13. Qh5+ Kg8 (13... Kf8 14. Rxf6+
Qxf6 (14... gxf6 15. Qxh6+ Kf7 16. Qh7+ Kf8 (16... Ke6 17. Nd5 Nc6 18. Nf5 {
and Black is helpless.}) 17. Ng6#) 15. Rf1) 14. Rxf6 $1 gxf6 (14... Qxf6 15.
Qxe8+) 15. Qg6+ Kf8 16. Qh7 Re6 17. Nf5 Ke8 18. Nd5 $18 {[%csl Ya5,Ya8,Rc7,Yc8,
Yd8,Ye6,Re8][%cal Rd5c7] Diagram [#] and Black cannot parry the threat Nd5xc7+!
}) 12. Nf5 $1 {The knight on f5 is more important than any double pawns on the
"c" file. There will be no endgame!} Bxc4 ({Or} 12... Bxf5 13. Rxf5 {when
White proceeds with his kingside attack and the attempt to bring fresh
defenders with} Ne7 {fails to} 14. Rxf6 $1 gxf6 15. Qh5 Rf8 16. Qxh6 $18) 13.
dxc4 Kh7 14. Qf3 {Diagram [#] The outcome of the opening battle is a failiure
for Aronian. On the top of that he blunders.} Nb8 $2 ({Black is usually trying
to bring a pawn on f6 in these positions. However} 14... Ng8 {will be strongly
met with} 15. c5 $1 ({It is too early for} 15. Nxg7 Kxg7 16. Qxf7+ Kh8) 15...
dxc5 16. Rad1 {with clear edge for White after} Qg5 17. Rd7 Qg6 18. Rxc7 {
[%csl Gc7,Gf1,Gf3,Gf5] Diagram [#]} ({Or} 18. Nd5)) 15. Nxh6 $1 {[%csl Yh7]
Diagram [#] A deadly blow! It is highly unusual to see a top GM losing that
quickly, albeit in a rapid game.} Kxh6 ({Or} 15... gxh6 16. Qxf6 Qxf6 17. Rxf6
{with certain loss in the endgame.}) 16. Qh3+ Kg6 ({Since} 16... Nh5 {loses to
both} 17. g4 ({And} 17. Rxf7 {is very convincing too.}) 17... g6 18. gxh5) 17.
Rf3 Nh5 18. Rf5 $1 {Diagram [#] The final touch.} Nf6 (18... Rh8 19. Qg4+ Kh6
20. Rxh5#) 19. Qh4 {Aronian resigned just a move before the mate.} 1-0

Then came a devilish trick against Giri:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Zurich Chess Challenge 2016"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.02.13"]
[Round "2.2"]
[White "Giri, Anish"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2798"]
[BlackElo "2784"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "92"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:02:42"]
[BlackClock "0:06:21"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. c3 a6 7. a4 O-O 8. Re1 h6
({A fresh game saw} 8... Ba7 9. Na3 h6 10. Nc2 Re8 11. Be3 Be6 12. Bxe6 Rxe6
13. Bxa7 Rxa7 14. d4 exd4 15. Nfxd4 Nxd4 16. Qxd4 Ra8 {with approximate
equality, So,W (2773)-Mamedyarov,S (2747) Wijk aan Zee 2016}) 9. h3 Be6 10.
Bxe6 fxe6 {[%csl Rf2][%cal Gd8e8,Ge8g6,Rf6h5,Rh5f4,Rf8f2,Rc5f2] Diagram [#]
Funnily, Anand is trying to achieve similar position to the one he had against
Aronian the round before with reversed colours!} 11. Be3 Bxe3 $146 {The
simplest and strongest move.} ({The predecessor saw Black getting into some
trouble after:} 11... Ba7 12. Bxa7 Rxa7 13. d4 (13. b4 $5) 13... exd4 14. cxd4
e5 15. Nc3 $14 {[%csl Gd4,Ge4] Diagram [#] Duexmann,M (1060)-Fraenzel,M (1495)
Solingen 2005}) 12. Rxe3 Qd7 (12... Nh5 {is premature due to the standard trick
} 13. Nxe5 $1) ({But} 12... Qe8 {is perfectly playable.}) 13. Nbd2 ({Normally
White will be happy to advance in the center, but} 13. d4 {allows} exd4 14.
cxd4 d5 15. e5 Ne4 $11) 13... Qf7 14. g3 (14. b4 $5 {Diagram [#] to exapand on
the queenside makes sense as well.}) 14... Nd7 15. Kg2 a5 $1 {[%csl Gb4][%cal
Ga5b4] Diagram [#] Anand can be happy with the opening, he equalized
comfortably.} 16. Qc2 Nc5 17. Rf1 Qd7 18. b3 Ne7 (18... Rf7 {is more obvious,
but Anand's move is more concrete.}) 19. Nc4 b5 {[%csl Rb3] Diagram [#] The
point behind Black's play. He gets counterplay against the b3 pawn.} 20. axb5
Qxb5 21. Rb1 Nc6 22. Ncd2 Rab8 23. d4 {Giri is trying to reduce the pressure
against the b3 pawn.} Nd7 (23... exd4 24. Nxd4 Qb7 25. Nxc6 Qxc6 26. b4 {
is somewhat better for White instead.}) 24. dxe5 Ndxe5 25. Nd4 {Safer was} (25.
Nxe5 Qxe5 26. f4 Qc5 27. Qd3 Qb5 28. Qxb5 Rxb5 {Diagram [#] with approximate
equality.}) 25... Nxd4 26. cxd4 Nc6 27. Qc3 Qb6 {Now the weaknesses are
leveling themselves. The black pawns on c7 and a5 do not look too good, but
neither do d4 and b3 in White's camp.} 28. Nf3 Nb4 29. Qc4 Rbe8 30. Rc1 Rf7 31.
Nd2 $6 {A serious inaccuracy. Correct was:} (31. Ne1 $1 {when} Ref8 32. Qxe6 {
may lead to a sweet draw after} d5 $1 33. exd5 (33. Qxb6 $2 Rxf2+ {is bad for
White.}) 33... Qxe6 34. dxe6 Rxf2+ 35. Kg1 Rf1+ 36. Kh2 R8f2+ 37. Ng2 Rxc1 38.
e7 {Diagram [#]} Rf8 39. exf8=Q+ Kxf8 $11) 31... Ref8 32. f4 $2 {One
inaccuracy leads to a serious mistake.} ({This time} 32. Qxe6 $2 {was bad for
White as the knight on d2 is hanging} d5 $1 33. exd5 Qxe6 34. dxe6 Rxf2+) ({
However} 32. Rf1 $1 {was correct when the game would have remained
approximately even.}) 32... e5 $1 {[%csl Yd4,Re3,Yf4,Rg2] Diagram [#] Anand
immediately spots a tactical possibility and nets a pawn.} 33. Nf3 (33. f5 exd4
) (33. fxe5 d5 $1) 33... exf4 34. gxf4 d5 $1 {[%csl Yc4,Ye4,Rg2] Diagram [#]
And sacrifices is back for activity. The real problem for Giri is not the pawn,
but the horrendous situation of his king.} 35. exd5 Qd6 36. Ne5 Rxf4 37. Kg1 {
The pawn on c7 is taboo due to the knight fork} (37. Qxc7 Qxc7 38. Rxc7 Nxd5
$19 {[%csl Yc7,Ye3] Diagram [#]}) 37... Kh7 (37... Nxd5 38. Rg3 {is less clear.
}) 38. Rg3 R8f5 39. Rg4 {Once more the c7 pawn is invincible:} (39. Qxc7 Rf1+
40. Kh2 R5f2+ 41. Rg2 Qf6 $19 {[%csl Rh2] Diagram [#]}) 39... Qf6 {Anand
energetically conducts the attack.} 40. Rxf4 Rxf4 41. Rf1 Qg5+ 42. Kh2 Re4 43.
Nf3 ({Slightly more resilent is} 43. Rg1 {but this should also lose say after}
Qf4+ 44. Kh1 Qf5 45. Kh2 Re3 46. Qf1 Qxf1 47. Rxf1 Rxb3 $19) 43... Qf4+ {
Diagram [#]} 44. Kg2 Re3 45. Qc1 Re2+ 46. Kh1 Qg3 0-1



Modern Chess 2

The second part of the IQP survey features two beautiful games annotated again by the prominent player and coach Viktor Gavrikov for "Modern Chess."
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Pecs-A"]
[Site "Pecs"]
[Date "1976.09.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Honfi, Karoly"]
[Black "Dorfman, Josif D"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D42"]
[WhiteElo "2460"]
[BlackElo "2405"]
[Annotator "GM Viktor Gavrikov"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[EventDate "1976.09.20"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "HUN"]
[EventCategory "6"]

{Dear readers, In the present issue of "Modern Chess", we continue to examine
the positions with "isolani". The first artcile of the course was designed to
deal with three of the most important attacking possibilities in such
positions - rook transfer to the kingside, knight sacrifice on "f7" square and
pushing of the isolated pawn. In this article, I am going to bring to your
attention another three fundamental attacking ideas for the side which plays
with an isolated queen's pawn - transition into symmetrical pawn structure,
advance of the "f" pawn and advance of the "h" pawn. 1) Transition into
symmetrical pawn structure The transition into symmetrical pawn structure is a
topic, the importance of which is often underestimated in the chess
litterature. Such transition can arise in positions where the piece which
blockades the isolated pawn is exchanged. When we play a position with an
"isolani", the possibility of transition into symmetrical pawn structure after
an exchange on "d5" ( "d4" ) is always in the air and we should consider it in
every moment. That's why we are obliged to examine a new pawn structure, even
though it doesn't seem to have anything in common with the isolated pawn.
Under what circumstances we should give preference to the symmetrical pawn
structure? That is the question I am most often confronted to, when explaining
the present topic to my students. Despite of the fact that the answer is
rather complex, I will point out some general directions. Those of you who
have read the first article of the course know that when we play with an
isolated pawn, our long-term plan is to launch a kingside attack. According to
the basic chess principles, side attacks are successful when the situation in
the center is stable. In the same line of thoughts, the transition into
symmetrical pawn structure favours the side which is planning to attack the
opponent's king. On the other hand, in positions with symmetrical pawn
structure, our typical space advantage doesn't exist anymore. Moreover, there
are is no pressure on the "e" file. In order to use the advantages of the
symmetrical pawn structure, we shoul be ahead in the developpement and our
pieces must be more active. Only in these cases, we can organize a strong
kingside attack which compensates the fact that the space advantage is lost.
Also, it's important to mention that the transposition to symmetrical pawn
structure is generally favourable when the opponent's kingside is weakened.
The abovementioned ideas are brilliantly illustrated by the game Honfi -
Dorfman played in 1976. Let's take a look at that instructive game. The
position we are interested in arises after the moves:} 1. c4 c6 2. e4 d5 3.
exd5 cxd5 4. cxd5 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nxd5 6. Nf3 e6 7. d4 Nc6 8. Bd3 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10.
Re1 {[%csl Re5,Re6,Re7,Re8][%cal Gf1e1] Diagram [#] Diagram [#] The diagram
position is extremely popular and can arise from many opening variations. As
an example, we can point out Panov attack in Caro-Kann defence, Semi-Tarrasch
defence, Alapin variation in Sicilian defence and etc. That's why the deep
understanding of that position helps us to improve our opening repertoire.} Bf6
{The idea of Black's last move is to free the "e7" square for the knight.
Afterwards, black is planning to strengthen the control over the key "d5"
square by playing moves like b6 and Bb7 or even Bd7 - c6. In general, one of
the main problems for Black consists in finding a suitable square for the "c6"
knight. Even though Black has managed to solve the abovementionned problem,
his last move has one very imporant negative side. When there are is no knight
on "f6" square, the "h7" pawn becomes a target in many variations.} ({A
popular alternative is} 10... Nf6 {[%cal Gc6b4,Gb4d5,Gb7b6,Gc8b7] Diagram [#]
Now the kingside is well protected but the "c6" knight has no good squares.
Given the fact that Black's only constructive idea is connected with the
manoeuvre Nb4 - d5, white must play} 11. a3 {[%cal Gd3c2,Gd1d3] Diagram [#]
followed by Q-B attacking set up along the "b1 - h7"diagonal.}) 11. Be4 $1 {
Diagram [#] Very interesting move. In favourable circumstances, White is ready
to enter in a position with a symmetrical pawn structure. In the diagram
position, the positional threat is 12.Qd3 with the idea to provoke weaknesses
on the kingside. As we already know, the weakened kingside is a sign that a
possible transition into a symmetrical pawn structure could be advantageous.}
Nce7 12. a3 Bd7 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#] A doubtful move. Despite of Black's
intention to increase the control over the critical "d5"square by means of 13..
.Bc6, white has some additional possibilities connected with an eventual
transition into a symmetrical pawn structure.} ({It was preferable to continue
with} 12... b6 {[%cal Gc8b7] Now, in any moment, Black is ready to recapture
on "d5" with a piece.}) 13. Qd3 g6 {The most typical reaction in response to
the attack against the "h7" pawn. As we have already pointed out in the first
article of our present course, Black is not advised to play the move h7-h6.
This move not only weakens the "b1 - h7" diagonal, but at the same time bishop
sacrifices on "h6" are always in the air.} 14. Bh6 Bg7 {As a rule, in such
kind of positions, the exchange of the black-squared bishops is in White's
favour. The weak dark squares on the kingside make the tranisition into
symmetrical pawn structure extremely tempting.} ({Better was} 14... Re8 {
In this position, white should probably go for the plan conected with the
advance of the "h"pawn.}) 15. Bxg7 Kxg7 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#]} 16. Bxd5 $1 {
Just in the right moment! This exchange is necessary, because everything is
ready for the change of the structure - White is ahead in development and
their pieces are more active, whereas the Black's kindside is very weak.} Nxd5
17. Nxd5 exd5 18. Qb3 Bc6 {[%csl Yc6,Gf3] Diagram [#] Diagram [#] A typical
middlegame position has arised. White can already claim a clear advantage.
Their knight dominates Black's bishop which is restricted by his own pawns. In
adition, we should mention that White's plan is extremely clear - after
putting his knight on the important "e5" square, white can proceed with
doubling his rooks along the "e" file. Later, the queen must be transferred to
the kingside with the idea to execute the typical h2-h4-h5 pawn advance. At
the same time, black is doomed to passivity.} 19. Re3 Qd6 20. Rae1 a5 21. Ne5
a4 22. Qd1 Bd7 $6 {[%csl Rg7] Diagram [#] Diagram [#] Black's idea is to
relocate the bishop, but they waste too much time.} ({Maybe it was better to
play} 22... Rfe8 {, but even in that case, white can proceed with his initial
plan.}) 23. h4 Bf5 24. h5 $1 {[%csl Yg7] Diagram [#] When White's pawn reaches
the "h5" squre, Black's king is always in potential danger. Now only the queen
must enter the attack.} Qb6 25. Qd2 {Diagram [#] The "d2" square is very
suitable for White's queen. From here, the queen not only protects "b2" and
"d4" pawns, but at the same time is ready to use the weak dark squares in
Black's camp. A possible idea is the advance g2-g4 followed by Rh3, h:g6 and
Qh6.} f6 $2 {Diagram [#] Mistake in a difficult position.} 26. Nd7 $5 {The
right idea is executed in a wrong way. Now, with a precise play, Black can
enter a Queen endgame where he is only a pawn down.} ({White should have
played the precise} 26. Ng4 $1 {[%csl Yg7,Rh6][%cal Rd2h6,Re3e7] Diagram [#]
Diagram [#] In this position, we should consider the following forced sequence:
} Bxg4 (26... g5 $2 27. Re7+ Kh8 28. Nh6 $18) (26... Rf7 $2 27. Re8 $18) 27.
Re7+ Rf7 28. Rxf7+ Kxf7 29. Qh6 Rg8 30. Qxh7+ Rg7 31. hxg6+ Kf8 32. Qh8+ Rg8
33. Re8+ Kxe8 34. Qxg8+ Kd7 35. Qf7+ Kd6 36. g7 Be6 37. Qxf6 Kc7 38. Qe7+ Kc8
39. g3 Bg8 40. Qe8+ Qd8 41. Qxa4 {Diagram [#] White has four pawns for the
bishop. His position is complitely winning.}) 26... Bxd7 27. Re7+ Rf7 28. Rxf7+
Kxf7 29. Qh6 {Diagram [#]} Rg8 $2 {This move loses on the spot.} ({Only the
tenacious} 29... Re8 30. Qxh7+ Kf8 31. Qh8+ Kf7 32. hxg6+ Kxg6 33. Rxe8 Bxe8
34. Qxe8+ Kh6 {could have left some chances of survival.}) 30. Qxh7+ Rg7 31.
hxg6+ Kf8 32. Qh8+ (32. Qh8+ Rg8 33. g7+ $1 {Diagram [#]} Kf7 34. Qh5+ Kxg7 35.
Re7+ {With a mate to follow.}) 1-0

A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Ostend"]
[Site "Ostend"]
[Date "1906.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Rubinstein, Akiba"]
[Black "Burn, Amos"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D40"]
[Annotator "GM Viktor Gavrikov"]
[PlyCount "45"]
[EventDate "1906.??.??"]
[EventCountry "BEL"]

{3) The sacrifice of the knight on “f7” The sacrifice on “f7” is the
last attacking idea, which will be discussed in this issue of our magazine. Of
course, that such a blow on black’s position cannot come from nowhere -
there are certain premises. Our readers should remember that the sacrifice on
“f7” is always followed by the gain of the pawn on “e6”. In order to
achieve this scenario, two conditions need to be met: 1) The white
light-squared bishop must be put on the “a2-g8” diagonal; 2) The black
light-squared bishop must have left the “c8-h3” diagonal. To understand
the practical application of the theoretical concepts mentioned above, we
propose to your attention the match between Rubinstein - Burn, played in
Ostend, in 1906. The position that we are interested in arose after the moves:
} 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Nbd7 5. e3 Be7 6. Bd3 O-O 7. O-O dxc4 8.
Bxc4 c5 9. Qe2 Nb6 10. Bb3 cxd4 11. exd4 Bd7 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#] With his
last move, Black clearly shows the intention to place his light-squared bishop
on the “a8-h1” diagonal. It is obvious that the bishop situated on
“c6”, will place a stable control on the “d5” square. Along with its
advantages, this maneuver hides its own risks. As already mentioned, the
abandonment of the “c8-h3” diagonal weakens the “e6” pawn, which is
under attack by the white bishop on “b3”. This is why Black has to be
extremely careful.} 12. Re1 $1 {[%cal Ge1e8] A great idea of Akiba Rubinstein.
Some of the keenest readers, probably already noticed that as in previous
games, White always places the rook on “d1”. However, the polish chess
virtuoso did not play as usual. Anticipating the future vulnerability of the
“e6” pawn, he decided to the place the heavy pieces on the “e” file.}
Bc6 13. Ne5 $1 {[%csl Re6,Rf7][%cal Re5f7] Diagram [#] Now, at any move, Black
should consider the sacrifice of the knight on “f7”.} Bd5 {Black tries to
neutralize the pressure on the “a2-g8” diagonal. However, the move 13...
Bd5 gives White the opportunity to take the bishop with the knight. In this
situation, Bb3 remained without an opponent and now the sacrifice on “f7”
became even more dangerous. It was better to play 13... Nbd5.} ({The tempting
gain of the pawn} 13... Qxd4 {can be confronted with the thematic sacrifice on
“f7”.} 14. Nxf7 $1 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#]} Rxf7 15. Qxe6 Bd5 (15... Nbd5
$6 16. Be3 Qb4 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 18. Bxd5 Bxd5 19. Qxd5 $16) 16. Nxd5 Nbxd5 (16...
Nfxd5 $2 17. Be3 $18) 17. Be3 Qxb2 18. Rab1 Qa3 19. Bxd5 Nxd5 20. Qxd5 Rd8 21.
Qxb7 Qxa2 22. Qxa7 Qxa7 23. Bxa7 Bb4 24. Rxb4 Rxa7 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#]
Although this position looks to be equal, Black has to work hard in order to
get a draw.}) 14. Nxd5 Nbxd5 {Black took with the right knight. It is
necessary to notice that in this kind of position with an isolated pawn, the
removal of the “Nf6” from the kingside usually portends problems.} ({
Here is one of the variations:} 14... Nfxd5 15. Qg4 {A typical move. From the
“g4” square, the queen not only opposes the black king, but also
intensifies the pressure on the “e6” pawn. Now, is already too late for
the black knight to come back on “f6”:} Nf6 $2 16. Nxf7 $1 {[%csl Rf7,Yg8]
Diagram [#] Diagram [#]} Rxf7 (16... Nxg4 17. Nxd8 $16 {[%cal Gb3e6]}) 17. Qxe6
Nfd5 (17... Nbd5 18. Re5 $16) 18. Re5 $16) 15. Bg5 Rc8 $2 {Diagram [#] Diagram
[#] A very serious mistake, Burn completely ignores white’s tactical threats.
} ({If the white’s next move was predictable, it is more likely that Black
should have defended the pawn on “e6”, by playing} 15... Qd6) 16. Bxf6 $1 {
A known rule - if you exchange one of the interconnected knight, the other one
losses its resistance. Now, at any black’s move, White sacrifices on
“f7”.} Bxf6 {Diagram [#]} (16... Nxf6 $2 17. Nxf7 $1) (16... gxf6 $2 17.
Qg4+ Kh8 18. Nxf7+ $1 Rxf7 19. Qxe6 Rf8 20. Bxd5) 17. Nxf7 $1 {[%csl Rf7]
Diagram [#] The logical conclusion of the Rubinstein’s strategy. The
pressure on the “a2-g8” diagonal is crashing.} Rxf7 18. Qxe6 Bxd4 19. Bxd5
Bxf2+ 20. Kh1 Qf8 21. Rf1 Rc2 22. Rac1 Rxc1 23. Rxc1 {[%csl Rc8,Rf7,Rf8,Rg8]
[%cal Gc1c8,Rd5g8] Diagram [#]} 1-0

If you like hat you see and want to subscribe for "Modern Chess" please, do not forget to use the code dbojkov for 15 % discount of the final price. Greets!


Modern Chess 1

I am glad to present a new chess product, made of my good friends!
“Modern chess” is a magazine of educational type, publishing Grandmaster’s lectures concerning all the stages of the chess game – opening, middlegame and endgame. The articles are interrelated, each one of them being a part of a comprehensive course on a specific topic. Besides the opportunity to read the magazine in PDF, you are offered an interactive version, accessible from the web site.
Therefore, “Modern chess” is a digital educational platform, suitable for anyone who has the ambition to improve his knowledge on the chess game. For more information about Modern Chess Magazine, please visit: http://www.modern-chess.com/en/modern-chess-magazine
I am happy to publish a complete article by GM Gavrikov about the isolated pawn in four parts. Here are the first two games:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "URS-ch sf"]
[Site "Sverdlovsk"]
[Date "1957.??.??"]
[Round "15"]
[White "Polugaevsky, Lev"]
[Black "Lutikov, Anatoly S"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D37"]
[Annotator "GM Viktor Gavrikov"]
[PlyCount "57"]
[EventDate "1957.??.??"]
[EventRounds "19"]
[EventCountry "URS"]

{The attack with an isolated pawn - GM Viktor Gavrikov Dear chess friends,
this article marks the beginning of a training course designed to acquaint the
readers of the magazine "Modern Chess" with one of the most important type of
positions in middlegame - isolated pawn. The importance of this topic is
related to the fact that it can arise from a huge number of openings. Several
examples are Queen’s Gambit, Slav Defense, Tarrasch Defense, New Indian
Defense, Nimzowitsch Defense, Sicilian Defense and many other openings.
Therefore, good knowledge of these positions is necessary for any chess player,
regardless of his repertoire. Our magazine provides a full course of study on
the isolated pawn, which contains three logically linked articles. The first
two published materials focus on the methods of playing with an isolator. This
article will explain in depth the three most important attacking ideas for the
side playing with an isolator, which are - the transfer of the rook on third
horizontal, the movement of the isolated pawn and the sacrifice of the knight
on “f7”. No less important are the techniques, which will we discussed in
the second article of our series - the switch to a symmetric pawn structure
after the exchange on “d5”, the movement of “f” pawn and the movement
of “h” pawn. Once our readers are familiar with the offensive potential of
the isolated pawn, they can move forward to the closing article of the course,
which stresses the methods of playing against such a pawn. 1) The transfer of
the rook on third horizontal For a better understanding of this maneuver, it
is necessary to make some general clarifications. The main advantage of the
isolated pawn is that it provides spatial advantage. While the isolator
controls the “e5” and “c5” squares (respectively “e4” and “c4”)
, they can be perfect outpost for the knights. Another essential advantage is
the possession of the semi-opened line “e” which is often used as a
springboard for the development of an attack against the enemy’s king.
Taking into consideration the above-mentioned advantages, the side playing
with an isolated pawn should seek for attack on the kingside and avoid pieces
exchange. The readers should know that in endgame such a pawn is a weakness
rather than a strength. One of the classic methods of attack is the transfer
of the rook on the kingside. This is maneuver is possible, due to the spatial
advantage, provided by the isolated pawn. We can say that quite often the
isolator acts as a “screen”, behind which the regrouping of the pieces is
performed, aiming to play offensive against the king. A relevant example,
which fully illustrates the idea of the transfer of the rook on the third
horizontal, is the classical game between the two Russian Grandmasters, Lev
Polugaevsky and Anatoli Lutikov, played back in 1957.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3.
Nf3 c5 4. e3 Be7 5. Nc3 O-O 6. Bd3 ({Deserves attention move d4-d5, which
leads to Benoni’s pawn structure, favorable for white:} 6. d5 exd5 7. cxd5 d6
8. e4 $14 {The White’s advantage is due to the fact that the “e7” square
is not suitable for the bishop - in this types of structures the best place is
on the big diagonal.}) 6... d5 7. O-O dxc4 8. Bxc4 Nbd7 {[%cal Ga7a6,Gb7b5,
Gc8b7,Gd8b6,Ga8c8,Gf8d8] Diagram [#] Diagram [#] Very crucial moment! When
Black develops the knight on “d7”, they seek for harmonious development of
the queenside. Their plan includes moves а7-а6, b7-b5, Bb7, Qb6, Rac8 и
Rfd8. However, the early development of the knight on “d7” is premature,
because White can oppose a7-a6 with a2-a4. In that situation, the black knight
will be far from the weakened square “b4”.} ({Therefore, the modern theory
recommends starting with} 8... a6 {[%cal Gb7b5] which aims to cause a2-a4 and
thus weaken the square “b4”. The difference here is that the black knight
is still on “b8” and may move easily to “b4”, from where it does not
only control the “d5” square, but also prevents offensive ideas of white
queen - bishop battery on the “b1- h7” diagonal and the transfer of the
rook on the third line through “d3”.} 9. a4 Nc6 {[%csl Rb4][%cal Gc5d4,
Ge3d4,Gc6b4] Diagram [#] Diagram [#]}) 9. Qe2 {A typical move for queen’s
structure It is obvious that soon enough this will lead to a position with an
isolated pawn and White will start to place its pieces on the best places. The
queen occupied the “e” line, which will become semi-opened after the pawn
exchange, while the rook should be placed on “d1”, where it will create a
dangerous confrontation against black queen.} a6 10. a4 cxd4 11. exd4 Nb6 12.
Bb3 {the best place for the bishop in this kind of positions. The control of
the “d5” square is crucial, when the black knight is on “b6”.} Bd7 13.
Ne5 {Diagram [#]} Be8 $2 {[%csl Ye8,Rf8][%cal Rf8e8] Diagram [#] Very
instructive mistake. The bishop on “e8” disturbs the coordination between
the heavy black pieces and limits the movement of the rook from “f8”.} ({
Black should prefer the following option:} 13... Bc6 14. Nxc6 bxc6 {Diagram [#]
The position that occurred is very interesting and popular, but very often was
incorrectly evaluated. The “c6” + “e6” structure, against “d4” is
called “saw”. It is important to know that this type of structure is
favorable for Black, only if the light-squared bishop is not on “c8”,
otherwise it will become the prisoner of his own pawns. Black also possess the
semi-opened line “b”, which fully compensates white’s couple of bishops.
A very interesting and difficult game to follow.}) 14. Rd1 Nbd5 {Diagram [#]}
15. Rd3 $1 {[%cal Gd3g3,Gg3h3] Diagram [#] White chose the best moment to
transfer the rook on the kingside. It depends on the position where the rook
should be placed, on “g3” or “h3”.} Rc8 16. Rg3 $1 {An important
moment from a practical point of view. When we transfer the rook on the third
horizontal in positions with isolated pawn, it is necessary to choose the
square from which the rook confronts the black king. White threatens Bh6.} Kh8
17. Bg5 Nb4 18. Rd1 {After this move all white pieces are in play. Now it is
time to trigger an attack on the kingside.} Rc7 19. Rh3 $1 {Diagram [#] It is
good to pay attention that the white took is seeking for confrontation against
black king. A real storm will start soon on the kingside!} g6 {With his last
move, Black caused irreparable weaknesses around his king. However, it should
be noticed that it is not easy to find a better move.} ({Obviously,} 19... Kg8
{stumbles across a typical move for this type of position} 20. Ne4 {Diagram [#]
White’s idea is more than logical. He seeks for the exchange of Nf6, which
is the only defender on the kingside. Here is how it could develop:} Nbd5 21.
Nxf6+ Nxf6 22. Qd3 h6 $140 ({After} 22... g6 23. Bh6 {Black rook is blocked.})
23. Bxh6 $1 gxh6 24. Qe3 $18 {Diagram [#] Checkmate is inevitable.}) 20. Qf3 $1
{[%csl Rf6] Diagram [#] Diagram [#] White not only highlights the unstable
position of the knight on “f6”, but also prepares the breakthrough d4-d5.}
Rg8 $2 {A serious mistake in a very hard position.} ({Did not save} 20... Bc6 {
because of} 21. Qe3 {[%cal Gg5f6,Ge3h6] After the exchange on “f6”, the
white queen moves to the “h6” square.}) 21. Ne4 {Undoubtedly the most
natural move. White, however, miss the more elegant and quick win.} ({White
could choose also} 21. d5 $1 {Diagram [#]} exd5 22. Nxd5 Nbxd5 23. Rxd5 $1 Nxd5
$140 24. Rxh7+ $1 Kxh7 25. Qh3+ Kg7 26. Qh6# {Diagram [#] Diagram [#]
Picturesque position!}) 21... Nh5 {Black tries to close the “h” line, but
now the “f7” became exclusively weak.} (21... Nxe4 $2 22. Rxh7+ $1 Kxh7 23.
Qh3+ Kg7 24. Qh6#) 22. Qxf7 $1 {[%csl Rh8] Diagram [#] Diagram [#] The last
shot! Black’s position is falling apart. The rest does not need any comments.
} Bc6 (22... Bxf7 23. Nxf7+ Kg7 24. Nxd8 Rxd8 25. g4 Nf6 26. Bh6+ Kh8 27. Ng5
$18) (22... Bxg5 23. Nxg5 $18) 23. Qxe6 Rg7 24. d5 Bd7 25. Bxe7 Rxe7 26. Qd6
Qe8 27. Nf6 Nxf6 28. Qxf6+ Rg7 29. d6 {Diagram [#]} 1-0

A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Biel Interzonal"]
[Site "Biel"]
[Date "1976.08.04"]
[Round "18"]
[White "Portisch, Lajos"]
[Black "Sosonko, Gennadi"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E57"]
[WhiteElo "2625"]
[BlackElo "2505"]
[Annotator "GM Viktor Gavrikov"]
[PlyCount "49"]
[EventDate "1976.07.??"]
[EventRounds "19"]
[EventCountry "SUI"]
[EventCategory "12"]

{2) The movement of the isolated pawn Considering the spatial advantage and
the reference squares, the isolated pawn provides many other dynamic
possibilities, linked to the movement of the isolator. Here is crucial to ask
a basic question, the answer to which confuses even the experienced chess
players: In which circumstances is necessary to push the isolated pawn?
Although the answer to this question is not obvious, we will try to give a
general rule, easy to understand for everybody: The isolated pawn should be
moved forward, when the side playing with it has development advantage. This
rule is based on the fact that the player, whose pieces are better developed,
seeks to open the position and seize the initiative. Despite this, there are
positions in which the isolated pawn is a weakness and the side playing with
it tries to get rid of it, while pushing. This is usually happening in the
endgame. Now, we would like to give you an example of a game, played by one of
the greatest Hungarian theoretician Lajos Portish.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3
Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 d5 6. Nf3 c5 7. O-O cxd4 8. exd4 dxc4 9. Bxc4 b6 10. Bg5
Bb7 11. Re1 Nc6 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#] This is one of the most popular
position in Rubinstein system in Nimzo-Indian defense. By placing the knight
on “c6”, Black seeks to place pressure on the isolated pawn. However, the
knight is not very well placed on “c6”, because the black’s
light-squared bishop cannot control the “d5” square. All these facts
contribute to the movement of the isolator.} ({Safer is to play:} 11... Bxc3
12. bxc3 Nbd7 {[%cal Gd8c7] followed by £c7. This is a different type of
middlegame position - a pair of isolated pawns “c3”+”d4”. We would
like to notice that this specific pawn structure will be subject to a separate
topic in our magazine.}) 12. a3 {A key move! White prepares to play Bd3, while
preventing Nb4. One the queen is on “d3”, White intends to play Rаd1, in
order to prepare the d4-d5 move or to build a battery on the diagonal
“b1-h7”, using Bа2 - b1 maneuver.} Be7 13. Qd3 {[%cal Ga1d1] Diagram [#]
Diagram [#]} Nh5 $6 {Black made a typical mistake for these positions. With
his last move, Black seeks to exchange the dark-squared bishops, as such 14.
Bxe7 14...Nxe7. As a result, the knight from “h5”, goes to “f6” and
Black totally controls the square “d5”. It should be also noted that the
exchange of the dark-squared bishops diminishes the white’s offensive
potential - as we know, the side playing against the isolated pawn seeks for
the exchange in order to get to the endgame. However, the move 13...Nh5 is
premature, because White is not obliged to the exchange the bishop, he can put
it on “d2”!} ({It was better to choose this order:} 13... h6 14. Bh4 Nh5
15. Bxe7 Nxe7 {[%cal Gh5f6,Ge7d5] followed by Nf6. Black has a full game ahead.
}) 14. Bd2 $1 {Here is the difference! Black not only failed to exchange the
dark-squared bishops, but also removed his horse from the center. “d4-d5”
threat begins to take real shape.} Nf6 ({The gain of the pawn also looked
attractive:} 14... Na5 15. Ba2 Bxf3 $2 16. Qxf3 $1 {[%cal Gf3h5,Gb2b4]} Qxd4 {
Diagram [#] The knight on “h5” is under attack, but black’s position is
still kept together by the unprotected bishop on “d2”. No matter how
strange this looks, but Black loses because of the limited mobility of the
other knight (Nа5).} 17. Rad1 {[%cal Gf3h5] Diagram [#]} Nf6 18. b4 $1 $18 {
Black is defenseless. The knight has nowhere to go - 18...Nс4 is followed by
19.Bf4}) 15. Rad1 Na5 $6 {The beginning of a wrong plan - Black neglects the
development of the heavy pieces, while helping White to implement his idea
(Ba2-b1). It is necessary to point out that by putting the horse on “a5”,
grandmaster Sosonko intended to strengthen the control over the strategically
important square “d5”. However, as we will see later, White has a very
convincing answer.} ({Better was} 15... Rc8) 16. Ba2 Nd5 $2 {Diagram [#] Black
continues to follow his wrong plan - in pursuing his strategical goals, he
forgets about the tactical resources of his opponent. The problem is that we
cannot block an isolated pawn with a piece.} ({Again it was better to play}
16... Rc8) 17. b4 $1 {This specific move escaped Sosonko’s attention.} Nxc3
$2 {Diagram [#] The third and last mistake. Now, the only passive white piece
(Bd2) reaches the big diagonal. White has a huge advantage in development and
he is ready to push d4-d5.} ({It was necessary to choose:} 17... Nc6 18. Nxd5
exd5 {The position has changed again form the structural point of view. On the
board we have the so-called “symmetrical pawn structure”, which will be
discussed in details in the next issue of our magazine. For now, we will say
that in this type of middlegames, the side that has a better development of
the pieces has also the advantage. In the position from the diagram, White has
a very typical attacking idea:} 19. h4 $5 {[%cal Ga2b1,Gg7g6,Gh4h5] Diagram [#]
White intends to play Bb1 and to confront g7-g6 with h4-h5. Of course, before
pushing the “h” pawn, it is advisable to point the weaknesses on the dark
squares on the kingside with ¥h6. Interesting is that the pawn cannot be
gained:} Bxh4 20. b5 Na5 21. Bb4 {Diagram [#]}) 18. Bxc3 Nc6 19. d5 $1 {
[%csl Rd5][%cal Gd1d8,Ge1e8,Gc3h8,Ga2g8] Diagram [#] Diagram [#] When there
are no better places to put your pieces, it is a sign that this is the moment
to push the isolated pawn! The Black’s position is falling apart.} exd5 20.
Bxd5 Qc7 (20... Bf6 21. Qc4 $18 {[%cal Gd5f7,Gd5c6]}) 21. b5 $1 Na5 22. Be5 $1
{Diagram [#] Last accurate move - now the black material losses are inevitable.
} Qc5 (22... Qc8 23. Bxg7 $18) (22... Qd8 23. Bxb7 Nxb7 (23... Qxd3 24. Rxd3
Nxb7 25. Rd7 $18) 24. Qd7 Nd6 25. Qg4 g6 26. Qf4 $18) 23. Bxb7 Nxb7 24. Qd7 Na5
25. Bd4 {Diagram [#]} 1-0

Part 2 of the article will follow soon. I am also happy to announce that you can use the promo code dbojkov for 15 % discount on any of the products of "Modern Chess".