08 June 2014

Annotated Game #126: How to attack?

This third-round tournament game shows again the attacking possibilities of the English Opening on the kingside, even though I did not take the best advantage of them.  After a Grunfeld-type defense from my opponent, I had a small opening advantage which soon turned into equality.  Black, however, did not have any initiative of his own, so it was my ideas (for good or ill) that ended up driving the entire game.

A relatively harmless plan involving the advance of my h-pawn turned into an attacking possibility after Black recaptured with the wrong pawn (18...fxg6?!) and then left his knight in a vulnerable position pinned to his queen.  I was able to whip up some initiative and could have had a serious attack with 21. f4! but focused erroneously on play along the h-file.  After a simple board sight failure led to me passing up the chance to win a pawn, I entered a drawn double-rook endgame.

The analysis illustrates some useful concepts regarding how to attack.  In addition to the above examples, there were more subtle improvements such as 17. Rh1 or earlier opportunities to place the queen on a better square.  The game is also a useful example of how attacking play, even when not particularly threatening, can lead to opportunities being created on the board.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A16"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini"] [PlyCount "55"] {A16: English Opening: 1...Nf6 with ...d5} 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nf3 d5 {a Grunfeld-type idea, although delayed to the point where a transposition is not likely.} 6. cxd5 {played in the overwhelming majority of games; best to immediately challenge Black's center and exchange the flank pawn for a central one.} Nxd5 7. O-O {the normal idea of e4 in the Grunfeld would make little sense here, as White has fianchettoed his bishop already.} Nb6 {Black has several options here. The text move removes the knight from potential danger involving ideas from White that would unmask the Bg2 with a double attack.} 8. d3 {this is the most popular choice, ahead of d4, and avoids giving Black a central target.} c6 {White scores well (62 percent) after this move, which appears to be aimed at neutralizing the Bg2. However, at the same time it takes away the best square for the Nb8.} 9. Bg5 {White would not mind Black kicking the bishop with h6, as he could then retreat it to e3 or d2 and have the h6 pawn as a target.} Na6 $146 {not the ideal knight development.} (9... h6 10. Bd2 Bg4 11. Rb1 Qd7 12. Ne4 Na6 13. b4 Nd5 14. Qc1 Kh7 15. Qc2 Rfc8 16. Rfc1 Be6 17. Qa4 Nb6 18. Qa5 Nd5 19. Qa4 Nb6 20. Qa3 Nd5 21. Rc2 Ndc7 22. Qc1 Bd5 23. Bc3 f6 24. Nc5 {Csom,I (2454)-Bernasek,J (2428) Steinbrunn 2005 1/2-1/2 (50)}) 10. Qc1 {following a standard plan of eliminating the Bg7. The trade is favorable to White, as the Bg7 has more scope than its counterpart and the trade also weakens Black's fianchettoed king position.} (10. Qd2 {is slightly better choice of square, as the queen keeps an eye on the b2 and e2 pawns and allows the queen's rook more mobility. I had been concerned with blocking a possible future Nf3-d2, but here there seems to be no real reason for the knight to want to go to d2.}) 10... Re8 { anticipating and avoiding White's desire to exchange the Bg7.} (10... Bg4 { would make things more awkward for White and allow Black to trade off his light-square bishop, which has few prospects in this pawn structure, for a good White knight.} 11. Bh6 Bxf3 12. Bxf3 Bxh6 13. Qxh6 Qd4 $11) 11. Bh6 (11. Rd1 {activating the rook looks more useful.}) 11... Bh8 12. Rb1 {White has a large number of possibilities here. This may not be the most active choice, as it does nothing for White's play in the center.} Bg4 13. h3 {I wanted to resolve the situation with the bishop as quickly as possible, although the pawn move is not necessary to accomplish this.} (13. Qf4 {is a possibility that would significantly increase the queen's activity.}) 13... Bxf3 14. Bxf3 $11 {White has the pair of bishops, as Houdini notes via the Fritz interface, but not many good targets for them.} Qd7 {an expected threat against h3.} 15. Kg2 {with the idea of clearing the way for a possible Rh1 in the future.} Nc7 { Black slowly activates the knight.} 16. h4 {here I decided to pursue a strategy of prying open Black's king position. Houdini still values play in the center more, with Rd1.} Nbd5 17. h5 (17. Rh1 {as a preparatory move appears better.}) 17... Ne6 18. hxg6 fxg6 $6 {I was surprised at this, since it significantly weakens Black's pawn structure and leaves White a potential target on h7. I also saw it left the Ne6 in trouble.} (18... hxg6 19. Rh1 Nd4 $11) 19. Nxd5 $14 cxd5 20. Bg4 Rac8 $6 {the pin on the knight now causes Black a great deal of difficulty, as the rook move does nothing except force White's queen to a better square.} (20... Qd6 $5 $14 {is worthy of consideration, comments Houdini, immediately breaking the pin.}) 21. Qe3 {simple but effective, continuing to pile on the Ne6.} Kf7 (21... Rc6 22. Rbc1 Ra6 23. Rc7 Qd6 (23... Qxc7 $4 24. Bxe6+ Rxe6 25. Qxe6#) 24. Rxb7 $18) 22. Rh1 $6 { obviously my attacking skills need some work. I erroneously focused on targeting the h7 pawn, rather than continuing to go after the knight and threaten to open the f-file.} (22. f4 $1 {would have been the best way to continue.} Bf6 23. f5 gxf5 24. Bxf5 Rg8 25. Qf3 $18) 22... Bf6 23. Bg5 (23. f4 {is still the correct idea.}) 23... Rh8 (23... h5 {leads to immediate equality, according to Houdini.} 24. Bxf6 exf6 25. Bxe6+ Qxe6 26. Qxa7 Re7 $11 (26... Qxe2 $2 27. Rhe1 Qxd3 28. Qxb7+ Kg8 29. Rbd1 $18)) 24. Bxf6 $16 exf6 (24... Kxf6 $4 25. f4 Qd6 26. f5 $18) 25. Bxe6+ Qxe6 {here my board sight and calculating abilities failed. I had seen earlier that the a7 pawn would be hanging, but then only looked at ...Qxe2 without considering the follow-up of Qxb7 in response. I therefore played the next move "automatically" without thinking about it.} 26. Qxe6+ $2 (26. Qxa7 Rc7 27. Rbc1 $16) 26... Kxe6 $11 { Now we have a double rook endgame that looks very drawn.} 27. Rbc1 h5 28. f3 ( 28. e3 $5) 1/2-1/2

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