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understanding

the sacrifice
sacrifice your way to success

Angus Dunnington
EVERYMAN CHESS
Everyman Publishers pic www.everymanbooks.com

First published in 2002 by Everyman Publishers pIc, formerly Cadogan Books pIc,
Gloucester Mansions, 140A Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8HD
C~pyright

2002 Angus Dunnington

The right of Angus Dunnington to be identified as the author of this work has been
asserted in accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic
tape, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher.
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A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN 1 857443128
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EVERYMAN CHESS SERIES (formerly Cadogan Chess)

Chief advisor: Garry Kasparov


Commissioning editor: Byron Jacobs
Typeset and edited by First Rank Publishing, Brighton.
Production by Book Production Services.
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CONTENTS

Preface

Introduction

The Importance of Structure

20

The Colour Complex

51

Pieces for Pawns

65

Rampant Knights

75

Bishops at Work

86

Exploiting Key Squares

99

The Exchange Sacrifice

109

The Vulnerable King

121

The Restrictive Sacrifice

128

The Queen Sacrifice

137

10

I PREFACE I

There are numerous 'puzzle' books available that feature spectacular combinations
involving one sacrifice after another, the victim obligingly accepting an army of
pieces on the way to finding his king being caught in the heart of enemy territory.
These examples are indeed entertaining and can be quite instructive, but they also
take us a step further from an area of the game about which many players are already rather apprehensive - positional chess. In fact if weighing up the implications
of isolated or doubled pawns (or - even more complex - weak squares) can be intimidating, then the subject of the positional sacrifice might seem alien to some
players.
In order to maximise our chances it is important to study the positional aspects
of the game to such an extent that we are able to develop an internal alarm system
designed to alert us to weak squares, pawns and structures as soon as they are created. In this way we are open to (our own) sacrificial suggestions when the opportunity arises, material investment sometimes being the only way forward.
Many players are handicapped by a lack of confidence in their ability to accurately
assess the positional characteristics of a sacrificial variation, and/or (equally important) their ability to conduct such situations properly if and when they happen. The
result is, of course, coundess missed opportunities.
This book is aimed at helping those players who rarely contemplate a positional
sacrifice, with sixty examples providing a reasonably detailed, practical guide to the
pros and cons of investing material for positional gain.
Angus Dunnington,
Casdeford,
June 2002

INTRODUCTION

Because positional sacrifices revolve


around one or more specific aspects of
the game the net result is a new situation that must be accurately evaluated in
advance - otherwise material has been
given away for nothing. By reminding
ourselves of the fact that the 'points
score' is just one factor in the chess
equation it should become a natural part
of our thinking process to consider this
or that positional motif as standard procedure, just as strong players do.
Marshall-Ed. Lasker
New York 1924

Let's start with a few introductory


examples.
White has an extra pawn but Black
has a good bishop pair against two
knights in a fairly open position. In fad:
1 ttJe3 'i'f4 seems to favour Black,
while 1 ttJc3 'i' cS 2 ttJd2 runs into
2....txc3 3 bxc3 .txh3! due to 4 gxh3
'i'gS+, picking up the remaining knight
with a decisive structural advantage.
Instead White used a well-known sacrificial idea in an effort to convert his
current material lead into an albeit
modest positional advantage.
1 e5! i.xe5
1...'i'cs 2 b4 would be embarrassing,
while dropping back to b8 or d7 removes Black's compensation.
2 .xe5 cxd5
And certainly not 2......xeS? 3 ttJe7+.
3 .xd6 llxd6 4 c5!
The point. The game has undergone
quite a transformation, with Black finding himself with an isolated pawn and
without the luxury of the bishop pair
(the surviving bishop is the poorer of
the two). Meanwhile White has control
9

Understanding the Sacrifice

of the traditionally desirable d4-square


and the advance of the c-pawn has created what is effectively a 3-2 queenside
pawn majority.

the target on d5.


Knights can be difficult creatures at
times and the search for a decent resting
place is a common problem. Strong
players think nothing of parting with a
pawn (or more) in return for an influential outpost. As the next example demonstrates, such a policy is quite normal
even as the ending approaches.
Gelfand-Markowski
Rubinstein Memorial 1998

Of course these add up to only a


slight edge for White, but this is neverIheless considerably more preferable to
the alternatives facing White when we
joined the game. There followed:
4 .. J:ta6 5 a4!? .td7 6 l:Ud1! :xa4 7
l:txa4 .txa4 8 :a 1 (part of the grand
plan) 8 ... .tc6 9 :xa7 :e8 10 b4

White has something to bite on here,


although Black managed to hold the
draw.
Perhaps 5 ttJd4 :ta4 6 :tfd1 is a more
patient continuation, planting the knight
in the centre and reminding Black about
10

Both sides have minor weaknesses on


d6 and e4 but White's main problem is
the prospect of Black's knight coming
to the perfect e5-square. For example
22 l::td2 ttJe5 23 :ted1 ~f8 24 :txd6
l::txd6 25 l::txd6 rJi;e7 is fine for Black.
On the other hand, 22 c5?! dxc5 23 e5
1:[f8 24 e6 addresses ...ttJe5 in aggressive
fashion and seems very good for White,
but Black can ignore the challenge to
his d-pawn with the thematic 22...ttJe5!,
when 23 cxd6 .tg4 24 i.e2 i.xe2 25
l::txe2 l::td8 offers sufficient compensation thanks to White's broken pawns
and the superior knight on e5. However, White has another resource available which effectively turns the tables

Introduction

on his opponent.
22 e5!!
Now 22 ... 4JxeS 23 4Je4 l::t8 24
4Jxd6 leaves White clearly better, e.g.
24 ... 4Jf7 25 4Jxc8 l::taxc8 26 l::td7 Consequently Black's next is forced.
22 ... dxe5 23lDe4

Far from establishing his knight on


eS, Black has had to watch as White
'steals' his plan and achieves exactly the
same posting! There is no longer a
pawn on d6 but the square itself is still a
concern for Black, and he has yet to
sort out the queenside pieces. Meanwhile the 'extra' eS-pawn is a long-term
weakness that will probably be mopped
up at some stage. It is safe to conclude
that White has more than enough compensation.
23 ... :f7
23 ... l::t8 24 4Jd6 4Jf6 25 l::txeS gives
back the pawn without a fight and
White is left with the more active
forces. The text prepares to defend the
pawn from e7 in order to free the
knight and complete the development
of the queenside.
24 c5
Standard, although 24 bS!? has been
suggested. However, the text steps up

the pressure by clamping down on d6


and making c4 available for the bishop.

24 .. .'itg7 25 .i.c4 :e7 2684


Expanding and ruling out ... b7-bS.
Also possible is 26 :d6, e.g. 26 .... bS 27
.tb3 .tb7 28 :ed1 4J8 29 :d8, when
it is arguable whether Black's bishop ~s .
better than before, or 26 ... aS!? 27 bS b6'
28 cxb6 4Jxb6 29 .tn and White restores material parity with advantage.

26 ... :e8?
A lesser evil is 26 ... b6 27 ':'d6 bxcS
(27 ....tb7 28 as) 28 bxcS, when Gelfand
evaluates the position after 28 ... 4J8
(28 ....tb7 29 as) 29 ':xc6 .tb7 30 l::td6
l::tc8 31 .tdS .txdS 32 ':'xdS as clearly
better for White.
27 :f1 ':'e7
11

Understanding the Sacrifice

If 27 ...J::tf8 then 28 ltxf8 'it>xf8 29


J::tn +.

Ibragimov-Shchekachev

Russian Championship,
Moscow 1999

28 Itd2 b5

An instructive line is 28 ... aS 29 J::tdf2


axb4 30 J::tf7+ J::txf7 31 :xf7+ ~h6
(31...~h8 32 lDgS) 32 g4 gS 33 .ltd3
l:txa4 34lDd6

The above diagram represents a


pleasant culmination of White's overall
positional approach!
29 axb5 cxb5 30 i.d5 1-0

This time White already has well


posted knights, but he wants more.
Black is behind in development, his
kingside pawns are suspect, he is slighdy
cramped and only the rook is keeping
the king company. With thes'e factors in
mind White's opener is rather easy to
appreciate.
23 g4!

The problem with the fIxed pawns on


f5 and e4 is their susceptibility to such a
pawn break. White decides to strike
now while Black's queenside pieces are
yet to join in the fun.

It seems that not a great deal has


happened during the last ten moves, but
White's fantastic knight has restricted
Black's forces to such an extent that
there is now no adequate defence to the
threat of an invasion on f7 after
30... J::tb8 31 J::tdf2 etc.
12

23 ... fxg4 24 f5

Introduction

Cutting the communication between


the bishop and g4-pawn and adding to
White's already greater control of the
e6-square.
24 ... h5 25 h3! gxh3 26 ~h2

N ow White will be able to combine


the idea of tDe6 with a build-up on the
g-file.
26 ... i.d7
After 26 ...tDc5 27 tDe6+ i.xe6 28
fxe6 ~g7 29 tDf5+ ~h7 the situation is
not clear, but 27 ~xh3 presents White
with sufficient compensation in the
form of his more active forces, the e6square, the g-file and the 'isolated' hpawn.
27 tLle6 + ~f7
27 ....txe6 should benefit White after
either recapture. 28 fxe6 gives White
one impressive pawn island whereas all
of Black's kingside pawns appear vulnerable. Perhaps 28 dxe6 is the more
accurate of the two, however, giving
White two connected, protected passed
pawns. Again Black's kingside is in ruins
and White can offer further support to
his own pawns by lodging the king behind on f4.
28 :g 1 :g8 29 :xg8 ~xg8 30
:g1 + ~h8 31 ~xh3

White is only a pawn down and each


of his pieces - including the king - has
an important role to play in exerting
pressure on the kingside. Black has sitting ducks on e4 and h5, while the c7pawn is also under attack. Consequently
Black now seeks some activity of his
own.
31 ... tLlb4 32 ~h4 tLld3 33 ~xh5
:f7 34 ~g5

Unfortunately for Black the knight


on e6 is as much trouble off the board
as it is on, since a replacement pawn will
be even more deadly.
34 ... tLlf2?
This accelerates proceedings, but
with fS-f6 and the introduction of the
other knight to come, Black's days were
anyway numbered (34 ... i.xe6 35
l::th 1+).
35 :f1 tLld3 36 :h1 + :h7
Or if 36 ...~g8 then 37 tDg4 i.xe6 38
dxe6 l::tg7 + 39 ~f6 l::txg4 40 7 is decisive.
37 :xh7 + ~xh7 38 tLlf8+ 1-0
Another uncomplicated example,
where a combination of Black's structure, vulnerable kingside, tardy development and the massive e6-knight
proved decisive.

13

Understanding the Sacrifice

Ehlvest-Markovic

Elista Olympiad (Men) 1998

Here the removal of Black's darksquared bishop coincides with the potentially damaging advance of pawns in
front of the king, with g6 and h6 in particular (and h5 in some cases) attracting
our attention.
15 g4!

Again a lead in development affords


White the facility to sacrifice a pawn in
favourable circumstances.

so Black prefers to keep the move.


17 ... ~xg4 1S 'ii'xg4

1S ... .!iJc6

Planning ...'iIi'c8. Otherwise Black


could consider 18 ...ltJd7 in order to
send the knight over to the kingside
after 19 :xffi+ ltJxffi. Then 20 h4 e6 21
ltJf3 'ili'f6 22 hxg5 hx.g5 23 ltJxg5 'ili'g6
24 ':1 is awkward for Black, e.g.
24 ...:e8 25 'ili'h4 :e7 26ltJe4! etc.
19 h4 'ii'cS 20 ':xfS + 'itxfS

15 ... cxd5

The alternative is less desirable:


15 ... fxg4 16 ':xffi+! (16 .txg4 ':x1 + 17
ltJx1 cxd5 18 ltJe3 e6 permits some
sort of consolidation) 16 .. :ili'xffi 17
.txg4 cxd5 18 .txc8 'ili'xc8 19 'ili'h5
cj;g7 20 :1 leaves Black terribly exposed.
16 gxf5 i.xf5 17 ~g41

White wants to maximise his options


on the light squares as well as eliminate
a defender. Now 17 ... e6 18 .txf5 exf5
19 'ili'b3 'ili'd7 20 'ili'xd5+ cj;g7 21 :ae1
(21 ltJc4 ':f6) 21...ltJc6 22 :e6 and
17 ...'iIi'd7 18 :xfS! :xfS 19 'iic2 e6 20
.txfS exfS 21 :1 ltJc6 (21...f4 22
'ili'g6+) 22 'ili'xf5 'ili'xf5 23 :xf5 see
White win back the pawn with interest,
14

20 ...'iIi'xffi 21 :1 'ili'g7 (21...'iic8 22


'ili'h5) 22 'ili'e6+ cj;h8 23 ':7 wins for
White, 23 ...ltJd8 24 ':xg7 ltJxe6 25
':xe7 giving the rook too much fun .
21 'ii'f3 +

White is ready to collect.


21 ... 'itg7

Introduction

21...'itfe8 22 hxg5 hxg5 23 'i'xd5.


22 hxg5 "e6
22 ... hxg5 23 'i'xd5.
23 gxh6 + "xh6
23 ... 'itfxh6 24 'i'f4+ 'itfg7 25 :f1 is
also very pleasant for White.
24 :f1!

With Black's defences having been


stripped away it is not surprising that
this is possible. Obviously 24 ... 'i'xd2
loses to 25 'i'g4+ 'itfh6 26 :f5.
The game ended 24 ...:g8 25 :f2
~h8 (25 ...'i'g5 26 tbf1!) 26 "xd5 e5
27 lLlf1 "g6 28 g3 exd4 29 cxd4
:e8 30 :f4 :e7 31 :f8+ '1-0

12 c5!
Always look for the most uncompromising continuation! This is particularly important when the opponent has
a specific, thematic plan in mind, for in
these circumstances only those moves
that seem positionally natural or forced
tend to be considered. Here, for example, d4-d5 is almost automatic, keeping
the centre closed for the knights as well
as shutting out the b7-bishop, but the
text is strong indeed.
12 ... dxc5

Our next example is a good illustration of why we should be alert to positional sacrifices during each stage of the
game, even if it seems that the opening
is yet to warm up.
Chatalbashev-Todorov

Krynica Zonal 1998


Black has just played the sensible
looking ... e6-e5, seeking to undermine
White's already modest influence on the
dark squares by winning control of the
c5-square. However, White has the
other colour complex in mind.

The other way to accept the pawn is


12 ... exd4 when, after 13 cxd6, Black
must be careful as 13 ... .txd6? 14 e5!
tbxe5 15 tbxe5 .txe5 16 tbc4 wins for
White, while 13 ...'i'xd6 14 e5 'i'b6 15
75

Understanding the Sacrifice

as is excellent for White, who is ready


to push the e-pawn. 13...cxd6 is forced,
leading to a clear advantage to White
after 14 tbb3 (rounding up the d4-pawn
as well as threatening tbaS) 14...tbeS
(14...tbcS 15 eSt) 15 tbfxd4. Hoping to
side-step any trouble with 12 ....lte7 runs
into 13 c6! .ltxc6 14 ':cl.
13 dxe5 ttJxe5 14 ttJxe5 'ii'xe5 1 5
ttJc4

The game has undergone quite a


transformation, with two important
black pawns having been removed from
the centre. Not surprisingly this is part
of White's strategy, the chief aim of
which is to take control of the light
squares.
15 .. :ife6
1S ...'iWd4 looks a bit too active, 16
'ii'c2 leaving White with tbaS, ':adl, e4eS etc.
16 ttJa5 "b6
Unfortunately for Black he will suffer
on the light squares with or without his
bishop, as 16....ltc8 17 .ltc4 is strong.
17 .. :ii'b6? loses to 18 'it'dS, so Black
must choose between 17 ... 'it'd6 18
'ii'hS!? (18 'it' B 'it' f6) 18...g6 19 'it' B or
17 ... 'it'g6 18 .ltdS .ltg4 19 .ltxt7+!?
'ii'xt7 20 'it'xg4, with a clear advantage
16

to White in either case.


17 ttJxb7 "xb7 18 e51
Black's extra pawn means absolutely
nothing. The light squares and Black's
exposed king are enough to give White
a decisive lead. In fact damaging Black's
structure and chasing down the lightsquared bishop has resulted in there
being no safe haven for the king. Castling long, for example, loses on the
spot to 19 .ltf5+.
18 ... i.e7
A fitting finish would be 18... ':d8 19
e6 'ii'dS 20 ext7+ ~xt7 21 .ltc4!

Returning to 18... i.e7, with Black


just one move away from relative safety
it is imperative that White strike while
the iron is hot...
19 e6!
Also very good for White is 19 .lte4
c6 20 'ii'B ':c8 21 e6 0-0 22 ext7+ ':xt7
23 .ltfS lId8 24 .lte6 .ltf6! but the nononsense text really hits Black hard on
the light squares.
19 ... 0-0-0
19... 0-0 20 ext7+ lIxt7 21 .ltc4 is
quite unpleasant, while 19... fxe6 20
.ltg6+! ~f8 21 .lte4 c6 22 'it'B+ nets
White a rook.
20 exf7 i.f6 21 "e2

Introduction

25 ...'ilxe6 26 .tc4+ is final, which


26 'ilxc5+ <&ti>b8 27
leaves 25 ... 'ilf4
r
'iib5+.
Pawns make the most important contribution to every game, and the subject
of structural strengths and weaknesses
can be found throughout this book.
Here Black drastically alters the landscape in a symmetrical and ostensibly
drawn ending.
Now Black does not even have a
pawn to show for his troubles, and
there is nothing he can do to contest
the light squares.

Zalkind-Finkel

Israel 1998

21 ... 'iii>b8

21...l:td6 defends one rank at the cost


of another: 22 .txa6! l:txa6 23 'ile8+.
22 i.xa6 'it'd5

22 ...'ilc6 23 .tb5 is a lesser evil, although the route to inevitable defeat is


an unenviable one.
23 'it'b5 + 'iii>a7 24 'it'a5 'it'd6

24... <&ti>b8 25 llad1! .td4 (25 ... 'ilxdl


26 'ilb5+) 26 :e7 and the end is nigh ...
25 ':'e6 1-0

31 ... h4!

With two face-offs there are obvious


concerns for White on the h2-b8 diagonal.
32 gxh4 gxf4 33 exf4

In the space of two moves White has


seen his hitherto healthy looking mass
of united pawns break into three pawn
islands, each requiring a certain level of
protection as the ending unfolds.
Meanwhile it is true that Black has a
backward e-pawn but, in this situation,
at least there is no danger of losing it.
A nice thematic move with which to
end the game, accentuating White's total
control of the light squares. Now

33 ...i..h5!

Of course Black is now looking to


exploit the structural weaknesses he has
17

Understanding the Sacrifice

inflicted upon his opponent, and from


h5 the bishop reminds White about his
other weakness on b3. Note that Black
need not be so concerned about b6 as
White will be too occupied defending
d4 and f4 to have the time to attack.
33 ... 'i'xh4?! recaptures the pawn but
after 34 'i'g3+ 'i'xg3+ 35 <iitfxg3 iohS
White can go for a shut-out with the
sequence 36 iof3 ioxf3 37 <iitfxf3 with a
draw.
34'ii.?g3
34 'i'g3+ <iitfh7! 35 'i'g5 'i'xg5? 36
hxgS iod1 37 iof1 ioxb3 38 iob5 clearly
favours White thanks to his repaired
pawns, but 35 ... iod1! is enough to maintain Black's advantage, e.g. 36 'i'g3 'i'f6
37 'i'e3 'i'h6 38 <iitfh1 <iitfg8 39 ioc1 <iitffl,
when White must keep on his toes.
34 ... 'ii'g7 + 35 'ii.?h2 'ii'f6 36 'ii'e3
'ii.?f7 37 J.e1

For the pawn Black has assumed the


initiative and, consequently, put his
opponent under pressure, the positional
advantage therefore bringing with it a
psychological plus. With best play
White should be okay, but such a task is
far from easy in practice, particularly
when the nature of the game changes so
rapidly, unexpectedly and under the
18

opponent's circumstances.
37 ...'ii'h8! 38 J.f2 'ii'b81
Very nice. The targets on d4 and f4
afford Black the luxury of moving the
queen backwards and forwards, a strategy that also puts the onus on White to
make accurate decisions when defending.
39 i.g3?
Natural but practically losing. Imperative is the more awkward looking
39 <iitfg3, e.g. 39 ...'i'g8+ (39 ...'i'c7 40
iof3) 40 <iitfh2 'i'c8 41 iof3 ioxf3 42
'i'xf3 'i'c1 43 <iitfg3 <iitfg6 44 h5+, when
progress seems unlikely for both sides.
Now the queenside will be a problem
fo~White.
39 ... 'ii'c7 40 'ii'd2 i.b4

Finkel gives 40 ...<iitff6!? 41 iof1 iob4


42 'i'd3 'i'c1 43 <iitfg2 iod2.
41 'ii'd3 'ii'c3 42 'ii'xc3
42 'i'bS 'i'xd4 43 'i'd7+ ioe7.
42 ... J.xc3 43 i.f2 J.d1

The absence of White's most flexible


defender accentuates his structural
weaknesses, and the defensive roles of
White's remaining pieces has left the
bishops passive, dominated by the invaders.
44 J.f1 i.xb3 45 i.b5 i.d1!

Introduction

Monitoring both a4 and h5.


46 c,t>g3 .i.d2! 47 .i.g1
47 i.c6?! i.e2! 48 i.gl cj;e7 49 i.f2
~d8! 50 i.g1 b5! 51 axb5 a4 52 b6 a3 is
very nice indeed.
47 ... c,t>e7 48 .i.f2 ~d8 49 .i.g1 .i.h5
0-1

The latest plan is ... i.e8 to trade bishops and create a deadly passed pawn
with ... b6-b5. Meanwhile White's bishop
is cornered by its opposite number.

19

CHAPTER ONE

The Importance of Structure

No matter how many combinations and


tricks we play through, or how many
moves of the most tactical variations of
our favourite openings and defences we
learn 'by heart', all this means nothing if
we have never sat down and looked at
the immense practical significance of
pawns. The pawn structure is the skdeton of the position on which the pieces
are the flesh - if the skeleton is damaged in some way, then freedom of
movement can become severely restricted. Doubled pawns, for example,
seem not to concern many players, who
believe such a minor inconvenience will
play little or no part in a game that is
sure to be decided by some other, more
important (short-term) factor. Such
thinking, of course, is quite wrong pawns are the soul of chess and, as
such, determine the roles of the other
pieces (whether good or bad). Weak
pawns tend to automatically lead to
weaker pieces, while generally weakened
formations can even render a whole
army practically redundant.
Another important by-product of

20

imperfections in pawn formation is


weak or vulnerable squares, which are
also featured in this chapter.
McShane-Comp P ConNers

Lippstadt 1999

With his last move White ignored the


attack on his h3-pawn by threatening to
damage Black's kingside structure. Sitting on Black's side of the board most
of us would at least think twice before
grabbing the h-pawn because we have
learned to respect our king (we casde
into safety, after all). However, this is
not the electronic way of playing (pawns

The Importance of Structure

mean points), so instead of the sensible


13 ... J..e7! , when the continuation 14
exd5 lDxd5 15 J..xe7 lhe7 16 %txe5
J..xh3 17 l1xe7 lDxe7 is an entirely logical means of exploiting the hanging h3pawn, Black went ahead anyway.
13 ... iLxh317 14 .txh3 'iixh3 15
iLxf6 gxf6 16 lLle3 'iie6 17 lLlhf5
~h8 18 ~g2

as a sign, and offered Shirov the pawn.

11 lLlg5 .txc4?!

Suddenly Black's king is beginning to


look rather lonely over there ...
18 .. Jlg8 19 %lh1 %lg5 20 %lh4 lLld7
21 'ii'h 1 lLlf8 22 'iih2 dxe4 23 %lh 1
~g8 24 dxe4 %la7
Who said computers don't have a
sense of humour?
25 lLlg4 %la8 26 lLlgh6 + 'ith8 27
lLlxd6 1-0

11...J..f5 and 11...J..d7 must be better.


12 b3 iLe6
12... h6 13 bxc4 hxg5 14 J..xg5 is at
least a little better for White, who is in
possession of the bishop pair, the h 1-aS
diagonal and the b-me, while the d5square might come in handy, too. Nevertheless, this could be preferable to the
text, which is about to get rather ugly (at
least from where Black is sitting).
13 lLlxe6 fxe6 14 iLxc6! bxc6

Marin-Shirov

Spanish Team Championships,


Barcelona 2000
We reach the first diagram position
after the opening sequence
1 c4 lLlf6 2 lLlc3 g6 3 g3 .tg7 4
.tg2 0-0 5 d4 d6 6 lLlf3 lLlc6 7 0-0
a6 8 h3 e5 9 dxe5 dxe5 10 iLe3
.te6
White took the \hreat to his c-pawn

Even those of us who shiver at the


thought of surrendering our g2-bishop
would be happy to make this trade on
c6, resulting as it does in leaving Black
21

Understanding the Sacrifice

.with four pawn islands, two of which


comprise doubled, isolated pawns. The
fact that Black has an extra pawn is irrelevant here (we might call it an extra
weakness), for the structural weaknesses
are long-term and White is sure to at
least redress the balance eventually.
14... 'i'xd1 15 l:tfxd1 bxc6 16 l:tac1ltJd5
17 .id2 as 18 ltJa4 is very good for
White.
15 'ii'xd8 1:tfxd8 16 i.g5

Black's knight looks more useful to


him than his bishop at the moment, so
this pin makes sense, giving White time
to trade on f6 if he so desires. In fact
Marin checks out 16 ...ltJd5 just in case.
After 17 .ixd8 ltJx c3 18 .ixc7 e4 19
l:tae1 ltJxa2 20 ':'d1 ltJc3 21 IId2 ltJd5
22 .id6 he evaluates the position as
clearly better for White. Black has a
pawn for the exchange but a few vulnerable pawns remain.
16 ... a5 17 l:tac1 ct;f7 18 l:.c2 l:ta6
19 l:tfc1 ct;e8

two - serious structural weaknesses that


Black could have avoided.
20 llJa4!

There is no need to voluntarily take


on f6. Better to wait until Black has
spent a tempo with ... h7-h6, while the
pin also serves as another inconvenience about which Black can concern
himself. Having said that, 20 .ixf6
.ixf6 21 ltJe4 .ie7 22 l:txc6 :'xc6 23
:'xc6 l:td 1+ 24 ~g2 ~d7 25 IIa6 lIdS
does look quite promising for White,
although Black's 'bad' bishop is not so
bad. The text simply keeps the pressure
on and is therefore more accurate.
20 ... ct;e7

After 20 ... h6 21 .ixf6 .ixf6 22 ltJc5


IIb6 23 ltJxe6 IId6 24ltJc5 White pockets a pawn and continues to dominate.
21 ct;g2 l:.d5 22 e3 e4

22 ... h6 23 .ixf6+ .ixf6 24 ~f3 and


we might even see White's king take up
a royal residence on e4 - hence the defence of the d4-square with 22 e3. In
pushing the front e-pawn Black accepts
that it could soon fall, but this way the
bishop is given some breathing space.
23 i.xf6 + i.xf6 24 llJc5 l:tb6 25
.!iJxe4 l:tb4

Having doubled on the attractive


looking c-ftle White is ready to step up
the pace. This is certainly not the kind
of position one would expect Shirov to
be playing, being reduced to waiting
until White helps himself to a pawn or
22

Unfortunately for Black his endeav-

The Importance of Structure

ours to generate activity for his forces


ultimately fails because there are too
many weak pawns to protect, most notably the one on c6.
26lbcS!
The flexible knight is the ideal minor
piece with which to exploit both vulnerable pawns and squares. Able to operate on either colour complex, the
knight can hop in and out of enemy
territory, often picking up a pawn or
two along the way. Marin's latest prepares to return the knight to a4, the
edge of the board, ironically, acting as a
perfect base from which to carry out
aggressive operations (the as-pawn is
also prevented from advancing, thus
denying Black a desirable simplifying
exchange of pawns). Consequently 26
lbxf6?! 'itxf6 27 ':'xc6 a4 28 ':xc7 axb3
29 axb3 h5 30 ':'7c3 ':'db5 might well
lead to a double rook ending that is unpleasant for Black, but the game continuation is worse for the defender.
26 ... i.eS 27 lba4 gS 28 ':xc6
From a positional point of view 28 g4
seems appropriate in order to fix a couple of pawns on the most suitable (for
White) colour squares. However, with
28 ... h5!? 29 gxh5 g4 Shirov's rooks
threaten to generate annoying counterplay. Of course this should not be
enough to genuinely trouble White, but
it is not necessary to allow such a possibility. Anyway, the text bags a pawn.
28 ... g4
28 ... h5 is an alternative, but a:n~kind
of counterplay on the kings ide cannot
compensate for the broken pawns on
the other flank.
29 hxg4 ':xg4 30 ':6c2!?
30 f4 i..d6 31 'itf3 h5 32 lbc3 ':'f5 33

lbe4 is clearly better for White.


30 ... hS 31 f4 i.d6 32 'itff3 eS 33
lbc3 ':cS
Not 33 ...':d3 34 'ite4.
34 lbe4 ':bS 3S ':h1 exf4 36 gxf4
':g8 37 ':ch~ ':h8 38 lbg3

White rubs salt in Shirov's wounds,


the irony being that he now hunts down
a weak pawn that was created as a result
of Black's efforts to shift attention away
from the shattered queenside! White
eventually converted the full point on
the 57th move.
Bacrot-Topalov
Bosna SuperGM 2000

1 d4 d6 2 lbf3 g6 3 c4 i.g7 4 lbc3


cS S dxcS
Perhaps White wanted to avoid the
tricky system characterised by the
moves 5 d5 i..xc3+ 6 bxc3 f5, when
Black has surrendered his prized bishop
for a knight in order to later exert considerable pressure on White's (fixed)
broken queens ide pawns. If this is the
case, then Black's reply is a shrewd psychological ploy!
S ... i.xc3+ !?
Anyway!

Understanding the Sscrifice

6 bxc3 dxc5 7 'ifxd8 +

Whether the queens are involved or


not makes no difference to White's cpawns.
7 .. .'~xd8 8 ttJe5 ..te6 9 g3 ttJd7 10
ttJxd7 ~xd7 11 ..tg2 ttJf6!?

Offering the b-pawn on the grounds


that 12 i.xb7!? :tab8 13 i.a6 ttJe4 offers Black ample compensation. White's
c-pawns are going nowhere and Black
can always target the c4-pawn by dropping back to d6.
12 l:lb1?!
Not impressed with the variation in
the previous note White declines the
offer, but now Black makes available an
even bigger prize ...
12 ... b6!

The latest is an offer that White


could not refuse even if he wanted to,
for the c4-pawn cannot be saved whatever happens, whereas Black is without
such a weakness.
13 ..txa8 lba8 14 f3 ttJe8 1 5 ..tf4
..txc4
It is always nice to have a neat and
tidy pawn structure when your opponent is busy keeping his intact, and \such
a luxury certainly facilitates the deci~ion
making process when it comes to contemplating a positional sacrifice. In the
diagram position Black can focus on his
opponent's queenside pawns (which are
still pretty weak) in the knowledge that
White has nothing to attack. Meanwhile
Black's forces will be better placed than
White's, the rooks unable to join the
game in more than a defensive role.

16 l:lb2 ~c6
..txd6?!

17 l:ld2 ttJd6

18

Ribli believes 18 ~f2 to be more accurate than this committal exchange,


although we can appreciate the wish to
alter the pawn formation in the hope of
opening up the game for his rooks.
18 ... exd6 19 ~f2
19 e4 f5 20 exfS gxfS is fine for Black
according to Ribli, although I prefer this
24

The Importance of Structure

to the game continuation because here


White's kings ide pawns remain intact.
19 ... d5 20 e4 dxe4 21 fxe4 :e8 22
:e1 .i.e6 23 ~3 ~b5!

Black has a couple of juicy targets on


one flank and no weaknesses on the
other, something that gives him excellent practical chances in this ending.
24 ~f4 ~c4 25 :e3 a5!

following pretty finish: 31 llee2 c4 32


<&t>f6 c3 33 llc2 ':'xa2! 34 llxa2 i.xa2 35
':'xa2 b3

Now even two pawns beat a rook!


31 ... c4 32 g4 c3 33 :g2 :xa2 0-1
Yet another case of a minor piece being more than a match for a rook. This
happens more often than we think, but
we tend to spend more time looking at
the points value of the pieces than the
actual value of weak pawn structures.
Movsesian-Kasparov
Bosna SuperGM, 2000

26 ~g5 b5 27 ~h6 b4 28 cxb4


axb4 29 'iJ(xh7 :a8 30 ~g7 ~b5
Preparing the advance of the passed
pawn. Notice how the bishop serves
dual roles of holding the kingside together and putting pressure on White's
queenside.
31 h4
I guess Topalov was hoping for the

We have already seen how a mistake


that leads to doubled pawns in front of
a casded king can be disastrous. Here is
a typical example of the exchange sacrifice ....:.xc3 in the Sicilian Defence,
Kasparov demonstrating in his own
inimitable style just how difficult life
can become for White if he has casded
queensid~

1 e4 c5 2 lOf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4
lOxd4 lOf6 5 lOc3 a6 6 .i.e3 e6 7 f3
b5 8 'ii'd2 lObd7 9 0-0-0 .i.b7 10 g4
lOb6 11 'ii'f2 lOfd7 12 ~b 1 ':c8 13
.i.d3

25

Understanding the Sacrifice

With his knights ready to pounce,


this positional sacrifice seems all the
more attractive for Black. Not surprisingly this specific position had been
played before this game, and Kasparov
has an improvement ready on Black's
previous play.
13 ... :xe3 l ? 14 bxe3 'fIe7 15 ttJe2
i.e7 16 g5 0-0

Castling into an attack, perhaps, but


White already has serious weaknesses in
front of his own king, so Black needs to
bring his rook into the game in order to
maximise the potential of his attacking
force.
17 h4 ttJa4!
An earlier game went 17 ...dS 18 hS
dxe4 19 jlxe4 jlxe4 20 fXe4 ~c4 21
26

jlc1 b4 22 cxb4 jlxb4 23 l:.h3 with the


better chances to White in ZagrebelnyLingnau, Berlin 1993.
18 i.e1?1
The new situation has confused
White, who should play instead 18 hS
~eS 19 h6 g6, which Ftacnik assesses as
unclear.
18 ... ttJe5 19 h5 d5! 20 'fIh2
White is not willing to commit with
20 h6 g6, -e.g. 21 'ilfg3 jld6 22 'ilfg2
:'c8, when each of Black's pieces have a
role to play.
20 ... i.d6 21 'fIh3

Looking at the diagram pOSit10n


Black seems spoilt for choice as to how
to continue his offensive but, with advancing enemy pawns approaching his
king, Kasparov needs to conduct the
rest of his attack with some precision. It
is significant that the exchange sacrifice
afforded Black an extra minor piece in a
situation where White's rooks play little
or no part (given the opportunity, of
course, White will use his to help deliver
the dea~y blow should he succeed in
prising open Black's kingside).
21 ... ttJxd3 22 exd3 b4!
Note that this and the previo~s move
serve to force the doubled c-pawns out

The Importance of Structure

of the way in order to facilitate an invasion by the queen. The point is that,
apart from the fact that doubled isolated pawns are sitting ducks waiting to
be picked off, here Kasparov has removed them through deflection,
whether this be a recapture (on d3) or a
forced capture. Their weakness does
not have to be demonstrated by actually
'winning' them, rather exploiting their
powerlessness by forcing the issue. Less
clear is 22 ...lLIxc3+ 23 lLIxc3 'ifxc3 24
..tb2 'ifb4 2S g6, which even gives
Black an opportunity to lose the game
in the event of2S ... dxe4? 26 h6! ..teS 27
d4 etc. Instead Black should play
2S ... i:eS, when 26 d4 ..tf4 27 gxf7+
cJ;;xf7 28 'ifg4 ..th6 results in the usual
'unclear' Sicilian.
23 cxb4
White's position is quite loose after
23 c4 dxc4 24 h6 g6 25(txc4 lIc8.
23 ... :'c8 24 ~a1
Ftacnik gives 24 'iff1 dxe4 2S fxe4
'ifc2+ 26 cJ;;a1 ..teS+ 27 d4 ..txe4 28
..ta3..tdS.
24 ... dxe4 25 fxe4
Forced in view of 25 dxe4? ..teS+ 26
lLId4..txd4+ 27 ':xd4 'ifxel +.
25 ... .i.xe4!

The rest of the game is clinical:


26 g6

26 dxe4 ..teS+, or 26 ':hg1 'ifc2 27


lLId4 ..teS 28 'ife3 ..tdS.
26 ... .i.xh1 27 .-xh1 .i.xb4 28
gxf7+
28 gxh7+ cJ;;h8.
28 ... ~8 29 .-g2 :b8! 30 .i.b2
30 ..td2 ..ta3 31 ..tel ..txel 32 ':'xel
'ifb6 33 lLIc3 lLIxc3.
30 ... tLlxb2 31 tLld4
31 cJ;;xb2 ..td2+ 32 cJ;;a1 ..tc3+ .
31 ... tLlxd 1! 32 tLlxe6 + ~xf7 0-1

33 'ifxg7+ (33lL1xc7 ..tc3+) 33...cJ;;xe6


34 'ifxc7 (34 ~6+ cJ;;f5) 34.....tc3+.
Markowski-Bunzmann
Rubinstein Memorial 1999

Understanding the Sacrifice

Black's best here is 13 ...iLd7 followed


by ...l:tad8, ~upporting the centre. Instead Bunzmann chose the traditional
Old Indian Defence approach of
queenside expansion.
13 ... b5?!

14 c5!
The idea behind this thematic pawn
offer is to undermine Black's centre by
challenging the base of the mini d6-e5
pawn chain. White hopes to exploits the
absence of the dark-squared bishops as
well as Black's slightly tardy development.
14... dxc5
14... exd4 15 cxd6 dxc3 16 dxe7 cxd2
17 exfS'ii' + cJ;xfS is slightly better for
Black, if anyone, but 15 ttlxd4 15 ... dxc5
16 ttlxc6 followed by e4-e5 is promising
for White.
15 dxe5 'ii'xe5 16 f4 'ii'h5 17 e5
After only a few moves Black's central presence has all but disappeared
whereas White suddenly has. a powerful,
mobile kingside majority led by the
strong e-pawn. Meanwhile Black's
queenside majority enjoys no such activity, and if the undefended c-pawn
falls he will no longer have a pawn to
show for his troubles.
28

17 ... b4
After 17 ...ttld5 18 g4 White defends
the h3-pawn out of the firing line before taking on d5, while 17 ...ttl6d7 18
iLxc6 levels the 'points' score but otherwise gives White the advantage.
18 tDa4
18 exf6 bxc3 19 ttlxc3 iLxh3 20 fxg7
is unclear and unnecessary. The text
focuses on Black's sorry queenside
structure.
18 ... tDd5 19 94
19 ttlxc5 iLxh3 20 ttld4 l:tac8.
19 .. .'ii'h4 20 tDxc5

Black has a backward c-pawn that


can be attacked from both d4 and down
the c-ffie, a useful and secure ,outpost
on c5 and more space. This explains

The Importance of Structure

Black's next, with which Bunzmann


aims to disrupt White's kingside pawns.
20 ... h5 21 ltJd4!?
21 i.xds cxds 22 'ifxds l:ta7 leaves
White exposed on the light squares,
although White seems to be better anyway.

14 ... .:ae8

21 ... hxg4 22 ltJxc6 'ii'g3! 23 'ii'xd5


gxh3

And now White should have played


24 ltJxb4 :b8 25 ltJbd3
with what will soon be an extra pawn.
Notice that Black's 4-2 queenside majority has now become a minority(!)
thanks to the weakness of both cpawns.

Incidentally 14... exd4? is too early,


e.g. 15 'ifxd4lbf6 16 'ifh4 i.e7 17 cs!
(unleashing White's second bishop)
17 ... bxcs 18 lbgs h6 19 lbe4 lbxe4
(19 ... lbds 20 'ifg4) 20 'ifxe4 i.d6?
(20 ...:'fe8 is the necessary lesser evil,
when White's bishops have the advantage and Black's extra pawn is worthless) 21 'ifg6!.
15 c5!

The spoiler

When in possession of the inferior


structure we should be on the lookout
to level the score by inflicting similar
damage to our opponent's pawns.
Adams-Shlrov

Sarajevo 1999
In the diagram position White is in
danger of being left with a sorry looking
queenside pawn complex after a pawn
trade on d4 or es. With this is in mind
Black improved his position.

A nice spoiling tactic. White forces


his opponent to place a pawn on cs
before Black can use the square as an
ideal outpost for a piece.
15 ... bxc5 16 dxe5 ltJxe5 17 ltJxe5
..txe5 18 ..txe5 ':xe5 19 'ii'd21
Highlighting
another
positional
29

Understanding the Sacrifice

downside to Black's new structure, for


now the as-pawn needs protection.
19 ...:fe8 20 :xe5 "xe5 21 :b1!
e4!?

queenside Black seems to be doing


quite well, with the lever thrust ... b7-b5
an obvious candidate...
15 ... b5,(!
Swayed by the general pressure on
the c-flle, but now White engineers a
near decisive structural advantage.
16 ltJd4! bxe4 17 ltJxe61 fxe6 18 b4

Black returns the pawn to restore


equality in all departments.
22 iLxe4 iLe8 % - %
General Damage
The next seven examples feature various kinds of general structural damage
that are encountered on a regular basis
in practical play.
Kirillov-Garagulya
Russian Team Championships,
Smolensk 2000

With his forces aimed directly at the

30

Black's protected passed pawn is irrelevant here. What matters is the e6pawn and the general vulnerability of
the light squares created by the removal
of the bishop.
18 ...ltJb7 19 f4
After embarrassing the b 7-knight
White rules out ...tLle5. Black's best now
is 19 ...c.t>h8, when 20 e5 d5 21 .tg4 sees
White ready to start his pawn collection.

The Importance of Structure

Unfortunately for Black 21...':c6 runs


into 22 .txe6 ':xe6 23 "'xd5 etc.
Instead Black played 19.....c7 and
now White missed a very promising
continuation in 20 .tg4! llJdB 21 e5!
according to Tsesarsky, e.g. 21 ... d5 22
llJxd5! etc.

17 d6 + <iti>hB 1B g4! 1

Yevseev-Kokarev

Moscow 1999

Somehow Black has managed to send


his bishop all the way into d4, which
mayor may not be a good thing. In any
case, an albeit temporary sacrifice
should have left Black's structure decidedly suspect.
13 d6!1 "xd6
I'm not sure Black is too worse if he
turns down the offer with 13 ......n, as
14 tDbS tDc6 should be okay for the
second player. The problem, of course,
is the d6-pawn, which is probably why
Black thought he had no choice but to
remove it. Nevertheless I prefer ......n.
14llJb5 "b6
The game continued in entertaining
fashion.
15 llJd51! llJxd5 16 cxd5 llJa6
Not 16 ... d6 17 tDxd4 cxd4 18 "'xb6
axb6 19 ':dl.

With the sacrifice taking on a restrictive character on the queenside White


turns to the other' flank, undermining
the defence of the e4-pawn in order to
open up the kingside. 18 tDxd4 cxd4 19
~6 axb6 20 ':d1 tDb4! 21 a3 tDc6
still favours White according to Tyomkin.
1B ... .te5! 19 "d51
\
Better than 19 gxfS .txd6 20 tDxd6
"'xd6 21 :d1 "'c6 22 "'c4 dS!, when
Black comes out fighting.
19 ... .txh2+ 20 <iti>xh2 "xb5 21
"e5! "xe2

22.th3

22 .th6? "'xg4 23 .th3 "'g6 24 ..tf4


tDb4.
31

Understanding the Sacrifice

22 ... fxg4 23 .i.h6 g3 + 24 ~g1


gxf2+ 25 ~h2 :g8 26 :ac1 lLlb4
27 .i.xg7 + :xg7
with a draw in view of 28 'iWe8 +
:g8 29 'iWe5 + and so on.

while clamping down on the queenside


and the dark squares, was based on a
more speculative, attacking foundation,
with resourceful defence from Black
effectively diffqsing White's initiative.

While White succeeded in thwarting


his opponent's queenside development
by twice(!) putting his own pawn on d6,
Black reacted energetically. In fact
White would have guarante~ himself a
nice advantage had he concentrated
more on the long-term positional possibilities created by the initial sacrifice.
Instead of jumping into d5 in order to
lodge a second pawn on d6 White could
have played 15 tbxd4! cxd4 16 tli'xb6
axb6 17 %td1 tbc6 18 b3

Kasparov-M .Gurevich

In this way White' patiently rounds up


the d4-pawn to emerge with the superior structure and the two bishops. With
the remaining isolated d-pawn to go
with the vulnerable b-pawns Black can
expect to experience further structural
difficulties later in the game. Like the
fable of the hare and the tortoise, this
form of positional sacrifice is guaranteed to present White with a definite
advantage that has long-term potential,
whereas White's choice in the game,
32

Bosna SuperGM 2000

Black hopes that the bishop pair


compensates for his imperfect pawn
formation. Kasparov's next threatens to
spoil his opponent's strategy on both
fronts.
16 lLlf1
An aggressive retreat, threatening to
exploit the pin on the d-flle after
tbe3xd5, simultaneously ridding Black
of a good bishop and inflicting serious
structural damage in view of the forced
... e6xd5.
16 ... 'iWc7
Escaping the pin. However, with the
benefit of hindsight Finkel's suggestion
of 16... i.d6!? also makes sense, since
the thematic exchange sacrifice here
leads to an unclear position after 17
%:txd5 (17 tbe3 i.e4) 17 ... exd5 18 tbe3
%:te8 19 tbd4 f4 20 tli'g4+ ~h8.
17 :xd5!?
Based purely o,n structural, positional

The Importance of Structure

grounds, this is White's only means of


trying for an advantage. Otherwise
Black's pieces enjoy too much activity.
17 ... exd5 18 lOe3

dealt with by ... fS-f4.


19 ....txd4!

,
Black parts with the second bishop
on his own terms.
20 cxd4lOe4 21 lOxd5 'iidS 22lOe3
'iifS 23 'ii'h5

It is easy to appreciate what White


has for the exchange. The f7-e6-fS
pawn cluster has been broken, leaving
Black with two very weak pawns, and
the fall of the bishop pair has resulted in
Black now being rather vulnerable on
the light squares. On the other hand, of
course, Black has more material to
compensate for his structural difficulties, so the game is balanced. However,
Kasparov prefers this kind of 'balance'
because there are problems to be
solved.

23 ...:ad8!

I like the way Black has coped with


his crumbling pawns since Kasparov's
attempt to unsettle him with lIxds.
Here 23 .....xd4!? is tempting, e.g. 24
"xfS :ae8 25 l::td1 "es 26 "xeS lIxes
27 ttJg4 :gs 28 ttJh6+ rJig7 29 i.xe4
'Wtxh6 30 :d6+ 'Wtg7 31 lIxa6 and the
ending is even. However, Kasparov
might well have opted instead for 24
ttJxfS!? "xf2+ 25 'Wth1 "xb2 26 lin

18 ....tfS

Black can expect to see one of his


pawns fall but he must be careful how
he addresses the situation. For example
the plausible looking 18...lIad8?! can
easily lead to difficulties after 19 ttJd4,
e.g. 19...l::tfe8 20 ttJdxfs "es 21 "g4+
'Wth8 22 f4 etc.
19lOd4

19 ttJxds "d6 20 ttJd4 lIae8 is sufficiently active for Black, while 20 ttJxf6+
"xf6 does not look like a good idea for
White as the front f-pawn can always be

This is just the kind of position


33

Understanding the Sacrifice

White would be looking for when embarking on this route. Black's bishops
have disappeared, leaving White's survivor with the run of the light squares,
White has an enormous knight where
Black's pawn once stood, his queen
could not be more aggressively posted
and even the rook is well placed on the
f-flle. Whether this furnishes White anything real is another question, but not
one that Gurevich would like to ask!
24 ttJxf5 ttJd6 25 ttJe3!?
25 tiJxd6 :xd6 might help Black
since White has little influence on the
dark squares.
25 ...'ii'xd4 26 :d1 'ii'g7
Again there is a more adventurous
possibility in 26 ... 'ifxb2!? but Black is
more interested in safety.
27 :d5 WhS

once the main targets have gone. All in


all the situation is level, and a draw
should result with careful play from
both sides. Ironically Black's game plan
later changed quite drastically - here is
the rest of the game - instructive and
entertaining:
2S 'ii'd1 ttJb7 29 b4! ':'xd5!? 30
'ii'xd5 ttJdS 31 'ii'd6 ttJe6 32 'ii'xa6
ttJd4 33 h4 f5 34 ttJd5 ttJe2 + 35
c;tr>f1 f41 36 c;tr>xe2 fxg3 37 'ii'd61?
'ii'b2 +
37 ...:x1+ 38 'it>d3 :xg2 39 'ifd8+
'ifg8 is equal.
3S c;tr>d3

3S ... :xf2?

Black has succeeded in trading his


original liabilities on d5 and f5 for
White's c3-pawn which, considering the
extra exchange, is a reasonable deal. The
positional theme has continued, though,
since Black still has a potential problem
in the a6-pawn (a8 is not available for
defensive purposes) and his kingside
pawns are separated. It is interesting
that White's forces seem less menacing
34

38...'ifb1 +!? should draw, e.g. 39


'it>d4 'ifb2+ 40 'it>c5 'ifx1+ 41 'it>xb5
'ife2+ 42 'it>b6 (or 42 'it>c5 'if1+ 43
'it>c6 'ifc2+ 44 'it>b7 :f7+ 45 'it>b8
'ifxg2) 42 ... 'if1+ 43 'it>c6 'ifc2+.
39 'ii'bS + Wg7 40 'ii'xg3 + WhS 41
'ii'bS + Wg7 42 'ii'c7 + c;tr>fS 43
'ii'e7 + WgS 44 'ii'g5 + WhS 45 .te4!
'ii'c2 + 46 Wd4 'ii'd2 + 47 Wc5
'ii'xg5 4S hxg5 ':xa2 49 c;tr>xb5 ':e2
50 ttJc3 :e3 51 Wc4 :g3 52 b5
:xg5 53 b6 1-0
I wonder if Kasparov would argue
that his original positional exchange

The Importance of Structure

sacrifice even contributed to Gurevich's


sudden rush of blood? Probably. Nevertheless White's approach offered good
practical chances.
Our next game is different in that
Black's positional sacrifice, aimed at
crippling White's queenside pawns, involves voluntarily allowing damage to
his own pawns on the kingside.

lDf3 lDe3) 12...i.xc3 13 bxc3 lDc5 14


'i'g7
15 lDf3 i.f5 Black has more
than enough compensation for the
pawn in terms of White's queenside
weaknesi08i. and Black's lead in development and active forces.
11 ... .ixc3 + 1 2 bxc3

:8

Artashes Minasian-Ara Minasian

Armenian Championship,
Yerevan 1999
1 e4 lLlf6 2 e5 lLld5 3 d4 d6 4 c4
lLlb6 ,5 exd6 exd6 6 lLlc3 lLlc6 7
d5!? lLle5 8 f4lLled7 9 'ii'd4!?

Hoping to hinder Black's development by hitting the g7-pawn. Offering a


queen exchange with 9...'iff6 might
leave Black's queenside vulnerable while
9...lDf6 is probably one knight move
too many. Anyway, Black has other,
completely different ideas.
9 ... .ie7! 10 'ii'xg7
Consistent.
10 ....i.f6 11 'ii'g4
The alternative is 11 'ifh6, when after
11...'i'e7+! 12 <itd1 (12 i.e2 lDxc4 13

This is the point of Black's play. It


might seem strange to part with the gpawn and then take three moves with
the bishop only to surrender it for a
knight, but the resulting damage to
White's queenside structure is significant. In fact these weaknesses seem
even more serious when we look at the
location of Black's knights, which could
not be more appropriately placed to
deal with White's weaknesses. Of
course Black's kingside has also been
broken, although White is not in as
good a position to exploit it. Moreover
the e4-square could be a problem for
White thanks to the early advance of the
f-pawn.
12....f6 13 .id2
Oddly enough White plans to castle
long. After 13 'i'f3lDc5 14 i.a3 i.f5 15
i.xc5 dxc5 16 'i'e3+ <it'd8 Black
doesn't get to castle at all but I prefer
his chances nevertheless.
35

Understanding the Sacrifice

13 ...lDc5 14 'ifg51? 'ifxg5 15 fxg5


.tf5

few of the centre pawns have been


cleared away and it is the bishops of
opposite colour that become the most
important factor, steering the game towards a draw.
The game continuation is even simpler.
18 ...lDxd5 19 cxd6 cxd6 20 lDh31
':c8 21 lDf4 lDxf4 22 .txf4 ':xc3 +
23 'ittb2

Or 23 <itd2 ':c4 24 i.xd6 i.e4 25


':el ':xel 26 ':xel <itd7 27 i.e5 etc.
23 ...':c2+ 24 'ifi>b3 ':f2 25 ':xd3
':xf41/2-1/2

Black has obvious structural compensation for the pawn as well as a lead in
development, factors which combine to
maintain the balance. Now 16 liJf3
liJd3 + 17 i.xd3 i.xd3 18 c5 dxc5?! 19
liJe5 i.a6 20 0-0-0 liJxd5?! 21 ':he1 is a
touch better for White, but 18 ...liJxd5
19 cxd6 cxd6 20 <itf2 <itd7 21 ':he 1
':he8 is level.
Instead White sticks with his plan.
16 0-0-0 lDd3 + 17 i.xd3 i.xd3 18
c5!

Black's fun initiated by the offer of


the g7-pawn did not last too long
thanks to a realistic and accurate response from White, particularly the c4c5 idea, which should be remembered
since Black cannot then avoid simplification or (minor) damage to his own
pawns.
In the next example White sees his opponent's early erection of a c5-d6-e5
pawn centre as an invitation to embark
on sacrificial positional play.
Romanishin-Maksimenko

Ordzhonikidze Zonal 2000


1 c4 c5 2 g3 g6 3 .tg2 .tg7 4 lDc3
lDc6 5 a3 d6 6 lDf3 e5 7 0-0 lDge7
8 b4!?

Again we see White return the pawn


on his own terms rather than Black's.
The point is that after 18 ... dxc5 19 i.f4
c4 20 i.xc7liJxd5 21 i.e5 0-0 22liJf3 a
36

Black's pawn centre is designed to


provide a solid barrier and more space,
and this pawn offer already threatens to
diminish this strength considerably by
tempting the c5-pawn away. The main
idea, though, is to then exert pressure
on the backward d6-pawn and, perhaps,
exploit White's extra command of the

The Importance of Structure

h1-a8 diagonal afforded him by this


early advance of Black's centre pawns.

8 ... cxb4?1

e5.
Instead 8... e4 makes sense;e.g. 9 liJe1
i.e6 10 l:tb1 cxb4 11 liJxe4 i.xc4 12
axb4 d5 13 liJc3 a6 14 i.b2 d4 15 liJe4
0-0 16 d3 i.d5 17 liJf3 'fib6 18 i.a3
:fd8 19 'fid2 liJf5 with chances for
both sides in Podzielny-De Firmian,
Essen 1999. 9 liJe1 f5 is rather loose
and worked out well for White in Surajev-Mijailovic, Belgrade 1991, where 10
i.b2 i.e6 11 d3 exd3 12 liJxd3! i.xc4
13 bxc5 0-0 14 liJa4 i.f7 15 i.xg7
r:J;;xg7 16 liJf4 d5 17 l:tb 1 left Black busy
defending weak pawns and squares.
9 axb4 lLlxb4 10 .i.a3

Ribli believes that Black should refuse the sacrifice, but not with 8... i.e6?,
when 9 liJg5! i.xc4 10 d3 (D) has been
seen in a couple of Ftacnik games.

10... cxb4 11 axb4 i.e6 12 liJxe6 fxe6


13 b5liJd4 14 e3 'fic7 15 i.d2liJdf5 16
b6!? 'fixb6 17 'fia4+ r:J;;f7 18 l:tb1 was
excellent for White in Ftacnik-Danner,
Vienna 1986, while 10 ... i.e6 11 liJxe6
fxe6 12 bxc5 d5 13 e4 0-0 14 'fig4 was
no improvement for Black in FtacnikRogers, Groningen 1977. It seems illogical to part company with the lightsquared bishop with an essentially fixed
centre comprising pawns on c5, d6 and

Apart from the obvious strategic


benefit to White of the target on d6,
Black also suffers here from losing time
in collecting the pawn.
10 ... lLlec6
10...liJbc6 11 liJb5 is pleasant for
White but 10...liJa6 11 liJe4 liJc5 leads
to complications. Martinovic-De Firmian, Bor 1984 continued 12 liJfg5 (12
liJxc5 dxc5 13 i.xc5 e4) 12 ...'fic7 13
liJxd6+ 'fixd6 14 liJe4 liJxe4 15 i.xd6
liJxd6 16 'fia4+ r:J;;f8 17 'fib4 liJe8 18
i.xb 7 as 19 i.xc8 l:txc8 20 l:txa5 1-0.
Black's minor pieces are tiny.
11 'iia4 lLla6
37

Understanding the Sacrifice

11...e4 is unpleasant for Black after


either 12 lbh4 g5 13 .i.xb4 gxh4 14
lbxe4 or 12 .i.xb4 exf3 13 .i.xf3, with a
clear advantage for White in both cases.
11...a5?? is even worse in view of 12
.i.xb4, exploiting two pins.
12~84

12 lbxe5 .i.xe5 (not 12... dxe5 13


.i.xc6+ .i.d7 14 Ld7+ 'ilxd7 15lbb5)
13 .i.xc6+ .i.d7 (13 ...~fB 14 .i.d5 and
13... bxc6 14 'ilxc6+ .i.d7 15 'ilxa6 are
poor for Black) 14 .i.xd7 + 'ilxd7 15
'ilb5 is enough to put White in charge,
while 12lbg5 0-0 13 lbge4 is more interesting. The text is the most enterprising of White's choices.
12 ... ~f8
Another possibility is 12...lbc51? 13
lbxc5 dxc5 14 .i.xc5 e4 15 lbel .i.xal
16 'ilxal l:tg817 .i.xe4 'ilxd218lbf3

with anything else! With only two


knights 'develop<;d' now Maksimenko is
susceptible to an opening up of the position, especially with his king still at
home. 13 c5 is another way to prise
open the central barrier, so White is in
fact spoilt for choice.

13 ... ~f5
Black needs to introduce his forces
into the game and this does so while
challenging the powerful knight. Otherwise Black can address the pin immediately with 13 ....i.d7, when 14 dxeS
dxe5 (14...lbxe5 15 'ilb3 fails to alleviate the pressure) 15 .i.xfB c.txfB 16
:tfdl introduces a new pin.

By now the invested pawn has become an exchange, the compensation


also altering to take the form of an attack on the king - predictably, in view
of the fact that Black's king was still
uncastled when White hit out with 8 b4.
In fact Black is in danger of being overrun here.

14 ~c3 i.d7 15 ~b5


White will not be denied his original
plan of focusing on the d6-pawn, and
the knight has been chased to another
useful square. Now 15... exd4 16 .i.xd6
is understandably not to Black's liking
so he endeavours to keep the centre
closed.
15 ... 84 16 ~d2 f5
When the smoke has cleared after
16...lDxd4 17 lDxe4 .i.xb5 18 cxb5
lbxe2+ 19 c.thl Black is losing.

13 d4

1783

Black's latest could not really be met


38

White has a nice and healthy pawn

The Importance of Structure

mass and near full development. Black


hasn't.

17 ... 'iff6
17 ...~c7 18 ~xd6+ .txd6 19 .txd6
~xd4 20 'ilb4 is very good for White.
18 f3
White has a practically decisive lead
and therefore keeps matters simple,
although 18 .txe4!? fxe4 19 ~xe4
seems strong.
18 ... exf3 19 ~xf3 ~e7

Black's best is 20 ...'ifgS, when both


21 'ifb3 and 21 .:tae1 both put the ball
fIrmly back in Black's court. Unfortunately the text loses immediatelY;--21 llJe4

21 ... 'ifg6 22 llJexd6 + 1-0


If the owner of an isolated pawn has
nothing to compensate his liability the
defensive task can be difficult at any
stage of the game. White takes this one
step further in the following example.
Marciano-Apicella

French Championships 1999

20 ~d51
After all this effort Black cannot be
allowed to casde, although White will
make an exception for 20 ... 0-0-0 in view
of 21 .txc6 .txc6 22 ~xa7+ and 23
~xc6 etc.
20 ... g51

Black has just taken the opportunity


to trade knights on d4 at a time when
recapturing with the c-pawn seems
39

Understanding the Sacrifice

forced in view of the fact that 'ifxd4


leaves the bishop insufficiendy protected in the event of .. .'~Jxh3+ (or the
same problem after 22 l:txd4 l:te6 etc.).
However, the d5-pawn is Black's only
weakness, yet this will lose relevance
once White's own pawn stands on d4.
With this in mind White found a logical
and effective resource that doesn't let
Black off the positional hook so readily.
221i'xd41

Tbis must have come as an unpleasant surprise to Black, who was no doubt
waiting to shake hands after 22 cxd4
l:te6 23 'ifb3 l:tb6 etc.

makes a vital difference and is another unfavourable - prospect altogether for


the defender.
24 1i'xf6 ':xf6 25 g3 ltJh3

After 25 ... liJe6 26 i.xd5 b6 27 i.g2


White threatens to help himself to the
seventh rank, and 27 ...l:td8?? 28 l:txd8+
liJxd8 29 l:te8 mate is not a nice way to
go. Note that here the fall of the dpawn clears the long diagonal, thus attracting unwelcome attention to the
queenside pawns.
26 'itg2

22 ...ltJxh3 + 23 ~f1

Both minor pieces reside on the kingside but bishop can enjoy a change of
scene in one move.
Black has won his pawn, as per plan,
but his structural weakness remains on
d5 (at least until White decides to capture it!). Moreover the inevitable exchange of queens will accentuate
White's advantage in the resulting ending thanks to his long-range bishop (the
knight would work better with a queen
than without).

26 ... h6 27 ':d2

Freeing the bishop by defending f2,


although the immediate 27 l:te7!? could
be more accurate. Nevertheless Black's
pawns are weak anyway, and White will
soon have a majority that is more dangerous than Black's rather tame lot on
the kingside.

23 ... ltJf4

27 ... ':d8 28 ':e7 b5 29 ':xa7 ltJg5


30 ':xd5!

23 ...'ifxd4!? 24 l:txd4 liJg5 25 l:txd5?!


liJxf3 26 ':xd6 liJxe 1 27 ~xe 1 l:te8+ 28
~d2 ~f8! looks okay for Black, but 25
i.xd5 liJe6 26 i.xe6 l:txe6 27 l:td7

White's patient but incisive treatment


of his opponent's weaknesses has led to
a decisive advantage (this would not
have been the case had White accepted

40

The Importance of Structure

his dull fate and automatically recaptured on d4 with his c-pawn). Not surprisingly White soon picked up the bSpawn and, eventually, the full point.
We have seen instances where a serious disadvantage can be direcdy attributed to the presence of doubled pawns.
However, such a weakness can be
equally significant even if located away
from the 'action' area.
Rowson-Turner

Redbus Knockout, Southend 2000

In the diagram position Black's doubled pawns on the queenside afford


White a sacrificial possibility on the
kingside, the point that the investment
of a pawn on that flank will still leave
Black without a majority. Black has just
pushed the h-pawn with a view to undertaking active operations against
White's king. That this weakens the gSsquare seems irrelevant at the moment
for the f6-pawn provides protection,
but after White's next Black has cause
to regret ... h7-hS.
23 e5!
With one multi-purpose move White
is able to contemplate the following:

generating po<;sibilities on the al-h8


diagonal, obstructing Black's bi~j:lop on
the h2-b8 diagonal, using the gS-square
for the knight or queen, introducing
threats on the e-file and using the e4square as an outpost. Of course these
are strategic, positional considerations
rather than must-do tasks, but each
represents a potential problem that
Black must address in one form or another.
23 ...ltJxe5
Now 23 ... fxeS 24 'ifgS 'iff7l 25 ltJxeS
.txeS 26 .txeS h4 27 .tc3 ':f8 28 'ife3
keeps Black's disadvantage to a minimal, albeit uncomfortable level, whereas
24... e4 25 ltJd2 is clearly better for
White, who can also try 24 ltJgS!? here.
Rowson believes that 23 ....txeS is best,
offering the variation 24 ltJxeS fxeS 25
'ifgS (25 ':dl I?) 2S ... h4 26 f4 'iff6 27
'ifxf6 gxf6 28 fxeS hxg3 (28 ... fxeS 29
':d 1 e4 30 ':d6) 29 <ittxg3 ltJxeS 30
.txeS fxeS 31 l:.d 1

He puts White in charge here thanks


to the more active king and rook,
Black's extra pawn not exacdy important. Note that the pawn ending is losing for Black due to White having the
outside passed pawn.
41

Understanding the Sacrifice

24 ll'lxe5 fxe5
24....ltxe5? 25 f4.
25"g5
Already the h5-pawn is a problem,
e.g. 25 ...g6 26 f4 e4 27 'ifh6 or 26 ...lId8
27 .ltxe5 lId2+ 28 <ittg1 .ltxe5 29 fxe5
etc.
25 .....h6 26 "xh6 gxh6

Black's new doubled pawns are at


least as significant as those on the
queenside, and his pieces are busy defending the e-pawn, which White now
makes sure to immobilise.
27 :e41
27 f4 is tempting but premature, and
after 27 ... e4 28 .lte5 .ltxe5 29 lIxe4
lId8! 30 fxe5 lId2+ 31 <itto l:txa2 32 e6
<ittf8 Black could even be in front according to Rowson.
27 .. '<3;f7 28 'itf3 'iti>g6 29 'iti>e2 'itf5
30 :h4 'itg6 31 .ic1
White is content to move to and fro
for a while given that Black is unable to
begin anything of his own. However,
the text does threaten to push g3-g4
now that White has both rook and
bishop ready to pounce on h6.
31 ... .id8 32 :e4 .ic 7 33 :h4 .id8
34:e4
Purely psychological - White has no
42

intention of kindly acquiescing to a


draw.
34 ... .ic7 35 .id2 :e6 36 f3 :e8 37
.ie1 :e6 38 .ic3

38 ... 'itf7
Not 38....ltd6 39 f4 <ittf5 40 <itto
exf4?? 41 g4+.
39 'ifi>e3 :e8 40 'itf2 :e6 41 :e 1
'itg6 42 'ifi>e3 'ifi>f5 43 g4 + 'ifi>g6
43 ...<ittg5 44 lIh1!? lIf6 45 .ltd2 <itth4
46 .ltel + <ittg5 47 :g1 hxg4 48 hxg4 h5
49 lIh1 lIh6 (49 ... hxg4 50 .lth4+) 50
<itte4 is exacdy what White is looking
for.
44 'iti>e4 :f6 45 .id2 :d6 46 .ie3
l:r.d7 47 :e21
Introducing the option of contesting
the d-ftle.
47 ...:e7
47 ...1If7 48 lId2!? h4 49 .ltf2 <ittg5 50
.lte3+ <ittg6 51 lId1 lIe7 52.ltc1 1If7 53
':d3 lIe7 54 .ltb2 <ittg5 55 <itte3 and now
55 ... h5?! 56 <itte4 hxg4 57 fxg4 1If7 58
.ltc1 + <ittg6 59 110 appears to be close
to winning for White, but 55 ... <ittg6 56
lId1 <ittg5 57 .ltc3 <ittg6 58 lIel lId7 59
<itte4 lIe7 60 <ittd3 1If7 61 lIe3 lIf4 62
<itte2 <ittf6 63 .ltel <ittg5 64 lIc3 1If7 65
.ltd2+ <ittg6 66 lIe3 lIf4 67 .ltc3 <ittf6 68
lId3 <itte6 69 .lte1 b5!? leads to an un-

The Importance of Structure

clear position according to Rowson.


48l1g2

mately, are increasingly difficult to address.

Triplets
The next three examples feature instances in which the fate of doubled
pawns is exacerbated by the arrival of a
fellow foot-soldier on the same file!
Chernyshov-Ovetchkin
Russian Tean Championship,
Smolensk 2000

A key difference between the two


sides here is that White enjoys the luxury of being able to 'casually' group and
regroup his forces without incurring
risks. Unfortunately for Black he cannot
avail himself of the same facility, as we
are about to see.
4S ... lId7??
4B ... h4 is imperative, with similar play
to the previous note.
49 g51
Winning. The game ended as follows:
49 ... hxg5 50 ':'xg5 + ~f6 51 ':'xh5
.i.d6 52 ':'h6 + ~g7 53 h41 b5 54
h5 a5 55 lIg6 + ~h7 56 a41 bxa4
57 bxa4 lidS 5S .i.g5 ':'d7 59 lIh6 +
c,i;>g7 60 ':'g6 + ~h7 61 ':'e6 .i.fS 62
lIxc6 lId4 + 63 Wf5 e4 64 fxe4 lId7
65 lIa6 .i.g7 66 e5 ':'f7 + 67 .i.f6
.i.fS 6S ':'xa5 wgS 69 ':'as ':'h7 70
e6 ':'xh5+ 71 Wg41-0
It should not escape our attention
that, yet again, the player on the receiving end of a positional sacrifice is set
numerous strategic and practical problems which tend to grow in gravity as
the game progresses and which, ulti-

1 d4 ltJf6 2 ltJc3 d5 3 .i.g5 .i.f5 4


.i.xf6 gxf6 5 e3 e6 6 .i.d3 .i.g6 7 f4

A rather cheeky advance since it neglects the e4-square and invites Black to
clamp down with 7... f5. In fact this
leads to a tenable position for Black, as
does the preliminary trade on d3. Instead Black sought to punish his opponent's latest by seeking to undermine
White's influence on the dark squares
now that the committal 2-f4 has also
neglected the e3-pawn.
7 ... c5?!
Failing to spot White's response suggests that Black was in too positive a
mood here, the one distinction about
the text being that it is a theoretical
43

Understanding the Sacrifice

novelty.
8 f5!

tive in 10 ... cxd4 11 exd4 .tb4. Then 12


0-0 .txc3 13 tiJxc3 0-0 14 'ir'xds tiJxd4
15 'ir'xb7 sees White shift his attention
to the queenside, while 13 ...tiJxd4 14
l:tae1 + <iti>f8 can lead to an interesting
situation after the following sequence:
15 'ifxds 'ifxds 16 tiJxds l:td8 17 tiJe3
l:tg8 18 c3 tiJf3+ 19 l:txf3 l:txd3 20 l:tf2

Rather than White being guilty of seriously weakening his dark squares,
Black's neglection of his light squares is
the real crime.
8 ... exf5

Black has to accept his three f-pawns


anyway, and by keeping the bishop in
the game the light squares should be
easier to defend. After 8... .txfS 9 .txfS
exfs 10 'ir'f3 White's position is even
more pleasant than in the game.
9 'iWf3 lLlc6 10 lLlge2

10 ... 'iWd7

Black is eager to send his king over to


the queenside, away from the embarrassment. Otherwise there is an altema44

Ironically the feature of which Black


is not too proud has survived intact!
Unfortunately the future of the f-pawns
is anyway in White's hands, which is
where the pawns will be eventually!
White can also play 12 .txfs .txc3+
13 bxc3, which accepts imperfection in
White's own structure, although Black is
hardly in a position to exploit this.
11 0-0
11 tiJxds!? looks good, Black's best
being 11.. ..tg7 12 c4 with an obvious
advantage to White, rather than 11 ... 0-0o 12 tiJxf6 'ir'e6 13 ds 'ifxf6 14 dxc6
etc. The text is simple and takes aim on
the f-file.
11 ... 0-0-0
11 ...l:td8 is a suggestion of Tsesarsky,
who gives 12 .txfS 12....txfs 13 'ir'xfs
.th6 as only slighdy worse for Black,
although White seems clearly better to
me. Even better for White is 12 tiJf4

The Importance of Structure

cxd4 13 lbfxd5 ~e7 14 exd4, e.g.


14...lbxd4 15 'ife3lbe6 16 ~b5 ~c5 17
lbxf6+ rl;e7 18 'i'xc5+ lbxc5 19lbxd7
lbxd7 20 l:tae1 +

Now both 20 ...~f6 21lbe4+ rl;g7 22


lbd6 and 20 ...Wd6 21 %td1 + c3;c7 22
~xd7 :xd7 23 lbb5+ c3;d8 24 lbxa7
are decisive.
12 ~xf5

One down, two to go ...


12 ... ~xf5 13 "xf5 lbb4

13 ...'ife6 14 'i'xe6+ fxe6 15 lLcf6


~g7 16l:t1 ~h6 17 %t8.
14 "f2
, Black has a terrible position after the
obvious 14 'ifxf6 ~e7 15 'i'f2lbxc2 16
:tact lbb4 17 'i'x1 or 17 lbf4.
14 ... lDxc2

Or 14...~h6 15 lbf4 cxd4 16 exd4


with a clear lead to White. Black's remaining f-pawns and the d5-pawn are
simply too weak in all these lines.
1 5 :ac 1 lDb4 16 lDf41?
16 'ifxf6 l:tg8 17 dxc5 'ife6 18
'ifxe6+ fxe6 19lbf4 c3;d7 20 a3lbc6 21
b4 is an extra pawn.
16 ... cxd4 17 exd4 ~b8 18 a3 lbc6
19 lDfxd5
No comment.
19 .....9420 l:tcd1 ~h6?
20 ... i.g7 21 b4 is an unpleasant lesser
evil. And now instead of21 %tfe1? f5 22
b4 f4!, which is hardly earth-shattering
but a tad inconvenient, White could
have effectively ended the game immediately with 21 lbxf6! "96 22 d5 etc.
M .Gurevich-Shirov
Bosna SuperGM, 2000

White is happy to accept doubled epawns here because this will then open
the d-file and allow him to pin the
knight, in turn exerting pressure on the
e5-pawn.
18 ... ~xe4
And Black is happy to oblige ...
19 dxe4 ~f6 20 l:tad1
Forcing the win of a pawn.
45

Understanding the Sacrifice

20 ...'ife7 21 iLxd7 :xd7 22 l:txd7


'ifxd7 23 fxe5 iLd8

Remember that White was intending


to reach this position when we joined
the game. White's 5-3 kingside pawn
majority sounds better than it looks, but
at least a number of squares are covered
by this bizarre centre. However, the
pawns are going nowhere and, should
Black win the e5-pawn, the material
balance will be restored only to leave
White with doubled isolated pawns.
24 ~g2 iLc7 25 iLd4 a6 26 'ifc3
%le6
Preparing to get the queen and rook
the right way round for an assault on
the e5-pawn.
27 %lf3 'ife8 28 %ld3

The d-fue beckons as 281:(5 g6 will


force the capture of the e5-pawn anyway. The text also means that Black
must spend a tempo creating an escape
square for his king, as 28 ... .txe5?? 29
i.xe5 I:txe5 loses to 30 'iixe5.
28 ... h6 29 'ifd2 ~h7!
So nudging the h-pawn forward was
doubly useful- this time 29 ... .txe5?? 30
i.xe5 ':xe5 runs into 31 l:d8.
30 iLc5 %lxe5 31 l:td7
Again White will have had this prepared much earlier. Nevertheless
Black's prospects are the more promising, e.g. 31...b6 32 .:xc7 bxc5 33 bxc5
':xe4 and the third e-pawn also comes
under pressure. In fact this is preferable
to Shirov's next, which is a nice way of
exchanging rooks but should result in a
level game.
31 ...l:td5!? 32 exd5
Not 32 I:txd5 'iixe4+.
32 ... 'ifxd7 33 'ifd3 + ~g8 34 d6?1

Having given Black targets on the efue White now presents his opponent
with something to aim at on the d-ftle.
Better is 34 e4 with a draw the probable
result. Now the passed pawn is in danger of meeting the same fate as the e5pawn.
46

The Importance of Structure

34 .. .~d8 35 h3 'ii'e6 36 e4

36 d7 f5 followed by .. .'l;;f7 favours


Black.
36 ... b6
Evicting a defender in preparation
for the coming approach of the king.
37 i..f2 ~f8 38 g4
38 d7? <l;;e7.
38 ... ~e8 39 ~f3

h5 44 'ii'f3
44 gxh5?? 'iVxh5+.
44 ... hxg4 45 hxg4

White's latest weakness can't survive


much longer ...
45 ... i..f6 46 i..xf6?
Understandably going for the queen
ending rather than inviting 46 .tf4
.td4, although retaining the bishops
offers better chances of survival.
46 ... 'ii'xf6 47 'ii'e3
Trading queens is obviously out of
the question.
47 ... 'ii'xd6
47 ...<l;;xd6 48 'iVc5+ <l;;d7 49 'iVa7+.
48 'ii'a7 + ~e6 49 'ii'xa6 ~e5

39 ... b5!
39 ...<l;;d7?! 40 'iVxa6 gives White unnecessary counterplay.
40~e3

40 .tc5 <l;;d7.
40 ... 'ii'f6 +!
Ruling out the annoying 'iVd4 before
slotting the king in front of the pawn.
41 'it;>e2 ~d7 42 i..d4 'ii'g6! 43 ~e5

It is fitting that the king acts as final


executioner for the last if the e-pawns.
47

Understanding the Sacrifice

The game ended:


50 'ifa7 'ife6 51 ~2
51 ~f3 1i'b3+ 52 'ffe3 'ffxe3+ 53
~xe3 g5 and White must surrender territory and the game.
51 ...'ifa2 + 52 ~g3
52 ~f3 'iib3+.
52 ... ~xe4 53 'ifc5 'ifd5 54 'ifc1
54 'iic2+ 'iid3+.
54 ... g5 55 'ife1 + ~d3 56 a4 bxa4
57 'ifd1 + ~c3 58 'ifxa4
58 'iixd5 cxd5 59 b5 a3 60 b6 a2 61
b7 al'ii 62 b8'ii 'iigl + 63 ~f3 (63 ~h3
'iif1 + 64 ~g3 'iif4+) 63 ...'iif1 +.
58 ... 'ifd3 + 0-1
The final checking move with the
queen, ......c2+, is next and so White
decides to call it a day.
Finally, here is a simple endgame
demonstration.
Ponomarioy-T opaloy

FIDE World Championship 1999

31 tbg4 ~c7

The alternative 31.. ..i.g7 runs into 32


'iixg5 'iixa2+ 33 ~h3 .i.xc3 34 'iixe7,
e.g. 34......d2 35 e5! and the c5-pawn
drops.
32 e5!? R.xe51
48

32...dxe5 33 liJf2 closes cages the


bishop behind a wall of pawns and
leaves White ready to cement his knight
on e4.
33 tbxe5 dxe5 34 'ife2 ~d6 35 c4

If Black does not pay attention here


he will find himself trying to hold back
the tide on both flanks after White
sends his king on a mission to capture
the g5-pawn.
35 ... e4!
Very good - Black has enough epawns to go around. Now taking with
the pawn lets Black's king stroll in to e5
for what would be a tremendous outpost, so White parts with his a-pawn
instead.
36 'ifxe4 'ifxa2 + 37 ..th3 'ifb2 38
..tg4
Now, instead of 38 ... 'iif2?? 39 f4!,
forcing a decisive passed g-pawn in
view of 39 ...gxf4 40 'ffxf4+ 'ffxf4+ 41
~xf4, Black could have drawn with
38 ...'iff6! 39 c,i?h5 'iff51, e.g. 40 g4
'iff7 + 41 c,i?xg5 'iff6 + 42 ..th5
'ifh8+ etc.
In the following instructive example
White needs a sacrifice to actually get at
his opponent's weaknesses.

The Importance of Structure

Shirov-Short

Bosna SuperGM 2000

In the diagram position White already


has a considerable positional advantage
in that Black's pawns all occupy the
same colour complex as the bishop(s).
But thus far Black is managing to hold
everything together with the aid of his
'bad' bishop, offering the e6-pawn (and,
if necessary, the g6-pawn) support. If
only White could find a way in to
Black's dodgy queenside ...
50 .tg4 :te8 51 h5! _

Ironically White's sacrifice is aimed at


loosening Black's ostensibly iron grip of
the f5-square; the reason why will soon
be revealed.
51 ... gxh5 52 .th3 h4+ 53 ~h2

Thus far White seems only to have


lost a pawn and simultaneously presented Black with a passed pawn, but
White's active pieces are ready to exploit the location of Black's king which,
were the position to open, might be a
problem. For example after 53 ...:hg8
54 fS exfS 55 l:txf5+ ~g7 56 :g2+ ~f8
57 l:.gf2 l:.e7 58 :f6 Black's weak
queenside comes into play, e.g. 58 ...:a7
59 .ie6 l:.g7 60 .ixd5 and White will
emerge from the subsequent multiple
exchanges on f7 with a winning pawn
ending. Alternatively 58 ... <it>g7 59 :xa6
spells the beginning of the end for
Black.

Instead Black anticipates the coming


advance.
53 ...:te7 54 f5 :the8 55 :tg21 .tg8
Or 55 ... exf5 56 l:txf5+ <it>e6 57 :g7
.ig8 58 l:.ff7+ Wd6 59 :Xe7 :Xe7 60
l:txg8 etc.
56 :tg6 + Wf7 57 :tgxe6
(see following diagram)
White is winning.
57 .. .'iPf8
57 ... l:.xe6 58 fxe6+ <it>f6 59 :xd5
.ixe6 60 l:.d6 again leads to the decisive
pawn ending after 60 ... ~f7 61 :xe6
l:txe6 62 .ixe6+ Wxe6 63 <it>h3.
49

Understanding the Sacrifice

60 ...<.ttxf6 61 ~c8 being the fIrst nail in


the cofftn. Black has no time to defend
the b-pawn because the a-pawn will run
through.

58 :xe7 :xe7 59 :xe7 ~xe7 60


f6+11-0
Finally White will be able to exploit
his opponent's queenside pawns, with

50

CHAPTER TWO

The Colour Complex

During the opening phase in particular


we might concentrate on just one colour complex with a view to later launching an offensive or stepping up the
pressure exclusively on, for example,
the dark squares. Alternatively the
change in location (or removal) of one
or more pawns, or an ostensibly unimportant trade of pieces can alter the
power-sharing of a colour complex
considerably, in turn changing the nature of the general struggle. Such factors, since they concern practically 50%
of the board, can be decisive, which is
why opportunities to exploit a shift in
control of a colour complex tend not to
arise too often.
In this chapter we will look at examples in which one player endeavours to
create favourable circumstances on a
specific colour complex with the aid of
a sacrifice. Not surprisingly the advantages of a sacrifice designed to claim
more than a fair share of this or that
colour squares in one or more sectors
of the board can be significant. Moreover, opponents are usually on the

lookout for the more obvious destructive or short-term sacrifice, so this positionally oriented investment often
comes as a surprise, the implications of
which might still remain unclear until it
is too late.
Bagirov-Temirbaev

Manila Olympiad (Men) 1992

An inspection of the diagram position highlights White's light-squared


bishop as a useful piece, offering much
needed support to both flanks, particularly the kingside which, as a result of
White's efforts to undermine the de51

Understanding the Sacrifice

fence of the e4-pawn, looks a bit exposed. The dS-pawn also attracts our
attention, being protected only by the
queen. With these factors in mind, and
with his forces well posted, Black now
changed the pace of the game to his
advantage with a positional sacrifice
aimed at taking over the light squares.
22 .. lDd3!
Interference. Already White's lines of
communication with both c4 and dS
have been cut. Of course the knight
cannot be allowed to stay on d3, so
White must part with his bishop.
23 .ixd3 exd3 24 b3 fxg4
Increasing the range of his lightsquared bishop before executing the key
part of the plan.
25 hxg4 l:txc4!? 26 bxc4.xc4

lections of squares.
27 l:td2 lDf6!?
27 .....e4+ is also possible, meeting
with .....xa4. As long as Black now
undertakes aggressive action on the
light squares he will cause considerable
damage. This would not be the case
were Black to trade on bS - the whole
point of the play since we joined the
game has been to over-run White on
the light squares.
28lDxd6?
A mistake in an anyway hopeless position which, as far as White is concerned, has fallen apart. After, for example, 28 l:txd3 "e4+ 29 ~g1 Black
crowns his strategy with either
29 ...ltlxg4 30 ~b6 (30.ltc1 "xh1+ 31
~xh1 ltlf2+) 30...:xf4 or 29 ...~xg4 30
"d2"g6 etc.
After 28 ....xd5 + 29 ~g1 .xd6
30 l:txd3 .e6 31 g5 hxg5 32 fxg5
lDg4 33 l:th3 lDe5 White soon threw
in the towel.

"3

Movsesian-Dizdar
FIDE World Championship 1999

Black's exchange sacrifice is by no


means uncommon. Since rooks move
along ranks and files they tend to have
litde to do with a particular colour
complex and, as such, make for good
sacrificial candidates in these situations.
Moreover, the colour oriented positional exchange sacrifice often serves to
lessen the worth of the opponent's
rooks, which cannot, of course, contribute in the fight for diagonals or col52

Here we have a French Defence


which is quite pleasant for Black, whose
two main candidate moves are cas ding

The Colour Complex

and ...It'lh4, the latter seeking to undermine White's support of the backward
d4-pawn which can be a problem for
White in some variations. Instead Black
opted for a more provocative continuation.
17 .. J:tc4 18 'ii'd 1 :b4
Part of the plan, but the rook seems
to be heading for trouble in enemy territory.
19 .id2
Exploiting the fact that 19 ...:txb2 20
.tc3 traps the rook, 20 ...:txe2 21 'iixe2
.txa4 22 l:txa4 'iib3 23 l:a2 'iixc3 24
'iib2!? seeing White win one of the
pawns back after 24...'iixb2 25 :txb2 b5
26 :tal or 24...'iic8 25 :tel! 'iid7 26
l:tb1.

19 ...lLlxd4!
The point. Black will part with the
exchange but this version pockets the
far more important d4-pawn and, significandy, trades the rook for the darksquared bishop, a consideration which
assures Black full positional compensation for the modest material investment.
20 .ixb4 lLlxf3 +
20 ... lt'lxe2+ 21 'iixe2 'iixb4 is another possibility, but Black is concentrating his efforts on operating on the

dark squares and the text leaves White


with only the 'wrong' bishop.
21 .ixf3 'ii'xb4 22 b3 0-0

For the rook Black has a potentially


powerful dark-squared bishop (that
cannot be challenged) and an extra
(passed) centre pawn. He is also .without
structural weaknesses whereas White, in
contrast, needs to worry about the
pawns on b3 and e5 (and later, perhaps,
the h5-pawn).
The game continued
23 'ii'd3 .ic5

23 ....tg5 suggests itself, keeping an


eye on el when the c-file offers White
the only means by which to use his 'extra' rook. Instead Black is happy to give
his bishop a more 'hands-on' role in
53

Understanding the Sacrifice

that he is able to work from more than


proceedings.
one sector of the board. Thus far we
2411ae1 ~d4 25 lIfe1 .tb2
The criss-cross pressure on e1 and eS have seen the dark-squared bishop apmeans that White must anyway aban- pear (in total) on gS, cS, d4, b2, c1, f4,
a7 and b8! Incidentally, in the diagram
don the c-fUe.
position 31 'iVb2 runs into 31.. ..txa4
26 lib' lIe8!
Bringing the rook into the game and etc.
guaranteeing Black full compensation 29 lIe1
And now Black had to push with
and, with it, at the very least a level
29 ... d4!
game.
27 lIe2 .td4
Psakhis proposes the more impressive looking 27 ....tc1!? 28'ii'd1 (28
l:tc2? 'ii'e1 +) 28 ....tf4, when 29 g3
meets with 29 ...'ii'c3! (hitting f3 and eS),
e.g. 30 .txdS exdS 31 gxf4 .tg4 32 :e3
.txd1 33 l:txc3 l:txc'3 34 l:r.xd1 l:txb3,
when Black seems to have the better of
the resulting rook ending.
28 lid 1 ~e3
Although there is nothing wrong with
this move it appears that Black has in
With the bishop and d-pawn successmind a faulty plan. The alternative
28 ... .ta7!? was probably discarded be- fully closing out the rooks Black is docause the bishop looks less 'busy' on a7. ing fine here. Unfortunately for Black
However, after the natural 29 ltc2 l::txc2 he went for the tactical
30 'ii'xc2 .tb8 both eS and b3 are under 29 .. :ii'xb3? 30 :e3 d4
but walked right into
pressure.
31 'ii'xd4! ~xd4 32 lIxe8 + .txe8
33 :xb3
The game ended as follows.
33 ... ~xe5 34 .txb7 .txb7
34....td7!? 35 l:tb4 as 36 l:r.c4 .tf6 37
.tc6! .txc6 (37 ....tc8 38 .te8 '.tb7 39
l:tc7) 38 l:txc6 is a lesser evil, although
White's win will inevitably come eventually.
35 :xb7 a5 36 ~f1 ~f8 37 ~e2 g6
38 hxg6 fxg6 39 ~d3 h5
Or 39 ....td6 40 'iifc4 ~e8 41 ~bS
.tb4
42 l:tg7.
It is worth noting that Black's greater
40
:a7
1-0
influence over the dark squares is such
54

The Colour Complex

Grischuk-Markowski

European Team Championship,


Batumi 1999

The diagram position arose after the


opening moves 1 e4 c5 2 ttJf3 g6 3 d4
.1g7 4 d5 ttJf6 5 ttJc3 d6 6 .1c4 0-0 7 0o .1g4 8 h3 .1xf3 9 'it'xf3 ttJbd7 10
'it'dl ttJe8 11 .:tel ttJc7 12 a4
12 ... fS?!
Having already parted company with
his light-squared bishop Black is taking
a risk with this aggressive thrust, which
weakens his light squares considerably.
13 exfS ':'xfS
Now 14 .1a2 ttJb6 15 g4 ':'f7 16 as
ttJd7 17 ttJe4 is enough for a slight pull,
but White wanted to punish his opponent for having too litde respect for an
important colour complex.
14 ttJe4!?
Effectively calling Black's bluff by
taking his eye off the d5-pawn.
14... ttJb6
The only consistent follow-up. Otherwise Black will have practically surrendered the e6-square for nothing.
1S i.d3!?
Again .White can secure an edge with
15 g4
16 'it'd3 ttJxc4 17 'it'xc4 'it'd7
18 :a3 (18 ttJxc5 dxc5 19 d6+ ~h8 20

dxc7 'it'xc7 21 .1e3 b6 is only equal).


After 15 .1d3, on the other hand,
White simply challenges Black to demonstrate that his plan to pressure the
d5-pawn has been worth the positional
price-tag. Black has a choice here/

1S ... c4
Giving the rook some breathing
space along the. rank. Let us see what
might happen if Black captures on d5
immediately. .15 ... ttJbxd5 16 ttJg5 l:r.e5
leads to a comfortable a.dvantage to
White after either 17 .1e4 ttJf6 18
.1xb 7 ':'xe 1+ 19 'it'xe 1 .:tb8 20 ttJe6
ttJxe6 21 'it'xe6+ ~h8 22 .1f3 or 17
':'xe5 dxe5 (17 ....1xe5 18 .1c4 is a simple illustration of what can befall Black)
18.1c4

:f8

55

Understanding the Sacrifice

Black's extra e-pawn might even be a


liability here because it hinders his only
bishop, while the light squares are safely
in White's hands. 15... tt)cxd5 and (even
worse) 15 ...:'xd5 both invite 16 as,
when White is clearly better.
16 i.f1
A typical active retreat. Obviously
White wants to keep this very relevant
piece in play. After 16 as?! cxd3
(16 ... tt)bxd5 17 i.xc4) 17 axb6 tt)xd5
Black, who no longer has to worry
about his vulnerable light squares,
stands better, e.g. 18 bxa7 dxc2 19
'it'xc2 i.d4 or 18 ':'xa7 dxc2 19 'it'xc2
':'b8.
16 ... ':'xd5 17 "'g4 ':'a5
17 ...:f5 18 as tt)d7 19 i.xc4+ d5 20
i.b3 e6 21 tt)g3 ':'7 22 c3 favours
White, with two pawn islands to Black's
three, targets on the centre ftles and still - the potentially influential bishop

pill.
18lDg5

back to a2 earlier. Black's best now is


18... c3 19 b3 :'f5 20 as tt)bd5 21 i.d3
:'e5 22 :'xe5 and now, rather than
22 ... i.xe5 23 i.c4, when the pin is decisive thanks to 23 .. .'~g7 24 i.xd5 tt)xd5
25 tt)e6+ or 23 ... 'it'c8 24 'it'f3, Black can
at least limit his plight to just a slight
disadvantage with 22 ... dxe5 23 i.c4 etc.
Instead...
18 ......c8?
... was aimed at contesting the light
squares at the cost of a pawn, but after...
19 ':'xe7 "'xg4 20 hxg4 ':'c8 21
i.d2 ':'c5
21...':'xa4 22 ':'xa4 tt)xa4 23 i.xc4+
d5 24 i.b3 tt)c5 (24 ... tt)xb2 25 i.f4 h6
26 i.xc7 hxg5 27 i.xd5+) 25 i.c3
i.xc3 26 bxc3 h6 27 tt)7 ~f8 28 tt)d6
~xe7 29 tt)xc8+ ~f6 30 tt)xa7 or 25
i.a2 i.xb2 26 i.f4 i.f6 27 ':'xc7 :'xc7
28 i.xc7 i.xg5 29 i.xd5+ ~f8 30 f4,
with an advantage in both cases.
22 lDe4 ':'c6 23 i.c3 i.xc3 24 lDxc3
White stood better.

Adams-Comp Fritz 6
Frankfurt-West Masters (rapid) 1999

Black has gone to great lengths to


capture the d5-pawn. His rook is out on
a limb on as and there is now a definite
problem on the light squares - no wonder White was content to go along for
the ride rather than drop his bishop
56

For some reason I always like to see


computers lose. Unfortunately in this
game super-GM Michael Adams man-

The Colour Complex

aged only to draw against the machine,


although he did succeed in engineering
a nice winning possibility along the way.
Black's rather tardy development on the
kingside, combined with White's well
placed forces and - significantly - the
b-file, inspired Michael to make a further, aggressive positional pawn sacrifice.
18 d611
Opening the long diagonal to home
in on b 7, freeing the d5-square for both
bishop and knight and generally taking
over the light squares en masse.
18 ... exd6
Now White, understandably, continued 19 i.d5? but after 19 ...'ifa6 20 l:.b1
i.c6 21 1:.b3 i.xd5 22 lbxd5 'itb8 23
'iff7 1i'c6 24 c4 'ifd7 25 'if3 'ifc8 26
1:.eb 1 ':d7 Black put up sufficient resistance to eventually hold the draw - a
pity, in my opinion, particularly when
one looks at Michael's smooth positional approach, which deserved more.
Anyway, it seems that...
19 ':'b1!
... would have offered White excellent
winning chances according to Karsten
Miiller. 19 ...'ifa6 runs into 20 i.c4,
while 19 ... i.c6 20 i.e6+ l:.d7 (20 ... 'itc7
21 lbd5+) 21 i.xd7+ 'itxd7 22 ':xb7+!
i.xb 7 23 'ifxb 7 + 'itd8 24 1:.b 1! is decisive. Miiller also gives 19 ... e4!? 20 'ifxe4
i.c6 21 i.d5 'ifa6 22 ':b3 i.xd5 23
lbxd5 'ifc6 24 1:.eb1 with a promising
attack. 1bis leaves ...
19 ... 'iWa5 20 i.e6! 'iWc7 21 lLlb5
'iWb8.
21...'ifb6 22 lbxd6+ i.xd6 23 l:.xb6
axb6 24 i.d5.
22 'iWf7
Black is in dire straits on the light

squares. Best play now seems to be the


following variations (based on analysis
by Miiller).

22 ... i.xe6
22 ... a6 23 1:.xe5! axb5 (23 ... dxe5 24
l:.d1) 24 i.xd7+ l:.xd7 25 l:.e8+ l:.d826
':xd8+ 'itxd8 27 1:.e1 i.e 7 28 l:.xe 7
'ifc8 29l1xb7 l:.e8 30 'itf1!

Very nice. Black will soon run out of


moves ...
23 'iWxe6 + ':'d7 24 'iWe8 + :d8 25
':'xe5! J..e7
25 ... a6 26 l:.xc5+! dxc5 27 'ife6+
:d7 28 1:.d1 wins for White.
26 'iWxe7 ':'d7
26 ... dxe5 27 'ife6+ l:.d7 28 1:.d1
l:.hd8 29 l:.d5! b6 30 1i'c6+ 1:.c7 sets up
a textbook finish.
.

57

Understanding the Sacrifice

31 ttJxc7 'ii'xc7 32 'ii'a8+ 'ifb8 33


:'xd8+.
27 'ii'e6 a6 28 ':'d1 axb5 29 ':'xc5 +
'ittd8 30 ':'xb5
and Black is in trouble.
N ow for a more thematic example.
M. Gurevich-Bacrot
Bosna SuperGM, 2000

The diagram position is typical of one


of the main lines of the English Opening with 1...e5 and ... g7-g6 etc. Black has
erected a barrier of pawns on the h1-a8
diagonal in the hope of later exploiting
the fact that the dark-squared bishop
has no opposite number. However,
White plans to make the most of his
58

presence on the light squares.


21 tZJb31?
By threatening to jump into c5 White
invites his young opponent to accept
the now unprotected c4-pawn, thus
removing Black's most advanced guardian of the light squares.
21 ... dxc4
Black did not like 21...'ii'd6 22 bxc6
bxc6 23 cxd5 cxd5 24 ttJb5.
22 dxc4 .i.xc4 23 tZJc5
Now the b7-pawn comes under attack, the general pressure on the queenside enhanced by White's heavy artillery
lined up on the b- and c-flles.
23 ... cxb5
The main alternative to the text and, perhaps, an improvement - is
23 ... b6 24 ttJ5a4 ttJf5, when 25 bxc6
ttJd4 26 c7!? 'ii'xc7 27 ttJb5! ttJxb5 28
'ii'xc4 'ii'xc4 29 :'xc4 :'xa4 30 :'xa4
ttJc3 is an interesting series of exchanges from which Black emerges with
an extra pawn, albeit only worth an
edge. Instead 25 iLxc6 ttJd4 26 'ii'd1
ttJxe2+ 27 ttJxe2 'ii'xd1+ 28 :'xd1
iLxe2 29 ttJxb6! iLxd1 30 ttJxa8 :'d8
leaves Black worrying about the bpawn, but 26 ...ttJxc6 27 bxc6 'ii'xd1 + 28
:'xd 1 :'ac8 should be okay for B'lack,
e.g. 29 ttJxb6 :'xc6 30 ttJxc4 :'xc4 31
ttJd5 :'c2. 23 ...'ii'b6? 24 ttJ3a4 is not to
be recommended, while 23 ...:'b8 24
:'d1 'ii'a5 25 ttJ3e4!? followed by homing in on d6 gives White a healthy}nitiative for the invested material aCobrding
to Gurevich.
24 tZJxb5 i.xb5 25 ':'xb5 tZJf5
25 ...:'b8 26 :'d1 'ii'c8 27 iLxb7 gives
White a nagging edge.
26 ':'xb7
White's practical try with the initial

The Colour Complex

sacrifice of the c4-pawn has resulted in


a clear advantage thanks to the extent of
his light square control. Unfortunately
for Black 26 ...:f8 27 :d7 drops an exchange, while 26 ...tbd4 27 'ii'c4 drives
the queen to a more active square. Consequently Black heads to the c-fUe.

26 ...':cS 27 ':xf7 lLJd4


27 .. ,lle7 walks into 28 :xfS!

bishop has played no part, such is the


significance of White's concentration on
one colour complex.
2S"'82
Not 28 "'dl?? :'xcS!, when 29 :xcS
tbf3+ picks up the queen.
2S .. Jle7
28 ......d6 29 "'a7 :g8 30 ~f1! is a
temporary and decisive retreat of the
bishop, which is ready to return to battle after e2-e3.
29 l:txe7 "'xe7 30 lLJd3 l:txc1 + 31
lLJxc1
and White eventually converted his
extra pawn.
An impressive display from White,
wlfo took the practical decision to give
the sacrifice a try based on the positional pluses created by subsequently
assuming control of the light squares.
Turov-Holmsten

Ubeda 2000

Now 28...gxfS 29 1!fxf5+ 'it>h8 30


~e4 is another illustration of White's

domi~nce of the light squares, and

28 .. ,llec7 29 :f3 :xcS 30 "'xeS :xcS


31 :'xcS will also see Black's queen
struggling to fend off both rooks and
the bishop as White launches an assault
on the light squares. Note that here and
in the other variations thus far Black's

A better than average appreciation of


the positional side of chess is, of course,
a very useful skill indeed, and one which
affords us opportunities to steer the
game down an avenue with which an
opponent may not be sufficiently ac59

Understanding the Sacrifice

quainted. Such is the case in this example, where White tempts his lower rated
opponent into capturing a pawn on
which he has been focusing for some
time. With the d4-pawn the subject of
considerable over-protection White
elected to give it away...
20 lDe31?
A nice move from which White has a
good chance of getting what he wants.
The threat is a further advance to g4,
from where Black's 'good' bishop
comes under fire as well as his vulnerable eS-square. Should Black now trade
knights White recaptures with the
queen, keeping open (at the cost of
leaving the d4-pawn isolated) both the
e-file, to monitor both the backward e6pawn and the weakness direcdy in front
of it, and the c1-h6 diagonal, upon
which stands the h6-pawn that currendy
enjoys the protection of Black's knight.
Since allowing ttJg4 is not really a plausible option (... h6-hS covers g4 while
surrendering the potentially important
gS-square) and ... ttJxe3 might leave
Black a little exposed, he chooses to
accept the offer.
20 ...lDfxd4 21 lDxd4

21 ...i.xd4
60

21 ... ttJxd4 22 it.b2 ttJfS 23 it.xf6+


':xf6 24 ttJg4 l:.ff8 25 l:.fel offers
White ample compensation in view of
the wonderful eS-s.quare and Black's
slighdy suspect pawn structure. However, 21...'iixd4!? 22 'iie2 'iic3 is worth
a try. After 23 ttJg4 ttJd4 24 'iid2 eSt?
25 ttJxf6 :'xf6 26 it.b2 'iixd2 27 ':xd2
it.h3! 28 it.xd4 it.xg2 29 ~xg2 exd4 30
:'xd4 l:.d8 the ending is level but, to be
fair, such a variation is extremely difficult to navigate through at the board.
22 i.b2 i.xb2 23 "xb2 + 'iti>h 7 24
lDg4

This is what White was hoping for.


In return for the pawn White has a
nicely posted queen on the long diagonal plus a knight that monitors key dark
squares, not forgetting what could well
turn out to be juicy targets in the form
of the pawns on e6, g6 and h~. Meanwhile Black has the traditionally poor
bishop associated with this French
structure and a king that requires careful
protection. Comfortable compensation,
but Black does have a pawn in the bank
for his inconvenience, so White cannot
afford to be casual in his subsequent
treatment of his positional advantages.
24 .. :i'd8

The Colour Complex

Time to bring the queen back into


the fold in order to shore up the sorry
looking dark squares by contesting the
long diagonal after .. :iif8-g7 (even if
this manoeuvre does take three moves
to accomplish).
2S f4
Clamping down on eS.
2S ... Wf8 26 :fe1 Wg7 27 Wd2
1:thf8 28 i.f1 ~h8 29 i.d3
Now both g6 and h6 are a burden for
Black.
29 ... Wd4+?!
Part of a faulty plan, although it is
difficult to suggest anything constructive for Black.
30 ~g2 hS?
Hindered by a sense of consistency,
Black follows up the check, but retracing his steps with 30 ...1Ifg7 is preferable
to the text, which effectively ftxes both
pawns on far from ideal squares. Now
White should have pounced with ...
31 ttJeS! ttJxeS 32 :xeS :g7 33
Wxa5
.. restoring the material balance with
a clear advantage.

The problem for Black is two-fold:


he is unable to compete on the dark
squares yet, ironically, he is in trouble

on the light squares, too. Of course


matters did not have to reach this grave
level for Black, but the practical problems created by tbe3 - which incurred
no risks for White - were difficult to
address.
Finally an energetic positional sacriftcial theme aimed purely at undermining
the opponent's kingside protection.
Wells-Emms

RedbuslCnockout2000

Black must not be allowed to activate


his bishop pair by pushing his c-pawn.
Such a consideration might have led to
White's next which, despite having an
air of prophylaxis, is actually the first
part of a menacing strategy.
19 :ac1! Wxa2 20 hS
Chipping away at Black's king.
20 ...WdS
The greedy 20.....xb2 runs into 21
hxg6 hxg6 22 tbeS! fxeS 23 "e4 ~h7
24 :th3, with mate looming. Instead
Black calls his queen back.
21 hxg6 hxg6 22 :cS!
The point. White is happy to part
with the exchange of this means the
removal of Black's good bishop, after
61

Understanding the Sacrifice

which the dark squares around Black's


king will be susceptible to attack.

tion of the dark squares, with all White's


forces operating on this complex.

22 ... ioxc5 23 ':'xc5

24 'iWd31 ~f7

Another reason behind lodging a


rook on the fifth rank is to meet
24 ... 'i;h7 with 25 ::'h5. The alternative
24 ... f5 frees the e5-square and is quite
uncomfortable for Black after 25 ~e5,
when White is ready to turn the screw
with'ifg3 etc.
25 tbe5+!
Decisive. The forced capture of the
knight exposes Black's king.
25 ... fxe5 26 'iWf3 + ~gS

26 ...'i;e7 27 i.g5 mate.


23 ....'iWd6

27 'iWf6

23 ...'i'a2!? looks awkward but is


trkky. Wells gives a couple of variations
after 24 'i'd3 'i;f7 25 ~g5+!? (25 ~e5+
fxe5 26 'iff3+ 'i;e7 27 i.g5+ 'i;d6!
etc.). 25 ... fxg5 leads to a decisive advantage for White after 26 'iff3+ 'i;e7
(26 ... 'i;g8 27 'iff6) 27 i.xg5+ 'i;d6 28
'if f4+ e5 29 ::'xe5

Staking a claim for Black's most valuable dark square.


27 ... ':'e7

27 ...'ife7 loses to 28 'ifxg6+ 'i;h8 29


i.g5.
2S'iWxg6+

Wells points out an (academic) improvement found by Fril!?, namely 28


::'c3!.
2S ... ~hS 29 'iWf6 + ~h7 30 iofS!?

White certainly has the dark squares


to himself here! An improvement is
25 ...'i;e7 26 'ifxg6 'ifal + 27 'i;h2 'ifxb2
28 'iff7+ 'i;d8 29 'ifxf6+ 'i;c7 30 ~f7
and the attack continues. Again White's
sacrifice has resulted in total domina62

This is slower but nicer - and more


in keeping with White's overall strategy
- than :'c3.
30 ... ':'xfS 31 'iWxfS .i.eS

The Colour Complex

31...'iixcS 32 dxcS J:lg7 serves only to


postpone the inevitable.
32 lIc3 exd4 33 lIh3 + ~g6 34
lIh6+ 1-0

17 lI1xc6!

Black is going to miss this bishop.


17 ... bxc6 18 lIxf71!

Finally an example in which Black


has only himself to blame.
Botvinnik-Portisch

Monte Carlo 1968

A typical English Opening set-up,


with White's forces aimed at the queenside and Black concentrating on the
centre. Ironically Black now chooses to
close the c-ftle, his decision based on
the use of his best placed piece - always
a risky policy in case something goes
wrong...
15 ... tLlb8?
Played in the knowledge that the cpawn is indirectly protected. An alternative is lS.:.l:tb8, perhaps followed by a
well-timed thrust of the b-pawn.
16 lbc7! iLc6
The point - White's rook is trapped.
But as soon as Botvinnik took the cpawn Portisch must have started worrying about the soundness of his plan,
although now, of course, it is too late to
go back.

Brilliant. White has now picked up a


strong bishop and two pawns for the
rook, and this latest sacrifice cannot be
accepted, e.g. 18 ...'it'xf7 19 'iic4+ 'ifi>g6
20 'iie4+ 'it'fl 21 tbgS+ 'ifi>e7 22
'iixeS+ 'it'd7 23 .ih3+ etc.
18 ... h6 19 lIb7 'ifc8 20 "c4+ ~h8
20 ... 'iie6 21 tbxeS gives White too
large a pawn collection which should
even grow when we look at Black's
weak queenside pawns.
21 tLlh4!

When we joined the game Black's excellent bishop was posted on dS. Now
he is about to lose thanks to his chronic
63

Understanding the Sacrifice

weaknesses on the light squares.


21 .. JWxb7
21...Vie6 22 'ife4 'ifi1g8 23 lLlfS and
White continues the occupation of key
light squares, introducing the threat of
lLlxh6+ as ... gxh6 allows mate on h 7.
After 23 ... lLld7 24 .1.h3! the end will
soon come.
22 tt:Jg6 + ~h7 23 .te4 .td6 24
tt:Jxe5 + g6 25 .txg6 + ~g7 26
i.xh6+ 1-0
After 26 ... 'ifi1xh6 White has 27 Vih4+
ct;g7 28 'ifh7+ etc.

64

CHAPTER THREE

Pieces for Pawns

Usually the positional sacrifice of pieces


for pawns involves taking over key
squares - normally in the centre - in
order to stage an occupation of enemy
territory that can both introduce attacking possibilities as well as reduce or
even remove those of the opponent. An
ideal piece for pawns sacrifice, for example, can lead to long-term domination from which the opponent can find
relief only by returning the material in
unfavourable circumstances.

Here we have a typical King's Indian


Defence scenario in which White has
been generating play on the queenside
while Black has been busy on the other
lank. However, White now brought
proceedings to a swift halt with a fairly
standard demolition of the centre.
21 tOxd61 :xd6
21...~h3+ 22 gxh3 i.xd2 23 i.xe5
does not help Black, e.g. 23 ...:xd6 24
i.xd6 i.xel 25 1Lce1 etc.
22 tOc4

Pelletier-Balcerak

Biel Open 2000

22 ...:g61
22 ...i.c8 23 i.xe5 is awful for Black,
while Pelletier gives 22...~c8 23 ~xd6
65

Understanding the Sacrifice

ttJxd6 24 exf5 it.xfS (24 ... e4 25 g3 ttJd3


26 it.xd3 exd3 27 'ii'c3 ~h7 28 f6) 25
it.xe5 and 23 it.xe5 l:tg6 24 it.xf4!?
it.xf4 25 e5, with a clear advantage in
both cases.

barrier of pawns across the board.

23 llJxe5 1-0

13 e4!?

An interesting attempt to contest the


light squares by opening up the position
and putting the exclusive bishop to
good use.
In the space of just three moves
White's occupation of the centre gives
him control of enough key squares to
induce resignation! A possible finish is
23 ... l:td6 24 it.a3 it.e8 25 it.xd6 'ifxd6
26 ttJc4, when White has a rook and
two pawns for two pieces, the two
pawns ready to march unopposed down
the centre files.
In the following example White
clears away his opponent's centre pawns
at the cost of a piece, replacing them
with his own (passed pawns) in the
hope of paralysing Black in a bind on
the light squares. Black, in turn, sets
about erecting a blockade ...

13 ... b4 14 exd5

Part of the plan. 14 e5 ttJxe5 gets


White nowhere.
14 ... bxc3

The more sober response is 14... exd5,


which led to a slight edge for White in
Bareev-Shirov, Pardubice 1994 after 15
ttJa4 0-0 16 it.f3 l:te8 17 it.g5 'ifb8 18
l:tfe1 l:txe1 + 19 l:txe1 it.h2+ 20 ~f1
it.f4 21 it.xf6 ttJxf6 22 cxd5 cxd5 23 g3.
15 dxc6

Akopian-Bareev

FIDE World Championship 1999


Black has traded in his light-squared
bishop for a knight and then set his stall
out with what he intended to be a solid
66

This

IS

the consistent, positionally

Pieces for Pawns

oriented follow-up to the sacrifice, and


looks preferable to the messy 15 dxe6
fxe6 16 'ifxg6+ 'ittffi.
15 ... tOb8 16 i..f3 "fie7 17 d5
Establishing the very structure White
was looking for when embarking on this
route with e3-e4. Black obviously has
insufficient influence on the light
squares, which makes the advanced
cluster of pawns look pretty formidable.
However, what Black does have is decent control of the dark squares, with
which only White's bishop (apart from
the queen) is acquainted - compared
with Black's bishop and two knights.
Consequendy a blockade looks likely ...
17 ... 0-0 18 i..e3
Trying to improve on 18 b4 exd5 19
cxd5 i.xb4 20 llbl .td6 21 .te3, which
was agreed drawn in Alterman-Ye
Rongguang, Beijing 1995.
18 ... exd5 19 exd5 :d8 20 :ad1 a5
21 'iWxe3

%le8 27 <iltg2 lbe 7 28 i..e5 tOf5 29


i..xd6lbxd6

The actors have changed but the role


is the same. Blockading duties have
been undertaken by a knight, traditionally the most appropriate piece for such
a task. Meanwhile White's remaining
minor piece is effectively restricted by
the pawns it supports.
The result is a stand-off which ended
as follows:
30 'iWd2 %lab8 31 %lxe8 + lbfxe8 32
:e1 'iti>f8 33 'iWe3 'iWa7 34 h4 tOf6
35 'iWe5 'iWe7 36 'iWe3 "fib6 37 "fie5
'iWe 7 38 'iWe3 'iWb6 %-%
Kobalija-Zakharevieh
Russian Championship 2000

For the piece White has three pawns,


two of which need constant monitoring
and therefore severely restrict Black's
opportunity to make his extra piece tell.
There followed ...
21 ... tObd7! 22 g3 tOb6 23 "fie2 i..e5
24 'iWe5 tOe8 25 :fe1 i..d6 26 'iWe2
67

Understanding the Sacrifice

. Another KID, but this time the situation is less complex. Nevertheless White
saw that a piece sacrifice could open the
floodgates.
16 llJd5!! cxd5
Black must accept the Trojan horse
sooner or later, e.g. 16 .. :ii'd7 17 .ic4
cxd5 18 exd5 .ig4 19 c6, when the
pawns roll on in rugby scrum fashion,
the menacing bishops tucked in behind.
17 exd5 .i.f5
Or 17 ....ig4 18 h3 .ix3 19 i.x3
followed by the advance of the centre
pawns.
1S .i.c4! .i.g4
18 .. /iJd7 19 d6.
19 h3 .i.xf3 20 'ifxf3

White has only a pawn for the piece


but he has ownership of several squares
in the heart of Black's camp - and the
advance of the d-pawn will stake a claim
to even more territory. In fact Black is
at a loss to find a feasible move in the
diagram position, e.g. 20 ....i8 21 d6
~xd6 22 cxd6 'ii'xc4 (22 ...'ii'd7 23 .idS)
23 'ifxb7 'ifa4 24 :d3 'ii'c2 (24 ... e4 25
:b3) 25 :d5.
In the game Black tried ...
20 ...llJd6
... returning the piece to disrupt
68

White's pawns and thus obstruct the


mighty bishop pair, but after
21 cxd61i'cS
Not 21...'ilxc4 22 :c1, e.g. 22 ... e4 23
:xc4 ex3 24 :c8+ .i8 25 :xf8+!
'ittxfB 26 d7 +.
22.i.f1 llJd7 23 l:lc1 .eS 24 l:lc7
White was on the road to victory.
Anastasian-Bellini

1st European Championship 2000

The diagram position arose after the


moves 1 c4 e6 2 d4 dS 3 ~c3 ~f6 4
cxd5 exd5 5 .ig5 c6 6 e3 .if5 7 'iI3
.ig6 8 .ixf6 'ifxf6 9 'ilxf6 gxf6 10 h4
~d7 11 ~ge2 .id6 12 hS .if5 13 3 h6
14 'ittf2 :g8 15 ~f4 ~fB 16 :c1 rJile7
17 g4 i.h7. Doubled isolated pawns are,
of course, best avoided, although such
weaknesses can sometimes go unpunished. Here the scope of Black's bishop
pair is relied upon to provide compensation for the structural damage caused
by the trade of queens. However,
White's gradual nurturing of his kingside pawn mass is about to pay dividends thanks to a sacrifice that ensures
the stripping away of Black's front line.
1SllJcxd5 +! cxd5 19l1Jxd5 + ~dS
In response to the stubborn 19 ... rJile6

Pieces for Pawns

White should pass over 20 i.c4, when


20 ...l:td8 leaves no worthwhile discovered check, in favour of 20 liJc7+ .ixc7
21 I:txc7, picking up another pawn as
both b 7 and f7 (indirectly thanks to
.ic4+) are under fIre.
20 tLlxf6

Having collected three pawns for the


piece the next phase of the strategy is to
make a play for the light squares in
preparation for mobilising the now 5-2
pawn majority.
There followed:
20 ... :g7 21 tLlxh7 tLlxh7 22 .ltd3
tLlf6 23 .It f5 tLlg8

24 f4?1

Baburin suggests keeping the bishop


on the board to facilitate the march of

the pawns, offering the line 24 :'hg1


liJe7 25 .id3 I:tc8 26 :'xc8+ 'iftxc8 27
f4 etc.
24 ... tLle 7 25 ~f3 tLlxf5 26 gxf5 ~e 7
27 e4 :ag8 28 e5
28 f6+? fails in view of 28 ... 'iftxf6 29
e5+ ~e6 30 exd6 :g3+ 31 'ifte2 I:tg2+.
28 ...:g2

An instructive treatment from Black


who, sensibly, is realistic enough to return the piece on his own terms rather
than feel the force of the pawn mass.
In fact after the moves 29 ~e4 f6
(29 ... .ib8? 30 f6+ 'iftd7 31 'iftf5) 30
:h3 :xb2 31 :b3 :xb3 32 exd6 +
~xd6 33 axb3 White had the doubled
isolated f-pawns, a factor that helped
Black secure the draw on the 50th
move.
This game should serve as a reminder
that the positional pluses of a piece for
pawns sacrifIce can evaporate should
circumstances arise in which a positionally oriented counter-sacrifIce redresses
the structural balance.
Finally, here is an entertaining example of the practical difficulties experienced by both sides after a piece for
pawns sacrifIce in the centre.
69

Understanding the Sacrifice

J. Polgar-Baerot
Bastia (rapid) 1999

19 ...llJexd5!?
While this sacrifice might not be
fool-proof it is, nonetheless, interesting
to see how Black's centre pawns are
subsequendy treated.
20 exd5 llJxd5 21 i.e4 15 22
i.xd5 + i.xd5 23 'ii'd3 i.e6 24 llJg5
24 'i'e3 bxc4 25 'i'xb6 gives White a
clear lead according to Wedberg, who
might have a point. Black's problem is a
lack of control of the dark squares,
which severely diminishes the potential
of the pawn mass in terms of marching
up the board to stearn-roller White.
Having said that, a continuation such as
25 ... c3 26 lLlb3 :'c6 27 'i'e3 .ixb3 28
axb3 'i'b7 still needs White to demonstrate an advantage.
24 ... bxe4 25 'ii'h3?
Wedberg proposes 25 'i'a3.
25 ...'ii'e7 26 llJxe6 'ii'xe6 27 'ii'e3 b5
Securing the c-pawn before preparing
for - ideally - the push of the d-pawn.
However, in these situations it often
helps the player with the pawns to have
a minor piece for extra assistance, while
another piece for White would at least
be a potential target.
70

2814
Now the pressure on e5 forces Black
to relinquish control of the d4-square,
which happens to be immediately accessible .. .
28 ... e4 29 llJ13 'ii'17 30 llJd4 d5 31
%led 1 %le8 32 <Ji>12 'ii'g7
White has erected an effective blockade but the question is whether she has
anything else to do. Not surprisingly she
decides to give a kingside offensive a
try.
33 h4 ':ee7 34 ':e3 ':d7 35 h5?!
'ii'h6!
Black is ready.
36 llJe2 'ii'xh5 37 'ii'16 'ii'h6 38 'ii'e6
%led8 39 'ii'e6 +
Grabbing the a6-pawn invites Black to
transform his pawns with ... d5-d4 etc.
39 .. .'ith8 40 %lh3 'ii'g7 41 llJd4 %ld6
42 'ii'e5 'ii'xe5 43 1xe5 %lb6
Now Black's sheer weight in numbers is the significant factor, although
the game soon saw a further interesting
and instructive development.
44 <Ji>e3 'it>g7 45 llJe2 %le6! 46 llJd4
%lxe5 47 llJe6 d4 +
An unusual position. Black allows his
rooks to be forked and even offers the
d-pawn!

Pieces for Pawns

50 ... d3!
Three connected passed pawns bring
home the bacon.
51 ':xa6 c3 52 :c6 CI2

48~f4

48 tt)xd4 l:ed5 49 g3 l:8d7!, followed by .. .'it'f6-e5, is very uncomfortable for White, or 48 l:xd4 l:xd4 49
~xd4 l1e6 50 <it'd5 (50 tt)e5 l:d6+ 51
~c5 l1d2; 50 tt)b8? l:b6 51 tt)d7
Itd6+) 50... ~f6 51 l:xh7 (51 tt)d4
l1e5+ 52 ~d6 e3 53 tt)e2 h5 and the
pawns keep coming) 51...e3 52 l1h1 c3
53 tt)d411e5+! 54 ~d6 l:e8 55 tt)c2 f4
etc. The knight is no match for the
pawns in this ending.
48 .. Jled5 49liJxd8 :xd8
I doubt Bacrot expected to reach
such a position when he originally removed White's centre pawns.

50 :a3
5011dh1 h5.

. What a pawn chain! White has no answer to the relentless advance of this
armada.
53 :c7 + 'it.'f6 54 :c6 + ~7 55
:c7 + ~f6 56 ':c6 + ~f7 57 :c7 +
'it.'e6 58 :h1 d2 59 :xc2 d1. 60
:xd 1 :xd 1 61 ':c6 + and Black went
on to win the ending.
Finally, here is a remarkable game in
which White's obsession with pawns
sees him gradually build up quite a collection, Black's share of territory being
constantly undermined.

V.Mikhalevski-Rabinovich
Lost Boys Open 1999
1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 liJf3 e6 4 g3
dxc4 5 ~g2 b5 6 0-0 lbd7 7 a4
~b7 8 lbc3 a6 9 lbe5 llJe7 10
liJxf7!!
A new move at the time. Black's
queenside play has left his kingside susceptible to an attack, although White's
strategy is nevertheless of a more global
character.
71

Un

g
d.,.,.n '"

the

SaC!rii!.!.fi~ce=----_ _---.:...._ _ _
~~as
White

".

12...lDds? 13

great for
lD~7 14lDxe6 etc.
~h3!, e.g. 13 ...
3 xb5 1
1 Not
8
13'
13 ... i..c8?

~h3? ~c8.

'iii f7 11 lLle4
10Eyeing
... x up bo th d6 and gs.
11...'iiig8
.
fail to deny White a
The alternattves
lDf5 12lDgs+
11... 14 'iii'g4) 14
pleasant game. After
3 lDd6
'1ft 7 13 e4 h6 (1 "'lDf6 16 l:te 1 Black

ex~ hxg5
15 i.xg5+ hile
d
~h3

11...1ilg6 12

Pressure, w
is un
also targets the e6lD
5+ er
'1fte7 13
. 11 ..,d
.. 12 lDgs+
... B
r,.. sl;l
Wonh a try 1S 13 'ltJc7 14 'i'hs e

pawn.
g

rlh 7 13 e4lDsf6 (...


ki suggests 14
....e
5 (Mikhruevs
... 4
15 'ii'h4) 14 e
sl;l 14...lDds 15 g
~h3!? and 14 d .. )

lDc7.
12 ltJg5!

~~--~

14 ~h3! - the
13 axbs? loses to
bs for now
... White's capture on ,
~c8.
oint of
.
after ...

pthe

wok . is best
hangmg
when 14 i.h3 i.cB
13 'ili'b6!? IS
...
616 'b xa 61'S unclear.
15 l:txa6! :'xa
: 41
b 6:87 15 8.
14 xc
. k up the third pawn
h
Preparing to p1C.
after which t e
for the inves~ed P1~ be the only sur. orucaliy,
d has a
e6-pawn, 1r
th other h an,
White on e
vivor.
,
the ready as well as
.
k
of
pawns
at
~eanwhile, Black is senpac
active pieces.
. be h'ill d in development.
ously laggmg
----....-J'r.""""""'l~~

lLlf6
12...
12...
lDfs? 13 e4 followed by
72

~h3 is

Pieces for Pawns

15 ... h6 16lLlh3 g5

plete control.

A necessary evil, denying White use


of the f4-square and preparing an unorthodox introduction of the Icing's rook.
17 :xc4 :h7 18 e4 a5
Threatening to skewer White's rooks.
19 :e 1 .i.a6 20 :c3 lLlc8
Threatening to skewer White's rooks.

23 ... i.xc3

21 'iWb3!

White has not forgotten about the


e6-pawn - the problem with serious
weaknesses is their tendency to remain
so.
21 ... .i.b4
21..:ife8 22 eS tbdS 23 i.xdS exdS
24 'ii'xdS+ is awful for Black, while
22 ...tbhS 23 g4 tb g7 is embarrassing.
22 'iWxe6+
Giving White three connected passed
pawns. Now 22 ... lthf7 23 eS i.xC3 24
bxc3 ltae7 runs into 25 c7!, e.g.
2S ...'ii'xc7 26 'iVxa6 'ii'xc3 27 ltn, when
Black is about to lose more material.
22 ... ~h8 23lLlxg511
White simply can't help himselfl
Nevertheless, his position is so good
that the original sacrificed piece, the
skewer of his rooks and the present
sacrifice seem not to have diminished
the impression that White is in com-

23 ... hxgS 24 i.xgS i.e7 25 c7! 'ii'xd4


26 i.n! is nice, e.g. 26 ...i.xf1 27
i.xf6+ 'ii'xf6 28 'ii'xc8+ i.f8 29 'ii'd8!?,
or 26...i.b7 27 ltd3! lta6 (27 ...'iib6 28
ltd8+! i.xd8 29 cxd8'ii'+ 'ii'xd8 30
i.xf6+) 28 'ii'xa6! etc. Finally 26 ...'ii'd6
27 i.xf6+ i.xf6 28 'ii'e8+ ~g7 29 eS!
cleans up: 29 ... i.xeS 30 ltxeS or
29 ... lth8 30 'ii'xh8+ ~xh8 31 exd6.
24 bxc3!
White's faithful adherence to the
theme of pieces for pawns is admirable.
This time he prefers to add to his central tally than capture the irrelevant
rook.

24 ...:hg7

73

Understanding the Sacrifice

24...hxg5 25 .i.xg5 l:.af7 26 e5 is the


end, while after 24.....e7 25 .i.a31"xe6
26 lDxe6 Black's comical rooks are no
match for the coming wave of pawns.
25 "h3! :g6
25 ...~g4 26 .i.f31 (26 ~e6 'iff61)
26 ...:'xg5 27 .i.xg5 'ifxg5 28 .i.xg4
leaves White with five pawns for a
knight.
26 ~e6 "e8 27 ~f4 :gg7 28
"xh6+
Another one bites the dust.
28 ... ~h7 29 e5 ~e7 30 i.e4 i.c4
31 ~h5 :g6 32 "xh7+! ~xh7 33
~f6 + ~h8 34 ~xe8 :g8 35 ~f6
1-0
After being so willing to sacrifice
throughout the game White has been
rewarded with a bishop and six pawns
for a rookl Incidentally, how many
times have you seen seven (or eight if
you include Black's) passed pawns?

74

Anyway, White's entire strategy of


stripping away the layers of Black's defences by gradually ridding him of
pawns was conducted with great skill,
and such a convincing display is rare
indeed. While we can't expect to emulate such success (or can we?), the ideas
are the same, and an appreciation of the
importance of the role of the pawns is
useful.

CHAPTER FOUR

Rampant Knights

When contemplating the future of


knights we should obviously focus on
the most realistically available - and
desirable - squares. Ideally a 'hole' is
perfect since such a square can be protected only by pieces. In such a scenario
we should be looking for ways to eliminate these pieces, even at the cost of a
pawn (or more) if justified by the ultimate positional rewards. Of' course
when there is no ready-made outpost
available we have to create our own.

White has just played 1 c4, clamping


down on the d5-square and, in so doing,
ftxing the backward d6-pawn. Black had
little choice but to accept the proffered
pawn:
1 ... i.xc4 2 lLlc3
Before removing one protector of d5
White gains a useful tempo on the
queen.
2 ... 'iib33 i.xc4 'iixc4 4 .tg5!
Forcing the elimination of the remaining key defender.
4 ... 'iie6 5 i.xf6 'iixf6 6 lLld5

Boleslavsky-Lisitsin

23rd USSR Championship 1956

The transformation is complete. For


the modest price of a pawn White has
75

Understanding the Sacrifice

.taken control of the dS-square with an


all-seeing knight and left Black with a
terrible bishop after the trade of a few
minor pieces. Of course White is able to
operate equally well on either flank, so
the course of the game might depend
on how Black addresses his positional
problems.
6 ... 'iWh4 7 'iWe2 .tf8 8 'iWf1! l:Iac8 9
g3 'iWg5 10 h4! 'iWh6
1O... 'ifxg3 11 l:.h3.
11 g4 g5 12 hxg5 'iWxg5 13 :h5
'iWg6 14 g5 h6 15 l:Ixh6 'iWxg5
lS ... i..xh6 16 tLJe7+.
16 :h5 1-0
Taking the rook gives White's star
player an opportunity to end the game
with the fork on f6, while 16......g6 17
'ifg1!? would be a nice finish.
Drozdov-Kozul
Groningen 1994

Again the dS-square attracts attention


as a potential outpost for a white knight
but, this time, White's rather artificial
queenside set-up gives Black something
to bite on in the shape of the vulnerable
c3-square. Believe it or not this is exacdy where Black eventually finds himself with an enormous knight!
76

16liJc4

Closing the c-file and no doubt planning to transfer the knight to e3, from
where the inviting dS-square will be ripe
for the taking. However, Black has positional ambitions of his own.
16 ... .txc4!? 17 .txc4liJb6 18 .tf1
White retreats, relying on a pin on the
e1-aS diagonal to address the threat of
... l:hc3. Clearly White has not given up
on the idea of occupying the dS-square,
a quest which would come to an end in
the event of 18 tLJdS tLJfxdS 19 i..xdS
tLJxdS 20 exdS, which not only takes
away dS but also hands Black a useful
kingside pawn majority.
18 ...:xc3!?
Calling White's bluff and, no doubt,
part of Black's original plan in bringing
the queen to as.
19 'iWd2
The point of White's play is that
dropping the rook back to cS walks into
b3-b4.
19 ...:fc8 20 :e3

20 ...liJxe4!?

Consistent. Another possibility is


20...:t3cS 21 b4 l:xc2 22 'ifxc2 %hc2 23
bxaS l::txb2 24 axb6 l:.xb6, when Black
has two pawns for the exchange but his

Rampant Knights

forces lack cohesion. The text looks


more promising.
21 :xe4 'ii'd5 22 'ii'xd5
22 i..xc3 'ifxe4 is simply an extra
pawn.
22 ... llJxd5 23 i.xc3 llJxc3

Black has earned himself a very


pleasant position indeed, the knight
almost single-handedly dominating both
enemy rooks, while White's bishop is,
of course, powerless.
A couple of sample continuations: 24
:'e3 i..g5 25 l:td3 d5 26
e4 27 l:td4
f5 followed by .. .ri;f7 -e6, or 24 ... e4 25
i..c4 i..f6 (with ... d6-d5 to follow), with
a more than comfortable game for
Black in both cases.

ne1

38 d5!
An excellent practical chance, designed to open up Black's king cover a
litde while simultaneously denying
Black's queen unlimited access to the
a2-g8 diagonal. There is also the matter
of the d4-square, from where the knight
will monitor c6, e6 and the f5-pawn.
38 ... 'ii'g8?
Black should accept his lot immediately. A possible continuation is
38... cxd5 39 4Jd4 l:tg8 40 'ifd6+ ~a8
41 4Je6, with a couple of alternatives
for Black. After 41...:'c8 42 :'el :'xel +
43 ~xel we reach the following position:

Kempinski-Pinter
European Team Championship,
Battimi 1999

The respective structures righdy


point to White having the superior minor piece. However, Black's position is
not easy to inftltrate and the open a2-g8
diagonal combines with Black's menacingly posted rook to remind us that
White's king could be a problem. Hence
White's next.

White has traded in an initiative for a


promising ending, the pawn deficit be77

Understanding the Sacrifice

ing more than compensated for by


White's ability to operate almost exclusively on the dark squares, the knight
having virtual freedom of key areas. Let
us see what might happen if Black is not
willing to accept his fate following the
inevitable invasion by White's king:
43 ...'iihl + 44 ~d2 'iig2+ 45 ~c3 'iie2
46 ltJc7+ ~a7 47 'iib6+ ~b8 48
ltJxa6+ ~a8 49 ltJc7+ ~b8 50 ltJxb5
'iic4+ 51 ~d2 'iixb4+ 52 ~e2 'iib2+
53 ~f1 'iic1 + 54 ~g2 and, after the
end of the checks, it is White's turn!
41...:g6 improves, when Black seems
to be holding on after, for example, 42
l:ldl (not 42 ... 'iif7 43 'iid8+ ~a7 44
'iib6+ ~a8 45 ltJc7+ ~b8 46 ltJxa6+
or 44.. .'it;>b8 45 :xd5 ltgl + 46 ~b2
etc.) 42 ...'iig8 43 ltJc7+ ~b8 44 'iie5
~a7.

Of course it is difficult for Black to


cope with the energetic knight, which is
probably why Pinter chose to go active.

~d4 leads to a decisive 'good' knight


versus 'bad' bishop ending.
44 ttJd4

Having come to life and subsequently


captured the f5-pawn (leaving White
with a passed pawn) the knight returns
for temporary defensive duties.
44 ..."d2 + 45 ttJc2 'ii'f2 46 ~c3
46 'iif8+ is strong, e.g. 46 ... i.c8 47
'iid6+ or 46 ... ~a7 47 f5.
46 .....g3 47 "f8+ 'ifi>a7 48 ~b2
Teasing Black.

39 ttJd4 cxd5 40 :c1 :g1 41 ttJxf5


:xc1 + 42 'ifi>xc1

48 ... d4

Not 42 'iixc1? 'iif8!, hitting f5 and


b4.
42 .....g1 + 4~ 'ifi>b2 'ii'd1
43 ...'iig2+ 44 ~c3 'iigl 45 ~d4
'iial + 46 'iic3 'iixc3+ 47 ~xc3 ~c7 48

Defeat is only a matter of time, so


Black tries to unsettle his opponent.
49 "c5 + ~a8 50 'ii'xd4 'ii'f2 51
"e5 "d2
51...'iih2 52 ~c3.

78

Rampant Knights

52 'iWh8+ ~a7 53 'ii'd4+ 1-0


Rashkovsky-Kosikov

Daugavpils 1978

As we join this game White's knight


could hardly be less conveniently posted
- a future of 'dim on the rim' being a
genuine danger. Fortunately for White
his opponent is lagging behind in development, a factor which inspired a
sacrifice designed to transform the fortunes of the knight.
15 d5! exd5 16 lLlf5

Already White's newest attacking


piece monitors d6, e7 (which could
prove significant should White be given
control of the c-flle and a subsequent
check on c8) and even the g7-pawn.

However, sacrificing the d-pawn served


more than to remove Black's protection
of the fS-square, for after the practically
forced
16 ... g6
White was able to use the newly
available d4-square.
The game continued:
17 lLld4 ':'xc 1 18 l:Ixc 1 'ii'xb2
18...'i!fd8 19 l:tc7 is terrible for Black
so he takes his chances in material gain.
19 ':'c8 + ~e7 20 lLlb3

White's busy knight, having contributed to Black's somewhat ragged set-up,


now comes to the defence of the back
rank, with the added sting of leaving the
b7-pawn without defence. Consequently
Black should play 20 ... b6 21 'i!fxa6 i.g7,
which at least keeps White's queen at
bay for a while. White does have compensation for the pawn, of course, but
the fight continues.
Instead the game ended 20 ... g51 21
.i.xg5 + f6 22 'iWb4 + I ~f7 23 'ii'xb7
.i.e7 24 'iWxd5 + 'i3i>g7 25 'ii'xd7
':'xc8 26 'iWxe7 + 1-0
In the following example Black is
happy to see his opponent go to considerable lengths in order to net a pawn,
79

Understanding the Sacrifice

tJte result being a 'good' knight against


an embarrassing bishop, White's minor
piece being severely restricted by his
own pawn structure.

20 ...1t1g7

Sargissian-Asrian
Armenian Championship,
Yerevan 1999

White stands slighdy better thanks to


his territorial superiority and the more
active forces this advantage brings. With
this in mind, and taking into consideration the closed nature of the position,
White decided to strike against Black's
rather isolated queenside pawns.
17 a3 .i.xd31?
Taking on a3 will leave the as-pawn
too exposed, so Black inflicts some
structural damage' on his opponent
(ii'xd3? runs into ...liJxcs) - a price
White is willing to pay in return for the
eventual win of a pawn.
18 exd3 g6!
Excellent positional play - Black
makes way for his knight to travel to fs,
from where the d4-pawn can be put
under pressure.
19 axb4 axb4 20 :a4
White continues with his plan, which
Black is content to go along with.

80

21.th3
Clearly directed against the coming
knight. Of course White need not hurry
in removing the b4-pawn, although 21
l':xb4liJf5 22 l':e1 gives White an edge.
21 ...:b8 22 ltlf3 'fIc7 23 :fa1 ltlf5
24 fld2 :b7 25 .i.xf5
Part of White's overall strategy, although one can't help thinking that,
despite the mass of pawns across the
board affording more scope to the
knights, White could well miss this
bishop.
25 ... exf5 26 :Xb4 :xb4 27 flxb4
:b8 28 flc3 fib 7 29 :a3 ltlf8

Having succeeded in collecting the


pawn White finds himself in a rather

Rampant Knights

awkward situation, with queen and rook


now tied to the remaining b-pawn.
Meanwhile the doubled d-pawns don't
look to healthy, a factor which has
prompted Black to transfer his knight to
the excellent e6-square, which is available only thanks to the trade on f5 (although, to be fair, without this Black
would now have an equally formidable
knight on f5).
30 ltJe5 ltJe6 31 'ii'd2 i.xe5!? 32
fxe5 'iPg7
32 ... ':'a8 33 ':'xa8+ 'iWxa8, with obvious compensation in the ending, has
also been suggested. With the text Black
hopes to exploit to the full the poor
bishop and, ultimately, the versatile
knight, opting to accentuate his positional advantage by preserving some
ftre-power.
33 i.c3
Preparing to shore up the queenside
by pushing the b-pawn. Black now
switches flanks in thematic fashion.
33 ... h5! 34 b4 h4
Suddenly White's structure is beginning to look a little shaky.
35 .::r.a5 hxg3 36 hxg3 .:th8

37 'ii'f2
After 37 ~g2 Black was planning

... ':'h7 followed by sending the queen to


h8, while 37 'iWe3 ':'h3 introduces the
threat of.. .. f5-f4. Notice the role of the
knight here, tying White down to the
defence of d4, supporting the f5-pawn
and always ready to inftltrate via the g5square.
37 ... ltJg5 38 'ii'e3 f4!
Black has another square in mind for
his knight.
39 gxf4 .::r.h3 40 'ii'e2
40 'iWf2 'iWc8 is decisive, e.g. 41 fxg5
(or 41 'iWg2 liJf3+ 42 ~f1 'iWf5)
41...'iWg4+ 42 'iWg2 l:tg3 43 ':'a2 'iWxg5.
40 ...ltJf3 + 41 'iPg2

41 ...'ii'c8!
More accurate than 41...l:1h2+ 42
~xf3 :'xe2 43 ~xe2.
42'ii'xf3
White is ftnally forced to get rid of
the knight.
42 ....::r.xf3 43 'iPxf3 'ii'h3 + 44 'iii'e2
'ii'h2 + 45 'iPe3 'ii'g3 + 46 'iPe2 'ii'xf4
47 b5!? cxb5 48 .::r.xb5 g5 49 c6
Initiating a promotion race that
caused Black sufftcient inconvenience.
The game ended:
49 ... g4 50 c7 'ii'f3 + 51 'iPd2 g3 52
'iii'c2! 'ii'g4
52 ...g2 might be better, but
81

Understanding the Sacrifice

52, ..'iff2+? 53 .Jid2 g2 54 c8'if g1'if 55


!tb8 is one to avoid!
53 :tb1 Wd7 54 1191 Wxc7 55
lbg3+ ~f8 56 lIf3 ~e8 57 l:[f6
Wd7 58 :tb6 Wa4 + 59 ~b2
59 'itd2 draws.
59 ... Wd1 60 .i.b4 We2 +
Or 60 ...'ifxd3 61 .Jic5.
61 ~c3 We1 + 62 ~c2 Wf2+ 63

knight on d5 as well as the passed pawn.


Instead the game continued:
20 lDxd4lDxd4 21 .i.xd411fd8

~c3 %-%

Khachian-Lputian
Armenian Championship,
Yerevan 1999
22 l:td5!?

In the diagram position, which arose


from the French Defence, Black has the
better pawn structure and decent pieces.
The fIrst possibility most players would
consider is 19...ttJxb4?, which runs into
20 !tc4!. However, students of the positional game might fmd themselves being attracted to Lputian's following sacrifice.
19 ... d4!
Exploiting White's weaknesses and
freeing the influential d5-square to be
used as a knight outPost. Now 20 .Jixd4
ttJxd4 21 ttJxd4 'ii'xb4 22 :'c4 'ii'a5 or
...'ifb2 gives Black a nagging edge
thanks to what will be a rock-solid
82

If White insists on holding on to the


pawn with 22 .Jic3 Black takes over the
initiative with 22 ...ttJd5 23 'ifd2 l:.a4,
when the all-seeing knight is well worth
a pawn. 22 .Jif2 'ifxb4 23 :'c4 'ii'b2 24
.Jih4 is another possibility, but
24 ... ttJd5!? 25 .Jixd8 ttJe3 26 'iff3 ttJxft
looks nice for Black.
22 ... Wxb4
Alternatively 23 ':'xd8+ l:.xd8 24
.Jia1 !ta8!? followed by fmally planting
the knight on d5 is amusing.

White's bishop could not be more


amusingly located (a stark contrast to

Rampant Knights

the powerful knight), while the d-pawn


is not going anywhere. Consequently
the status of Black's b-pawn is enhanced.
White opted instead for:
23 .i.cs 'iWaS 24 ':'xd8 + 'iWxd8 2S
'iWf3
This turns down the unpleasant ending that results from trading on e7.
2s ...lbdS 26 fS 'iWc7 27 d4
27 ~d6 'ii'b6+ 28 ~h1 'ii'e3!
27 ... h6
Not 27 ... b6? 28 fxe6!
28 'iWh3 'iWc6

32 ':'f2 .:.a1 + 33 ~h2 'iWe4 34 hxgS


lbg4+ 0-1

In the following example White does


everything necessary to exploit his opponent's vulnerable king.
Kharlov-Kharitonov

Russia Cup 1999

29 f6?

White's desperation at the prospect


of Black eventually assuming full control soon leads him into trouble (29
~d6 'ii'd7 is a lesser evil, when Black
~ effectively ignore the bishop and
operate only on the light squares, 30 f6
running into 30...ttJxf6).
29 ... .:.a2
Black was ready to meet fxg7 with
...ttJe3!, winning on the spot.
30 'iWg3 gS! 31 h4?1
31 'ii'f3!? ttJe3 32 'ii'xc6 bxc6 is an
improvement, albeit one that leaves
White struggling.
31 ... lbe3!

What would Black give for a darksquared bishop?! He does have all of his
'outfield' pieces ready for action on the
queenside but the dark squares in front
of his king are terribly weak. Of course
White would like to deliver mate by
lining up his queen and bishop on the
a1-h8 diagonal, but it is not clear how
such a situation could be engineered.
83

Understanding the Sacrifice

Alternatively the holes on f6 and h6 are


pretty inviting for a knight, but the
'connected' squares (d5, e4, g4 and h5)
are adequately protected by Black.
However, Black's king looks sufficiently
vulnerable to justify investing a little
time in a brief appraisal of the relevant
squares, as well as the pieces that defend them... Such reasoning helped
White fInd a thematic pawn sacrifIce,
albeit one that might require the 'surrender' of two strong bishops for two
knights in order to be most effective.
20 f5!
Decisive! Unfortunately for Black
20....it.xfS 21 ~xb6 axb6 22 lbxd5 is
terrible, so this ugly capture is forced.
But now the h5-square is no longer
covered...
20 ... gxf5 21 lLle2
Wasting no time in heading for the
jugular.

21 ...lLld7
With the dark-squared weaknesses in
front of his king now even worse Black
seeks to take White~s bishop out of the
equation. 21...lbc4 22 lbf4 b6 23 .it.xc6
'ifxc6 24 .it.d4 is an illustration of what
Black is worried about.
22lLlf4!

84

It emerges that White's knight is the


star player, there being no need to
spend time saving the c5-bishop.
22 ... lLlxe5
After 22 ... a6 23 ~d3 'ilfc7 24 lbxe6
fxe6 25 l::txe6 lbxc5 26 'ilfxc5 'ilff4+ 27
'it>b 1 we need only look at the kings to
confIrm that Black's game is in dire
straits.
23 'iWxe5 a6
23 ... lba5 24 'ife7lbb3+ 25 'it>b1 'ilfc5
is a nice try but fails in thematic fashion,
e.g. 26 'iff6 'ifxb5 (or 26 ... l:tac8 27 cxb3
'ifxb5 28 lbh5) 27 lbh5 - this is made
possible by winning the h5-square with
the initial sacrifIce f4-f5.
24 .i.d3 lLle5 25 'iWd4
25 "'e3!? lbxd3+ 26 l:txd3 is clearly
better for White, but he is intent on
focusing on f6 and g7.
25 ...lLlxd3 +?
Making a very difficult situation even
worse. Instead Black can try 25 ... lbf3!?
26 'if f6 lbxe 1 27 l::txe 1 l:td6

Ftacnik offers the following: 28 g6


hxg6! (28 ... 'ifd8? 29 gxh7+ 'it>xh7 30
.it.xfS+ .it.xf5 31 'ilfxfS+) 29lbxg6 fxg6
30 'ifxg6+ 'it>f8 31 'ilff6+ (31 ~xf5
.it.xfS 32 'ifxd6+ 'it>g8 33 l:tg1 + 'it>f7 34
'ifxd5+ 'it>f6 is unclear according to

Rampant Knights

Ftacnik) 31...'it>e8 32 i.xfS 'ii'd8 33


'ii'g6+ 'it>d7 34 i.xe6+ 'it>c7 35 'ii'g3
with a slight edge to White. Fair
enough, but I prefer his other suggestion, the direct 28 liJh5 'ii'f8 29 'ii'e5
l:tc6 30 l:te3!

30 ':'c3 'ii'a2 31 'ii'd4 sees White homing in on Black's king.


28 liJh5 ~f8 29 "h8 + ~e 7 30
"f6+ ~8
30...'it>d7 31 ':'xd4+.
31 liJf4 1-0

This seems to do the trick.


26 ':'xd3 "c4 27 "e51 d4
27 ... ':'e8 28 liJh5 'it>f8 29 'ii'g7+ 'it>e7

The knight ends the game: 31...':'d6


(31...'it>g8 32 g6! hxg6 33 ':'h3) 32
'ii'h8+ 'it>e7 33 'ii'xa8.

85

CHAPTER FIVE

Bishops at Work

In the opening phase of the game we


tend to 'see 'classic' development of the
bishops - giving them room to manreuvre by placing them on f4, gS or c4, for
example. In other, not uncommon circumstances, holding back the bishops
(deliberately or otherwise) might call for
more patient development, while other
means of activation could involve the
sacrifice of one or more pawns. The
sudden change in fortune of a hitherto
dormant or average bishop can in itself
alter the course of a game, while the
transformation of a bishop pair can be
extremely effective.

serves only to maximise the scope of


Black's bishop. Note that ... 7-5 undermines the defence of the dS-pawn
but, at the same time, does Black no
favours as far as the dark squares are
concerned (erecting a barrier on f6 is no
longer possible). With this dark square
bonus and his bishop pair in mind
White judged that his positional plus
outweighed the (modest) material cost
of the dS-pawn.

Vaisser-Dvoretsky

Kiev 1970
In the diagram position Black has
parted with his dark-squared bishop and
White's queen is already potentially well
placed on the a1-h8 diagonal. However,
there is currendy th~ matter of the dSpawn, which is under threat. Protecting
the pawn costs what might be an im.:
portant tempo, while trading on e6

86

1 b4!7 exd5 2 .i.b2 11f7


Now 3 11d1 dxc4 4 .i.xc4 d5 5
0-0 c6 6 b5 was played, and this time

Bishops at Work

it is the defence of a black d5-pawn that


is being undermined. 6 ... c5 7 i.xd5
i.xd5 8 'ii'e5 sees White restore material parity with the dominant minor
piece, so the game continued 6 ... cxb5
7 .i.xb5 .!iJd7 8 f3 ]:tc8 9 'i'd4 with
compensation for White in the form of
the two bishops, superiority on the dark
squares and better structure. Of course
a pawn is a pawn but, being so vulnerable on the dark squares, it is clear that
the points score has little relevance
here. Since this game there has been a
suggested improvement for White,
namely 3 O-O-O! - again the rook comes
to d 1 with the threat of capturing on d5,
but there is a difference in that White's
rooks can be more rapidly connected.
The point is that after 3... dxc4 4 i.xc4
d5 5 b5!? we reach the following position:

The idea is to exploit the new-found


friendship of White's rooks with the
threat of 6 ':xd5 i.xd5 7 ':d 1, when
Black is under pressure on the a2-g8
and al-h8 diagonals. Not surprisingly
this has been assessed as clearly better
for White, although 5... c6 6 bxc6 i.xc6
7 lhd5 i.xd5 8 ':dllbd7 9 ':xd5 ~h8
10 ':xfS ':e7 does not look too bad for

Black. Nevertheless these variations do


demonstrate how we can make the most
of an 'extra' bishop through the sacrifice of a pawn. Remember, also, that a
by-product of such a policy tends to be
that the bishop pair assumes greater
significance.
Diagonal Clearance
Solozhenkin-Drei

Reggio Emilia 2000

Black has just played ... a6-a5, no


doubt directed against b2-b4 as well as
seeking to accentuate Black's would-be
control of the dark squares - particularly after a subsequent ... b7-b6. Of
course White does not want his bishop
to be hindered by his own pawns, hence
his next.
18 c5!?
Prompted by Black's own action on
the queenside, White strikes first, judging that the sacrifice of the d5-pawn will
pay dividends in the near future ~anks
to the greater scope of his bishop.
18 ....!iJexd5
18... lbfxd5 19 'ii'b3 a4 20 'ii'c4 lbf6
transposes to the game continuation ..
19 'i'b3
87

Understanding the Sacrifice

. The point. The queen works with the


bishop to exert pressure on b7.
19 ... 84
19.)t:Jb4 20 ttJxb4 axb4 21 'ii'xb4 d5
might be okay for Black, but 21 cxd6
'ii'xd6 22 i.xb7 leaves White with the
superior minor piece.
20 'ii'c4 0,e7
The tricky 20 ... b5? backfires after 21
'ii'd4, when Black has helped maximise
the power of his opponent's bishop.
21 cxd6
21 'ii'f4?! ':fd8 looks fine for Black.
21 ...'ii'xd6 22 :fd1

The removal of three centre pawns


has done away with Black's plans to
engineer a positional advantage based
on control of the dark squares and fixing White's pawns on the same colour
complex as the bishop. In fact the
bishop is now the strongest minor piece
on the board and, with Black's queenside pawns quite vulnerable, White (also
with aggressively posted rooks) has sufficient compensation.
22 ...':'fc8 23 0,c5 'ii'b6
After 23 ...'ii'b8!? 24 'ii'b5 White anyway gangs up on the b7-pawn.
24 a3 'ii'a7?
Black fails to appreciate the weakness
88

of his back rank. 24 ... 'ii'xb2 25 i.xb7


':xc5 (25 ...'ii'xb7 26 ttJxb7 ':xc4 27
':xc4) 26 i.xa8! would be a nice finish
to White's positional sacrifice, the
bishop travelling the full distance to win
the game. Black's best is 24... ':ab8! 25 .
ttJxa4 'ii'a5 with a slight pull for White'
thanks to his more active pieces, not
least the bishop. The text should have
met with the same fate as ...'ii'xb2,
namely 25 i.xb7! ':xc5 (25 ... 'i'xb7 26
ttJxb7 ':xc4 27 ':xc4) 26 i.xa8! etc
(26 ... ':xc427 ':d8+), but instead White
played:
25 'ii'b4?!
Although after...
25 ...:ab8 26 0,d7!
... White was still on his way to victory.
The game ended:
26 ... 0,xd7
26 ... ':xc1 27 ttJxf6+ gxf6 28 ':xc1
ttJg6 29 ':c7 is a lesser evil, if very unpleasant for Black.
27 ':'xc8 + ':'xc8
27 ...ttJxc8 28 l:txd7 ttJb6 29 'i'd4!.
28 'ii'xe7 ':'c2
28 ... ttJf8 29 i.d5 <it>h8 30 'ii'xf7 ttJg6
31 'i'xg6! hxg6 32 <it>g2.
29 :d4! 0,f8
29 ... 'ii'xd4 30 'i'd8+ ttJf8 31 'i'xd4.
30 ':'f4 1-0
A surprisingly simple demonstration
of diagonal clearance. White would have
had a slight edge after correct play from
Black but, practically, the sacrifice had
the bonus of putting Black under considerable pressure. This is an important
feature of White's strategy, whose principal aim was to reverse the potential
positional roles by denying Black the

Bishops at Work

desired dark-square bind in favour of


activity on the long diagonal.
In the next example we see both
sides seeking to clear away the obstacles
that impede bishops.
Wang ZiIi-Dreev

5th Tan Chin Nam Cup 1999

22 ... i..d7? can now be met with 23


~b6, when 23 ... .:tad8 24 ~xd7 .:txd7
25 i..xfS is decisive thanks to White's
hitherto unemployed bishop. However,
part of the game is frustrating your opponent's plans, and this often leads to
finding a good one of your own in the
process. Consequently Black's next is a
good practical decision.
22 ... e4!

Simultaneously
denying
White's
bishop the desired freedom while providing the d6-bishop with possible inroads into White's half of the board.
23 fxe4 f4!

White's knights have been given


blockading duty on the queenside, although they have also teamed up to
keep Black's dark-squared bishop busy
in the defence of c5. Of course Black
would like to make his presence felt on
the dark squares and White has similar
ambitions on the other colour complex
but, at the moment, the bishops lack
breathing space. This situation soon
changed. White's most automatic reaction here is to try to prise open the b 1h7 diagonal with 21 g4, but after
21 ... i..d7 22 ~d2 b3!? 23 axb3 ~b4 24
'ii'c3 ~xd3 25 'ii'xd3 .:tab8 Black seems
to be making progress. With this in
mind White came up with a clever dualpurpose sacrifice.

Two can play at this game! White's


initial sacrifice was designed to nip
Black's potential queenside counterplay
in the bud in order to enjoy an initiative
on the other flank created by the opening of the b1-h7 diagonal. Now, however, Black's counter-sacrifice keeps the
diagonal in question closed while taking
over' ownership of the important e5square! White's next should not be too
difficult to find ...

21 d61 .i.xd6 22 g4

24 e5!

The point of White's opener is that


the capture on d6 has forced Black to
take his eye off the b6-square, so that

White will not be outdone in the


pawn sacrificing stakes.
24 ....i.xe5 25 .i.xh7 + ..ti>h8

89

Understanding-the Sacrifice

pawn, although -there is still much work


to be done.

For some reason White now played


26 iUS?!, which abandons the strategy
altogether and even failed to give White
enough in the ending that followed
26 ... i.xfS 27' ...~f5 "'xfS+ 28 gxfS
l:ad8 29 "Llaxc5 lDxc5 30 "Llxc5 ltxdl +
31 lhdl f3 32 lift i.d4 33 "Lld3 lte3
34 ..t>c2 ..t>g7 35 c5 ct>f6 36 c6 i.b6 etc.
In fact Black, -with a flexible bishop,
eventually won the game.
Instead 26 .i.e41 is _the logical and
very strong culmination of White's play
thus far, exploiting the fact that the initial sacrifice of the d-pawn cleared the
h 1-a8 diagonal.

A fan of the hypermodern approach


involving a fianchetto or two, over the
years I have found the presence of a
bishop on g2 and g7 to be quite reassuring. It is not unusual to be given (or to
create oneself) the opportunity to capture a rook in 'the opposite corner during the opening or early middlegame
phase and, despite the gain in material
terms, such a trade can quite easily lead
to difficulties. The following game is a
typical example.

Tregubov-Aseev
Russian Championship 2000
1 d4 ~f6 2 c4 e6 3 ~f3 b6 4 g3
i..a6 5 ~bd2 c5 6 i..g2 ~c6 7 ~e5

Seeking to exploit the pin on the long


diagonal, this advance is given a 'I?' by
the talented young theoretician Gershon
ofIsrael.
7 ... ~xd4

After 26 ...:a7 27 ~bxc5 ~xc5


28 ~xc5 i..d4 29 ~b3 .i.e3 30 :d5
Black does not have enough for the
90

Continuing the discussion (with himself), Gershon also likes Black's sacrifice.
8 e3

Bishops at Work

With Black's last move netting a


pawn, White obviously has little choice
but to take the rook, the only decision
being whether to fIrst evict the knight
from d4. In Vladimirov-Dautov, Frunze
1988 White postponed such action, the
game continuing 8 i.xa8 'ii'xa8 9 0-0
i.e7 10 b3 d6 11lLle3lLlx3+ 12lLlx3
'i'c6 13 i.b2 i.b7 14 h3 0-0 15 'i'c2
lLle4 16 'It,lh2 f5

With a goo,d bishop and centre pawn


for the rook, Black's influence on the
h 1-a8 diagonal combined with his
knight and control of key centre squares
should be enough for a slight advantage.
After 17 %lad1 g5! Black was ready to
rid his opponent of what control he had
left of the h1-a8 diagonal. Note that the
thrust of the g7-pawn opens the other
long diagonal for White's remaining
bishop, but this factor cannot realistically be exploited. In fact 18 'ilc1 ltf7
19 'ife3 g4 20 lLle1 i.g5 21 f4 (21 'ifd3
lLlxf2 and 22 llxf2 allows the thematic
culmination of Black's exchange sacrifIce with a mate on h1) 21...gx3 22
'i'x3 lLld2 23 'ili'xc6 lLlxfl + 24 'It,lg1
i.xc6 left Black with a clear lead.
The text deals with Black's knight but
at the cost of further weakening the

light squares.
S ...lDf5 9 "a4!?
Gaining an important tempo and improving on 9 i.xa8 'ili'xa8 10 0-0 i.d6
11 lLle3 h5 (again 11...'ilc6!?, followed
by dropping the bishop back to b7,
looks sensible) 12 %lel lLle4 13 lLlxe4
'ili'xe4 14 lLld2 'ili'c6 15 b3 h4 16 'iIi'3
hxg3 17 hxg3 i.b7 18 'ili'xc6 .txc6 19
e4lLld4, which favoured Black in Hertneck-Dautov, Bad Wiessee 1997. With
pretty ineffectual rooks White offered
to return the exchange with 20 i.b2,
but after 20 ...lLlc2 21 i.xg7 :h7 22 i.f6
%lh6 23 .tg7 %lh7 24 i.f6 lLlxa1! 25
.txa1 f5 the problems on the light
squares continued.
9 .....cS 10 .i.xaS "xaS 11 :g1

The idea behind White's 9 "a4 is to


castle queenside, when Black's dominance of the long diagonal will be less
significant.
11 ....i.cS
A necessary defensive retreat in view
of 11.. ..tb7 12 g4 (threatening to highlight the weakness of d7 with g4-g5)
12...'iIi'b8 13 gxfS 'i'xe5 14 'ilxa7, when
White is on the offensive.
12 b3 lDe4 13 .i.b2
13 lLlxe4 'ili'xe4 embarrasses the
91

Understanding the Sacrifice

knight, so White allows his king to be


inconvenienced.
13 ... ttJxd2 14 ~xd2 f6
Believe it or not this was a new move
at the time of the game! It is time to
concentrate on the light squares, for
which Black originally parted with his
rook.
1 5 ttJd3 ~b 7 16 :ad 1 ~c6
16 ... J.f3!? 17 l:.del J.c6 18 'ii'a6 is
also possible, the decision being based
on where Black prefers his bishop.
17 "a6 ~f3

Neither White's king nor queen are


where we would have expected them to
be by now, but the occupation of the
h 1-a8 diagonal is exactly what Black has
been working toward since calling
White's bluff with 7 ...llJxd4. The text
highlights the plight of White's rooks
which - for the moment - show no sign
of ftnding a way into the game. Meanwhile Black has an extra centre pawn,
decent pieces and no real weaknesses.
18 :de1 ~e7 19 '1fi>c1 0-0
With his queen wonderfully placed in
the corner Black has 'now completed his
development. White's rooks are both
being monitored by the bishop on f3
and his queen now seems out on a limb

92

over on a6, too far from the kingside,


where White would like to generate an
attack but where Black is well in control.
20 ttJf4?
Understandably at a loss for something to do, although bringing the
queen back into the fold with 20 'ii'a3
followed by J.c3 and 'ii'b2 makes sense.
20 ... ttJd6 21 g4 ttJe4
Black nelps himself to another juicy
square on the long diagonal.
22 ttJd3 ~d6 23 h4 ~h2
Teasing the rooks with the prospect
of an inevitable capture.
24 :gf1 ~g2

It is nice - after sacriftcing the exchange - to see rooks being dominated


in such a fashion by a pair of bishops!
25 f4

Much worse for White is 25 f3 J.xfl


26 l:.xfl llJg3 27 l:.2 (27 l:.el 'ii'xf3)
27 ...J.g1 28 l:.g2 'ii'xf3 etc.
25 ... ~g3
25 ... J.xfl 26 l:.xfl d5 clearly favours
Black, but the text is loyal to the mighty
light-squared bishop.
26 :g1
26 l:.d1 J.xfl 27 l:.xfl J.xh4.
26 ... ttJf2! 27 ttJxf2 ~xf2 28 ~c3

Bishops at Work

Here Black - inexplicably - presented


his opponent with the opportunity of
exchanging queens, although. after
28 .. :ii'b7? 29 'ii'xb7 .txb7 30 gS .txel
31 ':xel fxgS 32 hxgS .te4!, with an
extra pawn, the better bishop and ... d7dS coming, Black was in charge.
Instead 2S ... i.xe1 29 ':'xe1 "iWe4!
is a big improvement, cashing in while
maintaining the positional superiority
afforded by the long diagonal, not forgetting White's terribly isolated queen.
The point is that 30 'ii'xa7 'ii'd3 spells
the end for White, e.g. 31 ~b2 .i.e4 etc.
Meanwhile 30 "iWa3 d5 31 exd5 exd5
leaves Black with a decisive advantage.
I t is interesting to note that from the
moment White's light-squared bishop
left the board the hl-a8 diagonal played
an increasingly significant role throughout the game, culminating in the possible 'finish', above, where Black's queen
takes centre stage on e4. By concentrating on the long diagonal Black was able
to reduce his opponent to utter passivity.
In the previous example we saw an
exchange sacrifice earn Black a slowly
developing initiative thanks to a powerful bishop posted on a key diagonal.
Next we come to another common positional sacrifice of rook for bishop, this
time the aim being to nip an attack in
the bud as well as to create a 'shut-out'
of enemy forces.
Herrera-Dominguez
Guillermo Garcia Premier (II) 2000

I t is not difficult to see that White


has been busy trying to attack on the

kingside, the result being a positional


inferiority on the other flank. Black exploited this with a sacrifice designed to
alleviate the pressure.

24 ...i.e5!
The most secure square available to
the bishop is also the best, and acceptance of the offer by White will leave
the bishop unopposed. After 25 i.xfS
':'xfS 26 "iWh6 f6 27 ':'h3 "iWg7 Black's
offer to trade queens was fully justified.
White's hopes of an attack have disappeared with the defence of h 7, and
there is nothing left to target in Black's
camp, the knight being almost as impressive as the all-seeing bishop on eS.
As is often the case we should concentrate on the influence of Black's bishop
on both sides of the board rather than
the exchange sacrifice required to elevate its status.
The game continued
2S "iWxg7 + ~xg7 29 ~g2 ':'eS 30
':'b1 ':'e7 31 ':'e3 ltJd7 32 i.d3 ~S
33 ':'h3 ltJe5 34 i.e2 ~g7 35 ':'e3
ltJd7 36 i.d3 ltJe5 ~ - ~
White's rooks can do nothing and
Black's bishop is a match for anything.
Notice how White's bishop, which
looked so menacing when we joined the

93

Understanding the Sacrifice

game, has been demoted to 'bad' bishop


- a positional factor that Black will have
considered when inviting White to part
company with his better Oong-term)
bishop (and, in doing so, surrender the
dark squares).

knight is ready to quickly hop into the


particularly inviting eS-square, from
where several sectors of the board can
be monitored. White acted quickly...
1 e5!

Yet another example of the opponent's key plan pointing us in the right
direction in the quest to fInd one of our
own. By focusing on the eS-square
White sets in motion the fIrst of a brilliant series of positional sacrifIces de.signed to transform the bishop from
awkward bystander to game-winner.
Now 1...fxeS 2 f6! 'i'xf6 3 'i'xg4+ <i;f7
4 i.e4 will indeed leave White with an
extra pawn and - this time - the
stronger minor piece. This led Black to
recapture with the other pawn.
1 ... dxe5 2 d6!

Transformation of 'bad' bishop


Alekhine-Johner

Zurich 1934

A cursory glance at the diagram position suggests that Black is doing fIne
despite the defIcit of a pawn, thanks to
the closed nature cf the position and
the number of White's pawns that are
ostensibly fixed on the same colour
squares as the bishop. Meanwhile the

94

Addressing White's chief problem of


the seemingly ineffectual bishop has
inspired clearance sacrifIces. It often
pays to take thematic routes when analysing potential sacrifIcial variations,
especially when you are looking for
ways to alter the positional characteristics of the game in your favour. If this
or that sacrifIce doesn't work then simply look for something else, but by exhausting these possibilities we can often

Bishops at Work

ftnd unexpectedly successful plans.


Alekhine, of course, probably had all
this worked out well in advance.
2 ... c5
Spoiling the party! After the natural
2... cxd6 White continues this wonderful
theme with the now equally natural (at
least once we have seen the idea) 3 cS!!

merely improving) a bishop are clearly


enhanced when its opposite number is
not on the board to offer any competition. Consequently we should be alert to
possibilities of investing a pawn to
eliminate an enemy bishop for a knight
if this brings with it the prospect of enhancing the power of our own bishop.
In order to facilitate the execution of
such positional strategies it pays to keep
an eye on candidate/ideal diagonals for
your bishops.
Stefanova-Wells

1st Fraenkische GM 2000

1bis third pawn sacriftce leaves the


bishop free to deliver the knockout
blow with a check on b3 after 3... bxcS,
while 3... 'ifc7 4 .tb3+ ~g7 5 'ifxg4+
~h6 6 'ifg8! 'ife7 7 cxb6 and 3... 'ifd7 4
cxd6 'ifxd6 5 .tb3+ ~g7 6 'ifxg4+
~h6 7 'ii'xf3 (the lesser evil) are awful
White's last lined up the queen and
for Black. (2 ... c6 3 cS! is the other posbishop on the b1-h7 diagonal. Meansibility).
while Black, whose traditionally 'better'
3~e4 .
Wasting no time with the bishop's bishop has already left the arena, has a
new-found role of aggressor now that poor looking bishop that is yet to playa
both e4 and dS have been made avail- role. However, the next series of moves
sees an instructive transformation that
able.
. is worth remembering.
3 ...'ii'd7 4 'ii'h6! 1-0
15 ... lLld3 +!?
The 'futures' of the minor pieces
Clearly not satisfted with lS ...g6? 16
have changed drastically s.ince we joined
the game - the knight no longer has a h4 , when White proftts from not havfuture. A possible ftnish might be ing castled, Wells addresses the problem
4... lLlh7 5 i.dS+ ~h8 6 'ifg6 'ifd8 7 d7 of his opponent's key diagonal in a
more aggressive fashion with the aid, of
etc.
The chances of transforming (or a logical positional sacriftce.
95

Understanding the Sacrifice

16 i.xd3 cxd3 17 'ii'xd3 i.d7

No prizes for spotting Black's plan!


Notice that White's extra pawn is effectively doubled and isolated, while ironically - she is not in good shape to
defend the light squares. Nevertheless
White should simply play 18 0-0 .te8
19 ~d4 .tg6 20 'ife2 1:.ae8 (defending
the e6-pawn so that the queen can attack e5 from g5) 21 1:.xf8+ 1:.xf8 22 ':'f1
with a slight 'edge - a situation with
which Black should now be happy
when we contemplate the alternative
15 ...g6 16 h4 etc.
18 e4?!
Understandably ridding herself of a
potential weakness, but opening lines is
a bit ambitious. Psychologically, perhaps, White was still in an aggressive
mood.
18 ... dxe4 19 'ii'xe4 'ii'c5

Ruling out 0-0. White's extra pawn


must mean something but at least Black
has a sound position and his bishop is
ready to jump to action.
20 lLlg5
20 .tf2 'ifb5 21 0-0-0 (21 ~g5?! 1:.f5)
21.. ..te8 is obviously not without risks
for White with the prospect of Black's
bishop taking up residence on the b 1-h7
96

diagonal.
20 ...1:.f5 21 0-0-0

21 ...'ii'e7

21...1:.xg5 22 l:.xd7 ~xe5 23 1:.xb7


surrenders the bishop unnecessarily.
Instead, with White's king now on the
queenside Black drops his queen back
to release the bishop for more useful
duties.
22 lLlf3 i.e8 23 :d6
And now instead of 23 ....tg6 24 'ifc4
1:.e8 25 1:.hd1 .th5 26 l:d7 'iff8 27 'ifh4
.txf3 28 gxf3 l:xf3 29 1:.xb7, when
29 ...1:.f1 30 l:bd7 'iff5 31 l:xfl 'ifxfl +
32 l:d1 'ife2 would have given Black
something, 23 ...i.h5 24 :hd1 :af8
25 :d7 'ii'e8 has been suggested as
offering Black sufficient compensation.
A possible continuation is 26 1:.xb7
1:.xf3 27 gxf3 i.xf3 28 'ii'e3 i.xd 1
29 <ii?xd1 'ii'c8 30 :b3 'ii'a6,
accentuating White's problems' on the
light squares. Notice in these lines how
White's bishop takes no part in the
game whereas Black's has options on
both the b1-h7 and d1-h5 diagonals.
On the surface the next example
seems more to do with outposts or
strong central knights than diagonals,

Bishops at Work

but White's alert use of his queen is


very impressive and his busy knight
takes only a co-starring role.
M .Gurevich-Babula

Bundesliga 1999

29 ttJe6 i.xe6 30 dxe6

Of course the potential use of the d5square alone is enough to suggest the
surrender of the d5-pawn. However,
White has seen deeper into the positional aspects of the situation, so much
so that his chosen theme for the day
continues until Black's resignation ...
30 ... ttJg7 31 l:td1 ttJxe6
Now 32 'iWxd6 ttJd4 gives Black a
level game ( 33 'iWxe5?? ttJf3+ ), but
trading off into an ending was never
White's intention.
32 "a2!
The point. For the moment White
exploits the fact that the d5-square is
free by exerting pressure on the hitherto
closed diagonal rather than automatically putting a knight there.
32 .....e7
Again it is clear that considerable
thought has gone into White's initial
sacrifice. This clever move would also
have been the reply even if Black had

chosen d7 for his queen. Note that the


stereotyped
33 ttJb5!
33 ttJd5 'iWfl 34 ttJxb6 ttJd4 presents
Black with promising counterplay.
33 ... l:td8 34 ttJc7!?
34 'iWd5! is another, strong, alternative, after which the queen can come to
c6 with a dangerous looking grip of the
queenside. However, White has his
theme to stick to ...
34 .. .c:.fi>f7
Of course White is happy to go into
an ending if it brings with it serious
winning chances, which is the case after
34... 'iWxc7 35 'iWxe6+ 'iWfl 36 l1xd6 etc.
35 ttJd5
35 ttJxe6 'iWxe6 36 'iWa7+ l1d7 37
'iWxb6 d5 is equal.
35 .....b7

Only after forcing Black's king to


take a step closer to the action did
White finally acquiesce to the traditional
desire to plant a knight on d5 (in front
of a backward pawn, too), but even this
dream posting is related to the diagonal
theme.
36 "c2!
By taking up residence on this second
diagonal the queen heralds the Wlll.
97

Understanding the Sacrifice

With the king on fl, ... f5-f4 is out of the


question as h7 drops, while 36... lLld4 37
Ihd4 exd4 38 'ii'xf5+ wins for White,
e.g. 38...~e8 (38 ...~g7 39 'ii'f6+) 39
lLlf6+ ~f8 (39 ... ~e7 40 'ii'xh7+) 40
lLld7+ ~e7 (40 ...~g7 41 'ii'f6+) 41
'ii'xh7+ ~e6 42lLlf8+ etc.

Threatening a nasty check on f4 followed by 'ii'xb7.


39 .. :ii'f7 40 lDe3! 1-0

36 ... ..ti>g6

After 36 ... lLlg7 37 'ii'c4! the queen returns to the a2-g8 diagonal with tempo
on the way to b5 or h4. Finally 36 ... e4
37 'ii'c3 invites White to use a third
diagonal!
37 g4!? lDg7

37 ... e4 38 'ii'e2.
38 gxf5 + lDxf5

38 ... ~fl 39 f6.


39.-e4

98

As well as the check on g4 White toys


with the idea of nudging his king to the
corner to make way for l:tg1 etc.

CHAPTER SIX

Exploiting Key Squares

Sacrificing material (usually a pawn or


two) in order to take charge of a
particular square is not an uncommon
positional weapon. The more central
the square, of course, the greater the
reward. The outcome of these positional sacrifices tends to see the aggressor either using the square as an outpost
(the benefits of long-term ownership of
a square right in the heart of enemy
territory are obvious) or making life
difficult for the opponent (hindering
development, for example) by simply
aiming more pieces - and pawns - at
the target. A potentially vulnerable spot
in front of the enemy king can be
crucial, so these, too, should be closely
monitored.

Motylev-Brodsky
Chigorin Memorial 1999
As is often the case a lead in development affords White the possibility of
a positional sacrifice, in this case with
the action concentrated heavily on the
dark squares.

9 e5!?
Taking aim at the d6-square regardless of whether Black accepts the offer.
9 ... 'iixe5
After 9... d6 10 lLle4 dxeS White has
11 lLlxe6 i.xe6 12 i.xcs and 11 lLlbS
axbS 12 i.xcs, stealing the dark squares
- d6 in particular - in both cases. However, Black might consider ignoring the
e-pawn altogether in favour of an immediate queenside fmachetto.
10 lDf3 'iid6
10 .. :ii'c7 11 i.xcs "xcS transposes.
11 ~xc5 'iixc5 12 lDe4 'fIc7 13
lDd6+ ~f8
99

Understanding the Sacrifice

e.g. 22......c6 23.l1xa5 or 22 ......b8 23


"'cS tbe7 24 tbd4, with a clear advantage to White in both cases. Equally
poor for Black is 20 ...tbce7 21 tbxb7
(or 21 "'xa5) 21... ...xb7 22 "'xaS.
19 :xa5
Threatening tbb5.
19 ...liJc6 20 :a4
Ribli proposes the more flexible 20
l:ta3, but there is nothing wrong with
the text.
20 ...liJge7 21 b4
This is just what White has been aiming for, disrupting Black's already tardy
development while establishing a piece
in Black's camp. White's strategy from
here is quite simple, for all he needs to
do is concentrate on the d6-square and
let Black worry about how he is going
to survive.
14 c4 b6 15 'tWd2 f6
Not a nice move to have to make but
tbe5 is best avoided.
16 :fd1 :a7
Defending
the
d7-pawn
before .....ib7.
17 a4
The natural way to treat such a position. The b6,..pawn obstructs White's
intention to accentuate his grip on the
d6-square by (eventually) planting a
pawn on c5, so White prepares to remove the defender.
17 ....i.b7?!
17 ...tbc6 18 b4 is a lesser evil, although White's compensation in that
particular case is more than enough for
the pawn.
18 a5 bxa5
18...tbc6 19 b4 bxa5 20 bS! is very
good for White. After 20...tbb4 21 "'e3
lta8 22 b6 Black's problems escalate,
100

With c4-c5 coming White's lot seems


to have improved since fIrst taking
ownership of d6. Black's development
problems have continued - the king's
rook has no chance of seeing any action
- and his pieces are huddled together
on the queenside.
21 ...liJc8
Black is fInally contesting the d6square.
22liJxb7 'ii'xb7 23 c5
Renewing the relationship with d6
and throwing in control of b6 for good
measure. Meanwhile both a6 and d7 are
under pressure.
The game continued
23 ... liJb8 24liJd4 ~f7
24 ... e5 25 tbfS sees a second knight

Exploiting Key Squares

hop into d6.


25 f4 h5
25 ... tDe7 makes the mistake of surrendering d6 completely which, considering the theme since we fIrst joined the
game, deserves to be punished. In fact
White can pounce immediately with 26
b5 axb5 27 tDxb5.
26 f5 e5 27 .i.c4 + <ii?e 7 28 liJf3
c.ti>e8 29 'ii'a2 and White completely
dominated.
Apologies to fans of the Sicilian Taimanov, but such systems do create potential weaknesses on d6 and b6, both
of which come under fIre in this instructive game.
Wedberg-Sjoberg
Scandic Hotels CC 1999

12 e5!?
With the previous game fresh in our
minds this pawn offer - a new move is easy to appreciate. Thanks to the already advanced c4-pawn the prospect
of clamping down on the vulnerable
spots b6 and d6 is a genuine concern
for Black. For example should Black
now play 12... tDxe5, then 13 .i.f4 0-0 14
'ii'e2 f6 15 c5 is awkward for Black.

White's knight on the rim is no


longer dim, both supporting the cramping c-pawn and reminding Black about
b6. The d6-square, of course, is a also
weak (a great home for a white rook),
Black is short of breathing space and
the pin on the knight is uncomfortable.
Moreover, breaking the pin and returning the pawn after .i.xe5 will present
White with a new target in the form of
the isolated e6-pawn.
Perhaps Black took these factors into
consideration when electing to capture
on e5 with the queen.
12 ... 'ii'xe5 13 i.f4
Guaranteeing White access to the
juicy d6-square, which is particularly
useful when Black is yet to cas de. Now
13 ... 'ii'd4!? 14'ii'e2 0-0 15 ltad1 'ii'f6 "16
.i.d6 and 13 ...'ii'fS 14 .td6 both look
uncomfortable for Black, hence the
text.
13 ...1I'f6 14 .i.d~ 'ii'd4
In this way Black at least feels more
secure about the health of. his king by
forcing the exchange of queens. However, any inconvenience to Black's king
and subsequent opportunities to launch
an attack are an incidental part of.
White's overall strategy which, simply, is
101

Understanding the Sacrifice

to focus on d6 and b6 and exploit the


positional advantages the ownership of
these squares affords him.
15 c5 "xd1 16.:taxd1

Phase Two is complete. How Black is


supposed to get his pieces into the game
is a difficult question, although White,
for his part, must find a way of making
his territorial and positional supremacy
count. The obvious candidate for a plan
is to push the f-pawn in order to loosen
up Black's defences, while a transfer of
the knight to replace the bishop on d6
is another idea worth keeping in mind.
16 ... .i.b8
Preparing to remove the troublesome
bishop. The problem with this understandable defensive move is that Black
might live to regret parting with this
bishop, without which both b6 and d6
will be more difficult to guard. Ribli
suggests 16 ... ~f6!? followed by lodging
the knight firmly on d5. This makes
sense in that it closes the d-file, although (again) subsequent play will be
uncomfortable for Black.
17 f4 .ixd6 18 .:t~d6 <i;e7 19 .:tfd1
Not 19 f5? ~xc5, a tactic that White
has addressed by doubling.
19 ... g6
102

Holding back the f-pawn.


20 g4

White has extra space on both flanks,


the d-file and well placed pieces. In
terms of compensation these factors
combine to be worth at least a pawn,
particularly when we consider the practical implications inherent either in sitting tight or embarking on some kind of
active defence.
20 ...liJf6
Black commits the knight, hitting g4
and ready to obstruct the rooks from
d5. Obviously White now jumps into b6
with tempo.
21 lLlb~ .:tb8 22 .if3 h5 23 gxh5!
White should avoid 23 g5 ~d5; when
the closed position and the resulting
lack of a pawn break gives Black much
less to worry about. Instead White is
happy to open up thanks to l).is more
active pieces and freedom of movement.
23 ... gxh5
23 ... ~xh5 24 111d4 and White maintains the bind.
24 cj;f2 h4
I don't like the look of 24 ... ~g4+ 25
i.xg4 hxg4 26 ~g3 f5 in view of 27
~c4, when White can add the e5-square

Exploiting Key Squares

to b6 and d6.
25 b4!? h3 26 83

White's posmon has steadily improved since taking control of d6 (and,


to a lesser extent, b6). After parting
with the h3-pawn Black tried to defend
a rook ending, surrendering on the 56th
move.
Rogozenko-M .Hoffmann

Bundesliga 2000

hopes to exploit his opponent's missing


dark-squared bishop by occupying the
d6-square.
7 ... i.xc3 8 bxc3 'iixc3 9 i.f4! 'iixc4
It is indicative of the efficacy of
White's plan that each of Black's main
moves here results in White's control of
d6 being a relevant and influential feature of the position. For example after
9... cxd4 10 l:tc1 'i'b2 11 :tc2 'i'b6 12 cS
'i'b4 13 'i'c1!? 0-0 14 .td6 :te8 15 l:tc4
'i'aS 16 lbxd4 lbxd4 17 l:txd4 eS 18
l:.d2 White stood better in ValdesLipnowski, Capablanca Memorial, Havana 1998. 10...'i'aS 11 lbxd4 leads to
more complex situations. 11...lbxd4 12
'i'xd4 0-0 13 .td6 and 11...0-012 .td6
l:.d8 13 lbbS both present White with a
powerful bind. Black can try to address
the problem of the d6-square with
l1...eS but after 12 .td2! 'i'xa2 13 lbfS
0-0 White has other irons in the fire,
and 14 .tgS! reminds Black of his general vulnerability on the dark squares. A
possible continuation is 14... dS 15
lbh6+!? gxh6 16 .txf6 dxc4 17 e3 'i'b3
18 'i'hS 'i'd3 19 e4

The diagram position arose after the


opening moves 1 d4 lbf6 2 c4 e6 3 lbc3
.tb4 4lbf3 cS 5 g3lbc6 6 .tg2 'i'aS.
7 O-O!

After lining up on the e 1-aS diagonal


Black is more or less committed to accepting the offer(s), whereupon White

Black's efforts to distract his opponent from the d6-square have led to his
king being under pressure. Black can
103

Understanding the Sacrifice

also play 9... liJxd4. Then to l:.c1 liJxf3+


11 i.xf3 'ii'd4 12 'ii'xd4 cxd4 13 i.d6
has the desired effect even with the
queens off the board.

erable lengths to fight against the bind.

12 ...l:.d8 13 liJd4 liJe8

White will limit the investment to just


a single pawn by rounding up the dpawn, while Black's development is difficult to organise and his queenside
could come under fire. However, I prefer to liJxd4, e.g. to ...'ii'xd4 11 'ii'b3! d5
12 ltac1 with a clear advantage to
White, 12... dxc4 13 ':'xc4 'ii'd8 14 ':'xc5
0-0 15 ':'d1 'ii'b6 16 ltb5 'ii'a6 17 ltd6
seeing the d6-square being put to very
good use! Best is 10... cxd4 11 ':'c1 'ii'b2
12 ltc2, when White should pick up the
d4-pawn to emerge with the usual compensation. Black's choice in the game
ignores the d4-pawn in favour of clearing up the rest of the queenside. This
policy does, however, afford White
greater control of the d6-square.
10 ':'c 1 'ii'xa2 11 dxc5 0-0 12 i..d6
It is true that Black has two extra
pawns but, for the moment, he can do
nothing with them: Meanwhile White
has planted his bishop on the target
square, and Black must either sit passively by as his opponent further improves or, as in the game, go to consid104

13 ... liJxd4 14 'ii'xd4 'ii'xe2 is greedy,


and 15 i.e7 lte8 16 i.xf6 cashes in one
positional plus for another as Black's
king becomes the new focus of White's
attention.
14 i..f4 d5!
Nice. At the time of the game this
was a new move, and certainly an improvement on 14...'ii'a5 15 'ii'd3 e5 16
i.d2 'ii'a4 17 liJxc6 bxc6 18 lta1 'ii'g4
19 i.a5 'ii'g5 20 i.xd8 'ii'xd8 21 i.xc6,
as in Rashkovsky-Novikov, Kujbyshev
1986. Instead Black's compromise succeeds in evicting the bishop but at the
cost of inviting a protected passed pawn
onto d6, a feature that does look somewhat risky for Black. However, with an
improved and otherwise pretty solid setup Black has decent chances to keep his
opponent at bay. White cannot afford
to allow his opponent to consolidate
and subsequendy go on the offensive
with his own passed pawns.
15 cxd6 liJxd4 16 "xd4 "xe2
Now it is time for White to weigh up
the consequences of his sacrificial play
thus far. The d-pawn is strong but
blockaded and White ahs active pieces.
T

Exploiting Key Squares

On the other hand there is nothing else


for him to concentrate on, other than
Black's queenside pawns. Reducing the
deficit will in turn reduce Black's
counter-chances, so White sets about
exerting further pressure.

17 l:.fd1
Wells suggests 17 :'fe1!?, while
Rogozenko prefers to over-protect his
key player on d6.
17 ... .i.d7!?
A sensible pra"'ctical decision made
possible by Black's material lead. Rather
than give White the time to continue to
turn the screw Black intends to return
the pawns and activate his forces on the
kingside.
18 .i.xb7 l:.ab8 19 "xa7 e5

The point. Capturing the a7-pawn


has sent White's queen from the centre
to the edge of the board and Black is
quick to profit from this with - finally aggression of his own. The immediate
result of the text is to cut communication to the d-pawn, which now has a
third of the protection it enjoyed a couple of moves earlier. Black's bishop is
also free to come to e6 now, which will
put the d-pawn under attack. White
could now consider dropping the
bishop back to e3, from where both
flanks can be monitored. With the
bishop pair, better pieces and the dpawn still a thorn in Black's side, it is
reasonable to assess the situation as offering White decent practical chances.
In the game White, understandably,
opted for 20 .i.g5 tiJf6 21 .i.g2 "h5
22 h4 h6 23 .i.xf6 gxf6, no doubt
hoping to exploit Black's latest structural weakness.

However, with all the action essentially taking place on just one flank,
Black was able to hold, the game ending
as follows: 24 l:.b1 .i.e6 25 "e7 (25
'i'xb8 'i'xdl + 26 l:.xdl l:.xb8)
25 ...'iii>g7 26 .i.c6 "e2 27 d7 e41 28
"d6 Y.z. Y.z
105

Understanding the Sacrifice

An impressive defensive display from


Black throughout.
Halkias-Fernandez Romero

the defender, especially with White's


knight just one step from the related d4square.
19 :c1 :c8 20 'ii'd3

5th Ubeda Open 2000

White's king is actually by no means


poorly positioned on the e-ftle, but
Black's is about to come under fire
thanks to a positional exchange sacrifice
aimed at removing a key defender.
17 b4! .i.xdS
Declining the offer with 17 ...lbc6 is
not much of an option as 18 :'hd 1
prompts a concession from Black.
18 cxdslLlb7

Black's knight is not a pretty sight.


N ow the a6-square is a target for White,
and c6 might also prove a problem for
106

This is the chief point behind White's


sacrifice. Note how White's advanced
centre paw~s make defensive duties that
much more difficult for Black.
20 ...:f8?
20 ... c6! is necessary, when 21 dxc6
:'xc6 22 :'xc6 dxc6 23 'ifd7 looks level,
but 21 d6 'ifd8 keeps Black boxed in.
Now White wins.
21 lLld41
The final piece comes into play to
control c6 with decisive effect in view
of 21...c5 22 dxc6 etc.
21 ...lLld8 22 'ii'a6 c6
This time 22 ... c5 loses to 23 lbb5
lbc6 24 dxc6 (24 bxc5 also looks good)
24 ... dxc6 25 ~xc8.
23 lLlbS! 1-0
23 ... l:tc7 (23 ... cxb5 24 l:txc8 mate) 24
d6. We are all guilty of deciding against
this or that plan - particularly one involving the investment of material - on
the grounds that the opponent has a
'defence' but, as this and many games
demonstrate, a sacrifice tends to unsetde the opponent. Moreover a positional

Exploiting Key Squares

sacrifice (as opposed to one of the allor-nothing variety) has the advantage of
inflicting upon the opponent what is
usually structural damage and, for this
reason, we should be more willing to
play in this fashion.

Leko-Topalov

Frankfurt-West Masters (rapid) 1999

20 ... c5 21 dxc6 Ji.xc6 22 'iixa7, which


also involves giving up a pawn. He tries
his luck with the former option.
20 ... b6 21 tDb5!

Attacking a7, but this time the plan is


to home in the c6-square after making
d4 available to the knight. Meanwhile
White will have no problems finding a
way into a6. Incidentally Black cannot
realistically contemplate .... i.xb5 here
since he would then find White's bishop
on c6, which is an even worse fate.
21 ... 'it>b7 22 'Wc3llc8

22 ... Ji.c8 fails to keep White out in


view of 23 tDd.4 i.d7 24 'ifd3 etc.
23 tDd4 'Wf6

An amusing way for Black to lose


here is 23 ... c5 24 dxc6+ Ji.xc6 25 tDxc6
'ifd7 (25 ...l:hc6 26'ifxh8) 26 i.a6+!?
<t>xa6 27 'ifa3+ <t>b7 28 'ifxa7+ ~xc6
29 'ii'xb6 mate.
We should now be confident of finding the position'S most appropriate response here ...
18 tDxd4! exd4 19 l:xd4 i.xd4 20
'Wxd4

Black is faced with an unpleasant


choice here - severely compromise the
pawns in front of his king or allow
White's queen to inftltrate directly after

24 'iVd3 ~a8 25 i.xh4 'iVf4 + 26


'it>b1 tDf8

This time 26 ... c5 runs into 27 dxc6


i.xc6 28 tpxc6 l:hc6 29 'ifd5 ~b7 30
Ji.b5 etc.
27 'Wc3 tDg6

27 .. .'itb8 should be met with 28 i.a6


rather than the suicidal 28 tDc6+? i.xc6
29 'ifxc6 'ifxf3, hitting both d1 and h1.
107

Understanding the Sacrifice

28 i.a6

Decisive. White's investment is about


to pay dividends in both material and
positional terms.
2S ...ltJxh4

108

28 ...:'b8 29 'ii'xc7 wins for White.


After 29 .. .'~je5 30 'ii'xd6 followed by
.i.f6 Black's position falls apart, while
29 ....i.c8 30 lbc6 leads to forced mate
thanks to 30 ....i.b7 31 .i.d8 l:thxd8 32
.i.xb7+ :'xb7 33 'ii'xd8+ or 30...l:tb7 31
.i.xb7 + .i.xb 7 32 .i.d8.
29 i.xeS :xeS 30 :xh4
White has an extra pawn and Black's
holes have not gone away.
The game ended as follows.
30 ... 'it>b7 31 a3 :gS 32 ltJe2 'iWgS
33 :hS 'iWe7 34 :xh6 fS 3S gxfS
i.xfS 36 ltJd4 i.d7 37 ltJe6 i.eS 3S
f4 :g4 39 'iWe6 + 'it>bS 40 :hS 1-0
Even in the flnal position the c6square is the cause of Black's suffering.

I CHAPTER SEVE/{ I
The Exchange Sacrifice

Despite the fact that many players tend


to give the rook a value of 5 points
compared with just 3 points for a
bishop or knight, the exchange sacrifice
is by no means an uncommon positional tool. Of course you will fInd such
examples elsewhere in this book, but
devoting a chapter to the subject should
make us more conscious of the theme
and, therefore, more likely to ~e willing
to part with this strong piece should an
appropriate opportunity present itself.
Balogh-Istrat,scu

Krynica Zonal 1998

What should first attract our attention when looking at the diagram position is White's all-seeing bishop on eS
(compare it with its fellow minor
pieces). Black could consider trading
dark-squared bishops, but his own also
has the potential to make a useful contribution thanks to his queenside pawns,
which monitor three squares in White's
camp, namely b2, c3 and d4. Moreover,
in an ideal world the bishop would support the advance of the a3-pawn, which
can be released by challenging the
blockader with .... b4-b3. Taking these
factors into account, and measuring the
extent to which White's influence on
the dark squares is reduced on the removal of the key player- on eS, it is not
unusual to come to the same conclusion
as Istratescu.
27 .. Jbe5! 28 Uxe5 llJd7
Unleashing the hitherto dormant but
now dominant bishop, which has a
choice of three outposts in White's
camp.
29:e4
.
Better than 29 lte2 ttJb6 30 :e4 i.d4
109

Understanding the Sacrifice

and 29 :e7 ~e5.


29 ... .ib2
Played not to attack the queen but to
offer assistance to the a3-pawn in readiness for ... b4-b3 etc.
30 'iff4 b3 31 axb3 .ixb3

Let us have a look at the effects of


Black's exchange sacrifice. Suddenly the
a-pawn has a couple of armed guards,
perfectly placed to shepherd the pawn
home, and Black's bishops have grown
in stature to such an extent that White's
rooks can offer little resistance (note
that on b2 the bishop monitors a number of key squares as well as al). In
short, we can now see the level of responsibility borne by White's darksquared bishop, its removal having led
to a decisive advantage for Black.
32 :e7 'iff6 33 'ife3
Trading queens does not help White,
e.g. 33 'i'xf6 ~xf6 34 d6 i.xc4 35 l:tdl
a2 36 :a7, when 36 ... i.b3 paves the
way for the c-pawn.
33 ... .ixc4! 34 :xd7 .ixf1 35 .txf1
a2 36 95 'iff5 0-1
A possible finish here is 37 l:ta7
'i'xd5!? 38 ~g4 al'i' 39 :xal i.xal etc,
which White doubtless found unnattractive.
110

Marin-Gdanski
Krynica Zonal 1998

White's hypermodern bishops crisscross the board on the long diagonals,


but the capture of a pawn on f4 has
weakened the dark squares - hence the
recent arrival of Black's rook on a2
(which created a pin from which White
has stepped out with 'i'c2-b3).
21 ...:xb2!? 22 'ifxb2 exf4
Again the exchange sacrifice serves to
eliminate the opposite number of a
strong piece, although this time Black's
decision is based more on the strength
of the resulting initiative afforded by his
positional compensation than on concrete analysis. .

23 'ifd2

The Exchange Sacrifice

Understandably concentrating on the


dark squares. The alternative is 23 'ife2,
when 23 .. .'~Jd4 24 'ife7 f3 25 'ifxdB
lhdB 26 ttJe7+ ~fB 27 lbxcB fxg2 2B
'ifi>xg2 l:txcB 29 :tal favours Black's larger army, while Marin suggests instead
the variation 23 ... 'ifh4! 24 lUel ~e5 25
'ife4 ttJd4

The point is that after 26 ttJc7 Black


can claim a decisive advantage with
26 ... 'ifi>hB! (the ability to sit back and
consider such a quiet possibility - which
both side-steps a check on d5 and
makes way for the remaining rook to
join in the attack with ...:gB - tends to
come naturally to strong players) rather than the obvious but unwise
26 ... ~f5?, which runs into the countersacrifice 27 'ifd5+ ~hB 2B :xe5!, when
the tide turns in White's favour. It is
important to remember this counter,
since returning the exchange - often for
the 'same' piece - can be a crucial resource in these situations.
23 ....ie5 24 ~h1 'i'h4 25 ':'g1
Introducing the 'threat' of a discovered check, which Black could avoid
now with the move 25 ...~hB, securing a
clear lead after 26 ~f3 ttJd4 27 'ifdl
'ifx2 etc.

25 ... f3!1
Carrying on regardless in view of the
more pressing matter of the bishop's
new role on eS.
26 .ixf3+ lllg7!
Opening the f-ftle.
27 :g3 :xf3 28llle7 + 'i'xe7
2B ...'ifi>hB? 29 lbxcB ~xg3 30 fxg3
nets a safe pawn for White because
30... l:hg3? walks into 31 "'2!, hitting
the rook and threatening mate on fB.
29 :xf3 b6! 30 :e1 .i.b7 31 :e4

Again rooks are dominated by minor


pieces, so much so that ....txe4 is a
good deal in terms of points but has the
downside of trading in a good piece for
a poor one. However, the rooks do
monitor a number of important squares
111

Understanding the Sacrifice

and are reasonably placed in the middle


of the board.
31 ...ltJe6
With the bishops optimally placed
Black sends the knight back into action.
As is so often the case Black has a
'normal' looking way of losing here,
31...i.xe4? 32 dxe4 'ii'h4?? threatening
mate but falling foul of 33 'ii'dS+,
when ~'hite mates fIrst.
32,::[f5ltJd4
32 ... i.xe4+ 33 dxe4 'ii'h4 34 f3 liJf4
35 'ii'dl 'ii'f2 is given by Marin, who
proposes the subsequent advance of
Black's h-pawn all the way to h3.
33 ,::[g5 + 'it>h8 34 :gg4

39 ~fl leads to disaster for Black, e.g.


39 ... 'ifxd3+ 40 l:te2! 'ifxh3+ 41 ~xe1
'ifc3+ 42 l:ld2. Instead 37 ... 'iff8 is very
good for Black.
37 ...'ii'f8 38 f4

38 ...i.c3

Not 38 ... liJxd3? 39 fxeS i.xe4+ 40


l:lxe4 liJf2+ 41 ~g2 liJxe4 42 'ifxe4
'ifg7+ 43 ~f3, when ~te's active
king makes a crucial difference. However, 38... liJf3 39 'ifg3 liJd2, preparing
to capture the rook with the knight
rather than the bishop, keeps Black well
on top as 40 fxeS 'iffl + is fInal in view
of 41 'ifgl 'ifxh3+ 42 'ifh2 'ifxg4 43
'ifxd2 i.xe4+ 44 dxe4 'ifxe4+ or 41
34 ...ltJf3

The immediate 34... 'ii'f7! seems very


strong, leaving f3 available for the
queen.
35 'ii'h6 'ii'f7
3S ... liJxh2 looks tempting but after
36 l:lgf4!! i.xf4 37 'ii'xf4 i.xe4+ 38
dxe4liJfl 39 ~gl the knight falls.
36 h3 ltJe1 37 'ii'h4
37 'ifgS 'iff3+ 38 ~gl i.h2+ could
go either way, depending on ~te's
response. Black wins after 39 ~xh2?
'ii'xf2+ 40 ~hl 'iffl + in view of 41
~h2 liJf3+ or 41 l:lgl 'ifxh3 mate, but
112

~h2liJf3+.
39 'ii'g3 ltJc2 40 ~h2 ltJd4?!

40 ... i.xe4 41 dxe4 i.d4 is clearly better for Black.


41 'ii'e3 i.xe4
Both 41...i.d2?? 42 l:le8 and
4L.liJfS?? 42 l:le8 deservedly backfIre.
42 'ii'xe4 Y.z. Y.z
Here - for some reason - a draw was
agreed. After all Black's hard work he
might as well have continued with
42 ... liJfS with at least an edge. The natural 43 l:lg2?!, for instance, meets with
43 ... dS!! (found by Badea), the point

The Exchange Sacrifice

being th1t 44 cxd5


White's broken pawns.

tiJd6 exploits

The desire to deny our opponents a


smooth exe<;:ution of their strategy is a
key feature of chess, and a positional
sacrifice tends to be a good means of
causing such disruption. In the follow~
ing example White exploits both his
opponent's structure and lagging development.

bishop on the long diagonal, opened up


the game before Black was able to con- .
solidate.
11 d5!?
At the cost of a pawn White cuts the
communication between bishop and
knight. Now 11. .. exd5 12 tiJd4 0-0 13
cxd5 i.xd5 14 g4! continues to pile the
pressure on Black's grip on the centre,
e.g. 14...g6 15 gxfS gxfS 16 tiJxf5 ':xfS
17 i.xe4 i.xe4 18 'iVxe4 d5 19 'iVg4+
when Black's king lacks support.
11 ... 0-0 12 lLlg5 exd5
Black accepts the offer rather than
see the bishop pair dominate 'for free'
after 12 ... tiJxg5 13 i.xg5 tiJa6 14 e4
fxe4 15 i.xe4 h6 16 i.e3 etc.
13 cxd5 i.xd5 14 :d1

Sorin-Campora

N ajdorf Memorial, Argentina 1999

Black's overall plan revolves around


control of the e4-square and its occupation by an advance party (typically a
knight). However, White, with his own

White now has four pieces aimed at


the centre and both Black's active
pieces are under fire. Add this to
White's growing development advantage and it is reasonable to conclude
that White has more than enough compensation.
14 .. :iib7 15 l:r.xd5!
A good example of analysing variations through to the limit when investigating positional possibilities - assuming.
that we are happy to make investments
773

Understanding the Sacrifice

to. the positional cause. Just as Black


thought he was getting his game in
some sort of order White makes a bold
looking play for the light squares and
the centre. The game continued as follows:
15 .....xd5
Now, instead of 16 lbxe4 fxe4 17
i.xe4
IS i.xh7+ (IS i.xaS??
.xf2+) IS ...<t>hS 19 i.e3lbc6, which is
unclear according to Gershon, Sorin
took the correct route.
16 .ta3! ~c6
The point of 16 i.a3 is that after
16...:eS 17 :dl Black's problems on
the light squares accentuate in view of
his vulnerability on the a2-g8 diagonal.
A possible continuation is 17....c4
(17 ....b5 IS lbxe4 fxe4 19 i.xe4 lbc6
20 :xd7 and the threat of c3-c4 looks
decisive) IS :d4 'ilxc3 (IS ...'iib5 19
i.xe4 fxe4 20 :xe4 sees the as-rook
come into White's view should Black
take on e4, while h7 is an even juicier
target) 19 .txe4

.fl

lbxeS are final, leaving 19.....xc2 20


i.xc2 , when the minor pieces have the
edge.
17 :d1! "b5 18 ~xe4 fxe4 19
.txf8 :xf8 20 .txe4 "h5 21 :d5
"h6 22 :xd7

White's investment has reaped the


reward of a pawn profit, but he also has
the superior pieces.
After 22 ...~e5 23 :d4 g6
(23 ... lbg4?? 24 i.d5+ <t>hS 25 :xg4) 24
"b3 + ~g7 25 "e6 "g5 26 .td5
(26 f4 :xf4) 26 ..."f6 27 f4 1IVxe6 28
.txe6 ~f6 29 .tb3 ~g4 30 :d7
White had a near decisive lead in the
ending, converting twenty moves later.
Many players are guilty of allowing
themselves to drift into a passive position that could be avoided by a positional sacrifice. Parting with the exchange can be an effective means with
which to nip a dangerous looking initiative in the bud, as is demonstrated in
the following example.

Then 19.....e1+. 20 <t>g2 fxe4 21


"c4+ ..t>hS 22 lbf7+ ..t>gS 23 lbh6+
~hS 24 "gS+! and 19.....xd4 20
"b3+ d5 21 'ilxd5+ "xd5 22 i.xd5+
..t>hS 23 lbfl + ~gS 24 lbd6+ ~hS 25
114

Ftacnik-Rozentalis
Bundesliga 1999
During the last few moves White has

The Exchange Sacrifice

been stepping up the pace on the kingside, where Black's knights look rather
ill at ease. However, after Black's next
'spoiling' move the advance of White's
pawns holds considerably less venom.

28 .. Jld4!1
Whether this sacrifice is accepted or
not takes nothing away from the effectiveness of this excellent counterattacking response.
29 i.xd4
White should avoid 29 hS ii.xf3 30
l::txf3 lbxeS 31 l1e3 lbgS!? 32 ii.xd4
':xd4

In return for the exchange Black has


a pawn and phoenix-like knights that
can both enjoy the game from excellent
outposts (note that eS is protected

thanks to the fork on f3). Meanwhile


the dark squares are a potential problem
for White, and the remaining bishop is
awful. Another, more tenable option for
White is 29lbd2 "ile7 30 ii.xd4 cxd4 31
l1e2 lbxh4, when Black has obvious
compensation, if not the clear advantage afforded him in the previous diagram position. Ftacnik takes the expected route.
29 ... cxd4 30 .l:le2 i.xf3 31 'ii'xf3
ttJxh4!
31 ...lbxeS? is different here because
the gS-square is not available to the
other knight after the pin with 32 "ilg3.
In fact after 32... f6 33 gS! the position
opens up in White's favour. After the
text White's kingside play comes to a
standstill.
32 'ii'g3 ttJg5!

The knights are untouchable and the


bishop is poor. Again we see how comfortably minor pieces are able to contain
rooks. We joined the game at a point
where Black was in danger of being
over-run on the kingside and in need of
an effective resource, which is what he
found in ...:d4. However, although the
mission has been accomplished and.
Black is now quite safe, he is not in a
115

Understanding the Sacrifice

position to reverse roles and put White


tinder pressure.
There followed 33 1If1 ttJg6 34
.i.g2 ttJf8 when Black was indeed attempting to assume the advantage by
sending his knight to cS via d7.

Portisch-Chiburdanidze
Cancan Veterans-Women 1998

29 ... d4!?

White responded by monitoring the


d4-pawn with 35 llf4!, when 3S ... 'i'cs
36 'i'el introduces the possibility of
'i'b4. Consequently 35 ... ttJg6 36 l:tf1
ttJf8 37 llf4 ttJg6 saw a stand-off that
prompted the players to agree a draw.
Rooks, of course, operate best when
there is one or more open line on which
to work, and they are at their least effective when the situation is generally
cramped. During the middlegame in
particular it is' not unusual to see a territorial advantage being exploited by an
exchange sacrifice designed to earn even
more space and, consequently, further
reduce the influence of the enemy
rooks, thus creating a platform for more
versatile minor pieces or a wall of
pawns. Watch how Chiburdanidze is so
insistent on adopting such a policy that
she sends her rook on a suicide mission
through sniper fire and into the heart of
enemy territory...
116

Black begins by exploiting one of her


opponent's positional weaknesses - the
vulnerability of the g I-a7 diagonal.
30 .i.a5 l:td5!
Black's forces are better placed and
she has much more space, so she !turns
down the likely draw resulting from
30.. J::td6 31 llJc4 l';Id7 32 llJeS :d6 in
favour of an interesting rook sortie.
31 f4l:txe5 32 .i.xb7
The alternative route is 32 fxeS i.xg2
33 <iitxg2, when 33 ...'i'bS 34 exd4!
'i'ie2+ 3S <iitgl 'i'e3+ is a draw but
Black can keep the fire burning with
33 ... dxe3

The Exchange Sacrifice

White's bishop is terrible on as and


the queen could certainly be better
placed than on a 1. The rooks seem okay
but, when we take a look at the other
flank, White's king is about to come
into contact with enemy pawns after
... fS-f4. Black's excellent knight can hop
into f4 and the queen is ready to come
to c6.
32 .. Jbe3 33 Ji.d2

Having turned down the fIrst offer of


an exchange White should ignore the
second, as 33 i.xc8? 'ifxc8 34 i.d2 lite2
highlights the plight of White's lonely
king.
33 ... gxf4 34 gxf4
Petursson gives this a '?' and offers
34 i.xc8 'ifxc8 35 i.xe3 fxe3

This time we have a double exchange


sacrifIce, leaving Black with a couple of
minor pieces and a wall of pawns for
the rooks. Now the points value of the
pieces is irrelevant and Black is ready to
infiltrate, while the reactionary
36
nxd4?? runs into 36... i.f6!. Petursson's
36 'ifb2 looks sensible, after which
White will be too busy fending off
threats to count his booty.
34 ... ':'e2 35 Wb1 Wd71

Not 35 ... 'ifg6+? 36 <iith1 when ':g1 is


at best an inconvenience for Black,
while also in White's favour is 35 ... ':c7
36 'ii'd3 litxd2 37 'ii'xd2 (37 ':xd2?
l:.xb7 38 'ifxfS i.d6 39 ':e2 ':g7+ 40
<iitf2 ':e7 41 l:.g1 + liJg7) 37 ...'ifg6+ 38
<iith1 litxb7 39 litg1, or 37 ... ':xb7 38
'ii'g2+ <iith8 39 'ifxb7 liJxf4 40 <iith1.
The text clears the way for the rook to
come to the g-file, there being alternative routes into White's kingside for the
queen.
36 Ji.f3
Not surprisingly White prefers to
keep his light-squared bishop on the
board, but he must choose where to put
it. The alternative 36 i.a6 works out
well for White after 36 ... d3? 37 'ifxd3
'ifxd3 38 i.xd3, but Black can ignore
117

Understanding the Sacrifice

the threat to her rook with the ruthless


36...<itlh8!!, e.g. 37 .ixe2 :g8+ 38 <itlfl
'ifc6 or 37 <itlfl? :xh2 38 i.xc8 "c6
etc.
36 ... d3!
I t is interesting in these lines that
Black's advanced rook causes White
terrible problems yet is simultaneously
awkward for White to remove without
further, more serious trouble. Black
simply has too much control of key areas in White's half of the board.
43 ... ~d6+ 44 ~e5 ~xe5+ 0-1 (45
litxe5 'ifd4+ 46 <itlxf5l:hg1)
Chiburdanidze's willingness to part
with the exchange and Portisch's reluctance to accept demonstrate just how
'normal' such an approach is.

37 ~c3

37 litc4 ttJd4.
37 ...1:.e3
37 ... ttJxf4 is also decisive, but Black's
rook is on a mission, remember.
38 ~f2 1:.xf3 + !
Black has been more than happy to
part with the exchange since we joined
the game, so now - after so much progress - the useful defender is finally
eliminated.
39 ~xf3 '{id5 + 40 ~g3 lDxf4
Chipping away at what is left of the
king's protection.
411:.g1
41 <itlxf4 leads to forced mate after
41.....e4+ 42 ~g3 i.h4+ etc.
41 '" ~f7! 42 1:.ce 1 :g8 + 43 ~xf4
118

Before we all rush to the next game


intent on bamboozling our oppllment
with a positional exchange sacrifice,
here is an example of how easy it is to
overestimate this kind of compensation
compared with sacrifices aimed at some
kind of immediate or short-term gain.
Onischuk-Ye Jiangchuan

Elista Olympiad (Men) 1998

In the diagram position White has no

The Exchange Sacrifice

dark-squared bishop but he does have


both e4 and ds. 27 f4 i.h6 28 fxes dxes
29 ':xes 4Jxb3 clearly favours Black,
but White had the following exchange
sacrifice in mind:
27 ':'xd4 exd4 28 lLle4

White's strategy is based on centrally


located knights. 28 'ii'xd4+ i.f6 29
4Jxf6 'ii'xf6 30 'ii'd3 ltb6 is certainly not
what White is looking for because the
rooks threaten to get into the game
while White lacks presence in the centre. However, the b3-pawn is a problem
anyway, as is Black's influence on the
dark squares.
28 ... .1h6! 29 'ii'xd4 + .1g7 30 'ii'd3
lIb7!?

This is probably the kind of situation

White had in mind long before we


joined the game. A cursory inspection
highlights the two well placed knights,
White's general control of the centre
and his run of the light squares, while
Black seems to lack breathing space and
a pawn break with which to open the
position for his 'extra' rook. Unfortunately for White the compensation is
not enough - Black's bishops, being
long-range pieces, are fine, his rooks do,
in fact, have some breathing space and
both the b3-pawn (which is probably
weaker than the d6-pawn) and White's
dark squares are permanent weaknesses.
When a positional exchange sacrifice
fails to deliver the desired rewards the
problem is the resulting scenario of having good looking pieces that have nothing to do, with no targets upon which
to exert pressure. Consequently the opponent will - sooner or later - improve
his lot and assume control. In this case
White has concentrated on the light
squares but Black still has a lightsquared bishop, while White is in no
position to contest the dark squares.
White's main trump card is the grip on
the ds-square, a matter that Black intends to address.
31 lIe1 ':'e8 32 g3?
Preferable is 32l:te3! i.xds 33 'ilxds.
Now White is about to be denied the
use of the ds-square.
32 ... .1xd5 33 'ii'xd5
After 33 cxds l:tb4 34 i.e6 'ilb6 35
lite3 litb8 36 ~g2 i.d4 37 ':f3 i.es
Black has the upper hand.
33 ...lIbe7
There is no reason to allow White activity with 33 ...ltxb3? 34 cs, especially
when Black is about to open the posi119

Understanding the Sacrifice

tion on his own terms.


34 .it3 Ae5! 35 "d3 d5

Now Black has an initiative to add to

120

his slight material lead, the rooks being


dominant. The game continued:
36 Ad1 'fIe7 37 lL'ld2 :e1 + 38 ~g2
Axd1 39 .ixd1 dxc4 40 lL'lxc4 ':d8
41 'fIc2 'fIb4 42 .it3 'fIc3 (White is
powerless on the dark squares) 43 'fIe2
At8 44 'fIe3 .id4 45 "xe3 .txe3 46
.ie4 Ab8 47 .ie2 :d8 48 ~3 :e8
49 .ie4 .ie1 50 .id5 ':t8 + 51 ~e2
.ixt2 52 lL'lxa5 .ig1 53 lL'le6 .txh2
54 g4 ~g7 55 b4 .tg 1 56 b5 ~t6
57 .it3 .ie5 58 ~d3 ~e6 59 .td1
~d6 60 .ie2 .ib6 61 ~e4 :e8 62
.it3 Ae3 63 .id1 Ae1 64 .tt3 :e1 +
65 ~d3 Ae5 0-1

I CHAPTER EIGHT

The Vulnerable King

Positional chess is not just a matter of


exerting pressure on a weak square or
pawn, or establishing a great knight
outpost with a view to a long grind.
During the course of a game it is not
unusual to experience some sort of positional damage in and around the king's
defences, and it pays to be alert to these
weak spots. In this chapter we investigate how positional frailties can be exploited to launch a direct assault on the
king or to force concessions elsewhere.
P.Schlosser-Bykhovsky
Herzliya 1998

In an effort to inftltrate the queenside


Black has neglected his king, prompting
White to pounce ...
33 d6!
Pin-pointing the weakness on fl.
33 .. J:txd634 :a7 :f6 35 e5
Now the rook cannot defend fl and,
since it will simply be captured on e6,
we could leave the game here. However,
it is worth witnessing Black's efforts to
stay alive - itself an attempt to profit
from White's own king position.
35 ...:f3!? 36 <it>xf3 'ii'h1 + 37 ~g4
Here we go ...
37 ... h5+

121

Understanding the Sacrifice


3,8~xg5

White has to be careful here, e.g. 38


<Jtxh5 'ii'f3+ 39 g4?? 'iih3+ 40 <Jtxg5
.ltd2+ 41 'iitf5 'iif3 mate (41...'ii'h7
mate), or 41 f4 'iih6+ 42 'iitf5 'ii'g6
mate (42 ... 'iixf4 mate). Only 39 <Jtxg5
.ltd2+ 40 <Jth4 will do, when Black can
resign with a clear conscience.
38 ..."f3 39 l:txf7 +! 1-0
Ironically White's king has been
checked so far up the board that this
counter-sacrifice leads to an easily winning ending.

lhe6+ is the same, as 42...'iitxe6? walks


into mate on e3) 41.. ....xe6 42 l:th8+
<Jtfl 43 lith7+ <Jtf8 44 "'h8+ 'jIg8 45
'ii'f6+ <Jte8 46 lith8 "'xh8 47 'iixh8+
<Jtfl 48 'ii'f6+ will soon leave White
with three connected passed pawns, so
Black must accept a very poor ending.

Aronian-Nevednichy

European Team Championships,


Batumi 1999

40 ..."g7 41 "xg7+ l:txg7 42 l:txe6


'itf7 43 l:tf6 + ~e 7

43 ...<Jtg8 44 l:th6.
44 e4!

With what looks like a potentially


'bad' bishop Black needs his queen to
protect the dark squares. The ultimate
aim of White's next is to generate
threats against Black's king that will facilitate the exploitation of other weaknesses in the black camp.
37 lOg5 +! hxg5 38 hxg5 "'f7
Or 38 ...'iie7 39 "'c3.
39 l:Ih 1 + 'itg8 40 ..c3
Suddenly Black is looking genuinely
vulnerable on the dark squares. Now
4O ... <Jtf8 41 1:txe6! (41 l:h8+ 'iite7 42
122

Producing the necessary breakthrough.


44 ... fxe4 45l:1e1 1-0
After 45 ...<Jtd7 46 l:xe4 l:e8 47
~xd6+ and 45 ... d5 46 1:txc6 dxc4 47
l::txe4+ <Jtd7 48 l::ta6 Black is helpless.
Again Black's king was only temporarily

The Vulnerable King

under ftre, but enough to lead to more


serious trouble elsewhere.

has the more active pieces, a grip on the


centre and the better of the kingside.
27 gxh5 'ii'xf2 + 28 ~h 1 'ii'f4

In the following example Black reacts


to his opponent's build-up on the
queenside with a powerful assault on
the opposite flank, concentrating on the
dark squares around White's king to
clear away the defensive barrier.
Burmakin-M .Loeffler
Schwarzach 1998

With White's bishop standing on c5 it


might seem unlikely that he could have
problems on the dark squares, but this
is precisely the positional imperfection
that Black has noticed.
25 ... f4!
Perhaps White could be forgiven for
discounting this thrust in view of 26 g4
lbf6 27 exf4 etc.
26 g4
The alternative 26 exf4 gxf4 27 g4
runs into 27 ... f3, e.g. 28 gxh5 (28 ~fl
~xfl 29 cJtxfl lbf4) 28 .. :ii'xh5! , when
29 ~h1?? 'ii'g6+ mates.
26 ... fxe3
The point, in response to which
White should setde for being clearly
worse after 27 ~xe3 lbf4, when Black

Black has achieved the initial part of


the plan of hitting the dark squares, and
White's situation is compounded by the
fact that only his bishop can offer the
king close-quarter protection. The immediate threat is ... ~e5.
29 ':f1
Or 29 cJtg 1 ~e5 30 'ii'xe3 'iih2+ 31
cJtf2 ':f8+! 32 ~xf8 :'xf8+ 33 cJte1
~xc3+ 34 'ii'xc3 'ii'xg2.
29 ... J..xf1 30 J..xf1 J..e5!

Nice. The threat of mate forces


White to take his eye off the back rank.
31 l:ta2 J..xc3 32 J..e2 'ii'e4+ 33'
~g1 d4 34 J..c4+ <it>h8 35 ':c2 'ii'e5
123

Understanding the Sacrifice

Q-1
In fact White overstepped the time
limit, but the situation is beyond hope.
Now for a more complex kings ide attack which is made possible by a seemingly harmless pawn move.
Zagorskis-Sadler
Elista Olympiad (Men) 1998

Black has just tested the water with


the move ...lb g4, getting the reaction he
was hoping for in White's somewhat
automatic nudge of the h-pawn. All
pawn mo"es create weaknesses, and
with his dark-squared bishop already
out of the game, hitting the knight involves considerable risk as the dark
squares in front of the king are then
slighdy weakened.

15 ...lDxf2!?
The beginning of a quest to generate
a powerful attack against White's king.
While it is true that very few players
have Matthew Sadler's ability to accurately visualise the outcome of complicated sacrificial variations, this does not
mean that we should be afraid of embarking on such a journey should the
124

opportunity suggest itself. In this case


Black is alert to the possibility of striking in an area where White is susceptible to activity on the dark squares, his
decision perhaps helped along by the
fact that most of White's forces stand
on the queenside with limited access to
the king.
16 ~xf2 'ii'h4 + 17 <iitf1?!
As is so often the case when faced
with a sudden change in circumstances,
White immediately makes a mistake.
Worse than the text is 17 ~g1? litxe3 18
lbf3 i..xf3 19 i..xf3 i..xd4, but 17 g3
looks good, when 17 .. :ilxh3 18lbfl (18
lbf3 i..h6 19 litd3 i..e4!) 18 ... i..h6!? has
been suggested as providing Black with
enough pressure. The point is that
Black is not looking for a forced advantage, rather an initiative revolving
around the positional shortcomings of
White's kingside.
17 ....:.xe3

Threatening both ... ':'xc3 followed by


...i..xd4 as well as an immediate ...litxh3.
Now 18 lbdS i..xdS 19 cxdS llxh3! sees
Black continuing the stripping away
process which, in fact, quickly reaps
rewards after 20 gxh3 'ilxh3+ 21 ~e1
'ilg3+ 22 ~f1 i..xd4 with mate threats

The Vulnerable King

on both f2 and g1. Nor does 18 il.B


help White in view of 18 ... il.xd4! (once
we recognise the theme we should aim
to be consistent, and here all options on
the dark squares need to be checked
out) 19 il.xb7 :tel +

No doubt Matthew had seen this nice


finish (20 l:txel 'ii'f2 mate) before
.. .'~~xf2.
Therefore White's next is forced.
18 ttJf3 'ii'f4
The latest threat is ... g6-g5-g4 etc.
19 ttJd5 .i.xd5 20 cxd5 :ae8 21
.i.xa6

White avoids 21 :tel g5, when stepping out of the pin with 22 <ifi>gl walks
into 22 ...l:he2 23 :txe2 :'xe2 24 'ii'xe2
'iVxc1 +.

21 ...l:[xf3 + I

No-nonsense chess. This time


21 ...g5? can be met with 22 'ii'f2, shoring up the defences to leave White better.
22 gxf3 1Ie3!

The level of investment is now a


rook, but . White's kingside is looking
increasingly ragged.
23.i.e2?!
23 l:td2 :xB+ 24 ~gl il.xd4+ is final, but White has an improvement in
23 ~gl!? After 23 ...:'xB Stohl offers
the following variation: 24 'iVd2
il.xd4+! 25 'iVxd4 'iVg3+ 26 ~hl
'iVxh3+ 27 ~gl :g3+ 28 <ifi>2 :g2+ 29
~el 'iVg3+ 30 ~f1 b5!

31 il.xb5 lIh2 32 'iVgl -'f4+ 33 <ifi>el


125

Understanding the Sacrifice

"'xb4+ 34 'iotfl 'ii'xb5+ etc. Instead 24


.Jtfl .Jtxd4+ 25 :'xd4 'ii'xd4+ 26 <;t;>hl
"'xd5 27 <;t;>h21h3 keeps the game going, although Black has four pawns for
the piece and White's king is exposed.
23 ... Wh2
Introducing the threat of ....Jtf6-M.
24 'ii'd2
The alternatives lead to interesting
play: 24 <;t;>el ~f6 (24 ....Jth6!? 25 'ii'c4
:e7) 25 :d3 (25 'ii'c4 ~h4+ 26 <;t;>d2
.Jtg5) 25 ....Jth4+ 26 'iotdl 'tigl + 27 <;t;>d2
:xe2+ 28 'iotxe2 Wf2+ 29 'iotdl Wet
mate, or 24 l:ld3 ~f6! 25 :'xe3 Wh 1+
26 <;t;>f2 .Jth4 mate.
24 ...th6 25 'ii'e1 'ii'h1 + 26 ~2
Wh2+ 27 'iPf1 'ii'xh3+ 28 ~g1
:e4!

Now 29 fxe4 .Jte3+ 30 Wf2 meets


with 30 ......g3+.
29 :e3 l:lh4 30 f4
30 Wxh4 Wxh4 31 'iotg2 .Jtf4 32l:Ihl
(32 ltgl .Jtg3 33 l:[hl 'ii'xd4) 32...Wg3+
33 <;t;>fl .Jtd2. Notice how Black's exclusive operation on the dark squares is so
effective in all these. lines. The queen
and bishop form a sufficiently deadly
partnership.
30 ... Wh1 + 31 'iti>f2 :h2+ 32 ~e3
'ii'e4+ 0-1
126

After 33 <;t;>d2 .Jtxf4+ there will be


nothing left of White's kingside.
Finally, here is a typical 'textbook'
demonstration of the positional sacrifice.
Heissler-Kasimdzhanov

Bundesliga 1999

White has just played f2-f3 to bolster


his centre in preparation for an assault
on the isolated d-pawn ...
16 ... d5!
Whether this is a result of dealing
with White's threat is not clear, but
from here on White unexpectedly finds
his ostensibly solid kingside coming
under attack, as well as a few dark
squares.
17 exd5 :e8
Preventing the useful ~e3 and therefore threatening to exert pressure on the
g I-a7 diagonal.
18 ~h1 lLlh5!
Black's latest highlights another
downside to f2-f3, namely the weakened
g3-square, which is now a focus of attention in view of ...Wh4.
19 g4lLlf6 20 'ii'd3 :e8 21 i.d2
White's defensive policy has resulted

The Vulnerable King

in a further loosening of his kingside,


but he is gradually completing development. Such phases of the game require consistent and clinical handling
from the aggressor if the sacrifice is to
be properly justified.
21 ... h5! 22 g5 lLlh7 23 f4
Having been lured forward from f3
and g4, White's pawns no longer have
any influence on e4 and f5, a positional
factor that Black is quick to exploit.
23 ... l:r.e4!!

24 i.c3
After 24 'iVxe4 ':xc4 25 .tc3 .tfS
White's game falls apart. With the text
White hopes to shore up the defences,
but the gradual accumulation of weaknesses resulting from Black's initial sacrifice has now reached decisive proportions.

24 ... l:r.xd4! 25 i.xd4 i.f5 26 'iVc3


lLlxg5!
The process continues, with each
new sacrifice further reducing the protection afforded to White's king. Now
27 fxg5 .te4+ 28 ~gl 'iVxg5+ 29 ~2
:'xc4! 30 'iVxc4 'iVd2+ will surely lead to
mate.
27 i.xg7
Here Black steered his way to a winning ending with 27 ....:xc4 28 'iVxc4
.te4+ 29 'iVxe4 lbxe4 30 .te5 'iVxd5 31
~gl lbg5! 32 fxg5 'iVxe5 33 :'2
'iVxg5+ etc. However, with the continuation 27 ... i.e4 +! 28 ~g 1 l:r.xc4!
the attractive mate on h3 ties White's
queen to the third rank. A possible finish is 29 'iVe3 'iVb6!

Black threatens mate on h3(!), and 30


l:r.fe 1 lLlf3 + is final.

127

CHAPTER NINE

The Restrictive Sacrifice

Sacrifices aimed at contributing to a


general restriction of the opponent's
forces require as much judgement as
calculation. If we can generate a healthy
level of activity while simultaneously
keeping one or more enemy pieces 'in
the box' then we should already have
sufficient reason to justify making a
positionally oriented restrictive sacrifice.
Wells-Rowson

justify an equally aggressive positional


sacrifice.
15 ... g5!
Weakening the kingside, perhaps, but
there is a point.
16 i.g3 ltJe4!
Due to the pressure on the gl-a7 diagonal White must accept the pawn
offer.
1 7 i.xe4 dxe4 18 nxe4 f5 19 ne6
'ii'xd1 + 20 nxd1 f4 21 i.h2

Canadian Open, Edmondton 2000

There are two pins on the board and


Black has an isolated pawn. However,
Black's rather aggressively placed pieces

128

For the price of a pawn Black has effectively shut his opponent's bishop out
of the game. Moreover, it is far from
clear how and when White will be able

The Restrictive Sacrifice

to address this problem, especially if


Black endeavours to keep White busy
elsewhere.
21 ....:adS!
Wasting no time, Black immediately
exploits a by-product of White's
bishop's new home - the vulnerable
back rank. Perhaps White should now
consider 22 l:.de1 ~xf3 23 gxf3 ~g7 24
h4, which at least seeks to create some
breathing space.

sure, concentrating on White's back


rank, White's second rank, the d3square and the b2- and f2-pawns.
26 ttJxc4
26 l:.xeS ~xb3 is quite unpleasant for
White.
26 ... ttJxc4 27 ~f1
White has no time for 27 g3 in view
of 27 ...liJd2!, which would also be the
reply in the event of 27 ~b1.
27 ... ttJxb2 2S g3 f3! 29 g4
White is ftnally ready to liberate the
bishop but it is too late ...
29 ... .i.xf2!
Trading in one advantage for another. Now 30 l:te7 runs into 30... ~h4
31 liJd4 ~xd4! 32 cxd4 liJc4 and, ironically, White's bishop is so close yet so
far from the action, powerless against
the passed pawn in view of the amusing
33 ~g1liJd2 mate.

22 ':xdS ':xdS 23 ttJfd2

Or if instead 23 liJbd2 ~f7 24 ~el


(24 ~xh6 ~g7) 24... ~xa2, when Black
wins back the pawn but has an extra
piece in play.
23 ....i.f7 24 ':e2 .i.c4! 25 ':e1 ttJe5!

30 ~xf2 ttJd3 + 31 ~f1 ttJxe 1 32


~xe1 ':eS + 33 ~f1 ':e2

Black continues to pile on the pres-

A typical case of minor pieces unable


to compete with a rook.
34.i.g3
34 ~d6 ~xa2 35 liJd4 as 36 liJxf3 a4
37liJd4 a3 38liJbS l:.al + etc.
34 ....:xa2 35 ttJd4 a5! 36 ttJxf3 a4'
0-1
129

Understanding the Sacrifice

Yusupov-Timman

'friendly' pawn!).

Tilburg Candidates 1986

The game continued


Black's previous move, ... cS-c4, prepares ...'illc7 and ...!Dcs, monitoring b3,
d3 and e4 and putting White on the
defensive. Yusupov's reaction is an instructive combination of prophylaxis
and aggression.
1 e5! dxe5
The immediate l ...!DcS invites 2
i.xcs bxcS 3 'iIIa4, e.g. 3...'illb6 4 exd6
l1ed8 5 l1e2 with the more comfortable
game for White. Alternatively 1...'illc7
looks too slow, and after 2 'iIIa4 !Dcs 3
i.xcs 'iIIxcS+ 4 <it>h2 Black's best seems
to be 4...'illaS (4 .. :it'c8 5 !De4) 5 'iIIxaS
bxaS 6 exd6 :ed8, although 7 l:te7 favours White.
2 d6 :tea 3 f51
The idea behind White's strategy is to
close out Black's traditionally influential
dark-squared bishop by - ironically fixing Black's own pawn on eS. To add
insult to injury White's knight is also
destined for a bright future on e4.
Meanwhile the clearing away of White's
pawns from e4 and dS has enhanced the
scope of White's light-squared bishop
which, consequently, now dominates its
counterpart on a6 (also obstructed by a
130

3 ...lDe5 4 oltxe5 :xe5 5lDe4 :ta5

S...l:tdS 6 fxg6 hxg6 7 !Df6+ 'iIIxf6 8


i.xdS 'iIIxd6 9 lIad1 'iIIcS+ 10 <it>h2
lIe7 11 lIn gives White a slight pull. In
fact after the plausible 11...c3 12 ~xf7+
l:txf7 13 l:td8+ ~h7 (13 ...:f8 14
lIfxf8+ i.xf8 15 'iIIxg6+ <it>h8 16 'iIIf7)
14 l1xf7 i.c4 15 l1xg7+ rtTxg7 16 bxc3
Black has problems in the ending.
6 94 'iWd7 7 :ad1 :tea and now a
'iWf2 maintains the positional bind.

White's sacrifice has worked well, for


not only has the g7-bishop been reduced to utter passivity, but we see that
Black also has a useless rook on as and
a queen which is busy blockading a pro-

The Restrictive Sacrifice

tected passed pawn on the sixth rank.


Meanwhile White's rooks stand on the
centre ftles and his knight is in the middle of the board. For the price of a
pawn this is good value.
Vallejo Pons-Gelfand

Ciudad de Pamplona 1999

Faced with the prospect of White being able to put his bishop pair to good
use after 1...tt:Je6 2 b3 and ~b2 Black
opted for an altogether different, uncompromising approach.
18 ... f4!? 19 exd4 f3

Onward! White already has a critical


decision to make - should he retreat his
bishop in case the light squares need
protection or refuse to have so many
pieces on the back rank and trade on
h3?
20 i..f1!
White goes for the former plan
which, in retrospect, is very well played.
Let us have a look at the alternative. 20
~h3 exd4+ brings us to another fork,
although it seems that, whether the king
moves left or right, the e2-square could
be a problem for White. After 21 <iStfl
~xh3+ 22 ':'xh3 Black has 22 ...'iih5
(also possible here is 22 ...'iie6!? 23 l:tg3

l:tae8 followed by sending the queen


into e2, a situation evaluated by Ribli as
giving Black compensation - fair
enough!) 23 b3 'iig4, when 24 l:th2
l:tae8 25 'iid1 l:te2 leads to what looks
like a bizarre yet balanced position,
while 24 l:tg3? 'iixh4 25 <iStg1 :ae8 26
'iid1 :e2 is dangerous.

For example 27 l:txf3 l:txf2! is a nice


ftnish, as is 27 ~d2 l:txf2 etc.
Strangely, the ostensibly safer haven
on the queenside works out less well for
White: 21 <iStdl ~xh3 22 :xh3 'iie6
(again the h5-square is an option in order to make way for a rook to come to
e2) 23 ':g3 ':ae8 24 <iStc2 'iifS 25 <iStb1
:e2 26 'iid1 l:te1

1bis is fun. The collection of pieces


131

Understanding the Sacrifice

on the back rank deserves a diagram. boring material consideration needs to


Black must be winning here, e.g. 27 be borne in mind when embarking on
'ii'c2 (27 'ii'xe1 'ii'xd3 mate) 27 ....:fe8 28 . such a practical sacrifice - White has
a3 l::t8e2 29 'ii'b3 'ii'f4 30 <it>a2 'ii'xg3!? had chances to go wrong with perfecdy
natural looking moves, but there are
31 fxg3 b6! 32 ~d2 l::txal + 33 <it>xal
also possibilities for accurate play, too.
l::tx d2 etc.
20 ... exd4+ 21 'it>d1 ~g41? 22 b3
Black will have weighed up these factors
The beginning of a gradual 'devel- when deciding against retreating his
opment' plan. Instead 22 'ii'e1 'ii'g6 knight to e6 in the opening diagram.
doesn't look right, and White is not 24 'it>c2
24 b4 cxb4 25 ~xb4 c5 and White
ready for 22 b4 cxb4 23 'ii'xb4 b6 24 c5
remains locked in.
'ii'e5.
22 ...'ii'g6 23 ~a3!

23 ... b6!

Patiendy maintaining the bind rather


than rushing in with 23 ... l::tae8 24 ~xc5
:'e2 25 ~xe2 fxe2+ 26 <it>c2 :'3 27
~xd4 :'xd3 28 'ii'xd3 ~f5 29 'ii'xfS
'ii'xfS+ 30 ~b2, when the queen is outnumbered. Thus far Black's sacrifice has
worked out rather well, with each of
White's pieces unable to find a decent
posting. Meanwhile Black enjoys greater
space and healthy development. However, whether he can actually do anything about this is debatable, and White
is - step by step -'digging out of the
admittedly deep hole in which he finds
himself. Black has compensation for the
piece, but White has the piece! This
132

24 ... a5!

The containment continues.


25 ng1 'ii'h5 26 ne1

In the event of 26 g6 h6 Black rules


out 'ii'g5, while Ribli suggests a simple
return to hI.
26 ... a4 27 b4! cxb4 28 'ii'xb4

Preferable to 28 ~xb4 c5 29 ~a3


l::tae8.
28 ... 'ii'xh4 29 ng3

29 'ii'd2! l::tfe8 30 l::te4 l::txe4 31 dxe4


c5 is possible but after 30 ~d6 l::txe 1 31
'ii'xe1 ~d7 White is beginning to get
back into the game.
29 ... c5 30 'ii'd21

White should avoid 30 'ii'xb6? 'ii'h2!


31 l::txg4 'ii'xf2+ 32 <it>d 1 l::tab8 33
'ii'e6+ <it>h8 34 ~c1 'ii'xa2

The Restrictive Sacrifice

White misses a promising opportunity.


Gelfand and Huzman give the following
amazing analysis (a few of the '!' are
mine since I am clearly more impressed
with their findings than they are!): 33
lth3! 'ifg4 34 'iff4 'ifg1 35 :'xh5
35 ...'ifxfl (35 ... 'ifxf2+ 36 .i.d2 'ifxfl 37
'iff5 g6 38 'ifd5+ <iith8 39 :'xh7+!) 36
'iff5!! 'ifxf2+ (36 ... lte2+ 37 <iitb1 "'e1
38 'ifd5+ <i1th8 39 a3) 37 .i.d2 :'e2 38
'ifc8+ <i1tfl
This time White has two extra bishops, but if you experiment with this
position you will soon be favouring
Black.
30 .. J~ae8 31 ~c1
The regrouping is complete. Instead
after 31 ltxe8 llxe8 32 "'f4 'irh1 33
'ifel 'ifh2 34 'ifd2 'ifh1 White should
take the draw by threefold repetition,
since 35 Itxg4 'ifxfl 36 lle4 llxe4 37
dxe4 'ifxc4+ favours the pawn mass.
31 ....lthS 32 :xe8
If the next note is anything to go by
Black should be happy with a draw after
32 lth3 'ifg4 33 :'g3 'tih4 34 :'h3 etc.
32 .. Jbe8

Are you keeping up? 39 g6+! hxg640


'ifb7+ <i1tf6 (40...lte7 41 'ifd5+ ~f6 42
lth8) 41 'ifxb6+ <i1tfl 42 'ifc7+ ~e6 43
'ifc6+ <i1tfl 44 'ifd5+ ~f6 45 'ifg5+
<i1tfl 46 lth8! 'ife3 47 'ifd5+ and the
pinned bishop loses relevance, e.g.
47 ... <i1te7 48 'ifd8+ <it>e6 49 :'e8+ ~f5
50 'ifd7+ <i1tf6 (or 50...~g5 51 :'xe3
dxe3 52 'ife7+ <i1tg4 53 'ifxe3 lhe3 54
..txe3) 51 'ifd6+ <i1tg5 52 lhe3 dxe3 53
'ifg3+.
33 ...'ifh1 34.lth3?
No doubt with time White would
have found 34 lth3 'ifxfl 35 ltxh5
(35 ...'ifxf2+ 36 ..td2) 36 .i.d2 'ifa1 37
'ifxf3 'ifxa2+ 38 <i1tel a3 39 'ifd5+ ~h8
40 ltxh7+! <i1txh7 41 g6+ ~xg6 42
'ifc6+ with a draw on the cards. After
the text Black is winning.

"'e1

33 'iif4?!
Short of time (not surprisingly),

133

Understanding the Sacrifice

34 ...l1e2 + 35 i.d2
35 ~b11!fd1.
35 .. :iIi'a 1 36 'ii'b8 + i.e8

...lZ'le6? I don't think so!


Now for a piece sacrifice that effectively puts all the opponent's pieces out
of the game!

Samiseh-Nimzowitseh
Copenhagen 1923

Ironically White's liberation of the


bishop to h3 has resulted in handing
over the full point. Black's inftltration is
decisive.
37 i.e6 + l1xe6 38 :xf3 'ii'xa2 + 39
~d 1 'ii'b 1 + 40 i.e 1 'iWb3 + 41 ~d2
'ii'a2+ 0-1

A remarkable struggle which highlights the practical difficulties experienced by both parties after a would-be
crippling positional sacrifice. There was
an element of risk involved for Black, of
course, but would White have found
himself with so many obstacles to overcome in the comfortable eventuality of
134

Nimzowitsch, the positional player's


hero, has his pieces aggressively placed,
but 1 e4 threatened both 1!fxh5 and
exd5 etc. With a sudden change of tactics Black engineered a fantastic bind:
1 ... fxe4! 2 'ii'xh5 l1xf2 3 "'g5 :af8

Black already has two pawns for the


piece but the important characteristic of
the diagram position is White's hitherto
untroubled pieces' lack of breathing

The Restrictive Sacrifice

space. In fact this predicament will become worse surprisingly soon. The
pinned bishop is already a problem for
White, e.g. 4 'ii'e3 lt8f3.
4 ~h1 .l:.8f5 5 'iie3 .id3
Closing in, and introducing the threat
of ...lte2, trapping the queen.
6 :ce1 h6! 0-1

Zugzwang!! Rather than immobilising


or caging one piece in return for the
sacrificed material Black has succeeded
in completely paralysing his opponent's
forces! White's knight has no available
squares and it will leave the board
should the d2-bishop drop back to c1,
while the other bishop is also trapped
on home ground. Meanwhile, any rook
move loses too much material and
pawn advances will soon run out. Even
7 g4 loses on the spot to 7...1:.5f3 8
i.xf3 l::th2 mate, and 7 ~h2 walks into
7... lt5 f3 etc.

favour knights, and here White's passed


pawn is fmnly blockaded and his bishop
is quite poor, while Black threatens to
in@trate by coming in behind the apawn. However, White has a cunning
plan ready to close out Black's entire
army!

36 .l:.a1!? lLlc2 37 .id3! lLlxa1


After 37 ... ltld4 38 'ii'g3 followed by
ltlg2-e3 and 1:.a4 White is holding together nicely, and 37 ...ltle3 38 'ii'e2
ltlxfl + 39 'ii'xf1 is similar to the game,
so Black accepts the offer with the intention of using his extra major piece
later.
38 :xa1

To finish here is an amusing blockade.

Dautov-Bischoff
German Championship 1999
As we know, closed positions tend to

38 ... 'iie7?!
In retrospect a worthy alternative is
135

Understanding the Sacrifice

38... a4!? 39 lha4 :b8 40 :a6 'iVd8 followed by ...l:la8.


39lta4

The ftrst. phase of the strategy is


complete. Black must look to the kingside for a breakthrough.
39 ...~f7 40 lDf3 ~eS 41 "g3 g6
42 fxg6 hxg6 43lta2 g5?!
Effectively deciding the (drawn) outcome of the game, establishing a knight
outpost on, f4 also rules out any future and necessary - pawn breaks. The aggressive 43 ... f5 44 gxf5 gxf5 might well
backftre after 45 ~xe5, but the patient
43 ...~d8 -c7 -b8-a7, deserves consideration, keeping his options open and tucking the king away in preparation for a
more drastic breakthrough.
44lta4!
Back again.

136

44 .. .l:thS 45 lDd2 lta7 46 lDb1!?


~d7

46 ... f5!? has to be tried, when 47 exfS


(47 gxf5? l:lM and Black threatens
... ~xe4 and ...g5-g4) 47 ... e4 48 .ifl 'ii'f6
looks dangerous, although Black, too,
must then keep an eye on White's
queen.
47 lDc3 <t;c7 4S lDd1 lth6 49 lDf2

It is too late for Black now.

The game ended as follows:


49 ... ~bS 50 .iof1 "eS 51 ~g1 ltah7
52 <t;h2 lDf7
52...~c7 53 ~gl ~d7 54 ~h2 f5?!
55 exf5 (55 gxf5!? is unclear) 55 ... e4 56
l:la3 gets Black nowhere.
53 "f3 "dS 54 "g3 lDhS 55 lDd1
lDg6 56 lDf2 lDf4 57 "e3 "d6 5S
"g3lth4 59 "e3l::thS 60 ~g1 %-%
An unlikely practical example!

CHAPTER TEN

The Queen Sacrifice

Apart from the fact that the queen is


worth so much in material terms there
is no reason why it cannot be considered a worthy candidate to volunteer its
services for a positional sacrifice. The
most common form sees a decent
'points' return to accompany the positional factor(s), but there are exceptional circumstances.
Let us start with a classic, albeit imperfect example of an unexpected positional queen sacrifice:

A. Petrosian-Hazai
Belgium 1970

It is already quite rare to find ourselves with all sixteen pawns still intact
when so many pieces have been exchanged. Black's next is even more rare.
1 ... 'ii'b6!?

The game continued


2 liJxb6 + ? cxb6
Now Black threatens ... hS-h4 to completely close out the queen, thus forcing
a bizarre draw - hence White's next.
3 h4! gxh41 Draw!

There is no stopping full closure, e.g.


4 'it'c1 h3! 5 gxh3 (otherwise Black will
simply advance to h2, again denying the
queen an entry point) S... h4

137

Understanding the Sacrifice

Amazing.
However, we've had our fun, and if
we now return to the position after
1...'ifb6 I regret to report that White
still has a winning plan based on ignoring the very kind offer in favour of sett:I.llg for the as-pawn instead. After 2
'i'd2! followed by ~b3, ttJc3, ~a4 and
then manoeuvring the knight around to
b3 the a-pawn will drop. Still, Hazai
deservedly shot to chess fame with his
cheeky sacrifice.

lated f-pawns to accompany the dSpawn, White's knight can come to f4


and the rooks might find something on
the c-ftle. Furthermore, unlike Black's,
White's structure is without weaknesses.
Consequently the onus is on Black to
make sure that his weaknesses are not
gradually picked off one by one.

Wells-Schulte
Canadian Open, Edmondton 2000

20 ...1i'e7 21 l:td1 i.f5!

Ironically White has (deliberately) allowed his queen to be trapped on the


best square on the board. The point is
to embark on a positional queen sacrifice.
191i'xf6!
Preferable to 19 'i'd3 .ifS 20 'i'xc2
.ixc2 21 .ixf6 gxf6 22 l:hc2, when
White does not enjoy the services of the
dark-squared bishop.
19 ... gxf6 20 l:txc2
Points-wise, for the queen White has
collected a rook and a minor piece, so
the investment is really not too much.
Meanwhile Black now has doubled iso138

Unfortunately for White his opponent correctly goes on the offensive


rather than waiting for White to further
improve his forces. The aim of the text
is to seek the exchange of light-squared
bishops, thus trading in the influential
player on g2 for the otherwise defensive
piece on e6.
22 l:tcd2 i.e4

The Queen Sacrifice

Here a draw was agreed, White using


up much of his time contemplating
Black's offer that accompanied the
bishop's arrival on e4. In fact White
would be perfectly justified in playing
on, although 23 f3? .txe3 24 fxe4 .txd2
25 lhd2 dxe4 favours Black. Instead 23
~f4 .txg2 24 'iitxg2 d4! is logical from
both sides, with Black rocking the boat
enough to either activate the queen or
disrupt White's structure, e.g. 25 .txd4
(25 exd4 .td6) 25 .. :i'b7+! 26 r.ti>g1
.tb4! 27 l:tc2 (27 ':d3 'it'D) 27 ...:c8
etc.
Incidentally, according to Wells
25 ....txd4 26 ':xd4! ':xd4 27 exd4! can
be difficult for the queen. This brief
example illustrates both the desired circumstances we should be looking for
when contemplating parting with the
queen in 'normal' situations (typically:
damaging the opponent's structure, assuming greater control of the board
with our now larger army and, subsequently, reducing the opponent to passivity) as well as the need for the 'defender' to seek some kind of activity,
often exploiting the queen's versatility.

'i'g3) runs into 1...'i'xc3! 2 bxc3 ~e2+


etc. But White does have another option.

1 'iWxf6!?

lDe2 +

Automatic, perhaps, butwe must also


consider 1...~xb3 2 axb3 'i'xa1, when
White has a nice finish in 3 'it'xe7! 'i'a5
4 .th6 'i'd8 (4 ... l:ld8 5 'i'f6) 5 ~d5! etc.
2 tDxe2 exf6 3 tDc3 11e8 4 tDd5 :e6

In the next game White gets fewer


pieces but more squares for the queen.
Nezhmetdinov-Chernikov
Rostov~on-Don

1962

White has a number of choices in the


diagram position, with a draw by repetition resulting from 1 'i'h6 .tg7 2 'i'h4
.tf6, while the ending after 2 'i'g5
'i'xg5 3 .txg5 ~xb3 4 axb3 .txc3 5
bxc3 f6 6 .te3 a6 is completely equal. 1
'i'g4 d6 helps Black, and 1 'it'f4 (or 1

Already Black must undergo some


inconvenience for his booty, and the
new landscape of the game is taking
shape. Rather than grow overly concerned with the traditional cost of
White's investment we should concentrate on the actual value of the pieces
remaining on the board and their relationship with both each other and the
139

Understanding the Sacrifice

resulting positional characteristics. The


main feature we notice is the contrasting pawn structures and related weaknesses - White has nothing to worry
about in this department whereas Black
has a collection of weak squares (a host
of vulnerable dark squares) and pawns.
Add to this White's lead in development
and superior piece placement and it becomes evident that Black will be busy
defending. White's next moves the monopolising bishop on the best possible
post.
5.i.d4
Obviously White should hit the dark
squares.
5 .. .'Ji>g7 6 l:tad1 d6 7 I:td3
Preparing to home in on f6.
7 ... .i.d7 8 I:tf3 .i.b5 9 .i.c3 'ili'd8 10
lDxf6!

Now returning the queen with multiple exchanges on f6 leaves Black a pawn
down for nothing, and 10....txfl 11
tbg4+ ~g8 12 .txe6 can be ruled out in
view of 12 ... fxe6 13 tbh6 mate.
10 ....i.e2 11 lDxh7 +! <Ji>g8
Let us see what happens if Black
takes the knight: 11...~xh7 12 ltxf7+
(12 lth3+ .th5) 12... ~h6 (12 .. ,~g8 13
.txe6) 13 .td2+ g5 (13 ... ~h5 14 lth7+
140

~g4 15 .txe6 mate) 14 .txe6 and now

14....txfl 15 .tf5 spells the end, e.g.


15 .. :iig8 16 :f6+ ~g7 (16 ... ~h5 17
g4+) 17 lIg6+ ~f7 18 lIxg8 lIxg8 19
~xfl, or 15 .. :iih8 16 h4.
121:th3

12 ... l:te5
Desperately trying to obstruct the
most worrying diagonal. After 12 ....txfl
13 tbg5 :f6 14 .txf7+ White wins 14... ~f8 (14 ...~g7 15 .td5) 15 .txf6
'iixf6 16 tbh7+ ~xf7 17 tbxf6 etc.
13 f4!?

13 ....i.xf1
13 ...lIh5 14 tbf6+ ~f8 15 tbxh5 is
very complicated and seems to favour
White, e.g. 15 ....txh5 16 g4 'iid7 17 f5
or 15 ... .txfl 16 .tg7+ ~e8 17 tbf6+

The Queen Sacrifice

cJr;e7 18 liJd5+ cJr;d7 19 cJr;xf1. Even the


more palatable 15 ...gxh5 16 ':2 i.g4 17
':d3 still does little for the tastebuds,
with White ready to pick up the d6pawn. Black's general problem is that
there is nothing for him to attack in
these lines - only weaknesses to defend.
14 'it'xf1 l:te8 15 i.d4 b5 16 lLlg5
:e7
Is everything adequately protected?

Perhaps Black capitulated rather


quickly, but this game does demonstrate
the kind of problems that can beset the
side with the often lonely queen in such
circumstances. The important thing to
remember is to strike while the iron is
hot after a positional sacrifice of the
queen - not necessarily going for an allout attack, rather concentrating one's
forces on key weaknesses.
Finally, an example of the worst possible scenario for the victim of a positionally oriented queen sacrifice - the
nightmare of having nothing whatsoever to attack!
Gretarsson-Marin

Andorra 1999

17 i.xf7+ I
No.
17 ...l:txf7
17 ...cJr;g7 18liJe6+.
18 l:th8+

The point.
18 .. .'.t)xh8 19 lLlxf7 + <j,;>h7 20 lLlxd8
l:txe4 21 lLle6 l:txf4+ 22 'it'e2 1-0

We have a well balanced position in


which Black has just pushed his f-pawn
to clamp down on the e4-square. With
Black's rooks still not introduced White
automatically judged this to be the best
time to trade a pair of rooks.
19 :e3?! "ii'xe3! 20 i.xe3 :'xe3
Obviously White will have considered the possibility of the queen sacrifice, albeit in cursory fashion. After all Black's queenside development is not
141

Understanding the Sacrifice

yet complete, and White does not have


any significant structural weaknesses.
Not happy with either 21 i..d3 ttJxf4 22
ttJxf4 i..xc3 23 l::tel i..d4 24 'ith 1 i..d7
or 23 ... l::te1 + 24 'fixe1 i..xe1 25 ':xe1
'itfl White opted instead for ...
21'iWd21be2! 22'iWxe2 i.xc3

rook.

24 ... i.xe1 25 'iWxe1 12Jf6?

The tally is now two knights and a


powerful (dark-squared) bishop for the
queen, but the real problem for White is
what to do with his remaining pieces the bishop serves no other purpose
than to defend the b3-pawn and the e4square .while the rook won't have any
impact even if it does reach the e-flle.
This leaves the queen ...
23 'iWe8 + ~g7 24l:te1
Understandable given that the alternative gets White less than nowhere: 24
':f1 ttJfl 25 'ile7 and now, instead oE'
2S ...ttJf6 26 'fic7, when the queen has
successfully inflltrated, Black should
play the crafty 2S ... i..f6!, the point being
that 26 'fic7?? loses to 26 ... i..d8. Therefore 26 'fie 1 is forced, after which
26 ... i..d7 followed by ....:e8 is excellent
for Black. The troublesome piece here
is the dark-squared bishop - hence
White's choice in the game: White believes this piece to be as strong as his
142

Marin proposes 2S ... aS!, e.g. 26 'fie7+


ttJfl, when 27 g4 fxg4 28 hxg4 i..xg4 29
'fixb7 ne8 opens the floodgates.
26 'iWe7 + 12Jf7 27 'iWc7?
27 as! makes Black's task'- activating
the rook and bishop - more problematic.
27 ... 85!
Quickly rectifying matters.
28'iWe7
Ditto. Here is another way for the
queen to end her days: 28 g3 'itf8! 29
'itf2 ttJe8 30 'fib6l::ta6 31 'fibS ttJc7.
28 ... i.d7 29 'iWe1 b6 30 'iWc3 l:te8
31 g3 g5!

Without a single weakness Black is

The Queen Sacrifice

ready to step up a gear on the kingside,


where White is ripe for the taking.
32 i.d1 :e7
32 ... gxf4 33 gxf4 tiJh8 34 h4 tiJg6 35
h5 unnecessarily gives White some fun
thanks to 35 ... tiJxf4 36 'ifg3+ 4i;f7 37
~xf4 l:te1 + 38 'itg2 l:lxdl 39 ~xd6,
when the queen grows in stature. The
text calmly addresses White's next.
33 i.h5 h6 34 h4 gxf4 35 gxf4 :e4
36 "g3 + tZ)g4 37 "c3 + :d4 38
"'e1 'iit>f8 39 "c3 tZ)h8
Black can move around as much as
he likes until everything is just right.
White can only wait.
:40 "'g3 'iit>g7 -41 "'e1 :e4 42 "'c3 +
tZ)f6 43 "'g3+ ~h7 44 .if3 :e3

Arriving at the inevitable. One of


White's weaknesses is about to drop,

and with it the game.


45 "'f2 :xb3 46 "'e2 ~g6 47 ~f2
47 ~e7 .:txf3 48 h5+ is a nice try but
untenable for White after 48 ...tiJxh5 49
~xd7 tiJf7 50 ~5 l:ta3.
47 ... tZ)f7 48 "'e7 i.xa4 49 "e6

49 ...:xf3+!
No more messing about. The game
etlfled as follows:
50 'it>xf3 h5 51 ~e3 b5 52 cxb5
i.xb5 53 'ito>d2 i.c4 54 ....e7 a4 55
"'a7 i.b3 56 'ito>c1 tZ)xd5 57 "'a5
tZ)xf4 58 "'d2 tZ)e6 59 ~b2 d5 60
"'g2 + 'ito>f6 61 "'e2 d4 62 ~a1 c4
63 "'d2 c3 64 "'c1 tZ)c5 65 "g1
tZ)e6 66 "'c1 'iit>e7 67 "g1 ~d6 68
"'g3 + tZ)e5 69 "'e1 tZ)c5 70 "g1
i.d5 71 'ito>b1 d3 72 "'e3 c2+ 73
'iit>b2 tZ)c4 + 0-1

143

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