Tuesday, October 7, 2014


If there is today one player capable to win games with a minimalist approach then surely it is the reigning world-champion Carlsen. Time over time he proves that playing solid moves is often sufficient to let the opponent crack. Not everybody is enthusiast about such style of playing which e.g. can be read in the reaction of the German honorary-president Robert von Weizsacker. Soulless, boring, this has nothing to do about who is the better player but just who can sit the longest concentrated at the board (sitzfleisch) , are some of the harsh reproaches.

I don't want to discuss here if Carlsens games are attractive or not as there is no accounting of taste. However what I do want to extract is that most players even in equal positions aren't able to maintain the balance. On my level this is of course even more relevant. My article my most beautiful move discuss this aspect in detail. My opponents play much less stable than Carlsen opponents whereby it often is sufficient to avoid big errors to win a game. By applying such cautious approach my games often last longer than average. I must admit that the simul which recently I gave in Veurne due to this approach drifted into an exhausting marathon. My apologies for those being upset by this.

So I find Stevens reaction on my previous article a bit exaggerated. Games really don't end quickly in a draw because on 1 or 2 moments not the most critical move was played. Besides before complaining about the number of draws, we should first check if we apply sufficiently Sofia rules. It has little meaning to demand more aggression if too easily premature draws are made. On the other hand I do have to admit that the reaction also includes some truth. Sometimes the opponent neither makes clear mistakes and more than a draw can't be achieved without taking some risks. This also happened in my game against Andrew Stone.

That is also the reason why at move 42 I suddenly made the decision to sacrifice a piece for 2 connected white pawns. With less than 5 minutes remaining on the clock I must admit that it was mainly intuitively but soon it became clear that the sacrifice was fully sound. After the game I told Kara that I only found the idea very late in the game when I figured out that playing solid moves is not sufficient to win. Kara replied that the sacrifice is well known from the King's Indian. Nowadays I am reading Kasparov series of My Great Predecessors to improve my knowledge of chess-history. It is a must for me with my limited repertoire but I hadn't encountered before this sort of sacrifice in the few King's Indian games which I already replayed.

Following Kara's advice I replayed also all the won games in the King's Indian of former wc-finalist David Bronstein and the French grandmaster Igor Nataf both specialists in this opening but I could not find examples of sacrifices on g4. Besides g4 looks weird in the King's Indian so maybe there is a confusion with the standard sacrifices on h3. There are many types of sacrifices. I can distinguish 3 big categories of light piece sacrifices for 2 connected pawns.

A first category is the sacrifice in the endgame. A light piece is sacrificed to obtain 2 connected and far advanced pawns which overpower the opponents extra piece. I remember an anecdote of the reigning Belgian champion Geert Van der Sticht whom after a painful defeat against former world-class-player Michail Gurevich ventilated his emotions.

After the game Mikhail made a witty remark something like "Elementary, my dear Watson" which obviously wan't very pleasant for Geert. The piece-sacrifice was surely not winning but gives very dangerous practical chances. Now a player of the strength like Mikhail knows many more bricks than most players so he was right. A variation of this theme can be found in the famous game Capablanca - Lilienthal which is covered in My Great Predecessors part 1.

A second category is well known as it initiates a king's attack. The pawn-shield in front of the king is dismantled after which the king is under fire. As a special example I selected a King's Indian game with a piece sacrifice on g4 of which I earlier stated not have found any examples. Well the difference exists in the fact that white and not black sacrificed.

Finally we arrive at the most difficult category and those are the more positional piece-sacrifices. There is no direct king's attack and no immediate promotions are threatened but the opponent is mainly restricted in activity. A beautiful example is without doubt Bronstein - Botvinnik which we can find back in My Great Predecessors part 2.

I believe you can find the 3 different sort of bricks in my game with Stone. When I execute the piece-sacrifice, we already deal mainly with an endgame. However earlier in the game the piece-sacrifice was also possible and the conditions different. Below my analysis discuss the different possibilities in detail.

The analyses took a lot of time especially because today's engines are still pretty helpless in planning such piece-sacrifices. To learn chess consists of studying a large amount of such bricks and engines aren't the best teachers hereby. I realize more and more that it is vital for the own chess-development that we have to study the classical masterpieces from our rich chess-history. 


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