Saturday, December 27, 2014

Achilles

After the Open of Leuven, Stefan Docx told me that he liked the positions which I obtained in the Dutch. However only my first move didn't appeal to him. It is therefore no coincidence that on chesspub the opening is categorized under the daring defences. Deliberately weakening f7 also called the Achilles of blacks position is obviously risky.

The achilles not only plays an important role in openings in which the f-pawn is pushed. Also in many other openings this weak spot is attacked. A few examples to illustrate this theme. I start with the feared Cochrane gambit.

I never studied this seriously but it looks playable for white. In the second example we see again the same players at work but this time in a trendy variation: the anti-Moscow gambit which I already used in one of my first articles, see my novelty in Wijk aan Zee.

The playground of this variation almost completely shifted from standard-chess to correspondence-chess probably because white scored terribly and the compensation isn't easy to find. From my own practice I can show a rare line which was in my repertoire till 2004. I only got it on the board in standard-chess once.

Not a well played game but again a nice example of how hard it is to defend against such sacrifices without preparation. For online blitz or bullet these gambits are very lethal.

Not only in the opening is f7 (or f2 for white) a weak spot. Also further in the game we notice that the achilles remains a headache which many players got into troubles. I found on the internet a nice collection of combinations in which the achilles plays a key role. It is difficult making a choice out of it but I like the combination of our reigning worldchampion Magnus Carlsen in his game of 2011 against the Chinese topgrandmaster Wang Hao.

Recently I got a golden opportunity to play a beautiful combination using the Achilles.


I looked a few seconds at Bxf7 but never thought it could work against a tactician like Stefan (obtaining only a few days earlier an IM-norm in Le Touquet. It often strikes me that tacticians are very good in the attack but in the defense they regularly make mistakes. A missed opportunity or something we can consider as an oddity? In any case Steven Geirnaert believes that we shouldn't too easily minimize mistakes. We should look for ways how to avoid them and improve our play. Of course he has a valid point. On the other hand I am surely not the only one missing such tactics.

A few months earlier an example of such blindness between grandmasters was published in the great column of grandmaster Lubomovir Kavalek.


If players from this caliber miss something much simpler then I can quicker accept my mistake. Of course one doesn't get many chances in his career to play such extraordinary combinations so it always will feel as a missed opportunity. 

Brabo

Addendum 26 Augustus 2015
Despite playing 20 years of competition, only last couple of years I started to review and study the old grandmasters. Again and again I realize that I should have done this much earlier. I discovered a few days ago via the book "The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal" the game Mikhail Tal - Wolfgang Unzicker played in 1961: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1139557 which includes some of the same motives Nh4/Ng5 as my missed combination against Beukema. We can only guess what if I had discovered Tals game just before my game against Beukema.

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