1. Joined
    15 Dec '20
    06 Apr '22 16:46
    This article continues where "Positions from My Youth II-A" left off, in a game where I was rated 1270 USCF and was Black against Pat Regan (1291) in the Edison (New Jersey, USA) First Sunday of the Month Quad on 7 April 1974.

    White has just played 15. Qxf4, and Black must decide how to recapture.

    15...gxf4 would undouble the g-pawns and create a protected passed pawn. However, it would also offer the c-pawn, which could not be defended after Nb5... If White were to win it, a plausible continuation is given in the next chess movie (which begins at 15. Qxf4).

    After 15...gxf4, White would be advised to better protect her e-pawn, such as by playing Kd2... so that the bishop would be protected if it went to d3. (Kd2... is better than queenside castling because any of the queenside files might become open and beg for White to occupy it with a rook.)

    If White again started with 16. g5 Bg7 but then played 17. Kd2,

    this would challenge Black to formulate a means to exploit his extra pawn.

    Examining the resulting pawn structure,

    Black owns a kingside pawn majority, but it's firmly blockaded, Therefore, he should prepare a pawn break to open at least one file for his rooks. The following seem to be the possible pawn breaks.

    * ...h6
    * ...c6
    * ...b5 (preceded by ...a6)

    Although Black has less space than White on some of the files in the neighborhood of these pawn breaks, in favor of a pawn break are Black's material advantage, the two bishops, Black's protected passed pawn, and that three pairs of pieces have been exchanged (which means that a paucity of space deprives fewer pieces of desirable squares).

    We'll contemplate the pawn break ...h6 first.

    In the position reached by 17. Kd2,

    before preparing ...h6, Black would need to safeguard the c-pawn. This could be done by 17...Nc5, inhibiting 18. Nb5 owing to the pressure on White's e-pawn, as well as clearing Black's second rank so that Black's c-pawn could be defended by ...Rf7. Suppose as mentioned earlier, White replied 18. Bd3, and this was followed by 18...Nxd3 19. Kxd3.

    Before playing the break ...h6, Black would probably reposition his dark-square bishop to where it would pressure the g5-square, such as e7. To clear the first rank for Black's rooks, both the light-square bishop and Black's king would come to the second rank.

    White, on the other hand, would want to reply h4... to ...h6, to try to keep the position as closed as possible. In anticipation of Black's then playing ...Bg4 (being that White's h-pawn would have released control of that square) to attack a White defender of g5, White would probably reinforce f3 by maneuvering the c3-knight to d2 (via b1).

    Eventually, Black would need to exchange pawns at g5 to try to make progress. This would probably lead to all four rooks being exchanged along the h-file, and the resulting position might resemble the following:

    White has apparently achieved an impregnable position on the kingside. This suggests that to try to make progress, Black would need to prepare a queenside pawn break. Rather than examine how to do that from here, let's return to the position after 17. Kd2, to see whether Black's queenside pawn breaks might have fared better.

    Assuming that 19...c6 were preceded by 17. Kd2 Nc5 18. Bd3 Nxd3 19. Kxd3, this would bring about the following position.

    Before considering how White's forces might be best placed, we need to anticipate where Black's are likely to go. Either the b- or c-file could plausibly open, which suggests that Black post rooks on these files. The only b-file square available for a rook is b8, whereas Black's other rook has a choice of c7 or c8. The c7-square seems better because a rook there would help protect Black's second rank and facilitate a quick doubling of rooks should the need arise.

    To support the ...b5 break, the light-square bishop belongs on the a4/e8 diagonal. However, if the bishop were at d7, then the capture dxc6... would eliminate a defender of the b5-square with tempo, and the bishop would prevent the transfer of a Black rook to the f-file to support Black's passed pawn. These considerations suggest putting the bishop at e8, although from there it would no longer pressure White's h-pawn.

    Black's d-pawn might well be attacked (for example, if White were to play dxc6... after posting a rook on the d-file), and putting the dark-square bishop on the a3/f8 diagonal (the f8-square at first) would seem the most economical way to defend it.

    Given this target setup for Black, what setup should White aim for?

    If Black were to play ...cxd5, White would prefer to recapture with a knight (to give it much more scope and to half-open the d-file. This suggests leaving the c3-knight where it is, but this would permit ...cxd5; Nxd5 Rxc4 unless White's c-pawn were already defended. Since the knight at f3 is blockading the f-pawn, we'll assume that White leaves the knight there and plays b3... to defend the c-pawn. White should probably also play a4..., to increase control of the b5-square.

    What about White's rooks? The a-rook would occupy a half-open file after ...b5; axb5..., so it seems fine where it is. The h-rook is for the moment protecting White's h-pawn. To relieve the h-rook from this obligation, White's king could redeploy to g2, which would permit the h-pawn to remain on the third rank where it controls the g4-square. Then the h-rook might move to the d-file.

    These envisioned deployments would imply the following target setup for the two sides.

    If it were Black's move here and he played ...b5, the continuation might be ...b5; axb5 cxb5; Nxb5 Bxb5; cxb5 Rxb5, reaching the following position.

    White is hard pressed to prevent further loss of material. For example, if Ra3, then ...Rb4 (Intending Nd2 Rb4, threatening to pin the knight by ...Rd4 or ...Rc2.); Re1 Rcb7 (Increasing the pressure while continuing to defend the a-pawn.); Nd2 Rd4, threatening ...Rc7 and ...Rc2.

    Being that 15...gxf4 followed by preparing ...c6 and ...b5 (if White doesn't shortly play Nb5... to attack the c7-pawn) would appear to give Black good winning chances (and this article is approaching the size limit), I'll skip an analysis of 15...gxf4 followed by ...a6 and ...b5.

    Returning to the position after 15. Qxf4,

    Let's briefly examine 15...exf4.

    This analysis suggests that 15...gxf4 is superior to 15...exf4.

    The remaining recapture, 15...Rxf4, which was played in the game, was chosen to pressure White's e-pawn and thereby inhibit Nb5... This choice, though inferior, is understandable given that Black did not foresee or appreciate the strength of 19...f3 after 15...gxf4 16. g5 Bg7 17. Nb5 Nc5 18. Nxc7 Rb8 19. Nd2.

    To be continued...

    (A list of the threads I've initiated at this forum is available at http://www.davidlevinchess.com/chess/RHP_my_threads.htm .)

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