In online games one of my favorite openings is the Four Pawns Attack against the King's Indian; in fact, sometimes I go overboard and play the Five Pawns Attack where I play g2-g4 (after h2-h3 if necessary) right in the opening. Seriously, there is no such thing as the Five Pawns Attack; I made it up. I just really like the Four Pawns Attack which was played in the following game.
Many times I've run into online opponents willing, even eager, to sacrifice B and N on f7 (or f2) for a R and P. Apparently their thinking is that in doing so they are playing tactically and justify the "sacrifice" because two minor pieces are worth about six Pawns and so are a Rook and a Pawn and that makes it an even trade, plus they are weakening the enemy King’s position. Is such a trade a good idea?
According to GM Lev Zaitsev in endgames a Rook is better especially if the side with the Rook also has a passed Pawn, but in a complicated middle game it is much easier to create an attack with the two minor pieces.
GM Mark Dvoretsky wrote that in the endgame a Rook is frequently stronger than two minor pieces. It happens when the Rook penetrates into the opponent's camp and wins some material or when there is an opportunity to create a passed Pawn.
So, generally speaking we can conclude that in the middle game two minor pieces are better and in the ending a Rook is better.
On the other hand Tal confessed his favorite sacrifice was to give up two minor pieces for a Rook. i.e. he preferred the Rook! He claimed this paradox is valid in an endgame especially when the Rook fights against a Bishop and a Knight that are not cooperating very well. The paradox is true in a middle game, too, providing that a Rook has an open file, or better yet, files.
For most of us the most accurate evaluation of the situation comes from GM Arthur Bisguier who believed that against a weaker opponent he could win with either side. Thus, the answer as to which is to be preferred can be determined by answering the question, "Am I the stronger player?"
Case in point...in the following game which was played online just before Christmas last year I opened with the Four Pawns Attack and we ended up in an ending where I had a R+3Ps vs. a B+N+3Ps. As it turned out, Bisguier was right...the stronger player won.
Tartajubow - Opponent
Site: Online G10
King's Indian Defense, Four Pawns Attack
[...]1.e4d62.c4♘f63.♘c3g64.d4♗g75.♗g5 This is commonly known as the Averbakh System; he played it with Be2. The Bisguier System is coupled with Bd3 and f4. 5...c66.f4O-O
6...h67.♗h4♘h58.♘ge2a69.h3b510.g4 Love this! The game ended in a hard fought draw. Beliavsky,A (2646)-Lopez Martinez,J (2540)/Budva 2009
7.h3 Preventing the annoying ...Bg4 and toying with the idea of g4.
7.♕d2a68.a4♕a59.♖a3e510.fxe5dxe511.d5 is equal. Sherwin,J-Panno,O/Portoroz 1958
(7.♘f3♘bd78.♗e2♘e89.O-O is even. Burkart,R-Struth,E/Germany 1993 ) 7...a68.a4 Hindering black's ...b5.
8.♗d3 As in the Bisguier system. 8...b59.e5 with equal chances.
8...♘h5 Instead of this crude threat (... Mg3) black should either develop with 8...Nbd7 or perhaps even better play 8... d5 9.♘ge2f5 This doesn't look very good, but maybe he wanted to hinder g4.
9...♘d7 and I would have played 10.g4 but black could have at least equalized with 10...h611.♗h4♘xf412.♘xf4g513.♗xg5hxg514.♘h5
10.e5 Still thinking of playing g4, but this allows black to get slightly the better of it.
10.exf5 was correct as black is forced to recapture with the P. 10...gxf511.g4 and white has a promising position. 11...fxg412.hxg4♗xg413.♕d3 Black needs to watch out for his N. 13...♕e814.♗h3♗d715.♕f3♘f616.O-O-O with good attacking possibilities.
10.exf5gxf511.g4♘f6 is correct. Then after 12.♕c2d5 white can only claim a slight advantage.
11.fxe5 would be a mistake as after 11...h612.♗h4c5 White's center is under attack plus his Ks position is looking a little insecure.
11...♕c712.♕c2h613.g4 This turns out to be a mistake. (13.♗h4g514.fxg5hxg515.♗xg5♕xe516.O-O-O is unclear.) 13...fxg4 Fortunately for me black fails to take advantage of the opportunity to gain the advantage.
13...hxg514.gxh5gxf415.♘xf4♕xe5+16.♘ce2gxh517.♖g1 (17.♘xh5♗h6 leaves white in dire straits.) 17...♔h7 with the advantage.
14.♕xg6♗f5 A gross blunder. All he had to do was play 14...hxg5 with equal chances. 15.♕xh5hxg516.hxg4♗d317.♕xg5
17.O-O-O Packs an even bigger punch...the threat is to eliminate the defender of h7. 17...♕d718.f5 Cutting off the B. 18...♖d819.♖xd3♕xd320.e6 And black is without any defense against Qf7 mate.
17...♘d718.♕xe7 Being three passed Ps up it seems that white has an easy win, but in fact with his K in the center black has sufficient play.
18.O-O-O would have left black helpless against threats on the h-file. 18...♗xe219.♗xe2♘xe5 (19...♘c520.♗d3♘xd3+21.♖xd3) 20.fxe5♕xe521.♕g6
18...♖ae8 Komodo informs us that this position is nearly equal! 19.♕h4 Renewing threats on the h-file. 19...♘c5 This does not deal with the threats adequately.
19...♘xe520.O-O-O Best. 20...♘g621.♕h7+♔f722.♕h2♗xe223.♘xe2♖h8 with an unclear position.
20.♖d1 was better. 20...♗c221.♗g2 (21.♖d2♘d3+) 21...♗xd122.♗e4♗xe223.♕h7+♔f724.♗g6+♔e725.♕xg7+ and wins.
20...♖xf4 Surprise! It looked too risky to take the R, but that's what I should have done. 21.♗e4 The losing move as they say.
21.♘xf4♕xe5+22.♘fe2 and I am a R and a P ahead, but Komodo says black is better by a P and a half. How can that be?! 22...♕e3 Threatening to remove the guard from the N on e2 with ... Bxc3+ 23.♗f1♘b324.♖a3 The only safe square. 24...♘d4 with the nasty threat of ...Nf3+ 25.♖h3 A slaughter ensues. 25...♕c1+26.♘d1♗xe227.♔f2♕f4+28.♖af3♗xf329.♔g1♗xd1
21...♗xe4 (21...♗xe2 Nails it down 22.♕h7+♔f823.♔xe2♘xe424.♘xe4♕xe5) 22.♘xe4♕xe523.♕h7+♔f824.♘xf4♕xe4+
24...♕xf4 is also playable. 25.♖f1♖xe4+26.♕xe4♕xf1+27.♔xf1♘xe4
25.♕xe4♖xe4+ (25...♘xe4 is a blunder. 26.O-O) 26.♔d2
26.♘e2 leads to a really messy position after 26...♗xb227.♖a2♗f628.♖h5♖xc4
26...♖xf427.♖af1♖xf128.♖xf1+ Both sides have emerged from the complications unscathed and now a new phase of the game begins. 28...♔e729.g5 Played based on the principle that passed Ps must be pushed. 29...♘e4+ (29...♘xa430.b4♘b631.♖e1+♔f732.♔d3 with about equal chances.)
29...♗xb230.a5♗e531.g6♗f6 is also about equal.
31...♘b3+32.♔d3 is OK as long as black doesn't get greedy and grab another P. 32...♘xa533.♖e1
30.♔e3 Believe it or not this is a mistake. The K needs to stay close to the Ps so 31.Kd3 was correct. 30...♘xg5 This looks like it could be a draw, but it isn't. Every engine there is going back to Fritz 5.32 gives black the edge here. The R has no target so white is going to be on the defensive. 31.b4♘e632.♔d3
32.♖d1 cuts the K off but after 32...a533.bxa5 (33.b5cxb534.cxb5♘c5 black is winning.) 33...♘c534.♖g1♗c3 wins because white loses his Ps.
32...♗e533.♖f5♔d6 This is a subtle mistake that should have allowed me to equalize. Simply moving the B away was correct. 34.c5+
34.♖f7 would have been considerably better. It can get tricky! 34...b635.a5bxa536.c5+♘xc5+ (36...♔d537.♖d7+ wins) 37.bxc5+♔xc538.♖f5 is unclear, but a draw looks likely.
34.♖f7♘d8 is best. Then 35.c5+♔e636.♖h7♘f737.a5 with a likely draw.
34...♔d535.♖f7 Now with black's K able to penetrate this is not good...in fact it loses.
35.a5 should hold. 35...♘f4+36.♔e3♘g637.♖g5♘e738.♔d3 Cutting off black's K from going to c4 after which a draw is probable.
35...♘f4+36.♔c2 After this black's K penetrates and ther is no way to save the game.
36.♔e3 is no help. 36...♔c437.♖xb7♘d338.♖b6♗d4+39.♔d2♘xb440.♖b7♗xc5 wins
38.b5 Technically this is no good either, but practically it was worth a couple of exclamation marks. 38...cxb539.axb5axb5 and black's b-Pawn advances. However, all is not lost! 40.♖xb5♔xb5 and I could have made black prove he could mate with a B and a N!. Black mates in 28. Here is how: 41.♔d3♘c342.c6♔xc643.♔e3♔d544.♔f3♘e445.♔e3♘g346.♔f3♔d447.♔f2♔e448.♔g2♔e349.♔g1♔f350.♔h2♗d451.♔h3♗g152.♔h4♘e453.♔h5♗d454.♔h4♗e555.♔h3♘g5+56.♔h4♔f457.♔h5♔f558.♔h4♗f459.♔h5♗g360.♔h6♘e661.♔h5♘g7+62.♔h6♔f663.♔h7♘f564.♔h8♗d665.♔g8♔g666.♔h8♗c567.♔g8♘h6+68.♔h8♗d4#
38...♘xb4+39.♔d2♔xc5 I could resign here, but we were both getting short of time. 40.♖e7♗d641.♖e4♘d542.♖g4♔b643.♖e4♗b4+44.♔c2c545.♔b3♔a546.♖e5♘b647.♖e4♘xa448.♖c4 White exceeded the time limit in this lost position although it's not at all easy for black to demonstrate the win. Some engine analysis showed that the game could easily have gone on for another 40-50 moves.
In 1958 the World Student Chess Championship was held from 5th to 20th of July at the spa Zlatni Piasatsi (Golden Sands) near Varna, Bulgaria on the Black Sea coast.
Sixteen teams, a record number, participated.
It was a particuarly strong event because some of the students, Tal, Filip, Panno, Olafsson and Sanguineti had played in the Interzonal at Portoroz where Tal and Olafsson qualified for the candidates' tournament. Also playing were Spassky and 8 IMs.
The winning Soviet team consisted of Mikhail Tal, Boris Spassky, Bukhuti Gurgenidze, Aivars Gipslis, Alexander Nikitin and Yury Nikolaevsky.
The US team was William Lombardy, Edmar Mednis, Anthony Saidy, Arthur Feuerstein and Robert Sobel.
The day before the famous Bobotsov vs. Tal game, after Tal had finished his regular game he played speed chess against Nikola Padevsky and in all the games Tal played black. The games all were the same variation in which Tal sacrificed his Q for two minor pieces with mixed results.
Bobotsov was among the spectators and one version of the story is that Bobotsov said to Tal that he would never risk it in a serious game. Tal's reply was that he thought it was good and the two of them agreed to play it the next day.
According to Jiri Vesely in the book White and Black Memories, when Bobotsov and Tal met the next day the opening moves, the same variation Tal had been experimenting with against Padevsky, were blitzed out as Bobotsov was anxious to find out what Tal had prepared instead of the Q sacrifice. Without flinching Tal played the Q-sac and the surprised Bobotsov, looking a bit embarrassed, took the Q and then lost quickly.
It's quite possible that Tal knew of the game played about a year and a half earlier in the 1956 semi-finals of the 24th USSR Championship at Kharkov between Zamikhovdsky and Nezhmetdinov. That game didn't attract much attention, but it had featured the same Q sacrifice in a slightly different position and had ended in a draw.
Milko Bobotsov - Mikhail Tal
Site: Student Team Championship Varna
King's Indian: Saemisch
[...]1.d4♘f62.c4g63.♘c3♗g74.e4d65.f3O-O6.♘ge2c57.♗e3♘bd7 Nowadays you won't see this continuation very often because at d7 the N does not take part in the fight for the square d4 and it blocks his B. (7...♘c68.d5♘e59.♘g3e6 is the modern way.) 8.♕d2a69.O-O-O♕a510.♔b1b511.♘d5
11.dxc5 was played in Zamikhovdsky - Nezhmetdinov, 24th USSR Championshipsemi-finals, Kharkov 1956. 11...dxc512.♘d5♘xd513.♕xa5
13.cxd5 was tried in van der Sterren-DeJong, Wijk aan Zee 1990 which also leads to equality after either 13...Qxd2 or 13...Qc7 as in the game.
13...♘xe314.♖c1 Nezhmetdinov was of the opinion that white's most dangerous line was now to play 14.Rxd7, but either way the chances would be about even.
13.♖d3 is probably more dangerous to black. 13...♘xc414.♕e1♘db615.♕c1b416.♖d1♗d717.♘f4♘xb218.♔xb2♗h619.♔a1♗a420.dxc5 White is better and soon won in Bu Xiangzhi (2565)-Selin,O (2327)/St Petersburg 2000
14.♕c7 is not at all good. 14...♖b815.dxc5♗xb216.♘c3♖b717.♕c6♗xc118.♔xc1♘xc519.♗xc4bxc4 and black soon won. Aflalo,S (2105)-Rouffignac,T (2278)/Pau FRA 2015
14...bxc4 This is a critical position as white's next move will determine whether he stays equal or slips into an inferior position. 15.♘c1 After this passive retreat black gains the initiative.
This is the best move. After 15.♘f4♗xd416.♗xc4♖b817.b3 Black has only a slight advantage. Adnan,A (2124)-Roeder,M (2426)/Abud Dhabi 1999
15.dxc5 is definitely inferior as the following game shows: 15...♘xc516.♘c3♗e617.♗e2♖ab8 and black went on to win. Zakharchenko,A (2316)-Videki,S (2424)/Zalakaros 2003
15...♖b816.♗xc4♘b6 (was even better. 16...♗xd417.♘b3♗e5) 17.♗b3 Whether white takes the P or not black gets a dangerous position. Bobotsov probably avoided 17.Bxa6 because it gives black another open file on the Q-side. 17...♗xd418.♕d2 the position is going down the drain
18.♘e2 is met by 18...♗xb219.♔c2 (19.♔xb2♘c4+) 19...c420.♗a4♘xa421.♕xa4♗f6 with a winning position.
18...♗g7 This allows the c-Pawn to advance. White is now dead lost. 19.♘e2c420.♗c2c3 A nifty little finishing touch. 21.♕d3 (21.bxc3♘c4+ wins the Q.) 21...cxb222.♘d4♗d723.♖d1♖fc824.♗b3 (24.♕xa6 loses: 24...♗xd425.♖xd4♖xc226.♔xc2♘d527.♖d1♘b4+) 24...♘a425.♗xa4♗xa426.♘b3♖c327.♕xa6♗xb328.axb3♖bc829.♕a3♖c1+30.♖xc1♖xc1+ It's mate next move so Bobotsov resigned.
In 1969 there were three zonal tournaments in Europe: Raach, won by Uhlmann with Andersson, Ivlov, Portisch and Smejkal tied for second. Athens was won by Matulovic with Hort and Huebner tied for second.
The third Zonal was held in Praia da Rocha, Portugal. The tournament was originally scheduled for twenty players, but at the last minute the players from Holland and Tunisia canceled.
Praia da Rocha was the weakest of the European zonals and the participants in the other two have complained that it was easier for those in Portugal to attain to the goal of qualifying for the Interzonal. Even so, Gligoric of Yugoslavia, who was considered the prime favorite, had his problems and his qualification was in doubt until the end when he managed to qualify by scoring nine points in the last ten rounds. For the results of all the Zonals that year refer to Mark Weeks post HERE.
The high finish of Dr. Miroslav Filip of Czechoslovakia was something of a surprise and when Dragoljub Minic of Yugoslavia scored six and a half points in the last seven rounds to take first place that was also a surprise.
Italy's Sergio Mariotti, who scored 9 points in the last 10 rounds, could have been a major surprise if he hadn't blundered against the lowly placed Belgian Helmut Schumacher and the South
African Brian Donnelly.
England's William Hartston was also a very serious rival for first until he lost his last four games!
Among other surprises were the showing of Bulgarian GM Milko Bobotsov who collapsed at the very end and Hungarian GM Istvan Bilek who was completly out of form. In the end, in tie break order, the qualifiers were Minic, Filip and Gligoric.
This was the first time Portugal was host to such an important chess event and although Filip thought it was was one of the best organized of tournaments he had played in, some of the other players did a lot of bellyaching.
Gligoric complained about dogs barking all night and the early morning noise, but it was also noted that he spent a lot of late nights analyzing and stuff. Scotland's David Levy complained that the Spaniards and Portuguese were put up in better hotels than the foreigners and that the foreigners held their own special tournament to see who would find the most flies on their plate.
Pre-tournament favorite Gligoric took a gut punch from Italy's champion Mariotti who upset him in sensational style early on. Mariotti's fourth place finish was one place away from Interzonal qualification.
Sergio Mariotti (born August 10, 1946) is the first Italian to achieve the GM title which he was awarded in 1974. Born in Florence, he became the Italian junior champion in 1965 and in 1969 the Italian Champion. After several successes in the early to mid-1970s the British Chess Magazine nicknamed him "The Italian Fury" due to his collection of tournament wins and his enterprising, tactical style. His preferred openings are, with either color, the Sicilian and the Ruy Lopez with an occasional Evans Gambit or Albin Counter Gambit thrown in.
Yugoslav GM Svetozar Gligoric (February 2, 1923 – August 14, 2012) won the championship of Yugoslavia a record twelve times, and is considered the best player ever from Serbia. In the 1950s and 1960s, Gligoric, who was fluent in several languages, was not only one of the top players in the world, but he was also among the world's most popular players.
Although he compiled a superb tournament record he is best known as an openings theorist who made enormous contributions to the theory and practice of the King's Indian Defense, Ruy Lopez and Nimzo-Indian Defense, among others.
Sergio Mariotti - Svetozar Gligoric
Site: Praia da Rocha POR
King's Indian: Four Pawns Attack
[...]1.d4♘f62.c4g63.♘c3♗g74.e4d65.f4 Mariotti was a fearless player and it's hard to say if his decision to play the grandiose Four Ps Attack was courageous or foolhardy because Gligoric was born playing the K-Indian. This formation has never attracted serious interest although Alekhine used it three times at New York 1924 and scored +1-0=2. In his day Bent Larsen occasionally experimented with it. 5...c5 For years this was the standard response. White can now choose between hte Benoni-like 6.d5 with sharp play or the more restrained 6.dxc5 or 6.Nf3 6.d5 On rare occasions white has tried the hyper-aggressive 6.e5 with mixed results. 6...O-O7.♗e2
7.♘f3 is usually played. 7...e68.♗e2exd59.cxd5♗g410.O-O with a sharp position resembling those of the Benoni.
7...e68.dxe6 Black now faces a conundrum. Should he recapture with the P or B? Capturing with the B is more cautious and prevents the complications that arise in the game. 8...fxe6 It's possible Gligoric chose this because it leads to complications and as an experienced GM he may have felt he could outplay his young and inexperienced opponent.
8...♗xe6 This is the most popular choice and it serves black well. 9.♘f3♘c610.O-O and black is well developed and controls d5 sufficiently so that the weaknes of the P on d6 is of little significance.
9.g4 Talk about courageous and enterprising! Apparently Mariotti was trying to present the old man with new problems in unfamiliar territory.
9.♘f3♘c610.O-Oa611.♔h1b612.♗e3 is perfectly even. Fries-Nielsen,J (2454)-Mortensen,E (2441)/Greve DEN 2002
10.g5 looks promising but after 10...♘e811.h4e5 White is pretty much committed to continuing hyper-aggressively and things turn out to be in black's favor after 12.f5gxf513.h5♘d4
10...♘d411.h5d5 Mariotti's strategy has brought him success! Gligoric proceeds on the rule that the best defense against a flank attack is the counter attack in the center. But here it's the wrong strategy because after 11...d5? white's Q penetrates on to the opened h-file and gives white some serious play.
11...a612.hxg6hxg613.g5♘h714.♗d3 and now with 14...b5 black has equalized. Instead he played the inferior 14... e4 and got a losing game. Bleis,C-Kabisch,T (2285)/Niedersachsen 1989
11...b5 Is the correct strategy. Then after 12.hxg6♗b713.gxh7+♔h8 with the upper hand because white has no good way of meeting the attack on e4. 14.♗d3b415.♘ce2♘xe4
12.e5 After this white has a really nice game. 12...♘e4 The strength of black's Ps and Ns in the center are an illusion because white has a powerful attack against black's K. 13.hxg6hxg614.♕d3 Also good was 14. Bd3. 14...b5 This move may be typical in similar positions, but here it leads to problems.
14...♗d7 leads to equality after 15.cxd5exd516.♘xe4dxe417.♕xe4♘xe218.♕xe2♗c6 Black is a P down but he has sufficient play because white's K is precariously placed int he center.
15.♘xe4 This is the correct reply. (15.♘xb5♘xb516.cxb5c4 with a dangerous initiative.)
15.cxb5 is successfully met by 15...♕a516.♘f3♘xe217.♕xe2♘xc3
15...bxc416.♕h3dxe417.♕h7+♔f718.f5 White doesn't care about material. He is interested in attacking black's exposed K. 18...exf519.♖h6
19.♗xc4+ was even more forceful. Then if 19...♗e620.♗xe6+♘xe621.♖h6f422.♕xg6+♔g823.♕h7+♔f724.♘h3♕e725.♘xf4♘xf426.♗xf4♖h827.♕g6+♔g828.♖xh8+♔xh829.O-O-O and even with the reduced material white has a winning attack.
(19.♗xc4+♘e620.♗h6 is fatal for black.) 19...♘c2+20.♔f1fxg4
20...♘xa121.♕xg6+ leads to mate after 21...♔e722.♕xg7+♔e823.♕g6+♔d724.♖h7+ mates in 3.
21...♕d5 offered more resistance. 22.♕xg6+♔g823.♕h7+♔f724.♖d6♘e1+25.♔h1♖h826.♕xh8♗xh827.♖xd5♗e628.♖xc5♗xe529.♖xe5♖h8+30.♘h3♖xh3+31.♔g1♘f3+32.♗xf3exf333.♗f4g334.♖g5 and in this position white is winning.
22.♔h1♘d3 Black has prevented the deadly B check Bxc4+, but new threats are present and kill all hope. (22...♗f5 is still a small chance 23.♗xc4+♔e8+−) 23.♕xg6+♔g824.♕h7+♔f725.♗e3♕e726.♖f1+♔e827.♕g6+♖f728.♕c6+♕d729.♖e6+
29.♕xa8 is no so effective as after 29...♗xh630.♗xh6♘xb2 black has some fight left in him.
30...♔g8 what else? 31.♖e8+♔h732.♕xe4+♖f533.♖xc8♖xc834.♖xf5♕c635.♕xc6♖xc6+−
32...♕c7 a last effort to resist the inevitable 33.♖c6♕xe534.♗xc4♕xc535.♖xc5♗a636.♗xf7+♔f837.♗c4+♔e738.♗xa6♗xb2+−