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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Botvinnik - Euwe

The following game is a good study in both strategy and tactics. Summarizing the strategic side of the game, it can be broken down into the following phases:

Moves 9-11 White drives Black’s N from e4
Moves 14-18 White prevents Black from playing …c5
Moves 17-18 Black retains the 2B’s
Moves 18-20 Black attacks without playing …c5
Moves 21-24 Black forces …c5
Moves 27-31 White advances his f-Pawn in hopes of creating an attack
Moves 38-end Black renders the White K-side P-majority powerless.

Of course not all games have the strategic ideas so sharply outlined. As mentioned in previous posts, it can happen that strategic plans have to undergo frequent changes, or as in the case here, sometimes put on hold. Of special note is the tactical situation after 16…Rfe8.

There is an unexpected flurry of tactical possibilities. What is the reason for them? What was there in the position that caused tactical possibilities to suddenly appear? The answer to the question is very important because the knowledge of the peculiarities that make combinations possible is like a warning signal. Miss the signals and even very strong players can fall victim to a tactical shot.

In this game the warning signal was there and it was not difficult to recognize. Whoever advances a piece into the opponent’s position must exercise caution because his piece can become an object of attack because it may be exposed. You have to be careful that there is not a second weak point in the position (note in the game White’s undefended N on b7 and the weak g2 square) which allows a double attack. If there exists a second weak point then usually material loss cannot be avoided.

In the position after 16…Rfd8:

White’s e-Pawn is weak, but it’s only temporary. This doesn’t make any difference tactically in this position, but it does affect it strategically because an attack on e5 would not lead anywhere because the P can be safely defended. This means you have to distinguish between a strategic weakness which is hard to defend and a tactical weakness. In this position White’s e-Pawn is tactically weak. After 17.Na5 Qg3 White’s g-Pawn has also become tactically weak. White’s next move 18.Nb7 makes the N on b7 a third weakness (it’s undefended) and so the question becomes, “Can Black attack two of these weaknesses at the same time?”

The fact is, it is possible because Black can occupy the a8-h1 diagonal which attacks both the N and g7, which develops a double attack and a material advantage.

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