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Friday, August 30, 2013

Classic Bishop Sacrifice

Kindle edition.

      The Art of Attack in Chess by Vukovic remains one of the best chess books ever written. In Algebraic notation! This is THE book you want if you want to study attacking chess. Weak squares, sacrifices, castled position... it's all here. Vukovic expounds both the basic principles and the most complex forms of attack on the king. The book is all about tactics and while it’s true Vukovic didn’t have a powerful engine to double check his analysis, he gives examples that will serve you well when contemplating an attack on your opponent’s King.  That said, I’d recommend playing over the games using an engine because there are some errors in analysis.
      The Classic Bishop Sacrifice is always popular; I’ve seen it played many times on the internet, usually by lower rated player who seem to think it’s an automatic win; it’s not. Even when the conditions are right, exact play is often required by BOTH the attacker and defender. Here a quick synopsis of the conditions required for the sacrifice to have a chance to succeed.

1-White must have a Q, N and B
2-The light squared B must be able to reach h7
3-The N must be able to reach g5
4-The Q must be in reach of h5 (or in some cases, any square on the h-file)

1-Pawns on f7 and g7 (In some cases g7 may have a B instead of a P) and h7 (or the h-Pawn may be missing or, rarely, on h5)
2-Q on d8 and R on f8. Note: this indicates the sacrifice may be good but does not guarantee it.
3-Black’s N should not be able to reach f6 4-Neither his Q nor B should be able to occupy the h7-b1 diagonal.

These are the basic conditions. Please note that even when the above conditions are met, there is no guarantee that the sacrifice is correct. Modifying the position in the Kottnauer-Kotov game shows some conditions where, due to some minor detail, the sacrifice does NOT work.
In this position after 1.Bxh7+ Kxh7 2.Ng5+ Kg6 3.Qg4 f5 the Q does not have access to the h-file. In the following position, the sacrifice is also incorrect.

1.Bxh7+ Kxh7 2.Ng5+ Kg6 3.Qg4 f6 [3...f5 4.Qh3 Ne4 5.Qh7+ Kf6 6.Qh4 Nxg5 7.Bxg5+ Kf7 and white's 'attack' has fizzled out.] 4.Nxe6+ Kf7 5.Qxg7+ Kxe6 6.Re1+ Ne4 7.Be3 Qd8 and, again, the 'attack' is over.

Enjoy Kottnauer's brilliancies against Kotov and Pachman (in the notes).

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