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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Rook Handling

     When he was discussing what to do when transitioning from the opening to the middlegame after the pieces have been developed and you have to determine a new strategy that is based on the position, C.J.S. Purdy gave some good advice.
     Before deciding on a plan he posed the question, have you really completed your development? What about the Rooks? Where should they go? 
     He gives the general rule that the player who gets his Rooks ready for the future is wise. The idea is to place the Rooks in a position of maximum readiness. i.e. on a file that is most likely to become open
     In his classic work Modern Chess Strategy, Ludek Pachman began by devoting a chapter to each of the pieces and in the chapter on Rooks he declared that it was one of the most important in the whole book! The reason is that next to the Queen the Rook is the most powerful piece and handling them requires a great understanding of the strategy suited to a particular position. 
     The Rook is difficult to bring into play because its development necessitates, among other things, carefully planned Pawn advances, well chosen exchanges and correct timing in castling. Handling Rooks correctly is, as Pachman put it, "not an easy task for the novice." 
     Consequently, he discussed the creation and meaning of open files, open files as a factor in the attack on the King, the use of open files in the center and on the Q-side, Rooks on the seventh and eighth ranks and active Rooks in front of a Pawn chain. 
     That's way too much material to cover here, but the following game that he played against Lajos Steiner in Budapest 1948 is a good example of using open files in the center and on the Q-side.
     Using them in this fashion usually involves difficult strategical problems, but some things to aim for are a) penetration of the Rooks into enemy territory (especially the 7th and 8th ranks), winning Pawns by pressure on open files and cramping enemy pieces. 
     Pachman makes the astute observation that actually applies to all phases of the game...formulating general rules for such aims would be complicated and imprecise, so the best approach is to illustrate the principles by example. To wit...

Ludek Pachman - Lajos Steiner

Result: 1-0

Site: Budapest

Date: 1948.05

Queen's Gambit Declined: Tartakower Defense

[...] 1.d4 d5 2.♘f3 ♘f6 3.c4 e6 4.♗g5 ♗e7 5.♘c3 h6 6.♗h4 O-O 7.e3 b6 The Tartakower (or Tartakower-Makogonov-Bondarevsky) Defense is one of the most solid continuations for black. The fianchetto can be found in the games of Lasker and Capablanca, but they omitted the preliminary ...h7-h6. It was Tartakower who introduced the modern variation in 1922 by combining ...h7-h6 and ...b7-b6 which he successfully played on a regular basis. Later the Russian players Vladimir Makogonov and Igor Bondarevsky made important contributions so the line is often called the Tartakower-Makogonov-Bondarevsky or the TMB-system. The play is usually more quiet than in some of the sharper systems. Black gets a solid position but may find himself under pressure throughout the whole game. AT the same time white find it difficult to maintain his small advantage. Both players need to have a good understanding of the typical positions that can arise such as such as hanging Ps or isolated Ps. 8.cxd5 exd5
8...♘xd5 This is more usual and better. 9.♗xe7 ♕xe7 10.♘xd5 exd5 11.♖c1 ♗e6 12.♕a4 c5 with equal chances.
9.♘e5 ♗b7
9...c5 was tried in Matlak,M (2465) -Linauskas,D (2320)/Katowice POL 1995. 10.♗d3 ♗b7 11.O-O ♘c6 12.♗a6 ♕c8 13.♗xb7 ♕xb7 14.♗xf6 ♗xf6 15.♘g4 ♗d8 16.♘xd5 Now had black continued with 16.. .Nxd4 instead of 16...f5 he would have equalized.
10.♖c1 According to Pachman 10,Be2 was more precise, but that move seems to be nothing more than nit picking.
10.♕a4 Yielded white nothing. 10...a6 11.♗e2 ♘fd7 12.♗xe7 ♕xe7 13.♘d3 c5 14.dxc5 ♘xc5 15.♘xc5 bxc5 16.O-O-O Black has a good position. Rau,H (2348)-Boguslavsky,O (2299)/Willingen 2003
10...♘bd7 11.♘xd7
11.f4 Sets up a Stonewall formation but it allows black to easily equalize after 11...♘xe5 12.dxe5 ♘e4 13.♗xe7 ♕xe7 14.♘xe4 dxe4
11...♕xd7 12.♗d3 a6 Black is embarking on a faulty plan. Either 12...Ne4 (best) or even 12. ..c5 were correct. 13.O-O ♕e6 14.♕b3 Black's plan is to do nothing on the Q-side and prepare an attack with ...f5 so white, whose chances lie on the c-file, prepares to double Rs on it and at the same time he prevents black from playing ...c5 in case he changes his mind about attacking on the K-side. 14...♖ad8 15.♗g3 ♗d6 16.♘e2 ♘e8
16...♘e4 White enjoys a nice advantage, but this move is probably his best try even though Pachman thought it was unplayable. 17.♗xe4 dxe4 18.♕xe6 fxe6 19.♗xd6 Better than Pachman's recommendation of 19.f4 (19.♘f4 ♔f7) 19...cxd6 20.♘f4 ♖f6 21.♖c7 with the advantage.
17.♖c3 ♗xg3 18.hxg3 Slightly less precise would be 18.Nxg3 because he wants to keep available for a more active assignment. 18...g5 This deprives the N of f4 and at the same time sets his K-side plans in motion. On the downside white can now use f4 to aid in his breakthrough. 19.♕c2 f5 Black's position looks quite promising...his only weakness is c7, but it is guarded by the N and so black can proceed with his attack. However, in reality white has a considerable advantage because be can, oddly enough, by tactical means on the K-side (!) win the P on c7. Watch! 20.g4 A temporary sacrifice that black has to accept. 20...fxg4
20...f4 fails miserably... 21.♗h7+ ♔h8 22.♗f5 ♕f6 23.exf4 ♗c8 24.♗xc8 ♖xc8 25.♘g3 ♕xd4 26.♘f5 and white is winning. Black's best line is 26...♕e4 27.♕xe4 dxe4 28.fxg5 White has a winning position.
21.♘g3 Now that white has gained control over f5 black cannot satisfactorily defend his c-Pawn. 21...♘g7 (21...c6 22.♗f5 ♕f7 23.♗xg4 ♘g7 24.f4 with a strong attack.) 22.♖xc7 ♖c8 23.♖xc8 ♖xc8 Black looks to be doing well because he controls the c-file, but his control is only temporary because the R will soon have to abandon the file in order to come to the aid of the K. In fact, in this position white enjoys a considerable advantage. 24.♕e2 h5 25.♗b1 No doubt this is best.
25.♗xa6 ♗xa6 26.♕xa6 ♖c2 and Pachman claims the R on the 2nd rank is worth more than the P. Komodo disagrees and thinks white is better by a whole P. Who's right?! In a Shootout using Stockfish white scored +1 -0 =4. Using Komodo white scoed +2 -0 =3.
25.♗xa6 ♗xa6 26.♕xa6 h4 looks promising. After 27.♘e2 ♖c2 Both engines evlute this position as dead equal meaning the outcome is a toss up.
25...♖f8 Pachman gives this move a ! and says it is virtually forced, but now white can penetrate with his Q on the c-file. Neither Stockfish nor Komdo agree with him and slap it with a ?
25...♖c7 Seems to hold the position! 26.♕d3 ♕h6 and how is white going to penetrate on the c-file? That said, white does hold an advantage, but in Shootouts Stockfish failed to eke out a single win.
26.♕c2 ♕h6
26...♖c8 challenging the c-file would lose outright. 27.♕h7+ ♔f8 28.♘xh5 ♘xh5 29.♗f5 ♕f6 30.♗xc8 ♗xc8 31.♕xh5
27.♕c7 ♗c8 28.♕e5 h4 29.♘e2 While black's position is compromised to the point that he is not likely to save the game his next move leaves the Q out of play and hastens his defeat. 29...♕h5
29...♗e6 offered a more manly defense. 30.♖c1 b5 and white has to continue to milk the position to score the point.
30.♕xd5+ This is probably what Steiner was hoping for because after 30...♗e6 he may have thought he had a strong attack as did Pachman. However, after 31.♕d6 black has no satisfactory way to continue. Pachman stated that 31...g3 gives black a strong attack, but in fact it loses quickly after 32.fxg3 ♖xf1+ 33.♔xf1 h3 Here is the point...white has only one good move here! 34.♕b8+ ♘e8 35.gxh3 ♕xh3+ 36.♔e1 ♗f7 and white is left with a won ending.
30...g3 31.f3 Simplest.
31.fxg3 ♖xf1+ 32.♔xf1 hxg3 33.♕xg3 ♗e6 and white has some work to do before he scores the point.
31...♖e8 As often happens when one has been defending for a long time, Steiner misses his best defense, but his position is beyond salvaging in any case. (31...g4 32.♕xh5 ♘xh5 33.fxg4 ♗xg4 34.♘xd5 is hopeless for black.) 32.♕xd5+ ♗e6 33.♕d6 ♗c4 34.♘d5 ♖e6 35.♕xe6+ ♘xe6 36.♘f6+ ♔f7 37.♘xh5 ♗xf1 38.♔xf1 Black resigned. While not flashy, as instructive game by Pachman.
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