11 April 2013

Lesson of the Week

I varied the procedure this week. As usual, there was a chess position on the demonstration board. A few players offered suggestions for Black (the player to move). "Is the best move ____," students would ask. My reply, "I do not know." At the appointed time, we went through the first eighteen moves of the game leading to the position on the demonstration board.

Steinitz,William -- Paulsen,Louis [C25]
Baden-Baden 30.07.1870

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.d4

White opts for what came to be known as the Steinitz Gambit. Subjected to checks, his king takes a walk. We should expect Black to gain an advantage, but aside from the first check, what does Black gain from so many queen moves?

"Do not try this at home. Steinitz was a trained professional," I told the students regarding the march of the White king to the center of the board in the opening.

4.Nf3 would have been safe and sensible.

4...Qh4+ 5.Ke2 d6 6.Nf3

Attacking the queen.


Defending the queen with a pin.

White to move

7.Bxf4 0–0–0 8.Ke3

Breaking the pin on the knight.

8...Qh5 9.Be2 

Black to move


In 1987, Arthur Bisguier found the correct move: 9...f5 striking at White's center while the king is vulnerable. Bisguier went on to win his game.

10.a3 Bxf3

Black should have played 10...Nf6=


11.Bxf3? allows 11...g5 exploiting the weakness of d4 12.Bg3 Bg7

11...Qh5+ 12.Ke3 Qh4 13.b4?

13.g3 is better 13...Qe7 14.Kf2±

Black to move


Here also, 13...f5 is the correct move 14.g3 Qe7=

14.Bg3 Qh6 15.b5 Nce7 16.Rf1 Nf6

16...f5 is still worth playing

17.Kf2 Ng6 18.Kg1+-

Black to move

We reach the position that confronted the students at the start. White has a clear advantage. White's king took a stroll into danger, but Black made as as many queen moves as White did king moves. Checks and threats with the queen proved insufficient. Black needed to rip open White's center while the king was there.

Now, the plans for both sides are clear: White will continue to advance the queenside pawns and use his pieces in attack against the Black king. Black will try to advance on White's king with his queen and knights.

White's pieces are better coordinated for the attack, and consequently create problems for Black's monarch much faster than Black's efforts at counterplay.

Next week, we will look at Steinitz's combination at the end of this game.

No comments:

Post a Comment