11 October 2013

Lesson of the Week

We have looked at three poor responses by Black after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3.

2...Qf6 violates important principles, placing the queen on the knight's best square, and rendering the queen vulnerable to attack. White, by playing sensibly, can quickly build up a strong advantage.

2...Bd6 creates disharmony among Black's pieces.

2...f6 weakens the position of the Black king, and does not defend the e-pawn. After 3.Nxe5 fxe5, White is winning. Black can play 3...Qe7, however. White has a clear advantage.

This week we looked at the Philidor Defense, 2...d6. Ruy Lopez thought that this move was Black's best response. Andre Philidor also thought so. Philidor's Defense has been played by many strong players for several centuries. It is not Black's most popular response, but it is solid.

White to move
Black has secured the attacked e-pawn without committing any pieces. This move also opens a line for the light-squared bishop, but it blocks the dark-squared bishop.

White has several options:

3.d4 is most popular and probably best.

3.Nc3 is okay.

3.Bc4 is a strong move, and we explored it in more detail.

Black should play 3...Nc6 or Be7, but there are many moves worth considering.

We looked at 3...Bg4, which pins the knight.

White should then play 4.Nc3.

Black to move

One game from this position that is worth remembering continued with 4...g6?

The pin on the knight is an illusion. In Legall -- St. Brie, Paris 1750, White played 5.Nxe5. That game ended quickly. 5...Bxd1 6.Bxf7+ Ke7 7.Nd5#.

I have shown this game to hundreds of school children. Most beginners think of 6.Kxd1 as worthy because they have not yet learned to appreciate material value nor king vulnerability. White did not give up the queen so that he could capture a bishop. The queen was bait to set up checkmate.

We then looked at a better fourth move for Black: 4...Nc6.

5.Nxe5 is no longer a strong move, but the queen remains safe because 5...Bxd1 leads to 6.Bxf7+ Ke7 7.Nd5#.

White should play 5.h3.

After 5...Bh5 6.Nxe5, Black has a choice.

Black to move

6...Bxd1 loses to a checkmate that should be familiar by this point.

6...dxe5 leads to 7.Bxh5 when White is a pawn ahead and has an attack.

6...Nxe5 seems to be Black's best move.

After 7.Qxh5 Nxc4 8.Qb5 forking king and knight 8...Qd7 9.Qxc4, White is a pawn ahead and has a lead in development.

Going through these variations, students were introduced to pins, discovered attacks, forks, and piece coordination.

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