07 January 2014

Attacking on Opposite Wings

The Sicilian Defense is well-known for leading to positions where players castle on opposite wings and both launch attacks against the enemy king. Players must balance attack and defense, calculating whose attack will get their first. Victory requires understanding the consequences of several possible attacking moves. Wasting time with an inefficient attack can lead to defeat.

This position from Yildiz -- Dembo, Mardin 2011 (Chess Informant 113/81) is not atypical.

Black to move

Yelena Dembo, who annotated her victory for Chess Informant, describes her move here as a mistake 14...b4? answered by a mistake by her opponent 15.g5?

Looking through the game, I thought Black had the better game with an attack that seemed much faster than anything that White could muster. Indeed, this game serves to recommend the Sicilian Defense. But, it is not so easy for me to discern why 14...b4 and 15.g5 are errors. It seems to me that Black has an advantage in either case. Black's 14...b4 and Dembo's suggested 14...Rxc3 both lead to advantage. White's 15.g5 and Dembo's suggestions 15...Nd1 or 15...fxe6 all fail to stem the tide of the Black assault on the king.


  1. From the way White's pieces are arranged, I'm guessing this position comes from a Velimirovic Sozin vs the Classical Sicilian. What White has probably done wrong is play f4-f5 rather than a quicker g4-g5 to chase Black's knight off the f6 square as quickly as possible. That's probably going to tilt the tactics in Black's favor. Black's development and piece placement are pretty optimal for this variation.

    1. Yes, Dave, it is classified B89 in Chess Informant and White did play f4-f5 before moving the g-pawn. Dembo gives one reference game in the notes--Kholmov--Tal 1968, which was drawn in 25 moves and also featured f4-f5. She also offers 11.g4 instead of 11.f5.