07 January 2015

Planning, Time, Strategy

Lesson of the Week

Some of my advanced students this week are going through a game and annotations concerned with planning. The game was annotated by the winner and included in a chapter that he added to a book that he translated into English: Paul Keres, and Alexander Kotov, The Art of the Middlegame, trans. H. Golombek (1964). The annotations below are as they appear in the book, except that I have converted descriptive notation to algebraic, and have omitted some passages.

The diagram appears in the book. I start with it, asking students how they would play as White. Then, we go through the game from the beginning. Because I think Golombek's comments are instructive, I add very little.

Golombek,Harry -- Puig Pulido,Pedro [A65]
Varna ol (Men) fin-B Varna (7), 1962

This game is an example of "fits-and-starts policy": "start on one plan, switch over to another that seems more attractive, and then, when it is too late, try to return to the original plan."

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 0–0 5.f3 c5

Already the nature of Black's plan has defined itself. He is prepared to allow White a certain pawn preponderance in the center provided that in return he is able to concentrate on a counter-attack on the queen's side: an excellent plan that has proved its worth in many a modern game and one that would work here too--always provided Black sticks to his plan.

6.d5 d6 7.Bd3 e6 8.Nge2 exd5 9.cxd5

Now White's plan is clear. He intends to use his pawn majority in the center to make a thrust there; hence he recaptures with the c-pawn rather than the e-pawn so as to have in reserve the eventual advance of e4-e5.

9...Na6 10.0–0 Nb4

The first change in plan. Black, lured away by the possibility of attacking White's king bishop, neglects to follow the logical line of counter-attack on the queen's side. He should have played 10...Nc7 11.-- with the idea  11...a6 12.-- Rb8 13.-- b5.

11.Bc4 Re8 12.a3 Na6 13.Bg5

White has not only mere development in mind with this move. If Black drives away the bishop by h6 and g5 then he will have weakened his King's side and driven the bishop to a post from which it can aid the central pawn thrust of e5. There is also a more insidious notion in the move--it is designed to induce Black to change his plan yet once more.


And Black does exactly this; he forms a fresh plan with the idea of unpinning himself and then manuevering the queen knight to d7 so as to hold back the advance of White's e-pawn. That this plan utterly fails is due to the waste of time caused by Black's constant change of plan.

14.Qd2 Nb8 15.Ng3 Nbd7 16.f4 h6 17.Bh4 Ng4 18.Rae1

All part of the plan of central advance.

18...Ngf6 19.Kh1 Nh7

White to move

With this move Black deems that he has adequately guarded e5 and prevented White's central advance. But now comes the logical follow-up of White's plan.

20.e5! g5 

Desperation; but what else can Black do?

20...dxe5 21.d6 -- 22.Nd5.

21.fxg5 hxg5 22.e6! 

A good illustration of White's theme--the central pawn advance. The plan has won through and it only remains to gather the fruits.

22...f6 23.Bb5 gxh4 24.Nf5 Bf8 25.exd7 Rxe1 26.Rxe1 Bxd7 27.Bxd7 Rd8 28.Be6+ Kh8 29.Nxh4 1-0

Black resigns. A case of too many plans spoiling the broth.

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