12 May 2017

Imbalances and Planning

Years ago, I read Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess, 3rd ed. (1993). The book offers useful instruction concerning imbalances and planning. However, sometimes in blitz, I play as if I am in utter ignorance of how to assess a position. Instead, I play for simple cheapos that are easily refuted.

This position from a blitz game offers a case in point.

White to move

I played 21.g5, hoping for 21...hxg5 22.hxg5 and thought that somehow my rooks could penetrate. Not only is there no clear tactical breakthrough, but it's not entirely clear that I should seek exchanges on the kingside.

How should White play here?


  1. I'm not so sure. I'd probably play 21.h5 to gain space fix the weak kingside pawns. This does give up g5, but I think that square's not so valuable. Maybe Nc3-e2-g3-f5 after that, or possibly a g5 break under the right circumstances. One more plan would just be to put the knight on g3 to increase our grip on the kingside, then centralize my rooks on d1 and e1.

    On the other hand, Black is getting in ...d5 and we have a very sucky bishop for the foreseeable future. I'd say it's close to dynamically equal.

    1. Dang, computer dislikes 21.h5 and points out the annoying ...Nh7 and ...Qg5 (annoying because Qxg5 Nxg5 leaves f3 weak). It prefers a Bc4 and Rd1 plan--with mass trades if Black ever plays ...d5.

    2. I like the idea of exchanging White's bishop.

  2. g5 all day.

    Chess is mostly a game between humans. Forget the computer for a second, what's the human eval?

    It's funny that you would bring up the Silman imbalances thing because g5 would typify the imbalances aspect of the position. Other moves are possible, but would not be quite as indicative of the imbalances of the position.

    That said, there are lots of other prophylactic moves that White could make instead.