Saturday, December 09, 2006


A week ago I encountered this position in a cc game (already finished).
It left me staring at the board mesmerized and clueless.
I lack the skill to find a reasoning that clears the situation.
It shows definitely a weak point of me. There is a lot of work to do in the positional area.

White to move.

I'm going to study this position for a while to find out why I have so much trouble with such positions.


  1. I would play Bf4. Develops the Bishop with threats and connects the Rooks.

    Probably would follow with Re1 with a chance to play Ne5 if the Bishop doesn't exchange.

    Haven't run this through any computers but just a glance tells me the Bishop has to come out immediately.

    This looks like a pretty strong position for you. I'd rather play White here.

    Ok, I just ran an analysis and Shredder like cxb6 better than Bf4, but only by 1/10th of a pawn.

    Deep Fritz 10 likes Be3 and Bf4 almost the same and scores Be3 18/1000 better than Bf4.

    Oh well. I guess the strategy training is paying off [grin]

  2. if it's an on-going rated game from the rhp, I'd suggest you take the game offline. getting outside help is a violation of rhp TOS, and could possibly get you banned. haven't seen it applied to anything else except engine use, but it is possible...

  3. hmm.. the first move i thought was g4 to kick that bishop. without the queens, a loose king-side is not too important. Then after cxb6, Nd5 to establish an outpost and perhaps double his pawns later on with Nxg6 (Assuming the bishop is still there)

    What did you play tempo?

  4. Nezha, I played cxb6 because I believed that defending the c pawn would be problematic. My opponent eventually blundered a bishop away, so I won. But that's not important.

    I'm very surprised that I win so much games by a blunder of my opponent. I hadn't expect that with correspondence play. Further I'm very surprised that opponents with K vs K+Q+Q+B+5p continue to play in cc. I assume I still play in the cellar due to my low rating. I win everything.

  5. tempo, are you a member of FICS? if you are, lets play some games there ok.

  6. The position looks a little like something that could come from exchange French or Petroff. There is only one open file so both players would like to occupy to e-file with rooks.

    Black has a threat of 1...bxc5 2.dxc5 Bxc5 so what is White going to do?

    Possible moves:

    a.) 1.Be3 protects the pawn and develops a piece. White might have ideas of opening c-file and double rooks there instead of e-file (currently blocked by two of his pieces).

    b.) 1.cxb6 axb6 2.Bf4 c6 3.Rfc1 White has an isolated queen pawn but I'm not sure if it is a problem here. Bishop is surely more active on f4 than on e3, the backward c6 pawn is already under fire and white has active play. [Maybe black should play 1...cxb6 and 2...Nc6 to counter this]

    c.) 1.b4 Nc6 I don't like this, might be ok though.

    d.) 1.Bf4 an active move but might be asking too much from the position (1...c6 2.cxb6 axb6 3.Rfc1 looks good but 1...bxc5 2.Bxc7 Rc8 3.Bf4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Bxe2 5.Nxe2 Rc2 loses a pawn)

    All in all, maybe I'd go for a.) variation. I think that the advance c4-c5 has been an inaccuracy, it is usually better to keep the pawn on c4 and even support it with b3.

    - bahus

  7. I also came to moving the bishop, my first candidate was Bf4, simply applying the rule «improve your worst piece». It seems that it really works here.

  8. Nezha,
    a lot of knights have asked me to play lately, but I don't like that. Competition is for OTB play. I use cc play solely for study reasons. Accepting a challenge from a knight would introduce competition to my study and that doesn't work. Because in competition I can't experiment. That would be very counter productive. Sorry guys.

  9. Thanks for the input, I will react on the suggestions in a later post.

  10. 1. cxb6 followed by 2. Bf4 looks fine for white, to me.

  11. Here's how I would approach the position OTB. I ask myself, "what's going on here?" (Silman calls this "what are the imbalances?") Well, no tactics jump out at me. White has more space on the Queenside, so that's where he's likely to be playing.

    (Nothing much can happen on the Kingside, and the only central feature that isn't connected with the Queenside is the e-file. All that can really happen on that is that the Rooks might all get traded on it. Sometimes e5 or e4 might be a useful outpost.)

    Black is threatening to win the c5-pawn, which would also eliminate the space edge. So, white must either maintain the Pawn (and the extra space it controls), or try to give it up to create another imbalance.

    Maintaining: 1. b4 a5 2.a3 axb4 and the a-pawn is pinned; after 2.Bd2 axb4 3.Bxb4 bxc5 4. Bxc5 Bxc5 5. dxc5 instead, White's pawns are split; the a-pawn is very weak (...Ra3 and ...Rfa8 is a real threat).

    1.Be3 bxc5 2.dxc5 also maintain the c5-pawn. Although Black's d-pawn is now passed, it looks easy to blockade, and White has a natural plan of advancing on teh Queenside. If Black tries to hold it up with ...a5, White can play b3, Rab1, a3 and finally b4. This all looks OK for White.

    Trading: 1.cxb6 axb6. White's a-pawn and Black's c-pawn are both weak, but I think Black can play ...c5 quickly, and after dxc5 bxc5, the mobile center pawn duo is probably better than White's outside passer. Also, 1.cxb6 cxb6 leaches all the dynamism out of the position. I think 1.Be3 is better than this.

    1.Bf4 bxc5 (if Black doesn't take, White can play b4 next) 2.Bxc7 c4 is good for Black, but 2.dxc5 Bxc5 3.Bxc7 is unclear. White may be abl etoi blockade the d-pawn, but the white pawn majority will be hard to get moving. Thi sis probably not too bad, but I still like 1.Be3 better.

    In all these lines, White could flick in 1.g4 Bg6 first, but I don't think it's needed--if it's desirable, White can always do it later, since ...Bxf3 should not be a good idea with the position so open.

    Finally, 1.g4 Bg6 2.Ne5 bxc5 3.Nxg6 fxg6! 4.dxc5 Bxc5 and White doesn't have anough for the Pawn. (Because Black took with the f-pawn, White can't even play Bf4 now.)

    So, I'd do a last tactical check of 1.Be3 and then play it.

    I may have misevaluated any or all of these end-positions, or committed any number of tactical oversights, but this is how I'd think at the board: see what's going on, decide where to play, and then decide which way of playing there looks best.

    Is this helpful at all? And I forget--have you read Silman's _Reassess Your Chess_? Useful book.

  12. Ed,
    thank you. Your description is very clear. In a way you simplify the position by splitting it up. I never thought of that. It's evident that my unbalanced approach to chess pays off: I'm now a very unbalanced player. Which makes it much easier to find out what's wrong. Have the books of Silman, but I never looked serious at them. I'm going to read it!