## Sunday, October 07, 2007

### Who is crawling out my wall?

Boris The Spider (The Who)

Look, who's crawling out my wall
Black hands has he, very tall
Now he's up above my head

Boris the spider
Boris the spider

Now he's dropped on to the floor
Maybe he's as scared as me
Where's he gone now, I can't see

Boris the spider
Boris the spider

Creepy, crawly
Creepy, crawly
Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly
Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly
Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly
Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly

There he is wrapped in a ball
Doesn't seem to move at all
Perhaps he's dead, I'll just make sure
Pick this book up off the floor

Boris the spider
Boris the spider

Creepy, crawly
Creepy, crawly
Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly
Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly
Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly
Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly

He's come to a sticky end
Don't think he will ever mend
Never more will he crawl 'round
He's embedded in the ground

Boris the spider
Boris the spider

Nimzowitsch introduced the term pivotal point. When you overprotect an invasionsquare you get a pivotal point. Take for instance the following diagram.

Black to move and win.

Black possesses the pivotal point f4. The knight at f4 is overprotected. You can lookt at f4 as a crack in the wall where your pieces can sneak thru into enemy territory. There are 2 weaknesses in whites camp: h3 and c3. Black hopes that a feigned attack at c3 will invoke f3, causing another weak pawn and freeing the invasion square g3 for blacks bishop, after which the white position will collapse. White on the other hand tries to trade pieces at f4 in order to render it useless.

You can play through the game fragment here.

It is a pretty complicated example, but there can be drawn quite a few clear conclusions from it. Let me give it a try.

You can place your pieces in 3 different zones on the board:
• A. Behind your own pawnshield. Your pieces are protected from attack by enemy pawns.
• B. Between your pawnshield and the enemy pawnshield. Your pieces can be easily harrassed by enemy pawns.
• C. Behind your enemy pawnshield. Where you can't be harrassed by enemy pawns since you passed them. I want to add to this area the squares in between the pawns where your pieces can be chased away by enemy pawns strictly spoken but: not anytime soon or not without considerable compromising the enemy position.
We are talking about zone C.
I used to call the squares in zone C invasion squares but that was during my investigation period. The common term seems to be strongpoints or strong squares. So I will adopt that, together with the term pivotal point. Since an outpost is usually used in relation to a knight only, I will not use that term.

I had a rather limited view regarding plan gamma. For me it was: mate the king or gain the wood that has to prevent it. That was rather logical since that happened in 100% of the cases that I studied. But in reality the scope is much wider:
• Mate the king
• Gain wood
• Attack weak pawns
• Induce weaknesses
• Invoke a combination
• Bind the enemy pieces to defense
• Be annoying
• etc.
I had a rather naïve view of plan bhèta too. Just place a piece on the strongpoint and the enemy position collapses. In reality a lot of manoeuvring is usually needed. But nevertheless, it is the way to go.

In order to maintain a bridge head deep into enemy territory, you will have to overprotect it. The invading pieces cannot be driven away by pawns, only by pieces. Hence the need to overprotect it. And you have to keep the enemy defenders busy elsewhere, just like in the example. During the manoeuvring it is quite likely that your defenders of the pivotal point creep thru the crack in the wall too in order to pose new threats. That's a positive side effect of overprotection. This is the technique to cause trouble and to induce new weaknesses. The enemy has to change his defense with very little room. It is up to you to change the angle of attack by manoeuvring back and forth in order to discover where the defender can no longer follow you due to lack of space.

Allthough all this tells nothing about plan alpha, how to establish a pivotal point, it places matters in a much broader perspective. Without no doubt, this is the main strategy for the middlegame. To me, all the different issues of positional play, like create an outpost, color complexes, open up a file etc., were quite separate idea's which had nothing to do with each other. Now everything combines to one main strategy. Nicely woven together like a spiderweb. Who is crawling out my opponents wall?