Saturday, November 01, 2008

More about battlements

What a relief! A new system with most of my beloved gadgets and tools installed. Now I can catch up since I have thought alot about chess lately.

Maybe you wonder why I speak about battlements while I actually am studying the endgame. The reason is that I get a sense of what the endgame is all about. So I can't help to think about the middlegame and how it influences the endgame. And from there I start to think about the opening. I was never known for the habit of limiting my view:)

General scheme.

I use the metaphor of the siege as a guide to move. Sofar I encountered 3 idea's in practice. The first idea is:

Keep the intruders from the crenels.

Take the following diagram after 1. f4 e5 2. fxe5 d6 3. Nf3 dxe5 4. e4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bc5 6. Bc4 O-O 7. d3 Ng4 the following position arose:

diagram 1

White to move.

Black plays opportunistic and tries to invade without preparation. If you can protect your invasionsquares well enough then there will come a moment that you can drive your enemy back. Here I played 8.Rf1. After black was expelled he was in some trouble.

The moving wall.

The second idea is to use your pawns as a moving wall. You keep your pieces behind your pawns, you keep an eye on the invasionsquares and you give the pawns extra support.

diagram 2

White to move.

It is my intention to play d3 and e4, thus moving my wall forward. How must I support my wall? If I play d3 right away, I lose a pawn on c3. I can't play d3 too early since I have to be carefull that there doesn't appear a black knight on e3. So I must find a move that protects both my existing wall (c3) and my future wall (d3 an e4). Qc2 is a move that accomplishes right that. In the game I played Qe1, which indicates that I'm not familiar with this line of though. The Queen doesn't protect d3 from there, and that got me into trouble later on.


The third idea I encountered is overstretching. This is in fact the test of the viability of the metaphor.

diagram 3

White to move

As you see I have moved the wall forward, keeping my pieces behind the wall and keeping an eye on intruders. The idea of this kind of play is to keep complexity low and to give the opponent a cramped position nonetheless. But when your opponent manages to create a breach in your wall all of a sudden your pieces who support the merlons and protect the crenels from invasion can become overworked since they have to assist in defending the breach too. Maybe that is why Nimzowitsch advocated overprotection? In the position above black played g5. White is still fine, of course, but in the following complexity I lost the thread and the game.

What should be the goal to strive for in a stretched situation where all of a sudden a breach occurs? Maybe the trading of pieces to take away counterplay? Since your pawns are closer to promotion they can become a power of their own.


  1. I like it, it seems especially apt for hypermodern openings. I'm not sure it works for the Bishop's opening, for instance, as the artillery is pushed out of a crenel right away.

  2. That 3rd position is one where the advanced pawns can become double edged. Yes They are closer to the other side, but there is also the potential to become over extended, and under protected. I've lost many games where I've pushed the pawns forward like that, and one break in the structure causes the position to crumble.

    In terms of trading pieces if you can trade the opponents attackers without giving up the corresponding defenders then there is less danger. Trading for the sake of trading doesn't help if one trades off defenders without getting attackers in return.

  3. Besides the possibility of overstretching a weak point seems to be that your pieces do defensive work only. It's more powerful when they attack and force the hostile pieces to defend. Now all the attacking power must come from the pawns alone, which are slow. Maybe one must strive for a triple function for your pieces: Attack the enemy, defend the crenels and support the (movement of the) wall.