Thursday, September 09, 2021

Getting the juices flowing #1

 Here you see a position from Vukovic' tome. It is a tactical position, and I think it is possible to apply the method of transfer. What are the preconditions of Vukovic for this attack? What are the salient points? What concepts can be derived that are transfer worthy to other analogue positions?

Diagram 1. Black to move

r1bqr1k1/ppp2ppp/2n2n2/2bppP2/4P3/1BPP1N2/PP2Q1PP/RNB1K2R b KQ - 1 1 

I will give you some time for analysis and will update the post later in blue.


  • Chessable course: Sac, sac, mate! (GM Simon Williams)
  • Chapter 1: King in the middle 
  • Source of the course: Art of Attack (Vukovic)

Despite these giveaways,  I started to look at the position in my usual obtuse trial and error way. I dismissed Bxf5 as being not forceful enough. Only after quite some time, I revisited the move.

With hindsight it is clear that we have the tabiya of the attack against the uncastled king here. Opening the e-file is the essential goal to strive for. Apparently this tabiya is not part of my database, and hence not of my skill. The concept of opening the e-file is transferable to all analogous positions where the king is stuck in the middle. I expect the same concept to play a role in the other examples of chapter 1.

The concept has even a remote resemblance with this position where two blocked pawns are unleashed by a sacrifice.

Thinking in analogies, even My System seems to be geared around unleashing your hitherto immobile pawn roller. Do you see the resemblance?

I stated somewhere that building transferable concepts is like building a database of goals. The goal of this position is to open up the e-file, and as long as you are not aware of that, no trial and error is going to get you any further.

What other salient points are there? (to be continued. . .)


  1. I found the move within seconds, to calculate everything to the end.. well..

    GM Smirnov says in "Attack and win" Lesson 3 : "Whenever you notice this kind of pattern, when the opponent's king is in the
    center, it always makes sense for you to try to find a way to start an attack, especially
    if you are ahead in development.
    The first rule suggests here that you need to open up the position, especially in the center because that's the only way how you can
    start attacking directly"

    And there is an eye catching tactical weakness: Re8 -> Qe2 Ke1
    So we realy want to open the e file

  2. Something I learned recently (from Aagaard or Romanovsky; I can't remember which one) was that when the pieces are in the proper position for an attack, a piece sacrifice is often required in order to open the critical line(s) because the available pawn breaks just don't get the job done.

    White is woefully behind in development (all the Queenside pieces are doing nothing), and the White King cannot escape via Kingside castling because the WPf2 has moved to f5 AND the BBc5 prevents it as a consequence.

    Looking for the lines of attack, Aox's observation of the tactical weakness (Re8 -> Qe2 Ke1) is spot on. As previously discussed, it helps to visualize the tactical possibilities by starting at each attacking piece and following the "auras" emanating from that piece all the way to the edge of the board, ignoring all obstacles along the paths.

    Calculating is made easier (NOT to say "Easy!") by realizing that there are two obstacles on the attack path: the WPe4 and BPe5. The WPe4 can be diverted off the e-file with 1...Bxf5. If White takes the "sacrificed" Bishop with 2. exf5, then the line-opening of the e-file proceeds immediately with 2... e5-e4 (getting rid of the e5 obstacle), and White will be crushed.

    If White tries to keep the e4-Pawn in place by capturing on d5 with 2.Bxd5, then (again) the e4-Pawn can be diverted to either f5 or d5 after 2... Nxd5, in either case opening up the e-file after 3.exf5 or 3.exd5.

    One of the things that helps is to "SEE" the possibilities at this point (not necessarily a "stepping stone" position, but a similar idea).

    1...Bxf5 2.exf5 e5-e4 and Black gets his piece back, at a minimum, with lots of attacking chances.

    1...Bxf5 2.Bxd5 Nxd5

    3.exf5 Nf4 (and White is in serious trouble)

    3.exd5 e5-e4 (cranking open the LoA; White loses the Queen and Knight after 4.dxc6 exf3)

    After writing the above comment, I gave the position to GM Stockfish on Chess Tempo for a deeper look. There are a lot of things that I missed (as usual).

    1...Bxf5 is given as the best move (+2.37 for Black). White is recommended to play to accept the Pawn loss and to develop his Queenside as fast as possible, starting with 2. Bg5 dxe4 3. dxe4 Be6.

    I searched for games that reached this position and found none. The only line that got close is 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Bc5 4. f4, with none of the remaining White moves used in a game to get to the problem position.

  3. Sometimes I amaze myself in terms of 'ignoring the obvious'. Given that Temposchlucker stated clearly that the position is from Vuković's The Art of Attack in Chess, why not look and see if the game is referenced in it? DUH!

    In my original Pergamon Press version of the book ( don't have the latest version), the position occurs as Fig. 7, page 4. The game was between Mikhail Tchigorin [Chigorin] and Amos Burn at Ostende, 1906. I used this information to find the game in the Chess Tempo database. Note that the date in Chess Tempo is given as 1905.

    Chigorin, Mikhail (2600) vs Burn, Amos (2530)
    Date: 1905
    Event: Ostende, Ostende
    Round: 18
    Result: 0-1
    Opening: King's Gambit, Declined, Classical Variation, General (C30)
    Near Duplicates: 2025675
    1. e4 e5 2. f4 Bc5 3. Nf3 d6 4. c3 Nf6 5. Bc4 Nc6 6. d3 O-O 7. Qe2 Re8 8. f5 d5 9. Bb3 Bxf5 10. Bg5 dxe4 11. dxe4 Bxe4 12. Qc4 Qd5 13. Qb5 White resigns

    I do not know if GM Chigorin was at 2600 strength when this game was played, or what the circumstances were (did he mix up opening lines trying to innovate, was he just tired after 17 rounds in a grueling tournament, had he been out drinking the night before, etc.) but I do know that this game does NOT look like it was played by one of the most creative, strong GMs of that time period. The final tactical mistake (13. Qb5) looks like something I would play. [13... Bf2+ 14. Kxf2 Qxb5 winning the Queen for the Bishop; no wonder Chigorin resigned.]

    I didn't come close to guessing the move order up to the problem position (reached after move 9). I've never played the King's Gambit (with White; I have had the unpleasant experience of playing against it when I was using the Petroff Defense as my primary defense to 1. e4). GM Stockfish indicates that White began to go wrong on the 5th move.

    GM Burn just makes solid developing moves and reaches a winning classical center position in 9 moves. It rapidly goes downhill from there, in spite of Chigorin playing GM Stockfish's recommendation [least worst case in a bad situation] 10. Bg5. Being behind by approximately a Pawn in value this early in the game against another GM, especially one who loved to attack (like Burn), probably was not good opening strategy.

  4. Tempo said : "The concept of opening the e-file is transferable to all analogous positions where the king is stuck in the middle."

    nope , still to special

    1) you play where you are better or can get better (king side, queen side, center)
    in this example : center
    2) you attack when you are better
    3) you need to open the position for an attack (rooks, bishops)

    You keep the position closed at the side you have to defend..