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Wonderful Knights, Odd Squares.

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“…for thre is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  Shakespeare: “Hamlet

You are at home studying wonderful Chess games. You see how well-played they seem to have been played : an exquisite and smoot blend of strategy and tactics. You say to yourself you are going to do the same. (End of dream)

Then you go to play your own games and everything seems “rough”, full of ups and downs, with oversights on both parts if not gross mistakes. Back at home you tend to think you have been tricked by those GMs: the theory they played differs from the theory you wanted to imitate at one junction and you lost the thread of the game, and…and…and… etc.

Well, one of the many problems in Chess occurs when you have left the book and instead of a lovely attacking position with clear objectives and so on you face one of those level positions with several options but no clear plans, no threats, no weaknesses to attack, and so on. You have to play one move and after going to and fro considering one move after another without any clear idea, then you move a piece. But after seven or eight moves you realise you have committed your position to a degree that even a draw would be a miracle. 

For those positions, top GMs have developed a sort of sixth sense which allows them to intuitively “see” many hidden things: they “see” ,or rather can feel ,that which piece belongs to which square and how to re-route their pieces to keep their positions consolidated and harmonious. (Take for instance a player like Petrosian ). They feel that even apparently “ugly” moves like Nf3-h2 or e1 , Ng3-h1, etc may be the best option not because “something-has-to-be-played” , but because that is the right way to anticipate a hidden threat or re-route the piece via that odd square. (Backwards Knight moves, specially to the h1/h8 or a1/a8 squares are difficult to evaluate for the average player because of the way most of the people have been taught the rudiments of strategy in their beginnings)

But GMs have learnt (after all they are full-fledged professionals and they excel at what they do) that there is no such a thing like “pretty” or “ugly” squares/moves, but good and bad moves, good and bad plans , good and bad strategical/tactical decisions. Even Nimzowitsch was accused of playing “bizarre” moves, moves nobody understood, nobody would play because they went against the accepted truths or were labelled as “ugly”. Nevertheless, he made history, while many of his detractors, those defending “normal ideas”, those unable to accept that Chess was not a dead thing but a living, evolving one, passed unnoticed. 

So, the next time you sit at the board do not use those dangerous concepts of “prettiness/ugliness” when pondering about the movement of the pieces and the squares involved. (Or do it and then try to explain to yourself why h1/h8 is “not definitively  a square for your Knight to use…)

The following position is from Nimzowitsch-Tartakower, Carlsbad 1929:

Nimz-Tart

Nimzowitsch played here…yes: 17. Nh1! and went on to win the game:

17…, f6  18. Qh2, h6 19.Ng3, Kh7 20. Be2 Rg8  21. Kf2 Rh8 22. Rh4 Qe8 23.Rg1, Bf8 24. Kg2, Nb7 25. Nh5, Qg6 26. f4, Nd8  27. Bf3, Nf7 28. Ne2,Be7 29. Kh1,Kg8 30. N2g3, Kf8 31. Nf5, Rg8 32. Qd2! Rc1 33. Rh2, Ke8  34.b3, Kd8  35. a3, Ra8 36. Qc1 Bf8? 37. Nh4,!, Qh7 38. Nxf6, Qh8 39. Nxg8, Qxg8 40. g5, exf4,  41.gxh6,Qh7  42. Qxf4, Bxh6  43. Qf6, Kc8 44. Nf5, Bxf5  45. exf5Kb7 46. Qg6, Rh8 47. Qxh7, Rxh7 48. Rg6, Kc8  49. f6, Rh8  50.Bg4, Kd8 51. Be6, Ke8  52. Bxf7, Kxf7 53. Rhxh6, 1-0

The next position is from Schlechter-Nimzowitsch, Carlsbad 1907:

Schl-Nimz

Here, Nimzowitsch played... 17…Nha8!/ and went on to win the game.

And the last one is from Nimzowitsch-Rubinstein, Dresden, 1926:

Nim-Rub

The game continued: 18. Nh1! (en route to g5 forever) ,… Bd7/ 19. Nf2, Rae8 / 20. Rfe1, Rxe2/ 21. Rxe2, Nd8/ 22. Nh3, Bc6 / 23. Qh5, g6/ 24. Qh4, Kg7/ 25. Qf2, Bc5/ 26. b4, Bb6/ 27.Qh4, Re8/ 28. Re5!, Nf7/ 29. Bxf7, Qxf7/ 30. Ng5, Qg8/ 31. Rxe8, Bxe8/ 32. Qe1, Qe7/ 33. Qe7, Kh8/ 34. b5, Qg7/ 35. Qxg7 ,Kxg7/ 36. bxc6,  1-0

QChess.

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Written by QChess

March 28, 2014 at 7:45 am

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