Thursday, February 26, 2009


The strength of compact mass of pawns is given by its mobility

Phalanx formed by pawns "a, b and c" (flank phalanx)

by Bogdan Girmacea

In initial position both sides dispose of a compact mass of eight pawns. The strength of this compact mass of pawns is given by its mobility. For every chess player that understands pawns power, the fight for creating a "center of pawns" is extremely important. This concept created by Steinitz is an element of first importance, Grandmasters try to use it in every of their games.

Most characteristic case of flank phalanxes is made by pawn formation "a, b and c" against formation "a and b" or "a and c". There is a lot of theory about these pawn structures and usually its considered to be an advantage to have 3 pawns versus 2 on queenside. But things are not so simple. Just having a flank phalanx doesn't mean we won the game. Everything depends on concrete aspects of the position like open files, mobility of pieces and in endings activity of kings. And since these positions can appear very often in practice from many openings, I will show you how to make correct plans in order to obtain advantage. As example I will present you a game between Marshall and Capablanca from 1909.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. g3 Be6 7. Bg2 Be7 8.

O-O Nf6 9. Bg5 Ne4 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 By the way he played, its obvious that white wants to play against isolated pawn d5. So best plan for white is to create isolated pawn d5, followed by its blocking and attacking. So in order to do that, probably best move is to play Rc1 followed by dxc5, e3 and Nd4 (not direct dxc5 Nxc3 bxc3 Qxc5 and black is ok). White chosed another plan and after some exchanges, black has obtain flank phalanx. 11. Ne5 Nxd4 12. Nxe4 dxe4 13. e3 Not 13. Bxe4 which loses exchange after 13... Bh3 since the knight on e5 is hanging 13... Nf3+ 14. Nxf3 exf3 15. Qxf3 O-O This is an important position, which has to be analysed very carefully, because its very important in creating correct plans of play. We notice that black has formed flank phalanx "a, b and c" and white has phalanx "e and f". Also a very important thing to notice is open d file, which usually can play a decisive role in winning these kind of positions. Its clear that both side's plan is to push their phalanx in order to create a passer. Theory says that a better chance has the side that controls d file and have a better cooperation of pieces. So let's see white's possible ideas: a) immediate fight for d file starting with move Rfd1; b) another option is to play e4, Qe3 and f4, getting ready to push "e-f" phalanx. Unfortunately Marshall chose a dubious plan. He tries to stop black phalanx, unaware of the importance of d file. 16. Rfc1? 16. Qxb7 wasn't so good because of the continuation 16... Qxb7 17. Bxb7 Rab8 18. Bf3 Rxb2 and black is better Tarrasch and Alekhine have suggested 16. e4 with idea Qe3, f4, f5 where white is advancing his pawn majority 16... Rab8 17. Qe4 With his last move, white hopes to exchange bishops with Bh3 maneuver, going into a more or less equal ending, or better said with more drawing chances for white. 17... Qc7! But as weird as it looks, black's reply is extremely good, because it's a bit unusual to place queen on the same file with opponent's rook. Let's take a look at the position and see what we have. First of all we can notice that white spent precious time trying to stop black phalanx from moving instead of pushing his "e-f" phalanx. On the other hand black carries on with his plan of pushing his queenside pawns. And for that we see that Capablanca placed queen on c7 supporting c pawn advancing and Rb8 which supports advancing of b pawn. 18. Rc3? Panov mentioned 18. f4 as better, in his annotations 18... b5 19. a3 c4 20. Bf3 Of course, logical move 20. b3 is met with 20... Qa5! and white is forced to push b4 leaving black with a strong passer on c4 20... Rfd8 21. Rd1 Rxd1+ 22. Bxd1 Rd8! We can clearly see that black is dominating the board. He has d file, he is ready to push a5 and b4 creating a passer, in other words, he has everything. Let's see how Capablanca realized his advantage. 23. Bf3 g6! an extremely good move which has 3 purposes: a) first of all it prevents moves like Rc2, in which case it would follow Bf5 b) second, black threats 24... Bd5 25. Qg4 h5! winning the bishop on f3 c) third, it makes a window for the king 24. Qc6 Qe5 Capablanca is not afraid to go into ending, but he prefers to enter in better conditions, since after 24... Qxc6 25. Bxc6 , black has to lose time defending b5 pawn. 25. Qe4 Qxe4 We are into an ending in which black manages easily to use his flank phalanx advantage. Let's see how Capablanca does that. 26. Bxe4 Rd1+! 27. Kg2 a5 28. Rc2 b4 29. axb4 axb4 30. Bf3 Rb1 31. Be2 b3! 32. Rd2 Now if 32. Rc3 it will follow 32... Rxb2 33. Bxc4 Rc2 winning for black 32... Rc1 33. Bd1 in order to prevent Rc2 33... c3 34. bxc3 b2 35. Rxb2 Rxd1 I will present the rest of the game without any comment just to see how Capablanca realized his advantage. 36. Rc2 Bf5 37. Rb2 Rc1 38. Rb3 Be4+ 39. Kh3 Rc2 40. f4 h5 41. g4 hxg4+ 42. Kxg4 Rxh2 43. Rb4 f5+ 44. Kg3 Re2 45. Rc4 Rxe3+ 46. Kh4 Kg7 47. Rc7+ Kf6 48. Rd7 Bg2 49. Rd6+ Kg7 0-1 [Bogdan Girmacea]

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