Angus Dunnington-Understanding the Sacrifice

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the sacrifice

sacrifice your way to success

Angus Dunnington




C~pyright © 2002 Angus Dunnington

The right of Angus Dunnington to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

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Introduction 9

1 The Importance of Structure 20

2 The Colour Complex


3 Pieces for Pawns


4 Rampant Knights


5 Bishops at Work


6 Exploiting Key Squares 99

7 The Exchange Sacrifice 109

8 The Vulnerable King


9 The Restrictive Sacrifice






There are numerous 'puzzle' books available that feature spectacular combinations involving one sacrifice after another, the victim obligingly accepting an army of pieces on the way to finding his king being caught in the heart of enemy territory. These examples are indeed entertaining and can be quite instructive, but they also take us a step further from an area of the game about which many players are al-ready rather apprehensive - positional chess. In fact if weighing up the implications of isolated or doubled pawns (or - even more complex - weak squares) can be

in-timidating, then the subject of the positional sacrifice might seem alien to some players.

In order to maximise our chances it is important to study the positional aspects of the game to such an extent that we are able to develop an internal alarm system designed to alert us to weak squares, pawns and structures as soon as they are cre-ated. In this way we are open to (our own) sacrificial suggestions when the oppor-tunity arises, material investment sometimes being the only way forward.

Many players are handicapped by a lack of confidence in their ability to accurately assess the positional characteristics of a sacrificial variation, and/or (equally impor-tant) their ability to conduct such situations properly if and when they happen. The result is, of course, coundess missed opportunities.

This book is aimed at helping those players who rarely contemplate a positional sacrifice, with sixty examples providing a reasonably detailed, practical guide to the pros and cons of investing material for positional gain.

Angus Dunnington, Casdeford, June 2002




Because positional sacrifices revolve around one or more specific aspects of the game the net result is a new situa-tion that must be accurately evaluated in advance - otherwise material has been given away for nothing. By reminding ourselves of the fact that the 'points score' is just one factor in the chess equation it should become a natural part of our thinking process to consider this or that positional motif as standard pro-cedure, just as strong players do.

Marshall-Ed. Lasker

New York 1924

Let's start with a few introductory examples.

White has an· extra pawn but Black has a good bishop pair against two knights in a fairly open position. In fad: 1 ttJe3 'i'f4 seems to favour Black, while 1 ttJc3 'i' cS 2 ttJd2 runs into 2 ... .txc3 3 bxc3 .txh3! due to 4 gxh3 'i'gS+, picking up the remaining knight with a decisive structural advantage. Instead White used a well-known sacri-ficial· idea in an effort to convert his current material lead into an albeit modest positional advantage.

1 e5! i.xe5

1...'i'cs 2 b4 would be embarrassing, while dropping back to b8 or d7 re-moves Black's compensation.

2 .xe5 cxd5

And certainly not 2 ... xeS? 3 ttJe7+. 3 .xd6 llxd6 4 c5!

The point. The game has undergone quite a transformation, with Black find-ing himself with an isolated pawn and without the luxury of the bishop pair (the surviving bishop is the poorer of the two). Meanwhile White has control


of the traditionally desirable d4-square and the advance of the c-pawn has cre-ated what is effectively a· 3-2 queenside pawn majority.

Of course these add up to only a slight edge for White, but this is never-Iheless considerably more preferable to the alternatives facing White when we joined the game. There followed:

4 .. J:ta6 5 a4!? .td7 6 l:Ud1! :xa4 7 l:txa4 .txa4 8 :a 1 (part of the grand plan) 8 ... .tc6 9 :xa7 :e8 10 b4

White has something to bite on here, although Black managed to hold the draw.

Perhaps 5 ttJd4 :ta4 6 :tfd1 is a more patient continuation, planting the knight in the centre and reminding Black about

the target on d5.

Knights can be difficult creatures at times and the search for a decent resting place is a common problem. Strong players think nothing of parting with a pawn (or more) in return for an influen-tial outpost. As the next example dem-onstrates, such a policy is quite normal even as the ending approaches.


Rubinstein Memorial 1998

Both sides have minor weaknesses on d6 and e4 but White's main problem is the prospect of Black's knight coming to the perfect e5-square. For example 22 l::td2 ttJe5 23 :ted1 ~f8 24 :txd6 l::txd6 25 l::txd6 rJi;e7 is fine for Black. On the other hand, 22 c5?! dxc5 23 e5

1:[f8 24 e6 addresses ... ttJe5 in aggressive

fashion and seems very good for White, but Black can ignore the challenge to his d-pawn with the thematic 22 ... ttJe5!, when 23 cxd6 .tg4 24 i.e2 i.xe2 25 l::txe2 l::td8 offers sufficient compensa-tion thanks to White's broken pawns and the superior knight on e5. How-ever, White has another resource avail-able which effectively turns the tavail-ables


on his opponent. 22 e5!!

Now 22 ... 4JxeS 23 4Je4 l::t£8 24 4Jxd6 leaves White clearly better, e.g. 24 ... 4Jf7 25 4Jxc8 l::taxc8 26 l::td7 Con-sequently Black's next is forced.

22 ... dxe5 23lDe4

Far from establishing his knight on eS, Black has had to watch as White 'steals' his plan and achieves exactly the same posting! There is no longer a pawn on d6 but the square itself is still a concern for Black, and he has yet to sort out the queenside pieces. Mean-while the 'extra' eS-pawn is a long-term weakness that will probably be mopped up at some stage. It is safe to conclude that White has more than enough com-pensation.

23 ... :f7

23 ... l::t£8 24 4Jd6 4Jf6 25 l::txeS gives back the pawn without a fight and White is left with the more active forces. The text prepares to defend the pawn from e 7 in order to free the knight and complete the development of the queenside.

24 c5

Standard, although 24 bS!? has been suggested. However, the text steps up

the pressure by clamping down on d6 and making c4 available for the bishop.

24 .. .'itg7 25 .i.c4 :e7 2684

Expanding and ruling out ... b7-bS. Also possible is 26 :d6, e.g. 26 .... bS 27 .tb3 .tb7 28 :ed1 4J£8 29 :d8, when it is arguable whether Black's bishop ~s . better than before, or 26 ... aS!? 27 bS b6' 28 cxb6 4Jxb6 29 .tn and White re-stores material parity with advantage.

26 ... :e8?

A lesser evil is 26 ... b6 27 ':'d6 bxcS (27 ... .tb7 28 as) 28 bxcS, when Gelfand evaluates the position after 28 ... 4J£8 (28 ... .tb7 29 as) 29 ':xc6 .tb7 30 l::td6 l::tc8 31 .tdS .txdS 32 ':'xdS as clearly better for White.


If 27 ... J::tf8 then 28 ltxf8 'it>xf8 29 J::tn +. 28 Itd2 b5 An instructive line is 28 ... aS 29 J::tdf2 axb4 30 J::tf7+ J::txf7 31 :xf7+ ~h6 (31...~h8 32 lDgS) 32 g4 gS 33 .ltd3 l:txa4 34lDd6

The above diagram represents a pleasant culmination of White's overall positional approach!

29 axb5 cxb5 30 i.d5 1-0

It seems that not a great deal has happened during the last ten moves, but White's fantastic knight has restricted Black's forces to such an extent that there is now no adequate defence to the threat of an invasion on f7 after


Russian Championship, Moscow 1999

This time White already has well posted knights, but he wants more. Black is behind in development, his kingside pawns are suspect, he is slighdy cramped and only the rook is keeping the king company. With thes'e factors in mind White's opener is rather easy to appreciate.

23 g4!

The problem with the fIxed pawns on f5 and e4 is their susceptibility to such a pawn break. White decides to strike now while Black's queenside pieces are yet to join in the fun.


Cutting the communication between the bishop and g4-pawn and adding to White's already greater control of the e6-square.

24 ... h5 25 h3! gxh3 26 ~h2

N ow White will be able to combine the idea of tDe6 with a build-up on the g-file.

26 ... i.d7

After 26 ... tDc5 27 tDe6+ i.xe6 28 fxe6 ~g7 29 tDf5+ ~h7 the situation is not clear, but 27 ~xh3 presents White with sufficient compensation in the form of his more active forces, the e6-square, the g-file and the 'isolated' h-pawn.

27 tLle6 + ~f7

27 ... .txe6 should benefit White after either recapture. 28 fxe6 gives White one impressive pawn island whereas all of Black's kingside pawns appear vul-nerable. Perhaps 28 dxe6 is the more accurate of the two, however, giving White two connected, protected passed pawns. Again Black's kingside is in ruins and White can offer further support to

his own pawns by lodging the king be-hind on f4.

28 :g 1 :g8 29 :xg8 ~xg8 30 :g1 + ~h8 31 ~xh3

White is only a pawn down and each of his pieces - including the king - has an important role to play in exerting pressure on the kingside. Black has sit-ting ducks on e4 and h5, while the c7-pawn is also under attack. Consequently Black now seeks some activity of his own.

31 ... tLlb4 32 ~h4 tLld3 33 ~xh5

:f7 34 ~g5

Unfortunately for Black the knight on e6 is as much trouble off the board as it is on, since a replacement pawn will be even more deadly.

34 ... tLlf2?

This accelerates proceedings, but with fS-f6 and the introduction of the other knight to come, Black's days were anyway numbered (34 ... i.xe6 35 l::th 1 +). 35


tLld3 36 :h1 + :h7 Or if 36 ... ~g8 then 37 tDg4 i.xe6 38 dxe6 l::tg 7 + 39 ~f6 l::txg4 40


7 is deci-sive. 37 :xh7 + ~xh7 38 tLlf8+ 1-0

Another uncomplicated example, where a combination of Black's struc-ture, vulnerable kingside, tardy devel-opment and the massive e6-knight proved decisive.



Elista Olympiad (Men) 1998

Here the removal of Black's dark-squared bishop coincides with the po-tentially damaging advance of pawns in front of the king, with g6 and h6 in par-ticular (and h5 in some cases) attracting our attention.

15 g4!

Again a lead in development affords White the facility to sacrifice a pawn in favourable circumstances.

15 ... cxd5

The alternative is less desirable: 15 ... fxg4 16 ':xffi+! (16 .txg4 ':x£1 + 17 ltJx£1 cxd5 18 ltJe3 e6 permits some

sort of consolidation) 16 .. :ili'xffi 17 .txg4 cxd5 18 .txc8 'ili'xc8 19 'ili'h5 cj;g7 20 :£1 leaves Black terribly ex-posed.

16 gxf5 i.xf5 17 ~g41

White wants to maximise his options on the light squares as well as eliminate a defender. Now 17 ... e6 18 .txf5 exf5

19 'ili'b3 'ili'd7 20 'ili'xd5+ cj;g7 21 :ae1 (21 ltJc4 ':f6) 21...ltJc6 22 :e6 and

17 ... 'iIi'd7 18 :xfS! :xfS 19 'iic2 e6 20

.txfS exfS 21 :£1 ltJc6 (21...f4 22 'ili'g6+) 22 'ili'xf5 'ili'xf5 23 :xf5 see White win back the pawn with interest,

so Black prefers to keep the move.

17 ... ~xg4 1S 'ii'xg4

1S ... .!iJc6

Planning ... 'iIi'c8. Otherwise Black could consider 18 ... ltJd7 in order to send the knight over to the kingside after 19 :xffi+ ltJxffi. Then 20 h4 e6 21 ltJf3 'ili'f6 22 hxg5 hx.g5 23 ltJxg5 'ili'g6 24 ':£1 is awkward for Black, e.g.

24 ... :e8 25 'ili'h4 :e7 26ltJe4! etc.

19 h4 'ii'cS 20 ':xfS



20 ... 'iIi'xffi 21 :£1 'ili'g7 (21...'iic8 22

'ili'h5) 22 'ili'e6+ cj;h8 23 ':£7 wins for White, 23 ... ltJd8 24 ':xg7 ltJxe6 25 ':xe7 giving the rook too much fun .

21 'ii'f3


White is ready to collect.


21...'itfe8 22 hxg5 hxg5 23 'i'xd5.

22 hxg5 "e6

22 ... hxg5 23 'i'xd5.

23 gxh6 + "xh6

23 ... 'itfxh6 24 'i'f4+ 'itfg7 25


is also very pleasant for White.

24 :f1!

With Black's defences having been stripped away it is not surprising that this is possible. Obviously 24 ... 'i'xd2 loses to 25 'i'g4+ 'itfh6 26 :f5.

The game ended 24 ... :g8 25 :f2

~h8 (25 ... 'i'g5 26 tbf1!) 26 "xd5 e5 27 lLlf1 "g6 28 g3 exd4 29 cxd4 :e8 30 :f4 :e7 31 :f8+ '1-0

Our next example is a good illustra-tion of why we should be alert to posi-tional sacrifices during each stage of the game, even if it seems that the opening is yet to warm up.

Chatalbashev-Todorov Krynica Zonal 1998

Black has just played the sensible looking ... e6-e5, seeking to undermine White's already modest influence on the dark squares by winning control of the c5-square. However, White has the other colour complex in mind.

12 c5!

Always look for the most uncom-promising continuation! This is particu-larly important when the opponent has a specific, thematic plan in mind, for in these circumstances only those moves that seem positionally natural or forced tend to be considered. Here, for exam-ple, d4-d5 is almost automatic, keeping the centre closed for the knights as well as shutting out the b7-bishop, but the text is strong indeed.

12 ... dxc5

The other way to accept the pawn is 12 ... exd4 when, after 13 cxd6, Black must be careful as 13 ... .txd6? 14 e5!

tbxe5 15 tbxe5 .txe5 16 tbc4 wins for


as is excellent for White, who is ready to push the e-pawn. 13 ... cxd6 is forced, leading to a clear advantage to White after 14 tbb3 (rounding up the d4-pawn as well as threatening tbaS) 14 ... tbeS (14 ... tbcS 15 eSt) 15 tbfxd4. Hoping to side-step any trouble with 12 ... .lte7 runs into 13 c6! .ltxc6 14 ':cl.

13 dxe5 ttJxe5 14 ttJxe5 'ii'xe5 1 5 ttJc4

The game has undergone quite a transformation, with two important black pawns having been removed from the centre. Not surprisingly this is part of White's strategy, the chief aim of which is to take control of the light squares.

15 .. :ife6

1S ... 'iWd4 looks a bit too active, 16 'ii'c2 leaving White with tbaS, ':adl, e4-eS etc.

16 ttJa5 "b6

Unfortunately for Black he will suffer on the light squares with or without his bishop, as 16 ... .ltc8 17 .ltc4 is strong. 17 .. :ii'b6? loses to 18 'it'dS, so Black must choose between 17 ... 'it'd6 18 'ii'hS!? (18 'it' B 'it' f6) 18 ... g6 19 'it' B or 17 ... 'it'g6 18 .ltdS .ltg4 19 .ltxt7+!? 'ii'xt7 20 'it'xg4, with a clear advantage

to White in either case.

17 ttJxb7 "xb7 18 e51

Black's extra pawn means absolutely nothing. The light squares and Black's exposed king are enough to give White a decisive lead. In fact damaging Black's structure and chasing down the light-squared bishop has resulted in there being no safe haven for the king. Cas-tling long, for example, loses on the spot to 19 .ltf5+.

18 ... i.e7

A fitting finish would be 18 ... ':d8 19 e6 'ii'dS 20 ext7+ ~xt7 21 .ltc4!

Returning to 18 ... i.e7, with Black just one move away from relative safety it is imperative that White strike while the iron is hot ...

19 e6!

Also very good for White is 19 .lte4 c6 20 'ii'B ':c8 21 e6 0-0 22 ext7+ ':xt7 23 .ltfS lId8 24 .lte6 .ltf6! but the no-nonsense text really hits Black hard on the light squares.

19 ... 0-0-0

19 ... 0-0 20 ext7+ lIxt7 21 .ltc4 is quite unpleasant, while 19 ... fxe6 20 .ltg6+! ~f8 21 .lte4 c6 22 'it'B+ nets White a rook.


Now Black does not even have a pawn to show for his troubles, and there is nothing he can do to contest the light squares.

21 ... 'iii>b8

21...l:td6 defends one rank at the cost of another: 22 .txa6! l:txa6 23 'ile8+.

22 i.xa6 'it'd5

22 ... 'ilc6 23 .tb5 is a lesser evil, al-though the route to inevitable defeat is an unenviable one.

23 'it'b5 + 'iii>a7 24 'it'a5 'it'd6

24 ... <&ti>b8 25 llad1! .td4 (25 ... 'ilxdl

26 'ilb5+) 26 :e7 and the end is nigh ...

25 ... 'ilxe6 26 .tc4+ is final, which leaves 25 ... 'ilf4 26 'ilxc5+ <&ti>b8 27



Pawns make the most important con-tribution to every game, and the subject of structural strengths and weaknesses can be found throughout this book. Here Black drastically alters the land-scape in a symmetrical and ostensibly drawn ending.


Israel 1998

25 ':'e6 1-0 31 ... h4!

A nice thematic move with which to end the game, accentuating White's total control of the light squares. Now

With two face-offs there are obvious concerns for White on the h2-b8 diago-nal.

32 gxh4 gxf4 33 exf4

In the space of two moves White has seen his hitherto healthy looking mass of united pawns break into three pawn islands, each requiring a certain level of protection as the ending unfolds. Meanwhile it is true that Black has a backward e-pawn but, in this situation, at least there is no danger of losing it.

33 ... i..h5!

Of course Black is now looking to exploit the structural weaknesses he has


inflicted upon his opponent, and from h5 the bishop reminds White about his other weakness on b3. Note that Black need not be so concerned about b6 as White will be too occupied defending d4 and f4 to have the time to attack. 33 ... 'i'xh4?! recaptures the pawn but after 34 'i'g3+ 'i'xg3+ 35 <iitfxg3 iohS White can go for a shut-out with the sequence 36 iof3 ioxf3 37 <iitfxf3 with a draw.


34 'i'g3+ <iitfh7! 35 'i'g5 'i'xg5? 36 hxgS iod1 37 iof1 ioxb3 38 iob5 clearly favours White thanks to his repaired pawns, but 35 ... iod1! is enough to main-tain Black's advantage, e.g. 36 'i'g3 'i'f6 37 'i'e3 'i'h6 38 <iitfh1 <iitfg8 39 ioc1


when White must keep on his toes.

34 ... 'ii'g7


35 'ii.?h2 'ii'f6 36 'ii'e3 'ii.?f7 37 J.e1

For the pawn Black has assumed the initiative and, consequently, put his opponent under pressure, the positional advantage therefore bringing with it a psychological plus. With best play White should be okay, but such a task is far from easy in practice, particularly when the nature of the game changes so rapidly, unexpectedly and under the

opponent's circumstances.

37 ... 'ii'h8! 38 J.f2 'ii'b81

Very nice. The targets on d4 and f4 afford Black the luxury of moving the queen backwards and forwards, a strat-egy that also puts the onus on White to make accurate decisions when defend-ing.

39 i.g3?

Natural but practically losing. Im-perative is the more awkward looking 39 <iitfg3, e.g. 39 ... 'i'g8+ (39 ... 'i'c7 40

iof3) 40 <iitfh2 'i'c8 41 iof3 ioxf3 42

'i'xf3 'i'c1 43 <iitfg3 <iitfg6 44 h5+, when progress seems unlikely for both sides. Now the queenside will be a problem fo~White.

39 ... 'ii'c7 40 'ii'd2 i.b4

Finkel gives 40 ... <iitff6!? 41 iof1 iob4 42 'i'd3 'i'c1 43 <iitfg2 iod2.

41 'ii'd3 'ii'c3 42 'ii'xc3

42 'i'bS 'i'xd4 43 'i'd7+ ioe7.

42 ... J.xc3 43 i.f2 J.d1

The absence of White's most flexible defender accentuates his structural weaknesses, and the defensive roles of White's remaining pieces has left the bishops passive, dominated by the in-vaders.


Monitoring both a4 and h5.

46 c,t>g3 .i.d2! 47 .i.g1

47 i.c6?! i.e2! 48 cj;e7 49 i.f2 ~d8! 50 i.g1 b5! 51 axb5 a4 52 b6 a3 is very nice indeed.

47 ... c,t>e7 48 .i.f2 ~d8 49 .i.g1 .i.h5 0-1

The latest plan is ... i.e8 to trade bish-ops and create a deadly passed pawn with ... b6-b5. Meanwhile White's bishop is cornered by its opposite number.




The Importance of Structure

No matter how many combinations and tricks we play through, or how many moves of the most tactical variations of our favourite openings and defences we learn 'by heart', all this means nothing if we have never sat down and looked at the immense practical significance of pawns. The pawn structure is the skde-ton of the position on which the pieces are the flesh - if the skeleton is dam-aged in some way, then freedom of movement can become severely re-stricted. Doubled pawns, for example, seem not to concern many players, who believe such a minor inconvenience will play little or no part in a game that is sure to be decided by some other, more important (short-term) factor. Such thinking, of course, is quite wrong -pawns are the soul of chess and, as such, determine the roles of the other pieces (whether good or bad). Weak pawns tend to automatically lead to weaker pieces, while generally weakened formations can even render a whole army practically redundant.

Another important by-product of

imperfections in pawn formation is weak or vulnerable squares, which are also featured in this chapter.

McShane-Comp P ConNers

Lippstadt 1999

With his last move White ignored the attack on his h3-pawn by threatening to damage Black's kingside structure. Sit-ting on Black's side of the board most of us would at least think twice before grabbing the h-pawn because we have learned to respect our king (we casde into safety, after all). However, this is not the electronic way of playing (pawns


mean points), so instead of the sensible as a sign, and offered Shirov the pawn. 13 ... J..e7! , when the continuation 14

exd5 lDxd5 15 J..xe7 lhe7 16 %txe5 J..xh3 17 l1xe7 lDxe7 is an entirely logi-cal means of exploiting the hanging h3-pawn, Black went ahead anyway.

13 ... iLxh317 14 .txh3 'iixh3 15 iLxf6 gxf6 16 lLle3 'iie6 17 lLlhf5

~h8 18 ~g2

Suddenly Black's king is beginning to look rather lonely over there ...

18 .. Jlg8 19 %lh1 %lg5 20 %lh4 lLld7 21 'ii'h 1 lLlf8 22 'iih2 dxe4 23 %lh 1

~g8 24 dxe4 %la7

Who said computers don't have a sense of humour?

25 lLlg4 %la8 26 lLlgh6


'ith8 27 lLlxd6 1-0


Spanish Team Championships, Barcelona 2000

We reach the first diagram position after the opening sequence

1 c4 lLlf6 2 lLlc3 g6 3 g3 .tg7 4 .tg2 0-0 5 d4 d6 6 lLlf3 lLlc6 7 0-0 a6 8 h3 e5 9 dxe5 dxe5 10 iLe3 .te6

White took the \hreat to his c-pawn

11 lLlg5 .txc4?!

11...J..f5 and 11...J..d7 must be bet-ter.

12 b3 iLe6

12 ... h6 13 bxc4 hxg5 14 J..xg5 is at least a little better for White, who is in possession of the bishop pair, the h 1-aS diagonal and the b-me, while the d5-square might come in handy, too. Nev-ertheless, this could be preferable to the text, which is about to get rather ugly (at least from where Black is sitting).

13 lLlxe6 fxe6 14 iLxc6! bxc6

Even those of us who shiver at the thought of surrendering our g2-bishop would be happy to make this trade on c6, resulting as it does in leaving Black


.with four pawn islands, two of which comprise doubled, isolated pawns. The fact that Black has an extra pawn is ir-relevant here (we might call it an extra weakness), for the structural weaknesses are long-term and White is sure to at least redress the balance eventually. 14 ... 'i'xd1 15 l:tfxd1 bxc6 16 l:tac1ltJd5 17 .id2 as 18 ltJa4 is very good for White.

15 'ii'xd8 1:tfxd8 16 i.g5

Black's knight looks more useful to him than his bishop at the moment, so this pin makes sense, giving White time to trade on f6 if he so desires. In fact Marin checks out 16 ... ltJd5 just in case. After 17 .ixd8 ltJx c3 18 .ixc 7 e4 19 l:tae1 ltJxa2 20 ':'d1 ltJc3 21 IId2 ltJd5 22 .id6 he evaluates the position as clearly better for White. Black has a pawn for the exchange but a few vul-nerable pawns remain.

16 ... a5 17 l:tac1 ct;f7 18 l:.c2 l:ta6 19 l:tfc1 ct;e8

Having doubled on the attractive looking c-ftle White is ready to step up the pace. This is certainly not the kind of position one would expect Shirov to be playing, being reduced to waiting until White helps himself to a pawn or

two - serious structural weaknesses that Black could have avoided.

20 llJa4!

There is no need to voluntarily take on f6. Better to wait until Black has spent a tempo with ... h7-h6, while the pin also serves as another inconven-ience about which Black can concern himself. Having said that, 20 .ixf6 .ixf6 21 ltJe4 .ie7 22 l:txc6 :'xc6 23 :'xc6 l:td 1 + 24 ~g2 ~d7 25 IIa6 lIdS does look quite promising for White, although Black's 'bad' bishop is not so bad. The text simply keeps the pressure on and is therefore more accurate.

20 ... ct;e7

After 20 ... h6 21 .ixf6 .ixf6 22 ltJc5 IIb6 23 ltJxe6 IId6 24ltJc5 White pock-ets a pawn and continues to dominate.

21 ct;g2 l:.d5 22 e3 e4

22 ... h6 23 .ixf6+ .ixf6 24 ~f3 and we might even see White's king take up a royal residence on e4 - hence the de-fence of the d4-square with 22 e3. In pushing the front e-pawn Black accepts that it could soon fall, but this way the bishop is given some breathing space.

23 i.xf6


i.xf6 24 llJc5 l:tb6 25 .!iJxe4 l:tb4


endeav-ours to generate activity for his forces ultimately fails because there are too many weak pawns to protect, most no-tably the one on c6.


The flexible knight is the ideal minor piece with which to exploit both vul-nerable pawns and squares. Able to op-erate on either colour complex, the knight can hop in and out of enemy territory, often picking up a pawn or two along the way. Marin's latest pre-pares to return the knight to a4, the edge of the board, ironically, acting as a perfect base from which to carry out aggressive operations (the as-pawn is also prevented from advancing, thus denying Black a desirable simplifying exchange of pawns). Consequently 26 lbxf6?! 'itxf6 27 ':'xc6 a4 28 ':xc7 axb3 29 axb3 h5 30 ':'7c3 ':'db5 might well lead to a double rook ending that is un-pleasant for Black, but the game con-tinuation is worse for the defender. 26 ... i.eS 27 lba4 gS 28 ':xc6

From a positional point of view 28 g4 seems appropriate in order to fix a cou-ple of pawns on the most suitable (for White) colour squares. However, with 28 ... h5!? 29 gxh5 g4 Shirov's rooks threaten to generate annoying counter-play. Of course this should not be enough to genuinely trouble White, but it is not necessary to allow such a possi-bility. Anyway, the text bags a pawn. 28 ... g4

28 ... h5 is an alternative, but a:n~kind of counterplay on the kings ide cannot compensate for the broken pawns on the other flank.

29 hxg4 ':xg4 30 ':6c2!?

lbe4 is clearly better for White.

30 ... hS 31 f4 i.d6 32 'itff3 eS 33

lbc3 ':cS

Not 33 ... ':d3 34 'ite4.

34 lbe4 ':bS 3S ':h1 exf4 36 gxf4 ':g8 37 ':ch~ ':h8 38 lbg3

White rubs salt in Shirov's wounds, the irony being that he now hunts down a weak pawn that was created as a result of Black's efforts to shift attention away from the shattered queenside! White eventually converted the full point on the 57th move.

Bacrot-Topalov Bosna SuperGM 2000

1 d4 d6 2 lbf3 g6 3 c4 i.g7 4 lbc3

cS S dxcS

Perhaps White wanted to avoid the tricky system characterised by the moves 5 d5 i..xc3+ ·6 bxc3 f5, when Black has surrendered his prized bishop for a knight in order to later exert con-siderable pressure on White's (fixed) broken queens ide pawns. If this is the case, then Black's reply is a shrewd psy-chological ploy!


6 bxc3 dxc5 7 'ifxd8


Whether the queens are involved or not makes no difference to White's c-pawns.

7 .. .'~xd8 8 ttJe5 ..te6 9 g3 ttJd7 10 ttJxd7 ~xd7 11 ..tg2 ttJf6!?

Offering the b-pawn on the grounds that 12 i.xb 7!? :tab8 13 i.a6 ttJe4 of-fers Black ample compensation. White's c-pawns are going nowhere and Black can always target the c4-pawn by drop-ping back to d6.

12 l:lb1?!

Not impressed with the variation in the previous note White declines the offer, but now Black makes available an even bigger prize ...

12 ... b6!

The latest is an offer that White could not refuse even if he wanted to, for the c4-pawn cannot be saved what-ever happens, whereas Black is without such a weakness.

13 ..txa8 lba8 14 f3 ttJe8 1 5 ..t f4 ..txc4

It is always nice to have a neat and tidy pawn structure when your oppo-nent is busy keeping his intact, and \such a luxury certainly facilitates the deci~ion­ making process when it comes to con-templating a positional sacrifice. In the diagram position Black can focus on his opponent's queenside pawns (which are still pretty weak) in the knowledge that White has nothing to attack. Meanwhile Black's forces will be better placed than White's, the rooks unable to join the game in more than a defensive role.

16 l:lb2 ~c6 17 l:ld2 ttJd6 18 ..txd6?!

Ribli believes 18 ~f2 to be more ac-curate than this committal exchange, although we can appreciate the wish to alter the pawn formation in the hope of opening up the game for his rooks.

18 ... exd6 19 ~f2

19 e4 f5 20 exfS gxfS is fine for Black according to Ribli, although I prefer this


to the game continuation because here White's kings ide pawns remain intact.

19 ... d5 20 e4 dxe4 21 fxe4 :e8 22 :e1 .i.e6 23 ~3 ~b5!

Black has a couple of juicy targets on one flank and no weaknesses on the other, something that gives him excel-lent practical chances in this ending.

24 ~f4 ~c4 25 :e3 a5!

26 ~g5 b5 27 ~h6 b4 28 cxb4 axb4 29 'iJ(xh7 :a8 30 ~g7 ~b5

Preparing the advance of the passed pawn. Notice how the bishop serves dual roles of holding the kingside to-gether and putting pressure on White's queenside.

31 h4

I guess Topalov was hoping for the

following pretty finish: 31 llee2 c4 32 <&t>f6 c3 33 llc2 ':'xa2! 34 llxa2 i.xa2 35 ':'xa2 b3

Now even two pawns beat a rook!

31 ... c4 32 g4 c3 33 :g2 :xa2 0-1

Yet another case of a minor piece be-ing more than a match for a rook. This happens more often than we think, but we tend to spend more time looking at the points value of the pieces than the actual value of weak pawn structures.


Bosna SuperGM, 2000

We have already seen how a mistake that leads to doubled pawns in front of a casded king can be disastrous. Here is a typical example of the exchange sacri-fice ... .:.xc3 in the Sicilian Defence, Kasparov demonstrating in his own inimitable style just how difficult life can become for White if he has casded


1 e4 c5 2 lOf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 lOxd4 lOf6 5 lOc3 a6 6 .i.e3 e6 7 f3 b5 8 'ii'd2 lObd7 9 0-0-0 .i.b7 10 g4 lOb6 11 'ii'f2 lOfd7 12 ~b 1 ':c8 13 .i.d3


With his knights ready to pounce, this positional sacrifice seems all the more attractive for Black. Not surpris-ingly this specific position had been played before this game, and Kasparov has an improvement ready on Black's previous play.

13 ... :xe3l? 14 bxe3 'fIe7 15 ttJe2

i.e7 16 g5 0-0

Castling into an attack, perhaps, but White already has serious weaknesses in front of his own king, so Black needs to bring his rook into the game in order to maximise the potential of his attacking force.

17 h4 ttJa4!

An earlier game went 17 ... dS 18 hS dxe4 19 jlxe4 jlxe4 20 fXe4 ~c4 21

jlc1 b4 22 cxb4 jlxb4 23 l:.h3 with the better chances to White in Zagrebelny-Lingnau, Berlin 1993.

18 i.e1?1

The new situation has confused White, who should play instead 18 hS ~eS 19 h6 g6, which Ftacnik assesses as unclear.

18 ... ttJe5 19 h5 d5! 20 'fIh2

White is not willing to commit with 20 h6 g6, -e.g. 21 'ilfg3 jld6 22 'ilfg2 :'c8, when each of Black's pieces have a role to play.

20 ... i.d6 21 'fIh3

Looking at the diagram pOSit10n Black seems spoilt for choice as to how to continue his offensive but, with ad-vancing enemy pawns approaching his king, Kasparov needs to conduct the rest of his attack with some precision. It is significant that the exchange sacrifice afforded Black an extra minor piece in a situation where White's rooks play little or no part (given the opportunity, of course, White will use his to help deliver the dea~y blow should he succeed in prising open Black's kingside).

21 ... ttJxd3 22 exd3 b4!

Note that this and the previo~s move serve to force the doubled c-pawns out


of the way in order to facilitate an inva-sion by the queen. The point is that, apart from the fact that doubled iso-lated pawns are sitting ducks waiting to be picked off, here Kasparov has re-moved them through deflection, whether this be a recapture (on d3) or a forced capture. Their weakness does not have to be demonstrated by actually 'winning' them, rather exploiting their powerlessness by forcing the issue. Less clear is 22 ... lLIxc3+ 23 lLIxc3 'ifxc3 24 ..tb2 'ifb4 2S g6, which even gives Black an opportunity to lose the game in the event of2S ... dxe4? 26 h6! ..teS 27 d4 etc. Instead Black should play 2S ... i:eS, when 26 d4 ..tf4 27 gxf7+ cJ;;xf7 28 'ifg4 ..th6 results in the usual 'unclear' Sicilian.

23 cxb4

White's position is quite loose after 23 c4 dxc4 24 h6 g6 25(txc4 lIc8.

23 ... :'c8 24 ~a1

Ftacnik gives 24 'iff1 dxe4 2S fxe4 'ifc2+ 26 cJ;;a1 ..teS+ 27 d4 ..txe4 28 ..ta3..tdS.

24 ... dxe4 25 fxe4

Forced in view of 25 dxe4? ..teS+ 26 lLId4..txd4+ 27 ':xd4 'ifxel +.

25 ... .i.xe4!

The rest of the game is clinical:

26 g6

26 dxe4 ..teS+, or 26 ':hg1 'ifc2 27 lLId4 ..teS 28 'ife3 ..tdS.

26 ... .i.xh1 27 .-xh1 .i.xb4 28 gxf7+

28 gxh7+ cJ;;h8.

28 ... ~8 29 .-g2 :b8! 30 .i.b2

30 ..td2 ..ta3 31 ..txel 32 ':'xel 'ifb6 33 lLIc3 lLIxc3.

30 ... tLlxb2 31 tLld4 31 cJ;;xb2 ..td2+ 32 cJ;;a1 ..tc3+ . 31 ... tLlxd 1! 32 tLlxe6 + ~xf7 0-1 33 'ifxg7+ (33lL1xc7 ..tc3+) 33 ... cJ;;xe6 34 'ifxc7 (34 ~6+ cJ;;f5) 34 ... ..tc3+. Markowski-Bunzmann Rubinstein Memorial 1999


Black's best here is 13 ... iLd7 followed by ... l:tad8, ~upporting the centre. In-stead Bunzmann chose the traditional Old Indian Defence approach of queenside expansion.

13 ... b5?!

14 c5!

The idea behind this thematic pawn offer is to undermine Black's centre by challenging the base of the mini d6-e5 pawn chain. White hopes to exploits the absence of the dark-squared bishops as well as Black's slightly tardy develop-ment.

14 ... dxc5

14 ... exd4 15 cxd6 dxc3 16 dxe7 cxd2 17 exfS'ii'


cJ;xfS is slightly better for Black, if anyone, but 15 ttlxd4 15 ... dxc5 16 ttlxc6 followed by e4-e5 is promising for White.

15 dxe5 'ii'xe5 16 f4 'ii'h5 17 e5 After only a few moves Black's cen-tral presence has all but disappeared whereas White suddenly has. a powerful, mobile kingside majority led by the strong e-pawn. Meanwhile Black's queenside majority enjoys no such ac-tivity, and if the undefended c-pawn falls he will no longer have a pawn to show for his troubles.

17 ... b4

After 17 ... ttld5 18 g4 White defends the h3-pawn out of the firing line be-fore taking on d5, while 17 ... ttl6d7 18 iLxc6 levels the 'points' score but oth-erwise gives White the advantage. 18 tDa4

18 exf6 bxc3 19 ttlxc3 iLxh3 20 fxg 7 is unclear and unnecessary. The text focuses on Black's sorry queenside structure.

18 ... tDd5 19 94

19 ttlxc5 iLxh3 20 ttld4 l:tac8. 19 .. .'ii'h4 20 tDxc5

Black has a backward c-pawn that can be attacked from both d4 and down the c-ffie, a useful and secure ,outpost on c5 and more space. This explains


Black's next, with which Bunzmann aims to disrupt White's kingside pawns.

20 ... h5 21 ltJd4!?

21 i.xds cxds 22 'ifxds l:ta7 leaves White exposed on the light squares, although White seems to be better any-way.

21 ... hxg4 22 ltJxc6 'ii'g3! 23 'ii'xd5 gxh3

And now White should have played

24 ltJxb4 :b8 25 ltJbd3

with what will soon be an extra pawn. Notice that Black's 4-2 queenside ma-jority has now become a minority(!) thanks to the weakness of both c-pawns.

The spoiler

When in possession of the inferior structure we should be on the lookout to level the score by inflicting similar damage to our opponent's pawns.


Sarajevo 1999

In the diagram position White is in danger of being left with a sorry looking queenside pawn complex after a pawn trade on d4 or es. With this is in mind Black improved his position.

14 ... .:ae8

Incidentally 14 ... exd4? is too early, e.g. 15 'ifxd4lbf6 16 'ifh4 i.e7 17 cs! (unleashing White's second bishop) 17 ... bxcs 18 lbgs h6 19 lbe4 lbxe4 (19 ... lbds 20 'ifg4) 20 'ifxe4 i.d6? (20 ... :'fe8 is the necessary lesser evil, when White's bishops have the advan-tage and Black's extra pawn is worth-less) 21 'ifg6!.

15 c5!

A nice spoiling tactic. White forces his opponent to place a pawn on cs before Black can use the square as an ideal outpost for a piece.

15 ... bxc5 16 dxe5 ltJxe5 17 ltJxe5 ..txe5 18 ..txe5 ':xe5 19 'ii'd21


downside to Black's new structure, for now the as-pawn needs protection.

19 ... :fe8 20 :xe5 "xe5 21 :b1! e4!?

Black returns the pawn to restore equality in all departments.

22 iLxe4 iLe8 % - %

General Damage

The next seven examples feature vari-ous kinds of general structural damage that are encountered on a regular basis in practical play.


Russian Team Championships, Smolensk 2000

With his forces aimed directly at the

queenside Black seems to be doing quite well, with the lever thrust ... b7-b5 an obvious candidate ...

15 ... b5,(!

Swayed by the general pressure on the c-flle, but now White engineers a near decisive structural advantage.

16 ltJd4! bxe4 17 ltJxe61 fxe6 18 b4

Black's protected passed pawn is ir-relevant here. What matters is the e6-pawn and the general vulnerability of the light squares created by the removal of the bishop.

18 ... ltJb7 19 f4

After embarrassing the b 7 -knight White rules out ... tLle5. Black's best now is 19 ... c.t>h8, when 20 e5 d5 21 .tg4 sees White ready to start his pawn collection.


Unfortunately for Black 21...':c6 runs 17 d6 + <iti>hB 1B g4! 1

into 22 .txe6 ':xe6 23 "'xd5 etc. Instead Black played 19 ... c7 and now White missed a very promising continuation in 20 .tg4! llJdB 21 e5!

according to Tsesarsky, e.g. 21 ... d5 22 llJxd5! etc.


Moscow 1999

Somehow Black has managed to send his bishop all the way into d4, which mayor may not be a good thing. In any case, an albeit temporary sacrifice should have left Black's structure decid-edly suspect.

13 d6!1 "xd6

I'm not sure Black is too worse if he turns down the offer with 13 ...


as 14 tDbS tDc6 should be okay for the second player. The problem, of course, is the d6-pawn, which is probably why Black thought he had no choice but to remove it. Nevertheless I prefer ...


14llJb5 "b6

The game continued in entertaining fashion.

15 llJd51! llJxd5 16 cxd5 llJa6

Not 16 ... d6 17 tDxd4 cxd4 18 "'xb6 axb6 19 ':dl.

With the sacrifice taking on a restric-tive character on the queenside White turns to the other' flank, undermining the defence of the e4-pawn in order to open up the kingside. 18 tDxd4 cxd4 19 ~6 axb6 20 ':d1 tDb4! 21 a3 tDc6

still favours White according to Tyom-kin.

1B ... .te5! 19 "d51 \

Better than 19 gxfS .txd6 20 tDxd6 "'xd6 21 :d1 "'c6 22 "'c4 dS!, when Black comes out fighting.

19 ... .txh2+ 20 <iti>xh2 "xb5 21 "e5! "xe2


22 .th6? "'xg4 23 .th3 "'g6 24 . .tf4 tDb4.


22 ... fxg4 23 .i.h6 g3 + 24 ~g1

gxf2+ 25 ~h2 :g8 26 :ac1 lLlb4 27 .i.xg7 + :xg7

with a draw in view of 28 'iWe8 + :g8 29 'iWe5 + and so on.

While White succeeded in thwarting his opponent's queenside development by twice(!) putting his own pawn on d6, Black reacted energetically. In fact White would have guarante~ himself a nice advantage had he concentrated more on the long-term positional possi-bilities created by the initial sacrifice. Instead of jumping into d5 in order to lodge a second pawn on d6 White could have played 15 tbxd4! cxd4 16 tli'xb6 axb6 17 %td1 tbc6 18 b3

In this way White' patiently rounds up the d4-pawn to emerge with the supe-rior structure and the two bishops. With the remaining isolated d-pawn to go with the vulnerable b-pawns Black can expect to experience further structural difficulties later in the game. Like the fable of the hare and the tortoise, this form of positional sacrifice is guaran-teed to present White with a definite advantage that has long-term potential, whereas White's choice in the game,

while clamping down on the queenside and the dark squares, was based on a more speculative, attacking foundation, with resourceful defence from Black effectively diffqsing White's initiative.

Kasparov-M .Gurevich Bosna SuperGM 2000

Black hopes that the bishop pair compensates for his imperfect pawn formation. Kasparov's next threatens to spoil his opponent's strategy on both fronts.

16 lLlf1

An aggressive retreat, threatening to exploit the pin on the d-flle after tbe3xd5, simultaneously ridding Black of a good bishop and inflicting serious structural damage in view of the forced ... e6xd5.

16 ... 'iWc7

Escaping the pin. However, with the benefit of hindsight Finkel's suggestion of 16 ... i.d6!? also makes sense, since the thematic exchange sacrifice here leads to an unclear position after 17 %:txd5 (17 tbe3 i.e4) 17 ... exd5 18 tbe3

%:te8 19 tbd4 f4 20 tli'g4+ ~h8.

17 :xd5!?


grounds, this is White's only means of trying for an advantage. Otherwise Black's pieces enjoy too much activity.

17 ... exd5 18 lOe3

It is easy to appreciate what White has for the exchange. The f7-e6-fS pawn cluster has been broken, leaving Black with two very weak pawns, and the fall of the bishop pair has resulted in Black now being rather vulnerable on the light squares. On the other hand, of course, Black has more material to compensate for his structural difficul-ties, so the game is balanced. However, Kasparov prefers this kind of 'balance' because there are problems to be solved.

18 ... .tfS

Black can expect to see one of his pawns fall but he must be careful how he addresses the situation. For example the plausible looking 18 ... lIad8?! can easily lead to difficulties after 19 ttJd4, e.g. 19 ... l::tfe8 20 ttJdxfs "es 21 "g4+ 'Wth8 22 f4 etc.


19 ttJxds "d6 20 ttJd4 lIae8 is suffi-ciently active for Black, while 20 ttJxf6+ "xf6 does not look like a good idea for White as the front f-pawn can always be

dealt with by ... fS-f4.

19 ... .txd4! ,

Black parts with the second bishop on his own terms.

20 cxd4lOe4 21 lOxd5 'iidS 22lOe3 'iifS 23 'ii'h5

23 ... :ad8!

I like the way Black has coped with his crumbling pawns since Kasparov's attempt to unsettle him with lIxds. Here 23 ... xd4!? is tempting, e.g. 24 "xfS :ae8 25 l::td1 "es 26 "xeS lIxes 27 ttJg4 :gs 28 ttJh6+ rJig7 29 i.xe4 'Wtxh6 30 :d6+ 'Wtg7 31 lIxa6 and the ending is even. However, Kasparov might well have opted instead for 24 ttJxfS!? "xf2+ 25 'Wth1 "xb2 26



White would be looking for when em-barking on this route. Black's bishops have disappeared, leaving White's survi-vor with the run of the light squares, White has an enormous knight where Black's pawn once stood, his queen could not be more aggressively posted and even the rook is well placed on the f-flle. Whether this furnishes White any-thing real is another question, but not one that Gurevich would like to ask!

24 ttJxf5 ttJd6 25 ttJe3!?

25 tiJxd6 :xd6 might help Black since White has little influence on the dark squares.

25 ... 'ii'xd4 26 :d1 'ii'g7

Again there is a more adventurous possibility in 26 ... 'ifxb2!? but Black is more interested in safety.

27 :d5 WhS

Black has succeeded in trading his original liabilities on d5 and f5 for White's c3-pawn which, considering the extra exchange, is a reasonable deal. The positional theme has continued, though, since Black still has a potential problem in the a6-pawn (a8 is not available for defensive purposes) and his kingside pawns are separated. It is interesting that White's forces seem less menacing

once the main targets have gone. All in all the situation is level, and a draw should result with careful play from both sides. Ironically Black's game plan later changed quite drastically - here is the rest of the game - instructive and entertaining:

2S 'ii'd1 ttJb7 29 b4! ':'xd5!? 30 'ii'xd5 ttJdS 31 'ii'd6 ttJe6 32 'ii'xa6 ttJd4 33 h4 f5 34 ttJd5 ttJe2


35 c;tr>f1 f41 36 c;tr>xe2 fxg3 37 'ii'd61? 'ii'b2


37 ... :x£1+ 38 'it>d3 :xg2 39 'ifd8+ 'ifg8 is equal. 3S c;tr>d3 3S ... :xf2?

38 ... 'ifb1 +!? should draw, e.g. 39 'it>d4 'ifb2+ 40 'it>c5 'ifx£1+ 41 'it>xb5 'ife2+ 42 'it>b6 (or 42 'it>c5 'if£1+ 43 'it>c6 'ifc2+ 44 'it>b7 :f7+ 45 'it>b8 'ifxg2) 42 ... 'if£1+ 43 'it>c6 'ifc2+.

39 'ii'bS


Wg7 40 'ii'xg3


WhS 41 'ii'bS


Wg7 42 'ii'c7


c;tr>fS 43 'ii'e7


WgS 44 'ii'g5


WhS 45 .te4! 'ii'c2


46 Wd4 'ii'd2


47 Wc5 'ii'xg5 4S hxg5 ':xa2 49 c;tr>xb5 ':e2 50 ttJc3 :e3 51 Wc4 :g3 52 b5 :xg5 53 b6 1-0

I wonder if Kasparov would argue that his original positional exchange


sacrifice even contributed to Gurevich's sudden rush of blood? Probably. Never-theless White's approach offered good practical chances.

Our next game is different in that Black's positional sacrifice, aimed at crippling White's queenside pawns, in-volves voluntarily allowing damage to his own pawns on the kingside.

Artashes Minasian-Ara Minasian

Armenian Championship, Yerevan 1999

1 e4 lLlf6 2 e5 lLld5 3 d4 d6 4 c4 lLlb6 ,5 exd6 exd6 6 lLlc3 lLlc6 7 d5!? lLle5 8 f4lLled7 9 'ii'd4!?

Hoping to hinder Black's develop-ment by hitting the g7-pawn. Offering a queen exchange with 9 ... 'iff6 might leave Black's queenside vulnerable while 9 ... lDf6 is probably one knight move too many. Anyway, Black has other, completely different ideas.

9 ... .ie7! 10 'ii'xg7


10 ... .i.f6 11 'ii'g4

The alternative is 11 'ifh6, when after 11...'i'e7+! 12 <itd1 (12 i.e2 lDxc4 13

lDf3 lDe3) 12 ... i.xc3 13 bxc3 lDc5 14 'i'g7


15 lDf3 i.f5 Black has more than enough compensation for the pawn in terms of White's queenside weaknesi08i. and Black's lead in devel-opment and active forces.

11 ... .ixc3


1 2 bxc3

This is the point of Black's play. It might seem strange to part with the g-pawn and then take three moves with the bishop only to surrender it for a knight, but the resulting damage to White's queenside structure is signifi-cant. In fact these weaknesses seem even more serious when we look at the location of Black's knights, which could not be more appropriately placed to deal with White's weaknesses. Of course Black's kingside has also been broken, although White is not in as good a position to exploit it. Moreover the e4-square could be a problem for White thanks to the early advance of the f-pawn.

12 .... f6 13 .id2

Oddly enough White plans to castle long. After 13 'i'f3lDc5 14 i.a3 i.f5 15 i.xc5 dxc5 16 'i'e3+ <it'd8 Black doesn't get to castle at all but I prefer his chances nevertheless.


13 ... lDc5 14 'ifg51? 'ifxg5 15 fxg5 .tf5

Black has obvious structural compen-sation for the pawn as well as a lead in development, factors which combine to maintain the balance. Now 16 liJf3 liJd3


17 i.xd3 i.xd3 18 c5 dxc5?! 19 liJe5 i.a6 20 0-0-0 liJxd5?! 21 ':he1 is a touch better for White, but 18 ... liJxd5 19 cxd6 cxd6 20 <itf2 <itd7 21 ':he 1 ':he8 is level.

Instead White sticks with his plan.

16 0-0-0 lDd3 + 17 i.xd3 i.xd3 18 c5!

Again we see White return the pawn on his own terms rather than Black's. The point is that after 18 ... dxc5 19 i.f4 c4 20 i.xc7liJxd5 21 i.e5 0-0 22liJf3 a

few of the centre pawns have been cleared away and it is the bishops of opposite colour that become the most important factor, steering the game to-wards a draw.

The game continuation is even sim-pler.

18 ... lDxd5 19 cxd6 cxd6 20 lDh31 ':c8 21 lDf4 lDxf4 22 .txf4 ':xc3 + 23 'ittb2

Or 23 <itd2 ':c4 24 i.xd6 i.e4 25 ':el ':xel 26 ':xel <itd7 27 i.e5 etc.

23 ... ':c2+ 24 'ifi>b3 ':f2 25 ':xd3 ':xf41/2-1/2

Black's fun initiated by the offer of the g 7 -pawn did not last too long thanks to a realistic and accurate re-sponse from White, particularly the c4-c5 idea, which should be remembered since Black cannot then avoid simplifi-cation or (minor) damage to his own pawns.

In the next example White sees his op-ponent's early erection of a c5-d6-e5 pawn centre as an invitation to embark on sacrificial positional play.


Ordzhonikidze Zonal 2000

1 c4 c5 2 g3 g6 3 .tg2 .tg7 4 lDc3 lDc6 5 a3 d6 6 lDf3 e5 7 0-0 lDge7 8 b4!?

Black's pawn centre is designed to provide a solid barrier and more space, and this pawn offer already threatens to diminish this strength considerably by tempting the c5-pawn away. The main idea, though, is to then exert pressure on the backward d6-pawn and, perhaps, exploit White's extra command of the


h1-a8 diagonal afforded him by this early advance of Black's centre pawns.

8 ... cxb4?1

Ribli believes that Black should re-fuse the sacrifice, but not with 8 ... i.e6?, when 9 liJg5! i.xc4 10 d3 (D) has been seen in a couple of Ftacnik games.

10 ... cxb4 11 axb4 i.e6 12 liJxe6 fxe6 13 b5liJd4 14 e3 'fic7 15 i.d2liJdf5 16 b6!? 'fixb6 17 'fia4+ r:J;;f7 18 l:t£b1 was excellent for White in Ftacnik-Danner, Vienna 1986, while 10 ... i.e6 11 liJxe6 fxe6 12 bxc5 d5 13 e4 0-0 14 'fig4 was no improvement for Black in Ftacnik-Rogers, Groningen 1977. It seems

il-logical to part company with the light-squared bishop with an essentially fixed centre comprising pawns on c5, d6 and


Instead 8 ... e4 makes sense;e.g. 9 liJe1 i.e6 10 l:tb1 cxb4 11 liJxe4 i.xc4 12 axb4 d5 13 liJc3 a6 14 i.b2 d4 15 liJe4 0-0 16 d3 i.d5 17 liJf3 'fib6 18 i.a3 :fd8 19 'fid2 liJf5 with chances for both sides in Podzielny-De Firmian, Essen 1999. 9 liJe1 f5 is rather loose and worked out well for White in Sura-jev-Mijailovic, Belgrade 1991, where 10 i.b2 i.e6 11 d3 exd3 12 liJxd3! i.xc4 13 bxc5 0-0 14 liJa4 i.f7 15 i.xg7 r:J;;xg 7 16 liJf4 d5 17 l:tb 1 left Black busy defending weak pawns and squares.

9 axb4 lLlxb4 10 .i.a3

Apart from the obvious strategic benefit to White of the target on d6, Black also suffers here from losing time in collecting the pawn.

10 ... lLlec6

10 ... liJbc6 11 liJb5 is pleasant for White but 10 ... liJa6 11 liJe4 liJc5 leads to complications. Martinovic-De Fir-mian, Bor 1984 continued 12 liJfg5 (12 liJxc5 dxc5 13 i.xc5 e4) 12 ... 'fic7 13 liJxd6+ 'fixd6 14 liJe4 liJxe4 15 i.xd6 liJxd6 16 'fia4+ r:J;;f8 17 'fib4 liJe8 18 i.xb 7 as 19 i.xc8 l:txc8 20 l:txa5 1-0. Black's minor pieces are tiny.


11...e4 is unpleasant for Black after either 12 lbh4 g5 13 .i.xb4 gxh4 14 lbxe4 or 12 .i.xb4 exf3 13 .i.xf3, with a clear advantage for White in both cases. 11...a5?? is even worse in view of 12 .i.xb4, exploiting two pins.


12 lbxe5 .i.xe5 (not 12 ... dxe5 13 .i.xc6+ .i.d7 14 Ld7+ 'ilxd7 15lbb5)

13 .i.xc6+ .i.d7 (13 ... ~fB 14 .i.d5 and 13 ... bxc6 14 'ilxc6+ .i.d7 15 'ilxa6 are poor for Black) 14 .i.xd7 + 'ilxd7 15

'ilb5 is enough to put White in charge, while 12lbg5 0-0 13 lbge4 is more in-teresting. The text is the most enterpris-ing of White's choices.

12 ... ~f8

Another possibility is 12 ... lbc51? 13

lbxc5 dxc5 14 .i.xc5 e4 15 lbel .i.xal 16 'ilxal l:tg817 .i.xe4 'ilxd218lbf3

By now the invested pawn has be-come an exchange, the compensation also altering to take the form of an at-tack on the king - predictably, in view of the fact that Black's king was still uncastled when White hit out with 8 b4. In fact Black is in danger of being over-run here.

13 d4

Black's latest could not really be met

with anything else! With only two knights 'develop<;d' now Maksimenko is susceptible to an opening up of the po-sition, especially with his king still at home. 13 c5 is another way to prise open the central barrier, so White is in fact spoilt for choice.

13 ... ~f5

Black needs to introduce his forces into the game and this does so while challenging the powerful knight. Oth-erwise Black can address the pin imme-diately with 13 ... .i.d7, when 14 dxeS dxe5 (14 ... lbxe5 15 'ilb3 fails to allevi-ate the pressure) 15 .i.xfB c.txfB 16 :tfdl introduces a new pin.

14 ~c3 i.d7 15 ~b5

White will not be denied his original plan of focusing on the d6-pawn, and the knight has been chased to another useful square. Now 15 ... exd4 16 .i.xd6 is understandably not to Black's liking

so he endeavours to keep the centre closed.

15 ... 84 16 ~d2 f5

When the smoke has cleared after 16 ... lDxd4 17 lDxe4 .i.xb5 18 cxb5 lbxe2+ 19 c.thl Black is losing.



mass and near full development. Black hasn't.

17 ... 'iff6

17 ... ~c7 18 ~xd6+ .txd6 19 .txd6 ~xd4 20 'ilb4 is very good for White.

18 f3

White has a practically decisive lead and therefore keeps matters simple, although 18 .txe4!? fxe4 19 ~xe4 seems strong.

18 ... exf3 19 ~xf3 ~e7

20 ~d51

After all this effort Black cannot be allowed to casde, although White will make an exception for 20 ... 0-0-0 in view of 21 .txc6 .txc6 22 ~xa7+ and 23 ~xc6 etc.

20 ... g51

Black's best is 20 ... 'ifgS, when both 21 'ifb3 and 21 .:tae1 both put the ball fIrmly back in Black's court. Unfortu-nately the text loses

immediatelY;---21 llJe4

21 ... 'ifg6 22 llJexd6



If the owner of an isolated pawn has nothing to compensate his liability the defensive task can be difficult at any stage of the game. White takes this one step further in the following example.


French Championships 1999

Black has just taken the opportunity to trade knights on d4 at a time when recapturing with the c-pawn seems


forced in view of the fact that 'ifxd4 leaves the bishop insufficiendy pro-tected in the event of .. .'~Jxh3+ (or the same problem after 22 l:txd4 l:te6 etc.). However, the d5-pawn is Black's only weakness, yet this will lose relevance once White's own pawn stands on d4. With this in mind White found a logical and effective resource that doesn't let Black off the positional hook so readily.


Tbis must have come as an unpleas-ant surprise to Black, who was no doubt waiting to shake hands after 22 cxd4 l:te6 23 'ifb3 l:tb6 etc.

22 ... ltJxh3


23 ~f1

Black has won his pawn, as per plan, but his structural weakness remains on d5 (at least until White decides to cap-ture it!). Moreover the inevitable ex-change of queens will accentuate White's advantage in the resulting end-ing thanks to his long-range bishop (the knight would work better with a queen than without).

23 ... ltJf4

23 ... 'ifxd4!? 24 l:txd4 liJg5 25 l:txd5?! liJxf3 26 ':xd6 liJxe 1 27 ~xe 1 l:te8+ 28 ~d2 ~f8! looks okay for Black, but 25 i.xd5 liJe6 26 i.xe6 l:txe6 27 l:td7

makes a vital difference and is another -unfavourable - prospect altogether for the defender.

24 1i'xf6 ':xf6 25 g3 ltJh3

After 25 ... liJe6 26 i.xd5 b6 27 i.g2 White threatens to help himself to the seventh rank, and 27 ... l:td8?? 28 l:txd8+ liJxd8 29 l:te8 mate is not a nice way to go. Note that here the fall of the d-pawn clears the long diagonal, thus at-tracting unwelcome attention to the queenside pawns.

26 'itg2

Both minor pieces reside on the king-side but bishop can enjoy a change of scene in one move.

26 ... h6 27 ':d2

Freeing the bishop by defending f2, although the immediate 27 l:te7!? could be more accurate. Nevertheless Black's pawns are weak anyway, and White will soon have a majority that is more dan-gerous than Black's rather tame lot on the kingside.

27 ... ':d8 28 ':e7 b5 29 ':xa7 ltJg5 30 ':xd5!

White's patient but incisive treatment of his opponent's weaknesses has led to a decisive advantage (this would not have been the case had White accepted


his dull fate and automatically recap-tured on d4 with his c-pawn). Not sur-prisingly White soon picked up the bS-pawn and, eventually, the full point.

We have seen instances where a seri-ous disadvantage can be direcdy attrib-uted to the presence of doubled pawns. However, such a weakness can be equally significant even if located away from the 'action' area.


Redbus Knockout, Southend 2000

In the diagram position Black's dou-bled pawns on the queenside afford White a sacrificial possibility on the kingside, the point that the investment of a pawn on that flank will still leave Black without a majority. Black has just pushed the h-pawn with a view to un-dertaking active operations against White's king. That this weakens the gS-square seems irrelevant at the moment for the f6-pawn provides protection, but after White's next Black has cause to regret ... h7-hS.

23 e5!

With one multi-purpose move White is able to contemplate the following:

generating po<;sibilities on the a l-h8 diagonal, obstructing Black's bi~j:lop on the h2-b8 diagonal, using the gS-square for the knight or queen, introducing threats on the e-file and using the e4-square as an outpost. Of course these are strategic, positional considerations rather than must-do tasks, but each represents a potential problem that Black must address in one form or an-other.

23 ... ltJxe5

Now 23 ... fxeS 24 'ifgS 'iff7l 25 ltJxeS .txeS 26 .txeS h4 27 .tc3


28 'ife3 keeps Black's disadvantage to a

mini-mal, albeit uncomfortable level, whereas 24 ... e4 25 ltJd2 is clearly better for White, who can also try 24 ltJgS!? here. Rowson believes that 23 ... .txeS is best, offering the variation 24 ltJxeS fxeS 25 'ifgS (25 ':dl I?) 2S ... h4 26 f4 'iff6 27 'ifxf6 gxf6 28 fxeS hxg3 (28 ... fxeS 29 ':d 1 e4 30 ':d6) 29 <ittxg3 ltJxeS 30 .txeS fxeS 31 l:.d 1

He puts White in charge here thanks to the more active king and rook, Black's extra pawn not exacdy impor-tant. Note that the pawn ending is los-ing for Black due to White havlos-ing· the outside passed pawn.


24 ll'lxe5 fxe5 24 ... .ltxe5? 25 f4. 25"g5

Already the h5-pawn is a problem, e.g. 25 ... g6 26 f4 e4 27 'ifh6 or 26 ... lId8 27 .ltxe5 lId2+ 28 <ittg1 .ltxe5 29 fxe5 etc.

25 ... h6 26 "xh6 gxh6

Black's new doubled pawns are at least as significant as those on the queenside, and his pieces are busy de-fending the e-pawn, which White now makes sure to immobilise.

27 :e41

27 f4 is tempting but premature, and after 27 ... e4 28 .lte5 .ltxe5 29 lIxe4 lId8! 30 fxe5 lId2+ 31 <itto l:txa2 32 e6 <ittf8 Black could even be in front ac-cording to Rowson.

27 .. '<3;f7 28 'itf3 'iti>g6 29 'iti>e2 'itf5 30 :h4 'itg6 31 .ic1

White is content to move to and fro for a while given that Black is unable to begin anything of his own. However, the text does threaten to push g3-g4 now that White has both rook and bishop ready to pounce on h6.

31 ... .id8 32 :e4 .ic 7 33 :h4 .id8 34:e4

Purely psychological - White has no

intention of kindly acquiescing to a draw.

34 ... .ic7 35 .id2 :e6 36 f3 :e8 37 .ie1 :e6 38 .ic3

38 ... 'itf7

Not 38 ... .ltd6 39 f4 <ittf5 40 <itto exf4?? 41 g4+.

39 'ifi>e3 :e8 40 'itf2 :e6 41 :e 1 'itg6 42 'ifi>e3 'ifi>f5 43 g4



43 ... <ittg5 44 lIh1!? lIf6 45 .ltd2 <itth4 46 .ltel + <ittg5 47 :g 1 hxg4 48 hxg4 h5 49 lIh1 lIh6 (49 ... hxg4 50 .lth4+) 50

<itte4 is exacdy what White is looking for.

44 'iti>e4 :f6 45 .id2 :d6 46 .ie3 l:r.d7 47 :e21

Introducing the option of contesting the d-ftle.

47 ... :e7

47 ...


48 lId2!? h4 49 .ltf2 <ittg5 50 .lte3+ <ittg6 51 lId1 lIe7 52.ltc1


53 ':d3 lIe7 54 .ltb2 <ittg5 55 <itte3 and now 55 ... h5?! 56 <itte4 hxg4 57 fxg4


58 .ltc1 + <ittg6 59


appears to be close to winning for White, but 55 ... <ittg6 56 lId1 <ittg5 57 .ltc3 <ittg6 58 lIel lId7 59

<itte4 lIe7 60 <ittd3


61 lIe3 lIf4 62

<itte2 <ittf6 63 .ltel <ittg5 64 lIc3


65 .ltd2+ <ittg6 66 lIe3 lIf4 67 .ltc3 <ittf6 68


un-clear position according to Rowson. 48l1g2

A key difference between the two sides here is that White enjoys the lux-ury of being able to 'casually' group and regroup his forces without incurring risks. Unfortunately for Black he cannot avail himself of the same facility, as we are about to see.

4S ... lId7??

4B ... h4 is imperative, with similar play

to the previous note. 49 g51

Winning. The game ended as follows: 49 ... hxg5 50 ':'xg5 + ~f6 51 ':'xh5 .i.d6 52 ':'h6 + ~g7 53 h41 b5 54 h5 a5 55 lIg6 + ~h7 56 a41 bxa4 57 bxa4 lidS 5S .i.g5 ':'d7 59 lIh6 + c,i;>g7 60 ':'g6 + ~h7 61 ':'e6 .i.fS 62 lIxc6 lId4 + 63 Wf5 e4 64 fxe4 lId7 65 lIa6 .i.g7 66 e5 ':'f7 + 67 .i.f6 .i.fS 6S ':'xa5 wgS 69 ':'as ':'h7 70 e6 ':'xh5+ 71 Wg41-0

It should not escape our attention that, yet again, the player on the receiv-ing end of a positional sacrifice is set numerous strategic and practical prob-lems which tend to grow in gravity as the game progresses and which,

ulti-mately, are increasingly difficult to ad-dress.


The next three examples feature in-stances in which the fate of doubled pawns is exacerbated by the arrival of a fellow foot-soldier on the same file!

Chernyshov-Ovetchkin Russian Tean Championship,

Smolensk 2000

1 d4 ltJf6 2 ltJc3 d5 3 .i.g5 .i.f5 4 .i.xf6 gxf6 5 e3 e6 6 .i.d3 .i.g6 7 f4

A rather cheeky advance since it ne-glects the e4-square and invites Black to clamp down with 7 ... f5. In fact this leads to a tenable position for Black, as does the preliminary trade on d3. In-stead Black sought to punish his oppo-nent's latest by seeking to undermine White's influence on the dark squares now that the committal £2-f4 has also neglected the e3-pawn.

7 ... c5?!

Failing to spot White's response sug-gests that Black was in too positive a mood here, the one distinction about the text being that it is a theoretical




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