"One of the main aims has been to highlight the differences in approach between a Grandmaster and a weaker player, and to try and narrow the gap. To some extent this comes down to technical matters - more accurate analysis, superior opening knowledge, better endgame technique and so forth; but in other respects the difference goes deeper and many readers will find that they need to rethink much of their basic attitude to the game. One example of this would be the tremendous emphasis which is placed on the dynamic use of the pieces, if necessary at the expense of the pawn structure, or even of material. This is no mere question of style; it is a characteristic of the games of all the great players." -- Peter GRIFFITHS, Introduction to Secrets of Grandmaster Chess (Nunn/Griffiths).
- Contempt for Pawns
- Pawn sacrifices for development in the opening
- Pawn sacrifices for open lines
- Pawn sacrifices for squares
- Pawn sacrifices for activity in WC matches
- Capablanca,J - Lasker,E [C80] St.Petersburg, 1914
- Nimzowitsch,A - Capablanca,J [C62] St Petersburg (1), 1914
- Regis,D - Laker,L [D00] Devon vs. Dorset, 1998
- Basman,M - Benjamin,J [B15], 1976 [MJB]
- Pawn sacrifices for development in the opening
- Gausel,E - Davies,N [B06] *Oslo, 1988, 1988
- Lorinczi P - Browne Walter S [A58] Olympiad, Siegen (Germany), 1970
- Kopec - Staub [B30] Ivy league Team NJ 1973
- Kotov - Gligoric,Z [E87], 1953
- Karpov,A (2705) - Kasparov,G (2715) [D53] Wch31-KK1 Moscow (19), 1984
- Kasparov,G (2715) - Karpov,A (2705) [A33] Wch31-KK1 Moscow (26), 1984
- Karpov,A (2720) - Kasparov,G (2700) [B85] Wch32-KK2 Moscow (10), 1985
- Karpov,A (2705) - Kasparov,G (2715) [D58] Wch31-KK1 Moscow (31), 1984
- Kasparov,G (2715) - Karpov,A (2705) [C42] Wch31-KK1 Moscow (28), 1984
- Kasparov,G (2700) - Karpov,A (2720) [E20] Wch32-KK2 Moscow (13), 1985
- Karpov,A (2700) - Kasparov,G (2740) [D88] Wch34-KK4 Sevilla (9), 1987
A while ago I bought a collection of the writings of Cecil Purdy, to whom I was introduced by Irving Chernev. Chernev is better known, but Purdy was the better player (a world correspondence champion) and at least as good a writer. I'm always quoting his "Examine moves that smite!", and while reading his book came across another memorable piece of advice:
"We all play a great deal of rotten chess - some more than others - and one if the roots of the trouble is the tyranny of the Pawn.
"There are still many players whose idea of winning a game consists in grabbing a Pawn and struggling through somehow to an endgame - where, they fondly believe, a Pawn plus is an automatic win. Here we see the tyranny of the Pawn in its vilest and most nauseating form. But there are degrees, and even in master play we find weak moves being made through an insufficient contempt for Pawns." - CJSP
What is on Purdy's mind is the same thought expressed more temperately by Stean and Griffiths above. Pawns are no use without active pieces.
Capablanca,J - Lasker,E [C80] St.Petersburg, 19141.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Nbd2 Nc5 10.c3 d4 11.cxd4 Nxd4 12.Nxd4 Qxd4 13.Bxe6 Nxe6 14.Qf3 Rd8 15.a4 Qd5 16.Qxd5 Rxd5 17.axb5 axb5 18.Ra8+ Nd8 What would you play here?
hitting c5, allowing f2-f4, threatening Nc3...
[19.Nf3 "Tarrasch says that 99 players out of hundred would have played this"]
19...Rxe5 Now White's pieces get into good positions. 20.Rd1 Be7 21.f3
"This quiet move shows how silly it is to lose your head just because you have given up a Pawn."
"(?) Black caves in" - Tydoki & Long.
"And Black must give up the c-Pawn"
It remains to be seen if White's continuing initiative is enough to bring more than recovery of the Pawn deficit.
22...0-0 23.Rxc7 Bb4 24.Be3 Ne6 25.Rcd7 Rc8 26.R1d5 Rxd5 27.Rxd5 Rc2 28.b3 Rb2 29.Rxb5 Rxb3 30.Bd2 Bc5+ 31.Rxc5 Nxc5 32.Nxc5 Rb2 33.Be3 Re2 34.Bf2 f6 35.Kf1 Ra2 36.g4 Kf7 37.Ne4 h6 38.Kg2 Ra3 39.f4 Rb3 40.Ng3 Ra3 41.Nf1 Rd3 42.Ne3 Rc3 43.Kf3 Ra3 44.f5 Ra2 45.Nd5 Rb2 46.Nf4 Ra2 47.h4 Ra5 48.Bd4 Ra3+ 49.Be3 Ra5 50.Nh5 Ra4 51.Ng3 Kg8 52.Ne4 Kf7 53.Bd2 Ra1 54.Bc3 Rf1+ 55.Nf2 Rc1 56.Bd4 Re1 57.Ne4 Rf1+ 58.Bf2 Ra1 59.Kf4 Ra4 60.Bc5 Rc4 61.Kf3 Rc1 62.Bf2 Ra1 63.Kf4 Ra4 64.Kf3 Ra3+ 65.Be3 Ra5 66.Nc5 Ra1 67.Ne6 Ra3 68.Ke4 Ra4+ 69.Bd4 Rb4 70.Kd3 Rb3+ 71.Ke4 Rb4 72.Kd5 Rb1 73.g5 hxg5 74.hxg5 fxg5 75.Nxg5+ Kg8 76.Ne6 Rd1 77.Ke4 Kf7 78.Ng5+ Kg8 79.Ke5 Re1+ 80.Kf4 Rf1+ 81.Kg4 Rd1 82.Nf3 Rf1 83.Be5 Kf7 84.Kf4 Kg8 85.Ke4 Rd1 86.Ng5 Re1+ 87.Kd5 Rd1+ 88.Ke6 Re1 89.Nh3 Rb1 90.Nf4 Rb6+ 91.Ke7 Rb5 92.Ng6 Rb6 93.Bd6 Ra6 94.Ke6 Rb6 95.Ne7+ Kh7 96.Nc8 Ra6 97.Ne7 Rb6 98.Nd5 Ra6 99.Nc3 Kg8 100.Ne4 Rb6 1/2-1/2
Actually, no.Another Purdy example to rub the point in:
Black has two tempi for the a-Pawn, but no real weaknesses to attack and faces a passed a-Pawn.
"Any woodshifter would consider himself in clover in White's position... Nimzovitch played quite reasonably all the time, and yet found himself dead lost within a dozen more moves. (...) It is always very difficult to play correctly when the enemy has the initiative." - CJSP
13.0-0 0-0 14.Qa6 Rfe8 15.Qd3 Qe6 16.f3 Nd7 17.Bd2 Ne5 18.Qe2 Nc4 19.Rab1 Ra8 20.a4 Nxd2 21.Qxd2 Qc4 22.Rfd1 Reb8 23.Qe3 Rb4 24.Qg5 Bd4+ 25.Kh1 Rab8 26.Rxd4 Qxd4 27.Rd1 Qc4 28.h4 Rxb2 29.Qd2 Qc5 30.Re1 Qh5 31.Ra1 Qxh4+ 32.Kg1 Qh5 33.a5 Ra8 34.a6 Qc5+ 35.Kh1 Qc4 36.a7 Qc5 37.e5 Qxe5 38.Ra4 Qh5+ 39.Kg1 Qc5+ 40.Kh2 d5 41.Rh4 Rxa7 0-1
Here is perhaps an example of the dangers of reading... a game I played shortly after reading this Purdy piece.
This godforsaken opening ought to be banned.
2.d4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3
[5...Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.g4 Bg6 8.Bg2 c6 9.h4]
6.h3 Bh5 7.g4 Bg6 8.Ne5 +/-
Euwe 8...e6 9.Bg2 c6
[9...Nd5 1-0 Schug H-Chmelik/cr eu Mkl 1992 (20); 9...Be4 1-0 Tiemann-Zimmer/BGD -WFT - Gruppe 30 1987 (23)]
[10.h4 transposes to a position from the Tartakower-Gunderam line. 10...Bb4! 11.0-0 +/- Korchnoi]
[10...Bd6 1-0 Velimirovic D GM-Andrejevic IM/Yugoslavian CS sf 1984 (41);
10...Bxc2 11.Qd2 (11.Qxc2 Qxd4+) 11...h6 12.Nxf7 Kxf7 13.Qxc2 Qxd4+ 14.Kh1 Bd6 15.Bd2+/- Holwell]
11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Qf3 Qb6
[13...Nd5 14.Qxf7+ Kd8 15.Nxd5 exd5 16.c3+/-]
[14...Bxf6 15.Be3 Qxb2 16.Ne4]
15.Qd3 0-0-0 16.Be3 Qa5
A reflex check: the rest is easy.
[24...cxd5! 25.Bb6 Bc5+!;
24...exd5!? 25.Bb6 Qe7 26.Bxd8 Qe3+! (we both missed this in analysis) 27.Kf1! Bc5 28.Rxc6+! Kxd8 (28...bxc6 29.Qxc6+ Kxd8 30.Rb8+ Ke7 31.Re8#) 29.Rxc5 Qxc5+-]
[25.Kf1? Qe7 26.dxc6 Qxf6+]
25...Rdh8 26.dxc6 Rxh3
[26...bxc6 27.Qxa6+ Kd8 (27...Kd7 28.Rb7) 28.Bb6]
27.cxb7+ Kb8 28.Bxh3 Rxh3 29.Qe8+ 1-0
A deeply imperfect game, of course, but one which I hope shows the spirit if not the rigour of Purdy's advice.
We can and should sacrifice Pawns for:
- Open lines for the attack
- To make a mess
[3...d3 4.Bxd3 declining a gambit in this way is quite common, although probably not the best method in this case]
4.Bc4 cxb2 5.Bxb2
White's pawn sacrifices have yielded a dangerous attacking position. How should you defend against a gambit like this?
absolutely the correct and modern idea. Black returns material to complete development, and will emerge with the upper hand
13.Bxe5 dxe5 14.Rxe5 Qd7 ! 15.Qg3 (15.Qxb7 0-0 when White's position is uncoordinated and under-developed) 15...0-0-0 16.Qxg7 Qd6 17.Qg5 Rhe8 18.Nd2 Nd7
Black has exchanged his extra material for a superior position. White's strategy has been a shambles, and must concede the exchange.
19.Rxe7 Qxe7 20.Qg3 Qb4 21.Nf3 Rg8 22.Qh4 Qc3 23.Rb1 Qxf3 resigns: Mieses-Maroczy, Monte Carlo 1902.
The exact moves have been improved on since, but this strategy of Black was the death-knell for the romantic sacrificial openings.]
[6...Nf6 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qxd8 Bb4+ 9.Qd2 Bxd2+ 10.Nxd2 Re8
the rival majorities look exciting, but the opposite-coloured bishops dampen it a little. Chances in any event are even]
7.Nc3 Bxc3+ 8.Bxc3 Nf6
white still has some attacking chances but Black looks secure (no weaknesses and has an extra pawn: =+ keres
A) 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3
8.0-0 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Bxc3
a famous gambit position (9...d5
B) 3.d4 3...exd4
B1) 4.Bc4 Scotch Gambit 4...Bc5 5.0-0 d6 6.c3 dxc3 7.Nxc3 Be6 (7...Nf6 8.Bg5) 8.Bxe6 fxe6 9.Qb3 Qc8 10.Be3 Bxe3 11.fxe3 Nf6 12.Ng5 Nd8 13.Rac1 a6 14.Na4 Qd7 15.e5 h6
(15...dxe5 16.Nc5; 15...b5 16.exf6 bxa4 17.Qc2 gxf6 18.Ne4 0-0 19.Nxf6+ Rxf6 20.Rxf6)
16.Nf3 b5 (16...Nd5)
17.exf6 bxa4 18.Qc2 gxf6
19.Qg6+ Ke7 ? (19...Qf7 20.Qxf7+ Nxf7 21.Rxc7 0-0 +/-)
20.Ne5 dxe5 21.Qxf6+ Staunton-von Jaenisch, 1853;
the Goering gambit 4...dxc3 (4...d3 not quite satisfactory according to modern theory) 5.Bc4 Nf6
(5...cxb2 6.Bxb2 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Qc2 d6 9.0-0-0 yields a vigorous initiative for the pawns)
6...Bb4 7.0-0 Bxc3 8.bxc3 d6 9.e5 dxe5 10.Ng5 Be6 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.Qb3 with some initiative and a promise to regain the pawn;
2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5
(3...Be7 a more modern approach like the Cunningham Variation is more awkward for White)
the famous Muzio Gambit: White does not shrink from sacrifice of pieces as well as pawns 5.0-0 gxf3 6.Qxf3 Qf6 7.e5 Qxe5
interestingly, the most promising line may be to sacrifice some more
A) 8.Bxf7+ the double Muzio Gambit - outrageous! 8...Kxf7 9.d4 Qxd4+
(9...Qf5 10.g4 Qg6 11.Bxf4 Nf6 12.Be5 d6 13.Bxf6 Bxg4 14.Qg2 Rg8 15.Kh1 Bf5 16.Qd5+)
10.Be3 Qf6 11.Nc3 Ne7 12.Nd5
with an attack for the material - is it enough? 12...Nxd5 13.Qxd5+ Qe6 14.Rxf4+ Kg8 15.Qg5+ Qg6 16.Rxf8+ Kxf8 17.Rf1+;
B) 8.d3 8...Bh6 9.Nc3 Ne7 10.Bd2 Nbc6 11.Rae1
still with some initiative]
7.dxe5 Nxe5 8.Bb3 0-0 9.Qd2
9...b5! 10.f3 b4 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.Bxd5 c6 13.Bb3 a5 14.a4 d5 15.exd5 Nc4! 16.Bxc4 Bxb2! 17.Ne2 Qh4+ 18.Bf2 Qxc4 19.Rb1 Bc3 20.Nxc3 bxc3 21.Qd3 Re8+ 22.Kd1 Qa2! 23.Rc1 Ba6 24.Qxc3 Qxd5+ 25.Qd2 Rad8!
[5...g6 is now thought more accurate in case of b2-b3]
6.Nc3 d6 7.Nf3 g6 8.g3 Bg7 9.Bg2 0-0 10.0-0 Nbd7 11.Qc2 Qa5 12.Re1 Nb6 13.e4 Nfd7 14.Bg5 Rfe8 15.Nd2 Ne5
A fairly typical Benko position: here the Rf8 must go to e8 not b8.
16.Nb3 Bd3 17.Qc1 Qb4 18.Bh6 Bh8 19.Nd2 Nec4 20.Nxc4 Nxc4 21.a4 Qxb2 22.Qxb2 Nxb2 23.Rec1 Reb8 24.a5 Rb3 25.Bd2 Nc4 26.Be1 Na3 (cutting off the a-Pawn) 27.Bf1 Bxf1 28.Kxf1 Rxa5 29.Ra2 Ra7 30.f3 Nb5 31.Rxa7 Nxa7 32.Kg2 f5 0-1
1.e4 g6 2.d4 c6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bf4 Bg7 6.Qd2 dxe4 7.0-0-0 Nf6 8.f3 exf3 9.Nxf3 g5 10.Be5 Bf5 11.h3 Nbd7 12.Qe1 Nb6 13.g4 Be6 14.Rg1 Qd7 15.d5 Nbxd5
17.Nd4 a6 18.h4 Bxg4 19.hxg5 hxg5
20.Rd3! "The distinctive chariot move..."
20...Be6 21.Rb3 g4 22.Rb6 Rg8 23.Qb4 Bh6+ 24.Kb1
"It's time to take stock of White's strategy, which seems on the brink of success." 24...a5??
[24...Be3! 25.Rg3! (25.Rxb7 Bxg1 26.Rxd7 Bxd7 27.Bxf6 exf6) 25...Bxd4 26.Qxd4 Ne4 27.Rgb3 Ra7 28.Bxa6]
25.Qa3! Qd8 26.Bxf6 Rg6
"Black has at last discovered how Rooks move, but it's too late."
[26...exf6 27.Bb5+ Bd7 28.Re1+]
27.Bb5+ Bd7 28.Re1 Rxf6 29.Rxf6 Bd2 30.Rh1
6.e6 fxe6 7.Ng5 Nf6 8.Bxh7 Nxh7 9.Qh5+ Kd7 10.Nxh7 Kc7 11.d4!
"Maintaining a grip on e5, if only by tactical means, is important in demonstrating Black's problems." - DK
11...b6 12.Bf4+ Kb7 13.Qg6
"and Black was all bound up."
White looks to have powerful pressure against the exposed Black pawns.
12.fxe4 f4 (the point) 13.Bf2 Nd7 14.Ng1 Qg5 15.Bf1 Ne5
...when Black's coup has yielded a stranglehold over the Black squares. White is struggling to draw... two Pawns up!
16.Nf3 Qe7 17.Nxe5 Qxe5 18.0-0-0 Nf6 19.h3 Bd7 20.Bd3 a6 21.Nb1 f3 22.gxf3 Nh5 23.Nd2 Nf4 24.Bf1 b5 25.h4 Kh8 26.Rg1 Bf6 27.Nb3 Rab8 28.Be1 b4 29.Kb1 Ra8 30.Bg3 Rg8 31.Qh2 Rxg3 32.Rxg3 Ne2 33.Qxe2 Qxg3 34.Nc1 a5 35.Nd3 Bd4 36.h5 Qh4 37.Bg2 Rg8 38.Rh1 Qg3 39.Bf1 a4 40.Kc2 a3 41.b3 1/2-1/2
"A typical Kasparov decision, offering a Pawn to try and free his position." - Speelman/Tisdall.
[13...Bd7; 13...c6? 14.dxc6 Nxc6+/-]
14.Nxb5 axb5 15.Bb3 e4 16.Nd4 Bxd4 17.exd4 c6 18.dxc6 Qxd4 19.0-0 bxc6 20.Qxc6 Bd7 21.Qd5 Qxd5 22.Bxd5 Ra6 23.Rfd1 Be6 24.a3 Bxd5 25.Rxd5 Rb8 26.Rd4 Ra4 27.Rcd1 Rc8 28.Kf1 Rc2 29.R4d2 Rxd2 30.Rxd2 Rc4 31.Ke2 b4 32.Kd1 bxa3 33.bxa3 Ra4 34.Ra2 f5 35.Kc2 f4 36.Kb3 Rd4 37.Ra1 Kf7 38.a4 e3 39.Kc3 Rd8 40.fxe3 fxe3 41.Re1 Ra8 42.Kb3 Rb8+ 43.Kc2 Ra8 44.Rf1+ Ke6 1/2-1/2
"Karpov surrenders a Pawn but is able to emerge with excellent compensation." - SPEELMAN/TISDALL
18.Rxd1 Rd8 19.Rxd8+ Qxd8 20.Bxa7 Qa8 21.Bxc6 bxc6 22.Kh2 h5 23.Qa5 f6 1/2-1/2
What's Black up to here?
[17...Rb8; 17...exf4 18.Rxf4 Be6]
18.Qd3 Be6 19.f5 Bd7 20.Ra3 Qa5 21.Rb3 b5! 22.axb5 axb5 23.Nxb5 Bc6 24.Bf3 Rab8 25.c4 Qa8!
One of the points of the whole sequence. Black recovers his Pawn and some central influence.
26.Bg5 Bxe4 27.Bxe4 Nxe4 28.Bxe7 Rxe7 29.Ra3 Qc6 30.b4 h5
[or 30...h6 when Black may even be better]
31.Na7 Rxa7 32.Rxa7 Rxb4 33.Qf3 Rxc4 34.Qxh5 Nf2+ 35.Kg1 Nh3+ 36.Kh1 Nf2+ 37.Kg1 1/2-1/2
"Unwilling to await a further intensification of the pressure by 18. Bf3, Kasparov unleashes a tide of murky complications." - SPEELMAN/TISDALL
18.exd4 cxd4 19.Na4 Rc8 20.Rxc8 Rxc8 21.Bc4 Rf8 22.Qd3! Bc6! 23.Bb3 Ne4! 24.Qxd4 Qb7! 25.Bd5! Ndf6 26.Bxc6 Qxc6
"So Karpov has won a Pawn. Black has reasonable if amorphous compensation in the excellent centralisation of his forces, and with time trouble approaching this is not to be underestimated." - SPEELMAN/TISDALL
27.b3 Re8 28.Qd3?! h5! 29.Qc4 Qb7 30.Nf3 Rc8 31.Qe2 Ng4 32.Ne5 Nxg3 33.hxg3 Qb5! 34.Nc4 Bf6 35.Nab6 Re8
A time trouble draw. 1/2-1/2
"For his Pawn, White has the two Bishops and a significant lead in development. Chances are even." - SPEELMAN/TISDALL
16.Rad1 Bd6 17.Bf5 Ke7 18.Nb5 Rhd8 19.Nxd6 cxd6 20.h3 b6 21.g4 h6 22.Bd4 Rac8 23.Bc3 g6 24.Bc2 h5 25.f3 1/2-1/2
"An excellent move found after [34m] thought. White must gambit the Pawn to stay active." - KEENE
10...Nxc3 11.Qd3 cxd4 12.Nxd4 Ne4 13.c5 Nxd4 14.Bxd4 b6 15.Bxe4 fxe4 16.Qxe4 Ba6 17.cxb6 axb6 18.Qe5 Qf6 19.Qe3 Qh6 20.Qxh6 gxh6 21.Rfe1 Bc4 22.a3 b5 23.Rad1 Rf5 24.Bb2 Rd5 1/2-1/2
"An outstanding method of active defence." - KEENE.
47.Qd5 b4 48.Qxa5 Qd3 49.Rg2 Qd4 50.Qa8 Qxe5 51.Qf8+ Kg6 52.Qxb4 h5 53.h4 gxh4 54.Qxh4 Rd6 55.Qc4 Rd4 56.Qc6+ Kg7 57.Qb7+ Kh6 58.Qc6+ Kg7 59.Rc2 Rh4+ 60.Kg2 Qe4+ 61.Qxe4 Rxe4 62.Rc7+ Kg6 63.Ra7 Re3 64.Kh3 Rc3 65.Ra8 Rc4 66.a4 Kg5 67.a5 Ra4 68.a6 Kh6 69.Kg2 Ra3 70.Kf2 Kg7 1/2-1/2