[Event "rooks on ranks and files"][Site "-, Leipzig"][Date "1894.??.??"][Round "?"]
[White "Tarrasch"][Black "von Scheve"][Result "1-0"]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bf4 c6 6.e3 Nbd7 7.h3 Ne4
Tarrasch: "The decisive error. After the exchange of Knights, Black's capturing Pawn becomes weak, and needs protection by ...f5. It is then attacked by f3, forcing Black to exchange and open up the Knight file for White. Thereupon there ensues a combined attack of White's Queen, both Rooks and the Queen Bishop against the Knight Pawn (the keystone of the Castled position) an attack which is irresistible."
He adds modestly: "I know of no game in all the chess literature in which it is possible to conceive of so detailed a plan, leading almost to mate, and in which the remaining 20 moves lead up to a catastrophe."
The prediction fulfilled.
This is an unusually clear example. But do you have to go through all this planning stuff? You do if you want to get better results. Of course, you have been planning for ages - all that stuff about K-side pawn storms, Knight outposts and Bad bishops was all basic planning. But you do need to do it.
[Event "?"][Site "Zurich"][Date "1953.??.??"][Round "?"]
[White "Petrosjan"][Black "Euwe"][Result "1-0"]
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 Bf5 4. d3 e6 5. Nbd2 h6 6. O-O Bc5 7. Qe1 O-O 8. e4 BRONSTEIN comments:
'Black's last few moves seem rather inconsequential to me. By move ten Black should not only have formed a plan, but should be sticking to it as well.'
The B got stuck on h7, and the other pieces couldn't get going. Eventually White's better pieces supported a general advance which won a pawn and the game.
8...dxe4 9. Nxe4 Nxe4 10. dxe4 Bh7 DIAGRAM
11. b4 Be7 12. Bb2 Na6 13. a3 c6 14. Rd1 Qc8 15. c4 Nc7 16. Qc3 Bf6 17. Ne5 Rd8 18. Bf3 Ne8 19. Rxd8 Qxd8 20. Rd1 Qc7 21. c5 a5 22. Bg2 axb4 23. axb4 Rd8 24. Rxd8 Qxd8 25. Qc2 Nc7 26. Bf1 Nb5 27. f4 Kf8 28. Kf2 Bxe5 29. Bxe5 f6 30. Bb2 Ke7 31. Bc4
Here is another example of a good plan, played against a player who didn't have much of a plan:
[Event "?"][Site "ussr ch'p SF"][Date "1939.??.??"][Round "?"]
[White "Sokolsky"][Black "Botvinnik"][Result "0-1"]
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.e3 O-O 6.Be2 e6 7.O-O b6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.b3 Bb7 10.Bb2 Nbd7 11.Qc2
11...a6 12.Rac1 Rc8 13.Rfd1 Qe7 14.Qb1 Rfd8 15.Bf1 c5 16.dxc5
"Yet another positional error. It is not possible to exploit the hanging pawns at c5 and d5 with a large number of minor pieces on the board by attacking them from the back line! Meanwhile White parts with his last strong point in the centre - the strong point at d4. This brings Black's Bb7 to life, and the tempo of the game speeds up" - BOTVINNIK
Black expoits his extra space with a vigorous attack on the K-side. He cleverly realises he needs the Bg7 to pressurise e3, so fearlessly gives up the long diagonal a1-h8 to White.
16...bxc5 17.Ne2 Bh6 18.Ba3 Ng4 DIAGRAM
White's natural moves have let him drift into a passive position.
19.Qd3 (19.Nc3 Bxe3) 19...Nde5 20.Nxe5 Qxe5 21.Ng3 Qf6 22.Nh1 d4 23.Qe2 Ne5 24.exd4 cxd4 25.Rxc8 Bxc8 26.Re1 d3
White's position has continued to slide while Black has been getting more menacing... Time for the final push:
26... d3 27.Qd1 Bg4 28.Qa1 d2 29.Rxe5 d1=Q 30.Re8+ Rxe8 31.Qxf6 Be2 And Black won easily ...0-1
One more example - losing a better game by playing without a plan.
[Event "?"][Site "Zurich IZT"][Date "1953.??.??"][Round "?"]
[White "Gligoric, S."][Black "Kotov, A."][Result "0-1"]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.g3 e5 7.Nde2 Be6 8.Bg2 b5 9.O-O Nbd7 10.a4 b4 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.exd5 Bg4 13.Bd2 a5 14.c3 bxc3 15.Bxc3 Qb6 16.h3 Bh5 17.Kh2 Be7 18.f4 DIAGRAM
18...Bxe2 19.Qxe2 Bf6 20.Qc4 O-O 21.Qc6 Rfd8 22.Rae1 Qb8 DIAGRAM
"Backing up for a running jump... the initiative has passed to Black." BRONSTEIN
"It is because of such one-move threats that all of White's advantage has evaporated." BRONSTEIN
28...Raa8 29.Qf5 Qxa4 30.Rf4 Bxf4 31.gxf4 g6 32.Qg5 Rae8 33.Rg1 Re2 34.Kh1 Qc2 35.Qg4 Nc5 36.Qh4 Ne4 37.Bd4 Nf2+ 38.Kh2 Ne4 39.f5 Qd3 40.fxg6 fxg6 41.Bb6 0-1 (41...Nd2)
Kotov has been much exercised by this notion of planning, and in his books gives lots of examples of planless play being punished. You can often see glorious examples of well-planned play - like in the old master games of Tarrasch and Steinitz, where a plan conceived early in the game was carried out to perfection and gradually overwhelmed the opponent. Tarrasch and Steinitz also showed how to form a plan - where to find weak points, and how to attack at the weakest point. I'll discuss this in more detail below, but first another word from Kotov and Bronstein on planning in general. Kotov describes reading over a game of Romanovsky's against Vilner, which made a powerful impression on the young Kotov - here, a plan, which Romanovsky stuck to over 5 hours, eventually resulted in victory. ROMANOVSKY commented on his own game:
" 'The last and main conclusion to be drawn and the main one is as follows. In every game we ought to have a single basic plan, and by carrying out this plan we ought to get a prolonged initiative. The initiative so gained will tend to increase until it reaches the stage where it is sufficient to force a win.' ...
"My own reaction" says KOTOV, "was immense admiration. Everything foreseen and planned from the first move to the last... I tried to start playing in a planned fashion... but I got precisely nowhere! I would envisage a long siege of my opponent's pawn at a6 but was distracted by threats on the f-file... My games still consisted of isolated episodes which I feverishly tried to knit together into a harmonious whole...
"It was only much later ... that the question of a single plan became clear to me... In the Vilner game it was a struggle between unequal sides. When, however, you meet a strong inventive opponent and he counters every one of your intentions not only by defensive but also by counter-attacking measures, then it is far from simple to carry out a single plan...
"... I finally concluded: 'A single plan is the sum total of strategic operations which follow each other in turn and which each carry out an independent idea that arises logically from the demands of a given position'. ...
The definition given above is supported by the following quotation from Bronstein: 'Due to Tarrasch * an idea grew up that is still prevalent nowadays, the idea that there are the so-called logical games in which one side carries out a logical plan from beginning to end rather like a theorem in geometry. I do not think that there are such games between opponents of the same strength and the annotator who gives that impressions is often the winner of the game who makes out that what happened is what he wanted to happen' "
Znosko-Borovsky says much the same thing in his How Not To Play Chess lecture. So, in the examples I gave above (and more below), read and believe when I say you need a plan, but remember that real chess is likely to be more messy and less smooth. Unless you are playing an opponent who hasn't got a clue you will have to keep chopping and changing plans to cope with the changing situation on the board. That's life...
"White's plan consists in realising his pawn superiority on the Queen's side while remaining passive on the King's side. Black, on the other had will attampt to force his opponent to advance one of his pawns on the King's wing, in order to start play against White's King's side with his pawns."
Lasker has in mind moves for White such as c4 and d5 to create a passed pawn, and for Black ...Bg4, ...Bd6, ...f5 and ...Qh5. In fact play went 9 ...Bd6; 10 Re1, Bg4; 11 Qe4! Bh5; 12 Nh4, Nd7; 13 Qf5. Steinitz and Lasker would undoubtedly have criticised White's crude and 'unjustified' attack. What's going on? Ragozin, a strong and experienced Soviet master, must have been aware of Lasker's views, and of the theories of Steiniz, so why is he playing on the 'wrong' side? He has made in fact a much more dynamic and concrete assessment of the position which notes, not just the Q-side majority, but also: the awkwardly placed bishops, missing Nf6, the compromised f-pawns and White's development and control of space. Given time, Black could no doubt disentangle his pieces. Ragozin gives him no time at all.
13...Nb6; 14 Qxh5, Nxc4; 15 Bh6!! Qd7 (can you find the win after 15...gxh6?); 16 b3, Nb6; 17 Nf5, Kh8; 18 Re4, Bxh2+ 19 Kh1 and Black resigned.
This is the real contribution of the 20th century to chess theory, in which SOVIET players have been dominant. Players look beyond the geometry of pawn formations and have moved to a more flexible and more dynamic style of play. There are no new general principles, because modern players do not believe in general principles. Players like BRONSTEIN and BOLESLAVSKY turned established ideas on their heads in the 1950s, championing Black's dynamic chances in the King's Indian and Sicilian.
There is another good example of modern planning from Bronstein's superb book on the 1953 Candidates tournament The Chess Struggle in Practice.
"I think now is the time to acquaint the reader with the mysteries of the Black d-pawn in the King's Indian. Even though it is situated on an open file and therefore always exposed to attack, it is not a very easy nut to crack. The simplest method for White is apparently to retreat the Knight from d4, but d4 is precisely where the Knight needs to be: its jobs are to supervise b5, c6, e6, and f5 and to buffer the influence of the Bg7. Only after White has taken steps against possible Black attacks (...a3, ...Be6, ...f5) can his Knight leave the centre, but during that time Black can regroup to cause worries elsewhere.
"So the weakness of the d-pawn proves to be imaginary. Contemporary methods of play in the opening recognise the illusory weakness of such pawns. But it was exactly this 'eternal' weakness of the Pd6 that led to the King's Inidan being regarded as dubious.
The most dramatic recent example of this is Evgeny Sveshnikov's cherished variation of the Sicilian, sometimes known as the Pelikan: 1 e4, c5; 2 Nf3, Nc6; 3 d4, cxd4; 4 Nxe4, Nf6; 5 Nc3, e5; 6 Nb5, d6; 7 Bg5, a6; 8 Bxf6, gxf6; 9 Na3, f5!? Black will use the extra central pawns and piece activity to stop White getting a proper hold on the weaknesses on ...d6 and ...f6/...h6.
Zinn-Sveshnikov, Decin 1974: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 DIAGRAM
Let's see how things unfold
10... f5 11. Bd3 Be6 12. Qh5 Bg7 13. O-O f4 14. c3 O-O 15. Nc2 f5 DIAGRAM
" Their point of view can be summarized as follows: what had for generations been accepted as a weakness, such as a hole or an isolated pawn, was not weak unless or until the opponent began to attack it; a much smaller hostile weakness which could be attacked first was in fact a greater weakness. Thus the dynamic approach brought about a radical adjustment in the views on weakness and strenght. It was no longer possible to measure one's weakness against those of one's opponent by the old method, but it was necessary to assess also the potentialities and speeds of the relative attacks. This called for a new degree of acute positional judgement, and in this was the Russian school has specially trained itself."-- Dynamic Chess by R.N. Coles; I am grateful to Ariel Quinatana for supplying this quote.
Plan like a Grandmaster
Bronstein: The Chess Struggle in Practice
Botvinnik: 100 Selected Games
Euwe and Kramer: The Middle Game, Volumes I and II