Two weaknesses

The Principle of two weaknesses - one weakness or two?

One sick pawn can lose you the game, but you need two points of attack to win. How does this add up?

  Both are true. In order to win against one weakness you need to attack the weak point, gain an advantage in space or mobility through this, and use your mobility to force through on a second front. Then one or other point will crack because your opponent's pieces won't be able to cover both attacks. Chekhover-Rudakowsky is a nice example of this.

  In fact defensive play is so awful that your opponent will probably give you an extra target out of carelessness or frustration (Hutchings-Keene, Vogt-Anderssen). But if not, you will have to open up another front (Lasker-Capablanca). It may be that before going for your primary target you should take time out to create a second weakness for later (Hug-Barle). The key to understanding space advantages is that you can use it to create weaknesses where none existed (Tarrasch-Mieses).


Chekhover-Rudakowsky, 1945
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 O-O 6. Nc3 Nbd7 7. Qc2 c6 8. Bd3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Nd5 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. O-O b5 12. Be2 a6 13. Ne4 Bb7 14. Ne5 Rac8 15. Nxd7 Qxd7 16. Nc5 Qc7 17. Rfd1 Rcd8 18. Rac1 Bc8 19. Qe4 Nf6 20. Qh4 Qa5 21. a3 b4



White has an advantage in space and mobility: Chernev suggests counting up the legal moves available to the pieces on each side.

22. a4 Nd7 23. b3 Nxc5 24. Rxc5 Qb6 25. Rdc1 Bb7 26. a5 Qa7 27. Bd3 DIAGRAM



White forces a weakness just as we learned above - but was only able to do so because he attacked c6 first.

27...g6 28. Qf6 Rd6 29. Qe7 Rfd8 30. h4 R8d7 31. Qf6 Qa8 32. Be4 Qe8 33. h5 Rd8 34. Bxc6 Bxc6 35. h6 Kf8 36. Rxc6 Rxc6 37. Rxc6 Rd7 (37... Qxc6 38. Qxd8+ Qe8 39. Qd6+ Kg8 40. Qxa6 {threat Qb7} 40... Qe7 41. Qb6) 38. Rc8 Qxc8 39. Qh8+ 1-0


  The fact that weak pawns can lose you the game means that many games are based around the theme of creating or threatening to create weak pawns - the Nimzo-Indian, for example.

Hutchings-Keene, 1982
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 b6 3.Nf3 Bb7 4.d4 e6 5.g3 Bb4

  Both Black bishops threaten to kick a hole in the White pawn formation by ...Bxc3 or ...Bxf3.

6.Bd2 c5 7.a3 Bxc3 8.Bxc3 Ne4 9.Qc2 Nxc3 10.Qxc3 Qf6

  Renewing the threats against c3/f3.

11.Rd1 Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Qxf3 13.exf3 Nc6



14.dxc5 {?}

  White's f-pawns aren't pretty but Black can't get at them at the moment. In any event, one weakness won't lose the game. Instead of avoiding further concessions, White hands Black the half-open b-file and a target on b6. Any 'pressure' White hopes to gain on the d-file will vanish the moment Black plays ...Nd4.

14...bxc5 15.Bg2 Rb8 16.Rd2 Rb3 17.Kd1 Ke7 18.f4 Nd4 19.Kc1 h5 {!?} DIAGRAM



The pressure on the b-file has given White a headache on the King's-side. Black's last is a little trap...

20.h4 {?}

  Into which White falls.

20...Rhb8 21.Bf1 (penny drops!)
[21. Re1 Rxg3 22. fxg3 Nb3+ 23. Kc2 Nxd2 24. Kxd2 Rxb2+ 25. Kd3 Rxg2]
21...Rf3 22.Kd1 Rxa3 {!} 0-1


Vogt-Anderssen, 1978
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Be2 a6 7.f4 Qc7 8.O-O Be7 9.Kh1 Nc6 10.Be3 Nxd4 11.Qxd4 O-O 12.Rad1 b5 13.e5 {!?} 13...dxe5 14.Qxe5 Qb8 {!} 15.Qxb8 Rxb8 16.Ba7 Ra8 17.Bb6 Bb7 18.a3 Rfc8 {!}

  Black has survived the sharp opening and now turns his attention to is endgame plans. Black fixes attention on the pawn at c2.



19.Ba5 g6 20.h3 {?}

  This gives White a problem square on g3 and a problem pawn on f4.

20...h5 21.Bf3 Bxf3 22.Rxf3 h4 23.Rd2 Rc4 24.b3 Rc6 25.a4 b4 26.Ne2 Rac8 27.c4 bxc3 28.Rxc3

  The weak c-pawn has been replaced in Black's affections by the weak b-pawn.

28... Nd5 29.Rxc6 Rxc6 30.Rb2 Bf6 31.Ra2 Rc8 32.Bd2 Rb8 33.Nc1 Nb4 34.Bxb4 Rxb4 35.Rf2 Be7 36.Rf3



White is at full stretch...

36...Bd6 37.Ne2 Re4 38.Rd3 Bc5 39.Rc3 Bf2 40.Rc2 Kg7 41.Ng1 Rxf4 ....0-1


Lasker,- Capablanca, 1921
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 O-O 6. Nf3 Nbd7 7. Qc2 c5 8. Rd1 Qa5 9. Bd3 h6 10. Bh4 cxd4 11. exd4 dxc4 12. Bxc4 Nb6 13. Bb3 Bd7 14. O-O Rac8 15. Ne5 Bb5 16. Rfe1 Nbd5 17. Bxd5 Nxd5 18. Bxe7 Nxe7 19. Qb3 Bc6 20. Nxc6 bxc6 21. Re5 Qb6 22. Qc2 Rfd8



There are two isolated pawns: which is weaker?

23. Ne2 Rd5 24. Rxd5 cxd5



Now there is only one. It is not exposed on a half-open file, so can White defend?

25. Qd2 Nf5 26. b3 h5 27. h3 h4

  a typical preparatory probe

28. Qd3 Rc6 29. Kf1 g6 30. Qb1 Qb4



Black's pressure on the d-pawn cannot be increased. So Black opens up a new point of attack.

31. Kg1 a5

  Lasker said when he saw this that he knew he was lost.

32. Qb2 a4 33. Qd2 Qxd2 34. Rxd2 axb3 35. axb3 Rb6 36. Rd3 Ra6 37. g4 hxg3 38. fxg3 Ra2 39. Nc3 Rc2 40. Nd1 Ne7 41. Nc3 Rc1+ 42. Kf2 Nc6 43. Nd1 Rb1



Black has his two points of attack.

44. Ke2

  I think not really a blunder, more a desire for clarity. [44. Ne3 Na5 picks up the b-pawn anyhow]

44... Rxb3 45. Ke3 Rb4 46. Nc3 Ne7 47. Ne2 Nf5+ 48. Kf2



White still has two points to defend.

48... g5 49. g4 Nd6 50. Ng1 Ne4+ 51. Kf1 Rb1+ 52. Kg2 Rb2+ 53. Kf1 Rf2+ 54. Ke1 Ra2 55. Kf1 Kg7 56. Re3 Kg6 57. Rd3 f6 58. Re3 Kf7 59. Rd3 Ke7 60. Re3 Kd6 61. Rd3 Rf2+ 62. Ke1 Rg2 63. Kf1 Ra2



Both sides are repeating moves: Capablanca because he can, Lasker because he has to!

64. Re3 e5 the final push: Black creates a passed pawn 65. Rd3 exd4 66. Rxd4 Kc5 67. Rd1 d4 68. Rc1+ Kd5



poor White can do nothing 0-1
Hug - Barle (Pula izt) [C45] 1975
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. Bg5 Na5 7. Bb3 Nxb3 8. axb3 Be6 9. Na4



9... h6

[9... Bb6 10. Nxb6 axb6 or 10...cxb6; 11.d4! with a superior pawn structure 11. Rxa8 Qxa8 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. Nh4 Pritchett]

10. Bh4 Bg4

[10... g5 11. Bg3 Nd7 12. Nxc5 Nxc5 13. b4 Nd7 14. d4]

11. Nxc5 dxc5 12.h3 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 Qd6 14. Bxf6 Qxf6 15. Qxf6 gxf6



Here we have the doubled f-pawns again. White can start an immediate attack on them with O-O and f2-f4

16. Ra5!

  accurate: forces a permanent weakness on a7. Black must divert his King to the Q-side when a shift to the f-file catches him wrong-footed. Black is probably already lost.

[16. O-O Ke7 17. f4 h5 18. Rf2 Rh7 19. Raf1 and Black can defend the one weakness on the f-file.]

16... b6 17. Ra6 Kd7 18. O-O Kc6



19. f4 Kb7 20. Raa1 Rh7 21. fxe5 fxe5 22. Rf6

  White now wins a pawn while Black struggles for counterplay.

22... a5 23. Rf5 Re8 24. Raf1 Re7 25. Rh5 Re6 26. Rhf5 Re7 27. g4 Kc6 28. Rf6+ Kb5 29. R1f5 a4 30. bxa4+ Kxa4 31. Rh5 c4 32. dxc4 Kb4 33. Rhxh6 Rxh6 34. Rxh6 Rd7 35. Rf6 Kxc4 36. Kf2 Rd2+ 37. Ke3



37... Rh2

[37... Rxc2 doesn't help, e.g. 38. Rxf7 c5 39. Rf2 Rxf2 40. Kxf2 Kb3]

38. Rc6+ Kb5 39. Rxc7 Rxh3+ 40. Kf2 Rh2+ 41. Kg3 Re2 42. Kf3 Re1 43. Re7 f6 44. g5 fxg5 45. Rxe5+ Kc4 46. Rxg5 Rf1+ 47. Ke2 Rb1 48. b3+ Kc3 49. Rb5 Rc1 50. Rxb6 Rxc2+ 51. Ke3 1-0


Tarrasch - Mieses (3) [C10] 1916
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Nf3 Ngf6 6. Bd3 Be7 7. O-O Nxe4 8. Bxe4 Nf6 9. Bd3 b6



White has more space but no target as yet.

10. Ne5 O-O 11. Nc6 Qd6 12. Qf3 Bd7 13. Nxe7+ Qxe7 14. Bg5 Rac8 15. Rfe1 Rfe8 16. Qh3



White uses his better pieces to force a concession.

16... Qd6 17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Qh6 f5 19. Re3 Qxd4 20. c3



Black is suddenly shot full of holes.


Chess Quotes

"The older I grow, the more I value Pawns."
— -- KERES