The Very Slow King's-side Attack

I often talk about "clockwork attacks". They are characterised by:
  • closed or at least stable centre
  • King's-side attack based on stereotyped attacking plan
  • attack based not so much on domination of space and time but on lack of opponent's counterplay.
These attacking lines are to be found in many openings You may be able to think of other "system" openings which often yield an easy-to-play attack, like the Colle System, London System and perhaps the Torre system. To some extent the standard h-file attack against a King castled behind a fianchettoed Bishop also fits into this category, as seen in the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian and the Pirc Defence.

  As an attacker, the idea is to keep moving pieces up to the King's-side until you checkmate your opponent. The reason these often work so well in club play is that the defending side will often play sensible-looking solid moves until is is far to late to stop the defences collapsing. A much more vigorous approach is required in defence.

  So, as defender, you must do at least one of the following:

So, as the attacker, you must keep an eye on your opponent's counterplay.

  As you see from the links above, you can find examples of these clockwork attacks throughout the Openings handouts, but the examples here should give you the idea:

Kortchnoi,Viktor - Fischer,Robert J (blitz) [E97] 1970

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Nf3 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Nd2 c5 10. a3 Ne8 11. b4 b6 12. Rb1 f5 13. f3 f4

 

t+lDsTj+
X-+-S-Lx
-X-X-+x+
+-XpX-+-
-Pp+pX-+
P-N-+p+-
-+-Nb+pP
+rBq+rK-

The centre is completely blocked, and so all the play is going to be on the wings. Any pawn move by White on the King's-side will leave him with further points of attack for Black , so White presses on on the Queen's-side.

14. a4 g5 15. a5 Rf6 16. bxc5 bxc5 17. Nb3 Rg6 18. Bd2 Nf6 19. Kh1 g4 20. fxg4 Nxg4 21. Rf3 Rh6

 

t+lD-+j+
X-+-S-Lx
-+-X-+-T
P-XpX-+-
-+p+pXs+
+nN-+r+-
-+-Bb+pP
+r+q+-+k

22. h3 Ng6 23. Kg1 Nf6

 

t+lD-+j+
X-+-+-Lx
-+-X-SsT
P-XpX-+-
-+p+pX-+
+nN-+r+p
-+-Bb+p+
+r+q+-K-

24. Be1 Nh8 25. Rd3 Nf7 26. Bf3 Ng5 27. Qe2 Rg6 28. Kf1

 

t+lD-+j+
X-+-+-Lx
-+-X-St+
P-XpX-S-
-+p+pX-+
+nNr+b+p
-+-+q+p+
+r+-Bk+-

28... Nxh3 29. gxh3 Bxh3+ 30. Kf2 Ng4+ 31. Bxg4 Bxg4 0-1

 


It is easy to understand the appeal of the King's Indian after such a game.

Fischer,Robert J - Miagmarsuren, Lahmsuran (Sousse) 1967

1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. g3 c5 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. Ngf3 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. e5 Nd7 9. Re1 b5 10. Nf1 b4 11. h4 a5 12. Bf4 a4

 

t+lD-Tj+
+-+sLxXx
-+s+x+-+
+-XxP-+-
xX-+-B-P
+-+p+nP-
pPp+-Pb+
R-+qRnK-

This is the same idea, with White. There are differences:

  Black has adopted a more modest central posture than White does in the King's Indian Defence

  the central pawn structure is more fluid

  Black has gone hard on the Queen's-side and is starting to make real gains; so, White must pause for a defensive move. White's next was seen as innovative at the time:

13. a3! bxa3 14. bxa3 Na5

  [14... Nd4 15. Ne3 Ba6 16. c4 dxc4

[Fritz gives 16... Nb3 17. cxd5 Nxa1 18. Qxa1 exd5 19. Nxd5 Bxd3 20. e6 Nf6 21. Nxe7+ Qxe7 22. Ne5 Bg6 23. Nc6 Qb7 24. Bd6]

  17. Nxd4]

15. Ne3 Ba6 16. Bh3 d4

 

t+-D-Tj+
+-+sLxXx
l+-+x+-+
S-X-P-+-
x+-X-B-P
P-+pNnPb
-+p+-P-+
R-+qR-K-

Which way should White jump?

17. Nf1 Nb6 18. Ng5 Nd5

  White's Queen has access to h5, which makes Black decide to concede B for N. This leaves White with the idea of assaulting the dark squares.

19. Bd2 Bxg5 20. Bxg5 Qd7 21. Qh5 Rfc8 22. Nd2 Nc3

 

t+t+-+j+
+-+d+xXx
l+-+x+-+
S-X-P-Bq
x+-X-+-P
P-Sp+-Pb
-+pN-P-+
R-+-R-K-

23. Bf6 Qe8

  [23... gxf6 24. exf6 Kh8]

24. Ne4 g6 25. Qg5 Nxe4 26. Rxe4

 

t+t+d+j+
+-+-+x+x
l+-+xBx+
S-X-P-Q-
x+-Xr+-P
P-+p+-Pb
-+p+-P-+
R-+-+-K-

They think it's all over...

26... c4 27. h5 cxd3 28. Rh4 Ra7 29. Bg2 dxc2 30. Qh6 Qf8 31. Qxh7+ 1-0 ...it is now.

 


Psakhis - Kasparov (La Manga) 1990

1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 d6 5. Nf3 e5 6. d3 f5 7. O-O Nf6 8. Rb1 h6

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-+-L-
-+sX-SxX
+-+-Xx+-
-+p+-+-+
+-Np+nP-
pP-+pPbP
+rBq+rK-

The mutual control of d4/d5 means that although the central pawns are not locked, the centre is likely to remain closed. So we have a battle on each wing.

9. b4 O-O 10. b5 Ne7 11. a4 Be6 12. Ba3 Rc8 13. Nd2 b6

 

-+tD-Tj+
X-X-S-L-
-X-XlSxX
+p+-Xx+-
p+p+-+-+
B-Np+-P-
-+-NpPbP
+r+q+rK-

Again, a prudent measure. White will have to re-arrange to get in a5, so changes tack

14. e3 g5 15. d4 exd4 16. exd4 f4 17. Re1 Bg4 18. Nf3 Qd7 19. c5 Rce8 20. Rc1 Nf5 21. Qd3 Kh8 22. cxd6 cxd6 23. Rxe8 Qxe8 24. Rf1 Qh5

 

-+-+-T-J
X-+-+-L-
-X-X-S-X
+p+-+sXd
p+-P-Xl+
B-Nq+nP-
-+-+-PbP
+-+-+rK-

There is a dark storm cloud over White's King.

25. Ne4 Nxe4 26. Qxe4 Bh3 27. Ne5 Bxg2 28. Kxg2 g4 29. Bxd6 Rf6 30. Bb8

Qh3+ 0-1

 


Rogers,I - Carton,N [A26] London

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. e4 d6 6. Nge2 Nc6 7. d3 O-O 8. O-O

  This is an interesting formation, kin to the Closed Sicilian. White clamps the centre shut and goes creeping up on the King's-side. Black's prospects of successful Queen-side counterplay are less than in the Closed Sicilian because of the pawn on c4. Here Black decides to slug it out toe to toe on the King's-side, but in this game White's initiative prevails.

8... Nh5 9. f4 f5

 

t+lD-Tj+
XxX-+-Lx
-+sX-+x+
+-+-Xx+s
-+p+pP-+
+-Np+-P-
pP-+n+bP
R-Bq+rK-

10. Be3 Be6 11. Nd5 Qd7 12. Qd2 Rae8 13. Rae1 Nf6 14. Kh1 Rf7 15. b3 fxe4 16. dxe4 Bh3 17. Nxf6+ Rxf6 18. Nc3 exf4 19. gxf4 Bxg2+ 20. Qxg2 Rfe6 21. Bd2 Nd4 22. Rd1 b5 23. f5

 

-+-+t+j+
X-Xd+-Lx
-+-Xt+x+
+x+-+p+-
-+pSp+-+
+pN-+-+-
p+-B-+qP
+-+r+r+k

1-0

Chess Quotes

"...the initial position is decisive Zugzwang."
— Jon Speelman, The Observer Sunday 9 June 1996