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Understand The Position 8: “About face!”

GM Ján Markoš | June 2, 2011 – 15:45One Comment | 523 views
Understand The Position 8: “About face!”

When I joined the Slovak team for the first time on the Chess Olympiad, I was only 15 years old and I didn’t know almost anything about chess. Meeting the strongest chess players in the world made a huge impression on me; but what remained in my memory the most is one obscure episode.

Once during a dinner, my teammate Gennadij Timoscenko came to me. He was almost a legend for me that time, because he had worked with many great players during his career and also with Garry Kasparov. Gennadij stooped to me and told me: “You know, young man, chess is not about the moves, but the plans.”

This mysterious phrase stuck in me, even though I initially didn’t understand the meaning.

“Of course I know that chess is about the plans,” I said to myself. “Are my colleagues really underestimating me too much? Why Gennadij considered to be necessary to tell me such a trivial thing?” Only much later I realized that Timoscenko’s advice was neither obvious nor trivial.

The point is: a chess player, who plays “from move to move”, will try to place his pieces ideally at every moment. He will not consider the moves which place the pieces on the strange squares, moves “backward” and “outside” moves at all. However, if player understands that plans (manoeuvres) are much more important in chess than moves, he will also find the transfers, which go through the strange and less attractive squares. He understands that it is not important which way the piece goes, but where it gets.

The diagram shows the position from the game Smyslov – Spassky, Moscow 1959, White to move.

White has a bishop pair and since black queenside pawns are not objecting, he would like to place his dark-squared bishop on b6, what would finish the battle of the d-file. The second bishop can be brought to the game by the f4-f5 advance; this move would be pleasant also for the rook on f1. All this implies that the best square for the queen is f2; it can play on the file and diagonal from there. Smyslov didn’t hesitate and played 16.Qe1!.

This is not a difficult move for the World Champion; however, such a move is practically invisible to anyone who lives, so to speak “from move to move” and thinks again after each answer of the opponent.

Black position collapsed surprisingly quickly after the transfer of the queen to the ideal f2-square.

Spassky tried to defend against the intrusion of  the white bishop on b6, but he failed to defend the second weak point (f7) in time. It was played:

After the recapture on e6 Black will lose the Nc6, because the queen has to defend the weak f7.

This post is also available in: Slovak

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