Monday, November 15, 2010

King Attack

Chess: Caught in the middle

A rare chance to attack a king that hasn't had the sense to get castled
  • The Guardian
  • Article history
  • Ivanchuk-Beliavsky, Khanty-Mansiysk 2010. White to play. Vasily Ivanchuk was the star of the gold-winning Ukrainian team at the chess olympiad. Playing on board one and taking on the strongest opposition, he scored eight out of 10. What did he play here? RB Dan has always told me to keep an eye peeled for the chance to attack a king that hasn't had the sense to get castled. But the attacker has to move boldly. Fortunately the bold move here jumped out at me immediately – 1 Nd5. I'm going on general principles – and Dan's admonishment – rather than concrete calculation: the enemy king stuck in the middle, his rooks not yet in play, king's bishop still on its starting square, kingside pawns broken. White, by contrast, has completed his development and all his pieces are either attacking or ready to strike. So let's see what happens after our bold knight move. What's Black's best defence? If 1...exd5 Black is in serious trouble after 2 Rfe1+ Be7 (2...Kd7 allows 3 Qxd5+) 3 Qxf6 and Black collapses. I wonder if 1...0-0-0 is better? Dan will no doubt tell us. DK 1 Nd5 0-0-0 is the only way for Black to survive. 2 Nxc7? Bxf3 would be a mistake, but Ivanchuk continued 2 Bxc6, forcing 2…exd5 3 Bxd5. We don't need to look further: White's superb bishop and better development give him a promising position, and after a final mistake from Black he crashed through. So 1 Nd5 is good, but why not 1 Qxf6...? That way Black's king is caught in the middle – and that appeals to me. 1…Rg8 is forced, and White parries with 2 g3. Black has bought himself a move, but with his position cut in half there's not much to be done. The basic problem is that the rooks don't coordinate. 2…Be7 is a plausible continuation, but then 3 Bxc6+ Qxc6 4 Qh6 wins the h-pawn and the attack continues. There's no respite for Black.

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