Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mating Prerequisites

Submitted by WGM Natalia_Pogonina on
The main goal in chess is to mate the opponent. This can be done indirectly by creating a decisive material advantage, or via a straightforward mating attack. However, one shouldn’t aim for an assault in any position. If there are no prerequisites for it, you will probably run into trouble by forcing matters.
In most cases mating attacks occur in the middlegame, but sometimes in the opening (due to careless play) or the endgame (even without queens on board). Let’s review the typical prerequisites of a mating attack:
  1. Prerequisites based on the position
1)      Location of the king
If the king is in the centre, hasn’t castled or is exposed, it is worth considering attacking it. A king is a very slow piece. Should it get stuck in the centre while many pieces are in the game, it has great chances to be eliminated soon.
2)      Lead in development
A player with a lead in development has more active pieces. This may become a good factor for starting an attack.
3)      Pawn structure
When the king is safely hidden by a chain of pawns on their initial squares (e.g. f2-g2-h2), it is one thing. Typical pawn moves (g3, h3) create weak squares that can be exploited by the opponent.  
4)      Location of pieces
When most of your pieces are targeting the opponent’s king, it may serve as an indication of an upcoming attack. The rule of thumb is that it’s better to have more pieces in the attack than your opponent has in the defense. To simplify matters, some American authors assign $ value to pieces and calculate how large an “investment” each player has in the conflict.  
5)      Space advantage
Advantage in space allows one to maneuver and relocate the pieces quickly. In such situations the defender may not be able to regroup his forces as quickly as the attacker, and thus lose.
6)      Command of the centre
This item is similar to the previous one. The player who has control of the centre has no difficulty transferring his pieces to attacking positions. When a piece is located in the center, it is usually more effective (especially knights).
7)      Opposite-side castles
Opposite-side castles often lead to races on different sides of the board, when each player is trying to find the right balance between defending and attacking the opponent. Opposite-side castles allow the attacker to use pawns actively (e.g. sacrificing them to open up files) since his own king’s pawn shield won’t suffer (due to being placed on the other side of the board).
  1. Prerequisites that are not based on positional factors
1)      Your opponent is afraid of attacks
By studying your opponent’s games, you may find out what types of positions he prefers and dislikes. If you see that he is a very poor defender, you may want to play actively.
2)      Time trouble
It is very hard to defend well in time trouble, so the time factor can be used to one’s advantage too. However, one shouldn’t rely on reckless attacks and cheap tricks (hoping that the opponent will fall for them in time trouble) unless one is completely lost.
Sometimes a single prerequisite is enough for starting an attack, while in other cases a few are required. It is also important to keep an eye on your partner’s options. Quite often people are so excited about their attack that they go all-in, create structural weaknesses in their position and lose to counter-attacking players.
The following game was played in 2007. By reviewing it you will see a few methods of collaboration between pieces in an attack.
Pogonina, Natalija (2419) vs. Kostiuk, Tatiana (2232)
RUS-chT (Women) | Sochi | Round 3| 3 May 2007 | ECO: C94 | 1-0
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc63. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf65. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Be77. Re1 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3Nb8 10. d3 Nbd711. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Nf1 h612... Nc5 13. Bc2 Re8 )13. Ng3 Re8 14. Nf5 Bf815. Nh2 Nc5 15... d516. Qf3 Nc5 17. Bc2 Kh718. Ng4 16. Bc2 d517. Qf3 Kh7 18. Ng4dxe4 19. dxe4 Nxg420. hxg4 Qf6? 20... Ne621. Bb3 Qf6 21... g6?22. Nxh6 Bxh6 23. Bxe6fxe6 24. Qf7+ Bg725. Re3 22. Be3 Rad8 (22... g6 23. Nd4 Qxf324. Nxf3 f6 25. Rad1Rad8 26. Bxe6 Rxd127. Rxd1 Rxe6 28. Rd7+Re7 29. Rd8 Rf7 30. Nd223. Bd5 21. g5! hxg522. Qh5+ Kg8 23. Bxg5Qc6?? 23... Qg624. Qxg6 24. Qh4 Qh7 )24... fxg6 25. Nh4 Kf726. Nf3 24. Rad1? (24. b4! Ne6 24... Na425. Bb3 25. Re3 Nxg5 (25... g6 26. Qh4 gxf527. Rg3 26. Qxg5 Qf6 (26... Bc8 27. Bb3 )27. Qxf6 gxf6 28. Bb3Bc8 29. Rg3+ Kh830. Bxf7 Bxf5 31. Bxe8 )24... g6? 24... f6 25. b424... a5 25. Qh4 (25. Re3 Qg6 26. Qh4Qh7 27. Qg4 Qg6 28. Rg3Ne6 28... f6? 29. Qh4fxg5 30. Rxg5 Qe6 (30... Qh7 31. Nh6+ Kh832. Nf7+ Kg8 33. Rh5 Qg634. Rd7 Nxd7 (34... Qxh5 35. Qxh5Nxd7 36. Bb3 35. Bb3 )31. Rd5 Bxd5 32. exd5Qf6 33. Nh6+ Kh834. Ng4+ 29. Qh4 Qh730. Qxh7+ Kxh7 31. Rd7Bc8 31... Kg8 32. Bf6 )32. Rxf7 Kg8 33. Re7Bxe7 34. Nxe7+ Kf735. Rf3+ Nf4 36. g3 Rxe737. gxf4 37. Bxe7? Bg438... Re8 38. fxe5+ Kg839. Rg3 25... f6 (25... Ne6 26. Be7 Nf427. Bxf8 Ng6 28. Qh5Nxf8 29. Re3 26. Be3Ne6 26... a4 27. Rd5Ne6 28. Bd3 Ba6 29. Be227. Qg4 a4 28. Bc1 )25. Nh6+ Kg7 26. Qh4 f626... Bc8 27. b4 (26... a5 27. Ng4 Re628. Re3 27. Bc1 f5 (27... Bc8 28. b4 Nb729. Nf5+ gxf5 29... Kg830. Bb3+ Be6 31. Qxf6gxf5 32. Qg6+ Bg7 (32... Kh8 33. Rd3 )33. exf5 30. exf5 Nd631. Qh6+ Kg8 31... Kf732. Qh7+ Bg7 33. Bh6Rg8 34. Qg6+ 32. Qg6+Bg7 33. Bh6 Re734. Bb3+ 27... Re628. b4 Na4 29. Rd3 g530. Nf5+ Kg8 31. Bxg5fxg5 32. Qxg5+ Kf733. Qh5+ Rg6 34. Bb3+ )28. Bg5 Nxe4 29. Rxe4Bc5 29... fxe4 30. Rd7+Qxd7 30... Be7 31. Ng4Qxd7 32. Qh6+ Kf7 (32... Kg8 33. Qxg6+ Kh834. Nf6 33. Qh7+ Ke634. Qxg6+ Bf6 35. Qxf6+Kd5 36. Ne3+ Kc537. b4# 31. Bf6+ Kh732. Nf7+ Kg8 33. Ng5 Bg734. Bb3+ 30. Nxf5+ gxf531. Bh6+ Kh8 (31... Qxh6 32. Rd7+ Re733. Rxe7+ Bxe734. Qxe7+ Kh8 (34... Kg6 35. Rg4+ )35. Rh4 32. Be3+ (32. Bf8+ Kg8 33. Qg5+Kxf8 34. Qxf5+ Kg735. Rg4+ 32... Kg733. Qg5+ Qg6 34. Rd7+Re7 35. Rxe7+ Bxe736. Qxe7+ Kg8 36... Qf737. Bh6+ Kg8 38. Bb3 )37. Bb3+
Most of the White pieces were aimed at the Black king, which led to a choice of an attacking scenario. This is quite typical for such structures in the Ruy Lopez. Other factors: a strong knight on f5, a Black pawn on h6. Black kept playing rather carelessly and soon witnessed the harassment of her king. It is worth noting that all the White pieces took part in the attack.

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