SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The Spanish Opening (Ruy Lopez) gives rise to some of the most interesting games featuring attack and counter-attack. Usually (but not always) White attacks on the King-side and Black counter-attacks on the opposite wing. Below are two of my favourite games featuring White’s possibilities against the King.
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 29th MOVE
Something has gone wrong with Black’s Queenside play, as all of his pieces are jumbled up and without any good squares. This gives White a free hand and he now executes a classical break-thru attack on the King-side.
Now the spectre of a Knight sacrifice appears and Black must take steps to avoid the big-check on f6.
30… Kh8 !?
If 30… Qd8 then 31. g5! anyway.
31. g5! Rc8
White is attacking with 5 pieces (Q,R,B and 2-N). Since Black can not create counter-threats, White has a free-hand. In such situations it is not unusual to see a line-opening or line-clearing sacrifice. Remember, normally you only need 2 pieces to deliver mate, so having 5 pieces to attack with offers opportunities.
32. Nf6! Forcing open the g-file
Clearly immediately accepting the sacrifice will allow a direct mating attack: 32… gf 33. gf Rc7 34. Qg4 etc. So Black’s best try is to refuse the ‘greek gift’.
33. Qh5! Threatening mate on h7
Black is not forced to take the Knight as 33… h6 34. Qxf7 wins immediately
Now White has several ways to proceed. He could try 34. gf Qxf6 35. Qg4 Qg6 36. Qh4 etc which wins material, or the game continuation. It is really a question of style!
34. g6 Threatening mate on h7
34… fg 35. Rxg6
White’s idea is to double on the open g-file. With all of Black’s pieces jumbled over on the Queen-side, there is no time to re-group. That leaves Black with only the Queen to defend the King, and as we know–the Queen is a poor defender.
36. Rag1 Threatening mate in 1
If now Black gives up his Queen in an effort to buy time he fails: 36… Qxg6 37. Rxg6 Rc7 38. Rxf6 Nd7 39. Rf7 etc.
36… Qf7 Defending g8
Not surprisingly White has yet another sacrifice up his sleave! Should Black now take the White Queen then White delivers mate on g8. There is no point in making any other moves, so Black resigns.1:0]
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 18th MOVE
Here the game is much different than in the previous example: Black is well coordinated and White has little in the way of direct attacking chances. With his last move White hopes to provoke …h6, which would allow White to later play g5 , forcing open a file.
An interesting idea: Black decides not to give into temptation (…h6) and instead to re-group his pieces around his King.
20. h4 Ng8 !?
White must now complete his development before continuing his attack.
21. Qe2 Bd7 22. Bd2
Connecting the 2-Rooks. It is always very important to allow the Rooks room to manoeuvre. Here the Queen-Rook can now go over to the King-side, or White can double his Rooks.
This is a serious error, no doubt made with a false sense of confidence: could Black have actually been thinking of playing a later…f5 ? It was necessary to leave the Knight on g8. Simply moving the Queen-Rook to e8 was better. Now White has a promising sacrifice
This move is now made possible because of the harmonious coordination of White’s pieces. Essentially he is playing with all of his pieces. Perhaps Black should now consider not taking the sacrifice with 23… Bf6!?, though after 24. Nh6 Be8 you would need very good nerves!
23… gf?! 24. gf
White has the open g-file now, and this offers many attacking chances. The Black position is difficult to defend, for example : 24… h6 25. Qh5! Kg8 26. Ne6! fe 27. Rxg7! etc.
24… f6 Hoping that the Knight will go to e6, away from the King
25. Nxh7! A second sacrifice!
White is attacking with all of his pieces: Q,2-B and 2-R. In the meantime, the vast majority of Black’s pieces are unable to take part in the defence.
25… Be8 !?
As good as any, and preventing Qh5.
The directness of the White attack forms a positive impression! Black must take the Rook as 26… Rg8 allows White to win easily enough by simplifying: 27. Nxf6 Rxg7 28. Nxe8 Rxe8 29. Qh5 etc
27. Nxf8 Kxf8 28. Bh6
A single piece is a small price to pay for such a strong attack!
28… Kf7 29. Qh5
And now Black must return his extra piece to avoid mate, while White’s attack remains just as strong. I will not give more commentary, as White wins as he wishes. The following moves were:
30. fg Kg8 31. Qf5 Qe7 32. Rg1 Nc4 33. Bc1 Bd7 34. Qf3 Rf8 35. b3 Nb6 36. h5 f5 37. Bg5 fe 38. Qe2 Qe8 39. Bxe4 Bf5 40. Bh6 Rf6 41. Qf3 [1:0]
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS