“We are made to persist…that’s how we find out who we are.”
― Tobias Wolff
THE PASSED PAWN
im De Jong,M (2320)
Groningen Open, 22-12-2014. Position after White’s 21st move (21.Bc5) A chaotic position, typical of many Winawer-French games. In general, White plays with his pieces, ignoring his pawn structure (or even sacrificing his pawns!); Black plays for the better ending (pawn structure!). With such opposing visions of how to play, it is no wonder that the Winawer-French has given chess literature such memorable games.
Here Black must decide what to do about his attack Rook. If 21…R(moves) then 22.Nh4!? might follow, with ideas such as R-g3 or even the immediate explosion on g6. Black decided to push back the White Queen with
If now 22.Qe7 Ne4!. The same reply would follow the Queen retreat to g5.
22.BxN! RxQ 23.PxR
A fascinating position! With Rook, Knight and passed pawn for the Queen, White has excellent practical chances. Especially, it is the passed pawn on f6 that poses the biggest danger to Black. Easy enough to protect, the pawn’s advance can be prepared with Ne5. On top of this, even if the pawn itself does not threaten to advance, it can serve to protect White’s pieces as they approach the enemy King.
Furthermore, if the White Rook is allowed to infiltrate unhindered to the 7th rank and join forces with the Bishop, Knight and pawn, then it is difficult to imagine Black being able to resist for long…IN THE GAME continuation Black tried his best to stop this
Black is counting on this move to slow White’s attack down. Attacking both the Bishop and the Knight. It appears that White must play 29.f7+ Kg7 30.Be5+ Kf8 when only 31.Bf4! keeps the pressure. HOWEVER, White finds MUCH better:
This beautiful shot is immediately decisive! White threatens mate in two moves. Taking the Knight does not stop that, so Black decided to take the Bishop (Note that 29…Be8 allow allows a mating net: 30.Rg7+ and 31.f7! folloed by 32.Be5)
30.Rg7+ Kf8 31.Nxh7+
The pawn is unstoppable.
THE FIGHT FOR THE INITIATIVE
gm Ipatov, Alexander
im Chu, Wei Chao (2361)
Groningen. 22-12-2015 Position after White’s 18th move. A sharp struggle is in progress and though the former world junior champion has sacrificed a pawn for the initiative, it seems to be leading nowhere. White is threatening to push Black back with 19.Bf2, amongst other ideas. Black must therefore really look deeply into the position to find resources…
A clever and hard to find move! Black threatens …Qxf3; and note that the Bishop can not be taken as Black wins immediately with …Qxf3+ and …Be2+ etc; for similar reasons, 19.Bf2 fails: 19…Qxf3! 20.PxB Be3.
White has a surprising way to get the upper hand that neither play saw during the game: 19.Be4! After 19…NxB 20.NxN! Bxg2+ 21.KxB QxN+ 22.Bf2 Black’s attack comes to an end and it is now White who is now threatening to take the initiative with d5/and or Nf6+. An exciting fight would no doubt ensue…
INSTEAD, White played passively…
Defends against the immediate threat of …Qxf3+, but the move has very little else to recommend it. The next moves are more or less forced…