SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
”Tactics flow from a positionally superior game.”–Bobby Fischer (My 60 Memorable Games)
Fischer was certainly not the first writer to state the above truism, but in my game with IM Jean Hebert at the 2002 Canadian Zonal in Vancouver it was Bobby’s words that came to my mind as I pondered the possible consequences of ripping open the center on my 26th move.
GM KEVIN SPRAGGETT
IM JEAN HEBERT
Black’s pieces make a compact and harmonious impression, all directed towards the vital center squares. In particular, my two Bishops are very powerful along the center diagonals. White’s camp, on the contrary, lacks this harmony: his Bishops are inactive or blocked; the Knight is looking for a good home and the Rook on b1 finds itself in similar circumstances.
The only way for Black to try to capitalize on this momentary dis-coordination of White’s pieces is to smash open the center with …d5. But what about the long term consequences? Will Black’s initiative only be temporary , allowing White to exchange pieces or might White find a hidden resource that would brand Black’s aggression as premature?
The answer to these doubts can be found in the above axiom. White’s position has more weaknesses than Black’s ( all of White’s pawns have moved from their original squares) and combined with the greater harmony amongst the Black pieces it is clear that Black has the superior position. So any consequential tactical conflict must work out favourably for Black! Therefore I played…
Black hopes to catch White’s pieces off guard and take control of the center. The following exchanges are inevitable:
27. cxd5 exd5 28. exd5
Now Black can play 28…Bxd5 with a pleasant game and a small positional plus, but I became intrigued by another–and more ambitious– idea:
Black attacks the Queen and forces her to move. But Where should she move to? She can not move too far away from the Knight on e2, which needs defending. After the game it was found that the retreat to d2 was the correct line of play, though after 29. Qd2 Bxd5! (29… Qd7!? might even be better) 30. Qxd5 Rxe2 White must still contend with Black’s persistent threats. INSTEAD, Hebert played the seemingly stronger –but actually weaker:
Hebert must have thought that Black overlooked this move, which not only defends the Knight but also defends the extra pawn on d5 (29…Bxd5 is answered simply by 30.RxB) But now a very unpleasant surprise awaits White:
A brilliant tactic that I had forseen before playing my 28th move and one which only confirms the validity of Fischer’s words ”Tactics flow from a positionally superior position.” White’s response is forced
30. Rxd3 Qc2!
Attacking the Rooks on b1 and d3, as well as threatening the Knight on e2. White can not protect them all, and worse: inspite of being temporarily ahead a Knight and a Pawn , White will soon find himself down material and with the worse position to boot!
I recommend the readers to see the rest of the game in the pgn viewer. I won in smashing style!