Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pawn Structures and Pawn Chains: Part 5

Today we will continue with a game that demonstrates the successful execution of a plan against the pawn chain:

Timman, Jan vs Korchnoi, Viktor
Leeuwarden 1976

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Bb4
4. e5 c5
5. a3 Bxc3+
6. bxc3 Ne7
7. a4 Nbc6
8. Nf3 (D)

In this variation of the French Defence, White has accepted a pair of doubled pawns in exchange for a strenghtened pawn chain in the centre.

8... Qa5
9. Bd2 Bd7
10. Be2

Nowadays some analysts point out that 10. Bb5 or 10. g3 O-O-O 11. Bh3, in expectation of a later ...f6, would have been better.

10... f6
11. c4!? (D)

As quoted by GM Marović in "Understanding Pawn Play in Chess", "Perhaps White adopted this risky move on the general consideration that his bishops needed more open space. 11. Rb1 seems to me more cautious".

11... Qc7
12. cxd5 Nxd5
13. c4 Nde7
14. exf6 gxf6
15. dxc5 O-O-O
16. Bc3 e5! (D)

Although he has given up a pawn, Korchnoi has managed to destroy the pawn chain. Now, his pawns have been set free and they move forth with all their energy.

It is also worth noting that even though White has the bishop pair, their power is limited by the enemy pawn structure which restricts their space on the board. At the same time, Black has seized control of two semi-open files-- the g and d files-- upon which he can exert pressure on his opponent.

17. Qd6 Nf5
18. Qxc7+ Kxc7

18. Qxf6 Rhf8 gives Black a strong initiative.

19. O-O Nfd4
20. Nxd4 Nxd4
21. Bd1

Timman's best chance. Although passive, the d1 bishop limits the movement of the knight.

21... Kc6
22. Bxd4? exd4 (D)

Although White had exchanged off his bishop for Black's more powerful knight, he pays the price in the form of Black's well protected passed pawn. A stronger alternative would have been 22. f4 Kxc5 23. fxe5 fxe5 24. Re1!

23. Bf3+ Kxc5
24. Bxb7 Bf5

Black is still a pawn down, but his passed pawn offers excellent compensation

25. Bf3 Rhe8
26. Ra2 Rb8
27. Rd2 Rb1
28. g4 Ree1
29. Rxe1 Rxe1+
30. Kg2 Be4
31. Bxe4 Rxe4
32. Kf3 Re5
33. h4 Kxc4
34. Rc2+ Kb3
35. Rc7 d3
36. Rxh7 Rd5

With the far advanced passed pawn supported by its own rook, Korchnoi has no difficulties in securing the point.

37. Rb7+ Kc2
38. Rc7+ Kb1
39. Rb7+ Ka1
40. Rb5 Rd8 (D)


So far, we have seen games where the pawn chain was replaced with blockading pieces, or crumbled under strong pressure. But very often, the centre can become closed, in which play will be transferred to the wings. We will examine this in our next and final game.

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

"Understanding Pawn Play in Chess" by Dražen Marović

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