Saturday, June 13, 2015

A simple plan of file control

For today we will analyze a simple game where the strategic plan is clear: Controlling an open file with eventual occupation of the 7th rank. As you look through the analysis, do keep in mind the mistakes made by both sides too and learn from them.

Checkerboard 5 vs Opponent
Correspondence Chess 2015

1. d4 d5
2. c4 Nf6
3. Nc3 Bf5
4. e3 e6
5. Bd3 Bxd3
6. Qxd3 Bb4
7. Nge2 O-O
8. O-O Nc6
9. cxd5 exd5
10. a3 Bd6
11. b4 (D)

Position after 11. b4

11... Re8

Black seemed to have the possibility of a classic bishop sac: 11... Bxh2+ 12. Kxh2 Ng4+ but after 13. Kg1 Qh4 14. Rd1 Qh2+ (14... Qxf2+ 15. Kh1 Qh4+ 16. Kg1 Qf2+ is perpetual check.) 15. Kf1 Qh1+ 16. Ng1 Black cannot make further progress in the attack and is down a bishop.

12. Bd2

White's main challenges here are to free his dark-squared bishop, and watch out for a potential bishop sac on h2.

12... Ne7
13. Rac1 Ng6
14. Ng3?!

I wanted to prevent the sac. However, the same could also have been achieved by 14. h3 after which my e2 knight could be used to add firepower to the Queenside.

14... Qd7 (D)

Position after 14... Qd7

Let's do a quick positional analysis. Material is equal, and both sides have completed development. Black has most of his pieces positioned on the kingside, suggesting an attack on that wing. For White, his assets are the open c-file, and potential outpost on c5. Thus from here my plan is simple: Place my major pieces on the open c-file to support a Queenside attack. At the same time, I must also watch out for potential enemy outposts on e4 and c4.

15. Nb5 Bxg3?!

This gives White doubled pawns, but also removes a critical defender of the c7 square. An alternative would be 15... Rac8 16. Nxd6 Qxd6 17. Rc2 Ne4 keeping close watch on c5. White could consider pushing b6 followed by c5 to wrestle back control of the Queenside.

16. hxg3 Ne4?

Losing a pawn. 16... c6 should have been played, stalling White's advance. After 17. Nc3 Ne4 Black can either play b6 followed by c5, or bring his knight onto the c4 outpost via Ne4-Nd6-Nc4. White's best continuation would be to trade knights and re-open the c-file. 18. Nxe4 Rxe4 19. a4 Rc8 with an unclear position.

17. Rxc7 Qe6
18. Rxb7 Qc6
19. Rc7 Qb6
20. Rfc1?!

Position after 20. Rfc1

My inaccuracy gave Black the chance to regain some material. 20. Rc5 was better.

20... Nxd2!
21. R1c6

The only way to retain the material. The knight was a decoy: 21. Qxd2? Qxb5 and White is the one who's a pawn down!

21... Qb8
22. Nd6 Ne4
23. Nxe8 Qxe8
24. Qc2 (D)

Position after 24. Qc2

Fortunately for me, my occupation of the c-file ensures that I still have the advantage. The next stage of my plan is to use the file to tie down my opponent's pieces, and support the advance of my Queenside pawn majority. Eventually, the weight of the c-file should crush Black.

24... Ne7
25. Ra6 Nc8
26. Qc6 Qd8
27. Qd7

"The main objective of any operation in an open file is the eventual occupation of the 7th or 8th Rank." -- Aron Nimzowitsch

27... Qxd7
28. Rxd7 Nb6
29. Rdxa7 Rxa7
30. Rxa7 g6
31. a4

For the rest of the game I simply advanced my Queenside pawns to tie down my opponent's knights, before bringing my king into the fight. This, coupled with a few more mistakes by my opponent, allowed me to win the game. There will be no more analysis for the remaining moves.

31... Nd6
32. a5 Nbc8
33. Rc7 Kg7
34. a6 Nb6
35. Kf1 Kf6
36. Ke2 Na8
37. Rd7 Ke6
38. Rd8 Nb6
39. a7 Ke7
40. a8=Q Nxa8
41. Rxa8 Kd7
42. Kd3 Kc7
43. f3 Kb7
44. Ra5 Kc6
45. e4 Nc4
46. Rxd5 Nd6
47. Rxd6+ Kxd6
48. Kc4 Kc6
49. d5+ (D)

Position after 49. d5

A long but conclusive struggle. While both of us made several mistakes during the battle, it was certainly instructive for me to analyze.

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