Monday, July 4, 2016

Pinning an uncastled king: Queenstown Club 2016

In today's article, we will examine the power of pins and how they can be used against an uncastled king. The following game was taken from my recent tourney at Queenstown, where I was able to exploit my opponent's lag in development to tie down his king and win material.

Checkerbaord 5 vs Opponent
Queenstown Club 2016 Round 4

1. c4 Nf6
2. Nc3 e6
3. d4 d5
4. e3 Be7
5. Nf3 Nbd7
6. Be2 dxc4
7. Bxc4 b6
8. O-O Bb7
9. b3 c5!? (D)

Position after 9... c5

Hitting the centre and opening the long diagonal for the bishop.

10. d5

10. dxc5 only helps Black, with Nxc5 aiming for e5.

10... exd5

Black must take: 10... O-O? 11. d6 loses the bishop.

11. Nxd5 Nxd5
12. Bxd5 Bxd5
13. Qxd5 Nf6? (D)

Position after 13... Nf6

Neglecting development. This gives White an opportunity to attack the uncastled king.

It was important to castle asap: 13... O-O 14. Bb2 Nf6 15. Qb7 Qd7 16. Qxd7 Nxd7 17. Rfd1 White is slightly better in the resulting endgame but Black still has excellent chances to fight back.

Returning to the position after 13... Nf6:

14. Qc6+! Nd7
15. Ne5

Keeping the king in the centre.

15. Rd1 looks strong too but after 15... Rc8 16. Qa4 Bf6 the attack on White's rook buys Black some time: 17. Rb1 Qc7 preparing ... Qc6 trading into the endgame. Notice here White cannot play Ne5.

15... Rc8
16. Qa4! (D)

Position after 16. Qa4

With this move White achieves 2 goals: Keeping the pressure on d7, and exploiting a new weakness on a7.
16. Qd5? Nxe5 17. Qxe5 O-O Black equalizes.

16... Bf6!

When defending, trade off pieces to relieve the pressure.

17. Bb2

Bringing another piece into the attack.

17... Bxe5
18. Bxe5

After the exchange Black's knight is still pinned, while the rook cannot use c7 to protect the knight. White's threat is now Rad1 winning the knight.

18... O-O

This loses material, but at least it gets the king to safety. Other moves are no better: 18... f6 19. Bd6 {with Qxa7 and Rad1 to follow.

19. Rad1!

Black can no longer protect the knight. To maintain some chances of counterplay, he sacrifices his queen for the rook and bishop.

19... Nxe5
20. Rxd8 Rcxd8
21. Qxa7 (D)

Position after 21. Qxa7

Black has simplified into a queen vs rook + minor piece endgame. However, White's queen is well placed to attack his opponent's weak pawns, and he eventually went on to win.

From this game, we can learn about the importance of early castling; having your king attacked while it is stuck in the centre is certainly not a nice feeling!

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