mia analisi: Il
La lezione del GM Schwartzman: Yasser Seirawan is one of the best American chess players ever. I am sure you have
heard of Yasser, who after a successful career in chess, has now done the same thing in
business, thanks to his well-known Inside Chess magazine.
But if Inside Chess is what he is best known for in the business world, in chess it is definitely his unbelievable sense of positional play. I was playing a few speed chess games against him, as well as watching him play other people, and what absolutely amazed me, was that even under the extreme conditions of speed chess play, his pieces somehow always found the right squares on the board.
After watching him, I have started asking myself how I could do this? Unfortunately, I realized it is not so simple. Apparently, knowing where to put your pieces on the board does not seem to be a skill that is so easy to learn. Some people even claim that only certain players, such as Karpov, Seirawan, Capablanca, and a few others, have been born with this eighth sense. In any case, I have made it a personal goal for myself to indeed try to improve as much as I can in this area. I now try to think before every move that I make about where I am placing my pieces, and compare it to where I should put them... I found there is quite often a discrepancy between the two.
Anyway, the reason behind this long introduction is that in this particular game, played 20 years ago, Yasser once again showed off his fantastic positional play. As you look at the position, I am sure there is absolutely no doubt as to the fact that black is better. He has more space, his pieces are better placed, and if we're at this subject, even the king is much better placed for black, even if obviously neither side castled.
So, I just mentioned that black's pieces are better placed. How about taking them one by one and seeing how true this is. Well, we have already talked about the king, so I guess the queen is next. Any doubt that the queen on d4 is better than her counterpart on c2? I didn't think so! Our queen is centralized, controls more squares, and is more threatening. In one word: better!
Now come the rooks: the one on h1 is without question a fantastic rook. First of all, it controls the only open file on the board. Secondly it controls a very important rank: the first, or the one that white's king lives on...
The other rook is not as lucky. It is seating on a8, and doesn't do very much at all. I mean it is not like the pawn on a5 needed to be defended. Of course, there are some good news: the rook can move all the way on the 8th rank, and land on h8! Then the rooks would be doubled, and would make quite a powerful pair, don't you think? Well, let's not rush!
The bishop on d7 is a nice one as well. Yes, of course, there are so many pawns all over the place, that you can not really expect a bishop to be good at all. But then again, you can look at the white bishop and really see a bad one. Obviously, the fact that both sides have light bishops, and it is white who has all the pawns on light squares, makes quite a difference...
Anyway, now we got to the more annoying part about our pieces: the knight! It is kind of funny how the number of pawns seems to incommode the knight more than the bishop, but certainly true - the knight on b6 is stuck, period! But, even then, it is not as bad as it sounds. After all, the bishop could move away from d7, then the knight could take its place, and on it goes from there! Meanwhile, white's knight is not exactly in heaven, with the very annoying pin that our rook is providing on the 1st rank, and with a king unable to move even an inch.
So, I hope I have painted a pretty nice picture for ourselves as black. The only remaining questions is what do we do next? A very natural move is 1...Rah8, as I mentioned before. Or one could say 1...Bh3 is not bad, with the idea of both activating the bishop, and giving the knight the route we talked about earlier. Or,...
Yes, black could play a lot of moves, but none are as good as the one made by Seirawan: 1...Qh8!!
What Yasser understood, was that appearances are not all that counts.
Yes, the queen seemed to be beautifully placed on d4, but how much did she really
do there? Yes, she was very threatening, but in terms of actual activity, she didn't
do that much, and couldn't go to that many places either...
So, what black is doing is a small redeployment. Taking the queen off its central locations, and moving it all the way to the end of the board. Not very logical right? Well, if it were so simple, it wouldn't take a Seirawan to find such a move...
The truth is that the queen can do so much more off its new location! Let's look at how the game proceeded. White continued with 2.f4 trying to defend the g5 pawn, and activate some of his sitting pieces, such as the bishop. However, there is nothing in this move that would stop black from proceeding with his plan: 2...Qh4!
Now you should be able to see the benefits of black's plan. After only two moves, the black queen has reached a different location, from where it still threatens the rook on f2. With one difference, though: she also pins the rook now! The result? Well, white is simply trapped, and unable to make any significant moves. All black has to do now, is break the center open and take full advantage of the sudden case of paralysis that struck white's positions.
Just watch the rest of the game: 3.Rd1 f6 4.gf6 ef6 5.e5 fe5 6.fe5 Rf8 7.ed6 Kb7 8.Bd3 Re8
And here white had no choice but to give up. What would have
followed would have been very painful: [ 9.Be2 Rxf1 10.Kxf1 Qh1 checkmate]
I hope you now understand everything I said before about understanding where to place your pieces. It is a science in itself, and not everybody has mastered it, that's for sure!