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La mia analisi: Il materiale











La lezione del GM SchwartzmanSomeone once asked me which side of chess I liked better, attacking or defending?   Believe me when I say that it didn't even take me a second to give my answer:   attacking, definitely!  However, after I said it, I started wondering, why is this the case?  I mean I do not consider myself a particularly aggressive person - on the contrary, I generally like peaceful resolutions.  So, since when did I become so in love with attacking?
Well, once I spent a little more time thinking about it, I discovered the real reason I like attacking: pressure.  Yes, despite the fact that chess players are often under pressure, I do not consider it the most pleasant feeling in the world.  As a matter of fact, I would say that often much better decisions are taken when you are not under pressure, and let's not even mention the studies showing the effects of stress on one's health. 
The problem, though, is that you can hardly avoid pressure altogether, especially during a game of chess.  The real question is, how can you be under as little pressure as possible.  Well, here we are coming to my answer:  by attacking.   Please understand, I am not trying to say that attacking is easy - on the contrary, I have had some of my hardest times trying to pull attacks off, and finish the job I had started.  Nonetheless, you must admit that it is much easier to play when you are attacking, as opposed to when you are defending.
The way this works is quite simple.  If you are attacking and make a fairly small mistake, what is probably going to happen is that your opponent will manage to equalize the position, and you will have to take it from there.  If you are defending, on the other hand, even a small mistake can cause an immediate demise.  And here is where the pressure comes in.  Playing when you know that every move you make has to be the best, or otherwise you are dead, is just not the kind of situation I like to be in very often.
Now I won't argue that you may look at this from a different perspective.  Yes, you might say that under pressure you have a special incentive to be very careful, and not make mistakes.  While if you have a much better position, you might be relaxing to soon, and make one of those blunders that take you straight to defeat.  And it is true, I myself have experienced it a few times.  It doesn't matter though, I will still take offense over defense any day of the week...
Forgive my long introduction, but this position, coming from a fairly famous world championship game between Tal and Botwinnik is a marvelous example of what happens when the pressure of defending for too long gets to you, and simple, or not so  simple threats are overlooked.
The position is very interesting, if not fascinating.  Black has two extra pawns, but noticing that is not so easy.  As a matter of fact, when I saw the position, I forgot to count the pieces, and didn't even see the difference in pawns until a few minutes later.  part of the reason is the enormous initiative that white has build on the queen side, clearly in response to the black king being in that area.  There are no less than two white rooks and one queen bulked up on the 'b' file, and they do look like they mean business.
Of course, black's extra pawns come in very handy.  Without them on b7 and a6, black would be as good as gone.  But as long as those pawns are there, there is hope.   Actually, the pawns are doing such a good job, that after an entire game of having to defend himself, black finally felt safe.  Yes, there is a week pawn on b7, but having in view how well it is defended by the king, queen, and rook, there doesn't appear to be much danger of losing it.  And it is not like white has many more pieces to send in his chase for the mate.
Because, of this, black arrived at the conclusion that the defense phase is over, and now it's time to get this thing over with.  How?  Well, what do the old masters say when you are ahead material?  Trade pieces!  And starting with what is the opponent's most aggressive piece seems to be a pretty good idea, so black proudly moved 1...Qd5??

Well, just imagine his surprise, when instead of trading queens, or at least running away with his queen, white decided to recuperate some his earlier investment by taking a pawn back.  Oh, and yes, giving a rook in the process.   The move:  2.Ra6!!






Out of the blue comes the unexpected sacrifice.  Black suddenly realizes that it is not much of a sacrifice.  if he takes it back with the king he is checkmated immediately, while 2...ba6 is also met by the unpleasant 3.Qb6 Ka8 4.Qa6 Ra7 5.Qc8 mate.
Under the circumstances, black's only choice is to play 2...Kb8.   But trust me when I say that black's position after a move such as 3.Qb6 becomes totally unbearable and thus led to a very cruel defeat.
As you saw, this game wasn't played by what we would call a patzer.   No, it was actually a world champion.  Nor was it played in a simultaneous - it was actually game 17 of the 1960 world championship.  In other words, it is not like black didn't care about the game.  So, what then can explain this extraordinary blunder.  After all, it is blunder.  Because if black had understood that Ra6 was a threat, he could have easily made the right first move:  1...Ka8!

This quiet little move would have saved black.  By taking the king from the vicinity of the b6 square, black is removing the threat of the sacrifice.   Because if the queen can't come behind the rook with a tempo, then there is no reason for the rook to give his life anymore.  Of course, white still has compensation for the pawns, and the fight is not over yet.  But it is far from a clear fight, and I am very tempted to give black the advantage, because if he continues to be careful, there is a good chance of eventually ending up in a favorable endgame.
So, what caused the unbelievable blunder made in the game?  The answer is pressure.  The pressure of having to defend for an entire game is extraordinary.  Knowing that every move has to be perfect works, but only up to a point.  At some point during the game, chances are that the pressure and fatigue will play an important role.  And when they do, you see what happens...