Sunday, December 26, 2010

Castle Early Or You'll Be Sorry

Sometimes a player becomes so engrossed in his opening play that he forgets to castle. Such delay could be costly. The following game effectively demonstrates this important aspect of chess play.  See also The Importance of Castling.

London, 1927

1. Nf3, Nf6
2. d4, g6
3. Nc3, d5
4. Bf4, Nh5

Black attempts to exchange a Knight for a Bishop. While this has theoretical basis, the move provokes a weakness in Black's pawn structure. Instead, 4....c6 or 4.....Bg7 should have been played.

5. Be5! ....

Some players may see this move as a waste of time, but it is instrumental in creating the weakness as mentioned in the previous paragraph.

5. .... f6
6. Bg3, Nxg3
7. hxg3 ....

The open h-file is advantageous to White.

7. .... Bg7
8. e3, c6
9. Bd3, e5?

Not having castled yet, this move is ill-timed.

10. Rxh7!!, Kf7?

If Black replies with 10....Rxh7, then White gains material with 11. Bxg6.

Black's best reply is 10....e4, though White still wins with 11. Rxg7 exd3, 12. Qxd3 Bf5, 13. e4 Kf8 (if 13....dxe4, 14. Qc4 wins), 14. exf5 Rh1+, 15. Kd2 Rxa1, 16. Rxb7 Kg8, 17. fxg6 etc.

11. Bxg6+ ....

The fireworks begin.

11. .... Kxg6
12. Nxe5!! ....

Outstanding! If 12.....Kxh7, 13. Qh5+ Kg8, 14. Qf7+ Kh7, 15. 0-0-0 and mate follows.

12. .... fxe5
13. Qh5+, Kf6
14. Qxe5+, Kf7

If 14....Kg6, 15. Qxg7+ Kf5, 16. g4+ Ke6, 17. Qe5 mate.

15. Qxg7+, Resigns

If 15....Ke6, then 16. Qe5 mate. Nothing short of elegant!

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