#25: Keene - Toth, Rome 1979
15 … Bg4
Tempting fate, inasmuch as White is presented with a typical exchange sacrifice opportunity.
Ray Keene & Shaun Talbut (How to Play the Nimzo-Indian 2nd edition, Batsford 1986)
A rather typical Ray annotation there. He never was one for densely packed variations. And yet, because rather than despite the economy of words, our scribe is telling us something rather important.
Firstly, there's how the game actually went.
If I had the position on the board, I imagine my thinking would go something like, "OK, I take then … gxf6, 17 Qd3 Rfd8 to avoid mate 17 Qxh7+ Kf8 … and now what?
An engine will tell you that Black's getting totally killed here. Different story for chessers like me and the guys that I play against (which typically means up to about 200 ECF/2200 Elo). We - I, anyway - will most likely look at that position and think, "Well I've got a pawn for the exchange and his king's open, but I've got nothing anywhere near it."
The second reason why I'd find it hard to sac on f6 is the defence RDK reckons Black should have tried.
16 Rxf6 gxf6, 17 Qd3 f5
Somewhat uncharacteristically, Keene gives a six move variation here. He concludes that this is the "critical" test of White's play, whilst warning that, "there are many complications concealed in this variation". There he leaves it, not troubling himself to inform the reader precisely what those complications might be.
Anyhoo, a chesser of my kind of strength might get as far as the diagram and then stop. At most we might see the plan of Nf4 and h2-h3 winning the bishop but then perhaps see Black's counter-attack with …Rac8 and an x-ray against c2 and then it would all get a bit too much.
So how to move on from this level of (mis-) understanding and failing to grasp the point? How to get to the stage where you see such things as "typical" and barely in need of explanation? Answer: study an awful lot of similar examples, I suppose.
Which is exactly what I intend to do. 52 posts on exchange sacrifices in one calendar year and if I can average two examples a post, and think about each one for ten minutes or so, that'll be 1,000 minutes' worth of exchange sacs in the memory bank for future use.
Sure, it would have helped if I'd started this project when I was much younger. Back in 1979, say. Because of that and for reasons of sheer lack of talent I'm going to have to accept that I'm never going to reach Ray's standard.
Still, I can improve things a bit. Rook endings? They're so 2013. 2014 shall be the year of the Interesting Sacrificed Exchange ... and just as long as You Know Who manages to keep himself out of The Eye in future, the regular day for tracking my progress will be Mondays.