Monday, March 12, 2007

My Kingdom for a Plan ...

Black to playFrom The Guardian today...

" ... this is a competition with a difference. You can rule out a forced checkmate, or a clever tactic to win a piece. In this position we are asking you to devise a plan for Black, just as you would in a normal game of chess. This is a test of your creativity. You should justify your idea with words and a couple of variations. A tip: quality will win out over quantity - in other words, reams of computer analysis will not impress the judges. Send your entry to by Monday 19 March. The most convincing answer will win a copy of the newly published Revolution in the 70s by Garry Kasparov ... The winner will be announced on Monday March 26."

Looks like a position from an Advance French to me.

I haven't had the opportunity to study the position myself yet but I do remember Justin once told me the general strategy to follow when playing the French Defence. His explanation went something like:-

"Attack d4 as much as possible. If you can't do that any more aim for ...f6."

I wonder if that helps...


ejh said...

I'm very suspicious of that word "creativity". It usually means (in my games) "coming up with some elaborate plan that ignores the fact that the opponent wants to play some moves in between mine".

ejh said...

For instance, you could play ...Kh8 and ...Ng8 followed by ...Bb4 and then swinging the knight round to the weak square at f4 via e7 and g6. But you might get mated first.

Tom Chivers said...

I don't think f4 is permanently weak. White will soon get the f-pawn rolling soo enough. Unless black plays 1...g5 maybe!? His position looks to me so bad maybe he ought mix it up.

Anonymous said...

As a "French Defence" player, this position looks strange to me - I doubt it arose in a match.

I find it difficult to come up with a plan as neither side will find it easy to coordinate its pieces but f6 just leaps out as Black's next move.


Tom Chivers said...

As a non-Frenchy, it was 1...f5 that immediatebley lept out at me...

Anonymous said...

*Gentle Tom*
You'll never be a French player will you? ;-) ...g5?!? Yuk. Ugly as sin.

Do you really think Black's position is bad here? I'd much rather be Black than White. I'm not sure about the objective assessment (about equal I reckon) but subjectively I'd go for Black every time. Of course I might be biased somewhat.

The position looks fairly standard to me - with the exception of White's Bishop (not at all clear what it's doing on c3) and perhaps the Knight on e3.

I agree about ...f6 as the first move. If White takes you've then got the choice of ...Bxf6 to pressure d4 or ...Rxf6 and ...Raf8 with counterplay down the f-file. There's also the prospect of improving the position of the Knight with the long-term aim of ...Nh6-f7-d6-e4. Shame, as Justin points out, that White will get a few moves in as well.

If White doesn't take then Black can play ...fxe5 and still get his Kingside counterplay. Eitherway, Black can also consider improving his Bishop with ...Bd7-e8-g6.

One more thought as I type. If the aim is to get the Knight to f4, is ...Nh6-f7-h8-g6-f4 out of the question?

*Gentle Tom (again)*
I did consider ...f5 too. Of course it could transpose if White takes but what do you consider Black's best plan if White doesn't play exf6 e.p.?

Anonymous said...

I've just Chessbased the position. It is taken from Ward - King, 1993.

the next few moves were

exf6 Rxf6
g5 Rxf3

Which is not to say that's the best way to play (or even sound). For my part, having only considered the position in general terms and not actually analysed any specific lines, I must confess to missing that g5 would fork Rook and Knight if Black chooses to avoid ...Bxf6. :-(

ejh said...

And you're still missing that g5 forks the bishop and knight if you play ...Bxf6 instead.

Tom Chivers said...

Enough of the Gentle Tom! Chess Thug Chivers, please. If 1...f5 2.not exf6, black should play ..g5 with ..f5-f4. It might scare white into offering a draw, who knows.

I'd missed the exchange sac btw. I'd assumed after 1...f6 2.exf6, 2... gxf6 was necessary. The exchange sac looks better though.

ejh said...

It might scare white into offering a draw

Now that is creative thinking. I reckon you should send that in.

Tom Chivers said...

The Guardian chess column is so ploddingly worthy though, I don't even think they realise they could do with a livening up...

Anonymous said...

Indeed I am. That'll teach me to post comments on a position without sight of the board.

I'll get me coat.

If you were truly a chess thug you'd scare me into dropping 'gentle'.

However, I agree with you about the Guardian column. They had two, one good and one crap. They got rid of both and replaced them with one less crap than the crap one but less good than the good one.

It's a shame they don't do proper chess news like they do in proper chess columns in proper newspapers.

I can't help but feel that choosing your chess columnist on the basis of family relationship with editorial staff (as opposed to, say, chess ability) is probably not a terribly good thing.

Not as bad as RDK's daily monstrosity in The Times though.

ejh said...

Who's doing it now then?

Did I mention I was at school with their Sports Editor?

Anonymous said...

Danny King, with whom I do not have a problem, and Ronan Bennet.

That sounds vaguely familiar. I, on the otherhand, was at school with Keith Flint of The Prodigy.