Saturday, December 01, 2007
Although I don't have the exact quote to hand, Viktor Korchnoi once explained why he didn't play the King's Indian with reference to Soviet military tactics in the battle of Stalingrad - or possibly the siege of Leningrad, which he lived through as a boy. He compared the rush of Black's kingside pawns to the way in which soldiers of the Red Army would rush across no man's land in the face of unremitting fire, hoping that the survivors would overwhelm the enemy guns.
I was reminded of this recently when playing through a game Sengupta-Safin, Sangli 2000, while looking at certain lines in the Exchange Spanish in connection with a current correspondence game. On move 22 Black moved a pawn from c7 to c6 and thereby managed to create an unusual pawn formation: the pawn square.
If Korchnoi was reminded of the Second World War, I'm put in mind of all those squares of soldiers at the battle of Waterloo: or maybe of the defensive formation of Roman legionnaries, the testudo (tortoise) which proved so successful against everybody except Asterix. I'm also reminded a little of the famous knight square from the thirteenth Kasparov-Short game in 1993. But maybe what works with the infantry isn't what works with the cavalry.
It looks potentially very effective to me: the pawns mutually defended and lots of squares attacked. Are there any other examples of the pawn square from recent (or other) grandmaster practice? Might it come to vie with the Irish Pawn Centre in the popular imagination?