Sunday, August 14, 2005
Chapter I: Weak Pawns
I have completed Chapter I of "The Art of Positional Play" and have worked thru the four games so far. Chapter I is all about weak pawns, and these four master games illustrate techniques on how to take advantage of them.

1. Taimanov vs. Unzicker
2. Smyslov vs. Korchnoi
3. Tal vs. Najorf
4. Reshevsky vs. Mecking

When I played over these games, I cant help but wonder "How does one win against such players?". When all it takes for them to win, is just a very tiny weakeness in an opponents position? Its hardly the case for my games that a weak pawn would prove to be decisive. But here, a single weak pawn indeed proves to be the downfall of the opponent. Such skill to exploit so little an advantage.

Anyway, if I had to pick one game from the four which I felt was most instructive, I'll give my game-of-the-chapter award to (Drum-roll please)

1. Taimanov vs. Unzicker

I felt all the games followed some sort of pattern, and it was this one game which more closely followed that pattern. Namely:

  • 1. Identify a weakness (In this case weak pawns)
  • 2. Pressure the weakeness and try to convert to material plus (Win the weak pawn)
  • 3. Exchange queens (To go into pawn-up endgame)
  • 4. Stop all enemy counterplay. That is refrain from trying to harness the material superiority in favor of limiting the opponents chances first.
  • 5. After positional bind is achieved, only then exploit the material superiority.
    Note: Step 3 and 4 maybe reversed.

    The presence of prophylactic thinking is really prevalent among this games. I read the comment "White does not take the pawn because black will get counterplay" quite a few times. I guess when you are faced with world class GM's, it pays not to take any chances. Even if you are a world-class GM yourself. (Strangely, even Tal's game here doesnt look like the common stereotyped Tal game. It looks more like a Botvinnik game to me.)

    This playing thru master games is getting quite addicting too. Perhaps it has something to do with me being starved for such things after a very long tactics training program?!

    btw: I think U1600 Delamaza has won our division (T27 tournament).
    Our score in round 9 was 3-0 with one more game left to go. Congratulations to the guys! Here's to a nice tournamanent. Cheers!
    posted by Nezha at 9:03 PM | Permalink |


    • At 12:35 AM, Blogger Temposchlucker

      Very clarifying. I allways thought that weak pawns were made from bad rubber.:)

    • At 4:18 AM, Blogger Nezha

      I think they are made of mahogany, with cheerywood as outer braces. Strong pawns however, are solid oak with red maple as base, and is very heavy. The burnish is also a very dark brown, with traces of gray shades here and there. Supposedly, this adds to the elegant finish it tries to portrays.

    • At 4:59 AM, Blogger JavaManIssa

      no no, weak pawns are the plastic ones, that which when used outdoors flows with the wind.

      Anywho, nice to see you learning a few things about positional play :) and happy to see that the u1600 team (that you are in?) is doing so well, congrats :))

    • At 5:27 AM, Blogger Nezha

      Thanks, but I'm still no match to some big-time school champion that I know.