Dennis M's Chess Site

This is a blog for chess fans by a chess fan. I enjoy winning as much as anyone else, and I've had a reasonable amount of success as a competitor, but what keeps me coming back to the game is its beauty. And that, primarily, is what this site will be about! All material copyrighted.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

My Favorite Strategy!?

Sometimes non- and casual chess players will ask me: "What's your favorite strategy?" I've always heard this question as something like asking a philosopher to name her favorite law of logic; a question that makes sense to those whose exposure to the game is mostly limited to the Scholar's Mate but not to the SERIOUS [here one pulls his lapels] chess player. The problem is that only very cooperative opponents will allow "strategies" like the four-move checkmate to work, so we quickly learn to adapt - a process that will lead to our mastering hundreds, even thousands of mini-strategies, each applying to some positions but not to others.

But upon reflecting on a game I won a few days ago, one of countless blitz and bullet games won using essentially the same, cookbook-like approach, I've come to reconsider.

Here's the game, played with 1 minute per side:


1. d4 c5 2. d5 e5 3. Nc3 d6 4. e4

Be7 5. f4 exf4 6. Bxf4 a6 7. Nf3

Bg4 8. a4 Bxf3 9. Qxf3

Bg5 10. Be2 Bxf4 11. Qxf4 Qf6 12. O-O Qxf4 13. Rxf4 Nd7 14.Raf1 Ne5

15. Bd3 Ne7 16. Ne2 N7g6 17. Rf5 O-O 18. Nf4 Nxf4 19. R5xf4 f6 20.g4 c4 21. Be2 b5 22. axb5 axb5 23. b3 cxb3 24. cxb3 b4 25. Bd1 Ra2 26. g5 Rd2 27. gxf6 Rxf6 28. Rxf6 gxf6 29. h4 Kg7 30. h5 h6 31. Bf3 Rd3 32. Bd1 Re3 33. Rf4 Re1+ 34. Rf1 Rxf1+ 35. Kxf1 f5 36. exf5 Kf6

37. Bc2 Ng4 38. Ke2 Ke5 39. Kd3 Kxd5 40. Bb1 Nf6 41. Bc2 Nxh5 42. Bd1 Nf6 {White forfeits on time} 0-1

Black's plan was very simple and can be delineated in four steps:

1. Create the locked pawn formation which renders Black's dark-squared and White's light-squared bishops bad. (See the position after White's 5th move.)

2. Trade off the dark-squared bishops. (Thus Black's 9th move.)

3. Trade off the light-squared bishop for a knight. (Sometimes 3 must be done before 2, as in the game - see Black's 7th move.)

4. Maximize the good knight vs. bad bishop advantage, fixing the opponent's pawns on light squares. (This occurs, roughly, from moves 14-36 of the above game.)

With steps 1-4 complete, all that's left is to devour all the light-squared goodies - bon appetit!

Of course, White can stop this plan from succeeding, though its relative sophistication makes it (much) more likely to be effective even against reasonably strong opponents. But okay, really: is my "4-step win" different in kind from the 4-move checkmate?

Maybe I have an answer for the casual chess player!


  • At 12:53 PM, Blogger The Christopher said…

    How can you even begin to learn to from a 1/0 game? 5/0, okay, but a 1/0 is just a game of who can move the quickest.

  • At 2:09 PM, Blogger Rakshasas said…

    Not to be too obvious or anything, The Christopher, but Dennis is an USCF MASTER. I'm sure he's well aware of how to improve, and how to have fun.

  • At 7:55 PM, Anonymous mbagalman said…

    Your opponent has to cooperate a bit to let you employ a given strategy that you choose before the game, but perhaps the answer to the question is more about style. Ulf Andersson loved to whittle down to the endgame and beat you there. Petrosian loved middlegame maneuvers in closed positions. Tal liked crazy positions and sacrifices.

    For friends who don't play chess I often describe it as being like tennis, where some players like to play from the baseline and others serve and volley. You have a preference, but need to be prepared for either depending on where the ball is going!

  • At 2:50 AM, Blogger Naisortep said…

    I have to disagree with christopher. I've seen some instructive 1 0 games. When good players play 1 0 its pure instinct and seeing their instincts can be educational. I do admit that most 1 0 games are garbage but they shouldnt be dismissed completely.


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