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Learn from the Classics: transforming advantages

September 16, 2016

I really enjoyed Sagar Shah's recent posting on Chessbase about learning from the classics. Rather than give my usual daily puzzle, instead some other thoughts for my readers to reflect on, based on some material I have recently learned from.


Tomashevsky followed Karpov by exchanging on e6:


Kasparov's commentary cited by Sagar is very insightful. In brief: exchanging a great piece for a lesser piece is justified because it creates white square weaknesses in Black's king side, which White's Q and B can aim to exploit, especially with Black lacking his white squared bishop.

Why am I blogging about this?

I am presently working my way through the really interesting Lessons with a Grandmaster by Boris Gulko and Joel Sneed: a very interesting, and fresh, way to provide instructive material.


In summing up lessons from Gulko-Ponomariov Pamplona 1996 he writes:

..exchanging off your opponent's best defensive piece is sometimes the best way to increase the pressure.

He is referring to this position:


where Gulko played 25 Qg5! offering the exchange of Qs or forcing Black to give a concession.

Gulko's summary commentary continued:

For a great example of this method, see Smyslov -Reshevskly, World Championship Tournament 1948 11th round. This is a game I didn't recall, but Megabase has the game annotated by Garry Kasparov, the key position being:


Smyslov's 25 Be6! is very similar in concept to Karpov-Kasparov: White gives up the strong bishop on b3 to take advantage of Black's remaining pieces lack of development and coordination.

There is a further parallel to Gulko-Ponomariov. After 25 Be6! fe White played 26 Qh4! which in precisely the same way offers Black the no-win choice between exchanging his sole active defender or making concessions.


Black chose 26…Qd7, met by 27 Qd8+ and queens came off regardless, and White won the d6 pawn and converted the advantage (I should add “it's not over yet” after 27 Qd8+: Reshevsky defended resourcefully for many moves, but Smyslov steered the game into a rook and pawn ending and then “but it is now”.

Truly, learn from the Classics. The idea of transformation of the advantage by offering or actually exchanging the best defenders is a new concept for me.


From → Chess

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