Safe or unsafe king

Mar 6, 2014
StaffCoach 2197
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Since I started Chessity, I hardly play chess anymore .... To disrupt this paradox yesterday finally played a match for my club team again. I will try to make it a habit to blog about my games. I encourage you to do the same! 

In this particular game we can learn more about kings safety.

King safety

An unsafe king is generally the greatest weakness a position can have. Typical elements that weakens the kings position:
1. Any weakness or absence of the pawn shield in front of the king.
2. Fewer defenders than opposing attackers in the area near the king.
3. Lack of centre control gives attacking pieces easier access towards the unsafe king.
4. A king that delayed castling for too long unless the centre is blocked.

Since the safety of the king is so important, it is one of the main principles of chess strategy during the opening stage of the game. In this particulair game you will learn how far you can go with your king!

Apeldoorn, Janton van - Woning, Ruth 1-0


                 Played in Buren 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 9.b3 g5

This move has been played in many Grand Master games. Black can generate very active play. On the other hand if his attacking chances disappear, white can claim some positional long term advantage. As said, in this particular game we can learn a lot about kings safety.


Inspired by Smeets - Timman 2002

( 10.g3 mainline)

10... Bg7 11.Bb2 h6?!

BD_2_66_0.pngDiagram #1

( I have studied this game some years ago. You need to learn to have a good assessment of the kings postition in these scottish games. Nf4 12.Qe3 h6 13.Nd2 Ng6 14.Nf3 gxh4 15.O-O-O O-O 16.Qd4 Rad8 17.Qxa7 Nxe5 18.Qxc7 Nxf3 19.Bxg7 Qg5+ 20.Kc2 Kxg7 21.gxf3 d5 +/- 1-0 Smeets,J 2392-Timman,J 2623/Amsterdam 2002/CBM 089 ext 36)

12.Nd2 d6?!

BD_2_66_1.pngDiagram #2


Again a slow move, weakening the black pawn structure even further.


BD_2_66_2.pngDiagram #3

13... Nb4?!

the black knight will be trapped.

(13... Nb6 14.O-O-O ( 14.Qxc6+? 14... Qd7 15.Qxd7+ Nxd7 16.O-O-O Nxe5 +/= Black will love his knight!)14... d5 15.Qc2 +/- )

14.a3 d5 15.Qb1

BD_2_66_3.pngDiagram #4

( White can also go for a positional advantage with: 15.cxd5 Bxf1 16.Kxf1 Nxd5 17.hxg5 Qxg5 ( hxg5 18.Rxh8+ Bxh8 19.Nf3 +- ) 18.Qe2! +- )

15... Bxe5 16.Kd1!

BD_2_66_4.pngDiagram #5

( 16.axb4? 16... Bxb2+ 17.Kd1 Bxa1 18.Qxa1 +/- white can still claim a small advantage because of a double attack.)

16... dxc4 17.bxc4 Rd8 18.Bxe5

Every exchange white can make without making troubles for his king, will benefit his position.

( 18.axb4 Qxb4 19.Bc1! 19... Qxb1 20.Rxb1 O-O +- White has some active pieces to manage, but has the better position too.)

18... Qxe5 19.axb4 Qd4

BD_2_66_5.pngDiagram #6

( Bc8 20.Ra3 ( 20.Bd3?! 20... Qc3! 21.Re1+ Kf8 22.Re3 +/- )20... O-O 21.Bd3 +- )


Although it's not the best move according the engines. I like it because development and piece exchange is the best way to deal with the white position. For humans, I mean : -

( 20.Ra2 Bxc4 21.Bxc4 Qxc4 22.hxg5 Qg4+ 23.Kc1 Qxg5 24.Qe4+ +- )

20... Bxc4 21.Nxc4 Qxc4

BD_2_66_6.pngDiagram #7


I love this white bishop. It's defending the white king and it will support in the attack. Black already misses his minor pieces to continue the attack.


BD_2_66_7.pngDiagram #8

22... O-O?!

BD_2_66_8.pngDiagram #9


How safe is the black king?

The black king is unsafe because of the absence of the pawn shield in front of the king. Black should have done a fine job with the black pawn still on g7 black. But now he has put his black king in the dangerzone.


BD_2_66_9.pngDiagram #10

23... Qg4+ 24.Kc2

BD_2_66_10.pngDiagram #11

24... Qxg5 25.Qc1

BD_2_66_11.pngDiagram #12

25... Kg7 26.Qxg5+ hxg5 27.Rh7+ Kg8 28.Rh6 f6 29.Bc4+ ( 29.Rxa7 Rd7 30.Bf5 Re7 31.g4 +- )

29... Kg7 30.Rah3

BD_2_66_12.pngDiagram #13


Let's draw some conclusions:

1. Black did not make use of his temporary advantage because of a few slow moves (10... h6?! and 12... d6?!).
2. Under favourable conditions is it possible to defend you king in an open centre (piece up, exchange of black's minor pieces and opponents king is also vulnerable).
3. Don't play like this without a lot of concrete calculation.

I hope you learned someting about kings safety. Success with your games and tell me your chess story too!

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