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Punishing the Unsafe King in the Center

Mar 14, 2014
IGM 2437
Game Viewer » Widget

Sadorra, Julio Catalino - Pena, Pablo

2014 Western Class Championship 2014.03.07

In response to Janton's blog, here's my experience in dealing with an unsafe king in a tournament this past weekend. This game will show the benefits of having a safe king and how to take advantage of an opponent who neglects castling. In addition, prepare yourself to find and see some beautiful tactics!

So I hope you learn more and enjoy the game!

1.Nf3 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.d4 c5 4.e4 cxd4 5.N3xd4 Nc6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nc3 d6 8.Be2 h5!?

BD_10663_77_0.pngDiagram #1

An unusual way to handle the Accelerated Dragon, but it's intriguing because it threatens Ng4 and has h5-h4 ideas.

9.h3 I didn't want to complicate matters and decided to stop any counterplay immediately.

If 9.f3 I had to deal with moves that undermine the weakened g1-a7 diagonal 9... Qb6

BD_10663_77_1.pngDiagram #2

then I analysed (9... h4!? 10.O-O h3 11.g3 Bd7) 10.Qd2? ( 10.Rb1! is the best way to respond, which is a difficult move to find otb ( 10.Nf5? 10... Qxb2 11.Nxg7+ Kf8 leads nowhere)10... Nxe4 11.Nd5 +/- )10... Nxe4! 11.Nxc6 Nxd2! ( Bxc3? 12.b2xc3 Nxd2 13.Bxb6 a7xb6 14.Nd4 and Black's N is trapped 14... e5 15.Nc2! still no escape on b3 as now the a1-rook is defended.) 12.Bxb6 a7xb6 and Black will come out on top as his knight escapes with a bishop pair in an open game.

9... Qa5?!

BD_10663_77_2.pngDiagram #3

Black is playing creatively, creating threats in favor of castling but I also felt that he was trying to make something work on the k-side

10.O-O Castling early is not only good in principle but also negates Black's the threat on e4.

10... g5?

BD_10663_77_3.pngDiagram #4

Too adventurous, but I thought that it may be too ambitious as Black is still behind in development and more importantly his king is still in the center.

11.Nb3 Qe5 12.f4!

BD_10663_77_4.pngDiagram #5

When the enemy king is in the middle, open up the game! This forcing break is what my opponent may have missed.

12... g5xf4 13.B3xf4 Qe6 14.c5! More open lines!

BD_10663_77_5.pngDiagram #6

Another energetic way to continue is 14.Nd5! Kd8

BD_10663_77_6.pngDiagram #7

Can you find the best way to exploit Black's unsafe king and White's development advantage? (14... Qd7 15.c5! ( 15.Nc5?! doesn't bring White anything after15... Qd8)) 15.Nc7!! 15... K8xc7 16.Nc5

BD_10663_77_7.pngDiagram #8

A Queen trapped in the middle of the board! How often do you see that? :D


14... Nxe4 Any chances of survival or gaining counterplay can only come from complicating the game.

Black found normal continuations distasteful:14... O-O (14... Qd7 15.cxd6 O-O 16.Nc5 White's winning due to his dominating forces and Black is saddled with numerous weaknesses.) 15.cxd6 e7xd6 16.Q1xd6 Q6xd6 17.B4xd6 Re8 18.Rae1 +/- 

15.Nb5! At first I was looking at 15.Nd5?! but I detected an enemy tactic that allows him to relieve some pressure with15... Bd4+! 16.N3xd4 Qxd5 White should still be better, but why help Black's defensive cause? Therefore, I chose my other candidate move that also controls important squuares.

15... Kd8 If 15... Qd7 one line I analysed was 16.cxd6 O-O unfortunately, his king will still be unsafe even when it's castled! 17.Bd3! 17... Nf6 18.Nc5 Qd8 19.d7

BD_10663_77_8.pngDiagram #9

19... B8xd7 (19... N6xd7 20.Bc7 Qe8 21.Qxh5 Nf6 22.R1xf6 B7xf6 23.Qh7#) 20.Bc7! line clearance20... Qe8 21.Nxd7 Q8xd7 22.Rxf6! Black's position collapses22... B7xf6 23.Bh7+ K8xh7 24.Qxd7 +-).

16.cxd6 e7xd6

BD_10663_77_9.pngDiagram #10

Critical Moment. How should White continue pursuing the unsafe enemy king?




BD_10663_77_10.pngDiagram #11

Planning to eliminate the most important defender.

17... a6 18.Bxe4 axb5 ( Q6xe4 19.Qxd6+ Bd7 20.Rae1 +- )

19.Bxc6  Another way to attack and profit from his unsafe king is 19.Bxd6 Bd7 ( Qxe4 20.Be5+) 20.Nc5 Bd4+ 21.Q1xd4 N6xd4 22.Nxe6+ N4xe6 but I was looking for a way that can keep queens on the board...)

19... b7xc6 20.Bxd6

BD_10663_77_11.pngDiagram #12

20... Qd5 Maybe 20... Bd7 was a better defense, but nevertheless White's pieces are invading after 21.Nc5 etc.


BD_10663_77_12.pngDiagram #13

Paving the way for the rooks

21... Bd4+ 22.N3xd4 Q5xd4+ 23.Kh1 Here's another important thing to note here: the opposite-colored B situation, magnifies White's attacking chances because nothing can oppose the dark-squared B, and W will essentially attack like he's a piece up.

23... Bd7 (23... Qxd6 24.Rad1 +- )

24.Rad1 Qg7 (24...Qc4 25. Qf2)


BD_10663_77_13.pngDiagram #14

and Black resigned, as he cannot avoid getting mated or losing heavy material e.g.

25... Rg8 (25... Ra6 (25... Rh6 26.Bf8! 26... Qg6 27.Qe7+ +- ) 26.Be5 Qf8 27.Qd4 +- )

26.Qb6+ Ke8 27.Rde1+ Be6 28.Qxc6+ Kd8 29.Qc7+ Ke8 30.Qe7#.

In sum, here are few things worth remembering that corroborate Janton's points:

1. A king left in the center too long is unsafe, unless there is a concrete and sound reason (e.g. decisive material gain, an attack on the enemy king, etc.) to keep it there.

2. When the enemy has a king in the middle (or behind in development):

    a.) look for way to open up the game (e.g. f2-f4, c4-c5!)

    b.) avoid lines or possibilities in which your opponent forces a way to exchange pieces (13. Nd5                    Bd4!) that diminish the pressure/power of your attack.

    c.) remove important defenders-- enemy pieces that are active or control the pawn that covers the             enemy king (e.g. 17. Bf3 X Ne4).

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jessepals 17:14 - 14 Mar 2014
Nice game!

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