Finding your way through a crowded board

Finding your way through a crowded board

It becomes problematic to decide on the course of action in a game when the chessboard is cluttered and crowded. It is tougher when there are bishop pairs and knights on board and one has to weave his way through the pawns to gain initiative.

The game below is one such where there are plenty of pieces on both sides and play is concentrated on the queen side for most part. Though the balance is more or less maintained, Black loses his way and after the exchange of knight and bishops, finds himself on the losing side.

White: Paul Van der Sterren (2526) – Black: Jereon Piket (2633)
Rotterdam, 2000
English Opening
1.c4 e6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 Nf6
If 3...dxc4 4.Qa4+ Nd7 5.Qxc4 c5
4.Nf3 c6  5.b3
White can also play 5.Qb3
5. ..a5  6.Bb2. If 6.0–0 a4 7.bxa4 Nbd7 8.d4 Qa5 9.cxd5 exd5 10.Qd3 Be7 11.Nc3 0–0 12.Bd2 Bb4 

6...a4. Black pushes through on the queen side
7.Na3. White could have castled here. If 7.bxa4 dxc4 8.Qc2 Qa5 9.Qxc4 Qxa4
7...Be7. Black decides to pause and develop his pieces
8.0–0 0–0 9.d3. A bid subdued. White could have pushed through at the centre with 9.d4 b6 10.Ne5 Bb7 11.Qc1 axb3 12.axb3 Na6 13.Rd1 Bd6 14.Bc3 Qe7 15.Qb2 Rfb8
9...Na6  10.Nc2 Bd7. Black should have given some thought to 10...Qb6
11.Ne5. If 11.Rb1 axb3 12.axb3 Nc5 13.Bd4
11...Qc7. Black can also look at 11...Qb6 12.Qd2 Qc7  13.d4 Rfb8  14.Qe3 c5
12.e3. A good move. White is having a nice position with both his bishops controlling the longest two crucial diagonals. If 12.bxa4 Nc5
12...axb3 13.axb3 Nc5
If 13...Nb4 14.Nxb4 Bxb4 15.Nxd7 Nxd7 16.cxd5 cxd5 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Qg4+
14.Rxa8. Perhaps better appears 14.b4 Na4 15.Bd4 c5  16.bxc5 Nxc5  17.cxd5 exd5.
14...Rxa8 15.b4 Na4

If 15...Na6 16.Qd2
16.Ba1 Be8. If 16. ..dxc4  17.dxc4 c5  18.b5 Nb6 And if 16...b5 17.c5  Na4
17.c5 b6. Action has been on the queen side for most part of the game. If 17...Nd7 18.Nxd7 Bxd7
18.d4 Ne4. If 18...bxc5 19.bxc5
19.f3. Immediately trying to dislodge the knight from the centre. If 19.Qd3 bxc5 20.bxc5 f6 21.Nf3 Bg6 22.Qb3 e5 leading to an unclear position.
19...Nec3 20.Qd2. If 20.Qe1 Nb5  21.e4 f6  22.Nd3 Bg6 And if 20.Qd3 Nb5
20...Nb5 21.Nd3

Diagram 1
The position is crowded and complicated with plenty of thinking opportunities for both players.
21. .. f6 22.e4  bxc5 23.bxc5 dxe4
If  23. ..Bf7  24.Qe3 Nac3  25.Re1 Ra7 And if 23...e5 24.dxe5 fxe5 25.Bxe5 Bxc5+ 26.Kh1
24.fxe4 e5.  If 24...Bg6 25.Qe3
25.dxe5
If 25.Qb4 exd4 26.Nxd4 Nxd4 27.Bxd4 Qa5 with an equal game
25...fxe5 26.Bxe5 Bxc5+ 27.Kh1
If 27.Nxc5 Qxe5
27...Qe7 28.Ne3 Bxe3 29.Qxe3 Nac3
If 29...Bf7 30.Rc1 Ra6
30.Bxc3

If 30.Qc5 Qxc5 31.Nxc5 Bg6 32.Bxc3 Nxc3 33.e5 Nd5. And if  30.Rc1 Ra3
30...Nxc3. Most of the pieces have been exchanged
31.Qd4 Nb5.
If 31...Ra3 32.Qc4+ Kh8 (32...Bf7 33.Qxc6) 33.e5 and White is better
32.Qc4+ Kh8 33.e5 h6 34.e6
If 34.Bxc6 Rc8
34...Nd6 35.Qb3 Bg6 36.Ne5 Qg5
If 36...Be8 37.Bxc6
37.e7. Also winning is 37.Bxc6
37...Bh7
If 37...Kh7 38.Qe6 38.Rf8+ 1–0
Diagram 2
Black to play and win
1.     ..Qa1+  2.Kxa1 Bd4+  3.Kb1 Ra1 checkmate.

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