Preparing to tackle a pawn-storm

Preparing to tackle a pawn-storm

A cluster of pawns which march together to lead an attack in a chess game is termed as a ‘pawn storm’. These storms can be difficult to handle as most often the bigger pieces like the knights, bishops, rooks and queen have already taken positions behind these pawns and are just waiting for the cracks in the defence before launching a major offensive.

In the game below, there are two pawn storms, the one on the King-side led by white and the one on the queen-side led by black. White is better for most part of the game before an error lets black to get back into the game but a horrifying blunder by black in the dying stages results in instantaneous loss.

White: Rainer Knaak – Black: Burkhard Malich
Turnier Halle, 1981
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.cxd5 exd5 7.e3 Be7 8.Qc2 Nf8
If 8...Nh5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.0–0–0.Nb6
9.h3. White could have played 9.Bd3 Ne6 10.Bh4
9...Ne6 10.Bh4 Nh5
Instead of going after the bishop Black could have castled. If 10...g6 11.Bd3 Ng7 12.g4 Be6
11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.0–0–0

White hurries and castles on the long side. He could have waited and played 12.Be2
12. .. Nf6. If 12...g6 13.Ne5 Nf6
13.Ne5.  White had better options in 13.Kb1 or 13.g4 in adopting an aggressive stance
13. ..0–0 14.f4 Rd8

Both the light squared bishops are still standing on their original positions
15.g4 Nd7. If 15...c5 16.g5
16.Bd3 Nef8. Better appears 16. ..Nxe5 17.Bxh7+ Kh8 18.dxe5
17.g5 Nxe5 18.dxe5 Qc5 19.Qf2 b5

Black could have thought of pushing 19...a5 followed by a4 and a3
20.Bc2 Qe7. He need not have retreated the queen and instead followed with 19. ..b4
21.Ne2 a5 22.Nd4 Bd7 23.Qg3

White could have played more dynamically with 23.h4
23. .. Re8 24.h4 a4 25.h5 a3

Interesting position! A pawn storm on the Kingside and also on the queen side. The race has began to see whose attack gets activated first.

Diagram 1
26.b3 c5 27.Nf3 c4 28.Nd4
Worth a look is 28.Rxd5
28. ..Rac8 29.Kb1 Qb4 30.e4 dxe4
If 30...cxb3 31.Bxb3 dxe4 32.g6 hxg6 33.hxg6 Nxg6 34.Qxg6 Qxb3+ 35.Nxb3 fxg6

31.g6 hxg6
If 31...fxg6 32.hxg6 Nxg6 33.e6 Bxe6 34.Nxe6 Rxe6 35.f5
32.hxg6 Nxg6. If 32...fxg6 33.Bxe4
33.f5. If 33.e6 Bxe6 34.Nxe6 fxe6
33...cxb3 34.Bxb3 Bxf5
If 34...Rc3 35.Qh2 Rxb3+ 36.axb3+ a2+ 37.Qxa2 Nxe5 38.Qh2+ And if 34...Nxe5 35.Rdg1 Qf8 36.Qh4

35.Nxf5 Rc3 36.Nh6+
Not the right continuation. White should have played 36.Qh2 Rxb3+ 37.axb3 Qxb3+ 38.Ka1 Qc3+ 39.Ka2 Qc4 and White appears better
36...Kf8 37.Rhf1.
If 37.Rd7 Re7 38.Rd8+ Re8 39.Rd7

37...Nxe5 38.Rd7
If 38.Rxf7+ Nxf7 39.Rf1 Rxb3+ 40.axb3 gxh6
38...Re7. A terrible blunder! Black not only bungle in an advantageous position but ends up on the losing side. The correct continuation is 38...Rxb3+ 39.axb3 (39.Ka1 Qd4+ 40.Rxd4 Rxg3 And if 39.Qxb3 Qxb3+ 40.axb3 gxh6) 39...gxh6 maintaining his advantage
39.Rd8+ Black is lost!
39. .. Re8 40.Rxe8+

Diagram 2
White to play and checkmate in two moves
1.Rh8+ Qxh8. If 1...Kxh8 2.Qh7 checkmate
2.Qf7 checkmate.

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