Making the right choice at the right time

Chess Checks

Making the right choice at the right time

Whether to remain defensive or be offensive by counter-attacking is a dilemma faced by beginners and masters alike, especially when the opponent is on the aggressive side. Depending on the position, once has to make a choice whether to play safe or defend by posing problems to your opponent.

In the game which follows, Black builds an initiative on the King-side and manages to infiltrate with his piece. White, in a bid to defend, plays passively and cramps his position. His decision to use the rook for defence rather than attack results in a loss for him.
White: Mikhail Ulibin (2580) – Black: Nukhim Rashkovsky (2523)

Samara, 2000
Kings Indian Defence
1.e4 g6 2.d4 c6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 d6
The game started as a King Pawn Opening but transposed into the popular King’s Indian Defence played against the Queen’s Gambit
5.Be2 Nf6 6.Nf3 0–0 7.0–0 Nbd7 8.Be3 e5
Black can think about 8. ..c5
9.Qc2 h6
Black can exchange the central pawns 9. ..exd4  10.Nxd4
10.dxe5 dxe5 11.Qc1
Difficult to understand this placement of the queen. White had better  options in 11.h3 Nh5. If 11.Nd2 Qe7 12.a3 Nc5 13.b4 Ne6 14.Nb3 Re8 15.Rfd1 h5 16.f3 h4 17.Bf1 Nh5 18.Qf2 Nef4 19.g4 hxg3 20.hxg3 Qg5 21.Kh2 Kh7 22.Ne2 Rh8 resulted in a victory for Black in a previous game
More or less a forced move. If 11...Ng4 12.Bd2 13.h3
12.Nd2 Ne8
Why retreat? If 12...Qe7 13.c5 Nxc5 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.Bxc5 Nf4 16.Bxe7 Nxe2+ 17.Kh1 Nxc1 18.Bxf8 Bxf8 19.Raxc1
13.b4 Nc7 14.Nb3 Ne6 15.Rd1
Taking control of the open file
15. ..Qe7 16.c5
Preparation for the rook to infiltrate to d6
16. ..f5 17.f3
White can capture 17.exf5 gxf5  18.Bc4 Nf6
17. ..Nf6 18.Qc2 fxe4 19.Nxe4
If 19.fxe4 Nf4 20.Bf3 Ng4
19...Nxe4 20.fxe4
If 20.Qxe4 Nf4
20...Nf4 21.Bf1 h5
A strong and positive advance which indicates Blac’s aggressive intentions. White does not have anything going on the queen-side while Black is making his presence felt on the kingside. If 21...Bg4 22.Rd2 Rad8 with a balanced position
22.Na5 h4 23.a4
White is trying to push through on the queen-side now
23. ..Bg4 24.Rd2
Getting defensive instead of being offensive by playing 24.Rd6
24. ..h3
The pawn has marched all the way to the eighth rank and weakened the squares around the White King, thus paving way for the attack.
25.g3 Ne6 26.Nc4 Ng5
Here 26.Nd4appeas better
27.Bxg5 Qxg5

Diagram 1

White once again had opportunity to play 28.Rd6. If 28.Re1 Bh6 (28...Rf6 29.Rd6 Raf8) 29.Be2 Be6
28...Bh6 29.Re1
White should have exchanged rooks with 29.Rxf8 Rxf8
29. ..Rxf2 30.Qxf2 Rf8 31.Qc2 Qf6 32.Bd3 Qd8
An interesting retreat! But his one is a power packed move
If 33.Qc3 Rf3 34.Nd6 Qf8
33...b6 34.Qc3 bxc5
If 34...bxc5 35.bxc5 (35.Qxc5 Rf6 36.Qxa7+ Bg7) 35...Qf6 36.Qc2 Bd1 37.Qb2 Qf3. 0–1
Diagram 2

Black to play and win
1.   .. Qd2 2.Qxd2
If 2.Qg1 Qxg5
2...Rf1 checkmate.

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