Power of positional superiority

Chess Checks

Extra pawns or pieces or inflicting a quick checkmate are not the only ways to win a game. A game can also be won by rendering your opponent’s pieces immobile or paralysed even when both sides enjoy equal number of pieces. This is termed as positional superiority.

In the game which follows, Black is hampered by developmental problems and his King is stranded on the original square for a long time. Later he is forced to sacrifice an exchange but White too returns back the  exchange and his active queen and knight clinch the game in his favour, despite Black having an extra knight.

 White: Jordi Magem Badals (2560) – Black: Roman Slobodjan(2500)
Pamplona 1996
 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5
The Ruy-Lopez or the Spanish Opening which for centuries has remained one of the most popular openings
3. ..a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0–0 Qd6
Black can consider 5. ..Qf6
6.Na3 Be6
Here worth a thought is 6. ..b5
7.Qe2 f6
These moves have been played before even though the position might not appear familiar
8.Nc4 Qd7 9.Rd1
White played a new move here. One of the continuations is 9.a4 c5 10.b3 Ne7 11.Ba3 Nc6 12.d3 Be7
9...c5 10.c3 Qf7
Black can take an aggressive stance with 10. ..g5  11. If 10...0–0–0 11.d4 cxd4 12.cxd4 exd4 13.Rxd4 Qb5
11.b3 Bxc4
Black could have thought about castling on the queen side 10. ..0-0-0  11.d4 exd4
Not interested in swapping queens as Black’s Kingside is undeveloped and the King is still on the original square
12. ..Bd6 13.d4
The backward pawn finally gets a good advance
13. ..b6
Black should have cleared things at the centre with 13. ..cxd4  14.cxd4 e4
14.dxe5 fxe5 15.Ng5 Qe7 16.f4
A good attacking pawn advance
16. .. Nf6
If 16...exf4 17.e5 Bxe5 18.Qe4 Rb8 19.Qc6+ Kf8 20.Ne6+ Kf7 21.Rd7
17.f5 0–0–0 18.Ne6 Rdg8 19.Bg5 g6
Black should have played 19. ..h6 to drive away the bishop
20.Rab1 gxf5
If20...h6 21.Bxf6 Qxf6 22.Rxd6 cxd6 23.Rxb6 gxf5 24.Qb2 Qh4 25.Rc6+ Kd7 26.Nxc5+ Kxc6 27.Qb7+ Kxc5 28.Qc7 checkmate
21.exf5 Rxg5
Now Black is more or less forced to part with the exchange. If 21...h6 22.Bxf6 Qxf6 23.Qe4 Kb8 24.Rxd6
22.Nxg5 e4 23.Rxd6
White returns back the exchange
23...cxd6 24.Rxb6
White controls  the game
24. ..Nd7 25.Rb1 Qxg5 26.Qxe4 d5
Forced for White was threatening 27.Qa8 +
27.cxd5 Kc7 28.d6+ Kxd6 29.Qe6+
Forcing and cornering the King
29. ..Kc7 30.Rd1 Qd8
The queen has to retreat and try to defend
31.f6 Rf8
Diagram 1
32.f7 a5
Black’s pieces are virtually immobile
33.Qd6+ Kc8 34.Qa6+ Kc7 35.Qd6+
White enhances advantage after 35.Qxa5+
35. ..Kc8 36.Qa6+ Kc7 37.Qxa5+ Kc8 38.Qa6+ Kc7 39.Qa5+ Kc8 40.Qa6+ Kc7 41.Qe6 White can play 41.Qd6 Kc8  42.Re1
41. ..Kc8 42.Rd6 Kc7 43.Qd5
White has all the time in the world while Black’s pieces are paralyzed
43. ..Qe7 44.Qc6+ Kb8 45.Qb5+
Diagram 1
Black to play and win
1.   .. Nf3+ 2.gxf3 Qg3+ 3.Kh1 Rxh3 checkmate.

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