Chess Instruction - Fight for the Center! - Part II
Chess Instruction

Fight for the Center!
Part II

by Jerry Honn

In memory of my good friend Warren Loveland, who passed away unexpectedly June 10th, 2001, I have added this article in hopes that others will help to continue the instructional series he envisaged. These articles are intended for lower-rated players in the hope they can help improve their play. Warren's introductory remarks in the first article are excellent and worth repeating here, for the benefit of those who may link to this page from another URL.

"The classic concept of the center is the four central squares of the chessboard: d4, d5, e4, e5. Some authors expand this to include the 16 central squares of the board, and call it the extended center.

Control of a central square means the player can place his pawn on this square without losing material, or can place a piece there without losing material or being forced into retreat. Sometimes these squares are occupied by pieces or pawns, sometimes pawns and pieces are placed so that the opponent cannot occupy one or more central squares. When both sides play well, neither side can monopolize the entire center. Some squares cannot be held by either side, while others are under a constant state of siege, with both sides maneuvering to gain control.

It is not often that a central square, once controlled, remains that way for the duration of the game, as the opponent will also be maneuvering to wrest control of the square away from its owner or, failing in that, to exchange or at least neutralize the effectiveness of an enemy piece posted there. From this comes Nimzovich's theory of overprotection. Moving as few pawns as possible to bring the knights, bishops and queen from the back rank on to good squares, then castling to protect the king behind a wall of pawns and join the rooks, is called development. Posting these pieces where they occupy and / or influence the battle for the center is called, in Nimzovich's terminology, centralization.

The fight for the center is the underlying theme of all opening theory. Amateurs make the mistake of memorizing these published sequences of moves and know where all the pieces are supposed to go, but they fail to understand why these moves are played, i.e., in terms of control of squares. That is why their positions inevitably collapse when an opponent deviates from "the book." If you are floundering in a sea of MCO or ECO footnotes, I strongly recommend Fine's Ideas Behind the Chess Openings.

Why is the center important? Why must we fight for these squares? Simply stated, they are the shortest route for pieces to flow across the chessboard, for attack or defense. If one side dominates the center, the other side has the dubious choice of defending passively, or trying to mount a counter-attack around the perimeters of the board; both require time-consuming maneuvering under cramped conditions and rarely succeed."

If I read Loveland (and a host of authors before him) correctly, the side that fails to secure a share of the center is doomed to passivity and almost certain defeat. What then shall be the fate of the side that voluntarily surrenders the center in the early opening?

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Game 1

1963 Chess Review tournament, Class B
White: Jerry Honn
Black: Dan Frohardt
King's Indian Defense (E77)

1 d4 Nf6
2 c4 g6
3 Nc3 Bg7
4 e4 d6
5 f4 ...

The distinction between occupying vs. controlling the central squares is a hypermodern concept (circa 1920's) and the basis for the so-called Indian (fianchetto) formations. Black allows White to establish a broad pawn center and then seeks to undermine it from the flanks. This is not as easy as it sounds, and the penalty for failure is a lost game.

The Four Pawn Variation is an ideal opening for the attacking-style player. White emerges with a fair share of the center, a space advantage, mobile pawns and the more active pieces. Conversely, Black must endure a cramped position and play with extreme accuracy to equalize.

White's strategy involves d5 and/or e5, sometimes f5, taking squares away from Black and developing his pieces to control as much of the center as possible. Advantages in space and time are transitory, however, so White must either launch a successful Kingside attack or play to convert these advantages into permanent ones, i.e., winning material and/or obtaining the better pawn structure for the endgame (see Games 3 and 4 for examples of the latter approach.) Black must prepare ... c5 or ... c6, or ... e5 or ... e6, sometimes ... f5 or ... f6, depending upon which pawns White advances to the 5th rank.

For players who aren't comfortable with the four pawn approach, the positional 5 Nf3, 0-0 6 Bg5 (the Petrosian Variation) can yield White a strong attack if Black missteps, without the risk of over-extending his pawn center (Game 6).

5 ... c5
6 d5 0-0
7 Nf3 e6
8 Be2 Re8?

Correct is 8 ... exd5; 9 cxd5, Re8 (see previous note about Black needing to play with extreme accuracy.) If Black intends to put pressure on e4 with ... Re8 then he should half-open the e-file first (see Game 3.) This same position can occur in the Benoni after 1 d4, Nf6; 2 c4, c5; 3 d5, e6; 4 Nc3, exd5; 5 cxd5, d6; 6 e4, g6; 7 f4, Bg7 and now White can transpose into a normal King's Indian Defense with 8 Nf3, 0-0; 9 Be2, Re8 etc., or continue the Benoni Defense with moves like 8 e5 or the current favorite, 8 Bb5+, Nfd7 i.e.,

(a) 9 a4, 0-0; 10 Nf3, Na6; 11 0-0, Nc7; 12 Bc4, Re8; 13 e5!?, dxe5; 14 Ng5, Bf6 (14 ... Nb6!?) 15 d6, Ne6; 16 Nxe6, fxe6; 17 Nb5, Nb6; 18 Ba2, Bd7; 19 Nc7, Rc8; 20 a5, Na8; 21 f5, Nxc7; 22 fxg6!, hxg6; 23 Qg4!, Rf8; 24 Qxg6+, Bg7; 25 Bh6, Ne8; 26 Rxf8+, Kxf8; 27 Rf1+, Kg8; 28 Bb1, Resigns (28 ... e4; 29 Bxe4, Qf6; 30 Rxf6, Nxf6; 31 Qxg7 mate.) Warren Loveland - B. Musser, APCT Rook Tournament, 1997.  Another sparkling example of Warren's attacking style of play.

(b) 9 e5, dxe5; 10 Nf3, 0-0; 11 0-0, a6; 12 Be2, b5; 13 d6, Qb6; 14 fxe5, Nxe5; 15 Bg5, Bb7; 16 Be7, Nbd7; 17 Nxe5, Bxe5; 18 Bf3, Bxf3; 19 Qxf3, Bxd6; 20 Nd5, Qb8; 21 Bxf8, Qxf8; 22 a4, b4; 23 Rad1, Re8; 24 Qg4, Qh6; 25 g3, Re6; 26 Kg2, Ne5; 27 Nf6+, Kg7; 28 Qe2, Bc7; 29 Nd5, Bb8; 30 Qf2, Qg5; 31 Qxc5, Rc6; 32 Qxb4, Rc2+; 33 Kh1, Qh6; 34 h4, Qh5; 35 Ne3, Re2; 36 Rd8, Nf3; 37 Ng2, Qf5; 38 g4, Rxg2; 39 Qf8+, Kf6; 40 Rd6+, Resigns. Gerald Clearman - Volker Jeschonnek, CCLA Email Championship, 2001.

  9 e5! dxe5
10 fxe5 Nfd7?

White controls d5 and e4; Black attacks d4 and e5 and appears to be achieving his goals, i.e., enticing White's pawns forward until they are compromised. "Book" is 10 ... Ng4; 11 Bg5, Qa5 etc.

11 Bg5 ...

White brings his remaining piece into action with gain of tempo. After Qd2, he can castle either wing. Notice Black's lagging development, with only two pieces off the back rank.

11 ... f6

Thematic but ill-timed. Black seeks to ease the pressure through exchanges, but opening up a position when behind in development is always a mistake.

12 exf6 Bxf6
13 Qd2 exd5
14 Nxd5 Bxg5
15 Nxg5 Nf8?


Almost any other move is better. Black's entire army now occupies the back rank.

16 0-0 ...

We don't normally think of castling as an aggressive move. Besides breaking the pin and safeguarding the King (finally), the Rook seizes the f-file as an avenue of attack. Black's King is in mortal danger.

16 ... Nbd7
17 Nf7 Rxe2?!
18 Qxe2 ...

Over-the-board I would play 18 Qc3, winning the Queen, but correspondence play affords the opportunity to investigate complex variations.

18 ... Qa5

I spent some time working out all the variations, then sent the analysis to my opponent with my next move, announcing mate-in-ten.

19 Nh6+ Resigns

One possibility is 19 ... Kg7; 20 Qe7+, Kxh6; 21 Rf3, Nf6; 22 Qxf8+, Kg5; 23 Qxf6+, Kh5; 24Qe5+, Kh6; 25 Qf4+, g5; 26 Qf8+, Kh5; 27 Nf6+, Kg6; 28 Qg8+, Kh6; 29 Qxh7 mate.

Game on this page as playable game and pgn  HERE

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Game 2

CCLA Match, 1967
White: Robert Enders
Black: Jerry Honn
Modern Benoni (A69)

1 d4 Nf6
2 c4 g6
3 Nc3 Bg7
4 e4 d6
5 f4 c5
6 d5 0-0
7 Nf3 e6
8 Be2 exd5
9 cxd5 Re8
10 e5 ...

Probably played to avoid 10 Nd2, c4 as introduced by Fischer (vs. Pomar) in the Havana, 1966 event. The text is consistent with White's objective in this opening, i.e., a central pawn advance to disrupt Black's normal flow of development.

10 ... Nfd7

In Viktor Korchnoi's Best Games (McKay, 1978, Game 6) Korchnoi states "After 10 ... dxe5; 11 fxe5, Ng4; 12 Bf4, Nxe5; 13 Nxe5, Bxe5;14 Bxe5, Rxe5; 15 0-0 (a pawn sacrifice suggested by Alekhine) the active positioning of White's pieces gives him a lengthy initiative."

11 e6!? ...

In 1967, "book" for average players was The King's Indian Defense by Barden, Hartston & Keene, which gave 11 exd6, a6; 12 a4, Nf6; 13 0-0, Bg4; 14 Ne5, Bxe2; 15 Qxe2, Qxd6 (Lehmann-Toran, Munich 1954) with White slightly better. Rob and his friend Elliot Winslow, a future USCF Master, were "into" the latest opening theory and undoubtedly had access to Schachmatny Bulletin and related sources. The text is a well-conceived positional sacrifice, rendering 9 ... Re8 a waste of time and hemming in Black's Queen's Bishop.

11 ... fxe6
12 0-0 Nb6
13 a4 ...

White didn't expect Black would part with the King's Bishop, and Black should have given it more thought!

13 ... Bxc3?
14 bxc3 Nxd5

Black picks up a second pawn and seems to be on the verge of consolidating his position. But development lags (only one piece off the back rank) and Black has seriously weakened his kingside. White wastes no time going on the offensive. Ironically, it is Black who occupies the center but White now demonstrates who controls it!

15 Bc4! Nc7
16 f5! ...

With his last two moves, White has cleared the way for all his pieces to flow to the kingside.

16 ... d5
17 fxg6 ...

White is willing to sacrifice additional material to open lines to the Black King.

17 ... dxc4
18 gxh7+ Kh8
19 Qe2 Rf8

Black is hard pressed to find good moves. 19 ... Nc6 is met by 20 Ne5, Qd5; 21 Bf4, Rf8; 22 Qh5 and mate soon follows.

20 Bg5 Qd7??

If 20 ... Qd3; 21 Qe5+, Kxh7; 22 Bf6, Qd5; 23 Ng5+, Kh6; 24 Qe3, Rf6; 25 Nxe6+ etc. with an overwhelming position. With the text, Black stumbles into a mating net.

21 Ne5!! Resigns

If 21 ... Rxf1+; 22 Rxf1, Qxh7; 23 Qg4, Qg7; 24 Bf6, Qxf6; 25 Rxf6, Kh7; 26 Rf7+, Kh6; 27 Qg6 mate.

Game on this page as playable game and pgn  HERE

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Game 3

2000 CCLA Grand National
White: Jerry Honn
Black: Melvin Friedrich
Modern Benoni (A69)

1 d4 Nf6
2 c4 g6
3 Nc3 Bg7
4 e4 0-0
5 f4 d6
6 Nf3 c5
7 d5 e6
8 Be2 exd5
9 cxd5 Re8
10 Nd2 a6

According to many opening manuals, Fischer's 10 ... c4 (clearing c5 for a knight) is stronger. Queenside expansion by ... a6 and ... b5 is easily thwarted by a4. Another idea is ... b6 without ...a6, allowing ... Ba6.

11 a4 b6?!

Does Black intend a Rook lift ( ... Ra7-e7)? For 11 ... Nbd7; 12 0-0, c4; 13 Bf3, Nc5 etc. see Game 4.

12 0-0 Nbd7
13 Bf3 Bb7

Black manages to get all his minor pieces off the back rank, but fails to attack and break-up White's pawn center. With no easy way to open lines for his pieces he is left with a passive postion.

14 Nc4 Qc7
15 Be3 Re7
16 Bf2 R7e8

Evidently Black sees something wrong with his plan to double Rooks on the e-file, but this hands White a free move.

17 Bg3 b5?

Black is desperate for "breathing space" but White's set-up is quite flexible and he can easily shift to Queenside operations.

18 axb5 axb5
19 Nxb5 Qb8
20 Nbxd6 Rd8
21 Nxb7 ...

The text is played to control the a-file, especially a8, and the long diagonal after the center pawns advance. The unopposed white-square Bishop will dominate the position.

21 ... Qxb7
22 e5 Rxa1
23 Qxa1 Ne8
24 d6 Qb4
25 Bd5 Kh8!?


26 Qa5 ...

White had several choices. 26 Qa2 is a finesse move, as White can follow with Rf3, threatening Rb3 (trapping the Queen) and Ra3, threatening Ra7 or Ra8. 26 f5 shifts the attack back to the Kingside. Of course, 26 Bxf7 wins another pawn. The text, forking Queen and Rook, forces Black to part with the Queen or retreat ... Qb8 and surrender the queenside to White.

26 ... Qxa5
27 Nxa5 Nxd6!?

Rather than waiting to be crushed on the back ranks, Black sacrifices more material to gain some freedom for his pieces. The endgame that follows is no less difficult, however, as White has an extra piece and a more advanced passed pawn.

28 exd6 Bxb2
29 Nc6 Rf8
30 Rb1 Bg7
31 Ne5 ...

White threatens Nxf7+, winning the f-pawn with gain of tempo. If Black captures the knight on e5, White gains a protected passed pawn plus the half-open f-file. White does not rush to play Rb7, as he may want to play Rf1 should the f-file be opened through exchanges.

31 ... Nf6
32 Nxf7+ Kg8
33 Bc4 ...

White blockades the outside passer plus maintaining the threat of a discovered check by the knight. While not a true zugzwang position, Black has just about run out of constructive moves.

33 ... Ne4??
34 Ng5+ Resigns

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Game 4

XII CCLA Team Championship, 2001-2003
White: Jerry Honn
Black: Wade Partin
Modern Benoni (A67)

1 d4 Nf6
2 c4 g6
3 Nc3 Bg7
4 e4 d6
5 f4 0-0
6 Nf3 c5

Many players will not go into a Benoni unless White has played an early Nf3, i.e., there is no possibility of his adopting the Four Pawn Attack. Black evidently does not fear this line.

7 d5 e6
8 Be2 exd5
9 cxd5 Re8
10 Nd2 ...

Thirty-five years later, the jury is still out on 10 e5 (Game 2.) If White doesn't wish to try this ultra-sharp move, then the text is the best way to protect e4. After Bf3 and 0-0, White can further support the e-pawn with Re1 and Qc2 (or Qe2,) i.e., Nimzovich's theory of over-protection. The QB is shut-in only temporarily; the Knight is headed for c4, after which White will complete his development. Black, on the other hand, does not have such an easy time developing his queenside.

10 ... Nbd7

Against Pomar at Havana, 1966, Fischer played 10 ... c4 and steadily took control after 11 Bf3, Nbd7; 12 0-0, b5; 13 Kh1, a6; 14 a4, Rb8; 15 axb5, axb5; 16 e5, dxe5; 17 Nde4, Nfxe4; 18 Nxe4, Nf6; 19 d6, Be6; 20 Nc5, e4! 0-1 in 41 moves. Opening manuals give ... c4! and often note the move was made "to clear c5 for a knight." In the Havana game, Black's knight never lands on c5. Although he won the game, to the best of my knowledge Fischer never played this variation again.

If you go through amateur games on the internet, players with White still mimick Pomar's moves, playing the unnecessarily timid Kh1, a4 too late and/or e5 without adequate preparation.

11 0-0 c4

Black adopts the Fischer strategy with a slightly different move order. White's next several moves are designed to expand control of the center and simultaneously restrict Black's forces. Nimzovich calls this restraint in My System. Moves like 12 Bxc4 or 12 Nxc4 lead to early exchanges that will help Black free his cramped position.

12 a4 Nc5
13 Bf3 a6?

This seriously weakens the queenside. See Game 5 for a practical example of 13 ... Bh6; 14 Qc2 (14 Nxc4, Nfxe4; 15 Nxe4, Nxe4 is unclear-ed) Nd3; 15 Nxc4, Nxc1; 16 Qxc1, Bg4; 17 Qd1 +- analysis by Nunn, as given by Lev Psakhis in The Complete Benoni, 1995. Alternatives such as 13... Qc7 or 13 ... b6 have not produced convincing results.

14 e5! dxe5
15 fxe5 Rxe5
16 Nxc4 Re8
17 Be3 Nfe4
18 Nxe4 Nxe4

19 Bb6! ...

Creating the most problems by seizing the weak dark squares and disrupting Black's development. Capturing the immobile Black Rook is not that far-fetched, i.e., d6, Bc7, Nb6 etc. Nineteen moves into the game and Black still hasn't solved the problem of developing his queenside pieces.

19 ... Qg5
20 Re1 Nf6?

Black should try to maintain the knight (outpost) by 20 ... f5, even though it hems in the QB. After the text, White dominates the center.

21 Rxe8+ Nxe8
22 d6! Bd7!?

A recurring theme in these games ... Black sacrifices material to free his pieces.

23 Bxb7 Rb8
24 Be3 Qg4?

Black must keep his Queen to have any chances for counter-play. The exchange of Queens transitions to an endgame where White holds the advantage.

25 Qxg4 Bxg4
26 Bxa6 ...

Thanks to Black's 20th, 22nd and 24th moves, White has the superior endgame. Try to resist thinking in terms of a "won ending," as it implies the stronger side cannot lose and this lulls many players into complacency and ... disaster. If we mentally remove all the pieces except Kings and pawns, even with Black to move he cannot stop a pawn from reaching the queening square. Books on the endgame admonish the superior side to exchange pieces, not pawns. The chess terminology for this is simplification, the theory being the closer the superior side gets to a pure King and pawn ending, the more certain is the victory (and the less chance for error!) But one must exercise some judgment when playing to exchange pieces, i.e., opposite-colored Bishop endgames and many Rook and Pawn endings can be extremely difficult to win.

26 ... Be2

White's knight on c4 holds everything together. Understandably, Black seeks to eliminate this piece but it costs him the "two Bishops."

27 Bc5 Bf8
28 Rc1? ...

Careless. Correct was 28 b4, Bxc4; 29 Bxc4, Nxd6; 30 Bd5 and the Rook is behind the passed pawns where it belongs. Now the Rook impedes their advance, and White will have to waste several moves correcting the situation. In a critical endgame, those wasted tempi could turn a sure win into a draw. Psychologically, this is the kind of mistake that encourages the opponent to fight on rather than resign.

28 ... Bxc4
29 Rxc4 Nxd6
30 Rb4 Ra8
31 Bd3 ...


Although Black has managed to recoup one of the sacrificed pawns, White has outside connected passed pawns and, with the two Bishops a greater command of the board. White will try to advance those pawns, taking care that they not become dispersed or blockaded and (eventually) lost. If they reach the 7th or 8th rank, Black will have to sacrifice a piece but White should not allow Black to get both pawns for the piece if at all possible. The knight, an excellent blockader of pawns, is not able to cover both sides of the board efficiently and so Black should retain his long-range pieces. White, of course, is willing to exchange rooks and/or dark-square bishops.

31 ... Ra5
32 Bb6 Re5
33 Kf1 Nc8
34 Bc7! ...

After 34 Rb3?, Nxb6; 35 Rxb6, Ra5 Black has opposite-colored Bishops and White's task is much more difficult. The text forces the desirable (from White's viewpoint) kind of simplification.

34 ... Re1+
35 Kxe1 Bxb4+
36 Ke2 Kf8
37 a5 Ke7
38 a6 ...

On a6, the pawn is pretty much immune from capture and it's threat to advance (Nimzovich calls this the passed pawn's "lust to expand") will restrict one of the Black pieces, which must keep a7 under constant surveillance. Black's only real hope for counterplay is to advance his kingside majority to create a passed pawn. White's strategy is to support the advance of his passed pawns while restraining the advance of the enemy pawns. This will be accomplished by centralizing the King and the two Bishops so they attack as many squares as possible on both sides of the board. By creating threats on both wings, White intends to strain Black's defensive resources to the breaking point. Once the White King reaches the fifth and sixth ranks, either wing, more material will be lost for Black. Controlling the center is no less important in the endgame!

38 ... Kd7
39 Bf4 Bc5
40 Bb5+ Ke7
41 Kd3 Na7
42 Bc4 f6

42 ... f5 attempts to create a barrier of squares (d4, e4) which the White King cannot cross. White, however, can simply out maneuver Black's forces. One example would be: 43 Bd5, Kf6; 44 Kc4, Bb6; 45 Bb7, Ke6; 46 Bd2, Kd7; 47 Bb4, Kc7; 48 Bc5, g5; 49 Bxb6+, Kxb6; 50 Kd5, f4; 51 Ke4, Nb5; 52 h4!, gxh4; 53 Kxf4, Nd6; 54 Kg4, Nc4; 55 b4!, Nd6; 56 Kxh4 wins.

43 Ke4 g5
44 Kd5 Bb6
45 Bd6+ Kd7
46 Bd3 Resigns

Game on this page as playable game and pgn  HERE

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Game 5

105th CCLA North American Class Championships, 2003
White: Jerry Honn
Black: Alan Stern
Modern Benoni (A67)

1 d4 Nf6
2 c4 g6
3 Nc3 Bg7
4 e4 d6
5 f4 0-0
6 Nf3 c5
7 d5 e6
8 Be2 exd5
9 cxd5 Re8
10 Nd2 Nbd7
11 0-0 c4
12 a4 Nc5
13 Bf3 Bh6

Black follows the line analyzed by Nunn in The Complete Benoni. For 13 ... a6? see Game 4 above.

14 Qc2 Nd3
15 Nxc4 Nxc1!?

The text is "book," but is it correct to exchange a knight that has moved three times for a bishop sitting on its original square? If Black cannot overwhelm the e-pawn, then it's hard to justify the pawn sacrifice implied by 11 ... c4. Black is cramped and needs to develop counterplay quickly.

16 Qxc1 Bg4
17 Qe3 ...

The first original move of the game. White achieves slightly better piece placement than with Nunn's suggested 17 Qc1.

17 ... Rc8
18 b3 Re7
19 Bxg4 Nxg4
20 Qf3 f5?

After exf5, gxf5 the f-pawn will be very weak, not to mention creating a hole at e6 which White can exploit.

21 h3 Nf6
22 exf5! gxf5
23 Rae1 Bf8

White's overwhelming position indicates the line commencing with 13 ... Bh6 is suspect. Black is burdened with a spectator bishop that just cannot get into the game.

24 Rxe7 Bxe7
25 Re1 Qd7
26 Re6! Rc5
27 Qe3 ...


White dominates the central white squares with a clear initiative, so it's no surprise the position is rife with tactical possibilities:

(a) 27 ... Kf8; 28 Nxd6, Bxd6; 29 Rxf6+
(b) 27 ... Rc7; 28 Qxa7, Nxd5; 29 Nxd5, Qxe6; 30 Nxc7, Qe1+; 31 Kh2, Bh4; 32 Qe3 etc.
(c) 27 ... Nxd5; 28 Nxd5, Rxd5; 29 Rxd7.

27 ... Kf7
28 Qxc5 ...

The "safe" continuation is 28. Qd3, winning the f-pawn.

28 ... dxc5
29 Ne5+ Ke8
30 Nxd7 Kxd7

Of course not 30 ... Nxd7?; 31 d6, winning another piece.

31 Re5! ...

31. Re1, Nh5 followed by ... Ng7 and White has difficulty making progress because the Bishop will get into the game via f6. The text is the real point of Qxc5: White offers to return the exchange, eliminating the troublesome Bishop and setting-up connected passed pawns. It's an offer Black can hardly refuse, else he remains the exchange down and loses the f-pawn for nothing.

31 ... c4
32 bxc4 Bc5+
33 Kf1 ...

White immediately takes steps to centralize his king for the endgame ahead.

33 ... Bd4
34 Nb5 Bxe5
35 fxe5 Ne4
36 Ke2 a6

Black drives away the defender of c3, anticipating winning White's a-pawn to set-up an outside passed pawn for himself. The problem with this strategy is that it will take many moves to advance the pawn to a1. Black's f-pawn is lost and White's connected passed pawns, far advanced, will strike first. White also has additional resources in that his King or Knight can always catch the a-pawn, and his 2:1 kingside majority can create an additional passed pawn if necessary.

37 Nd4 Nc3+
38 Kd3 Nxe4
39 e6+ Kd8
40 Nxf5 Nc5+
41 Kd4 Resigns

Game on this page as playable game and pgn  HERE

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Game 6

CCLA Match, 1967
White: Jerry Honn
Black: Robert Enders
King's Indian Defense (E93)

1 d4 Nf6
2 c4 g6
3 Nc3 Bg7
4 e4 d6
5 Nf3 0-0
6 Be2 e5
7 d5 Nbd7
8 Bg5 ...

The Petrosian Variation, a positional system with a drop of poison! Petrosian's original concept from the 1940's was to induce ... h6 and .. g5, with play on the weakened white squares. The sharp line with h4, opening the h-file for a direct attack against the enemy king, would come later.

8 ... h6
9 Bh4 g5
10 Bg3 Nh5
11 h4!? ...


11 ... Nf4?

Theoreticians quickly realized 11 ... Nxg3; 12 fxg3, g4 followed by ... h5, keeping the kingside closed for awhile, offers Black better prospects for equality. Refinements for both sides followed and the whole line fell out of favor.

12 hxg5 hxg5
13 Qc2 Nxg2+?!

This cannot be sound-Black is opening the g-file directly to his own King. From White's perspective this is well worth a pawn. The loss of castling is not significant, as White's King is relatively secure with the center locked.

14 Kf1 Nf4
15 Bxf4 gxf4
16 Kg2 f5
17 Rag1 Nc5
18 Kf1 Nxe4
19 Nxe4 fxe4
20 Ng5! Qe7
21 Bf3 Rf5
22 Nxe4 Bd7
23 Bg4 Rc8!?

Once more we see Black sacrificing material in hopes of obtaining counter-play.

24 Bxf5 Bxf5
25 Rh5 Rf8
26 f3 c6
27 Qh2! Resigns

The win is lengthy but not difficult to work out, i.e., 27 ... cxd5; 28 cxd5, Kf7; 29 Rxf5+, Ke8; 30 Qh7, Rh8; 31 Qxg7, Rh7; 32 Nf6+, Kd8; 33 Nxh7, Kd7; 34 Qxe7+, Kxe7; 35 Rg7+, Ke8; 36 Rf8 checkmate.

Game on this page as playable game and pgn  HERE

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Game 7

6th CCLA Jubilee Email Championship, 2005
White: Jerry Honn
Black: William C. Young
Benoni (A68)

1 d4 Nf6
2 c4 g6
3 Nc3 Bg7
4 e4 d6
5 f4 c5
6 d5 e6
7 Nf3 exd5
8 cxd5 0-0
9 Be2 Bg4

Played to avoid the "problem bishop." The drawback is Black will be offering White the two bishops in a position that is not likely to remain closed.

10 0-0 Nbd7
11 Re1 Re8
12 h3 Bxf3
13 Bxf3 Qa5!?

14 Be3 b5
15 a3 Nb6


16 Qc2 ...

A purely defensive move. During postmortem I thought 16. e5 was stronger, i.e. ... dxe5 17. fxe5 Nfd7 18. Bxc5 Nxe5 19. d6 Rad8 20. Bb7 and Black's queen is trapped (if 20 ... Na4 21. b4 Nxc3 22. bxa5 Nxd1 23. Raxd1 and White wins.) However, my opponent indicated he would have played (after 16. e5) ... Nc4, expecting 17. exf6 Nxe3 18. Rxe3 Rxe3 19. fxg7 Rae8. (Instead of 17. exf6, White probably should try 17. Qc1 dxe5 18. Bxc5 exf4 19. b4.)

16 ... Nf4
17 Bf2 Nd7
18 Be2 Rab8
19 e5 dxe5
20 a4 b4
21 Bxc4 bxc3
22 Qxc3 Qb6
23 Bb5 exf4
24 Rxe8+ Rxe8
25 Qc4 Qc7
26 Rd1 Bxb2
27 d6 Qc8
28 Bxc5 a6
29 Bxd7 Qxd7
30 Qxa6 Rb8


31 Bf2? ...

Another horribly passive move. Instead, 31. Qa7! Rb7 32. Qa8+ Kg7 33. a5! White has a bind. For example, 33. ... f6 34. Qxb7 Qxb7 35. d7 Qb5 36. Bb6 Bd4+ 37. Bxd4 Qxa5 38. Bxf6+ Kxf6 39. d8=Q+ Qxd8 40. Rxd8 g5 41. Kf2 Kf5 42. Kf3 and the Rook wins easily.

31 ... Bf6
32 Qc4 Bd8
33 Qxf4 ...

White has an extra passed pawn but a win is not forced.

33 ... Ra8
34 Ra1 Ra5
35 Qb4 Rd5
36 Bg3 Bf6
37 Rc1 Kg7
38 Qb3 Ra5
39 Rc7 Bd4+
40 Kh2 Qf5
41 Re7 Rd5
42 Rd5 ...

Abandoning the attack at f7 to get the Rook behind the d-pawn.

42 ... h5!

Black finds an active defense. Advancing his pawns will trap White's King in the corner, creating mating threats, or the exchange of these pawns will open lines to the White King, offering a potential draw by endless checks.

43 Kh1 ...

43. Rd1 h4 44. Bxh4 Be5+ 45. Bg3 Bxg3+ 46. Kxg3 Qe5+ 47. Kf2 Rxd6 48. Rxd6 Qxd6 49. Qc3+ f6 50. a5 looks drawish. See previous note. Q+P endgames are often difficult to win because the inferior side has so many checks available.

43 ... Bf6
44 Bh2 Ra5
45 Qd1 Qd7
46 Re4 ...

Although Black's threats have been temporarily neutralized, how to advance the passed pawns is not clear.

46 ... Ra6
47 Rc4 Ra5
48 Bf4 Qe6
49 Rd4 Qd7!

If 49... Bxd4 ?? 50. Qxd4+ f6 51. d7 Rd5 52. d8=Q Rxd8 53. Qxd8 White's extra piece should win.

50 Rb4 Qe
51 Qb1 h4
52 Qe4 Qd7
53 Qc4 g5
54 Rb5 Rxb5
55 Qxb5 Qe6
56 Bh2 g4
1/2 - 1/2

Here the game was abandoned as a draw: (A) 57. d7 Qe4 58. Qf1 Qd5 59. hxg4 Qxd7 60. a5 Qd5 61. a6 h3 62. a7 Qe4 63. Bg3 hxg2+ 64. Qxg2 Qb1+ etc., or (B) 57. hxg4 Qe1+ 58. Bg1 (forced) Bd4 59. Qg5+ Kh7 60. Qh5+ Kg7 61. Qg5+ and Black will accept perpetual checks (otherwise 61... Kf8 ?? 62. Qe7+ Qxe7 63. dxe7+ Kxe7 64. Bxd4 White wins.)

White missed a win, plus some other inaccuracies. After 31 ... Bf6, Black is to be commended for his resolute defense of an inferior position.

Game on this page as playable game and pgn  HERE

Summary: these amateur games are typical examples of how difficult the king's fianchetto formations are for Black. Does this mean the King's Indian and Benoni Defenses are unsound? Certainly not! After 80 years, perhaps longer, innovations are still discovered for both sides. Some form of the king's fianchetto is in every Grandmaster's repertoire, but GM's know every nuance of piece regrouping, key square control, timing of pawn breaks, diversionary tactics, etc. For class B and below I recommend the ... e6 defenses to 1 d4, avoiding the king's fianchetto lines (King's Indian, Benoni and Grunfeld.) A "bad" queen's bishop is a small problem compared with all the pieces languishing on the back ranks. For those interested in further study, remember that the sequence d5, exd5; cxd5 transposes and both openings (King's Indian and Benoni) must be researched.

I also recommend Hans Kmoch's Pawn Power in Chess. In addition to the fundamentals of pawn play, he devotes a large portion of the book to various Benoni formations and the appropriate strategy for both players. Some reviewers of this classic have criticized the author for using new terminology to describe certain pawn configurations. Deal with it! If Kmoch's calling a "doubled pawn" a "twin" can disrupt your cognitive processes, chess is probably too difficult for you anyway.

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