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

Fight for the Center!
Part III

by Jerry Honn

Game 1

2002 CCLA Grand National
White: Jerry Honn
Black: Richard Gaska
Dutch Defense (A80)

1 d4 f5
2 Nf3 g6

The Leningrad Variation of the Dutch Defense can also be viewed as a King's Indian variant, with ... f5 played before the center pawns advance. As in the King's Indian, Black fianchettoes his king bishop and intends .. d6 and eventually ... e5 (Black sometimes opts for or has in reserve ... c5, which inhibits White's Q-side intentions.) Black controls d4 and e5, White has d5 and e4. Black's center pawns are held back until White commits his, then advanced as needed in true hypermodern fashion. Typically, Black will have problems with queenside development and the theoretical weakness of the f7 square. White is free to choose any formation and has only himself to blame if he encounters opening difficulties.

3 g3 Bg7
4 Bg2 d6
5 0-0 Nh6!?

Black intends .. Nf7, supporting the ... e5 push, but a critical tempo for development is lost by this maneuver.

6 c4 0-0
7 Nc3 c6

Black's deployment is passive, with queenside pieces alarmingly dormant. With a lead in development and more space, White avoids routine moves like b4 or e4 and instead seeks a tactical solution.

8 Qb3 Qb6!?

Black is not going to generate much counterplay without his queen. 8 ... Qc7 is better, guarding b7 and further supporting ... e5.

9 Qxb6 axb6
10 Rd1 Nf7
11 Ng5 Nxg5!?

Black fears d5 and Ne6, but ... Nd8 (or even ... e6) was necessary to hold the position.

12 Bxg5 e5

Black has achieved his strategic objective, the pawn duo e5/f5. However, because White has withheld e4, the second player does not have the usual ... fxe4 to open the diagonal for his light-square bishop and f-file for his rook. Black must find a way to play ... f4 if he hopes to open the f-file and initiate a king-side attack.

13 d5 ! ...

Not 13 Be7, Re8; 14 Bxd6, exd4! with good chances for counterplay. With the text, White grabs more space and keeps the initiative by threatening to win material with Be7 or dxc6. The position resembles some of the K.I.D. games in Part II, i.e., Black is bottled-up on the back two ranks with no scope for his pieces.

13 ... Bf6 ?!

Black is in trouble regardless. If 13 ... Rf7; 14 dxc6, bxc6; 15 Rxd6, or if 13 ... Kf7; 14 dxc6, bxc6; 15 Nb5, e4; 16 Nxd6+.

14 Bxf6 Rxf6
15 dxc6 bxc6
16 Nd5! Rf8

Of course not 16 ... cxd5; 17 Bxd5+, winning the rook. Sometimes the weakness at f7 is not so theoretical.

17 Nxb6 Ra6
18 Nxc8 Rxc8
19 Rxd6 ...

White has a winning position, two pawns up with a flawless pawn structure. If Black plays e4 to "kill" the bishop, White plays e3 and Bf1, or advances the f-pawn; whether White or Black captures, a second diagonal will open for the bishop.

19 ... Kf7
20 e3 ...

This was played to bring the bishop right back into the game, i.e., 20 ... e4; 21 Bf1 and the bishop supports the advancing queenside pawns (see Game 2 for another example.)

20 ... Ke7
21 Rd2 Ra7

Black has covered d7 and d8 with his rooks, to counter White doubling rooks on the d-file. Black finally frees his spectator knight. Note that Black does not want to play ... Rd7 or ... Rd8, as every exchange magnifies White's material advantage.

22 a3 Nd7
23 e4 Nc5
24 Re1 f4
25 gxf4 exf4
26 e5! ...

White dominates the center. The weakening of the kingside pawns is unfortunate, but as long as White retains the initiative Black has no time to exploit this. The immediate threat is Rd6 with a double attack on the c-pawn. Black's king may not be too secure in the middle of the board, either.

26 ... Ra4
27 Rd4 Ne6
28 Rd6! 1-0

Black sees his intended 28 ... Rxc4 is met by 29 Bh3! If 29 ... Ng5; 30 Bxc8, Nf3+;31 Kf1, Nxe1; 32 Kxe1, Re4+; 33 Kd2, Rxe5; 34 Rxc6 and White is a piece ahead with connected passed pawns. Black could also try 28 ... Rc7 to avoid the pin. A likely continuation would be 29 Bxc6, Rxc4; 30 Bd5, Nd4; 31 Kg2 (or 31 Bxc4) with a lengthy but clearly winning endgame.

Game on this page as playable game and pgn  HERE

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Game 2

2000 CCLA Grand National
White: Jerry Honn
Black: Alex Cacas
Dutch Defense (A88)
1 d4 f5
2 Nf3 Nf6
3 g3 g6
4 Bg2 Bg7
5 0-0 0-0
6 c4 d6
7 Nc3 c6
8 Qc2 ...

There are at least ten moves White can play here, with 8 d5 and 8 b3 the current favorites. If 8 b4, a5; 9 d5, e5 is equal, according to Botvinnik, who answered 8 Qc2 with ... Kh8. On c2 the queen supports an eventual e4, and defends the c3 knight in case of ... Ne4. This is especially useful after the b-pawn has been pushed. It is important to clear the bank rank of minor pieces so the Rooks can support further pawn advances into enemy territory.

8 ... Qc7
9 d5 ...

The thematic advance. If black plays ... e5, White captures e.p. with play against Black's backward d-pawn. 9 e4 just makes it easy for Black to equalize, i.e., 9 ... fxe4; 10 Nxe4, Nxe4; 11 Qxe4, Bf5; 12 Qe3 Filip - Timman, Sochi 1973, drawn in 46 moves.

9 ... e5

After 9 ... cxd5; 10 cxd5, Nxd5, has Black won a pawn or fallen into a trap? White seems to have sufficient compensation after 11 Qb3, Bxc3; 12 bxc3, e6; 13 Nd4.

10 dxe6 Bxe6
11 b3 Ne4?

This leads to the exchange of Black's fianchettoed bishop. Better was 11 ...Re8; 12 Rd1, Nbd7; 13 Bb2 with equal chances.

12 Bb2 Nxc3
13 Bxc3 Na6
14 Bxg7 Qxg7
15 e3 ...

This prevents ... f4 and a kingside attack, and secures d4. White has neutralized the long diagonal controlled by Black's Queen and is ready to fight for control of the central white squares after Nd4-e2 and Rad1. Black cannot play .. Nb4 because of Qd2.

15 ... Nc5

Perhaps 15 ... d5 would give Black more room to maneuver, i.e. 16 Ng5, Bf7; 17 Nxf7 , Qxf7; 18 cxd5, Nb4; 19 Qc5, Nxd5 etc.

16 Nd4 Bd7
17 Rad1 Rad8
18 Ne2 ...

The text overprotects (Nimzovich) f4 and clears the way for an attack on Black's backward d-pawn. There's no subtle combination here, just brute force, piling on more and more attacking forces until the defenders are overwhelmed.

18 ... Bc8
19 b4 Ne6
20 Rd3 Qc7
21 Rfd1 Rf7
22 Qd2 Rfd7
23 e4 fxe4
24 Bxe4 b6
25 Nc3 Bb7
26 Bg2! Ng7
27 Ne4 Ne8
28 Bh3 Re7
29 Nxd6 Nxd6
30 Rxd6 Rxd6
31 Qxd6 Re1+
32 Bf1 Qxd6
33 Rxd6 Ba6
34 Kg2 ...

If 34 Rxc6!?, Bb7; 35 Rd6, Bf3; 36 Rd2 (avoids checkmate), White has picked up a second pawn but Black has a lot of counterplay. Alex played me to a draw in our previous game. This time I was determined to limit his counterplay.

34 ... Re7
35 c5! Bb7

White retains the initiative after 35 ... Bxf1+; 36 Kxf1, Re4; 37 a3, bxc5; 38 bxc5, Ra4; 39 Rxc6, Rxa3; 40 Rc8+, Kf7; 41 Rc7+ etc.

36 cxb6 ...

The text enables White to force the outside passed pawn after 36 ... axb6; 37 a4-5 etc.

36 ... axb6
37 a4 Rc7

Black plans to create a passer, too. If 37 ... Kf7; 38 a5, b5; 39 f3, Ba8; 40 Rd8, Ra7; 41 Rc8, Ke7; 42 Bd3 etc. White should win.

38 a5 c5+
39 Kg1 ...

39 f3, cxb4; 40 Rxb6, Rc2+ grants Black's pieces too much scope.

39 ... bxa5
40 bxa5 ...

Besides the pawn plus, White has a marked positional advantage. After his bishop moves, White's king can easily stop the c-pawn before it reaches c1 (see "rule of the square" in any textbook on K+P endings.) Although supported by the rook, the c-pawn's queening square is not the same color as his bishop, whereas a8 can be supported by White's Bishop. Black's king can do nothing to prevent the march of the a-pawn, so one of his pieces will be tied to defending against White's passer. Last, but certainly not least, White's rook remains powerfully centralized on d6.

40 ... Be4

I thought 40 ... Bf3 would make it more difficult for White to win, i.e., 41 Bc4+, Kg7; 42 a6, Re7 etc.

41 Bc4+ Kg7
42 f4 h6
43 a6 h5
44 Kf2 Kf8
45 Ke3 ...

White gains a tempo, as the bishop's retreat is pretty much forced (45 ... Re7? 46 Re6! and Black must simplify, putting White ever closer to a winning ending.)

45 ... Bf5
46 Rf6+ Ke8
47 Rf7! 1-0

If 47. ... Bd7; 48 Rg7 wins another pawn. Of course not 47. ... Rxf7; 48 Bxf7+, Kxf7; 49 a7 etc.

Game on this page as playable game and pgn  HERE

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Game 3

2003 CCLA Ladder (Email) Match
White: Jerry Honn
Black: Michael Allard
Dutch Defense (A89)
(Notes by Michael Allard will be so indicated.)
1 d4 f5
2 Nf3 Nf6
3 g3 g6
4 Bg2 Bg7
5 0-0 0-0
6 c4 d6
7 Nc3 Nc6
8 d5 Ne5

8 ... Na5 would probably be considered mainline.

9 Nxe5 dxe5
10 Qb3 h6

I pretty much have followed GM Spraggett's ideas when playing this variation. My move precludes 11 Bg5 and prepares the thematic ... g5 with a possible e8-h5 diagonal for the Queen (Allard.)

11 Be3 Kh8

Maybe this is being overly paranoid about the light square threat from white's Q. Worthy of a try is 11 ... g5, to be followed by ... Qe8. But of course Thompson-Zavanelli, 8th (1987) USCCC shows what happens with the wrong follow-up: 11 ... g5 12. Bc5, a6 13. Ba3, Qe8 14. e3, f4 15. exf4, exf4 16. Rae1 and Roy DeVault assesses this as a big plus for White (Allard.)

CCLA Master Paul Thompson has won or tied for the CCLA Championship a record four times. I was willing to follow Thompson's gameplan as long as my opponent cooperated. See Game 4.

12 Rad1 g5

MCO 13 calls this position equal, although the game cited (Magerramov-Avshalumov, USSR 1987) was won by Black in 40 moves. This is a clear hint that White's subsequent play can be improved.

13 a4 ...

This puts a crimp in the maneuver ... a6 ... b5. White's move seems better than 13. c5, a6 (13 ... f4 with the intent of ... Qe8 as suggested by M. Gurevich is unclear) 14 Qb4, Qe8 etc. as in Fominyh-Malysev, Miskolic 1989 (Allard.)

13 ... a6
14 Bc5 Nd7
15 Ba3 e4


The position is Baburin-Karasev, Riga 1988. GM Baburin played 16. g4, obtaining a strong position which later deteriorated into a draw. Since my opponent had played these moves with very little thinking time, I reasoned he had a found a way to improve upon Karasev's endgame play, or else had a late TN (theoretical novelty) in store for me. My next move gets out of "the book," avoiding whatever Black had planned.

16 f4 ...

The idea is to follow-up with e3, keeping the kingside somewhat closed whether Black exchanges or advances his g-pawn. If Black plays to open the h-file, White can easily shift his heavy pieces to neutralize that file. White already controls more of the center and queenside. If he fails in his bid for a kingside attack, Black's long term prospects are not good (a typical Dutch scenario.)

16 ... exf3?

Better is 16 ... b6 with the intent of ... Nc5. Here are a couple of possibilities: (A) 17 fxg5, Nc5 18. Qc2 hxg5 (now g8 is safe for Black's king) 19. g4 or 19. b4 seem reasonable now. (B) 17. Qc2, g4 18. b4, Qe8. Any subsequent exchange of B for N on c5 appears to be wrong in that Black gets a good utpost at d4. So 16 ... exf3 cedes the center. After this I try to make some place for my c8-bishop, knowing that my e-pawn is a goner (Allard.)

17 exf3 f4
18 Rfe1 Ne5
19 Ne2 Qe8

This is pretty much multi-purpose in that it eyes the a-pawn temporarily but with the immediate threat of getting on f7 and slipping the KR to e8. (Allard)

If 19 ... Re8 20. gxf4 gxf4 21. Nxf4 Rg8!? 22. Re3, to be followed by Rde1, costs Black a pawn and White gets to "queue up" on the e-pawn anyway.

20 Nd4 g4

20 ... b6 would be another positional error because of 21 Nc6 (not 21. Ne6 since the resultant B for N exchange closes the e-file.) 20 ... g4 is intended to open up the K-side (Allard.)

21 Rd2 ...

The text is played to bolster the defense of the 2nd rank, especially f2.

21 ... fxg3
22 hxg3 gxf3
23 Nxf3 Nxf3+
24 Bxf3 Qf7

This is a critical situation for Black. The queenside is still frozen and White has full control of the d and e-files (Allard.)

25 Bd1! ...

I spent three days analyzing this position. My initial idea was Bg2, supporting d5 and keeping the enemy bishop off h3. Then I found the text, which guards the squares f3, g4 and h5 and also defends the a-pawn (in the event of ... Bd7) so the Queen can get back to the center. 21. Rd2 turned out to be most fortuitous.

25 ... Bf6
26 Qe3 Bg5
27 Qe5+ Qg7
28 Qxg7+ Kxg7
29 Rh2 ...

White must find a square on the second rank where the Rook won't be harassed by enemy Bishops. From h2, the Rook also supports Bh5, which will prevent Black from defending the e-pawn by ... Re8 or .. Rf7.

29 ... Bd7
30 Bxe7 Rfe8

Of course not ... Bxe7 31. Rxe7+ Rf7 32. Rxf7+ Kxf7 33. Rxh6 nets White a second pawn. White's strategy from here on out is tried and true: centralization, advancing the queenside pawns to create a passer and minimizing Black's counterplay through simplification. Every exchange brings White closer to that "won ending," but care must be exercised not to fall into one of those trick positions where Black can force the draw.

31 Bb4 Rxe1+
32 Bxe1 Rf8
33 Bc3+ Kg8

And here is Black's first little trap. If now 34 b4 or Bc2, Black plays 34 ... Be3+ 35 Kh1 Rf1+ 36 Kg2 Rf2+ etc. (White must accept a draw by repetition or lose significant material to the discovered check.)

34 Re2 Bg4
35 Re1 Be3+


36 Kg2 ...

After 36 Rxe3 Bxd1 37. Re6 Bb3 the bishop does not get to gobble up the c and d-pawns because of 38. Rg6+ Kf7 39. Rg7+ Ke8 40. Rxc7. My distrust of opposite-colored bishop endings is so great that I avoided this position, even though White creates a passer!? Black now offered two "if" moves, jumping at the chance to bury White's king in the corner. The problem is that bishop and rook cannot mate a lone king without assistance, so Black ties up his most powerful piece keeping the enemy king confined to the bank rank. While this is a laudable, often winning strategy in many endings, here it just gives White's rook and bishop a free hand. White must also preserve his g-pawn if at all possible, as all pawns on one side of the board increase Black's chances of finding a drawing line.

36 ... Rf2+
37 Kh1 Bxd1
38 Rxd1 Kf7
39 Be5 ...

White dominates the central squares!

39 ... Ke7
40 Rd3 Bb6!?

Countering the threatened 41. Rb3. Black does not want to play ... b6 because the pawn will be vulnerable after Bxc7. I half expected 40 ... Bc5, keeping his pieces active at the cost of another pawn.

40 ... Bg5 is the alternative, but it allows a different kind of misery for Black after 41. d6+. I still had dreams of neutralizing White's queenside. (Allard.)

41 b4 Re2
42 Bf4 Rb2
43 c5 ...

43. a5 was tempting, so the pawn won't be under immediate attack after ... Rxb4. However, instead of ... Ba7 Black counters with ... Bf2! 44. Bxc7 Rxb4 and White has trouble protecting his pawns (45. Rc3 Be1 etc.)

43 ... Ba7
44 Bxc7 Rxb4
45 Bd6+ Kf6!?
46 Rc3 ...

The text, a total change of plan, forces Black to sacrifice his bishop to stop the c-pawn. With an extra piece, the win should not be too difficult. On 45 ... Kd7, I had intended 46 Rf3, and if 46 ... Rxa4 47 Rf7+ Ke8 (... Kd8 48 c6! threatens mate) 48 Rxb7 wins.

46 ... Rxa4
47 c6 bxc6
48 dxc6 Bb6
49 c7 Bxc7
50 Bxc7 Ra2

Black returns to his strategy of confining White's king to the back rank. This is more nuisance than real danger, as White can always maneuver a piece to the second rank, creating a "bridge" for the king to rejoin his forces.

51 Rc5 Kg6?
52 Bf4 ...

Now Rc6 wins the h-pawn and Black can no longer force a draw by exchanging rooks and king-side pawns.

52 ... a5
53 Rc6+ Kf5
54 Rxh6 a4
55 Rh2 Ra1+
56 Kg2 Ra2+

57 Kh3 ...


Black was hoping for 57. Kf3?? Rxh2 58. g4+ Kf6 59. Bxh2 a3 60. Ke4 (60. Bg1 Ke5) Kg5 61. Kf3 Kf6 etc. White cannot go after the a-pawn without losing the g-pawn, leaving insufficient mating material. This "stalemate" on an open board is a rarity, another one of those "trick positions" one must be alert for in a lengthy endgame.

57 ... Ra1
58 Re2 Rh1+
59 Kg2 Rd1
60 Re5+ Kg6

Of course not 60 ... Kg4 61. Rg5 mate.

61 Ra5 Rd4
62 Kf3 Rc4
63 Kg4 Rb4
64 Ra6+ Kf7
65 Kf5 1-0

Game on this page as playable game and pgn  HERE

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Game 4

8th (1987) U.S. Correspondence Chess Championship
White: Paul L. Thompson
Black: Max Zavanelli
Dutch Defense (A89)

1 d4 f5
2 g3 ...

White defers c4 until Black commits, i.e., an orthodox Dutch Defense with ... e6 etc., or the Leningrad Dutch with ... g6.

2 ... Nf6
3 Bg2 g6
4 Nf3 Bg7
5 c4 0-0
6 0-0 d6
7 Nc3 Nc6
8 d5 Ne5
9 Nxe5 dxe5
10 Qb3 h6
11 Be3 g5
(For 11. ... Kh8, see Game 3.)
12 Bc5 a6
13 Ba3 Qe8
14 e3 f4
15 exf4 exf4
16 Rae1 Qh5
17 Rxe7 ...


17 ... Bh3

Perhaps 17 ... f3!? was worth a try, aiming for complications.

18 f3 g4
19 Ne2 gxf3
20 Rxg7+ Kh8

Not 20. ... Kxg7 21. Nxf4 Bxg2 22. Nxh5+ Nxh5 23. Bxf8+ Rxf8 24. Qxb7! Bxf1 25. Qxc7+ Rf7 26. Qe5+ Kg8 (26. ... Nf6 27. Kxf1 wins.) 27. Kxf1 Ng7 28. c5 +- .

21 Bxf3 Qf5
22 Bxf8 Bxf1
23 Kxf1 Rxf8
24 Rxc7 fxg3
25 Nxg3 Qf4
26 Re7 Ng4

If 26. ... Nxd5 27. cxd5 Qxf3+ 28. Qxf3 Rxf3+ 29. Ke2 +- .

27 Qc3+ Rf6
28 Kg2 h5

If 28. ... Qxf3+ 29. Qxf3 Rxf3 30. Kxf3 Nxh2+ 31. Kf4 +-.

29 Re8+ Kh7
30 Be4+ 1-0

Faced with mate or giving up the queen, Black resigns.

Game on this page as playable game and pgn  HERE

NOTES: Michael Allard referenced a number of theoretical articles and games in his notes to Game 3.
Readers interested in further study should find the following helpful:
New in Chess Yearbook No. 68, pages 213-217.
New in Chess Yearbook No. 70, pages 206-212.
Jasnikowski-Grabarczyk, Polanica Zdroj 1994
Gurevich-Milton, Cappele la Grande 1999
Beliavsky-Kobalia, Tripoli 2004

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