Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The 3 Keys

The 3 keys

I keep changing what I call these. I used to call them guidelines, but I think keys are better. They unlock the real game of chess.

  1. Keep your king safe.
  2. Make your pieces active.
  3. Control key squares.
You keep from losing games by doing these, and you win games by making it difficult for your opponent to achieve these.

In the opening the words we use for the keys differ, but they still are there.
  1. Castle.
  2. Develop.
  3. Fight for the Center.
The center are key squares through most of most games. In the ending the squares in front of passed pawns often become more important than the center. When the center becomes locked, the key square shift.

Development is the first placement of the pieces, and we want them to be on active squares. For instance, in the Ruy Lopez closed, white's queen knight first moves to d2, but it is not really developed until it reaches e3 or g3.

Castling is one way to keep your king safe, and important when your opponent is developed and can open the center.

The Game

I played a G16/3 recently. I could have played much better, but my opponents play is a good example of not using the keys.

After 1.Nf3 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3. Nbd2 e6 4.c4 Bb4

I made a conscious choice to make a sub optimal move here.  I gambit a pawn to get the two bishops and development.  5.g3 Bxf3 6.exf3 Qf6 7.Bg2 Qxd4 8.O-O

This position is equal. I may not be able to keep my development edge, as I have trouble unwinding my pieces. I have several problems: f3f4 will uncover my Bg2, but could get into my other bishop's way, Normally, an exposed queen this early in the game would be trouble for black, but I do not have a ready means to improve my position by gaining tempo by attacking his queen. Black can develop his knights to e7 and c6 then castle to be fine.

But he decides to begin a kingside attack when he is not developed. My plan was to develop my dark square bishop to b2, and look for breaks with my c and f pawn. 8.... h5 9.a3 Be7 10.f4 h5?? 11.Qa4?? c6 (I missed that I could just take the a8-rook, I was too focused on getting my knight to f3 and not trading queens)  12. Nf3 Qf6 
In this position, black is way behind in development. His king is still safe without castling, but it does interfere with getting his queen rook into the game. His knights are still at home.  I should take his pawn on h5, as he is too poorly developed to sack the exchange on h5. I was too focused on bringing my bishop to d4.

13. Be3 hxg3 14. hxg3 Qxb2?! (he takes another pawn) 15. Rab1?  Qc3?? (the a3 pawn was en prise. This was a pawn he should grab.)  16. Bxb6 Bd8?? (16... Qxa3 )
We are at move 17 and three of black's pieces are undeveloped, while he just move a fourth to the back rank. Steinitz may have made such moves, but he would never have made a move like that in this position.

Things are pretty hopeless for black. His development is no better than it was on move 13. By move 17 in any game your knights should have been involved for a long time.

Here I should have traded bishops and begin the crush. The rest of the game: 17. Bd4 Qd3 18. Rbd1 Qf5 19. Be5  Nf6 20. Nd4  Qh5  21. h3  Ng4  22. hxg4  Qxg4  23. Qb3  Be7 24. f5 d6  25. Nxc6  Nxc6 26. Bxc6+ Kf8 27. Bxa8 Bd8 28. Bxd6+ Kg8 29. Bf4 Qh3 30. Rxd8+ Kh7  31. Rxh8+ Kxh8 32. Rf2 1-0

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