Positional Pondering

  • IM Silman
  • | 13.11.2012
  • | 13520 odsłon
  • | 20 komentarzy

IMPORTANT: [At the end of the puzzles, you should click MOVE LIST so you can see my instructive notes and variations. If you are having trouble solving a problem, just click SOLUTION, and then MOVE LIST. Even if you solve everything, DO click MOVE LIST or you might miss an important bit of prose.]

Statics versus Dynamics

Here we have a classic battle between black's lead in development (dynamics) and white's superior pawn structure (statics). What do these factors tell Black to do?


A Nimzovich Favorite

The opening didn't go well for Black and he's a pawn down. Nevertheless, he can still put up an epic fight! At the moment, Black has no less than 11 possible Knight moves! Which one is best?

Tiny Things Can Have Grave Consequences

Black just played his pawn from b7 to b6. If you hate it, then figure out what's wrong with it. If you like it, defend it!

A Tough Decision

The key questions in the position below are: Should Black play 15...e5 or 15...Ne6? Are both okay? Is 15...e5 logical or idiotic? Why would anyone want to play 15...Ne6 and block the Bishop on d7?

Before going into actual variations (available in the board), here is my two cents worth about the above Qs:

15…e5, the move that Black played, is a typical device in Marcozy Bind structures to fight for the d4-square. It's not a bad move at all, but 15…Ne6 is a bit better (at least for my "give the opponent as few chances as possible" style). There are a few reasons for this:

* 15…e5 allows White to initiate a small tactical pawn break (16.c5) that may or may not improve white’s position. However, if I feel I rule the position I often go out of my way (if possible) to avoid all potential counterplay.

* 15…e5 does create a long-term hole on d5 and a potential target on d6. This usually isn’t a big deal with this structure, but why give White anything if an excellent and less committal alternative exists?

* 15…Ne6 doesn’t just target the d4-square, it also targets the c5-square via …a7-a5. Since 15…Ne6 aims at d4, prepares for the annexation of c5, and also keeps black’s position nice and tight and weakness free (while retaining the ...e7-e5 option), I would have to go with that move.


* A static advantage offers its owner a long term plus, while a dynamic advantage offers short term candy. This usually means that the side with the dynamic advantage needs to strike hard and fast (since it will eventually fade away), while the side with the long lasting static advantage (structure, material, etc.) can slowly but surely make use of his longer lasting stuff.

* Sometimes if things are going badly, the best reaction is to stay calm and centralize your pieces so they maintain maximum activity and flexibility. Indeed, centralized pieces that are working together are often a wonderful thing to behold. 

* Creating holes in your position can have long-term repercussions, or can even lead to an immediate smackdown! If you must create a hole in your camp, be aware that you're doing so, and be  prepared to show why it's no big deal in that instance. If your opponent creates a hole in his camp, train yourself to notice it, and do everything possible to take advantage of it!

* Knowing as many pawn structures as possible is extremely important if you wish to reach master level. This kind of knowledge tells you, at a glance, whether creating a hole is or is not okay, what minor pieces to retain or exchange, and a host of other bits of key information.

* In our final example, creating a hole on d5 with 15...e5 is perfectly acceptable, while in many other positions it wouldn't be correct at all. It all comes down to what you get in return. As Fischer once said, "You gotta give squares to get squares!"


If you want me to look over your game, send it to askjeremy@chess.com.

I need your name (real or chess.com handle), your OPPONENT’S name (real or chess.com handle), both players’ ratings, where the game was played, and date. If you don’t give me this information, I won’t use your game! BTW: I’ve noticed that many people are reluctant to give me their opponent’s name. This is very strange! Showing the names of both players is the way chess games are presented in databases, books, magazines… everywhere! Permission from the opponent isn’t necessary. If permission was necessary, everyone who ever lost a game wouldn’t allow their name to be on it!


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    nice article

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    Nice article.

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    Good puzzle, i'm trying to solve it right now!

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    Very instructive! Thanks. I had to do the puzzles standing on my head as the flip tab was missing!

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    @die1gast You are wrong, the puzzles don't offer the possibility of fliping the board, unlike chess games. It doesn't bother me, that the board is from white's perspective of view tho, as I got used to it while solving problems and watching games in books.

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    lol yes it does.

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    @euwenhob - Chess.com already offers the service you request. Just hit the FLIP button at the bottom of the diagram.

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    Thanks for publishing my game. I stumbled upon this article accidentally. 

  • 4 lat temu


    It's one thing to be able to solve a puzzle... but upside down as well?

  • 4 lat temu

    NM ih8sens

    @ Lubo lol ... The game ended tragically :P.  I got trigger happy in time pressure and tried to win a game that was clearly headed for one of many draws by repetition.  Later in the same tournament I managed to beat a different IM though :) (http://blog.chess.com/ih8sens/canadian-open---the-remix)

    @Silman - Thanks for using one of my games!  The way you analyzed/annotated my game looks a lot like the way I do it... so maybe I am setting myself up for improvement :)

  • 4 lat temu


    How did Krnan (2535) vs. M. Nicholson (2065) ended? I suppose there is no miskate in their ratings and they have nearly 500 ELO points difference. Did Nicholson managed to convert the advantage into a full point?

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    :) good article

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    A great article. Thank you.

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    why did you publish a game with a NN from chess.com when you say they need to display their name? haha :P

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