Last time out we looked at Black, in the Scandinavian Defense, trying the old queen/bishop battery on a5 and b4, only to find White sacrificing two rooks by taking the bishop.Today, undaunted, Black switches over to the kingside with the same idea. The big question you have to answer is whether you should take the bishop on g4? Got a plan?
We’ve spent a good deal of time on middle game attacking positions and, recently, endgame positions. Now, we’re going to head into an area near and dear to all chess players—the opening. In my new book, Openings for Amateurs, I point out a lot of common mistakes the average club player makes in the openings. We’re going to expand on that in the coming weeks with mistakes that come from actual games. This position arose from a game, Canal-Horvath, Budapest, 1934, and, after 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 c6 5.Nf3 Bg4 Modern players of the Black pieces have pretty much given up on Bg4 moves in the Scandinavian, replacing it with Bf5. 6.Bf4 e6 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Bb4 Another aggressive looking bishop move that is not so hot. Better was Nf6. 9.Be2 Nd7 10.a3 0–0–0 This allows a quick win for White, but the alternatives were gloomy as well for Black. His earlier "slight errors" with bishop placement brought him here. Some other possibilities: 10...Ngf6 11.Rb1 Be7 12.b4 Qd8 13.b5 c5 14.d5 e5 15.Bg3 0–0 16.0–0; 10...Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Qd5 12.0–0 Qxf3 13.Bxf3. How did Canal finish Horvath off here?
In closing our little adventure into miniature endgames, it seems appropriate that the last one involves the knights. There is always something interesting about knights. One characteristic of the two knights as a pair is that, with no other pieces or pawns on the board, they can’t force checkmate. That makes this position a good deal of fun as all the Black rook has to do is give itself up for that White pawn and it’s a draw. The rook can zoom all over the place, so you had better figure out a way to safely escort that pawn to b8 and promotion to a queen!
The compositions selected in recent days have been purposely picked for their scant number of pieces. It gives you a real appreciation of the power, opportunities and subtleties of these pieces’ movements. This problem shows what the rooks can and can’t do. Another instructive study by Rinck.
Today’s composition is a study by Rinck (1922) where he shows us that White, with rook and bishop can defeat two rooks pretty much due to the diversity of power with the two White pieces. The Black king’s restricted position is the key factor, but it is instructive how White overcomes the defense.