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Title: The Middle Game in Chess, Third Edition
Date of first publication: 1938
Place and date of edition used as base for this ebook: London: G. Bell & Sons, 1938
Author: Eugene Alexandrovich Znosko-Borovsky (1884-1954)
Translator: Julius du Mont (1881-1956)
Date first posted: 1 July 2007
Date last updated: 1 July 2007
Project Gutenberg Canada ebook #13

This ebook was produced by: Andrew Templeton




Translated by
J. Du Mont



A third edition of Znosko-Borovsky's pioneer work, The Middle Game in Chess, having been sold out, the question of a reprint became urgent.

An artist in the true sense of the word, the author was not satisfied with a mere reprint of the work as it stood, successful though that has been. Instead of this line of least resistance, he set out to write an entirely new book, in which the experience and concentrated thought of the last twelve years have found a happy expression.

The really outstanding positions from the old book have been retained, but treated in a manner far more concise and easy to comprehend.

At the same time, new and profound ideas are illustrated by positions from the very latest master practice.

True to the pioneer spirit, which is perhaps the most striking feature of the author's character, he gives his readers, in Chapter I of Part II, a lucid exposition of those bugbears of the average player, the transition stages between Opening and Middle Game and between Middle Game and End Game.

For the first time in the history of chess literature, this important subject finds adequate and authoritative treatment.

My thanks are due to my friends F. W. Allen and D. Castello for reading the proofs.






(a) Space

A game of chess is contested within a strictly geometrical space, namely, a square board sub-divided into 64 squares of equal size. There is no physical difference at all between any of these squares, their colour being only a matter of convenience, making them easier to survey.

Yet their respective location on the chessboard affects their individual importance. This distinction becomes evident when we compare the squares situated on the edge of the board with those in the centre. The centre squares are, for all practical purposes, at an equal distance from the corners of the board; in consequence it is easy to support from there any point that may be attacked or, conversely, to initiate an attack wherever opportunity offers. In practice, whoever controls the centre has the command of the whole board.The centre squares being surrounded by other squares, any piece posted there radiates power in every direction, whereas its effectiveness is considerably less if placed near the edge of the board, as there it lacks at least one side for its radiation; in the corner it is even cut off from two sides.

The less radiation a piece possesses, the smaller is its power. Therefore pieces gain in strength by approaching the centre; they are strongest when posted there. Every piece has theoretically an absolute and constant value; but in practice its effective value varies according to the square it occupies. It is therefore of very real advantage to obtain control of the centre.

It must not be assumed that the best tactical plan is to place all one's pieces in the centre, thus rendering them as powerful as possible. This would only lead to the forces facing four fronts instead of only one as in the initial position. In addition numerous pieces massed within a small space would obstruct each other and become less instead of more powerful. Finally, our task is not only to occupy strong squares, but equally to guard our own weak squares against intrusion by the enemy.

It may be said that the occupation of a centre square by placing a piece upon it is not always necessary: it is at times sufficient merely to control it, thereby preventing its occupation by a hostile unit. Actual occupation is only of value if it is more or less permanent.

Apart from the small centre of 4 squares, we can speak of a wider centre comprising the 16 squares nearest the middle of the chessboard.

One could while the time away by making a valuation of each square starting from the small centre, where the value is 36, down to the corners, where it dwindles to 23. These valuations, however, could at best be of interest to the mathematician; the practical player only values ideas.

The lines which are formed by various sequences of squares can be divided into two main groups:

The last named have the distinctive feature that they comprise squares of one colour only. For this reason a Bishop which moves diagonally cannot control the whole chessboard but only half of it: hence its limited power. Diagonals are of varying length: the longest comprises 8 squares, the shortest only 2. All other lines, vertical and horizontal, always contain the same number of squares, namely, 8.

From any square, in the centre or otherwise, there are always 14 squares on lines of the first group.

The maximum number of squares on diagonals, namely 13, is available from each of the 4 centre squares. This number is smaller the farther we get from the centre, the minimum being 7 from any outside square. We must therefore conclude that the diagonal is the weakest line on the chessboard. It is of practical importance to realize the strength of a diagonal which is about to be occupied. A line affects the power of a piece in the same way as does a square.

If the importance of a line necessarily depends on its length, it depends even more so on the part of the chessboard which it traverses. It is the strength of the squares of which it is composed which determines the value of a line. A line near the edge of the board has not the same importance as a line near the centre. We increase the power of our pieces by placing them on important lines, and therefore it is important to occupy such lines.

It is clear that the weakest lines are the outside ranks and files. But from a practical point of view the last ranks and files but one, forming the girdle QKt2—KKt2—KKt7—QKt7 must be considered the most vulnerable; the reason is to be found in the fact that the outside ranks and files are protected on one side, so to speak, by the absence of further squares which makes them immune from a turning movement.

Ranks and files differ, in the main, in their direction. This distinction is of the greatest import, as in a normal game of chess there are only two adversaries.

As the forces are marshalled on horizontal lines, the front of each army is prepared to sustain and repel assaults on vertical lines, which are the lines of attack. Thus a number of ranks belong wholly to one camp or the other; others provide the field of battle.

The case of the files is entirely different; in each one of these there are squares which are in closer proximity than the others to one or the other of the players. Hence their character is diametrically opposed to that of the ranks. K3 and K6 are identical in every respect, but K3 belongs to White and K6 to Black. From the point of view of the players one is neutral, the other active. He protects the one whilst attacking the other. The file is active whilst the rank is neutral. With each square on a file activity goes on increasing, but on reaching the fifth we assume the initiative and start the attack with all the attending risks.

We cannot allow an enemy piece to settle down within our lines, as, for instance, on our third rank; at the same time we try to occupy corresponding squares in the enemy's camp. It is of great advantage to us if one of our pieces, having reached such an advanced position, can be maintained there; if it is driven back we have in most cases only wasted time.

Thus we perceive that in addition to the value of each square on an empty board, there is another and different valuation depending on the disposition of the two armies; we shall see that further variations occur according to the relative position of the pieces at any given moment. As the squares influence the pieces, in the same way do the pieces affect the value of the squares, which value varies consequently with every move. We must acquire a clear perception of the difference between the constant and the variable value of the squares, which is of the utmost importance for the proper handling of a game of chess. It is easy enough to remember the first; but it is far more difficult correctly to assess the changes which are constantly occurring. But if insufficient attention is given to this matter, and one adheres blindly to the constant and preconceived valuation, it will not be noticed in time when the usually strong and sound has become weak and precarious.

Although our chessboard is an ideal square—and the lines thereon are perfectly regular—this space in which the chessmen do battle is not altogether similar to spaces which we find in geometry or in everyday life. It is a strange world, subject to its own peculiar laws.

Supposing you wish to travel from KR1 to KR7, you will remember what you have been taught at school, namely, that the straight line is the shortest distance between two given points, and you will follow the R file and accomplish the journey in six moves. But if your King should choose to travel diagonally in a broken line KR1-K4-KR7 he will also arrive at his destination in six moves. The number of squares is the deciding factor, not the length of the journey.

Geometrical theorems (such as the square of hypothenuse) are not valid on the chessboard. Take the right angle QR4—Q4—Q1, and you will see that each side QR4 to Q4, Q4-Q1, and Q1-QR4 comprises four squares.

The possibility of employing with the same degree of effectiveness lines visibly different in length is of great importance, for, in consequence, it becomes possible to aim at several points at the same time, which is the basis of numerous combinations. Let us examine the following position (Diag. 1):


Study by Réti

Black has played ... P-R4; how is it possible to reach this pawn? It seems out of the question, as the white King is two squares behind. The game to all appearances is irrevocably lost. And yet it yields but a draw. It is unbelievable, yet it is so.

Instead of playing K-R7, following up the pawn on the same file, White plays on the diagonal 1 K-Kt7, P-R5; 2 K-B6. If now 2 ... P-R6; 3 K-K7 protecting his QBP on the next move and queening it in two more moves. If instead 2 ... K-Kt3; then 3 K-K5, threatening 4 K-Q6, again guarding his QBP. Therefore 3 ... KxP; after which 4 K-B4, P-R6; 5 K-Kt3, intercepting the black pawn.

The diagonal enabled the white King to stop the hostile pawn, which he could not have done by pursuing it on the file, for on the diagonal he was approaching his own pawn.

In this study the importance of a diagonal is clearly demonstrated, but equally so, the importance of the centre, for from here both flanks can be threatened at the same time. In this way we qualify, to a certain extent, what was said about the weakness of a diagonal. At least in the case of the King and the Queen (which can move on a rank, a file or a diagonal), the diagonal in away unites the characteristics of vertical and horizontal lines.

It is essential to become acquainted and perfectly familiar with these peculiarities of the chessboard. They possess not only theoretical interest, but practical importance as well. How many lost games have been due to ignorance of them! How many more to their neglect!


White: Yates; Black: Marshall
Carlsbad Tournament, 1929

They must become a player's second nature and emerge subconsciously whenever they are needed.

In the position shown in Diag. 2, White, instead of choosing the shortest way to win, namely, 1 Q-B2, decided on another line of play which he deemed to be just as safe: 1 K-B4, P-Kt8(Q); 2 QxQ ch, KxQ; 3 K-Kt4. Black's RP falls and White's BP cannot be stopped as the adverse King is not within the "square."

Great was White's surprise when Black, instead of the expected 3 ... K-B7; played 3 ... K-Kt7; occupying another diagonal from where he can reach the adverse BP, because White must lose a move capturing Black's RP, which otherwise, protected by its King at Kt7, would reach the queening square.

A player cannot be expected at all times to think out the correct line of play: he must have the feeling for it. To that end the chessboard and all its peculiarities must be perfectly familiar to him and hold no secrets. It would be a good thing if every amateur could, without sight of the board, visualise all its lines and angles with a clearness and precision that would enable him, without thinking, to determine the colour of every square and the rank, file and diagonal on which it is to be found.

(b) Time

It is no easy task to speak of things that are neither visible nor tangible.

As regards space, we have the chessboard, but time in reality represents but an idea and is, in theory, unlimited. On the restricted space of the chessboard this leads to strange happenings.

If in chess the unit of space is the square, that of time is the move. As in the case of the squares, the moves are always equal, alternating with strict regularity between the two players. Yet in making a move it is possible to lose time, which might be of paramount importance. To lose a tempo, it is sufficient to take two moves in executing a manoeuvre which could have been carried out in one. Advancing a piece and moving it back again also loses time. It is tantamount to losing a strong square and surrendering it to the opponent.

There is another distinction: some moves are voluntary, others are forced. If there is perfect freedom in the choice of move and a wide range to choose from, the stronger the moves are likely to be. If moves are compulsory, it is a sign of weakness both of the position and of the pieces. Starting from the initial position with a limited number of possible moves, the object of the mobilisation is to obtain different positions with an ever-increasing number of available moves. Whenever this number begins to grow less it is a sure sign that the position is deteriorating and that the pieces are becoming correspondingly less effective.

Although moves are equal in point of time, it is important that they should be made at the right moment. The same move, played at different times, has entirely different values. The order of the moves is of the utmost importance. Not unlike the lines formed by squares, we have series of moves.

Chess is not played move by move, but in well-considered series of moves, which should meet all requirements, namely, freedom for the player, constraint for the adversary; proper timing of each individual move; use of the maximum power of each piece at all times.

The more numerous the moves conceived as one series, the wider the range of their possible variations and the greater their effective strength. A move which initiates such a sequence of moves is the move of a master. If it leads to nothing it is of no value; you must be thankful if it does not ruin your game.

We must also pay attention to another point, namely, whether our moves are active or passive. A real offensive begins when our threats are ahead of the opponent's defensive measures.

A game of chess can, on broad lines, be divided into three main phases: the opening, the middle game, and the end game.

Our primary object is to enter upon the middle game, which is the very life of chess, without lagging behind our opponent. If we drift into a middle game without having developed the whole of our forces, our game will be dominated by the adversary and in consequence our pieces will be weaker than his, and their freedom of action will be restricted. As in actual warfare, faulty mobilisation can be put right but rarely, and then only with difficulty.

Whoever starts the middle game with an advance in development and with the command of the centre, has every reason to hope for ultimate success.

Success will come to him whose end game represents the realisation of what has been achieved in the middle game. It is here, above all, that the factor of time becomes paramount. Speed plays a decisive part, for it might turn a pawn into a Queen. In the middle game time has as much value as space.

(c) Force

Space and time are the conditions in which chess is played. The active element is force. Force reveals itself in space and time, combines the two in its movements, and is itself, for its effective application, conditioned by them.

We have established a unit of time and a unit of space. Is there equally a unit of force? If so, is that unit subordinate to a particular principle? Were the answer in the negative the game itself would lose in balance and its laws would become arbitrary.

In examining the pieces which represent the element of force in chess, we shall find this unit. These pieces, one and all, obey the same principle; they are alike in all essentials. There are, it is true, some strange variations: e.g., the King cannot be captured, for the game is lost when he cannot avoid capture; a pawn can be turned into a Queen. But the difference between the pieces rests in their particular ways of moving; it can be stated that therein lies the only distinction between them.

The power of any piece depends on its speed, or, in other words, its power to control or threaten a certain space in a certain time. The greater the space and the shorter the time, the greater the speed of the piece, and consequently its power.

Force, as applied to chessmen, is therefore expressed in terms of time and space. Could there be a more eloquent demonstration of the logical consistency which forms the basis of chess?

As we have seen, the unit of space is the square; that of time is the move. In the same way we have a unit of force, namely, the motion in one move from one square to the next. In principle this unit is the pawn, although allowance must be made for the pawn's peculiarities, namely, the initial double move, the capture on a diagonal, and queening.

As we have said, the real difference between the pieces lies in their respective speeds: and we find in chess a curious state of affairs which is peculiar to that game. If a piece attacks another, it is not the weaker but the stronger one which has to give way. A light ball will always be driven back by a heavier one. In warfare, also, a more heavily armed aeroplane will force a less fortunate opponent to retire.

Another of the pawn's peculiarities is that it cannot retreat and, as each side possesses eight pawns, they form an arm distinct from the other forces.

As a unit amongst the pieces, one could take the King which, in one move, can occupy any adjacent square; the King's move is the forerunner of the moves of all other pieces which command files, ranks and diagonals in any direction. The moves of the strongest piece on the board, the Queen, are merely an extension of the moves of the King, the weakest piece in chess.

For their moves the pieces use only lines existing on the chessboard, and in their variety they remain strictly logical, the result of the evolution of the chess move in the course of many centuries of chess history. One could imagine in chess absurd and fantastic moves, independent of any set laws; indeed such moves have been tried in the history of chess. But in the final form of the game the uniformity and logic of its moves cannot be doubted. The only piece which seems to have preserved something fantastic in its gait is the Knight. But a closer analysis will show that the Knight's move is based on the same principles as those of other pieces.

We have seen the relationship between the moves of the King and the Queen. The Queen's moves combine those of Rook and Bishop; in other words it covers all the lines on the chessboard, vertical, horizontal and diagonal.

Concerning the Knight's move, which at first sight appears to be entirely arbitrary, it is very interesting to note, upon reasoned examination, that it conforms to the general scheme of things. Nor will it be devoid of practical usefulness to recognise this fact.


If we examine Fig. A we shall see that the Rook's move there illustrated geometrically bisects the angle formed by the Knight's moves K2-KB4-KKt6-KR8 and K2-Q4-QB6-QKt8. Thus the similarity of the Knight to the other pieces is manifest, as is also the regularity of its move which, at stated intervals, passes through a full square, after cutting across two intervening squares. It thus becomes apparent that the Knight's move is not crooked at all: it can move in a straight line, any desired distance across the board.

Fig. B shows how the Bishop on the long diagonal bisects the angle formed by two Knights moving from QR1 to Q7 and KB4 respectively.


The two angles formed by the Bishop's move on the long diagonal from QR1 and the Rook's moves QR1-QR8 and QR1-KR1 respectively, are again sub-divided, although in this case not equally by the Knight's moves QR1-QKt3-QB5-Q7 and QR1-QB2-K3-KKt4.

There can be no doubt that the Knight's move is closely related to the moves of all the other pieces and is based on similar principles.


There are in chess two distinct groups of forces, namely, the pawns and the pieces proper.

The pieces represent the dynamic element of the game whilst, normally, the pawns have a static tendency. Both have to fulfil different tasks according to their power and individual capacity.

(a) The pawns

The pawns differ from the pieces in two essential points: one is their weakness, or in other words their lack of speed, the other being their inability to retrace their steps.

Whereas the pieces can always return to a square which they were compelled to leave, a pawn, once started on its journey, can never turn back. For this reason a player must exercise the most extreme care in advancing his pawns. The eight pawns occupy all the files and show the enemy an unbroken front; but once they are under way, their original front is left bare and allows the enemy to penetrate freely into the inner lines. Having once pierced the line of pawns, the opponent is no longer obliged to manoeuvre vertically, as is the case in the initial position; he can attack in all directions, which is extremely dangerous, as such attacks are the hardest to resist and to repel.

Therefore the pawns, used collectively, are the defensive force par excellence.

The rupture of their line or its disappearance, which is part of the opponent's plan, must have fatal consequences; defence is therefore their first consideration.

To this end the best position for the pawns is the horizontal line, for in that case the whole of the rank in front of them is guarded, which renders any attack difficult to carry out. The pawns are in a position easily to protect each other: any pawn, which may be attacked, simply moves up one square. If, as in the case of the castled position, the King is behind the pawns, a pawn must be attacked twice before it is really threatened. On the other hand, any advance by pawns weakens the pawn position, and this for several reasons, of which the most important is that, if any pawn moves forward, two neighbouring squares are weakened, as they have permanently lost the protection of that pawn. These squares represent weaknesses which can be exploited by the enemy; the most vulnerable point is a "hole", as for instance KKt3, when the pawns are placed at KB3, KKt2 and KR3. Pawns, when posted on the same rank, can easily evade most attacks by mutual protection, which is effected by a simple advance of one square by one of the pawns. On the other hand, a pawn, once advanced, leaves the pawn which is protecting it weak and backward, for that pawn cannot easily be protected by another.

If the pawn thus advanced is one of the King's field pawns (in the castled position) it becomes itself weak, as it is liable to be attacked: a pawn at KR3 can be attacked in two moves by the hostile KKtP.

Many and varied are the types of attack, which can be made upon pawns. The object may be to create a weak square, or to weaken an advanced pawn, or to exploit the weakness of a backward pawn. For defensive purposes also it is of great importance properly to diagnose weaknesses in the pawn position, and to locate the most serious weakness both for attack and defence.

The disposition of pawns on a diagonal, where they protect one another, is also advantageous, provided the base of this chain of pawns is as far away as possible from the hostile forces. For it is the base which will be attacked, and if it is vulnerable, through being within striking distance, it may be possible to destroy it, causing the whole chain to crumble away. The same applies to a pawn-formation on two diagonals forming an angle. An attack against the peak of the chain can also become serious, as it may destroy a fortified outpost; in the case of a "hill" formation on two diagonals (QR2, QKt3, QB4, Q5, K4, KB3; KKt2) the break-up of the peak destroys the whole lay-out and leaves two short pawn-chains. The greatest weakness, however, is the isolated pawn, particularly when doubled: protection by other pawns is permanently eliminated, and such pawns are at the mercy of enemy attacks. At the same time it is possible for a doubled pawn to have a high defensive value. Posted on an important file it commands the neighbouring squares and prevents the occupation of four valuable squares by hostile pieces, conversely securing these squares for its own pieces.

In addition, the doubling of a pawn opens a file which can be of the greatest value if it can be occupied by the Rooks ahead of the adversary. Nevertheless, the weakness of the doubled pawn remains; we can only try to redeem it by gaining an advantage in another direction.

One of the distinctive features of chess is the combination of the various elements, which renders the game interesting and rather difficult; for it is an art in itself correctly to assess advantages as against corresponding weaknesses. But in chess, we say it again, it is impossible, except against bad play, to have everything for nothing: a gain is nearly always attended by some loss of one kind or another. The question is which of the two is of greater moment.

Essentially a defensive unit, the pawn can, thanks in the main to its very weakness, become dangerous in attack. As it is an advantage to exchange a pawn for a piece, the pieces must retreat before an attack by pawns. The Queen may be as strong as eight pawns, but she must normally retreat when attacked by one of them.

When the pawns have started an advance, the opposing pieces must deem discretion the better part of valour and meekly retire. Such retreat must be decided upon as early as possible, lest the attacking pawns should gain too much time.

As soon as a pawn-attack can be foreseen, that part of the front should, as far as possible, be denuded of pieces. Then the pawns will only have the opposing pawns as the object of attack. Whilst this method is difficult and takes time, it will allow the defender to be thoroughly prepared. It happens but rarely that pawns can weaken the hostile pawn position, the forces on either side being similar in every respect. It is preferable to weaken the hostile pawn position by skillfully manoeuvring the pieces, in order then to advance the pawns to the assault of the weakened position.

Such an assault can have varied objects. First of all, there is the break-through, the destruction of the enemy defences; or else merely the occupation of weakened squares; or it may be the opening-up of lines by means of pawn-sacrifices.

Owing to their small field of action, pawns are less suitable than pieces for the occupation of an opponent's weak squares. On the other hand, effective occupation by pawns is irrefutable and permanent: they are therefore particularly well fitted to fix a weakness, such as a backward pawn. A player who has a backward pawn will do his utmost to remedy the weakness; the best means to that end is to advance it. This is best countered by placing a pawn in front of the backward pawn, making its advance impossible.

If it is important thus to fix a weakness, it is also necessary to blockade a strong pawn: the smaller the value of the blockader the better, and a pawn is indicated for the purpose.

A passed pawn, even if isolated, is of the greatest potential value, particularly if it is supported from the rear by a Rook, which helps its advance. With each advance of the pawn the field of action of the Rook widens and the freedom of the adverse pieces becomes more restricted. The precise moment when an isolated pawn (from being weak) becomes strong, is impossible to tell: here again it is a question of correct positional judgment.

It is not enough to know that centre squares are stronger than outlying ones, nor that a certain piece is more powerful than another: all that may change in the course of the game: according to the peculiarities of a position, normally strong squares may become weak, and weak pieces may acquire an unsuspected and abnormal accession of strength. If we do not make use of our opportunities, they will disappear, and a passed pawn, on which we had built our fortunes, becomes gradually a pitiful and helpless isolated pawn.

We must always recognise the weaknesses as well as the strong points in our position; how they were brought about and how they can be reinforced. But it would be of little use merely to acknowledge that our position is inferior and to take the necessary steps to defend it: we must strive to the utmost to transform the position, so that its weakness may become strength. It depends to some extent on ourselves, when we have, for instance, a weak Knight against a strong Bishop, to alter the position in such a way that the Knight becomes more effective than the Bishop. Precisely in this consists the real struggle in chess.

(b) The King

There is little to be said about the King in a treatise on the middle game. Here the King is more or less inactive. In the end game, on the contrary, when only a few pieces are left on the board and mating threats are no longer to be feared, when even a pawn can become a Queen, then the King can and should take an active part in the struggle. In the middle game it is useless as well as bad tactics to expose the King to the dangers of the battle: his own weakness renders the King helpless when the opposing Queen goes berserk.

What can be expected of a King in the middle game? Not to get in the way of his forces, and not to demand from them undue protection, which would diminish their offensive value. That is why castling generally happens early in the game: the King moves into safety, away from the strong squares (which will be the concern of other pieces) where he will no longer interrupt the liaison between the two Rooks. Generally speaking, castling on the K side will be preferable. It is the normal procedure, whereas castling on the Q side will generally have some special significance; for in that case not only must the King make an additional move in order to get into real safety, but the Queen must have made a move, and castling on the Q side occurs therefore at a later stage. Under normal conditions castling KR is preferable.

Wherever the King is placed, the position in his vicinity becomes automatically weaker, for his presence attracts enemy attacks. If, in the same sector, the King were not present, an attack there would not have the same vigour, for the object of attack is naturally of less importance, as, for instance, the gain of a pawn. But with the King there, a mate might be the result and, to that end, no sacrifice could be too great.

However, in chess, a loss in one direction is seldom unaccompanied by some gain in another; in castling, for instance, the King, placed behind his pawns, is generally in no need of further protection from them. Here he can play a definitely active role; he might even support their advance, or he can strengthen a hole formed by the advance of a pawn, e.g., after PKKt3, the King can be posted at KKt2 and after P-KR3, he can move to KR2 supporting the pawns thus advanced and releasing a piece for some other important duty. But it seldom happens that the protection of the King's field by a piece can be dispensed with, and we must decide which piece to employ for the purpose, with the idea of limiting such protection to a strict minimum. From this point of view a Kt at KB3 or a B at KKt2 are indicated, for not only do they protect the King, but they are able to take an active part in the game. A Knight at KB1 is, defensively, quite as effective as at KB3, especially against a K side attack, but it generally carries with it the drawback that this Knight would remain entirely passive; it would take no active part in the operations, thereby demonstrating the inferiority of the defender's position.

The mate implies the termination of the contest, but a stalemate position is its prelude. The King must not be allowed to remain in a stalemate position, that is, without available moves, as then a check would spell destruction. Only a born optimist would bank on his opponent being unable to find a way, by means of unexpected sacrifices, of inflicting this fatal check. Even a merely restricted King's position should cause uneasiness when the squares around the King are threatened by hostile pieces: therefore, in such cases, the opening up of files and, perhaps even more so, of diagonals, must at any cost be avoided.

We may begrudge the expenditure of forces in the defence of this feeble drone, but the safer his position, the more shall we be able to throw our available forces without misgivings into a decisive attack. Nor should we forget that, at a later stage, the King will come into his own and will himself decide the fate of the battle. He will then no longer be conscious of any inferiority and will act like any other piece, claiming space, occupying strong squares, and joining in the play in the centre. In the end game we must bring our King as quickly as possible into the centre of the board; victory generally smiles upon him whose King is the first to arrive in the centre.

(c) The other pieces

Two of the pieces which remain to be analysed, the Rook and the Bishop, work on ranks and files, and diagonals respectively. In order to let them deploy their power to the full it becomes necessary to open lines for them. A Rook on a closed file is almost valueless, and frequently it is worth a sacrifice to allow this powerful unit to enter into the field of battle.

It is, however, not always easy to open a closed line, especially a file. The chessboard is so formed that the files lead to the hostile position and these files are occupied by our own pawns. The problem is then to eliminate one or other of these. If an adverse pawn or piece closes up a file, it is usually possible to exchange it, or to attack the obstructing unit with one of lesser value; in the case of a hostile pawn, we can attack it with one of our own and force it to leave the file or be captured. But where one of our own pawns is in question, which, in addition, may be blockaded, the problem at times defies solution, and frequently only a sacrifice can achieve the desired end.

We must therefore always be on the look-out for a line that can be opened, always remembering that it must be an important one, that the opening of a line is of advantage to the stronger party, and that it should be where the player's position is strongest.

If the position there is endangered or if our position is inferior, it is better to keep it closed. What can be more alarming than to find that, after having gone to much trouble in opening a line, it has only benefited the adversary! In opening a line, therefore, we must make sure that it will be to our own benefit.

But if the file in question is closed by our own passed pawn it is a different matter. The Rook behind it becomes extremely powerful; under its protection the pawn advances irresistibly, and with every move of the pawn the Rook's field of action increases as does its power. The case of the Bishop is different: if the diagonal is closed by a passed pawn, this only hinders the Bishop: in advancing, the pawn loses the protection of the Bishop. The Bishop proves a poor defensive piece in such cases. The pawn may easily be lost but this is not always a drawback, as the Bishop, now liberated, is able to exert its full power, and this additional piece may decide the issue. In effect, for a pawn lost, perhaps against our will, we have gained the use of a Bishop—a favourable exchange.

As the opening of files for the Rooks is so troublesome one might ask whether it would not be better to place the Rooks in front of the pawns, thus avoiding the necessity for complicated manoeuvres. Unfortunately, to post a Rook in front of the pawns exposes it to serious dangers: when attacked, the Rook, with its pawns behind it, would find it difficult to return to its own camp. The Bishop labours under no such difficulties: it is sufficient to advance a pawn in order to open a diagonal for it. If the B is at KKt3, P-KB3 provides an easy retreat. The contrary obtains in the case of a Rook. Any pawn-advance would render its position still more precarious. On the same square KKt3, the Rook would only be worse off if a pawn were advanced to the same rank.

Another point to be remembered is that the power of the Rook is not increased by advancing it. A Rook at K1 has the same power as a Rook at K4. Here again the Bishop differs from the Rook in that its power increases as it advances; not only that, but its effect changes in character. A Bishop at K1 has no effect on the opposing camp, whereas from Q4 it can attack both wings. At KKt2 the Bishop controls only the long diagonal, whereas from K4 it commands two diagonals. It is therefore quite safe to place a Bishop in front of the pawns, the more so as, being of less value than the Rook, it has less to fear from enemy attacks.

Whilst the Rook, when posted on a strong square on a centre file, attacks the enemy centre, the Bishop can only do so from a flank. It is most effective, however, when on a strong square in the centre, attacking either flank, or, for instance, the castled King's position.

The Rook can exert its powers on the ranks as well as on the files, but it has but seldom an opportunity of doing so in the middle game. Within its own lines or in the centre, a Rook usually has little scope on a rank; one or two pawn advances render it ineffective. Only a lateral attack on a rank within the enemy lines holds out promise of success. This refers particularly to the seventh rank. There the Rook attacks all the pawns, and if these have moved forwards, the King himself is in jeopardy.

Once a Rook is established on the seventh rank, it exerts its greatest power: the reason is to be found in the fact that the pawns act forward only, and therefore a pawn position is ill prepared to meet an attack coming from the flank. This explains also why the Rook gains in strength as the forces on the board begin to thin out towards the end game stage. The Rook is at its best when attacking the pawns in an end game; it does great execution, where the Bishop, on the whole, cuts a poor figure. This can be explained by the fact that the lines of the Rook, the files and the ranks form an impassable barrier for the King or the pawns, whereas the Bishop's lines, the diagonals, can easily be crossed. A diagonal cannot block the King, but a rank or file stops him completely. In the middle game and on an open diagonal the Bishop is very powerful and, at times, the equal of a Rook; but in the end game the Bishop, in order to be really strong, must have the help of the other Bishop. The two Bishops are then stronger than two Knights and they often hold their own against Rook and Bishop.

As a defensive piece in an end game, the Bishop is always stronger than a Knight, as it can stop a pawn at long range, which a Knight cannot do.

In order to illustrate the importance of lines in practical play, and the use which Rooks and Bishops can and should make of them, we give a position (Diag. 3) in which the critical square at White's K3, the cutting point of the file K1-K8 and the diagonals KKt1-QR7 and QB1-KR6, succumbs under the combined assault of Black's Queen, Rooks and Bishop.


White: Collins; Black: Znosko-Borovsky
Inter-club Tournament, Paris, 1937

With reference to the Knight we must first of all remember that it cannot control any lines. This weakness is often its strength, because it can exert its powers in positions in which other pieces cannot deploy theirs: the Knight is particularly at home in restricted positions with many pawns, which hinder the action of R and B, but cannot interfere with the Knight's unruly capers. The Knight should seek to occupy a strong square, if possible supported by a pawn, near the enemy lines. Unlike the Rook or the Bishop, the Knight can attack the enemy only by getting close to him: its best rank is the fifth. As the Knight acts in eight directions, it frequently happens that two or three of these directed towards the enemy are of practical use, whereas the Rook or Bishop usually have only one. Thus the Knight can attack the centre and the wing at the same time; posted at K5 it attacks QB6, Q7, KB7, KKt6. From KB5 it would bear upon Q6, K7, KKt7, KR6—all of them important squares. On account of its comparatively small value, the Knight only fears an attack by pawns and, for that reason, it is of all pieces the best adapted to provoke an advance by pawns: to prevent a Knight from establishing itself on the fifth rank, the adversary has often to take recourse to an otherwise perhaps undesirable pawn-advance (e.g., P-Kt3; to prevent Kt-KB5).

Placed in front of the pawns the Knight need not fear enemy attacks nor be concerned normally about possibilities of retirement; but it must avoid the outside positions, where it is deprived of half its strength: at R3 it has only four available squares and at R1 only two. On a strong square in the centre, supported by a pawn, the Knight is frequently equal to a Rook. It is clearly superior to a Bishop provided the Bishop is of the colour opposite to that square.

As mentioned before, the Bishop is generally superior to a Knight in an end game. But with the hostile pawns placed on squares of the opposite colour, and therefore immune from attack by the Bishop, and with a Knight placed on a square equally immune, then the Bishop is of little value and the game is probably lost.

It may be added that, as a general rule, if the Bishop has little freedom, the Knight will have correspondingly more scope. It is then a matter of judgment to decide, for every position, which piece to preserve; conversely, what kind of position you must seek to bring about to give scope to a certain piece.

To conclude, we shall say a few words about the Queen. There is not much to be said, as she combines the moves of both Rook and Bishop. It is only necessary to point out a few peculiarities in order to indicate the correct handling of the Queen.

Being able to move on a diagonal, the Queen, unlike the Rook, need not be afraid of moving into the open; she can move with freedom outside the pawn-formation. But this must not be done too early, as in that case the Queen, lacking a real objective, might be harassed by the minor hostile pieces: nevertheless we must realise that the Queen's proper place, like the Knight's, is in front of the pawns in the centre of the board as her full power is available only in that position. From there the Queen is effective in three directions towards the enemy; but it is necessary that the board should be, to an extent, denuded of forces. In the same way as an ocean-going ship, the Queen needs open spaces: narrow and restricted passages, where only a Knight can thrive, are not for her.

Posted away from the centre, the Queen acts only on a file or on a diagonal, which is obviously a waste of her power; such a disposition would only poorly demonstrate our skill in fully employing the power inherent in our pieces.

We have so far spoken of the various chess pieces with reference to their moves: later we shall see their effect in various positions, and we shall learn how best to make use of their power and of their peculiarities.


The game of chess comprises three elements: force, time and space, and advantages in one or more of these decide the fate of the game. It is rare indeed for a player to have the advantage in all three elements and yet to fail in the end; such cases are exceptional. It is only to be expected that victory should depend on advantages obtained in these elements, and, whether we, want it or not, every move brings with it some changes in them. We should see to it that these changes should be to our advantage. If we do not heed this fact, we could easily drift into a manifestly inferior position in spite of any brilliant ideas which we may have.

There are always outward signs which point to danger or to salvation: if we do not understand them or if we pay no heed to what they say, they will take their revenge: it is then that the mathematics and the logic of the game get their own back against abstract ideas.

It is desirable to have an advantage in all three elements: it creates a feeling of quiet confidence, which is favourable to the full use of our imagination. But, though this may be our aim, it happens but seldom. We may add here that such a sweeping advantage hardly ever obtains even in the moment of victory, when usually some decisive detail counts for more than the whole lay-out of the position.

The various elements are nearly always in a state of flux: an advantage in one element is, most likely, set off by a disadvantage in another. Their just appreciation is essential, for only then can we arrive at a proper valuation of a position and decide which side has the better game. To that end we must learn to distinguish advantages in each of the three elements.

This is not difficult in the case of force: the pieces are counted and whoever has more than the other has the advantage. If we have a Queen against a Knight our superiority is obvious. If we have a Rook for a Bishop we can also feel satisfied, unless, in either case, we have to deal with a sacrifice.

In the same way there is no difficulty in deciding which side is superior in space: whoever occupies all the important squares in the centre, commands the greater amount of territory, and the player can feel satisfied whose pieces have the greater freedom of action. It is almost an arithmetical sum and leaves as little room for argument: a simple calculation makes the real value of the position clear.

The essence of time is less obvious. In the opening it is still easy to perceive which side has developed better, but in the middle game, when the moves already made are a thing of the past and half forgotten, of what use is an advantage in time and how can we become aware of it?

Yet here also a simple calculation can guide us. It is worth while to make it with special care: the more obscure an advantage in time, the more important is it to realise it.

If we examine the position in Diag. 4 we find that White has made 3 moves with his pawns, 2 with his Knights, 3 with his Bishops, 1 with the King (castling) or 9 moves in all. Against that Black has made 4 moves with his pawns, 3 with his Knights, 2 with his Bishops, 1 with the King (castling) and 1 with the Rook, in all 11 moves. In other words, Black has gained 2 moves.

A player who has such an advantage in one element would do well to realise it, and to try to improve on it, or at least not to lose ground in that respect, and to select his moves accordingly.


White: Capablanca; Black: Chajes
New York, 1913

If, on the contrary, a player is not conscious of this advantage, which is in fact something concrete and tangible, he runs the risk of its being frittered away and of seeing his position, from being slightly superior, changing to one of marked inferiority.

Let us examine the same game between Capablanca and Chajes 10 moves later and, to our amazement, we shall see that the position (Diag. 5) has undergone a radical change. In analysing the moves which have been played we shall easily ascertain that White has made 14 moves and Black only 12, White being thus 2 moves ahead after being 2 moves behind 10 moves earlier. In the last 10 moves he must in some way have gained 4 moves.


If it is easy to ascertain gains and losses in one particular element, it is at times exceedingly difficult to appreciate correctly the differences between the several elements, when there has been a gain in one of them and a loss in another.

In the case of "force," there is little difficulty for we know very well the value of the different pieces.

A gambit only means giving up material in exchange for rapid development; a sound sacrifice is one which brings about a sufficient advantage in another element; it is unsound when that advantage proves insufficient.

It would not be incorrect to say that a sound sacrifice is never a sacrifice at all. It is a very profitable exchange, or barter, much in the same way as trading with savages used to be in the early days: they were given glittering objects of no value in return for valuable commodities.

The same relation obtains between time and space and we can the better appreciate a position if we recall this fact.

As an example let us take the position in Diag. 6 after the 6th move of a French Defence, thus: 1 P-K4, P-K3; 2 P-Q4, P-Q4 3 Kt-QB3, KtKB3; 4 B-Kt5, B-K2; 5 P-K5, KKt-Q2; 6 BxB, QxB. We perceive at once that White has gained


space: is his position in consequence much superior? No one would assert that it is, otherwise this variation would no longer be adopted by Black. But Black has a compensating advantage in time, represented by one move.

It can be said that White has gained space but lost time, or that he has sacrificed time in order to gain space or, finally, that he has effected an exchange between the two elements. Whether the gain outweighs the loss it is difficult to say. Sometimes it is possible to find very clear indications as to whether it is so; sometimes it is a question of intuition and of positional judgment. But in any event it is essential to bear these things in mind and to realise their portent, for then a definite basis is given for the conduct of the game.

The main difficulty is, not so much to gauge the value of the advantages obtained, but to realize the fact that there are real advantages as well as those which are deceptive and spurious.

Suppose that we have advanced P-R5; we have gained space without losing time, but this advance may have led to nothing and the pawn has become weak. Visible advantages are often a delusion. An analysis of actualities is clearly insufficient, although it is a necessity. It forms a basis for a deeper analysis to which we shall refer at a later stage. It must in fact be made with the most minute care, so that the true analysis shall be grounded on a really sound basis and not on positional judgment alone, which can frequently lead us astray and result in the worst errors.

For the moment let it suffice to draw the amateur's attention to the fact that the elements under discussion are not merely abstract and theoretical conceptions, but are in fact the very basis of chess, and that knowledge of them should be of great assistance in the conduct of a game.



The object of a game of chess is to administer checkmate. It happens but seldom that this can be effected in the early stages of a game. In order to enforce a mate it is often necessary to fight a fierce and frequently long-drawn-out battle. In the course of this contest we must proceed step by step, gradually increasing any advantage we may have, so that the mate occurs as the logical conclusion of our efforts. It would be futile to think of a mate the whole time, when at first no attack can threaten the adverse King. Against a strong player, or between well-matched opponents, it would be presumptuous in normal circumstances to expect to mate in, say, the first fifteen moves. Besides, it is of no importance whether it only happens on the 65th move, and whether it is effected by a raging Queen or a modest pawn, the last survivor on the board.

In our quest for superiority it is immaterial to us in which of the three elements it occurs. We must at times make prudent moves, whose sole object is to gain a tempo or the control of a strong square; and we must not, without due care, capture a pawn left en prise by an astute adversary. But one must never forget that an advantage in one of the elements represents an advantage in position and, moreover, that it determines the character of the play; an advantage in space cannot be exploited in the same way as an advantage in time.

The game of chess, however, is not mechanical; the intellect predominates. It is a contest of ideas within the framework of time and space, in a chess sense.

In the 16th century Damiano advised chess-players never to make a move without some object. In order to play well, it is necessary to know what objects it is wise to pursue, and by what means they can be encompassed.

In the second part of this book we shall make an exhaustive study of the secrets of the middle game and we shall examine in greater detail both the objects in question and the means of attaining them peculiar to each type of position. At the moment we can only generalise, and without claiming to be exhaustive we shall make a general and succinct survey of the various positions.

Every plan in chess aims at obtaining some well defined advantage. Where the positions are even, we try to upset the balance in our favour; if our position is inferior we try to equalise; when we are lost, we endeavour to set our opponent multifarious problems to render his task more difficult. In a superior position we still try to increase our advantage until it becomes decisive. But, whether we wish it or not, any advantage we gain refers to one of the three elements. We may win a pawn or immobilise a hostile piece; we may occupy a strong square or restrict our opponent to squares or lines of no importance; we may reach a desired goal ahead of our opponent. But in addition there are the sacrifices in which, in order to surmount an important obstacle, we give up everything else, and then it is possible to be in a state of inferiority in all three elements and yet to win the game.

It is both impossible and useless to enumerate all the means by which our objects can be attained—opening and closing of lines, interception, isolation or doubling of pawns. Let it suffice to recall here some of the more important and frequent cases.

(i) The discovered check. Some players are fond of giving check, no doubt taking as true somebody's tag, "Never miss a check, it might be mate." In order to be effective, a check must compel the adversary to make some valueless if not damaging move. A discovered check, on the other hand, is nearly always very dangerous. The piece which discovers the check in most cases finds some important point of attack. Only too often does it happen that a discovered check brings about an immediate decision. A well-known example occurs in Petroff's Defence: 1 P-K4, P-K4; 2 Kt-KB3, Kt-KB3; 3 KtxP, KtxP; 4 Q-K2, Kt-KB3; 5 Kt-B6 dis. ch, and wins the Queen.

(ii) The double check. A double check is a rare occurrence; when it does happen it generally has tremendous power, for the double threat cannot be parried except by the flight of the threatened King. It is not to be wondered at, if such a check frequently decides the game. Here is a striking example: 1 P-K4, P-K4; z Kt-KB3, Kt-QB3; 3 B-Kt5, Kt-B3; 4 Castles, P-Q3; 5 P-Q4, KtxP; 6 P-Q5, P-QR3; 7 B-Q3, Kt-B3; 8 PxKt, P-K5; 9 R-K1, P-Q4; 10 B-K2, PxKt; 11 PxKtP, BxP; 12 B-Kt5 mate.

The discovered as well as the double check can be foreseen, and there are usually ways and means of taking timely measures against it.

More insidious is the check occurring in the following short game: 1 P-K4, P-QB3; 2 Kt-QB3, P-Q4; 3 Kt-B3, PxP; 4 KtxP, Kt-Q2; 5 Q-K2, KKt-B3; 6 Kt-Q6 mate. This check is neither a double nor a discovered check, though it has the characteristics of both. Take away the KP and we have a double check. As it is, the KP is pinned, and the result is the same. The threat is less obvious and therefore more likely to succeed. Without the KP Black would have anticipated the double check; with the KP he did not trouble to look for a threat.

Incidentally, it may be added that a double check always is a discovered check. The reverse is not the case.

(iii) The fork. A fork is a simultaneous attack on two pieces; the simplest and most frequent fork is that effected by a pawn.

If one of the units attacked is the King, can we still speak of a fork or should we call it a double check? In Asia, in former times, a simultaneous threat to the King and the Rook—which was then the most powerful piece—was called shakrukh: "check and Rook." It is a special and most decisive example of a fork. Here is an example culled from a chess-manual: 1 P-K 4, P-K4; 2 Kt-KB3, P-KB3; 3 KtxP, PxKt; 4 Q-R5ch, P-Kt3; 5 QxKP ch, and wins the Rook.

The fork by a Knight provides a special case; no piece executes this manoeuvre with the same amount of discretion and, one might be tempted to say, secrecy. When the Knight's fork is associated with a check, from a simple trap due to an oversight, it often leads to brilliant combinative play.

Examine the position in Diag. 7.


Study by Herbstman (1935)

Here White wins by means of a combination of great charm: 1 Q-K1 ch, K-B7; (1 KxQ; 2 KtxB ch, followed by 3 KtxQ.) 2 Q-B1 ch, K-Kt6; 3 Q-Kt2 ch, K-B5; (3 ... K-R5; 4 Q-Kt4 ch) 4 Q-Kt4 ch, K-Q4; 5 Q-Q6 ch, K-B5; 6 QB5 ch, K-Kt6; 7 Q-Kt4 ch, K-B7 (or R7); 8 Q-Kt2 ch, KxQ; 9 KtxB ch, and 10 KtxQ.

We see that the combination was based on the vulnerable position of the black Queen, where it is attacked by the Knight after KtxB. The modus operandi was merely to force the black King on to any black square where it would be in check after KtxB, thus effecting the fork. Incidentally, Black's King had to undertake a most pleasing circular tour!

(iv) The pin. The pin is a powerful means of tying up the adversary and of restricting the freedom of action of his pieces. A pin is effective only if the pinning piece is of less value than the masked piece, particularly if that piece does not protect the pinned piece.

If the masked piece is a Rook, it is good; if it is the King it is best of all. The most favourable case is when the pinned piece is insufficiently protected, for then all the attacker's pieces will be brought to bear on it. In all cases it is well to unpin the piece in question as quickly as possible, not only to give it back its freedom of action, but also to liberate the masked piece. Even in the most innocuous case, where the pinned piece enjoys sufficient protection, it is important to unpin it so as to be able to use it freely; but it is essential to do so whenever the pinned piece has only insufficient or defective protection, as for instance in the most frequent type of pin: a B at KKt5 attacks a Knight at its KB3, protected by a pawn at KKt2, with a Q at Q1 on the same diagonal as the pinning Bishop. In order to avoid the doubling of pawns the masked piece, the Queen, must move away without giving up the protection of the Knight, for instance, to her Q3. The disadvantages of a pin are often so serious that in many cases it is preferable to allow the doubling of pawns on the principle that "of two evils, choose the lesser." The pinned piece can be partially unpinned if we can interpose a Bishop between that and the masked piece behind it.

However, one must bear in mind that, if the pinning piece aims to some extent at the masked piece, it is itself in danger. For instance, in the case described above, if the pinned Knight can move away with a check, the Bishop, if unguarded, can be captured by the Queen. With a B interposed at K2 as indicated above, the case is even clearer: if the attacker plays a Knight to Q5 there follows ... KtxKt; and the pinning Bishop is doubly attacked. Although a pin in itself is a straightforward and simple stratagem, this play and counter-play between the pinning piece and the masked piece at times gives rise to manoeuvres of extreme subtlety and leads to the most interesting combinations, particularly when there is a double pin as in the following position (Diag. 7A): 1 ... R-Kt7 ch; 2 R-Q2, Q-Q8; and wins.


White: Travin; Black: Zeck
Leningrad, 1933

White's Rook at Q2 is pinned at first by the black Rook, and afterwards by the black Queen also, and it is overwhelmed by the double task of guarding both its King and Queen.

After due allowance is made for possible risks, it must be said that a pinning piece is active, and it is always better to have active pieces rather than passive ones. In attacking a given point we obtain a certain advantage even if our opponent has sufficient forces available for its adequate defence, for all pieces thus employed will become passive and be deprived of their freedom of action, whereas, normally, our pieces will be able to discontinue the attack at any time according to our own free will and decision.

There are other means than these, more ruthless or more profound, of carrying on the attack; we shall have occasion to study them more exhaustively in Part II of this book. But they all belong to the category of threats and thus we must take cognizance of their nature at this stage.


Nearly all manoeuvres which we undertake in order to achieve our aims are in the nature of threats, and these threats at times may in themselves represent an object for which we strive. A threat is, at all events, the surest means of maintaining, if not of increasing, any advantage we may have, and that is why White, having the move, can always be the first to evolve threats, which should enable him to keep the initiative. To be sure, White has not an extra move; he has only a small part of a move—the right to make his move first. But it is sufficient to get ahead of the opponent; White is the first to threaten and Black has to defend, thereby losing some freedom of action, because his pieces will become passive and thus, to the slight advantage of the move will be added a greater, that of position.

There are innumerable possible threats; in order to study them more easily we must needs divide them into groups.

In the first place there are the direct threats by which the enemy is attacked at once, and then the distant or deferred threats, the effect of which becomes manifest only after a series of moves.

It is impossible to say which of the two kinds is the more powerful, and their effect varies. The immediate threat harasses the enemy and may deprive him of all freedom of action; the second, on the other hand, is less obvious, therefore more difficult to fathom. It requires time to evolve an adequate defence and it may be said that in general it is the more decisive and in any case the more dangerous of the two.

Let us examine the position in Diag. 8. White plays P-Kt5, with the direct threat of capturing Black's BP and the more distant threat of winning the Queen, or


White: Tarrasch; Black: Janowski
Ostend, 1907

if the Queen moves away, of capturing one of the Rooks by 2 PxP ch, followed by P-Kt7. Black easily parries the immediate threat by taking the pawn. But then White replies with 2 QxR ch, RxQ; 3 RxR, exchanging the Queen for two Rooks, but maintaining the threat of winning Black's Queen by R-B7 ch. If the Queen moves away there follows QR-B7 ch, and R-R8 mate. Black is therefore compelled to give back the Queen by 3 ... QxR; but if White were to take the Queen now, Black with two passed pawns against two passed pawns can draw the game. But after 3 ... QxR; White plays 4 P-R6 ch, and Black resigns after the following continuation: 4 ... K-Kt1; 2 P-R7 ch, K-Kt2; 6 RxQ, KxR; 7 P-R8(Q) ch. Thus the distant threat has decided the game.

In this example we see a whole series of threats which arise in turn without any respite. Black manages to defend himself against each single, direct and immediate threat, but succumbs in the end to the most distant one. This is a perfect illustration of the best possible exploitation of the distant threat: an uninterrupted chain of direct threats which allows the adversary no leisure to provide against the danger which lurks in the background. The time will come when two threats will occur: a direct threat and the distant threat, which has now become immediate. It is possible to parry one of the two, but not both.

Here we can also observe the indirect though actual threat, which differs from the direct threat in that it is contingent. On the third move there is a threat of winning the Queen—an immediate and direct threat; if the Queen moves away there is the threat of a mate in two moves: an indirect but immediate threat. This is an example of a double threat: but an indirect threat can also occur by itself, unaccompanied by a direct threat. For instance, in the Cambridge Springs variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, Black's ... Q-R5; contains no direct threat, but it indirectly threatens White's QB at its KKt5.

Being less obvious than the direct, the indirect threats are more dangerous: but as they are less forcible, being themselves contingent only, there is nearly always a choice of means in evading them.

Another group of threats contains real and sham threats; those which are a real menace to the opponent and those which only appear as such.

It may seem strange that a move which threatens nothing in reality can be called a threat and be taken seriously. It is a perfectly true saying that a threat is often stronger than its execution. An insignificant threat which persists for a certain length of time and burdens our play, forces us to bear it in mind, and to try to guess at what precise moment the enemy will choose to set it in motion. It is useless to insist that the threat is not serious, that it is a sham: circumstances may change, and very suddenly the same threat becomes acute and most embarrassing.

Already in the opening we have to deal with similar cases. Kt-KB3 is not really meant to threaten the capture of the opposing KP, but should we carelessly overlook it at any time, we lose our KP. In the Ruy Lopez 3 B-Kt5, does not actually threaten to win Black's King's pawn, but here again it may happen that a moment's inattention in the course of operations will cost us the KP, or at least cause us much trouble in winning it back.

The middle game provides more complicated examples: let us examine the position in Diag. 9. Here, as is well known, Black's normal development is ... P-B4; which is very awkward for White because he has castled on the Q side.

If, however, this move is made without any preparation, it might lead to trouble for Black as follows: 1 ... P-B4; 2 PxP, and if 2 ...QKtxP; 3 KtxP, BxKt; 4 B-QB4. But in order to make this variation possible the capture of White's B by a check must be prevented; therefore White's first move must be K-Kt1, a waiting move and a wise precaution against Black's ... R-B1; and ... P-B4. If now Black were to play 1 ... P-B4; at once, he would, after 2 PxP, have to recapture the P


White: Rubinstein; Black: Znosko-Borovsky
St. Petersburg, 1909

with his KtP. But then the continuation would be: 3 PxP, PxP; 4 KtxKt, BPxKt; 5 BxP, PxB; 6 Q-Kt3 ch, K-R1; 7 QxB, PxKt; 8 RxKt. It follows that Black must provide against White's 6 Q-Kt3 ch, before he can play 1 ... P-B4. White, by his preventive move, has avoided his adversary's real threat and rendered it inoperative; the fact that Black omitted the preparatory 1 ... K-R1; has transformed into a real and serious danger what was originally a fictitious threat.

This position illustrates the play of threats and counter-threats which here is subtle and deep.

It frequently happens that fictitious threats have only a psychological object, that of intimidating a nervous opponent, who loses faith in his own legitimate threats in his anxiety about his adversary's imaginary menaces. This type of play is, however, abhorrent and contrary to the spirit of chess.

Let us imagine that, in the same position, Black has a pawn at KR3 instead of KR2. It is clear that he cannot capture White's Bishop as the open KR file would be far too dangerous for him. White can therefore leave his Bishop en prise in perfect safety. It is easy to imagine how, after a few moves, circumstances could have changed so that the Bishop, if still en prise, could in fact be captured; a fictitious threat has changed, under our eyes, into a real one. Lack of due attention has meant the loss of a Bishop.

It is impossible to enumerate all possible threats, from the simple to the complicated, from the ruthless capture of a Queen to the subtle occupation of a square or the contest for the centre. They all aim at one and the same object, the reduction of the opponent's freedom of action; they serve to restrict his pieces, to create weaknesses in his position, and to prevent him from occupying strong squares and open lines, while allowing us to do so ourselves to our own advantage.



We have seen that the analysis of the structure of a position is not sufficient for its thorough understanding. Yet it is an essential requirement and must be attended to with extreme care. Without it an analysis in depth is far more difficult and many important details might escape our attention; in addition, this preliminary analysis presents us with a general impression of the position, which either gives us confidence or creates alarm; in either case we know where we are. We must not overlook the fact that in making this analysis we learn to estimate a position integrally, and, after doing this very frequently, we shall learn to realise very quickly the exact value of any position. Take the position in Diag. 10.

It is easy to count up the pieces, the squares and the moves and to realise that White has the advantage in all


White: Leonhardt; Black: Marshall

three elements. He has an extra pawn, occupies the centre with his pawns at Q5 and KB4 and the Q at Q4, and is a move ahead in his development (8 moves against 7). He has every reason, therefore, to be satisfied with his position and even before making the necessary supplementary analysis he can anticipate victory.

But, in chess, matters are rarely so simple and clear-cut: the combination of the elements comes into play, and it is of far more frequent occurrence that an advantage in one element is set off by a disadvantage in another.

The position in Diag. 11 will convince us of this. With an equal number of pawns and pieces Black has evidently an advantage in space, thanks to his advanced pawns at K5 and KB4, and the Kt at K4. But if we count up the moves we shall find that White has made 14 moves and Black only 11. Consequently, White is three moves ahead and it becomes necessary to weigh up the true value of the respective gains and


White: Vergani; Black: Teichmann
Hastings, 1895

losses in the different elements. These may balance each other, but it is also likely that the gains on one side are of decisive importance, whilst the opponent's gains, important in themselves, have little bearing on the actual situation.

It is easy enough to assert that the feeling for position, that mysterious instinct which the Germans call "Positionsgefühl" ("instinct for position" hardly does this word justice), is the sole arbiter in this matter and that there is nothing to be done for the player who does not possess it. We must not belittle the part played in chess by this instinctive feeling: it would be tantamount to belittling talent. But who is there who would maintain that, because this instinct plays a big part in the art of combination, the exact analysis of variations is superfluous or even impossible?

The more complicated the position, the greater the part played by this positional instinct, which at times seems to discover that which one would hardly suspect to be there. On the smallest details, to which another would hardly give a thought, the lucky possessor of this "instinct for position" manages to build up an imposing strategic plan: on the tout ensemble of a position, without at times being able to explain why, he constructs a line of play which, after a number of moves, raises problems, the existence of which would never even have occurred to his less gifted opponent.

Nevertheless, can it be asserted that these hidden problems were not inherent in the position? That hard facts have no part in it? Is it not rather the case that the average amateur is content with a cursory and superficial appreciation of a position, so that important points are apt to escape his attention? We shall refrain from answering this question, but shall, instead, strongly assert that it is worth while making a systematic attempt. This has never been done. But to cultivate the habit of analysis, in our sense, is the only way, not only of developing a correct appreciation of positions, but of creating that "instinct for position" in those who do not possess it.

Let us take our analysis a step further. Taking the same Diag. 11 (above), a glance is sufficient for us to realise that Black has the advantage. How is it, then, that White has an advantage in time? Is it real or imaginary? How can we ascertain that?

First of all we can discern a number of pawn moves which are of little account, although in point of time there is no difference between them and moves of real significance. Two pawns have moved forward on the Q side, which is really passive in this position; there has been an advance by the KRP, which advance contributes nothing to White's development; finally, his KP has advanced one square only, by which the centre has been given up to Black, although, again in point of time, this move counts as much as a double move. The same applies to the pieces. The Knight has taken two moves to reach a most unfavourable square, which leads practically nowhere. The QB has taken two moves in occupying a diagonal, which it could have reached in one, and where it more or less plays the part of a pawn in preventing the loss of the exchange. The second Bishop has made a modest move: it is posted on two diagonals, of which one is blocked by its own pawn whilst the other aims at nothing.

Thus it is quite simple to establish the fact that in reality White has no advantage in time at all, and that Black is the better developed. A very little time and thought is often all that is required to estimate correctly such gains and losses. But this analysis does not go as deeply as is necessary: it still is external analysis only, although a little more thorough. It would be a mistake to let it go at that, for, in order to play a game properly, it is necessary to grasp all the characteristics of a position down to the smallest detail, and a general survey such as indicated above would fall far short of what is required. When what we might call the inner analysis has been carried out conscientiously, we can proceed to the third phase of the complete analysis, namely, the individual analysis: the particular points which characterise a given position.

The structural analysis of the position in Diag. 12 shows equality of forces and of space, and a slight advantage in time for White (one tempo). Deeper analysis will lead to a very different valuation and will show that White has a great advantage.


White: Charousek; Black: Süchting
Berlin, 1897

The first fact which would strike the observer is that all the white pieces are developed, whereas two of Black's pieces are still on their initial squares; it would require at least three tempi to bring them out. The position of the remaining black pieces is equally unfavourable: the KR is blocked by an advanced white pawn, the KB is occupied in guarding a pawn, the Queen has no move, a Knight shuts in the QB; only the Knight at QB3 is well placed, attacking a white pawn and defending its own, although it must be said that White's Knight is counterbalancing its effect.

By comparison White's development of his pieces is far superior. Both his Rooks are well placed, one of them protecting an advanced pawn and the other commanding an open file. Both Knights occupy excellent posts, even the one at QKt3—normally an indifferent square for a Knight—for here it attacks Black's advanced passed pawn. Moreover it controls QR5 and QB5 and limits the action of the opponent's units, where he would be most likely to seek relief. The Bishops are even better placed: the KB at Q3 stands on two open diagonals, the more important aiming at the opposing King's field; the QB is blocked by its own pawn on one of its diagonals, but its influence is felt beyond that pawn. For instance, Black's Q cannot move to QB2 nor the QR to Kt1 because of the threat of P-K6, at a propitious moment. Incidentally, it controls KKt5, a useful square in a K side attack to which the KB already contributes from Q3. The Queen is passive for the moment; she completes the occupation of the centre files and disposes of two semi-open diagonals of which one is particularly important in case of a K side attack.

In the course of this structural analysis we have thrice mentioned the possibility of a King's side attack. This tends to prove that such a simple analysis can give birth to a possible, plan of campaign.

We shall later on see how such an idea must be elucidated, in order to decide on how to execute it. For the moment let it suffice to say that the position of the white pieces is such that a K side attack is justified and that a glance at Black's position shows that the King's side is denuded of defending pieces; therefore the situation is ripe for an attack on that wing.

Let us go back to our analysis. White's advantage in time is obvious, but it is also easy to discern his preponderance in space: it is necessary only to see which of the players controls the most important squares. To sum up: White's enormous advantage in position is undoubted, and one could even say that, thanks to Black's two undeveloped pieces, he has an advantage in force as well.

One point, however, remains to be cleared up: the comparative value of the two centre pawns, namely, White's KP and Black's QP. They both have points in common and have a similar influence on the play of the pieces.

Black's QP has the great advantage of being a passed pawn, whereas White's KP is impeded by the black KBP. On the other hand, unlike its counterpart, it is not isolated. This denotes a certain weakness in Black's QP, which, however, can become strong if further advanced. The positional difference between the two pawns is more striking still. The KP attacks two important squares within the enemy camp, of which one (Black's Q3) is unprotected by a pawn and thus can easily be occupied by White; the other square (Black's KB3) is even more important, being an essential square in the defence of the King's field—yet another portent. The two squares attacked by the QP have not the same importance as they are both guarded by white pawns. The KP cannot advance because of the KBP, and, similarly, the QP is blocked by the KB, which at the same time remains very active. Finally, if we add that the KP is in close proximity to the active K side, whereas the QP is next to the passive Q side, there is no more to be said on the subject.

Thus, having carefully analysed the position, its possibilities have become much clearer to us. Are we now able to decide what to do? Can we say that we are no longer in the position of a player who knows that he has the advantage, but is at a loss how to exploit it?

In order to arrive at a final solution of the problem, we must end up with what we might call an individual analysis, which is nothing else but a careful analysis concentrated on one or two particular points from which the position derives its character.

The characteristics were revealed by the deeper analysis, and the three main points were: two undeveloped black pieces, the relative value of the opposing centre pawns, and the possibility of a direct K side attack. The first point tells us that it would be unwise to delay matters, for if we give the adversary sufficient time, he will develop the pieces in question, for which he only requires two moves.

The other two points indicate the line of play which must be followed.

Which of the two centre pawns is the weaker; which one is being, or can be, effectively attacked? Black cannot very well give the matter much thought until he has completed his development; were it Black's move he could at once play ... B-B2; attacking the KP whilst giving up his own QP. Still more logical would be Kt-B1-Kt3, after which Black's position would be satisfactory. But it requires time.

Against this, White can with advantage attack the QP by retreating the Bishop. But it must not be overlooked that, should he simply retire the Bishop to Kt1, Black can reply with Kt-B1;—a useful move against a poor one, whereby the QP is now guarded by the Queen; Black then pins the KKt by B-Kt5; and is out of his difficulties; he has even brought out his two undeveloped pieces. It follows that White's attack on the QP must be accompanied by a threat. The move B-QKt5, is indicated; not only is the QP attacked three times, but one of the supporting Knights is under fire as well, and remains pinned if the other Knight moves away. Thus the QP falls and the positional advantage turns into an advantage in material.

However, there are certain objections. Black will simply abandon his QP, opening a diagonal for his KB. He then remains with two Bishops, the QB occupying the long diagonal, with the threat of a possible K side attack. In default of anything better, this result might be acceptable to White, but one may well ask whether his positional advantage is not too substantial to be exchanged for such a small gain in material?

The idea of a King's side attack follows quite naturally. All is ready for a Bishop's sacrifice at KR7; the essential pieces are available and there is no defending Knight at Black's KB3 or KB1. But after BxP ch, KxB; Kt-Kt5 ch, K-Kt1; Q-R5, Kt-B1; QxP ch, K-R1; White cannot bring his Rooks into play as Black's QP prevents them from occupying the third rank, nor has the Knight sufficient time to move up and effect a mate.

Another point must be considered: Black's King could seek refuge at KKt3. Again this combination might turn out to be satisfactory for White, as he remains with two pawns for a piece and a strong attack.

We must now ask ourselves, in view of the fact that this continuation also is unclear, whether there is not another means of exploiting White's positional advantage—not, however, by lengthy preparations such as bringing up the Knight or advancing the K side pawns, for then Black would have time enough to complete his development. Having an advantage in time White would thereby offend against one of the basic principles in such positions. It is essential to proceed by way of threats. Automatically the move Kt-Kt5, suggests itself. If ... P-KR3; is played, Q-R5, wins easily, as does P-K6, in reply to ... P-Kt3. Finally, after ... Kt-B1; the continuation Q-R5, P-Kt3; Q-R6, threatening Kt-K4, and Kt-B6, or Kt-Q6, is very troublesome for Black.

The only drawback in playing Kt-Kt5, lies in the fact that it leaves the KP unguarded, and Black will at once take advantage of it by playing KKtxP; opening the diagonal for the QB. There follows: 2 Q-R5, P-KR3; 3 B-R7 ch, K-B1; (... K-R1; 4 KtxP ch, KtxKt; 5 B-Kt6,) 4 B-K4, B-Kt5; 5 Q-R4, PxKt; 6 Q-R8 ch, K-K2; 7 BxP ch, K-Q2; 8 QxP, and wins.

We need not, at this juncture, seek to decide which of the three continuations (B-QKt5, attacking the QP, BxP ch, or Kt-Kt5, King's side attack) is the soundest and the most decisive (in the actual game Kt-Kt5, was played); it is sufficient to establish the fact that the complete analysis, working step by step from the externals to the deeper characteristics of the position, allows us to realise the inward significance of the situation, thus indicating what aims to pursue.

It may be said that these could be perceived without the help of this analysis; if so, it could only be because they are sufficiently obvious. But this is the case in but few positions; in all other cases—this type of analysis becomes invaluable. It is hardly possible that, after carefully examining the potentialities of each piece one by one in something of the same manner as we have done here, we should not become aware of the basic ideas inherent in a position. We necessarily must see with the utmost clearness the advantages or disadvantages which obtain, the characteristic lines of the play and how clearly they are defined. On that will depend the degree of intensity of our play; it will even determine the proper direction of our attack. More is not needed.


We have said that cases rarely occur in which all the advantages of time, space and force are to be found on one side whilst the general and real advantage is on the opposing side.

See, for example, the position in Diag. 13.

Black has two extra pawns. Even if he loses the KP he will still have a majority of one pawn. He has 14 moves to his credit against 10 by his opponent; thus he has


White: Morphy; Black: McConnell
New Orleans, 1849

gained four moves. Finally he has more space, thanks to his advanced K side pawns, with a pawn on the sixth rank, which advantage will be slightly counterbalanced by the loss of his KP. And yet, in spite of all these advantages, Black's game is manifestly inferior, and he resigned after a few moves. The strength of the position as a whole is decisive here, and this is not a question of an automatic adding up of the various separate elements. Once we have made an analysis of a position we must know how to complete it by synthesis.

Two points here are particularly noticeable. The first is the concentrated action of the forces. A piece may occupy a strong square and yet have no prospects and lack all effective force. Worse still, it may have power and yet be of no assistance whatever to the other pieces. It is then sheer dead weight. If you have an extremely well-placed Knight at QB3, but you are engaged upon a K side attack, the Knight will be of little use to you. You may be ahead both in space and in time, but if your adversary's pieces are available for the defence of the attacked K side, you play with one piece less and your attack is doomed to failure. Most sacrifices are based on such circumstances: you give up a piece, or even two, because the opponent has not yet developed some of his pieces or is unable to bring them to the threatened quarter.

The second point, the logical complement of the first, is that, in the middle game, when a certain plan is under consideration, the general principles (occupation of the centre, open lines, strong and weak squares) are of less account than the selection of an object of attack, against which all the available forces are to be launched. On this point Alekhine goes so far as to say "all general considerations must be entirely forgotten" and "only that which contributes to the execution of the plan selected is of any avail."

In this statement, in itself so general and categorical, there is a certain amount of exaggeration. If we disregard the very foundation of reasoned strategy, retribution is bound to overtake us. An attack, successful in itself, may be compromised by an inferior pawn position. Again, it is well known that a flank attack is best parried by a thrust in the centre; if the centre is neglected a seemingly winning attack turns into disaster.

At the same time it is true that all these "first principles" need not at all times dominate our play. You cannot conceive a plan, commence an attack, and look backwards all the time. Every decision contains a certain risk; if all risks are to be eliminated it is best not to play chess at all; we should be a beaten foe from the very beginning; for all our moves would be timid and spineless. "Fortes fortuna juvat."

In judging a position as a whole, it is necessary to realise whether there is a point of attack which is decisive for the whole game: should there be one, then is the time to concentrate the whole of the forces, leaving all unimportant points bare of troops. The alternative, play over the whole board, necessitates a judicious distribution of forces and leads to a game both more difficult and more complicated. The first-mentioned type of position leads to rapid combinatory play, the second is typical of positional play with its numerous and slow manoeuvres. When the ultimate aim of the game, namely, the mate, is within sight, then the utmost boldness is warranted.


In the foregoing chapters we have seen all the fundamental ideas on which the elaboration of a plan can be based. There are two points which must, however, be borne in mind. It must not be thought that a plan will occur to us fully worked out in all its details at a given moment, like Pallas Athene arising fully armed from the head of Zeus. Step by step, after the tentative manoeuvres of the opening, it takes shape in our mind, at first in vague outlines, gaining gradually in definition and character. Where the position is simple and the advantage well defined, there is no difficulty in formulating at once a suitable strategic plan. But it is not possible to do this at will in obscure and complicated positions of no definite character, where both sides have equal chances, or, worse still, where the formations are symmetrical. It must then suffice to evolve an idea, without realising quite how to carry it out, or even where it will lead.

Secondly, let it not be imagined that one single plan is all that will be required in the course of a whole game. Even the most general strategic plan, based on wide conceptions, cannot embrace all the varied phases of a game. It may possibly happen that a single idea may form the basis of a game of chess, if this game be not too long, and of fairly uniform simplicity. But usually more or less clear-cut plans follow one another, covering series of moves more or less extended. It is not only that the human brain can hardly conceive a whole game, even a short one of only thirty moves, or that the opponent's resistance may be of a strength and variety impossible to foresee, but first and foremost that the average plan hardly ever brings about an immediately decisive result.

Having achieved an early object and scored a point, we perceive that the road to victory is still a long one, and that there will be further objects to be decided on and attained. And what devious ways will have to be followed! At one time the opponent will try to lure us from our path by a tempting bait, at other times his mistake will tempt us to abandon our strategic idea in favour of an immediate and real tactical advantage. Or again, his tenacious resistance takes away all that made our object a tempting one and forces us to seek other aims. A game of chess is often not just one single battle, but a whole campaign. We get the worst of it at one point, but prevail at another; a whole series of battles is fought on the chessboard in the space of a dozen moves or so.

Though it may happen that a guiding idea recurs constantly and at intervals like a leit-motiv—and such games often are of classical beauty—it would be wrong to make it a rule; it would only be detrimental to our game, built upon logic and imagination, and rich, above all, in possibilities and in variety.

Yet, bearing all this in mind, it is impossible to play a satisfactory game without following a strategic plan, which sooner or later will have to be evolved. To settle on a plan too late means an advantage to the opponent, who will be ahead of us in his threats; to have no plan at all would render our play inconsistent—without logic and therefore without strength.

Let us examine a position (Diag. 14) which is comparatively simple and in which the object pursued is of


White: Lasker; Black: Capablanca
Match, 1921

a restricted nature. This renders the elaboration of a plan considerably, easier, an important point in the preliminary examination of the position.

The games are approximately even, being equal in force and space, with, however, this rather strange circumstance, which gives food for thought, that, although White has a KP on the fourth rank whereas Black's KP is at its third, Black has the control of the greater number of centre squares. Another unusual point, which is revealed by the analysis of the element of time, is that White, who has an advantage of one move (9 against 8), has not yet developed all his pieces whilst all of Black's pieces are in play or readily available.

Getting down to details, we observe that White's QB is still on its original square, impeding the QR; we notice also the strange position of the KR on the third rank, and the bad position of a Knight at QKt3, whilst the other Knight at QB3, usually a good square for a Knight, is under the impending threat of ... P-Kt5; a serious threat as the Knight would have no good square available. Against this the position of all Black's forces is extremely favourable; with two more moves by the Rooks his development would be completed and superior by far to White's.

The essential objects of both players are for Black to complete his development, and for White to save his KP which is threatened by the advance of Black's QKtP. If White tries to effect this by the simplest means, namely, 1 P-B3, there follows: 1 ... P-Kt5; 2 Kt-Q1, P-QR4; with the threat of ... B-R3. At present nearly all the white pieces are badly placed. Let us try another way: 1 P-QR3, P-QR4 ; 2 KtxKtP, Q-Kt3; winning the KP. There remains only the advance 1 P-K5. This opens the long diagonal, and now the white KKtP will be under fire from Black's Q and QB. The threat of a Bishop at QB4 will prevent the defensive P-B3, by White. How is this future menace to be parried? We see that the problem has changed even before the first move is decided upon. The reason is that it would be too late to seek a remedy after we have committed ourselves to a certain line of play; eventualities must be foreseen and weighed up.

Our Rook at Q3 can now render valuable service by moving to KKt3, where it protects the KKtP and, in addition, enables the backward QB to develop at KR6 without loss of time. This is a rule of general application: if a piece is badly placed, before withdrawing it with the loss of an important tempo, one must seek to extract some advantage from its supposedly unfavourable position. In this case, why not assume that the Rook was placed at Q3 in anticipation of some action on the K side?

Thus does White's first plan take shape—advance of the KP, followed by R-Kt3, and B-R6, which move completes his development. It is easy to see that Black's ... P-Kt3; would not hinder this plan in the least. White's Bishop could still go to KR6, and in addition there would be a most desirable square for a white Knight at KB6.

Without examining Black's point of view in detail, let us see how this plan of White's would work out.

After 1 P-K5, Kt-Q4; 2 R-Kt3, Black plays 2 ... KtxKt; forcing the recapture, by the Rook which must leave its post of attack: 3 RxKt, Q-Q2; now White reverts to his original plan by 4 R-Kt3, and Black plays first of all 4 ... KR-Q1; (threatening ... Q-Q8 ch) and after s B-R6, P-Kt3; White, who has achieved his first object, has not yet obtained a satisfactory position, for his Kt is still badly placed and the QR is not yet in play. Now new ideas must be evolved and a new series of moves is essential in order to overcome these various difficulties. It is impossible to foresee all the future moves in a game of chess; be satisfied if you can conceive a more or less extended series of moves which represent a logical plan; it will be a great step forward from the disconnected manner of the average amateur's play, which consists of separate moves, mostly lacking all sequence and logical connection.

To return to the position under examination, after 5 ... P-Kt3; the white Knight would be well placed at its Q4 or QB5, for which reason White plays 6 B-K3. Black seeks to thwart the adversary's plans with 6 ... Q-Q4; with a direct attack on the King. But now, with 7 Kt-R5, White attacks the QB. Thus White exchanges a weak Knight for a strong Bishop and eliminates, at the same time, the menace of the "two Bishops." Relying on his advantage in time, Black now plays 7 ... QR-B1; 8 KtxB, QxKt.

The position (Diag. 15) is now simplified, but White


still has to cope with some difficulties; his QR is still undeveloped, his KP is weak, his KR is more or less out of play for the moment; but there are fewer pieces and he can hope to equalise the game, though not without difficulty.

Let us recapitulate: we have seen that the complete analysis of a position followed by a synthesis of it as a whole, reveals to us its character and enables us to find the main idea underlying it. Accordingly our plan takes shape; we realise not only in which direction we must act, and at which objects we must aim, but also at what speed these objects have to be achieved.

The main thing is to see clearly the essence of the position, so as not to waste time and effort in attaining unimportant objects, and it is prudent to allow first for the opponent's moves so that our own ideas may be clear in our mind, allowing us to execute them at our leisure and not under pressure. Having a very precise notion of what we wish to do, we must ask ourselves how the opponent could interfere or prevent the execution of our plan.

Very often the real difficulty lies in the fact that the opponent, seeing our moves, can foresee our intentions and find an adequate reply in good time. The question therefore is how to conceal our intentions and how to lead our opponent astray with regard to them. It is true, enough that, after the initial moves, we are not always sure that our opponent will fathom their trend; but we must always allow for this eventuality. To keep our intentions concealed is a problem in chess—luckily there are ways and means of solving it.

In the position shown in Diag. 16 the following moves were played: 1 ... B-R6; 2 B-B3, B-Kt5; 3 B-Kt2, B-R6; 4 B-B3, B-Kt5; and only


White: Réti; Black: Alekhine
Baden-Baden, 1925

after White retired the B to R1, did Black by 5 ... P-KR4; initiate an attack which secured him the victory. Why this repetition of moves? Here is the answer. For the attack in question, aimed at White's KKt3, it was inopportune to have a white Bishop at his KKt2 or KB3. Only after White had given up occupying these squares did Black proceed with his intended attack. There is no doubt that this repetition of moves deceived White, who, seeing his adversary's indecision and his apparent willingness to accept a draw, was induced to overestimate his own prospects and to play for a win.

Another, and perhaps more striking, example is shown in Diag. 17. Here the continuation was as follows: 1 R-Q3, R-Kt7; 2 B-Kt1, Q-R8; 3 B-B2, R-Kt8. We see that White has made three perfectly useless moves, without any significance, which not only allowed the adverse Q and R to penetrate into his


White: Lasker; Black: Showalter
Cambridge Springs, 1904

position, but even induced them to do so. But it was in fact only a ruse de guerre, for with the departure from its camp of Black's heavy artillery, White was able to initiate a decisive attack, forcing the enemy's surrender in a few moves: 4 Kt-B6, R-R8; 5 Q-Kt7; KtKt2; 6 Q-KB7, R-Kt8 ch; 7 K-B3.

In both cases the means employed were rather crude; they succeeded thanks to the opponent's mistakes. But there are more subtle manoeuvres which leave the adversary in doubt as to our intentions—threats neither direct nor too immediate. It would be idle to pretend that such methods are always at our disposal, but it is of some value, in choosing between several continuations, to take into account which of them is the least obvious and therefore the harder to parry.


In the preceding chapters we have spoken mainly of general ideas and strategic plans. But in almost every game tactical possibilities in great numbers are likely, and it is important to learn how to take advantage of such opportunities. An astute player, thanks to his tactical ability, will succeed in saving many a lost game. It is quite easy to become the slave to a preconceived idea, and, whilst following it up methodically, to overlook a clandestine mate, subtly engineered by the opponent. A pedant, a blind worshipper of logic, is at times caught napping by an apparently fantastic scheme. Patiently pursuing a dim and distant object, a player often succumbs to a trap, especially if he has failed to take timely precautions and has unconcernedly and strictly adhered to his selected line of play. And how many opportunities are overlooked and left unexploited!

An opponent's oversight, a mistake, a weak move—such opportunities must be seized on the instant; a move later, and the chance will have gone. At times there arises a question of principle: shall we forgo our strategic plan in favour of a tactical diversion, which may be more lucrative? Although such opportunities, both in attack and defence, must be utilised whenever possible, the strategic plan can still remain the basis of our play. But sad would be the fate of the strategist who, having formulated his plan, thought that he could go to sleep, nothing more being required of him.

Tactical opportunities may lead to simple manoeuvres, but they are the mainspring of many of the most sparkling combinations. Tactics therefore require special attention in any book dealing with the subject of combinations.[1] It will be sufficient in the present volume to give a few illustrations.

[1] C f. my book "The Art of Chess Combination" (Chatto & Windus).

In Diag. 18 White is conducting a vigorous K side attack, the position of Black's King being seriously compromised.


White: Alekhine; Black: Tylor
Margate, 1937

The game continued as follows:

1 KtxP, BxP (capturing the Knight spells the loss of the Queen); 2 Q-B3 ch, R(B1)-B3; 3 Kt-K4 dis. ch, BxR; 4 RxB ch, K-R1; 5 QxR ch, RxQ; 6 RKt8 ch, KxR; 7 KtxR ch, followed by 8 KtxQ. We have here a magnificent example of the "Kt combination," the basis of which is the unguarded position of Black's Queen at her KR4. The strategic conception remains the same: attack against the King's field by means of the opening of the KKt file; but this unfortunate position of the black Queen affords the tactical opportunity of a sudden and beautiful conclusion.

Observe that such tactical turns do not of necessity divert the player from his original strategic plan, and that at times, as in this instance, they further its execution.

Their conception, however, is frequently much more complicated. The position in Diag. 19 is such an example on the same theme.


White: Andreiev; Black: Dolookhanow
Leningrad, 1935

At first sight, no Kt combination appears to be possible here for no basis can be discerned on which it could be built up.

It is easy to see that Black must attack the King's position, but his opponent can do likewise and, it seems, with better chances, as the position of Black's King is open and White's B-Kt1, carries a disagreeable threat. There are, however, two weaknesses in White's camp. The King is none too well placed and the Queen at K3 is unguarded. The following combination is comparatively easy to find: 1 ... QxP; 2 PxQ, BxP ch; 3 K-Kt1, Kt-B6 ch; 4 K-R1, and the King is in a perfect stalemate position. The problem is how to take advantage of the fact. An unimaginative player would never have found the cunning 4 ... B-Kt7 ch; 5 KxB, KtxR ch; attacking the Queen. Here, then, is the combination for which we were looking! The only flaw is that the Rook is guarded by its companion; as soon as this fact becomes clear, the whole combination becomes practicable. The initial move must be 1 ... KRxB; and, after 2 RxR, the combination shown above can be effected.

Anyone seeing this combination for the first time, with its initial sacrifice of the exchange seemingly entirely disconnected from the proceedings on the other wing, might well think it a miracle and the work of a genius. The retro-analysis to which we have subjected the position shows us the inner workings of the combination and, although no one would deny the talent of the player who conceived it, there is no doubt that logical reasoning and a little imagination should suffice for its creation.

A far more difficult problem occurs when a tactical possibility implies a complete reversal of strategic policy, and more so when the general plan is abandoned in favour of a combination without forced material gain.

Many games have been drawn, or even lost, through an opponent, faced with a winning attack, tendering an unobtrusive little pawn as a conciliatory bait: the attacker is content with this "bird-in-the-hand" and gives up his attack or his strategic plan, which might have overwhelmed his opponent, only to find that his small gain in material is insufficient to ensure victory or, worse still, that the initiative passes to the other side and he loses a game which he ought to have won. And yet the case in which there is a gain in material is the easiest of all to assess, for there should be little difficulty in calculating whether this gain is greater or smaller than the advantage that could be expected from the normal execution of the original plan. As Alekhine asserts, a gain in marital should only be a means of improving a positional advantage. But if a positional advantage should result in either case? How can the difference be assessed? Supposing we are carrying out subtle manoeuvres on a flank with the object of paralysing the enemy forces, and now we find an easy tactical way of securing an advantage in another quarter, should we renounce our strategic intentions? Has our opponent overlooked it or is it a trap? Our forces are ideally placed for the execution of our original plan; will they be as active in the new circumstances? Will the unexpected gain be sufficient to win? The whole of our preliminary and imaginative work becomes futile: will our will to win, our creative power, prevail under the new conditions? There are so many difficult questions of a technical, a sporting and a psychological nature to answer.

In Diag. 20 White exercises a vigorous pressure in the centre with attacking threats against the King. Should Black not exchange pawns at his KB5, White


White: Kostitsch; Black: Znosko-Borovsky
Nice, 1930

will continue with P-B5, and P-KKt4, and a storming advance of all the pawns: But after the exchange White threatens to advance his KP, and after ... PxKP; P-Q6, threatens to win the QB; the increased power of the QP in itself justifies the advance. Against this danger, after White's first move 1 Q-B3, Black played as follows: 1 ... PxP; 2 PxP, and now tendered the first bait by 2 ... P-QKt4. Thus White is set the first problem: should he accept this tactical sacrifice and relax his pressure in the centre? e.g., 3 PxP,PxP; 4 KtxP, Q-Kt3; 5 Kt-B3, P-B5 dis. ch; and Black recovers his pawn or obtains an active and promising share in the play. White therefore rightly ignored this tactical diversion. He played: 3 P-K5, and Black offered a second bait by playing 3 ... P-Kt5; again White can win a pawn by 4 PxKt, PxKt; 5 PxP, PxB; (...KBxP; 6 BxP) 6 PxB(Q)ch, KxQ; 7 R-Kt1. Relying on his positional superiority and the soundness of his strategy, White also ignored this fresh attempt, but he made the mistake of aiming at the gain of a Bishop instead of sustaining the existing pressure; instead of playing 4 Kt-K4, KtxKt; 5 QxKt, P-Kt3; 6 Kt-Q3, B-Kt2; 7 QR-K1 he played 8 Kt-R4, forcing Black to follow his lead, but getting a piece out of play. Now 4 ... PxP; 5 P-Q6, QxP; 6 QxB, P-K5; and White's Queen is shut out, which affords Black a decisive advantage.

After having resisted on two occasions the tactical temptation of a gain in material, White was wrong in yielding the third time; the capture of the Bishop was made at the cost of the essence of his plan to overwhelm the enemy in the centre. On that account this example is most instructive.



The middle game forms a complete whole, distinct from the opening and the end game which are subject to laws of their own.

In spite of this fundamental unity, the middle game itself is divided into three well-defined parts. These are the middle game proper, and the transition from the opening into the middle game and from the middle game into the end game. In the first of these transitory passages the tribulations of the preceding phase still weigh heavily, and in the last the cares and tribulations of the forthcoming end game must be taken into account. Common sense tells us that these intermediate manoeuvres must be studied before we concentrate on the complete analysis of the middle game.


(a) Special Characteristics

Theoretically, the opening is completed when all the pieces are developed and ready for concerted action. In practice it ends where "the book" leaves off. Thus it often happens that, on leaving the beaten track, we must still think of completing our development, whilst some of the pieces are already engaged in battle. This state of things sets any player a problem requiring delicate and elastic treatment. To add to the difficulties, it is a fact that at this precise stage of the opening the position is not yet clarified, and it is difficult to settle on any definite plan of action. Even the most experienced masters have, at this stage, their moments of hesitation, of groping; they then make waiting or developing moves, improve their position without incurring any commitments. For a less mature amateur it is even more difficult. No wonder that this is the phase in which, not quite knowing what to do, the average player makes small mistakes which cost him the game. His game gradually deteriorates and the initiative passes to his opponent.

If we had to deal only with even positions of no pronounced character, we could study them as and when they occur and there would be no call for a separate analysis. But what adds to the difficulty of such positions is the fact that any move we make might lead us against our will into strategic conceptions of which we do not know the value; not only that, but every move by our opponent sets us not only tactical problems, which we must try to solve to our advantage, but strategic ones also. Whilst in the middle game an isolated move can hardly alter a sound strategic idea, in the phase at present under consideration, every move can initiate a different strategic conception, and if we do not realise this at the moment, we unsuspectingly pursue the chosen path, which now has become a cul-de-sac leading nowhere.

It is easy thus to realise how difficult is the task which awaits us at this stage, and, it is not surprising that players are not always equal to it. We may add that the loss of a tempo in the opening can seldom be made good, so that waiting moves or even mechanical developing moves can lead to the loss of a game.

We must be doubly careful at this stage of the game, which undoubtedly is one of extreme difficulty. It is more difficult than the opening which is known through the analysis of the theorists, or the middle game in which we can at least find our way, thanks to the object, more or less clear, which we have in view.

(b) Examples of various Openings and their transition into the Middle Game

Let us examine the position in Diag. 21, which is known to all chess players and particularly to those who


practise the Queen's Gambit. The usual move for Black is here 7 ... P-B3; after which the possible continuations are sufficiently well known.

Let us suppose that Black plays a different move and we shall see with what problems White is immediately faced. First we shall examine 7 ... P-QKt3.

This move discloses Black's intention of developing a Bishop at QKt2: therefore our first and immediate reply is 8 PxP, PxP; closing the diagonal for a long time to come if not permanently. Another characteristic of the move in question stands revealed: the apparent weakness of the white squares on Black's Queen's side. The question then arises: how can White take advantage of this state of things? If he does not Black will post his B at QKt2 and play ... P-QB4; the secondary object of ... P-QKt3. Perhaps a concerted action by our Q and KB may provide the solution; therefore: 9 Q-R4, P-B4; 10 B-Kt5, B-Kt2; 11 B-B6, BxB; 12 QxB, R-B1; 13 Q-R4, Kt-K5; and White has nothing, his KB, which alone could have exploited the weakness of the white squares, having disappeared.

Let us make another attempt: 9 B-Kt5, B-Kt2; 10 Q-R4, P-QR3; 11 BxQKt; KtxB; 12 BxB, QxB; 13 Q-Kt3, Q-Q3; 14 Castles, QR-K1; and again Black has achieved equality.

Apparently Black's 7 ... P-QKt3; gives White no opportunity of obtaining an immediate advantage. White must therefore continue his development, without, however, losing sight of the fact that after ... P-QB4; Black will have a majority of pawns on the Q side. White must seek counter-opportunities elsewhere, and a K side attack is indicated. Therefore we play: 9 B-Q3, B-Kt2; 10 Castles, P-B4; 11 Kt-K5, P-QR3; 12 P-B4, P-B5; 13 B-Kt1, P-Kt4; 14 P-B3, etc. And now the lines of play on either side have become clear. It can even be said that White's strategic plan was thrust upon him by Black's manoeuvres on the Q side. His moves Kt-K5, and P-B4, become the logical sequel not only to his own 9th move but to the preceding move by Black. And thus we see that a simple pawn-move may lead to a sudden change in strategic planning if only sufficient attention is given to it.

Let us now suppose that Black, instead of 7 ... P-QKt3; plays 7 ... P-QR3; a move, it would seem, without importance—another simple pawn—advance devoid of direct threats, and yet ... what an immediate change in the situation! We perceive without much difficulty what Black intends to do: ... PxP; followed by ... P-Kt4; and ... P-B4; mobilising the Queen's side.

We can avoid this danger by playing PxP, but we must first ascertain whether we can derive some tactical advantage from this move. If we play, for instance, 8 P-B5, Black must reply with 8 ... P-B3; and a certain weakness at his QKt3 makes itself felt. But can we benefit from it? Let us try: 9 B-Q3, P-QKt3; 10 P-QKt4, P-QR4; 11 P-QR3, RPxP; 12 RPxP, PxP; 13 KtPxP, Castles; 14 Castles, Q-R4; after which Black has the initiative on the Q side, and our advanced QBP is of little value.

We must therefore give up this tactical scheme, which promises no real advantage, and revert to our strategic idea: 8 PxP, PxP; 9 B-Q3, P-B4 (if instead Black plays 9 ... P-B3; his 7 ... P-QR3; proves to be worse than useless); 10 PxP, KtxP; 11 Castles, Kt-K3; 12 B-R4, and White maintains the initiative without affording Black the counter-chances which he obtained in the preceding variation.

We observe how ideas can change in the advanced stage of the opening and how logical reasoning can show us the proper course to follow.

We shall now show our readers a few examples of this advanced stage in various openings, without lengthy commentaries. They will illustrate the correct handling of this intermediate phase of the game.

Diag. 22 represents a familiar position in the "Dragon" variation of the Sicilian Defence.


White: Heilmann; Black: Vidmar
Barmen, 1905

After 1 B-B3, R-B1; 2 Kt-Kt3, B-K3; 3 Kt-Q5, Kt-Q2; 4 P-B3, R-K1; 5 P-QR4, we reach the position in Diag. 23, in which a definite


plan is taking shape and in which White has obtained a real advantage in that Black's Queen's wing is in jeopardy, whilst the weakness of White's QKtP and the danger threatened by Black's open QB file have both been eliminated by the advance of the QBP.

Without entering into a discussion of the relative merits of the play of the two opponents, let us say, in, passing, that White's advantage is due to Black's faulty second move. Had he played 2 ... Kt-QR4; (instead of 2 ... B-K3;) 3 KtxKt, QxKt; 4 KR-Q1, P-Kt5; (Lowenfisch-Cohn, Carlsbad, 1911) he would have avoided the danger. But 2 ... Q-B2; would not have helped, e.g.: 3 Kt-Q5, KtxKt; 4 PxKt, Kt-Q1; 5 P-B3; Kt-Kt2; 6 KR-K1, with advantage to White (Marco-Weiss, Match, Vienna, 1895). More than in any other part of the game, a single inexact move at this stage is liable to alter the whole aspect of a position.

In the next example (Diag. 24.) from a Dutch Defence, White is uncertain as to which course to pursue and


White: Capablanca; Black: Alekhine
Nottingham, 1936

allows Black time and opportunity of completing his development and seizing the initiative.

The play went as follows: 1 ... B-B3; 2 Kt-QKt5, Q-K2; 3 B-K3, P-QR3; 4 Kt-Q4, B-Q2; 5 QR-B1, QR-K1; 6 P-QKt4, P-QKt3; (see Diag. 25) and now the respective plans of both


players have become apparent: White, wishes to "work" on the Q side, where Black has a majority of pawns, and to break up the pawn formation, whilst Black is aiming at the King's side and the centre. A strange move by White 7 Kt-B3, losing yet another tempo, turns out well for him, as Black is tempted to indulge in a tactical combination: 7 ... Kt-B6 ; 8 R-Q3, P-B5?; 9 PxP, B-B4; in order to win the exchange. The result is a bad game for Black: another instance in which a tactical diversion proves abortive and the renunciation of the strategic plan leads to the loss of the game.

Diag. 26 shows a position resulting from the Cambridge Springs variation of the Queen's Gambit. After the initial moves: 1 P-Q4, P-Q4; 2 P-QB4, P-K3;


White: Capablanca; Black: Alekhine
Match, 1927

3 Kt-QB3, Kt-KB3; 4 B-Kt5, QKt-Q2; 5 P-K3, P-B3; 6 Kt-B3, Q-R4; 7 Kt-Q2, B-Kt5; 8 Q-B2, PxP; 9 BxKt, KtxB; 10 KtxP, Q-B2; 11 P-QR3, B-K2; White gradually initiates a struggle round Black's Queen's side pawns, first of all preventing him from freeing his game by ... P-B4. Black, wishing to ease the pressure, plays


the unconsidered move 15 ... P-QR4; after which his pawns at QKt3 and QB3 become very weak and one of them is irretrievably lost. Here is the continuation, which leads to the position in Diag. 27: 12 P-KKt3, B-Q2; 13 B-Kt2, Castles KR; 14 P-QKt4, P-QKt3; 15 Castles KR, P-QR4; 16 Kt-K5, PxP; 17 PxP, RxR; 18 RxR, R-B1; 19 KtxB, QxKt; 20 Kt-R4, Q-Q1; 21 Q-Kt3, Kt-Q4; 22 P-Kt5, PxP; 23 QxKP, etc.

Here is another example of an Indian Defence. After 1 P-Q4, Kt-KB3; 2 P-QB4, P-K3; 3 KtKB3, P-QKt3; 4 P-KKt3, B-Kt2; 5 B-Kt2, B-Kt5 ch; 6 B-Q2, BxB ch; 7 QxB, P-Q3; 8 P-Q5, P-K4; we reach the position shown in Diag. 28, which is of frequent occurrence in this opening.


The advance of Black's KP clearly indicates the line of play which White will follow: advance of the KBP to its 4th, and the occupation of KB5 by his KKt. To prevent this, Black will have to play ... P-Kt3; giving White another objective, since Black will seek to place his QKt at QB4, from which square White will dislodge it by P-QKt4. Here are the moves played in a recent game: 9 Kt-B3, QKt-Q2; 10 Castles KR, Castles; 11 Kt-K1, Q-K2; 12 P-K4, P-Kt3; 13 Kt-B2, P-QR4; 14 Kt-K3, Kt-B4; 15 Q-B2, B-B1; 16 P-Kt3, B-Q2; 17 P-QR3, Kt-R4; 18 P-QKt4, Kt-QKt2; 19 QR-K1, Kt-Kt2; 20 Q-Q2, Kt-Q1; 21 P-B4, P-KB3; etc. (Diag. 29). We see that


White: Euwe; Black: Flohr
Match, 1932

White has initiated an energetic attack, against which, Black has prepared a stubborn defence, which is reminiscent of a variation of the Ruy Lopez with two pawns at KB3 and KKt3 and two Knights at KB2 and KKt2.

Considerations of space prevent us from giving more numerous examples. But all the positions which we have examined teach the same principle, namely: that here, to an even greater degree than in the middle game proper, the strategic idea is of far greater importance than tactical eventualities or the development of backward pieces. At the same time we are not yet committed to any particular plan: we can make our choice, we can even change our original idea. This is an advantage as it confers a certain freedom on our play, but a disadvantage, in that committing ourselves to a faulty plan would threaten to ruin the whole of our game.


(a) Special Characteristics

Entirely different worries beset the player when the end game is in sight. To be sure, if we have obtained a substantial advantage in material, for instance a piece, we can embark on the end game with entire confidence, if not with a feeling of certainty. But the advantage gained is not great, say only a pawn, or some advantage in position, the whole outlook is different. We may notice, often too late, that what appeared in the middle game to be an undoubted "pull," has become in the end game a weakness, and features in the enemy's position to which we gave no thought have become a first class weapon in his hands. Imagine that you have been conducting a violent attack on the K side and that your opponent has an isolated but passed QRP. In the circumstances you did not give it a thought and rather looked on it as a weakness. Now your attack fails to lead to a mate or to bring you any other advantage, and you see the despised pawn make its way unhindered to the queening square!

What, is to be done in such cases? What is the remedy? Certainly not an exaggerated caution, which leads you to think at all times, from the very opening, about a possible end game. It would be unthinkable; no attack would succeed, for, in order to conduct a middle game successfully, all our forces must participate without restrictions and to the bitter end.

But a counsel of wisdom is this: as soon as the play shows signs of leading into an end game, reconsider the position from that point of view. If you feel uneasy about it, defer the end game as long as you can and utilise the time gained in improving your chances for the ending. If, on the contrary, your chances are good, bring about the end game as quickly as you can.

If you are on the defensive in a difficult position, this transition from the middle to the end game may spell salvation if you know how to build up your defence to that end. If you have the initiative, however, and your advantage in the middle game is small, which means that your direct attack is little likely to win through, then the utmost caution is required. Avoid all weaknesses which may weigh in the balance in the end game, and the sooner you start preparations for the ending, the better.

It is sound strategy to bring about an end game as soon as an advantage in the middle game proves insufficient to win by direct attack; this advantage, however, must be kept up into the next phase where it can lead to success.

(b) Examples of various Endings and how they arise from the Middle Game

It is impossible here to review the various elements of favourable end game positions as opposed to those of middle game. We must take for granted that they are familiar to our readers. It will suffice to give a few examples to illustrate the different aspects of these two phases of the game.


White: Capablanca; Black: Reshevsky
Nottingham, 1936

In Diag. 30 Black's development is clearly superior. He has 14, moves to his credit as against 7 by White. At the same time there is no weakness in White's camp and his chances for the end game are perhaps slightly better owing to the advance of Black's Q side pawns. White therefore brought about a succession of exchanges, trying to create some weaknesses in the black position. Black, on the other hand, realising that he would have little chance in an end game, tried in vain to prepare an attack. In so doing he actually created a weakness in his own camp—an isolated QP on a white square with a white Bishop, leaving White with a Knight on a strong supporting black square, which should be a sufficient advantage for an end game.

The play went as follows: 1 P-Kt3, Kt-Q2; 2 RxR, RxR; 3 BxB, KtxB; 4 Q-Q4, Kt-Q4; 5 R-Q1, P-B3; 6 Kt-K1, B-Kt2; 7 BxKt, PxB; 8 P-K3, Q-K5; 9 P-KR4, P-QR4; 10 P-B3, QxQ; 11 RxQ, R-B8; 12 K-B2, R-R8; 13 R-Q2, P-R5; 14 Kt-Q3, R-QKt8; 15 R-Kt2, RxR ch; 16 KtxR, which brings us to the position in Diag. 31. Black has a lost


game owing to the weakness of his Bishop and of his QKtP and QP. It is clear that he should at all cost have avoided exchanges, especially of his Q and his second Rook.

It is most difficult correctly to assess the value of minor pieces in an end game; which one of two Bishops is it best to preserve; which is the stronger, a Knight or a Bishop? etc. In most cases the player may know the answer perfectly well and yet remain with the "wrong" piece, because he had it before the end game was even considered.

In the position shown in Diag. 32, which was given up as a draw, the black Knight is clearly superior to


White: Botvinnik; Black: Winter
Nottingham, 1936

White's Bishop, and had not this game been played in the last round of the tournament, it is more than likely that Black would have scored a win by bringing his King up to the Q side and posting his Knight at QB5. The position is particularly interesting because White's Bishop looks very strong. All the black pawns are on white squares and White's centre pawns on black squares, the best possible arrangement for White. Yet the Bishop has no scope at all and is reduced to the defensive. The same applies to the white Rook. On the other hand, the black pieces have complete freedom of action; they have more space, are aggressive, and the King can easily co-operate in the struggle.

What has been said of the pieces applies in an equal measure to the pawns; we have seen how important a part they play in a game of chess. Very often, however, their function in the end game is totally different.

Examine the position in Diag. 33. White has a marked advantage and attacking chances. He did not make the best of the position and failed to exploit his advantage or to turn it into a decisive one. Finally he made the mistake of playing a pawn to KB6. At first sight this pawn may seem to threaten many dangers, including several threats of mate.


White: Capablanca; Black: Alekhine
Match, 1927

By skilful play Black brought about many exchanges, leading into the end game, with the result that White remained with a doubled pawn requiring constant attention. Only with the utmost difficulty could White have obtained a draw against Black's strong passed pawn. As it was, the task required such precision that the problem proved too much for White, who lost a game which in its middle phase looked like a probable win for him.

The following are the moves from the position in Diag. 33: 1 Kt-K5, P-Kt3; 2 Kt-Kt4, B-Kt2; 3 P-K5, P-KR4; 4 Kt-K3, P-QB4; 5 KtPxP, PxP; 6 P-Q5, PxP; 7 KtxP, Q-K3; 8 Kt-B6 ch, BxKt; 9 PxB, RxR ch; 10 RxR, B-B3; and the position in Diag. 34 is reached.


We shall, in the course of our studies, have occasion to examine positions in which one or the other player deliberately brings about an end game either in order to increase his advantage or conversely to minimise the drawbacks of his position. It is well to repeat here that, even before such a decision is under consideration, there comes a time when the position must be reviewed from the point of view of end game possibilities. If we put this advice into practice we shall undoubtedly save a good number of games which would otherwise be lost. There is no doubt that frequently we are faced with defeat through carelessly omitting this eventuality from our calculations.



Everyone knows what superiority in position means and that such superiority can exist even when there is a distinct inferiority in some elements. It is desirable to have the advantage in all three elements, but it happens far more frequently that an advantage in one element is accompanied by a disadvantage in another. As we have seen, it can even happen that an advantage in all three elements fails to insure positional superiority. In order to recall this fact to the reader's mind we give an additional example in Diag. 35.


White: Miss Menchik; Black: Znosko-Borovsky
London, 1937

Here White has the advantage in material—two pawns; in time—15 moves against 10; in space—P's at K5 and KB6. But in spite of mating threats White's game is lost. Black plays: 1 ... RxKt ch; 2 PxR, Q-B3; and there is no defence against the threatened mate. 3 B-B3, BxR ch; etc.

Such cases, however, are exceptional and an advantage in all elements normally represents a real superiority in position. However, an external analysis is not sufficient to reveal to us the inner significance of a position and its character.

It would be unwise to put too much trust in advantages in one or more elements and to concentrate on their increase. What is of real moment to us is the advantage in the position as a whole. This, however, can be ascertained only by an analysis of all the elements. In addition, it is not sufficient to realise that the position is superior; it is essential to find the exact degree of superiority and in what it consists. If the advantage be but slight, it is necessary to proceed slowly, without forcing matters or taking risks. If, however, the advantage be overwhelming, there is justification (one might almost say it was a duty) for initiating a vigorous attack, for an advantage which is not exploited is frittered away and more likely than not passes to the adversary. That is a moral obligation in chess if we are to believe Steinitz and Lasker.

Finally, one should realise with the utmost clearness in which particular element superiority exists, as the manner of its treatment varies in each of the three elements; an advantage in space cannot be increased in the same manner as an advantage in time.

A study of positions in which advantages in various elements exist will serve as an introduction to an analysis of the line of thought to be followed in superior positions and of the means available for exploiting such superiority. This will allow us to reduce our remarks to a minimum and merely to quote the moves played with a few variations. We shall thus be able to give more numerous examples.

One could ignore positions in which there is an advantage in material, for there seems little to be said about a position in which one player has an extra piece or pawn. Yet such positions frequently present a common characteristic.

A player, having gained an advantage in material, is apt to assume the defensive, playing a passive game or trying to bring about an end game. Very often these tactics lead to disaster or, at best, to a draw. The opponent takes the initiative and succeeds in obtaining a positional advantage which makes up for the material he has lost. It would be equally futile for the stronger side to embark on risky and hazardous undertakings: "Only the weak trust to chance." But there is no doubt that an advantage in material, be it only that of a pawn, justifies far more audacious measures, both in attack and defence, than would be permissible in a perfectly even position.

The difficulty in these cases resides precisely in the fact that very often a more or less marked positional advantage sets off the lack of material. We may have to exploit an extra pawn in spite of an adverse positional advantage.

In the position shown in Diag. 36 Black has an extra pawn, his only advantage, for he has two pieces out of play on the Q side, whilst on the K side White is conducting a dangerous attack. In addition White is a tempo ahead. Suppose for a moment that Black were without a QRP; with equal forces White would have all the advantage. With a passed pawn and the attack


White: Marshall; Black: Capablanca
Match, 1909

he could at once aim at forcing a win. As it is he has to proceed slowly and methodically, as is demanded by the small advantage he possesses, for he would be lost as soon as the adversary's Q side pawns were able to start their advance. Black's unobtrusive QRP hampers White's game and even affects his K side attack.

White therefore plays:

 1  Kt-R5          P-Kt3
 2  P-Q6

Black cannot capture this pawn as he would lose his QR.

 2  ...            Q-K3

Without his extra pawn Black's defence would be wholly inadequate as White would then exchange Queens, doubling and isolating pawns on the K file, as well as threatening to win a pawn by Kt-B6 ch. But as matters stand, Black's extra pawn, though inactive at the moment, becomes a real threat as soon as White ceases to attack or permits exchanges to take place. This shows that the player who has an advantage in material can take a certain amount of risk and can allow his position to be weakened in a manner which, without his extra material, might easily prove fatal.

 3  Q-Kt5          K-R1

The pawn is still immune from capture: 3 ... RxP; 4 RxR, QxR; 5 Q-R6, Q-B1; 6 Kt-B6 ch, and 7 QxP mate.

 4  Kt-B6          RxP
 5  RxR            QxR

And thus Black has won a second pawn and is still able to cope with White's attack.

Another way of turning a material advantage to account is to surrender it at the proper time in exchange for a substantial advantage in position. This applies in particular to the opening, where it is bad policy to strive at all costs to maintain some material advantage. In that phase of the game, positional considerations are paramount: that is the idea underlying all gambits. We must warn, however, against such a surrender being made without proper thought, as a matter of routine. In chess no effort should turn out to have been made in vain, and no advantage must be surrendered before it has been, as far as possible, turned to account.

In giving our attention to positions which show an advantage in either time or space, we immediately notice a great difference. Such an advantage is definitely positional, and unlike the advantage in material, it confers special characteristics on the position.

Let us first examine the advantage in time. As already stated, this is the hardest case to diagnose. It is even more difficult to preserve. It is a curious characteristic of this element that it cannot be increased indefinitely: there comes a time when our opponent will even up matters. It cannot even be maintained at a steady level, for every move which fails to increase the lead allows our opponent to make up leeway in his development, and thus to improve matters for himself as regards the element of time. In addition, an advantage in time is in itself insufficient to enforce a win. It must be transformed into an advantage in another element. This is the most critical moment which often decides the fate of the game, and one where we always risk forfeiting our advantage.

The main thing in chess is, as we have stated before, the conflict of chess ideas. But, even so, it is always important to realise clearly the exigencies of the three elements, for on these our conduct of the game very frequently depends. If we fail to realise in which particular element we have an advantage, we may have the most brilliant ideas, but they must of necessity be aimless, and we shall be unable to select the proper method of carrying them out.

Let us examine Diag. 37.

This position illustrates our point particularly well: Black has only an advantage in time, whereas White has won a pawn and is far superior in space. Moreover, White has not a single weakness, and whatever Black may hope to achieve could only have this advantage in time as a basis.

As usual, the characteristics of the situation are ascertained after comparing the two positions. In this case the difference between the Bishops is important. White's Bishop is as yet undeveloped whilst the black Bishop occupies a long open diagonal, aiming at the Kt and at the KtP behind it. If, on the other hand, the Kt moves,


White: Nimzowitsch; Black: Capablanca
St. Petersburg, 1914

the QRP is in jeopardy. White will therefore require some considerable time to complete his development. Before the Kt is able to move it will be necessary to guard the QRP, defend the Kt with the B, and move the QR; then only will the Bishop obtain any freedom of action. Thus Black's advantage in time can become still more considerable.

But were Black content to watch his opponent's efforts to extricate his Q side without taking action, White would carry out his plan and, having at last mobilised his Bishop and, incidentally, made up for the time lost in winning a pawn, he would probably proceed to win the game on the strength of his extra pawn.

What is Black to do? A further characteristic of the position now appears: the two open files on the Q side. On these files Black will be able to attack the pawns, and White's extra pawn will continue to require protection. If, however, Black simply brings up a Rook for the attack, he will lose still further time without making any real threat, and White's Queen will be able to return into camp. He must play a more subtle game, limiting White's freedom of action by constant attacks and varied threats. Hence his first move:

 1  ...            KR-K1

He attacks the KP, which immobilises White's Knight and compels White to make a defensive move.

 2  Q-Q3

White brings back his Q into his lines, but in so doing he relieves his pressure on Black's QBP and restores to the black Queen her freedom of action. A move such as 2 P-KB3, which will sooner or later have to be played, would be preferable. A player who is at a disadvantage in point of time should keep up any available threat.

 2  ...            Q-K3

A fresh threat.

 3 P-B3

Black's first attack is at an end. It is clear that it was only meant as a demonstration. What must he do now? The Rook's move liberated the Queen, the Queen moved to make room for the Knight. As the attack against the KP is at an end, the Knight, via Q2, K4, QB5, will attack the Q side and the QKtP, still further impeding the development of White's B. The black Knight retreats temporarily but opens the way for the Bishop, which also attacks the Q side.

 3  ...            Kt-Q2

White tries to parry the threat shown above by developing his pieces.

 4   B-Q2           Kt-K4
 5   Q-K2           Kt-B5

Now the QKtP is threatened. If 6 P-QKt3, KtxB; 7 QxKt, Q-K4; etc.

 6   QR-Kt1         R-R1

Again a threat. As can be easily seen, Black has managed to place his Rook on this file by means of continual threats, therefore without loss of time. All his pieces are now directed against the Q side, where the main action is being fought; by combining a threat with every move, he prevents his opponent from developing his pieces, whilst warding off these threats. So far he has succeeded admirably. Here, for instance, he threatens to win a pawn after 7 P-QKt3, KtxB.

 7   P-QR4          KtxB

In order to bring the Queen into the game.

 8   QxKt           Q-B5

Again P-QKt3, is not feasible because of the threat to the Knight. Incidentally, Black threatens to win the QRP by ... BxKt; and if 9 Kt-K2, the QRP is lost. The best course in the circumstances would be 9 Kt-Q1, giving up the extra pawn but relieving the adverse pressure.

 9   KR-Q1          KR-Kt1

Here Black could have won a pawn by ... BxKt. The present threat, however, is to win two pawns by ... RxKtP; RxR, BxKt; Q-B1, BxR; QxB, QxRP; but then White could reply with Q-Kt7, threatening the backward QB pawns.

The position is shown in Diag. 38. Summing up its main points, we see that Black has gained only one move, but that, on the other hand, he has gained much space: All his pieces occupy open lines and his Queen dominates the board. His advantage in time is now transferred to the element of space. It only remains for him to


exchange it for a gain in material and the game is won for him.

10  Q-K3           R-Kt5

Threatening B-Q5.

11  Q-Kt5          B-Q5 ch
12  K-R2           R(R1)-Kt1

Threatened with the loss of a piece, White is compelled to give up the exchange.

13 RxB             QxR

and the game is won for Black.

The most striking feature in this example is Black's admirable conduct of the game. The manner in which he exploited his advantage in time is beyond praise. Nearly every move contained a threat, which is the correct method of turning to account an advantage in time as opposed to an advantage in space, as we shall show later.

It is, of course, not essential that each threat should be direct and immediate: they may be distant threats, perhaps merely indicated by the moves as future contingencies. This is easy to understand. The player who is in arrears in time has only to complete his development to eliminate all pressure and two or three quiet moves are often sufficient for this purpose. This the opponent must seek, at all costs, to prevent. Constant threats are the best means to this end, although it is clear that every move must be subordinated to a general plan.

A difficult moment arises in these manoeuvres when a piece has to be transferred to another field, which necessarily gives the opponent some breathing space. In the present example this difficulty is overcome with consummate mastery. Another piece is unmasked at the critical time with a new and immediate threat.

Another delicate problem arises when the advantage in time is to be transferred to another element. This process is also carried out exceedingly well here; the act of transformation is hardly noticeable.

The student would do well to study this game with the greatest care: it is instructive in the highest degree.

All these processes will stand out even more clearly when we compare them with those employed in positions in which the advantage to be exploited is one of space.

Where an advantage in space exists, it means that the opponent's movements are restricted; his pieces lack space in which to radiate their full power. It is therefore unnecessary to threaten the adversary; it is sufficient to prevent his pieces from coming out from their narrow space by controlling the squares in front of his position. The advantage in space is less easily lost, and can increase almost indefinitely. It is often permissible to lose time so long as no pieces are actually withdrawn, and the adverse forces are still further restricted by quiet manoeuvring. It is not necessary to transform this advantage into a material one, and so this very critical moment in the exploitation of advantages in time does not arise here. On the other hand, there is another and equally anxious time when the opponent, whose position is becoming more and more restricted, decides to give up some material in order to relieve the pressure. It then happens not infrequently that he is able to assume the initiative when our well-advanced forces are badly placed to resist this sudden and unexpected onslaught.


White: Lasker; Black: Capablanca
St. Petersburg, 1914

Diag. 39 will show this more clearly. Here time and force are equal on either side, but White has the advantage in space with two centre pawns on the fourth rank and two well-developed Knights. Black's forces occupy the first three ranks, with little hope of enlarging their scope. His greatest concern is the undeveloped state of his QB. A useful post would be at Kt2, from where, supported by the Rook, it would attack the KP. If this pawn advances, a splendid square at Black's KB4 becomes available for his Kt.

As White has no threats at his disposal, except possibly P-B5-B6, which cannot be entertained for some time, he must proceed cautiously and continue a policy of restriction.

Black has an immediate threat, by ... B-QB4; pinning a Knight and occupying a fine diagonal. And now White plays: Kt-Kt3. A strange move indeed, for not only is it devoid of threats but White has actually retreated one of his developed pieces! An entirely different procedure from that shown in the preceding example (advantage in time). The explanation is that, with an advantage in space, it is less important to threaten the enemy than to prevent him from extricating himself from his cramped position and to deny him the possibility of making any threats himself. In the present instance the white Knight keeps the Bishop from his QB4 and also avoids being pinned.

 1  Kt-Kt3         P-B3

The object of this move is not only to prevent here and now the advance P-B5-B6, but principally to make the development of the QB at Kt2 possible and to open the long diagonal by ... P-QB4; which, at the moment, is not feasible because of the threat to the KB after P-K5. In addition, White must reckon with the possibility of Black's QB being developed at K3 or even KKt5 now that a sanctuary is available for it at its B2.

 2  P-B5

White forestalls this threat at once without himself threatening anything in particular unless it be the establishment, in the distant future, of a Kt at K6. Incidentally, White creates a weakness for himself at K5 for the sake of maintaining the pressure and of preserving his advantage in space.

 2 ...            P-QKt3

Black prepares the development of his B at Kt2, now that KKt5 is no longer available. His position is one of great difficulty. If he keeps the Bishop on its diagonal QB1-KR6 in order to guard his K3, his position would remain restricted and White, after B-B4, and QR-Q1; would have a splendid and untrammelled game, without any counter-chances for Black. On the other hand, after ... B-Kt2; Black's K3 remains defenceless and becomes a target for a virulent assault as the sequel shows.

 3  B-B4

To begin with, the KB is to be eliminated, and as the exchange is unavoidable, Black should have made it himself in order to gain a tempo and to avoid the creation of a weakness at his Q3. He decides, however, to persevere in his development as planned and in the end he has to defend two weaknesses instead of one.

 3  ...            B-Kt2
 4  BxB            PxB
 5  Kt-Q4

The first threat after four quiet moves. And what is the threat? Simply to post his Kt at K6. White's manoeuvring has cost him a tempo, but in return he has increased his stranglehold. Black's only remaining chance lies in his attack on the KP and he cannot allow the white Kt to settle permanently on its K6. Hence the necessity of advancing his QBP and QP.

He cannot prevent the Knight from moving to K6, threatening Q8; therefore he must move the QR at once if it is to get into play at all.

 5  ...            QR-Q1
 6  Kt-K6          R-Q2

Observe that in achieving his aim White has made three "moves" less than his adversary. It is true that Black's gain in time—advance of the Q side pawns—is of no value. But it remains a fact: we have noted a similar occurrence in the preceding example, where an increase of the advantage in time was accompanied by a loss in space.

It is obvious that White will now attack the weak point at Black's Q3.

 7  QR-Q1

How can the attack on the QP be parried? Either by guarding or by advancing it: this advance cannot take place at once as the pawn would be isolated and soon lost. Therefore ... P-B4; would first be called for in order to keep his Q4 under control of the Bishop. White must now guard his BP by P-KKt4, e.g.: 7 ... P-B4; 8 P-KKt4, P-Q4; 9 PxP, BxP; 10 KtxB, RxKt; 11 Kt-B7, RxR; 12 RxR, R-QB1; 13 R-Q7, and wins.

It follows that the QP cannot advance and Black is reduced to a passive defence: such is the result of White's strategy.

 7  ...            Kt-B1
 8  R-B2           P-QKt4
 9  KR-Q2          QR-K2
10  P-QKt4

Anticipating the threat ... PB4.

10  ...            K-B2
11  P-QR3

There is a basic difference between this game and the last. There are no threats from White, who merely continues to strengthen his position, restricting his opponent more and more and nullifying his attempts to free his game. Such tactics are possible only when there is an advantage in space and not in time.

Now at last we reach the critical moment mentioned above. Black has the opportunity of giving up the exchange for a pawn (11 ... RxKt; 12 PxR ch, RxP;) and with the attack on the KP he would obtain unexpected chances.

To prove the soundness or otherwise of his sacrifice, it would be necessary to play the game anew. But it can be stated that Black would remain with B, P and 3 moves for a Rook whilst White's advantage in space would have miraculously and suddenly disappeared. There is no doubt, however, that Black having let this chance pass by, has delivered himself into the hands of the enemy, who can now impose his will.

11  ...            B-R1
12  K-B2           R-R2
13  P-Kt4

The decisive assault now begins. White's advantage is overwhelming and the defence must break down somewhere.

13  ...            P-R3
14  R-Q3           P-QR4

Useless as well as damaging. The opening of lines is of benefit only to the stronger party.

15  P-KR4          PxP
16  PxP            R(R2)-K2
17  K-B3           R-Kt1
18  K-B4           P-Kt3
19  R-Kt3          P-Kt4 ch
20  K-B3           Kt-Kt3
21  PxP            RPxP

The continuation is of no real interest for our purpose, for Black, having lost his advantage in time, has nothing to play for. White simply goes on demolishing his opponent's position.

22  R-R3           R-Q2
23  K-Kt3          K-K1
24  QR-KR1         B-Kt2
25  P-K5

At last the decisive break-through! White eliminates his weak pawn, the idea being to put the Knight in its place, threatening the King and both Rooks.

25  ...            QPxP
26  Kt-K4          Kt-Q4
27  Kt(K6)-B5      B-B1
28  KtxR           BxKt
29  R-R7

and White won.

This game admirably demonstrates how an advantage in space should be increased without having recourse to threats, which are the mainstay of operations where an advantage in time is concerned.

This subject cannot be exhausted by two examples. Others can be found in which the win is achieved in a different manner. But the characteristic features of the mode of treatment are illustrated sufficiently clearly in these two cases for the amateur to master these difficulties in his own play.

And now we can pass on to the next section dealing with the evolving of an idea when exploiting a superior position.


When a thorough analysis has revealed to us that we possess a certain advantage, a good many questions remain to be settled. It is not sufficient to know that we have the advantage, nor in what it consists, nor how big it is. Numerous problems demand to be solved and the same analysis usually provides the solution.

It certainly is a matter of satisfaction if the fate of the game can be decided by a brilliant combination, nor should one omit to make sure whether such an opportunity offers itself, or at least some tactical possibility. But such cases are of rare occurrence, and everyone knows that more often than not a long and arduous struggle is necessary in order to secure the victory. Did not Dr. Tarrasch say that the hardest task is to win a won game?

The lay-out of our own and of enemy pieces must be carefully examined and compared: this will usually indicate the character and venue of the action which is to be undertaken. We can thus ascertain whether we have immediate or future attacking chances, and whether or no an attack may lead to a mate. This is a question of the greatest importance, for if there is a probable mate no sacrifice is too great and every resource must be drawn upon to attain this object, even to neglecting all other parts of the board no matter at what hazard.

Where there is no chance of a mate—which can happen even in the case of a K side attack—caution is necessary; we may conduct an energetic attack, but if the result is but the gain of a pawn, we cannot afford to sacrifice, nor must we submit to a positional disadvantage on another part of the board.

Having established our opponent's chief weakness, which becomes our, objective, we must settle the means of reaching it. Are the pieces alone sufficient? Will an assault by pawns be indispensable? Must we sacrifice in order to open a file? etc. There are very many cases where our available forces, are not suited for the attack on a particular weakness. An adverse pawn on our KR7 may be weak, but we lack a white Bishop! A pawn at KKt7 is likely to fall, and we find that we cannot post a Knight at KB5 or KR5.

We may not be able to solve all these problems as soon as an attack seems to be both feasible and advantageous, but the solution will occur to us gradually in the course of play. Therein lies the difference between the strong player and the rank-and-file. The average player fails even to consider all these questions, whilst the expert attends to them early, at times even subconsciously.

Let us examine the position in Diag. 40. There are numerous good moves and possible plans at White's disposal.


White: Capablanca; Black: Janowski
St. Petersburg, 1914

White played 1 R-Kt1, and Dr. Tarrasch remarked in the book of the Tournament: "Reveals with brutal frankness the plan of attack against which nothing can be done. The QKtP, supported by the QRP, is to storm the hostile King's embattlements, impregnable though they may seem." 1 ... P-B3; 2 P-Kt4; Kt-B2; 3 P-QR4, BxKt; 4 RxB, P-QKt3; 5 P-Kt5, BPxP; 6 PxP, P-QR4; 7 Kt-Q5, Q-B4; 8 P-B4, and the eminent annotator adds: "Again played with great precision. The attack is to be continued with Q-B3, and P-Q4." What has been achieved here with such apparent ease depends, in difficult positions, on a conception of the utmost accuracy. Side by side with a general plan of our play, we must have a plan of attack which is equally clear. The average player is content to make more or less plausible moves, advancing his pieces in the general direction of the objective, without troubling overmuch about the fundamentals of his attack. This is a pity; any efforts we make in obtaining a clear conception of the intended attack will reward us by the rapid and energetic development of the attack itself.

Similar questions are raised in the case of positional manoeuvres, though here the same degree of precision is neither necessary nor attainable. For here the moves of neither player are compulsory; there are no direct threats, and there often is no clearly-defined objective.

But nevertheless we must make every effort to achieve some degree of clarity in our ideas; here is some advice which is entirely practical. As the general plan is usually carried out step by step, and as an attack is developed in successive waves, so can we make our task easier by concentrating in turns on immediate objects, such as the occupation of a certain square, the opening of a line, pinning a piece or exchanging another, etc. The basic plan, however, must be there, for, otherwise, how could these various manoeuvres benefit us? Matters are easier when, having the advantage, we are fully aware of the location and extent of a weakness in the hostile camp. It is then, in the main, a case of deciding on what means to employ in order to reach and to undermine it.

Besides ordinary attacking manoeuvres there are other means of establishing and increasing an advantage, namely, combinations or, conversely, simplification of a position by exchanging material; but these must be looked upon as special cases. We must not forget the transition into the end game, of which we have already spoken. This is of particular moment when, in the middle game, our position can be threatened in spite of our advantage. Moreover, an advantage (say of a pawn) is, in the nature of things, useless in the middle game, but of the greatest value in an end game. Bearing in mind all we have said on the subject, it is important that the entry into the end game stage should be deliberate and at the free will of the player who has the advantage and to whom it will be profitable, and not merely a fortuitous happening or a disagreeable surprise, by which the advantage disappears or loses all significance. The average player is prone to saying, "It had to be," "It so happened"—he should be able to say, "I willed it," "It is done."

(a) The Attack

Methods of attack are numerous and varied; we could hardly enumerate them all. A separate book on the subject would be needed to study them in detail. It is sufficient for our purpose to recall their essential characteristics.

As the most decisive and interesting attacks are those which are directed against the King, it makes a vast difference whether the. King is in the centre or on one of the wings. It makes little difference, comparatively speaking, whether the King has castled on the K side or on the Q side. But his position in the centre is always hazardous, until he can escape into safety on one of the wings. The attacker has therefore an interest in keeping the hostile King in the centre, for once he has castled he is comparatively safe; there is, at any rate, no safer place. The pawns, too, are treated differently according to whether the King is attacked in the centre or on the flank. The centre pawns are, as a general rule, advanced, and will have to be exchanged in order to open the files for the Rooks. The wing pawns, on the contrary, are mostly on their original squares and can be either disregarded or used actively in an assault.

We have here a second basic difference: the pawns can take an active part in the attack or the attack can be carried out entirely by pieces. The latter is only successful if our pieces in the critical sector are more numerous than the opponent's, in fact, so much so that, in addition to overcoming the resistance of the defending pieces, they can also cope with the pawns which protect the position.

Where the attacker's pawns play an active role they must be thrown forward ruthlessly against the hostile position: they drive back on their way all the defender's pieces and destroy the hostile barrier of pawns, giving themselves up in order to open the way for the attacker's pieces, which would otherwise remain masked.

The few examples shown hereafter will elucidate these various forms of attack.

In Diag. 41 White is conducting a K side attack and Black is attacking on the Q side. White's is a mating attack, which is ipso facto of greater importance, and


White: Forgacz; Black: Tartakower
St. Petersburg, 1909

sacrifices are indicated in order to bring it to a successful end. White's position appears to be admirable and full of promise, but his pawn-chain keeps all lines closed so that his pieces cannot take an effective part in the attack. On the other hand, Black's pawn-formation is in no way weakened and his inferiority really lies in the absence of defending pieces near the King's field. It follows therefore that White must by some means force through some of his pieces for the attack in order to decide the issue. Any loss of time, however, would give Black the chance of consolidating his position by ... P-B4; and ... P-Kt3; after which the QR, placed at QR2, could participate in the defence of the K side.

Energetic action is therefore an urgent necessity.

 1  P-B5           KPxP
 2  P-Kt4          BPxP
 3  Kt-Kt5

This manoeuvre provokes a weakening of Black's pawn position. If ... P-R3; 4 Kt-R7, and after the Rook has moved out of danger, 5 Kt-B6 ch, etc.

 3  ...            P-Kt3
 4  R-B6

White forthwith occupies the newly-created "hole" with a fourfold threat to Black's KBP as well as a threat of KtxRP, in cooperation with the Queen.

 4  ...            K-Kt2
 5  QR-KB1         B-K1
 6  Q-B4           Kt-Q1
 7  P-K6

A third pawn is offered in sacrifice, but it evidently cannot be taken. The white pieces are perfectly safe on the black squares.

 7  ...            R-R3
 8  Q-K5           K-R3
 9  QR-B5          BPxP
10  Kt-B7 ch       QxKt
11  R-R5 ch        K-Kt2
12  RxP mate

Let us now examine a position (Diag. 42) in which the pawns take an active part in the attack. Here White has only three pieces available to carry out the necessary manoeuvre, but he has four pawns to two on the K side, where, moreover, Black's pawn position is weakened. There are Bishops of opposite colours, so that on black squares Black's pawns are invulnerable. The task of eliminating Black's Bishop falls to the white pawns which are moving up to the assault. The KBP must move to B6, and the breaking up of the adverse K side pawns must therefore be left to the KRP.


White: Tarrasch; Black: Schlechter
Match, 1911

 1  P-Kt4          R-KB1
 2  P-Kt5          B-Kt2
 3  K-Kt3

A subtle move with a twofold object: to protect the KBP, and to promote the advance of the KRP, without Black's Queen being able to reach her KKt5. It is, however, a mistake, as Black could obtain a draw by perpetual check as follows: 3 ... RxP; 4 KxR, B-K4 ch; etc. This is a striking example of the neglect of a tactical chance.

 3  ...            Q-R2

A bad move which leaves the Queen far away from the main battlefield. At Q2 she retained the option of supporting the advance at an opportune moment of the QP or, alternatively, she would even be better placed at K1, from where a check at K4 would be threatened after White's P-B5.

There is, however, no good move against the avalanche of pawns; any move would have been immediately refuted.

 4  R-B1           P-R3

The object of this move is not the opening of the KR file, for in inferior positions it is in the highest degree unwise for the defender to allow the opening of lines. But in this case, were White to take the RP, Black's Bishop would recapture and get back into play; White's strategy would be set at naught. By the advance in the text Black desired rather to close the KR file against the advance of White's KRP. The drawback is that Black's KKtP is now weak and unprotected.

 5  P-R4           P-R4

Now the advance of White's KBP is assured.

 6  P-B5           PxP
 7  PxP            R-K1

Although ... B-K4 ch; liberated the Bishop, it was no better than the text-move, as the RP cannot be defended.

 8  P-B6           BxP

If ...R-K6 ch; 9 QxR, PxQ; 10 R-B8 ch, followed by B-B2, and mate. A simple strategic combination.

 9  PxB            Q-Q2

Here again ... R-K6 ch; was not feasible because of the same sacrifice, with mate one move later.

10  Q-Kt6          Resigns.

Where pawns take no active part in the attack, the heavy task of bearing the brunt of the contest devolves on the pieces, which must weaken the enemy position and prepare the decisive action.

This type of attack is far more difficult to conduct, but also less hazardous, than when pawns are in cooperation, because manoeuvres by pieces do not weaken a position in the same permanent manner as does an advance by pawns. The position in Diag. 43 is of particular interest, because the two Knights are the most


White: Capablanca; Black: Bernstein
San Sebastian, 1911

active pieces, and an attack by two Knights, practically unsupported, is something of a rarity.

There are already some weaknesses in the black camp, particularly the KKtP and KRP and the square at KKt4. All these weaknesses are on black squares, which are controlled by the white Queen supported by the two Knights, standing, of course, on white squares. A fresh attack on the KKtP would jeopardise Black's game for this pawn cannot advance as the KRP is attacked, and if it is captured, Black's KB3 would very soon be occupied by a white Knight.

 1  Kt(K2)-Kt3     QxBP

Threatening the exchange of Queens by ... Q-B4.

 2  R-QB1          Q-Kt7

Hoping to use the Queen for the defence of KKt2 and of the black squares on the K side generally, which White at once prevents.

 3  Kt-R5          R-KR1
 4  R-K2           Q-K4
 5  P-B4           Q-Kt4
 6  Kt(B5)xKtP

Threatening to win the exchange. The Knight cannot be captured because of 7 Kt-B6 ch. If 6 ... R-Q1; 7 KtxKt, and there is no defence against Q-Q4, or Q-QB3. The black-square policy triumphs.

 6  ...            Kt-B4
 7  KtxR           BxKt
 8  Q-QB3          P-B3
 9  KtxP ch and wins.

Pieces as well as pawns can be sacrificed in order to disrupt the hostile position, but this can only happen when there is an overwhelming superiority of available attacking over defending pieces. In such cases there will be an adequate number of pieces left to enforce a mate, provided they have sufficiently rapid access to the hostile K position.

The position is Diag. 44 is too well known to require any comment. It will be sufficient to quote the moves of this brilliant combination, which is the prototype of others of the same kind.

 1  BxP ch         KxB
 2  QxKt ch        K-Kt1
 3  BxP            KxB
 4  Q-Kt4 ch       K-R2
 5  R-B3           P-K4
 6  R-R3 ch        Q-R3
 7  RxQ ch         KxR
 8  Q-Q7 and wins.


White: Lasker; Black: Bauer
Amsterdam, 1889

Attacks in the centre are no less interesting, although, as a rule, they are easier to handle. Examine Diag. 45. The essentials of the position are as follows:

Black's King is still on his original square in the


White: Spielmann; Black: Réti
Abbazia, 1912

centre. His QP is the mainstay of his defence; were it to fall, then the white centre pawns would decide the game. Black's King might save himself by castling on the Q side: this must be prevented. Before he can castle, the QB must move, for preference to K3 in order to support the QP: this move must also be prevented or at least its execution must be made difficult.

To sum up, the objective is the advance of the central pawns and the opening of the centre files facing the King, and the means to this end are the open QKt file and the Bishops' diagonals.

 1  R-Kt1          Kt-Q1
 2  P-B4           B-K3
 3  Kt-K3          PxP

If instead of this move Black were to protect his QP by 3 ... P-QB3; White would exchange pawns and renew the attack with the pawn now at QB2. He would in any event obtain an open diagonal for an attack on the King by B-QKt5.

 4  B-K4

Not only attacking the QKtP, but threatening to advance the QP, attacking the B, which being at last developed, becomes a target for the white forces.

 4  ...            P-QB3
 5  P-Q5

Here White could have sacrificed the exchange with 5 RxP, with an easy win.

 5  ...            B-QB4

Prolonging the agony by the sacrifice of a piece.

 6  K-R1           BxKt
 7  PxB            KtxP

White threatened Q-Q7 ch.

 8  BxB            QxP
 9  BxKRP          R-R1
10  KRxP           R-Q1
11  QxKtP          QxB
12  B-Kt6 and wins.

All these attacking manoeuvres are comparatively simple. There are far more complicated examples, in which the play is extremely difficult, and where the basic plan, aiming at the break-up of the defence, requires minute investigation. A continuous search for new tactical points is necessary and advantage must be taken of every opportunity and of every weakness in the enemy camp, in order to increase the pressure.

The following example (Diag. 46) is much more complex.

The chief points to be noticed are: the open KR file, the weakened diagonal QR2-KKt8, and the Kt at KB5. By forcing the exchange of Black's QB, White weakens the whole of the white squares in the enemy camp and


White: Capablanca; Black: Marshall
Match, 1909

establishes his Queen there. Together with the pressure on two open lines this is sufficient to win.

 1  Q-K3           P-B3
 2  B-R4           Kt-K2
 3  B-Kt3          P-B3
 4  Q-Kt3          P-R4

The object of this move is not an attack on White's KB but the defence of the K side by the QR from QR2. For this purpose the second rank must be cleared of all forces.

 5  P-R4           Kt-B2
 6  B-K3           P-Kt3
 7  R-R4           K-B1
 8  QR-R1          Kt-Kt1

White has reached the desired position. Nearly all his pieces can participate in the attack. It is now a question of breaking down Black's power of resistance by forcing the exchange of his Bishop, and by bringing into active play his own QB, which hitherto held only a watching brief.

 9  Q-B3           BxKt
10  KtPxB          R-Q3
11  Q-R5           R-R2
12  Q-Kt6

With the elimination of Black's Bishop the white squares have become weak and are at once occupied by enemy forces. Now White threatens R-R7.

12  ...            Kt(B2)-R3
13  RxKt           PxR
14  BxP ch

By sacrificing the exchange White has brought his QB into active play; now his superiority in material becomes overwhelming.

14  ...            K-K2
15  Q-R7 ch        K-K1
16  QxKt ch        K-Q2
17  Q-R7 ch        Q-K2
18  B-B8           QxQ
19  RxQ ch         K-K1
20  RxR            Resigns

Still more difficult is the attack when conducted, not as here, in one particular quarter, but over the whole board. But the example shown in Diag. 47 is sufficiently complicated. It shows an attack on the King's field combined with pressure in the centre. As in the other examples the essentials are: the opening of lines and the creation of strong points. Note, for instance, how White opens here two lines for his KR and QB: the KB file and the diagonal QB1 to KR6. Then observe how he creates strong squares at Q6 and QB4, to which is added shortly after KB5, all of which are occupied successively by the Knights. White's task was made


White: Botvinnik; Black: Tartakower
Nottingham, 1936

easier by the fact that Black had weakened his K side by ... P-KKt4; but this advance was made in answer to White's threat of P-KB4, which is precisely the manner in which a weakness should be exploited in the course of an attack.

 1  P-B4           KtPxP
 2  KtPxP          K-Kt2
 3  PxKP           QPxP
 4  P-B5           PxP
 5  KtxP           Q-B3
 6  Kt-QB4         Kt-Kt3
 7  Kt-Q6

This Kt cannot be captured because of 8 KtxKt, winning a piece. The whole of White's manoeuvre was carried out with the utmost precision and dispatch.

 7  ...            B-K3
 8  KtxB

White disdains to win the exchange; he is playing for a mate.

 8  ...            KtxKt
 9  RxKt

And now it is White who gives up the exchange. Black's King is deprived of all defending forces and the white pieces, Q, R, B and Kt, force the win.

 9  ...            KxR
10  Q-R5

An important move which not only threatens QxRP ch, and B-Kt5 mate, but clears the way for the remaining Rook. Black is unable to guard the KRP because of R-B1 ch, and the BP falls.

10  ...            Kt-Kt3
11  Kt-B5          R-KKt1

The, Kt could not be taken because 11 ... BxKt; 12 PxB, attacks the Queen.

12  QxP            BxP
13  R-Q1

Suddenly, and rather unexpectedly, the open Q file decides the game. But at this stage White could win in one of several ways.

13  ...            QR-Q1
14  Q-Kt5 ch       K-K3
15  RxR            P-B3
16  RxR            Kt-B5
17  Q-Kt7          Resigns.

Finally we shall give an even more complicated example (Diag. 48). The striking feature in this position is that, at the moment, there is no sign of an attack. It must be created in every particular. When it is launched the adversary is not reduced to a passive defence; on the contrary he initiates counter-attacks on the other wing. In this way Black must conduct his


White: Alekhine; Black: Levitzki
Vilna, 1912

attack, and at the same time ward off his opponent's assaults in another sector.

Let us see, first of all, how Black assumes the initiative by paralysing the enemy forces.

 1  ...            KtxKt

Clearing the way for his KBP.

 2  BxKt           Kt-Q5

Attacking White's KP.

 3  Q-Q1           B-KKt5

Again attacking the same pawn.

 4  R-K1

The white KBP has now become weak; a target for Black's concentrated attack.

 4  ...            P-QB3

To enable the KBP to advance.

 5  B-Kt2          P-B4

Threatening ... P-B5; opening the KB file, with an attack by the Rook on White's KBP.

 6  P-R3           B-R4
 7  P-QKt4         B-R2
 8  Kt-Kt3         P-B5
 9  P-Kt4

Closing the diagonal for the Bishop, without opening the file for the Rook. But it creates a fresh weakness and allows the adverse Queen to participate in the attack.

 9  ...            Q-R5
10  P-B5

Closing the diagonal of another Bishop. The battle rages round open lines.

10  ...            KtxKt
11  QxKt ch        B-B2

The Bishop has retired without losing a tempo and now threatens to take part in the attack on another diagonal.

12  Q-B3

The QBP must be protected.

12  ...            P-KR4

A new wave in the attack. If White captures the pawn the Bishop will again come into its own and ... P-B6; will be threatened. On the other hand, the KKtP cannot be guarded. Therefore White takes measures for bringing the Queen to the K side for defensive purposes.

13  P-Q4           RPxP

Black, of course, refrains from capturing the QP, as then White would have an excellent diagonal QR1-KKt7 and would threaten the KBP.

14  RPxP           B-Q4

Better than ... QxP; after which White could still hold the position by QPxP, P-B3, etc. As it is the only piece which protects White's King is eliminated.

15  QPxP           BxB
16  KxB            QxKtP ch
17  K-B1           PxBP

Threatening to advance this pawn, thus opening a diagonal for the Bishop.

18  PxP            BxP
19  QxB            Q-R6 ch
20  K-Kt1          R-B4
21  Q-B4 ch        K-R1

White is lost. He is threatened with mate or the doubling of the black Rooks. If 22 BxP, Q-Kt5 ch; winning the Bishop.

22  QxKBP          RxQ
23  BxR            R-KB1 and wins.

(b) Manoeuvring

In manifestly superior positions an attack at times is impossible, because the advantage is not sufficiently great, or because a possible objective is not important enough or, again, because the necessary forces are not available. Frequently, also, the characteristics of a position are not favourable for an attack; closed positions are seldom subjected to a lively attack. For that reason we often find the initial stage of the middle game taken up by preparatory manoeuvres. This happens, for instance, immediately after the opening, when positions are equal, before the balance between the two parties has been disturbed.

As at present we are dealing with positions in which one side has a certain advantage, the particular question to be answered is: how can we exploit and increase our advantage when for one reason or another an attack is not possible?

It requires a far more subtle and difficult method than a mere attack, and that for several reasons. First of all, in an attack, the target is much more obvious, and, in consequence, it is much easier to decide where to place our forces, and which particular units are indispensable. Furthermore, the means of conducting an attack are well known: opening lines, breaking up a pawn-chain, throwing our pawns forward for the assault, and concentrating our forces on an obvious weakness. Finally, threats are much more direct and the defensive possibilities more easily seen.

The first difficulty arising from this type of manoeuvres is that the opponent has such a great number of possible replies that it is impossible to foresee even his next move. In order not to lose our way in a multitude of variations, we must, as far as possible, have the clearest conception of what we want to achieve. A general notion would not suffice. As a starting point, we must first find out in what our superiority consists, and then where our opponent's real weakness is to be found. It is far better to have a restricted but well-defined objective, e.g., creation and occupation of a strong point, the besieging of a weak square in the adversary's camp, the opening of a file, etc., etc., than to wallow in a maze of generalities, without any fixed purpose. The real difficulty will be found in even and well-balanced positions; where an advantage exists, it is only a question of careful, persevering play, in order to see the objective in a clear light, as well as the means of reaching it.

We shall first examine a very simple illustration (Diag. 49). Here Black has a backward pawn on an


White: Botvinnik; Black: Capablanca
Moscow, 1936

open file; this is his weakness, and here White's advantage is to be found. He will concentrate all his forces against this pawn, and, in the first place, prevent its advance. This is of great importance, for this advance, although it would not prevent future attacks, would at once give the black pieces their freedom of action: As it is, all the black pieces will remain confined to two ranks for the protection of this important pawn. However, as the pawn can be defended as many times as it can be attacked, how can White increase his advantage? The fact that the said advantage is one of space provides the answer. White must not look for threats; rather must he seek to restrict his opponent more and more and, in the end, force his pieces more or less into a position of stalemate.

 1  P-K4           QR-Q1
 2  QR-Q1          Q-Kt2
 3  P-B3           Kt-K1
 4  R-Q2           P-B4
 5  KR-Q1          B-Kt4

The pawn cannot be taken: 5 ... PxP; 6 QxKP, QxQ; 7 KtxQ, P-Q3; 8 B-R3.

 6  R-Q3           B-B3
 7  P-K5           B-K2
 8  Q-B2

In order to place the Queen behind a Rook.

 8  ...            R-B2
 9  Q-Q2           B-Kt5
10  P-QR3          B-B1

By 10 ... BxKt; Black would lose his only active piece. Sooner or later the white Bishop would attack the QR, and the QP would fall.

11  Kt-K2          Kt-B2
12  Kt-B4          P-Kt3
13  P-KR4          P-QKt4

Black is choking; he now tries a diversion, which costs him a pawn but affords a little breathing space. The logical continuation would have been 13 ... B-R3; but White could win a pawn by the following combination: 14 KtxKP, BxQ; (14 ... KtxKt; 15 QxB,) 15 KtxR, Q any; 16 KtxR, KxKt; 17 RxB, and the QP can no longer be defended.

14  PxP            QxP

If 14 ... KtxP; 15 KtxKP.

15  R-QB1          Q-Kt2

The Knight cannot move away because KtxP, would again be threatened. The reason is now clear why this Knight moved to KB4: with a R at Black's Q1 the QP is pinned and the KP has also become weak and insufficiently protected.

16  RxKt

This wins a pawn and thereby the game. White's strategy is thus justified. But it might possibly have been better for White to keep up the pressure, instead of being content with a small gain in material. By playing 16 Q-R5, and after 16 ... R-B1; 17 R(Q3)-B3, White would have forced his opponent to resign.

16  ...            QxR
17  KtxKP          PxKt
18  RxR, etc.

The last example showed how to take advantage of an open file. The next example, also a simple one, illustrates the exploitation of strong squares (Diag. 50).

Having weakened the black squares on Black's K side by the advance of his KRP, White has created some very strong points at K5 and QB5. He is now bent on occupying them. A K side attack seems called for, and many players in this position would have unhesitatingly embarked upon it. But in that case Black would obtain counter-chances on the Q side, after occupying a


White: Alekhine; Black: Rubinstein
The Hague, 1921

strong square at his KB4 and making full use of the open QB file.

 1  Kt-B1          R-B2
 2  Kt-Kt3         Kt-R4
 3  Kt-B5          Kt-B5

The Knight could not be taken because of 3 ... BxKt; 4 PxB, QxP; 5 B-Q4, Q-B3; 6 Kt-K5, Q any; 7 Kt-Kt4, threatening Kt-B6 ch, and the attack against the King comes into being. How many attacks there are on various parts of the board! This is great Chess!

 4  KBxKt          PxB
 5  Kt-K5

Now White attacks the Bishop twice and the pawn at B5 at the same time. If ... BxKt(B4); a piece is lost after PxB.

 5  ...            BxKt(K4)
 6  BxKt           B-Q3

If 6 ... R-K1; White continues 7 PxB, RxB; 8 Kt-K4, with the double threat of Kt-B6 ch, and Q-Q6.

 7  BxR            BxB
 8  KtxB           RxKt

And White wins, being the exchange ahead.

The following example (Diag. 51) is more complex and, at the same time, very beautiful; it is positional play of the highest class. It could serve as an object lesson in the intermediary phase between the opening and the middle game as well as in the treatment of an advantage in space. It is quite clear that such an advantage exists here, and it will occasion no surprise to see the attacker


White: Botvinnik; Black: Flohr
Moscow, 1936

proceed slowly and without direct threats. It will require a good deal of time to increase this small advantage and to bring the game to a successful issue.

 1  R-B3

A simple warning that Black may, after all, have to face an attack, which warning Black cannot disregard. But White's real intention is to double his Rooks and to operate in the centre.

 1  ...            Q-K1
 2  R-Q1           R-Q1
 3  P-QKt3

White liberates his Queen; there are now, in fact, possibilities of attack.

 3  ...            P-KB4
 4  Kt-Q3

He now avoids an exchange of Knights which would close the K file for him. Only when the Q file is in his entire control will he submit to this exchange.

 4  ...            B-B3
 5  B-B2           Q-B2
 6  Kt-K1          KR-K1
 7  KR-Q3

The manoeuvre, which was begun at move 1, is now accomplished. The Rooks are doubled on the Q file.

 7  ...            Kt-KB1
 8  Kt-B3          Q-B2
 9  Kt-K5

The Knight's manoeuvre is picturesque; it has taken four moves and completed a full circle, only to return to the square from which it started! But now Black cannot very well exchange it, as White would then obtain permanent mastery of the Q file.

 9  ...            Kt(Kt3)-Q2
10  Q-Q2           B-K2

Now Black again threatens to exchange Knights,

11  Kt-B3          Kt-B3

and at the same time he has opened the way to his K5 for his own Knight.

12  Q-B1           Kt-K5
13  Kt-K5          KtxB
14  KxKt           Kt-Q2
15  Q-K3           KtxKt

Now that White can no longer monopolize the Q file Black exchanges the terrible white Knight.

16  BPxKt          Q-R4
17  P-QR4          R-Q2
18  P-Kt3          Q-Q1
19  K-Kt2          B-Kt4
20  Q-B3           Q-K2
21  P-B5

White's plan seemed to be to advance the QP, and Black was chiefly concerned in preparing for that eventuality. But now White embarks upon another scheme, which would not have been feasible had Black still possessed a Knight (a black Knight posted at its Q4 would have been too powerful a weapon). With the text-move White threatens P-QKt4-5. Black will parry, this advance but another threat will arise—the posting of the white Knight at Q6.

21  ...            P-QR4
22  Kt-Kt1         Q-B1
23  Kt-R3          B-Q1
24  Kt-B4          B-B2
25  Kt-Q6

Another wondrous journey by the Knight, from QB3 to Q6 in four moves!

25  ...            R-Kt1
26  R-QKt1

Threatening P-QKt4. Black always manages to find defensive moves which enable him just to hold the position. But moves are getting scarce for him.

26  ...            Q-Q1
27  P-QKt4         PxP
28  RxP            BxKt

The only way to preserve the QKtP.

29  KPxB

Note that all pawn captures are made towards the Queen's wing, whilst the K side is neglected. This shows a true insight into the position.

29  ...            Q-R4
30  R(Q3)-Kt3      R-K1
31  Q-K2           Q-R1

White's threat is Q-B4, R-Kt6, Q-Kt4 winning a pawn.

32  R-K3           K-B2
33  Q-B4

Now that White has more or less a won game he makes a slight error, which affords his opponent an unexpected tactical opportunity. A striking demonstration of the necessity for constant and unremitting attention!

33  ...            P-QKt4

This pawn cannot be captured because of 34 ... PxP dis. ch.; winning the Queen. Thus Black gets rid of his weak and backward QKtP.

34  Q-B2           RxP

Black thinks that, thanks to his opponent's slight error, he can relieve the pressure by combinative play. A little better would be 34 ... R-R2; although in that case White has a combination, as follows: 35 P-Q5, and if ... BPxP; 36 RxKtP, or if 35...KPxP; 36 QxP ch.

35  PxR            P-B4 dis. ch

It is clear that on his 33rd move White should first have moved his King away from the diagonal and from the distant threat by Black's Queen.

36  K-R3           PxR
37  Q-B7 ch        K-Kt1
38  P-Q7 and wins.

The connoisseur will realise how much more there is in play of this type than in a simple, if brilliant, combination. The student who has studied this game with sufficient care will grasp not only the sense of each individual move, but that of the various series of manoeuvres. He will find himself the better armed for his own struggles.

(c) Bringing about an End Game

We have already examined some examples of the transition from the middle game into the end game. It must always be borne in mind that this transition frequently provides a method of accentuating some advantages which are of little value in the middle game. Again, in the middle game, we might, even with a numerical advantage, be faced with a loss owing to positional considerations; if we can then bring about an end game, we can make the most of our extra material, provided always that we are sufficiently familiar with end game conditions, to know whether this change in any particular case is desirable or not.

In the position shown in Diag. 52 White has a substantial advantage in all three elements, while Black occupies the open KB file with his heavy artillery and threatens the KBP. Its protection would keep the whole of the White forces tied up. White's real advantage consists in an extra pawn, the QP, which is backward and cannot be exploited in the middle game. If White


White: Tchigorin; Black: Blackburne
Hastings, 1895

could only lead into an end game he could easily make the most of this pawn and with Bishops of the same colour, and Black's Q side pawns of the same colour as the Bishop, victory would presumably be his. It is not surprising, therefore, to see White making a series of exchanges in order to bring about the end game. His method is one of direct threats, but one could imagine another procedure: that of gradually warding off the enemy attack, making all possible exchanges in the process.

 1  P-B4           Q-B3 ch
 2  Q-B3           QxQ ch
 3  KxQ            R-Q1

If 3 ... PxP; the white Bishop's long diagonal and the K file are opened simultaneously, which gives White the opportunity of a decisive attack: 4 R-K7 (threatening RxB, and BxP ch), PxP dis. ch; 5 K-Kt2, R-B7 ch; 6 K-Kt1, B-Q1; 7 BxP ch, winning the exchange.

 4  BxP

More decisive perhaps would be 4 K-K4.

 4  ...            BxB
 5  RxB            RxQP ch
 6  R(K1)-K3       RxR ch
 7  KxR            R-B1
 8  R-K6           R-QKt1
 9  K-K4

and the win for White is easy as, in addition to his extra pawn, his position is far superior, with the King in the centre and an active against a passive Rook.

In this example White, after the exchanges, has managed to maintain his advantage of one pawn; it is still more useful when the original advantage increases during the transition between middle and end game. Much more difficult, and not infrequent, are the cases in which the advantage held before the transformation changes in character or in value during this phase of the game. It is then a matter of careful judgment as to whether it is not better to cling to the existing advantage and to continue middle game play.

In Diag. 53 White has a marked advantage in time, having developed both his Knights whilst Black's KKt has not moved yet, and his QKt is on an unfavourable square at QR3. In addition ... Castles KR; would take time, whilst ... Castles QR; would cost a pawn. Black cannot drive off the advanced Knight by ... P-QB3; because of Kt-Q6 ch. In the meantime White will play KR-K1, and if Black replies ... Kt-K2; the white King leaves the K file and the black Kt is pinned. If Black plays ... Kt-B3; instead of ... Kt-K2; again the white King leaves the K file, this time with check, and in moving out of check the black King will interrupt the connection between his


White: Tarrasch; Black: Mieses
Goteborg, 1920

Rooks. White's advantage thus appears to be overwhelming. But in one of the variations mentioned there is a finesse. If, after 1 ... Castles; White plays 2 KtxP ch, the sequel is 2 ... K-Kt1; 3 Kt(R7)-Kt5, P-QB3; and the Knight must move away from QKt5 leaving his companion en prise by the Rook.

White must find a parry against this threat, otherwise Black can complete his development, and then White's advantage in time will have completely disappeared. As we know, an advantage in time cannot be maintained except by constant threats. Now is the crucial moment: White has reached the peak of his advantage, and, unless he finds "something," he will begin going downhill. This is also the time to exchange the advantage in time for one in another element, or, alternatively, to try to reach the end game stage. The game continued as follows: 1 KR-K1, Castles; 2 KtxP ch, K-Kt1; 3 Kt(R7)-B6 ch, PxKt; 4 KtxP ch, K-B1; 5 KtxR, KxKt; and we have reached an ending in which White has a Rook and two united passed pawns against two Knights; is it enough to win? Probably it is (in the actual game White won). But the original advantage was very small, and ordinarily, after these exchanges, a win for White could not be guaranteed.

Diag. 54 illustrates another case of the same kind. Black has an extra pawn whilst his opponent has a fairly strong attack; he naturally desires to bring about an end game as quickly as possible, in which his advantage will be of greater effective value. But he cannot achieve


White: Euwe; Black: Alekhine
Match, 1935

this end without losing his extra pawn. Where, then, will be his advantage? He therefore formulates a plan in which the sacrifice of his pawn will lead to an end game which, positionally, is won for him. This kind of play obviously requires a profound knowledge of the end game and the faculty to visualize the desired position many moves ahead.

 1  ...            Q-B2
 2  Q-Kt5          QR-Q1
 3  P-KR4          RxR
 4  RxR            Kt-Q5

This is the pawn-sacrifice which enforces the exchange of all the pieces.

 5  BxKt           PxB
 6  RxP            BxKt
 7  R-KB4          Q-R4
 8  RxR ch         KxR
 9  Q-B4 ch        Q-B2
10  QxB            QxQ
11  PxQ            P-K4
12  K-B1           P-QKt4
13  K-K2

and now Black obtains a winning advantage by 13 ... P-R4. In the actual game Black, feeling sure of a win, carelessly played ... P-B4; and could only draw. It is a pity that such a deep plan should have been ruined by a simple oversight.



The sagacious reader will wonder at the title of this division of the book, and, quite rightly, say that inferior positions can only be of the same types as those already examined, but seen from the opposite point of view. This is true and will enable us to restrict the number of examples, and much that has been said can serve us here. There is, nevertheless, a distinction: in many of the positions shown, the advantage led to victory because it was sufficiently big, or because the attack was conducted in superlative fashion, or finally, because the defender was not quite equal to his task. We shall now examine positions in which a disadvantage does not entail the loss of the game, because it is not important enough, or because the attacker failed to make the most of his chances or, finally, because the defender managed to discover unexpected resources.

One might suppose that all that has been said about superior positions would also apply to inferior ones, and the defender only needs to do the opposite of what the attacker was advised to do. There are, however, many points and problems which the defender has to think out and which are typical only of the defence; we shall elucidate them in the course of our explanations in connection with the positions illustrated and especially when we come to speak of "ideas in chess." We shall first examine the characteristics connected with the weaknesses in each element.

First of all there is inferiority in material, the simplest case, about which there is little to say.

Disadvantage in force does not necessarily mean the loss of a game; if it were so, no gambit, no combination would be playable. But even if our opponent has actually won a piece or pawn otherwise than by an oversight on our part, he must have made some effort and spent some time in doing so. There is, therefore, nearly always some compensation. Psychologically, too, there is here a point to be considered: the player who, after sustained effort, has won some material, is naturally inclined to relax; having realised his intentions, he is not in the best condition for the immediate conception of another plan requiring further efforts. This is the moment when we should try to assume the initiative and create as many difficulties for him as possible. Passive acceptance of the situation almost certainly leads to disaster.

In Diag. 55 White has an advantage in material of Rook against Bishop and pawn. In addition White threatens to initiate a K side attack. What can Black do to counteract these unfavourable circumstances? Any


White: Mieses; Black: Capablanca
Berlin, 1913

plan likely to be suitable would try to utilise the extra pawn. But in an end game a Rook is more powerful than a Bishop and pawn, and so Black must avoid drifting into an ending and make the most of his extra pawn in the middle game, whilst warding off White's attack. Attack and defence are blended in his first move, which initiates Black's scheme.

 1  ...            B-K2
 2  QR-K2          B-B3
 3  Q-R5

A weak move. The Queen is now out of play. He should have continued his attack with P-KKt4, Q-Kt3, P-KR4, P-Kt5, etc.

 3  ...            P-KR3
 4  P-KKt4         K-R2

Because of the threat of P-KR4, which now would be met by ... P-KKt3; winning the Queen. Thus Black has entirely safeguarded his position against any attack on the K side. He can now concentrate all his forces on the other wing and, with the white Queen out of play, his attacking chances are by no means negligible. Incidentally, for Black to remain passive would be most injudicious: once his Queen gets back into play, White could resume his attack and play for the end game. Four moves ago Black thought perhaps only of obtaining a passed pawn supported by the Bishop; but now, thanks to his opponent's lapse, he can, in fact he must, play for an energetic attack.

 5  K-Kt1          R-Q1
 6  R-Q1           P-B4
 7  Q-R3           Q-R5

Black takes advantage of the fact that White has given up his attack against the KBP, in order to bring his Queen into the game and to free his pawns for their advance. And so Black's Queen attacks the QR and KKtP, by which means the white Queen is still kept out of play:

 8  R(K2)-Q2       Q-K5 ch
 9  K-R1           P-QKt4

The critical moment. Black could here obtain a passed pawn by 10 ... P-Q5, which, at an earlier stage, would have satisfied his ambitions. But now he plays for more. As this move would have blocked his B, and the pawn would have easily been stopped by a hostile Rook, he makes use of all his resources and threatens ... P-Kt5; which also would give him a passed pawn, without, however, blocking the Bishop.

10  Q-Kt2          Q-R5
11  K-Kt1          P-Kt5

We need go no further; it is clear that Black has now an active game and that his attack makes up for his material disadvantage; he has a considerable positional advantage, sufficient to win, which indeed he did after a short time.

Let us now examine the case of a disadvantage in space. Here it is of great importance to realise exactly in what our weakness consists, and what is our opponent's principal threat. Only then does it become possible to remedy the weakness and to parry the threat.

In the position shown in Diag. 56, which position also illustrates the transition from the opening into the middle game, Black has an advantage in space. Analysis will show us that White's weakness is his QB which has hardly any scope. White would endanger his own position by P-K4, as Black's answer ... Kt-K4; in connection with ... Kt-B5; aiming at both the B and


White: Tarrasch; Black: Duras
Hamburg, 1910

the QKtP, is perhaps his most serious threat.

 1  Kt-K2

Threatening to develop the Bishop at QB3 and thereby to eliminate both his weaknesses at the same time, as the QKtP would then be protected.

 1  ...            P-Kt5

To prevent the manoeuvre described above and also the minor threat of B-R5. But the pawn itself is weakened by this advance as well as the square QB5 where a Knight might have been established.

 2  Kt(K2)-Q4      Kt-K4
 3  Q-K2

Preventing ... Kt-B5; and indirectly protecting the QKtP. Black must bring up more pieces to accentuate the pressure.

 3  ...            Kt-K5
 4  B-K1

The Bishop is now still more restricted. But we now perceive White's intentions. As he could not open a diagonal for his Bishop by playing P-K4, he now finds an opportunity of opening another diagonal by the advance of his KBP.

 4  ...            R-B1
 5  QR-B1          Kt-Q3
 6  Kt-Q2

A severe struggle is taking place for the control of Black's QB5.

 6  ...            B-B3

Occupying the long diagonal with an attack on the QKtP.

 7  P-B3

At last this move has become possible. Now the strength of White's game lies in the position of the Knight at Q4, from where it cannot be dislodged.

 7  ...            Kt-B3
 8  KtxKt          RxKt
 9  RxR            QxR
10  Kt-Kt3

With a number of objects: defence of the QKtP, attack on the hostile QKtP, return of a Knight to Q4.

10  ...            Q-Kt3
11  B-B2

White's main object is achieved. His Bishop is developed and the positions have become equal. The game now proceeds towards a level ending.

11  ...            Q-Kt4
12  QxQ            KtxQ
13  R-Q2, etc.

It would be difficult to find a better illustration of the method of equalising a position against an advantage in space, an example the more instructive as such positions frequently occur after an indifferently played opening, with either Black or White at a disadvantage. In similar cases every effort must be made to re-establish equality, without any thoughts of assuming the initiative; once that is achieved, and only then, can further plans be considered. The present game resulted in a draw. Dr. Tarrasch's final note to the game gives food for thought: "White thought his task well done, when he achieved equality in difficult circumstances and after a poor opening."

In this example, the difficulties of a disadvantage in space were overcome by a passive defence: this can, in rare cases, be effected by a counter-attack.

We shall now examine a position in which there is a disadvantage in time.

In Diag. 57 White has an advantage in space and in time, the latter being here of greater importance, as Black's Queen and K Rook are absent from the Q side, where an attack is in course of preparation. Black's first task, therefore, is to bring back these pieces with the utmost speed and, whilst holding off his opponent's


White: Capablanca; Black: Znosko-Borovsky
St. Petersburg, 1913

fast-developing attack, to prepare a counter-attack which, in the nature of things, must be launched in the centre.

 1  B-B3

Eliminating Black's vigorous Bishop, his best defensive unit, which incidentally creates weaknesses at Black's QR3 and QB3. Black, unable to prevent this, loses no time in recalling his troops.

 1  ...            KR-K1
 2  BxB            KxB
 3  P-QB5          P-B3

Preventing P-B6 ch.

4  Kt-B3           Q-B1

Now Black's pieces are better placed; he has more space and has nearly caught up his adversary in point of time. But he still has weaknesses at Q3 and on the QB and QR files. White's attack will develop here.

 5  Kt-Q2          PxP

It is necessary to prevent White's Kt from reaching his Q6.

 6  Kt-B4          Kt-Kt3

With the same object. We see how Black guards his weakest point.

 7  Kt-R5 ch       K-R1
 8  PxP

If 8 KtxP, then ... Kt-Q4; and ... P-B5. As we are dealing with the defence, we refrain from analysing all the attacking possibilities.

 8  ...            Kt-Q4
 9  Q-Q4           R-B1

Black has succeeded in guarding all his weak points and has reached equality in time. White is still ahead in space, but Black's Knight is very well posted in the centre. This is the critical moment, when an advantage in one element is converted into an advantage in another, or when the defender must consider the possibility of a counter-attack.

10  P-B4

Black's Knight at his Q4 is the very basis of his defence; should it be dislodged, it would mean the total collapse of his strategy. This is the moment to start a counter-attack. Should it fail, the game is lost; but it would certainly also be lost were the Knight meekly to retire (Diag. 58).


10  ...            P-K4
11  Q-Kt1          P-K5

If the Rook moves away, Black plays ... P-K6; threatening ... P-K7; or better still ... QxP. Therefore White decides to convert his advantage. He sacrifices the exchange in order to obtain a passed pawn; whether for attacking or defensive purposes is not quite clear.

12  PxKt           PxR
13  P-Q6           R-K7

We can leave it at that: Black has succeeded not only in eliminating his inferiority in time, but he has also found an adequate defence against White's attack. Moreover, he has won the exchange and, to set off against White's dangerous threat of P-Q7, he has himself a few threats which cannot be disregarded.

We shall now leave the subject of the elements and pass on to the study of "ideas" in chess relating in the first place to inferior positions.


Once we have realised that our position is inferior, it is policy to ascertain whether our opponent's advantage is such that he can hope for an early win without having to resort to extreme measures. On the contrary, it may be his advantage is so minute that he must reckon with the probability of a long and arduous struggle in the course of which he must increase his advantage before he can think of forcing a win, or even that it will be necessary for him to rely on the end game.

Our strategy will depend on the nature of the answers to these questions. Although the player who has an advantage must himself know first of all what he wants, his opponent is reduced to guessing the attacker's intentions and plans. Yet it should be the motto of the defender not to submit to the will of the attacker but to escape his grip. Hence the necessity of being for ever on the look-out for chances of counter-attack. This is an even more pressing need when we are in real danger; there may lie our only salvation. If, on the contrary, our position shows no real weakness, we may rely on passive defence, in which, however, it should be our endeavour to keep engaged as many of the enemy pieces as possible, by which means we may obtain favourable opportunities. Every attack entails a certain amount of risk. It produces weaknesses at one point or another, especially in the case of pawns, or where there is a congestion of pieces on one particular part of the board; we must then bide our time. When the attack is beaten off, and the enemy's position is weakened and his pieces are ill-placed for the defence, then our chance will have come. It is in such cases that the ordinary precepts of sound defence are particularly valuable; the weaker party must not open lines, especially where his weakness lies, as it would only benefit his adversary. It is essential to ascertain whether the opponent is himself heedful of such precepts and whether he is not creating his own weaknesses. For instance, a flank-attack is not admissible unless the centre is blocked or at least strong. Any negligence in that respect must immediately be seized upon by the defender and exploited to the utmost.

A player, in an inferior position, would feel inclined at all times to follow a line of play entirely opposed to that which his opponent wishes to pursue. As his opponent is the stronger, it is not always possible and in any case would frequently help his intentions. A more subtle plan which, not infrequently, leads to success is to appear to acquiesce in the opponent's dictation. If he plays for an end game, allow him to obtain it, but try to find some nuance which will nullify his advantage. A purely psychological point arises here. By letting your opponent have his own way, you will probably make him think that your resistance has broken down and that you cannot hold him any more; after his own efforts, he is the more likely to relax or, alternatively, to embark on risky adventures.

In an inferior position it is, in normal circumstances, futile to think of playing for a win before (and until) equality has been reached. But, in practice, it often happens that a player in an inferior position passes directly into one of decisive advantage, without going through an intermediate stage. This could result from a well-timed counter-attack, and also from opportunities which are apt to arise when the opponent is obstinately aggressive. A stubborn defence is likely to lure him on to undue commitments; even if he notices that his advantage is gradually disappearing it is too late to withdraw, and he drifts on until his game is lost.

Amongst the several means of counteracting an advantage in the hostile position the most usual are: passive resistance, counter-attack, and transition into the end game. Some special cases call for a number of exchanges and for cross-combinations. We shall examine them with the help of appropriate illustrations.

(a) Passive Defence

It is impossible to promulgate a hard and fast rule as to when a passive defence is to be preferred to a counterattack; all that can be said is that passive resistance is called for when a counter-attack is either impossible or its preparation would require time. The two can of course be combined, nor is it rare for a passive defence to turn imperceptibly into a counter-attack. But the fact that you are reduced to a passive defence is no cause for despair; it works satisfactorily in an astonishingly large number of cases; the resources of the game are truly unending.

White, in the position shown in Diag. 59, has a splendid attacking game, marred only by the fact that


White: Alekhine; Black: Euwe
Match, Amsterdam, 1937

His KP is precariously posted at K5. But his K side pawns threaten to advance en masse and, by opening files for his Rooks, to overcome the enemy's resistance. Black, for his part, has no opportunities at the moment for a counter-attack, as ... P-QB4; will not be playable for a long time to come, and would, at best, lead to the isolation of his QP. Nevertheless, there is no weakness in his position, and this enables him to wait and, by a stubborn defence, lure into the attack the whole of White's forces, including his pawns. Once the attack is beaten off, the end game might prove unfavourable for White on account of the weakness of these pawns.

 1  Kt-B5          P-B3
 2  P-Kt4          PxP
 3  BxKP           Kt-B3

It is clear that Black hopes to establish his Kt at his K5, from where it will exercise a strong pressure on White's game, with a constant threat of ... Kt-B7 ch.

 4  Q-Q3           K-R1

The last two moves foreshadowed the sacrifice by White of his Kt for the KRP followed by Q-Kt6 ch, which Black immediately anticipates, by eliminating the check.

 5  R-KKt1

Another, and more hazardous attack could be initiated here by 5 P-Kt5, with the sacrifice of a pawn.

 5  ...            B-B2

With this move Black gives up any present intention of advancing his QBP; he wishes to ease the pressure by the exchange of his passive Bishop for the extremely aggressive white Bishop.

 6  P-B4

Again White could have tried a sudden onslaught by 6 P-Kt5. The text move has the drawback that Black can, though not on the next move, play his Knight to his K5.

 6  ...            Q-B2

With a view to ... BxB; and ... Kt-K5.

 7  QR-KB1

The sacrifice of the Knight at KKt7 leads to nothing after ... RxB; and ... Kt-K5.

 7  ...            BxB
 8  BPxB           Kt-K5

After this move White's attack falls to pieces, and the advantage passes to his opponent. The will to maintain the attack at all hazards costs White the game.

 9  P-Kt5

The sacrifice 9 KtxRP, was unsound because of 9 ... Kt-B7 ch; 10 K-Kt2, RxKt; 11 RxKt, RxP ch; etc.

 9  ...            PxP
10  Kt-Q6          Kt-B7 ch
11  K-Kt2          KtxQ
12  KtxQ ch        K-Kt1
13  KtxP           R-Kt3
14  P-KR4          P-B4

With this advance—the strategic turn which, from the first, was pending—Black obtains the advantage. Strategic objects and plans are, by their nature, permanent. If only the player keeps them in mind they will, at the proper moment and more often than not unexpectedly, become practicable, with decisive results.

We shall now leave this position, in which the defence has proved its worth with persuasive strength.

Here is another example of the same type (Diag. 60). White threatens to attack the QKtP, which cannot advance because it may then be attacked by the RP.


White: Köhnlein; Black: Tarrasch
Nuremberg, 1907

In addition he must safeguard his Queen which stands on the open QKt file. White will in any case prevent the Queen from reaching her QR4, pinning the Kt. Black's position looks precarious, in spite of his extra pawn. He has, however, some future hope of obtaining a favourable end game by ... P-KKt3; which would afford opportunities even in the middle game.

 1  P-QR4          Q-Kt5
 2  P-R5           K-Kt1
 3  KR-QKt1        Q-B4
 4  Kt-R4          Q-R2

An unhappy position for a Queen, but Q3 must remain free for the Knight.

 5  P-B4

Threatening to keep the Knight away from Black's Q3 by P-B5.

 5  ...           P-B4
 6  Kt-B3         Kt-B1
 7  Kt-Q5         Kt-Q3

Black's object is achieved. He now threatens to drive away the white Knight and to win one of the pawns at White's QB4 and K4. White immediately anticipates this threat.

 8  K-B3           P-B3

Black is in a difficult situation. After this move he hopes to liberate his Queen, but his QKt3 becomes weak and affords White the opportunity of an attack on his QRP and QBP.

 9  Kt-Kt6         K-B2
10  R-Kt1

There was no necessity for transferring the attack to the other wing. He should have played Kt-R4, threatening R-Kt6, QR-QKt1, KtxP, threatening Kt-K6 ch, etc.

10  ...            QR-KKt1
11  Q-QKt2

March and counter-march! He has lost a tempo: as the Queen cannot threaten QKt6, only the attack on the QBP remains.

11  ...            Q-Kt1
12  Kt-R4          P-KKt3

With this move Black obtains chances on the other wing. Observe how many moves have been played before this advance has become feasible. What patience and what steadiness! The main difficulty of such positions is that these purely human qualities are required rather than the genius of the chess-player.

13  KtxP           Q-R2
14  Q-R3           PxP
15  QR-Kt1

There was no objection to first recapturing the pawn.

15  ...            PxP
16  KtxKtP         KtxKt
17  Q-K7 ch        K-Kt1
18  QxBP           K-R1
19  RxR ch         RxR
20  QxBP

Threatening R-Kt6, and RxP. But Black has a defence, which will show that White's attack was conducted without sufficient care, in that he neglected his centre pawns.

20  ...            PxP
21  R-Kt6          P-Q7
22  KxP            R-Q1 ch
23  K-B3           R-Q3
24  Q-B7           RxR
25  PxR            Q-Kt1

Dr. Tarrasch rightly remarks that White, at this point, could still draw the game with P-B5.

26  QxRP           Kt-B4

and Black won.

The next example (Diag. 61) will again emphasise the necessity, on the part of the defender, of thoroughly


White: Znosko-Borovsky; Black: Euwe
Broadstairs, 1921

understanding where his greatest weakness lies, for there the most dangerous attack is to be expected. Lacking this knowledge, he can hardly hope to defend himself successfully. He will find replies to immediate threats, but inevitably succumb to a long prepared coup, in the shape of an elaborate and lengthy attacking manoeuvre.

In this position White has a substantial advantage and a strong attack against the hostile King. Black's pieces are unfavourably placed: his Bishops have no open diagonals, his Knight has no good square available. At the moment he has the choice of two moves: 1 ... P-B5, by which he would obtain a majority of pawns on the Q side, and 1 ... PxP; winning a pawn, though a doubled one, and opening a diagonal for one of his Bishops. After this capture White's proper course is to refrain from recapturing the pawn, which would expose his pieces to pins, and to concentrate on the pawn at his Q5, combined with an advance of his KKtP, not omitting, of course, to withdraw his King from a possible check on the black diagonal.

 1  ...            PxP
 2  Q-Kt2          P-Q6
 3  K-R1

An important moment for Black. He must provide against White's numerous threats, the most important being the advance of the KKtP and the attack on the pawn at Black's Q4. He could parry this attack by giving up the exchange with ... R-B5; but this sacrifice would only facilitate the advance of White's KKtP. In addition White threatens to play Kt-Q4, with an attack on the QP: ... R-Q3; 4 B-KB4. If, in anticipation of this threat, he plays ... Kt-B1; then 4 Kt-K5, wins. He must therefore cope with this threat first of all, but, at the same time, he must foresee and provide against White's future threats. If, in order to prevent Kt-Q4, he plays the obvious ... B-B4; he relinquishes the control of his KKt5 which could be occupied by White's Knight, with a double threat (B and KR7) and prospects of future attacks. This could be countered by ... Kt-B3; but the Kt might be attacked and captured. He must therefore call upon another piece to protect the threatened squares.

It is now clear that the whole of Black's second rank requires protection; the third rank is guarded by the Rook at QB3, the first rank by the Queen; there remains the second Rook to look after the second rank. But to make this protection effective it becomes necessary to clear the second rank of the pieces which at present are encumbering it. In this light all Black's moves are easily understood. In a previous example (Diag. 46) Black effected the same defensive idea with a Rook at QR2, but the idea underlying the attack ran on different lines, and so the Rook at QR2 not only failed in its task but actually caused the loss of the game, as it was deservedly captured. In the present instance, matters are very different. Black has seen through White's intentions and arranges his defence accordingly.

 3  ...            B-B4
 4  P-Kt6          PxP
 5  Kt-Kt5         Kt-B3
 6  KtxB           KxKt
 7  PxP ch         K-Kt1
 8  RxKt           RxR
 9  BxP ch         K-B1
10  B-Kt5

As we are at present studying methods of defence, we shall not pause to consider whether White has always chosen the best moves. For instance, here he could have won a piece by simply playing 10 BxR, but Black would have obtained a strong passed pawn after 10 ...R-B7; 11 B-Kt5, RxQ; 12 BxQ, RxQKtP; etc. White hopes to do better by a direct attack. His idea is that, as the QR has to move away, he can continue as follows: 11 BxR, PxB (if 11 ... QxB; 12 R-KB1, winning the Queen); 12 P-Kt7 ch, K-K2; 13 P-Kt8(Q). This is the combination prepared by White 10 moves before. Has Black a valid defence against this threat?

10  ...            R-R2

Here it is. The Rook commands the whole of its second rank and prevents P-Kt7. The third rank was guarded by a Rook. This barrier broke down; now Black has set up another and stronger one on the second rank. It provides a magnificent illustration of the defensive powers of a Rook, acting across the whole of the chessboard. Now White can do nothing better than win back the exchange, remaining with Bishops of opposite colours. A most instructive warning not to be content vaguely to say: "The piece I have attacked will have to move away somewhere," but to ascertain clearly where that somewhere might be. In attacking the QR, White thought it would have to move somewhere, and left it at that. We have seen, on the contrary, that a well-thought-out retreat can be of inestimable value.

11  BxR            PxB

The defence has succeeded brilliantly.

This closes the section on passive defence, and we shall now pass on to active defence, leading to the counter-attack.

(b) Counter-attack

We have stated that every defensive scheme should allow for a possible counter-attack, which must be prepared in good time. In order to be successful the basic object of a counter-attack, as well as the available means to carry it out, must be well understood. But the great difficulty is to gauge the right moment to launch such a counter-attack, and yet this is the most important point. A premature counter-attack is usually doomed to failure, as is one which starts too late. But when properly timed and aimed at important objects with sufficient forces, it frequently succeeds.

In Diag. 62, White has launched a powerful attack against the hostile King. The drawback in his position


White: Lasker; Black: Tarrasch
Match, 1908

is that he is unable to advance the KRP and KBP with the required speed. The BP in particular will be troublesome, and the hostile Queen is on the same diagonal, closed for the time being, but liable to be opened at any moment. Thus we discover the nucleus of a counter-attack by Black.

 1  P-Kt4          P-Kt3
 2  Kt-R6 ch       K-Kt2
 3  P-Kt5          B-Q1
 4  Q-Kt3

With multiple threats—against the Kt, the QP, the QR. There is also the threatened transfer of the Q to KR6 via R4.

 4  ...            P-B3

Correct play! Black not only defends himself, but he endeavours to open the KB file, which is bearing upon White's KB2, the critical square against which Black's counter-attack is to be directed. If White defends himself by 5 P-KR4, the continuation would be: 5 ... PxP; 6 PxP, RxB; 7 QxR, BxP; and if 8 QxB, there follows 8 ... Kt-B6 ch.

 5  Kt-B5 ch       K-R1
 6  Kt-R4          PxP
 7  BxP            BxB
 8  QxB            P-Q6

Now the diagonal aiming at White's KB2 is open; Black's counter-attack has started.

 9  K-R1           R-B7

The other Rook gets into play. A Rook on the 7th is always dangerous. There is nothing much left of White's original attack.

10  R-K3           R(B1)xP
11  Kt-Kt2         P-Q7
12  R-KKt1         R-QB8
13  Q-K7           RxR ch
14  KxR            P-Q8(Q) ch

and Black mates in a few moves.

During the battle of the Marne, Foch wrote, "My front is broken, my right wing is retreating, my left wing is in flight, I counter-attack."

Diag. 63 presents us with a magnificent example of a counter-attack which has practically become a necessity, since a passive defence would almost certainly have led to disaster. White's Kt at Q4 is pinned, nor can his Queen leave the Q file to relieve the pin as then the Kt would be lost. As Black also threatens to win this Kt by ... Kt-B4; White is unable to make the necessary


White: Lasker; Black: Janowski
Match, 1910

preparations for castling. Thus the King must remain in the centre: most players would lose heart in such circumstances. But with admirable calm White extricates himself from this parlous situation and, aided by some timid moves by his adversary, even succeeds in winning the game brilliantly.

White's chief weakness is his King's exposed position in the centre, therefore he must at all costs make castling possible. Next he must attend to his Kt at Q4: here counter-threats will come into play.

 1  P-QKt4         Q-K4

It is strange that Janowski, a most enterprising player, should have missed the continuation: 1 ... BxP; 2 PxB, QxP; 3 R-B1, Kt-B4; or, better still, the more subtle: 1 ... KtxP; 2 PxKt, BxP; 3 RxQ, BxKt ch; 4 K-K2, (4 B-Q2, RxKt); BxR, etc.

 2  Kt(B3)-Kt5

A most ingenious defence of the Kt at Q4. He could have guarded this piece by 2 Kt(B3)-K2, but his B would have been shut in and all hope of castling would have vanished. But now he has the chance of an attack. For instance, against 2 ... P-R3; he can play the Queen to B1, pinning Black's QKt witha strong attack, e.g.: 3 Q-B1, PxKt; 4 KtxKt, PxKt; 5 QxP ch, Q-B2; 6 Q-R6 ch, etc. Still stronger would be: 3 KtxKt, RxQ ch; 4 RxR, and it is difficult for Black to defend himself against White's multiple threats. The position is full of potential combinations.

 2  ...            Kt-B4

The King cannot move away as 3 KtxKt ch, would make everything safe.

 3  R-B1

By pinning Black's QKt, White safe guards his own. He gives up a pawn to relieve the pressure.

 3  ...            KtxB

To accept the offer is doubtful policy. He could have continued the attack by 3 ... B-K2.

 4  PxKt           QxP ch
 5  B-K2           B-K2

Well played! The QR is now guarded and another piece comes into play. Had he played 5 ... B-Kt6; as has been suggested, the dangers of his position would have stood out clearly after 6 KtxP ch, K-B2 (6 ... K-Kt1; 7 Kt(Q4)xKt ch; 7 Kt(Q4)-Kt5 ch, K-Kt3 (7 ... K-Kt1; 8 QxR ch, with 9 R-B8 mate); 8 RxKt ch, PxR; 9 QxR ch, and wins.

 6  R-B3

If the Q moves White can castle, maintaining his attack against the black King. Should black meekly forgo his advantage or continue the attack? In the latter case, Black again would have an interesting combination, as follows: 6 ... QxR ch; 7 KtxQ, KtxKt;, with many prospective chances. But once more he cannot summon up the necessary pluck.

 6  ...            B-R5 ch
 7  P-Kt3          Q-K5

Had Black played ... B-K2; on his third move, his Queen would still be at K4, and he could have continued with ... BxP ch; demolishing White's K side.

 8  Castles        B-B3
 9  RxB

White, on the contrary, counter-attacks with vigour. He eliminates a piece which attacks his Knight, and as Black's KR is out of play, he has an extra piece to take part in the attack.

 9  ...            PxR
10  B-B3           Q-K4

Three white pieces are now attacking the Knight, which is guarded only once.

11  KtxP ch        K-B2
12  Kt(R7)xKt      PxKt
13  RxP ch         K-Kt1
14  R-Kt6 ch       K-B1
15  Q-B1 ch        K-Q2
16  KtxB

and White won in a few moves.

A player who is at a positional disadvantage can have recourse to an attack in order to redress the balance, even when his opponent is not conducting an attack, but is endeavouring to crush him by simple positional manoeuvres. This cannot be termed a counter-attack, since there is no attack. Nevertheless, an illustration of such a case is appropriate here.

White's advantage in the position shown in Diag. 64


White: Euwe; Black: Alekhine
Match, 1935

is obvious. Black's position shows a number of weaknesses, and his pieces are badly placed. White even threatens to launch a K side attack by 1 P-KKt4, or, alternatively, he could start an action on the other wing, aiming at the weak squares at QB6, Q6, and K6. Black therefore gives him the opportunity of a combination which, however, eliminates White's attacking Bishop.

 1  KtxP           BxB
 2  KtxQP          Q-Kt1
 3  KtxP           B-B3
 4  Kt-Q2

Black now has won a piece for three united pawns, of which two are passed pawns in the centre—not a particularly favourable exchange. But in giving his adversary this opportunity, Black had something else in view, as the sequel shows.

 4  ...            P-KKt4

Having eliminated the hostile Bishop and holding the long diagonal with his own, he now begins a K side attack which counteracts the advance of the pawns in the centre.

 5  P-K4           PxP
 6  PxP            B-Q5

Evidently he cannot allow his Bishop to be shut in.

 7  P-K5           Q-K1
 8  P-K6           R-KKt1

Combining already! If 9 PxKt, Q-K7; wins the Kt and White's disrupted pawns are powerless.

 9  Kt-B3          Q-Kt3

Black probably visualised this combination when playing his first move. He clearly has obtained a very strong attacking position, and White will need no little ingenuity in order to steer clear of disaster.

10  R-KKt1

Such are the desperate means to which White must have recourse to save the game. He gives up the exchange for the sake of eliminating the well-posted black Bishop. He can then hope to regain the initiative by occupying the long black diagonal with his Queen, and with a Rook on the KKt file.

10  ...            BxR
11  RxB

Hypnotised by the long diagonal, Black played here 11 ... Q-B3; and finally lost the game. He probably could have drawn by 11 ... Q-B4; closing the diagonal with 12 ... Kt-B3; or, if 12 PxKt, RxR ch; with perpetual check.

It remains to be said that, when launching an attack from an inferior position, one does not necessarily play all out for a win; a draw is a very satisfactory result. We could add that, if such an attack leads to complications in which the opponent might lose his way, it is preferable to a slow and certain loss.

It is a difficult task to combine a passive defence with a future attack, but, at times, this policy leads to surprising results. In order to elaborate such a system of defence, in which a prospective attack plays an important part, it is essential not only to grasp the salient points of the hostile attack, but also to foresee, at least on broad lines, the means of defence and the prospects of the counter-attack.

In Diag. 65 White has already initiated an assault on


White: Colle; Black: Znosko-Borovsky
Nice, 1930

the hostile K side, although the opening stage has barely been concluded. Black must take measures against the attack, and, if possible, repel it. His first move is:

 1  ...            R-B2

With the idea of a passive defence of the QB, and of placing the KKt at K5 after ... Q-R1; thus closing the diagonal of the dangerous white KB. Incidentally, this plan is intended to lead to a counter-attack on the K side, at some unspecified future time, by means of ... P-B4; and, if opportune, the advance of the other K side pawns. Before the pawns on the attacked flank can advance safely, a Rook must be posted behind them. We have already seen a Rook participate in the defence of the K side by taking up a position on the second rank; in the present instance the idea of a prospective counter-attack is allied to this defensive scheme.

 2  P-Kt5          BxKt
 3  BPxB           Kt-K5

As the KKtP is no longer protected, this move can be made without losing a pawn.

 4  P-KR4          P-B4

With two white pieces out of play Black initiates his counter-attack. At the moment he defends his Knight, but already offers a pawn in sacrifice.

 5  KPxP e.p.

He could have gained a pawn by 5 KtPxP e.p., KtPxP; 6 Q-Kt4 ch, but Black's attack an the KR and KKt files would be too strong.

 5  ...            KtPxP
 6  P-Kt6

White is pressing on the attack rather than discontinuing it. Better would be 6 KtxKt.

 6  ...            P-B4
 7  BxKt

After 7 PxP ch, K-R1; Black immediately occupies the open files.

 7  ...            QPxB
 8  Q-Kt3          R-KB3

It would be simpler to play 8 ... Kt-B3; in order to bring the QR into play more speedily.

 9  P-R5           PxKtP
10  R-B2           Kt-B1
11  Kt-B4          PxQP
12  Kt-K5          PxBP
13  PxBP           R-KR2

At last, after 12 moves, Black's idea triumphs. With the entry of the QR into the game on the K side, where White was attacking, the tide has turned and Black wrests the initiative from his adversary.

14  B-R3           PxP

And finally Black won. It must not be thought that Black, in making his first move, foresaw the whole of the subsequent development; the fact of merely conceiving the idea enabled him to find the correct move on which his subsequent play was based.

At times, instead of a long and complicated counterattack, a short and simple combination suffices to save the game, and if it is a case of a tactical opportunity and not a simple blunder on the part of the attacker, such a game may culminate in a brilliant finish. But as a general rule one can observe a certain degree of inattention on the part of the aggressor who, immersed in his own strategic plans and combinations, pays insufficient heed to his opponent's intentions.

In Diag. 66 White conducts what appears to be a winning attack. Probably he would have caused his opponent the most serious difficulties with 1 Kt-Q6. Instead of that he continued in straightforward and humdrum fashion:

 1  Kt-Kt5

This short-sighted move affords Black a tactical opportunity of which he is not slow to avail himself.

 1  ...            P-B3


White: Landau; Black: Reshevsky
Kemeri, 1937

Although compulsory, this move gives Black unexpected chances; by opening the KB file, he threatens White's KBP, and the power of the two Bishops becomes devastating.

 2  PxP

The sacrifice of a Bishop by 2 BxP, etc., leads to nothing, as can easily be ascertained.

 2  ...            BxP ch

It is possible that White had not foreseen this sacrifice and that he only reckoned with the simple recapture 2 ... RxP.

 3  KxB            QxP ch

As a result of his sacrifice Black can now recapture with the Queen, threatening mate. White's next move is therefore compulsory and his short-lived onslaught is at an end.

 4  Kt-B3          BxKt
 5  PxB            QxP ch
 6  K-Kt1          R-B5

The attack is now definitely in Black's hands, and, as is often the case with counter-attacks, it is immediately successful, the opponent's position being weakened. Black now threatens mate, and there is no defence.

 7  QxR            KtxQ
 8  B-B1           R-B4

and Black won easily.

(c) Exchanges

We have seen that the player who has the advantage often wishes to bring about an end game, because there his advantage will be of greater comparative value. Similarly there are cases where the weaker party will be actuated by the same desire when his disadvantage is likely to be less decisive in the end game. A seemingly lost game can often be saved in that way. The whole point of the matter is to be able to decide which type of end game would be the most advantageous and to know how to bring it about.

In Diag. 67 Black has a very bad game; he is losing


White: Schlechter; Black: Lasker
Match, 1911

a pawn whilst White has two united pawns on the K side; his pieces are so well placed that he can almost threaten mate. The end seems inevitable. How can such a position as Black's be saved?

 1  R-B7 ch        K-B3

The King must avoid the first rank because of 2 R-B8 ch or Kt-Kt6 ch.

 2  Kt-Q5 ch       K-Kt4

If 2 ... K-K3; 3 P-B4 (threatening mate), R-K1; 4 R-KR7, and wins.

 3  P-R4 ch        K-R3
 4  Kt-K7

The moment has arrived when Black must decide which course to pursue. He has three isolated pawns, of which one is attacked and another will be threatened (Q3) on the next move. He cannot protect both and he must decide which one he is going to abandon and at what precise moment. The problem is not difficult but most instructive; it is fairly obvious that he cannot afford to let his KBP go as White would then have two united passed pawns. In other words, he must maintain this pawn at any cost.

 4  ...            R-KB1
 5  R-Q1

Another pawn is attacked and this one cannot be defended. Black seeks to reach an end game in which he is most likely to hold his own, namely, a R and P ending after exchanging the Knights.

 5  ...            R-B2
 6  RxP ch         K-R2
 7  R-K6           Kt-Kt3
 8  RxKt           RxKt
 9  R(Kt6)-QB6     RxR
10  RxR ch         K-Kt3
11  R-B6 ch        K-B2

This is exactly the ending which Black desired. But what shall we say when we see him deliberately giving up a second pawn in order to secure a draw?

12  K-B3           R-K5
13  R-B5           K-B3
14  RxP

And this ending leads to a forced draw! Thanks to his grasp of the essentials of the position, Black has succeeded in holding his KBP and his position as well.

In Diag. 68 Black's position is manifestly inferior: not only is his Bishop pinned, but he is in consequence threatened with the loss of a pawn. At the same time his Q side pawns are weakened to such an extent that they will be very difficult to defend and the loss of another pawn is almost a foregone conclusion. Castling would be no remedy, as he would immediately lose a


White: Maróczy; Black: Tarrasch
San Sebastian, 1911

pawn in the centre after an exchange of minor pieces and would still labour under his disability on the Q side, leading to further loss. His plan of defence develops as follows: he will protect his B as much as possible and use the time White will spend in attacking it on improving his pawn position, finally letting the least important pawn go.

 1  ...            K-K2
 2  R-K5

Attacking the QBP with a threat of doubling his Rooks. 2 P-KB4, contains no immediate threat, because after 2 ... P-Kt3; 3 P-Kt4, the threat of 4 P-B5 is not dangerous, e.g., 4 ... PxP; 5 PxP, R-KKt1; threatening the Knight which is now pinned.

 2  ...            QR-QB1
 3  QR-K1          R-B3
 4  P-KB4          P-Kt3
 5  P-Kt4

The decisive moment! White threatens both P-B5, and Kt-K4, attacking either the B or the QBP. If Black plays ... KR-QB1; both his Rooks will be tied to the defence of the pawns.

 5  ...            P-B5

Countering White's intentions and threatening to advance still further.

 6  P-R4

Preparing the advance of the KBP, but K-B2, would have been better.

 6  ...            P-R3
 7  KtxB           RxKt
 8  RxR ch         PxR
 9  P-B5           PxP
10  PxP            K-B3
11  RxP ch         KxP
12  RxQRP

White has won a pawn, but in consequence of Black's skilful manoeuvring, it is only a RP. White has only four pawns left, of which the KRP is threatened by the well-posted King; in addition, Black's two Q side pawns are very strong and his Rook is admirably posted. The game ended in a draw.

(d) Bringing about an End Game

In a way, the transition into the end game is an example of simplification by exchanges. The attacker exchanges such of his pieces as do not contribute to his superiority against the well-developed pieces of his opponent. The defender acts in a similar manner, following the precept that, wherever possible, it is of advantage for him to exchange his passive pieces for his opponent's more active pieces. There are numerous examples, but we shall only give one, a well-known one from the openings. It is a variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defence, in which, by a subtle


manoeuvre, Black brings about the exchange of three of his pieces, and, as White's attack has now lost much of its sting, Black should emerge unscathed, after which his prospects for the end game, with three pawns against two on the Q. side, will be favourable.

1 ...PxP; 2 BxP, Kt-Q4; 3 BxB, QxB; 4 Castles, KtxKt; 5 RxKt, P-K4; 6 KtxP, KtxKt; 7 PxKt, QxKt; etc.



We now come to the most important as well as the most difficult part of our studies—even positions. They are important because they will occur every time we play chess, the initial position being even and remaining so after every correctly played opening; and difficult because the objective is less clear than in any other part of the game. It is easy to attack when we know what we seek to achieve, nor is it difficult to decide on a defence when we know where our weakness lies. But in a position of equality players are often at a loss what to do, and what to seek, and handicapped, moreover, by a well-grounded fear that an unconsidered move or a lack of understanding of the position may give the opponent an advantage leading to a win.

It must not be thought that in such positions there is equality in every respect. There may have been a loss in one element, a gain in another, which may balance each other and produce equality in the position as a whole.

Take, for instance, the position in Diag. 70. The positions are entirely dissimilar; each has its own chances, its own difficulties. White, for instance, cannot castle on the K side, nor can he develop his Bishop without losing a pawn. On the other hand, Black has an isolated as well as a doubled pawn, his Bishop is shut in, and it will not be easy for him to castle.

 1  Castles

A risky move seeking, at the cost of a pawn, to take


White: Lasker; Black: Marshall
Match, 1907

advantage of the position of Black's King in the centre by initiating a direct attack.

 1  ...            QxRP

We see that an equal position does not necessarily lead to slow and uninteresting play.

 2  P-Q5           PxP
 3  B-Kt5          K-B1
 4  BxKt           PxB
 5  QxKBP

Threatening both Kt-Kt5, and KR-K1, whilst the Queen maintains the protection of the weak QKtP.

 5  ...            Q-R8 ch
 6  K-Q2           Q-R4 ch
 7  P-B3           R-Kt1

Because the QKtP is now left unguarded. If 8 R-QKt1, P-Q5; and the Black Queen defends her KKt4; and if then 9 QxQP, B-B4.

 8  Kt-Kt5         RxP ch
 9  K-K1           RxKt

The only defence against QxP mate. Now if White captures the R, Black threatens ... B-R3; and ... QxP ch.

10  Q-Q8 ch        K-Kt2
11  QxR ch         K-B1

And this lively game ended in a draw.

Even positions can show still greater discrepancies in various elements than those illustrated in the preceding example. Each side may be conducting an attack on opposite wings. In such cases great caution is necessary, as always when there is only a small advantage. But when an attack is launched where the attacker has a marked advantage on one side and a disadvantage on the other (where the opponent is attacking), it is often essential to throw in all one's resources, in order to be first in reaching the objective.

This state of affairs obtains in the position shown in Diag. 71. The sequel is an extraordinary example of chess of the highest class.

A complete analysis from the point of view of our three elements would show that the position is one of equality, the difference being that White is more active and has; in particular, a K side attack, whilst Black has threats on the Q side. White's attack is the more dangerous inasmuch as it can lead to a mate, but there is no weakness in Black's camp and his plan will be to hold White's attack and to obtain a preponderance on the Q side with the ultimate object of obtaining an advanced passed pawn and queening it.

This result is not an unlikely one as Black's pieces are as well posted as White's, although, they are less active.


White: Pillsbury; Black: Tarrasch
Hastings, 1895

But his Rooks are admirably placed and able to support the advance of the pawns. Black has a pawn-majority on the Q side, which is of considerable importance, especially in view of the fact that White's extra pawn on the K side (his KP) is backward and plays, and always will play, a secondary role.

Thus White's only hope is, centred in his attack, whilst Black has every incentive to bring about an end game. His first concern will be to stand up against the storm which presently will break. That the situation is extremely critical can be seen from the following variation: let Black play 1 ... Kt-K3; and he loses forthwith, as follows: 2 BxKt, BxB; 3 BxP ch, KxB; 4 QR5 ch, K-Kt1; 5 QxP ch, followed by 6 QxQB. The defence clearly calls for the utmost caution. But Black, unless he makes a careless move, is for the moment sufficiently well protected, while White, in order to succeed with his attack, must bring up another piece. The question is which? Either the QKt or the KR by opening the KKt file by P-KKt4, which is a lengthy and risky manoeuvre. In the meantime Black will advance his Q side pawns, but without haste, as he might obtain a passed but isolated pawn which could easily be stopped. The only pieces available for the support of the pawn-advance are the Rooks, the other pieces being required for the defence of the King's field, although it may become possible for one or the other, especially the Queen, to combine both tasks—the defence of the King's field and the support of the Q side pawns. Thus Black's threat also demands a great deal of time, for which reason the positions may be said to be even.

 1  Kt-K2          Kt-K5

Every exchange is in Black's favour, as thereby the defence becomes easier, the attacking forces are diminished in numbers and the end game is so much nearer. The text move, at one stroke, deals with his adversary's two Bishops, as the exchange is forced because of the threatened advance of Black's KBP to B3.

 2  BxB            RxB
 3  BxKt           PxB
 4  Q-Kt3

The first skirmish is over, and we can take stock of the new situation. White has obtained a passed pawn and has weakened Black's Q side pawns: He now threatens P-B5, followed by Kt-B4, bringing up the additional piece which was needed for the attack. His KP is strengthened by the fact that the K file is now closed, and thus no attack is to be feared at the moment. What has Black achieved? He has eliminated White's two Bishops and freed his Q4. From this point either his Q or his B can assume the twofold task which we have mentioned, namely, defence of his King's field and support of his Q side pawns. Again the positions are more or less balanced. The interesting part of this game lies precisely in the fact that, up to the end, it is played by both sides with the greatest mastery, so that any advantage gained by either player is immediately neutralised by a corresponding gain by his rival. This is why we give a more complete analysis of this important contest. Considerations of space preclude our treating other games in the same way, but the reader can do this for himself.

What are now White's actual threats? He can advance the KBP and attack Black's isolated KP. To this end he will need 7 moves (P-B5, Q-R4, R-B1, R-B4, Kt-Kt4, Kt-B2, Kt-Kt3 or Kt-B3) and Black, in order to defend the pawn, needs but 5 moves (P-B3, B-Q4, Q-Q2, Q-B3, QR-K1); he has therefore ample time, which is the justification for his previous exchanges. He can utilise his extra tempi in advancing his Q side pawns. In any event he will have to make a supplementary defensive move, for after Kt-Kt4, White threatens KtxP ch, or Kt-R6 ch, which forces ... K-R1. The claims of the defence are paramount for Black and moves on the Q side can only be entertained by him as long as his K side is secure.

 4  ...            P-B3
 5  Kt-Kt4         K-R1
 6  P-B5           Q-Q2
 7  R-B1           R-Q1
 8  R-B4           Q-Q3
 9  Q-R4           QR-K1
10  Kt-B3          B-Q4
11  Kt-B2          Q-B3

A fresh series of moves, embodying the next manoeuvre, is thus completed, and again a position of stable equilibrium has resulted. We must, however, record the fact that Black, with some moves to spare, has marked time, and has accomplished nothing with his Q side pawns; at the moment this wavering has no serious consequences, but when the crisis arrives it may be that one single move may save or win the game. All Black's pieces are now available for the defence and nothing stands in the way of the beginning of his advance on the Q side. His plan is clear: ... P-Kt5; and, after White's QKt has departed, ... Q-R5; attacking the QRP, with the object of either weakening White's pawn formation or of causing him to withdraw some of his pieces from the attack. Black has every justification for commencing his advance; he has made 18 useful moves against 12 by White, or, in other words, he is 6 moves ahead. It is difficult to see how White, who has also made only good moves, can have lost so much time! It is a curious and frequently observed fact that, in order to obtain an attacking position, it is often necessary to sacrifice time, and in the present game we shall have occasion to note that Black himself will be in the same predicament as soon as he starts to execute his threats on the Q side.

White's next problem is to bring up another piece for the attack, this time the QR after P-KKt4, which move can be made with safety now that Black's KP intercepts the line of his Bishop.

12  R-B1           P-Kt5
13  Kt-K2          Q-R5

An immediate advance by the QBP would be of little use, e.g.: 13 ... P-B6; 14 PxP, PxP; 15 Kt-Q1, P-B7; 16 KKt-B3, B-B5; 17 P-Q5, BxQP; 18 R-B1, and the QBP falls. But now White is facing a serious problem—how to protect his QRP. If 14 Kt-B1, then 14 ... Q-B7; attacking the QKtP; followed by ... Q-Q6; attacking the KP. The solution is to combine attack and defence, and this White does in a manner as well-calculated as it is attractive.

14  Kt-Kt4

Threatening, KtxP. As soon as a black piece has been withdrawn from the defence, its absence is felt.

14  ...            Kt-Q2

It is a pity to have to displace this Knight which was so well placed for the defence of the KRP, and the squares at Black's K3 and KKt3. But unless Black resigns himself to a purely defensive game and forgoes any attempt to win, he has to take a certain amount of risk.

15  R(B4)-B2

A subtle defence of the QRP. The Rook makes room for a Knight and if 15 ... QxP; then 16 Kt-B4, (threatening Kt-Kt6 ch), B-B2; 17 Kt-Kt6 ch, BxKt; 18 PxB, P-R3; 19 KtxRP, winning easily. Again the withdrawal of a piece from its defensive position has conjured up all sorts of difficulties—even threats of mate. It is clear that White's QRP cannot, as yet, be captured.

15  ...            K-Kt1
16  Kt-B1

And now the square QB2 is guarded as well as the QRP.

16  ...            P-B6
17  P-QKt3         Q-B3

If we now count the moves, we shall see that Black has the same number, 18, as before to his credit, whilst White has 16 instead of 12; he has gained 4 moves, confirming what we said before.

The game is now nearing its end; threats are less numerous but more intense. White has thrown the whole of his forces into the attack except the QKt, which is attending to the defence—splendid strategy. All of Black's pieces are co-operating in the defence. But if he wishes to succeed with his own attack he will have to detail at least one piece for that purpose. What is his plan of attack in the present circumstances? The only possible one is to advance the RP and exchange it for the QKtP; then he will occupy the QR file with a Rook and attack the QKtP with R and B. It is possible to calculate exactly the number of moves required in the process. The number is 4 moves; on the 5th move the QKtP will be attacked twice. Now what of White? Again there is only one possible plan: the opening of the KKt file. This also will require 4 moves, but on the 4th move the KBP will be already under attack. Had Black not lost one or two moves in his earlier manoeuvres his threat would be the first to mature.

18  P-KR3          P-QR4
19  Kt-R2          P-R5
20  P-Kt4

Now Black must decide between two courses: he must either ruthlessly continue the advance on the Q side or take some defensive measures to stop White's advance on the K side. This he could achieve by 20 ... P-R3; upon which White would have to play 21 Q-Kt3 (preparing for P-R4.), and Black would have time to defend himself by 21 ... Kt-B1; 22 P-R4, Kt-R2; 23 P-Kt5, KRPxP; 24 Kt-Kt4, PxRP; 25 QxP, Kt-Kt4; threatening 26 ... Kt-B6 ch. If 25 R-R2, then 25 ... K-B1; leaving it to the Bishop to guard Black's KKt1. Thus even against a passive defence White would not find it easy to utilise the open file and bring the missing piece—the Rook—into the attack. But Black prefers to attack himself, in the belief that he will reach his objective ahead of his adversary.

 20 ...            PxP
 21 PxP            R-R1


22  P-Kt5

Let us examine the respective threats. If Black exchanges pawns, then 23 QxKtP (threatening P-B6), Q-B3; 24 Q-Kt3, threatening Kt-Kt4. There is no defence against P-B6, and Kt-K5. If instead of 23 ... Q-B3; Black plays 23 ... Kt-B3; then again 24 Kt-Kt4, follows, threatening both Kt-K5, and R-KKt2 (the Knight cannot be taken because of QxR). Therefore Black cannot himself take the pawn, but must leave it to White to effect the exchange. He can thus get in a move in furtherance of his own attack.

22  ...            R-R6
23  Kt-Kt4

White would gain nothing by capturing the KBP at once, as Black would recapture with the pawn or even the Queen and after Q-Kt3, he would play ... P-R4; preventing Kt-Kt4. Hence White plays the text-move, threatening PxP, and giving up the QKtP. We have now reached the turning point in the battle. Both players had anticipated this position many moves ahead and had analysed it thoroughly.

If we now count the moves we find that Black has 17 moves against 19 by White. Against this deficit of 2 moves he can win a pawn. But this pawn is on the Q side and can only be of value if White's attack should fail. But White is on the point of opening the KKt file and of bringing into play the additional piece which is required: his object is then achieved. The climax of the game is at hand, the issue hangs by a thread. The next few moves will decide the battle and confirm or refute the players' calculations.

Black cannot take the KKtP (23 ... PxP; 24 QxP, Kt-B3; 25 R-KKt2, with a winning attack) and he must therefore take the QKtP, the object of his attack, and hope for the best. After 23 ... BxP; White cannot play 24 KtxB, RxKt; because of ... R-Kt7; which would nullify the effect of White's Rook at KKt2. He therefore plays his Rook to KKt2 first, forcing the black King to move.

23  ...            BxP
24  R-KKt2         K-R1
25  PxP            PxP

If 25 ... KtxP; 26 Kt-K5, threatening 27 KtKt6 ch.

26  KtxB           RxKt
27  Kt-R6

With a terrible mating threat by R-Kt8. If 27 ... R-K1; 28 Kt-B7, mate. Two white squares are defenceless because the Bishop has gone. The extra piece which White has at last succeeded in bringing into the attack decides the game. The black King, denuded of pieces, is defenceless against the powerful threats. Thus White's strategy has triumphed.

There is one point, however, to which we wish to draw the reader's Attention. The game is lost because Black lacks the help of his Bishop. If he had captured the QKtP with his Rook, giving up the exchange, he would have preserved his Bishop, which was so essential for the defence, and the two united passed pawns, supported by the Bishop, would have been more than a match for a Rook. Black had this tactical opportunity and failed to take it. Either he did not see it, or he underestimated the dangers of the situation, or he lacked the pluck to make this sacrifice. White, on the other hand, did not hesitate to sacrifice a whole Kt. Black did not lose because of a faulty conception; his tactical failure in its execution was his downfall.

27  ...            R-Kt2
28  RxR            KxR
29  Q-Kt3 ch       KxKt
30  K-R1

The plausible 30 R-B4, would be bad because of checks by Black's Rook on its 7th and 8th ranks.

30  ...            Q-Q4
31  R-KKt1         QxBP
32  Q-R4 ch        Q-R4
33  Q-B4 ch        Q-Kt4
34  RxQ            PxR
35  Q-Q6 ch        K-R4
36  QxKt

and wins owing to the threat of QxP mate.

Nothing could be more instructive than the analysis of such a game.


Equal positions which show no particular characteristics are the most difficult to treat. Such positions occur most frequently when the opening stage has been passed, and the examples we shall give could serve equally well as illustrations of the period of transition between the opening and the middle game; but the same sort of thing can equally well arise in the middle game proper.

If there is no weakness, with the forces on either side equally well developed and "nothing to get hold of," a puzzling problem immediately arises as to what to do. Still greater is the difficulty where the positions are almost identical; it seems that there is nothing one can do but to wait and see what the opponent is going to do, and watch whether he makes a weak move. But, with the exception of entirely symmetrical positions, it is rare indeed for a position to show no distinctive feature at all. It may not be pronounced, it may be subtle and difficult to discover, but it is nearly always there and requires careful consideration. In the case of symmetrical positions, it is well known that it is not practicable for one player to copy his opponent's moves ad infinitum; there must come a time, even in such cases, when some difference occurs which may give rise to a plan, be it ever so cautious and slow.

The positions in Diag. 73 are almost symmetrical, the only difference being that White's KB is at B2, and Black's at Kt3. Is this sufficient to serve as a basis for


White: Riga; Black: Berlin
A correspondence game, 1905

a plan of campaign? White would only need to play his Bishop to Kt3 or Black to move his own to B2 to restore the symmetry; and that is what not a few players, devotees of the draw, would do. But if the object is to try to take advantage of the respective positions of the Bishops, there would arise many interesting, and possibly conclusive, considerations. It seems that Black's KB is the better placed; it controls an open diagonal, and if White plays the obvious P-Q4, that pawn would be in the line of the Bishop. On the other hand, White's KB is blocked by his own centre pawns. In analysing the position more closely, certain points will come to our notice which will alter our first impression. First of all, White, in playing P-Q4, closes the black Bishop's diagonal, which then cannot be reopened, whilst Black cannot play the equally natural move ... P-Q4; because on the one hand his KP is insufficiently protected, and on the other, White could open the diagonal for his own KB by exchanging pawns. A further distinction is that Black's KB is directed against White's KBP which is sufficiently guarded, whereas White's KB aims at the KRP, always susceptible to a sudden attack. The white Bishop's diagonal must not therefore be opened, and such obvious moves, as ... P-Q4; ... P-KB4; and ... Kt-B5; cannot be commended. As against this, White can afford to make any moves that would help a sound development as well as a prospective attack. If we add that White has the move, we can clearly perceive that he has whatever advantage there is. He now has the choice of several lines of play; after his first move P-Q4, he can continue with B-Kt5, threatening Kt-R5, or with, Kt-B5. In this case, if Black plays ... BxKt; PxB, the pawn at KB5 remains under the protection of the KB.

If Black, however, plays ... B-Kt5; there is no need for White to play P-KR3, He can play Q-Q3, and allow his pawns to be doubled. Black could not easily take advantage of it by playing ... Kt-B5; because after BxKt, PxB; this pawn is unguarded. Thus, the more closely we examine the position, the more do we realise that White's KB at B2 is more effective than its counterpart at Kt3.

All this tends to show that White's game is the more aggressive and that Black should be content quietly to complete his development, the most natural course being ... R-K1; ... B-K3; ... P-KR3; ... Q-B2; ... QR-Q1; and to counter White's prospective K side attack by counter play in the centre. The alternative, re-establishing the symmetry by ... B-B2; would mean for him a disadvantage in time of two moves.

But Black, having deliberately placed his KB at Kt3, desires to take the utmost advantage of this, in his opinion, favourable position, and initiates an attack. We must not be surprised if it fails—it is but justice! The sequel shows in an instructive manner the consequences of an action which does not conform to the nature of the position, and of a strategic plan based on an erroneous assumption, or a wrong appreciation of the situation.

 1  P-Q4           B-Kt5
 2  Q-Q3           Kt-R4

A vain attempt to establish this Knight at KB5.

 3  KtxKt          BxKt(R4)
 4  B-Kt5          Q-B2
 5  Kt-Q2

Now Black's QB, like his KB, is also out of play and has no move. He persists in trying to assume the initiative—when the defensive was his proper course—with a view to bringing his Bishops back into the game, as, e. g., by ... Kt-K2; ... P-B3; ... B-B2; after which the Kt could go back to Kt3.

 5  ...            P-KR3
 6  B-K3           QR-K1
 7  P-B3

Defending the KP and threatening at the same time to win the QB. With no thought for his own safety, Black maintains his attack. It may be noted that White disregards the hostile KB and has all but opened its diagonal, directed against the white King.

 7  ...            P-Q4
 8  P-KKt4         KPxP
 9  BPxP           P-QB4
10  Q-B3           Kt-B5
11  BxKt           QxB
12  PxB            BPxP
13  Q-Q3

and Black's attack has melted away.

This example has shown us how a plan can be built up on a minute positional difference. The idea, however, was wrong and the attack collapsed. Let us examine another example in which the difference in the positions is equally insignificant. But here there is no misconception and the game develops slowly, as it should, where the position shows no pronounced characteristics.

In Diag. 74 the difference between the two camps lies in the position of the respective Bishops: White's Bishops


White: Rubinstein; Black: Duras
Carlsbad, 1911

are well developed and bear on the centre, whilst Black's Bishops stand passively on their original squares, capable, however, of initiating an action in the centre or on either flank. There is no question of an attack, but of slow and well-considered manoeuvres. White's first object is clear: by playing P-Q4, White prevents a similar answer by Black and fixes Black's QP, a backward and isolated pawn, at his Q3. Of course, White will not capture the KP, which would only round off the adverse position; nor does he intend leaving his own QP at Q4, threatened by Black after ... B-Kt5. His real intention is the further advance P-Q5.

Now Black's backward QP will prevent any action by the black Rooks on the Q file, besides hindering the free circulation of the black pieces, by dividing Black's position in two.

In order to get his attack going White will have to break up the black Q side and take it in the flank with his Rooks and, especially, with his Kt and B. Black can answer with the well-known advance ... P-KB4; though it weakens the KP. He also has the chance of attacking White's KB by the equally popular manoeuvre B-KR6, but that will imply play on the K side. And now the problem is: shall he undertake an action on the K side on the lines indicated, or shall he, on the contrary, take advantage of the weaknesses created by White's P-Q4, and counter-attack on the Q side? In order to decide the respective value of these two plans of campaign it would almost be necessary to play two games to try them out; in the present instance Black decided on action on the K side; he failed and there is no merit in stating that he should have tried the other method.

 1  P-Q4           B-Kt5
 2  P-Q5           Kt-K2

In accordance with what has been said before, this Knight should preferably have moved to Kt1 and from there to R3 or Q2 threatening B4 or Kt5 respectively.

 3  Q-Q3           Q-Q2
 4  Kt-Q2          B-R6

Thus White manoeuvres his pieces towards the Q side and Black brings his forces to the opposite wing. Later on Black will find out that his pressure is not equal to his adversary's, and will attempt to remedy the defect by calling his forces back to the right place. By then it will be too late; the time thus gained by White gives him a manifest advantage.

 5  P-R4

The object of this move is to place his Knight at QB4, where he will be unmolested. At the same time it initiates the pawn advance on the Q side.

 5  ...            BxB
 6  KxB            KR-Kt1

At last Black gives a thought to the Queen's wing; he tries to isolate and weaken the adverse pawn, a faulty enterprise which runs counter to the principle: "Never open a line where you are weakest." But Black's real difficulty is his Knight's unhappy position. Moreover, it cannot return to the Q side, nor could it find a good square if it did get there.

 7  Kt-B4          P-QKt4
 8  PxP            QxP

The position has become clearer. White is attacking the QRP and QP and Black has designs on the QKtP.

 9  R-R3           Kt-Kt3
10  KR-QR1         P-R3
11  B-B1

From Kt2 this Bishop could not participate in the action on the Q side. It makes its way to a square from where it attacks the adverse QRP. The fall of this pawn is a foregone conclusion. It is defended by the Queen and two Rooks. But B-K3, will deprive the defence of one of the Rooks. White, on the other hand, can attack it three times, whilst safeguarding his own QKtP by Kt-Q2. Observe that the black Knight requires at least three moves (B1, Q2, Kt1) to come to the rescue. So much time is not available. As we have said, faulty mobilisation can seldom be rectified.

11  ...            R-Kt2
12  B-K3           P-B3
13  P-B3

Well played! He provides against the hostile threat of ... P-B4; before embarking on his own schemes. If, for instance, 13 Q-B1, P-B4; 14 P-B3, PxP; 15 PxP, R-KB2; Black has a strong attack. After the move in the text, Black cannot yet play 13 ... P-B4; and White has time to play the necessary Kt-Q2.

13  ...            Kt-K2
14  Q-B1           Kt-B1
15  Kt-Q2

The desired position is now attained and Black's pawn is lost.

15  ...            Q-Kt5
16  Q-B4

White forces the exchange of Queens to prevent any hostile attack; he relies on his extra pawn to secure a win.

16  ...            QxQ
17  KtxQ           QR-Kt1
18  Kt-Q2

Guarding the QKtP; the hostile pawn cannot be saved.

18  ...            R-QB2
19  RxP            R-B7
20  R(R6)-R2       RxR
21  RxR

and White won without difficulty.

Games are lost through big or small mistakes; the last two games, starting from even positions, were lost on account of erroneous strategic ideas. As strategic plans can be evolved only on the basis of a thorough analysis of the position, this analysis is absolutely essential in positions which are lacking in definite character. Only a minute analysis can help to discover those small details, at first sight insignificant, which can serve as a starting point for an elaborate plan of campaign.


Of paramount importance in even positions is the moment when the balance is about to be disturbed. This does not necessarily happen in consequence of an attack; simple and slow manoeuvring inevitably leads to it. It is an anxious moment, for it means taking a path from which there is no turning back; nor can one be quite sure where it is going to lead. But the Russians have a proverb which says: "For fear of the wolves one might never go into the forest": chess players must take certain risks or give up playing chess. Cannot the very first move be said to disturb the balance of the position?

The position in Diag. 75 is perfectly even and is near the end game stage. Even though White has an extra move and a pawn in the centre, it amounts to little in this position. Even Black's doubled pawns do not represent a real weakness, as White lacks the necessary minor


White: Schlechter; Black: Lasker
Match, 1911

pieces to take advantage of the fact, and these pawns are able to hold quite easily the opposing three pawns. Each side has a majority of four pawns to three on opposite wings, but as the KP counterbalances the QP this again amounts to nothing. The positions must undoubtedly be pronounced even, and in any event White has nothing to fear. An agreed draw would be justified. But if the game is to be continued, the line of play on either side is fairly obvious. If White wishes to turn his majority on the K side to account, he will have to divert Black's QP, which means he must advance his own QBP far forward, and this again will accentuate Black's majority on the Q side.

White therefore begins with manoeuvres by which he seeks to weaken the adverse pawn formation.

 1  Q-Kt4          P-QB3
 2  Q-R3           P-R3
 3  Q-Kt3          R-Q1
 4  P-QB4

—in order to prevent the advance of the black QP which has become weak.

 4  ...            R-Q2
 5  Q-Q1           Q-K4
 6  Q-Kt4          K-K1
 7  Q-K2           K-Q1
 8  Q-Q2           K-B2

As White has failed to increase his advantage or to find a more or less direct line of action, Black now shows signs of activity; his King is no longer content to defend the weaker flank but, intending to assume the initiative, he wishes to support his strong Q side pawns. He evidently seeks to obtain a passed pawn there. The problem is how to achieve this without pawn exchanges with the prospect of remaining with an isolated pawn. Great caution is required; the pieces will have to work with the pawns in these operations.

 9  P-R3           R-K2
10  P-QKt4         P-QKt4
11  PxP            RPxP

One object at least is achieved: a file is open on which stands a backward pawn. The King has relieved his pieces from the task of guarding the QP, and the Queen and the Rook can strike out on a more enterprising line of play.

12  P-Kt3          P-Kt4
13  K-Kt2          R-K1
14  Q-Q1

White threatens both P-QR4 and Q-R5. We see how much caution is required in a game of this type; any small advance creates weaknesses in one's own camp. Thus Black's threat to occupy the QR file is held up and he must give some thought to his own safety.

14  ...            P-B3
15  Q-Kt3

White leaves the execution of his threats in abeyance. It is true that, after 15 Q-R5, Q-K3; is a sufficient defence, but he might at least have played 15 P-QR4. He evidently prefers a passive defence, in order first to ascertain his adversary's plans.

15  ...            Q-K3
16  Q-Q1

He probably thinks that an end game of Q and R affords better chances of a draw than a simple R ending.

16  ...            R-KR1
17  P-Kt4

White's K side pawns are paralysed. Black's second object is attained. He can now proceed with the third stage of his plan: action against the Q side pawns.

17  ...            Q-B5

Thus Black has acquired a dominating position, in which his pieces are better placed than, and his pawns superior to, his adversary's. White's QRP in particular is almost negligible. White, clearly thinks so too, for he tries to eliminate it by a sacrifice in order to regain some measure of initiative. He should have thought of that before the event.

18  P-QR4          QxP
19  PxP            QxP
20  R-QKt3         Q-R3
21  Q-Q4           R-K1
22  K-Kt1          R-K4

Black's advantage is clear-cut, and White's attack is not a sufficient compensation for the loss of a pawn. Black has demonstrated in a striking manner what can be made of a drawn position. It must be added, however, that, thanks to some tactical finesse by White and some tactical errors by his opponent, White ultimately won this game which might have been a masterpiece for Black.

In more complicated positions and with more pieces on the board, the balance can be upset more rapidly, more suddenly, and more decisively than in the preceding example. There may even be an attack, although, as we have seen, an attack can only be made in a superior position. It would be more correct to say that the attack should be made where one is strongest. We attack on the K side with, perhaps, an inferiority on the Q side. It is even a necessity, when to act otherwise means that the opponent is allowed full sway. Counter-attack as a means of defence is of the same type.

The position in Diag. 76 is still in the opening stages. It would be in order to proceed with a tranquil development. On the contrary, White commences without delay an aggressive action which forces his opponent to combine development with defence.


White: Spielmann; Black: Tartakower
Match, Vienna, 1913

 1  P-B5           PxP
 2  QxP            Kt-K2

Black parries the check at his QB1 by developing a piece.

 3  Q-B2           Kt-Kt3
 4  P-KR4

Such attacks without a well-defined object are to be deprecated. They only weaken the position without any appreciable compensation.

 4  ...            B-K2
 5  P-R5           Kt-B1
 6  Kt-K2          Kt-K3

In consequence of White's attack this Knight is now on a far better square.

 7  P-B3           P-QB4

The K side being developed, Black commences an action on the Q side, which is far more justified than White's aggression on the opposite wing.

 8  Kt-B4          KtxKt
 9  BxKt           PxP
10  PxP            Kt-B3
11  B-K3           Castles KR

Black's development is completed, whilst White has not yet castled and one of his Knights is still on its original square.

12  P-R6           P-Kt3
13  Kt-B3          P-B3

Well played! He now begins an action on the K side, where White's position is weakened in consequence of his premature attack.

14  PxP            RxP
15  Q-Q2           B-Kt5

Anticipating White's castling on the Q side—he has no choice—Black prepares an attack.

16  Castles        Kt-R4
17  K-Kt1          Kt-B5

And Black has everything to hope for from his well-timed attack. White has upset the balance to his own disadvantage.

The destruction of the balance can also be caused by a simple combination which may call, in reply, for a counter-combination by the other side. Which goes to show that even positions do not of necessity imply dull and unimaginative play.

In Diag. 77 Black, after eliminating his doubled pawn, is in a favourable position with "two Bishops" and with both Rooks well developed. Against this White has the


White: Gunsberg; Black: Przepiórka
San Remo, 1911

outline of an attack, so that the games may be said to be even, with the odds slightly in favour of Black. It is not, therefore, surprising to see White embark upon a combination.

 1  Q-Kt4          P-QR4
 2  PxP            QxP
 3  KtxP

This sacrifice brings a little life into a rather colourless position. The Knight cannot be taken as Black would then lose one of his Bishops.

 3  ...            RxR
 4  RxR            P-R4

Both Kt and Q are now en prise and Black threatens ... Q-Q4; attacking both Knight and Rook and with a threat of mate.

 5  Q-Kt3          Q-Q7

The Knight is still safe from capture.

 6  R-KB1          R-B8
 7  B-Q3           RxR ch
 8  BxR            Q-B7

White was threatening Q-Kt8 ch.

 9  Q-Kt8 ch       B-B1
10  Kt-B7

At last the Kt has moved away, but with a powerful threat.

10  ...            B-K4
11  QxB ch         K-Kt2
12  Q-Q7           QxKt
13  QxQ            BxQ
14  B-Kt5          B-Q3
15  BxP            BxRP

And the game is drawn. The struggle has, however, been keen and lively and White's combination was therefore justified.


The term "even position" conjures up visions of dreary positions, dragging on interminably in expectation of some minute weakness or some big blunder. Quite the contrary can be the case, and then we see the art of chess at its highest. If in unequal positions we have seen counter-attacks produce play of the most exciting character, what can we expect when, in even positions, both players, in determined and whole-hearted fashion, attack each other to the utmost of their power? We have seen one example of this type and shall now examine one or two more. Without stopping to analyse positional manoeuvres, with which we have now become familiar, we shall study cases in which both players simultaneously turn to direct action. This can happen in two ways—either the respective attacks may meet at the same point, or they may develop on opposite flanks. But when the battle rages over the whole range of the chessboard, what a feast for the spectator, and what an ordeal for the combatants!

It would not be correct to say that in all such cases the initial positions are even; only symmetrical positions are entirely even; but we are now only concerned with the actual struggle, and must overlook minute differences.

In Diag. 78 Black has a strong, supported, passed pawn. Unfortunately, it is blocked, and White can attack it as many times as it can be defended. In this case all the black pieces would be committed to the passive defence of this pawn, and White could break through with P-QKt4. That is why it occurs to Black to advance his QBP; the QP is thereby weakened and White concentrates all his forces against it.


White: Duras; Black: Cohn
Carlsbad, 1911

 1  ...            Q-R5
 2  P-Kt3          Q-R4
 3  K-Kt2          P-B5
 4  Kt-B4          Q-K4
 5  BxB            P-B6
 6  Q-Q3           KtxB
 7  Kt-Q5

Threatening Kt-K7 ch, as well as KR-Q1, and P-B4. Black decides to force the advance of his pawn by sacrificing the exchange.

 7  ...            RxKt
 8  PxR            QxP
 9  KR-Q1          Kt-K3

Protecting both the QP as well as the QBP, for if White takes the QBP, then, after the necessary exchanges, P-B7 wins.

10  QxRP           R-R1
11  Q-K2           P-Q6

With the Rooks threatening to occupy the seventh rank, supported by the advanced pawns, Black now begins a direct attack against the King.

12  RxQP           Q-KKt4
13  Q-K3           RxP ch
14  K-Kt1          Q-KR4
15  P-R4           Q-KB4

Threatening ... Q-R6. If 16 P-KKt4, Q-B5; 17 QxQ, KtxQ; with the threat of ... Kt-K7 ch.

16  R(Q3)xP        Q-R6
17  R-B8 ch        K-Kt2

Black, thinking victory in sight, now makes a mistake: with 17 ... Kt-B1; he would probably have secured the draw. After the text-move, White manages to assume the offensive, without, however, neglecting his defence, and so the final combination turns out well for him.

18  Q-K5 ch        P-B3
19  R(B1)-B7 ch    K-R3
20  Q-K3 ch        P-Kt4
21  PxP ch         KtxP

A little better would be: 21 ... PxP; 22 QxKt ch, QxQ; 23 R-B6, and White has an extra pawn. But he plays for a mate and—loses.

22  RxP ch         KxR
23  Q-K7 ch        K-Kt3
24  R-Kt8 ch       K-B4
25  RxKt ch

and Black's Queen is lost.

In the next example (Diag. 79) White has a powerful attack against the King, and as his Bishop is shut in, he tries to free a diagonal for it. His own King is none too secure, and he must conduct his attack cautiously and with the greatest precision.

 1  R-B5           Q-B6

If 1 ... PxR; 2 KtxP ch, K-R2; 3 KtxR(R6),


White: Duras; Black: Teichmann
Ostend, 1906

KxKt; 4 Q-R4 ch, K-Kt2; 5 R-B5, etc.

 2  P-K5           PxP

Compulsory, because of P-K6.

 3  R-Kt5          K-R2

QB6 ch was threatened.

 4  Kt-B5          PxKt

—otherwise White would win the exchange. We see that White, by means of two sacrifices, has opened the diagonal for his Bishop.

 5  QxP ch         R-Kt3

If 5 ... K-R1; 6 R-R5.

 6  Q-B6           Q-Q5 ch
 7  R-B2           Q-Q8 ch
 8  K-R2           P-K5

By sacrificing the Rook, Black closes the Bishop's line and thus obtains a little freedom. A sacrifice helps him to pass from the defensive to the counter-attack.

 9  QxR            R-R3 ch
10  K-Kt3          Q-K8

White threatened RxP ch. If 10 ... QxP ch; 11 R-B3, with the same threat.

11  QxB            Q-K6 ch
12  K-Kt4

White is not afraid to advance his King, as his attack is more potent than the enemy's threats.

12 ...             P-B4 ch
13  R(Kt5)xP       R-Kt3 ch

Threatening a mate in two, but—

14  QxR ch

By a fresh sacrifice White at last seizes the initiative which is to decide the fate of the battle.

14  ...            KxQ
15  R-B6 ch        K-Kt2
16  R-B7 ch        K-Kt1
17  R-B8 ch        K-Kt2
18  R(B2)-B7 ch    K-Kt3
19  R-B6 ch        K-Kt2
20  R(B8)-B7 ch    K-Kt1
21  K-R5

Excellent play. There is no defence against the threatened mate.

21  ...            Q-K7 ch
22  P-Kt4          Resigns.

A game of chess can be very thrilling when played in this manner!

No less exciting is the following example (Diag. 80). Black, having sacrificed a pawn in the opening, has a splendid game. His QB, on an open diagonal, prevents White from castling on the K side. He does his utmost to prevent him from castling on the other side as well. White, however, unwilling to submit to a passive defence,


White: Pillsbury; Black: Tarrasch
Monte Carlo, 1903

conducts an active game and tries to increase his advantage in material.

 1  B-Kt5          B-R3
 2  BxKt           QxB
 3  Q-R5 ch        K-Q2
 4  Kt-Kt6

Practically forced: his QP is attacked and ... B-K2; attacking the Knight, is threatened.

 4  ...            QxQP

Black perseveres with the idea of keeping his King in the centre. His sacrifice of a Rook is less substantial than it looks, in view of the fact that both white Rooks are out of play.

 5  KtxR           B-B4
 6  Q-R4           RxKt
 7  R-Q1           Q-Kt5

Threatening ... P-Q5.

 8  Q-Kt4          K-Q1
 9  QxKtP          R-K1
10  Q-B6 ch        K-Q2
11  P-QR3

By releasing the Knight he threatens KtxQP, in answer to ... QxKtP.

11  ...            Q-Kt3
12  R-Q2           P-K6
13  PxP            BxKP

In this way Black brings his Rook into the game and, in effect, has an extra piece. White seeks salvation in an attack.

14  KtxP           BxR db. ch
15  KxB            Q-B7 ch
16  K-Q1           Q-K7 ch
17  K-B1           PxKt
18  R-Q1

Again, as in the preceding game, White obtains the initiative by sacrificing a piece. He has two pawns for it and freedom of action.

18  ...            P-B3
19  Q-R4           QxP
20  QxP ch         R-K2
21  Q-R4           Q-K5
22  Q-R8           QxP
23  Q-R8           B-B1
24  Q-R7 ch        K-K1
25  QxP            Q-B5 ch
26  K-Kt1          QxP

And Black wins, having a Bishop for a pawn.

There could be no more fitting conclusion to this book than these outstandingly beautiful examples of the art of chess.


Our investigations are at an end; we have touched upon the most important types of positions and analysed their treatment. We have shown how to increase an advantage by exploiting enemy weaknesses whilst safeguarding the position.

The first edition of this book laid particular stress on the objective basis of our game—the three elements: space, time, and force—and we still insist on the necessity of giving them the most serious consideration. For one thing their importance is indisputable and we are never betrayed in trusting to their validity; in conforming to their principles we are banking on an unfailing certainty. Their neglect is the chief fault in the play of the average amateur; by becoming familiar with these principles he inevitably makes an important step forward in his playing strength.

But that is not enough. Chess is not a mechanical game; it appeals to and depends on the intellect. Therefore "ideas in chess" form the most important as well as the most interesting part of the game. That is why we play chess. For this reason the major portion of this book is devoted to "ideas in chess." Using technique as a starting point, we arrive, by the analysis of each position, at an understanding of its main idea, and of its distinctive features. This enables us to formulate a strategic plan. In carrying out this plan we must take advantage of any tactical possibility which may occur—that is how a chess player should think and act in the course of every game he plays.

Considerations of space have forced me to follow rather general lines, without going into all details; these might well be treated in specialised monographs.

The most important examples given in the first edition have been retained, but many new ones taken from the very latest tournament practice have been added with the object of making this study of the middle game as complete and modern as possible.


Diagram                                                   Page
                       THE ELEMENTS
   1 Study by Réti                                          6
   2 Yates-Marshall                 Carlsbad 1929           7
   3 Collins-Znosko-Borovsky        Paris 1937             26
   4 5 Capablanca-Chajes            New York 1913        31, 32

                       IDEAS IN CHESS
   7 Study by Herbstman             1935                   39
   7A Travin-Zeck                   Leningrad 1933         41
   8 Dr. Tarrasch-Janowski          Ostend 1907            43
   9 Rubinstein-Znosko-Borovsky     St. Petersburg 1909    46

                 STRATEGY AND TACTICS
  10 Leonhardt-Marshall                                    48
  11  Vergani-Teichmann             Hastings 1895          49
  12 Charousek-Süchting             Berlin 1897            52
  13  Morphy-McConnell              New Orleans 1849       59
  14, 15 Dr. Lasker-Capablanca      Match 1921           63,67
  16 Réti-Dr. Alekhine              Baden-Baden 1925       68
  17  Dr. Lasker-Showalter          Cambridge Springs 1904 69
  18 Dr. Alekhine-Tylor             Margate 1937           71
  19 Andreiev-Dolookhanow           Leningrad 1935         72
  20 Kostitsch-Znosko-Borovsky      Nice 1930              74

                     THE MIDDLE GAME
  22, 23 Heilmann-Vidmar            Barmen 1905            81
  24, 25 Capablanca-Dr. Alekhine    Nottingham 1936      82,83
  26, 27 Capablanca-Dr. Alekhine    Match 1927             84
  29  Dr. Euwe-Flohr                Match 1932             86
  30,31 Capablanca-Reshevsky        Nottingham 1936      89,90
  32  Botvinnik-Winter              Nottingham 1936        91
  33,34 Capablanca-Dr. Alekhine     Match 1927           92,93

  35  Miss Menchik-Znosko-Borovsky  London 1937            94
  36  Marshall-Capablanca           Match 1909             97
  37,38 Nimzowitsch-Capablanca      St. Petersburg 1914 100 103
  39  Dr. Lasker-Capablanca         St. Petersburg 1914    105
  40  Capablanca-Janowski           St. Petersburg 1914    112
  41  Forgacz-Dr. Tartakower        St. Petersburg 1909    116
  42  Dr. Tarrasch-Schlechter       Match 1911             118
  43  Capablanca-Dr. Bernstein      San Sebastian 1911     120

Diagram                                                   Page
              SUPERIORITY IN POSITION-rantd.

  44  Dr. Lasker-Bauer              Amsterdam 1889        122
  45  Spielmann-Réti                Abbazia 1912          122
  46  Capablanca-Marshall           Match 1909            124
  47  Botvinnik-Dr. Tartakower      Nottingham 1936       126
  48  Dr. Alekhine-Levitzki         Vilna 1912            128
  49  Botvinnik-Capablanca          Moscow 1936           132
  50  Dr. Alekhine-Rubinstein       The Hague 1921        135
  51  Botvinnik-Flohr               Moscow 1936           136
  Sz  Tchigorin-Blackburne          Hastings 1895         141
  53  Dr. Tarrasch-Mieses           Göteborg 1920         143
  54  Dr. Euwe-Dr. Alekhine         Match 1935            144

                    INFERIOR POSITIONS

  55  Mieses-Capablanca             Berlin 1913           147
  56  Dr. Tarrasch-Duras            Hamburg 1910          150
  57,58 Capablanca-Znosko-Borovsky  St. Petersburg 1913 152,154
  59  Dr. Alekhine-Dr. Euwe         Match 1937            158
  6o  Köhnlein-Dr. Tarrasch         Nuremberg 1907        160
  61  Znosko-Borovsky-Dr. Euwe      Broadstairs 1921      163
  62  Dr. Lasker-Dr. Tarrasch       Match 1908            167
  63  Dr. Lasker-Janowski           Match 1910            169
  64  Dr. Euwe-Dr. Alekhine         Match 1935            172
  65  Colle-Znosko-Borovsky         Nice 1930             174
  66  Dr. Landau-Reshevsky          Kemeri 1937           177
  67  Schlechter-Dr. Lasker         Match 1911            178
  68  Maróczy-Dr. Tarrasch          San Sebastian 1911    180

                      EVEN POSITIONS

  70  Dr. Lasker-Marshall           Match 1907            185
  71 72 Pillsbury-Dr. Tarrasch      Hastings 1895      187,193
  73  Riga-Berlin                   Correspondence 1906   197
  74  Rubinstein-Duras              Carlsbad 1911         200
  75  Schlechter-Dr. Lasker         Match 1911            205
  76  Spielmann-Dr. Tartakower      Match 1913            208
  77  Gunsberg-Przepiórka           San Remo 1911         210
  78  Duras-E. Cohn                 Carlsbad 1911         213
  79  Duras-Teichmann               Ostend 1906           215
  80  Pillsbury-Dr. Tarrasch        Monte Carlo 1903      217