Winning a Chess Game by Patience

I recently played chess with a friend from church. The results may be instructive to lower-intermediate level players and possibly to some beginners. I played white.

  1. e4        e6
  2. Nf3     Nf6     The Petroff’s Defense (also called the Russian Defense)
  3. Nxe5  Nc6?   Not a standard move, losing a pawn with little or no compensation

black just moved Nc6 (questionable)

Diagram-1 after black made the questionable move Nc6

4. Nxc6      bxc6

5. Nc3    . . . . . .

After the game, I reconsidered this move. My knight would probably have been better placed at f3, which is possible if I had played d3 on my fifth move and then Nd2 soon thereafter. As the game progressed, I realized my kingside had limited defense.

5.   . . . . .   Rb8

Moving the rook to an open file is natural in the middle game. In the opening, however, the knights and bishops should usually be developed first. In this case, black’s move Rb8 might encourage white to play b3 within the next few moves (to keep that pawn from being captured by black’s rook). That would make developing the bishop to b2 natural, giving it a wonderful diagonal, which would not be in black’s best interest.

black just moved a rook to b8

Diagram-2 after black moved Rb8

6. Bc4      d5

7. exd5    cxd5

8. Bb5+  . . . . .

White is a pawn ahead in this opening

Diagram-3 after white moved Bb5+

I anticipated that black would move Bd7. I was happy to trade those light-squared bishops, for I planned on putting my queen on f3, pointing at the white squares e4 and d5 without any worries about any white-squared black bishop messing with my queen. I felt that I could be patient, improving my position slowly, with patience, for I was a pawn ahead.

8.   . . . . .   Bd7

9.  Bxd7+  Qxd7

10. d3        Bd6

11. O-O      O-O

transition from opening to middle game

Diagram-4 transition from opening to middle game

By this time, I realized that my king side had little defense and that black had two minor pieces and a queen that might be able to mount an attack against my king. And I still had not developed my remaining bishop, as it sat defending my pawn at b2. I decided to get my queen into play immediately, preventing black from getting his queen to f5 by putting my own queen at f3.

12. Qf3      c6

13. b3        Rfe8

black just moved Rfe8

Diagram-5 after white moved Rfe8

This was about the time I noticed potential problems in the placement of some of my pieces. In particular, after I develop my bishop I would like to move a rook to e1. But if my opponent moves Bb4, my knight would then be pinned. That would be awkward for me because of the threat of black’s d5 pawn advancing. There could be solutions to those problems, but I wanted to find a way to prevent those problems if possible. I don’t want to be on the defensive if there’s any reasonable way to avoid it.

I found a move that could keep my opponent from playing Bb4. I attacked his knight, thinking this would have to put him on the defensive.

14. Bg5   . . . . . .

white moved the bishop to g5

Diagram-6 after white moved Bg5

Only after the game, as I replayed it, would I see what my opponent could have done here: Be5, pinning my knight. I could have defended my knight with Bd2, of course, but my opponent would have had the initiative.

14. . . . . .   Ng4   Apparently failing to see the better move of Be5

15.  Bf4     . . . .    Black now seems to have no chance of a successful attack on my king

white just moved Bf4

Diagram-7 after white moved Bf4

I was hoping to exchange bishops at this point in the game. My opponent’s pieces are too active for my taste. He did not have to capture my bishop, in this position. He could have left it at d3 and doubled his rooks on the e-file. He might have tried Bb4, with complicated possibilities of exchanges. But he made life easier on me: He traded bishops.

15.  . . . .    Bxf4

16. Qxf4   d4

all bishops have now been exchanged

Diagram-8 after black moved a pawn to d4

I think that pushing the black pawn to d4 was a mistake. It drives the white knight away from a square on which it appeared to have only one purpose: protecting the e2 square from encroachment from a black rook. Yet white may soon put that knight on g3, if necessary, again protecting e2. White now gets control of the e4 square, and the white knight becomes active.

17. Ne4      f6    Perhaps black moved the pawn to f6 to keep the white knight off g5

chess position after pawn to f6

Diagram-9 after black moved f6

My next objective was to exchange rooks by contesting rook-control of the e-file, for winning an end game with a one-pawn advantage is much easier with no rooks on the board. I was convinced my king was in no danger now.

18. Rfe1      Re5

Re5 was a questionable chess move

Diagram-10 after black moved Re5

I never expected my opponent to put that rook in the middle of the board. What use could it be there? By moving Re5, he himself put that piece in a pin, for moving that rook anywhere other than where it came from (e8) would allow my queen to capture the other rook with check.

19. h3       Qf5?

Black's Qf5 lost a piece

Diagram-11 after black played Qf5

My opponent seems to have miscalculated in playing Qf5, for after the exchange of queens he loses his knight without compensation.

20. Qxf5      Rxf5

21. hxg4     . . . . .

The game lasted for many more moves before my opponent resigned, but the technique for winning such an endgame is easy for intermediate-level tournament players, for the defender cannot contest rook control of the e-file without the exchange of rooks. Being a knight and pawn ahead made the outcome, from this point, an assured win for white, although it does take patience.

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