STRATEGY UNIVERSITY

VOLUME 3 POSITIONAL PAWN SACRIFICE

by

ADRIAN MIKHAILCHISHIN

 

 

There are many reasons why a pawn can be sacrificed, and most of these fall under a tactical umbrella when the pawn is given up as part of an attacking or defending combination. 

Giving up a pawn  to gain a positional advantage is somewhat more uncommon  but having a knowledge of this possibility is very essential.  Many positional pawn sacrifices are played in the opening such as the King's Gambit where White does not gain an immediate advantage but has set a scene where in the short term he has gained an advantage in space or some other positional plus, the effect of which may take some time to mature.  However, this DVD does not deal in recognised gambits but rather positions that arise mainly in the early middle-game at which point a positional pawn sacrifice will yield an advantage.

In order to bring about such a transformation, it is necessary to make an assessment of the position resulting from the sacrifice and determine its value in compensation.

Mikhalchisin studies and provides examples of pawn sacrifices that produce the following strategical advantages:

Keeping opponent's king in the centre.

Elimination of the initiative.

Preventing opponent from castling.

Control of long diagonal.

Developing the initiative.

Central piece development

Diverting play from the centre to the kingside

etc.

As one of the examples of obtaining control of a diagonal by a pawn sacrifice, Michalchishin uses the game Kotov- Gligoric, Zurich Candidates Tournament of 1953, during which after Black's 16th move the following position arose:

This is the result of a Mar del Plata variation of the King's Indian Defence, in which Gligoric had sacrificed his d-pawn to achieve a complete blockade of White's position.  White was forced into a pretty desperate defence which had to be extremely precise to avoid the loss.

Black maintained the blockade and the game continued-

17.Nxe5 Qxe5, 18.0-0-0 Nf6, 19.h3 Bd7, 20.Bd3 a6 and Kotov hung on until it was demonstrated that Black could no longer win.

Michalchisin gives a complete and entertaining commentary on the conclusion of the game and this is in common with the remainder of the examples - how the sacrifice was made and then exploited is explained in great detail.

I found this provocative commentary so interesting that I sought the game in other sources, to compare the commentaries.  This, I believe, is the test of the quality of the Fritztrainer series, to be stimulated enough to search out further comments and opinions etc.  Whether you view these DVD's for entertainment or education you can always measure the value by such stimulation. 

There are over four hours of commentary on this subject given in 26 lectures and covering 60 games that are also included as a database to be played over at one's leisure.  The database is always an important addition as this allows one to examine more closely the theme and the explanations supplied with the aid of a chess engine. Another plus with this DVD is that many of the games given are modern although I am sure that other vintage examples could have been included.

Although Strategy University is a series, each DVD is a stand-alone and can be played without bothering about references to other subjects.

The quality of this DVD is as high as we have become to expect from ChessBase and is well priced at 26.95.

Apart from this appraisal of another very fine ChessBase Fritztrainer DVD, I would like to draw attention to a development on the ChessBase website that has gone largely unheralded but is undoubtedly a massive advance in the sale of their products.   I am referring to the gradual introduction of a download facility that now virtually covers all their products.  Many other chess sites have for some time marketed their products with a download option.  These have been very unreliable for one reason or another i.e. a slow download rate or other transmission problems that have manifested in a poor or even inoperable programme.  Gratefully, this has not occurred with the ChessBase download system.  It would seem that they have very carefully thought through this option and produced a system that is far superior to any other system that I have experienced.

Very recently, to test the system, I downloaded Efstratios Grivas' dissertation on mastering strategy.  This is 1.4 GB but less than an hour after I had confirmed the order, the product was on my hard drive in pristine  condition.  Having regard for the fact that because of the rural area that I live in is cursed with a very slow broadband speed, this result is quite amazing.  Furthermore, there were no hitches during the transmission that resulted in having to stop and restart the download or to abort it altogether in order to start again.  The whole transaction was well documented and would allow easy recourse in the very unlikely occurrence of a problem.  Should a problem arise, one can always backtrack and get to the source of the download without having to wait for some one on the other end to have time to sort the problem.  This is a very slick and obviously a very well thought out system.

During recent months I have become increasingly immobile but this has had its compensation in that further time has been afforded me during which I have been able to plumb the depths of many chess programmes etc.  This has convinced me that ChessBase products are, in terms of quality, interest and after sales service, head and shoulders above any its competitors. 

Why not try this yourself?

Go to chessbase.com and visit the shop.  There you will find many DVD's that can be downloaded and provide you with hours of entertainment that cuts out the agonising pause that is inevitable when waiting for a DVD to plop through your letter box.