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LibertyJack's Chess Notebook
Compiled by libertyjack

Here are positional motifs that I found interesting and worth remembering. They usually fit in my opening repertoire and I will link them with the openings I play.

It's kind of my version of <Botvinnik famous notepads>

I will try to repertoriate various thematic positional motifs that I came across using the database. I will try to discuss the following patterns.

Development Development is the key to chess. And it's also one of the difference between good and bad players that often don't <really> understand development. 'You should always seek to develop your pieces, and at every stage of the game (even in the endgame)'

Pawn break/Pawn structure A pawn break is a pawn move which creates a tension between your pawns and the opponent's pawns. Pawn breaks is a key element of positional play. Often, some moves are thematic for a certain kind of pawn structure. I will mention them. I will show you typical game, example games that you should have in mind while playing.

Pawn sacrifice A gambit is the sacrifice of a pawn in the first 5-6 moves and is usually known by theory and well-analyzed. A pawn sacrifice is in my opinion something more noble, where there is more place for innovation, imagination and genius. Pawn sacrifices have always fascinated me.

Piece sacrifice A sacrifice, according to Spielmann's great book are non-calculated sacrifice, intuitive ones, that don't regain the material, or don't mate (those are just combinations), but sacrifice for which the compensation is of more subtle nature, more human, and less computer-ish

Others It's a move that don't fit in the other categories but that is still an extremely instructive one

I will mention all this instructive motifs according to my repertoire, so that I can remember them while playing games.

I) Game Collection: White Repertoire: 1. e4

II) Game Collection: Black Repertoire: 1. e4 e5

III) Game Collection: Black Repertoire: 1. d4 d5

IV) Game Collection: Black Repertoire: 1. c4 e5

V) Game Collection: Black Repertoire: Flank Openings

VI) Others - they don't fit in my repertoire but are still interesting


I) Game Collection: White Repertoire: 1. e4

Karpov vs Nunn, 1982


Karpov vs H Westerinen, 1974


Karpov vs Larsen, 1987


II) Game Collection: Black Repertoire: 1. e4 e5

click for larger view

Pawn structure

White to play K A Martin vs Hebden, 2009


Saemisch vs Alekhine, 1943


S Bouaziz vs Karpov, 1982


III) Game Collection: Black Repertoire: 1. d4 d5

Gruenfeld vs Alekhine, 1922


VI) Others

click for larger view

White to play W So vs Shirov, 2011

Pawn structure

User: Gilmoy: <<fyjx: what was wrong with taking on e4 on move 21?> Nothing; it was a free pawn. But taking Shirov's pawn causes fire on board!!

With a good move in hand, sit on your hands and look deeper. Why does Black think the e4-pawn expendable? Possibly 21.Qxe4 c5! prevents Bd6, plus Black gets a monster Bc6, with long-term threats at g2. Short-term, it wins two tempi (22.Rh3 g6 is pointless: Black will already do this to prevent f5), which allows Rd8 winning the d-file.

Hence, the real struggle is for open d, and e4 is almost irrelevant. <21.Rff1!> threatens to annex d for Bd6, and now it's Black's Q-R that must play dodgeball: he has no time for 21..c5 22.R(either)d1. <21..Bg6> seems to solve two problems: protects e4 and allows Rfd8. But now Black's B is on an utterly passive diagonal, and is just a big pawn, while White wins the race to play <22.c5> himself. After <27.Rfd1>, compare White's RR+B to Black's, and ask yourself: which would I rather have, this or a pawn?

We race to double rooks because of the Fourth Law of the Rook: we're really racing to <get behind the pawn chain>: either fork sideways on 7, or from behind on 8. Why grub for Pe4 now, when you can leisurely eat a-b-c later.

It's fitting that the Pe4 is still there at the end of the game. White left it there deliberately, just to congest Black's B. The opponent's own pawn is the best blockader in the game!>


Black to play Karpov vs M Gurevich, 2000

Pawn break


Keeping the tension

A collection which speaks about the bad habit of club players "Realeasing the tension". Very strong players often never realease the tension for the whole game, because tension is often what can keep the game alive.

Here's an interesting article by GM Nigel Davies:

Here's a very good video by GM Smirnov:

L Shamkovich vs Bronstein, 1961


Sublte Queen Moves

Subtle queen moves that put pressure on the thiniest weakness of your opponent's position have the power to stress and to pressurize him at the same time. Because of its power, the way it moves, the queen has this unique capacity of creating threats by making a little step, and to repeat this step until your adversary cracks.

Michael Adams and Vassily Smislov are great exponents of the "Subtle Queen Move" technique, because they can feel the pieces so well.

This moves are very easy to miss, because you don't always think about moving your queen only of one or two squares.

Smyslov vs Pachman, 1947

Compensation: open lines
Matulovic vs Taimanov, 1965 
(B28) Sicilian, O'Kelly Variation, 39 moves, 0-1

W So vs Shirov, 2011 
(D11) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 59 moves, 1-0

Petrosian vs Kurajica, 1981
(A17) English, 40 moves, 1-0

M W Johnson vs T Niessen, 1996 
(B21) Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4, 38 moves, 0-1

Rossolimo vs T van Scheltinga, 1950 
(B17) Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation, 55 moves, 1-0

Fischer vs E Travis, 1964 
(C78) Ruy Lopez, 21 moves, 1-0

Areshchenko vs Yusupov, 2005 
(C42) Petrov Defense, 26 moves, 0-1

Plaskett vs Yusupov, 1993
(A07) King's Indian Attack, 36 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Hecht, 1962 
(E12) Queen's Indian, 49 moves, 1-0

9 games

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