We were discussing Which is stronger – Bishop or Knight in our previous post. In this part – Which is stronger – Bishop or Knight – Part – 2, I am going to show you a classic game played between Gligoric and Trifunovic in which Knight is proved to be superior than a Bishop. This is somewhat an achievement!
This caught my eye as something that deserves a separate post as a ready reckoner for this topic.
Which is stronger – Bishop or Knight
Gligoric vs Trifunovic
You can post your doubts, if any!
Let us look at a position that shows an excellent positional sacrifice. Such examples help us understand the concept of a positional sacrifice – which means giving away a higher value piece for the enemy’s lower value piece to attain a good advantage for a win or at times a draw (in case the game seems lost).
Excellent Positional Sacrifice
At first sight, White’s chances are preferable. He has two bishops, and although the one at b2 is passive, it is free to come into play via c1. Black’s pawn majority on the queen-side is ephemeral (the move b4 doesn’t give anything in particular), whereas White is ready for activity in the centre.
He can first strengthen his position by the advance of the h-pawn, but White’s main aim is the e5-e6 breakthrough. This threat is highly unpleasant and it is not altogether clear how to combat it.
But on a close examination of the placing of the black pieces and the features of the position, it will be noticed that its evaluation could change if the black knight were able to occupy the d5 – square.
Here the knight not only blocks the d4 – pawn, but also takes away some good squares from the white pieces (for example, f4 from the queen).
However, it is not so easy for the knight to reach d5: for this the rook has to move from e7.
For example, 25…Ra7!? – after 26. e6 f6 27. Bf3 Ne7 everything is still far from clear; in any event, there is no apparent way of forcibly exploiting the powerful passed pawn.
Black retains control of the light squares, and even if the pawn should advance to e7, the g6 – bishop can come to the rescue. But this would have been falling in with White’s plans!
And Black makes a move which many players, unfamiliar with this games, would consider a blunder and at which the computer would ‘laugh its heart out’ if it had one!.
The move is indeed incredible: the rook simply place itself en-prise. For the sake of what? In order to block the advance of the pawn and also to open the way for the knight to d5.
In this position, Black played 25… Re6!!.
Let us ponder over the position and ask us ourselves:
Why should a rook be stronger than a minor piece here?
After all, a rook requires open lines, it needs to have something to attack, whereas minor pieces require strong points and pawn support.
In the given instance there is a shortage of open lines, and it is no longer possible to prevent the knight from reaching d5, where it will be impregnable. In addition, from d5 the knight will be attacking the c3 – pawn, and if the white bishop does not manage to switch to d2, it will remain ‘vegetating’ at b2.
It is practically impossible to break Black’s light square defenses; white simply does not have sufficient resources to do so.
Thus, when this staggering move is made on the board, we can understand perfectly well the reasons that induced Black to give up the exchange, and we can grasp the deep strategic meaning of what has occurred.
After 25… Re6, White played 26. a4. An attempt, by creating tension on the queen-side, to open lines and exploit the exchange advantage. The game was agreed to a draw after 41 moves.
This game featuring an excellent Positional Sacrifice was played between S. Reshevsky and T. Petrosian, Candidates Tournament, Zurich 1953.
A wild game of Chess that swung both ways was played between Lilienthal and Ragozin. White played fantastically, playing on both sides. Black was dancing with all his pieces!
I will be posting more such good games that happen to catch my fancy.
The path to chess improvement lies in finding your weakest area of knowledge and placing all of your effort into converting it into a strength. My greatest weakness is an apprehension, bordering on fear, of delving into deep calculations and analysis. This analytical deficiency affects both my combinational and analysis in over the board play , and unless I work to improve these skills, any future chess improvement will be difficult. You tend to avoid or procrastinate working on your weakest area and this is part of the reason why you lack proficiency, since you do not exert the necessary effort in mastering the material that gives you trouble.
Strengthening Your Weaknesses
Whatever your weaknesses may be, you must identify them and apply great effort and patient focus to turn them into strengths. Here are some ideas in converting your weaknesses into strengths:
- Focus – Give all of your attention to your training, and eliminate distractions when studying.
- Practice – Practice daily, but create a varied training schedule that provides you with a fresh perspective every time you train. Your practice should revolve around material that address your weakest area.
- Effortful Study – Always give 100% during every training session, and do not hesitate to cross your comfort zone during each training session. Each session should build upon the last either in intensity or difficulty.
- Play – Playing allows you to transfer the knowledge and skills picked up in your training environment to real over the board play.
- Integrate thought process into your practice.
Discovering Your Weaknesses
If you are unsure as to which areas you need to work on the most the following tips might help you to identify the weaknesses in your game:
- Review your games with a teacher or a stronger player.
- Perform the Khmelnitsky Chess Exam to find your weak areas.
- If you are unable to find a stronger player or a teacher, go over a minimum of 10 of your long games. Do a first pass of the game on your own, and then have a chess engine review it. Determine why you lost each of these games, and create a training plan to address the top 1-2 weaknesses you discover.
My Training Modifications
- Spend 80% of my study time working on analytical positions that require both analysis and calculation.
- Continue my tactics study program.
- Play long games that allow the time necessary to work on my thought process as well as the training of analysis and combinational skills.
- Play over annotated master games using “Guess the Move” method.
- Use a physical board for the majority of my training.
Most of you may have experienced this phenomenon whilst playing chess – you may have spotted a beautiful combination like say a smothered mate and you did a quick cross check. You realized that this was your moment of glory and that you could after all play like Tal. Chances are – it may not be the best playable move. Who knows it may even be an outright blunder! When you see a Tactic… and rush headlong in it only to realize that it was a mirage, what do you do?
And worse is when your opponent has seen the tactic that you have just noticed, and also knows the refutation, that may either destroy your position or the game.
When you see a Tactic – Here is one tip that I believe all Chess players must remember to improve their tactical strokes.
Pause: When you spot a tactic, pause and visualize your combination. The time spent calculating is worth the wait as you will be playing in a winning position if your move was actually a winning one and if the move is not good then atleast your position will not deteriorate.
It seems to me that for most of the time that we see a tactic and quickly rush to play it, that we may have overseen something really basic in the calculations such as –
- The opponent has a subtle intermezzo or in-between move that causes us to fail in our tactical expectations.
- The combination can easily be refuted either by a counter sacrifice or a non-acceptance of the sacrificed piece causing a big change in the expected outcome.
- The move is easily and simply refuted, and results in a inferior position, one that is very easy for the opponent to convert to a win.
So when you see a tactic, remember this adage – “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. So my suggestion is to not rush to play it. Pause for a moment, and calculate the ramifications of the combination- it is after all a critical moment .