Reviewing my games from the 2006-7 season I was struck by how frequently positions occurred where one side might seek to exploit an opponent’s unguarded piece. I would like
In this position White played 14 c4
...when the White Queen is lost. Instead, after 15.Rfe1, play continued: 15...Be7 16.Ne4 Rb8 preventing 17 b4 and improving the coordination of his pieces.
Wise,D - Smith,D
White has sacrificed both his 'e' and 'f' pawns to build up a strong attack on the King's side.
Play continued: 14.Bxe4 fxe4 15.Ng5 Threatening 16 Bxg7 Kxg7 17 Ncxe4, winning quickly. Black replied 15...Bf5 and after 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Qf4 his position seemed very precarious in view of the positions of his Bishop and Knight. However, he was able to keep his position afloat with 17...h6 18.Nh3
18 Qxf5 Qxf5 19 Rxf5 hxg5 20 Rxg5+ Kh6 21 Rf5 would lead to a fairly level ending. And now 18...Kg6 which enabled Black to protect the Bishop on f5 with his King. Black now threatens to consolidate with 19...Qe5 so White played 19.Qxd6 Without attempting further analysis, the remaining moves were 19...Rad8 20.Nf4+ Kg7 21.Qe7 Rfe8 22.Ne6+ Kg6 23.Nf4+ Kg7 ½–½
Killick,A - Smith,D
White has just played 18.Qc2-d3 which I was able to meet with 18...d5 as 19.Bxd5 would lose to 19...Ba4 (loose pieces again). After 19.Bb3 Rc8 20.Nd4 Na4 White wisely refrained from 21 Bxd5 as 21...Nc5 is very strong for Black (22.Qf3 Bxd4 23.cxd4 Nd3+ or 22.Qc4 Ba4). After 21.N2f3 Nc5 22.Qc2
White was now threatening to capture the d-pawn. I will give the remaining moves of this games as it shows how difficult it can be to exploit a pawn advantage against a resourceful opponent. You might like to consider whether Black's strategical play could have been improved (answer at the end of the article). 22...Bc6 23.Nxc6 bxc6 24.Nd4 Qd6 25.f3 Rfe8 26.Qd2
26...Ne6 27.Nxe6 Rxe6 28.Rxe6 fxe6 29.Kb1 Qc7 30.h4 Bf8 31.g5 Bc5 32.h5 Be3 33.Qd3 Qf7 34.hxg6 Qxg6 35.Bc2 Qxd3 36.Bxd3 Rc7 37.Rh1 Rg7 38.Rh5 e5 39.g6 hxg6 40.Rxe5 Kf7 ½–½
Smith,D - Stevens,B
Black saw the possibility of winning a pawn and played 26...Bxc6 27.Nxc6 Rxd1 28.Qxd1 Bxc3
This last move, however, was a fatal error. After 29.Qd3 Be5 30.Qh7 f6 31.Qh8+
Black resigned. 1–0
Smith,D - Walton,C
In this type of position Black can often effectively play ...g5, followed by ...Nh5 and then either ...Nxg3 or ...Nf4. Black did in fact play 10...g5 but after 11.Bg3 he continued with 11 ...Qe7 realising that 11...Nh5 loses a pawn after the surprising 12.Bxe5
Smith,D - Appleyard,D
Here the unguarded Queen on d6 is a source of potential danger for Black; less obviously the loose Bishop might also be at risk.
After 16.c3 Black retreated the Knight to c6 16...Nc6 [16...Qd5 would have been met with 17.Be4 with the forced sequence 17...Qxg5 18.Bxb7 Rb8 19.Qa4+ Ke7 20.Qxa7 Nb5 21.Qb6 Nd6 22.Qc7+ Kf6 23.Qxd6 Rxb7 This position is not actually as strong for White as it might appear on first sight so White might look for improvements along the way, such as playing 20.f4 before continuing with 21.Qxa7. In the game, 16..Nc6 allowed] 17.Bg6 Qxd1 18.Bxf7+ Ke7
[Black might have tried 18...Kf8 19.Raxd1 h6 as there are some ways for White to go wrong; for example 20.Rd7 (20.Nxe6+ Kxf7 21.Rd7+ Kf6 22.Rxb7 Rhe8) 20...hxg5 21.Rxb7 Nd8 In each of these variations White comes out a piece down. White's best continuation is the simple 20 Ne4 when he will finish at least a pawn up with a strong position (20...Kxf7 21 Rb7+ or 20...Nd8 21Bg6). As these variations show, 17 Bg6 is effective only because the Bishop on b7 is loose, as well as the Queen on d6. The game continued...] 19.Raxd1 Kf6 [19...h6 can be met by 20.Rxe6+ Kf8 21.Rd7 as 21...Bc8 or 21...Nd8 now allow 22 Re8 mate while 21...hxg5 22.Rxb7 Nd8 allows 23.Re8# ]
20.Rxe6+ Kxg5 21.Rd5+
In the Killick - Smith game, Black made the wrong strategic decision when he played 26 …Ne6 allowing Knights to be exchanged. He would have had better winning chances after 26 …Bxd4 as his Knight would have been a more effective Minor piece than White’s Bishop.
Thank you very much David; an extremely instructive article, I’m sure readers will agree!