Travail Pursuit #22: Anything but Quiet

 

In my experience the Giuoco Piano is anything but quiet. In fact I'd say it was more like a megaphone than a piano! This image is used under Creative Commons terms and was sourced from LaStonata's Flickr photostream

In my experience the Giuoco Piano is anything but quiet. In fact I’d say it was more like a megaphone than a piano! This image is used under Creative Commons terms and was sourced from LaStonata’s Flickr photostream

Today’s game is a really old one. We’re going back 18 years to the 15th of July 1996 and a game against a good friend and early training partner of mine. When you’re learning the game of chess it can be really helpful to have another student at the same stage of development as you learning alongside you. It means you’ll always have a sparring partner and you can share and bounce ideas off one another. When I learnt to play chess (relatively late in life at 17) I was very fortunate to be taught by a family friend who was as enthusiastic as he was skilled. I was also lucky to fall in love with the game at the same time as several school friends and in our rivalry we drove each other on to study and improve. In fact during the course of our final summer vacation four of us held a double-rounded all play all which really sharpened our competitive instincts.

When you are learning in this kind of environment there are two objectives the attainment of which provide enormous satisfaction. The first is to beat your coach and the second, rather easier in the early stages of your development, is to beat your training partner. It was several years before I beat my coach but I did have a series of entertaining training games with my good friend Simon Nicholson. Today’s game was one of the later encounters in the course of a long and turbulent rivalry at the board. Suffice to say that I’m not going to be publishing any of my defeats to Simon (!), but there are a couple of wins that still make me smile to recollect. This one makes me particularly happy because I’m still very satisfied with the quality of my play in this game.

The platform for the game was a Giuoco Piano (which is Italian for ‘Quiet Game’). This is certainly not a trendy line at any level of the game at the moment but it’s historically very rich and very, very sharp. Anything but “Quiet” in fact. Simon had introduced the opening into his repertoire with White a little while before this game and had studied the opening carefully. He’d chosen to look into the Rossolimo Variation which begins with 7.Bd2. I’d also cooked the books but had elected to play the most critical line 7.Nc3 and later 9.d5, the Moller Attack.

White to move. What's the best plan? How can White exploit the awkward placement of Black's king

White to move. What’s the best plan? How can White exploit the awkward placement of Black’s king

When we sat down to play this game I was immediately surprised to find Simon (a die-hard Scandinavian player) essay 1…e5 and immediately realised that he’d prepared for a theoretical discussion in the Giuoco Piano. The game developed very sharply and Simon indeed proved that he had prepared extensively for this game. Unfortunately he hadn’t prepared quite as extensively as I had!

Here’s (on the right) a position from a critical juncture for you to have a crack at. It’s White to play his twenty first move. The position looks appetising for him. The Black king has been forced to d8 resulting in it being very tricky for him to complete his development and connect his rooks. The passed White e-pawn is a huge thorn in Black’s flesh however… Black is a pawn up and his defences look very difficult to breach. The knight is a very effective blockader and stands guard over several key entry squares. Moreover, White must be quick because if Black is given time to play c6-Kc7 then he will be able to consolidate, complete his development and potentially, go on the counter attack. What is White’s plan and how should he proceed?

The solution is in the game viewer below but be warned, I haven’t set this game into training mode so as you play through the moves you will see the solution before you arrive at the position above.

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  1. Daily Chess News Links July 20, 2014 | blog.chesscafe.com - July 20, 2014

    […] Travail Pursuit #22: Anything but Quiet Yorkshire Chess Today’s game is a really old one. We’re going back 18 years to the 15th of July 1996 and a game against a good friend and early training partner of mine. … […]

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