Chess Strategy: Importance of centre

Chess Strategy: Importance of centre


Hello everyone! Let’s see in this video, a famous game played between Akiba Rubinstein and Carl Schlechter, played in San Sebastian in the year 1912. Akiba Rubinstein was White and he started with 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 c5 so called Tarrasch Defense and 5.cxd5. That was the main weapon of Rubinstein against very popular players. Tarrasch defense in those years..Black answered with 5…Nxd5 in case of exd5 Rubinstein liked to play g3-Bg2 with Bg5 organizing pressure against weak pawn d5. But Nxd5 led to completely different system and completely different pawn structure. Generally in that variation, after Nxd5 White has comfortable possibility to gain space and control center after e4 which happened. And after Nxc3, bxc3… Bd2 and Qa5. Carl Schlechter was very well known for his fine positional play and he very rarely actually lost games in that period. Qa5 happened and what’s the idea of that move? Simply activating queen intending to reduce
material which is natural because White has already built pawn center with e4 and d4. With lack of space, generally you should go for exchanging pieces
and simplifying position. And now very important moment..very amazing move was found in that moment by Rubinstein. What happened? Bb4 is an option and in that
position white is slightly better because he has strong center and already activated knight, king will be placed e3 and after full coordination of his pieces and controlling center, White will have better prospect in endgame. But Rubinstein found deeper and much better move. Rb1 – forcing black to take Bxd2 and to
exchange. That can be also happened after a3 Bxd2, Qxd2, but a3 is not important move for white while same time Rb1 is very important. Well, Black must take. In case of Nc6, Rxb4 and after that Qb3 taking knight with much better position
for a white..almost already winning, I think. Black took,. Now comparing that position with position
after Bb4, Qxb4, Qd2 White has extra tempo. Because after Rb1 Black is forced to take first. And now Black did mistake of 0-0. Now, let’s stop for a moment. Why mistake? Simply queens are not on the board and even 2 bishops and 2 knights are exchanged and Black should go for Ke7. King should stay in center. Black is safe there and king on g8 will be so out of battlefield. Castling happened and now let’s stop for a moment. In that position, White played one of the best positional moves I’ve ever seen. What’s the point? There are many possibilities for White. Generally White should make pressure on Black’s undeveloped queenside using rooks on b and c-file, activating bishop maybe Ne5 and maybe even with creating passed pawn on e-file..so many good options for instance Be2 Bc4, Ke3 or maybe Bd3. But in that position White played brilliant move – Bb5! Looks like a waste of time because black
will play a6 and bishop must go back that was the point. Black must play a6
but that will make weakness on b6 So after a6, Bd3 and of course White could play Bd3 immediately but then will not be weakness on b6. After Bb5, Black cannot play Nc6 because White will take and after Ne5, White will be much better because Blace will have isolated pawn on c6 which will soon be lost and also Black bishop on c8 will be very passive. Bb5 also prevents Nd7 and Bd7 because after exchanging, b7-pawn will be lost. Well a6. What else! Now Bd3, Rd8 and Rhc1. If Black plays for instance Bd7, b7-pawn is lost. If Nc6 simply Ke3 will happen and Black still cannot play Rb8 because
Rxc6. Bd7 is also forbidden because b7 is hanging. and soon there will be problems for black. a6 doesn’t control b6 anymore so black
cannot play b6. That pawn will be lost. With pawn on a7, Black will go for b6 and Ba6 or Bb7. But basically Ba6 simplifying position, reducing material which will be good for him. After a6 Black cannot
play b6 so he must play b5 but now pawns are on lightsquares. In some moment, White can maybe even crush Black’s pawn structure on queenside.For instance, Black bishop is on b7, White can play a4 and using pinned pawn on b5, White will finally capture pawn on b5 for free. Even if Black bishop doesn’t go to b7 Black pawns on a6 and b5 are very weak and as you can see neither a5 nor b4 is possible because one of them will be lost in that case. White continues with Rc7 and now see..very instructive position! Black only advanced pawns. All his pieces are on the rim..on th 8th rank and still very passive. All White’s pieces, even king, 2 rooks, bishop and knight are very well-placed in center and pawns d4 and e4 make perfect shield so White just set pieces behind that pawns and controlling all important squares in center. Nd7, Ke3. Black must do something.There is no other way to activate his queenside pieces and he decided to play Nf6. Idea is Bd7 and then maybe Ne8 or Rc8 simplifying position. And also in some moment, Ng4+. So White just played Ne5 – perfect move! Not only preventing Ng4 but also centralizing knight and attacking f7. Black decided to play Bd7 of course, White is not interested in exchanging perfect knight
for that bad bishop and plays g4 – perfect move! That f6-knight is not stable. It protects d7-bishop. And Black decided to play h6 stopping White’s g5. Naturally white should insist on g5, gaining space and attacking that knight, sending it to rim. But how to do that? There are 2 possibilities. f4 and h4. Now you should take some time by pausing the video to try to make a decision – f4 or h4? Well, now I will explain what is better. After h4 and g5, Black will take and h-file will be open. If f4, something similar will happen and the only difference is the open file. After f4 and g5, hxg5, fxg5, f-file will be open. And now you should think about it – which file can bring more to you? Well, on h-file there is no object of attack. White can maybe double rooks on h-file but that will take so much time. f4 is much better because after f4, g5, hxg5, fxg5, Rf1 can attack f7-pawn..very weak and object of attack for White. Be8 making bishop safe. White continues with his plan of g5. Nh7 and h4. Once again, all Black pieces are on the rim..on 8th rank and knight on h-file. White pieces are even more dangerous now. Knight is on e5 attacking f7. Black king is in danger. Knight is restricted..can go to f8 but after Rf1, big problems for Black! Rdc8, simplifying position. Of course White just doubles. Rxc7, Rxc7 and Rd8. Black was afraid of advancing d-pawn and of course very dangerous, simply d4-d5-d6-d7 is very dangerous threat and Black decided to stop that. But now after Ra7, simply White starts to convert his positional advantage into material advantage. f6. That’s good strategy. If your in worse position, you should reduce material especially exchanging pawns. That will give chance to make them good but in that position, there is problem because f6 will make his king’s position unsafe. So White just takes. Black takes and Ng4! Dangerous threat is Nh6 and after Bh5, Nh6+, king must go to h8 because if Kf8, h7-knight will be lost. And now Black pieces are on h-file and 8th rank. Now Be2, attacking Black’s bishop. Of course,Bxe2 leads to Nf7+. Bishop goes back and finally White takes a pawn. White first decided to play Be2 and now after Kg7, knight was plcaed on g4. f5 – once again Black continues to exchange as many pawns as he can but e5-square is weak now. And White’s knight uses that immediately. Ra7+, Kh8, Ne5., fxe4. What can White do now? Kxe4 of course, will be okay and natural move but Bb5 is much better. Once again, bishop deflects opponent bishop because after Bxb5, Nf7+ will win the game immediately. Bb5, Nf6 and now finally White exchanges bishops. If Ne8, Nf7 of course. Black decided to play Re8. And now White can win the game by advancing a-pawn. Black’s knight must stay on f6 because White wants to play Ng6. h5-h6 with Rg8#..just to show what is White’s intention and.. Rg7#. So if Black knight must stay there, a4 will be good choice but Kf4 is even better. What’s the point? White king goes to g6 or h6 with the idea of helping knight and rook to mate opponent king. Kg8 happened. King avoids some checks and now see..Ra7 is perfect, controlling 7th rank. King is very bad on g8 and there is no escape Kg5, Black tried with Rf8 but Kg6. There is no defense against Rg7 and Nf7 winning the game. We saw in that game how Rubinstein punished Black very effectively for his negligence over fighting for central squares. Everything started with perfect move Rb1, remember that! Black was forced to exchange pieces and Black in that moment, did another mistake by missing Ke7 and playing 0-0. Finally, few moves later White’s rooks penetrates on 7th rank and during the entire game starting from move number 10, all Black pieces remaining on board were very passive and on the rim of the board. While same time, all White pieces were very perfectly placed in center behind White’s central pawns e4 and d4. So neglecting center in middlegame and opening can simply lead to disaster. That’s very instructive and very illustrative example on that topic. During the entire game, White cared about center and Black neglected his central activities. So winning position for White was achieved after 20 moves. Simply that was very reasonable result of that game. I hope you enjoyed that game. That magnificent play from Akiba Rubinstein and see you soon with new examples! Bye-bye 🙂

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