The Minority Attack | Chess Middlegames

The Minority Attack | Chess Middlegames


Hi everyone, Stjepan here! In this middlegame video I’m going to cover
the first strategic idea for the middlegame. Thus far I’ve been covering general principles
in the middlegame, and from here on, I’m going to be going over a lot of ideas, specific
ideas which you could apply to your middlegame play. Today I’m going to talk about the minority
attack. The minority attack is something that changed
chess theory a lot, and before the minority attack was employed, which was sometime in
the early 20th century, late 19th century, some openings were thought to be unsound;
such as the exchange Caro-Kann, and people thought that white was simply better there. When the minority attack was discovered, well,
people basically realized that the side with less pawns on the queenside has a fighting
chance. My last video in the middlegame series was
on pawn majorities, and especially queenside pawn majorities and why the side with the
majority is better, because it’s easier to create a passed pawn, and the minority attack
can be a very strong weapon to stop that. So remember that the minority attack is a
strategic idea which could win you a lot of games or save you a lot of games. So what is a minority attack? The minority attack arises when you have a
pawn minority on the queenside, and your opponent has the majority, and you attack the majority
of pawns with your minority of pawns to wreck the pawn structure and to destroy the pawn
structure for the opposing player. And also to create structural weaknesses. Now, what can happen? White advances his pawns, hoping either to
isolate the b and the d pawn, or isolate the c pawn and make it a new weakness on the board. It might be hard to imagine that this structure
is much weaker than this one, but, basically, if white plays this correctly, he could create
structural weaknesses which could then be targeted afterwards, and he also gets to dissolve
his minority of pawns which could be weak in an endgame. Now, one thing that is very important to highlight
is that the minority attack doesn’t work if there are no pieces on the board. Because if you… Ok, lets see this in practice. A3, white pushes the pawn, a5, black stops
that, b4, axb4, axb4, lets give black a move, b5, attacking the weakness, and now whatever
black does, if he takes here then these two pawns are isolated. I said this works with pieces on the board,
so your best bet is to put the rook on b1 to be able to recapture here. But you see that the b pawn and the d pawn
are isolated in this position, and that this is just a mess, and if you compare this position
to this position, then this is clearly worse for black. Now, the best move, of course, after b5, is
just to ignore that and for black to play something else on the other side of the board,
and now after bxc6, bxc6, this c pawn is a weakness. You can find numerous games where this pawn
has been brilliantly exploited, and, this came from the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Two openings from which the minority attack
arises most commonly are the QGD, the Queen’s Gambit Declined and the Exchange Caro-Kann. The structure is perfectly symmetrical, just
opposed, you can see that here. So this is Queen’s Gambit Declined pawn structure,
and this is the Caro-Kann Exchange pawn structure. So, let me just show you both in practice. After d4, Nf6, c4, e6, Nf3, d5, the Queen’s
Gambit Declined, Nc3, Nbd7, cxd5, exd5, Bg5, c6, you have this pawn structure. Once white plays e3, this is now the pawn
structure we were looking for. You can see it here. Ok, so it’s exactly the same. And this is the pawn structure which allows
white to play for a minority attack. Now, of course, it’s hard to imagine this
position, this far ahead, but, it could easily become similar to that. And, I’m going to show you one example game
in which white used the minority attack brilliantly and won. And the second pawn structure I wanted to
talk about is the Caro-Kann Exchange pawn structure. So e4, c6, d4, d5, exd5, cxd5, c3, and after
the move Nc6, Bf4, lets say this happens, black is going to move his pawn forward and
have the exact same plan. A6, Rb8, b5, so this is the pawn structure. You can see that it’s completely identical
after the move e6, ok, lets put it on in this position. So, after e6 you can see that this structure
is completely the same and it allows for black to push through with a minority attack on
the queenside. So it could happen for either side. Now, of course, the minority attack doesn’t
only come from the Queen’s Gambit Declined or the Caro-Kann Exchange, it could, in theory,
come from any opening in which the pawns aren’t exchanged on the queenside, and in which one
side is left with now less than two pawns and one side with no less than three pawns,
but, most commonly it arises from these openings in which the exchange of pawns happens in
this manner. So now lets see the minority attack in practice. I play the Caro-Kann myself so I find this
very useful. I’m going to show you one of my games. This was a game I played. It was actually a blitz game online, or a
rapid game online. It wasn’t a tournament game, but I started
my idea soon and you can see the minority attack in practice. I’m just going to run through the opening,
this is all theory. Ok, Ok, in this position my opponent can’t
really take on b7 if you’re wondering because of Qb7, Rb8, and black is better. So this doesn’t really work. So in this position he played h3, Nf6, Nf3,
0-0, 0-0, and here I start my minority attack. How do you start that? First of all, you need to use your pieces
as well, because once you push your pawn to b4, once your pawn gets to b4 you need to
be able to recapture that. So, in this position I played Rab8, and my
plan is as follows: whatever white does, I’m going to play a6, b5, b4, ok? Whatever my opponent does. I actually played Rc8 afterwards, I wanted
to put my knight on a7 to support the b5 pawn, but my opponent so this coming, I managed
to create a weakness here anyway and in about 20 moves I managed to win the c pawn. So, you can see that in this position it’s
not really clear who is better on the queenside, visually I would say that white looks fine,
much better, but after Rab8, if you know the idea behind the minority attack, then creating
a weakness on c3 becomes a clear plan and you can utilize that in a lot of your games. Especially because in these structures the
bishop is often on the d3 square and your knight is on c6, a very good plan is to play
Na5, Nc4, once the the c3 pawn has been isolated. And fixing the weakness, blockading the weakness
will enable you to put pressure on it at your own leisure, when you feel like it and when
the situation is perfect. Another example of the minority attack comes
from the Queen’s Gambit, as I said. So this is the Barmen Variation of the Queen’s
Gambit Declined, a very common variation. Be7, Qc2, 0-0, Re8, h3, let me just run through
the moves fast, get to the critical position, Rfe1, Be6, ok. And here, these were two very strong players,
both grandmasters, and, in this position white played such a great textbook minority attack,
and it looks too easy when you watch this game. Ok, so, what’s the first move? You can play Rb1, you can also play a3 first. He played a3, Re7, trying to defend, Rab1,
and you can see what’s coming: b4, Rae8, b4! You have to take, axb4, axb4, Bd7, b5! And now, as I said, you either create isolated
pawns on b7 and on d5, or you create a weakness on c6. So if black takes here, cxb5, Nxb5, then you
have two weaknesses to exploit, so it’s much better not to take. So after b5, another option is c5, but that
gives the same result, white just gets the d4 square, so after dxc5, Qxc5, you may even
want to jump your knight into d4 and you get two weaknesses and a great square. So after b5, the main idea for black, the
best defense is to ignore the minority attack, Ne4 you basically have to play on the other
side of the board and get active to ignore the minority attack. bxc6, bxc6 and here you have it. You managed to create a structural weakness,
a backward c pawn, which is going to be really easy to target. Once again, you can apply the same plan that
we saw here, Na5, Nc4, you can do it here via Na4, Nc5, just in reverse. Once you manage to fix this weakness, fix
the c6 pawn, then it’s going to be easier to attack it. Now lets see that in practice. Here white played Rb6, fixing the pawn, Nxc3,
Qxc3, Qf6, Bxg6, Qxg6, Kf1, I’m not going to explain every move, I just want to show
you the power of the minority attack. Ra1, Qh5, and, can you guess where the knight
is going? The knight is going into c5. And here you can see the complete domination
for white. Of course, the backward c pawn isn’t the only
reason, white played a great game, but the fact that black had to defend his weakness
throughout the middlegame made white far superior and this knight is, of course, much better
than the bishop. And, it’s enabled this wonderful outpost because
the c6 pawn is backward and the knight can’t be dislodged. So once you have a backward pawn, putting
a piece in front of it is often a wonderful outpost. This was the minority attack in practice,
and white of course went on to win the game. So lets repeat our structures. Once you have this position, with a minority
on the queenside, and you have this structure, when the c pawn is advanced, and that’s essential. If it’s not advanced then b4 doesn’t attack
it, really. It’s the same thing as when your opponent
plays the move h3 and you push through with g5, g4, it’s much easier to open up the kingside,
same is with g3 and then you play h5, h4, you have a target. Here you have a target on the c3 pawn, and
if you play b5, b4 and the pawn is still here, then you don’t have a target, you’re not attacking
anything. So once you have a minority and your opponent
has a three to two majority on the queenside, and his c pawn is advanced, then remember
this essential plan: a6, b5, b4, put your rook on b8 and move your pawns forward. The resulting position is either going to
be, after b5, cxb5, you isolating the d and the b pawns, or, after b5, something, bxc6,
bxc6, a backward pawn which is easy to target and to exploit. Remember the minority attack, it’s a very,
very strong strategic weapon, and you could put your opponents on the back foot if they
don’t know what they are doing, and often these subtle strategic plans can be much stronger
than any tactical blows. Remember the minority attack. Use it in your own games, especially if you
play d4 and face the Queen’s Gambit, and with black if you play the Caro-Kann, you are going
to face the Exchange Caro-Kann and this is going to be one of your most powerful weapons. Thanks very much for watching, I hope you
got something from this video on the minority attack, and stay tuned for more chess! Thanks very much! Bye, bye!

32 thoughts on “The Minority Attack | Chess Middlegames

  1. Thank you a lot
    Very nice video for wonderful instructor This topic a bout how to weaken pawn structure
    We need some videos about pawn structure
    Best wishes
    Thank you

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful instructional videos.

    Yasser Seirawan is a chess hero of mine since a few years after the Bobby Fischer chess boom in the United States.

  3. Love your vids the thumbnails are gorgeous. Please do an end game series. I heard it was the most important part of chess studying and I need some video material

  4. thanks! I play the CK and have often looked at the 2 queen side pawns and tried to get them involved, and this helps a lot !…thanks again. Great content.

  5. I’m new to your channel. Thank you for this lesson. You explain things very well. I’ll be going through your other lessons.

  6. This video has changed my way of thinking. Great work sir.
    Please do make more of middle game ideas. This is more important and beneficial than openings. Although openings video are very good too

  7. I really love your videos, just have a question. Is three a good line for white in the caro-kann where he fianchettoes his LSB?

  8. Thank you for all your efforts, your channel helps me more than anything. As soon as you have time, please post another problem in the commons section on these "lessons". Maybe viewers don't realize they are there, they haven't many views.

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