Sergey Ivanov annotates the game

Kasparov, G (2810) - Topalov, V (2700)
Wijk aan Zee, 1999

Tactical methods of modern chess

A chess game is unity and harmony of chess strategy and chess tactics, of strategic planning and tactical operations. Sure, the main task of modern chess is to unswervingly carry out choosed strategic plans. However, one should remember about appropriate tactical "additions" and take into account possible tactical motives and details. For example, it's unsufficient to carry out deep strategic plan of mobilization and strengthening pieces and capturing space etc. if after all this, You blunder from a tactical strike from Your opponent, leading to mate in a few moves, or to an opponent's decisive material advantage. Every strong chessplayer has to be as good at tactical strike as in strategy; for a chess master's style he must be many-sided. Deep understanding of chess tactics is the key to the most important chess skill - solving hard (sometimes, very hard!) tasks of chess strategy.

Study of chess tactics should start from the simplest point - from elementary tactical operations. It's also nesessary to understand reasons of appearance of tactical motives for combinations, its' elements and means of tactical impacts on a rival. Further on one could proceed to more complex tactical operations.

Almost every tactical chess operation is of a complex structure. It consists of two, three or more elements, which are commonly called tactical methods . Though the number of possible tactical operations is huge, the number of elementary tactical methods and appropriate tactical ideas is comparatively small. Different chess writers give different numbers. Well-known Soviet theoretician G.M.Lisytsin in his work "Strategy and tactics in chess skill" claims, that the number of elementary tactical methods is as humble as 23.

Here are these tactical methods:
  1. Attraction
  2. Distraction
  3. Removal of defender
  4. Crossing
  5. Overwork
  6. Blockade
  7. Square clearance (de-blockade)
  8. Zugzwang
  9. Intermediate move
  10. Counter-strike
  11. Mating net
  12. Smothered mate
  13. Discovered check
  14. Pin
  15. Last (last but one) rank mate
  16. Breaking of king's pawn cover
  17. Double attack
  18. Passed pawn
  19. Half-a-pin
  20. Discovered attack
  21. Repeating moves
  22. Stalemate
  23. Positional draw
Usually for illustration of various tactical methods one should collect different examples from a number of games, played for a long history of modern chess. But we have the unique possibility to study most of the methods with only one game from the recent tournament in Wijk aan Zee, where World champion Garry Kasparov met Bulgarian grandmaster Veselin Topalov.

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.f3 b5 The first moves have defined plans of both players. White is ready to carry on his play at the kingside and in the center, and Black - on the queenside. 7.Nge2 Nbd7 8.Bh6 Standart action for such a position. Now, if Black performs kingside castling, White exchanges dark-square bishops and attacks with his pawns - g4 , h4 etc. Black king becomes uncomfortable. 8...Bh6 9.Qh6 Bb7 Black prepares to evacuate his king to the opposite side. 10.a3 Prophylactic! In the case of 10.0-0-0 b4 11.Nb1 Qa5 Black would have counter-play. 10...e5 11.0-0-0 Qe7 12.Kb1 An important feature. Russians say not without reason, that "long" castling is long not only for that reason that the rook makes a long transit, but also because it must be "completed" with the move Kb1 . Besides of this useful prophylactic, White plans (expecting queenside Black castling) to transfer his knight via a route Ne2-c1-b3 to the a5 -square. From here it will exert pressure on the Black's queenside, weakened by pawn moves. However, this plan looks somewhat slow, and Black has time for counter-chances. 12...a6 13.Nc1 0-0-0 14.Nb3 ed4 15.Rd4 c5 16.Rd1 Nb6 Black is ready to open play in the center with d6-d5 and to take the initiative. 17.g3 White need to finish development of his kingside as soon as possible. 17...Kb8 18.Na5 Ba8 19.Bh3 d5 Players' strategic plans are over. White has set "bridge-head" (knight a5 !) to attack the bared black king, Black has carried out a pawn blow in the center. Now concrete tactical play begins. 20.Qf4 Ka7 21.Rhe1 d4 After 21...de4 an even position would have appeared, but Topalov wanted more. 22.Nd5!? Of course, the knight's retreat would be a refutation of White' strategic line. Kasparov has noticed, that there are too many weak points around the black king, producing ideas for various tactical operations. 22...Nbd5 Lost is 22...Bd5? 23.ed5 Qd6 24.Nc6 Ka8 25.Re7+- , or 22...Nfd5? 23.ed5 (black queen is overworked - it couldn't defend the points c7 and f7 simultaneously) 23...Qd6 24.Qf7+- 23.ed5 Qd6

diagram 1

24.Rd4!? To begin, White undertakes a rook sacrifice, which could be classified as a breaking of king's pawn cover . Kasparov refused equal ending after 24.Nc6 Bc6 25.Qd6 Rd6 26.dc6 Rc6 27.Re7 Kb6 28.Rf7 . 24...cd4?! Bad was 24...Qf4 25.Rf4 Nd5 (25...Rd6 26.c4) 26.Rf7+/- More problems White would have had after 24...Bd5 . White could fight for advantage only with 25.Rd5! - distraction and removal of defender simultaneously (ending after 25.Qd6 Rd6 26.Rd3 c4 27.Rde3 Kb6 28.b4 is worse for White, because his knight a5 is badly placed). 25...Nd5 (25...Qf4 26.Rd8! ( intermediate move ) 26...Qc7 27.Rh8 Qa5 28.Re7 Kb6 29.Rf7+-) 26.Qf7 Nc7 (the only move) 27.Re6!? (27.Re7 Kb6) Black has two possibilities: A) 27...Rd7 (27...Rdf8) 28.Rd6 Rf7 29.Nc6 Ka8 (29...Kb7? 30.Nd8 ( double attack ) 30...Rd8 31.Rd8 with idea Rf3?? 32.Bg2+- ( pin )) 30.f4 with idea Bg2 with initiative. B) 27...Qd1 28.Ka2 Rd7 (28...Qd5 29.c4! ( counter-strike ) 29...Rd7 30.Qf6 Qd2 31.Nc6 Kb7 32.Qh8 Ne6 33.Be6 Kc6 34.Qc8! Rc7 35.Qa6#) 29.Re7 Qd5 (29...Re7 30.Qe7 Kb8 31.Qf6!+- ( double attack - on rook and king, for threatening is mate in two)) 30.Qd5 Rd5 31.Rc7 Kb6 32.Rc6 Ka5 33.Bc8! ( mating net ) 33...Rc8 (33...b4 34.Ra6 Kb5 35.a4 Kc4 36.Be6+- ( pin )) 34.Rc8+/- Seems, the best reply for Black is 24...Kb6! ( counter-strike ). Knight a5 is under attack, and Black threats to enter a better ending. For example, A) 25.b4 Qf4 26.Rf4 Nd5 27.Rf7 cb4 28.ab4 Nb4=/+ B) Let try to step back - 25.Nb3 . B1) White rook is "mined", as before: 25...cd4? 26.Qd4 Kc7 (26...Kb7 27.Na5 Kb8 28.Re7!+- - see annotations to the 25th move of Black) 27.Qa7 Bb7 28.Nc5 . Black again has several ways, but no one saves him. B1a) 28...Rb8 29.Na6! ( double attack , pin , distraction and square clearance simultaneously!) 29...Qa6 (29...Kd8 30.Nb8+-) 30.Qc5 Bc6 (30...Kd8 31.Qe7#) 31.Re7 Kd8 32.Qd6+- B1b) 28...Qd5 29.Na6 Kd6 (29...Kc6 30.Nb4+- ( double attack )) 30.Qb6 Qc6 31.Qd4 Qd5 32.Qf4 Kc6 33.Qc7# B1c) 28...Qb6 29.Re7 B1c1) 29...Nd7 30.d6! ( distraction and attraction simultaneously). B1c11) 30...Kd6 31.Rd7! ( removal of defender ) 31...Kc6 (31...Kc5 32.Rc7 Bc6 33.b4+-) 32.Nb7! Qa7 (32...Rd7 33.Na5! Qa5 34.Qd7 Kb6 35.Qd4 ( double attack ) 35...Kb7 36.Qh8+-) 33.Nd8 ( discovered attack ) 33...Kb6 34.Ra7 Ka7 35.Nf7+- B1c12) 30...Kc6 31.Bd7 Rd7 32.Qb6 Kb6 33.Nd7+- B1c2) 29...Rd7 30.d6 ( attraction ) 30...Qd6 31.Qb7 Kd8 32.Nd7 Ke7 33.Ne5 ( discovered attack ) 33...Ke8 34.Qc8 Qd8 (34...Ke7 35.Nc6+-) 35.Qd8 Kd8 36.Nf7 ( double attack ) 36...Ke7 37.Nh8+- B2) If Black captures a pawn d5 with his knight - 25...Nd5 , then after 26.Qf7 (26.Qd6 Rd6=) 26...Rhf8 27.Qg7 cd4 (27...Rg8 28.Qh6+/-) 28.Re6+/- ( pin ) White wins a queen and gets advantage. B3) But if Black captures a pawn with his bishop - 25...Bd5 , then White has nothing better than 26.Qd6 Rd6 27.Rd2 Rhd8 with a little bit worse ending. C) As we see from the above variants, white pawn d5 (as well as white knight a5 ) plays important role in the development of White's attack. Couldn't he defend the pawn, leaving his knight to the mercy of fate? Let consider possible variations: 25.c4 25...Ka5 (25...cd4? 26.Qd4 Ka5 27.c5+-; 25...Qf4 26.Rf4 Nh5 27.Rf7 Ka5 28.g4 with an unclear position) 26.b4 C1) Now erroneous is 26...Kb6? 27.bc5 Kc5 28.Qe3! (threatening is fatal discovered check with rook) 28...Kb6 (28...bc4 29.Ka1!) 29.Rf4 Kc7 (29...Kb7 30.Qe7+-) 30.Qa7 Bb7 31.cb5+- , and White develops decisive attack. C2) Alas, but after simple 26...cb4 27.c5 Qf4 28.ab4 Ka4 White is short of only one tempo - if his king would nave stayed on b2 , then he had Ra1# . And now after 29.Rf4 Nd5-+ Black's material advantage is decisive. So, our scrupulous analysis have shown, that Black was better to refute Rook's sacrifice, and he would have achieved a better ending. But one could hardly reproach Topalov for this move, made in conditions of a practical game, because no danger for Black is immediately evident. 25.Re7!! A stunning strike! One more rook sacrifice, whose function is only the distraction of the Black queen from the defence of the b6 -square. Immediate 25.Qd4 Qb6 (25...Kb8 26.Re7!) 26.Re7 Nd7 27.Rd7 Rd7 28.Qh8 Bd5! ( last rank mate ) would have given White nothing: 29.c4 (29.Bd7?? Qg1#) 29...Be6-/+ 25...Kb6 The king has to advance, for lost is 25...Qe7? 26.Qd4 Kb8 27.Qb6 Bb7 28.Nc6 Ka8 29.Qa7# , or 25...Kb8 26.Qd4 Nd7 (26...Rd7 27.Rd7 Nd7 28.Qh8+-) 27.Bd7 ( zugzwang !) 27...Bd5 (27...Rhf8 28.Bh3+-) 28.c4! ( crossing ) (worse is 28.Nc6 Qc6! ( counter-strike ) 29.Bc6 Ba2! ( discovered attack ) 30.Ka2 Rd4 31.Rb7 Kc8 32.Rf7+/=) 28...Qe7 (28...bc4 29.Nc6+-) 29.Qb6 Ka8 30.Qa6 Kb8 31.Qb6 Ka8 32.Bc6! (32.Nc6? Qe1 33.Ka2 Bc4-+) 32...Bc6 33.Nc6+- 26.Qd4 Ka5 After 26...Qc5 27.Qf6 Qd6 (27...Ka5?? 28.b4+-; 27...Rd6?? 28.Qh8+-) White would have had two ways to support the initiative: A) 28.Rf7 A1) 28...Qf6 29.Rf6 Kc5 (29...Ka5?? 30.b4 Ka4 31.Ra6#) 30.d6 Rd6 31.b4 Kd5 32.c4+/= A2) 28...Ka5 29.Qc3 b4 30.ab4 Qb4 31.Qc7 Qb6 32.b4+- A3) 28...Bd5 29.Qd4 Ka5 30.b4 Ka4 31.Rf6!+- and more energetic B) 28.Qf7!? , where White continues to attack retaining queens. For example: 28...Rhf8 (28...Bd5 29.b4!! ( mating net ) 29...Rb8 30.Qg7+-; 28...Ka5 29.Re6+-) 29.Qg7 with attack. 27.b4 Ka4 28.Qc3 The black king is in a terrible situation. Threatened is mate on b3 . 28...Qd5 28...Bd5? 29.Kb2! ( mating net ), and Qb3 with mate is inevitable. 29.Ra7 Bb7 Lost is 29...Rd6? 30.Kb2 , and the rook d6 is overworked : 30...Qd4 31.Qd4 Rd4 32.Ra6# 30.Rb7 . Despite Black having an extra rook, his king's location in mating net appeares to be decisive for the position evaluation.

diagram 2

30...Qc4?! Not saved is 30...Rd6 31.Rb6!! ("task" strike on the topic of distraction ; 31.Ra7 Qc4) 31...Rb6 (31...Rhd8 32.Kb2 (again overwork !) 32...Qd4 33.Qd4+-) 32.Kb2 with idea Qb3+- . Black would have had more chances to defence after 30...Rhe8!? 31.Rb6 Ra8 , for example: A) 32.Kb2 Qe5 (32...Re2) . B) 32.Rf6 Qc4 33.Qc4 bc4 34.Bd7 Ka3 35.Be8 Re8 36.Ra6 Kb4=/+ C) 32.Be6!? ( crossing ) 32...Re6 33.Re6 Qc4 (33...fe6? 34.Kb2+-) 34.Qc4 bc4 35.Rf6 Ka3 with an unclear ending. D) 32.Bf1!? , taking the c4 -square under control and threatening 33.Rd6! ( distraction ). White continues to attack even without a rook. 31.Qf6 Ka3 Black king bravely moves ahead, towards his death. Now Black loses forcely. After 31...Rd1 32.Kb2 he could change queens: A) 32...Qd4 33.Qd4 Rd4 , but it wouldn't have been the better fate - 34.Rf7 Rd6 (34...a5 35.Ra7+-; 34...Re8 35.Rf6 Ra8 36.Be6+-) 35.Re7! with idea Be6+- . B) Also in the case of 32...Ra8 33.Qb6 (33.Rf7 Rd2) 33...Qd4 (33...a5 34.Bd7 Rd5 35.Qe3+-) 34.Qd4 Rd4 35.Rf7 a5 36.Be6 ab4 37.Bb3 Ka5 38.ab4 Kb6 (38...Rb4 39.c3+) 39.Rh7+/- Black couldn't escape. 32.Qa6 Kb4 33.c3! And attraction , and distraction . Much worse was 33.Bd7 Rd7 34.Rd7 Rc8 35.Qd6 Rc5 with an unclear position. 33...Kc3 33...Qc3 34.Qb5 Ka3 35.Ra7+-; 33...Kc5 34.Rc7+- 34.Qa1! Kd2 34...Kb4 35.Qb2 Ka5 36.Qa3 Qa4 37.Ra7+- 35.Qb2 Kd1 35...Ke3 36.Re7 Kf3 37.Qg2# 36.Bf1! Distraction of queen from the defence of the c2 -square and, at the same time, blockade . 36...Rd2 Black had accounted for this counter-strike . Of course, Black can't capture the bishop: 36...Qf1 37.Qc2 Ke1 38.Re7+- 37.Rd7! A decisive strike - on the topics of pin and distraction . 37...Rd7 38.Bc4 bc4 38...Re8 39.Qc1# 39.Qh8+- Rd3 40.Qa8 c3 41.Qa4 Ke1 42.f4 f5 43.Kc1 Rd2 44.Qa7 1-0

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