Back to Back Issues Page
LCB, Issue #055 --, Outmaneuver Your Foe and Control the Breakthrough
December 01, 2019

Outmaneuver Your Foe and Control the Breakthrough

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #055 -- GOTM #24

learn and play online chess
Many players play from the first move to open lines and get active pieces poised to strike enemy defenses. Many openings are designed with just these ideas in mind. But there is another approach, another way. You can play an opening with closed positions in mind. Maneuvering your pieces behind the pawn shell, you ready yourself for the fight after the breakthrough. This will come about via the pawn break and the apparently quiet game will explode violently into life.

We have just such a game today. We head to Zurich. The year is 1953 and the contest is between two of the best players of the era from the Soviet Union.

Yuri Averbakh has the White pieces and Alexander Kotov plays as Black. The game goes into the Main Line of the Old Indian Defense and as per this opening the position is closed. After quite a bit of maneuvering, the game is opened with the pawn-break on the f-file. Both players strive to control the opening highways. And then a bolt from the blue, a daring sacrifice, which is played to try and gain a decisive edge. Will the plan pay dividends? Or will it prove to be a rush of blood? We shall see...

Outmaneuver Your Foe and Control the Breakthrough

Averbakh, Yuri - Kotov, Alexander [A55]

GotM #24 - Zurich, 1953
[Connaughton, Ken]

Candidate's Tournament

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6

Black chooses the Old Indian Defense

3.Nf3 Nbd7 4.Nc3 e5 5.e4

Game position after 5.e4

Main Line of the Old Indian, we are in for a closed game featuring much maneuvering behind the front lines.

5...Be7 6.Be2 0-0 7.0-0 c6 8.Qc2 Re8 9.Rd1 Bf8 10.Rb1 a5 11.d5 Nc5 12.Be3 Qc7 13.h3 Bd7 14.Rbc1 g6 15.Nd2 Rab8

Game position after 15...Rab8

Both players have posted their pieces where they hope they have been successful in positioning them optimally, while concealing their intentions from the other.

16.Nb3 Nxb3 17.Qxb3 c5 18.Kh2 Kh8

The maneuvering continues as each protagonist hopes to position himself to take advantage when the position is eventually opened.

19.Qc2 Ng8 20.Bg4 Nh6 21.Bxd7 Qxd7 22.Qd2 Ng8 23.g4 f5

Game position after 23...f5

Black plays the pawn break and soon files will be opened.

24.f3 Be7 25.Rg1 Rf8 26.Rcf1

Both players want to control the soon to be opened highways.

26...Rf7 27.gxf5 gxf5 28.Rg2 f4 29.Bf2 Rf6

Who will take command of the ensuing struggle on the g and h-files?

30.Ne2 Qxh3+!!

Game position after 30...Qxh3+!!

Would you have seen this move, never mind played it? Black must be confident that the White King will not be able to slip back behind the cover of his army following the capture of the Queen.


White's only real choice, but now the King will be forced from the safety of his fortress into the enemy stronghold.

(31.Kg1 might seem like the wiser option but it leads to a quick loss: 31...Rh6 32.Bg3 Forced, as the King must have the flight square, f2. The loss of the Bishop, with Black pieces soon to swarm on the exposed White King means there is only one outcome to the game. (32.Be1 Qh1+ 33.Kf2 Bh4+ 34.Ng3 Bxg3+ 35.Ke2 (35.Rxg3 Rh2+ 36.Rg2 Rxg2#) 35...Qxg2+-+ and Black's advantage is overwhelming.) 32...fxg3 33.Nxg3 Rf8 34.Qe2 Bh4 35.Nh1 Nf6 36.Nf2 Bxf2+ 37.Kxf2 Nh5 38.Rgg1 The Knight Fork must be avoided. (38.Ke1 Nf4-+ winning a Rook.) 38...Qh4+ 39.Ke3 Ng3 40.Qd2 Nxf1+ 41.Rxf1-+ and Black, up a Rook, must win.)


And the King will find that retreat is always impossible, so forward he must march.

32.Kg4 Nf6+ 33.Kf5

(33.Kg5 Rh5#)

33...Nd7 34.Rg5

To offer the King g4 and an escape route back to safety.

(34.Nxf4 to open the position for White's pieces would not have worked: 34...Rf8+ 35.Kg4 Rg8+ 36.Ng6+ Rgxg6+ 37.Kf5 Rh5+ 38.Qg5 Bxg5 39.Rfg1 Bf4+ 40.Rg5 Bxg5 41.Kg4 Bf4+ 42.Kxh5 Nf6+ 43.Kh4 Rh6#)

34...Rf8+ 35.Kg4 Nf6+

Trouble is the King is now locked out of the 3rd rank and can never return there.


Game position after


Having to move into a discovered check is always horrible.

36...Ng8+ 37.Kg4 Nf6+ 38.Kf5 Nxd5+ 39.Kg4 Nf6+ 40.Kf5 Ng8+

Black torments his opponent with the windmill.

41.Kg4 Nf6+ 42.Kf5

Game position after 42.Kf5

42...Ng8+ 43.Kg4 Bxg5

He can glean no further advantage from the windmill and so contents himself to win the exchange and move to the next phase of the attack.

44.Kxg5 Rf7

Game position after 44...Rf7

White's pieces, locked out of the game by their own pawns, are in a pitiful state, too far from the action to have any influence.


(45.Nxf4 to open the door for White's pieces would again do more harm than good: 45...Rg7+ 46.Ng6+ (46.Kf5 Ne7#) 46...Rgxg6+ 47.Kf5 Ne7#)

45...Rg6+ 46.Kh5 Rfg7 47.Bg5

Forced as 47...Rh6# was threatened.

47...Rxg5+ 48.Kh4 Nf6

A similar # is threatened and White must throw another piece on the fire.

49.Ng3 Rxg3 50.Qxd6

Game position after 50.Qxd6

Queen looks for counterplay in a desparate attempt to deflect Black's circling troops.


Renews the threat of # and solidifies the Knight.


All that could be done but now White will run out of road after


Game position after 51...Rg8

and # can no longer be delayed, White resigns.

(51...Rg8 White does not continue in view of 52.Qxe5 Rh6+ 53.Qh5 Rxh5# All started by the Queen sacrifice. What a bolt from the blue.)


Averbakh - Kotov (Zurich, 1953)

If you do not have html based email software and you're using a text only system, you may find that the links are only partially highlighted and may not work. If this is the case, simply copy and paste the entire link into the browser and hit Enter. That should get you where you want to go.
Comments, ideas, feedback? I'd be stoked to hear from you.

Get in touch

See you next month.


Back to Back Issues Page