Back to Back Issues Page
LCB, Issue #056 --, Blow the King's Stronghold to Bits and Win
January 01, 2020

Blow the King's Stronghold to Bits and Win

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #056 -- GOTM #25

learn and play online chess
How do you break through in the middlegame? How do you unlock your opponent's defense without compromising your own? Great players and amateurs alike have for centuries relied on the sacrifice to do just this. A well conceived and timely sacrifice, prepped so that your pieces can flood in and overwhelm the King before your material deficit becomes a factor in the game.

Nothing paints the picture like a real world example. Today we go to Wijk aan Zee in 2004 for a game between a 14 year old Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Spike Ernst of the Netherlands.

The game begins with the Main Line of the Caro-Kann Classical Variation. Both players look comfortable in the familiar surrounds of this book line. White needs something different to gain a decisive edge. Cue the amazing sacrifice followed by energy as the fight is on to convert the initiative.

Blow the King's Stronghold to Bits and Win

Carlsen, Magnus (2484) - Ernst, Spike (2474)[B19]

GotM #25 - Wijk aan Zee, 2004
[Connaughton, Ken]

1.e4 c6

Caro-Kann Defense

2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5

Game position after 4...Bf5

Classical Variation

5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7

Game position after 7...Nd7

Main Line.

8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 e6 11.Bf4 Ngf6 12.0-0-0 Be7 13.Ne4 Qa5 14.Kb1 0-0

Game position after


Castling on opposite sides promises a frenetic fight to the finish.

15.Nxf6+ Nxf6 16.Ne5 Rad8 17.Qe2 c5 18.Ng6!?

Game position after 18.Ng6!?

White finds a nice tactic to win material.


The game losing mistake. Now his defense will be torn apart with a couple of devastating sacrifices.

(18...Rfe8 would have kept Black in the game. 19.Nxe7+ Rxe7 20.dxc5 Red7 21.Rxd7 Rxd7+/=)

19.Qxe6+ Kh8 20.hxg6!

Doesn't simply regain the piece, he sees something more.

(20.Qxe7= simply leads to an equal position.)


To support h6, he doesn't have time to worry about the Bishop.


The time to be coy has passed, he must follow in the same vein to speedily get to the King.

21...gxh6 22.Rxh6+!!

Game position after 22.Rxh6+!!

Having already given up material to open up the defense around the King, White plays the exchange sacrifice to finally destroy the Black King's security.

22...Nxh6 23.Qxe7 Nf7

Absolutely forced.


(If 24.Rh1+? Kg7 25.gxf7 cxd4+- and White's still winning but it's not so simple now.)


Again forced. Black is trying to solve his problems but White is just in time with the decisive final push.


Game position after


Crucially the White Queen is locking the Black Queen out of White's home rank, allowing the Rook to enter the attack in a timely manner.

25...Rd6 26.Rg3+

(26.Qxd6?? Qe1+ 27.Rd1 Qxd1#)

26...Rg6 27.Qe5+ Kxf7 28.Qf5+ Rf6?

Understandable to want to hold the Rook, but the move has hastened the end.

(28...Ke8 (or 28...Ke7) was best though White was still winning: 29.Re3+ Kd8 30.Qxf8+ Kd7 31.Qe8+ Kc7 32.Re7+ Kb6 33.Qxg6+ Kb5 34.c4+ Kb4 35.a3+ Kxc4 36.b3+ Kxb3 37.Qc2+ Kxa3 38.Re3+ Qc3 39.Qxc3+ Ka4 40.Qxc5 a5 41.Ra3#)


Game position after 29.Qd7#


Carlsen - Ernst (Wijk aan Zee, 2004)

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