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LCB, Issue #057 --, Get Your King Fighting in the Opening
February 01, 2020

Get Your King Fighting in the Opening

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #057 -- GOTM #26

learn and play online chess
One of the main ideas in the opening along with quick development, open files and pawn structures pointing towards your target, is castling and providing security for your King. Yeah King Safety is one of the big ones and is almost always your chief concern in the opening.

There are however, exceptional circumstances when you can deliberately decline castling. Yes you can keep your King in the center, playing an active role in the game even with the enemy Queen lurking on the outskirts of your camp!

William Steinitz was one player who proclaimed that the King was a strong piece and could be used in the opening or the middlegame. He did more than talk, he put his ideas into practice on several occasions. The King is a Fighting Piece was his mantra. Steinitz faces the great Louis Paulsen in Baden-Baden in 1870 in this game. You can see for yourself how well the King can fight in the hands of the first official World Champion.

Get Your King Fighting in the Opening

Steinitz, William - Paulsen, Louis[C25]

GotM #26 - Baden-Baden, 1870
[Connaughton, Ken]

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3

Vienna Game

2...Nc6 3.f4

Vienna Gambit




(Some would be tempted to play 4.Nf3 to keep the Queen out of h4 but Black could always go with 4...Be7 5.Bc4 Bh4+= preventing castling anyway.)


White is not concerned about losing his castling rights. We're still in book and this is all part of the plan.

5.Ke2 d6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Bxf4 0-0-0 8.Ke3

Game position after 8.Ke3

Returning the light-square Bishop his mobility and defending the dark-square Bishop. The King will play an active part in this game.

(If 8.Bg3 then 8...Qf6 9.Nd5 Qe6 10.Kf2 Qxe4 11.c4 a) 11.Nc3 Qf5-/+; b) 11.Ne3? Re8 12.Nxg4 Nf6 13.Kg1 (13.Nxf6?? Qe3#) 13...Qxg4-/+; 11...g6 12.Qd2 Bxf3 13.gxf3 Qxd4+ 14.Qxd4 Nxd4 15.Bh3+ f5 16.Rad1 Bg7-/+ with a commanding advantage for Black.)

8...Qh5 9.Be2 Qa5 10.a3 Bxf3 11.Kxf3 Qh5+ 12.Ke3 Qh4 13.b4 g5 14.Bg3 Qh6 15.b5 Nce7 16.Rf1 Nf6 17.Kf2

The King has completed his tasks in the center and will now retreat to safety.

17...Ng6 18.Kg1

Game position after 18.Kg1

White will attack on the Queenside and Black will attack on the Kingside.

18...Qg7 19.Qd2 h6 20.a4 Rg8 21.b6

White is the first to make contact with the enemy stronghold.

21...axb6 22.Rxf6!

Game position after 22.Rxf6!

White plays the exchange sacrifice to eliminate a key defender. Now his pieces can invade.

22...Qxf6 23.Bg4+

Pushing the King back towards the corner where he will be the subject of a tremendous attack.

23...Kb8 24.Nd5 Qg7 25.a5

Now it will be difficult to keep the pawn shell robust and intact.


Game position after 25...f5?

He wants to block the c8-h3 diagonal but now # can be forced.

(25...bxa5 is still winning for White but he has more work to do.)

26.axb6 cxb6

(26...fxg4 27.Ra8+! Kxa8 28.Qa5+ Kb8 29.bxc7+ Qxc7 (29...Kc8 30.cxd8Q#) 30.Qxc7+ Ka7 31.Qa5+ Kb8 32.Qxd8+ Ka7 33.Qb6+ Kb8 34.Qc7+ Ka7 35.Nb4 Ka8 36.d5 Ne5 37.Qd8+ Ka7 38.Bf2+ b6 39.Qxb6+ Ka8 40.Qa7#)

27.Nxb6 Ne7

Trying desperately to get some defenders around his King.

28.exf5 Qf7 29.f6 Nc6 30.c4 Na7

(If 30...h5 allowing 31.Ra8+ then 31...Kc7 32.Nd5+ Qxd5 33.cxd5 Rxa8 34.dxc6 bxc6 35.Bxh5+- with an overwhelming advantage for White.)


Game position after 31.Qa2

begins the final assault:


White is now forcing material losses but he is eyeing a bigger prize.

32.Nd5 Qxd5 33.cxd5 Nxd4 34.Qa7+ Kc7 35.Rc1+ Nc6 36.Rxc6#

Game position after 36.Rxc6#


Steinitz - Paulsen (Baden-Baden, 1870)

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