Back to Back Issues Page
LCB, Issue #087 --, Entomb Your Opponent For Total Supremacy
September 01, 2022

Entomb Your Opponent for Total Supremacy

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #087 -- GOTM #57

learn and play online chess
Every so often you'll be playing a game and the other guy doesn't bother developing his pieces straight away. He just seems to want to push pawns.

Of course you're just trying to bring your pieces into the game. But you have to be careful that you don't don't get trapped by your opponent's pawns into a tight position with no way of breaking out.

You have to break up the pawn chains before they can lock the position closed. If you can do this, you'll be able to take advantage of your opponent's exposed position behind his advanced pawn shell.

Time to see this kind of thing playing out in the field. Our game this month was played in Chelyabinsk, Russia in 1946. Yuri Gusev was White and a player going by the name of Averbakh (but apparently not the well known GM Yuri Averbakh) was playing with the Black pieces.

Entomb Your Opponent for Total Supremacy

Gusev, Yuri - Averbakh [B72]

GotM #57 - Chelyabinsk, 1946
[Connaughton, Ken]

1.e4 c5

Sicilian Defense


Open Sicilian

2...d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6

Dragon Variation

6.Be2 Nc6 7.Nb3 Bg7 8.0-0 Be6 9.f4

Game position after 9.f4

White will push forward annexing space.

9...Rc8 10.f5!?

An energetic move, but not an infallible one. Black must respond in kind, with energy. White intends to smother him and he must break the ropes before he is bound.


(10...gxf5 to weaken and eventually destroy the pawns was the better route.)


Game position after 11.g4!?

This is the logical continuation of White's plan. White wants to constrict Black's space, leaving his pieces with no activity. Meanwhile White's own pieces would have the freedom of the board and he need not worry about his open Kingside as Black would not be in a position to attack.


Designed to blockade but will prove ineffective against the rolling pawn mass. He has missed his last chance to prevail in the battle for space.

(11...h6 would defend g5.; 11...gxf5 was also much better than the text move.)


Now that White's dubious plan was not nipped in the bud, he has a great advantage, but still there is work to be done to construct a winning plan.


A sad but necessary retreat.


(13.f6 exf6 14.Qxd6 was also possible.)


He tries to halt the advance but the Kingside now becomes a prison for most of his pieces. They will become entombed.

(13...gxf5 to break out was his best try.)

14.Be3 b6?

He defends a7 but there were more important things to do.

(14...fxg5 15.Bxa7 Nc4 16.Bxc4 Rxc4)

15.Nd4 Kf7

Hoping to eventually release his pieces into action but his plan is too slow and White won't allow it.


Important move, solidifying his citadel on the c-file and giving the White Queen access to the crucial a2-g8 diagonal.

16...Qe8 17.Ne6

Game position after 17.Ne6

White trades off his strong Knight for one of Black's less impressive pieces. He won't allow his opponent room to breathe.

17...Bxe6 18.fxe6+ Kf8

Black's pieces are horrible and have no future. How though can White break open the prison to execute the chief prisoner?

(18...Kxe6?? 19.Qb3 Kd7 20.Qa4+ Rc6 21.Qxa7+ is clearly not feasible for Black.)


(19.Qb3 was just as good.)


(19...exf6? is crushed by 20.Qxd6+ Qe7 21.Qxe5)

20.gxf6 Bxf6

(20...exf6 again runs into 21.Qxd6+)

21.Bh6+ Kg8 22.Rxf6!

to prevent ...Bg7

22...exf6 23.Qxd6 Rc6

and it seems that e6 will fall and Black may even begin to sort out his chronic problems. But White comes up with one of the most genius positional sacrifices in the history of chess. His retention of his positional supremacy is much more important than any material considerations.


Game position after 24.Qxe5!!

Yes he sacrifices the Queen to prevent Black from freeing up his pieces.

24...fxe5 25.Rf1!

This makes f8 a mating square. Black has a sizeable material advantage, a Queen and Rook for two Bishops and a pawn.Yet White has the whip hand, all of his pieces are working hard while Black's are remarkably ineffective. The h8-Rook and the King will never escape from the corner. The Queen is forced to babysit f8 lest the White Rook swoops to give #. Black's best piece, the c6-Rook has no way to create problems for White on it's own. Even the e6-pawn can't be taken or Bc4 will deal a swift and terrible punishment.


To avoid getting pinned by Bb5.

(25...Qxe6?? 26.Rf8#; 25...Rxe6?? 26.Bc4 Qe7 27.Bxe6+ Qxe6 (27...Qf7 28.Bxf7#) 28.Rf8#)


Game position after 26.Bd1!

with many possibilities.


Black must give up his only free piece for the mighty Bishop.

27.Bb3 b5 28.Bxc4?!

Maybe not the best path to victory. It allows Black some resources to hold the position with perfect defense.

(28.a4!! was the move to create a passed pawn that the Queen could not block along the dark diagonal. 28...a6 Forced. 29.axb5 axb5 30.Rf2 Qe7 31.Ba2 Qa7 32.b4 Preparing for life after the Rook and Bishop are inevitably exchanged. 32...g5 33.Kf1 (33.Bxc4? Not the right time, Black can draw. 33...bxc4 34.Kg2 Qxf2+!! 35.Kxf2 g4 36.b5 g3+! The plan is stalemate and White can't avoid it. 37.Kg2 gxh2 38.Kxh2 Black can't move, it's stalemate. (38.Kh1 Again stalemate.) ) 33...Qe7 34.Bxc4 bxc4 And now the Queen stop the passer without leaving the dark diagonal. Win for White.)


As before, despite his material advantage, none of Black's pieces can move. But how does White win?


He creates a second weakness.


(29...cxb3! 30.axb3 a5! would enable Black to stop the c-pawn on c5.)

30.bxc4 Qe7

Black can only wait.


So the Queen can't give check while taking on c5.


e8 is no longer available to the Black Queen, she must remain permanently on this dark diagonal to prevent the c-pawn from advancing.

32.Rf2 Qe7

The Queen can't leave the diagonal. f8 must not be abandoned. It seems as if Black is holding somehow. White has a problem to find a way to push the pawn. He will have to use his King or get creative with the Rook to make progress. Either way the way forward to victory is very difficult.

33.Rf1 g5?

One mistake too many.


Now the Queen is overloaded, needing to defend f8, c5 and now also g5. A simple pawn advance is now all that's needed to win.

34...g4 35.c5

The Queen can't stop the pawn as she must maintain control of the two mating squares, f8 and g5.


(35...Qxc5 36.Rg5#)

36.c6 Qe7 37.c7

Game position after 37.c7

And now Black must resign.


Gusev - Averbakh, Chelyabinsk, (1946)

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