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LCB, Issue #017 -- Destroy the Enemy by Creating New Weaknesses
October 01, 2012

The Principle of Two Weaknesses

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #017 -- Destroy the Enemy by Creating New Weaknesses

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Last month we explored a new conceptual theme for the chess endgame. The 'Cat and Mouse' theme. What to do when you're in a won position. Closing in on the full point with no risk and a minimum of fuss. The art of slowing things down. Getting things just right before launching the final assault. Putting in those quiet fixing moves, taking all of the imperfections out of the position. We learned the old endgame maxim, 'Never do in 2 moves what you can do in 10.'

This month we will concentrate on another theme seen in the endgame and also in the middlegame. The Principle of Two Weaknesses. You've probably seen time and time again that inflicting one single wound on your opponent is very rarely enough to win. He can gather his forces around the weak spot and build a defensive wall that you cannot break through.

In order to compromise the enemy camp to such a degree that a break-through is inevitable you must seek to create a second weakness. The enemy forces will be overloaded and spread to thinly as bigger gaps and more of them start to appear. Now you can launch a successful invasion as your troops pour through to storm the enemy stronghold.

Holing the Enemy Below the Waterline

Creating a Second Weakness

You've blown a hole in your opponent's position. It's just a small one but it's a start. There's one problem though. Even as you're mobilizing your units for an incursion into the enemy camp your opponent is stationing his pieces around the gap.

That's the problem with chess. Your opponent is allowed to move too! His pieces are poised and ready to defend the attack. You try to force your way in using brute force. He will simply trade off pieces and your slight advantage will evaporate.

So what to do? You must divert some of his defensive power away from the gap. Yes you say but how? You will have to create a second weakness in his position. Then he will be forced to assign some of his pieces to defend the new problem. Divide and conquer. His defenders are spread, poorly positioned and badly coordinated.

Finally your cohesive attacking machine can spring into action, tearing apart the now much weakened defense. You're on your way to another victory. Read on to see how three great masters of old used this technique to break down their respective opponents.

Emanuel Lasker - Amos Burn (1909)

When the World Champion Lasker faced Burn in St Petersburg in 1909, the game developed into a highly instructive tussle on several levels. Lasker had to be on form to break down Burn's stubborn defense.

He managed it by getting a slight upper hand early on culminating in decent pressure on the kingside. This alone was not enough however. Burn got his pieces set in a good defensive fortress and seemed to have the measure of anything that Lasker could throw at him.

The solution? White turned his attention to the queenside and made inroads there. Black was forced to move his heavy units across to prevent a break-through.

This fatally weakened his kingside. White continued to keep chipping away on both wings and after one slight mistake, Black's house of cards came tumbling down. See this masterful display for yourself with notes by Aron Nimzowitsch: Emanuel Lasker - Amos Burn (1909).

Geza Maroczy - Hugo Suechting (1905)

Our second game features another early attack on the kingside. Just as in the first encounter, Black repels the assault. White then attacks the base of the enemy pawn chain on the queenside.

Again the defenders gravitate to the queenside where the emerging threat is gathering pace. Black's queen and rook are tied to the base of the pawn chain with his two remaining minor pieces also hovering around. Putting b7 under tremendous pressure, White uses his sizeable advantage in space and mobility to continually force the Black pieces into ever more awkward positions.

Neither wing is adequately defended and White breaks through with a brilliant pawn sacrifice. Now Black must guard against the catastrophic fall of b7 on the queenside and the immediate threat of checkmate on the kingside. All at the same time. Within 10 more moves he must surrender as his position goes from bad to dreadful to plain hopeless. Play through this beautifully executed pincer movement, again described by Aron Nimzowitsch: Geza Maroczy - Hugo Suechting (1905).

3 Swedish Amateurs - Aron Nimzowitsch (1921)

The final game is one that features Nimzowitsch himself up against three strong Swedish amateurs in Stockholm in 1921. Having castled long Nimzowitsch finds himself under attack from White's major pieces.

He has a strong defense and feels at least equal on his queenside. He would like to neutralize White's attack on this wing and even gain the upper hand here. How does he do it? He springs a well timed pawn storm attack on White's castled king over on the other side of the board. White must abandon his attack on the queenside and move his forces across to head off the growing threat.

Black now has the initiative and though White manages to contain the original assault he does so at a terrible price. His queenside is destroyed as his undefended pawns fall to the enemy. He must throw in the towel. Watch the action unfold with the narration of the man himself: 3 Swedish Amateurs - Aron Nimzowitsch (1921).

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