by National Life Master Loal Davis
There was a game that really caught my eye in the 5th round of the U.S. Junior Championship between Bovey Liu vs Kayden Troff. Before getting into that game (Diagram Above), I’d like to share a position from a “dumb” game that I made up for students. Why made up? – well – I just couldn’t find a good example of what I wanted to teach.
Here is that game.
This came about from the silly moves of:
1. e3 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Ng1 Bd6 4. Nf3 b6 5. Ng1 Nc6 6. Nf3 Be5
and the question is – What does White play now?
Most beginning students say – oh – let’s play d4. It’s obviously not a bad move; it establishes a Pawn in the center and gains time hitting the Bishop.
Well – that is true, however I use this position to teach that when you want to get rid of a problem piece (target), it’s usually best to strike at the energy supporting that target.
Stronger is striking at the Knight on c6 – as it is the energy behind, the support, the foundation, the base of our desired target on e5. Let’s step through some variations to see this.
Bb7 protects “nothing” as the Bishop is hanging on e5 via a pin – we just take it .
This protects the Knight and breaks the pin, however we just play removal of the guard (Bxc6) followed capturing the hapless Bishop on e5.
Now Bxc6+ (removal of the guard) doesn’t work as the guard is simply replace by another Knight. However the pin is not broken and we can simply capture the Bishop on e5.
Here the Queen “protects” both pieces – but she cannot protect both at the same time. We either capture the Knight with check (removal of the guard) and then Nxe5 — or capture the Bishop now; when the Queen recaptures she abandons the Knight; then we capture the Knight with check and get the Rook in the ensuing fork.
You can see from these examples that striking at the energy behind what we want generally pays good dividends. This is the principle behind striking the base of the Pawn chain.
Here experience supports the move ‘c5’ which strikes the base of the Pawn chain rather than ‘f6’ which hits the head. It may not be always true, but it is a principle worth noting. The Pawn Chain in this last diagram is just another example of an “energy chain” and it is usually best to strike at the root.
Back to Bovey Liu vs Kayden Troff
By the way – you can click on any Diagram (above or below) and step through the PGN notation.
In this position notice the pressure that Black (Troff) has on the d4 Knight. Black plays ….. b4. Notice – striking at the support of the Knight. If the Pawn is captured, the Knight falls.
A few moves later we have the Diagram above. The c3 Pawn is still the target so Black exchanges Pawns and plays Qa5.
These very strong moves brought out the worst in White’s play and Black found a nice piece of tactical deflection in the Diagram above. Troff plays . . . . . Qa3 – saying – please take me so you can get mated on the back row – oh – and by the way – I’m attacking you.
After Rc2 to “protect” Black slid the Queen back to ‘d6’ – the following Diagram.
As you can see there is no defense to mate or the loss of the Queen. In this Final Position White resigned.
Kayden Troff knew how to strike where it hurt the most. This was a nicely played game – and instructional.