"Attacking with the Pirc" Review

I would like to thank Dr. Moshe Rachmuth for his highly positive review on one of my DVDs "Attacking with the Pirc." Here s the full text of the review:
This is the story of how I fell in love with the Pirc Defense.
It all began with me volunteering to co-coach in my son’s middle school.
On the first meeting my friend and co-coach—D. Duffer— and I brought a few chess sets and entered classroom 219. We found ourselves standing in front of a dozen teen-agers in a schoolroom whose walls were covered with quotes of great people. The kids called us “coach” and expected us to instruct them in the royal game. For some reason, all that I could think of in that classroom—with the walls filled with quotes by Einstein and Lincoln—was a quote by Yogi Berra, “If you know, you do. If you don’t, you teach.” We did not know what to teach so we told the kids to play against each other “in order for the coaches can assess your level of play.” They moved the pieces while we walked from board to board wearing serious faces and making notes.
Duffer and I did not let our lack of knowledge of chess and of coaching to put us down. Instead, we spent the next morning at a coffee shop making a plan. First, we decided to order some tactics manuals for the kids . Second, we thought how to split responsibilities and decided each of us will teach to his relative strengths—Duffer will teach endgames while I would teach openings.
That evening I sat at my dining table with an open chessboard and thought what repertoire I could teach against 1 e4. My own repertoire at the time contained lines like 1 e4 Nc6 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 e5 Ng4 4 d4 d6 5 h3 Nh6 6 Nc3 dxe5 7 d5 Nd4. This was good enough for me—a busy middle aged patzer— but I could not send an innocent child to war with such lines, could I? So here I was, scratching my head at the table when my son and student, A. Patzer Junior passed by, eating a Muenster cheese sandwich.
“Why don’t you teach us the Pirc?” he said.
“Why the Pirc?” I asked.
“It’s good for kids,” he said.” First you build yourself a fortress with d6, Nf6, g6, Bg7 and 0-0 and only then you start thinking. It’s not like the open games where—if you don’t remember all the traps—you can sometimes lose before you even found a pencil to write your moves with.”
There was logic to what the boy said so I contacted my friend Johannes from Chessbase and asked to review a DVD about the Pirc. Within a couple of hours I downloaded Bojkov’s “Attacking with the Pirc” and sat to watch.
Since I know the limits of my memory, my policy in learning a new opening is to first watch the introductory videos, then play a few games online and then come back and watch the lines that I encountered most.
The introduction to this DVD consists of four videos titled:
1 Introduction
2 Dark Square Strategy
3 Opposite Colored Bishop Strategy
4 The Exchange Sacrifice.
The sentence that struck me most in the introduction video was “this is not the opening for world champions.” At first, I was insulted. Is Bojkov implying that I am not world-champion-material? But, seriously, I liked his honesty straight of the bat—this is an opening that will give the club player and even the devoted grandmaster good practical chances to play for a win even as Black but objectively there are better first move options for the second player.
Video number two explains the importance of the squares d4 and f4 for Black. In this video Bojkov talks about possible pawn structures and demonstrates what could happen after an early queen swap, with a highly creative game from Azmaiparashvili. An important video and a truly inspiring game by the grandmaster with a name so complicated it could be compared only with Nepomniachtchi.
In the third video, “Opposite Colored Bishop Strategy” Bojkov shows two games against the classical (1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 g6 4 Nf3) in which Black keeps his dark square bishop against White’s light square Bishop and wins. This is the time to mention that Bojkov is not only honest in his assessments of positions but also easy to follow. He describes the logic of the decisions of the black players (in this video, Eugenio Torre and Mikhail Gurevich) and a simple but never too simple way. As I watched this video I felt that—armed with the idea of the opposite colored bishop strategy—I could play against the classical quite confidently from game one.
The last introductory video, “The Exchange Sacrifice” shows another common idea against the classical—sacrificing the rook that started on h8 for white’s dark square bishop. As in the earlier video once Black’s dark square bishop has no White counterpart (that is once White’s dark square bishop is off the board) things go well for the Pirc side. The idea of this long term exchange sacrifice is one I would have never found on the board myself but once Bojkov explains it in his usual calm eloquent way I understand it and feel confident about playing it.
At this stage I felt good enough to start playing online. I knew, of course, that I was not fully ready but I wanted some practical experience so as to know what the most popular lines were for white and which ones gave me the most trouble. After some twenty games I made note of two lines in which my opponents toasted me: 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Bd3 and 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 Be3. The latter was not only devastating but also the most common White choice so I was eager to learn what to do against it.
For this reason, the next chapter I watched was chapter 13, “4 Be3 and 5 f3” which I followed with “Chapter 14: 4 Be3 and 5 Qd2.” Just because I was on roll of dark square bishop moves I also watched “Chapter 15: 4 Bf4 and 5 Qd2” and “Chapter 12: The 4 Bg5 Aggression.” From these videos I understood that the main question was what the correct timing was for …Bg7 and it was not always the fourth move even though sometimes it had to be the fourth move. I believe these move order questions can be quite confusing, especially in the Pirc where Black does not have a big error margin, but Bojkov navigates the repertoire ship confidently and after watching the above four videos my results against the dark bishop moves were more than solid.
The same is true and even more so against 3 Bd3. After Bojkov’s suggested 3…e5! and after you watch the fourteen minutes of chapter 21, “3 Bd3” you will feel completely safe against this move. In fact the way to equality is so easy that you cannot believe that 3 Bd3 was used by players such as Aronian, Shirov and Nakamura. My internet results after watching the video were well over 50% in this line. The Austrian Attack, for some reason, I did not encounter much, neither online nor OTB so I just watched the videos and got the general ideas. If it becomes popular against me I’ll come back and learn it some more.
In general I recommend to those of you who, like me, are not world-champion-material to come back to the videos every once in a while and revive your memory. When you open the software to refresh your memory, you can save time and from the “Home” tab—instead of playing the video—click the “analysis” and recall the move options. If this is not enough to remind you the correct move, you can always watch the video again. I find that I watched some of the videos eight or ten times in the little less than a year that I have been using it. Those of you who are under forty-five years old may need less times before you remember something forever. We, older folks, have the consolation that we can see the same movie for the first time every month.
Speaking of the younger, the kids in the club adjusted nicely to the Pirc repertoire. In their games, we have found that the most common move order for white was 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 g6 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 Bc4. I went back to “The Art of Attacking with the Pirc” and found that although Bojkov does not talk about 5 Bc4 he talks about something similar in chapter 19 “4 Bc4.” After omitting …c6 I could recommend my students to answer 5 Bc4 with 5…0-0 and then what usually happens is that White plays 6 0-0 to which my students answer 6…Nxe4! With full equality at move six. I am proud of finding this line for my students (it literally happens in half their games as Black) but I would not have found it if I had not seen the idea in chapter 19. This is the main beauty of this DVD—it gives you the recurring ideas in the Pirc that you can later use at the board even if it is not the exact same position.
Did I like the DVD so much that I started playing the Pirc in tournaments? You bet. The Pirc has become my main line against 1 e4—it’s dynamic, it leaves a lot of room for creativity and you can always play for the full point. Unlike the French, in the Pirc White has no “Exchange Variation.”
Let me end my review with the opening of one my latest games that shows what I have learned from GM Bojkov.
W. Pusher Vs. A. Patzer, Portland 2016
1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 g6 4 Be3 Bg7 5 Qd2 Nb-d7 6 Be2 b5 7 d5 At this point I did not remember if this position was shown by Bojkov but I did remember the idea of pushing …b4 in order to put pressure on White’s center so I sacrificed a pawn with 7…b4!? 8 dxc6 bxc3 9 cxd7+ Bxd7 10 Qxc3 Bg7 11 f3 0-0. Black is a pawn down but he has everything a Pirc player wants—the king is safe in its fort, the dark bishop is on the long diagonal, harassing the white queen and the b and c files are semi-open and waiting for Black’s rooks. In the words of the Lego Movie – everything is awesome.
I will not show you the rest of the game because both my opponent and I make such dreadful mistakes that it could ruin your appetite for the whole day. Still, I am proud of the position I got after the eleventh move. Going back to the DVD I found that Bojkov does not discuss 6 Be2 but he does discuss the push b7-b5-b4 against the plan 6 0-0-0 and 7 Bd3 so the idea was there and that is what matters at the amateur level.
“Attacking with the Pirc” may not make you a world champion but it will give you a healthy yet exciting repertoire so you can play for a win in every game and against any opponent. I may be speaking only for myself, but this opening was the main weapon of Mikhail Gurevich who made it to top-ten so those of you who are humble enough to accept the eighth or ninth spot in the world ranking can still play it. You can always switch to the Berlin Defense before your World Championship match.
GM Dejan Bojkov and Chessbase have created a DVD that is fun to watch, highly informative and gives the viewer a reliable and enjoyable repertoire for many years. “Attacking with the Pirc” is highly recommended for busy yet ambitious amateurs as well as coaches. I would recommend this product to all but Sergei K. and Magnus C. who still need to work on their Berlin. The rest of us can have fun with the Pirc.
I have heard that Bojkov also published a one hour video with a repertoire for White AGAINST the Pirc. This makes me curious...
P.S. 2.
Carlsen had just used something pretty similar to the Pirc to win a game in Black against Wei.

Dr. Moshe Rachmuth has a Ph.D. in Comparative literature from the University of Oregon and is a senior instructor II at Portland State University, where he has worked since 2012. His teaching and life interests include Modern Hebrew, Biblical Studies, creative writing, humor and chess.
You can see his videos and other random thoughts on chess on Facebook or YouTube.


Tricks and Traps in the Opening London System

The European Individual Championship is in progress in Gjakova, Kosovo. Round four was played yesterday and as usual, the event offers high-quality chess.
The clashes in round one though usually have a different flavor. The thing is that at these events the top players have much lower opposition at the beginning.
This is a good occasion for a miniature that can get easily into the "Tricks and traps in the Openings" section.
Enjoy the shortest game of the EICC:


USA Championships

The USA championships finished yesterday in Saint Louis. There was no need of tie-breaks in both the events. In the men's part Fabiano Caruana proved superior to the field, scoring 8.5/11, a clear point ahead of his closest rivals Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura.
One of the important games of the event was played in round three:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "U.S. Championship 2016"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.04.16"]
[Round "3.1"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2773"]
[BlackElo "2795"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "184"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:06:48"]
[BlackClock "0:07:21"]

1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. e3 e6 5. d4 d5 6. a3 a6 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. b4
Bd6 9. Bb2 O-O 10. cxd5 exd5 {[%csl Yd5] Diagram [#] A typical picture for the
Semi-Tarrasch. The isolated pawn on d5 might be both strenght and weakness.}
11. Be2 Be6 12. O-O Qe7 {Intending both Ra8-c8 and Rf8-d8. And something more.}
({Another way to play it is the immediate} 12... Rc8 {which gives an
additional option of Bd6-b8 followed by battery on the h2-b8 diagonal. This
however also leaves more options to White.} 13. Rc1 Qe7 14. Qd3 (14. Na4 {
is the other idea.}) 14... Rfd8 15. Rfd1 b5 {Le,Q (2703)-Pelletier,Y (2587)
Belfort 2012}) 13. Rc1 {Intending Nc3-a4-c5. But now Black reveals the other
ideabehind his Qd8-e7 maneuver.} a5 {[%csl Ya3][%cal Ga1c1] Diagram [#] The
pawn on a3 was left loose and Caruana makes use of it.} (13... Rfd8 14. Na4 Ne4
15. Nd4 Nxd4 16. Qxd4 $14 {led to a typical slightly better position for White
in Guimard,C (2410)-Agdamus,J (2200) Santos Lugares 1977}) 14. Nb5 $146 {
So sacrifices a pawn for initiative. A predecessor saw} (14. b5 Ne5 (14... Nb8
$5 {is another route to d7.}) 15. Qa4 Ned7 {and White had problems with his
queenside, Lee,F-Sergeant,E Scarborough 1909}) 14... axb4 (14... Bb8 15. bxa5
Nxa5 16. Nbd4 {is good for White.}) 15. Nxd6 Qxd6 16. axb4 Qxb4 17. Bxf6 gxf6
18. Rb1 Qe7 19. Rb5 {[%csl Yb7,Yd5,Yf6,Yf7,Yh7] Diagram [#] As a result White
managed to destroy all the black pawns and he may try to profit from this in
two ways- attack the weaken kingside or patiently try to harvest all the crop.
The problem with the latter is that if he even wins both "b" and "d" pawns
(for free) he will have to trade some pieces and there is a very good chance
that Black reaches an endgame four versus three on the same flank which is an
easy draw. In fact, the presence of double "f" pawns makes the draw easier!}
Rfd8 20. Nd4 {Nothing gives:} (20. Qb1 d4 21. Rxb7 Qa3 22. Nxd4 Nxd4 23. exd4
Rxd4 $11) 20... Kg7 21. Re1 {In the light of the above-mentioned I have the
feeling that White should have tried to play for more with} (21. Bd3 Nxd4 22.
exd4 {although I do not really see a way for White to capture both "b" and "d"
pawns for free.}) 21... Nxd4 22. Qxd4 Bf5 $1 {[%csl Gg7][%cal Gf5g6,Rb7b5,
Rb5b4,Rb4b3,Rb3b2,Rb2b1] Diagram [#] Now Caruana practically takes away the
loss as a possible result from the board. The only one who can play for the
win in the endgame is black.} 23. Rxd5 Rxd5 24. Qxd5 Be4 25. Qd1 Qb4 26. Rf1
Ra2 27. Qd7 {There are still problems for White in the line:} (27. Bf3 b5 28.
Bxe4 Qxe4 29. Qb3 Qa4 30. Qd5 Ra1 $15) 27... Bg6 {The position of the black
king is secured and the "b" pawn is quite fearsome thanks to the support of
all the black pieces.} 28. Bf3 b5 29. h4 $1 {[%csl Yg7][%cal Gh4h5] Diagram [#]
So tries to open the king again to saveguard a draw.} (29. Bc6 Rb2 {followed
by Rb2-b1 seems bad for White.}) 29... Rd2 (29... Qxh4 30. Qxb5 $11) 30. Qh3 h5
31. Qg3 ({Black still pushing after} 31. g4 hxg4 32. Bxg4 Qc5 (32... Be4) (
32... Kh6)) 31... Qd6 {In the coming time trouble Caruana decided to
completely secure himself. In the line} (31... Qc5 32. Ra1 b4 33. Qb8 b3 $4 34.
Ra8 {Black gets under mating attack all of a sudden.}) 32. Qxd6 Rxd6 33. Rd1
Rb6 {Black's active pieces are his main advantage.} (33... Rxd1+ 34. Bxd1 {
is a draw.}) 34. e4 {Since the bishop cannot be blocked, it made sense to
bring the white one out first with} (34. Bd5 $5 b4 35. Bb3 Rc6 36. Rd4 Rc1+ 37.
Kh2 Rb1 38. Bd5 ({Not} 38. Rxb4 Bc2) 38... Rb2 ({And not} 38... b3 $2 39. Rb4
b2 40. Ba2) 39. Kg3 Bf5 $11) 34... b4 35. Rd2 f5 36. exf5 Bxf5 37. Bxh5 b3 38.
Rb2 Bc2 {[%csl Yb2][%cal Rb6a6,Ra6a2,Ra2b2] Diagram [#] The white rook is
trapped and Black intends Rb6-a6-a2 trapping it.} 39. Bf3 (39. Kf1 $2 {loses to
} Ra6) (39. Be2 Rb4 {will win the pawn easier.}) 39... Rb5 $1 {A clever way to
win the "h" pawn.} (39... Ra6 40. Bd5 {gves nothing to Black here.}) 40. Be2
Rb4 41. Bf3 Rxh4 42. Bd5 Rb4 {Caruana won the pawn back and managed to keep
the rook on b2 locked, but the reduced material allows a chance to So to
defend.} 43. Kf1 f5 44. Ke2 Kf6 45. f4 $1 {[%csl Yf5][%cal Gg2g4] Diagram [#]
Stops the black king and fixes the pawn on f5 in order to swap it off.} Ke7 (
45... Rxf4 46. Bxb3 $11) 46. Bg8 Kf8 47. Bd5 Kg7 48. Ke3 (48. g3 {is also
possible.}) 48... Kg6 49. Bf3 Kf6 50. Bd5 {So is patient and this is good. The
hasty} (50. g4 $6 {leads to trouble after} fxg4 51. Bxg4 Re4+ 52. Kf3 $2 Ra4 $1
$19) 50... Kg6 51. Bf3 Rc4 52. g4 {Diagram [#] Now it is good. Although White
can also hold after} (52. Bd5 Rc3+ 53. Kd4 Rd3+ 54. Ke5) 52... Rc3+ 53. Kf2 Bd3
54. Bd1 Bc4 55. Ke1 Rg3 (55... fxg4 56. Bxg4 Rg3 57. Bd1 {would be similar to
the game.}) 56. Kf2 Rh3 57. Ke1 Be6 58. Re2 (58. gxf5+ Kxf5 59. Kd2 {should be
OK too.}) 58... Bc4 59. Rb2 Kf6 60. Kd2 Rd3+ 61. Kc1 Rc3+ 62. Kd2 Rg3 63. gxf5
Kxf5 64. Kc1 Kxf4 65. Rh2 Ke3 66. Kb2 {Now that the king made it to the "b"
pawn the draw is unavoidable.} Kd4 67. Rh4+ Kc5 68. Ka3 Bd5 69. Rh5 Kd4 70.
Rxd5+ {Diagram [#] Stirring the game into theoretical draw. The white king is
where it is needed-in the correct corner.} Kxd5 71. Bxb3+ Kd4 72. Kb2 Rg2+ 73.
Ka1 Kc3 74. Ba2 Rg7 75. Bb1 Rb7 76. Ba2 Kc2 77. Bd5 {The only danger for the
defender in this endgame is to keep his bishop too close to the enemy king.} (
77. Bc4 $4 Rb1+ 78. Ka2 Rb4 {[%csl Rc2,Yc4,Rd3][%cal Rc4d3] Diagram [#] loses
only because the white bishop cannot give a check to the black king.}) 77...
Re7 (77... Rb1+ 78. Ka2 Rb5 79. Be4+ $11 {is the crucial difference in
comparison to the previous line.}) 78. Bg8 Re1+ 79. Ka2 Rh1 80. Bd5 Rh4 81.
Bb3+ Kc3 82. Be6 Rf4 83. Bg8 Rf2+ 84. Kb1 Rb2+ 85. Ka1 Kc2 86. Bh7+ Kc1 87. Bg8
Rb1+ 88. Ka2 Rb8 89. Bf7 Rb2+ 90. Ka1 Rb7 91. Bd5 Ra7+ 92. Ba2 Kc2 {Diagram [#]
} 1/2-1/2



Tricks and Traps in the Opening QID

A couple of weeks ago when browsing through the live tournaments I bumped into this short game played by a former teammate of mine.
The Queens Indian Defense has a reputation of very solid opening, especially from White's perspective.
Still miniatures are possible and one should be very careful not to violate the opening principles. In particular- to try and hide his/her king as quick as possible.


Modern Chess 2

As I promised you a month ago, here comes the second part of the wonderful course by GM Gavrikov about the isolated pawn for "Modern Chess".
“Modern chess” is a magazine of educational type, publishing Grandmaster’s lectures concerning all the stages of the chess game – opening, middlegame and endgame. The articles are interrelated, each one of them being a part of a comprehensive course on a specific topic. Besides the opportunity to read the magazine in PDF, you are offered an interactive version, accessible from the web site.
Therefore, “Modern chess” is a digital educational platform, suitable for anyone who has the ambition to improve his knowledge on the chess game. For more information about Modern Chess Magazine, please visit it here.
We now continue with the typical plans for the side owing the isolani:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Nottingham"]
[Site "Nottingham"]
[Date "1936.08.25"]
[Round "13"]
[White "Botvinnik, Mikhail"]
[Black "Vidmar, Milan Sr"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D40"]
[Annotator "GM Viktor Gavrikov"]
[PlyCount "47"]
[EventDate "1936.08.10"]
[EventRounds "15"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]

{2) Advance of the "f" pawn The advance of the "f" pawn is another standard
approach in positions with an isolated queen's pawn. In order to make easier
the understanding of this idea, I can make a parallel with the knight
sacrifice on "f7" which was examined in our previous article. As some of you
may recall, there are three necessary condition to make a knight sacrifice on
"f7" - White's white-squared bishop must be on the "a2 - g8" diagonal, Black's
white-squared bishop must not be on the "c8 - h3" diagonal and there must be a
considerable pressure along the "e" file. However, sometimes only the first
two conditions are met ( very often the rook is not on "e1", but on "f1"). In
such situations, the side which plays with "isolani" can't sacrifice his
knight on "f7", because there are is no pressure allong the "e" file. In this
type of positions, the idea to advance the "f" pawn by f2-f4-f5 becomes very
attractive. This idea has two main goals: - activate the rook on "f1" - weaken
the "a2-g8" diagonal On of the biggest advocates of the plan connected with
the "f" pawn advance is the creator of the Soviet chess school, the World
champion Mikhail Botvinnik. As an example, I am going to examine one of his
games in which he executed the abovementioned plan in a very instructive
manner.} 1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. Nc3 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Bd3
c5 8. O-O cxd4 9. exd4 dxc4 10. Bxc4 Nb6 11. Bb3 Bd7 12. Qd3 {[%cal Ga1d1,
Gf3e5,Gd3h3,Gb3c2] Diagram [#] Mikhail Botvinnik goes for his favourite plan
in such kind of positions - Ne5, Bc2 and Qh3. Black has to be very precise, in
order not to find himself in a big trouble.} Nbd5 {It's understandable that
Black want's to block the "d4" pawn as soon as possible. However, his last
move is not flexible enoughe, because by playing in this way, he shows his
cards too early. Now, nothing can stop White from building his attack on the
kingside.} ({Black could have tried the move} 12... Bc6 {, but even in this
case, he doesn't manage to solve his problems. Let's see how the game could
continue:} 13. Bc2 g6 14. Ne5 Rc8 15. Rad1 a6 16. Rfe1 Nbd5 {Diagram [#]} 17.
Bb3 $1 {A key move! Remember that when your opponent closes the "b1 - h7"
diagonal by means of g7-g6, your light-squared bishop must be relocated to the
"a2 - g8" diagonal.} b5 18. Qh3 {[%cal Gg5h6,Ge5f7] Diagram [#] The queen
occupies it's optimal position. Now, as you can easily see, all the conditions
for a knight sacrifice on "f7" are met - White's light-squared bishop is
situated on the important "a2 - g8" diagonal, while Black's light-squared
bishop is not on the diagonal "c8 - h3". Moreover, the pressure along the "e"
file is very strong. Now, white is threatening to play 19.Bh6 followed by N:f7
and Q:e6. Here, I would like to bring to your attention some possible lines
which illustrate White's attacking ressources in such kind of positions.} Qd6 {
This move is designed to parry White's direct threats. Even though, given the
fact that White is ahead in development and his peaces are more active, he
could go for a symmetrical pawn structure. Also, the weakened Black's kingside
favours this transition.} ({The move} 18... Bb7 $2 {loses on the spot, because
of} 19. Bh6 Re8 $140 20. Nxf7 $18) ({Now, after the careless} 18... Nxc3 $2 19.
bxc3 Bd5 20. Bh6 Re8 {White has at his disposal an original mating idea:} 21.
Nxf7 $1 Kxf7 $140 $2 22. Qxe6+ Bxe6 23. Bxe6# {Diagram [#]}) 19. Nxc6 Rxc6 20.
Nxd5 exd5 (20... Nxd5 $2 21. Bxd5) 21. Re5 {White has a pair of bishops,
controls the open "e" file and exercises a considerable pressure against the
weak "d5" pawn. His advantage is undisputable.}) ({The move} 12... Nfd5 {
is clearly better. Black tries to exchange as much pieces as possible.}) 13.
Ne5 Bc6 14. Rad1 Nb4 ({Even in this position, Black could have tried to
provoke some exchanges, but White is still able to go for a favourable version
of the symmetrical pawn structure:} 14... Nh5 15. Bxd5 Bxd5 16. Bxe7 Qxe7 17.
Nxd5 exd5 18. Rfe1 $14 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#] Despite of the simplifications,
white retains some edge due to the activity of his peaces.}) 15. Qh3 Bd5 ({
Now, the move} 15... Nfd5 {could be met by} 16. Bc1 {Diagram [#] In this
position, the awkwardly placed "Nb4" makes Black's life difficult. At the same
time, White is very well prepared for the advance of his "f" pawn - he
controls the "a2 - g8" diagonal, whereas Black's light-squared bishop is not
on the "c8-h3" diagonal.}) 16. Nxd5 Nbxd5 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#] The
exchange of the light-squared bishops always favours white. It's important to
point out that when black's light-squared bishop is not on the board, the
advance of the "f" pawn becomes much more dangerous, because after the
weakening} 17. f4 $1 {Diagram [#] Now, the f4-f5 threat becomes obvious.} Rc8 (
{The move} 17... g6 $2 {Loses on the spot, because of} 18. Bh6 Re8 19. Ba4 $18)
({White is winning effectively.} 17... Ne4 $2 18. Nxf7 $1 Kxf7 (18... Rxf7 19.
Qxe6 $18) 19. Rde1 $18) 18. f5 exf5 $2 {After this move, White's attack is
unstoppable.} ({Even though, their position is already very difficult, Black
should have played} 18... Qd6 $16) 19. Rxf5 Qd6 $2 {Last mistake in a
difficult position. However, we can hardly come up with a better suggestion.} (
19... Rc7 20. Rdf1 a6 $140 $2 (20... Nb6 21. Be3 (21. Qh4) 21... Qd6 $140 $2
22. Qg3 $18 {[%cal Ge3h6] Diagram [#]}) 21. Nxf7 $1 Rxf7 22. Bxd5 Nxd5 23. Rxf7
Bxg5 24. Qe6 $18) 20. Nxf7 $1 {Diagram [#] After this effective strike, the
game is over.} Rxf7 21. Bxf6 Bxf6 (21... Nxf6 22. Rxf6 $18 {[%cal Gh3c8]
Diagram [#]}) 22. Rxd5 Qc6 23. Rd6 Qe8 24. Rd7 1-0

The next plan is the advance of the "h" pawn:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "URS-ch FL"]
[Site "Yerevan"]
[Date "1955.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Kotov, Alexander"]
[Black "Khalilbeili, Sultan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E57"]
[Annotator "GM Viktor Gavrikov"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r1bq1rk1/1p2nppp/p3pb2/8/3PQB2/P4N2/BP3PPP/3R1RK1 w - - 0 17"]
[PlyCount "51"]
[EventDate "1955.??.??"]
[EventRounds "21"]
[EventCountry "URS"]

{Diagram [#] 3) Advance of the "h" pawn As the reader already knows, when we
play with an isolani, our long-term plan is to launch a kingside attack. In
some positions, however, despite of the fact that our pieces are transferred
to the kingside, we don't manage to create any serious threats against the
opponent's king. Most often, this is explained by the lack of weaknesses in
our opponent's camp. A classical way to deal with a pawn fortress is to strike
with our own pawns. In this line of thoughts, the only pawn that we can
advance, without exposing our king to possible dangers, is the "h" pawn. Very
often this pawn is some kind of "kamikaze" that sacrifices his life in order
to clear the way for the other pieces. It's important to mention that the
march of the "h" pawn is much more effective when our opponeng had already
played the move g7-g6. Generally, we can provoke that advance by putting our
queen and bishop on the "b1 - h7" diagonal. All the typical attacking ideas
connected with the advance of the "h" pawn are perfectly illustrated in the
classical game "Alexander Kotov - Sultan Khalilbeili played in 1955. In the
diagram position, White can't make use of the typical ideas that we have
already examined. Moreover, I don't see a way to increase the pressure created
by our pieces. That's why Kotov decides to go for the advance of his "h" pawn.
} 17. h4 $1 Bd7 18. Bb1 $1 {[%csl Rh7] Diagram [#] Diagram [#] A very precise
move! As I have already mentionned, White tries to provoke the move g7-g6
after which his "h" pawn enters the fight with a great effect.} g6 19. Be5 $1 {
[%csl Yf6,Yf8,Yg7,Yh6,Yh8] Diagram [#] Important idea! After the exchange of
the dark-squared bishops, White can make use of Black's weaknesses. At the
same time, the queen is ready to be transferred to the kingside.} ({Premature
is} 19. h5 {, because Black has at his disposal the natural} Bc6 {and white
queen is forced to go backwards.}) 19... Nd5 20. h5 Qe7 21. Qg4 Rfd8 22. Rfe1 {
White has an obvious pressure - the opposition along the "e" file is very
dangerous and the pawn on "g6" is a critical point.} Rac8 23. Nd2 {White goes
for a dubious manoeuvre. He is planning to provoke the exchange of the
dark-squared bishops by means of Ne4, but that threat could be parried quite
easily.} Ba4 24. Rc1 Bg7 $1 {Diagram [#] Diagram [#] Here is the problem! It
becomes clear that to move Ne4 will be met by the simple f7-f5.} 25. Nf3 Be8 $2
{This passive move gives White the possibility to compensate his previous
mistake.} ({More precise was} 25... Rxc1 26. Rxc1 Bb5 $132 {[%cal Gb5e2] With
a counterplay. Black is threatening to play Be2.}) 26. Rxc8 Rxc8 27. Ba2 $1 {
[%cal Ga2d5] Diagram [#] Diagram [#] Just in time! The light-squared bishop
has no work anymore on the "b1 - h7" diagonal. Due to the unprotected position
of Rc8, White is currently threatening to take the knight. The oppoisition
along the "e" file is also very annoying.} Nf6 28. Qh4 Bc6 29. hxg6 hxg6 30.
Ng5 {Diagram [#] A picturesque position! The "h" pawn has completed it's
mission. Now, White's attack is more dangerous than ever.} Bd5 $2 {A mistake
in a very difficult position. However, white can go for rook transfer to the
kingside against pretty much everything.} (30... Re8 31. Re3 $40 {With a
dangerous attack.}) 31. Bxd5 exd5 {White has a fantastic version of the
symmetrical pawn structure. Their attack is unstoppable. I leave the rest of
the game without comments.} 32. Re3 $1 {Diagram [#]} Qd7 ({Or} 32... Qd8 33.
Bxf6 (33. Rf3) 33... Qxf6 34. g3 {[%cal Ge3f3]} Qd6 (34... Qxd4 35. Qh7+ Kf8
36. Rf3 $18) 35. Qh7+ Kf8 36. Nxf7 Kxf7 37. Rf3+ Qf6 38. Rxf6+ Kxf6 39. Qh4+
$18) 33. Bxf6 Bxf6 34. Qh7+ Kf8 35. Ne6+ $1 {Diagram [#]} Qxe6 36. Rxe6 fxe6
37. Qxg6 $18 Ke7 38. Qh7+ Kd6 39. Qxb7 Rc1+ 40. Kh2 Bxd4 41. Qb4+ Bc5 42. Qf4+

There will be part 3 of this article where we shall see what one needs to do when playing against the isolani. Until then, do not forget to use the promo code dbojkov for 15 % discount on any of the products of "Modern Chess".


Two First-Class Knights

Today's video is featuring an extremely beautiful endgame study, freshly made in my own town Shumen, Bulgaria. The name of the composer-Petromir Panaiotov is worth remembering. Enjoy!