Chess Strategy: Weak Squares


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A few weeks ago, we published an article “Transforming advantages in chess” which was prepared by one of the RCA students, FM Kevin Trujillo. If you missed it, you can check it now here.

 

Kevin has prepared another lesson for you, this time on a different topic – “Weak Squares”. So let’s move forward to the lesson. 🙂

About the author (FM Kevin Trujillo):

 

I started playing chess competitively when I turned 15. Over my short 5 years playing chess, I have been able to play chess in many different countries. GM Igor Smirnov definitely sparked my desire to play chess.

FM Kevin Trujillo

A picture of me (left)

 

Weak Squares

 

Every pawn move in chess is important. Moving a pawn forward means you control more squares forward on the board, but also leave squares behind. This means that we have to be careful of making pawn moves, but at the same time we must know that pawn moves are part of the game.

 

In the following game, where I played Black, we will see how I forced my opponent to weaken his position. We will see how I realized I should work on the dark squares and I used that to know which pieces to trade.

 

Benedict Small– Kevin Trujillo (2013)

 

1.d4 d6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5. e3 Be7 6. cxd5 exd5 7.Bd3 0-0 
Weak Squares in Chess

White to move

8.Nge2 c6 9.0-0 Re8 10.f3 Nf8 11.Qc2 Ng6 12.e4?!

Weak Squares in Chess

Black to move

 

My opening preparation ended at this point. At this point it is very important to think of a plan. We can see White is attempting to control the center with his pawns. The problem with this is that White’s position is not ready.

 

In order to have a strong pawn center, you must have your pieces developed in order to protect it.

 

e4 is a weak move in this position, because white is over-extending his position and ignoring his development. Here I asked myself, should I play on the light or the dark squares? The following move shows my answer.

 

12…dxe4 13.fxe4 Ng4!

Weak Squares in Chess

White to move

 

Why is Ng4 good? We’re trading White’s best defensive piece. White’s dark squared bishop is very valuable since it can defend many of White’s weak dark squares (e.g e3, d4). A good practical advice is to exchange White’s best defensive pieces.

 

We want to play on the dark squares, and White’s g5 bishop could be a very strong defensive piece (for example, placing the king on h1 and the bishop on g1 would help White protect his center and his king).

 

14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.Rf3. This is a very aggressive move. White intends to start a kingside attack. We must be really careful.

 

15…Be6 I had many options in this position, but I thought Be6 was a very solid solid move. It helps protect f7 control the a2-g8 diagonal. In order to start a central battle, I need to activate my pieces first.

 

16. h3 White is creating more weaknesses on the dark squares; however, the knight on g4 was very annoying because it could give Black attacking possibilities (e.g. Qg5, Qh4). We can see that my attacking and forcing the opponent to defend, we can force him to weaken his position.

 

16…Nf6 17.Raf1 Rad8 18.a3?!

 

This move has no redeeming qualities. Even though it was possible that the a2 pawn could be hanging in the future, this move is a waste of time. White should be focusing on defending his center and developing his pieces.
Weak Squares in Chess

Black to move

 

We just finished our development and must again think of a plan. We already discussed we want to play on the dark squares, so what should we play?

 

18…c5 In my opinion, this is a great move. It forces White to play d5, since dxc5 would give Black the center without a fight.

 

19.d5 The only logical move, White is giving up the dark squares and is giving Black a pawn majority on the queenside, but at the same time White now has a passed pawn in the center.

 

19…Bd7 20.Ng3 Ne5

 

First step, which was creating weaknesses, was completed.

 

Now that we managed to blockade the weaknesses White is in huge trouble. It is important to see that White’s position could be very powerful without the e4 pawn. The e4 pawn limits White’s bishop and queen activity.

 

In this case, we might not want to capture the pawn even if we could, because it could give White a very powerful kingside attack. In fact, my plan was to play c4, followed by b5. This would allow me to use my queenside majority to eventually obtain a win; however, my opponent did not like passive play.

 

21.Rxf6!? gxf6 22.Nh5
Weak Squares in Chess

Black to move

 

My opponent, who was rated around 2100, loves tactics. All throughout the game he has played very aggressively. Even though, 22… f5 is a very good move, I did not want to let him play the game he wanted to play. This is why I decided to turn the tables and be the aggressor once again.

 

22…Kh8!? 23.Nxf6 Rg8!? 24.Nxg8 Rxg8
Weak Squares in Chess

White to move

 

I am not up an exchange anymore. In fact, I am down a pawn; however, all my pieces are very active and ready to attack.

 

25. Kh1??

 

A big blunder. When I entered this position, I saw that White’s best defense was the cold blooded 25.Rf2!. It is a very difficult move to make because it allows Black to play 25…Bxh3 and expose White’s king even further.

 

25…Qh4 (Rg3 was probably better) 26.Bb5
Weak Squares in Chess

Black to move

 

White played Bb5 because my next move was Rg3, attacking the rook. This move also threatens to exchange bishops, which would solve White’s problems. What should Black play?

 

26…Bxh3!

 

The most beautiful thing about this move is that it is all possible because of White’s weak kingside. This kingside attack is successful because White played h3.

 

We must be really careful to not create weaknesses in our pawn structure where our king lies.

 

27.Kg1 Bxg2 28.Qxg2 Rxg2+ 29.Kxg2
Weak Squares in Chess

Black to move

 

Black is completely winning. White’s pieces have no coordination and Black must act quickly before White obtains counter play.

 

29…Qg4+ 30.Kf2 Qf3+ 31.Ke1 Qe3+ 32.Kd1 Nf3 33.Rxf3 Qxf3+
Weak Squares in Chess

White to move and he resigned soon

 

You can download the PGN of this whole game here.

 

Even though I made several mistakes on this position, which made my victory more difficult, Black is completely winning. The winning plan in this position is to push the h-pawn, which White won’t be able to stop.

 

Conclusions:

 

  • Remove your opponent’s best defensive pieces.

 

Usually in chess, the f3 (or f6) knight is the strongest defensive piece. It protects the h7 (or h2 for White) square, it covers the f file, and it also covers several important squares around the king. In the game my opponent and I applied this idea: I removed White’s powerful g5 bishop, and Black sacrificed a rook to remove my f6 knight.

 

  • Be very careful when making pawn moves that weaken your king’s fortress.

 

The most important piece in chess is the king. If you’re making a pawn move that weaken’s your king’s position, you must have a very good reason to do so.

 

  • You must have good development before expanding your center.

 

The reason White’s center crumbled was because White over-extended without developing his pieces first. When you push your pawns forward, you not only leave weaknesses behind, but you also make it easier for your opponent to attack your pawns.

 

<<<<THE END>>>>

 

Some of you liked Kevin’s first lesson about transforming advantages. Did you like his new lesson? What do you think? Feel free to write in the comments below. 🙂

 

Recommended

 

Did you know that strong players UNDERSTAND better? This clear understanding allows them to ‘JUST KNOW’ the right move! Get the “The Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding” now and improve your positional understanding – click here.

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Comments: 1

Comments 1

  1. What’s your impression from the lesson? Does it happen to you to win games by exploiting opponent’s weak squares? Feel free to share your experience, this will help us to address it in the future lessons.

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