Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Accurate Play

This post is a collaboration with Mr Andrew Crosby who is an expert in chess gambits.
Andrew usually plays them in his games with great success. In addition, he is an active member of our virtual club taking part in our online tournaments and matches.

Yuri Lvovich Averbakh (1922-2022) is the only GM in history who has reached 100 years of age. Averbakch was born in Kaluga (Russia), he obtained the IM title in 1950 and the GM title in 1952. He won the USSR Championship in 1954 ahead of Timanov, Korchnoi, Petrosian, Geller and Flohr. And in 1956 he came equal first with Taimanov and Spassky but finished second after the playoff. From 1973 to 1978 he was chairman of the USSR Chess Federation.

Averbakh was an expert in endgames and a renowned endgame theorist, having written many books about that topic.

In today’s example, Averbakh masterfully takes advantage of his opponent’s mistake in a level endgame.

The diagram below shows the position that appeared in the game Averbakh-Nikolic (1966), after White played 49.Kf3. White has more space, a better pawn structure and a more active bishop than Black. Black’s bishop is isolated and trapped behind its own pawns. However, Averbakh doesn’t have a clear route for his king to penetrate Nikolic’s position. This single factor allows Black to hope for a draw. But it requires accurate play.

This endgame shows that identifying and understanding key squares is as necessary as improving our pieces. Because Nikolic focused on bringing into play his trapped bishop, he didn’t realize the importance of the f7-square for his opponent’s plan of invasion.

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