The King’s Gambit, Part 2: Spassky – Bronstein


The King’s Gambit
Game 2: Spassky – Bronstein, 1960.

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d5 4.exd5 Bd6

4…Nf6 is another idea. Instead of trying to hold onto the f4 pawn, Black attacks White’s centre and develops quickly.

5.Nc3 Nxd5 6.Nxd5 Qxd5 7.d4 Be7

(7…Bd6? 8.c4! Qe4+ 9.Kf2 Bf5 stopping Bd3 10.c5 Be7 11.Bb5+ c6 12.Bc4 Be6? (12…Bg4 is much better when 13.Re1 Bxf3 14.Qd2 Qf5 15.gxf3 still gives White the edge.) 13.Re1 Qg6 14.Bxe6 fxe6 15.Qb3 is winning for White (Schlechter – Mieses, 1903).)


  1. Qb3, Schlechter – Mieses, 1903


8.Be2 (8.c4 Qe4+ 9.Kf2 Bf5 and there’s no c5 with gain of time with the Bishop on e7.)

 8…g5 9.0-0 allows White to start an attack.


SpBr2_97Position after 4…Bd6


By protecting f4 with this Bishop, Black doesn’t have to weaken his Kingside with …g5.


5.Nc3 Ne7 6.d4 0-0 7.Bd3 Nd7 8.0-0 [The Greek Gift sac 8.Bxh7+ isn’t a real threat here as 8…Kxh7 9.Ng5+ Kg8 10.Qh5 Nf6 defends h7.]


8…h6 Unnecessary, Black can just play Nf6. [8…f5? 9.Ng5 Nf6 10.Bc4]


9.Ne4! Now Nf6 can’t be played without the tripling pawns and opening the King position but if Black can take on d5 he’ll be able to move a Knight to f6, right?


9…Nxd5 10.c4! Ne3 This is best.

SpBr2_99Position after 10…Ne3

[10…N5f6 11.Nxd6 cxd6 12.Bxf4 gives White the Bishop pair and space and Black the weak d6 pawn 12…d5 13.c5]


11.Bxe3 fxe3 12.c5!

This stops Black from playing …c5 and pushes the Bishop back, restricting the Queen. [12.Nxd6 cxd6 13.Bc2 Re8 14.Qd3 Nf6 15.Rae1 Qa5! causes havoc on the Queenside.


SpBr2_100Analysis: 15…Qa5


16.a3 b5 17.cxb5 Bd7 18.a4 a6 19.bxa6! Qxa6 20.Qxa6 Rxa6 21.b3 Rc6 22.Bd1 Rc3 followed by Ne4]




12…Be7 13.Bc2 Re8 [13…Nf6 14.Nxf6+ Bxf6 15.Qd3 g6 16.Bb3 Bf5 17.Qxe3]


14.Qd3 e2

SpBr2_101Position after 14…e2

to gain time by deflecting the Queen although White could just play Rfe1 or, better, Rf2 keeping his Rook on the semi-open f-file.






SpBr2_102Position after 15. Nd6!!

“One of the deepest sacrifices this side of The Evergreen Game” – Soltis.

What is this? Spassky puts his Knight where it can be captured by either of 2 pieces and leaves his Rook threatened by capture, with promotion and check! What must have gone through Bronstein’s head when he saw this? Ok, let’s look at Black’s options.

We’ll start with 15…exf1Q+ even though Bronstein didn’t. 16.Rxf1 Now White has a threat of mate in 2 with Qh7+ and Qh8.


  1. a) ..cxd6?? 17. Qh7+ Kf8 18. Qh8#


  1. b) ..g6 17.Nxf7! Kxf7 else the Queen is lost (17…Ne5?! 18.N3xe5 still the Queen has nowhere to go as Qd5 is met by Qxg6+ 18…Bf5 19.Rxf5 Qd5 (19…Qc8 20.Nxh6+ Kh8 21.Rf7 mates.) 20.Bb3)


18.Qxg6+ Kf8 19.Qxh6+ Kg8 20.Bb3#


  1. c) ..Bxd6 17.Qh7+ Kf8

SpBr2_103Analysis: 17…Kf8


and now we must choose between Qh8+ and cxd6. By checking with the Queen first, we can capture the Bishop with check but our Queen will be under attack from the Re8, gaining Black some time. If we capture the Bishop first, we are threatening Qh8#. Let’s have a look at the lines:


c1) 18.Qh8+ Ke7 19.cxd6+  cxd6 20.Re1+ Ne5 (20…Kf6 21.Rxe8) 21.Qxg7 Rg8 22.Qxh6 Be6 23.dxe5 dxe5 24.Qh4+ (24.Ng5? Qd4+ 25.Kh1 Qf2 26.Rc1 Rac8) 24…Kf8 25.Qh6+ Rg7 26.Qh8+ Rg8 27.Qh6+ White has a perpetual.

Or if 19…Kxd6 20.Qxg7 Rg8 21.Qxh6+ Qf6

White is a Rook down, can he get at Black’s King enough to mate or give perpetual? Black has difficulties of his own, with his Ra8 and Bc8 out of the game. The King is in between 2 open files which the Rook can be brought to and White can control the squares around the King with his Bishop and Knight. Still, White has to make threats without allowing exchanges.

Here is a possible line: 22.Qe3 Qg7 23.g3 c6 24.Qf4+ Ke7 25.Bb3 a5 (to bring the Rook into play with a4 and Ra5) 26.Re1+ Kd8 (26…Kf8?? 27.Qd6#) 27.Bxf7 Rf8 28.Ng5 Qf6 29.Ne6+ Ke7 30.Ng5+) again with perpetual.

c2) 18. cxd6 With this move, we give Black less defensive options and an extra chance to go wrong. If he plays 18…cxd6 then 19. Qh8+ Ke7 is the same as c1.

However, if he tries to prevent the mate with 18…Nf6? he loses to 19.Qh8+ Ng8 20.Ne5

(20.Bh7? Qxd6 lets Black off the hook)

 20…f6 21.Bh7 Be6 (Now, 21…Qxd6 fails to 22.Qxg8+ Ke7 23.Qxg7+ Kd8 (23…Ke6 24.Qf7#) 24.Nf7+)


SpBr2_104Analysis: 22. d7!


22…Re7? 23.Bxg8 Bxg8 24.Rxf6+! gxf6 25.Qxf6+ Bf7 26.Ng6+ Kg8 27.Qh8#


Black doesn’t have better than 22…Bxa2 23.dxe8Q+ Qxe8 24.Bxg8 Bxg8 25.Rxf6+! gxf6 26.Qxf6+ Qf7 (26…Bf7 27.Ng6+ mates.) where White has material superiority and an easily won position.

When playing 15.Nd6!! Spassky must have seen plenty of ways in which he could win and believed, with the King’s defences smashed, he would have been able to bail out with a perpetual check if necessary. From Bronstein’s perspective, he would have been able to see the great danger and so looked for a different defence. Not many players would have dared expose their King to such an attack.

Garry Kasparov gave this move a !? as, objectively, it’s not the strongest – it only draws. However, the concept is brilliant!

15…Nf8 There is logic behind this move, defend against the mate and leave White with 2 pieces en prise. Over to you, Boris!

16.Nxf7! Having had both his Knight and Rook sacrifice turned down, Spassky offers them again, taking a part of the King’s defence away at the same time.

16…exf1Q+ 17.Rxf1


SpBr2_105Position after 17. Rxf1


Of course recapturing with the Rook – it will attack along the f-file. Now White threatens the Queen so Black can either give up material, capture the Knight or move the Queen.



17…Qd5 is the best move, although you can understand Black not liking the look of 18.Bb3 Qxb3 19.axb3 (not 19.Qxb3 Be6) 19…Kxf7 20.Qc4+ Kg6 (20…Be6 21.Ng5+) 21.Qg8! (threatening Ne5+ Kh5, Qf7+) 21…Bf6 22.Nh4+! Bxh4 (22…Kh5 23.Qd5+ Kxh4 24.Rf4+ Bg4 25.g3+ Kh3 26.Qg2#) 23.Qf7+ Kh7 24.Qxe8 Ng6 25.Rf7

SpBr2_109Analysis: 25. Rf7


and Black will lose more material. 25…b6? (25…Bf6 26.Rxf6 gxf6 27.Qf7+) 26.Qc6)


Or, 18. Bb3 Qh5 19.Nxh6+ Kh8 20.Nf7+ Kg8 21.Nd8+! Kh8 22.Ne5!


SpBr2_108Analysis: 22. Ne5!


White has setup a windmill attack coupled with mating threats on g8.


22…Rxd8 (22…g6 23.Qc4! Qh7 24.Nef7+) 23.Nf7+ Kg8 24.Nxd8+ Kh8 25.Rxf8+ Bxf8 26.Qc4 Kh7 27.Qg8+ Kh6 28.Qxf8.

17…Qd7 allows the other Knight in with tempo, simultaneously opening the file for the Rook.

18.N3e5 Qe6 19.Bb3 Qa6 20.Nxh6+ Kh8 21.Nef7#

17…Kxf7 18.Ng5+ double-check, the King must move. 18…Kg8 19.Bb3+ Kh8 (19…Be6 20.Bxe6+ only slows things by one move.) 20.Rxf8+ and mate on h7 next.

18.Qxf5 Qd7 With Black’s pieces poorly positioned, Spassky isn’t about to give him any breathing space, he maintains the pressure.

19.Qf4 Bf6 20.N3e5


SpBr2_106Position after 20. N3e5


20…Qe7 20…Bxe5 21.Nxe5 Rxe5


(21…Qe7 22.Qe4! with the idea 22…—23.Rxf8+ Kxf8 else Qh7# 24.Ng6+)


22.dxe5 Re8 is best, with White much better.


21.Bb3 Bxe5 22.Nxe5+ Kh7

On 22…Ne6 23.Qe4! again wins. Black cannot move his King out of the pin and White will win the Knight after 23…Rf8 (23…c6 24.Ng6 Qd7 25.Nf8! Rxf8 26.Bxe6+) 24.Rxf8+ Rxf8 25.Ng6

23.Qe4+ and Bronstein resigned.

SpBr2_107Final Position


If  23…g6 24.Rxf8 Rxf8 25.Qxg6+ Kh8 26.Qxh6+ Qh7 27.Ng6#


And 23…Kh8 24.Rxf8+ Rxf8 25.Ng6+ Kh7 26.Nxf8+! Kh8 27.Qh7#


The King’s Gambit Part 1: Spassky – Fischer 1960

(This is a lesson from the Chess Mastery Course, add your email in the box to the right to get future lessons! Also, you can download this lesson as a pdf from the downloads page).

The King’s Gambit
Game 1: Spassky – Fischer, 1960

This famous game (featured in Fischer’s “My 60 Memorable Games”, from which some of the analysis and Fischer’s comments are taken) saw a great clash between the two future rivals. Fischer played 1…e5 instead of his usual 1…c5 and Spassky unleashes the King’s Gambit!
Perhaps insulted by this, Fischer plays a long line of very strong moves to hold onto his material advantage, keeping tension where other players may have looked to calm the position. It is testament to the potential danger of this opening that a couple of hard-to-spot mistakes by Black lead to an impressive win for Spassky. It was this game that led Fischer to publish his famous “Bust to the King’s Gambit” with 3…d6.

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5

SpFi_110This move was often played in the romantic era when the King’s Gambit was one of the most popular openings. Black protects the f-pawn and has the option of playing g4, chasing the Knight around the board. However, Black weakens his own Kingside by doing this.

4.h4 g4 White challenges the pawn and it advances. Both sides have to take care not to get into trouble on this side of the board.


With a double-attack on the g4 pawn. Black has a few reasonable-looking moves.

a) Securing the pawn with 5…h5? allows White to develop with tempo 6.Bc4 Nh6

(or 6…Rh7 7.d4 d6 8.Nd3 f3 9.gxf3 Be7 10.Be3 Bxh4+ 11.Kd2 Bg5 12.f4 Bh6 13.Nc3 “White has more than enough compensation for the pawn. This is vintage analysis” – Fischer)

7.d4 d6 8.Nd3 the f-pawn is going to fall and White will have an excellent attack along the f-file. With all Black’s Qside pieces still at home, it will be difficult for his King to get to safety.

b) 5…Nc6 is tricky as 6.Nxc6 dxc6 7.d4 Nf6 8.e5 (8.Nc3 Bb4) 8…Nh5 makes it difficult for White to regain the pawn and his development is impeded by the f and g-pawns.

b2) 6.Nxg4 d5 7.exd5 Qe7+ 8.Be2 (8.Qe2?? Bxg4 9.Qxe7+ Ncxe7) 8…Nd4 (8…Bxg4 9.dxc6) 9.Nf2 Bf5 10.d3 0-0-0 11.Nc3 and Black has all the pressure.

b3) 6.d4! is the recommended move as 6…Nxe5 7.dxe5 d6 8.Bxf4 Qe7 9.exd6 Qxe4+ 10.Qe2 Qxe2+ 11.Bxe2 Bxd6 12.Bxd6 cxd6 13.Nc3 gives White the advantage. He has a lead in development which can be used to pressure the weaknesses in Black’s position such as the d6 pawn (which is necessary, White is still a pawn down).
Play could continue 13…Be6 14.0-0-0 0-0-0 15.Nb5 winning the pawn back. Moves such as Rd4 and Rhf1 could follow, targeting the pawns, and moving the Knight back to d4 will take away their defender, the Bishop on e6.

c) 5…Be7 is another idea. What to do about Bxh4+?
6.Bc4!? counter-attack! 6…Bxh4+ 7.Kf1 d5 allowing the Bc8 to protect g4
(7…Nh6 8.Nxg4 Nxg4 9.Qxg4 d5 (9…Bg5 10.Qf5! with threats such as 10…d5? 11.Qe5+; 9…Bf6 10.Rxh7!)
10.Bb5+ c6 11.Qxh4 Qxh4 12.Rxh4 cxb5 13.exd5 and White is going to be up material.)

8.Bxd5 Nh6 9.d4 Bg5 10.Nc3 c6 11.Bb3 f6 12.Nd3 Qxd4 13.Bxf4 Bxf4 14.Nxf4 Qxd1+ 15.Rxd1 Nf7 16.Ng6 Rg8 17.Rxh7 is winning (analysis by Bilguier 1880).

5…Nf6 6.d4 White disdains to take on g4 or protect e4, preferring to open up the line for his Queen’s Bishop.

6…d6 7.Nd3 Nxe4 8.Bxf4 Bg7 how to protect the d4 pawn?

9.Nc3!? develop with a counter-attack! Fischer does not like this move, saying White now has no compensation for the pawn. He gives the line 9.c3 Qe7 10.Qe2 Bf5 as preferable because “White maintains a grip on f4”.

9…Nxc3 10.bxc3 c5

Brave play. A lot of players would have gone for a developing move or getting their King off the open file (Keres preferred 0-0) but Fischer goes straight after the weaker points in White’s position.

11.Be2 like a true King’s Gambit player, Spassky’s main interest is getting his pieces into play. [11.Qe2+ Be6 12.d5? Bxc3+ – Fischer.]

11…cxd4 12.0-0 Nc6 

SpFi_113An interesting choice. In no rush to castle, Fischer gets some control over d4 and e5 as well giving himself the option of recapturing the Bc8 with the Rook in future. There is no hurry to capture on c3 as White can’t take on d4 yet.

Other options:

a) 12…h5? 13.Bg5 f6 (if 13…Qc7 14.Nf4 eyes d5 14…Qc5 15.Kh1 Nc6 16.Bd3 and Black’s King is looking exposed 16…0-0 isn’t possible because of 17.Nxh5) 14.Bc1 followed by Nf4 “Black’s Kingside is all messed up” – Fischer.

b) 12…Qxh4 13.g3 and where does the Black Queen go to? It would be uncomfortable on either the e- or f-files. (13.Bxd6?? g3) 13…Qd8 14.Bxg4 0-0 15.Bxc8 Qxc8 16.Bxd6 Rd8 17.Be5 Black is ok after 17…Nc6 but Fischer is not interested in allowing Spassky equality. He is a pawn up and playing for the win. To do this, he gives Spassky plenty of play too.

13.Bxg4 0-0

13…Qxh4 is too dangerous now 14.Re1+ Ne7 (14…Kf8 15.Bxd6+ Kg8 16.Bxc8 Rxc8 17.Qf3) 15.Bxc8 Rxc8 16.Bxd6 Bf8 17.Qf3 dxc3 18.Qxb7

13…Bxg4 14.Qxg4 0-0?? 15.Bh6

13…Bd7 14.Bg5 f6 (14…Qb6 15.Bxd7+ Kxd7 16.Rxf7+) 15.Bh5+

SpFi_11414.Bxc8 Rxc8 15.Qg4 f5! 

This denies White a square on the g-file as well as giving the Rf8 more scope (for instance, Rf6-g6 becomes possible).

The Black Queen can also shelter behind this pawn if required.

15…Qf6 16.Bg5 Qg6 17.h5 f5 18.Qh4 Qf7


15…Ne7 16.Bg5 Kh8 17.Rae1 Rc7 18.Qe2 f6

16.Qg3 dxc3 Black is two pawns up, White needs to show something.

17.Rae1 17.Bxd6 Rf6 18.Bf4 Rg6 and White’s Queen is much less of an attacking threat.

17…Kh8 unpinning the Bg7 and making space for the Rook

17…Re8 18.h5 taking away g6 from Black as well as threatening h6 (18.Rxe8+ Qxe8 19.Re1 Qg6 just leaves Black up a pawn, White’s attack is coming to a close.) 18…Kh8 19.Bxd6 Bd4+ 20.Kh1 Qf6 (20…Rg8 21.Qh2 (21.Ne5!? is interesting but Black comes out on top after 21…Rxg3 22.Nf7+ Kg7 23.Nxd8 Rg4 24.Ne6+ Kf6) 21…Qf6)

Ananlysis 24...Kf6

Ananlysis 24…Kf6

18.Kh1 to stop any ideas of Rg8 and Bd4+ winning the Queen

“More accurate is 18.Bxd6 Rf6 (18…Rg8 19.Ne5!) 19.Be5 Nxe5 20.Nxe5 with a little play left for White” – Fischer. 

18…Rg8 [18…d5 19.Nc5]


19.Bxd6 Bf8!

SpFi_116“The key!” – Fischer

The more obvious 19…Bf6 leads to 20.Qf4 Rg4 21.Qxf5 Rxh4+ 22.Bh2 Bg7

19…Bd4 20.Qh2 (20.Qf4 Rg4) 20…Rg4 21.Be5+! “to prevent Black from doubling Rooks on the g-file. 21…Kg8 (not 21…Bxe5 22.Nxe5 Rxh4? 23.Nf7+) 22.Bg3 holds for White.” – Fischer

20.Be5+ Nxe5 21.Qxe5+ Rg7! 

SpFi_117Keeping control of the g-file, making it tough for White to hold onto the h-pawn.


22.Qf4 Rg4; 22.Rf4? Bd6; 22.g3 Bd6; 22.Qxf5 Qxh4+ 23.Kg1 Qg4 forces the Queens off as 24.Qf2 Be7 with the idea of Bh4.


22…Bd6 23.Qe4 Re7 24.Qd4+ Rg7 (24…Kg8 25.Rg5+ Kf7 26.Qd5+ Ke8) 25.Rd5 Rc6 26.Nb4

SpFi_11823.Kg1 (diagram)


 23…Qg3! 24.Qxg3 (24.Qe2 Bd6! threatening 25.– Qh2+ 26.Kf1 Qh1+ 27.Kf2 Rxg2+) 24…Rxg3 threatening Rxd3 and c2 is best, as pointed out by Spassky after the game.

24.Rf2 Be7 25.Re4 Qg5?

 Black could have taken a draw with 25…Qd1+ 26.Re1 (26.Rf1 Qxc2 27.Rg4 Rcg8) 26…Qg4 27.Re4 Qd1+ 28.Kh2 Rc6 29.Qb8+ Rg8 30.Qe5+ Rg7

26.Qd4! it’s getting tough for Black to find a good move with his Rg7 pinned, Bishop en prise and Queen without many safe squares.

26…Rf8? concerned about Ne5, Black makes the final mistake.

26…Rd8 27.Qxc3= (27.Qxa7 Rxd3 28.cxd3 Bc5 29.Re8+ Rg8 30.Rxg8+ Kxg8 31.Qb8+ Kg7 32.Qxb7+ Kh6 is a draw) ;

26…Bc5 27.Nxc5 Qxc5 (27…Rxc5 28.Rf8#) 28.Re8+

SpFi_11927.Re5! Winning material.







SpFi_12027.Ne5? Rxf2 28.Qxf2 Bc5! – Fischer






27…Rd8  27…Qg6 28.Rxe7; 27…Qh4 28.Rxf8+; 27…Bf6 28.Qd6!

28.Qe4 [28.Qxc3 Bf6]

SpFi_12128…Qh4 29.Rf4

Black resigns. If Qg3 then Rxe7.

 Some great defence from Fischer but the space controlled by White’s forces made it easy to slip up.

Note the control of the open e- and f-files by White’s Rooks, the same files that began to be opened by the first two moves of the game.

King & Pawn Endgames

(This is a lesson from the Chess Mastery Course, add your email in the box to the right to get future lessons! Also, you can download this lesson as a pdf from the downloads page).

King and Pawn Endgames 1

The Rule of the Square

image001This rule states that if the defending King is in the pawn’s promotion square or, if it is the defender to move, can step into the square, then the King will catch the pawn and draw. If he can’t, then the pawn promotes.
The square is drawn from the pawn to the promotion square (here b4 to b8) and the same number of squares (here 5) along the pawn’s rank in the direction of the defending King (here b4 to f4).
In this example, Black to move draws with 1…Kf4!
White to move wins with 1.b5! making a new, smaller square (b5-e5-e8-b8) which the Black King cannot enter.
Note that if the Black King was on g7 and had the move, he could draw by playing any of Kf6, Kf7 or Kf8 as all of these moves enter the pawn’s promotions square.

image003-300x300If the pawn is on the 2nd rank, then the square is drawn as though the pawn was on the 3rd as the pawn can move 2 squares straight to the 4th rank.
In this example, the square would be a3-f3-f8-a8 and Black to move draws with Kf4 or Kf3.
White to move plays a4 and wins as Black cannot enter the a4-e4-e8-a8 square. 1…Kf3 2.a4 Ke4 3.a5 Kd5 4.a6 Kc6


The Opposition

image005-300x300The opposition is a very important concept in endgames. It refers to positions like this, where the Kings oppose each other. As Kings cannot stand next to one another, whoever has the move has to step to the side. In this position, it is White to move and so we say that Black has the opposition.




The Opposition (Diagonal)

In the diagram above, Black has the diagonal opposition. Note that wherever White moves, Black keeps the opposition, diagonal or regular: 1.Ke4 Ke6!



The Opposition (Distant)
image009-300x300Here, Black to move plays 1…Ke8! and claims the distant opposition, which is when the Kings are on the same file or rank and separated by an odd number of squares (the Kings will be on the same colour). If they keep approaching one another, Black will gain the regular opposition. 2.Ke3 Ke7 3.Ke4 Ke6




Winning with the Opposition

image012In this, very common, ending, if White has the opposition (Black to move) he wins, as Black must give way. 1…Kf6 2.Kd5! Kf7 3.Kd6 Kf8 4.e4 Ke8 5.Ke6 Kd8 6.Kf7 Kd7 7.e5 and the pawn promotes. Note that when White’s King has advanced, he can allow Black to take the opposition as a pawn move will force Black to give it up.



Defending with the Opposition

image012Now we’ll see how Black defends the position when he has the opposition. With a single pawn (except for a Rook’s pawn), there are 3 key squares which are the square 2 in front of the pawn (e5 in this example) and the squares either side of this square (so, d5 and f5). If White gets his King to one of these squares, then he will win so Black must prevent this.

1.Kd4 Kd6! [1…Kf6? 2.Kd5! wins]
2.Ke4 Ke6! 3.Kf4 Kf6!
White isn’t making any progress so advances the pawn.

4.e4 note that the key squares change to d6, e6 and f6.

4…Ke6! White’s pawn obstructs his King from taking the opposition.

5.e5 Ke7! Black must take the opposition or move a square back staying on the same file as the pawn.

6.Kf5 Kf7! 7.e6+ Ke7 8.Ke5

White has the opposition but the placement of his pawn stops him from keeping it.
8…Ke8! the other moves allow White the opposition and lose.

9.Kf6 Kf8! 10.e7+ Ke8 11.Ke6 Draw by stalemate.

Study: The Opposition and Key Squares

image014Even seemingly simple K+P endgames can hold traps. The key squares in this example are b5, c5 and d5. White needs to find a way to control one of them. Heading straight for d5 doesn’t work:

1.Kd2? Ke7 2.Kd3 Kd7! Black has the opposition 3.c4 Kc6 and White cannot make progress.

Instead 1.Kc2! Ke7 2.Kb3 Kd6 [2…Kd7 3.Kb4 aiming for b5 3…Kc6 4.Kc4]
3.Kb4 White has the opposition and looks to take key square b5 3…Kc6 4.Kc4 and White will take control of one of the key squares.

Key Squares of the Rook Pawns

image016Rook pawns generally give less winning chances as they only have one adjacent file meaning less squares around the pawn for either King to use and a higher chance of stalemate. The key squares are always b7 and b8 for an a-pawn and g7 and g8 for a h-pawn as these are the squares that protect the promotion square.
1.Kb5 Kc7 2.Ka6 Kc8 3.a4 Kc7 4.a5 Kc8 5.Ka7 Kc7 6.Ka6 Kc6 7.Ka7 Kc7 8.a6 Kc8 9.Kb6 [or 9.Ka8 Kc7 10.a7 Kc8 and White is stalemated.] 9…Kb8 10.a7+ Ka8 11.Ka6 stalemate

Promoting a Knight’s Pawn

image018Knight pawns also give some chance to go wrong and stalemate the defender. The key squares are as usual: a6, b6 and c6.
1…Ka7 2.Kc6 Kb8 3.Kb6 Ka8 4.Kc7?! takes longer. This natural looking move traps the defender and increases the likelihood of stalemate. [4.Ka6 is best, allowing the defending King out of the corner]

4…Ka7 5.b5 Ka8 6.Kb6 [6.b6?? stalemates.]

6…Kb8 7.Ka6 the White King makes it back to a6

7…Ka8 8.b6 Kb8 9.b7 and promotes.


image020Triangulation is the method of taking an extra move than is necessary to reach a position to change which side has the move when you get there. In this example, Black has to guard his pawn and keep an eye on the f-pawn. He cannot go after the base g4 pawn as the f-pawn would run to promotion. If it was Black to move, after Ke5 White would play g5 followed by f6 and Black would have to leave the defence of his pawn. However, it is White to move so he looks for a way of reaching this position again but with Black to move.

1.Kd2 Kf6 [1…Kd5 2.g5 Ke5 3.f6 Ke6 4.Kd3]
2.Ke2! the extra move
2…Ke5 3.Kd3 the same position as we began with but now Black must choose between his pawn and the f-pawn
3…Kd5 4.f6 Ke6 5.g5 winning.

image022White cannot play the natural Kg5? as Ke4! forces him to give up the protection of his pawn. Instead, White loses a move 1.Kg6! Ke4 the only move to protect the pawn 2.Kg5 winning.





‘Shouldering’ is the technique of forcing the opponent’s King away from where it wants to go by standing in the way with your own King.

image024Schlage – Ahues, 1921. This famous example comes from a drawn game which went:
1.Ke6 Kc3 2.Kd6? Kd4 3.Kc6 Ke5 4.Kb7 Kd6 5.Kxa7 Kc7 and White’s King finds himself caged.




Position after ...Kc7

Position after …Kc7

Black’s defence relies on him getting to c7 to achieve this situation. White can prevent this with a more careful route:
2.Kd5! taking d4 away from Black and slowing his journey to c7
2…Kb4 3.Kc6 Ka5 4.Kb7 Kb5 5.Kxa7 Kc6 6.Kb8 winning.





The Reti Study

image028This very famous study by Richard Reti (a great player too) from 1921 is an excellent example of a way to use the King. Whilst not a ‘shouldering’ manoeuvre exactly, it involves the King taking an indirect path to accomplish his goal. It is White to move and draw. The h-pawn cannot be captured by the King and the b-pawn cannot be saved and at first glance the position appears resignable. Yet, Reti shows how to magically combine 2 ideas.

1.Kg7! necessary. White takes a step closer to both his and his opponent’s pawns.
1…h4 [1…Kb6 2.Kf6 transposes]

2.Kf6! Kb6 [2…h3 3.Ke7 h2 4.c7!]


image0303…h3 [3…Kxc6 4.Kf4 and White catches the pawn (or even 4.Ke4) ]

4.Kd6! h2 5.c7 h1Q 6.c8Q=



A breakthrough is a pawn manoeuvre, often a pawn sacrifice, to allow another pawn to promote.

image032This classic study by Cozio, way back in 1766, illustrates the idea of a breakthrough. White will give up 2 pawns to promote the third.

1.b6! axb6 clearly the pawn needs to be captured. [1…cxb6 2.a6! bxa6 3.c6!]

2.c6! threatening cxb7 and b8Q

2…bxc6 3.a6! and the a-pawn promotes.


Breakthrough 2

image0341.f5 Kb4 [1…exf5 2.gxf5 Kb4 3.e6 and Black is outside the 3×3 square]
2.f6! gxf6 3.exf6 e5 4.g5! (diagram)


Position after g5!

4…e4 [4…hxg5 5.h6! and White promotes first.] 5.g6 e3 6.gxf7 e2 7.f8Q+

[Also 2.g5 exf5 (2…hxg5 3.f6! gxf6 4.h6! wins; 2…Kc5 3.f6 gxf6 4.gxh6) 3.g6! fxg6 4.e6!]
Breakthrough 3

A simple breakthrough for speed. Capturing the g7 pawn and pushing the f-pawn to f8 will take 4 moves whilst the c-pawn is going to Queen in 2.

image0381.f6! gxf6 2.g7! c2 3.g8Q c1Q 4.Qb8+ and White can either take a draw with perpetual check on b8 and a8 or play for more by capturing 2 pawns after 4…Ka6 5.Qb5+





Breakthrough 4

image040This great example is from a Kasparov game played in 1980. The opening was a Caro-Kann with the typical h4-h5 push and here we can see how that move can be a factor in the endgame. Kasparov realises that he can simplify into a won K+P endgame. 1.Bxf6! gxf6 2.Rd1! the Rook cannot escape the d-file. Here, Kasparov’s opponent resigned but let’s see the breakthrough

2…Rxd1 3.Kxd1 Kd7 4.g5!


image0424…fxg5 5.fxg5 Ke7 [5…hxg5? 6.h6] 6.gxh6 Kf8 and now, with Black’s King tied up dealing with the h-pawns, White can turn his attention to the other side of the board. Many moves win but





image0447.b4! follows the breakthrough theme.

The Nd5 Sacrifice in the Sicilian

(This is a lesson from the Chess Mastery Course, add your email in the box to the right to get future lessons! Also, you can download this lesson as a pdf from the downloads page).

Lesson 2: The Nd5 sacrifice

This lesson is on a thematic sacrifice in the Sicilian Defence involving White playing Nc3-d5 when Black has a pawn on e6.

There are two types of situation:

1) capturing the Knight leads to White regaining the material quickly in a forced line and leaves him (or her, I’ll use ‘him’ for ease of writing) with a positional edge.

2) White sacrifices the Knight for a pawn and an attack. With energetic play, this often leads to a win but if Black is given time or space to develop, White’s advantage will disappear and Black will win thanks to his material advantage.

We will be concentrating on the second situation but give the following examples of the first.

1) Combination

Engel – Oeser, 1942

Nd5_118.Nd5! if exd5 19. exd5+ Be7 20. dxc6 and White has gained a pawn and it’s a protected passed pawn just 2 squares away from Queening.





Richter – Reinhardt, 1935


One of the points about this move is that d5 is a great square for the Knight, if Black doesn’t do something about the Knight then it can often stay on d5 and limit Black’s options. For example, if he plays 11…Be7 we can just take the Bishop, giving us the advantage of the Bishop Pair.

Now 11…exd5 12.exd5+ Be7 13.Nf5 wins the Bishop as 13…Ng8 14.Nxd6+

This leaves Black a pawn down with a backward, isolated pawn on d6 and some King safety issues as 13…0-0? 14.Nxe7+ wins the exchange.

Reti – Meyer, 1919

Nd5_314.Nd5 and if 14…exd5 15.exd5 and the Knight can’t escape capture without leaving the e-file open and losing the Queen to a discovered Bg5+ Ne7 16.d6 Bxg2 17.Kxg2.


Richter, – Groneberg, 1950

Nd5_48.Nd5 with the Nc6 pinned exd5 9. exd5+ wins the material back immediately with the advantage of the weak d6 pawn and open e-file for White.





Reti – Tartakower, 1919

if 11…exd5 12.Nxc6! Bxc6 13. exd5+ gives White the advantage.





The following is an important example of when playing Nd5 is not a good idea:
Bastrikov – Terpugov, 1954

Nd5_612…exd5 13.exd5+ Ne5 14.f4 f6 the position of the Bg5 allows Black to counter and stay ahead in material

15.Kh1? Getting out of the way of a possible Bc5 after the d-pawn recaptures on e5 [15.fxe5 dxe5 and the Queen has to move because of Bc5; 15.Bh4 Be7 16.fxe5 dxe5 17.Qe4 g5]

15…0-0-0 16.Bh4 Ng6 and Black has got his King to safety and emerged a piece up.

What was the problem here? Mainly that by playing f4 to regain the Knight, White blocks off the escape route for his Bishop. Also, White should have seen that he would still lose material with 15. Kh1 and found another way out with 15. Rad1! 0-0-0 16. fxe5 dxe5 17. d6! when he is only losing a pawn after exd4 18. dxc7 Kxc7 19. Bf4+

2) True Sacrifice

The great thing about this sacrifice is it involves real attacking play. White exchanges one of the elements of chess, force (material) for two others (time and space). He must use these wisely to win.

Becoming familiar with these positions will improve your all-round attacking skill. Understanding how to keep your opponent under pressure is at least as important as an eye for combinations. If possible, play these positions against another player (or a computer set to 2000 Elo strength) as both colours to get an idea of the aims and problems for both sides.

The Nd5 sacrifice is effective when White has a big lead in development. White normally has a Rook (sometimes Queen) on the e-file, in line with the Black King and offers the Knight in exchange for opening this file and displacing the King (blocking with Be7 leads to ruin).

Black must now try to develop his pieces and keep his King safe but usually has very few squares available. Exchanges will generally favour Black.

Time is a big factor for both sides. If White doesn’t keep Black tied up defending against threats then he will lose the initiative and be in trouble on account of the material deficit. Black will look for moves that create space for his pieces (including flight squares for his King) and force White to defend a piece/pawn at the same time.

White has several mini-plans or options to be aware of:

1. Open the c-file with c3/c4. The c-file is half-open already. Opening the c-file and controlling it and the e-file with Rooks leaves Black’s King trapped on the d-file ready to be mated.
2. Play Nd4-c6. Again, this limits the King’s movement as well as Black’s other Queenside pieces. Black will often be forced to exchange Knights on c6 which will bring the d5 pawn to that square, controlling b7/d7 and still restricting Black. The pawn can become a promotion threat in some positions. Timing is very important with this move.
3. Attack f7. This square can become weak if Black develops a piece along the 7th rank and obstructs the Queen’s defence of it. Exchanging a Bishop for a Black Knight on f6 leaves the f-pawns doubled and isolated. White can attack with a move like Qh5. Getting a Queen to f7 allows White to attack along both the 7th and 8th Ranks, giving Black’s King nowhere to go to.
Game 1: Stein – Furman, 1969
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.g3 b5 7.Bg2 Bb7 8.0-0 Nf6 9.Re1 d6 10.a4! encouraging Black’s next move 10…b4 11.Nd5! 

Nd5_7attacking the Queen and b4 pawn.


Can Black decline the sacrifice? 11…Qa5 12.Bd2 and Black has to take the Knight or lose the b-pawn; 11…Nxd5 12.exd5 e5 blocks in the dark-squared Bishop and gives Black problems developing. The c6 pawn limits both the Queenside Knight and Bishop, the e5 pawn is pinned so White can keep the Knight centrally placed, the b4 pawn is loose (and playing …a5 will concede the b5 square) and White can keep a big advantage by active play. For example, 13.Be3! Be7 (13…exd4 14.Bg5+) 14.Nf5 Bf6 15.Qg4 g6 16.Qc4!


White sacrifices the Knight for a pawn and an attack on the King. White has much better development, control of the open e-file and Black’s King is going to be stuck in the centre. Played correctly, this is close to a won position for White but if Black is allowed to develop sufficiently then the tables can be turned quickly.

12…Kd8 Not 12…Be7? when 13.Nf5 wins the piece back giving White a dominating position and an extra pawn. 13…0-0 (13…Ng8? loses quickly to 14.Bg5 as f6? 15.Nxg7+ Kd7 (15…Kf7 16.Ne6 threatening the Queen and mate in 1) 16.Qg4+ Kd8 17.Ne6+) 14.Rxe7 Nbd7 15.Bg5]

13.Bg5! natural and strong. The Bishop restricts the most free Black minor piece and threatens to double and isolate the Kingside pawns. Just as important though, is vacating the c1 square for a Rook – opening the c-file would be very dangerous for Black.

13…Nbd7 14.Qe2?! threatening mate in 1 [14.Nc6+ is the strongest move]

14…Kc8? 14…Qc5! is best, making space for the King on c7 with tempo by making threats against the d4 Knight and d5 pawn. With the King on c7, the Rooks will be closer to connecting too.

15.c3! b3 clearly 15…bxc3 16.Rac1 is going to be crushing.

Nd5_816.Nc6! immobilising the King and threatening Qe8+

16…Bxc6 16…h6? 17.Qe8+! Nxe8 18.Rxe8+ Qd8 19.Bxd8 and the discovered check is devastating.

17.dxc6 Ne5 White is still down a minor piece for a pawn, the pressure must be kept up.

18.Ra3 18.Bh3+ first is stronger 18…Kb8 19.Ra3

18…d5? played in order to vacate d6 for the Bishop but the d5 pawn is an easy target now. 18…Rb8 holding on to the b-pawn and forcing White to relocate his Rook is interesting but 19.Qxa6+ Kd8 20.Raa1 is still good for White

19.Rxb3 Bd6 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.Bxd5 Nxc6 22.Qg4+ 22.Qf3! keeps Queens (and the pressure) on and wins material.

22…Qd7 23.Qxd7+ Kxd7

Nd5_9So the Queens are off and White only has 2 pawns for the piece, however, White’s Rooks are much more active, Black’s King is open to being forced around by checks and the Black pawns are isolated and weak. Compare them to White’s 2 pawn islands and the passed c-pawn.

24.Rb7+! 24.Bxf7? Na5! and Black is winning as the Rook is trapped 25.Rb6 Kc7

24…Bc7 25.Bg2! 25.Bf3? Ne5

25…Rad8 25…Ne5? 26.Rd1+ Kc8 27.Rb3! and the King is trapped on the c-file with the Rook en prise. 27…Ra7 28.Bh3+

26.Bh3+ and White continues to make use of the exposed King to swap off pieces and create passed pawns which win the game.

26…Kd6 27.Rd1+ Kc5 28.b4+ Kc4 29.Bf1+ Kb3 30.Rxc7 Rxd1 31.Rxc6 Kxa4 32.Kg2 a5 33.bxa5 Rhd8 34.Rxf6 R8d7 35.a6 Rc1 36.Bd3 Rxc3 37.Bxh7 Kb5 38.Be4 Ra3 39.Bb7 Kc5 40.h4 Kd4 41.Rf5 Re7 42.h5 Re5 43.Rf4+ Kc5 44.h6 1-0


Game 2: Van Schoor, – Borja, 1960
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.g3 Nf6 7.Bg2 b5 8.0-0 Bb7 9.Re1 d6 10.Nd5! Nd5_10

10…exd5 11.exd5+ Kd8 [11…Kd7 leaves the b8 Knight with nowhere to go]

12.Bg5 Bc8 with the idea of keeping the Knight out of f5 after Be7

13.Bxf6+ gxf6 14.Qh5



Nd5_11This attack on f7 means that Black can’t put a piece on d7 or e7 as it would obstruct the Queen’s defence of the pawn. As you can see, this doesn’t leave Black with many moves!

14…Ra7 Defending the e7 square from invasion by a Rook after White doubles Rooks on the e-file and Black plays Bg7.

15.Re3 Qd7? A waste of time. 15…Bg7 could have been played as 16.Rc3 doesn’t achieve anything.

16.Rae1 Bg7 17.Re6!? Re4 could have been played straight away but this is a tempting move. Black can’t take the Rook 17.Re7? allows Black to exchange off and emerge with a material advantage and more freedom for his pieces (including King).


Nd5_1217…Qc7 17…fxe6? 18.Nxe6+ Ke7 19.Nxg7+ Kf8 20.Ne6+ Ke7 21.Qh6 Rd8 22.Qg7+ Ke8 23.Nc7#!

18.R6e4 f5? Black has very few playable moves as this shows

19.Nxf5? this releases some of the pressure 19.Qh4+ f6 20.Re6! Rf8 21.Qf4! the threats and the pressure keep piling up! 21…Bd7 (21…Rh8 22.Rxd6+ Bd7 23.Ne6+) 22.Re7 Rg8 23.Ne6+]

19…Bxf5 20.Qg5+ a zwischenzug (in-between move) so that the Bishop can be retaken with check after Kc8


Nd5_13This looks tempting, the Queen and Rook defend against the 7th rank and White will not capture with check, however it creates a hole on e6, shuts in the g7 Bishop and the King is still in the centre. Notice how the removal from the board of the light-squared Bishop allows White to use other lines of attack and involve the Bishop that has been sat on g2.

Black should have taken the opportunity to get his King to safety and get his Knight into the game with 20…Kc8 21.Qxf5+ Nd7 22.Qxf7? Ne5

21.Qxf5 Qf7 22.Bh3 mate threat

22…Rd7 22…Nd7 23.Re7 Qxe7 24.Rxe7 Kxe7 25.Qe6+ and White’s advantage will be in the lack of mobility for Black and the advanced d-pawn.

23.Qf4 [23.c4! is very strong. White will open the c-file and double the Rooks there as c8 cannot be adequately defended. 23…bxc4 (23…b4 24.c5! dxc5 25.d6! with Qxc5 and Qa5/b6+ to follow.) 24.Rxc4 h5 25.Rec1

Nd5_1423…Qxd5? now White wins back the material and Black still has poorly placed pieces. The game finishes quickly. 23…f5 makes life easier for Black although White is still better after 24.Bxf5 Bxb2 25.Qe3 (25.Bxd7 Qxf4 26.Rxf4 Nxd7) 25…Rb7

24.Bxd7 Nxd7 25.Rd4 Qb7 26.Qxd6 Re8 27.Rxe8+ Kxe8 28.Qe6+ Kd8 29.Qg8+ 1-0


The French Winawer, 7. Qg4

(This is a lesson from the Chess Mastery Course, add your email in the box to the right to get future lessons! Also, you can download this lesson as a pdf from the downloads page).

(1) French – Winawer [C18]

7. Qg4

1.e4 e6

Black is going to challenge White’s central pawn by playing d5. By playing e6 first, Black can recapture with a pawn (instead of the Queen) if White exchanges.

2.d4 d5 3.Nc3

developing a piece and protecting e4 [3.Nd2 is the Tarrasch variation, White blocks his Bishop but keeps c2-c3 as an option.; 3.e5 is the Advance variation]


by pinning the Knight, Black is again threatening e4.


the main line. White fixes Black’s pawn on e6, where it blocks his light-squared Bishop and gains space on the Kingside by restricting Black’s movement here, most clearly by taking away f6 for his Knight.


White’s central pawns must be challenged for Black to free up his position. If the d4 pawn is taken then e5 could become weak.

5.a3 Bxc3+

[5…Qa5?! 6.axb4! (6.Bd2 Bxc3 7.Bxc3 is also good for White) 6…Qxa1 7.Nb5 Na6 defending c7 (7…Kd8? 8.Bg5+) 8.Nd6+ Kf8 again, staying away from Bg5+ and protecting f7 9.Bxa6 Qxa6 and White will get a pawn for the exchange, a very powerful Knight and Black will have trouble getting his pieces into play, especially the h8 Rook. For example, 10.Qh5 g6 11.Qh4 Bd7 12.Qf4 Be8 13.Nf3 h6 14.dxc5! freeing d4 for the Knight;

5…Ba5 is a decent but less common continuation 6.b4! (Alekhine’s move )

Winawer26…cxd4 (6…cxb4 7.Nb5 bxa3+ 8.c3 helps White get a Bishop on a3 where it controls a key diagonal 8…Bc7? 9.Qg4 Ne7? 10.Qxg7 Rg8 11.Qxh7 and a3 will fall with White having a dream position.) 7.Nb5 Bc7 (7…Bb6 8.Nd6+) 8.f4 Bd7 9.Nxc7+ Qxc7 10.Nf3]

6.bxc3 Ne7

preparing for White’s next move [6…Qc7 7.Qg4 transposes with Ne7 as 7…cxd4? 8.Qxg7 Qxc3+ 9.Kd1 Qxa1 10.Qxh8 Kf8 11.Bd3 is winning for White, for example 11…Nc6 12.Nf3 Bd7 13.Ke2! Qc3 14.Bh6+ Ke7 15.Bg5+ Kf8 16.Bf6 Nce7 17.Ng5]


Winawer3This is our starting position. White is taking advantage of the exchange of Black’s dark-squared Bishop by attacking the undefended g7 pawn. Playing g7-g6 isn’t an option for Black as it would leave holes on the dark squares f6/g7/h6 that cannot be defended. Eg, 7…g6 8. Bg5.

7…Ng6 isn’t a good idea either as White will play 8. h4 and if 8… h5 then 9. Qg3 followed by 10. Bd3 and White is going to win a pawn  on g6.

This leaves 2 ideas for Black, defend the pawn by castling or give up the pawn for quick development. Both are perfectly playable.

1) Black castles


In this line, Black positions his King on the side where White is strongest and subjects himself to attack. White can advance the h-pawn and lift the Rook to h3 and bring his Bishop and Knight to d3 and f3 respectively.

To combat this, Black will open the f-file (and remove the limiting e5 pawn) with …f6 or …f5 and either play …c4 to keep the Bishop from d3 or exchange …cxd4 and attack the centre.

If White’s centre falls, he can find himself over-run. Note that after the e5 pawn has been exchanged on f6, Black can play …e5 with a discovered attack on the Queen. This is an important break for Black in the French.


immediately taking aim at the King position [8.Nf3 is also played but this is less accurate as the Queen and Bishop can combine to threaten h7 and gain tempo]


[8…Qa5 is sometimes played with the plan of keeping White occupied by attacking the Queenside. This results in a careful balance on both sides of the board between attack and defence.]


[9.Qh5!? is another attacking option 9…Ng6 10.Nf3]


blocking the Bishop’s sight of h7, giving the King an escape square on f7 and opening up the f-file for Black’s own kingside attacks. [Black is lost after the natural looking 9…Bd7?? 10.Bxh7+!]

10.exf6 Rxf6 11.Qh5

getting away from the Bc8’s aim with tempo [11.Bg5 e5! 12.Qh4 (12.Qg3 Rxf3! 13.gxf3 c4 14.Be2 Qa5 15.Bd2 Nf5 16.Qg2 exd4 17.cxd4 c3 18.Be3) 12…e4 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Qxf6 exd3 15.cxd3; 11.Bxh7+ no longer works 11…Kxh7 12.Ng5+ Kg8 13.Qh5 Nf5]

11…h6 [or 11…g6]


Black may play to activate his Bishop via d7 and e8 to g6 after getting White’s Bishop off d3 with …c4 and push for …e5.


2) Black gambits the g7 pawn


Black gives up a pawn and has his Kingside destroyed, giving White a passed h-pawn as well. In return, he will be able to develop quickly and use the open files for his own attack. The King will be quite safe castling Queenside surrounded by its own pieces and with White finding it difficult to use the c-file. Black has his own immediate threats too, as there will soon be an attack by the Queen on c2 and c3.

Winawer58.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2! 

protecting c3 (10.Kd1 is also good; 10.cxd4? Qc3+ wins the Rook)

10…Nbc6 11.f4

(not 11.cxd4? Nxd4! 12.Nxd4? Qc3+)


preparing to castle, there is no need to capture on c3 straight away


returning the Queen to the action and threatening to take on d4


there are a few continuations here including capturing on c3 with either the Knight or Queen or playing Rb1, stopping Qb6 controlling the b-file and putting pressure on e3 after Nf5.

White’s plans will include playing g4 (after h3 or Rg1) to keep a Knight out of f5, develop his Bishops to d3 and e3 to control many squares and push the h-pawn later on.

Black, for his part, might castle Queenside, look to play …f6 (note that if f4 is left undefended, f6 can be played even unsupported as exf6 will be met by Qxf4), use the Rooks to pressure on the open c-, g- and h-files (after 0-0-0, Black often plays Kb8 and Rc8 – it’s better to take the extra moves and have the Rooks connected than just play Rc8 without castling) and cramp White’s position with Nf5 and a timely …d4.]