Chess program, lesson 2

The discussion of elements continues

Last time out we finished by talking about a very important concept, that being the concept of liquidation.

To kick start this lesson we’ll shortly talk about this important concept by giving another example from the Giucco Piano opening.

1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Bc4 Bc5
4.c3 Nf6

5… exd4!!? – Here black is already facing a concession! He is either to surrender the centre (an act of liquidation) or lose a valuable tempo (time).

6.cxd4 Bb4+ - instead of mindlessly going backwards black is trying to force white’s hand to keep the tempo.
7.Bd2 – interestingly enough white is threatening Bxf7+ / Qb3+ winning the Knight! 

In addition, black will be ill-advised to capture Nf6xe4 since the result of such violation of opening principles, especially in the open games, will boost the position into tactical play where white will be slightly more equipped in handling it. 

For instance after: 7…Nxe4 8. Bxb4 Nxb4 9.Bxf7+! Kxf7 10.Qb3+ d5 11.Qxb4. The martial is now equal so the premature capture yielded zero compensation for black. His king is misplaced, subject to attack. White has a quick 0-0 / Ne5+ and the e & c files for his Rooks. This is by no means a fun position to defend!


Therefore, black must release the pin with the move…

8.Nbxd2 d5!! – a freeing move. if black allows white to enjoy his central duo, well posted minor pieces and 0-0 without having said anything about it white would surely translate these fine pluses into a winning attack. Therefore, black strikes at the centre as soon as he can!

9.exd5 – forced!
9…Nxd5 – and here it’s interesting to notice that the process of liquidation worked quite well for black. 

Yes, instead of losing a tempo black surrenders the centre control/tension with the move 5…exd4 but as a result it is white who now has the liability of an isolated pawn 

(the d pawn cannot be protected by other pawns and is therefore a weakness) on the other hand white has compensation in the form of speedy development and aggressive piece play. 

For instance white can choose to castle here and play Re1 & Bd3 preparing a King Side attack or play the more ambitious 10.Qb3!!? Forcing black to defend instead of going about his own development. 

Here, black can choose the counter measure of Na5, the radical Be6 or the strategic Nce7 (where black maintains a knight as a blockade and by doing so keeping the isolated pawn at bay. For as long as the pawn is stopped it is nothing more than a weakness!) either way white enjoys a good open/attacking game and black on his part has solved his development problems and is quite capable of maintain an equal game where anything and everything can happen.


All because black knew when and how to liquidate and has done so in the correct fashion. 

Therefore a lesson must be learned here. When choosing an opening or a defence the player must know its liquidation patterns as well as plans for development and prophylactic moves. Otherwise he may fail to maintain the original objective he sought out to achieve.

Nimzovich teaches us to think in concepts, to see things through patterns and decide on our route(s) by applying reason and thematic plans.

As we have seen above, an exchange, when properly used can be considered as a powerful weapon and a trustworthy ally for the one who isn’t ignorant of its affect. 

The exchange is one part of a grander way when looking at things and deciding whether the position “needs” to be relieved, liquidate, sharpen, solidify or consolidate. 

To put this into order Nimzovich gives us the following recipe:
1) Exchange with consequent gain of tempo (for if the result doesn’t gain anything but a pointless trade of forces what would be the point of it?)
2) Liquidation…
3) Followed by a developing or freeing move

(in our case the move 5…exd4 was played in order to liquidate, 7…Bxd2+ exchanged the Bishop without losing a tempo and then the freeing move was 8…d5)

If black had not played the forcing move 6…Bb4+ and instead played 6…Bb6 (which can be justified by reason but not in this specific position) white would have the time to play: 7.e5! and here the freeing move would not suffice in view of – 7…d5 8.exf6 dxc4 9.d5!

It is said for these reason viewed in our example that:
Before every move the player must always check the board for all checks, captures, forcing moves, threats and indirect threats. Both for himself and for his opponent!

We can also say that a player should not exchange if:
a) the exchange is lacking in the mentioned motive
b) Exchanging an active piece (or one that was moved) with one that is inactive or hasn’t moved at all.

These rules have their share of exceptions. If a position would gain power or lose complexity by simplifying it into a winning endgame or a middle game position where the opposite side will have less counter measures it obviously should be welcomed.

Some may call this technical aspect of chess boring or lacking in art and beauty but it is a part of chess and a part of life whether certain individuals agree with it or not.

A motive-less exchange

1.e4 e5
2.d4 exd4
3.c3 – the offer of a gambit has its reasons but this is not our primary concern at the moment.
3…Bc5? – This move or moves like that are seen in beginner’s play quite often. Most beginners heard that “going pawn hunting in the opening is bad” and therefore instead of accepting the offer of the gambit (via 3…dxc3) black opts for a developing move which acts as a defender.

By doing so black thinks he found the right multi-functional move Masters keep rumbling about. Unfortunately, he is mistaken at that for this developing move is lacking in the right motive.

4.cxd4! – and now black is facing a concession. White achieved his classical centre despite black’s (failed) counter measures and on top of that black is now facing the loss of tempo! What should black do?!

He then quickly remembers the concept of liquidation and spots the check on b4 where at the very least will force white into making an unfavorable move.

4…Bb4+?! – a dubious attempt to maintain what has been lost.
The Bishop has (whether black made him self believe it or found ill reasoning) moved again.

5.Bd2 Bxd2+ quite forced indeed. For otherwise the loss of tempi will only continue. For instance after 5…Nc6 6.Bxb4 Nxb4 white will gain tempo on the Knight by playing either a3 or Qa4 etc. 

6.Nxd2 – with an advantage of three Tempi!! Tarrasch once said that a pawn is valued or rather weighed by the loss or gain of three tempi. If that is to be taken to its full potential we must argue that white already has a technical win!

The three tempi black has lost were valuable tempi gained by white. He has achieved the perfect centre, has one of his Knights developed, and has free diagonal-play for his LSB and Queen and even more so…

The Future Ng1-f3 will be protected by the d2 Knight giving white freedom to castle quickly and perhaps play Bc4/Qb3 with attack. If that isn’t valued as a pawn I don’t know what does!!?! :)


Therefore, we see that even when one has the formula and is aware of several basic concepts he should still see his reasoning (calculation) full before playing them out in blind hopes and wishes.

Like IM Josh Waitzkin always said: “don’t move until you see it!”

In our example black must face his mistake and play 4…Bb6. this is not a liquidation move! This is a concession. Bc5 was a full out mistake and unless black wishes to “prove” something that isn’t there he should accept his mistake and lose that one tempo rather than losing three!

The demobilization force of the centre duo

A quick note… I’m an Alekhine fan, both of the player Alexander Alekhine and his remarkable invention the Alekhine Defence.

While this being quite unfit for beginners it does demonstrate the flexibility and undermining approach of several chess systems.

For this example we see black “allowing” white his precious centre duo only to force it on a wild goose chase where at the end black will be able to exploit the over advanced pawns.

When pawns become over advanced or rather over extended they still provide gain of space and control the enemy squares but they face isolation and the owner of them will find that protecting them is a hard task indeed.

In most cases these pawns will be liquidated by exchanging them.

First, we’ll give a simple example, starting with these moves:

1.e4 e5 
2.d4 exd4
3.c3 Nf6!! – white is already being faced with difficult questions. If he plays Bd3 then what to stop black from striking with d5 where the white Queen will be blind to strike back.

On the other hand, if he is to play 4.e5 (which all things considered seems rather forced) the Knight will jump to the e4 square where amazingly enough, it can’t be dislodged so easily!

What should white then do to justify his opening choices with a black Knight posted on his own camp (right out of the opening) like a bone in his neck!?


If he plays Nbd2 or Bd3 black answers with 5…d5! And amazingly enough, black is better!

White’s over extended pawns will prove as a weakness when black either uses them to speed up his own development or when he breaks them up from there pawn-chain-base and captures them at ease.

In addition it seems that white can’t capture cxd4 at all!! For instance after 5.Nd2 d5 6.Nxe4 dxe4 7.cxd4?? will be met by Bb4+ / Qxd4! And black wins!


Important notice! If black had played 4…Nd5 instead of 4…Ne4 he would not have the d5 freeing move (or leaver) at his disposal.
This simple thing is the basis for positional understanding.

Another example from the Alekhine Defence:

1.e4 Nf6!!? – black forces white hand straight from move one! White can choose calmer approaches but for our purposes will follow the main line…
2.e5 Nd5 – (2…Ne4 here will be a losing move in view of 3.d3 Nc5 4.d4 with similar play to the example of the first game we looked at in lesson 1)
3.c4 Nb6
4.d4 d6! – black is using whiite’s disadvantage as his own advantage.
White over advanced his pawn(s) and is now facing a form of concession. He will either have to waste another pawn move to protect this pawn by playing f2-f4 which will also expose his position. Or, exchange a pawn (that moved a lot) with a pawn that hasn’t moved much.


White can also play Nf3 but after dxe5 Nxe5 (so not to lose the pawn centre and allow QxQ+) black has Nbd7 which forces white either to retreat (losing another tempo) or exchange an active piece with a cramped one. Meaning, helping black with his own development!

Therefore, it’s probably best (in theory) to play exd6 where black will be able to capture while developing. Also important to notice here is that after the capture cxd6 black captured a centre pawn for a wing pawn, yet another plus into black’s arsenal!

White has not been out played or made real mistakes for what he has lost was gained by other measures. White has more space, a nice centre with two good pawns and black’s b6 Knight is slightly misplaced.

The Alekhine is based on playing against weaknesses and gaining dynamic equality by doing so.

Decision making of development that affects the course of the game