In the few past posts there was a lot about the central principle of the life’s eternal struggle: to break free and stay unrestricted, or get restricted by the other side when basically one may only expect to have their battles lost.

Restrictions, restrictions, restrictions for them! And you want freedom of action for your men

To illustrate this, we’ll take a look at a game Victor the Terrible Korchnoi played against the prominent GM László Szabó half a century ago. Definitely, the best strategy ever is to fight your opponent’s one.  Having failed to anticipate The Terrible’s intentions, Szabo soon got into an enviable situation.

The commentary provided is by Victor the Terrible himself from his Selected Games, St. Petersburg, 1996 (today everybody writes (chess) books. You should read classics!)

Viktor Korchnoi – László Szabó
Leningrad – Budapest match, Budapest, 1961
A44: Semi-Benoni

1. g3 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. d4 c5 4. d5 e5 5. Nc3 d6 6. e4 Nd7 7. Bd3 Ne7

Korchnoi – Szabo, Leningrad-Budapest match, Budapest, 1961, after 7…Ne7

8. g3-g4!

With the positional idea to restrict the activity of the black pieces, the black Knights in the first place. After 8…O-O 9.g5 f5 10.f3 Black is still in a cramped position, even though they carried out the standard …f5.

8. … Nd7-f6 9. h2-h3? Having started with a modest idea of restricting mobility of the enemy troops, White is already planning (a little bit too soon!) for a pawn break in the center.  Correct was 9.f3

9. … a7-a6? Black had to play 9…h6!. If 10.f3 or 10.Nge2 there’s 10…g5 with about equality.

[Now we are going to witness the importance of “fight your rival’s plan” as the main strategic principle. Apparently, Szabo didn’t expect f2-f4 coming, that would leave the white King in the center seemingly too open. After the Black’s e5-pawn is gone, the White’s e4-pawn breaks free becoming an enormous power (always watch out for free-to-move pawns in the center!). The universal principle of existence in action: get free and unrestricted. The other side should think along the same lines. And here’s the conflict: White wants to get free by clearing all in his way, while Black is struggling to prevent this from happening and restrict the White’s e-pawn and with it the entire enemy army thirsty of blood. The fierce battle for the e5 is ahead. Had Black anticipated Victor the Terrible’s intentions, he should have directed his full attention to stopping e4-e5 with 9…h6 (instead of a meek 9…a6, basically waste of time in a critical moment) to activate the e7-Knight. That’s why …h6 and …g5 is necessary – to clear off the g6-square for the black Knight.  But White uses some tactics (tactics must support strategy!) against this, exploiting now the weakness of the d6-pawn, vulnerable once the black e5-pawns, the linchpin of the Black army’s defensive formation, has been removed! CC]

10.f4 exf4 11.Bxf4 g5 12.Bg3 (12.e5 Nxg4) 12…Ng6 leads to an extremely sharp play with good counter chances for Black. The following line is illustrating the struggle for central squares vividly: 13.Nf3 (possible is also 13…h5 14.Nb5 hxg4 15.Nxd6 Kf8 16.Nxg5 Nh5 17. Ngxf7 Qa5+) 13…Qe7 14.Nb5 Nf4 15.Bxf4 gxf4 16.e5 dxe5 17.d6 Qd8 18.Nc7+ Kf8 19.Nxa8 e4.

In the last line 16.Qd2 seems to be stronger with the idea 16…a6 17.Nxd6+ Qxd6 18.e5 Qe7 19.O-O-O with full compensation for the piece.

10. f2-f4!  Now it’s convincing!

Korchnoi – Szabo, after 10.f4!

10. …e5xf4  Black had to take on f4 as they may have expected both fxe5 and f4-f5 threats.

11. Bc1xf4 Nf6-d7   Or 11…h6 12.e5 dxe5 13.Bxe5 O-O 14.Nf3 with advantage. 

12. Ng1-f3 Qd8-c7 13. Qd1-d2 h7-h6 14. Qd2-h2! Nd7-e5 15. Nf3xe5 d6xe5  In case 15…Bxe5 16.Bxe5 dxe5 the f6 square may show very weak.

16. Bf4-e3  In the end White won the battle for the center, having prevented Black from the possibility to occupy the e5 square with a piece [the e5-pawn is now heavily restricting its own pieces! CC]. White has advantage in more space, a strong protected QP, a half open f-file. They have possibility of an active play either on the Queen side (attacking the c5 Pawn), or on the other side as well.

16. …Bc8-d7  As it will be seen later, Black’s position remains unpromising. Yet they had to play 16…g5 and after 17.Qf2 b6 18.b4 White stands better, but Black saves some counter chances with Ne7-g6-f4 and h6-h5.

17. Qh2-g1Ra8-c8 18. h3-h4 Ne7-g8 19. Bd3-e2 Qc7-d6 20. g4-g5 h6-h5 21. Rh1-h2 Ng8-e7 22. Rh2-f2 O-O 23. O-O-O Rc8-c7?

Korchnoi – Szabo, after Rc8-c7?

The Black’s position is lost. The plan is to double the Rooks on the f-file, post one Rook on f6, and after recapturing with the other, or even the g-pawn, there will bring about an attack that can’t be defended [only now after having created a strategically superior position White might expect some tactical blows to come about! Without a working strategy, tactics is as dead as a doornail! CC].

On 23…Rb8 strong is an immediate 24.Rf6 Bxf6 25.Bxc5. If 23…b6 then 24.Qg3 and 25.Rdf1.

However Black could still offer resistance with 23…Kh7. In that case, after 24.Qg3 Be8 25.Rdf1 Ng8 White should prepare breakthrough on the other side. Also was possible 23…b5 trying to gain some initiative by sacrificing a pawn. Anyway, White could have ignored all that and go on with his plan.

The last move was a huge blunder letting White to carry out the planned strike at once.


Still followed: 24… Bxf6 25. gxf6 Qxf6 26. d6 Nc6 27. dxc7 Nd4 28. Bxh5 Qd6 29. Nd5 Bc6 30. Bh6 Bxd5 31. Bxf8 Qxc7 32. cxd5 Kxf8 33. Bg4 c4 34. Qg3 1-0

* * *

It’s all about the freedom of movement for your chessmen, so they may be able to dominate by exerting their power unobstructed.

Again, the universal principle of warfare is this: you cannot get superiority before and unless you put restrictions on the other side, whatever that might be, an opponent in chess, business competition, or a rival in sports…

And that’s your strategy, your Way. “Your craft of the warrior. Commanders must enact the craft, and troopers should know this Way. There is no warrior in the world today who really understands the Way of strategy, A book of five rings, by Miyamoto Musashi (c. 1584 – 1645)

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