Every species is fighting for space, for survival, instinctively. So are we, humans. On the chess board as well.

When you possess space advantage, you tend to go for trying finishing off your opponent rather quickly. It’s difficult to stay patient with it. It’s part of your instinct.

Reti, one of the top players in the world during the 1910s and 1920s

Richard Reti (1889-1929). A brilliant chess mind

But how should you actually go about it? And how do you know when it is the time to start on them to convert your advantage?

We will also see how instinct takes over when they are under a prolonged pressure and threatened with reduced living space. There’s a pattern there you may want to know about,  and how to take advantage of.

It is Richard Reti who will tell us all about it today, in a strategy lesson from masters of the past…

Richard Reti – Victor Berger

The British Empire Club tournament, London 1927

Commentary by Richard Reti (in Shakhmatny Listok, No 17/1927)

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c6 3. g3 d5 4. b3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. Bb2 O-O 7. O-O Bg4 8. h3 Bf5 9. Qc1 Bxb1 10. Rxb1 a5 11. d3 Na6 12. Re1 Nc7 13. e4 Ne6 14. cxd5 cxd5 15.Qe3 Re8 16. Nd4 Nc7 17. f4 e6 18. Nf3 Na6 19. Re2 Rc8 20. Ne5 Ra8 21. g4 Nc7

Reti-Berger, London 1927, after 21…Nc7

22. Qf2!

When your opponent has a cramped position, the main thing is not to launch decisive operations prematurely (bold and italics are mine, chessContact). If you hastily do, it quite often leads to not a win, but to freeing your opponent. It is important to first create the optimum preconditions for a decisive breakthrough by way of the best possible pieces set up (Reti means piece harmony here, the main principle that runs throughout – once achieved, as you may take your time to easily maneuver within greater space you control, you may go for the final blow! – find out more about the harmonious piece cooperation here, in section C).

The text is aiming at e4-e5, or f4-f5, for what the queen leaves the e-file, giving support to the f-pawn at the same time. White is deliberately postponing the b1-rook employment hoping that the next opponent’s move will give him a hint as to where to move the rook – to e1, or f1.

22. …Ra6

The move solidifies defenses along the 6th-rank (in expectation of f4-f5), but is weakening the back rank. Now it’s clear that the rook will be more actively placed on e1.

23. Rbe1 h5

White benefits from what usually happens in similar situations: the opponent doesn’t want to die a slow death, instead they prefer being impaled through the chest with their own sword – that is, they open the game up themselves.

24. Bf3 hxg4 25. hxg4 Nd7

Otherwise, decides g4-g5 followed by Qh4 and Rh2

26. Nxd7 Qxd7

If 26…Bxb2, then 27.Nc5

27. Bxg7 Kxg7 28. Qd4+ f6

Forcing, on 28…Kg8, 29.Rh2 follows

29. exd5 Nxd5 30. Bxd5 Rd6 31. g5

There’s nothing Black can do. One possible line may be: 31…e5 32.gxf6+ Kf8 33.fxe5 Rxd5 34.Qh4 Rxd3 35.Qh8+ Kf7 36.e6 etc.

31. …exd5 32. Rxe8 1-0

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Read the classics. You can learn a lot from them. They are highly instructive!

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