Kings Side Attack versus Queens Side Attack

In Game 12 Kline was overwhelmed before he realised what was happening, while in Game 14 Burn played too defensively and was overrun. But when the player who is being attacked on the Q side uses his resources fully and promptly the game can take on a different and more lively aspect.

If one side prosecutes his attack on the Q side wholeheartedly, it follows that he cannot have much material left to guard his King—perhaps a light garrison such as Duras' Knight in Game 14. Then a feasible plan for the other side —and usually the best plan—is to strike hard at the King. This conflict of strategic aims, with Q-side attack by one side and K-side attack by the other proceeding simultaneously, makes for palpitating struggles, in which high position judgement is called for at every turn to decide whether to push on with one's own plans or spare a move for defence. Many of the grandest battles in the history of the game are of this type, the advantage changing hands repeatedly as the tide of battle fluctuates. The next example is just such a game: Lipschiitz wages a full-scale war against Blackburne's Q side, and Blackburne, with the iron nerve for which he was famous, decides to leave the attacked flank to its fate and to play for mate or die in the attempt.

New York, 1889

White: Blaekburne Black: Lipschutz

Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defence

In the chess openings fashions come and go. The Queen's Gambit Declined enjoyed a tremendous vogue in the late nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth, after which it was gradually supplanted in master play by the various Indian defences. Yet it is still perfectly playable.

3 Kt-QB3 Kt-KB3

4 Kt-B3 P-QKt3

8 PxP PxP

The Duras Attack (Game 12) was of course unknown at the time.

All this is very much in the style of the period. Now Lipschutz tries to get an attack going.

11 B-KB4 P-QB4

The die is cast. The value of the Q-side majority had often been demonstrated by Steinitz, and Lipschutz decides to play his game on the Q side. It would have been typical of Blaekburne, had he been Black, to choose at this point ..., P-KKt4, after which the game would have diverged

Q-side majority versus fine development

rapidly towards the type shown in Chapter 3. Part of the fascination of chess lies in the scope it gives for the mysterious and intangible quality which can only be called 'style'. The chessmaster, like the artist in sounds or colours, may sometimes have a style as individual as his handwriting.

The exploitation of the Q-side majority, on which Lipschlitz has set his mind, will not be an easy process, for Blackburne's pieces, in marked contrast to those of Burn in the previous game, are splendidly developed.

With this bayonet attack Blackburne gives notice that he means to get there first.

This apparently retrograde move is in fact the quickest way of bringing the white Queen into the attack.

14 BxKt

15 Kt-K5

16 P-KKt4

BPxB Kt-B3


18 P-KR3

19 Q-Kt2

20 Kt-K2

P-QKt4 P-Kt5

The two attacks take shape almost independently of each other. Each player backs his own judgement that his attack will prove the more deadly.

Very wisely Black pauses for this defensive move, which takes the sting out of White's threat of P-Kt6. The important tactical point, which is common to many positions like the present one, is that if White had been allowed to play 26 P-Kt6, attacking both pawn and Rook, an exchange of pawns would have been inevitable one way or the other, and White's attack would have been very much helped by the open file. When using a Q-side majority it is of paramount importance to prevent—if at all possible—the opening of files on the K side. If White should now play 26 P-Kt6, the reply would be simply 26 ..P-KR3, keeping the KKt file closed. White must therefore continue building up his attack and making preparations for breaking open the file, and during this process Black will have time to engineer real threats of his own on the Q side.

A most menacing situation has developed. There is no doubt about it: the white Q side is defenceless and the whole sector will collapse. The only apparent consolation for White at this moment is the fact that a powerful defender has left the K side.

Two united passed pawns in the middlegame nearly always lead to a very quick win. There are games on record

21 Kt-Kt3

22 KtxKt

23 Kt-K2

24 KtxB

25 P-Kt5

Kt-Q2 RxKt BxB

27 R-KKtl B-Bl

29 P-Kt3

30 PxP


in which heavy sacrifices have been made in order to obtain such an advantage. Nothing short of a miracle can now save White from the advance of these pawns. Blackburne, however, had produced a fair number of miracles in his career, and he now has another valuable avenue of attack in the open QB file, down which a Rook will immediately penetrate to enfilade the black King. But still that KKt file cannot be opened.

At this, of all times, the game had to be adjourned. Lipschiitz was satisfied that he had an easy win, and most of the experts present, including the World Champion, Steinitz, were inclined to agree with him.

The adjourned position

When the envelope was opened for the resumption it was found that Blackburne had at last carried out his long-impending threat of advancing the KKtP.

Lipschiitz replied without hesitation and no doubt heaved a sigh of relief. With the K side now firmly closed, nothing could stop the pawns.

33 RxPch!!

Consternation! It is reported that Steinitz, who had come 58

along to see the finish, stared at this move with blank incredulity.

The miracle has happened: Black will be mated before his pawns can take another step. This famous finish came back to mind vividly at the AYRO Tournament in 1938, when Capablanca got the better of Botvinnik on the Q side and established three pawns to one, only to be met with a crushing double sacrifice which laid bare his King—the second of the sacrifices being again Kt-KR5 ch! (cf. also Game 32).

36 Q-Q6 ch Resigns

White mates in three more moves.

This game demonstrates beautifully that in general it is the Q-side attacker who is on the more dangerous ground; for a Q-side breakthrough, though bringing success in one sector, may leave the opponent still able to fight, whereas a K-side breakthrough is likely to be immediately decisive.

That is by no means to suggest that the Q-side operation cannot also be an incisive winning weapon even if ably countered. We now watch a struggle which in broad outline is similar to the previous one; but in this case, although the K-side attack is vigorously pressed, it is the Q-side majority which is piloted to a triumphant conclusion. The winner was Alekhine at the age of twenty-two—-some thirteen years before he became World Champion. A few days after this game was played the tournament was broken off by the outbreak of war.

Mannheim, 1914

White: Flamberg Black: Alekhine

Ruy Lopez

1 P-K4


2 Kt-KB3


3 B-Kt5


4 B-R4


5 O-O


6 P-Q4


7 B-Kt3


8 PxP


9 P-B3


The game proper has not yet begun: all this is 'book' and can be found analysed in detail in works on the openings. Black's two Q-side pawn moves give him the basis for a later Q-side advance.

11 QKt-Q2 Kt-B4

12 Kt-Q4 KtxKt

13 PxKt Kt-Q6

Black feints at the K side. This is still the sparring stage, with the players not committed to their objectives.

White must decide whether to exchange pawns

White's next move will mould the rest of the game. By 16 P xP he could prevent the formation of a Q-side major ity, but then he would leave Black with a passed QP. Alekhine gave as the probable continuation: 16 ...,BxP; 17 BxP ch, KxB; 18 Q-B2 ch, K-Ktl; 19 QxB, P-Q5; 20 R-K4, R-Bl; 21 Q-R3, Q-Kt4; 22 P-KKt3, Kt-R6 ch followed by 23 RxB, and Black has triumphed on the Kside. This willingness to operate in any sector of the board at a moment's notice and to seize whatever opportunities the gods may present marks the great master. Conversely, the stubborn pursuit of a preconceived idea produces the rigid style of many a lesser mortal.

White decides against the exchange of pawns, and Alekhine continues smoothly with the Q-side-majority attack which is the subject of this chapter.

16 Kt-Kt3

White not only permits ..., P-B5 but actually invites it, so that, with the centre closed and Black working on the Q side, he may have a relatively free hand with his onslaught against the black King. By this strategy of deliberate provocation to a Q-side advance many brilliant games have been won—notably by Pillsbury about the turn of the century, and by many kindred spirits since.

Now the struggle sharpens, as the contestants build up their separate attacks. The general ideas are clearly marked out, and at this point both sides probably considered their chances satisfactory. Victory will go to the one whose methods are the more efficient and economical.

Compare Black's 12th move in the preceding game. This is a defensive precaution.

18 Kt-Bl

19 R-KKt3

20 P-B4

21 B-K3

King's-Side Attack versus Queen's-Side Attack Now the majority is really rolling.

22 Kt-Q2 Q-Kt3

24 Kt-Kt5 BxKt

25 RxB P-R5

Black is poised to strike. His position is comparable with that after Black's 19th move in Game 14.

28 PxP BPxP

This whole phase is strongly reminiscent of Duras' play (his 20th-24th moves) in the game just mentioned. The breakthrough is achieved in identical fashion.

30 RxRP RxR

31 PxR P-Kt7

Triumph of Black's Q-side attack

32 Q-Ql

Flamberg admits that his assault on the K side has failed. No power on earth could find a mating combination for White here, so there is nothing for it but to make a hasty retreat. He falls back in good order, but Black is not to be denied his victory.

As White withdraws his pieces from the K side Black can spare his strategic reserves for use in the attack.

33 R-Kt3


34 B-QKtl


35 B-Ktl


36 R-QB3


37 Q-Q3


38 Q-Ql


There are too many threats, and White has no reasonable continuation. Black intends 39 ..., RxB; 40 QxR, Q-R8 etc. If White tries to counter this by 39 R-K3 (to allow R-Kl) Black can play 39 ..., B-R5 followed by ..., B-B7. The Q-side majority has proved decisive in another game without a check.

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