Conclusion

We have now reached the end of our journey. While making no claim that we have exhausted the subject, we have, instead of merely enumerating variations, tried to examine thoroughly their basic ideas, in order to extract from them the general principles by which the opening of any game of chess is governed.,

Noting the evolution of these ideas in the course of this book, we have been led to point out such radical changes that the reader may have noticed contradictions in it. The closed centre has replaced the open centre, the advanced centre has given way to the backward centre. Territorial gain has seemed to be a disadvantage and rapid development itself has lost its pre-eminence with the realisation of the latent power of the pieces. The Bishops, too, have become cautious and take cover behind their pawns rather than venture into open country.

Thus, the principles laid down at the beginning of this work seem to inspire less reverence as we progress to the modern openings. Even the appreciation of gain of material is not unaffected by these changes; after having recklessly sacrificed in the Gambits to obtain a direct attack, we discovered that to be a pawn ahead was enough to win a game, a fact which condemned Gambits. Then the danger of capturing a pawn in the opening quickly showed itself with experience and we came to regard the gain of a pawn in the opening as delaying development and compromising the game. And, finally, here we are, to-day, Witnessing the revival of most unusual gambits, in which a pawn is sacrificed not merely for the sake of a strong attack,

138 conclusion r ——-------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----------------------! M, —- ! - 1 M % » »■'■lui' mm» w» ********

but for a mere positional advantage. Everything has been upset ; even the famous dictum, "A Knight at QKt3 is always badly placed," has been refuted in Alekhine's Defence, However, let us keep to the point and make use of this last example. An isolated case or an exception like this does not invalidate a general rule, which may suffer amendment without affecting its general applicability. Let us recapitulate the primary truths which have resisted the onslaughts of time and .fashion. Although a Knight is sometimes stronger than a Rook, the latter still remains the superior piece, and a Queen ts still stronger than a pawn, even though there may be occasions when a pawn wins against a Queen,

Similarly, central squares are and remain the most important on the board, and their occupation retains all its value. A good development is better than a bad one, and a large number of pieces in action can never be balanced by a limited number, etc. Actually we have learnt only the value of finesse ; but it should not cause us to overlook essentials, and we must not overdo it. The desire to be too clever leads us to ineffective finesse.

Perhaps we shall never be able to solve the question as to whether the initial position is ripe for the commencement of operations or whether it should undergo transformations by preparatory manœuvres ; the temperament and style of the player will more often decide that point than reason or logic.

The openings of to-day are imbued with the modern spirit.

Instead of bayonet charges and cavalry raids, we have trench warfare.

The resemblance goes farther than that : if we see, from day to day, new achievements in chess showing a greater desire for adventure, we see a revival of imagination and inspiration side by side with it. The name of the World's Champion alone calls to mind the deepest creations of the imagination.

This tendency in the opening finds its best interpreter of all in Alekhine : initiative before everything else. Neglect« ing mechanical development for a while, we can sometimes by direct threats, impose on our opponent some inferior formation. Development, provisionally suspended by both sides (and therefore without disadvantage) is afterwards taken up again with more precision when the skeleton of the game has already taken shape as a result of preliminary manœuvres. In the introduction, we spoke of the advantages of having the initiative for the development of the pieces : here it is a question of another kind of initiative based on tactical possibilities. For, to sum up, a game of chess is not only the methodical application of strategic principles ; tactical issues have an important place. Tactics are governed by imagination and throw in relief the personal qualities of the player during the game. These early attacks must, however, always be prompted by favourable tactical possibilities.

Take for example the Ruy Lopez. After 1. P—1&4,

P—K4; 2. Kt—KB3, Kt—QB3 ; 3. B—Kt5, P—QR3 ;

4. B—R4, P—Q3 ; 5. O—O, Black has an opportunity of taking the initiative by playing P—KKt4 because White's King's Knight has no good retreat and White has already castled on his King's side.

This tactical use of initiative is found again in the Wing Gambit of the Sicilian Defence and in Blumenfeid's Counter Gambit to the Queen's Gambit. It is always a matter of a sudden advance on the flank carrying a direct threat or else of a strengthening of the centre by drawing oif hostile pieces from this flank ; strategy based on tactics. For instance, let us examine the position shown in the following diagram.

NO. 37. POSITION AFTER WHITE'S IXTH MOVE

(Ahues v. Alekhine, San Remo Tournament, 1930)

NO. 37. POSITION AFTER WHITE'S IXTH MOVE

(Ahues v. Alekhine, San Remo Tournament, 1930)

It appears that no attack is possible for Black, for his pieces are in a purely passive formation and, besides, White has no weakness. However, Black, seizing a tactical opportunity, plays 11. P—Kt4, because White's Knight at B3 has no good retreat, and White cannot castle on the Queen's side on account of the open Knight's file. Further, this move has a positional object; the pawn at Kt4 will be used to support a Knight, which, eventually driven away from G4, will be safely established at B5.

Thus we arrive at the conclusion that we can not only attack a weak position, but also weaken a position by attacking it.

Consider now the position in the following diagram.

no. 38. POSITION AFTER WHITENS IOTH move

(G. Lazard v. Znosko-Borovsky, Paris, 1931)

By the same move P—KKt4 Black profits by the direct threats to the White Bishop at K.B4 and to the Knight, to open two lines of attack on White's King and to prevent him castling. Without these tactical possibilities, the object of the move, although good in itself, would perhaps not be attained.

Side by side with your strategical intentions chance positions occur, where tactics, appealing to the imagination, allow you to hasten the decision in your favour. Even there you must understand the relation of these tactical no. 38. POSITION AFTER WHITENS IOTH move

(G. Lazard v. Znosko-Borovsky, Paris, 1931)

possibilities to the strategical conduct of the development, for a slight advantage, momentarily obtained, can produce far-distant repercussions on the solidity of the structure and bring with It the loss of the game.

You will have noticed that many of the variations given in this book end in equality. This does not mean that the game has lost its interest. For, while White, having the advantage of the move, seeks to maintain and even strengthen it, Black starts the game under a slight handicap (the move), and his immediate object should be to obtain equality in order to assume the offensive eventually. Thus when we say that Black has equalised the game, we mean that the game has reached a critical stage when either White or Black may obtain the advantage.

Above all, the contest forces you to be yourself and to develop a sense of position. Do not trust to your memory or learn variations by heart. Learn how to pick out the directive ideas of an opening for yourself, and above all remember that you alone are the creator of your game, and your task starts with the very first move.

May this little book guide you in your perplexities,

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