The Seventh And Eighth Ranks

« 7. Introductory and general. Endgame or Middlegame. The choice of an objective. 'Thou shall not shilly shally!"

As we have seen in the second chapter the entry into enemy territory, in other words into the 7th and 8th ranks, forms the logical consequence of play in a file. I have sought to illustrate this entry by some particularly marked, because catastrophic, examples, but I must here, to offset this, emphasize the fact that, in the normal course of events, it will only be late, when we pass into the endgame stage, that the 7th rank will be seized, for catastrophes of whatever nature are, after all, only the result of serious mistakes of our opponent, and consequently cannot be regarded as the normal. We are therefore disposed to regard the 7th and 8th ranks as endgame advantages, and this despite the fact that numerous games are decided by operations in these ranks in the middle game. The student should, however, try to break into the enemy's base as early as possible, and if he at first finds that the invading Rook can accomplish nothing or is even lost, he must not be discouraged. It is part of our system to instruct the student at the earliest possible moment in the strategic elements of the endgame. Accordingly, after treating of the "7th and 8th ranks," "Passed pawns," and the technique of "Exchange," we will insert a chapter which, though properly coming under the heading "Positional play," must, for instructional purposes, find a place early. And after assimilating this, the 7th and 8th ranks will be to the student not merely a mating instrument, but much more, a keen-edged weapon for use in the endgame. As already remarked it is both, but its use as an endgame weapon predominates.

It is of the greatest importance to accustom ourselves to carry out operations in the 7th rank in such a manner that we have from the start some settled, definite objective. It is characteristic of the less practiced player that he chooses an opposite course, in fact he wanders about, looking first to the right, then to the left without any fixed plan. No, settle on your objective is the rule. Such an objective, as we have ' teamed, may be a pawn or a point. Which one, it matters not. But aimlessly drifting Irom one to another, this will expose you to a strategical disgrace.

j ♦ 2. The convergent and the revolutionary attack in the 7th rank. The win of a point or pawn with acoustical echo (simultaneous check).

In the position shown in Diagram 27 White chooses the c-pawn as his objective. Alter Black's ...Rc8, attack and defense balance one another, but by a procedure analogous to that used in a file, we now seek to disturb this equilibrium to our advantage. Accordingly let us suppose White to have a Bishop at e1 and Black a

Knight at g6, we would then attain our end by 1.Bg3, and if our Bishop had been at f1 (instead of e1), by 1.Ba6, driving away the defending Rook. Next let us suppose the forces on Diagram 27 increased by a White Rook at d1, and a Black Knight at g6, and that the White h-pawn is missing. The logical course would now be R1d4-c^, or perhaps 1 Rd8+ Rxd8 2.Rxd8+ Nf8 and White gets back to the 7th rank by 3.Rc8 c5 4.Rc7 etc. In Diagram 27 as it stands it should be noted the march of the White King to c6 would be the course to be aimed at, since the point c7 is our chosen objective.

The affair takes a similar course in the position on Diagram 28. White's objective is h7, since the win of this point would give the possibility of a deadly enveloping movement. 1 ...Rh6 2.Nf5 Rh5 3.g4 Rxh3+ 4.Kg2 Rxb3 5.Rh7+. White has arrived on h7. The defender, the Black Rook had to flee. White wins the point h7 and gives mate. 5,..Kg8 6.Rcg7+ followed by 7.Rh8 mate. The nature of a convergent attack on a chosen objective would seem to have been sufficiently illustrated by this example. Before, however passing to the "revolutionary" form of attack, we would underline as important the following rule: If the objective flees, the Rook must attack him from the rear. For example, a Rook on the 7th rank holds a Black pawn at b7 under attack. If now 1 ...b5, then 2.Rb7, and not a flank attack on the 5th rank. This rule finds its explanation in the following considerations: (a) The 7th rank is to be held as long as possible, since it is here that the new objectives may present themselves, (b) The enveloping attack (and 2.Rb7 was such) is the strongest form of attack (ranged in ascending scale: i, frontal, ii, flank, iii, enveloping), which (c) often forces the enemy to undertake cramping defensive measures. It should be noticed that in the case considered above a flank attack on the b-pawn would be comfortably met by ...Rb8.

In Diagram 29 let us "choose" g7. The fact that this point is well protected does not frighten us. We concentrate our attack by means of 1 .Ng3 a3 (the passed pawns are very threatening) 2.Nf5 a2 3.Qe5 (and now mate is threatened by 4.Rxg7+) 3...a1 =Q+ and the g-pawn is now again protected and White loses, so our objective, g7, was a poor choice. The right choice is h7, and its conquest follows from a "revolutionary" attack. 1.Nf6+ gxf6 2.Qe6+ Kh8 3.Qd7. Or 1.Nf6+ Kh8 (Black is stubborn) 2.Qxh6 (White is still more so!) gxh6 3.Rh7 mate, and on the chosen spot! This example shows us the idea of a revolutionary attack applied to the 7th rank. One pawn is forcibly gotten out of the way in order that action on the seventh

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