BtM 20A: My Cat Keeps Purring Quietly

May 1989, Position B


Black to play
Ripley - Ivell, British Club Championship 1989

Contributions to the comments box are welcome. I’ll reply with what the Masters have to say about their choice to anybody who suggests a move.

Scroll down to see some commentary from me and the Masters’ feedback.

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My Cat Keeps Purring Quietly.

I learned this phrase watching a Chess Pit video just before I looked at today’s position. It’s a prompt for what to consider when evaluating a position:-

M - Material
C - Centre
K - King position/safety
P - Pawn structure
Q - Quality of Minor Pieces

I thought I’d give it a go. 

I always make a note of as many of the different characteristics of a position before I start analysing it. I had/have a bad habit of plunging into an in-depth analysis of the first move that occurs to me and can end up spending a lot of time looking at something that’s total rubbish. And when I realise that and look for an alternative it’s not at all unusual for me to immediately see an obviously promising alternative.

I guess what I’m trying to do is come up with candidate moves.

Here’s what I came up with using the My Cat … system.

Material
Levelish. I have the two bishops with an unopposed light squared bishop. This could prove to be a long term advantage.

Any edge that’s going here is with Black.


Centre
I have a pawn in the centre, White has none. My pawn is defended by another pawn.  White has a well placed knight on d4 and an outpost on c5.
Black has good control of e4 and c4. If White tries to cover them with pawns it will create weaknesses so they can be considered pseudo-outposts. It helps that I have a light-squared bishop and White doesn’t.
I might have the opportunity to push White’s pieces back in the future by …c6-c5 (and maybe -c4) and …d5-d4.
In the long-term I have more central control because of the pawns, but White has good pieces at the moment.


King Safety
My king is very safe. There’s no realistic prospect of a direct attack by White (g2-g4-g5 just looks far too slow).
White’s king should be safe but the pawn on a3 gives Black attacking chances. Either with a rook sacrifice on b2 or a bishop sac on a3. There might be a chance to chase away the defending knight on c3 by pushing a pawn to d4.
Again, any edge here is to Black’s advantage.


Pawn Structure
Definitely in White’s favour. White has two pawn islands, Black has three. Black has hanging pawns and an isolated pawn. 
My pawn structure has created weak dark squares on d4, c5, b6 and a5.


Quality of Minor Pieces
Again in White’s favour. The bishop-three knights are more or less equivalent. My dark-square looks passive at first glance but it defends the kingside, defends some key central squares and can potentially take part in a queenside attack. White probably wants to trade these bishops which shows that the bishop might be on f8 but it’s very much in the game.

The real difference is the bishop on d7 against the knight on d4. My bishop is doing nothing but defend a pawn and has limited scope for improvement at the moment. Long-term the bishop pair could be a real advantage, but right now - and especially if White can trade the Be3 for the Bf8 - my minor pieces are worse.




So there you go. You probably don’t want to me doing this sort of thing in a game with the clock ticking. As a training exercise, though, I think it’s really useful to help develop intuition.

When I started looking at this position my first impression was that things weren’t at all clear. After considering MCKPQ I thought that Black should be better and what’s more a direct attack on the king was the way to go.

So I started by looking at … Rxb2. That as it turned out, is the 10 point move. I should confess that I eventually talked myself out of playing it, but that’s another story.

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POINTS
10: … Rxb2
6:  … Bxa3, … Bc5, … Qc7, … c5
3:  … Ne4, … g6

MASTERS
… Rxb2: Suba, Flear, Levitt, Davies, Norwood, Martin, Lane, Botterill, S. Arkell
… Bxa3: Kosten
… Qc7:  Adams
… c5:   Plaskett, Pein
… Bc5:  Mephisto Academy

SOURCE

1 … Rxb2, Ripley - Ivell, British Club Championship 1989

Comments

  1. I saw 1. ... Rxb2 2. Kxb2 Qxa3+ 3. Kb1 Rb8+ 4. Nb3 and wasn't convinced the attack was worth a room (for two pawns). What's the best line? Is it 3. ... c5 instead?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Adam,
      The very first line I looked at was the same as yours ... went a move or two further after 4 Nb3 and didn’t think Black had enough.

      The game went
      1 ... Rxb2, 2 Kxb2 Bf5 (which I totally missed) 3 Qxf5 Bxa3, 4 Kb1 ("?" - according to CHESS) Qxc3, 5 Bc1 Bxc1, 6 Kxc1 Qa1+, 7 Kd1 Qxd4+, 8 Kc1 Qa1+ "winning".

      I’ve not checked any of that with an engine mind.

      Delete
    2. FLEAR wanted to switch the move order around
      1 ... Rxb2, 2 Kxb2 Bxa3+ ("!" - Flear), 3 Kb1 Bf5 ("!" - Flear) "winning"
      and BOTTERILL agreed
      but
      NORWOOD also has ... Bf5 as the second move.

      I guess the key point is deflecting the queen or gaining a tempo if White tries Qd2.

      Incidentally regarding 1 ... c5 which you suggest in the comments yesterday, BOTTERILL says,
      "1 ... c5, 2 Nb3 Rxb3, 3 cxb3 d4, 4 Bd2! is unconvincing"

      Delete
    3. Ah, that looks good. I saw Bf5, but only on move 4 when it's less effective. I suppose another theme is bringing the other bishop into the game more by taking on a3 with that, rather than the queen.

      Delete
  2. Like Adam I started with 1 ... Rxb2. It would have been worth 10 points but I couldn’t make it work.

    Then I tried 1 ... c5 (6 points); went back to 1 ... Rxb2 again; gave up on it again; had a look at 1 ... Ne4 (3 points); abandanoned 1 ... Ne4; tried ... c5 again but still didn’t like it.

    Ended up with 1 ... Bd6. Which is worth 0 points.

    Hey ho.

    ReplyDelete
  3. One more comment on 1 ... c5
    HIARCS seems to think that the position at the end of BOTTERILL's line is clearly better for Black.

    I'd seen up to 3 d4 and then thought that White could play 4 Bxd4 missing that after ... cxd4, 5 Qxd4 Black would have 5 ... Qg5+ and 6 ... Qxg2 picking off another pawn.

    ReplyDelete

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