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The Necessity to Attack
The attack is one of the most traditional (and surely the oldest) winning methods. I have come across the opinion that due to the higher technical level, successful attacks are more rarely seen nowadays, but specialists used to say exactly the same in different historical periods. Chess is inexhaustible and its essence always remains the same. Returning to Vukovic's statement (mentioned in the article dedicated to tactics), attacking involves a high degree of commitment. If the opponent manages to defend, it is quite probable that some of the pieces we had transferred to the area of interest will remain misplaced. Things are even clearer when the attack is based on sacrifices. If the attacker does not deliver mate or retrieve the material, he will simply be lost. To understand the deep essence of an attack, we should also refer to other sports. The first coming up to my mind is handball. The team in control of the ball builds the attack systematically, but nothing would really work if there was not that moment of magic, allowing to catch the opponent's defence on the wrong foot.
Attacking is not only a luxury or whim that a talented and daring player can allow himself. As pointed out by Steinitz, the player having an advantage has the obligation to attack, as otherwise he would be doomed to lose his superiority or even get into a worse position.
I find the example below to be highly relevant to this aspect. But being faithful to the pattern initiated in the previous article, I first invite you to think over Black's next move in the current position.
We had a similar section in the previous database. Reformulating a bit and leaving the subjective elements (such as a player's style or mood on that specific day) aside, we can identify two main causes for launching a premature attack.
1) The player judges the position abstractly, arriving at the wrong conclusion that everything is prepared for a resolute attack, based on burning all bridges behind him. In such situations less obvious elements may slip from his attention, causing an incomplete understanding of the situation.
2) The player calculates a few main lines which work out well but fails to notice a possible early deviation by the opponent.
Building up an Attack
There are several possible scenarios leading to a promising attack for one of the players and we will investigate them in separate sections. We will start with those situations when the attack comes as a logical follow-up of the strategic phase. Obviously, one of the players is supposed to play a few inaccurate moves in order to land in trouble, but in this scenario, there are no tactical or "spectacular" mistakes. It is more about accumulating (or, if looked at from the other side, conceding) small advantages, resulting in a clear one.
King in the Center
The king's prolonged stay in the centre is maybe the clearest hint that the opponent should start a reckless attack. The fact that the king is more exposed in this area is only part of the truth. The lack of communication between rooks (and possibly other pieces) is no less important. If the opponent has better development, he is entitled to look for tactical or sacrificial ways to start his attack before the king escapes to one of the wings.
From the Center to the Kingside
One of the first things we learn in chess is that the centre has vital importance. A central pawn majority can result in creating a strong passed pawn while occupying the centre with pieces will most likely lead to stable domination. But from the perspective of our main theme, it is more important to illustrate how an advantage in the centre can be used for a sudden switch to a direct attack against the king. We will distinguish between two typical situations: the attacker has:
1) a central pawn majority
2) piece activity in the centre
In both cases, his better mobility allows him to develop the attack faster than the opponent can bring in defensive resources.
Counterblow in the Center
Continuing the discussion about the importance of the centre, we should refer to the very old rule: "An attack on the wing is best answered with a counterblow in the centre".
Such a counterblow can embrace two main forms, bearing some similarity with the categories mentioned in the previous section.
1) The opponent occupies the centre with pieces, which, due to their high mobility, can provide the king with adequate defence, while also putting pressure on our own position
2) The opponent destroys our seemingly strong pawn centre by means of piece sacrifices, allowing him to punish us if our attacking moves have been too committal
Communication between Wings
One of the most interesting situations arises when the attack has a global character, involving pieces situated on both wings. The typical scenario consists of a positional queenside attack culminating in a tactical blow on the kingside followed by a quick piece transfer from one wing to the other.
This section will focus on an element which is familiar to us already, namely attacks with the participation of all the pieces! I have designed a special section for it as such massive participation usually is a warranty for success.
There is a simple mathematical principle, once expressed by Kasparov. If you are attacking with, say, 7 pieces and the king is defended by, say, two pieces and two pawns, any sacrifice counts as an exchange. Before the sacrificial phase the fighting balance is 7 to 4, then becoming 6 to 3, 5 to 2 and so on, each time the modification favouring the attacker.
The mutual attacks with opposite castles, typical for several Sicilian systems, has for many decades been one of the most fascinating issues. With both kings in potential danger, the speed of action is essential, while all the elements examined before remain valid. In this section, we will discuss two games in which first White and then Black will find a smart way to add speed to their attacks.
In this section, you will find 29 interactive test positions which are organized in 9 subsections - The Necessity to Attack, Premature Attacks, Building up an Attack, King in the Centre, From the Centre, Counterblow in the Centre, Communication between Wings, Massive Attacks, and Opposite Castles.
Below I provide you with 5 interactive tests concerning the Necessity to attack.