Pawns Over Knights
Chess has many principles, and many exceptions to them. Although almost everybody who learns to play chess is taught the relative values of pieces, there are many positions where the general rules simply don't apply.
In this week's featured game, chsnut puts on an extraordinary show of knight domination and containment ... with pawns! This game was played at a speed of 15/5 indicating that each player begins with 15 minutes and has five seconds added to their time with each move.
The awkward opening that emerges out of this Queen's Gambit Declined sets the tone for the entire game. As a player who has a fascination for the pawn's abilities, I appreciate the importance of them throughout the entire battle. From here on, we will follow the role of the pawn in this week's game.
Out of the opening, white obtains a clear central advantage with intact c, d, and e-pawns. With the dark-squared bishop complementing them down the a3-f8 diagonal, the pawns corral the black knights.
Black spends most of his time in the middlegame attempting to bring the knights into play, but he fails because it is easy for white to use a simple pawn push to reject any maneuvers.
The picture after 23 ... Qxb8 is actually humorous. The knight on e7 can only jump safely to c8, g8, and g6. From c8, it can only go safely back to e7. On g8, it can go to h6 where it is even weaker or back to e7. And on g6, it can go to f8 where it would do no good or go back to e7. The situation is hopeless.
When the minor pieces are finally traded, white ensures himself a protected passed pawn first, and then snaps off the knight, which had only recently found a reasonable home on d6.
Consistently, the pawn pushes to c7 and its threat to queen wins the game. This game is a masterpiece in pawn play.