I’m reading Vladimir Vukovic’s Art of Attack in Chess and I love this highly-instructive guide. I’m not through the entire thing, but it does something I haven’t seen yet. It tells you how to gain an initiative. For instance, the author tells you how to make a king flee and how to attack along an open e-file; the next time you see a circumstance Vukovic has touched on you’re more likely to appreciate the extraordinary tactics present. I can already feel myself unlocking my inner berserk mode! Vukovic uses the following game to teach common mating-net errors. The text is from Chigorin-Caro (1898).
1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. f4 d5 4. d3 Bb4 5. fxe5 Nxe4 6. dxe4Qh4+ 7. Ke2 Bxc3 8. bxc3
What do you make of black’s enterprising play? Does he have enough for the knight? Whether or not you could win here depends on your ability to exploit the uncomfortable white king. You’ve got to tie the king down, either in the center of the board or an edge; establish a mating net for both the king’s current position and for any possible flight square; lastly find a focal point (the square which will host the lethal check). When you view the rest of this game do it through this lens. Consider the following:
Was the white king safe on his fourth rank? What does it take to really make a king mortally frightened?
Black’s attack didn’t stall but he did leave the white king alone for a while. Why is this? How do you know when it’s appropriate to abandon the monarch for a time? I find it very instructive that black secured the squares around the king, particularly on white’s second rank, before he continued the chase.
Can you see black’s motivation behind the quiet 22. Qg2? It’s not a hammer blow but it does chop off a large chunk of real estate. It really is very difficult, even with a local piece majority, to mate a king on the lam.
The 25th move is the high-water mark for black. How could he have prevented white’s king from finding a haven in the corner? Is it possible that he pursued the king too aggressively? Is there a time when the king is in the greatest possible danger given the positional considerations at hand? White’s king was a giggling mongoose baiting black into pursuit.
Bg4+ 9. Nf3 dxe4 10. Qd4 Bh5 11. Ke3 Bxf3 12. Bb5+ c6 13. gxf3 Qh6+ 14. Kxe4 Qg6+ 15. Ke3 cxb5 16. Ba3 Nc6 17. Qd5 Qxc2 18. Rac1 Qf5 19. Rhe1 Rd8 20. Qxb5 a6 21. Qb1 Qg5+ 22. f4 Qg2 23. Bd6 Qh3+ 24. Ke4 f5+ 25. Kd5 Qg2+ 26. Kc4 b5+ 27. Kd3 Qf3+ 28. Kc2 Qf2+ 29. Kb3 Rc8 30. Rc2 Qty 31. Kb2 Na5 32. Ka1 Qc4 33. e6 Nc6 34. Qd1 h5 35. Rg1 Rh7 36. Rxg7 1-0