Don’t Forget The King …

It is often said that a chess player should not forget their King — and of course rightly so. We should not forget that our whole game revolves around it. We strive to keep our King safe, and to be the undoing of the opposition King. And, ultimately, to capture it.

However, this being said, it is often the case that the King can leave his defences and become an attacking piece. Normally this happens in the endgame, of course, but it does not necessarily have to be that late in the game. There are many exceptions in chess, and one should always have an open mind and look for new twists. It can come about that the King can make a very big difference even in the middlegame.

Take the example below, between Dutch Grandmaster Jan Timman, and British Grandmaster and former World Championship candidate, Nigel Short.

White gets the better of the opening, which is an Alekhine’s Defence, and thanks to some rather unadventurous play by black it has to be said, soon holds a commanding edge. Accordingly, Short shows why he has a reputation for being one of the games most attacking players.

His 24.Rd8! marks the beginning of the end, and upon 26. R8d7, Black can respectably resign. At 28…Rae8, white is in total control, and the black pieces are mere spectators. Then comes the twist. With the black position cramped and passive, white’s 29. Qf6! (not just a mere check) restricts it further. Then follows his 30. h4! And a safe path has been opened for the white King to triumphantly march up the board and make a decisive contribution to the battle. Notice how even with major black pieces on the board, the white monarch is under no imminent threat while the black King is doomed in his own house.

A perfect example of not forgetting one’s King if ever there was one — well, from White’s point of view, anyway …

John Lee Shaw