Playing Ostrich

The ability to create and to control the tension of battle is perhaps the principal attainment of the great player. – Savielly Tartakower

The unspoken corollary of Tartakower’s observation above is that the inability to control the tension of battle is a characteristic of the patzer. Tension, and the release of same, is the lesson of today’s game.

At the Denver Chess Club, my opponent David Hufnagel, a gentleman of club play if ever there was one, never a word of complaint on his lips, developed a reasonable game with Black.

Perhaps White should not have made the routine 11. Be3 and held off on placement of his black-squared bishop and instead looked to his pawns and the opening of the center with 11. Qe2. An unrealized theme of this position was Black’s potential to occupy e5 or c5 with a knight or c5 with his queen with early dynamic equality.

In any event, White struggled to show advantage on the queenside while Black mounted a promising attack on the kingside, an attack simultaneously empowered and hindered by the early exchange of his queen’s bishop for White’s king’s knight.

The critical moment came at Black’s 20th move. Nervous about the disposition of White’s queen’s bishop, Black chose to … release the tension he had labored to create and close the kingside with 20… f4? After 21. Bf2, Black’s queen hurried home to bury its head in the sand.

White then had a fairly free hand on the queenside, and after the ostrich-like  25… Nc7, Black was dead lost.

If asymmetric tension makes a player nervous and prone to false starts, that player should avoid the King’s Indian and play the symmetrical queen’s pawn game or the Nimzo-Indian/Queen’s Indian.

Jacques Delaguerre