Sveshnikov’s Advice

For those fortunate enough to have the language, the Russian live commentary on the Candidates was a treat. Sergey Shipov is the best live commentator in the world, and is well worth the price of admission by himself, but he also had some great guests.

I was especially pleased to hear Evgeny Sveshnikov, an early chess hero of mine. Although a bit cranky in some of his ideas, he is a deep thinker on chess and his comments on the games were fascinating. I liked his discussion of IQP structures in the context of the game Andreikin – Topalov.

There has always been a debate about how to play against the IQP. Nimzowitsch always talked about blockading it, but Larsen’s advice was that it is better to win the pawn! Sveshnikov summarised the argument very nicely and succinctly – if you have a lead in development, then play to win the pawn, but if the IQP-holder has the lead in development (as is more often the case), then you must play for the blockade.

Sveshnikov also named game 9 of the 1981 Korchnoi-Karpov match as a genius example of how to play against the IQP. Karpov exchanges the minor pieces, gangs up on the IQP, induces the weakening of the white K-side (especially 30.f4, trying to hold back the e6-e5 break), and finally converts his pressure into a mating attack.

Steve Giddins