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Positional Elements of Chess: Giving Up The Fianchetto Bishop E-mail
Written by WGM Raluca Sgîrcea, IM Renier Castellanos   
Wednesday, 08 July 2015 00:00

fianchetto In chess, the positional struggle is based on the accumulation of small advantages. There are several elements that a chess player must takes into consideration in order to unbalance the game in his favor. These elements are well known: pawn structure, bishop pair, weak squares, piece coordination, king safety, just to name a few of the most commonly used factors.


This may sound rather simple, but complexity comes when these elements collide with each other in certain positions. A player must assess correctly, evaluate which element has more influence on the position and act accordingly. In this article, we are going to show a few examples where the important fianchetto bishop is traded for a knight in order to permanently damage the opponent’s pawn structure. This strategy is not new to well experienced players, but beginners usually don’t consider this interesting possibility.

When the fianchetto bishop disappears, the king’s safety is immediately shaken. The bishop that covers the squares f6 and h6 (f3 and h3) is no longer there and, therefore, the opponent might have chances of an attack against the king. It belongs to a player’s skill and understanding to evaluate if the damage inflicted in the opponent’s pawn structure is worth the risk.

Let’s have a look now at the following diagrams:

fianchetto 1

Dominguez – Nakamura, Wijk aan Zee, 2004

Black to play

Here, the American Grandmaster played the strong move 13… Bxc3! ,creating doubled pawns in white’s structure. Obviously, his kingside lost a key defender, but the counterplay obtained was enough compensation. The weak c4 pawn became a target and the c5 square a strong outpost for black’s knight. Nakamura correctly evaluated that white’s pieces weren’t active enough to organize an attack against his king. The game eventually ended in a draw, but black had excellent chances.

Tip:

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fianchetto 2

Rotstein – Cebalo, Montpellier, 1996

Black to move

This game comes from the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian. With his last move, 12… Nd7, black was aiming to play around the center with moves like Nd4 or Nc5, but there was a third idea that white underestimated when he replied with 13. Rfd1. That idea was 13… Bxc3, permanently weakening white’s pawn structure and putting him in an awkward situation in which if he doesn’t succeed attacking the black king, his position is strategically lost. Due to the reduced material on the board, it’s difficult for white to seize the initiative, while black’s plan is very simple: to attack white’s weaknesses along the c-file.

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fianchetto 3

Ivanchuk – Timman, Tilburg, 1990

White to move

This position came up from the main line of the English Opening, after the standard opening manoeuvres for both sides. White has obtained quite a promising position. His pieces are harmoniously placed, putting pressure on black’s queenside. By now you should have become familiar with the idea of giving up the bishop for the c6 knight in order to ruin black’s structure. It’s no surprise that a top class player like Ivanchuck played here 15. Bxc6! ,obtaining a strong initiative on the queenside.

After seeing these examples, we hope that the reader has become acquainted with the idea of giving up the fianchetto bishop in order to ruin the opponent’s pawn structure and exploit this weakness. Knowing this idea will help you not only to execute it over the board, but also to prevent it from happening to you.

If you want to improve your chess level, you need to have a clear study plan. If you aim for a dramatic improvement at chess you need to work on all of the elements of the game in a systematic way:

  • tactics
  • positional play
  • attacking skills
  • endgame technique
  • classical games analysis
  • psychological preparation
  • and much more

That seems to be like a lot of things, and that is. But no worries, we have made it easy for you. Our comprehensive training course covers it all and much more. Sign up for 21 Day Training right now!

About the Authors:

Raluca Sgîrcea


WGM Raluca Sgîrcea is an active chess player and teaching chess for over two years.  European champion U10, winner of several Romanian national championship medals, Woman International Master title since 2011. One Woman Grandmaster norm. Highest FIDE rating 2302.


Renier Castellanos


IM Renier Castellanos is an active chess player and trainer for over 10 years, have worked for Chessbase and done live commentary on several major events, winner of many international tournaments. One Grandmaster norm. Highest FIDE rating 2529.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 July 2015 08:54
 

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