Play on both flanks

To keep the continuity with the 2nd video lesson and More on Flexibility, we will examine another game of Anatoly Karpov. This time he started a fight for open a-file and then suddenly struck on the other flank to win the game.

Anatoly Karpov – Wolfgang Unziker

After the Ruy Lopez was played in the opening, both players are fighting for the open a-file. For now, Nb7 and Bc2 are bad pieces being blocked by their own pawns, but Black has bigger problem. Nb7 is obstructing Black from doubling/tripling heavy pieces on the a-file. On the other hand, White can simply move Bd3 and proceed with Qd2-Ra1-Rea1.

  1. Qd2 Rfc8

Other possibility was 19… Rfb8 with Qc8.

  1. Bd3 g6 21. Ng3 Bf8 22. Ra2 c4 23. Bb1

Bishop on b1 is not a slightest problem. White can continue Qb2-Bc2-Rea1.

23… Qd8

Also possible was Nd8 but White still gets a-file 23… Nd8 24. Re2 Rxa2 (24… Qb7 25. Ra5 Rxa5 26. bxa5 b4 27. cxb4 c3 28. Qa2 and White pawn is very fast) 25. Qa2 Qb7 26. Qa1! Ra8 27. Ra2

  1. Ba7!

Unusual and very nice solution! Bishop is shortening file for Black pieces and covers it until White doubles Rooks. Black has to regroup and support Ra8 after the file gets open again. This is pretty much limiting Black’s mobility and ties his pieces on passive position. Let’s see how Karpov made use of this advantage.

24… Ne8 25. Bc2 Nc7 26. Rea1 Qe7 27. Bb1 Be8

After achieving current maximum on the queenside, Karpov is directing his attention to the other flank, preparing f4 and grabbing more space.

  1. Ne2 Nd8 29. Nh2 Bg7 30. f4 f6 31. f5 g5

Another phase is completed. Next on Karpov’s agenda is exchanging his worst piece – Bb1. After that, light squares in Black’s camp will be awfully weak. Here we see connection with flexibility, Karpov is changing plans according to the position’s demands.

  1. Bc2! Bf7 33. Ng3 Nb7 34. Bd1! h6?!

This unnecessary weakening is only speeding up the disaster. White will make good use of g6 square later.

  1. Bh5 Qe8 36. Qd1 Nd8 37. Ra3 Kf8 38. R1a2 Kg8 39. Ng4! Kf8

39… Bxh5 40. Nxh5 Qxh5 41. Nxf6 wins Queen.

  1. Ne3 Kg8 41. Bxf7 Nxf7 42. Qh5 Nd8

42… Nh8 stops Qg6 but after 43. Ng4 Qxh5 44. Nxh5 Kf7 45. Bb6 Rxa3 46. Rxa3 Ra8 47. Rxa8 Nxa8 48. Bd8 and Black is in nasty zugzwang.

43. Qg6! Kf8 44. Nh5 and Unziker resigned 1-0