Thursday 9 March 2017

Chess Structures

Normally my overseas travels result in me returning with lots of books, but 2 months worth of supplies meant that there wasn't a lot of spare room in the suitcase. I did pick up a few books here and there, but there was one book that was worth its weight in excess baggage charges.
"Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide" by Mauricio Flores Rios turned out to be the type of book that I had been searching for for many a year. Over 22 chapters, Rios describes a number of important pawn structures, and the standard middle game plans that go with each of them. He looks at them from both sides of the board, and gives model games for each of the plans. While the structures are usually named after well known openings, he points out that they don't just come from these openings, as pawn structure isn't always a function of moves.
As an example, the Caro-Kann formation is listed under the d4/d5 section, as it arises after Blacks d5 pawn captures on e4, while White has a pawn sitting on d4. This does occur in the main lines of the Caro-Kann, but also the Scandinavian (1.e4 d5 2.exd Qxd5 often leads to the same kinds of position).
Rios focuses on  positions where the pawn structure strongly effects the strategy employed, which means tactical structures like the Dragon, or solid ones like the Closed Ruy Lopez only get a brief mention. On the other hand there are a number of chapters devoted to the Kings Indian and French structures.
And it was the section of the French that gave me some recent inspiration (and success). Having studied (from Whites point of view) the section where White plays exf6 and then targets the backward e pawn, I came to the following game better prepared than I normally am. While I didn't get a clear advantage until right at the end (and my opponent missed a tactical trick after Rxe7), I felt I at least knew what sort of moves I should have been playing throughout. As a result I didn't feel the need to lash out at any stage, and while the finish was nice, it was they play that lead up to it that was just as important.

Press,Shaun - Patterson,Miles [C06]
University Cup, 07.03.2017

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