Difficult Positions


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The positions with only queens and rooks on the board are a special type of position.

They are notoriously difficult to play. In fact, they are one of the most difficult positions to play in chess. They are considered a borderline case between a middlegame and an endgame – there aren’t many pieces on the board, so they can be called endgames, but also the remaining pieces are strong enough to create mating threats and king safety is as important as in the middlegames, hence it is possible to consider them also as middlegame positions.

The absolute main principle in these positions is the importance of king safety. I have found that when one side’s king is safer it can often provide excellent compensation for a material deficit. Another important principle I discovered while analysing the game below is that it is usually the queen that enters enemy territory first.

I would like to illustrate these positions with a famous example. The game in question is the 5th game of the World Championship match between Lasker and Schlechter in 1910.

Apart from the pure chess content, the game is very instructive from a psychological aspect as well. Lasker, showing infinite self-confidence in his powers, manages to inject life and outplay his formidable opponent from a seemingly “dead-drawn” position.

However, the complexity of the position and the tension that arose turned out to be too much even for him as he didn’t manage to control the complications he single-handedly created.

The analysis of the game I provide was done with help from one of my students, for whom I am grateful. I can also suggest you play over the lines in the comments carefully and try to develop a feeling for the position. That is the only way to start playing them better.

You can download and see the game following this this link.

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