The Art of Attack in Chess
Careful study of the art of attack should bring an improvement in chess results.
Chess players of former generations derived a considerable amount of knowledge – and pleasure – from the study of well-written chess books.
Don’t neglect the classics
The study of databases and overreliance on chess engines has certainly changed the situation over the last couple of decades. As previously mentioned, there is a risk of our rich chess heritage being overlooked, which is why I was pleased to see Steinitz being honoured by the chess elite in the recent memorial event.
Chess literature has a rich heritage too and it would be a mistake to neglect the classics.
I recently reacquainted myself with The Art of Attack in Chess by International Master Vladimir Vuković, complete with Chessable’s MoveTrainer™ for an enhanced study experience.
The Chessable version is an adaptation of the Everyman Chess edition, edited by Grandmaster John Nunn. Additionally, the material has received an engine-check by Chessable’s Fide Master Kamil Plichta to weed out some inaccuracies from the original analysis.
We recently presented material from Anna Rudolf ’s Chessable course, Anna’s Anatomy of the Attack and showed an example of how to attack the castled king. The Art of Attack in Chess is almost entirely devoted to the very same subject, all bar two chapters on attacking an uncastled king.
I studied the book, cover-to-cover, a long time ago. As I reinvestigated the book with much older (and hopefully wiser) eyes, I felt a strong reconnection with the material.
In amongst the 13 chapters of attacking wisdom, I found myself drawn instinctively to the two chapters that had made the deepest impression on me, all those years ago: Focal-points and The Classic Bishop Sacrifice.
The Art of Attack: Focal-points
Studying the chapter on Focal-points brought a sharp increase in the potency of my own attacks over the chess board.
As the book puts it:
‘Generally speaking, every focal-point is a weak square in the defender’s territory and a potentially strong one for the attacker.’ This is especially so when such a point is adjacent to the opponent’s king.
The book offers a fine selection of instructive attacking game – with Alexander Alekhine well to the fore, as is to be expected.
However, it should never be forgotten that all of the World Champions enjoyed fabulous tactical ability, including Alekhine’s immediate predecessor, the great José Raúl Capablanca; otherwise they would never have risen to the summit of the chess world.
The book quaintly uses this example amid a sea of attacks on g7, bothering the black king, and is keen to show a similar attacking idea at the other side of the board.
Coria – Capablanca
Buenos Aires, 1914
‘In order not to be unfair to Black, who tends to suffer in books such as this, here are some actual cases where White came to grief on the analogous square g2. This position arose in the game Coria-Capablanca, Buenos Aires 1914. Black, to move, attacks g2:’
1 …Bh3! 2 Ne3 Bxg2 3 Nf5
‘White played this in desperation; if 3 Nxg2 Qg5 4.f3, Black plays Nh3+ and wins White’s queen – a typical trick in positions such as this.’
3…Bxe4 4.Ng3 Nh3 checkmate.
The Art of Attack: The Greek Gift Sacrifice
The Classic Bishop Sacrifice also known as The Greek Gift, strips away a key part of Black’s defensive wall with Bxh7+ (and Black, similarly, will play …Bxh2+ if given the chance).
Vuković breaks down the factors required to award the sacrifice a greater chance of success.
Here is a sample of the explanatory prose:
‘White must firstly have a queen, a bishop and a knight. The light-squared bishop must be able to reach h7 in order to force the tempo of the attack, though it is not essential that it should put Black in check or take a pawn in so doing. The knight should be within easy and safe reach of the square g5, and the queen within reach of h5, though in some cases it is enough for it to be able to get to some other square on the h-file.’
Vuković goes on to highlight the specific favourable positions for the various supporting pieces. The interested reader will discover much more on the subject by purchasing the Chessable course.
Here is a teaser to be going on with.
Colle – O’Hanlon
The unassuming Colle System (1 d4 2 Nf3 3 e3) is actually excellent for those wanting to test their Greek Gift powers. The bishop quickly finds its natural home on d3 and from there it is very nicely placed to worry the h7-pawn.
In this position Colle famously unleashed the sacrifice with 12 Bxh7+ Is it sound, or can Black survive?
Don’t neglect the classics! Head for the course right now where you can find a brand new 29hr video version from Grandmaster Simon Williams. Hot off the press!