When you need to win against a Stone Wall.
An unusual first move which I’ve picked up lately.
They call it the ‘Polar Bear’ system.
e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. g3 f5
With this move, Black is in the stonewall. Which could turn into a double stonewall, if I follow suit.
Fianchettoing the bishop, which doesn’t look promising. Black has a brick wall on d5.
Nf6 5. 0-0 Bc5+
Now black is cheekily inviting d4, forcing the game into double stonewall territory because he probably likes slow positions. If I don’t comply, then the move Ng4 is very annoying.
I went along with his plan.
Black keeps the bishop along this sensitive diagonal. This makes me slightly concerned about my King. On the other hand, black has lost control over a3-f8, which forms the basis of my next plan.
Before doing anything else, d4 must be fortified against any tactics against my King.
0-0 8. b3
Magnus Carlsen, who is an expert in boring positions, has tried this move in the Stonewall. It’s effective because Black has vacated the diagonal leading to the rook. White (me) can gain a tempo using Ba3, but not Bb2 (which looks good but is completely useless).
A thematic calvary outpost in the Stonewall, Black’s knight is supported by two pawns and cannot be driven back.
9. Ba3 Re8
And now White gains a little bit of time by harassing the Black rook.
This pawn break is important to avoid a completely drawn position. Black will, of course, avoid capturing on c4. It will weaken the support of his knight, and lengthen the scope of my bishop.
Meanwhile, I will avoid capturing on d5 – if he recaptures with the e-pawn, Black will have slightly liberated his bad light square bishop.
Black completes the Stonewall formation. Due to my time-gaining bishop move, I have a slight lead in development. His queenside has not developed yet.
The Black knight cannot be left uncontested for too long.
He’s preparing to challenge my bishop with Bd6. But that’s an awful lot of bishop moves – Bd4, Bb6, Bc7, Bd6 – surely, there’s a better use of time. The bishop can actually just go to d6 straight out of the opening. Definitely time wasted.
Since this is a doubled stonewall, I can do whatever Black does. He puts a knight on e4, I can put a knight on e5.
Bd6 13. Bxd6 Qxd6
Black now completes his Long Bishop March, and I chop it off straightaway.
14. Nxe4 fxe4
I also chop off his knight on e4, because why the hell not?
The result is doubled pawns for Black, a slight weakness in the pawn structure.
Double pawns are bad because they get in the way of each other. They are the equivalent of klutzes in the chess world.
As mentioned earlier, it would be a mistake for me to capture on d5. So there’s only one way to go, which is forwards. Gaining space. And time, by harassing Black’s queen.
The Black queen drops back, and his queenside still hasn’t moved yet.
So invest my time to gain even more space.
The position is not winning for White, but it is certainly full of small advantages.
- Harmonious pawn structure
- Good bishop
- Black has doubled pawns
- b5 pawn break
Black challenges my e5 knight.
17. Nxd7 Bxd7
I accept the trade immediately. Otherwise Black might give me doubled pawns.
Now Black’s only minor piece is a bad bishop. Having a bishop on the same color as the pawns is bad because they will stumble over each other.
Connecting the rooks and preparing the logical b5 advance.
Rf8 19. a4 a6
Black just doesn’t have space to do anything. He has to wait for me to play b5.
So I don’t rush into b5. Two rooks on the queenside first.
Compared to my rook, his is pretty sad. There’s no life behind the b7 pawn.
Now involving my bishop as well. It wasn’t doing much on g2.
g6 22. Qg2
In case of hostilities on b5, I don’t want my queen on the direct line of fire.
Now Black is advancing on the kingside. Could be annoying.
Putting a stop to any potential g5‘s and h4‘s. The Black advance is completely halted.
He is moving his king now.
So I move my king, too. This new villa is a bit more secluded and it protects g3.
I think Black has officially run out of ideas at this point. He’s just waiting for my move now.
So I take the time to double my rooks…
Qd8 26. Rba2
I’m not really sure if my rooks are better placed on the b-file or the a-file. I chose the a-file because Black is there.
And I am finally ready for b5. After much preparation.
What is this? Black tries to ruin my invasion by advancing his own b-pawn first.
27. cxb6 Qxb6
After chopping off his b-pawn, Black has a backward c-pawn. In compensation he has some frontal pressure against b4.
28. Qd2 Rfb8 29. Rb1
My b-pawn is secure for now.
Black has finally found a plan. Ganging up on my pawn!
This introduces the idea of Qc5 in some lines. Might be a useful queen outpost.
Now all of Black’s pieces are pointed at my b-pawn. Question. Should I play Rb2, following suit?
Of course not.
It’s better to gain even more space with a5. This also breaks Black’s formation since he has run out of squares to put the queen on.
Qa7 32. Rb2
And only now, the doubling of rooks.
Black seems to be rushing his king towards the center. I have no idea why.
After much consideration, the original plan of Qc5 has been abandoned. I don’t think White gains enough to justify that manouvre.
And the Black King has reached the center. Hooray!
Nope it doesn’t affect the evaluation of the position whatsoever. I am not even sure it does anything.
With Black’s army on the queenside, he can’t respond quickly to an attack on the other side of the board. Well my move is multi purpose
- It ties Black even further by forcing Ra8 to defend the a-pawn
- After Ra8 Black’s strength on the b-file is reduced.
- It supports the pawn break on the kingside, g4
Ra8 35. g4 hxg4 36. Qxg4
At long last a breakthrough is in sight. It didn’t come from b5 after all, but on the kingside instead.
- Black has an isolated g-pawn.
- It can be frontally attacked by rooks.
He rushes a rook over to the defence.
37. Qg5+ Kf7
The queen is pretty strong on g5. Black has no dark squared bishop to chase it away.
This seems to be a missed opportunity. Better is Rg2, establishing a battery on the g-file.
In the game I was concerned about my h-pawn and trying to play solidly. It’s still good.
Black’s stumbling rooks are trying to get to the kingside to defend against the incoming invasion.
But the attacking forces are in no hurry whatsoever. The bishop is leisurely relocating, putting itself on this diagonal so that it can prevent potential rook outpost on h5.
Black still moves a rook to the h-file. Although thanks to my preemptive measures, the pawn is already well-defended.
Now the pawn is fortified even further so it may become a battering ram with h5.
Now both Black rooks are on the kingside.
Before undertaking offensive measures, I take the time to secure my King by moving it away from the action. It won’t be good if my King gets caught in the crossfire.
I have a lot of time.
Now Black fortifies his a-pawn, freeing his queen to come to the kingside.
Centralizing my queen, before commencing with the invasion.
Black challenges my h-pawn. Now in my heart I know I should play h5, and I even calculated the attack for some time. In the end I decided to continue the theme of just playing solidly.
Going back to g4. Offering a queen trade.
So the queens have come off.
The f-file is open.
I still have more space, and a good bishop.
Black prepares the pawn break, e5, which will finally eliminate his doubled pawns.
And my king vacates the f-file because it’s better to get some rooks there.
e5 46. Rf1+ Kg7 47. dxe5 Rxe5 48. Rf6
It has taken forever but I’ve finally gotten inside the black position! My rook is firmly entrenched on the sixth rank, menacing all of Black’s pawns.
This lets go of Black’s a-pawn, but it was a goner. If he had tried defending with Bb7, then White has a strong bishop sacrifice with Bxa6. For example, Bb7 49. Bxa6! Bxa6 50. Rxc6 Bb5 51. Rc7+ Kg8 52. a6
Once my bishop is sacrificed to get Black’s queenside pawns, I would have connected passed pawns ready to promote.
But even stronger still is just Bb7 49. Bg4 Re7 (Black stops Bd7) 50 Rbf2, with completely dominant rooks. Be6 will follow, and then Black will totally collapse after Rf7+.
49. Rxe6 Bxe6 50. Bxa6
Sadly for Black, his bishop was deflected from the defence of his a-pawn. I’ve finally won something, a pawn. It should be enough to seal the game.
And it only took fifty moves!
Rb8 51. Be2 Bd7 52. a6
Passed pawns must be pushed!
He tries to physically blockade the a-pawn.
He’s no longer threatening my b-pawn so my rook can swing into attack mode.
Physically stopping my a-pawn from moving.
54. Kf4 Kf7 55. Ke5 Ke7
My king is now in a dominant position.
Once again, very patient.
Before I commit to an attacking move like h5, I want my rook to be able to swing to the kingside if necessary.
Black now commits two units to attack my a-pawn. But the problem with this move – he forgot about my pawn break from thirty moves ago.
The b5 advance is finally made under very advantageous circumstances.
Black is allowed to dissolve his backward c-pawn, but then his d-pawn will become weak. If he doesn’t trade, then my connected passed pawns will become an even bigger nightmare.
cxb5 58. Bxb5
Of course I don’t take the d-pawn immediately. Black has the skewer Be6+
Black protects his weak d-pawn.
Getting out of the way of Black’s bishop.
Also preparing the rook for invasion via the c-file.
Black offers the bishop trade. To dissolve his bad bishop.
60. Bxd7 Rxd7
I accept. That seems simplest.
I’m back on the sixth rank! And threatening Black’s pawns.
Black defends his isolated g-pawn.
His last chance at doing something was to lash out with d4. It doesn’t work – the pawn is too slow. After d4, Rxg6 wins. Lets consider the complicated win:
d4 62. Rxg6 dxe3 63. Rg7+ Ke8 64. Rxd7
Black’s e-pawn will promote. But White’s a-pawn will promote with check. e2 65. a7 e1Q 66. a8Q+ Kxd7
White’s space advantage seals the game. 67. Qb7+ Kd8 68. Ke6 Qxh4 69. Qb8#
Back to the game. Black’s king is driven to the kingside, far away from my promoting a-pawn.
Kg7 63. Rb6
Black’s king is too far away to stop the a-pawn now.
Kf8 64. Rb8+ Ke7 65. Rb7
And the pin knocks out Black’s last piece.
He tries to make a run for it.
Kxd7 67. a7 Kc7 68. a8Q
The game is over. I have an extra queen. Black continued a few more moves before resigning.
Kb6 69. Qxd5 Kc7 70. Ke6 Kb6 71. Kd6 Ka7 72. Kc7 1-0