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Old 12-08-2012, 04:33 PM   #1
TexAg06
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Help with a position

The following position is from the game Blumenfeld-Alekhine 1908. Here's the diagram, white to move.



White plays 11.Qc1, to which Alekhine writes, "The White Queen very reasonably evades the uncomfortable opposition of the adverse Rook. It would, however, have been more urgent to prevent the exchange of the [light squared bishop], which might subsequently have proved most useful, by first playing 11.Re1, followed by 12.Bf1. Black immediately exploits this slight strategic error". The game continues 11...Nf4 12.Re1 Nxe2+ 13.Rxe2, and so on.

My question is why is the light squared bishop so crucial for white? With the pawn on e4 and black likely maintaining a central pawn on e5, I don't see that bishop ever having too much activity, but Alekhine clearly thinks so. Could someone explain why Alekhine was so adamant about wanting that bishop?

Here's the full game link.

http://www.chessvideos.tv/chess-game...r.php?id=74010
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:46 PM   #2
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Re: Help with a position

Is Alekhine thinking at some point why could play Nc4->e3 and put the bishop on c4? Other than that, I have a hard time seeing what that bishop is doing.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:57 PM   #3
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Re: Help with a position

"might subsequently have proved most useful" = would have looked nice on c4 after ...f6 imo.
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:15 PM   #4
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Re: Help with a position

also, if Nf4 is so great, shouldn't Black play it on move 8? I don't see how White could exploit the momentary lapse in development.
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Old 12-09-2012, 01:12 AM   #5
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Re: Help with a position

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Originally Posted by RoundTower View Post
also, if Nf4 is so great, shouldn't Black play it on move 8? I don't see how White could exploit the momentary lapse in development.
I'm with you there, too. Maybe this is a case of some of the older masters exaggerating and over-emphasizing their exploits? I've heard stories that they did that in their game collections, but I've never seen it first hand.
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:57 AM   #6
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Re: Help with a position

8...Nf4 9. Nc4 f6 10. Ne3 (->Nf5), but the only thing wrong with 9...Nf4 is that White's queen stands better on e2 than c1. Which is perfectly consistent with 11. Qc1 being a "slight" error.

Black could have equalized with 11...exd4 12. Nxd4 Nc5 13. Qe3 Nxe4, but perhaps both players knew Alekhine would prefer a slightly worse position with play? Which player was even supposed to be stronger in 1908, and by how much?
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:36 PM   #7
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Re: Help with a position

1908 was before Alekhine was a top player; he was only 15/16 then. Chessmetric gives historical ratings for Alekhine starting only in 1910. Extrapolating his rating graph there, one can reasonably assume that he had a strength of 2400-2500 (in today's rating numbers) in 1908.

Blumenfeld however came in second in big tournaments in 1906 and 1907 (behind Rubinstein and Chigorin respectively). In 1911 he won a big tournament in Moscow.

I think it's safe to say that Blumenfeld was the stronger player in 1908.
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:29 AM   #8
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Re: Help with a position

kingside light squares tend to be more sensitive in e4 e5 games than in other openings, regardless of whether the f7-g7-h7 pawn structure has changed or not.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:17 AM   #9
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Re: Help with a position

While the bishop does not look great at the moment, it's always good to preserve these bishops if you have a spatial advantage, because they can either come to life later or protect key squares if the thing with the spatial advantage doesn't go so well.

A case in point would be similar positions from the King's Indian or the old indian, where white even has another pawn on light squares (c4) and still plays Re1/Bf1 to defend against Nf4-xe2 more often than not.

The lack of consistency in Aljekhin's annotations remain. Maybe 8. ...Nf4 is just a reminder to develop the kingside before going onto b3/Bb2 extravaganzas.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:26 AM   #10
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Re: Help with a position

Alekhine is notorious for hindsight 20/20-annotations, just like ND alluded to above
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:20 PM   #11
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Re: Help with a position

Thanks all for the help, appreciate it. I felt like I was banging my head against a wall trying to figure this out.
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:41 PM   #12
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Re: Help with a position

is there anything wrong with Bd1 instead of Re1, other than cramping up white's back rank?
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Old 12-15-2012, 07:31 PM   #13
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Re: Help with a position

Quote:
Originally Posted by g-bebe View Post
is there anything wrong with Bd1 instead of Re1, other than cramping up white's back rank?
I think the main problem is that putting it on d1 takes it off the f1-a6 diagonal, which contains the c4 square, really it's only good potential square. Putting it on d1 is basically a road to nowhere and it would really be tough to ever coordinate the rooks.
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Old 12-19-2012, 07:17 PM   #14
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Re: Help with a position

Playing the rook from f1 to e1 and hiding the bishop at f1 is a very common manouevre. As noted in other posts, the bishop can become very powerful later on and it protects the King from f1. If Black can trade off the bishop, it will generally be traded off for the black Knight, and contrary to what you may have heard, bishops are not equal to knights... they are better!

The following advice is very general and obviously cannot be applied to every position, but if in the late opening/early middlegame you are struggling to come up with a plan, consider the merits of Rf1-Re1 and Bf1.

With White, I've taken to playing 3.Bb5 after Black plays 2...Nc6 in the Sicilian, and my main goal is now to castle, then Re1, and I've created a nice spot on f1 for my bishop if Black plays a6. If Black takes his time in castling it is surprising how effective the rook becomes on e1 if Black unwisely allows the games to be opened up.
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