Simon Williams, one of Britain's most dynamic and aggressive chess-players, has selected his favourite attacking games from the modern era, and annotated them with an infectious zeal that will inspire and instruct. He takes us inside the decision-making process, explaining how each stage in an attacking concept is formed, and shows how top players spot the signs that indicate it is time to stake everything on an all-out assault. We also get insights into the role of intuition and calculation in both attack and defence.
The players featured in this entertaining collection include:
- Judit Polgar
- Alexei Shirov
- Veselin Topalov
- Viswanathan Anand
- Vasily Ivanchuk
- Peter Svidler
- Alexander Grishchuk
- Magnus Carlsen
I was asked a while back by a depressed grandmaster, "What is the point in playing this stupid game? Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It is all the same to me; why do I put myself through the pain?" Chess certainly sounds depressing from his point of view!
I expect losing a game in under 25 moves to a player rated a lot lower did not help his attitude, but never fear, it is not all doom and gloom.
Surely, we play chess to make ourselves feel good? Obviously we might lose now and again but that is part of the game: without the lows we would not get the highs. The games presented in this book are meant to be fun.
I am sure the winners enjoyed playing these games. And I hope that you, the readers, will get pleasure from going over the games. After all, chess is meant to be a fun game, a factor that far too many players forget about. Do we play chess to put ourselves through six hours of torture where we might end up losing a rook ending? I do not think so, unless you're a masochist, that is. The most fun that I get from a game is when I crush my opponent quickly. Chess, after all, is much better when you win.
Nowadays, there are too many boring games, games which are drawn after 8 moves, games where all the pieces get swapped off on move 10 ... yawn. I want to see games with action! Bang! Crash! There goes another piece...
Botvinnik once said, "It is peculiar but a fact nevertheless, that the gamblers in chess always have enthusiastic followers." I personally do not find it that peculiar. I would much rather go over a game played by Tal than one by a 'correct' player, as Tal's gambling attitude was so much fun to watch. Gamblers, for better or worse, are entertaining.
I had two main aims in mind when writing this book. One aim was to show you some
fascinating games that I have enjoyed. The other aim was to help you to play attacking chess like the winners in this book. Hopefully, this book will help you understand how to hack your opponents up quickly!
I personally prefer to attack rather than to defend. I expect this is the case for the majority of chess-players. It is certainly easier to attack as it puts the other player under pressure straightaway. Make him sweat as early as possible. That is my philosophy. I shall now provide some tips on attacking and defending. In order to attack and defend, we need to use different skills but the most important thing to do is to calculate properly.
Calculation is really the key to a successful attack. You must analyse whether the attack is going to bring you success.
However, not all lines need to be calculated. You need to follow your instinct in many cases but if you do have a choice between a couple of critical moves which may lead to a successful attack, always start by analysing the line which you think is most critical first. If this line leads to success then there is no need to look at anything else. If your original move does not work, then move onto the next move which you think is most critical.
Obviously, humans differ in the way they think, so people's definition of critical moves will be different (I believe that this is one of the reasons why chess is so fun). If you are looking at something completely stupid this will quickly become clear - hopefully!
It is really a process of elimination and this is why computers are so good at chess as they can eliminate lines extremely quickly. It is then important also to look at your opponent's most critical or most obvious response. If you cannot find an adequate reply to one of the opponent's responses then you should reconsider your first move.
In general, a person who is trying to defend their position should try to exchange pieces as this can relieve some of the pressure. It is obviously important to try to work out which pieces should be exchanged. If possible, when defending, try to swap off the queens as they usually pose the most danger. However, it is not a good idea to exchange a piece that defends your king.
One thing that surprised me when writing this book was the amount of possible resources that I found for the defender. Some of these resources I only found when working with a computer in the background, but it still goes to show that an accurate defence can make life very difficult for the hacker.
Another piece of advice for the defender is that when your position is ghastly, you might as well capture as much material as you can. At least, if you do not lose immediately, you have a chance to convert your material advantage. "It is always better to sacrifice your opponent's men!" (Tartakower).
You may have noticed the high number of wins by White included in this book. I am not sure whether this is a coincidence or due to the fact that in top-level chess, it is much easier to destroy your opponent with the white pieces!
007 Opening to Middlegame
021 Keeping the Initiative
035 Harmonizing the Army
052 Locating the Weak Point
067 Changing the Tempo
096 Playing to Your Strengths
110 List of Games
111 Index of Openings