I began this post as a reply to TommyG’s post:
…with me, it’s usually a piece move that I need to find. The pawn move usually is strong because it involves the pieces.
Keres games give me a good jumping off point to look at even further sacrificial ideas. He was a great builder of positions, and sacs for initiative became available from those positions.
I’ve spent multiple days studying just one Keres game, and it was mostly for the side possibilities. He was someone who believed in his attack, and didn’t just shuffle pieces in the opening; the book on his open games shows this.
Keres style was to pinpoint the weakness in his opponent’s defense and overload the weak spot, remove the defender. He did this like no other player that I can recall. Perhaps Capablanca or Botvinnik, they were also good at removing the defender, this same sort of style.
Here is the Keres game which I was referring to, and it’s a shame that there is no kibitzing on that page. This game deserves a closer look.
Keres doesn’t play the namby-pamby line of 12.Nc3, but instead offers a pawn sac with 12.Nf4 – this is the correct way to play chess, particularly as White, IMHO. Black can win the b-pawn, but white can drum up a compensating attack for it.
12…BxN, 13.BxB Qxb, 14.Be5 Rd8, 15.Re2 Qc3, 16.Rc2 Qa5, 17.Bg3, and now an idea for White is to play Bb5, BxN, Ne5 or really just dispense with the Bb5 and play Ne5 immediately and White should be +- if Nc6xNe5 because White recaptures with bishop and plays Rc7. A lot of active play for a b-pawn.
13…Ne4? was refuted by 14.g3!
17.d5! Probably the type of pawn move that TommyG was referring to that he misses in games.
21.Nd3 White is already up a pawn, and here we can have a great “parting of the ways” as to how to achieve the win. Even stronger than Keres’ building move was to sac the exchange (Varnusz points this out) with 21.dxe QxR, 22.exBd7 Re7, 23.Qb3+ followed by 24.Rad1. This is a great way to get know the power of the queens in the middlegame. White has lots of crushing options, too many for Black to handle well OTB, very clever attacks with the queen. I can imagine that Tal or Kasparov would have taken the exchange-sac route to victory.
26…Qh3? Black should have traded queens right away according to Varnusz. A nice technical finish follows.
The point of this game is that you have to be a great “builder”. Seirawan once said something like “the great players are the great builders”. The best club-player builders I know of are RollingPawns and DuWayne L. Of course, building isn’t enough, one still has to pull the trigger at the end of it, and that is what RP is working on. I am still working on the building part of it. 😉
I can come up with lots of examples like this, of needing to sac something to generate activity. The most appalling example I found was a game of Liang Awonder’s in Chess Life. He’s around 1876, but because he didn’t sac a pawn in the opening, he got a lost position, but then played a cheeky rook move which saved the day for him but was still losing to an exchange sac, which I saw immediately, and then it is +- for his opponent.
I saw another game of Liang’s where he was praised for making the right move ( a move too late, but opponent didn’t take advantage of it). There is a reason we are Class A players, and largely it is due to finding the right move a move to late. Until we stop doing that, we will still probably be A players!
The point is that sacs are a part of chess. They are not as “optional” as we would at first tend to believe. I’ve lost my “sac” games recently, but I was +- in all of them after the sac, and simply bungled the follow-up moves.