Domination in Chess

Tue, 2014-10-07 13:54 -- IM Max Illingworth

[pgn][Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1905.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Domination Study"]
[Black "Composed by Henri Rinck"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/1p4R1/2kp4/2p1P3/2P2Npq/3P3p/4K1PP/8 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "0"]
[EventDate "1905.??.??"]

{Don't you love it when you stop one of your opponent's pieces from safely
moving to any of their available squares? Such a theme is known as
'domination' in chess, and will be the subject of this post. In the position
here you can see an example from an endgame study, which you can try to solve
before moving on to the next examples. It's White to play and win, and you can
find the solution at the end of the post! Although domination is a recurring
theme in endgame studies, I'll use practical examples to illustrate how to
dominate the opponent's pieces and keep them dominated!} 1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "George Trundle Masters"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2014.10.05"]
[Round "9.5"]
[White "Smirnov, Anton"]
[Black "McLaren, Leonard J"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B80"]
[WhiteElo "2415"]
[BlackElo "2218"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[Source "ChessPublishing"]
[SourceDate "2013.03.07"]
[WhiteClock "0:20:00"]
[BlackClock "0:34:06"]

{My inspiration for this post came from the recent George Trundle Masters, won
by top seeds Anton Smirnov and Darryl Johansen with 6.5/9. Darryl had led the
tournament most of the way, a very powerful start allowing him to coast to the
finish line with draws. However Anton caught him at the last moment with this
last-round win.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Be3 a6
7. Be2 Be7 8. f4 Nc6 9. g4 $5 {I know this position is meant to be good for
White with Qd2 and ...Qc7 inserted, but in this version Black seems to get an
alright French with his next move.} d5 $1 10. e5 Nd7 11. g5 Nxd4 12. Qxd4 h6 $6
{Black shouldn't play on the side where he is worse without good reason;
instead} (12... b5 {is the way for Black to start play.}) 13. g6 (13. gxh6 Rxh6
14. O-O-O {is hardly a deadlock on the kingside as the g-file is half-open and
f5 can often be an idea.}) 13... f5 $4 {In one move Black totally killed his
position - the e5-pawn and g6-pawn will survive the entire game, and that
seals Black's fate.} (13... f6 {is correct to put pressure on the White centre
before he can complete development.}) ({Naturally} 13... fxg6 14. O-O-O O-O 15.
Rhg1 {gives White a very strong attack down the g-file for the pawn.}) 14.
O-O-O Bc5 15. Qd2 Qb6 16. Bxc5 (16. Bg1 $1 {would be a very enjoyable move to
play, especially as Black doesn't have better than} Bxg1 17. Rhxg1 Nc5 {, but
the free move Rhg1 is only a minor improvement to the position.}) 16... Nxc5
17. Qd4 O-O 18. Bf3 Kh8 19. Rhe1 Rd8 {Now White found a fantastic idea - can
you spot it too? It involves the theme of domination, as you probably figured :
).} 20. b4 {At first I thought this gave Black a good extra option but White
has it all covered.} (20. Bxd5 exd5 21. b4 {was the other move order, as
either Black gives back the knight and loses the minor piece battle, or after}
Nd7 22. e6 {we transpose to the game.}) 20... Nd7 21. Nxd5 $1 {We may as well
go for it now, as otherwise b4 doesn't make sense.} exd5 $2 {I give this a
question mark because it makes White's task a lot easier, but objectively
Black was already losing.} ({Black could try to survive with} 21... Qxd4 22.
Rxd4 Nf8 $1 {(this isn't checkers - we are not forced to immediately capture
the opponent's piece!)} 23. Nb6 Rxd4 24. Nxa8 Rxf4 25. Rd1 $1 {(Rd8 is a
deadly threat)} Bd7 (25... Nxg6 26. Rd8+ Kh7 27. Bd1 Nxe5 28. Rxc8 Rxb4 29. Re8
{should also win for White.}) 26. Bxb7 Rxb4 27. Bc8 $1 Rb8 (27... Bxc8 28. Rd8
Kg8 29. Rxc8 f4 30. c4 (30. Nc7 Rc4 {is another nice example of domination -
White is unable to move either his knight or rook! Then it's just a draw, e.g.}
31. Kd2 f3 32. Ke3 a5 33. Kxf3 a4 34. a3 Rxc2 35. Ke3 Rc4 36. Kd3 Rc1 {and
White cannot make progress.}) 30... f3 31. Kd2 Rb2+ 32. Ke1 {is just winning
for White, who will play either Nb6-d7 or Nc7-e6 depending on Black's next
move.}) 28. Bxd7 Rxa8 29. Rd6 Nxg6 30. Bxe6 Rf8 {and White is just better due
to his superior minor piece once again, but objectively Black is within the
drawing zone, including after} 31. Bxf5 Rxf5 32. Rxg6 a5 33. e6 Re5 34. Kd2 Kh7
{and Black regains the pawn on e6, but} 35. Rg2 Rxe6 36. c4 g5 37. Kc3 Kg6 38.
c5 {leaves the Black king cut off and White with a dangerous passed pawn.
Forgive my lack of certainty but this should be a win for White.}) 22. e6 Qxd4
23. Rxd4 Nf6 24. e7 Re8 25. Bxd5 {Black can't do anything here as his king is
dominated by the g6-pawn and the rook is dominated by the e7-pawn. Neither
piece can get out.} Bd7 (25... Nxd5 26. Rxd5 b6 27. Rd8 Bb7 28. Red1 {is easy
for White, who will go into} Bc6 29. R1d6 Bf3 30. c4 {, move up his king and
pawns, and win.}) 26. Bf7 Bc6 27. Bxe8 Rxe8 28. Rd8 {Black's pieces are
completely tied up, making it easy for White to run his rooks and king around
while advancing his pawns (and queening one on the queenside).} Bf3 29. Re6 Bc6
30. Rxc6 $1 {The simplest way to win. The rest is self-explanatory.} bxc6 31.
Rxe8+ Nxe8 32. c4 Nc7 33. a4 Kg8 34. b5 cxb5 35. cxb5 axb5 36. axb5 1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Australian Masters"]
[Site "Canterbury"]
[Date "2010.12.07"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Solomon, Stephen J"]
[Black "Teichmann, Erik OMC"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B03"]
[WhiteElo "2397"]
[BlackElo "2388"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "89"]
[EventDate "2010.12.04"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "AUS"]
[EventCategory "3"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2011.01.05"]

{I quite like this game, where Solomon sacrifices a pawn to effectively trap
one of Teichmann's knights out of the game. It's especially instructive to see
how Solomon then switches the play to the opposite side of the dominated piece.
} 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. f4 {The sharpest variation of what
is already a fairly tactical opening (at least when interpreted the
old-fashioned way).} g6 (5... dxe5 6. fxe5 Nc6 7. Be3 Bf5 8. Nc3 e6 9. Nf3 {is
the modern main line. Objectively Black is fine but he has to walk a real
tightrope to get there, as is often the case in these relatively obscure
opening.}) 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be3 Be6 {It's a good idea to provoke White's centre
into overextension as} (7... O-O $2 8. c5 $1 N6d7 9. h4 $1 {is already a close
to winning attack for White. Just look at how the d7-knight and g7-bishop are
dominated here!}) 8. d5 Bf5 9. Nf3 Bg4 $6 {Continuing to put pressure on the
centre, but Black has spent three moves on this bishop now and that's just too
much.} 10. Be2 {A good move, but I liked} (10. c5 $1 {even better as} N6d7 11.
cxd6 exd6 12. Qb3 $1 {with threats of e6 as well as Qxb7 is hard to meet.})
10... Bxf3 11. Bxf3 dxe5 12. fxe5 $2 (12. c5 $1 {was more precise, but both
players fell victim to automatic thinking - we don't have to make a capture
just because it is legal!}) 12... Bxe5 (12... N8d7 $1 {would be quite fine for
Black, especially if he can get in ...Nxe5. So let's consider the forcing
attempts to avoid this scenario:} 13. e6 (13. c5 Nc4 14. Bd4 Nxb2 {(capturing
on e5 is less fancy but maybe better)} 15. Qe2 Bxe5 $1 16. Bxe5 Nxe5 {is a
very clever trick, when neither knight can be captured because of ...Nd3.})
13... fxe6 14. dxe6 $6 (14. Qb3 $1 Ne5 15. Be2 {is better, sacrificing a pawn
to keep control of the position, especially on the light squares.}) 14... Ne5
15. Bxb7 O-O $1 {and Black has a very strong initiative against the
centralised White king whether he takes on a8, b6 or d8.} 16. Bxa8 Nd3+ 17. Ke2
Qxa8 18. Kxd3 Rd8+ 19. Nd5 Nxd5 20. Qf3 Qc6 $1 21. cxd5 Qb5+ 22. Kc2 Qxb2+ 23.
Kd3 Qb5+ 24. Kc2 Rxd5 25. Qxd5 Qxd5 26. Rac1 Qxg2+ 27. Kd3 Qd5+ 28. Ke2 Qxa2+
29. Kf3 Qxe6 {and 0-1 is my submission for the second edition of Kevin Casey's
excellent 'Australian Chess Brilliancies'.}) 13. c5 $1 {Now everything's in
order.} N6d7 14. Qb3 ({Or first} 14. c6 {.}) 14... b6 15. c6 Nf6 16. O-O-O {
The computer doesn't think Black is doing that badly, but with the b8-knight
unable to enter the game (as we'll see, it isn't much better on c5), I think
we can already speak of a decisive advantage for White.} a5 17. g4 (17. Bh6 $1
{stops Black castling, but White decides that he'll just attack Black's king
if he goes there!}) 17... Qc8 18. h3 O-O $1 19. Rhf1 (19. Rhe1 {is a better
square for the rook, to attack the weak e7-pawn.}) 19... Ne8 20. Rde1 Na6 21.
h4 Bg7 (21... Nd6 $1 22. Bh6 Bg7 23. Bxg7 Kxg7 24. Rxe7 Re8 {returns the pawn,
but now the knight can come into play via. c5 and White has lost his control
over the position, which is much more important.}) 22. Bg5 Nc5 23. Qc2 f6 ({
After} 23... e5 {White should ignore the offered exchange with Be7 and keep
attacking with} 24. dxe6 fxe6 25. h5 {.}) 24. Bf4 Rf7 25. Ne4 {I don't like
the decision to trade the c5-knight as it is still quite misplaced.} ({I'm
guessing White didn't see a breakthrough after} 25. h5 g5 26. Be3 Nd6 {, but}
27. h6 $1 {will give White either a decisive attack down the h-file (if Black
takes), or domination of the bishop after} Bf8 28. Rh1 {. Actually, it's hard
to find a Black piece that isn't dominated!}) 25... Nxe4 26. Qxe4 a4 (26... f5
27. Qe2 Nd6 {frees Black's pieces, but loosens his kingside too much after} 28.
h5 {.}) 27. h5 a3 28. b3 Qa6 $2 {Black goes for a counterattack on the king
that isn't really there.} (28... f5 {was again called for, though after} 29.
Qe2 {White is still much better as Black's pieces are all very passive. It is
quite worthwhile to understand that domination doesn't have to extend to
dominating a particular piece, but forcing the opponent to make concessions to
free that piece. Chess is very much a bartering game - we should be willing to
trade our current advantages for more important ones when the chance arises.})
29. hxg6 hxg6 30. Qxg6 f5 31. Be2 (31. Be5 $1 {is a resignable position for
Black.}) 31... Qa5 32. Bd2 $2 (32. Be5 $1 {kills Black's attack and should win.
}) 32... Qc5+ 33. Kd1 Nd6 $5 (33... Qd4 34. Rxf5 Qa1+ 35. Bc1 Qd4+ 36. Kc2 Qc3+
37. Kd1 Qd4+ {is a draw, but perhaps Black wanted to go for a win.}) 34. gxf5
Qd4 35. f6 {White risks nothing by flicking this in and gives Black a chance
to get confused, which he takes.} Ne4 $2 (35... Qa1+ 36. Bc1 exf6 37. Bg4 {can
lead to a draw in a few different ways - all of them being perpetual checks.})
36. Bd3 $1 {Now it is White who is winning.} Nxf6 37. Bc4 b5 38. Bxb5 Qa1+ 39.
Bc1 Qxa2 40. Bc4 Rd8 41. Rxe7 $1 {Very nice!} Rxe7 {Now you should try to find
the key sequence all the way to mate!} 42. d6+ Rf7 43. Qxf7+ Kh8 44. Rh1+ Nh7
45. Rxh7+ (45. Rxh7+ Kxh7 46. Qh5+ Bh6 47. Qxh6#) 1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Copenhagen"]
[Site "Copenhagen"]
[Date "1923.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Saemisch, Fritz"]
[Black "Nimzowitsch, Aaron"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E06"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "50"]
[EventDate "1923.??.??"]
[EventRounds "10"]
[EventCountry "DEN"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1999.07.01"]

{I won't annotate this example, but instead let you enjoy the final position.}
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. Nc3 O-O 7. O-O d5 8. Ne5
c6 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. Bf4 a6 11. Rc1 b5 12. Qb3 Nc6 13. Nxc6 Bxc6 14. h3 Qd7 15.
Kh2 Nh5 16. Bd2 f5 17. Qd1 b4 18. Nb1 Bb5 19. Rg1 Bd6 20. e4 fxe4 21. Qxh5 Rxf2
22. Qg5 Raf8 23. Kh1 R8f5 24. Qe3 Bd3 25. Rce1 h6 {I'd like to declare this
the ultimate domination position! White is in total zugzwang - he loses
material no matter where he moves. OK, he has a few meaningless pawn moves,
but once they are gone he'll have to jettison a piece somewhere. You might
have noticed that all our examples involved sacrifices of some sort - that's
because our opponents won't usually let us dominate their pieces for free! But
you shouldn't be afraid to make these sacrifices as they are based on the
opponent not being able to use their extra material.} 0-1 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1905.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Domination Study"]
[Black "Composed by Henri Rinck"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/1p4R1/2kp4/2p1P3/2P2Npq/3P3p/4K1PP/8 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "19"]
[EventDate "1905.??.??"]

{Now it is time to enjoy the solution!} 1. Nd5 {Threatening Rc7 mate!} dxe5 (
1... Qd8 2. g3 $1 (2. e6 hxg2 3. Kf2 Qa5 4. Rc7+ Qxc7 5. Nxc7 Kxc7 6. Kxg2 d5
7. Kg3 Kd6 8. cxd5 b5 9. Kf4 b4 10. Ke3 b3 11. Kd2 {also wins, but the main
line is more beautiful.}) 2... Qa5 (2... b5 3. Rc7+ Qxc7 4. Nxc7 Kxc7 5. exd6+
Kxd6 6. cxb5 {is an easily winning pawn ending.}) (2... dxe5 {see 1...dxe5.})
3. e6 Qa2+ 4. Ke3 {leaves Black without any good checks, and after} Qa5 {White
can win in whatever way he pleases as Black's queen is completely tied down to
stopping Rc7 mate.}) 2. g3 {It turns out the queen is dominated despite being
on a fairly open board!} Qd8 (2... Qh8 3. Rg8 $1 {traps the queen in a knight
fork wherever it moves to:} Qh5 (3... Qxg8 4. Ne7+) (3... Qh7 4. Rg6+ Kd7 5.
Nf6+) (3... Qh6 4. Rg6+ Qxg6 5. Ne7+) 4. Rg6+ Qxg6 (4... Kd7 5. Nf6+) 5. Ne7+)
(2... Qh6 3. Rg6+) 3. Rg6+ Kd7 4. Rg8 $1 {The key point - the queen is again
dominated!} Qa5 (4... Qxg8 5. Nf6+) 5. Ra8 $1 {Not so fast! There's no way to
avoid the loss of the queen, and White wins after} Qxa8 6. Nb6+ Kc6 7. Nxa8 b5
8. cxb5+ Kb7 9. Ke3 Kxa8 10. Ke4 {. That concludes the post but it doesn't
have to be the conclusion of your exploration into the domination motif -
Kasparian wrote an old classic 'Domination in 2545 Endgame Studies'. Your
understanding of how the pieces interact will substantially improve if you
take the time to play through the solutions, and trying to solve them will
also improve your concentration.} 1-0 [/pgn]