Kenilworth Kibitzer

A blog for members of the Kenilworth Chess Club.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Die Blockade

#19 Kotov-Gligoric (click here to view on

Perhaps my favorite game in the whole tournament - one can only admire its artistry. Gligoric plays out a complex blockading strategy that I think would have shocked and impressed Nimzovich himself.

An odd side note - of my 20 favorite games of this tournament, the most represented players were Kotov (5 games) and Gligoric (5 games), including both games they played against each other. Despite the lack of significance this late game had to the standings of this long tournament, these two came to play, as they did for all 30 rounds.

Black to move and deal with that unpleasant b1-h7 diagonal...

11. .... e4! Blockade! (e4) Clearance! (e5)
12. fxe4 f4
13. Bf2 Nd7

Bronstein: The black knight wants to get to e5, and White has to get it out of there at any cost, which explains his knight's retreat to its original square.

14. Ng1 Qg5
15. Bf1 Ne5
16. Nf3 Qe7
17. Nxe5 Qxe5
18. O-O-O Nf6
19. h3 Bd7
Black is hewing to a dark-squared blockade on the kingside which White must break, otherwise Black's attack on the queenside will prevail. Who will win?

20. Bd3 a6
21. Nb1!
The knight threatens to jump to f3, breaking the blockade by supporting an inevitable e4-e5.

21. .... f3!!
And now the exclamation point - if the white knight wants to get to f3, Black prevents this and maintains the blockade, even at the cost of another pawn!
22. gxf3 Nh5
23. Nd2 Nf4

Bronstein: A classic example of a blockaded position. The blockade's immediate effect embraces four white pawns, but its influence penetrates much deeper: the lightsquare bishop has been turned into a pawn, the knight's own pawns occupy all of its best squares, and even so mobile a piece as White's queen is almost totally blockaded as well.

24. Bf1 b5
25. h4 Kh8
26. Rg1 Bf6
27. Nb3 Rb8? (slowing the pace of attack - Bronstein recommends ...b4 and perhaps ...bxc is a thought)
28. Be1 b4
29. Kb1 Ra8
30. Bg3 Rg8 (White aims at the base of the blockade, but Black has a tactical response)
31. Qh2
31. .... Rxg3!
32. Rxg3 Ne2
33. Qxe2 Qxg3
34. Nc1 a5
35. Nd3 Bd4
36. h5 Qh4
White is still two pawns up, but his light-squared bishop is not a match for its opposite number, so Black can still maintain by mixing the continued dark-squared blockade with queenside counterplay.

37. Bg2 Rg8
38. Rh1 Qg3
39. Bf1 a4
40. Kc2 a3
41. b3

A symmetrical blockade, now spanning both sides of the board. With no prospect to improve either position, a draw was agreed, a fitting credit to both players.


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