“Errare humanum est…”
Below is an interesting position we reached as Black in one of our recently finished voting chess games.
There is a lot to like about it. The isolated d5-pawn is one theoretical weaknesses. Everything else looks very good, from Be4 and Nc4 occupying the respective outposts, to the support provided by our rooks, as well as the poor placement of the White pieces. Also, White must decide what to do about the a3-pawn. On the surface it might seem insignificant. However, giving it up has long term consequences.
The following sequence of moves displays two different approaches:
The question we should ask ourselves is “Who has benefitted from it?”. White has given up the a3-pawn. The a7-pawn is now passed, and its advancement is easily supported. Has White obtained any compensation in center or on the king side? The answer is simple: not at all. Of course the important Nf6 defender has been exchanged. However, the f7-pawn is protected and there is no imminent attack coming from White.
White is left with no choice but to mount an attack out of nothing on the king side. Would this rattle you as a defender?
The “Keep calm” meme should be in your mind. It is true White’s dark squares bishop matters all of a sudden; still the defence is quite adequate. White could try to open up the castle either by a sacrifice, or with a minority pawn attack. Which one would you consider in this position? Do you think either is good enough to keep White in the game? Think about it and give both a try. Next week I will show the continuation of this game.