The Great Ones (2)
“You always admire what you really don’t understand”
The past couple of weeks one of my student has been learning the Maroczy pawn structure. For those who hear about it for the first time or need a refresher, this pawn structure looks like this:
One can reach it with both colors. Playing white you can set it up when facing some Sicilian variations, while on the Black side you can do the same when facing the Reti or the English. This versatility makes it an important one to know, both if you set it up or have to face it. Like any other pawn structure it has strengths and weaknesses you need to know and practice. Knowledge without practice can be easily forgotten; in the same time practicing brings understanding.
We were looking over the following game between Kashdan and Nimzowitsch. Being the first sample of how to play against this pawn structure, we paid extra attention to it. Move 12 by Black felt out of place right off the bat. Of course today we have the luxury of reviewing hundreds of games in a short period of time. Nimzowitsch did not have that luxury back then. The next move of interest was 26… Rxb7. Why did black choose it? It did not feel right to either of us. This provided the opportunity to try out some interesting lines. In our opinion Black missed a good opportunity to keep the game even.
After Black sacrificed the exchange, we looked at the position and decided White was simply winning. The only intriguing part was to see the game lasting another 18 moves. The top players do not play on in completely lost positions. What could black possibly do to extend the game for that long? We followed the play along and our question was answered loud and clear. I wish we could all manage to put up such a good fight in worst positions. Hope you will appreciate it too.