Tactical themes

Danger on the Dark-Squares

As an aspiring young player, I heard much about "light-squares" and "dark-squares" but I'm sure that I did not understand. So lets take a BLOG-day and look at an important theme.

Most players are aware of the simple mate with a white pawn on f6 and a white Qh6-g7#. Change the f6-pawn to a Bf6 and the result is the same. Place the same checkmate within a black pawn structure with pawns on f6,g7, and h6 and you can immediately see that white has dominated the dark-squares on the black kingside. Here are two dozen games that involve this theme. All involve a Q(x)h6 sacrifice that succeeds in most (but not all) of the games. I hope that you play through at least the following two games if not all of the games in this small collection. You may find that your chess improves as a result. You'll certainly begin to see the connection between some fun chess concepts, dominating the center with e4-e5, forcing black to weaken te kingside with g7-g6, and taking advantage of the dark-square weaknesses that result.

Lahvic,J - Leveson,M [B22]
National op Chicago (2), 1991

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 The pawn on e5 is key to what follows. By forcing the Nf6 from its defense of the kingside, white gains space and the opportunity to force further kingside weaknesses. 4...Nd5 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Nb6 7.Bb3 d6 8.cxd4 To make sure that a white pawn remains on e5 8...Nc6 9.Qe2 overprotecting e5 9...dxe5 10.dxe5 It is becoming clear that black has a bad light-squared bishop and that white has an obvious space advantage in the center 10...Bb4+ 11.Nc3 Nd5 12.Bd2 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Be7 14.0-0 0-0 Sure seems safe to 0-0 kingside, right? 15.Rfd1 Threatening discovered attacks down the d-file 15...Qc7 16.Qe4 b6 Diagram

Trying to develop the light squared bishop17.Bc2 The obvious threat is Qxh7# 17...g6 Every pawn move creates a weakness... here the dark squares around the black king (f6 and h6) have been compromised 18.Bg5 Offering to trade white's "bad" bishop for black's good one. 18...Bb7 [18...Bxg5 19.Nxg5 with the threat of Qh4, f4, and Ne4-f6] 19.Bf6 Hunkering down, taking command over the dark squares on the kingside 19...Rfd8 [19...Bxf6 20.exf6 With Qh4 to follow] 20.Qh4 Bf8 Gladly offering the Rd8 to relieve the dark-squared pressure. 21.Ba4 With the idea of Bxc6, Nd4, and Rd3-h3 21...Rdc8 22.Rd3 Ne7 23.Nd4 Nf5 Diagram

Do you see the finale?24.Nxf5 exf5 25.Rh3 h6 26.Qxh6! [26.Qxh6 Bxh6 27.Rxh6 There's no way to prevent Rh8#] 1-0

Dlaykan,F (2210) - Fernandes,A (2440) [B40]
Bucaramanga Bucaramanga, 1992

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.e5 Same theme. Establish the pawn on e5 6...Nd5 7.Bd2 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Ba5 9.Qg4 Weaken the kingside 9...0-0 10.Bd3 Qc7 11.0-0 Nc6 12.Nxc6 dxc6 13.Qe4 Force the advance of a kingside pawn 13...g6 14.Rad1 Qe7 15.Bh6 dominate the subsequent dark-square weaknesses 15...Re8 16.Qf4 Bxc3 17.Bg5 Qb4 18.Be4 Avoid exchanges 18...Qa5 19.Bf6 Bb4 Diagram

20.Rd3 first, prepare a rook swing [20.Qh6 Bf8] 20...Be7 [20...Bf8 21.Rh3+-] 21.Rh3 Bf8 [21...Bxf6 22.exf6+- and Qh6 ends the discussion] 22.Qh4 h6 [22...h5 23.Qxh5 gxh5 24.Rg3+ Bg7 25.Rxg7+ Kf8 (25...Kh8 26.Rg3#) 26.Rh7+-] 23.Qxh6 [23.Qxh6 Bxh6 24.Rxh6 Rh8#] 1-0

Books on tactics