Not always bad: knights on the edge

by Johannes Fischer
3/29/2017 – "Knight on the rim is dim!" Dr. Tarrasch knew right from wrong in chess. Indeed, knights on the edge of the board often lead a miserable life and can easily make life miserable for their colleagues. But no rule without exception. Which former U20 World Champion Ahmed Adly showed in round 3 of the Sharjah Masters by playing a little masterpiece with a knight on the rim.

Solid and safe against the Indian openings: Play the Fianchetto Solid and safe against the Indian openings: Play the Fianchetto

The King''s Indian and Grunfeld are notoriously tricky and theoretical openings. The Fianchetto variation avoids the main lines which Black players enjoy, and goes for a small but safe edge. GM Nick Pert played the Fianchetto variation for over 20 years, and at the time of recording was unbeaten with White since November 2011!


In round three of the Sharjah Masters Adly won a fine game against Stany from India. Right after the opening Adly sacrificed a piece for which he had got two pawns, play on the queenside and in the center and, most importantly, on the kingside. After sacrificing he continued energetically, scoring a smooth win and creating a little masterpiece.


This impressed Daniel King who invited Adly after the game to talk about it in one of the videos, in which King presents highlights from Sharjah. King was particularly impressed - not to say amazed - by Adly's knight excursion to h4 on move 10. Quoting Tarrasch, the English Grandmaster showed his surprise while admitting that he hardly ever would have thought about playing his knight to h4. But the wayward knight later made a remarkable career - in marked contrast to his clumsy black colleagues on a5 and b6.

ChessBase author Nicholas Pert was also surprised when he saw the video with Ahmed Adly and Daniel King - but it was a pleasant surprise.

ChessBase author Nicholas Pert

Pert, former U18 World Champion and currently headcoach of the English Chess Federation, knew how dangerous 10.Nh4 is for Black. After all, on his ChessBase DVD "Solid and safe against the wild Indians: Play the fianchetto" he recommends this exact line against the Grünfeld.

The game Adly - Stany shows that knights on the rim are not always bad. It also shows that it pays to be well prepared. And it shows that Nicholas Pert might help to prepare well.


Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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