Understanding before Moving 61: Light-square strategy

by ChessBase
1/9/2022 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books about chess training and chess strategy. In the 61st instalment of his ChessBase show "Understanding before Moving", Herman talks about "Simple Chess" and light-square strategy. | Photo: Tommy Grooten

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Sometimes you come across a chess book that gives you the feeling that the author manages to reduce our complicated game to its essence. I got that idea when I laid my eyes on "Simple Chess", a book by British grandmaster Michael Stean.

After working through the first edition from 1978 - still in English notation - chess suddenly seemed a lot easier! Stean offers very nice and clear examples and has the ability to highlight strategic concepts in clear language. He avoids long variations because they would only distract from what is important to him: the beauty of the strategic concepts that he wants to show to his readers.

The diagram position below is taken from a game Stean played against the Slovenian tactical genius Albin Planinec (called Planinc in my day). In this game, Black exchanged his light-squared bishop for a knight, and the way, in which Stean then managed to exploit his better control of the light squares is startling.

With almost military precision he managed to expose the weaknesses in Black's camp. The game appears in the chapter "Black squares and White squares", but as far as I am concerned it could also have been classified under the theme "Bishop Pair". At any rate, the 'massage' Black received on the light squares is striking.

However, in the diagram position White has some difficulties to free his pieces. Black's knight on b4 is very active but right now, c2-c3 to drive the knight away is not possible because the knight would jump to d3. But Stean had other ideas. Do you see which plan he devised in this position?


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