Understanding before Moving 71: Open and half-open files

by ChessBase
3/20/2022 – 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 71st instalment of his ChessBase show "Understanding before Moving", Herman talks about open and half-open files. | Photo: Pascal Simon

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Open and half-open files are common and important strategic elements that occur in almost every game. That is why the first World Champion, Wilhelm  Steinitz, included this theme into the table of strategic elements named after him.

One of the great modern strategists, who for a long time was among the world's top 10, is the Swedish Grandmaster Ulf Andersson. His heyday was in the 70s, 80s and part of the 90s. With his subtle positional insight and  refined technique, he often amazed friend and foe when he found solutions in middle- and endgame situations that hardly anyone thought of.

The moves he played were often not only aesthetically pleasing but also impressed with simplicity and power. That's why I like to show you a game of Andersson, in which I will ask you at various moments to pause the video to think for yourself what White's next move could be. Perhaps you will have the same feeling I had when I saw the game. I wanted to find the moves the Swedish artist had made and often felt enchanted by his ideas. And I wondered why I had not been able to find that move myself?

In the diagrammed position below we are looking for a tactical motif that has to do with a  half-open line. Do you see what White played in this position? And can you think of other possibilities?



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