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Chess Fundamentals by José Raúl Capablanca

19. Winning by indirect attack

We have so far given positions where the attacks were of a violent nature and directed against the King's position. Very often, however, in the middle-game attacks are made against a position or against pieces, or even Pawns.

The winning of a Pawn among good players of even strength often means the winning of the game.

Hence the study of such positions is of great importance. We give below two positions in which the attack aims at the gain of a mere Pawn as a means of ultimately winning the game.

Example 48.

Black is a Pawn behind, and there is no violent direct attack against White's King. Black's pieces, however, are very well placed and free to act, and by co-ordinating the action of all his pieces he is soon able not only to regain the Pawn but to obtain the better game. The student should carefully consider this position and the subsequent moves. It is a very good example of proper co-ordination in the management of forces. The game continues:


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Example 49.

An examination of this position will show that Black's main weakness lies in the exposed position of his King, and in the fact that his Queen's Rook has not yet come into the game. Indeed, if it were Black's move, we might conclude that he would have the better game, on account of having three Pawns to two on the Queen's side, and his Bishop commanding the long diagonal.

It is, however, White's move, and he has two courses to choose from. The obvious move, Bc4, might be good enough, since after 1. Bc4, Rad8; 2. b4 would make it difficult for Black. But there is another move which completely upsets Black's position and wins a Pawn, besides obtaining the better position. That move is Nd4! The game continues as follows:


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These positions have been given with the idea of acquainting the student with different types of combinations. I hope they will also help to develop his imagination, a very necessary quality in a good player. The student should note, in all these middle-game positions, that once the opportunity is offered, all the pieces are thrown into action "en masse" when necessary; and that all the pieces smoothly co-ordinate their action with machine-like precision.

That, at least, is what the ideal middle-game play should be, if it is not so altogether in these examples.