The Art of Attack in Chess Book Club
The Art of Attack in Chess Vladmir Vukovic
About the Book
Written in the mid-sixties, Vukovic's intermediate book is considered to be a classic of learning about Attacking in Chess. Many Grandmasters have spoke of it's influence in their play. It is an important book in it's attempt to explore why some attacks fail while others succeed. From this analysis, the author tried to determine some general principles to assists one play.
It is not an easy read and I am using the updated John Nunn's 1998 EVERYMAN CHESS edition which translated the games to Algebraic Notation, added more diagrams, checked the analysis, added footnotes and polished the language.
(VV had a historical perspective and often talked of the development of the rules of the game and style of play. My sense is he felt that the modern chess players of his time were somewhat wimpy and risk adverse) .
During the period from Morphy to Steinitz to Lasker the value placed on attack decreased with perfection of defensive technique. This was followed by a new Attacking period where Capablanca and especially Alekhine perfected the technique of Attack on the castled position based on sound positional play. Style of play again turned away from the risk of direct attack to a more safety first approach based on opening study. He felt there would be a time when Alekhine principles would be completely understood and we would enter a new phase of attacking play.( I wonder if Kasparov's play might be this new phase ?)
VV points out that learning attacking play is fun (The Takchess Creed)
There exists an extremely large group of chess players who are no longer beginners nor, on the other hand, masters or point hunters, but players who aim primarily at deriving an aesthetic satisfaction from the game. For such players an attacking game is more attractive than positional technique and they will continue to attack regardless of risk., for their stormy contest are not going to be noted down in theoretical textbooks.
Various kinds of Attack (VV 3 categories)
1. Latent Attack: The main action is not in fact an attack on the king, but there is the possibility of such an attack latent in the position, some threat or other is being nurtured, or else the attack is concealed in a least one variation. (this is a double attack with mate or a check as one of the attacks )
2. A player's action really does contain a direct threat to his opponent's king, but his opponent can stave off this threat at a certain price by giving up material or spoiling his position. (the majority of attacks fall in this category)
3. The attacker carries out an uncompromising mating attack in which he can invest even a considerable amount of material, as long as he is certain of mating in the end. (the highest degree of attack)
(VV breaks attacks into further categories which serve as the following chapters )
Chapter 1 The Attack Against the Uncastled King
Chapter 2 The Attack on the King that has Lost the Right to Castle
Chapter 3 On Castling and Attacking the Castled Position in General
Chapter 4 Mating Patterns
Chapter 5 Focal-points
Chapter 6 The Classic Bishop Sacrifice
Chapter 7 Ranks, Files, and Diagonals in the Attack on the Castled King
Chapter 8 Pieces and Pawns in the Attack on the Castled King
Chapter 9 The Attack on the Fianchettoed and Queenside Castling Positions
Chapter 10 Defending Against the Attack on the Castled King
Chapter 11 The Phases of the Attack on the Castled King
Chapter 12 The Attack on the King as an Integral Part of the Game
( Vukovic goes on to create very basic definitions and observations on which he builds his theories)
The Basic Pattern of Mate
For mate to be obtained, the king must be deprived of nine squares in the middle of the board, six squares on the edge or four squares in the corner. Some of these squares may be blocked by the kings own supporting pieces but the rest must be taken by the attacker through the agency of his own pieces or pawns. If all the squares surrounding the king are taken from it and if the square of which on which the king is also in check and without means of defence, then the king is checkmated.
The Mating Pattern (def)- is the final position where these conditions are met ( picture a diagram of the board). Mating patterns can be typical (common) or atypical (uncommon).
Mating Squares and the Focal-Point
Mating Square (def) is that square where the King sits when it is mated . (the kings final resting spot).
Mating Focal-Point (def) is the square from which an opponents piece (other than a king, knight or pawn) mates the king at close quarters. (note- the spot where a bishop mates from a distance is not considered a mating focal-point)
Vlad's tip -To carry out a mating attack successfully it is always useful to
1) survey the possible matings patterns
2) to prepare a mating net accordingly
3) to concentrate on the focal point.
In many cases it is important to clear the focal point to deprive any opposing pieces of their control over that focal-point .
VV points out these common players errors regarding mating patterns
* The attacker fails to perceive that he can neither stop his opponent from moving his king nor drive him into a mating net but still plays for mate. It is futile which at best may lead to perpetual check . ( Yup, I'm guilty as charged)
*The attacker plays uses typical mating patterns overlooking atypical mating patterns in a continuation.
* The player sees all the possible mating patterns based on one focal-point but doesn't realize that it is negated by the king moving and what matters now is new patterns which he hasn't prepared for.
*The player decides on a course of attack based on a certain focal-point, without realizing that he cannot provide cover for it or even clear it of the influence of his opponents pieces . This mistake is to be found even in Master games.
The Art of the Mating Attack
VV puts forth the following questions:
How does a mating attack relate to the other operations which take place in a game of chess ?
How much is a mating attack conditioned by the actual position on the chessboard and how much by the skill of the attacker?
Where does the risk attached to a mating attack lie ?
About which points are the minds of players today still unclear with respect to carrying out the mating attack ?
(this concludes notes on the introduction,Chapter 1 The attack on the UnCastled King to follow next week )