Taking a look at the Black Sheep

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My goal is to make chess the most widely played game in this planet. Although this may be overly ambitious, this is the right estimate looking at the amount of effort and dedication put in this website. This blog is just a by-product from the youthful exuberance of a 16 year old. I hope you will support me in this journey which I have undertaken.

May 13, 2020

The black sheep is something that is a weakness in one’s own position. Most players never recognize this however this is necessary to know as it limits the range and power of his/her’s pieces.

Let me demonstrate this by showing games played by two masters. The game was between two Grandmasters Stefano Tatai and Larry Christiansen, played in the year 1977 at Torremolinos, Spain.

The above position is like a junction on a highway, where each road leads to a different city. The position can be continued in different ways, but Larry was conscious (Remember our previous blog on observation?) of his potential weakness, our very own Black Sheep on g7. Lack of mobility and scope can be two parameters to pick out such weaknesses.

Larry went on to win the game after a dozen or so moves. The full game can be found below.

The presence of such black sheep (or bad pieces) can actually be a good thing, especially if they are on the opponent’s team. Just browse through Spielmann’s game and notice especially where he sacrifices a pawn to obstruct enemy piece coordination and the beautiful final finishing touch.

A similar idea can be found in the advance carokan g4 variation. Here’s a good example to illustrate the idea.

Here are a few exercises to consolidate our learning. Think about which piece is likely to become a bad piece or black sheep in the future, the best square for the piece and how you can maneuver it to the square.

Position 1

Position 2

Position 3

Hope that you’ve learned something about the black sheep. This is an idea which is NOT in the arsenal of many intermediate or beginner players. They instead try looking for good moves which mainly include attacking the adversary. But they often neglect their own bad pieces which can drastically change the outcome of a game.

Happy Learning,

Yash Mehta

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