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Half-open File
The Minority Attack (1 of 2)

Point Count Chess, NO. 152, p215-218
Flohr v. Euwe, 1932

The Minority Attack occurs at a stage in the game, after the creation of the Half-open c-file -- the loss of White's c-Pawn (when it leaves to capture Black's d5-Pawn), plus the retaliating capture by Black's e-Pawn (when it completes the Pawn exchange on d5), gives White a Queenside Pawn Minority.

White's Queenside Pawn Minority, will then be used to attack Black's Pawn Majority, further up the board, in Black's territory.

The result of a successful Minority Attack will:

  1. Fully Open the c-file, which will be occupied by White's King Rook, claiming the Control of a Useful Open File advantage.

  2. Create one of two Black Pawn weaknesses, for White to target and attack (Isolated Pawns or a Backward Pawn).
Beneath the ChessFlash viewer, you'll find my analysis of the position featured in Point Count Chess:
  1. PCC, p.215, No. 152, after 19...Qd7
  2. Result of White's Minority Attack.
  3. Summary of White's Minority Attack.
  4. PGN
Additional analysis includes the:

The Minority Attack (1 of 2)
My Analysis

Position #1, My Analysis
PCC, p.215, No. 152, after 19...Qd7

After: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.cxd5 exd5 7.e3 Be7 8.Bd3 O-O 9.Qc2 Re8 10.O-O Nf8 11.Ne5 Ng4 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.Nxg4 Bxg4 14.Rfe1 Rad8 15.Ne2 Rd6 16.Ng3 Rh6 17.Bf5 Qg5 18.Bxg4 Qxg4 19.h3 Qd7

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Page 215
After: 19...Qd7
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 6.cxd5
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 6.cxd5
After 6.cxd5, the c-file is Half-open, for White's benefit.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 6...exd5
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 6...exd5
After 6...exd5, White has a Queenside Pawn Minority (3 vs. 4)

Note the situation is reversed on the Kingside, where it's Black who has the Pawn Minority.

However, because the Kings will likely Castle on the Kingside of the board, Black will refrain from launching a Minority Attack of his own -- at least as long as White has his fast-moving Pieces that could exploit the space and attack Black's Kingside Castled King, behind the Black Pawn advance.

White ensures his "Development phase" is fully completed, before he commits to the Minority Attack ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 7.e3, 8.Bd3, 9.Qc2 and 10.O-O
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 7.e3 » 8.Bd3 » 9.Qc2 » 10.O-O
After 7.e3 » 8.Bd3 » 9.Qc2 » 10.O-O, White's remaining units have been developed ...

e-Pawn (7.e2-e3), advances to support the d4-Pawn.

Light-Bishop (8.Bf1-d3), developed to patrol squares of Black's territory on both sides of the board (a6,b5 on Queenside; f5,g6,h7 on Kingside), and to clear the back rank, to enable Kingside Castling.

Queen (9.Qc2), developed to the c-file (ready for when it becomes Open), and also, after Castling, to enable the King Rook to slide underneath, forming a Queen-Rook Battery along the intended Open c-file. White's Rook pair will also be Connected.

Castles Kingside (10.O-O), to get King to relative safety, as well as to enable King Rook to reach the base of the c-file, ready for when it becomes Open.

The next phase is the "Extension phase" -- White has completed the "Development phase", and now extends his troops to positions that will support &/or enable his Minority Attack to be completed successfully.

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 11.Ne5 to 13...Bxg4
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 11.Ne5 to 13...Bxg4
After 11.Ne5 to 13...Bxg4, there is a trade of Minor Pieces on the Kingside.

Trading dark-Bishops (12.Bg5xe7 Qd8xe7) removes the threat to White's b-Pawn advance, as Black's dark-Bishop would otherwise be able to intercept White's b-Pawn, as it passes through the dark b4-square.

Trading King Knights (11.Nf3-e5 Nf6-g4 » 13.Ne5xg4 Bc8xg4) appears to be for White's benefit after the Minority Attack has been carried out, as the removal of the King Knight, combined with White's Kingside Pawn Majority, removes a key defender from the security of Black's King.

Black's remaining Knight would then be torn between keeping out the threat of White's infiltration on the Queenside, and defending the King on the Kingside (its slow-moving nature means it cannot do both, and White exploits this weakness).

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 14.Rfe1
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 14.Rfe1
After 14.Rfe1, White makes a precautionary move, to defend the vulnerable e3-Pawn, against the threat from Black's Queen-Rook Battery. White's King Rook is able to hold off Black's Queen, keeping the e3-Pawn relatively secure.

This enables White to continue with his plan of Simplification, to take / trade away more of Black's Minor Piece threats, which could otherwise deny White a successful Minority Attack.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 17.Bf5 to 18...Qxg4
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 17.Bf5 to 18...Qxg4
After 17.Bf5 to 18...Qxg4, White trades light-Bishops off the board (yet more Simplification).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 19.h3 Qd7
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 19.h3 Qd7
After 19.h3 Qd7, the tail end of the light-Bishop trade sees White's h-Pawn come out (19.h2-h3) to repel Black's Queen, which flees back to the safety of her own territory (19...Qg4-d7).

White's h3-Pawn now guards against any diagonal threat from Black's Queen, along the h5-d1 diagonal.

At this point, White seems content enough to with the state of Black's remaining Pieces. So, White launches his Minority Attack ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 20.b4
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 20.b4
After 20.b4, the first move of White's Minority Attack.

It gets White's b-Pawn within one square of the strike point (b5).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 21.Rab1
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 21.Rab1
After 21.Rab1, the second move of White's Minority Attack.

It supports (what I'll call) White's "Minority Pawn," ready for the Minority Attack to take place.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 22.a4
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 22.a4
After 22.a4, the third move of White's Minority Attack.

White's a-Pawn takes up a position to support the advance of the b-Pawn.

The b-Pawn will be the initial sacrifice that will cause the first weakness in Black's Queenside Pawn Majority ...

The a-Pawn will take over the b-Pawn's role, and it too will be sacrificed, to set-up the main Pawn weakness that is the goal of the Minority Attack -- either Isolated Pawns (on the b-file), or a Backward Pawn (on the c-file, at c6)

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 22...a6
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 22...a6
After 22...a6, Black's a- & c-Pawns are in position, for the benefit of White's intended Minority Attack.

It seems Black is compelled to make this defensive position with his Pawns, regardless of the opportunity for White's Pawn Minority.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 24.Nh2 to 32...Rxe6
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 24.Nh2 to 32...Rxe6
After 24.Nh2 to 32...Rxe6, there's a sequence of play as White seeks to rid himself of the additional threat from Black's remaining Knight.

White sends his remaining Knight all over the board, from Kingside to Queenside, then up and over to the Center, just so he can trade Knights off the board.

H&M-S suggest some of White's moves are unnecessary (from 26...Re8, to 28...Qc8, it would seem): "White now indulged in some useless maneuvers before getting back on the right track."

Maybe it's a little naive, or showing some lack of experience on my part, but I actually see the merit of White's actions ... After the removal of the Knight, this has further simplified things, for White's benefit, as Black has fewer Pieces to defend against White's imminent Minority Attack.

At this point, White appears content to resume his Minority Attack.

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 33.b5
Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 33.b5
After 33.b5. This is the ATTACK.

Everything else before was the build-up to this event.

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The Result of the Minority Attack (1 of 2) ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 32...axb5 34.axb5 cxb5
(RESULT) Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 32...axb5 34.axb5 cxb5
After 32...axb5 34.axb5 cxb5, Black opts for the weakness of Isolated Pawns (b7, b5 & d5).

Black's b7-Pawn acts as cover for White's Rc1, setting up a free capture (occurs on White's very next turn).

Note also that White has Control of a Useful Open File (c-file), with his Queen-Rook Battery.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 35.Rxb5
(RESULT) Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 35.Rxb5
After 35.Rxb5, White claims the first of Black's three Isolated Pawns (35.Rb1xb5)
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Half-open File, The Minority Attack (1 of 2), After 36.Qb3 and 37.Rb1 Rd7
(RESULT) Half-open File,
The Minority Attack (1 of 2),
After 36.Qb3 » 37.Rb1 Rd7
After 36.Qb3 » 37.Rb1 Rd7, White is now ready to claim the second of Black's two remaining Isolated Pawns (after 38.Rb5xb6).

Black's Queenside gets torn apart, one Pawn at a time.

[Jump to ChessFlash Viewer]

Summary of the Minority Attack (1 of 2)...

In summary, White first created the Half-open c-file, which also served to create White's Queenside Pawn Minority.

This was followed by a completion of White's Development phase, readying the Pieces that would support the Minority Attack, while also Castling his King to a safer position.

After the Development phase, came the Expansion phase, where White moved his Pieces to positions that would enable his Minority Attack to have a successful outcome -- this included a period of Simplification, which required trading some of Black's threats off the board (both Bishops and a Knight).

At that point, White felt ready to begin the march of his Minority Pawns, to positions ready to begin the advance of the Minority Pawns. This included supporting the b-Pawn with the Queen Rook, and advancing both a- & b-Pawns to the 4th Rank.

There was a brief interlude period (one last act of Simplification), where White chose to pursue a final exchange of Knights.

Then White launched the Attack, culminating in Black's choice of Pawn weakness -- Isolated Pawns.

White briefly claimed the advantage of having Control of a Useful Open File (c-file), but then immediately switched focus onto systematically capturing Black's Isolated Pawns, for a game-winning advantage.


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Black's Choice, from White's Minority Attack
Isolated Pawns or a Backward Pawn ...

After the attack has been made, White asks Black the question: "which Pawn weakness do you want: Isolated Pawns, or a Backward Pawn?"

Here's how each Pawn weakness is made:

Creation of Black's Isolated Pawns ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - The Minority Attack, Black chooses Isolated Pawns, After 33...a6xb5 34.a4xb5 c6xb5
The Minority Attack,
Black chooses Isolated Pawns,
After 33...a6xb5 34.a4xb5 c6xb5
After 33...a6xb5 34.a4xb5 c6xb5, Black gains three Isolated Pawns, each one ripe for targeting and attacking.

Creation of Black's Backward Pawn ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - The Minority Attack, Black chooses a Backward Pawn, After 33...a6xb5 34.a4xb5 Qb8-c8 35.b5xc6 b7xc6
The Minority Attack,
Black chooses a Backward Pawn,
After 33...a6xb5 34.a4xb5 Qb8-c8
35.b5xc6 b7xc6
After 33...a6xb5 34.a4xb5 Qb8-c8 35.b5xc6 b7xc6, White's Queen-Rook Battery targets Black's c6-Pawn, along the fully Open c-file.

Black's Pawn is Backward, since it's under frontal attack, but cannot move forward to gain support (from the d5-Pawn, in this case). It's virtually stuck -- and stuck, Weak Pawns become targets to attack.

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Important Distinction between No.150, No.151, and No.153...

In examples No.150 & No.151, White focused on posting his Queen Rook at the base of the Half-open c-File, to exert a crucial Pin against Black's c-Pawn.

Point Count Chess - IE - Important Distinction between No.150, No.151, and No.152 -- Diagram 150
Queen Rook occupying the c-file &
Pinning Black's c6-Pawn
No.150, After 17.b5
Point Count Chess - IE - Important Distinction between No.150, No.151, and No.152 -- Diagram 151
Queen Rook occupying the c-file &
Pinning Black's c6-Pawn
No.151, After 18.Nxb5

However, there's a subtle difference in No.152 ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Important Distinction between No.150, No.151, and No.152 -- Diagram 152
Queen Rook supporting
the b-Pawn'a advance in
the Minority Attack
No.152, After 21.Rab1
Note the absence of a Pinning situation on the c-file ...

Black keeps his Pieces off the Half-open File. So White, instead of using the Rook to Pin the c-Pawn, positions his Queen Rook behind the b-Pawn, to support its advance in the Minority Attack.

The b-Pawn will be pushed to b5, to attack either of Black's Pawns on the adjacent files (a or c). White's Queen Rook supports the lead Pawn in the Minority Attack.

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PGN

[Event "Amsterdam/Karlsbad m ;HCL 28"]
[Site "Amsterdam/Karlsbad m ;HCL 28"]
[Date "1932"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "01"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Salomon Flohr"]
[Black "Max Euwe"]
[ECO "D43"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "91"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. cxd5 exd5 7. e3 Be7 8. Bd3 O-O 9. Qc2 Re8 10. O-O Nf8 11. Ne5 Ng4 12. Bxe7 Qxe7 13. Nxg4 Bxg4 14. Rfe1 Rad8 15. Ne2 Rd6 16. Ng3 Rh6 17. Bf5 Qg5 18. Bxg4 Qxg4 19. h3 Qd7 {PCC p.215 No.152} 20. b4 Ne6 21. Rab1 Nc7 22. a4 a6 23. Nf1 Re7 24. Nh2 Rhe6 25. Nf3 f6 26. Nd2 Re8 27. Nb3 R6e7 28. Nc5 Qc8 29. Rec1 Rd8 30. Nd3 Qb8 31. Nf4 Ne6 32. Nxe6 Rxe6 33. b5 axb5 34. axb5 cxb5 35. Rxb5 b6 36. Qb3 Qd6 37. Rb1 Rd7 38. Rxb6 Qxb6 39. Qxb6 Rxb6 40. Rxb6 Kf7 41. Kh2 Ke7 42. Kg3 Ra7 43. Kf4 g6 44. g4 Ra2 45. Rb7+ Ke6 46. Kg3 1-0

End.

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