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Control of a Useful Open File
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2)

Point Count Chess, NO. 164, p234-235
Rubinstein v. Teichmann, 1908

In this example, the h-file becomes the "useful" Open File, which White uses to infiltrate Black's camp, with a Rook and a Pawn (supported by their Queen).

A key part of White's strategy is the advance of his Kingside Pawns, to blast Open the h-file, for the benefit of White's King Rook.

White must also provide support for their advance toward Black's Kingside Pawns -- White does this with his King Knight, King Rook, Queen, and also in the way the Pawns (g & h) are mobilized, to support one another's advance, until they're ready to strike.

But it's the sacrifice of White's light-Bishop, which serves to unlock the h-file, enabling the game winning invasion by White's King Rook, which, incidentally, never has to move until it's actually time to invade.

Beneath the ChessFlash viewer, you'll find my analysis of the position featured in Point Count Chess:
  1. PCC, p.234, No. 164, after 17...a6
  2. Result of the Fight to Open a File (1 of 2).
  3. Summary of the Fight to Open a File (1 of 2).
  4. PGN
Additional analysis includes the:

The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2)
My Analysis

Position #1, My Analysis
PCC, p.234, No. 164, after 17...a6

After: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 Be7 6.Nf3 O-O 7.Qc2 b6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 Bb7 10.O-O-O c5 11.h4 c4 12.Bf5 Re8 13.Bxf6 Nxf6 14.g4 Bd6 15.g5 Ne4 16.h5 Qe7 17.Rdg1 a6

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Page 234
After: 17...a6

1. Queen Pawn Opening (1.d4 d5) for White's Kingside Attack

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 5.e3
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 5.e3
After 5.e3. It would appear White's very first move, choosing 1.d2-d4 is vital in giving him sufficient space on the Kingside, for his h-file invasion strategy to work.

Think about it ... if White had chosen 1.e2-e4, then the likely response from Black would be 1...e7-e5 ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, If 1.e4 e5 had occurred
If 1.e4 e5 had occurred
After 1.e4-e5, the locked King Pawns would serve to block the b1-h7 diagonal, cutting off a key line of support, for White's g- & h-Pawns, as they're advanced up towards Black's Kingside Pawns.

IMPORTANT: This isn't a suggestion that you should never play 1.e4 (risking 1...e5), if you plan to develop your attack on the Kingside -- just be cautious about the supporting diagonals that you may be blocking.

2. Development & Expansion phases continue

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 6.Nf3
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 6.Nf3
After 6.Nf3, White's King Knight is moved into position, from where it will support the advance of White's g-Pawn, which will move through the g5-square, en route to attacking Black's Kingside Pawns (14.g2-g4 » 15.g4-g5 » 18.g5-g6+).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 7.Qc2 and 9.Bd3
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 7.Qc2 » 9.Bd3
After 7.Qc2 » 9.Bd3, White has arranged his Queen and light-Bishop into Battery formation, along the b1-h6 diagonal. They're now in position to support White's intended Kingside Pawn advance.

In that same period, White also traded c-Pawn for Black's d-Pawn (8.c4xd5 e6xd5), to give White a 2-v-1 Center Pawn advantage.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 10.O-O-O
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 10.O-O-O
After 10.O-O-O, White's decision to Castle Queenside serves two purposes.

First, it takes White's King away from the dangers on Kingside, where his Pawns are to be advanced, for the Kingside attack.

Second, it releases White's Queen Rook, so it can go to the Kingside (17.Rd1-g1), to support the advance of White's Kingside Pawns, toward Black's Pawns, for their role in Opening the h-file.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 11.h4
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 11.h4
After 11.h4, White advances the first of his two Kingside Pawns (11.h2-h4) that are involved in the attack to Open the h-file.

In this game, the ultimate fate, or purpose, of White's h-Pawn, is to be sacrificed in an exchange of Pawns, taking-out Black's g-Pawn (16.h4-h5 » 21.h5-h6 » 22.h6xg7), before being removed by Black's King (23...Kg8xg7).

For the time-being, it co-supports White's Bg5, while itself enjoying support from Nf3 and Rh1.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 12.Bf5
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 12.Bf5
After 12.Bf5, the expansion of White's light-Bishop, to f5, isn't so much to attack Black's Nd7, but to ensure its path to Black's h7-Pawn isn't blocked (by ...Nf6-e4).

White's light-Bishop is crucial to White gaining the "useful" Open h-file, as it's sacrificed to remove Black's h7-Pawn (18.Bf5xh7+) -- looked at, below.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 13.Bxg5 Nxf6
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 13.Bxg5 Nxf6
After 13.Bxg5 Nxf6, White trades his dark-Bishop for Black's Nf6 (13.Bg5xf6), although Black immediately replaces it with his Queen Knight (13...Nd7xf6).

The positive aspect, from White's perspective, is it takes out a Black Knight, on what is a semi-Closed board (suits Knights more than Bishops).

Furthermore, it clears the g-file, ready for the advance of White's g-Pawn to take part in the attack to Open the h-file.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 14.g4, 15.g5 and 16.h5
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 14.g4 » 15.g5 » 16.h5
After 14.g4 » 15.g5 » 16.h5, White moves both g- & h-Pawns into Advanced positions.

They are both now ready to join in the attack that results in White Opening the "useful" h-file.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 17.Rdg1
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 17.Rdg1
After 17.Rdg1, White finally brings his Queen Rook across (17.Rd1-g1), to support the attacking advance of the g-Pawn.

3. White's Key Bishop Sacrifice

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 18.Bxh7+
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 18.Bxh7+
After 18.Bxh7+, White makes an important tactical decision to sacrifice his light-Bishop, to help Open the "useful" h-file, in his favor.
See the additional analysis, to learn why this Bishop sacrifice was preferred over attacking first with either g- or h-Pawns.

4. The creation of the "useful" Open h-file

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 19.g6+ Kg8
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 19.g6+ Kg8
After 19.g6+ Kg8, the advance of White's g-Pawn, first (19.g5-g6+), with the h5-Pawn's support, forces Black's King to retreat (19...Kh7-g8).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 20.Nxe4 dxe4
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 20.Nxe4 dxe4
After 20.Nxe4 dxe4, White trades Knights, to makes sure Black's remaining Knight doesn't wreck the success of White's plan for, first, Opening, and then invading through the h-file.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 21.h6 f6
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 21.h6 f6
After 21.h6 f6, White's h-Pawn gets into position to Open the h-file.

Note: the support from White's Rg1 makes futile the capture of White's g6-Pawn, by Black's f7-Pawn. So, Black just advances the f-Pawn, instead (21...f7-f6)
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, After 22.hxg7
Control of a Useful Open File,
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
After 22.hxg7
After 22.hxg7, the h-file becomes fully Open, as White's h-Pawn leaves the h-file, to capture Black's g-Pawn (22.h6xg7).

Note: White has never once had to move his King Rook (Rh1), but it now sits Controlling the "useful" Open h-file. It's such an efficient use of the Rook. To steal a line from Jamiroquai, it really is like "traveling without moving."

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The Result of the Fight to Open a File (1 of 2)...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2), After 23.Rh8+
(RESULT) Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File
(1 of 2), After 23.Rh8+
After 23.Rh8+, White's King Rook takes full advantage the Doubled Pawns (first the g7-Pawn), to safely invade Black's camp.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2), After 23...Kxg7 24.Rh7+
(RESULT) Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File
(1 of 2), After 23...Kxg7 24.Rh7+
After 23...Kxg7 24.Rh7+, White's King Rook then takes advantage of the remaining g6-Pawn, to hit Black with an Absolute Skewer.

The result forces Black's King to step aside (24...Kg7-g8), and White trades his Rook to claim Black's Queen (26.Rh7xe7).

In fact, White didn't trade his Rook, as Black immediately resigned.

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Summary of the Fight to Open a File (1 of 2)...

  1. White chooses a to Open the game with (1.d2-d4), which, after Black's 1...d7-d5, serves to keep the b1-h7 diagonal clear, primarily for the benefit of White's light-Bishop, which is later sacrificed, to help Open the "useful" h-file.

  2. The Development & Expansion phases continue, during which White gets his Queen and light-Bishop into Battery formation, along the key b1-h7 diagonal (7.Qd1-c2 » 9.Bf1-d3).

  3. White Castles Queenside (10.O-O-O), which serves to bring his Queen Rook across, so it will be able to support the advance of the g-Pawn, in the attack to Open the "useful" h-file.

  4. White makes sure his Bishop can still see Black's h7-Pawn, moving it further forward (12.Bd3-f5), to avoid it being blocked (by a possible ...Nf6-e4).

  5. White trades his dark-Bishop for Black's King Knight (13.Bg5xf6), which also serves to clear the g-file, for the imminent advance of White's g-Pawn, in the attack to Open the h-file.

  6. White's Queen Rook is brought across to support the g-Pawn (17.Rd1-g1). Notice White has his light-Bishop, g-Pawn and h-Pawn all level on the 5th Rank, prior to the attack. With the Rook in place (Rg1), White is now ready to launch his attack, leading with his light-Bishop.

  7. White sacrifices his light-Bishop, trading it for Black's h7-Pawn (18.Bf5xh7+), in order to maintain the push to Open the "useful" h-file. Had White led with either g- or h-Pawns, Black would have been able to keep the h-file firmly shut. The sacrifice solves that, for White. It's key to his game-winning invasion plan.

  8. White creates the "useful" Open h-file, advancing first his g-Pawn (19.g5-g6+) to force the retreat of Black's King (19...Kh7-g8) and then bringing up his h-Pawn, to trade itself onto the g-file (21.h6 » 22.h6xg7), Opening the h-file, for the benefit of White's Rh1.

  9. White's King Rook invades Black's camp, making use of White's helpful Doubled Pawns on the g-file, which shortly leads to the Absolute Skewer that wins Black's Queen, and prompts Black to resign.

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Why White Sacrifices his Bishop...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, Why White Sacrifices his Bishop, After 17...a6
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
Advance Pawn or Sacrifice Bishop?
After 17...a6
After 17...a6, we reach the position where White has a choice about whether to ...
  1. Continue his Kingside attack with further and immediate advance of his Pawns;

  2. Or, sacrifice his light-Bishop (18.Bf5xh7+), in a bid to Open the "useful" h-file.

The following analysis shows what happens if White chooses to "keep hold of his light-Bishop," instead of sacrificing it ...

Choice 1. White advances his g-Pawn, first

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, Why White Sacrifices his Bishop, After 18.g6 fxg6 19.hxg6 h6
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
White Advances g-Pawn, first
After 18.g6 fxg6 19.hxg6 h6
After 18.g6 fxg6 19.hxg6 h6, Black is free to advance his h-Pawn (19...h7-h6), supported by the g7-Pawn.

This serves to keep the h-file shut, in a Half-open state, which denies White his game-winning invasion plan, and wastes the potential of his Rh1.

Choice 2. White advances his h-Pawn, first

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, Why White Sacrifices his Bishop, After 18.h6 g6
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
Why White Sacrifices his Bishop
After 18.h6 g6
After 18.h6 g6, Black's task is made even easier, as his g-Pawn just needs to step forward; the interlocking Pawns serve to keep the h-file shut, once gain denying White a successful conclusion to his Kingside attack.

And so, that leaves White with his third, and more radical -- but also highly successful -- option ...

Choice 3. White Sacrifices his light-Bishop, first

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 164 - Control of a Useful Open File, The Fight to Open a File, Why White Sacrifices his Bishop, After 18.Bxh7+ Kxh7
The Fight to Open a File (1 of 2),
Why White Sacrifices his Bishop
After 18.Bxh7+ Kxh7
After 18.Bxh7+ Kxh7, we see the move that actually took place, as White chooses to sacrifice his light-Bishop (18.Bf5xh7+).

The "check" is a side issue; Black's King really has no option but to complete the exchange (18...Kg8xh7), so as not to leave a dangerous White Piece on the board.

However, that serves to clear White's Bishop from the h-file, which will benefit White's King Rook (Rh1), once White uses his h-Pawn to take-out Black's g7-Pawn (21.h5-h6 » 22.h6xg7), to fully Open the "useful" h-file.

To repeat what H&M-S said: "The potential power of the (White) rooks is here so great, however, that a sacrifice is worthwhile to open a file for them."


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PGN

[Event "Mch"]
[Site "Mch"]
[Date "1908.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Akiba Rubinstein"]
[Black "Richard Teichmann"]
[ECO "D61"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "51"]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 Be7 6.Nf3 O-O 7.Qc2 b6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 Bb7 10.O-O-O c5 11.h4 c4 12.Bf5 Re8 13.Bxf6 Nxf6 14.g4 Bd6 15.g5 Ne4 16.h5 Qe7 17.Rdg1 a6 {PCC p.234 No.164} 18.Bxh7+ Kxh7 19.g6+ Kg8 20.Nxe4 dxe4 21.h6 f6 22.hxg7 exf3 23.Rh8+ Kxg7 24.Rh7+ Kg8 25.Qf5 c3 26.Rxe7 1-0

End.

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