« Back to the other Point Count Chess Examples

Control of a Useful Open File
Neutralizing an Open File

Point Count Chess, NO. 166A to NO. 166C, p236-238
Porges v. Tarrasch, 1892

In this example, the d-file is the Open file that White manages to occupy with a Rook. However, Black arranges his troops so that White's Rook is no threat. That is how Black neutralizes White's Open d-file.

Beneath the ChessFlash viewer, you'll find my analysis of the three positions featured in Point Count Chess:
  1. PCC, p.236, No. 166A, after 8...Kxd8
  2. PCC, p.237, No. 166B, after 13.Rfe1
  3. PCC, p.238, No. 166C, after 17.Nf6
  4. Result of Neutralizing an Open File.
  5. Summary of Neutralizing an Open File.
  6. PGN
Additional analysis includes the:

Neutralizing an Open File
My Analysis

Position #1, My Analysis
PCC, p.236, No. 166A, after 8...Kxd8

After: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166A - Page 236
After: 8...Kxd8

1. Creating the Half-open d-file

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166A - Neutralizing an Open File, After 6...dxc6
Neutralizing an Open File,
Creating the Half-Open d-File,
After 6...dxc6
After 6...dxc6, the Half-open d-file is created, coming from the Ruy Lopez Opening.

This position (see left) represents The Ruy Lopez Question, where Black gains the Bishop-pair, but takes on Doubled Pawns (c7,c6) in the process.

2. Creating the Open d-file

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166A - Neutralizing an Open File, After 7.dxe5
Neutralizing an Open File,
Creating the Open d-File,
After 7.dxe5
After 7.dxe5, the d-file becomes fully Open, as White's d-Pawn immediately captures Black's e-Pawn (7.d4xe5).

In that instant, White also gains an Advanced Pawn (e5), defended by Nf3.

3. White's Queen Rook occupies the d-file

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166A - Neutralizing an Open File, After 7...Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kd8
Neutralizing an Open File,
Occupation of the Open d-File,
After 7...Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kd8
After 7...Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kd8, Black's Knight has been forced off d6, by White's e5-Pawn (7...Nd6-f5). This results in an exchange of Queens (8.Qd1xd8+), with Black's King completing the trade (8...Ke8xd8).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166A - Neutralizing an Open File, After 9...h6
Neutralizing an Open File,
Creating the Half-Open d-File,
After 9...h6
After 9...h6, H&M-S say: "Black wants to post his king on the queen-side. He prevents N-N5 (Nf3-g5) so as to avoid having to protect the king bishop pawn with his king."
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166A - Neutralizing an Open File, After 12.Rad1+ Kc8
Neutralizing an Open File,
Creating the Half-Open d-File,
After 12.Rad1+ Kc8
After 12.Rad1+ Kc8, White has his Queen Rook occupying the Open d-file (12.Ra1-d1+), forcing Black to spend another Tempo, to get his King out of check, to safety (12...Kd8-c8).

Everything seems to be going in White's favor, as he has the supported Advanced Pawn (Nf3 supports e5); has Connected his Rooks; and has just forced Black's King to move (8...Ke8xd8), which removes Black's option to Castle (typically uses more time/moves walking the King into a position of greater safety).


[Jump to ChessFlash Viewer]

Position #2, My Analysis
PCC, PCC, p.237, No. 166B, after 13.Rfe1

After: 9.Nc3 h6 10.b3 Be6 11.Bb2 Be7 12.Rad1%2B Kc8 13.Rfe1

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166B - Page 237
After: 13.Rfe1

4. White cannot take advantage of the Open d-file

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166B - Neutralizing an Open File, After 13.Rfe1 g5
Neutralizing an Open File,
White cannot take advantage
of the Half-Open d-File,
After 13.Rfe1 g5
After 13.Rfe1 g5, White has reached a position where he's seemingly done all the right things to gain the Open d-file, and then to try and control it, via occupation with his Queen Rook.

BUT, White cannot do anything with his Rook -- he cannot invade Black's camp, as is the usual goal, because of the arrangement of Black's troops in striking distance of the line of squares (d5 to d8).

Even forming a Rook Battery (e.g. 14.Rd1-d2 » 15.Rf1-d1), to attack along Black's back rank (e.g. to trade off one set of Rooks) won't work, because Black's Be7 & Kc8 combine to easily thwart any such attack, before Black's Rh8 even has to move in to help out.


[Jump to ChessFlash Viewer]

Position #3, My Analysis
PCC, p.238, No. 166C, after 17.Nf6

After: 13...g5 14.Ne4 b6 15.Nd4 Nxd4 16.Rxd4 Kb7 17.Nf6

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166C - Page 238
After: 17.Nf6
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166C - Neutralizing an Open File, After 14.Ne4 to 17.Nf6
Neutralizing an Open File,
Creating the Half-Open d-File,
After 14.Ne4 to 17.Nf6
After 14.Ne4 to 17.Nf6, there was small fight, during which a pair of Knights were exchanged (15.Nf3-d4 Nf5xd4 16.Rd1xd4).

At the end of the fight, as the diagram shows (left), White occupies the Strong f6-Outpost with his remaining Knight (Nf6).

[Jump to ChessFlash Viewer]

The Result of Neutralizing an Open File...

Black has successfully Neutralized the Open d-file

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166 - Neutralizing an Open File, After 17.Nf6
(RESULT) Neutralizing an Open File,
Black Neutralizes the Open d-File,
After 17.Nf6
After 17.Nf6, as I've just noted, White occupies the f6-Outpost, with his remaining Knight.

This is yet another advantage that White gains, which you'd think would improve his chances of breaking down Black's stubborn resistance.

However, the f6-Outpost is virtually impotent -- Black can easily maneuver around the threat without too much trouble ...

Where's White's Knight going to go? What's it going to attack? Every option can be clamped down on by a Black unit. And, by staying there, White's Nf6 isn't contributing anything to White's seemingly fragile attempt to attack into Black's camp.

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 166 - Neutralizing an Open File, After 17.Nf6
(RESULT) Neutralizing an Open File,
Black Neutralizes the Open d-File,
After 17.Nf6
After 17.Nf6, notice how White's Advanced e5-Pawn shelters Black's Bishops from any possible frontal attack. This maintains the Bishops' strength in keeping the Open d-file neutralized.

And, of course, it's already been mentioned that White is unable to attack through the Open d-file, because of the way Black has coordinated his army, for defence of the opening through the d-file.

[Jump to ChessFlash Viewer]

Summary of Neutralizing an Open File...

  1. The d-file becomes Half-open, from the position of the Ruy Lopez Question, when Black accepts Doubled Pawns (6...d7xc6), to keep hold of his Bishop-pair. Both Doubled Pawns and the Bishop-pair are integral to Black neutralizing the Open d-file. Speaking of which ...

  2. The d-file becomes fully Open, on White's very next turn, as White's d-Pawn captures Black's e5-Pawn (7.d4xe5), to give White an Advanced Pawn. While this is often an advantage, here it becomes a liability, as it unwittingly becomes a shield for Black's Bishop-pair, which help to neutralize the Open d-file (from e6 & e7, respectively).

  3. Following an exchange of Queens (7...Nd6-f5 8.Qd1xd8+ Ke8xd8), and after getting his Queen -Knight & -Bishop out of the way, White occupies the Open d-file, with his Queen Rook (12.Ra1-d1+). At this point, it's easy to assume White has gained control of a "useful" Open file (given the location of Black's King -- d8).

  4. After 17.Nf6, we see that Black's Doubled Pawns (c7,c6) and Bishop-pair (Be7,Be6) combine with the Rook pair, to create a virtual valley of death, through which White's Rook is unable to invade. Black has successfully neutralized the Open d-file.

[Jump to ChessFlash Viewer]

Comparison of the Open Files
(No.160, No.161, No.164, No.165 & No.166)
to see what makes invasion possible...

To help see the characteristics of the position that enable successful invasion through the Open File, versus the position that enables the Open File to be successfully neutralized.

Comparison 1: At the point of White's Invasion

The first set of four diagrams shows each game right at the point of White's Invasion ...

In every one, except No.165, White has a Rook occupying the "useful" Open File

Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 160
Comparison 1, of the Open Files,
at the point of Invasion
No.160 (e-file), After 21...Qd8
Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 161
Comparison 1, of the Open Files,
at the point of Invasion
No.161 (e-file), After 17...Qxd7
Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 164
Comparison 1, of the Open Files,
at the point of Invasion
No.164 (h-file), After 22...exf3
Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 165
Comparison 1, of the Open Files,
at the point of Invasion
No.165 (g-file), After 28...cxd4

Now, compare those with No.166, where Black successfully neutralizes the Open d-file ...

Here, White also has a Rook occupying the intended "useful" Open File. However, as Black is able to neutralize the file, it's clear that just having a Rook on the file isn't enough, by itself, to successfully invade the enemy's camp.

Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram x
Comparison 1, of the Open Files,
The Neutralized d-file
No.166, After 17.Nf6

Comparison 2: During White's Invasion

In every one, except No.161, White invades with the Rook, through "useful" Open File.

In No.161, it's White's Queen that invades, to check Black's King, while the Rook holds back, at the base of the "useful" Open File, to prevent the Black King from escaping, which results in Checkmate (White wins).

In No.165, White takes advantage of an alternative Open File (f-file), to safely invade with his Rook, as Black's King denies infiltration along what was the main "useful" Open File (that's the one H&M-S focused on, in their analysis).

Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison 2, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 160
Comparison 2, of the Open Files,
during White's Invasion
No.160 (e-file), After 22.Re8
Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison 2, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 161
Comparison 2, of the Open Files,
during White's Invasion
No.161 (e-file), After 18.Qh8#
Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison 2, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 164
Comparison 2, of the Open Files,
during White's Invasion
No.164 (h-file), After 23.Rh8+
Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison 2, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 165
Comparison 2, of the Open Files,
during White's Invasion
No.165 (g-file), After 29.Rf8+

Now, compare those with No.166, where Black successfully Neutralizes the Open d-file ...

It would appear Black has arranged his troops to adequately defend the route in through the "useful" Open File. So, attention must be turned to defence.

Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram x
Comparison 2, of the Open Files,
The Neutralized d-file
No.166, After 17.Nf6

Comparison 3: Black's Defence of the Open File, during Invasion

In No.160, Black's Rc7 & the two Pawns, do defend portions of the "useful" Open File, but they don't defend the critical e8 invasion square. They don't actually contribute to an adequate defence of the file; thus they don't help to neutralize it.

Black does have a Rook (Rf8) and a Queen (Qd8) to challenge the invasion, through the "useful" Open File, by White's two Rooks. White has just moved (22.Re3-e8), so it would seem enough, as 22...Rf8xe8 23.Rd1xe8 Qd8xe8, and the Queen is left as the only survivor of that exchange.

However, Black falls short due to White's superior, multiple tactical maneuver (a Combination attack), which started with that Rook Exchange, and will end with the capture of Black's Queen. White will triumph over what initially seemed like a robust defence, by Black's Qd8 & Rf8

The Combination: While Black's Queen initially survives White's double Rook exchange, Black's Queen will end up on the e8-square, and brought into a new kill zone -- White's Ng4 stands-by to inflict a Royal Fork, winning the Queen. White's Qh6 prevents Black's King from coming across to take-out the Knight, after White's Knight has won the Queen.

Therefore, superior tactics can be enough to enable invasion, through the "useful" Open File, despite what at first appears to be adequate defence of the invasion square(s).

Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison 2, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 160
Comparison 3, of the Open Files,
Black's Defence of the Open file during White's Invasion
No.160 (e-file), After 22.Re8
Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison 2, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 161
Comparison 3, of the Open Files,
Black's Defence of the Open file during White's Invasion
No.161 (e-file), After 18.Qh8#

In No.161, Black appears to have material support to prevent White's Rook from invading. But, unfortunately for Black, White's Rook doesn't need to invade to make an impact. It's long-range capability allows it to sit safely at home, to combine with his Queen (which does invade), for a successful mating attack. So, a seemingly sufficient number of defenders isn't necessarily adequate to neutralize an Open File, IF the file isn't needed to invade the enemy camp.

In No.164 & No.165, Black doesn't have the defenders to prevent White's Rook from invading; while White either has the support (No.164) or makes use of an alternative Open File (No.165)

Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison 2, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 164
Comparison 3, of the Open Files,
Black's Defence of the Open file during White's Invasion
No.164 (h-file), After 23.Rh8+
Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison 2, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 165
Comparison 3, of the Open Files,
Black's Defence of the Open file during White's Invasion
No.165 (g-file), After 29.Rf8+

Now, compare those with No.166, where Black successfully Neutralizes the Open d-file ...

If you imagine the Pawns and Bishops (green squares) are armed with heavy firepower (guns or arrows, etc.), then the line of squares from d5-d8 is like a valley of death, for White's army, which is unable to penetrate due to overwhelming firepower, either side, on the ridges of the valley.

Also, because the Pawns and Bishops are less valuable than a Rook, White has nothing to gain, and more to lose, by invading through the Open d-file, with his Rook.

Black's Rooks act like the last line of defence, along the back rank. White has no safe means of infiltrating through the Open d-file. Therefore, it can be said that Black has "neutralized" it.

Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison, Comparing Open Files with No.166 -- Diagram 166
Comparison 3, of the Open Files,
Black's Defence of the
Neutralized d-file
No.166, After 17.Nf6

So ...

If the goal is to invade:

If the goal is to neutralize an Open File:

Incidentally, it's also interesting to see how Black has answered the Ruy Lopez Question, by making full use of his Bishop-pair -- they're integral to the defence of the Open d-file.

Note how Black has cleverly turned the usual weakness of the Doubled Pawns into a core strength, making them an integral part of the valley of death, along with the Bishop-pair, to help neutralize the Open d-file.

[Jump to ChessFlash Viewer]

PGN

[Event "DSB-07.Kongress"]
[Site "Dresden"]
[Date "1892.07.18"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Moritz Porges"]
[Black "Siegbert Tarrasch"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "70"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 {PCC p.236 No.166A} 9.Nc3 h6 10.b3 Be6 11.Bb2 Be7 12.Rad1+ Kc8 13.Rfe1 {PCC p.237 No.166B} g5 14.Ne4 b6 15.Nd4 Nxd4 16.Rxd4 Kb7 17.Nf6 {PCC p.238 No.166C} a5 18.a4 c5 19.Rd3 c4 20.bxc4 Bxc4 21.Rd4 Be6 22.Ne4 Rhd8 23.Red1 Bf5 24.f3 Bxe4 25.Rxd8 Rxd8 26.Rxd8 Bxd8 27.fxe4 Kc6 28.Ba3 b5 29.axb5+ Kxb5 30.Kf2 Kc4 31.Bb2 Be7 32.Kf3 a4 33.h4 a3 34.Ba1 Bb4 35.hxg5 hxg5 0-1

End.

« Back to the other Point Count Chess Examples