Categories

 Loading... Please wait...

The "Template" in Chess

Every chess player who wants to improve his game will eventually need a special group of chess opening positions, a select number of key positions that he will know better than anyone else. Not simply an opening variation, but a tableau or template - an arrangement of pieces and pawns in which the player feels absolutely comfortable, and understands the various potentials of that position. The enterprising chess player will attempt to discover every nuance of his adopted tableau, mastering first one such key position then adding others. Some players will be expert in a dozen templates; others will use only four or five; some will specialize in gambits, others in strategical patterns.

One tableau that I have used arises in the French Defense, and can reliably be reached if White plays the Tarrasch System (3.Nd2) or even the Advance Variation (3.e5). This key position has been called the "Leningrad French" and appears after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4 8.cxd4 Nb6, for example.

template.jpg

The Knight on b6 is characteristic, and will be followed by placing Bishops on d7 and e7 with very smooth development. Next Black will play on the Queenside light squares, advancing his a-pawn and using the b5 and c4 squares for his pieces. Meanwhile, if White attempts to attack Kingside by arranging f2-f4-f5 Black will counter with ...g7-g6 and ...h7-h5 which, with a Black Rook on h8, acts to restrain and slow White's expansion.

Clearly Black is playing a static "structural" defense, an approach not to everybody's liking. There is no way to permanently stop White from rolling forward on the Kingside, though Black's activity on the other wing is quite dangerous. The games that follow merely show the value of a tableau in chess opening preparation, and how theory meets practice in real tournament chess. The ten games presented here cover the space of a dozen years, against opponents having a 2235 average rating.

Games

[Event "M & M"] [Site "Memphis"] [Date "1983.05.29"] [Round "5"] [White "Gentner, Nicky"] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C06"] [WhiteElo "2020"] [BlackElo "2100"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "1983.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 Nb6 {[The key move of this "Leningrad System" in the French Defense. Black will place Bishops on d7 and e7, then use known maneuvers to make Queenside inroads. On the Kingside he will adopt a holding posture, pushing pawns to g6 and h5 at key moments to forestall White expansion.]} 9. O-O Bd7 10. Nf3 ({ White can also gain space with} 10. f4 {when Black continues} g6 11. Nf3 ({Not } 11. g4 h5 {and then} 12. h3 hxg4 13. hxg4 Qh4 {is too painful.}) 11... h5 { followed by 12...Be7.}) 10... Be7 11. Nc3 a5 ({Black begins Queenside operations. He could also restrain White's Kingside expansion by} 11... h5 { etc.}) 12. b3 Nb4 13. Bb1 a4 14. a3 axb3 $5 ({The retreat} 14... Nc6 {leads to} 15. b4 ({If} 15. bxa4 {then} Na5 {operates on the light squares.}) 15... Na7 ({ Now} 15... h5 {is met by} 16. Bc2 $14 {with disruptive pressure on Black's a-pawn.}) 16. Bd3 ({Or} 16. Bc2 $5) 16... Rc8 $13 {[%csl Gc4] with mutual chances.}) 15. Qxb3 Nc6 16. Ne2 Na5 17. Qe3 Nac4 18. Qf4 Nxa3 ({The pawn might have waited in favor of} 18... h5 19. Qg3 Kf8 {securing his King.}) 19. Bxa3 Rxa3 20. Rxa3 Bxa3 21. Ng5 Qe7 22. Nxh7 ({The alternative} 22. Bxh7 Bb5 23. Rb1 Bxe2 24. Rxb6 Qc7 $13 {is also unclear.}) 22... Bb5 23. Qg4 Bxe2 $6 ({Better is } 23... Nd7 24. Qxg7 Rxh7 25. Bxh7 Bxe2 26. Ra1 Kd8 $15 {with a slight advantage for Black.}) 24. Qxe2 Nc4 25. Bd3 Qh4 26. Qc2 $14 {[Now White's position is preferable.]} Kd8 27. Rb1 g6 $2 ({Instead} 27... b6 {could lead to} 28. Qa4 ({Better than} 28. Bxc4 Qxh7 29. Qxh7 Rxh7 30. Be2 Rh4 $11 {and equality.}) 28... Rxh7 29. Qa8+ Kc7 30. Qa7+ Kc6 31. h3 {and if Black continues } Qxd4 32. Bxc4 dxc4 33. Qa4+ Kc7 34. Rd1 Qxd1+ 35. Qxd1 $16 {his pieces lack coordination and Black has a difficult defense.}) 28. Qa4 $18 {[White should win.]} Kc7 29. Bxc4 Rxh7 30. Rxb7+ $2 $11 ({White takes perpetual check, but the simple} 30. h3 $18 {leaves him excellent chances of victory.}) 1/2-1/2 [Event "TN-ch"] [Site "Nashville"] [Date "1983.07.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Carey, Mike"] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C05"] [WhiteElo "2243"] [BlackElo "2100"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "79"] [EventDate "1983.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "2"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2000.01.01"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ndf3 cxd4 8. cxd4 h5 ({It is important to avoid the routine} 8... Nb6 {for then White has} 9. g4 {and if} h5 10. gxh5 Rxh5 11. Ne2 g6 12. Ng3 Rh8 13. h4 $16 {[%cal Gh4h5] with 14.h5 to follow.}) 9. Bd3 Nb6 10. Ne2 g6 11. O-O Bd7 12. a3 a5 13. b3 a4 ({ There was no hurry, and} 13... Be7 {could have been played.}) 14. b4 Na7 { [Threatening 15...Bb5, and one of the typical maneuvers in the Leningrad treatment of the French. Black operates on the Queenside light squares.]} 15. Nc3 Be7 16. Bb2 $6 ({This Bishop would have come in handy on the Kingside after an eventual f4-f5 break. Therefore} 16. Be3 {or 16.Bd2 was better.}) 16... Kf8 17. Rc1 Qe8 {[Another standard plan. The King heads for g7 and the Queen covers two important diagonals, while reinforcing the b5 square.]} 18. Qe2 Rc8 {[%csl Gc4]} 19. Nd2 Kg7 20. Kh1 $5 ({To push g2-g4 in one move is a risky plan. The quiet} 20. g3 $14 {prepares h2-h3 and only then g3-g4, followed by the f4-f5 advance. How is Black to proceed on the Queenside?}) 20... Bd8 $5 21. Rg1 Rc7 22. g3 ({Logical was} 22. g4 $5 {since the King belongs on g2 in the slower plan initiated by the text move.}) 22... Nbc8 23. Nf1 Ne7 {[Black has not helped himself with these shiftings.]} 24. Ne3 Kf8 25. g4 ({A forcing line goes} 25. b5 Rc8 26. Nxa4 Bxb5 27. Bxb5 Qxb5 28. Qxb5 Nxb5 29. Rxc8 Nxc8 30. Nc5 $14 {and White has a comfortable position.}) 25... hxg4 26. Qxg4 Nac8 {[Rounding up the strays! Nimzovich would have been proud of Black's setup, though White is still slightly better.]} 27. Rg3 Nb6 28. Rh3 Rxh3 29. Qxh3 Kg7 30. Ng4 Qh8 31. Qxh8+ Kxh8 32. Nf6 Bc6 $5 ({Better is} 32... Nf5 $13 {but White is urged to occupy b5 with a pawn, before a piece gets there.}) 33. b5 Bd7 34. Nxd7 Rxd7 35. Bc2 Rc7 $15 36. Rd1 $6 ({If} 36. Nxa4 $6 {then} Rxc2 $17 {etc.}) ({And if} 36. Bxa4 $6 {then} Rc4 $17 {is good for Black.}) 36... Nc4 37. Bc1 Nxa3 ({Black should win by} 37... Ne3 $19 {etc.}) 38. Bxa3 Rxc3 39. Bxe7 Bxe7 $138 40. Bxa4 ({After} 40. Bxa4 {the game was agreed drawn in time pressure, although Black has a very good position with} Rc4 $17 {in reply. A fun game nevertheless.}) 1/2-1/2 [Event "Tennessee Open"] [Site "Nashville"] [Date "1983.09.03"] [Round "3"] [White "Chambers"] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C05"] [WhiteElo "1870"] [BlackElo "2125"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "88"] [EventDate "1983.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ndf3 cxd4 8. cxd4 h5 ({Not} 8... Nb6 $6 {for then} 9. g4 {is possible.}) 9. Bd3 Nb6 {[Black has reached the Leningrad position.]} 10. Ne2 Bd7 11. O-O g6 12. Be3 Be7 13. Rc1 Nb4 14. Bb1 Nc4 15. Bd2 a5 $15 ({White sheds a pawn after} 15... Qb6 $1 16. Rc3 ({There is nothing better, e.g.} 16. a3 Nxb2 17. Qb3 Nc6 $17) ({or} 16. b3 Nb2 $1 17. Qe1 N2d3 $19 {winning.}) 16... Nxb2 17. Qc1 Nc4 $17 {with a clear advantage.}) 16. a3 Nc6 17. Rc2 ({If} 17. Ba2 {then} b5 ({Or} 17... Nxb2 $5 18. Qc2 $13 {unclear.}) 18. Bxc4 bxc4 $15 {and Black has a good game.}) 17... a4 18. Qc1 b5 ({Also good is} 18... Kf8 $15 {etc.}) 19. Ba2 Nb8 20. Ne1 Bc6 21. Nd3 Na6 22. Rf3 Qb6 23. Qe1 Nxd2 24. Qxd2 b4 25. axb4 Bb5 {[The b5 square is important in this opening system.]} 26. Qc1 $6 Bxd3 27. Rc8+ Kd7 $5 28. Rxa8 $6 ({The other capture} 28. Rxh8 {is better, though Black maintains a clear edge.} ) 28... Rxa8 29. Rxd3 Nxb4 $19 {[Now Black is winning.]} 30. Ra3 Qa6 31. Qd1 Nc6 32. Re3 Qb6 33. Qd2 Rb8 34. b3 a3 35. Rd3 Nb4 36. Rc3 Nc6 37. Rd3 Qb4 38. Qc1 Rc8 39. Qd2 Qxd2 40. Rxd2 Nb4 41. Kf2 Kc6 42. Nc3 Kb6 43. Na4+ Kb5 44. Ke2 Rc1 0-1 [Event "Mid-South Open"] [Site "Memphis"] [Date "1983.11.26"] [Round "2"] [White "Gutermuth, D."] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C05"] [WhiteElo "2312"] [BlackElo "2168"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "121"] [EventDate "1983.11.26"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ndf3 cxd4 8. cxd4 h5 $1 9. Bd3 Nb6 {[The Leningrad Variation.]} 10. Ne2 Bd7 11. Kf2 $5 ({Unusual. The natural} 11. O-O {is expected.}) 11... Be7 12. g3 Nb4 13. Bb1 a5 14. a3 Nc6 15. Bd2 $6 Nc4 16. Bc1 {[White intends to follow with 17.b3, but then after 17. ..Nb6 Black will play 18...a4 and disrupt the White plans.]} a4 $17 {[Black has a good bind.]} 17. Nc3 Nb6 $5 ({The aggressive} 17... b5 18. Nxb5 Qb6 $15 { is better.}) ({Or perhaps} 17... Qa5 $5 18. Kg2 b5 $15 {with a fine game.}) 18. Bc2 Nb8 $5 ({Black becomes alarmed about his a-pawn. It is better to continue} 18... g6 {or 18...Kf8!?, and if} 19. Nxa4 Nxd4 (19... Nxa4 $5 20. Bxa4 Nxe5 $15 {is also comfortable for Black.}) 20. Nxd4 Nxa4 $15 {Black has the advantage.}) 19. h3 {[%cal Yg3g4,Yf4f5]} g6 20. g4 Kf8 ({The gambit} 20... Nc6 21. Kg2 Na5 22. Nxa4 Nxa4 23. Bxa4 Qb6 $13 {offers mutual chances.}) 21. Qe2 $6 ({Correct is the sharp} 21. f5 $1 exf5 22. gxf5 Bxf5 23. Bxf5 gxf5 24. Rg1 Nc6 25. Bf4 $44 {and White has an active position.}) 21... hxg4 $17 {[Good for Black.]} 22. Ng5 gxh3 $6 ({The calmer} 22... Nc6 23. Be3 g3+ $17 {is preferable.}) 23. Qg4 $13 Bxg5 ({An illustrative variation is} 23... Nc6 24. Rxh3 ({Avoiding} 24. Nxf7 Kxf7 25. Qxg6+ Kf8 26. f5 Bh4+ 27. Kf1 Qe7 $15 {and Black has the better game.}) 24... Rxh3 25. Qxh3 Bxg5 26. fxg5 Kg8 ({Not} 26... Ke7 $6 27. Qf3 Qh8 28. Qf6+ $14 {when Black is too cramped.}) 27. Bd2 Qf8 28. Bd3 Qg7 $13 {with interesting play.}) 24. fxg5 Nc6 25. Kg3 $2 ({An error. He should have gone} 25. Rxh3 Rxh3 26. Qxh3 Kg8 $13 {unclear, as shown above.}) 25... Kg7 $17 26. Bd3 $6 {[He could still capture on h3, but now Black has a nice game in any case.]} Ne7 $19 {[White is lost.]} 27. Bf4 Nf5+ 28. Bxf5 gxf5 ({The text move is good enough, but Black ought to train himself to play the thematic} 28... exf5 $5 $19 {in these positions. Here it wins.}) 29. Qe2 Qc7 30. Rh2 Rh7 31. Rah1 Rah8 32. g6 Rh5 $5 33. gxf7 Bc6 34. Kf2 Qxf7 35. Rg1+ Kf8 36. Nb5 Nc4 37. Nd6 Nxd6 $6 ({Black should play} 37... Qe7 {instead.}) 38. exd6 Ke8 $6 {[Not best.]} 39. Be5 ({White had a chance to get in} 39. Qe5 $1 {and if} R5h7 40. d7+ Kxd7 ({Not} 40... Qxd7 $2 41. Rg6 $16 {and White has a strong attack.}) 41. Qd6+ $11 {or 41.Qc7+= with perpetual check.}) 39... R8h7 $15 {[The opposite colored Bishops make it hard for Black to realize his material superiority.]} 40. Qd2 Qd7 41. Qa5 Kf7 42. Rg3 Rh4 43. Qe1 Qd8 44. Kg1 Qf8 45. Kh1 Qh6 46. Qg1 Rg4 $4 ({A blunder. Instead} 46... Ke8 $11 {maintains the balance.}) 47. Rxg4 $18 {[Black is lost.]} fxg4 48. Rf2+ Ke8 49. Qxg4 Rf7 50. Qg8+ Qf8 51. Qg6 Bd7 52. Rf1 Bc8 53. Rf2 Bd7 54. Kh2 Bc8 55. Rf4 Bd7 56. Rh4 Kd8 57. Rh8 Rf2+ 58. Kxh3 Rf3+ 59. Kg4 Rf4+ 60. Kg5 Rf5+ 61. Qxf5 ({After} 61. Qxf5 {Black resigned in view of} Qxh8 62. Bf6+ $18 {winning.}) 1-0 [Event "match"] [Site "Memphis"] [Date "1985.06.15"] [Round "2"] [White "Jones, Curt"] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C05"] [WhiteElo "2380"] [BlackElo "2190"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "1985.06.15"] [EventType "match"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ndf3 cxd4 8. cxd4 h5 $1 9. Bd3 Nb6 {[The key move in this system.]} 10. Ne2 Bd7 11. O-O Be7 12. a3 a5 13. b3 g6 {[A very typical position in the Leningrad Variation of the French Defense.]} 14. Kh1 $5 {[%cal Yg2g4,Yf1g1]} ({Development by} 14. Be3 { can lead to} a4 15. b4 Na7 ({Another possibility is} 15... Kf8 16. Qd2 Kg7 17. Rfc1 Na7 18. Nc3 Rc8 19. Qd1 Rc7 20. Bf2 $14 {and White's position is easier to play.}) 16. Nc3 Rc8 17. Rc1 Kf8 18. Ng5 Qe8 19. Qe2 Nc4 20. Nb1 Kg7 $13 { with dynamic play.}) ({White may also try} 14. Bd2 a4 15. bxa4 Na5 ({After} 15... Nc4 16. Bxc4 dxc4 17. Rb1 Na5 $13 {the game is interesting and unbalanced }) ({Black should avoid} 15... Nxa4 $6 16. Qc2 Kf8 17. Rab1 $16 {with a difficult position.}) 16. Qb1 Bxa4 17. Bxg6 ({Or} 17. Bb4 $5) 17... fxg6 18. Ng5 Nac4 ({If} 18... Bxg5 {there may follow} 19. Bxa5 Rxa5 20. Qxg6+ Kd7 21. fxg5 Nc4 22. Rf7+ Kc8 23. Qxe6+ Bd7 24. Qf6 {and White has the initiative.}) 19. Qxg6+ Kd7 20. Qxe6+ Kc7 21. Bb4 Bxb4 22. axb4 Bd7 23. Rxa8 Qxa8 $13 {with confusing play.}) ({If instead} 14. Nc3 {then} a4 15. bxa4 {and 15.b4 are similar to lines seen above.}) 14... a4 15. b4 Na7 16. Nc3 Kf8 17. Rg1 ({ Better to play} 17. Be3 {and forget the g2-g4 plan.}) 17... Qe8 18. g4 ({If White counters Black's atention to the b5 square by} 18. Qe2 {then Black shifts to the c4 square with} Rc8 {[%csl Gc4]} 19. Bd2 Nc4 {etc.}) 18... hxg4 19. Rxg4 Rc8 $17 {[White is strategically lost unless he can break in tactically right away.]} 20. Bd2 Nc4 21. Qe2 Nxa3 ({From here mistakes are traded for several moves. Black could have the Bishop pair with} 21... Nb2 { for if} 22. Bc2 {then} Nb5 $17 {etc.}) 22. Nxa4 Bxa4 $6 ({The simple} 22... Nc2 $15 {is better, and Black keeps a slight advantage.}) 23. Rxa3 Nb5 ({Or} 23... b5 24. Ng5 Bxg5 25. fxg5 $14 {etc.}) 24. Ra1 $6 ({Falling in with Black's idea by} 24. Rxa4 Nxd4 25. Nxd4 Qxa4 26. Kg2 $14 {is preferable.}) 24... Nc3 25. Bxc3 Rxc3 26. Rgg1 $6 ({White should press on his own side of the board by} 26. Ng5 b5 27. Nxf7 Qxf7 28. Bxg6 Qg7 29. f5 Rch3 30. Rg2 Qh6 31. fxe6 Bg5 32. Rf1+ Bf4 33. Rxf4+ Qxf4 34. Rf2 Rxh2+ 35. Rxh2 Qc1+ $11 {and Black must settle for perpetual check.}) 26... b5 $17 {[Now Black is in control.]} 27. f5 $5 exf5 28. e6 Bd6 29. Ne5 Qxe6 30. Rg2 Bxe5 31. dxe5 Rh3 32. Bxb5 Rce3 33. Qf1 Bxb5 34. Qxb5 Qxe5 0-1 [Event "Lubbock Open"] [Site "Lubbock"] [Date "1986.04.19"] [Round "?"] [White "Bradford, Joe"] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C05"] [WhiteElo "2559"] [BlackElo "2257"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "1986.04.19"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ndf3 cxd4 8. cxd4 h5 $1 9. Bd3 Nb6 {[The French Defense, Leningrad Variation.]} 10. Ne2 Bd7 11. Ng3 $5 ({A novel and interesting plan. Instead} 11. O-O {is the usual path.}) 11... g6 12. O-O Be7 13. Rf2 a5 14. Nf1 Nb4 15. Be2 Ba4 16. b3 Bd7 17. a3 Nc6 18. Ne3 {[White completes his four move Knight tour, and now influences key light squares.]} a4 19. b4 Na7 20. Qf1 Kf8 21. Bd3 Qe8 22. b5 $5 ({Less radical is} 22. Rc2 Bb5 23. Rc7 Bxd3 24. Qxd3 Nb5 25. Rc2 $14 {with a reasonable game.}) 22... Rc8 $5 ({There is also direct action by} 22... Nxb5 23. Rb2 Nc4 24. Bxc4 dxc4 25. Nxc4 Bc6 $13 {and exciting play ahead.}) 23. Bd2 Bxb5 $13 {[The game is roughly balanced.]} 24. Bxb5 $6 ({Helping Black advance his Knight. White needed to play} 24. Rb1 $13 {reaching a lively position.}) 24... Nxb5 $17 25. Rb1 Nc4 26. Nxc4 Rxc4 27. Qd3 Qc6 28. Rbf1 Kg7 $5 29. Qe3 Nxa3 $19 {[Black ought to win.]} 30. f5 {[Desperation, as Black's formation is very solid.]} gxf5 ({A psychological error - Black should always capture} 30... exf5 $19 {with the e-pawn if possible.}) 31. Qf4 Nc2 32. Qg3+ Kf8 33. Bg5 a3 $2 ({Very wrong. Black can play 33...Qc7, or even better} 33... Bxg5 {and after} 34. Qxg5 Nxd4 35. Qd8+ Qe8 36. Qd6+ Kg7 37. Nxd4 Rxd4 $19 {he has a won position.}) 34. Bf6 Rg8 ({It is probably best to go} 34... Rh7 {and submit to} 35. Ng5 Rh6 36. Bg7+ Ke8 37. Bxh6 Rxd4 38. Nh7 $14 {with plenty play.}) 35. Bxe7+ Kxe7 36. Qxg8 a2 37. Qg5+ ({The text is better than} 37. Ng5 Qe8 38. Qg7 a1=Q 39. Rxa1 Nxa1 40. Rb2 $44 {offering difficulties for both sides.}) 37... Ke8 38. Qxh5 $16 {[White already projects a rapid advance of his h-pawn.]} a1=Q 39. Rxa1 Nxa1 40. h4 $1 b5 $6 ({Too slow, but Black has problems even after} 40... Nb3 41. Ng5 Nxd4 42. Qxf7+ Kd8 43. h5 $16 {[%cal Yh5h6] and so forth.}) 41. Ng5 $18 {[White has excellent winning chances.]} Qd7 42. g4 ({Also strong is} 42. Qh8+ Ke7 43. h5 $18 {winning.}) 42... Rxd4 ({A little tougher is} 42... Rc1+ 43. Kh2 Rc2 44. Rxc2 Nxc2 45. gxf5 exf5 46. e6 Qc7+ 47. Kg2 $18 {and White should win.}) 43. gxf5 1-0 [Event "World Open"] [Site "Philadelphia"] [Date "1986.07.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Albertson"] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C06"] [WhiteElo "2349"] [BlackElo "2275"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "1986.07.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 Nb6 {[The signature move of the Leningrad Variation.]} 9. Nf3 Be7 10. O-O Bd7 11. b3 a5 12. a4 $5 ({White hopes to block the Queenside. It is probably best to continue} 12. a3 {as usual.}) 12... Nb4 13. Bb1 Rc8 14. Bb2 Na8 $5 ({Black aims at the ...b7-b5 push. He needs a plan in this position; perhaps it is safe to castle} 14... O-O {here.}) 15. Nc3 Nc7 16. Qe2 Rb8 17. Ne1 h5 {[The correct reaction once White threatens the f2-f4 push.]} 18. f4 g6 19. Nd3 b5 20. axb5 Nxb5 21. Na4 Na7 22. Rc1 Bb5 23. Qe3 $5 ({Instead} 23. Qd2 Nac6 24. Nxb4 Nxb4 25. Nc5 $14 {leads to a complicated game.}) 23... Nxd3 24. Bxd3 Bxa4 25. Rxa4 Rxb3 $15 {[Black is a pawn to the good with a comfortable game.]} 26. Bc3 Bb4 27. Bxb4 Rxb4 28. Rxb4 axb4 29. Rc5 Qb6 30. f5 $6 ({The quieter moves} 30. Kf2 {and 30.g3 are better.}) 30... gxf5 {[The other recapture is not feasible here.]} 31. Qg5 b3 $5 32. Qf6 $2 ({White had to play} 32. Qg7 {when there may follow} Rf8 33. Bb5+ Nxb5 ({Better than} 33... Qxb5 $6 34. Rxb5 Nxb5 35. Qg3 Nxd4 36. Qf2 Nc6 37. Qb6 $14 {and Black will work for equality.}) 34. Rc8+ Kd7 35. Qxf8 Qxd4+ $11 {with perpetual check.}) 32... Rf8 33. Bb5+ Nxb5 $5 ({The enemy Queen is out of play on f6, so Black has the simpler} 33... Qxb5 $1 34. Rxb5 Nxb5 35. Qh4 b2 36. Qe1 Na3 $19 {and wins.}) 34. Rc8+ Kd7 {[Black's first King move.]} 35. Rxf8 Qxd4+ 36. Kf1 Qd1+ $2 ({And Black took the draw. However, because of White's 32nd move, there was} 36... Qf4+ $1 37. Ke1 b2 $19 {winning, though Black must dodge some checks. Had the White Queen been on f8 with Rook on c8 there would be no time for this threat.}) 1/2-1/2 [Event "DCC Game/30"] [Site "Dallas"] [Date "1987.12.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Small, Greg"] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C06"] [WhiteElo "2352"] [BlackElo "2275"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "58"] [EventDate "1987.12.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 Nb6 {[The Leningrad French.]} 9. O-O Bd7 10. a3 a5 11. f4 g6 12. Nf3 ({Now} 12. g4 $2 h5 {doesn't work for White.}) 12... h5 {[Black hopes to slow down White's standard pawn breakthrough by g4 then f5 by leaving his Rook at h8 for as long as possible.]} 13. Be3 Be7 14. Rc1 a4 15. Nc3 Na5 {[Black dominates the light squares.]} 16. Nd2 Rc8 17. Rf3 Nac4 ({Consolidation with} 17... Kf8 { is also good.}) 18. Nxc4 Nxc4 $15 {[Black stands well.]} 19. Qc2 $6 Kf8 $6 ({ Simple and effective is} 19... Nxe3 $1 20. Rxe3 Qb6 $19 {[%csl Rd4] etc.}) 20. Bf2 Qa5 $5 ({Both} 20... Kg7 {and 20...Qb6 are interesting alternatives.}) 21. Bf1 $2 ({A serious mistake. There is complicated play after} 21. Bxg6 $1 fxg6 ( {Or} 21... Qb6 22. f5 Qxb2 23. fxe6 Bxe6 24. Qxb2 Nxb2 25. Rb1 Nc4 26. Be1 $14) 22. Qxg6 Be8 23. Qxe6 Rc6 24. Qxd5 Qxd5 25. Nxd5 Bf7 26. Nc3 Nxb2 27. Rb1 Bxa3 28. Nxa4 Nxa4 29. Rxa3 Nb6 30. f5 $14 {with a difficult ending ahead.}) 21... Kg7 22. Be1 Qb6 $17 23. Nxa4 $6 Bxa4 24. b3 Nxa3 $19 {[Black is winning.]} 25. Qxc8 Rxc8 26. Rxc8 Bxb3 27. f5 exf5 {[Black should always capture with the e-pawn if possible.]} 28. Rcc3 Bc4 29. Rxa3 Bxa3 0-1 [Event "Texas Ch"] [Site "Dallas"] [Date "1991.05.26"] [Round "4"] [White "Wheelock, J."] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C02"] [WhiteElo "2038"] [BlackElo "2250"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "1991.05.25"] [EventRounds "2"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. a3 a5 7. b3 Nge7 8. Bd3 Nc8 9. Be3 cxd4 10. cxd4 Be7 11. O-O Nb6 {[By roundabout means we have reached the Leningrad position.]} 12. Nbd2 $5 ({The Knight has more influence after} 12. Nc3) 12... a4 13. b4 h5 14. Ne1 Kf8 15. f4 g6 16. g3 Na7 17. Qe2 Qe8 18. Nef3 Bb5 $13 {[Always a good square for the Queen's Bishop in this variation. The position is balanced.]} 19. Rac1 Bxd3 20. Qxd3 Qb5 21. Qxb5 $2 ({White must count on middlegame complications, and so} 21. Qb1 $13 {is better.}) 21... Nxb5 22. Nb1 $6 Nc4 $19 {[Black wins.]} 23. Kf2 Kg7 24. Nfd2 Nbxa3 25. Nxa3 Nxa3 26. Rc7 Bxb4 27. Rxb7 Rhb8 28. Rd7 Bxd2 29. Bxd2 Nc4 30. Bc3 Rb3 31. Rc1 a3 0-1 [Event "Continental Chess"] [Site "Dallas"] [Date "1996.02.04"] [Round "5"] [White "Trammell, George"] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C06"] [WhiteElo "2225"] [BlackElo "2210"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "48"] [EventDate "1996.02.03"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 Nb6 {[Black will play the Leningrad Variation.]} 9. O-O h5 ({Not strictly necessary at the moment; for example} 9... Bd7 10. f4 g6 11. g4 $6 h5 $15 { with a very good game.}) 10. a3 a5 11. b3 Be7 12. Bb2 ({Another plan for this Bishop is} 12. f4 g6 13. Nf3 Bd7 {and now} 14. Bd2 $14 {etc.}) 12... Bd7 13. Rc1 $5 ({White can also play} 13. Nf4 {immediately, as he does next move.}) 13... Kf8 ({The immediate} 13... a4 {is reasonable, but after} 14. b4 Na7 15. Nf4 $5 ({Or} 15. Nc3 $16 {etc.}) 15... Bg5 16. Qf3 Bb5 17. Bxb5+ Nxb5 18. Rc5 $16 {White has a pleasant position.}) 14. Nf4 Bg5 $5 ({If} 14... g6 {then typical attacks arise from} 15. Qf3 Kg7 $5 ({Black avoids forks on e6 with} 15... Kg8 16. Qg3 h4 17. Qg4 Qf8 18. Nf3 $16 {with the initiative.}) 16. Qg3 Rh6 17. Nf3 h4 18. Qg4 a4 19. b4 Na7 20. Rc2 ({Anticipating Black's next by} 20. Rfe1 {leads to} Bb5 21. Bxg6 Rxg6 22. Qxg6+ fxg6 23. Nxe6+ Kg8 24. Nxd8 Bxd8 25. e6 Bf6 $13 {and complications.}) 20... Bb5 21. Bc1 Bxd3 22. Nxd3 Rh5 23. Nf4 Rf5 ({After the retreat} 23... Rh8 {there follows} 24. Nxe6+ fxe6 25. Ng5 Bxg5 26. Bxg5 Qd7 27. Bf6+ Kf7 28. Bxh8 Rxh8 29. Rc3 $14 {with interesting play.}) 24. Nh3 Rh5 ({Or} 24... Nb5 25. Nhg5 Nc4 26. Qxh4 Qg8 27. Nxe6+ fxe6 28. Qxe7+ $16 {with good play.}) 25. Nfg5 Qd7 26. Rc3 $14 {and White holds a slight edge.}) 15. Qf3 Kg8 16. Rc2 a4 17. b4 Na7 18. g3 Bxf4 19. gxf4 $5 ({ After the natural} 19. Qxf4 {there may follow} Bb5 20. Bxb5 Nxb5 21. Rfc1 Qe8 22. h4 $14 {etc.}) 19... g6 20. Qe2 Kg7 21. Nf3 ({Also} 21. Rc5 {is to be considered.}) 21... Nc4 22. Kh1 Bb5 23. Ng5 Qd7 $5 ({Here 23...Nc6 is unclear, as is} 23... Qb6 24. Rg1 $13 {and Black must be careful.}) 24. Rfc1 Rhc8 $13 { [A draw was agreed.]} 1/2-1/2


While the Leningrad French tableau certainly leads to exciting chess, the point is to find a template and make it your own. A little study will pay great dividends for the rest of your chess career!