At move 20 I considered playing 20. Ne5 Bxe5 21. dxe5 Rfd8 22. Rxd7 ... to exchange my knight for blacks black bishop, but wasn't sure if I would gain enough for the doubled pawns. (Analysing the game i think f3 closing in his white bishop together with my space advantage may have left me a slight edge). Instead I tried to close off the centre and keep his major pieces on the queenside then launching a kingside attack with my g and h pawns backed up by my queen, knight and hopefully rooks. However it didn't work and i failed even to regain my pawn (ps I know that i left my knight hanging in time trouble before move 35). Playing through the attack after the game I couldn't see a way to make it work - nor can Fritz. However when the attack began on move 22 there was no way I could forsee the attack would fail so I must have made a misjudgement of the position and the attacking forces I would require. What I wanted to ask was whether anyone had any advice on assessing the success chances for such an attack. For example what material is needed, any particular strategic patterns to recognize and any recurring tactical combinations to throw open the defense. Or is it largely experience.
Thanks for any opinions. The game is in PGN format.
317 ( +1 | -1 ) When or Where?It seems that instead of wondering about when to attack, you might better focus on *where* to attack. As you opened on the queenside with 1 b4, it would have been logical for you to continue queenside expansion with pressure on the c-file from at least one of your rooks (both of which you placed behind your e and d pawns).
Your 19th and 20th moves are dubious because they create weak points on the white squares, both of which Black later penetrates with his rooks to win...
Be7 21. Bc3 Rfd8 22. g4??
Better to strengthen your center by moving your Knight and advancing with f4. The g-pawn advance is completely without justification, as your position would indicate that you should strengthen your center. You can't begin a king-side attack just because you want to attack the enemy King.
...Rd5 23. h4 h6 24. Qf1 Rb5 25. h5 Bh7 26. Qg2?
This hangs a pawn and spells victory for Black. While it is generally a good idea to vigorously follow through with your own plans, you don't really have an attack to pursue here.
When you ask about how to assess the chances of an attack, you are thinking too generally. Ask yourself *where* you should apply pressure; the position should speak for itself. If you have space on the queenside, increase it! Don't abandon that advantage for a poorly planned assault on the king. If your center is vulnerable, then your attack on the wing will fail. Open files are also a good indicator of where to attack, but you ignored your c-file throughout the whole game.
Attacks on the enemy King are very difficult to succeed at. First, your minor pieces in the king's vicinity must overpower your opponents. Second, you must have enough attacking strength to overcome the defending pawns, which usually can't be done without your rooks supporting a *slow* pawn advance (that's why your center must be secure). Lastly, you can only attack the King if a Kingside attack is *justified* by the advantages and disadvantages you already possess. You shouldn't be thinking about attack the king when your space advantage is on the queenside, and when it would still be possible for your opponent to break through your center.
I hope I haven't been too harsh here, though I know I am blunt. I struggle with the same issues, have no doubt. Knowing where and when to attack is much less an issue of chess knowledge, I believe, as it is about self-honesty. Most of us possess enough chess knowledge to know when we can or can't pull of what we want to do, but we get tunnel-vision and refuse to consider our opponents options!
109 ( +1 | -1 ) AnaxagorasThanks for taking the time to respond. I agree 8. Qe2 was not best I think Be2 was the move. I understand your points about shutting in my queens bishop then losing the kings bishop. However when playing Sokolslys opening I've often been in a position where I've trading my kings bishop and had my queen bishop shut in by central pawns, but late in the middle game opened up the a1-h8 diagonal, so I am willing to accept a temporary weakness of my bishops. And in fact with 20. Ne5 Fritz would have had me ahead for the first time in the game (by half a pawn), and I agree the position looks better for white.
Perhaps you are right that my pressure should have been on the half open c file. I didn't ignore it, but I didn't anticipate success there as black had the queenside pawn majority and could readily defend his weaknesses I thought.
Interesting that you say direct kingside assaults are very difficult to succeed at. I didn't share that view particularly, so maybe that's where I went wrong and tried to outreach myself and the position. Too bad.
130 ( +1 | -1 ) I'm glad that helps a little bit. One last piece of advice (or the expression of an opinion): don't rely to much on Fritz's numerical evaluations of a position, especially when it puts you up or down by such a small ammount as half a pawn. First of all, Fritz will never give you a positional explanation of its evaluation, and secondly, Fritz has been periodically unreliable at analyzing some closed positions. Witness Kasparov's winning game against Fritz; the computer had no idea it was about to be crushed.
Oh, yet another comment: I wouldn't call the exchange of your good bishop a temporary or dynamic weakness, at least not in the game you show above. It would be much more accurate to say that your dark-squared bishop was a long-term or static weakness, as it never did anything until the Black Rooks began to liquidate your pawn center.
"Perhaps you are right that my pressure should have been on the half open c file. I didn't ignore it, but I didn't anticipate success there as black had the queenside pawn majority and could readily defend his weaknesses I thought."
Look up "minority attack" and you will find a gold-mine of information about how to attack an opponent's pawn majority and give him a permanent weakness.