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Positional Concepts: Outpost Stations

Positional Concepts: Outpost Stations




One of the primary strategies of chess is the securing of strong outposts for ones pieces. An outpost is a square, which a piece, usually a knight, can occupy, which is either immune from attack or the opponent would create other weaknesses by getting rid of it. An outpost is a secure point from which one can maneuver ones pieces in the enemy position.



This first game demonstrates the power of a strong central outpost at d5 which prevents his opponent from freeing his game.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Qa5 11. Kb1 e5 12. Be3 Be6 13. a3 Rfd8 black prepares the central thrust d5 which would free his game 14. Nb5 interfering with blacks plans 14Qa4 now taking the d6 pawn loses a piece, but white has a great pawn sacrifice of his own 15. c4! Bxc4 (else white has a bind) 16. Nc3 Qb3 17. Bxc4 Qxc4 18. Bg5! Qe6 19. Bxf6 Qxf6 20. Nd5 establishing an unassailable knight in the center 20Qh4 21. Qe2 Bf8 22. Qf1! Rac8 23. g3 Qg5 24. h4! Qh6 {not ...Qxg3, Rd2!} 25. g4 g5 26. hxg5 Qxg5 27. Rh5! Qg6 28. g5! h6 29. Rxh6! Qxg5 30. Rh5! and black resigns: 30... Qg6 31. Qh1 Qe6 32.Rh8+ Kg7 33. Qh7# Boleslavsky-Lisitsyn, Moscow 1956


The knight at c3, says Nimzovich, is under obligation, the moment the enemy gives him a chance, of undertaking an invasion of d5.

In the following game blacks d5 is heavily guarded but white exchanges off its defenders. Once they are disposed of he plants a knight firmly at d5 and stabilizes the center. He then turns his attention to the kingside and breaks through with a brilliant attack.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 Be7 7.O-O O-O 8.Be3 Nc6 9.f4 Qc7 10.Qe1 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 e5 12.Be3 Be6 13.f5 Bc4? [13...Bd7 was essential] 14.Bxc4 Qxc4 15.Bg5! Rfe8 16.Bxf6 Bxf6 17.Nd5! whites knight now dominates the center 17...Bd8 (17...Qxc2 18.Rf2 Qc6 19.Rc1 Qd7 20.Nc7) 18.c3 b5 19.b3 Qc5+ 20.Kh1 Rc8 21.Rf3! black's pieces are passive; white has enough of a bind to effect a kingside attack. 21...Kh8 22.f6! this pawn sacrifice breaks open the enemy pawn position. 22gxf6 23.Qh4 Rg8 24.Nxf6 Rg7 25.Rg3 Bxf6 26.Qxf6 Rcg8 27.Rd1 d5 28.Rxg7! 1-0 (28.Rxg7 Rxg7 29.Rxd5 Qf8 30.Rd8 and blacks queen is pinned). Smyslov-Rudakovsky, Moscow 1945


In the following game black obtains a nice knight outpost at e4. One advantage is traded for another, when the knight is eventually traded, black strengthens his center and gains space by the pawns occupation of that square.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. Nf3 Bd6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. h3 0-0 7. 0-0 h6 8. Nc3 c6 9. Ne2 Re8 10. Ng3 Ne4 the outpost 11. Nh5 Nd7 12. c3 Ndf6 13. Nh2 Qc7 14. Nxf6+ Nxf6 15. Nf3 Ne4 16. Bc2 Bf5 all the pieces are directed at the strategic point of e4 Nimzovich calls this emphasizing ones strength. 17. Nh4 Bh7 18. Be3 g5 19.. Nf3 f5 20. Re1 Re7 21. Nd2 f4 22. Nxe4 dxe4 the place of the knight outpost is now taken by a half-passed pawn-Nimzovich 20. Re1 Re7 21.Nd2 f4 Black gets more space 22.Nxe4 dxe4 23.Bd2 Rae8 24.c4 c5 25.Bc3 Bg6 26.Qg4 [26.dxc5!?] 26...cxd4 27.Bxd4 Be5 [27...Qxc4?? the pawn is indigestible 28.Bb3 Qxb3 29.axb3+-] 28.Bxe5 Rxe5 29.Qd1 Rd8 [29...Qxc4?? Black will choke on that pawn 30.Bb3 Qf7 31.Bxf7+ Bxf7 32.Rc1+-] 30. Qd1 Rd2 [30...Qxc4?? the pawn must remain untouched 31.Bb3 Qxb3 32.axb3+-] 31.Bxe4? further deteriorates the position. [31.Rf1 is better though black keeps a clear advantage] 31...Qc5 32.Bd5+ Kg7 33.Qc1 Qxf2+ 34.Kh1 Rexd5! Eliminates the defender of g2 [34...Rexd5 35.Re7+ Kf8-+] 0-1 Haken-Giese, Riga 1913


1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Nd5 Be7 7. d3 d6 8. Nb4 Bd7 9. Nxc6 Bxc6 10. Bxc6+ bxc6 11. O-O O-O 12. Qe2 c5 (Nimzovich feels that 12Re8 followed by Bf8 is better awaiting events) 13. c3 Nd7 14. d4 exd4 15. cxd4 Bf6 16. Be3 cxd4 17. Bxd4 Re8 18. Qc2 Bxd4 19. Nxd4 Nc5 20. f3 Qf6 21. Rfd1 Reb8 white has the d-file with the an outpost at d5 if driven away by the c-pawn his d6 pawn which is blockaded will become a weakie, black therefore plays his rook on the b-line to prevent b4 and giving black a total grip on d5 22. Rab1 a5 23. Kh1! The idea behind this move is to use the center as a weapon of attack (the sublte threat is 24. e5 Qxe5 25. Nc6 winning the exchange) 23Rb6 24. Ne2 Ne6 25. Nc3 Rc6 26. Qa4 Rc5 27. Nd5 white has become very strong o the d-file and maneuvers to take control of the c-file 27Qd8 28. Rbc1 Rxc1 29. Rxc1 c5 puts c7 out of danger but now the d6 pawn is very weak 30. Rd1 Nd4 31. Qc4! White plans now to exchange the knight by Nc3-e2 in order to attack the weak d-pawn at his heats content. Notice how whites pieces are firmly fixed on the point d5 31Rb8 32. b3 Rc8 33. Rxd4 cxd4 34. Ne7+ Qxe7 35. Qxc8+ Qf8 36. Qxf8+ Kxf8 37. Kg1 and white has simplified to an advantageous endgame where he can create an outside passed pawn 37Kg1 Ke7 38. Kf2 d5 39. e5 (39. exd5 Kd6 40. Ke2 Kxd5 41. a3 Kc5 42. f4 with the eventual diversion b4+ would win easily) 39Ke6 40. Ke2 (40. f4 would have been weak due to 40g5 41. g3 gxf4 42. gxf4 Kf5) 40Kxe5 41. Kd3 h5 42. a3 (42. h4 first would have been preferable) 42h4! creates a chance for himself later on 43. b4 axb4 44. axb4 Kd6 45. Kxd4 Kc6 46. b5+ (46. f4 is stronger) 46Kxb5 the endgame is interesting as white has allowed black some drawing chances 47. Kxd5 Kb4! black has drawing chances since after the win of the white g and h pawns he will only need a few tempi to get his h-pawn home, therefore white goes after the h-pawn 48. Kd4 Kb5 49. Ke5 Kc4 50. Kf4 Kd4 51. Kg4 Ke5 (51Ke3 was the only chance) 52. Kxh4 Kf4 53. Kh5 Kf5 54. g3 Kf6 55. Kg4 Kg6 56. Kf4 Kf6 57. Ke4 Ke6 58. Kd4 Kd6 59. Kc4 Kc6 60. f4 Kd6 61. Kd4 Ke6 62. Kc5 Ke7 63. Kd5 Kd7 64. Ke5 Ke7 65. f5 f6+ 66. Kd5 Kd7 67. h3 Ke7 68. Kc6 Ke8 69. h4 Ke7 70. Kc7 Ke8 71. Kd6 Kd8 72. Ke6 Ke8 73. h5 Kf8 74. h6 1-0 Tarrasch-Berger, Breslau 1889


The following is a modern era game where white obtains a fine support point for his knight and demonstrates how such a knight working from a secure base is a powerful force.

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. e4 c5 6. Nge2 Nc6 7. a3 a5?! ceding the b5 square to white unnecessarily since white wasnt immediately threatening to play b4 8. O-O d6 9. d3 Ne8 10. Be3 Nd4 11. Bxd4! this move has two points: a) it closes in the black dark-squared bishop and closes the center b) the position now favors the knight since he can land a knight on the weak square b5. 11cxd4 12. Nb5 Qb6 13. a4! killing blacks chances of queenside play 13Nc7 14. f4 Na6 15. h3 e5 16. f5 white enjoys more space on the kingside and can now play for direct attack 16Bh6 17. h4 Bd7 18. Kh2 Nc5 19. Bh3! This bishop was bad so white develops it to a better diagonal and prepares to exchange light-squared bishops after he plays f5-fg or fxg6 19g5? 20. Nexd4! This sacrifice clears the d1-h5 diagonal with no loss of time 20exd4 21. Qh5 f6 22. Qxh6 Bxb5 23. axb5 g4 24. Rf4! gxh3 25. Rg4+ Kf7 26. Rg7+ Ke8 27. Qxh7 Kd8 28. b4! Kc8 29. bxc5 dxc5 30. h5 black resigns (30a4 31. h6 a3 32. Ra2 leaves black with no useful moves and white threatens Rg8 obtaining a new queen) 1-0 Seirawan-Vukic, Nis 1979