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Strategy of Restriction

User Rating: / 21
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 19 June 2013

By GM Lars Bo Hansen, PhD, MBA

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The super tournament in Moscow is a tribute to the great World Champion Tal, but in the third round Hikaru Nakamura played in the style of another great World Champion Karpov. He employed a strategy perfected by Karpov that of restriction.

Hikaru Nakamura, Round 3. Photo by Eteri Kublashvili,

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As the name suggests, this positional strategy aims at restricting one or more of the opponents pieces, so that ones own pieces possess superior mobility.

Position after move 18

A key move in the execution of this strategy was 19. Ba6!, which uses tactics in the service of strategy 19Qxd5? fails to 20. Qxd5 Rxd5 21. Bb7, winning. Then White gets his intended setup with pawns on c4 and d5 and the bishop on b5, covering the critical e8-square. Without access to this square, Blacks knight and rooks are restricted.

Position after move 24

Another key move was 25 g4!, taking away the f5-square from Blacks knight, restricting it even further. These maneuvers allowed White a free hand to take control of the only open file on the board, the e-file. He built an Alekhines Gun with two rooks and queen on the open file (strictly speaking, the Alekhine Gun, known from the famous game Alekhine-Nimzowitsch, San Remo 1930, is Queen-Rook-Rook while Nakamura had Rook-Queen-Rook, but the concept is the same), completely dominating the position just compare the mobility of the pieces. Black had nothing better than entering an endgame where Whites passed d-pawn, in combination with his more active pieces, was decisive.

Try to put Blacks knight on d6 and Whites bishop on d3 instead around move 20, and the position changes completely in this case Black would be able to challenge Whites grip of the e-file with Re8 and would be more than fine. As it was his restricted pieces left him with no active play, the core of a Karpovian restriction strategy.

If you like the article, you can learn more about GM Lars Bo Hansen & his books at

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 19 June 2013 )
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