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The Independent Culture
THE ROLE of planning in chess is perhaps the most misunderstood of all aspects of the game. You don't win games by conceiving and carrying out a plan. That is the formula for losing them: your opponent simply exposes the defect in your plan and your game falls apart. The way to win is simply to play one good move after another and wait for a plan to turn up of its own accord. The following game shows the pernicious effect of planning.

White: Vassily Ivanchuk

Black: Viswanathan Anand

Linares 1998

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.0- 0-0 0-0 9.f3 Nxd4 10.Qxd4 a6 11.h4

This looks suspiciously like the start of a plan. However, if White has decided against playing Bxf6 followed by Qxd6, then he should also consider retreating the bishop to e3, then playing g4 and g5.

11...b5 12.Kb1 Qc7 13.h5 h6 14.Bh4

The fatal plan begins to take shape: having tempted h6, White will play g4 and g5 to break through to the black king.

14...Bb7 15.Ne2

No sooner has the plan formed than it falls apart. White rejects 15.g4 because of 15...d5 when 16.e5 is strongly met by Bc5.

15...Rac8 16.Qd2 Rfd8 17.Re1

White has the ingenious plan of meeting 17...d5 with 18.e5 Qxe5 19.Bg3 Qf5 20.Nd4 (when Qg5 loses the queen to Bf4). Black responds with the natural move to prevent White's e5.

17...e5 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Nc3 Bg5 20.Qd1 Qa5

The important thing to note about all this is that Black has done no more than make natural moves, one after another - and so he already has a clear advantage, with the prospect of Rxc3 followed by d5 looming large.

21.Nd5 Bxd5 22.exd5 (See diagram.)

With no white piece beyond the first rank, is it any wonder that a winning plan for Black now materialises?

22...Rxc2! 23.Kxc2 Qxa2 24.f4

The threat was 24...Rc8+ 25.Kd3 Qc4 mate.

24...Rc8+ 25.Kd2 Bxf4+ 26.Ke2 Qxb2+ 27.Kf3 Rc1 White resigned.

28.Qe2 Qc3+ finishes him off.