All my life I wanted to break stuff, to avoid being with myself and whatever situation I was in. Chaos comes, people yell, and a new whirling drama unfolds.
I’ve also played over ten thousand hasty pawn breaks. The blood of pawns promises escape, especially when they die in the center. You don’t have to sit the knight on d2 down on a couch and ask him unpleasant questions: Why is everyone else so upset with you? Why can’t you make a positive contribution? All of the old concerns are suddenly meaningless after a break, for revolution has come, and the contract of society will have to be redrawn. The personal history of each is piece is erased as it struggles for meaning within the new order.
That’s why I was never a very good chessplayer. For chess is, ultimately, the art of talking to your pieces. The pawns are the shifting structures in which the pieces discover their callings.
But, at least in the above position, I did not play e4. That break might create a weakness on e6. But it will also open the eyes of the chancellor on f8 onto my king; it will allow his deputy on f6 to trampoline off h5 into f4; and maybe there is some fork trick with d5 after fxe4.
I really wanted to play e4 – I had been planning it for moves. It seemed like my only plan in the position, the only thing I could do.
But I didn’t do it. I pulled my hand back and began to talk to my pieces. They told me about the break they wanted. Fifteen moves later it happened. With this win, against SuperGM Hikaru Nakamura, I achieved my final GM norm and the title.
12.a3!! White will put a pawn on b4 next move. We might then dislodge the knight on c6 from the center with b5. Our bishop on c4 will feel a lot better; she will have some squares to retreat to. The knight on d2 is also happy; for he will now have the b3 square to jump to, maybe even c4 after the bishop moves. The rook on d1 looks forward to an unobstructed view of the center. Rae8 13.b4 Nh5 14.Bb3 g5 15.Ne5 Nxe5 16.dxe5 Qf7 17.Nc4 d5 18.Nd2 b5 19.Rf1 g4 20.Bd4 Rg8 21.g3 a5 22.c3 a4 23.Bc2 Qg6 24.Bd3 Rb8 25.Kg2! Bf8 26.Rh1 Ng7 27.h3
This was the pawn break that Hikaru did not foresee. All of black’s pieces must now curl up into an awful scrunch to avoid the power of the rook on h1. The poor fianchettoed knight, struck by passersby on a busy street corner, he can’t even imagine a path to a place in society. gxh3+ 28.Rxh3 h5 29.Rdh1 Be8 30.Kf1 Be7 31.Nf3 Qg4 32.Bc5 Bxc5 33.bxc5 Rf8 34.Rh4 Qg6 35.g4 Qh6 36.g5 Qg6 37.Rg1 Kg8 38.Nd4 Kf7 39.c6 Rb6 40.Bxb5 Kg8 41.f4 Bf7 42.c4 dxc4 43.Qxc4 Rd8 44.Qxa4 Be8 45.Kf2 Qf7 46.Rc1 Qe7 47.Rc3 Rd5 48.Qc4 Qd8 49.a4 Rb8 50.Qb4 Kh7 51.Kg3 Bg6 52.Rh2 Be8 53.Kh4 Kg6 54.Rd2 Bf7 55.Rc4 Ra8 56.Nf3 Rb8 57.Rcd4 Qe8 58.Rxd5 exd5 59.Nd4 Be6 60.Qc5 Ra8 61.Ra2 Bf7 62.Bd3 Qf8 63.Qxf8 Rxf8 64.a5 Ra8 65.a6 Be6 66.Rb2 Bc8 67.Rb7 1–0 Foxwoods 2007
[This piece appears in the January 2014 issue of Chess Life. Many thanks to the editor, Dan Lucas, for allowing me to repost.]