Sergey Karjakin is a regular in the world’s top ten chess players. He holds the record for the world’s youngest ever grandmaster, having qualified for the title at the age of 12 years and 7 months.
He famously defeated Fabiano Caruana in order to face Magnus Carlsen in the 2016 World Chess Championship match – a match he even led at some point, putting the world champ under pressure, before Carlsen came back and won the match in the rapid play-offs. An impressive show by Karjakin.
Sergey Karjakin has been nicknamed the Minister of Defense due to his uncanny ability to find the best defensive moves even when under the most intense pressure.
Breaking down Karjakin and finding a win isn’t easy at the best of times – a skill that served him well during his World Championship match.
But despite Sergey’s nickname, GM Eugene Perelshteyn points out that the Russian player also knows how to play deadly chess attacks when the situation warrants it. In this video, Eugene takes a close look at three games from Karjakin where attacking was the name of the game and he left his opponents for dead.
By analyzing these three attacking masterpieces, we can learn a lot about how to attack in our own games. We see the basic principles of a successful attack employed by one of the world’s greatest players.
For example, Sergey Karjakin makes sure he has developed all his pieces before launching an attack. Most attacks will fall flat if there aren’t enough pieces involved, and when the dust has settled and the attack has petered out, you could find yourself in a losing position.
We also see how Karjakin doesn’t only target the enemy king but looks to remove or distract key defenders in the opponent’s position. The fewer defenders around the enemy king, the easier it is to break through and checkmate it!
Sergey Karjakin’s Best Attacks
The first game that GM Eugene Perelshteyn analyzes in the video was played between Sergey Karjakin and Vassily “Chucky” Ivanchuk in 2011. Both players were rated 2776 Elo at the time.
It began with 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6, reaching the position on the left. This is a sharp opening called the Pirc Defense.
Ivanchuk often plays asymmetrical openings which offer up the center for White early on, only to attack it later on. Karjakin played the sharpest move 4. f4.
4…Bg7 5. Nf3 0-0 6. Bd3. What is White’s idea behind the move 4.f4? Well, White is trying to create a pawn triangle on d4, e5, and f4 and put pressure on the knight sitting on f6.
After the knight moves away, White has nice attacking potential against Black’s king as a key defender has been pushed away.
6…Na6 looks like an odd move (see the position on the right). After all, we’ve all heard that “a knight on the rim is grim.”
In this case, Ivanchuk didn’t want to develop the piece to c6 as it could easily come under attack. He also doesn’t want to place it on d7 as that would trap the bishop in on its starting square.
By putting the knight on a6, he has the option to play …c5 with the knight in support.
7. 0-0 c5 8. d5 Nc7. Black’s pawn structure here is the Dragon formation. Black’s idea is to play on the queenside.
White’s plan is to prevent Black from playing …b5 and then look to build an attack on the kingside. This usually leads to a tough attacking battle.
9. a4, stopping …b5. 9…b6. This is a playable move, but Eugene thinks it is a little too slow. He prefers the moves …e6 putting pressure on the center right away, or …Bg4, putting the f3 knight in some discomfort.
10. Qe1 e6 11. dxe6 fxe6 12. e5. Karjakin strikes first. Now we can see that the opening battle has not gone in Black’s favor. See the position on the left.
Black has a bishop stuck on c8, rather ineffectively. The knight on f6 is under attack. White’s light-squared bishop is looking good, lined up against Black’s kingside.
12…Nfd5 and we reach an important moment. What move would you play now?
If your gut reaction is to recapture the knight on d5 immediately, this is a mistake! Not only could Black recapture with the other knight, but after 13. Nxd5 exd5, Black would have opened up room for the light-squared bishop to be developed again, taking away a lot of the impetus in White’s attack.
That’s why Karjakin played 13. Ne4! Note how Black’s knights are redundant – they take squares away from each other. 13…dxe5 14. fxe5 opens up White’s other bishop and now Karjakin is ready to launch a deadly attack. Be sure to watch the video to see how he converted this game!
Deadly Chess Attacks
Want to deploy deadly chess attacks in your own games? Learn how one simple switch in your mindset will allow you to dominate games from move 1. Channel your inner Paul Morphy with one shocking move after another!
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Other interesting articles for you:
- Practical Chess for Club Players – Become a Tactical Monster with IM Robert Ris
- Bobby Fischer’s System – An Introduction to the King’s Indian Attack
- The Immortal Game – How to Play the King’s Gambit!