Monday, 14 January 2019

The Manchester School of Chess - Lesson 2

It's time for another dose of wisdom from the North, and you might ask what tired, outdated chess principle shall we be putting to the sword on this occasion. When you think of fianchettoing, what piece comes to mind? Most people have inaccurately been told that the piece you want to fianchetto is a bishop, but this is not true. It is the easiest minor piece to do it with, requiring just 2 moves (e.g. g3 Bg2) to 4 for a knight (e.g. g3 Nh3 Nf4 Ng2) so of course happens more often in practice, but when it can be achieved, a fianchettoed knight is actually much the stronger piece. This leads us to the second principle of the Manchester school of chess:

"On any move where you have the choice to fianchetto a bishop or a knight, always choose the knight."

A fianchettoed bishop can often be badly placed, able to exert influence over only one diagonal, as opposed to the 2 diagonals a more centrally placed bishop can access, and often leaving holes around your king for your opponent to exploit. By contrast, a fianchettoed knight is ready to leap in whatever direction is required, and can simultaneously be used for both attack and defence.

For those not immediately convinced by my flawless theoretical argument, consider the game below, and in particular the choice white has on move 8 as to whether he should put a bishop or a knight on g2.

I think we can all agree the fianchettoed knight achieved far more in this game than a bishop ever could. It defended the white king, kept the black queen from entering on h4, supported the f4 pawn advance, and trapped the black king in a mating net at the end of the game.

It is time for you all to leave the darkness, give up your old-fashioned Catalan, and King's Indian, and other such archaic relics of a bygone era. The time of the fianchettoed knight has come.

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