Joel Johnson, a former US senior champion and native of Massachusetts, published in 2010 “Formation Attacks,” a book that contained a massive collection of 435 games, illustrating a more than ample number of attacking strategies. One would have supposed that this volume would have exhausted his energies, but he has now come up with an equally colossal self-published volume titled “Formation Attack Strategies.” Aside from the enormous amount of games, Johnson describes a variety of winning tactics. His work is really an encyclopedia of chess play.
Johnson starts out by showing his students a varying array of openings to illustrate the different kinds of positions in the game. He explains that players generally must get used to losing, as that is a part of the learning experience.
He says that even computers have faults, citing a game in which the computer gave Viswanathan Anand an advantage of +3.24 against Hikaru Nakamura and still Anand lost.
After publishing an avalanche of dramatic chess victories, Johnson proceeds to look at the various maneuvers that lay an opponent low. Of course, the first item of comment is the poisonous pin that can infect an entire position. Johnson shows how one weakness can spread to another, with no peace for the defender. Occasionally, the victim of a pin can avenge with a discovered attack.
This is only the beginning. Next on the list is the role of the lowly pawn, called Trojan pawns by Johnson, which can often decide the destiny of its betters. As noted, a single pawn may be bait to pull up a quarry. Ah, but the gambit is an unholy dilemma. Larry Evans claimed one should accept a gambit pawn and hang on. Johnson advises that the student should learn to attack and defend at the same time.
This is a major work. It lacks in some respects the organization of Reuben Fine’s “The Middle Game,” but on the other hand, one can settle in to this volume and the various games and expositions seemingly forever. In any event, the reader can pick and choose the avenues of learning that he wishes to follow. There are illustrative games for pawn storms, weak and strong squares, so-called fatal weaknesses, especially of the king, or superior development in critical areas of the board. This book gives wide illustrations of a great many attacking strategies including so-called knightmares or attacks along h4.
Johnson thinks this back-breaking work has helped his chess. He hopes to escalate his 2324 rating. He appeared in Boston recently, looking for some action, dropped two games against Chris Williams, but shared first place with Chris Chase in the top section of the recent Boylston Octads. Chess is his life and one can spend a life with his work.
Brevity: NN vs. L Lowy (1905) 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.fxe5 Nxe4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bd3 f5 7.exf6 Nxf6 8.0–0 Bc5+ 9.Kh1 0–0 10.Bb5 Ng4 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.d4 Bd6 13.h3 Ba6 14.hxg4 Bxf1 15.Qxf1 Rxf3 16.Qe1 Qh4+ 17.Qxh4 Rf1; #
Winners: Boylston Weaver Adams — 1st, Brian Perez-Daple, 4-0 (qualifying to play in the Reubens-Landey candidates tournament), 2d, Thomas Brinkmann, 3-1. Metrowest Summer Solstice Open — 1st, Jonathan Yedidia, 3.5 -.5; Under 2000 — 1st, Oleg Poliannikov, 3.5-.5, U1700, 1st, Alex Kahn, 4-0; U1400 — 1st, D.G. Bird, 4-0.
Coming Events: Boylston Summer Open, July 21 and $10 Open, July 28, both at 240B Elm St., Somerville, www.boylstonchessclub.org; CMC Friday Rapids, July 20, 201 Wayland Ave., Providence, www.chessmasterconnections.org.