Hello Chess Parents and Coaches!
Today I will be answering a question which was sent to me. This question was sent by Jessica, a chess coach in Arizona:
"Who are the best player(s) for my "chesskids" to study if they want to learn to attack the king in the middlegame?"
Well, now you must know the answer to that question. The correct answer is that you should study my games!
But since I am way to modest to say that, I will have to pick some more famous players. Two players who are known for their powerful and artistic attacks against the king are the world champions Alexander Alekhine and Mikhail Tal. Here are some pictures to put with the names:
Alekhine was the world champion from 1927 to 1935, and then from 1937 until his death in 1946. He was famous for putting an unheard of amount of energy into his attacks. Tal was world champion for just one year: in 1960 he won the world championship by defeating Mikhail Botvinnik, but Botvinnik won the title back by beating Tal in a match in 1961. But Tal's amazing style of play has made him the favorite player of many despite his short reign. He often made material sacrifices in his attacks, which were later found to be incorrect but during the course of the game confused his opponents so much that they lost.
Here is an example of an attack by Alekhine:
Alekhine's move g4 was probably not the first move one would think of - advancing the pawns in front of one's own king, especially when the center is open, is not the usual policy. But you see how powerful it was!
Now let's see a game by the "Magician from Riga", as Tal was called. Here he has the black pieces. It is a normal-looking position, arising from the Benoni defense. It doesn't seem like White's king is in any danger. But look at what happens!
What good books could you use to study these players' games? Best would be to use their autobiographies: Alekhine's autobiography My Best Games of Chess, 1908-1937 contains his own annotations to basically all of his best games, up until World War II. Tal's The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal is a different kind of book - it is very humorous and uses an unusual style, with questions and answers like in an interview. Both of these books are among my favorites. Additionally, I can recommend the classic book The Art of Attack in Chess by Vladimir Vukovic, which teaches the methods of attack using excellent examples.
Thanks for these great questions, and I hope you enjoy the games and stories of these great attackers as much as I do ...