How to Think About The Initiative in Chess

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John Bartholomew
Published at : 28 Dec 2020
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When you "have the initiative," you're creating threats that lead to other threats. By virtue of this momentum, you can dictate the play and narrow the amount of acceptable replies from your opponent. A well-executed initiative can potentially lead to a win, but you don't always want to to get there violently! In this game I played in 2013, I demonstrate how a single pawn sacrifice in the opening led to a string of small, annoying threats that snowballed to a victory.

[Event "Twin Cities Chess League"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2013.10.25"]
[Round "2"]
[White "NM Scott Riester"]
[Black "IM John Bartholomew"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2229"]
[BlackElo "2497"]
[PlyCount "78"]
[SourceDate "2017.07.01"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Ne5 Nc6 8. Bxc6 bxc6 9. Nxc6 Qe8 10. Nxe7+ Qxe7 11. Qa4 c5 12. Qxc4 cxd4 13. Qxd4 e5 14. Qh4 Rb8 15. a3 Rd8 16. Nc3 Rd4 17. Qg5 h6 18. Qe3 Bh3 19. Re1 Qb7 20. Qf3 e4 21. Qf4 e3 22. Qf3 exf2+ 23. Qxf2 Re8 24. e4 Rc4 25. Bf4 g5 26. Bxg5 Ng4 27. Qd2 hxg5 28. Qxg5+ Kf8 29. Re2 Qb6+ 30. Kh1 Re5 31. Qh4 Qh6 32. Qd8+ Kg7 33. Rd1 Rh5 34. Kg1 Ne5 35. Rd6 Be6 36. h4 Qg6 37. Rdd2 Nf3+ 38. Kf2 Nxd2 39. Rxd2 Qf6+ 0-1

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Life and Games of Mikhail Tal: https://amzn.to/2zq741X
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