Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mind games 2

More reading of The Chess Mind today, and more faulty analysis by Gerald Abrahams.

The first diagram arose in the game Schlechter-Lasker, Cambridge Springs 1904 after Black's 10th move ...Nc6. Abrahams writes that White can now play 11.Ba6, and if 11...Bxa6 then 12.Nxc6 Qc7 13.Nxe7+ Qxe7 14.Nxd5 Qe4 15.Bxf6 “with great advantage.”

Peter Biyiasas once told me never to attach a firm assessment to any position where the player on move has a forcing line available. Always play out the forcing line first, he said, and only then decide who stands better. Good advice!

So before we get too depressed about Black's chances, let's try the forcing move 15...Qxg2. This hits the rook and leaves White very short of replies. There are only two that I can see: 16.Kd2, which is met by 16...Qxd5 17.Rg1 g6, when White's loose king is more important than the weakness of g7; and 16.Ne7+ Kh8 17.Bxg7+ Kxg7 (17...Qxg7!? is also interesting) 18.Nf5+ Kh8 19.Ng3 Rg8 (threatening 20...Rxg3) 20.Qh5 Rg6 (second diagram) when Black has good compensation for the pawn due to the weakness of the light squares in White's position.

But this is not the end of the story. In Abrahams's line, instead of capturing on d5 with the knight right away, White can play 14.dxc5! This is more like it. Because the pawn on d5 is attacked by both queen and knight, White gets the advantage no matter what Black plays.

As Abrahams correctly notes, Black should meet the speculative 11.Ba6 with the simple 11...Qc8. After that there is very little on the horizon for White.

In the actual game, Schlechter played 11.0-0 and won in 37 moves.

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Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
National master (Canada) since 1984. B.C. Champion 1977 and 1984. Runner-up 1991 and 2002. B.C. Open Champion 1972 and 1982. B.C. U/14 Champion 1964-65-66. Mikhail Botvinnik once wrote that publishing your analytical work forces you to be accurate because it exposes you to criticism. Hence this blog.