Sunday, November 25, 2007

Seven Brutalities 5

The safety of one's king is an important factor in chess, but when assessing a position one must take a concrete approach and consider other factors as well. Sometimes there is an opportunity to win material or gain another advantage at the cost of some inconvenience to one's king. If this inconvenience amounts to only a few checks then the king was obviously not unsafe at all. Here is a game illustrating this concept.

Scoones D – Zimmer E
Victoria Winter Open 1983
Queen's Gambit Accepted D24
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.Nc3 a6 5.e4 e6 6.Bxc4 b5 7.Bd3 c5 8.e5 Nd5 9.Ne4 c4 10.Bb1 Nd7 11.Nfg5 Bb4+ 12.Bd2 Bxd2+ (diagram) 13.Kxd2 Qa5+ 14.Kc1 c3 15.bxc3 Nxc3 16.Qf3 Qa3+ 17.Kc2 Qa4+ 18.Kxc3 Qc4+ 19.Kb2 Qxd4+ 20.Qc3 Qd5 21.Nd6+ Ke7 22.Be4 1-0

The sharp variation beginning with 4.Nc3 was analysed by IM John Watson in a long article in the early 1980s, the main line going 4...a6 5.e4 b5 6.e5 Nd5 7.a4 c6 8.axb5 Nxc3 9.bxc3 cxb5 10.Ng5. At this point another 1983 game Scoones-Hunt saw Black go wrong with 10...e6? The idea was a good one: to meet 11.Qf3 with 11...Ra7, saving the rook and simultaneously defending f7. The problem was the shot 11.Nxf7! when Black was already busted. Instead of Hunt's 10...e6? Black must play 10...f6!? 11.Qf3 Ra7 with an extra pawn in exchange for White's lead in development.

In the main game, Black avoided complications with 5...e6, which allowed White to regain his pawn immediately.

White should meet 8...Nd5 with 9.Bg5! aiming for a favourable exchange of dark-squared bishops since after 9.Ne4?! Black could have tried 9...cxd4 10.a4 Nb4 with complications. Instead, 9...c4 took all of the pressure off White's centre.

After 11...Bb4+ 12.Bd2 Bxd2+ White could not resist the cheeky 13.Kxd2!? even though retaking with the queen was objectively stronger. The point was the obvious continuation 13...Qa5+ 14.Kc1 when the complications appear to favour White. Instead of 13...Qa5+?! Black could have played 13...Kf8!, defusing the knight check on d6.

Black went seriously wrong with 14...Nxc3?, allowing White to gain a decisive advantage with the double attack 15.Qf3. He could have stayed in the game with 14...Qa3+ 15.Kd2 b4.

After 20.Qc3 Black's checks quickly ran out and when 22.Be4 was played he decided he had seen enough.

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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.