Monday, November 12, 2007

A touch of irony

I had an interesting online blitz game against a Russian chap today. As Black he tried to play me into a well-known book trap, but of course I avoided it. Later I set an oddly similar trap for him, and this time... but see for yourself.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4?!
A dubious but tricky move that everyone should try once or twice, if only in speed chess. The idea – the only idea -- is the following very plausible trap: 4.Nxe5? Qg5! 5.Nxf7 Qxg2 6.Rf1 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 (or else the queen is lost) 7...Nf3 mate!
Also possible is 4.Nxd4 exd4 5.0-0 as in Bird's Defence to the Ruy Lopez.
4...Nxf3+ 5.Qxf3 Nf6
More consistent is 5...Qf6; for example, 6.Qg3 d6 7.d3 Qg6 8.Nc3 Qxg3 9.fxg3 f6 10.Be3 c6 and Black does not stand too badly despite playing many pawn moves.
6.d4 d6 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Rd1 Bd6 9.Nc3! (diagram)
It is very important for White's strategy that this developing move holds up tactically. Less direct but also strong was the prophylactic move 9.h3.
9...Bg4 10.Qg3! Bxd1? 11.Qxg7
Here is the touch of irony. Instead of punishing White with a timely ...Qxg2, Black is being punished by a timely Qxg7!
11...Rf8 12.Bg5 Be7
If 12...Bxc2 13.Bxf6 Qd7 14.Be2 and White has more than enough for the exchange since Black's king is stranded in the centre and his pieces are disconnected.
13.Rxd1 Nd7 14.Bh6!
Correctly avoiding exchanges and simply intending to recover the sacrificed material.
14...Bf6 15.Qxh7 Qe7 16.Bxf8 Qxf8 17.Qf5
More incisive was 17.Bxf7+ Qxf7 18.Qxf7+ Kxf7 19.Rxd7+ Ke6 20.Rxc7 and wins. But over the years I have learned that in a blitz game a bishop is handier than a knight when ahead in the pawn department.
17...0–0–0 18.Nd5 Bg7 19.Rd3 Kb8 20.Nc3 Nb6 21.Qxf7!
It is better to simplify by exchanging queens than to take another pawn with 21.Bxf7.
If 21...Nxc4 22.Qxg7! Rc8 23.Qxf8 Rxf8 24.b3 Nd6 25.Rd5 and Black will not last long.
22.Qxf8+ Bxf8 23.Bxd3 Bb4 24.Ne2 Bc5 25.Kf1 a5 26.f4 Bd6 27.f5
From here on White's play is not always the strongest but he's so far ahead that it makes no difference.
27...Nd7 28.Kf2 Kc8 29.g4 Kd8 30.g5 Ke7 31.h4 Kf7 32.Bc4+ Kg7 33.Ng3 c6 34.Nh5+ Kh7 35.Be6 Nf8 36.Bc8 b5 37.Nf6+ Kh8 38.Ne8 Be7 39.Kg3 1–0

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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.