Poisoned Pawn?

The term “Poisoned Pawn” appears twice in the opening naming lexicons. It can also be used in a more broader sense.

 

In general, the pawn on b2 is attacked by Black’s queen. If he does, he sure to face a massive, and sometimes very long, attack by the White’s pieces.

 

The question is, not can he take the pawn. But rather, can he withstand the attack? If he can, then he’ll be up a pawn in the endgame.

 
In a more literary sense, can Black eat the pawn without suffering indigestion? Now you know where the word, “poisoned” comes from.

 
Let’s get started.

 

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The Poisoned Pawn in the Najdorf is defined by the moves; 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6.

 

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White usually continues with 8.Qd2, allowing Black to take his b2 pawn. He knows that if nothing else, he’ll be one attacking. But how best to attack? And what to do when Black, as he typically does, counterattack?

 

Fischer was the main advocate of this Najdorf version, who played it from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s. Here is Fischer in his prime.

 

GM Bruno Parma-GM Fischer
Rovinj/Zagreb, Croatia, Apr. 12, 1970
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Be2 Bg7 12.O-O f5 13.Rfd1 O-O 14.exf5 exf5 15.Nd5 Nc6 16.Nxc6 bxc6 17.Ne7+ Kh8 18.Nxc8 Rfxc8 19.Qd3? (>19.Qxd6 Qxa2 20.Qc5, with the idea of Bd3) 19…Qc5+ 20.Kh1 Re8 -/+ 21.Qc4 Qxc4 22.Bxc4 Re4 23.Bxf7 Rf8 24.Bh5 Rxf4 25.Rb6 (>25.Rxd6 Rh4 with the idea of Be5 -/+. With the text move, White falls further behind.) 25…Be5 26.Rxa6 Rh4 27.Bf3 Rxh2+ 28.Kg1 c5 29.Ra8 Rxa8 30.Bxa8 Rh4 31.Bc6 Rb4 32.a4 Rb2 33.c4 Kg7 34.Rd3 Ra2 35.Kf1 Kg6 36.Re3 h5 37.Re2 Ra3 38.Rd2 h4 39.Ke2 Bf4 40.Rd3 Ra2+ 41.Kd1 Kf6 42.Rf3 Be5 43.Rd3 Ke7 44.Rd2 Ra3 45.Ke2 Bc3 46.Rd3 Ra2+ 47.Kd1 Bd4 48.Rh3 Bf6 49.Re3+ Be5 50.Rd3 Kd8 51.Rd2 Ra1+ 52.Ke2 Kc7 53.Bd5 Bf4 54.Rc2 Ra3 55.Rb2 Be5 56.Rd2 Rg3 57.Kd1 f4 0-1

 
It wasn’t until Fischer played in the World Championship that he met his equal, at least in this variation.

 

GM Spassky-GM Fischer
World Ch. Game #11
Reykjavik, 1972
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Nb3 Qa3 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Be2 h5 12.O-O Nc6 13.Kh1 Bd7 14.Nb1 Qb4 15.Qe3 d5 16.exd5 Ne7 17.c4 Nf5 18.Qd3 h4 19.Bg4 Nd6 20.N1d2 f5 21.a3 Qb6 22.c5 Qb5 23.Qc3 fxg4 24.a4 h3 25.axb5 hxg2+ 26.Kxg2 Rh3 27.Qf6 Nf5 28.c6 Bc8 29.dxe6 fxe6 30.Rfe1 Be7 31.Rxe6 1-0

 
To be sure, the response was cooked up by Spassky’s team both before and during the match. It was a quick defeat, and it’s no wonder that Fischer didn’t again in the match. Or ever again.

 

After winning the World Championship, Fischer disappeared for a couple of decades. During his absence several improvements were found for both sides. But without it’s chief proponent the variation is played by only a few top players.

 

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Black can also offer a poisoned pawn. In  this case the pawn is on g7.

 

The Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Winawer, offers a richer variation of play than the Najdorf. And it is played often.

 
The variation is triggered by the moves; 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4. Black has a number of ways to attempt to gain the upper hand.

 

Haritonenko-Gorin
USSR, 1965
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4 f5!? 8.Qg3 Ne7 9.Qxg7 Rg8 10.Qxh7 cxd4 11.Kd1 Bd7 12.Qh5+ Ng6 13.Ne2 Nc6 14.cxd4 O-O-O 15.g3

2020_03_19_B
15…Ncxe5! 16.dxe5 Ba4 17.Ra2 d4 18.Bg5 d3 0-1

 
White gets even here.

 

Escalante-NM Adaar
Thematic Tournament – Winawer Variation, Round 2
chess.com, Aug.-Sept. 2018
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 (The usual route to the Winawer. All games in the tournament began with this position.) 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 O-O (Some years ago Van der Tak wrote an article in NIC 8 titled, “Castling Into It?” where he explored Black’s kingside castling possibilities in the Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Winawer, and if it was a viable option for Black. I don’t think the resulting positions favor Black.) 8.Bd3 (Thanks to GM Van der Tak, and his article, I am convinced this is best move for White.) 8…Nbc6 9.Nf3 cxd4?? (This loses the game in a hurry.)
2020_03_19_C
10.Bxh7+! 1-0 [Black resigns due to 10…Kxh7 11.Qh5+ (stronger than the traditional Ng5+ as the potential escape square, g6, is denied to Black) 11…Kg8 12.Ng5 and White mates.]

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The term “Poisoned Pawn”, in a more general term, can be defined as a pawn on the b2 or g7 square that is offered to the enemy queen to lure her out of defending her king or deflecting her to an irrelevant area of the board.

 

The term can be used in the general sense.

 
GM Bent Larsen-IM Bela Berger
Amsterdam Izt.
Netherlands, 1964
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 d5?! 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.O-O Bg4?! 7.Re1 Be7 (Not 7…f6? because of 8.Nxe5! and Black is in a lot of trouble,) 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Nd4!? 10.Qg4!

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11…O-O [Castling into the same area as the enemy queen is already attacking is usually not a good idea (see above). One has to think about self-preservation in addition to attacking factors. But in this case, Black is forced into it. White’s queen breaks in on both the center and kingside after 10…Nxc2 11.Rxe5 Nxa1 (hopeless is 11…Nf6 12.Qxg7 Kd7 13.Qxf7) 12.Qxg7 Rf8 13.Rxd5 Qc8 14.Qxh7 c6 15.Rf5. Even worse is 10…Bf6? The move is not only passive but it also loses a piece after 11.Qxd4. So Black has to risk it.] 11.Rxe5 Nf6 12.Qd1 (White has the extra pawn and better position.) 12…Bd6 13.Re1 Re8 14.Be3 c5 15.Nd2 Bc7 16.Nf3 Qd6 17.Bxd4 cxd4 18.Rxe8+ Rxe8 19.c3 dxc3 20.bxc3 Nh5 21.Qa4 Re7 22.Qxa7 Nf4 23.Qxb7 h5 24.Qc8+ Kh7 25.h4 1-0

 

 

Here, each side can offer their poisoned pawns, but don’t as they have nothing to compensate for their lost material. Material and and tempi are the requisites for giving up the pawn.

 

 
Ashraf Salimov-Vadim Razin
Ukraine U16 Ch., ½ Finals
Dnipropetrovsk, Nov. 11 2004
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bb5 Qb6 6.Bxc6+ bxc6 7.O-O Ba6 8.Re1 cxd4 9.Nxd4 Bc5 10.Be3 Bxd4 11.Qxd4 Rb8 12.b3 Ne7 13.Qc5 Nf5 14.g4 Nxe3 15.Qxe3 c5 16.Qg5 O-O 17.Nd2 Qb4 18.Nf1 f5 19.exf6 Rxf6 20.h3 Rbf8 21.Qe5 Rxf2 22.Qxe6+ Kh8 23.Qxa6 Qd4 24.Ne3 (24.Qe6 Rxf1+ 25.Kg2 Qf2+) 24…Qf4 25.Nf1 Qf3 (Black has too much pressure on White’s weak point and she has to concede the point.) 0-1

I Beat A 2812!

Yes, this is true.

 

And this is the story.

 

In order to gain an established rating, you must play events obviously. During the time you start playing tournament games and your rating more or stabilizes, you are issued a provisional rating. This rating can wildly swing as you win and lose games.

 

In 1988 my correspondence rating was settling into a stable one. My opponent’s rating was still in wild flux before he and I started our game.

 

And this is the game.

 

A.I.-Escalante
corres. 1990
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5 (This is the Wilkes-Barre Variation, an extremely tactical and popular opening in the 1980s.  It was my favorite opening at this time as well. And it also seems to have been a favorite of my opponent as he made book move almost to the end of the game. Kenneth Williams’s pamphlet, The Real American Wilkes-Barre, published in 1979, was probably the reason for its popularity.) 5.Nxf7 (An alternate move is 5.Bxf7+. But if tactical is your M.O., then you can’t beat 5.Nxf7 for the pins, forks, checks, and sacrifices.) 5…Bxf2+ 6.Kxf2 Nxe4+ 7.Ke3!? [7.Kg1 is another move. But boldly (or maybe even recklessly) moving one’s king to the center in this variation is stronger than it appears (IMHO) as Black doesn’t have too many pieces developed and White is ahead materially.]

7…Qh4

[Black has the choice of the text move and 7…Qe7. I chose 7…Qh4 as I felt the queen was more active on this square.

Remember I mentioned this was popular opening back in the 1980s? Here two very strong players trying out 7…Qe7!? Notes are from NIC Yearbook #4.

Van de Loo-Hesslin
Netherlands, 1985
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5 5.Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6.Kxf2 Nxe4+ 7.Ke3 Qe7 8.c3 Nd4 9.Kxe4 Qh4+ 10.Ke3 Qf4+ 11.Kd3 d5 12.Bxd5 Bf5+ 13.Kc4 b5+ 14.Kc5 Qh4 15.Nxe5 O-O-O 16.c4 Rxd5+ 17.cxd5 Rd8 18.Nc3 Nc6 19.Qa4!! Qe7+ (19…bxa4 20.Nc6 -/+) 20.Kxb5 Qxe5 21.Qc4?! (21.Qa6+!? Kb8 22.Qc6 Bd7) 21…Nd4+ 22.Ka4 Bd7+ 23.Ka5?! (Ka3!?) 23…Nc6+ 24.Ka6? (Ka4) 24…Nb8+ 25.Kxa7 (unclear) c6? (Qd6! -+) 26.Nb5! (with the idea of Kb6, Na7#) 26…Bf5 27.d4 Rd7+ 28.Ka8 (Kb6!) 27…Qe7 29.dxc6 Be4 30.d5 Bxd5 31.Qxd5 Rxd5 32.Na7+ Kd8 33.Kxb8?! (33.Bf4 with the idea of c7) 33…Qc7+? [33…Qe5 34.Kb7 (34.Ka8? Kc6!) Rb5 35.Nxb5 Qxb5=] 34.Ka8 Ra5 (Ke8!?) 35.Bg5+!! Rxg5 (35…Ke8 36.Rae1 Kf7 37.Re7+ -+) 36.Rad1+ Ke8 37.Rhe1+ Kf8 38.Rd7 Qxh2 39.Ree7 Qxg2 40.Rb7 Rc5 41.c7 Qg4 42.Rf7+! Ke8 43.b4 Rc2 44.a4 h5 45.a5 h4 46.b5 h3 47.Nc6! h2 48.Rxg7!! 1-0 Back to the game!]

8.g3 Nxg3 9.hxg3 Qd4+ 10.Kf3 d5!

[Black has the option of 10…O-O, letting his rook into play. However, again IMHO, the text move is stronger as it allows Black’s c8-bishop to come into play AND lay claim to the center.

Oleksenko-Malksirits, corres., 1984, continued with 11.Rh4!? e2+ 12.Kg2 d5 13.Rf4 dxc4 14.Qf1 Rxf7 15.Rxf7 Bg4 16.Nc3 Ne5 17.Qf2! Bf3+ 18.Rxf3 exf3+ 19.Kg1 Qd7 20.d4 cxd3 21.Bf4 Ng6 22.Qxf3 dxc2 23.Rc1 Nxf4 24.Qxf4 Rf8 25.Qc4+ Kh8 26.Rxc2 c6 27.Qc5 Rf5 28.Rf2+ 1-0]

11.Be2

[All this studying for correspondence can pay off. Here is another game by the author.

Escalante-Tym Belanger, US Amateur Team Ch., Feb., 20 2006, 11.Rh4 e4+ 12.Kg2 Rf8 13.Bxd5 Qxd5 14.Qh5 Qxh5 15.Rxh5 Rxf7 16.Rxh7 Nd4 17.Na3 Bg4 -/+ 18.Rh8+ Rf8 19.Rxf8+ Kxf8 20.c3 Bf3+ 21.Kf2 Nf5 22.d3 Rd8 23.dxe4 Bxe4 24.Bg5? (>24.Bf4 c6 25.Nc4) 24…Rd3 25.Bf4 Rf3+ 26.Ke2 Nxg3+ 27.Bxg3 Rxg3 28.Rf1+ Ke7 29.Kd2 Rd3+?! (>29…Rg2+ 30.Ke3 Bc6 31.Nc4? Bb5) 30.Ke2 Rg3 31.Kd2 g5 32.Re1 Kf6 33.Rxe4 Kf5 34.Re2 Kf4 35.Nb5 Kf3 36.Nd4+ Kg4 37.Rf2 Kh3 38.Ke2 Rg4 39.a4 Re4+ 40.Kd3 Re1 41.Rf3+ Kg2 42.Rf7! +- (White wins with a windmill.) 42…g4 43.Rxc7 Kf2 44.Rf7+ Kg1 45.Rxb7 Rf1 46.Rg7 g3 47.Rxg3+ Kh1 48.Rg7 Rb1 49.b4 Rd1+ 50.Kc2 Rf1 51.Rxa7 Rf2+ 52.Kd3 Rf8 53.Rg7 Rf3+ 54.Kc4 (Of course not Nxf3, stalemate!) 54…Rf8 55.b5 Rc8+ 56.Kb4 Rf8 57.a5 Rf3 (Another attempt at stalemate.) 58.a6 Rf2 59.c4 Rf1 60.a7 Ra1 61.b6 Rb1+ 62.Kc5 Ra1 63.b7 Rxa7 64.b8=Q Rc7+ (Yet another try at stalemate; the third of the game. 65.Qxc7 is a draw, so…) 65.Rxc7 1-0]

11…O-O (11…Bxe2 Bg4 12.Kg2 Qe4 13.Bf3! +-) 12.Rf1? (Kg2! – K. Williams)

2019_07_25

12…Bh3!! 0-1 (This is stronger than 12…Qe4+ 13.Kf2 Rxf7+ and either 14.Ke1 or 14.Kg1 and the White king lives. But after 12…Bh3!!, White has a choice between …Rxf7# or losing a massive amount of material with 13.Bd3 Rxf7+ 14.Ke2 Bg4+ 15.Ke1 Rxf1+ 16.Kxf1 Bxd1.)

 

correspondence_AI_1

A Fun Story and Ending.

A few decades ago, before the invention of laptops and chess engines, I used to study chess on a large tournament-sized set.

 
During the warm summer nights California is known for, I would set up a playing board, along with notes and books, in the backyard.

 
This particular night I had just set up the board when I noticed a bright light zigzagging in the night. My eyes followed it and for some strange reason it noticed me. And it sped towards my backyard.

 

 

UFO_1

 

 
I wasn’t frightened, more curious than anything else. It’s not every day a strange, bright, flying, object settles in my backyard.

 

It was small thing and when the door opened a tiny being emerged. It (it could have been a male, female, or animal, or robot) began to talk with me. Now since I’m not a polyglot, nor do I know any extra-terrestrial languages, I didn’t understand everything this otherly-world being was trying to say.

 

But with some hand movements I got a general idea what this entity wanted to know. It (again, I’m sure what gender this being was or if it had a gender) wanted to know what I was doing with the tablecloth (the chessboard), and the little figurines (the pieces).

 
As I am happy to share the game with others, with adults, children, pets, and now aliens, I started to teach the game to it.

 
But this visitor, like so many other beginners, was impatient, and soon fell behind in material, key squares, position, and was on the wrong end of possible checkmates.

 
So here is the diagram which we eventually reached.

2019_05_15

1.Qa1+ Kxa1 (Obviously not 1…Ka3 due to 2.Qc3+ Ka4 3.Bb5+! Kxb5 4.Qc5+ Ka4 5.a8=Q+. My space-traveling friend, being a quick learner, figured this out and avoided it. Besides, there was another point to his move.)

 

2.Kc2 (with the idea of Bd4#) 2…h1=K!

(Whoa! I started to tell him that was an illegal move. To which he replied, “Didn’t you tell me that a pawn reaching the last rank, could become any piece? And I want another king”.

I had to admit he was right. What to do now? If I leave both kings on the board, it would seem likely I would stalemate one of them, and possibly both. I looked at his smug expression. It knew the problems I faced. But then I had moment of inspiration.)

 
3.a8=K! (Now he had at least one move that didn’t result in stalemate.) 3…Kb8 (forced.)

 
4.h7 Ka8 (again forced.)

5.h8=Q mate, mate, mate!

Beating a Master in 10 Moves

If you want to beat a Master, you have to study chess. If you want to beat a Master in the opening, you have to study the openings.

Here’s what I mean:

 

Escalante-NM Adaar
Thematic Tournament – Winawer Variation, Round 2
Chess.com, Aug.-Sept. 2018
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 (The usual route to the Winawer. All games in the tournament began with this position.) 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 O-O (Some years ago Van der Tak wrote an article in NIC 8 titled, “Castling Into It?” where he explored Black’s kingside castling possibilities in the Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Winawer, and if it was a viable option for Black. I don’t think the resulting positions favor Black.) 8.Bd3! (Thanks to GM Van der Tak, and his article, I am convinced this move is stronger, with many ideas not yet explored, than most other books might suggest.) 8…Nbc6 9.Nf3

[If Black does not know the main line, then he (or she) has a problem coming up with a good plan. Here’s an example:

E.H. Al Rufei (2068)-Nebal Al Jelda
Women’s Zonal
Tehran, 2001
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 O-O 8.Nf3 Nbc6 9.Bd3 Nf5 10.Bg5 Qa5 11.O-O c4 12.Bxf5 exf5 13.Qg3 Kh8 14.Qh4 Qxc3 15.Bf6 gxf6 16.exf6 Rg8 17.Ng5 Rxg5 18.Qxg5 1-0

His (or her!) best move is 9…f5 10.exf6 Rxf6 11.Bg5 Rf7, with many books giving this position a “=”. But life, on or off the chessboard, is rarely simple as an equal sign. Back to the game. My opponent decided to try something different in this game.]

9…cxd4?? (This loses the game in a hurry.)

2018_09_13

10.Bxh7+! 1-0 [Black resigns due to 10…Kxh7 11.Qh5+ (stronger than the traditional Ng5+ as the potential escape square, g6, is denied to Black) 11…Kg8 12.Ng5 and White mates.]

Win a Battle and Hope to Winawer

I enjoy correspondence chess. Even more so if the tournament is thematic one.

Thematic tournaments (where everyone plays the same opening moves) are a good way to test an opening of your choice.

Right now I am involved in a French thematic tournament. And despite what I know about the French, there is always something new to learn.

One of my opponents has chosen a rare sideline of Winawer French, namely, 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qg4!?, which can lead to an interesting gambit.

2018_08_02

Now Black, of course, can refuse to give up his “g” pawn by either 4…Kf8 or 4…g6.

 

4…Kf8 is not to be recommended as Black is not gaining anything by his King move.

 

For example, Zsivko Bratanov (2408)-Stephan Bardel (2219), Grenoble, France, June 2005 went 1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qg4 Kf8?! 5.Bg5 (ECO gives 5.exd5 exd5 6.Qg3 +/-.) 5…f6 6.Bd2 Nc6 7.O-O-O Nxd4 8.exd5 e5 9.Qg3 Bf5 10.Bd3 Ne7 11.f4 Bxc3 12.Bxc3 Qxd5 13.fxe5 Rd8 14.Bxd4 Qxd4 15.Ne2 Qc5 16.Bxf5 Nxf5 17.Qf4 Rxd1+ 18.Rxd1 Ne3 19.Rd2 Kf7 20.e6+ Kg6 21.Qg3+ Qg5 22.Nf4+ Kf5 23.Qxe3 1-0

 
4…g6 is a possibility that needs to be further investigated:

 

A COMPUTER-GM Artur Yusupov (2640)
Match
Ischia, Italy, 1997
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qg4 g6 5.e5 b6 6.Nf3 h5 7.Qh3 Ba6 8.Bxa6 Nxa6 9.O-O Bxc3 10.bxc3 c5 11.Bg5 Qd7 12.Rfd1 Rc8 13.c4 cxd4 14.cxd5 Qxd5 15.Rxd4 Qc5 16.Rad1 Ne7 17.Rd6 Nc6 18.Rxe6+ Kf8 19.Rxg6 Re8 20.Rh6 Rg8 21.Rh7 Rxg5 22.Qd7 Re7 23.Qc8+ Re8 24.Rh8+ 1-0

 

Jim Berry-IM Michael Brooks (2510)
North America Open
Oklahoma, 2003
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qg4 g6 5.e5 c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Bg5 Qb6 8.O-O-O Bd7 9.Nf3 h6 10.Bf6 Nxf6 11.exf6 Bxf2 12.Bd3 e5 13.Bb5 Qxb5 14.Nxb5 Bxg4 15.Nc7+ Kd7 16.Nxa8 Bxf3 17.gxf3 d4 18.c3 Nc6 19.cxd4 exd4 20.Nb6+ axb6 21.a3 Re8 22.Rhf1 Re2 23.Rd3 Be3+ 24.Kb1 Ne5 25.Rb3 Nc4 0-1

 

Daniel Campora (2538)-Antonio Morillo (2105)
Coria del Rio Open
Spain, Feb. 11 2005
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qg4 g6 5.Bg5 f6 6.Bd2 e5 7.Qe2 dxe4 8.dxe5 f5 9.Nxe4 Qe7 10.Nc3 Nc6 11.Nf3 Be6 12.a3 Ba5 13.Qb5 O-O-O 14.Bg5 Nd4 15.Bxe7 Nxb5 16.Bxd8 Nxc3 17.Bg5 Ne4+ 18.Bd2 Bb6 19.Be3 Bxe3 20.fxe3 Nh6 21.Bd3 Ng4 22.O-O Bd5 23.Rfe1 Re8 24.Rad1 Nxe5 25.Bxe4 Bxe4 26.Nxe5 Rxe5 27.Rd2 c6 28.Kf2 Kc7 29.Red1 Re7 30.c4 g5 31.Rd6 g4 32.Rf6 a6 33.b4 Rg7 34.c5 b6 35.Rf8 Kb7 36.Rdd8 bxc5 37.bxc5 a5 38.Ra8 Rd7 39.Rfb8+ Kc7 40.Ra7+ Kxb8 41.Rxd7 h6 42.h4 gxh3 43.gxh3 h5 44.Rh7 Bc2 45.h4 Bd1 46.Kg3 Bg4 47.Kf4 Ka8 48.Ke5 Kb8 49.Rf7 1-0

 
But I decided to go with the main line. After all, I am here to learn this opening and I can’t learn the main line if I avoid it.

 
So, we continue with gambiting the” g” pawn.

 
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qg4 Nf6 5.Qxg7 Rg8 6.Qh6 Rg6 7.Qe3

 

Now here come some competing plans. One is to play 7…c5, gaining a move to challenge the center. This is ECO’s recommendation.

 

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qg4 Nf6 5.Qxg7 Rg8 6.Qh6 Rg6 7.Qe3 c5 8.Bd2 Ng4 9.Qd3 Nc6 10.Nge2 (10.h3? c4 -+) 10…cxd4 11.Nxd4 Nxf2 12.Kxf2 Bc5 -/+ 13.Be3 Qf6+ -/+

 
But surely my opponent is not going to play into this line. It is too simple and he can probably find a TN or even a better move. One can’t rely on books alone. A little investigation and a decent amount of imagination can show equally, or even better, alternate ideas.

 

If the purpose of the main line is for Black to gain a tempo by attacking the center with 7…c5, why does he have to wait for the intermediate moves of 6.Qh6 Rg6 7.Qe3? In other words, can Black play 5.Qxg7 Rg8 6.Qh6 c5 at this point? Not too many games with this sequence of moves. Is it because it is bad or because it is unknown?

 

 
Let’s find out!

A Fascinating Line in the Slav

Most chess players know of Szymon Winawer, the Polish chess player whose name is attached to a popular line in the French Defence (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4).

 

However, his name is also attached to a line in the Slav, namely the Winawer Counter Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.d4 c4 3.Nc3 e5!?). The purpose of this move is to free up Black’s pieces as soon as possible, even if it means giving up a pawn.
White can proceed in a number of ways.

 

First, he can play 4.e4?, but that is ruthlessly refuted by 4..dxc4 5.dxe5+ Qxd1. H.W. Jordan-Redpath Drummond, Canadian Ch., Toronto, 1936, continued with 6.Kxd1 Be6! 7.Nf3 Bc5 8.Ke2 Nd7 9.Be3 O-O-O 10.Rd1 Bxe3 11.Kxe3 Ne7 12.Nd2 b5 13.f4 Bg4 14.Nf3 g5 15.g3 gxf4+ 16.gxf4 Ng6 17.h3 Bxf3 18.Kxf3 Nc5 19.Be2 Ne6 20.Ke3 Nexf4 21.Bg4+ Kc7 22.Rhf1 Rxd1 23.Nxd1 Rd8 24.Be2 Nxe2 25.Rxf7+ Rd7 26.Rxd7+ Kxd7 27.Kxe2 Nf4+ 28.Kf3 Nxh3 29.Kg4 Ng1 30.Kf5 Ke7 31.Ne3 Ne2 32.e6 Nd4+ 33.Ke5 Nxe6 34.Nf5+ Kd7 0-1.

 

White can also play 4.e3 But that move usually doesn’t preserve the opening advantage.

 

Alekhine-Llorens
Simul
Barcelona, 1935
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.e3 e4 5.Qb3 Nf6 6.f3 Qb6 7.Qc2 Bb4 8.a3 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Bf5 10.Ne2 Nbd7 11.Ng3 Bg6 12.f4 Nh5 13.Be2 Nxg3 14.hxg3 f5 15.a4 Nf6 16.Ba3 Bf7 17.cxd5 Nxd5 18.Kf2 O-O-O 19.c4 Nxe3 20.Qc3 Nxc4 21.Bxc4 Rxd4 22.Be2 Bc4 23.a5 Rd3+ 24.axb6 Rxc3 25.Bxc4 1-0

 

A. Nosenko (2524)-P. Simacek (2474)
Lower Silesia Cup
Legnica, Poland, Nov. 27 2016
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.e3 exd4 5.exd4 Nf6 6.Nf3 Be7 7.Qb3 O-O 8.Be3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5 10.Bd3 Na6 11.a3 b4 12.Bxa6 bxc3 13.Bxc8 cxb2 14.Qxb2 Rxc8 15.O-O Nd5 16.Qb7 Qa5 17.Ne5 Qa4 18.Rfc1 Rc7 19.Qb2 c5 20.Qc2 Qa6 21.Qd3 Qe6 22.Rc2 Bf6 23.Nf3 c4 24.Qe2 Re8 25.Re1 Qa6 26.Nd2 Bxd4 27.Nxc4 h6 28.Qd3 Bc3 29.Rd1 Qxc4 30.Qxc4 Rxc4 31.Rxd5 Rd4 32.Rxd4 Bxd4 33.Kf1 Bxe3 34.Re2 f5 35.fxe3 Re4 36.Rf2 g6 37.Rf4 Rxf4+ 38.exf4 Kf7 39.Ke2 Ke6 40.h4 Kd5 41.Kd3 h5 42.g3 a6 0-1

 

Finally, he might try 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nf3 e4 6.Ne5, which creates and maintains a dynamic mix of tactics and forceful play.

 

It is from this line we find the following, fantastic, and ultimately satisfying, variation.

 

After 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nf3 e4 6.Ne5 f6 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Ng4 (an attempt to weaken Black’s kingside), Black plays his surprise move.

2018_07_12_A

8…Kf7! (or maybe even !!)

 

This move not only puts the Black king on a more active square, but allows his pieces to occupy more optimal squares without taking out the time to castle and then attempt to put his pieces on better squares, a tempo behind.

 

Is this a risky more? Yes. But not as much as you might believe. Access to Black’s kingside is checked (oh, I love puns!) by his pawns and the lack of activity on the that side of the board.

 

Let’s look at some White replies to 8…Kf7

 

9.Nxd5 has some hidden tactics to it. Black plays 9…Nb6! with the idea of 10.Nxb6 Qxb6 11.Ne3 Bb4+ 12.Bd2 Bxd2+ 13.Kxd2 Qxb2+ 14.Nc2 Be6 15.Qb4 Qxb4+ 16.Nxb4 Ne7! and the game retains its dynamic style. Chances are about even. This line has been pointed out by several masters.

 

That doesn’t mean that some players won’t play it.

 

Dmitry Smolin-A. Tsybulnik
300 Years
St. Petersburg, Russia, 2003
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nf3 e4 6.Ne5 f6 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Ng4 Kf7 9.Ne3 Nb6 10.Qb3 Be6 11.a4 a5 (Otherwise, 12.a5 spells trouble for Black.) 12.g3 Ne7 13.h4 Nc6 14.Nc2 Bd6 15.Bh3 Bxh3 16.Rxh3 Nb4 17.Nxe4 Nxc2+ 18.Qxc2 dxe4 19.Qxe4 Bb4+ 20.Kf1 [Black wants to play …Re8 with the idea of a possible …Kg8 (if he wants to play it safe!). But he can’t yet play 20…Re8? as 21.Qxh7 is almost winning for White. So he moves to trade queens, after which White has almost no developed pieces while Black’s active pieces take over the board.] 20…Qd5 21.Qxd5+ Nxd5 22.g4 Rhe8 (Now that Black’s rook can move to e8, he is winning.) 23.Rd3 h5 24.g5 Re4 25.f3 Rxh4 26.Kg2 Bd6 27.e4 Nf4+ 28.Bxf4 Bxf4 29.Rb3 Rc8 30.Rc3 (30.Rxb7+? Kg6, and White can’t prevent …Rc2+.) 30…Rh2+ 31.Kg1 Rd8 32.Rc4 Rxb2 33.Rd1 Bxg5 34.Re1 Bf4 35.e5 fxe5 36.dxe5 Bxe5 37.Rce4 Bf6 38.R1e2 Rxe2 39.Rxe2 Rd4 40.Ra2 Rb4 0-1

 

E. Goudriaan-P. Ten Vergert
Netherlands U21 Ch.
Venlo, 2008
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nf3 e4 6.Ne5 f6 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Ng4 Kf7 9.Nxd5 Nb6 10.Nxb6 Qxb6 11.Ne3 Bb4+ 12.Bd2 Bxd2+ 13.Kxd2 Qxb2+ 14.Nc2 Be6 15.Qb4 Qxb4+ 16.Nxb4 a5 17.Nc2 b5 18.a3 Ne7 19.e3 Rhb8 20.Rb1 Bd7 21.f3 exf3 22.gxf3 Ra7 23.Bc4+ Kf8 24.Rb2 Rc7 25.Bd3 h6 26.Rhb1 Rcb7 27.Na1 b4 28.axb4 Rxb4 29.Rxb4 Rxb4 30.Rxb4 axb4 31.Nc2 b3 32.Nb4 Ba4 33.Kc3 Ke8 34.Kb2 Nc6 35.Nxc6 Bxc6 36.e4 g5 37.Kxb3 Ke7 38.Kc3 Kd6 39.Kd2 Bd7 40.Ke3 Be8 41.f4 Ke7 42.Be2 Bf7 43.Bg4 Be8 44.Bf3 Bd7 45.Bh5 Bc8 46.Bg6 Bg4 47.Bf5 Bd1 48.h3 Kf7 49.Bg4 Ba4 50.f5 Ke7 51.e5 Bc2 52.h4 Bb1 53.hxg5 hxg5 54.Kd2 Kd7 55.Kc3 fxe5 56.dxe5 Ke7 57.Kd4 Ba2 58.Kc5 Bb3 59.f6+ Kf7 60.Kd6 Kg6 61.Ke7 1-0

 

Sasa Jovanovic-Milovan Ratkovic
Belgrade Trophy 2010
Obrenovac, 2010
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nf3 e4 6.Ne5 f6 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Ng4 Kf7 9.Nxd5 Nb6 10.Nxb6 Qxb6 11.Ne3 Bb4+ 12.Bd2 Bxd2+ 13.Kxd2 Qxb2+ 14.Nc2= Be6 15.Qb4 Qxb4+ 16.Nxb4 Ne7 17.e3 Rac8 18.Be2 a5 19.Nc2 Rc7 20.Na3 Rhc8 21.Rhc1 Rxc1 22.Rxc1 Rxc1 23.Kxc1 Nd5 24.Kb2 Ke7 25.Nb5 Kd7 26.a3 Kc6 27.Bc4 Nf4 28.Bxe6 Nxe6 29.Nc3 Nc7 30.Nxe4 Kd5 31.Nd2 f5 32.Kb3 b5 33.Nb1 Ke4 34.Nc3+ Kd3 35.d5 Na6 36.Nxb5 Nc5+ 37.Kb2 Ke2 38.Nd4+ Kxf2 39.Nxf5 g6 40.Nh6 Kxe3 41.Kc3 Ke4 42.Kc4 Nd7 43.Nf7 Nb6+ 44.Kb5 Nxd5 45.Ng5+ Ke3 46.Nxh7 Kf2 47.h4 Kxg2 48.Nf8 Kg3 49.Nxg6 Kg4 50.Kxa5 Kh5 51.Nf4+ Nxf4 52.Kb5 Nd5 53.Kc5 Nc3 54.Kc4 Na4 55.Kb4 Nb6 56.Kb5 Nd5 1/2-1/2

 

A more common reply is 9.Ne3.

 

Carlsson- Thomas Engqvist
Sweden, 1988
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nf3 e4 6.Ne5 f6 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Ng4 Kf7 9.Ne3 Nb6 10.Qb3 Be6 11.f3 f5 12.fxe4 fxe4 13.g3 Nf6 14.Ng2 Nh5 15.a4 Qd7 16.Nf4 Nxf4 17.Bxf4 Nc4 18.Bg2 Be7 19.O-O Rhf8 20.Rf2 Kg8 (I have not been able to locate the entire game. Perhaps a generous reader can help.)

 

IM Michael Wiedenkeller (2443)-FM Thomas Engqvist (2366)
Sweden Ch.
Goteborg, 1990
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nf3 e4 6.Ne5 f6 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Ng4 Kf7 9.Ne3 Nb6 10.Qb3 Be6 11.a4 a5 12.g3 Ne7 13.h4 Nc6 14.Nc2 Nb4 15.Bh3 Bxh3 16.Rxh3 Qc8 17.Rh1 Nxc2+ 18.Qxc2 Bb4 19.Qb3 Qc4 20.Qxc4 Nxc4 21.Kd1 Bxc3 22.bxc3 b5 23.Rb1 bxa4 24.Rb7+ Ke6 25.Bf4 Rhd8

2018_07_12_B
26.Kc2 Rd7 27.Rxd7 Kxd7 28.Ra1 Ra7 29.Rxa4 Rb7 30.Bc1 h5 31.f3 exf3 32.exf3 Kc6 33.Kd3 Re7 34.Rxc4+ dxc4+ 35.Kxc4 Re1 36.d5+ Kd7 37.Ba3 Re3 38.Bf8 g5
0-1

 

Wolfram Von Alvensleben (2235)-Martin Maier (2225)
Oberliga Nord W 9394
Germany, 1994
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nf3 e4 6.Ne5 f6 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Ng4 Kf7 9.Ne3 Nb6 10.Qb3 Be6 11.g3 f5 12.Bh3 g6 13.a4 a5 14.O-O Nf6 15.Ng2 Kg7 16.f3 Bf7 17.Bf4 Bd6 18.Bxd6 Qxd6 19.Nb5 Qe7 20.Rac1 Nc4 21.Qc3 Rhc8 22.b3 Nd6 23.Qd2 Nxb5 24.axb5 b6 25.Rc6 Rxc6 26.bxc6 Rc8 27.Rc1 Rc7 28.Ne3 Qe6 29.b4 axb4 30.Kf2 Rxc6 31.Rb1 Qc8 32.Qxb4 Qd7 33.Ra1 Be6 34.Ra8 Ne8 35.fxe4 fxe4 36.Bxe6 Rxe6 37.Rb8 Rf6+ 38.Kg2 Qf7 39.Ng4 Re6 40.Rxb6 Rxb6 41.Qxb6 Nf6 42.Ne5 Nd7 43.Qd6 Nxe5 44.Qxe5+ Kf8 45.g4 Kg8 46.Kg3 h6 47.Qf4 Kg7 48.Qxf7+ Kxf7 49.Kf4 Ke6 50.h3 g5+ 51.Ke3 Kd6 52.Kd2 1/2-1/2

 

P. Golubka-V. Stradej
Vsetin Open 2015
Czech Republic, 2015
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nf3 e4 6.Ne5 f6 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Ng4 Kf7 9.Ne3 Nb6 10.Qb3 Be6 11.a4 a5 12.g3 Bb4 13.Bg2 Ne7 14.Nc2 Nc6 15.O-O Re8 16.Nxb4 Nxb4 17.Nb5 Nc4 18.Bf4 g5 19.Bc1 Kg7 20.f3 e3 21.f4 g4 22.f5= Bf7 23.Qd1 Rc8 24.Nc3 Qd7 25.Rf4 Kh8 26.Rxg4 Qxf5 27.Rf4 Qg5 28.b3 Nb6 29.Bb2 Bg6 30.Rc1 Rc6 31.Bh3 Be4 32.Nxe4 Rxe4 33.Rxe4 dxe4 34.d5 N6xd5 35.Rxc6 bxc6 36.Qf1 Kg7 37.Bf5 h5 38.Bxe4 h4 39.Qf5 Qxf5 40.Bxf5 hxg3 41.hxg3 Kh6 42.Kg2 Kg5 43.Be4 f5 44.Bf3 f4 45.Be4 fxg3 46.Kxg3 Kh5 47.Kf3 Kg5 48.Bd4 1-0

 

Finally, White can play 9.f3, hoping to open the kingside.

 

Ruslan Sherbakov (2495)-Aleksander Czerwonski (2370)
Katowice Open, 1992
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nf3 e4 6.Ne5 f6 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Ng4 Kf7 9.f3 Nb6 10.Qd1 Bxg4 11.fxg4 Bd6 12.e3 Ne7 13.g3 Qd7 14.Bd2 Rhc8 15.b3 a6 16.Be2 Ba3 17.Rb1 Bb4 18.Nxe4 Bxd2+ 19.Nxd2 Qe6 20.Nf1 Rc3 21.Bd3 Rac8 22.h3 R8c7 23.Rh2 Nbc8 24.Rc2 Rxc2 25.Bxc2 Nd6 26.Bd3 Ne4 27.Rc1 Nc3 28.Qd2 Ne4 29.Bxe4 Rxc1+ 30.Qxc1 Qxe4 31.Kf2 Qd3 32.Nd2 b5 33.Nf3 h6 34.Qd2 Qb1 35.Qa5 Qc2+ 36.Qd2 Qb1 37.Ne1 Qe4 38.Qa5 Qe6 39.Nf3 Qe4 40.Ne1 Qe6 41.Qc7 Qe4 42.Qb6 Qh1 43.h4 Qe4 44.Qxa6 Qxg4 45.Qxb5 Qf5+ 46.Ke2 Qg4+ 47.Kf2 Qf5+ 48.Ke2 Qg4+ 49.Kd2 Qxg3 50.h5 Qh2+ 51.Qe2 Qb8 52.Nd3 Nf5 53.Qf3 Ne7 54.Qg2 Qb5 55.Kc2 g5 56.hxg6+ Nxg6 57.Qh3 Kg7 58.a4 Qe8 59.Nc5 h5 60.Qxh5 Qxe3 61.Qxd5 Qf2+ 62.Kc3 Qe1+ 63.Kc4 Qf1+ 64.Kb4 f5 65.Qd7+ Kf6 66.a5 Qe1+ 67.Kb5 f4 68.a6 Qe2+ 69.Kb6 1-0

 

Boris Chatalbashev (2524)-Lexy Ortega (2499)
Padova Open
Italy, 1999
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nf3 e4 6.Ne5 f6 7.Qa4+ Nd7 8.Ng4 Kf7 9.f3 Ne7 10.Qb3 Nb6 11.Nxe4 Nc6 12.Nc3 Nxd4 13.Qd1 Nc6 14.e3 Bc5 15.Bd3 f5 16.Nf2 d4 17.exd4 Re8+ 18.Ne2 Nxd4 19.O-O Nxe2+ 20.Bxe2 Qxd1 21.Bxd1 Be6 22.b3 Rad8 23.Bg5 Rc8 24.Rc1 Nd5 25.Kh1 Be3 26.Rxc8 Rxc8 27.Ne4 Kg6 28.h4 fxe4 29.fxe4 Bxg5 30.exd5 Bxd5 31.hxg5 Kxg5 32.Kh2 Rc1 33.Kg3 h5 34.Re1 Kf6 35.Kf2 Ra1 36.Bxh5 Rxa2+ 37.Ke3 Rxg2 38.b4 g6 39.Be2 Ke5 40.Bf3 Ra2 41.Kd3+ Kd6 42.Bxd5 Kxd5 43.Re7 Ra3+ 44.Kc2 b5 45.Rc7 a6 46.Rc5+ Ke6 47.Kb2 Rd3 48.Kc2 Rd6 49.Rg5 Kf6 50.Rg1 g5 51.Rf1+ Ke5 52.Re1+Kf4 53.Rf1+ Ke3 54.Rg1 Rd2+ 55.Kc3 Rd5 56.Ra1 Rd6 57.Rg1 Rc6+ 58.Kb3 Rg6
0-1

 

Remember, this is a gambit. And the best way to learn a gambit, or any opening for that matter, is to experiment, both with a partner and by yourself.

 

Have fun with it!

 

 

Welcome!

Welcome here!

This is the beginning of a chess blog. It is my intention that his blog will feature chess games (esp. miniatures), endings,  thoughts, and other interesting items about the game.

This is a work in progress, with the idea of perpetual improvement.

Maybe you have thoughts about what chess blog might be or how to improve it. If so, let me know – love to know your thoughts.

Here is short game I think you will appreciate.

Alfred Freidl-Ganzer
corres., 1962
[Escalante]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 dxe4 6.f3
(The Winckelmann Gambit, in which White gambits his “f” pawn to access a very open f” file. It’s a gambit that I am now experimenting and so far, the results have been positive. Winckelmann has his name attached to the gambit, not for creating it, but because he was successful in popularizing it by his many brilliant games in the early 1990’s.) 6…exf3 (Accepting the gambit is now considered not the best strategy. But if one cannot accept it, what then is the proper response?) 7.Nxf3 c6 8.Bd3 Nd7 9.O-O Qa5 10.Bd2 Ngf6 11.Qe1 O-O (Usually castling is a good idea as it puts one’s king in a safer space. In this game, and maybe even this gambit, castling may put this king in harm’s way.) 12.Ng5! (To provoke weaknesses in Black’s castled position.) 12…h6 13.c4 Qb6 14.c5 Qc7 15.Nf3 b6 16.Qh4 h5 17.Bf4 Qb7 18.Bd6 Re8 19.Ne5 bxc5 20.Rab1 Nb6 21.dxc5 Rd8 (Now we’ll see the power of the using the “f” file.)  22.Rxf6! gxf6 23.Qxf6 Rxd6 24.cxd6 1-0

 

 Here’s an early game by Winckelmann;

 

Winckelmann-Andre
corres., 1984
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 dxe4 6.f3 exf3 7.Nxf3 Ne7 8.Bd3 Ng6 9.O-O O-O 10.Ng5 h6 11.Nxf7 Rxf7 12.Bxg6 Rxf1+ 13.Qxf1 Qe7 14.Qd3 Bd7 15.Bf4 c6 16.Be5 Be8 17.Bxe8 Qxe8 18.Qg3 g5 19.h4 Nd7 20.hxg5 Nxe5 21.Qxe5 Qg6 22.gxh6 Qxh6 23.Re1 Re8 24.Re3 1-0