Slav Chebanenko 4…a6

IM M. Ginsburg – H. Itkis US Open 2005, Phoenix, AZ

1. c4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 a6 The Chebanenko variation, popular at the top levels. 5. cxd5 I am interested in “proving” that white can play for an advantage with this move after ….a6. The rationale? The dark squares on the black queenside (b6) have been slightly weakened. Theory disagrees with this rationale. My “back-door” rationale is to try to achieve the attacking formation in the brilliant game Portisch-Petrosian, Moscow 1967, which white won in 24 moves. Note in that game defensive specialist Tigran didn’t waste time with a7-a6 yet still went down the drain quickly.
5…cxd5 6. Bf4 Nc6


This position looks like it should offer white something due to the semi-wasted a7-a6 move. Perhaps 7. Ne5!? – I really want to reach a formation like Portisch-Petrosian mentioned above.

7. e3?! This cannot offer anything. 7…Bg4! By pinning the dangerous white knight, black removes all danger.

8. Qb3 Na5 9. Qc2 Bxf3 Black has equalized easily.

10. gxf3 e6 11. Bd3 Bd6 12. Bg3 Rc8 13. Bh4 b5 14. Rg1 Kf8 15. Qe2 Bb4? There was nothing wrong with 15…Bxh2! here! 16. Rc1 Nc4 16…Bxc3+ is about equal.

17. Kf1 Qa5 17…Nb6 was solid here.

18. Kg2 Rg8?! Nothing wrong with 18…Nxb2 19. Qxb2 Bxc3 20. Qb3 b4 with approximate equality.

19. Kh1 h6? Here, black has the strange and strong resource 19…g5! with the idea 20. Bxg5 Rxg5! 21. Rxg5 Nxb2 22. Qxb2 Ba3 23. Qb3 Bxc1 with equality.

20. f4 Now out of nowhere white has a menacing initiative.

20… Ke7 21. f5 Nxb2 Too late! Now white has a strong counter tactically.

22. Nxd5+! exd5 23. Qxb2 Ba3 24. Rxc8 Rxc8 24…Bxb2 25. Rxg8 is pretty hopeless.

25. Qb3 Rc3? 25…b4 was necessary with white keeping a big plus.

26. Qxd5! Something has clearly gone wrong for black and white gathers too many pawns now.  26…Rxd3? 27. Qe4+ is not playable for black.

26…Qd8 27.Qxd8+ 27. Qg2 wins also (again, 27…Rxd3?? 28. Qe4+ wins). 27…Kxd8 28. Bb1


28…Kd7 29. Rxg7 Rc1+ 30. Rg1 Rxg1+ 31. Kxg1 This is completely hopeless for black.

31…Nd5 32. Bc2!

Relocating to the favorable b3-g8 diagonal.

32…Nc3 33. Bb3 Ke8 34. Bf6 a5 35. d5 Hitting the knight with a discovered attack. White does everything with gain of time.

35…Ne4 36. Bg7 h5 37. Bc2 Nd6 38. e4 a4 39. e5 Nc4 40. e6 fxe6 41. fxe6 and black resigned.


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