Old Indian Ukrainian Variation 4…e4!?

GM E. Agrest – IM M. Ginsburg Las Vegas, NV 2005

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 e4!? A very interesting move. Every so often (1980 Lone Pine vs Alburt, 1983 Manhattan twice versus Dlugy and Benjamin, 1985 vs Dutch IM F. Borm, and now) I try it.

5. Ng5 Bf5 6. g4!? Aiming for a big pawn center. Black will have minor piece counterplay. Another move is 6. Qc2 and we will discuss that in a separate installment.

6…Bxg4 7. Bg2 Nbd7 7…Nc6 is a major alternative. In the 1983 Manhattan CC Championship, J. Benjamin-M. Ginsburg continued 7…Nc6 8.Ngxe4 Be7 9.b3 Nxe4 10.Nxe4 O-O 11.Bb2 f5!? 12.Ng3 f4!? with crazy complications. I lost a long ending but it wasn’t the fault of the opening, since black is fine here. Both 7…Nbd7 and 7…Nc6 are quite under-estimated by modern theory.

8. Ngxe4 c6 9. Ng3 Nb6

agrest1.png

Black’s counter-play is associated with hitting white loose pawns and preparing to restore the balance in the center with …d6-d5.

10. Qd3 d5 11. c5 Nc4 Reminiscent of the Alekhine’s Defense. This position is quite double-edged.

12. O-O Be6 13. f4 g6 14. f5!? Looks scary but black has his chances. 14…gxf5 15. Nxf5 Rg8 16. b3 Na5 17. Bd2 b6! 18. cxb6 axb6

agrest21.png

Black’s setup looks completely crazy but he has some positional achievements to his credit! The key problem to solve is his potentially insecure king.

19. Rae1 White doesn’t have a wonderful pawn structure so heads directly to the attack.

19…Nb7?!

More accurate is the king run 19…Kd7! The point is 20. e4 dxe4 21. Nxe4 Nxe4 22. Qxe4?? is impossible due to 22…Bd5 winning. White would have to play 22. Rxe4 Kc8 with an obscure situation.

20. e4 dxe4 21. Nxe4 Nxe4 22. Qxe4

agrest3.png

Even with black’s lapse on move 19, this position is quite defensible.

22…Rxa2??

A very bad miscue. In this sharp position, every move is critical. The correct choice was the centralizing 22…Qd5! 23. Ng3 Qxe4 24. Bxe4 O-O-O and black is OK. For example, 25. Bxc6 Rxd4 or 25. Bxh7 Rg4 26. Rc1 Nd6 27. Rxc6+ Kb7 28. Rfc1 Rd7.

23. Qc6+ Qd7 24. Qc3 Kd8 25. Ng3 Nd6 26. Rf2! Totally neutralizing any problems on the second rank.

26…Nb5 27. Qc1! White is completely winning now. 27…Rxd2 28. Qxd2 Rg4 29. Kh1! Calmly removing the king from any danger zones.

29…Nxd4 30. Ra1!

White plays with maximum efficiency to wind up the win. Black has no time to undertake anything.

30…Nb3 31. Ra8+ Ke7 32. Qxd7+ Bxd7 33. Ra7 Nc5 34. Bc6 Ke6 35. Re2+ 1-0

agrest4.png

Black loses even more material and hence gave up. The Grandmaster had no problem dealing with my haphazard pseudo-threats.

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