Archive for the ‘Thinking your Way to Chess Mastery’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: More Defending vs. The Keres Attack

December 14, 2007

I will be discussing this variation in my upcoming DVD series, “Thinking Your Way to Chess Mastery in the Opening.” My first disc will cover the Keres Attack, playing White versus the Hedgehog, and playing White in the Bayonet Attack, King’s Indian Defense.

IM D. Pruess – IM Aries2 ICC 5-minute Blitz Dec. 2007

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6!?


Position after 6…Nc6!? – An Unusual Defense to the Keres Attack

There’s something very logical looking about this move. 6…h6 gives white a lever for a later g4-g5. And the older 6…a6, once the most popular, has been convincingly shown to be too slow. So that leaves 6…Be7 (similar to the text) and the very risky 6…e5?! which we will cover in another installment. For more on 6…Nc6, see my first article (the GM Vogt game).

7. g5 Nd7 8. f4?!

This looks a little premature. 8. Be3 or 8. h4 are normal.

8. Rg1 is also possible. This was tested in another interesting ICC blitz game. It is possible to learn from these games, as I especially find out after analyzing blown opportunities such as the following:

NM Jefferson – IM Aries2 ICC 5-minute, December 2007.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Rg1 Nde5! Our thematic regrouping. 9. Be3 Na5 10. b3 Nac6! Returning now that the b2-b3 weakness was induced. 11. f4 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 Nc6 13. Bb5 Bd7 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Qd3 c5 16. Be3 Qa5 17. Bd2 Rc8 18. f5 c4! Black is fine. 19. Qf3 cxb3 20. cxb3 When white recaptures this way, you know black is doing well. 20…Qe5 21. O-O-O Be7 22. Kb1?! First of all, 22. f6?! gxf6 23. h4 fxg5 24. hxg5 a5 25. Kb2 a4 26. Rc1 axb3 27. axb3 Rb8 is very bad for white. The difficult 22 Kb2! is correct; 22…exf5 23. Rgf1 d5 24. exf5 d4 25. Ne4 Bc6 26. Rfe1 d3+ 27. Kb1 O-O 28. Qg4 Bxe4 29. Rxe4 Qc7 is about equal) 22… O-O 23. Rc1 d5?! (23… exf5! 24. Nd5 Bd8 is just good for black, e.g. 25. Rxc8 Bxc8 26. exf5 Bxf5+ 27. Kc1 Qa1 mate) 24. f6 Ba3! 25. fxg7 Qxg7 26. exd5 Bxc1? An instructive lapse. Black should keep attacking with 26…exd5 27. Qxd5 Rfd8 28. Qe4 Rc5 29. Ka1 Bf5 30. Qe2 Rcd5 31. Bf4 Rc8 32. Rg3 Rdc5! and this nice switch-back costs white decisive material. In the game, after 27. Rxc1 exd5 28. Nxd5 Rxc1+ 29. Bxc1 Be6?? 30. Ne7+ Kh8 31. Bb2 f6 32. Bxf6 Rxf6 33. Qxf6 white even won. Yuck! 1-0.

Now back to the main game after 8. f4?!

8…h6! Is this a TN?


8…h6!? – TN or not?

I could not find this logical reply in ChessBase. Black exploits the trick that 9. gxh6? Qh4+ is just bad for white (10. Bf2? Qxf4). Playable is the similar 8… Nxd4 9. Qxd4 h6! 10. Be3 hxg5 11. fxg5 Ne5 and black is comfortable. For example, 12. O-O-O a6 13. Bf4 b5 (not 13… Qc7?? 14. Bxe5 dxe5 15. Nb5!! and wins) 14. h4 Nc6 15. Qd3 b4 16. Ne2 e5 17. Be3 Bg4 18. g6 Qd7 19. Qd5 fxg6 20. Bh3 Bxh3 21. Rxh3 b3 22. Rf3 bxc2 23. Rdf1 Rb8 24. Rf7 Nb4 25. Qb3 Qh3 and things are really murky.

9. Nf3 The sacrifice 9. Nxe6!? fxe6 10. Qh5+ comes to mind. Black is going to be forced to switch his king and queen’s start positions in a weird sequence. After 10…Ke7 11. Be3
Qe8 12. Qh3 Kd8 13. O-O-O Kc7 14. Nb5+ Kb8 15. Nxd6 is refuted by 15… Bxd6 16. Rxd6 hxg5 and black wins. On other white 15th moves, black is better but not completely winning. So the sacrifice 9. Nxe6 is really deserving a “?!” instead.

9… hxg5 Sensible is 9… Be7 10. g6 (10. Be3 hxg5 11. Nxg5 a6 with a decent game) 10… Bh4+ 11. Ke2 O-O 12. Qxd6 Qb6! – a peculiar, imaginative, and nice gambit idea. Black has good attacking chances. For example, 13. gxf7+ Rxf7 14. Kd1 Nc5 15. Qd2 Rd7 16. Bd3 Bf6.

10. Nxg5 a6 Very interesting is 10… Qb6 11. Nb5 Nb4 12. a3 Na6 13. Qe2 Nc7
14. Be3 Qa5+ 15. c3 Nxb5 16. Qxb5 Qxb5 17. Bxb5 a6 and black is fine.

11. Be3 b5 12. Bg2 Bb7 13. Qe2 Qa5 14. O-O b4 15. Nb1 Be7 16. Nd2 Qc7 Very playable is 16… Bxg5 17. Nc4 Qc7 18. fxg5 Nce5 – this is nice and solid and nice for black.

17. f5 The sharpest try but black has an adequate response.

17…d5! A thematic line-opener to try to get at white’s king. Black attacks the h2 pawn.


Position after 17…d5!? – Very Sharp.

18. Bf4 Bd6?? The text should have been a losing blunder. An amazing resource is 18… Nd4!! – showing that unusual and very strong moves are possible even in the opening.


Position after 18…Nd4!! (analysis)

First we dismiss 19. Qf2?? Qxf4! 20. Qxf4 Ne2+ (the point!) and black wins; the WN on g5 is dangling. And if 19. Bxc7 (19. Qe3 is bad – 19…Bxg5 20. Bxg5 Qxh2+ 21. Kf2 Nxc2 22. Qg3 dxe4 and black wins; if 19. Qd3 e5 20. Be3 Nc5 and again black wins) 19…Nxe2+ 20. Kf2 Nd4 21. fxe6 fxe6 22. Ngf3 Nxc2 or 22…Nxf3 and black wins. So as strange as it seems, 18….Nd4!! wins in all lines!

19. Nxf7? The wrong sacrifice. The game goes from a white win to a draw in terms of evaluation. The right move, 19. fxe6 is crushing: 19…Bxf4 20. exf7+ Ke7 21. exd5+ Be5 22. dxc6 and black has to give up.

19… Kxf7 20. fxe6+ Kg8 Now it is about equal.

21. Bxd6 Qxd6 22. exd5? A losing mistake. Correct is 22. exd7 Qxh2+ 23. Kf2 Qh4+ (23… Nd4 24. Qd3) 24. Kg1 Qh2+ with a perpetual.

22… Qxh2+ 23. Kf2 Nd4 (23… Qh4+ 24. Kg1 Nd4 25. Qd3 Ne5! When the knights dance like this, the party is over for white. For example, 26. Qe4 Qh2+ 27. Kf2 Rh4 28. Nf3 Nexf3.

24. Qe4 Rf8+ 25. Ke1 Nf6 Correct is 25… Rh4 to involve everything in the attack. This move wins easily.

26. Qxd4 Qxg2 27. e7 Re8 28. d6 Rh2 29. Nc4 29. Qe3 was”relatively best” but with a little care black can destroy white’s passed pawns: 29… Bc8 30. Rf2 Qg1+ 31. Nf1 Rxf2 32. Qxf2 Qxf2+ 33. Kxf2 Ne4+ does the trick.

29… Qe2# 0-1

Here’s another one, played February 11, 2008 (also on ICC).

GM Dejan Pikula (“Kipi”) – aries2 ICC 5-minute, February 2008

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Rg1

I direct readers to my Foxwoods 2008 post for a discussion of a game I had as black vs GM Becerra starting from this point.

8…Nde5 For some reason, in the Foxwoods 2008 game, I played 8…Nb6?! (more passive) against Becerra.  I gained a draw only with difficulty.

9. Rg3!? A very rare sideline. We have an example here with 9. Nb3. Black can respond 9… h6!? 10. gxh6 g6 11. Bg5 and now a very funny line here is 11… f6! 12. Bd2 Bxh6 13. f4 f5!! 14. fxe5 Qh4+ 15. Ke2 Qh5+ 16. Kf2 Qh4+ forcing a draw, since 17. Rg3?? f4 wins for black. In the game, black played 11…Qb6? and lost in 34 moves, Kedziora,C-Merz,H/Goch 1991.


Position after 9. Rg3!? – A Rare Sideline

9… Nxd4 It might be stronger to wait with 9… Be7 10. h4 O-O 11. Be3 Na5!? 12. b3 d5 13. Qd2 Nac6 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. O-O-O Qa5 16. Kb1 Bb4 and black is all right.

10. Qxd4 Nc6 11. Qd1 Putting the queen offside with 11. Qa4 Bd7 12. Be3 a6 13. a3 b5 14. Qb3 Be7 15. O-O-O Na5 16. Qa2 , although a computer line, looks very strange.

11… a6 12. Be3 Be7? Correct is 12… b5 13. a3 Qa5 14. Qd2 b4 15. Ne2 Bd7 16. Nd4 Rb8 17. Be2 Be7 18. h4 O-O 19. Kf1 Nxd4 20. Bxd4 e5 21. Ba7 Rb7 and black is OK.

13. Qh5! g6 14. Qh6 Qa5 15. Qg7 Not the best. White should wait for this and play 15. O-O-O Bf8 16. Qh4 b5 17. Kb1 b4 18. Ne2 Be7 19. f4 Bb7 20. Nd4 and he has an edge.

15… Qe5 16. Qxe5 dxe5


Position after 16…dxe5. White should eliminate black’s two bishops.

17. O-O-O?! Another inaccuracy. White should play 17. Na4! b5 18. Nb6 Rb8 19. Nxc8 Rxc8 20. c3 Na5 21. a4 Nc4 22. axb5 axb5 23. Bxc4 bxc4 24. Kd2! and nurse a small edge in the ending – the queenside pawn majority will prove troublesome.

17… b5! Ruling out Na4 to b6.

18. h4 h6 19. f4 Black can handle 19. gxh6 Bf8 20. h5 gxh5 21. h7 Rxh7 22. Rg8 f6 23. Bc5 Ne7.

19… hxg5 20. hxg5 exf4 21. Bxf4 Bb7 22. Re1?! Safer is 22. Bg2.

22… O-O-O! Of course! Now black has a big initiative.

23. Bd3 Rh4 24. Rf1 Rxf4 It’s more practical to wait and play 24… Bc5 25. a3 Bd4.

25. Rxf4 Bd6 26. Rgf3 Stronger is 26. Ne2 Bxf4+ 27. Nxf4 Ne5 28. Rh3 and white is holding.

26… Bxf4+ 27. Rxf4 Ne5 A beautiful horse!

28. Kd2 Rh8 29. Ke3 Rh5 30. Be2 Rxg5 31. Kf2 f5 32. a4 b4 33. Na2 a5 34. c3 Bxe4 The rest is not hard.

35. cxb4 Rg2+ 36. Ke1 g5 37. Rf2 Rg1+ 38. Kd2 If 38. Rf1 Rxf1+ 39. Kxf1 Bd5 and black wins.

38… g4 39. bxa5 g3 40. Rf1 Rxf1 41. Bxf1 g2 41… f4 42. Nc3 f3! wins too.

42. Bxg2 Bxg2 43. b4 f4 44. a6 Nc4+ 45. Ke2 e5 46. b5 e4 47. Nb4 e3 48. a5 f3+ 49. Kd3 f2 50. Kxc4 f1=Q+ 51. Kc5 e2 52. b6 e1=Q 53. b7+ Bxb7 54. axb7+ Kxb7 0-1