Posts Tagged ‘Keres Attack’

The Fabulous 10s: Learning Tactics via ICC Blitz

June 19, 2011

Here are three very interesting 5 minute games I contested recently on ICC.

Use them as tactical training devices.

Game 1.

Impitoyable (Unforgiven) vs Aries2  Game/5  Keres Attack

Here’s more information about the Frenchman Impitoyable from his ICC finger notes:

Information about Impitoyable (Last disconnected Sun Jun 19 2011 15:10):

              rating [need] win  loss  draw total   best
Wild            2206  [1]   645   143    31   819   2301 (03-Jan-2011)
Loser’s         2037  [4]  1360   529    55  1944   2232 (10-Jul-2008)
Bughouse        1915  [6]    23    15     0    38   2011 (30-Nov-2006)
Crazyhouse      2244  [6]   863   307     0  1170   2307 (16-Feb-2008)
Bullet          2516  [8]  1229   543    83  1855   2706 (27-May-2008)
Blitz           3091  [8]   750   459   133  1342   3175 (29-Sep-2009)
Standard        2657  [6]   184    29    12   225   2682 (19-Nov-2010)
5-minute        2614       1237   445   181  1863   2726 (14-Oct-2009)
1-minute        2570  [8]  1493   945   121  2559   2570 (27-Jun-2010)
15-minute       2475         89     5     2    96   2475 (19-Jun-2011)
3-minute        2356        433   183    56   672   2519 (17-Apr-2011)
45-minute       1692  [4]     1     0     0     1                      
Chess960        2093        457   130    31   618   2213 (14-Jul-2010)

 1: “Impitoyable” : french title for the film “Unforgiven”, by and with C.
  Eastwood (and G. Hackman, R. Harris, M. Freeman …) ; but “impitoyable”
  means rather “pityless” or “mercyless” ; I will nevertheless accept takebacks
  for obvious mouseslips and ask for them … only in that case of course.
 2: International Master since 1996 ; maths teacher since 2001.
 3: Can you queen your f-pawn as early as move 18 playing black ? See my
  liblist, game Index 4 !
 4: You may improve your play in knights endings by analysing my defeat versus
  Vidocq, game numbre 16.
 5: You don’t get a chance each day to play as Morphy did at the Sevilla Opera.
  Egor Geroev-2 had this chance, see my  lybrary game number 18 (after 15 …
  Qxb5 16 Nc7+! ; Rxc7 17 Rd8 it’s exactly the same mate !)

He has a very good score against me overall.  I was looking to improve my statistics by following an obscure recommendation of Kasparov and Nikitin versus the popular Keres Attack.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Be3 Be7 9. h4 O-O 10. Qd2

Often times white likes to put his queen out on the aggressive h5 square.  Then, black can follow the same plan as in the game!

10…Nxd4  Part of a sequence that gives black freedom of movement.

11. Qxd4 e5 12. Qd1 Nb6!?

The interesting proposal of Kasparov and Nikitin from an ancient book on the Scheveningen.   White can opt to eat this horse with Be3xb6 to gain control of d5 but that move is definitely not on most attacking players’ radar screens.  They just want to give mate.

13. g6?!  This has to be too soon.

13…hxg6 14. h5 g5 15. Qf3 g4 16. Qg3 Be6 17. O-O-O Rc8 18. Be2 Rxc3! 19. bxc3

Black to play. Who's winning?

19…d5 20. Bxg4 Ba3+ 21. Kd2 Nc4+ 22. Ke2 Nxe3 23. fxe3 Qc8 24. Rhg1 Qxc3 25. Bxe6 Qxc2+ 26. Rd2 Qc4+ 27. Kd1 Qa4+ 28. Rc2 {Black resigns} 1-0

Why do I award black’s 18th move an exclamation point and then go on to lose in short order?  That’s the puzzle for you – identify the beautiful missed black win!  Immediately after the game I had the feeling I had blown a promising position but I didn’t know how promising until I checked with Rybka 4.  Embarrassing, black was totally winning!

Game 2

Let’s follow this embarrassing blown win with another embarrassing blown win, shall we?  This time we are dominating and crushing Logofet.

Some more information about Logofet:

Information about Logofet (Last disconnected Sun Jun 19 2011 12:08):

              rating [need] win  loss  draw total   best
Crazyhouse      1798  [6]     0     2     0     2                      
Bullet          2252  [8]   155   203    30   388   2433 (30-Jan-2006)
Blitz           2749       1404  1703   342  3449   3022 (21-Mar-2008)
Standard        2637  [6]     4     2     0     6                      
5-minute        2588       2563  1459   410  4432   2624 (30-Mar-2009)
1-minute        2250       4538  3640   525  8703   2508 (21-Aug-2009)
15-minute       1953  [4]     3     0     0     3                      
3-minute        1873  [8]     1     0     0     1         

I seem to remember that Logofet is GM Alex Lenderman.  Let’s see the game.

1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 b6 3. Nc3 Bb7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Nf6 7. Bd3 e6 8.
O-O Be7 9. Qe2 Nbd7 10. b3 O-O 11. Bb2

I love this attacking set up vs. the Hedgehog.  GM Nunn extolled its virtues way back in the early 1980s in a Philips & Drew tournament book.

I always show campers a forced win I missed vs GM Yudasin as well as a one-sided win over Teddy Coleman in the exact same line.  White’s pieces are all supremely active and pointed at black’s king.

Nc5 12. Bc2 Rc8 13. Rad1 Qc7 14. f4 a6 15. Rf3! g6 16. Rh3 Rfe8

It’s time to act and roll up Logofet.

17. e5! dxe5 18. fxe5 Nfd7 19. b4! Qxe5

19...Qxe5 Black's last gasp, or is it?

A forced sacrifice.  Dismal, but true.   Now I go nuts and hand my hand on a silver platter.

20. bxc5 Bxc5 21. Qxe5 Nxe5 22. Ne4 Nxc4 23. Nf6+ Kf8 24. Ba1 Red8 25. Rf1 Rxd4 26.
Bxd4 Bxd4+ 27. Kh1 Bxf6 28. Rxf6 Kg7 29. Rf2 Bd5 {White forfeits on time}

Challenge for the readers – point out the several wins I missed.  As a bonus, point out the easiest and most crushing of all the missed wins.

Game 3

Lest we get the impression I am always blowing winning positions, here is one where a nice tactic emerged and I also got the point.

FM Drunkenight – IM Aries2   Benoni

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 g6 4. d4 Bg7 5. e4 O-O 6. Be2 c5 7. O-O Bg4 8. d5 a6 9. Be3 Nbd7 10. Nd2 Bxe2 11. Qxe2 Qc7 12. Kh1 Rae8 13. f4 e6

This basic setup with a-rook on e8 I got from some obscure Spassky games dating back to the 1960s.

14. Rae1 exd5 15. exd5 Qb6 16. b3 Qb4 17. Ncb1 Ne4 18. Qd3 Ndf6 19. f5 Nxd2 20. Bxd2 Qb6 21. Nc3 Ng4 22. Ne4 Qd8 23. Bg5

Time to Strike

23…Rxe4!  A comprehensive refutation of white’s pin operation.

24. Bxd8 Rxe1 25. Bh4 Ne5!

Coup de Grace

This was a very pleasing move to play at the end of the combination!  A very unusual overloading where white’s queen cannot stay in touch with the rook.  Of course, White can resign now.  He played on, since it is blitz.

26. Rxe1 Nxd3 27. Re7 gxf5 28. Rxb7 Nc1 29. Rb6 Nxa2 30. Rxd6 Nb4 31. Rd7 Be5 32. Be7 Rc8 33. d6 Nc6 34. Rb7 Nxe7 35. dxe7 Re8 36. Ra7 Kg7 37. Rxa6 Rxe7 38. Rc6 Bd4 39. g3 Rb7 40. Kg2 Rxb3 41. Kh3 Rc3 42. Rc7 Rxc4 43. Rd7 Bf6 44. Rd6 Rd4
45. Rc6 c4 46. Rc7 Re4 47. Rc8 c3 48. Rc6 Re2 49. Rc5 c2 50. Rc4 Bb2
{White resigns}

Good times!  Well in Game 3.  Not in Games 1 or 2.

Shindig Chess

On June 14, an online tournament was held.  These GM players won in a five-round game/15 event:

Robert Hess 4.5
Giorgi Kacheishvili 4.5
Alex Lenderman4.5
Baadur Jobava 4.5
Bartosz Socko  4.5
There were 15 players in all.  I don’t know how the pairings were done, but guess how many of the winners I played?  1?  2?   No  3?  4?  No.
I played all the winner!  Every round, I was playing one of the above-mentioned guys!  A world record?  Never before seen in tournament play?  I think so!  Instead of dwelling on my bad result, here’s a great blitz game I played:
IM Aries2 – GM Baadur Jobava (GEO)
Mark Baadur
1 ♘f3 ♞f6
2 ♙c4 ♟g6
3 ♘c3 ♝g7
4 ♙e4 ♟d6
5 ♙d4 ♚0-0
6 ♗e2 ♞a6
7 ♔0-0 ♟e5
8 ♖e1 ♟c6
9 ♖b1 ♞c7
10 ♙d5 ♟cxd5
11 ♙cxd5 ♞h5
12 ♙g3 ♟f5
13 ♘d2 ♞f6
14 ♙f3 ♟h5
15 ♙a4 ♟h4
16 ♘c4 ♟hxg3
17 ♙hxg3 ♞h5
18 ♔g2 ♞e8
19 ♖h1 ♟f4
20 ♙g4 ♞g3
21 ♖h3 ♞f6
22 ♖xg3 ♟fxg3
23 ♔xg3 ♞e8
24 ♗e3 ♜f7
25 ♕g1 ♝f6
26 ♗xa7 ♜xa7
27 ♕xa7 ♟b5
28 ♕xf7+ ♚xf7
29 ♘xb5 ♝g5
30 ♖h1 ♚g7
31 ♙b4 ♝a6
32 ♘ba3 ♝xc4
33 ♘xc4 ♞f6
34 ♙b5 ♞d7
35 ♙a5 ♞c5
36 ♙a6 ♛b8
37 ♖a1 ♞b3
38 ♙a7 ♛h8
39 ♙a8Q ♝f4+
40 ♔f2 ♛h4+
41 ♔f1 ♛h1+
42 ♔f2 ♞xa1
43 ♘xd6 ♛h2+
44 ♔f1 ♛h3+
45 ♔f2 ♛h2+
46 ♔f1 ♛h1+
47 ♔f2 ♛h2+
48 ♔f1 ♛h3+
49 ♔f2 ♛g3+
50 ♔f1 ♛h3+
51 ♔f2 ♛g3+
52 ♔f1 ♛h3+
Time Remaining: 00:46 Time Remaining: 00:04

Draw  (this is the way Shindig outputted the game and emailed it to me).

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The Fabulous 00s: 1970s Theory in Keres Attack Still the Best

May 12, 2009

This just in from today’s US Championship:

IM (GM-elect) Robert Hess – GM Melikset Khachiyan   Keres Attack

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. g4 h6 7. Bg2 Nc6 8. g5 A very old lunge, a little bit schizophrenic. White starts slowly (7. Bg2) then switches gears and charges, splintering his own pawn structure. Khachiyan, an experienced GM, starts by playing the right moves.

8…hxg5 9. Bxg5 Bd7 10. Nb3 a6 11. Qe2 Be7 So far, so good.

12. h4

To Hide the Black King or Not?

To Hide the Black King or Not?

12…b5 This is fundamentally risky.  As solid Swedish GM Ulf Anderssen exquisitely showed in the 1970s, black should be hiding his king on the queenside then working on potential weaknesses caused by white’s early advances.  Very solid is 12…Qc7! 13. O-O-O O-O-O and now, for eample, 14. f4 is met by the effective 14…Nh5! aiming at g3.  15. Bxe7 Nxe7 16. Qf2 Kb8 is fully equal.  It’s a matter of personal preference, but I would enjoy playing that setup hoping to expose the negative side of white’s kingside pawn splintering. The text move hands black a permanent, difficult, task, with the king in the middle.  Maybe Khachiyan was too young (!) to properly recall Ulf’s grand efforts?   On the other hand, as the note to black’s 17th shows, he had a narrow path to stay balanced even with the risky king.  This move almost warrants a dubious ?! symbol but since it stays afloat with brave play, I will refrain.  It is indeed dubious if the player has less than peak energy levels that day.

13. a3 Nh5! The same motif as in the old Anderssen games.  Black is OK.

14. O-O-O White might as well try this pawn sacrifice which is totally riskless.

14…Bxg5+ 15. hxg5 Qxg5+ 16. Kb1 Ke7 Black’s king is secure for the time being, but one miscue will mean death (as occurred!). 16…g6 is a move here, but black still has that king placement problem.

17. Bf3

Horse should go back, not forward

Horse should go back, not forward

The key moment.  Black should stay compact.

17…Nf4?? Tempting but losing.  He had to play 17…Nf6. In that case, black is all right.  For example, 18. Rhg1 is met by the calm 18…Qf4 19. Rxg7 Ne5 and it’s balanced.  Black will play Rag8 next to get rid of the intruder.

18. Qd2 Qe5 19. Nd5+! Crushing. The rest is agony.  It’s impossible to say what black missed tactically but it must have been something simple.

19…exd5 20. exd5 Rxh1 21. Rxh1 Nd8 22. Re1 f6 23. Rxe5+ fxe5 24. Nd4 Rc8 25. c3 g5 26. Qe3 Kf6 27. Ne2 Bf5+ 28. Ka1 Nxe2 29. Bxe2 Rc5 30. Qf3 e4 31. Qh1 Nf7 32.  Qd1 Ne5 33. Qd4 g4 34. b4 Rc8 35. a4 bxa4 36. Bxa6 Rh8 37. b5 e3 38. b6 Rh1+ 39. Ka2 exf2 40. Qxf2 Rh8 41. b7 Rg8 42. Qb6 Nd7 43. Qxd6+ Kg5 44. Bd3 1-0

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

How Fearsome is the Keres Attack?

November 6, 2007

I have always wondered how to best meet the primitive move of Paul Keres, the audacious 6. g4!? in the Sicilian Scheveningen. This is a very interesting question; it greatly depends on the temperment of the two players. For example, if white is one-dimensional (attack-only) the answer might be quite different than a white player who is more positionally sophisticated. Likewise, is black yearning to counter-attack or is he content, à la Ulf Andersson, to slowly accumulate positional advantages?  Before we start, I refer interested readers to a postage stamp featuring Mr. Keres!

Let’s examine these issues in a crazy game I played as black in the Swiss “A” Team League vs. GM Lothar Vogt.

GM L Vogt (Biel) – IM Mark Ginsburg (Riehen)    2000

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


Is it just me, or does this move look weakening?  Maybe I am being too Soviet here (“pawns do not move backward”).  One of the key squares weakened is f4.   Maybe black can get a knight there later?  Maybe black can interfere with white castling long (make him castle short) and then exploit the overextended kingside pawns? Strangely, as a junior playing white, I saw no objection to 6. g4 and played it a lot – scoring both a win and a loss versus NM John Meyer when very young. White’s agenda is clear – g4-g5 and further space gaining.  If 6…h6, black has slowed white down a little bit but he’s given white a “lever” that might help the future pawn storm. Let’s focus on the less usual methods that avoid 6…h6.

6…Nc6!?  An interesting suggestion in the old book by Kasparov and Nikitin on the Scheveningen. Black plans Nc6xd4 at some point followed, usually, by a timely …e6-e5.  This is particularly effective if white has played f2-f4.

 7. g5 Nd7 8. Be3  Logical.  A very natural alternative (but one that does not develop!) is 8. h4.  Black can then respond with 8…Nxd4 or 8…Be7 or even the provocative 8…Nde5!? aiming to exchange off a pair of knights to lessen the defensive burden.  The first one appears rather weak but the other two are more playable.  Let’s take a look.

A. Not equalizing is 8. h4 Nxd4?! 9. Qxd4 Ne5 10. Be2 Nc6 11. Qd3 Ne5 12. Qg3 Bd7 13. f4 Nc6 14. Be3 Qa5 15. O-O-O Rc8 16. a3 and white is better.

B.  8. h4 Be7 9. Be3 Qc7 10. Qd2 a6 11. O-O-O with a small edge.

C. The most principled try is 8. h4 Nde5!? 9. Be2 a6 10. Be3 Na5 11. f4 Nec4 12. Bc1 Qb6 with murky play.  White can also play 9. Nb3, avoiding the knight exchange. Then we have this example game:  8….Nde5 9. Nb3 Be7!  10. f4 Ng6 11. Qd2 h6 12. gxh6 Bh4+ 13. Bf2 Rxh6  Black is fine here. 14. O-O-O Bxf2 15. Qxf2 Qh4 16. Qxh4 Rxh4 17. Nb5 Kf8 18. f5 (18. Nxd6 Nxf4 is about level) 18… exf5 19. exf5 Bxf5 20. Nxd6 Bg4 21. Rd2 Bf3 22. Rg1 Nce5 23. Bg2 (Relatively best is 23. Nd4 Rf4 24. c3 Rd8 25. N6f5 Nc6 26. Bb5 Rd5 27. Rxg6 fxg6 28. Ne6+ Kf7 29. Nxf4 Rxd2 30. Kxd2 gxf5) 23… b6 24. Nd4 Bxg2 25. Rgxg2 Rf4 and black drew the game eventually,  1/2-1/2 Willumsen,H-Larsen,O/Aarhus 1989/EXT 1998

In this line, rather dubious is 8….Nde5 9. Nb3 Na5?! (as above, 9…Be7! is correct and not the time-wasting text) 10. Nxa5 Qxa5 11. f4 Nc6 12. Qd2 a6 13. O-O-O Be7 14. Qf2 Qc7 15. Bb6 Qb8 (white has a huge edge; I just provide the rest for tragi-comedy) 16. h4 O-O 17. f5 Bd8 18. Be3 b5 19. f6 Ne5 20. fxg7 Re8 21. Bd4 Qc7 22. Ne2 Bb7 23. Ng3 Rc8 24. Kb1 d5 25. Bd3 Nc6 26. Bc3 d4 27. Bd2 Ne5 28. Bf4 Nxd3 29. cxd3 Qd7 30. Rdf1 b4 31. Bd2 a5 32. g6 hxg6 33. h5 g5 34. h6 f5 35. Rh5 Ba6 36. Qe2 f4 37. Bxf4 gxf4 38. Rxf4 (Poor GM Kindemann!  Time trouble? He misses a forced mate with the elegant 38. h7+ Kxg7 39. h8=Q+! Rxh8 40. Qg4+ Kf7 41. Qxf4+ Ke7 42. Rh7+!! Rxh7 43. Qf8 mate) 38… Rc1+!!  A stunning black defense that must have shocked the Grandmaster. 39. Kxc1 Qc7+ 40. Kb1 Qxf4 41. Rh3 Kh7 42. Nh5 Qf7 43. Rf3?  (And now white even loses). 43…Qxh5 44. Rf8 Qxe2 45. g8=Q+ Kxh6 46. Qh8+ Kg5 47. Qg7+ Kh4 48.Qh6+ Kg3 49. Qg6+ Kh3 0-1 and black pulled off an improbable and very lucky upset, Kindermann,S (2500)-Dietze,W (2290)/Germany 1991/GER-chT.  I could not find this fiasco on

 8…Be7?!  Very interesting is 8…Nde5!? here, carrying out the principal idea without delay. 


Position after 8…Nde5!? (Analysis) 

For example, 9. Be2 Na5!? 10. f4 Nec4 11. Bc1 (11. Bf2!?) 11…d5! with a very unclear game where black has sufficient chances.  

If white decentralizes tries the interesting 9. Nb3 avoiding exchanges, 


Position After 9. Nb3 – This might be pretty good 

black has the simple 9…Be7 10. f4 Ng6! with a reasonable game. The knight is well placed on g6 observing the weak squares that white’s 6th move created.  For example, 11. Qd2 h6! 12. gxh6 Bh4+ and black is fine, as was shown in Willumsen-O. Larsen 1/2, Aarhus 1989.  But 11. Qd2 looks weak; see the next paragraph for an improvement; namely 11. h4!  – in retrospect, 9. Nb3 might be good. This needs further work.

December 2007 note: recently I had the opportunity to test this line versus GM BOOrrj on ICC in a 5-minute game.

GM BOOrrj – Aries2  ICC 5-Minute, 12/28/07

9.  Nb3 Be7 10. f4 Ng6 11. h4! and this indeed is critical. White wants to swamp black and punish the unusual N on g6.  The game went: 11….h6 12. Qf3 and I could find nothing better than 12…hxg5 13. hxg5 Rxh1 14. Qxh1 and white obviously has an edge. This line needs revisiting.

 9. Rg1!? is another logical try.  9. Rg1 Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Nc6 11. Be3 Qa5! is a good move.  There might follow 12. Qd2 Be7 13. h4 O-O 14. O-O-O Rb8! Another good move to get the rook behind the battering b-pawn ram. 15. Kb1 b5 16. h5 b4 17. Ne2 Bb7 18. g6 b3!! A tactical motif well worth remembering.  Black has dynamic equality after 19. Qxa5 bxc2+.

9. h4 O-O 10. Qe2!?  White also has 10. Qd2 here but after 10…Nde5 black has no particular problems.  For example, 10. Qd2 Nde5! 11. Be2 (white has to watch the N fork on f3) 11…Na5! 12. b3 (what else?) Nac6 and black forced white into a rather ugly concession. 

The eagle-eyed reader would have noticed by now another path. Completely different is the surprisingly strong gambit line 10. g6! and white gets a strong attack after 10…hxg6 11. h5 g5 12. h6!.  Black can also defend with 10. g6!? Nde5, but after 11. gxh7+ Kh8 12. Rg1 it is looking very good for white.  Conclusion: the game move 8…Be7 is inaccurate and black would be better off with 8…Nde5 which needs practical tests.

10…Nxd4 11. Bxd4 e5   This is very commital, of course. Black gives away d5 to commence active operations.

There is the interesting (a little crazy, but interesting) gambit 11… b5!? here to scare white away from the natural plan of castling queenside. There might follow 12. Nxb5 Ba6 (Also possible is 12… Qa5+ 13. Nc3 or 13. Bc3) 13. a4 and white looks to be better, but this is a good blitz try. Black will enjoy some open lines.

The slower 11… a6 12. O-O-O b5 13. g6 fxg6 14. Bh3 Nb6 15. e5 d5 16. Qg4 Nc4 17. h5 b4 18. Ne2 g5 19. h6 g6 20. Qg3 a5 21. c3 gives white some edge.

12. Be3 Nb6 Following Nikitin and Kasparov to prepare Be6 and Rc8 and temporarily guard d5.

13. Bh3  White can play 13. O-O-O; but there are tricks. Here is an example of a pitfall line, 13…Be6 14. Rg1 Rc8 (Obvious intentions) 15. h5? Rxc3! 16. bxc3 Nc4! and black is much better after the forced and sad 17. Qf3 Qa5 18. Bxc4 Bxc4 with a huge attack.  And note that 15. Nd5? Nxd5 16. exd5 Bf5! is also very good for black. Thus black is not too afraid of 13. O-O-O.

13…Be6?!  A very cool tactical break-out here and a great blitz try is 13… d5!!?


Position after 13….d5!!?  (Analysis) 

14. Bxb6! (Note that 14. Bxc8? Qxc8 15. exd5 Ba3!! is very good for black!) 14…Qxb6 15. O-O-O! (The best reaction, other moves give nothing) 15…d4 16. Nd5 Qc5 17. Rdg1 Be6?! (nobody likes to play the more passive 17… Kh8 18. Bxc8 Raxc8 19. Rh3 f5 20. gxf6 Bxf6 21. h5 Rc6 and white is a bit better) 18. Nf6+! Kh8 19. Qh5 gxf6 20. Bxe6 d3 21. Bb3 Qxf2 and black is hanging on but it’s not a lot of fun.

14. g6! Our familiar gambit line is still good. Black has to play and pretend that everything is in order, but in reality white has a huge edge.

14…hxg6 15. Bxe6 fxe6 16. h5 Most accurate is 16. O-O-O! Qe8 17. Qg4 Rf6 18. Bg5 Rxf2 19. Qxe6+ Kf8 20. Qg4 and white has a big initiative.

16… gxh5 17. Rxh5?! Here, 17. Qxh5! Nc4 18. O-O-O Nxe3 19. Rdg1! Bf6 20. fxe3 Qe8 21. Rg6 is very strong and really too much for black to handle.

 17… Rc8 18. O-O-O  A good alternative here is 18. Qg4! Qd7 19. O-O-O Nc4 20. Rh6 Bf6 21. Nd5 Nxe3 22. fxe3 with a big white plus.

18… Bf6 19. Qg4 Kf7 20. Bg5  The obvious 20. Rh7 Nc4 21. Bh6 Rg8 22. Rd3 with a big attack is too strong.  However, white hasn’t done anything wrong yet – see the note to his next move.

20… Rh8 21. Rd3? Now white misses a really crushing shot. 21. Nb5! is very hard to handle. 21… Nc4 22. b3 a6 23. Na7 Ra8 24. bxc4 Rxa7 25. Bxf6 gxf6 26. Rxd6! and white wins.

21… Rxh5 22. Qxh5+ Kg8 23. Bxf6 Qxf6 24. Qe2?  Another bad miscue. 24. Rxd6! Rf8 25. Kb1 Qxf2 26. Rd1 Nc4 27. Rh1 Ne3 28. Ne2 Nf1 29. a3 Nd2+ 30. Ka2 Nf3 31. Nc3 Qxc2 32. Qg6 and white is better.

24… Qg5+ 25. Kb1  Now black is completely OK.

25…Rxc3?!!  This move was not necessary.  Black is fine after the safe and sound 25… Rc6 26. Nb5 d5 27. Nxa7 Rc4 28.exd5 exd5 29. Rg3 Rh4 30. a3 Qf4 31. Qb5 Rh6 and even has winning chances due to his superior coordination. White’s knight is sadly offside. 

26. bxc3 Na4  Yes, this looks optically great for black.  But there is no KO.

27. Qd1 d5  Black gains nothing from 27…Qh4 28. Ka1 Qxf2 29. Rxd6.

28. Ka1 Nb6   The attacking 28… Qe7 29. exd5 (white also has the simple 29. Qh5! and the black queen cannot move off of the defense of e8) 29…Qa3!? can be met by 30. Qb1 e4 31. Rh3 e3 32. Rxe3 Nxc3 33. d6! Nxb1 34. Rxa3 Nxa3 35. d7 and wins.

29. Rg3 Qf4 30. Qg1 Qf7  Playable is 30… Qf6 31. Rg6 Qf7 and black holds.

31. Rh3 dxe4  Natural and good was 31… Qf4 with a solid game.

32. Qg4 Qf5  Perfectly good is 32… Nd5 33. Qh5 Qxh5 34. Rxh5 Nxc3 35. Rxe5 Kf7 36. Kb2 Nd1+ 37. Kc1 Nxf2 38. Kd2 b6 and black has enough pawns to bother white – the chances are balanced.   The weird computer-y move 32…Nd7 is also OK: 33. Qxe4 Qxf2 is equal.

33. Rg3 Qxg4??  Awful.  Mild time trouble was no excuse.  Black holds on after 33… Qf6 or 33… Qf7 34. Rg1 Nd5 35. Qxe4 Qxf2 36. Re1 Kf7 37. Qxe5 Qf5. The exchange of queens is clearly suicide.

34. Rxg4 Now white wins easily.

34…Kf7 35. Rxe4 Kf6 36. Rb4 Kf5 37. c4 g5 38. c5 Nd7 39. Rxb7
Nxc5 40. Rxa7 g4 41. Rc7 Ne4 42. a4 Kf6 43. a5 Nxf2 44. a6 g3 45. Rc3 1-0

Very sad.  But let the investigation of defending the Keres Attack without ….h6 begin!