Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Slav From Opening to Endgame

There is a new chess book on the The Slav: Move by Move by Cyrus Lakdawala from Everyman Chess. The publisher's blurb reads: "In this book, Cyrus Lakdawala examines the universally popular Slav Defence which has been his main choice against 1 d4 for many years. Here he shares his experience and knowledge of his favourite opening, presents a repertoire for Black and provides answers to all the key questions."

The author points out that 9 out of 10 of the world's top players have played the Slav Defence. Only the Radjabov keeps playing the King's Indian Defence. On my high school chess team where we played other schools I had only one draw 40 years ago; that was as White in a Slav vs a higher rated player whom as I recall was named Daniel Sensenig.

The Slav Defence begins 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 usually followed by 3.Nf3 Nf6. One of the great aspects of this set-up is that it can be used vs anything White does. If is only officially the Slav it reaches a position that is likely to follow from those first two moves. Without c2-c4 it is a Caro-Kann Defence after 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5. I began playing the Caro-Kann as Black early in my career, but I did not start playing the Slav Defence as Black until 1978.

A key aspect of the Slav Defence is that Black's light squared bishop can by played from c8 to f5 or g4, followed by ...e6 and then the development of the dark squared bishop to e7, d6, or b4. A related opening is the Semi-Slav Defence where Black keeps the bishop on c8 for the moment and plays 4...e6. The Semi-Slav Defence tends to be sharper and the Slav Defence more solid, but there are both types of positions in both openings.

There are FOUR WAYS TO WIN in the Slav Defence from either side.
1. Unbalance the game through tactics and outplay your opponent with combinations and superior calculation.
2. Unbalance the game through strategy and outplay your opponent with positional judgment and pattern recognition.
3. Unbalance the game through material sacrifice to increase your piece activity or attack your opponent's king.
4. Transition the game through the middlegame into a winning endgame with piece exchanges and technical skill.

And I, Tim Sawyer, have won and lost many games from each side using each method. Here is a game where I beat "Rookie" in an ICC blitz game with the Slav. I managed to employ option four above by swapping into an ending where I had the outside passed pawn. Even a computer rated over 2500 cannot hold that position.

Rookie-Sawyer, ICC 5 0 Internet Chess Club, 01.08.2007 begins 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 c6 4.c4 Bf5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Qb3 Qc7 7.Bd2 e6 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.Bb4 Bxb4+ 10.Qxb4 Qe7 11.Qxe7+ Kxe7 12.Bxc6 bxc6 13.Ne5 Rhc8 14.Nd2 Nd7 15.Nxd7 Kxd7 16.g4 Bg6 17.Nb3 f6 18.Nc5+ Kd6 19.h4 h6 20.Rc1 Be8 21.f4 a5 22.g5 hxg5 23.fxg5 fxg5 24.hxg5 Bg6 25.b3 Be4 26.Nxe4+ dxe4 27.Rh7 g6 28.Rc2 Rh8 29.Rh6 Rxh6 30.gxh6 Rh8 31.Rh2 e5 32.dxe5+ Kxe5 33.a3 Kf5 34.h7 Kf6 35.Rh4 Kg7 36.Rxe4 Rxh7 37.Re7+ Kh6 38.Rxh7+ Kxh7 39.Kf2 Kh6 40.e4 Kg5 41.Ke3 Kf6 42.Ke2 Ke5 43.a4 c5 44.Ke3 g5 45.Kf3 Kd4 46.Kg4 Kxe4 47.Kxg5 Kd3 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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