Monday, December 31, 2012

Albin-Counter Gambit 5...f6 a la BDG

In the Albin-Counter Gambit, there is usually the possibility of 5...f6!? making the opening in effect a Reversed Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Kaulich, but the gambiteer is playing down a tempo. Today's final post of the 2012 is an Albin-Counter Gambit where I ventured 5...f6!? If White captures with 6.exf6 Black chooses between 6...Nxf6 or 6...Qxf6. Then White normally chooses between 7.g3 or 7.e3, depending on the exact situation.

In my game below White chose to play 6.Bf4, a reversed BDG Vienna. I opted for the Hara-Kiri set-up with 6...g5 7.Bg3 g4 and was rewarded with 8.Nh4. Only later did I remember that advancing my Albin f-pawn (8...f5!) is usually better in the BDG Vienna (4...Bf5 5.g4 Bg6 6.g5 Nh5 7.f4!) than capturing the e-pawn (8...fxe5 Albin or 7.fxe4 BDG Vienna). The game was a nice Christmas present, playing early in the morning before anyone else was up, and before any presents were opened. In case you were wondering, I did get an actual Christmas present this year - the chess engine Houdini 3.

andrei-Sawyer, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 25.12.2012 begins 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.a3 f6 [Black usually plays 5...Bg4 or 5...Nge7 ] 6.Bf4 [Of course the critical line is 6.exf6 Nxf6 which is a Reversed BDG Kaulich, a move behind. A reasonable continuation might be 7.e3 Bg4 8.Be2 Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Qd7 10.0-0 0-0-0 11.exd4 Nxd4 12.Be3 Nxf3+ 13.Qxf3 Bd6+/= when Black has some compensation for the pawn.] 6...g5 7.Bg3 g4 8.Nh4 fxe5 [8...f5! with the threat of ...Be7 is very strong.] 9.b4 Bg7 [I considered 9...Be7! but rejected it because it fails to win a piece after 10.b5 Bxh4 11.bxc6 however the position is fine, because after 11...Bxg3 12.hxg3 bxc6-/+ Houdini 3 prefers Black.] 10.Nd2? [If White saves the knight with 10.Qd3 Bf6 11.Nf5 Qd7 12.e4 h5=/+ Black still has a good position.] 10...Bf6 11.b5 Nb8 White resigns [11...Na5!-+] 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Polish Opening Shoulder Gambit

What if the chess board were a bird? We know that the Wing Gambit is when White sacrifices the b-pawn on b4, such as the Sicilian Wing Gambit (1.e4 c5 2.b4!?) or the French Defence Wing Gambit (1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 4.b4!?). On a bird, the breast is in the center. What connects the wing to the breast? Ah - the shoulder! Must be the c-file.

Thus in the Polish Opening, I like to think of the gambit 1.b4 c5!? as the Shoulder Gambit! When I face the Polish or Sokolsky Opening, I have played eight different lines. Recently I noticed that twice I had played 1...c5!? and won both games. I decided that when given the chance in a future blitz game, I would play it again. Without any detailed analysis, I set off on the adventure below. I will play it until I finally fail to win. 3-0 so far.

killer100-Sawyer, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 17.12.2012 begins 1.b4 c5 2.bxc5 e5 3.Bb2 Nc6 4.Nf3 f6?! [Black can regain the gambit pawn by 4...e4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.e3 Bxc5=] 5.d4 exd4 6.Nxd4 Qa5+ [6...Bxc5 7.Nb3 Bb4+ 8.c3+/=] 7.Bc3 Qxc5 8.Nxc6?! [8.e4!+/-] 8...dxc6 9.Bb2 Bf5 10.g3 Rd8 11.Qc1 Qd5 12.f3 Qa5+ [12...Bb4+ 13.Kf2 Ne7 14.e3 0-0 -/+] 13.Bc3 Bb4 14.Qb2 Bxc3+ 15.Qxc3 Qxc3+ 16.Nxc3 Bxc2 17.Kf2 Bg6 18.Bh3 Ne7 19.Rab1? b6? [Sloppy play. 19...Bxb1-+ ] 20.Rbd1 Nd5 21.Nxd5 cxd5 22.Rd4 Ke7 23.Rhd1 Bf7 24.e4 dxe4?? [Arrgh!?! 24...Rhe8 25.exd5 Rd6=] 25.Rxd8 [25.Rxe4+! wins for White!] 25...Rxd8 26.Rxd8 Kxd8 27.fxe4?! Ke7?! [In my haste I missed 27...Bxa2-+ ] 28.a3 Kd6 29.Ke3 Ke5 30.Bf1 Bb3 31.Bd3 Ba4 32.h4 Bc6 33.Bc4 g6 34.Bd3 f5 35.exf5 gxf5 36.Bc2 h6 37.Bd3 Be4 38.Bc4 Bb7 39.Bd3 Bc6 40.Bc4 b5 41.Bd3 a5 42.Bc2 b4 43.axb4 axb4 44.Bb3 Bd5 45.Bxd5 Kxd5 46.Kd3 Ke5 White resigns 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spike Attack in the London System

The London System ...e6 line is called "Common Ground" by Svere Johnsen and GM Vlatko Kovacevic in "Win with the London System". One idea for White is to answer ...Bd6 with Bg3. After ...Bxg3 hxg3, White uses the front g-pawn to attack the Black king.

My opponent "ButchCroft" got a huge space advantage on the queenside with a closed center. Once I played 20.g5 my own advantage on the kingside quickly took shape. My game went from solid quiet play to aggressive tactics with the sudden arrival of the White queen from b1 to g6. My minor pieces played a major role in the finish.

Sawyer-ButchCroft, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 15.12.2012 begins 1.d4 e6 2.Bf4 d5 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nf3 c5 5.c3 Nc6 6.Nbd2 Bd6 7.Bg3 Qc7 8.Bd3 Bxg3 9.hxg3 h6 10.Qc2 c4 11.Be2 b5 12.e4 a5 13.e5 Nd7 14.0-0 b4 15.g4 Qd8 16.a3 Bb7 17.axb4 axb4 18.Qb1 0-0 19.Rxa8 Qxa8 20.g5 hxg5? [This gives White a favorable attack with an immediate mate threat. Black is still in the game after 20...h5 21.g6 f6 22.exf6 Rxf6 23.Ng5 e5=] 21.Nxg5 g6 22.Nxe6 fxe6? [22...Rb8 23.Nf4+/-] 23.Qxg6+ Kh8 24.Qh6+ Kg8 25.Bh5 [25.Qxe6+!+-] 25...Ne7 26.Qg5+ Kh8 27.Qxe7 Qc8 [27...Qd8 28.Qxe6+-] 28.Bg6 Black resigns 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sicilian Defence Alapin 2.c3 g6

The Sicilian Defence Alapin 2.c3 g6 variation is an attempt to avoid the more popular 2.c3 d5 and 2.c3 Nf6 lines. The 2.c3 g6 lines are recommended by GM Roman Dzindzichashvili as part of his Accelerated Sicilian Dragon repertoire which is very popular. Frequently I have faced the Dragon from the White side throughout my chess career having won and lost many exciting games. Here is a little blitz game where I play the Black side.

sr2015-Sawyer, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 13.12.2012 begins 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.c3 Bg7 5.Bc4 e6 6.0-0 Ne7 7.e5 d5 8.exd6 Qxd6 9.cxd4 0-0 10.Nc3 a6?! [10...Nbc6 11.Ne4 Qc7=] 11.Ne4 Qb6 12.Bg5 Nbc6 13.Nf6+ Bxf6 [13...Kh8=] 14.Bxf6 Nd5?! 15.Qd2? Nxf6 White resigns 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Queen Suddenly Trapped in Larsen

Larsen's Opening which begins simply 1.b3 allows White to avoid critical opening theory. The downside of such Flank Openings are that they give your opponent a lot of freedom, especially in the center. A weak opponent may be confused by a Flank Opening and develop poorly without a reasonable plan. A good opponent can adopt his favorite piece arrangement and progress along familiar lines. When one side has more pieces and pawns focused on the center, good things tend to happen.

In the case of my game vs Kdancy, I missed a couple of better ideas while planning boldly to advance both my central pawns. My opponent did have some good chances, especially with 8.f4! Once those moments passed and both sides had castled, White's queen went fishing for a poisoned pawn. She was instantly trapped. Game over.

Kdancy-Sawyer, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 03.12.2012 begins 1.b3 d5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.d4 f6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.g3 Bxf3 [5...e6 6.Bg2 Nh6 7.0-0 Qd7=] 6.exf3 e5 [6...Qd7] 7.dxe5 fxe5 8.Bg2 [8.f4! exf4? 9.Qh5+ g6 10.Qe2+ Kf7 11.Bxh8+-] 8...Nf6 9.0-0 Bd6 10.c4 dxc4 11.bxc4 0-0 12.Nc3 a6 13.Ne4 Qe7 14.Qb3 Kh8 [14...Nxe4 15.c5+ Qf7 16.cxd6 Nxd6=] 15.Qxb7? [15.Nxf6+/=] 15...Na5 White resigns 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Monday, December 3, 2012

Avrukh Book "Beating 1.d4 Sidelines"

When Grandmaster Boris Avrukh spends a lot of time studying the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit and writes extensively on the results of his investigation, it makes me sit up and take notice. Indeed, I bought the book! "Beating 1.d4 Sidelines" is 504 pages published by Quality Chess and just released November 2012. Avrukh mentions a lot of stuff, but he does not deal with the Dutch Defence (1.d4 f5) or lines with 2...Nc6. His analysis on one of my other favorite openings, the London System, looks excellent. Others like Veresov, Trompowsky, Colle, Torre and Barry are also covered. I highly recommend this book.

The book is divided into four roughly equal parts: 1) 1.d4 d5 lines; 2) 1.d4 Nf6 without 2.c4 or 2.Nf3; 3) 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 lines; and 4) 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 lines

The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit is covered on pages 19-42. As Black, Avrukh recommends the BDG Ziegler 5.Nxf3 c6 6.Bc4 Bf5. In summary, I quote his "Conclusion" on the BDG:

"Sacrificing an important central pawn as early as the second move is an audacious concept, and technically the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit cannot be considered a fully correct opening. Nevertheless, I would be lying if I said Black's task is trivial, and during my investigation I had to work hard to find the correct antidote to White's numerous attacking tries. Of the many variations covered, I would like to highlight the modern C221) 7.Bg5!? (intending 8.Nh4) and the aggressive C2232 8.Ng5!? as options which require especially close attention. But ultimately, if Black knows what he is doing then he should have excellent chances to neutralize the opponent's initiative and exploit his extra pawn."

Sawyer's Interpretation: If you are a grandmaster who memorizes 23 pages of analysis vs the BDG, then you should be able to prevent White from winning! In my own practice, it is easy to screw up as Black if you slip from solid to passive. Typically Black has an extra doubled g-pawn. I have chosen to play 5.Nxf3 c6 as Black 147 times; on average, I have under-performed my own rating by -26 points. For the other five choices (5...Bg4, 5...Bf5, 5...e6, 5...g6, 5...Nc6), I have over-performed by typically +200 rating points. In the BDG, I usually win as Black, but I've personally struggled using Avrukh's excellent suggestions.

GM Avrukh gives one of my games, Harald Klett vs Tim Sawyer, where I won in a critical line with the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Ryder 6.Be3 Qg4 variation (see below with my notes). Tomorrow I will show my win with the White pieces vs the same opponent.

Klett-Sawyer, corr BDG thematic, 1996 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Qxf3 Qxd4 6.Be3 Qg4 7.Qf2 e5 8.a3 Bd6 9.Nf3 Qf5 10.0-0-0 [10.h3 e4 11.Nd4 Qxf2+ 12.Kxf2 Be5-+] 10...Ng4 11.Qd2 Nxe3 12.Qxe3 0-0 13.Kb1 [A possible improvement for White: 13.Bd3! Qf4 14.Qxf4 exf4 15.Nb5 Nc6 16.Nxd6 cxd6 17.Be4 Rd8 18.Rd2 Be6 19.Rhd1 d5 20.Bxd5 Bxd5 21.Rxd5 Rxd5 22.Rxd5 Re8=/+] 13...Nc6 14.Bd3 Qg4 15.Rhg1 Be6 16.h3 Qf4 17.Qf2 [If 17.Qxf4 exf4-/+] 17...f5 18.Ne2 Qh6 19.Nd2 e4 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Defeating Dutch Defence With The 2.Bf4 London

I have been unusually successful with the Dutch Defence 2.Bf4 lines. Part of the reason might be my experience with playing the London System as White. However, I have the feeling that it is also because Black is less familiar with the position. When I have played the Dutch Defence Staunton Gambit 2.e4, Black rattles off the first 7-10 moves like there's no problem. After 2.Bf4, Black takes more time on moves 2-6.

My performance rating with 2.Bf4 is currently 50 ratings points above anything else. This weekend I scored 3.5 out of 4.0 beating two players rated above me. A thematic move after 2.Bf4 is h3 at some point. This supports attacking possibilities with g2-g4!

Sawyer-Unbeliever, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 17.11.2012 begins 1.d4 f5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Nc3 [More natural is 5.h3 Bg7 6.Bc4+/=] 5...Bg7 6.Bc4 e6 7.Qe2 Nc6 8.h3 Qe7 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.d5 Ne5 12.dxe6 Bxe6 13.Bxe6 Qxe6 14.Nd4 [14.Qb5+!?] 14...Qd7 15.Qb5 [15.Nd5+/=] 15...c6 16.Qe2 0-0 17.0-0-0 Qc7 [17...d5=/+] 18.g4! [This is a thematic attacking move in with Dutch Bf4 lines. Also good is 18.Ne6+/- winning the Exchange.] 18...Qe7 19.gxf5 a6 20.fxg6 Bg7 21.f4 Nd7 22.f5 Nc5 23.Rhf1 Rae8 24.e4 Nxe4 25.Nxe4 Qxe4 26.Qxe4 Rxe4 27.Ne6 Rf6 28.Rxd6 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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