Sunday, September 28, 2014

Baffo Alekhine Two Pawns Attack

I am ready for my monthly Baffo Bashing, but this time as Black I managed to hold him back. Jeffrey Baffo began with 1.e4 and I defended with the Alekhine Defence, one of my most successful defences. In our 12 match games, Jeff Baffo and I chose a wide variety of openings. Here Baffo chooses the Two Pawns Attack with 2.e5 and 4.c5 favored by many attacking players who prefer White in the Sicilian Defence Alapin variation that begins 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5. Some of those lines can transpose to some of the Alekhine Two Pawns, although either side can avoid the transpositions.

Two Pawns is also called the Alekhine Chase Variation. Transpositions to Sicilians come from challenging advanced White pawns with 6...d6, while 6...b6 stays strictly in the Alekhine. The tricky part following the maze of Sicilians is that they reach the same position as Alekhines one move quicker, so the numbers are off. For example, after 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d6 6.Nf3 e6 7.Nc3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Qc7 we reach the 9...Qc7 position in our game below. GM Evgeny Sveshnikov (famous for a Black Sicilian line) plays this position as White against both opening move orders.

Sveshnikov prefers the move 9.Bd2 (via Sicilian) or 10.Bd2 (via Alekhine). However in 2012, the grandmaster did play Baffo's move 10.Qb3!? where he followed the line 12.Bxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Bd6 14.Bb5+ and 1-0 in 37 moves (Sveshnikov-Degraeve, 28th Cappelle Open, 2012). In our USCF correspondence game below, we exchanged into a roughly equal bishop ending where Baffo and I agreed to a draw.

Baffo (2273) - Sawyer (1960), corr USCF 95P135, 18.03.1996 begins 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.c5 Nd5 5.Nc3 [5.Bc4 e6=] 5...e6 6.d4 d6 7.cxd6 cxd6 8.Nf3 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Qc7 10.Qb3!? [10.Bd2= is the normal book move.] 10...Nd7 11.Bf4 dxe5 12.Nxe5 [12.Bxe5 Sveshnikov] 12...Bd6 13.Bg3 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Be7 15.Bb5+ Bd7 16.Bxd7+ Qxd7 17.0-0 0-0 18.Rab1 b6 19.Rfd1 Qc7 20.Rd3 Rfd8 21.Rbd1 Rxd3 22.Rxd3 Rd8 23.Qd1 Kf8 [If I wanted to try for more, Houdini suggests 23...Rxd3 24.Qxd3 g5=/+ but I had no energy for that in 1996.] 24.Rd4 Rxd4 25.Qxd4 Qd8 26.Qxd8+ Bxd8 27.Kf1= 1/2-1/2

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