Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hopping Happy French Knights

The closed nature of the French Defence tends to favor knights over bishops. That can even be true if the bishops stay on the board for a few extra moves. In the first 16 moves of my offhand club game against Bob Muir, Black moved his knights only once each. Then in the next 17 moves he moved them 11 times. There were checks and forks threatened all over the place.

In this Winawer variation Black could have captured the e-pawn. The critical line is 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 dxe4. At that point White can choose between 6.Qg4 and 6.f3!?

My friend Bob chose the bishop retreat with 4.a3 Ba5 5.b4 Bb6. White had a clamp on the position after 6.e5. Black countered with the thematic but risky 6…c5? It lost a pawn, but I took it the wrong way. White’s extra doubled c-pawn was a big advantage, but I missed several knockout punches. Black fought back and could have equalized. Eventually he ran out of steam.

Sawyer (2010) - Muir (1800), Williamsport, PA 04.05.1999 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Ba5 5.b4 Bb6 6.e5 c5? [This drops a pawn. Better is 6...Ne7 7.Nf3 0-0 8.Bd3+/=] 7.bxc5 [7.dxc5! Bc7 8.f4+/-] 7...Bc7 [7...Ba5 8.Bd2+/-] 8.Nb5 Nc6 9.Qg4 [9.Nd6+! Bxd6 10.cxd6+-] 9...Kf8 10.Bd3!? [10.Bd2+-] 10...Nge7?! [10...Ba5+ 11.Bd2+/-] 11.Bg5 [11.Ne2+/-] 11...h6 12.Bxe7+ Qxe7 13.f4?! [13.Ne2+/-] 13...a6? [Black should keep his bishop with a check after 13...Ba5+ 14.Kf2 a6=/+] 14.Nxc7 Qxc7 15.Nf3 [15.Ne2+/-] 15...Qa5+ 16.Kf2 Qc3 17.Ke3 [17.Qh4+/-] 17...Na5 18.Rhf1 Nc4+ 19.Ke2 Nxa3 20.Rfc1 Nb5? [20...Bd7 21.f5+/=] 21.Ke3? [21.Bxb5!+- wins the knight.] 21...Na3 22.Qg3? [22.Kf2+/=] 22...Nc4+ [22...Nxc2+! 23.Ke2 Nxd4+ 24.Nxd4 Qxd4-/+] 23.Ke2 Bd7 24.Qe1 Qxe1+ 25.Kxe1 Ne3? [25...Bc6=] 26.Kf2 Ng4+ 27.Ke2 h5 28.h3 Nh6 29.Rcb1 Bc6 [29...Ra7 30.c4+/-] 30.Rb6 a5 31.Bb5 Nf5? [31...Ke7 32.Bxc6 bxc6 33.Rxc6+/-] 32.Bxc6 bxc6 33.Rxc6 Ng3+ 34.Kd3 g6 35.Rc7 Ke8 36.Ng5 Rf8 37.Rb7 f5 38.Nxe6 1-0

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