Saturday, March 21, 2020

Game Analysis: Taking the Bait

Hello everyone and welcome. While the whole country is virtually on lock down during this pandemic, there clearly won't be a whole lot of competition going on in the next couple of months. I will continue to publish articles periodically (though I may skip a week here or there if nothing good comes up), but most of it is going to be either games from the past, or else blitz or rapid games. While blitz and rapid tend to be of lower quality than classical chess, every now and then one comes up worth covering, and that's what we have today. Black takes a hot pawn early on that is not "refuted", but typically White gets more than enough compensation for the pawn. That said, we will see White attack down the center after a few errors by Black, and in the end, Black loses a piece and therefore the game.

Let's take a look at the feature game.

Internet Blitz (5 Minute)
W: Patrick McCartney (1983)
B: Trivedi Jindal (1962)
Alekhine's Defense, Chase Variation

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.c5

This is the defining point of a not-so-popular line called the Chase Variation. The naming of the line is simple. White continuously chases the Knight around to gain a space advantage. The question becomes is Black suffocating, or is White over-extended?

5.Bc4 e6 6.Nc3

Now we are at the crossroads where Black must make a decision.


This move is playable, though not theoretically best. Black's strongest reply here is 6...d6!, when 7.Nxd5 exd5 8.Bxd5 is best answered by 8...c6!. Now, if White replies with 9.Bc4, then 9...d5! followed by 10...Bxc5 gives Black an excellent game, and so White is forced to go all-in with 9.Bxf7+, when after 9...Kxf7 10.cxd6 Qe8 11.Qe2 c5 12.Nf3, we have the following diagram:

And now 12...Bxd6!. White cannot take the Bishop as Black gets a very dangerous attack after 13.exd6? Qxe2+ 14.Kxe2 Re8+ 15.Kd1 Bg4 followed by 16...Nc6. Therefore, White should reply with 13.Ng5+ Kg6 14.Qd3+ Kxg5 15.Qxd6 and while it may look very ugly for Black, he is actually ok after 15...Nc6.

7...dxc3 Bxc5?!

This is a very dangerous pawn grab. While there does not appear to be a direct refutation, play is going to be very difficult for Black. It is better to play 7...Nc6, forcing 8.Qh5 before taking the pawn on c5, with the problem being that 8.Bf4 allows 8...g5!. Now the Queen goes to a better square.

8.Qg4 g6

Slightly stronger is 8...Kf8, but White still has more than enough compensation for the pawn after 9.Bf4 followed by castling Queenside.


Black is going to have major problems on the dark squares.

9...Nc6 10.f4 d6

Possibly better was the immediate 10...d5, but after 11.Bd3, White is still better. Now, actually, White makes a mistake.


Because of a tactical shot available to Black, which he misses, White should first play 11.Bg7 Rg8 12.Bf6, and only now, after 12...Qd7, should he castle queenside with a close to winning advantage.


Missing 11...Be3+ 12.Kb1 Nxe5! with a slight advantage for Black.

12.Bg7 Rg8 13.Bf6 c6 14.Nf3 Qc7 15.Rhe1 d5 16.Bd3 Nf5?

This is a mistake. Black should be focused on completely development while the position is somewhat blocked. Better would be 16...h5 17.Qh3 Bd7 with ideas of castling Queenside. Instead, he allows White to break open down the center.


Stronger is not to take the Knight right away and playing 17.Qh3 h5 18.Ng5 Be7 19.Nh7 Nh6 20.Bxe7 Qxe7 21.Nf6+ Kf8 22.Nxg8 Kxg8 23.Qf3 with a winning advantage for White. 17...exf5

Forced due to the pin of the g-pawn to the Rook.

18.Qh4 Be7?

Missing the opportunity to equalize with 18...h5!

19.Ng5! h5??

Too little, too late. Black had to play 19...Be6 here. White is still winning after 20.Qxh7, but the game move just made things a lot easier for White to put Black away.


Black is in no way ready to see the center break open.

20...fxe6 21.Nxe6 Bxe6 22.Rxe6 1-0

Black has no way to avoid dropping a full piece and therefore resigned.

Maybe not the best game ever analyzed, but it does show some ideas both behind finding the right move when attacking, and finding the right defensive ideas when they are available. Both sides made their mistakes, White on moves 11 and 17, Black several times in the teens, but it was Black that made the fatal error on move 18, not realizing that he needed to attempt to block the position as much as possible and getting his King castled rather than simply trying to trade the White pieces off.

I also wonder if any Alekhine players out there would be brave enough to play the 6...d6 line all the way through. Black is fine, but it could be viewed as too scary for the normal human being. Mikenas actually played it once against Nezhmetdinov in 1948, but he played the wrong move on move 15 and got blown away, but had he played 15...Nc6, he'd have been ok. Just curious to see if any amateur would ever take up that line.

Til next time, good luck in whatever games you are able to play during this time of crisis.

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