Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - February 2011

Edited by Guy Whitehouse
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

Target: g6!

The following game may be regarded by some readers as either a brilliant attack by white or an appalling defensive game by black. The truth is somewhere in between. Hopefully these notes may help you avoid a similar catastrophe to that which befell Black.

Mordue-Cohen

Caterham Open 2010

Pirc

1 e4 d6

The Pirc (pronounced Pea-erts) Defence. This opening is played in the hypermodern fashion. Black allows White to set up a large centre hoping to attack and destroy it and then subsequently to occupy the centre with his own Pawns.

2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 g6 4 f4The Austrian attack, a variation I have played consistently for many years.

4 -Bg7 5 Nf3 c6

A slightly offbeat variation. The two main lines are 5 -0-0 and 5 -c5 .

6 Be3 b5

Clearly threatening 7 -b4 chasing the Knight away from the defence of the e4-pawn. Simplest now is 7 Bd3 and after 7 -b4 8 Ne2 with a transfer of the Knight to the Kingside on g3.

7 a3 a6

The immediate 7 -a5 is strongly met by 8 d5, when 8 -b4 is unplayable because of the pin down the A-file. Hence Black shores up the b5-Pawn before White goes d5. If this happens he can then safely go past with -c6-c5.

8 Qd2 Bb7 9 Bd3 Nbd7

At this point I felt I needed to commit myself in the centre.

10 e5 dxe5?!

Black exchanges to avoid being left with a weakness on d6, but he loses control of c5 by doing this. The critical alternative is 10 -Ng4 11 Bg1 c5 12 Be4! when White should have a slight plus because of his better development. Things are not simple though.

11 dxe5

I preferred this recapture because it is more difficult to undermine the advanced Pawn - a later -c6-c5 will no longer attack d4 - and because I believed that I successfully restrain said advance.

I was now expecting 11 -Ng4 when I was going to choose between either 12 Bg1 or 12 Ne4. After 12 Bg1 CM9000 gave the interesting 12 -Bh6 (threatening to take on e5 because of the pin on the c1-h6 diagonal) 13 Qe2!? Bxf4 14 Qe4 g5 15 g3 f5 16 Qxf5 Ngxe5 17 Nxe5 Bxe5 and now the strong retreat 18 Be2! threatens 19 Bh5+. After both 18 -Qc7 19 Bh5+ Kd8 20 0-0-0 or 18 -Bxc3+ 19 bxc3 Nf6 20 Rd1 Qc8 21 Qxg5 White has a strong initiative.

Alternatively after 11 -Ng4 12 Bg1 c5 13 h3 Nh6 14 Be4, although Black has forced through -c6-c5, he has lost control of the d5 square instead. White has a clear plus here compared to the note at move 10 when the D-Pawns were present. The lack of Pawn tension is to the first player's advantage, a factor Black fails to appreciate with his next move.

After the game my opponent said he was concerned about e5-e6 Pawn sacs after 11 -Ng4. He has a point because 12 e6 fxe6 13 Ng5 looks decent for White. CM9000 chooses the liquidating 13 -Nxe3 14 Qxe3 Bxc3+ 15 bxc3 Qb6, but White has a big advantage after 16 Qxe6. The solid 13 -Nf8 allows 14 Bc5 making 11 -Ng4 rather redundant and again highlights that exchanging on move 10 was not good.

After 10 -Ng4 11 e6 fxe6 12 Ng5 Nf8 is fine for Black because Bc5 is not a move here. After 13 -Nf8 14 0-0-0 is also good - Fritz and CM9000. After long thought Fritz considers that Black's best line is 13 -Nxe3 14 Qxe3 Nf8 but that White retains the advantage with 15 0-0-0.

11 -Nd5? 12 Nxd5!

Played almost immediately. My previous experience with analogous positions showed that Black would have great difficulty creating any counterplay here.

12 -cxd5 13 Bd4!?

A crafty move that keeps the Black Bishop on b7 quiet by blockading the d4 square. Normally this sort of outpost is occupied by a Knight but in conjunction with White's next move Black will find himself badly cramped.

Of course White may now be threatening e5-e6. Black rules that out by playing it himself, but this means if he ever plays -f7-f6 then he can't recapture -e7xf6 and will be left with a weak Pawn on e6. Furthermore, the presence of the d4-Bishop will virtually guarantee White control of the e5 square, and probably also lead to the exchange of dark-square Bishops, a big plus with most of Black's Pawns already fixed on light squares.

There is a strong alternative plan here. White can play on the Queenside with 13 a4! prodding the b5-Pawn. After 13 -bxa4 14 Rxa4 the A-Pawn will come under siege down the open file.

13 -e6 14 Qe3!?

Preventing -Nb6 and taking control of c5 as well. 14 Qf2 was an alternative and would have saved a tempo on the game continuation. I thought the Queen's presence on e3 would deter Black from -f7-f6 because of the vis-à-vis with the e6-Pawn.

14 -Rc8 15 0-0 0-0

Both sides finally castle. White chooses Kingside in the firm belief that the forthcoming attack will succeed. He has more space hence more flexibility about what attacking options to take. The advance g2-g4 to support f4-f5 is definitely on the agenda and so is h2-h4-h5. Meanwhile Black lacks counterplay. The open C-file has no entry points and he has no viable Pawn breaks. If Black hadn't castled, then White could have played the very effective a4 break on the Queenside.

With his next move White commits all his pieces to the Kingside attack. The previous evening I'd had a long endgame and was the last game to finish. I was in no mood for a long game this afternoon, indeed just the opposite!

16 Rae1 Re8 17 Qf2

Switching the Queen round to the Kingside and away from the baleful eye of Black's e8-Rook. After 17 -f6 (or -f5) 18 exf6 Nxf6 19 Qh4! increases the Kingside pressure. Black can head for the endgame with 19 -Ne4 but this involves the exchange of dark-squared Bishops and he has many weaknesses.

In this position I advocated 17 -Nf8 to shore up the e6, g6 and h7 squares. CM9000 came up with the neat regrouping of 18 -Bc5 19 Bb4 and 20 Nd4, a fine example of the strategic flexibility that White's space advantage confers on him. The Knight on d4 gives further support to the g2-g4 and f4-f5 break.

17 -Bf8!?

Black tries to force -Nc5 but White is having none of it.

18 b4!?

This advance fixes the b5-Pawn as well as ruling out Black's minor piece excursions to c5 and his hope for exchanges. Importantly it doesn't commit White to the Kingside attack because he still has the option of c2-c3, Re1-a1 and a2-a4 playing on the Queenside as suggested earlier.

18 -Rc6?!

A clumsy move. Instead of looking for nebulous counterplay on the Queenside Black should retract his last move with 18 -Bg7 and try 19 -Nf8. The text hopes to add lateral defence to the Kingside after -exf5 and makes possible -Nb6. Unfortunately this latter option adds to Black's problems, not reduces them.

19 Qg3 Nb6?

Completely on the wrong track. Even the computers advocate this positional and tactical error but I think it is the losing move. Once again I suggest 19 -Bg7 and -Nf8. To this I would have replied 20 Qh3 intending g2-g4 and f4-f5.

The point about -Bg7 is that White's d4-Bishop has the potential to cut right into the corner at h8. If this became reality and Black's g6-Pawn went missing then his King would go under very quickly. White has indeed targeted g6, despite it being defended by two Pawns!

20 f5 exf5

Black must not allow the f6-wedge. His pieces would then be completely cut off from the defence of the Kingside.

21 Bxf5 Bc8

This is the first spark of activity by this piece since it last moved on move 8. Even in the notes it has only featured as a unit biting on the granite of its own Pawn chain. Black's position is probably beyond saving, specifically because of the Queenside jam as will become apparent, but this seemingly useful defensive move meets with a spectacular refutation.

22 e6!!

Thematic, but stunning nevertheless. Black is covering this square four times, having just enhanced that control with his last move. My opponent stared at the move for several minutes before finally writing it down.

The main features of 22 e6 are the clearance of the a1-h8 diagonal for the d4-Bishop, the undermining of g6 by either the deflection or elimination of the f7-Pawn, the blocking of the Rook on the sixth rank, and the transfer of the Knight to e5 where it hits both the loose Rook on c6 and the square g6.

If 22 -fxe6 then 23 Bxg6 is unanswerable. Black can't take the Bishop because he gets mated - 23 -hxg6 24 Qxg6+ Bg7 25 Qxg7 mate- and he can't not take it because the discovered checks, particularly Bxf7++, are too strong.

Also 22 -f6 23 Bxg6 hxg6? 24 Qxg6+ Bg7 25 Qf7+ Kh8 26 e7 Qd7 27 Ng5! forces mate.

Better here is 22 -f6 23 Bxg6 Rexe6 when 24 Bf5+ wins the Exchange with a powerful position.

The key point of 22 e6 is 22 -Bxe6 23 Ne5! - picking up a valuable tempo on the undefended Rook - 23 -Rd6 or c8 (23 -Rc7 loses to 24 Bxb6, a tactical point which the computers pick up at move 20 but not at move 19 when they recommended 19 -Nb6; my opponent only spotted it now) 24 Nxg6! hxg6 (if 24 -Bxf5 25 Ne7 is double-check and mate and 24 -Bg7 is also met by 25 Ne7+ and 26 Qxg7+ when White has a field day) 25 Bxg6 wins again.

No good either is 22 -Bxe6 23 Ne5 Bxf5 24 Nxc6 Qc8 25 Rxe8 Qxe8 26 Rxf5 Qxc6 27 Qe5 (yet another point of 22 e6, clearance of this square for the White Queen and the mating battery on h8 - see the next paragraph also) 27 -f6 28 Rxf6 Bg7 29 Rxc6 Bxe5 30 Bxe5 or b6 with an extra Rook.

Finally 22 -Rcxe6 (22 -Rexe6 leads to similar lines) 23 Rxe6 Bxe6 (If 23 -fxe6 24 Qe5 exf5 25 Qh8+ Kf7 26 Qxh7+ Ke6 27 Re1+ Kd6 28 Bc5+ Kc6 29 Nd4 mate is a wonderful way to go, while 23 -Rxe6 24 Bxe6 is followed up by 25 Qe5 with a winning attack; Black's Queen is tied to the defence of the Knight and can't help on the Kingside) 24 Qe5 f6 25 Bxe6+ Kg7 26 Qe2 and White has both an extra piece and an attack.

22 -Nc4

This is a clear admission of defeat, and it doesn't even succeed in its intention of controlling e5! There are probably lots of ways to win here. I took the simplest and most thematic. Note how all of White's pieces take part in the attack.

23 exf7+ Kxf7 24 Bxg6+!

Finally sacrificing on the square that I'd been targeting for several moves. If now 24 -hxg6 25 Ne5++ and 26 Nxc6 is convincing.

24 -Rxg6 25 Ne5++ 1-0

Just in time for a miniature (25 moves or less). The only move that doesn't walk into yet another discovered check is 25 -Kg8 but 26 Nxg6 brings us back to the dilemma of must take/can't take. Black can joke and go 26 -Bg7 but White has the last laugh with 27 Rf8+! Bxf8 (27 -Rxf8 28 Ne7+ forces 28 -Qxe7 and after 29 Rxe7 Black will get mated on g7 anyway) 28 Ne7++ Kf7 29 Qg8 mate, all his pieces co-operating nicely in the denouement.

Tyson Mordue.