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  1. 29 Mar '10 22:22 / 1 edit
    First, I'll give my usual backstory. I was just thumbing through one of my middlegame books (Secrets Of Modern Chess Strategy by Watson), and I came across a marvelous game fragment. I will include the game with some of my thoughts and some computer analysis as well.

    Groningen 1997

    1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4

    This is known as the Nimzo-English, a hybrid of the Nimzo Indian and English openings. The usual move order is 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4. Unfortunately, black players can get tripped up trying to play this when white plays 3.e4!.

    This is known as the Flohr-Mikenas variation. It is used to avoid the Nimzo-English. While the positions may not be unfavorable to black, they really aren't what he is aiming for either (Nimzo Bb4xc3 with a doubled pawn complex).
    Back to the game ...

    4.g4 !!?

    To quote Krasenkow (from Watson)"A novelty on move 4 in a thoroughly developed opening? Unbelievable!" At the time, I imagine it was!!!

    The first major point is that 4. ... Nxg4 5.Rg1 Nf6 (for example) 6.Rxg7 is good for white, having wrecked black's kingside.

    In the game, 4. ... d5 was played and given ?! by Watson. Watson's suggestion is 4. ... h6 which is most common in practice now, I believe.

    After 4. ... d5 ! (Best!!!) 5.g5 Ne4 6.Qa4+ Nc6 7.Nxe4 dxe4 8.Ne5 we arrive here.

    Black seems to be in dire straits. His c6 square is attacked twice, and it is the only thing holding b4 together too.

    Black, however, has an excellent reply.

    Black To Move

    (Next Post Soon)
  2. 29 Mar '10 22:30
    I dont know this particular line, but the move e3 just screams at me here, he has to take with the f-pawn, after which Qxg5 looks pretty good.
  3. 29 Mar '10 22:33

    Black played the ingenious 8. ... e3!

    Watson says "The only chance - to counterattack before he is totally tied down."
    The fact of the matter is that after the forced and logical sequence from d5, black has played all the best moves and has an advantage!

    Let's see what happens if white ignores the pawn.

    9.Nxc6 exd2+ ! 10.Kd1 dxc1=Q+ 11.Kxc1 Qd2+ 12.Kb1 bxc6! (so that Qxc6+ and Qxa8 can be met by Qd1 mate)13.a3 Bc3! Black Wins

    That variation in pgn.

    Back to 8. ... e3!

    9.fxe3 Qxg5

    Black counterattacks e5 and menaces Qh4+.

    Now lets look at what happens after 10.Nxc6 (not played)

    Black To Move

    I actually stared at my 3D board and solved this one, before running the game through an engine. How does black get his piece back AND save the b4 bishop?

    More In Next Post
  4. 29 Mar '10 22:45 / 1 edit

    Black plays 10. ... Bd7!

    The knight is pinned and tricks using the queen on g5 (takes g1 away) and bishop on c6 will win the rook (or material)!

    Logical would be 11.Qxb4 Bxc6 12.Bg2! (saves exchange) Bxg2 13.Rg1 Qh4+ ! (unpins the bishop and attacks h2) 14.Kd1 Qxh2 followed by 0-0-0 for black. He has a nice edge.

    pgn again (Sorry, I only know how to put in the whole game.)

    Back to the game ...

    After 9. ... Qxg5, white simply played 10.Nf3

    Here black erred and played 10. ... Qe7?! (=). Both 10. ... Qh6 and 10. ... Qf6 are better and keep black's (!) advantage. Watson says the Krasenkow believes white to be better!

    The remainder of the moves in the book (11-21) are given without any comment. I find this hard to believe because there is still a lot to be seen! Now, it is down to just the engine and me. Watson has left the building.

    After 10. ... Qe7 11.a3 Bd6 12.d4 Bd7, we get this position:

    13.c5 seems to trap the bishop (not played).

    Can black save the piece? If so, how?

    Next Post Soon
  5. 29 Mar '10 22:52

    Black does save the piece with ...

    13. ... Ne5 (discovered attack on queen) 14.Qc2 Nxf3+ 15.gxf3 Qh4+

    This mini-combo makes room for the bishop on e7!

    Back to the game ...

    13.Qc2 was played, instead of 13.c5. Then, 13. ... Qf6 14.b4

    Here a move like 14. ... a6 would maintain equality (or very near). Black plays 14. ... e5 and gets a question mark from Watson. It really isn't that bad, though.

    So 14. ... e5 15.d5 Bf5!

    More complications !!!

    How does black meet 16.e4, forking two pieces?

    Next Post Soon
  6. 29 Mar '10 23:25

    I semi-solved this one too, before turning on the computer. (One of my variations had a flaw in it down the line.)

    Black plays 16. ... Nd4! (The knight is no longer under attack and tempos off the queen.) White plays 17.Nxd4.

    Black To Move

    It's not simply Nxd4, which doesn't work. It's 17. ... Qh4+!

    Then 18.Kd2 (better than 18.Kc2 because of Bxc2 with check possibilites that may arise after Nf3 ... with a king on d2 Nf3 Bxc2 Nxh4 is ok. Not being in check (on c2) makes all the difference.)

    So 18.Kd2 Bxe4

    White's queen and rook are forked. He has two possibilities here

    19.Nf3 (counterattacking the queen) or 19.Qa4+ (simply saving the queen).

    Let's look at 19.Qa4+ first.

    19.Qa4+ Kf8 20.Nf3 (to save d4 and h1) Bxf3 21.exf3 Qd4+ picks up a1 and wins (The computer prefers 21. ... Qf4+, but this is simpler.)

    That leaves 19.Nf3

    Here is where I speedily made a miscalculation on my real board. I only looked at 19. ... Qf4+ 20.e3? but 20.Kc3! is much better.

    The computer gives 20. ... Qf5! with a slight !!! edge to white.

    Black has better on move 19 though.

    19. ... Bxf3! 20.exf3 Qf2+! wins

    21.Kd3 runs into Qxf3+ and Qxh1 ... 21.Be2 runs into Qd4+! and Qxa1
    One of the rooks is going to fall!

    This reminds me of a similar trick in a line of the Scotch Game:

    It's not quite the same, I guess. In the final position, a rook falls. (12.Kxf2 Qd4+/12.Qxf2 Qe4+)

    We have now seen the refutation of 16.e4.

    Back to the game ...


    Here black makes a fatal error and plays 16. ...Be4.

    16. ... e4 gave better chances.
    After 16. ... e4 17.Nd4 Bd7 18.dxc6 Bxc6 19.Nxc6 (Best ... other only +=)Qxa1 20.Nd4+ Kf8 21.Qc2 a5.

    White is better, but this is better than what can happen after 16. ...Be4.
    Back to that ...

    17.dxc6 (17.Rg1 better) 17. ... b5?!!

    This doesn't quite work, but black must be commended for his fighting spirit.

    17. ... Bxc6 18.Qc2! e4 19.Bb2 wins for white too.

    18.cxb5 ?!

    18.Qxb5 was much better.

    I'm sure by now the game took a big strain on both players. They are after all, human.

    The idea of 18.Qxb5 is that Bxf3 19.exf3 Qxf3 can be met cleanly by 20.Qd5!, saving the rook and removing the deadly queen from f3.

    We now return to 18.cxb5?! .

    After 18. ... Bxf3 19.exf3, black missed a nice simple way to complicate.

    Black To Move

    Final Post In A Few
  7. 29 Mar '10 23:36

    Black's last chance was 19. ... Qxf3! 20.Rg1 Be7!!

    All of a sudden, white is faced with some nasty threads, due to his uncastled kign and weak kingside.

    White reduces the damages with 21.Ra2! (Best) Bh4+ 22.Rg3 Bxg3+ 23.hxg3 Qxg3+ 24.Rf2! (keeping his king away from the d file) 0-0 25.Qd1

    The computer says white is better. Black isn't totally busted either though. He as a rook and pawn versus two bishops, and their isn't a clear cut win for white yet.
    Their is still a lot of play left.

    Instead of 19. ... Qxf3, black erred and played 19. ... e4?

    White consolidated quite nicely for the next sequence of moves.


    exf3 21.Rf2!

    White has a big edge now. These are all of the moves that Watson gave, and I don't even know who won in the end. I assume white did. I just got a great thrill playing through/discovering all the tactics in this game. I hope this can be instructional or at least enjoyable to other players too.

    Thanks for reading
  8. 30 Mar '10 00:07
    Thanks for this. Good job explaining all the tactics and showing why some of the logical alternative moves wouldn't work. I enjoyed reading through it all.
  9. 30 Mar '10 02:01
    White did win in the end.
  10. Standard member Exuma
    30 Mar '10 03:31
    Rec'd Thanks for doing a lot of work!
  11. Standard member black beetle
    Black Beastie
    30 Mar '10 08:24
    Thank you for this excellent work my friend!
  12. 30 Mar '10 09:29
    thanks a lot!!
  13. 30 Mar '10 09:33
    Originally posted by paulbuchmanfromfics
    First, I'll give my usual backstory. I was just thumbing through one of my middlegame books (Secrets Of Modern Chess Strategy by Watson), and I came across a marvelous game fragment. I will include the game with some of my thoughts and some computer analysis as well.

    Groningen 1997

    1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4

    [f ...[text shortened]... this when white plays 3.e4!.


    Im not Sicilian player, but that looks like a very Maroczy Bind like position!
  14. Standard member orion25
    Art is hard
    30 Mar '10 10:01
    Absolutely brilliant game and analysis, thanks for sharing!
  15. 30 Mar '10 12:25
    Originally posted by Tiwaking
    Im not Sicilian player, but that looks like a very Maroczy Bind like position!
    Take away blacks c-pawn and whites d-pawn, that is a real marcozy bind. The presence of those pawns changes the position significantly.