A Bust to 3.Bc4 in the Vienna Game?

Carl Schlechter - William Steinitz [C28]

DSB-11.Kongress/Cologne (11) 1898


1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Na5

This is now my favorite defense against the Vienna, since I know first-hand as White how annoying it is to surrender the light-squared Bishop. For me, this line practically busts the Vienna with Bc4 as a means of gaining any advantage. But Black must take care, as the course of the game shows.

 

5. Nge2

Black does well after the chief alternatives also:

a) 5. f4!? Nxc4 6. dxc4 Bb4 7. Qd3 d6

 

b) 5. Bg5 c6 6. Qd2 h6 7. Bxf6 Qxf6

 

c) 5. Qf3 Nxc4 6. dxc4 d6 7. Nge2 Be6 (7... Bg4?! 8. Qg3! Bxe2 9. Kxe2 Be7 10. Rd1 (10. Qxg7 Rg8 11. Qh6 Rxg2) 10... O-O 11. Kf1 Rogers-Beliavsky, Polanica Zdroj 1996) 8. b3 Be7 (8... c6 9. Be3 Be7 10. h3 O-O 11. g4 Qa5 12. Bd2 Qc7 13. Rg1 a6 14. g5 Ne8 15. a4 f5 1/2-1/2 Sikora Lerch,J-Banas,J/Trnava 1989 (15)) 9. h3 c6 10. Bb2 Qc7 11. O-O-O a6 12. a4 O-O 13. g4 Rfc8 (13... b5!) 14. Rd2 b5! 15. cxb5 axb5 16. axb5 d5 17. bxc6 dxe4 (17... d4! 18. Nd5 Bxd5 19. exd5 Qa5! 20. c4 Bb4 21. Rdd1 Ba3 22. Qd3 (22. Rd2 e4) 22... Bxb2+ 23. Kxb2 Qa2+ 24. Kc1 Ne4 25. Qxe4 Qxb3 26. Qd3 Qb4!) 18. Nxe4 Ra6 19. Nxf6+ Bxf6 20. Qe4 Rxc6 (20... Qa7! 21. Kb1 Ra8!) 21. Kb1 Qa5 22. Rhd1 Ra6 23. Nc3 1/2-1/2 Sikora-Banas, Ternavia 1989

5... Nxc4 6. dxc4 d6

Black may appear at first to have an easier game if he develops his Bishop outside the pawn chain with 6... Bc5 but Black is eventually compelled to play ...c6 to hold the d5 square and the potential weakness of ...d6 can be even more critical without the Bishop on e7. One well known game continued 7. O-O d6 8. Qd3 c6 9. b3 Be6 10. Na4 Nd7 11. Nxc5 Nxc5 Black also generally must give up the two Bishops in this line. 12. Qe3 b6 13. f4 f6 14. Ba3 Nb7 Setting up a hedgehog defense. 15. Nc3 Qc7 16. Rad1 O-O-O (16... O-O 17. f5!? and White develops a kingside attack.) 17. Bb2 Rd7 18. a4 exf4 19. Qxf4 Bf7 20. Ba3 Re8 21. a5! bxa5!? 22. Rd4 Re5 23. Rfd1 Bg6 24. h3 Rd8 25. Qf2 Qe7 26. Bc1 Re6 27. Bf4 targetting d6 27... Nc5 Black surrenders the d6 pawn for the e4 pawn 28. Qg3 Nxe4 29. Nxe4 Rxe4 30. Rxd6 Rxd6 31. Bxd6 Qd7 32. Rd2 Kb7 33. Qc3 Qf5 34. Bg3 Re7 35. Qd4 Qc8 White has some initiative, due in part to the Bishops of opposite color (which make it difficult for Black to protect the dark squares in this case). But Karpov defends admirably. 36. Qd6 Rf7 37. Kh2 Be4 38. Qc5 Rd7 39. Re2 f5 40. Qxa5 Qd8 41. Qb4+ (41. Qc3 g5) 41... Qb6= 42. Qf8 Qd8 43. Qc5 g5 44. Qb4+ Qb6 45. Qf8 Qd8 46. Qb4+ Qb6 47. Qf8 Qd8 1/2-1/2 Short,N-Karpov,A/Tilburg 1991 (47). As the game demonstrates: you have to be Karpov to hold this position!

 

7. O-O Be6 8. b3 c6 9. Qd3

White often plays 9. a4 at some poin t to prevent light square counterplay, but Black might immediately try 9... d5 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. exd5 Nxd5

 

9... Be7 10. Bg5 h6

Commenting on this game in Chess Review 1955, Fred Reinfeld writes quite inaccurately and with great hyperbole: "Steinitz was the man who showed what damage could be caused by inferior Pawn moves. Here he has violated his own precepts a number of times. By playing 6...d6, he ct down the mobility of the King Bishop and thus considerably neutralized the value of the two Bishops. Again, by playing 8... c6 (to prevent an eventual Nd5), he robbed his Queen Pawn of its natural support. Finally, with 10...h6? he has lost precious time and conclusively weakened his position." According to Reinfeld, Black is practically lost. But there are many defensive resources that both Steinitz and Reinfeld overlooked.

 

11. Bxf6

Schlechter thinks that time is more important than the two Bishops.

11. Be3 Qc7 12. Rad1 Ng4 13. Bc1 O-O-O= and Black has an easy game.

 

11... Bxf6 12. Rad1?!

This may be a case of the "wrong Rook," as we shall see. Better 12. Rfd1! Be7 (12... Qa5 13. a3!) 13. c5 Qa5! (13... dxc5 14. Qg3) 14. cxd6 O-O-O 15. Qg3

 

12... Be7

Black could have played much more energetically to castle queenside with 12... Qa5! 13. Qf3 (perhaps Steinitz missed the trick 13. Qxd6? Rd8! 14. b4 Rxd6 15. bxa5 Rxd1 16. Rxd1 Bxc4 and Black likely has a won ending.) ( meanwhile, it is probably prudent to castle kingside if White prepares a quick attack by 13. Rb1!? O-O!=) (13. f4 exf4) (13. Ng3 g6 and in all these lines the two Bishops are a longterm plus for Black.) 13... O-O-O and White gains nothing from 14. Ng3!? Be7 15. Nf5 Bf8 16. Rd3 g6

 

13. c5 dxc5?

Better 13... Qa5! 14. cxd6 (14. b4!? Qxb4 15. cxd6 (15. Rb1 Qxc5 16. Rxb7 Bc8 17. Rb3 O-O) 15... O-O-O 16. Nd5 (16. Qe3 Bxd6 17. Qxa7 Bc5) 16... cxd5 17. dxe7 Qxe7) 14... O-O-O 15. Qg3 Bxd6 16. Qxg7 Bb4 and Black has more than sufficient compensation.

 

14. Qg3 Bd6 15. Qxg7 Ke7?










15... Rf8 16. Ng3!? (16. f4 c4 17. Kh1 Qc7 18. Qxh6) 16... Qc7 17. Nf5 Bxf5 18. exf5 O-O-O 19. Ne4

 

16. Nf4! Rg8?

16... exf4 17. e5 Rg8! (17... Bxe5 18. Qxe5) 18. Qxh6 (18. Qf6+ Ke8 19. Ne4 Qxf6 20. Nxf6+ Kf8 21. Rxd6 Rg6) 18... Bxe5 19. Rxd8 Kxd8 20. Ne4 Kc7 allows some resistance.

 

17. Ng6+ Kd7 18. Rxd6+ Kxd6 19. Rd1+ Bd5

19... Kc7 20. Qxe5+ Kb6 21. Rxd8 Raxd8 22. Nf4

 

20. Qxe5+

20. Qxf7! also wins.

 

20... Kd7 21. Nxd5 cxd5 22. Rxd5+ Kc6 23. Ne7+ Kb6 24. Rd6+!

Much stronger than taking the Queen directly, since this forces mate.

1-0

Game in PGN