James Wu (1700) - Michael Goeller (2023) [B00]
U.S. Amateur Teams East/Parsippany, NJ USA (1) 2006
Better 9. Nxe5 Nxe5 10. dxe5 dxc4 (not as strong is 10... Rd8 11. Qb3!) (but playable is 10... Nc6!? 11. cxd5 Qxd5 12. Bh5+ g6 13. Bf3 Qxd1 14. Bxc6+ Qd7! 15. Bxd7+ Kxd7 16. Rd1+ Ke8 17. Nc3 a6 18. f4 Be7 and it is roughly equal ) 11. Qxd7+ Kxd7 12. Rd1+ Nd5 13. Bxc4 c6=
Black to play: which of the following is the best move?
I felt this was a critical juncture and that I had to make an important move here. I knew I did not want to take time out to defend the pawn at b7 and that my lead in development and well-placed pieces called for some action. But the move I chose is not the best. It works great if he does not take the b-pawn, but taking the b-pawn introduces lots of complications. The idea is to undermine the support of the Knight at f3 so as to destroy the White king's pawn cover. It's a good idea, but there is a much simpler way of achieving the same goal.
a) Fritz likes the complicated 14... Ndb4!? 15. a3 (15. Rac1 Bg4! 16. a3 (16. Rfd1 Bxf3 17. Bxf3 Nd4 ) 16... Bxf3 17. Bxf3 Nd3 ) 15... Bc2 16. Qc4 Bd3 17. Qg4 Bxe2 18. Nxe2 Nd3 but you have to wonder why Black should enter such a complicated line when he has an easier choice available.
b) The best idea seems to be 14... Bg4! 15. Qxb7 (better may be 15. Nxd5 Rxd5 with strong pressure on the e-pawn, and White cannot play 16. Qxb7? Nxe5 17. Nxe5 Bxe2 18. Nc6 Qf6-+) 15... Ndb4! threatening to trap the queen 16. Qb5 Bxf3 17. Bxf3 Nd4! destroying the pawn cover with a fork -- and note that the Queen at e7 protects the Knight at b4 18. Qb7 Nxf3+ 19. gxf3 Nd3-+ and the Knight will land at f4 eventually with devastating effect.
c) When I showed this game to Mike Wojcio at the Wendy's Restaurant near the tournament, he asked, "Why not just defend the pawn?" The simplest answer is that defending the pawn is not exactly 'bad' but if Black does not seize this opportunity to attack he will likely lose his initiative. Thus, the position is pretty much equalafter 14... b6 15. Rfd1 Na5 16. Qa4 c5=
Now Black's idea works exactly as planned. Much more complicated and likely equal at best are the following two lines:
b) 17. Nfd4! Qg5 18. Ng3! Rxd4 19. Nxe4 Rxe4 20. Qxc6 Qxe5 and White must have the edge due to Black's numerous pawn targets. Fortunately, both of us missed this over the board since it is so counter-intuitive that White can get away with leaving his pieces hanging.
27. Rxf2 Rxf2 28. Qd8+ Rf8 29. Qd1 (29. Qxc7 Qf3+ 30. Rg2 Qd1+ 31. Rg1 Qd5+ 32. Rg2 Rf1#) 29... Qe3 and Black has an attack and a pawn - and the initiative alone should be sufficient to force off the major pieces.
Game in PGN