Sicilicide or Suicide?

By Michael Goeller

The following game from the recently concluded Marshall Chess Club Championship offers either evidence that Nigel Davies's "Sicilicide" recommendation 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.h4!? is more playable than it seems, or that it is really better termed "suicide" for White. You'll have to be the judge since the draw result leaves the question unresolved for now. The interesting thing, though, is that there were improvements for both players. Charbonneau's opening play was likely not the best way of meeting Treger's agressive idea, but he almost offers a good example of how to fight back a premature attack by sacrificing to wrest the initiative until he walks into perpetual check due to a series of inaccurate move (likely in time pressure).

Yefim Treger (2234) - Pascal Charbonneau (2507) [B73]

ch-Marshall CC/New York, NY USA (6) 2007


1. e4 c5 2. Nc3

2. e5!? has been termed by some the "Treger Attack" after its chief proponent, who chooses a different off-beat line for the present game.

 

2... Nc6 3. Nf3 g6 4. h4!?










This move is discussed by Nigel Davies in a Foxy Video titled "Sicilicide." It looks more like "suicide" than naked aggression to me, but it sure leads to wild play.

 

4... Nf6

This leads to complicated play, as the Knight gets kicked with e5. Black can have an easier life in at least one way:

a) 4... h5! has to be the simplest answer -- though not discussed by Davies -- and has been preferred by most GMs:

5. Ng5!?

This unusual but interesting move, which immediately claims the weak g5, was Treger's preference in a previous game; other moves have not met with success:

(a) 5. Bb5 Bg7 6. Bxc6?! dxc6 7. d3 Bg4 8. Be3 Qa5 9. O-O Nf6 10. Qd2 Bxf3 11. gxf3 Nd7 12. Bg5 Nf8 13. e5 Qc7 14. Ne4 Ne6 15. Qe3 Qxe5 16. Rfe1 Qd4 17. Qe2 b6 18. c3 Qd7 19. d4 cxd4 20. Rad1 O-O 0-1 Stuart,P-Rogers,I/Jakarta 1987.

 

(b) 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bg7 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. Be2 d6 9. f4?! Nf6 10. Qd3 Qb6 11. Be3 Qxb2 12. Rb1 Qa3 13. f5 Ba6! 14. Qxa6 Qxc3+ 15. Bd2 Qg3+ 16. Kd1 O-O 17. Bf3 d5 18. Qxc6 Rac8 19. Qa4 dxe4 0-1 Wessels,C-Ward,C/Guernsey 1991.

5... Bg7 6. Bc4 Ne5 (6... e6! 7. d3 Nge7) 7. d3 Nxc4 8. dxc4 Nf6 (8... Bxc3+!?) 9. Nd5!? d6 10. e5! Ng4! (10... dxe5? 11. Nxf6+ exf6 12. Qxd8+ Kxd8 13. Nxf7+) (10... Nxd5? 11. Qxd5 O-O 12. e6) 11. e6?! (11. exd6! Qxd6 12. Bf4 e5?! 13. Ne4! Qc6 14. Bg5) 11... Bxe6 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. Nf4 Kd7?! (13... Qd7! 14. Nxg6 Rg8 15. Nf4 O-O-O 16. Nxh5 Bd4) 14. Nxg6 Bd4 15. O-O Rg8 16. Nf4 e5 17. Nh3 e4 18. Qe2 e3 19. Bxe3 (19. f3!) 19... Bxe3 20. fxe3 Rf8 21. Qd3 Ne5 22. Qe4 Qc7 23. Rad1 Rxf1+ 24. Rxf1 Qc6 25. Qf5+ Kc7 26. Nf4 b6 27. Nd5+ Kb7 28. Nxe7 Qc7 29. Qe4+ Nc6 30. Nxc6 Ka6 31. Nb4+ cxb4 32. Qxa8 Qe7 33. Qc8+ Ka5 34. Rf5+ Qe5 35. Rxe5+ dxe5 36. Qc6 a6 37. b3 b5 38. Qc7# 1-0 Treger,Y-Logunov,I/ch-Marshall CC 2004.

 

b) 4... Bg7 is much too compliant, though possibly playable: 5. h5! d6

Worse is 5... e6?! 6. d4! Bxd4?! (6... Nxd4 7. Nxd4 cxd4 8. Nb5) 7. Nxd4 (7. Nb5!?) 7... Nxd4 8. hxg6 fxg6 9. Bf4!? Qf6 10. Bd6! b6 11. Qd2 Ne7 12. O-O-O Bb7 13. Nb5 Nxb5 14. Bxb5 Bc6 15. Bxc6 Nxc6 16. Bxc5 Rd8 17. Bd6 Rc8 18. Rh3 Ne7 19. Rf3 Qg7 20. Be5 1-0 Bellon Lopez,F-Juan Mas,S/Palma de Mallorca 1991.

6. Bc4 e6 7. d3 a6 8. a4 Nge7 9. hxg6 hxg6 10. Rxh8+ Bxh8 11. Ng5 Nd4 (11... d5! 12. Ba2 Nb4) 12. Be3 Nec6 13. Kd2!? Bd7? (13... Nb4!) 14. Qh1! Qf6?! 15. Qh7! Qg7 16. Rh1 Ke7 17. f4 Nb4 18. Qh4 f6 19. Nh7 Kf7 (19... Nbxc2 20. e5!) 20. e5! dxe5 21. fxe5 fxe5 22. Bxd4 cxd4 23. Ne4 Nd5 24. Rf1+ Kg8 (24... Nf4 25. g3) 25. Nef6+ 1-0 Gutman,L-Scho,C/Kassel 1994.

5. e5 Ng4 6. h5 Bg7

6... Ngxe5?! is obviously the critical move, but White has demonstrated more than sufficient compensation for the pawn in a number of games: 7. Nxe5 Nxe5 8. f4! Nc6 9. hxg6 fxg6 10. Bd3! Rg8 (10... Bg7?! 11. Rxh7! Rxh7 12. Bxg6+ Kf8 13. Bxh7 e6 14. Qh5 1-0 Pearson,S-De Villiers,C/Bruma Lake 1998 (28)) 11. Rxh7 d5 12. b3 (12. Qe2! c4? 13. Nxd5! cxd3?? 14. Nf6#) 12... Qd6 13. g3 (13. Qf3!?) 13... Bg7 14. Bb2 Bxc3 15. Bxc3 Bd7 16. Qe2 d4 17. Bb2 O-O-O 18. O-O-O e5 19. Ba3 exf4 20. gxf4 Rge8 21. Qg2 Bf5 22. Bxf5+ gxf5 23. Qh3= Qd5 24. Rg1 Rd7 25. Rg5 Rxh7 26. Qxh7 Ne7 27. Qh5 Kd7 28. Qe2 a6 29. Rg7 Kd6 30. Rh7 Kd7 31. Kb1 Kd8 32. Qd3 Kc8 33. Qe2 Kd8 34. Qd3 Kc8 35. Qe2 1/2-1/2 Pilavov,G-Rogovski,V/ Sochi 2006, though White should be able to improve here.

 

7. Ng5!?

Perhaps better 7. hxg6! hxg6 8. Rxh8+ Bxh8 9. Ng5 Ngxe5 10. f4 e6 11. d3 (11. Nh3! embarrasses the Knight at e5, and Black appears to have insufficient compensation.) 11... f6 12. fxe5 fxg5 13. Ne4 Bxe5 14. Bxg5 Bg3+?! (14... Qb6!) 15. Kd2 Qa5+ 16. c3 Be5 17. Qf3 Nd4 18. Nf6+ Kf7 19. Qf2 Nf5 20. g4 Bxf6 21. Bxf6 Kxf6 22. gxf5 gxf5 (22... exf5 23. Qh4+ g5 24. Qh6+) 23. Qh4+ Ke5 24. Qe7 1-0 Berger,S-Fjodorow,P/Germany 2002

 

7... Nh6?!

Black has better, though all lines are quite messy:

a) 7... gxh5! 8. f4 d6 9. Bc4 (9. Rxh5 dxe5 10. Bc4 Qd4) 9... Rf8 (9... e6 10. Rxh5) 10. exd6 (10. Nxh7 Rh8 11. Ng5 e6 12. Nce4 dxe5 13. f5 Qe7 14. fxe6 f5) 10... Qxd6 11. d3 Nf6

 

b) 7... Ngxe5!? seems more playable here: 8. f4 f6 9. Nge4 Nf7 10. hxg6 hxg6 11. Rxh8+ Nxh8 12. f5? (12. Nxc5) 12... d5! 13. Nxc5 Qd6 14. Nd3 Bxf5 15. Nf2 O-O-O 0-1 Aird,I-Shaw,J/Clarkston 1998 (29).

 

8. f4 d6 9. e6! f6

At this point, Black has no appetizing alternatives:

a) 9... Bxe6 10. Nxe6 fxe6 11. hxg6 hxg6 12. Bd3

 

b) 9... fxe6 10. hxg6 hxg6 11. Bd3 Nf5 12. Rxh8+ Bxh8 13. g4 Nh4 14. Kf2! threatening Kg3.

 

10. hxg6! fxg5

Not 10... hxg6? 11. Rxh6 Rxh6 12. Nf7 Qa5 13. Nxh6 Bxh6 (13... Bxe6 14. Ng4) 14. Qg4

 

11. Rxh6 Bxe6

Not 11... Bxh6? 12. g7!!

 

12. Rxh7!

Not 12. gxh7? Bxh6 13. Qh5+ Kd7 14. Qxh6 Bf5

 

12... Rg8!










13. Qh5?!

White should be able to improve on this move. Some wild play might follow 13. fxg5!? Qb6 14. b3!? c4! (14... O-O-O 15. Bb2 Bxc3!? 16. dxc3 Rxg6 17. Rh6!) 15. Bb2 Rf8 16. Qe2 Nd4 (16... Bg4 17. Qe3 Bd4 18. g7 Bxe3 19. gxf8=Q+ Kxf8 20. Rh8+ Kf7 21. Bxc4+ e6 22. Rxa8) 17. Na4 Nxe2 18. Nxb6 Bxb2 19. Nxa8 Ng3 20. Be2 Bxa1 21. Nc7+ Kd7 22. Nxe6 Kxe6 23. Bg4+

 

Also of interest is 13. Qf3 Nd4 14. Bb5+.

 

13... gxf4 14. Nd5 Qd7! 15. Bb5

15. Nxf4 requires precise play: 15... Be5! (15... Nd4 16. Bd3 O-O-O 17. c3) 16. g7+!? (16. Nxe6 Qxe6) 16... Bf7 17. Rh8! O-O-O! 18. Qxf7 Rxg7! 19. Rxd8+ Nxd8 20. Qc4 Qg4 21. d3 Qh4+ 22. Kd1 Rg4

 

15... O-O-O!?

15... Bxd5! 16. Qxd5 O-O-O

 

16. Nxf4 Rdf8 17. d3 Bg4! 18. Qd5 e5! 19. Nh3 Be6 20. Qe4 Bf5 21. Qa4 Bxg6!

Black has gained a tremendous lead in development and now goes about showing how terribly misplaced White's forces are. The game so far has been practically a textbook demonstration of how to gain the advantage against gambit lines.

 

22. Rh4 Bf6 23. Rh6 Bf5 24. Be3 Rxg2 25. O-O-O!?










25... Bxh3?!

Likely in time pressure, Black makes a series of inaccurate moves and eventually walks into perpetual check. Chess is so unforgiving! You can play for hours making great moves and then one small slip will cost you the full point! A forced win was to be had with 25... Rg3! 26. Bxc6 Qxc6! 27. Qxa7 Qa6! 28. Qxa6 bxa6

 

26. Bxc6 bxc6?!

Much simpler was 26... Qxc6! 27. Qxc6+ bxc6 28. Rxh3 Kd7 which would leave Black with lots of winning chances, though a long ending ahead to make his extra pawn tell.

 

27. Rxh3! Qxh3 28. Qxc6+ Kd8?!

The last chance to possibly avoid the perpetual was the unlikely-looking 28... Kb8! 29. Qxd6+ Kb7! 30. Qd5+ (30. Qxf8 Qxe3+ 31. Kb1 Qf2) 30... Kc7! 31. Qxc5+ (31. Bd2 Rxd2!) 31... Kd7 32. Qxa7+ Ke8 and it looks like Black escapes -- though only a computer could find all of that!

 

29. Qxd6+ Ke8 30. Bxc5 Rf7 31. Qb8+ Kd7 32. Qd6+ Kc8










33. Qc6+ Kd8

There is no escaping the perpetual as 33... Rc7? 34. Qxf6 Rxc5 35. Qf8+ would lose.

 

34. Qd5+ Ke8 35. Qc6+

and there is no escape from perpetual check. An amazing save by Treger against GM Charbonneau! And with the draw, the question of Sicilicide vs. Suicide remains unanswered....

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Game in PGN

Copyright © 2007 by Michael Goeller