21st Kenilworth Chess Club Championship, Round 3

Three Knights Defense

In the third round of the 2012 Kenilworth Chess Club Championship, I played an interesting game with Expert Kevin Chen. Though I typically meet the Petroff with 3.d4, I decided that my opponent may have read my article on that line and cooked up a surprise. So I tried to transpose to the Four Knights Game instead, which Chen met with 3...Bb4. My notes on the line (as much for myself as for anyone) show that White gets a slight edge here. And, as the game shows, Black has to tred carefully as the wide open position can lead to some dangerous tactical shots.

Michael Goeller (2043) - Kevin Emmanuel Chen (2003) [C42]

Kenilworth CC Championship/Kenilworth, NJ USA (3) 2012


1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nxe5 d6

Not mentioned in my books, though frequently played. The only downside is that Black might want to play ...d5 in one go, so now the pawn might get stuck on d6, granting White control over d5.

 

a) 4... O-O is the standard move, when 5. Be2 (5. d3?! d5) 5... Re8 6. Nd3 Bxc3 7. dxc3 Nxe4 8. Nf4! c6 9. c4! d6 10. O-O Bf5 11. a4 a5 12. Ra3! Nd7 13. Re3 Ndc5 14. g4 Be6 15. f3 Nf6 16. b3 h6 17. Qd4 Qc7 18. Rd1 Rad8 19. Bb2 d5 20. cxd5 Bxd5 21. Nxd5 Rxd5 22. Rxe8+ Nxe8 23. Qe3 Ne6 24. Rxd5 cxd5 25. Bd3 Qd6 26. Qe5 Qd8 27. Bf5 Qb6+ 28. Kf1 N8c7 29. Bd3 Qc5 30. h4 Kf8 31. Bc3 f6 32. Qe1 b6 33. b4 Qc6 34. bxa5 bxa5 35. Bxa5 Qxa4 36. Bb4+ Kg8 37. Qc3 Qd7 38. Kf2 Kf7 39. h5 Nb5 40. Bg6+ Kg8 41. Qa1 Qb7 42. Qa5 Nbc7 43. Bd6 Qc6 44. Ba3 Nb5 45. Bb4 Nec7 46. Be7 Ne6 47. Bd3 Kf7 48. Bb4 Nec7 49. Bg6+ Kg8 50. Be7 Qe6 51. Bc5 Qc6 52. Qb6 Qxb6 53. Bxb6 Ne6 54. Be8 Nbc7 55. Bc6 Kf7 56. Ba5 Nd4 57. Ba4 Ndb5 58. Ke3 Ke6 59. f4 Kd6 60. Bb4+ Ke6 61. f5+ Ke5 62. Bf8 Nc3 63. Bc6 Na6 64. Bb7 1-0 Psakhis,L-Yusupov,A, USSR Ch 1980-1981 is a beautiful illustration of White's play.

 

b) 4... Qe7 5. Nd3 Bxc3 6. dxc3 Qxe4+? is a mistake(White only has the standard slight edge after 6... Nxe4 7. Be2 O-O 8. O-O d5 9. Nf4 c6 10. c4 dxc4 11. Bxc4) 7. Be2 Qxg2 8. Bf3 Qh3 9. Nf4 Qh4 10. Qe2+ Kf8 11. Qc4! g5?! 12. Qxc7?! (12. Qd4!! gxf4 13. Bxf4) 12... Na6 (12... Kg7 13. Rg1) 13. Qd6+! Kg7 14. Be3! Re8 15. O-O-O! 1-0 Bednarski,J-Sydor,A/Breslau 1972.

 

5. Nd3 Bxc3 6. dxc3 Nxe4 7. Be2

7. Nf4! O-O 8. Be2 c6 9. c4 Na6 10. O-O Nac5 11. Qd4 Qf6 12. Be3 Qxd4 13. Bxd4 Bf5 14. g4! Bg6 15. Rad1 Rad8 16. h4 h6 17. Rfe1 Ne6 18. Be3 Rfe8 19. Nxg6 fxg6 20. Bd3 N6c5 21. Bxc5 dxc5 22. f3 Nd6 23. Bxg6 Rxe1+ 24. Rxe1 Nxc4 25. Re7 Nd6 26. Kg2 a5 27. Kg3 a4 28. g5 hxg5 29. hxg5 b5 30. f4 b4 31. Rc7 Rc8 32. Rd7 Nb5 33. Kg4 Kf8 34. Rf7+ Kg8 35. Rf5 c4 36. Bf7+ Kh8 37. g6 1-0 Hjartarson,J-Gunnarsson,J/Gardabaer ch-ICE 1996 was another nice illustration of how to exploit White's slight advantage in these positions.

 

7... O-O 8. O-O Nc6 9. Nf4

Better late than never! White has a very slight pull due to the two Bishops and control of d5 with c4 and Nd5. If White gets his "golden bishop" to the long diagonal (with b3 and Bb2 for instance), he might even create attacking chances. But it really is not much.

 

9... Bf5?

Putting the Bishop loose on f5 just looked wrong, so I knew there should be some tactical shot for White. Unfortunately, I overlooked the strongest option.

 

 

10. Qd5!?

Not bad, but this gains very little against best play. The correct way to exploit the Bishop move was 10. Bd3! d5 (10... Qd7? 11. g4! Bxg4 12. f3) 11. f3 Nd6 12. Nxd5 winning a pawn, though Black can fight on due to White's crippled queenside majority.

 

10... Qd7?

Surprisingly, this loses a piece. Black has a couple of saving alternatives:

a) 10... Qf6?! 11. Bd3! Ne7 12. Qxb7 Nc5 13. Qxc7 looks advantageous for White as the Queen's position is not so easy to exploit here.

b) 10... Ne5! was Black's best option, which I overlooked, when White wins nothing after 11. Qxb7 Nc5 12. Qd5 Bxc2 though White gains a slight structural advantage to go with his two Bishops and so still retains the edge.

c) 10... g6!? was also playable, when White just has a slight edge after 11. Be3 (11. g4?! Nf6) 11... Re8 12. Rad1

 

 

11. g4! Ne7 12. Qd4 Nc6 13. Qe3 Bxg4 14. f3

Also good was 14. Qxe4 Rae8 15. Bxg4! Qxg4+ 16. Qg2 Qf5 but that looked more passive for White.

 

14... Bf5?!

This move seems based on a miscalculation. Black should at least get two pawns for the piece while he can.

a) 14... Nf6 15. fxg4 Nxg4 16. Qg3 Nge5 17. Nh5 Ng6 18. Bd3

b) 14... Bxf3 15. Bxf3 Ng5 16. Bg2

 

15. fxe4 Rae8 16. Bd3 Bg6

Not 16... Bxe4? 17. Bxe4 f5?! 18. Bd5+

 

17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. Qg3 Re5!?

I was hoping for 18... f5?? 19. Bc4+ Kh7?? 20. Qh4# so I could go home.

 

19. Bf4 Rh5 20. Be2 Rh3 21. Qg2 Rh7 22. Bg4 f5 23. Bf3 Ne5 24. Bxe5 dxe5 25. Qxg6 Rf6 26. Qg5!

White's play on the kingside looks a little risky, but you can't play passively even when up material. After all, White has an additional attacker, so he should win any battle.

 

26... Rfh6 27. Rad1 Qe6

27... Rd6

 

 

28. Qd8+ Kf7 29. Qxc7+

and Black resigned as he will lose his Queen after 29... Kf6 30.Rd6.

1-0

[Michael Goeller]

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Copyright © 2012 by Michael Goeller