1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bc4 Bg7 5.Qe2 Nc6 6.e5

Part One: The Queen Sac Line

By Michael Goeller

"Mad Dog" is GM Tiger Hillarp Persson's catch-all for anti-Pirc weapons with Bc4, which he says are mainly used by players who failed "to outgrow [their] infantile obsession with combining the queen and bishop towards f7." Like some rabid dog foaming at the mouth, they just want to kill you as quickly as possible, with no regard for their own safety. The particular "mad dog" line I want to look at typically begins 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bc4 Bg7 5.Qe2 Nc6, when the move 6.e5!? creates some hair raising situations for both players.


Position after 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6
3.Nc3 g6 4.Bc4 Bg7 5.Qe2 Nc6 6.e5

M. Thomas, who wrote the best extended consideration of these lines from White's perspective, Pirc Defence: A Line for White (The Chess Player 1980), recommended this variation and was the first and last to explore its intricacies. As he wrote:"This system is ideal for club and tournament players because it is of a sharp tactical nature and weak opening play by Black is rapidly punished." What's more, while Black has at least one likely equalizing line, even with best play he must concede White a significant initiative or space advantage.

In this first installment of an envisioned three-part series, I want to examine a line that has practically vanished from opening manuals: 6...Nxd4!? White is now forced to sacrifice his Queen and at least a pawn for three minor pieces and the initiative with 7.exf6 Nxe2 8.fxg7 Rg8 9.Ngxe2. But that is hardly something to trouble the mad dog...


Position after 6...Nxd4!?
7.exf6 Nxe2
8.fxg7 Rg8 9.Ngxe2

This queen sac line is very complex and remains incompletely explored since GM interest in it subsided after 1980, when Thomas's pamphlet revealed simpler ways of taming White's aggression. In current manuals on the Pirc, in fact, you find only passing reference to it. Alburt and Chernin mention it but say it is "too risky" for Black. Yrjola and Tella say it "leads to obscure play" on which they fail to shed light. In avoiding the complexities of this line, most writers on the Pirc exaggerate White's chances. As GM Persson writes: 7...Nxd4?! [his mark] "has been played a few times, but the statistics confirm that White has an awesome attack with three pieces for the queen. I would never play like this" (158). If you are playing someone who is "well-booked," therefore, it is almost certain he will avoid it.

Why study these lines, then? Well, besides the enjoyment of seeing the Pirc get smashed, it's so you can be prepared for two grades of player: dog meat and gristle. As statistics suggest, most players of 7...Nxd4 are dog meat. But occasionally you will meet the gristled player who has seen this line before and will be tough to chew up. For this player, the mad dog needs to know his queen sac line and know it well.

The main tries for Black are represented below in our two main games. In the first, Black tries the counter-sacrifice ...Be6 (albeit delayed) to relieve the pressure along the e-file and at f7. This is the "book" remedy, despite the fact that it typically leads to an ending of three minor pieces versus two Rooks that John Nunn described as offering "few chances to develop active play for the rooks." The game certainly bears out Nunn's conclusion. The second game explores M. Thomas's own recommendation, which was not to capture the pawn at g7 immediately but instead seek to activate Black's pieces or to build a strong wall of pawns in the center by c6, d5, and e6. Against the latter strategy, which is probably Black's best (though almost never tested), White should play an early h4 pawn advance and seek play on the weakened dark squares. Ultimately, with best play by Black, White will likely have a challenging game--though hardly one to fear with sufficient preparation.

Game One: 9...Rxg7

V. Yandemirov (2483) - A. Feoktistov (2435) [B07]

300 Years/St Petersburg RUS (7) 2003


1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Bc4 Bg7 5. Qe2 Nc6

If Black does not counter in the center, then White will gain a significant space advantage with no risk.

a) 5... c6?! 6. e5 dxe5 (6... Nd5 7. Bd2 O-O 8. O-O-O Nc7 9. h4 d5 10. Bd3 b6?! (10... h5 11. f3 followed by g4, Mednis) 11. h5 c5 12. hxg6 hxg6 13. Qe3 Nc6 14. Qg3 cxd4 15. Qh4 f5 16. Nf3! Ne6 17. Qh7+ Kf7










18. Rh6! Ke8 19. Qxg6+ Rf7 20. Ne2 (20. Nb5!) 20... Bxh6 21. Bxh6 Nb4 22. Bb5+ Bd7 23. Ng5 Bxb5 24. Qxf7+ Kd7 25. Qxe6+ Kc7 26. Nxd4 DeBoer-Stehower, Netherlands 1978) 7. dxe5 Nd5 8. Bd2 Be6 9. O-O-O Qc7 10. f4 Nd7 11. Nf3 N7b6 12. Bb3 Nxc3 13. Bxc3 Bxb3 14. axb3 O-O 15. h4! Nd5 16. Bd2 b5 17. h5 f6 18. Nd4!? xe6(18. hxg6 hxg6 19. Qd3!) 18... Qc8 19. hxg6 fxe5? (19... hxg6 20. Qe4 f5 21. Qf3) 20. fxe5 hxg6 21. Qe4 Qe8 22. Qh4 Nf6 23. exf6 Ciechocinska-Krawcewicz, Poland 1977

 

b) 5... O-O?! 6. e5 Ne8 (6... dxe5 7. dxe5 Ng4 (7... Nfd7 8. e6) (7... Ne8 8. Bg5! c6 9. h4?! Kh8? 10. h5! f6? 11. hxg6 e6 12. Qh5 h6 13. Bxh6 1-0 Weeramantry,S-Clua Ballague,M/Buenos Aires 1978 (13)) 8. f4! (8. e6!?) 8... Nc6 9. Nf3 Kh8 (9... Nh6 10. Bd2 Bg4 11. O-O-O Qc8 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 Nd4 14. Qf2 c5 15. Be3 Nhf5 16. g4 Nxe3 17. Qxe3 e6 18. Ne4 b6 19. c3 Nc6 20. h4 Qc7 21. h5 Na5 22. hxg6 hxg6 (22... Nxc4 23. Qh3! h6 24. Nf6+!!) 23. Qh3 f6? 24. Qh7+ Kf7 25. exf6 (25. Nd6+!) 25... Rg8 26. Nd6+ Kxf6 27. g5+?! (27. Qh4+ g5 28. Qxg5#) 27... Ke7 28. Qxg6 Raf8 29. Qxe6+ Kd8 30. Nf7# Black checkmated 1-0 goeller-guest4817/Internet Chess Club 2006 (30)) 10. h3 Nh6 11. g4 f5 12. g5 Nf7 13. Be3 e6 14. h4 h5 15. gxh6 Bxh6 16. Kf2 Qe7 17. Rag1 Rg8 18. Ng5 a6 19. h5 Bxg5 20. hxg6+ Bh4+ 21. Kf1 Nh6 22. Qh5 Kg7 23. Rxh4 Rh8 24. Rgh1 Bd7










25. Qxh6+!! Rxh6 26. Rxh6 Qb4 27. Rh7+ Kxg6 28. R1h6# 1-0 Short,N-Blank Goncalves,E/Sao Paulo 2001 (28)) 7. Bg5! Nc6 (7... h6? 8. exd6!! (Thomas)) (7... dxe5 8. dxe5 Nc6? 9. Rd1 Nd4 10. Nf3!! Nxe2 11. Rxd8 Nxc3 12. bxc3 and Black must lose the Exchange (Thomas)) 8. O-O-O Kh8 (8... Na5? 9. Nd5!) (8... a6 9. h4 b5 10. Bd5 Bd7 11. h5! (Thomas)) 9. h4 f6










10. h5!! fxg5 11. hxg6 h6 12. Bf7 e6 13. Qh5 Rg8 14. Nf3 Qe7 15. Ne4 dxe5 16. dxe5 a5 17. Rd3 a4 18. Rc3 Nb4 19. Nf6 Nxa2+ 20. Kb1 Nxc3+ 21. bxc3 Qxf6 22. exf6 Nxf6 23. Qxg5 Nh7 24. gxh7 Rf8 25. Ne5 1-0 Busch,K-Chabanon,J/Eger 1989 (25)

 

c) 5... e5!? 6. dxe5 dxe5 7. Bg5!? (7. Nf3 Qe7! (7... Nc6?! 8. Bg5! O-O 9. Rd1!) 8. a4 Nc6 (8... c6 9. b3 and Ba3 (Thomas)) 9. Bg5 Bg4 10. Nd5 Qd6 11. Rd1 Nxd5 12. exd5 Nb8 13. O-O O-O 14. h3 Bxf3 15. Qxf3 Nd7 16. a5! Kh8 17. Qb3 1-0 Torre-Bachtiar, Melbourne 1975 (42)) 7... c6 (7... h6! "Mandatory" according to Richardson and Thomas 8. Bh4! (8. Rd1 Nbd7 9. Bh4 c6) 8... c6 9. f4!? (9. Rd1 Qc7 (9... Qe7?! 10. f4! Nbd7 11. Nf3 O-O 12. Rxd7 Qxd7 13. Nxe5 Qd6 14. Nxg6) 10. f4 Bg4 11. Nf3 Nbd7 Thomas) 9... Bg4! (9... exf4? 10. e5) (9... Nbd7 10. O-O-O) 10. Nf3 Nbd7 11. f5!? (11. O-O-O Qc7) 11... b5 (11... g5 12. Bf2) (11... gxf5 12. exf5 Qe7 13. O-O-O O-O-O 14. Ne4) 12. Bb3 a5 13. fxg6 fxg6 14. a4 b4 15. Qc4 Rf8 16. Ne2 Goeller) 8. f4! (8. Nf3 Qe7! ( Black does have to be careful here: 8... h6?! 9. Nxe5!? hxg5 10. Nxf7 Qe7 11. Nxh8 Bxh8 12. O-O-O) (8... Bg4? 9. Bxf7+ Kxf7 10. Nxe5+ Ke8 11. Nxg4 1-0 Kriz,M-Khouri,I/Bratislava 1993 (14)) (8... b5? 9. Nxb5! cxb5? 10. Bd5) (8... Nbd7 9. O-O-O Qe7 10. h4) 9. a4 (9. O-O-O?! h6 10. Bh4 Nbd7) 9... a5 10. O-O O-O 11. Rad1 Na6 12. h3 Nc5 13. Rd2 h6 14. Bxf6 (14. Bh4 g5!) 14... Bxf6 15. Qe3 Bg7 16. Ne1 Be6 17. Bxe6 Nxe6 Zyla-Grossman, Wroclaw 1979) 8... Nbd7 (8... h6 9. Bh4) (8... exf4? 9. e5) 9. O-O-O Qa5 (9... h6? 10. fxe5 hxg5 11. exf6 Qxf6 12. Rf1) 10. Nf3 O-O 11. Bb3 Nh5 (11... h6 12. fxe5!) 12. f5 Nc5 13. g4 Nxb3+ 14. cxb3 Nf4 15. Qd2 h6 16. Bxf4 exf4 17. Qxf4 Bxc3 18. bxc3 Qxa2










19. Qxh6! Bxf5 (19... Qxb3 20. Rd3!! Qa3+ 21. Kd2 Qb2+ 22. Ke3 Qb6+ 23. Ke2 Qb2+ 24. Nd2) 20. Ng5!? (20. gxf5 Qxb3 (20... Rfd8 21. Nd2!) 21. Rd3! Rfd8 22. fxg6!) 20... Qa1+ 21. Kc2 Bxe4+ 22. Nxe4 Qa2+ 23. Kd3 Rad8+ 24. Ke3 Rde8 25. Rd4 Qg2 26. Re1 Qxg4 27. Kd3 Qf5 28. Kd2 Re5 29. Re3 Ra5 30. Rh3 Ra2+ 31. Ke3 Qxh3+ 32. Qxh3 Re8 33. Kd3 Kg7 34. Ra4 Rb2 35. Rb4 b5 36. Qe3 a5 37. Qd4+ Kf8 38. Qc5+ Kg7 39. Rd4 Rxh2 40. Qxc6 1-0 Braeuning,R-Mehlhorn,U/Gladenbach 1992 (40)

6. e5

6. Nf3 Bg4 7. Be3 e5

 

6... Nxd4!?

Play by both sides is now forced and leads to an interesting position in which Black will have a Queen and at least one pawn versus three minor pieces.

 

Next time we will examine the alternatives, the best of which are the positional 6... Nd7 7. Nf3! Nb6 8. Bb3 O-O with play similar to lines of the Alekhine's Defenseand the wild and wooly 6... Ng4!? 7. Nf3 (7. Bb5!?) (7. e6!? Nxd4 8. Qxg4 Nxc2+) 7... dxe5 8. dxe5 Ngxe5 9. Nxe5 Nxe5 10. Bb3

 

7. exf6 Nxe2 8. fxg7 Rg8 9. Ngxe2 Rxg7

As Thomas points out, this capture is almost universally played but is probably not best since it allows White to gain time by Bh6 and O-O-O with a strong initiative. Thomas thought Black should save time capturing the pawn (which is not going anywhere soon) and instead build a wall of pawns in the center by c6, e6, and d5, playing first either 9... c6 or 9... e6 , which we examine in the next game below.

 

Immediately losing, however, is 9... e5? 10. Ne4! c6 11. Bg5 Qa5+ 12. b4! Qxb4+ 13. c3 Thomas

 

10. Bh6

Also interesting though rare is 10. Bg5!? (stopping e6 and threatening Nd5) 10... c6 11. O-O-O Be6 12. Bxe6 fxe6 when Thomas cites Bordonada-Torre, Phillipines 1974 as unclear. A more recent game continued 13. Nd4 Qd7 14. f4 c5 15. Nf3 Qc6 16. Rhe1 Qc8 17. Bh6 Rf7 18. Ng5 Rxf4 19. Nxe6 Rf6? 20. Nd5! Rxe6 21. Rxe6 Qxe6 22. Nc7+ Kd7 23. Nxe6 Kxe6 24. Re1+ Kd7 25. Rf1 b5 26. Rf7 c4 27. Rxh7 d5 28. Bg5 Re8 29. Rg7 b4 30. Kd1 a5 31. Rxg6 e6 32. Rg7+ Kd6 33. Ra7 c3 34. bxc3 bxc3 35. Rxa5 d4 36. Bf6 Rf8 37. Bxd4 Rf1+ 38. Ke2 Rc1 39. Kd3 1-0 Seyb,D-Schmidt,W/Kitzingen 1980 (39)

 

10... Rg8 11. O-O-O c6

 


Position after 11.O-O-O c6

 

Weeramantry offers a very detailed assessment of the situation: "positions with material imbalances such as this are difficult to assess. Even Grandmasters have had trouble reaching a clear verdict on this variaton. Three minor pieces can run rings around a queen, so long as they have good coordination. The problem is that you don't have any strong squares that you can anchor them on. Wherever they go, they can be chased away by pawns There are so many Black pawns that if he succeeds in castling long and getting his king to safety, he can let loose an avalanche of pawns. He will simply push his pawns down the center and shut out the minor pieces, which will be forced to retreat in total confusion." However, because of all his pawns, Black has no open files. "By contrast, White will soon have two rooks on the central d- and e-files, boh in perfect attacking positions with the Black king still in the center. White's current edge in development gives him the intiative, but the initiative is not a permanent advantage...."

a) 11... Be6 , as mentioned by Weeramantry, is favored by current theory and frequently played but almost certainly better for White in a number of lines: 12. Bxe6 fxe6 13. Nf4!?

(a) 13. Nd4?! e5 14. Ne6? Qd7! 15. Nd5 Rc8 16. Ng5 Qg4 17. Nf3 Qxg2 18. Nh4? Qg4 0-1 Stevens-Koopal,A/USA 1993 (24))

 

(b) 13. f4! (Thomas) 13... c5 (13... Qd7 14. Nd4 O-O-O 15. Rhe1 e5 16. fxe5 Qg4 17. Nd5 Kb8 18. Nxe7 Rge8 19. exd6 Rxd6 20. Nef5!? (20. Nec6+ bxc6 21. Rxe8+ Kb7) 20... Rxe1 21. Rxe1 Rd8 22. Ne6 Re8 23. Nfg7 Re7 24. g3 b6 25. Bf4 Qh3 26. b3 Qxh2 27. Re3 h6 28. Rc3 Kb7 29. Nd8+ Kc8 30. Nde6 Qe2 31. Re3 Qf1+ 32. Kb2 g5 33. Be5 Qf2 34. Rc3 Qe1 35. Rxc7+ Rxc7 36. Bxc7 h5 [37.Bd8! h4 38.gh4 gh4 39.Bh4 Qh4 40. Nf5! 41.Nd4] Etmans 1/ 2-1/ 2 Etmans,M-Waagmeester,W/corr 1988 (36)) 14. Rhe1 Qd7 15. Ng3 O-O-O 16. Nge4 Qc6 17. Ng5 Qxg2 18. Nxe6 Rd7 19. Nd5 Qxh2 20. Bg5 Re8 21. Ng7 Rg8 22. Ne6 Re8 23. Ng7 1/2-1/2 Linn,P-Finegold,R/E Lansing ch-MI op 1993 (23))

 

(c) 13. Rhe1 Qd7 (13... g5 14. Nd4 e5 15. Nf3 Qc8 16. Bxg5 h6 17. Bh4 c6 Kindermann-Balinas, London 1978) 14. Nd4 e5 15. Nf3 O-O-O 16. Nxe5 Qf5 17. Nf3 e5 18. Ne4 Rd7 19. Bg5 Rf7 20. Rxd6 Kb8 21. Rd5 Re8 1-0 Cooper,T-Quimby,J/USA Amateur Team MidW 1992 (21))

 

(d) 13. h4 Qd7 14. Rhe1 O-O-O 15. f4 c5 16. Ng1 Rge8 (16... e5!? 17. Nd5 (17. fxe5 Qg4 18. Bg5 dxe5 19. Nd5) 17... Kb8 18. fxe5 Qa4 19. Nxe7 Rge8 20. exd6?! Qxh4 21. Bg7? (21. Bd2) 21... Rxd6 22. Nf3 Rxd1+ 23. Kxd1 Rd8+ 24. Kc1 Qf4+ 25. Kb1 Qf7 26. Bh6 Re8 27. Bg5 h6 28. Bh4 g5 29. Bg3+ Ka8 30. Bd6 g4 31. Nh4 Qf6 32. Nhf5 Qxf5 33. b4 Qf2 34. Rd1 Qe2 0-1 Gallagher,J-Emms,J/Nottingham 1987 (34)) 17. Nf3 Kb8 18. Ne5 Qc8 19. Nf7 Rd7 20. Rxe6 Rf8 21. Bxf8 Qxf8 22. Ne5 Qxf4+ 23. Kb1 Rd8 24. Nf3 Qg4 25. Rxe7 Qxg2 26. Ng5 Qg4 27. Rxh7 a5 28. Nf7 Re8 29. Nxd6 Rf8 30. Rc1 1-0 Kindermann,S-Buchal,S/Germany 1981 (30))

13... Qd7 14. Rhe1 e5 15. Rxe5 dxe5 16. Rxd7 Kxd7 17. Nd3 Rad8 (17... g5!? 18. Nxe5+ (18. f3 Ke6 19. Nf2) 18... Ke6 19. Ng4 Rad8 20. Ne4 Kf5 21. f3 Rd4 22. h3 Kg6 23. b3!) 18. Kd2!? (18. Ne4 Kc8 19. f3 Rd4 20. h4 b6 21. b3 c5 22. Bg5 Re8 23. Nxe5 Rd5 24. Nc4 Kb7 25. Ne3 Rd7 26. c4 a5 27. a4 Kc6 28. Kc2 Rb7 29. Nd5 Ra7 30. Be3 Rd7 31. Ng5 Kb7 32. Bf4 1-0 Weinwurm-Stadtmueller,H/Meran 1988 (32)) 18... Ke8 19. Ke3 Rd6 (19... g5!) 20. h4! Rc6 21. Bg5 Rg7 22. Nxe5 Rb6 23. b3 Ra6 24. a4 Ra5 25. f4 Rxe5+ 26. fxe5 Kd7 27. Nd5 Rf7 28. Nf4 Rf5 29. Ke4 Rf8 30. c4 b6 31. g4 c6 32. Bh6 Rg8 33. c5 bxc5 34. Nd3 Rb8 35. Nxc5+ Kc8 36. Bd2 Kd8 37. e6

 

b) 11... e6 12. h4 (12. f4!? Bd7 13. Nd4! (13. Rhe1 d5? 14. Nxd5 exd5?! 15. Nd4+ Be6 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Rxe6+ Kf7 18. Rxd5 b5 19. Rxb5 Qc8 20. Rbe5 g5 21. Rf5# 1-0 De Jong-Koss,J (21)) 13... a6 14. Ne4 Rf8 15. Rhe1 Qe7 16. Bg5 f6 17. Nxf6+ (17. Nxe6! Bxe6 18. Nxf6+ Rxf6 19. Bxf6 Qxf6 20. Rxe6+) 17... Rxf6 18. Bxf6 Qf7? (18... Qxf6 19. Nxe6) 19. Bg5 Richter - Olsson, Stockholm 1980) 12... Bd7 (12... Qe7!? 13. Ne4 (13. Nf4) 13... f6 14. N2c3 (14. Nf4! Bd7 15. Rhe1) 14... d5? (14... Bd7! 15. Rh3!? O-O-O 16. Rf3!? Thomas) 15. Bxd5 exd5 16. Nxd5 Qe5 17. Nexf6+ Kf7 18. Rhe1 Thomas - Edwards, England 1980) 13. Ne4 f6 14. Nf4 Kf7 15. Rhe1 Re8 16. g4 a5 17. a3 b5 18. Ba2 Re7 19. g5 f5 20. Nf6 Bc8 21. Nxh7 c5 22. h5 gxh5 23. g6+ Kg8 24. Nf6+ Kh8 25. Nxe6 1-0 Short-Miles, British Ch. 1976

 

c) 11... e5? 12. f4 (12. h4!?) 12... exf4 13. Ne4!! g5 14. h4! gxh4 15. Nxf4 Bf5? 16. Bb5+! Ke7 17. Nd5+ Ke6 18. Nc5+ dxc5 19. Rhe1+ Be4 20. Rxe4+ Kf5 21. Ne7+ Kxe4 22. Re1+ Kd4 23. c3# 1-0 McAlpine,K-Lumsden,J/corr 1975 (23)

 

d) 11... Bf5 12. Nd4 Qd7? (12... c6 13. Rhe1 e6? 14. Nxe6 fxe6 15. Bxe6 Bxe6 16. Rxe6+ Kf7 17. Rexd6 Qh4 18. Rd7+ Ke6 19. Be3!!) 13. Rhe1 e6 14. Bg5 Kf8 15. Bh6+ Ke8 16. Nd5 Qd8 17. Bb5+ c6 18. Nxc6 Qh4 19. Ne5+ Kd8 20. Nxf7+ Kc8 21. Nxd6+ Kb8 22. Nxf5 exf5 23. Bf4+ Kc8 24. Nb6+ axb6 25. Bd7+ 1-0 Suwara,K-Berruti,V/IECG 2004 (25)

12. Rhe1

A very interesting, if less forcing alternative is 12. h4 to hold the critical g5 square. Then might follow 12... Qa5 (12... b5 13. Bb3 a5 14. a4 Ba6 15. Rhe1 Qb6 16. Nd4! Kd7 17. Bxf7 Rgb8 18. Bg5 e5?










19. Rxe5! h6 (19... dxe5 20. Ndxb5+ Qd4 21. Nxd4) 20. Re7+ Kc8 21. Be6+ Kd8 22. Rb7+ (22. Rd7+! Ke8 23. Rg7 hxg5 24. Bd7+ Kf8 (24... Kd8 25. Ne6#) 25. Ne6#) 22... hxg5 23. Rxb6 Rxb6 24. hxg5 b4 25. Ne4 Ke7 26. Re1 d5 27. Nc5 Kd6 28. Ndb3 Bc4 29. Bg4 Rf8 30. Re6+ Kc7 31. f3 1-0 Rizvi,N-Basrak,S/Rimavska Sobota 1992 (31) ) 13. Rhe1 Be6 14. Bxe6 fxe6 15. Nf4 e5 16. Ne6 Kd7 17. Ng5 Rae8 18. g3 Kc8 19. a3 b5 20. Ne6 g5 21. h5 g4 22. Bg7 b4 23. axb4 Qxb4 24. Re4 Qb6 25. Rd2 Qa6 26. h6 Qf1+ 27. Nd1 a5 28. b3 Kb7 29. Ng5! Ra8 30. Rxg4 a4 31. bxa4 Ra5 32. Rb4+ Kc7 33. Ne6+ Kc8 34. Rd3 c5 35. Rh4 Kd7 36. Nf8+ Kc6 37. Nxh7 d5 38. Bxe5 c4 39. Ra3 Ra7 40. f4 Qe1 41. Ng5 1-0 Schmedders,H-Conquest,S/Hastings 1993 (41)

 

12... Be6

a) 12... Qc7 13. Nd4 Bf5? (13... d5!? 14. Bxd5 g5! (14... cxd5?? 15. Nxd5 Qxh2 16. Nf6+ Kd8 17. Ne6# Walford-Giltrow 1979) 15. Nf3!? (15. h4) 15... Bg4 16. Ne5 O-O-O! 17. Nxg4 cxd5 18. Nxd5 Rxd5 19. Rxd5 Qf4+ 20. Ne3 Qxf2 21. Rdd1 Rg6) (13... e5? xd6 14. Ndb5! cxb5 15. Nxb5 Qc5 (15... Qc6 16. Nxd6+ Ke7 17. Rxe5+!) 16. Nxd6+ Ke7 17. f4 Be6 18. Bg5+ Kf8 19. Rxe5) 14. Ndb5! cxb5 15. Nxb5 Qb6 16. Nxd6+ Kd8 (16... Kd7 17. Nxf5+ Kc6 18. Nxe7+ 1-0 Charbonneau,P-Gulati,J/Winnipeg 1997 (18)) 17. Nxf5+ Kc7 18. Rxe7+ (18. Bf4+!! e5 19. Rxe5!! Fritz) 18... Kc6 (18... Kc8 19. Nd6+) 19. Rd6+ 1-0 Weeramantry-Schlagenhauf, Harrisburg PA 1977 1-0 Weeramantry,S-Schlagenhauf /Harrisburg, PA USA 1977/[Weeramantry] (19)

 

b) 12... b5? 13. Nd4! Bd7? (13... bxc4 14. Nxc6 Qc7 15. Nd5!! Qxc6 16. Rxe7+ Kd8 17. Bg5) 14. Ne4! Qb6 15. Nxd6+ Kd8 16. Nxf7+ Ke8 17. Bg5 1-0 Olthof,R-Van Sleeuwen,A/corr 1982 (17)

 

c) 12... d5 13. Nf4 Bd7 (13... g5? 14. Nfxd5! cxd5 15. Nxd5 Rg6 16. Bxg5 Be6 17. Bb5+ Bd7 18. Bxe7 Qc8 19. Bxd7+ Qxd7 20. Nf6+ Rxf6 21. Bxf6+ 1-0 Neuberger,G-Pfeifer/Wuerzburg 1987 (21) ) 14. Bg5 (14. Bxd5!?) 14... dxc4 15. Ne4 Qa5 16. Nf6+ Kd8 17. Rxe7 (17. Rxd7+ Kc8 18. Rexe7 Qd5? 19. Rc7+ Kb8 20. Rxb7+ Kc8 21. Rec7+ 1-0 Loschi,E-Apra,V/ITA 1988 (21) 21... Kd8 22. Rd7+ Kc8 23. Nxg8) 17... Qxg5 18. Rdxd7+ Kc8 19. Nxg8 Qxf4+ 20. Kb1 Qxh2 21. a3 a5 22. g3 Qg1+ 23. Ka2 Qxf2 1-0 Schenning,A-Dopper,J/corr Netherlands 1991 (23)

 

d) 12... Qa5 13. Nf4?!

(Based on the following game, it is likely that White needs an improvement and can look at two other moves:

(a) 13. h4!? transposes to 1-0 Schmedders, H-Conquest,S/Hastings 1993 (41), given above under 12.h4 or)

 

(b) 13. Nd4!? d5 for example: 14. Nb3 Qb4 15. Bxd5 Qh4 16. Be3 cxd5 17. Nxd5 Kf8 18. g3 Qh3 19. Nf4 Qf5 20. Rd8+ Kg7 21. Bd4+ e5 22. Rxe5 Rxd8 23. Rxf5+ Rxd4 24. Rxf7+ Kxf7 25. Nxd4 g5)

13... g5! This move leads to quite complex and forcing play which seems favorable for Black in the long run.

(13... Bf5?! 14. Bg5! Be6 (14... e5? 15. Rxd6! Qc5 16. Red1 Kf8 17. Bf6 Re8 18. Rd8 1-0 Schenning,A-Stadler,P/IECG 1997 (27)) (14... O-O-O 15. Bxf7 Rgf8 16. Be6+) 15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Bd2!? (16. f4) 16... Qh5 17. Bxe6 Rf8 18. Ne4 (18. f4!?) 18... Qxh2 19. Bh3 d5 20. Nc5?! (20. Ng3!? Rxf2 21. Bb4 Qxg3 22. Rxe7+ Kd8 23. Rd7+ Kc8 24. Rxh7+ Kb8 25. Rh8+ Kc7 26. Rxa8 Qe3+ 27. Bd2) (20. Rh1!? Qe5 21. Nc5) 20... Rxf2 21. Bg5 Rf7 (21... e5 22. Nd3) 22. Be6 Rg7? (22... Rf2 23. Bh3 (23. Bd7+ Kf8 24. Bxe7+ Kf7) 23... Rf7= (23... e5 24. Nd3) 24. Bd7+!?) 23. Bd7+ Kd8 24. Bh3 Rf7 25. Rf1! Ke8? 26. Rxf7 Kxf7 27. Rf1+ Kg8 28. Bf4 Rf8 29. Bxh2 Rxf1+ 30. Kd2 1-0 Schubert,C-Kappe,M/Wallrabenstein 1977 (43))

14. Ne4! Be6 15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Nxd6+ exd6 17. Rxe6+ Kd7 18. Rexd6+ (18. Rdxd6+ Kc7 19. Rd3 Qc5) 18... Kc7 19. Rd7+ Kb6 20. h4 (White must keep pieces on the board; worse is 20. Bxg8 Rxg8) 20... Rg6! 21. Bxg5 (21. hxg5 Rxg5) 21... Rxg5! 22. hxg5 Qxg5+ 23. Kb1 Qxg2 1-0 Gerber,R-Joksic,S/Crans Montana SUI 2001 (52) Black was always better. White appears to have won on time after a long struggle. In any event, White likely needs an improvement here.

 

13. Bxe6 fxe6 14. Nf4 e5 15. Rxe5! dxe5 16. Rxd8+ Rxd8

White has converted from three pieces versus a Queen to the equally interesting material imbalance of three pieces versus two Rooks. As the further course of the game shows, the two Rooks are easier to corral.

 

17. Ne6! Rd6 18. Ng5 Rf6 19. Nce4 b6

 


Position after 19.Nce4 b6

 

20. h3!?

White must have judged that Black had good drawing chances following 20. Nxf6+ exf6 21. Ne4 Kf7 22. h4 Rd8

 

20... c5 21. Kd2 Rc6 22. Nf3 Re6 23. Ke2 b5

Black tries to get activity for his Rook, even at the cost of a pawn, while White tries to control the game.

 

24. Be3

24. Nxc5 Rc6 25. Be3!

 

24... Ra6 25. a3 c4 26. Nc3 Kd7 27. Nxe5+ Ke6 28. Nf3 Rb8 29. Nd4+ Kd7 30. Ne4 Rab6

30... b4?? 31. Nc5+

 

31. c3!?

Still focused on controlling things, White misses a quick win:

31. Nf3! R6b7 32. Nc5+

 

31... Ke8 32. Nf3 R6b7 33. Nfg5 a5 34. Nd2 h5 35. Ndf3 Rd8 36. Ne5 Rd6 37. h4 Re6 38. f4 Rb8 39. Ngf3 Ra6 40. Nd4 Rf6 41. g3 Rbb6 42. Kd2 a4 43. Ke2 Rb7 44. Ndf3 Rc7 45. Nd2 Rc8 46. Ne4 Ra6 47. Bd4 Re6 48. Ke3 Ra6 49. Nf3 Rd8 50. Ne5 Rc8 51. Ng5 Rf6 52. Ngf3 Rd8

White now demonstrates how the pieces coordinate with the White king to create practically a 4 to 2 situation on the board.

 

53. Ke4 Rdd6 54. Ne1 Rd8 55. Nc2 Re6 56. Nb4 Red6 57. Nc2 Re6 58. Ne3 Ra6 59. Nd5 Rc8

White is slowly making progress at pushing Black back and now "traps" a Rook.

 

60. Bb6! Kf8 61. Nxg6+ Kf7 62. Ne5+ Kf8 63. f5 Raa8 64. Be3 Ra6 65. Bb6 Raa8

Now White wins the Exchange and the rest is easy.

 

66. Nc7 Rab8 67. Nd7+ Kf7 68. Nxb8 Rxb8 69. Bd4 Rg8 70. Kf4 Rd8 71. Ne6 Rd5 72. Ke4 Rd6 73. Nf4 Rh6 74. Ne6!

soon the other Rook will be trapped and won as well! A brilliant performance by Yandemirov.

 

1-0

[Michael Goeller]


Game Two: 9...c6 and 9...e6

Aloyzas Kveinys (2535) - Dana Reizniece (2312) [B07]

Keres Mem Open/Tallinn EST (2) 2001


1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Bc4 Bg7 5. Qe2 Nc6 6. e5 Nxd4 7. exf6 Nxe2 8. fxg7 Rg8 9. Ngxe2 c6

Black's idea is to begin grabbing central squares with his pawns. Meanwhile, the pawn at g7 will eventually fall, so why give White time for attack by taking it?

 

According to M. Thomas, the similar 9... e6! "is possibly the best move in this position. Black intends to form a hedgehog of pawns on c6, d5, and e6; White probably cannot support his pawn on g7 because of ...Qh4 forking two pieces."

 

I could find only one game with the line: 10. Ne4!?

Playing for the dark squares. Thomas actually gives this a "?" and considers the following alternatives:

(a) 10. Bf4?! e5! Not considered by Thomas (10... d5? 11. Nb5!) 11. Bh6!? (11. Be3) 11... Qh4 12. Nd5 Kd8)

 

(b) 10. h4! may indeed be the best move, as given by Thomas: 10... d5 11. Bb3 c6 (11... Rxg7!? 12. Bh6 Rg8 13. O-O-O) 12. Bh6 and play is similar to that in the first game above.)

 

(c) 10. Be3!? d5 11. O-O-O c6) (10. Bh6!? Qh4 11. Bf4 Bd7 (11... g5? 12. g3! Qg4? 13. Ne4!) 12. O-O-O O-O-O)

10... f6 11. Bf4?! (Thomas gives only 11. Bh6? d5 12. O-O-O Qe7) (better 11. Be3) 11... Bd7?! (11... d5! 12. O-O-O Qe7 13. Bb5+ c6 14. Nd6+ Kd7 15. Ba4 e5 and it appears that Black has gained significant ground with his central pawns. ) 12. O-O-O Rxg7 13. Rhe1? (13. Bh6! Rf7 14. Nf4) 13... g5! 14. Bxe6 gxf4!? 15. Nxf4 Kf8 16. Bxd7 Qxd7 17. Nxf6 Qf5 18. Ne6+ Kf7 19. Nxg7 Qxf6 20. Ne6 Re8 21. Nxc7 Qg5+ 22. Kb1 Rxe1 23. Rxe1 Qa5 0-1 Benend,A-Vatter,H/Waldshut 2002 (23)

 

10. Bh6 Qa5

a) A plan similar to that in the 9...e6 line can be implemented by 10... d5 11. O-O-O e6 (11... Qb6? 12. Bxd5! cxd5 13. Nxd5 Qa5?! (13... Qc5!? 14. Rhe1 Be6 15. Nef4 Rc8 16. c3) 14. b4! Qa3+ 15. Kb1 Bd7 16. Rd3 Byrne and Mednis) 12. h4 (12. f4!? Qh4 (12... Bd7!?) 13. Bg5 Qf2 Thomas ) 12... Bd7 13. Bd3 (13. Bb3!? Qe7 14. f4 O-O-O 15. h5!? Thomas 15... c5! Fritz) 13... Qe7 14. Rde1!? (14. h5?! e5 15. hxg6 hxg6 16. f3 f5 Thomas) 14... O-O-O 15. f4 f6 16. h5 Rxg7!? 17. Bxg7 Qxg7 18. hxg6 hxg6 1/2-1/2 Jackson - Donnelly, England 1979/1980 (65)

 

b) I am rather doubtful of the weakening 10... b5!? 11. Bb3 Bb7 12. O-O (12. O-O-O!? a5 13. a4 b4 14. Ne4) 12... d5 13. Rfe1 Qd6 14. Nd4 e6 15. Nf3 f6 16. Rxe6+!? Qxe6 17. Re1 Qxe1+ 18. Nxe1 Kf7 19. Ne4 Rad8 20. Nc5 Rge8 21. Ned3 Bc8 22. h4 a5 23. a4 b4 24. Kf1 Re7 25. c3 bxc3 26. bxc3 Bf5 27. c4 Rb8 28. Ba2 d4 29. Bf4 Rc8 30. Bd6 Ree8 31. Bf8 Bxd3+ 32. Nxd3 c5? 33. Nxc5! Rxc5 34. Bxc5 Kxg7 35. Bxd4 0-1 Manhardt,T-Gallob,M/Austria 2001 (95) - White only lost because he blundered badly late in the ending.

11. h4

11. O-O-O!? b5 12. Bb3 b4 13. Ne4 Qh5 (13... Be6!? 14. Nd4 Bxb3 (14... Qh5 15. Bg5) 15. Nxb3 Qh5! (15... Qxa2?? 16. Nf6+!! exf6 (16... Kd8 17. Nxg8) 17. Rxd6! Ke7 18. Rd4) 16. Bd2 Rxg7 17. Bxb4) 14. Bg5 Qg4 (14... Qxe2 15. Rhe1 Qa6 16. Nxd6+ Kd8 17. Rxe7) 15. Nf4 d5 16. Bxd5 cxd5 17. Nxd5 f5 18. Nef6+ exf6 19. Nxf6+ Kf7 20. Nxg4 fxg4 21. Rhe1 Be6 22. Rd7+ 1-0 Vodicka,V-Djurkovic,M/Hradec Kralove 1992 (22)

 

11... Qh5 12. Bg5 Qg4 13. Nf4

13. Bb3!? Qxg2 14. O-O-O Rxg7 15. Rhe1

 

13... Rxg7 14. f3 Qf5

14... Qd7 15. O-O-O

 

15. O-O-O Bd7?

15... Qc5 16. Bb3

 

16. Rhe1! O-O-O

 


Position after 16.Rhe1 O-O-O

 

17. Ncd5!

a) 17. Rxe7!? Qa5 18. Bh6 lets the Queen escape but also wins.

b) 17. Nfd5 cxd5 18. Bd3 also works.

17... cxd5 18. Bd3

The queen is trapped.

 

18... Qe5 19. Rxe5 dxe5 20. Nxd5 f6










21. Nxf6!? exf6 22. Bxf6 Rdg8 23. Bxg7 Rxg7 24. Re1

White likely chose simplification to save time on the clock.

 

24... Re7 25. Re3 Bc6 26. Kd2 Kd7 27. Be4 Bxe4 28. Rxe4 Re6 29. Rb4 Kc6 30. Ke3 Rf6 31. g3

 

1-0

[Michael Goeller]

Games in PGN

Bibliography of Sources

Alburt, Lev and Alex Chernin. Pirc Alert! A Complete Defense Against 1.e4. New York: Chess Information and Research Center 2001.

Keene, Ramond and G. S. Botterill. The Modern Defence. London: Batsford 1979.

Nunn, John. The Complete Pirc. London: Batsford
Probably the most complete treatment outside of Thomas's book.

_______. New Ideas in the Pirc Defence. London: Batsford 2000.

_______ and Colin McNab. The Ultimate Pirc. London: Batsford 1998.

Persson, Tiger Hillarp. Tiger's Modern. Sweden: Quality Chessbooks 2005.

Thomas, M. Pirc Defense: A Line for White. Nottingham: The Chess Player Ltd. 1980.
Though old and out of print, this book offers an unparalleled and deep treatment of these lines.

Weramantry, Sunil and Ed Eusebi. Best Lessons of a Chess Coach. David McKay
In his chapter "Three for the Lady," Weeramantry analyzes his game Weeramantry-Schlagenhauf, HArrisburg, PA 1977 which began 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bc4 Bg7 5.Qe2 Nc6 6.e5 Nxd4 7.exf6! sacrificing the Queen for three minor pieces and the initiative. Especially useful for class players with an interest in this line.

Yrjola, Jouni and Jussi Tella. An Explosive Chess Opening Repertoire for Black. London: Gambit 2001.

Electronic Sources

"Combined Anti-Pirc/Anti-Modern/Anti-Gurgenidze." ChessPublishing.com Forum, thread 1143012834.

Stefan Kalhorn and Carsten Herrmann. "Pirc Anrempeln." Schachblätter weblog, March 26, 2006.

"Pirc as White with Bc4 and Qe2." Openings for Amateurs forum, thread 1143718940, NJSCF Message Boards