The Albin Counter Gambit:
Morozevich-Mengarini Variation

By Michael Goeller

The Albin Counter Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5!?) has been played and written about since it was first popularized by Adolf Albin in the 1890s. Recent use of the countergambit by GMs Morozevich and Nakamura has revived interest of late. During the early years of the gambit, White players tried a number of ideas until they hit upon the King's Bishop fianchetto with 3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.g3, which remains a popular approach. Black usually responds then 5...Bg4, 5...Be6, or (most interestingly) 5...Bf5!? -- but recent attention has focused on Morozevich's 5...Nge7!? (a move first used by Frank James Marshall and then by Ariel Mengarini ).

With Black doing well with a variety of answers to 5.g3, attention has shifted to 5.Nbd2! which has been recomended (e.g.: by Eric Schiller and Angus Dunnington) as the easiest anti-Albin line, but few sources discuss the Morozevich and Nakamura response of 5...Nge7, which may now be one of the most important theoretical lines for the evaluation of the Albin as a whole. Those that do discuss this line at all give 6.Nb3 Nf5 7.e4 dxe3 8.Qxd8+ Nxd8 (8...Kxd8 9.Bxe3! Nxe3 10.fxe3 += Bilguer!) 9.fxe3 += with an endgame edge for White as proven in several games. Yet no GM has tried this widely accepted "refutation" against Morozevich or Nakamura! One can only guess that they assume the two are fully computer-prepped, and that the doubled e-pawns on an open file are a significant long-term weakness. My own analysis of these lines is far from conclusive and I do not feel confident in Black's chances.

The following three games present 5...Nge7, which I think should be called the "Morozevich-Mengarini Variation," against White's three main 5th moves: 5.Nbd2, 5.g3, and 5.a3. It is also playable against other White fifth moves, including 5.Bf4 (as discussed by McGrew), but these are the three critical lines. Readers who wish to learn more about the Albin are urged to do their own research and analysis. Appended to this article is a complete bibliography of recent sources and a complete PGN file of my analysis that should be helpful to your work.

Game One: 5.Nbd2 Nge7

Ivan Sokolov (2685) - Alexander Morozevich (2741) [D08]

Corus/Wijk aan Zee (9) 2005


1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Nbd2 Nge7

This move may well be best, especially since the alternatives are not so promising:

a) 5... Bg4 6. a3 Qe7 7. h3 Bh5 8. Qa4 O-O-O 9. b4 worked out well for White in Goldin-Mengarini, New York 1991.

b) 5... Bf5 6. Nb3 Bb4+ 7. Bd2 Be7 8. Bf4 Bb4+!?

c) 5... Be6 6. Nb3!? Bxc4 7. Nbxd4

 

6. Nb3

6. g3 Ng6 7. Qa4 (7. Bg2 Ngxe5=) 7... Be7 (7... Bd7!?) 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Bg4!? 10. Qb5 Qc8 11. a3 a5 12. c5 Rd8 13. b3 Rd5 14. Ne4 Bf5 15. Nfd2 Ncxe5 16. Bb2? Bd7-+ 0-1 Zoebisch,H-Kovacs,G/Oberwart 2005 (16)

 

6... Nf5 7. a3

The critical line is considered to be:

7. e4 dxe3 8. Qxd8+ Nxd8 when White's activity is more important than his doubled and isolated pawns on the open e- file -- though Black certainly has long-term prospects.

(Perhaps the alternate recapture with 8... Kxd8 offers better chances, though the stem game looked good for White after 9. fxe3 (9. Bxe3! Nxe3 10. fxe3 Bilguer) 9... Bb4+ 10. Kf2 Be7 11. Nbd4 Bd7 12. Bd3 Nh4 13. Nxc6+ Bxc6 14. Nd4!? (14. Bd2 Ng6 15. Bc3 ) 14... Bxg2 15. Rg1 c5 16. Nb3?! Bc6 17. Rxg7 0-1 Pillsbury,H-Brody,M/Montecarlo 1902 (37))

9. fxe3 Nc6

(9... Bb4+?! 10. Kf2 Ne6 11. Bd3 Nc5 12. Nxc5 Bxc5 13. a3 a5 14. b3 O-O 15. Bd2 Rd8 16. Ke2 c6 17. g4 Ne7 18. h3 Ng6 19. Bc3 Bb6 20. Rhd1 Re8 21. Bf5 Bc7 22. Bxc8 Raxc8 23. Rd7 h6 24. Rad1 1-0 Fluvia Poyatos,J-Fluvia Poyatos,J/Badalona 2005 (56))

10. Bd3 Nfe7 11. Nbd4 Bg4 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Nxf3 Ng6 14. Bxg6 hxg6 15. Ke2 O-O-O 16. b3 Nb4 17. Bb2 Nd3 18. Bd4 Nc5 19. Ng5 1-0 Lehmann - Smederevac, Beverwijk 1965 (62). Surely Morozevich and Nakamura have something in mind to meet this line, but what it might be is not clear to me.

Not 7. g4? Nh4 8. Nbxd4 Bxg4!

 

7... Be7N

7... Be6 is also playable, with the main example leading to complex play after 8. Qd3

(Black had equality after 8. h3 h5 9. Bg5 Be7 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. Qd3 O-O-O 12. h4 a5 13. g3 a4 14. Bh3 g6 15. Nbd2 Qc5= in Napier,W-Tarrasch,S/Monte Carlo 1902)

8... Be7

(8... Qd7 9. g3 Bogoljubow)

9. g3 a5 10. Bg2 a4 11. g4 g6 12. Nbd2 Ng7 13. h3 h5 14. Qe4 Qd7 15. g5 Ra5 16. Qf4 Bf5 17. h4 O-O 18. O-O Ne6 19. Qg3 Nc5 20. Ne1 Nxe5 21. b4 axb3 22. Qxe5 Bd6 23. Qf6 Ra6!? (23... Be7 24. Qe5 Bd6=) 24. Nef3 Bh2+ 25. Kxh2 Rxf6 26. gxf6 d3?! 27. e3 Qd6+ 28. Kg1 Qxf6 29. Rb1 Ra8 30. Nd4 Bg4 31. N2xb3 Na4 32. Bd2 Qxh4 33. Nf3 Qf6 34. Nh2 Be2 35. Rfc1 h4 36. Nd4 Qg5 37. Kh1 Rd8 38. Rb5 Nc5 39. Nb3 b6 40. Nxc5 bxc5 41. Rcb1 Kh7 42. a4 Qf5 43. f4 h3 44. Bb7 Rd6 45. e4 Qd7 46. e5 Rb6 47. Bd5 c6 48. e6 Rxb5 49. axb5 fxe6 50. bxc6 Qc8 51. Rb7+ Kh6 52. f5+ g5 53. fxe6 Qa8 54. Rb1 Qa2 55. Rg1 Qxd2 56. c7 1-0 Saidy-Binet,L/Santa Monica 1967 (56)

 

8. g3

8. g4 Nh4 9. Nxh4 Bxh4

 

8... a5 9. Qd3 a4 10. Nbd2 h5

10... Ra5?! is cute but better for White after 11. b4! axb3 12. Nxb3 Nxe5 13. Nxe5 Rxe5 14. Bh3

 

11. Bh3

An alternative may be 11. Ne4!?

 

11... g6 12. Ne4 h4?

Better 12... Nh4! 13. Bxc8 Nxf3+ 14. Qxf3 Rxc8 15. Bf4 Qd7 16. O-O-O Qe6

 

13. Bf4 hxg3 14. hxg3 Ng7 15. Bg2?

Better 15. Nf6+! Bxf6 16. exf6 Ne6 (16... Qxf6? 17. Bd7++-) 17. Qe4 Qxf6 18. O-O-O

 

15... Rxh1+ 16. Bxh1 Bf5 17. Nfg5 Na5 18. Qf3?!

18. Nh7 Ne6 (18... Nh5 ) 19. Kf1 c6 20. Rd1 is unclear. Now Black gains the initiative and the upper hand.

 

18... Ne6 19. Nh7 Bxe4 20. Qxe4 c6 21. e3??

Black has the edge in any case, but this hands him the game. Better were 21. Kf1 Nxc4 (21... Qb6 22. Qc2 O-O-O ) 22. Rc1 Na5 or 21. O-O-O g5

 

21... Nb3 22. Rd1 Qa5+

22... g5!? 23. exd4 gxf4 24. d5 fxg3 25. fxg3 Qa5+ 26. Kf2 Qc5+ 27. Kf1 O-O-O

 

23. Ke2 Nec5 24. Qg2

24. Qc2 d3+ 25. Rxd3 Nxd3 26. Kxd3 O-O-O+ -+

 

24... Qa6-+ 25. Kf1

25. exd4 Qxc4+ 26. Ke3 Nc1 27. Qf3 O-O-O -+

 

25... Qxc4+ 26. Kg1 Qc2 27. Qf3 d3 28. Bg5 Ne4 29. Bxe7 Nxf2! 30. Qxf2 Qxd1+ 31. Kg2 Qc2 32. Bd6 O-O-O 33. Kg1 Qxf2+ 34. Kxf2 Rh8 0-1


Game Two: 5.g3 Nge7

Sergei Tiviakov (2618) - Gert Ligterink (2391) [D09]

Staunton CC Albin Theme Invitational/Groningen NED (3) 2001


1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. g3 Nge7 6. Bg2

 

a) 6. Bg5 Bg4 Black switches back to the more traditional plan, where Bg5 is not useful

(Even better may be 6... Bf5 7. Nbd2 Qd7 8. Bxe7?!

(better 8. Nb3 Lamford 8... h6! 9. Bxe7 (9. Nc5!? Qc8 10. Bd2 Ng6 11. Nd3 Qe6 ) 9... Bxe7 10. Bg2 (10. Nbxd4?? Bb4+) 10... O-O-O )

8... Bxe7 9. Qa4 O-O!? 10. Bg2 f6!? 11. exf6 Bxf6 12. O-O Rfe8 13. Rfe1 Re7 14. Nb3 Rae8 15. Nc5 Qc8 16. Bf1 Ne5 (16... d3!?) 17. Nxd4 b6 18. Ncb3 (18. f4?! Ng4 19. Nxf5 Qxf5 20. Nd3 Qh5! with an attack) 18... c5 19. Nxf5 Qxf5 20. Nd2 Ng4 Ilivitzki (Ilivich?)-Shamkovich, Gorki 1945)

7. Nbd2

(7. h3 Bxf3 8. exf3 Nxe5 9. f4 N5c6 10. Bg2 Qd7=)

7... Qd7 8. Bxe7

(8. h3 Bxf3 9. Nxf3 Ng6 10. Bg2

(10. Qb3 Bb4+ 11. Bd2 Bxd2+ 12. Nxd2 Ngxe5 13. Qxb7 Rb8 14. Qa6 Nb4)

10... Bb4+)

8... Bxe7 9. Bg2 O-O-O 10. Qb3 a6 11. a3 Bh3= Huss-Mozny, Prague 1988

 

b) 6. Nbd2 Ng6 7. a3

(No better is 7. Nb3 Bb4+ 8. Bd2 Qe7 9. Bg2 Ncxe5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Bxb4 (11. Nxd4 O-O 12. b3? Rd8 -+) 11... Qxb4+ 12. Qd2 Qxd2+ 13. Nxd2 Bd7 14. O-O O-O-O Warren-Mengarini, New York Ch 1961)

7... Ncxe5 8. Nxe5 Nxe5 9. Bg2 Be7 10. O-O O-O 11. b4 a5 Szmetan-Leow, Philadelphia 1989

 

c) 6. Na3?! Bg4!?

(6... Ng6 7. Nc2 Ngxe5 8. Nxe5 Nxe5 9. Qxd4 Qxd4 10. Nxd4 Nxc4= Chess Atlas / Lamford)

7. Nc2 Qd7 8. Bg2 O-O-O Janowski-Marshall, Frankreich 1908

 

d) 6. e3?! Bg4 7. h3

(7. exd4 Nxd4! (7... Bxf3 8. Qxf3 Qxd4 9. Be2 Qxe5 (9... Ng6! 10. e6 fxe6 unclear) 10. Nc3 Matera-Mengarini, USA Eastern Ch. 1978 10... Nd4!? 11. Qxb7 Rd8 Lamford(11... Rc8!?) 12. Bf4! Qe6 ) 8. Bg2 Nec6! )

7... Bxf3 8. Qxf3 Ng6= 9. Qe4 Qg5!?

(or 9... Bb4+ 10. Bd2 Bxd2+ 11. Nxd2 Ngxe5 12. f4 f5)

 

6... Ng6 7. Bf4!?N

White has a wide variety of alternatives:

 

a) 7. O-O Ngxe5

(a1) 7... Bg4? 8. h3 Bxf3 9. exf3! Ngxe5 10. f4! Ng6 11. Re1+ Nge7 (11... Be7 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. f5 Nf8 14. Bg5 ) 12. b4! )

(a2) 7... Be7 8. b3 Ngxe5 9. Nxe5 Nxe5 10. Bb2 c5 (10... Bf6 11. Nd2 c5 12. Ne4 Be7 13. e3 Piskov-Mozny, Clichy 1990) 11. e3! (11. Nd2 O-O 12. Nf3= Foldi-Chetverik, Gyongyos 1999) )

8. Nbd2

(8. Nxe5 Nxe5 9. b3

(a) 9. Nd2 Be7 10. Nf3 Nxf3+ 11. Bxf3 O-O=)

(b) 9. Qb3!? Bc5!

(b1) 9... Bd6?! 10. e3 dxe3 11. Bxe3 c6 12. Nc3 O-O 13. Ne4 Raetzky and Chetverik)

(b2) 9... Nd7?! 10. e3 Nc5!? (10... dxe3?! 11. Bxe3 Be7 12. Nc3 c6 13. Rad1 Qa5 14. Rfe1 O-O 15. Bd2 Winkstrom-Erikson SWE Corr Ch 1980-1981) 11. Qd1 d3 12. Nc3 (12. b4? Qf6) 12... a5 13. Ne4! c6 14. Bd2 Be6 15. Nxc5 Bxc5 16. Bc3 Qd6 17. Bxg7! (17. Qh5 O-O 18. Rfd1 f5 19. b3 ) 17... Rg8 18. Bc3 Bxc4 19. Qd2 a4 20. Be4 Rg4 21. Bxh7 )

(b3) 9... c5!? 10. Bf4?! (better 10. e3! Be7! (10... Qb6? 11. exd4 Qxb3 12. axb3 cxd4 13. Re1) 11. Re1 Nc6 12. Nd2 ) 10... Nc6 11. Na3 Bd6 12. Bxd6 Qxd6 13. Nb5 Qe7 14. Rfe1 Meyer-Mengarini, US Open 1978)

10. Bf4

(b1) 10. Re1 c6 11. e3 O-O 12. exd4 Bxd4)

(b2) 10. Qb5+?! Nd7)

(b3) 10. Nd2 O-O 11. Ne4 Be7 12. Rd1 c5= 13. e3?! Bg4)

10... Qe7 (10... Nd7!? 11. e3 O-O=) 11. Bxe5 Qxe5 12. Bxb7 Bxb7 13. Qb5+ Ke7 14. Qxb7 Rab8 15. Qc6 Rxb2)

9... Bc5!

(9... c5?! Hoeksema 10. e3! Bg4 11. f3 Be6 (11... Bh5? 12. exd4 cxd4 13. g4 Bg6 14. f4+-) 12. f4 )

10. Bb2

(10. b4 Be7=)

(10. Nd2 O-O 11. Ne4 Be7 12. Bb2 f5 13. Nd2 c5)

10... O-O 11. Nd2 f5!=)

8... Be7

(8... Nxf3+ 9. Nxf3 Be7 10. b3 O-O 11. Bb2 Bf6 12. Qd2 Szmacinska-Legowska, POL 1978)

9. b3

(9. Nb3 Nxf3+ 10. exf3?! O-O 11. f4 Bf6= Guthrie-Sarapu, Auckland 1996)

9... O-O 10. Bb2 Nxf3+ 11. Nxf3 Bf6= Burn-Schlechter, Barmen 1905

 

b) 7. Bg5 Qd7! Morozevich's move

(b1) 7... f6!? Chetverik/Mozny 8. exf6 gxf6 9. Bd2! Be6 10. Qa4 Qd7 11. O-O Bh3 (11... O-O-O 12. b4 Kb8 13. c5 Horvath-Chetverik, Harkany 2001) 12. e3 Sorin-Mozny, Biel 1992 and Arlandi-Mozny, Imperia 1996)

(b2) 7... Be7?! 8. Bxe7 Kxe7!? (8... Qxe7 9. Nxd4 Henneberke-Sarik, Dutch Ch 1963) 9. Qd2 Re8 10. O-O Kf8 11. Rd1 Bg4 12. Na3 Ngxe5 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. h3 Bf5 15. Qxd4 )

8. O-O

(The critical alternative is 8. e6!? fxe6 9. O-O (perhaps 9. h4!?) 9... e5 10. Nbd2 (not 10. Qa4?! h6 11. Bc1 Be7) 10... h6 11. Bh4 Bb4! which is a critical improvement I think on previous play

(11... Be7?! Krasenkov-Morozevich, Podolsk 1993 12. Bxe7 Qxe7 13. Qc2 Qf7 14. Ne1 O-O 15. Nd3 Kh8?! (15... Nge7 16. f4 exf4 17. Rxf4 Bf5 18. Raf1 Qe6 Raetsky and Chetverik) 16. b4 Bg4 17. Rae1 Rae8?! (17... a6 18. a3 Rad8 Raetsky and Chetverik) 18. b5 Nd8 19. Qa4 1-0 in 59)

(11... Bd6?! 12. c5! Bxc5 13. Qc2 Nxh4 14. Nxh4 S. Polgar - Nakamura, Exhibition 2005 )

12. Ne4 Qf7 13. a3 Nxh4 14. Nxh4 Be7 15. f4 Bxh4 16. fxe5 Qg6

(16... Qxc4 17. gxh4 Raetsky and Chetverik)

17. gxh4 Bh3 18. Ng3 Bxg2 19. Kxg2 O-O-O )

8... h6!?N

(8... Ngxe5 9. Nbd2 Nxf3+

(a) 9... f6 10. Bf4 g5?! 11. Ne4 Be7 12. Bxe5 Nxe5 13. Nxe5 fxe5 14. e3 h5?! 15. exd4 Raetzky and Chetverik following Fernschach)

(b) 9... Be7?! 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. Nb3 Nxc4 12. Nfxd4 N6e5 13. Qc1! Nb6 14. a4 a5 15. Qc3 Nec4 16. Nc6! Smit-Balogh, Correspondence 1975 - annotated in Fernschach)

10. Nxf3

(perhaps 10. exf3!? f6 11. Bf4 Be7! (11... Bd6?! 12. Re1+ Kf7 13. Bxd6 Qxd6 14. f4 Raetzky and Chetverik) 12. Re1 O-O 13. Nb3 e.g.: 13... a5! 14. a4 d3 15. Re3 Rd8 16. Bf1 Nb4)

10... Bc5 11. a3 a5 12. Qa4! Ra6 Trapl-Mista, Chehia 1994

(12... f6 13. Qb5 (13. Bf4 g5 14. Qb5 gxf4 15. Qxc5 ) 13... a4 14. Bd2 )

13. Rfd1 O-O 14. e3 Raetsky and Chetverick)

9. Bf4 Nxf4 10. gxf4 g5 11. Nbd2

(11. fxg5?! hxg5 12. Nxg5 Qg4 13. f4 Qh4->)

(11. e3 dxe3 12. Qxd7+ Bxd7 13. fxe3)

11... gxf4 12. Ne4?! Be7

(12... Bg7!? 13. Qd2 Nxe5 14. Qxf4 Ng6 15. Qd2 Qg4 16. Ng3 Nf4 Raetzky and Chetverik)

13. Qd2 Qg4 14. Kh1 Bf5 15. Nxd4?

( 15. h3 Qh5 16. Qxf4 Bxh3 17. Ng3 Qg4! Raetzky and Chetverik)

15... Rd8

(15... O-O-O!? 16. Nxc6 Rxd2 17. Nxe7+ Kd8 18. Nxf5 Rd7 Raetzky and Chetverik)

16. Nxf5

(16. Nf6+ Bxf6 17. Bxc6+ bxc6 18. exf6 c5! 19. Qa5 cxd4 20. Rg1 Qh3 21. Qxc7 Bd7 Raetzky and Chetverik)

16... Rxd2 17. Nxe7 Kxe7 18. Nxd2 Qxe2-+ 19. Nf3 Rg8 20. b3 Nb4 21. Nd4 Qg4 22. Be4 Rg5

(22... Nd3!! Raetzky and Chetverik)

23. Rg1 Qd7 24. Nf3 Rxg1+ 25. Rxg1 Nd3 26. Rg2 c6 27. Bh7 a5 28. Nh4 Nxe5 0-1, Gelfand-Morozevich, Monaco blindfold 2004

 

c) 7. Qa4!? Bd7!?

(7... Bb4+?! 8. Bd2 Bxd2+ 9. Nbxd2 O-O 10. O-O Ncxe5 (10... Ngxe5!?) 11. Rfd1 (11. c5 d3=) 11... c5 12. Qa3!

(a) 12. Ne4 Bd7!)

(b) 12. Qb5 Qc7 13. b4 d3 14. Nxe5 Nxe5 15. exd3 Nxd3 16. bxc5 Bg4 17. Nb3! an impressive positional exchange sacrifice that helps the powerful fianchettoed Bishop emerge and the queeside pawns gain power (and much better than 17. Rdb1 Rab8 18. c6 bxc6 19. Qxc6 Rxb1+ 20. Rxb1 Qa5=) 17... Bxd1 18. Rxd1 Rad8 19. Qxb7 Qe5 20. Qe4 Qc3?! (Black can hold on with 20... Qxe4 21. Bxe4 Nb2 22. Rxd8 (22. Rb1 Nxc4 23. Rc1 Na3 24. c6 Nb5=) 22... Rxd8 23. Bb7 Nxc4 24. c6 Nd6 25. c7 Nxb7 26. cxd8=Q+ Nxd8=) 21. Qe3! Rfe8 22. Be4! Qb4 23. c6 Ne5 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. c7+- Rd1+ 26. Kg2 Qxc4 27. Qe2!! Qxc7 28. Qxd1 Koerholz-Mozny, Policka 1993, 1-0 in 40)

12... Qc7

(a) 12... Qb6 13. Nxe5! Nxe5 14. Ne4! Nd7 (14... Nxc4 15. Qxc5 ) 15. e3 dxe3 16. Qxe3 Qxb2 17. Nxc5 Nxc5 18. Qxc5 )

(b) 12... Nxf3+?! 13. Bxf3!)

13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Ne4! Nd7 15. b4)

8. Qb3 Bb4+!

(8... Rb8 9. e3 Bb4+ 10. Bd2 Bc5 11. exd4 Nxd4 12. Nxd4 Bxd4 13. O-O )

9. Bd2

(9. Nbd2 Qe7 (9... a5 10. a3 a4! 11. Qd3 Ba5! 12. O-O O-O 13. Nxd4 Ngxe5 14. Nxc6 Bxc6 15. Qxd8 Rfxd8 16. Bxc6 Nxc6 17. Nf3 Nd4 18. Be3) 10. a3 Ba5 11. Qd1 Bxd2+ 12. Qxd2 Ngxe5 13. Nxd4 O-O-O 14. O-O Qc5 )

9... a5! 10. e3 dxe3 11. Qxe3 O-O 12. O-O Re8=

 

d) 7. Qb3 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Nbd2 Ngxe5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Nf3 Nxf3+ 12. Bxf3 a5 13. Rd1 a4 14. Qd3 Bc5 15. Bf4

(Mengarini notes 15. e3 Qf6! 16. exd4 Bxd4!)(or 15. Be3?? dxe3!-+ both favor Black.)

15... Qe7 16. h4 h6 17. Rac1 Re8 Threatening to win a pawn by g7-g5-g4 and Qxe2. 18. h5 Ra6 19. Re1 Rf6! 20. a3 (20. Bg2 Bf5 21. Qd1 a3 ) 20... Rb6 21. Qd2 Rb3 22. g4 Qh4 23. Bxc7 Bxg4 24. Qf4 d3!! 25. e3 d2 26. Bxg4 Bxe3!! 0-1 Dunning-Mengarini, Massachusetts 1979

 

7... Nxf4

a) 7... f6?! 8. exf6 Nxf4 9. f7+! Kxf7 10. gxf4 Qf6 11. O-O (11. Ng5+!?) 11... h6 12. e3! Ligterink-Thiel, Ruhrgebiet 1999

b) 7... Be7!? 8. O-O O-O 9. e3 (better 9. Qd3 f6 10. exf6 Bxf6 11. Nbd2 Qe7 ) 9... dxe3 10. Bxe3 Ngxe5 11. Nxe5 Nxe5= Litvinchuk-Mengarini, Marshall CC, New York 1979 might be considered a stem game.

8. gxf4 f6 9. Nbd2

9. exf6?! Qxf6 10. Nbd2 Qxf4 (or 10... Bd6 11. e3 dxe3 12. fxe3 Qxb2 ) 11. Qb3 a5!?

 

9... fxe5 10. fxe5

10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. fxe5 Qg5 12. Kf1

(or 12. Bd5 Qxe5 13. Qa4+ (not 13. Nf3? Bb4+ 14. Kf1 Bh3+-+)

13... Bd7 14. Qb3 Rb8=) 12... Bc5! 13. Nf3 Qe7

 

10... Bf5

"Here Black definitely has reasonable compensation for the pawn. He has the bishop pair and White's pawn structure is a bit shaky" writes Hoeksema in NIC.

 

11. Qb3!

11. O-O Qe7 12. Qb3 O-O-O

 

11... Bb4?

But Black will have to find an alternative to this blunder. Two options present themselves in 11....Nb4 or 11.....Rb8 which both defend the b-pawn and present Black with good counterplay ideas. But things are messy for both sides.

a) 11... Nb4!? 12. O-O!

(12. Rc1 d3! (also playable is 12... a5 13. c5! (or 13. a3 a4 14. Qd1 Nc6= with the idea of Bc5 and Qe7 according to Hoeksema) and Black holds his own, but the central pawn push is more forcing) 13. e3?! Nc2+ 14. Kf1 Bb4! 15. a3 Bxd2 16. Nxd2 O-O 17. c5+?! Kh8 18. Kg1 Bh3! 19. Ne4 (not 19. Bxh3 Qg5+ 20. Bg2 Rxf2!-+) 19... d2 20. Rd1 Bxg2 21. Kxg2 Ne1+ 22. Rhxe1 dxe1=Q 23. Rxe1 Qd7 24. e6 Qc6 25. f3 Rae8)

12... Bc2 13. Qa3 c6 14. Nb3 Be4 15. Nbxd4 Nc2 16. Qc3 Nxa1 17. Rxa1 Bxf3 18. exf3! Qh4 19. c5 O-O-O 20. f4

 

b) 11... Rb8!? 12. O-O-O!? Qd7

(perhaps 12... Qe7 13. e3 dxe3 14. fxe3 (14. Qxe3 Nb4 15. Qxa7 Nd3+=) 14... b5 15. Nh4 (15. cxb5? Qc5+ 16. Nc4 Na5-+) 15... Bd7! 16. Nf5! (16. cxb5 Nxe5) 16... Qxe5 17. Bxc6 Bxc6 18. Rhf1)

13. e3 d3 (13... b5?! 14. e6! Bxe6 15. Nxd4 bxc4 16. Nxc4 Rxb3 17. Bxc6 Qxc6 18. Nxc6 Rb5 19. Rd8+ Kf7 20. N4e5+ Kf6 21. f4 Bxa2 22. Nd7+ Kf7 23. e4) 14. Ne1 Nxe5 15. f4

 

12. a3! Bxd2+ 13. Nxd2 Qg5?!

Better 13... Rb8.

 

14. Rg1

14. Qxb7 Qxg2 15. Qxa8+ Kf7 16. Qxh8 Qxh1+ 17. Nf1+-

 

14... O-O-O 15. Qxb7+! Kxb7 16. Bxc6+ Kxc6 17. Rxg5+- g6 18. O-O-O Rhe8 19. f4 Kb6 20. b4 a5 21. Kb2 axb4 22. axb4 c5 23. Nb3 cxb4 24. Rg3 Rd7 25. Rxd4 Rxd4 26. Nxd4 Kc5 27. Nxf5 gxf5 28. Kb3 Ra8 29. e6 Ra6 30. Rd3 Rxe6 31. Rd5+ Kc6 32. Rxf5 Rxe2 33. Rh5 1-0 [Michael Goeller]


Game Three: 5.a3 Nge7

V. Topalov (2757) - A. Morozevich (2741) [D08]

Amber Rapid/Monte Carlo MNC (7) 2005


1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. a3 Nge7!

The best move.

a) 5... a5?! is what I used to play, but White has an easy edge after simply 6. Bg5! (6. e3 Bc5! 7. exd4 Bxd4! ) 6... Be7 7. h4 Karpov-Stoma, Simul 1998

 

b) 5... Be6!? 6. e3 dxe3 7. Qxd8+ Rxd8 8. Bxe3 Nge7 Van der Weil-Ligterink, Groningen 2001, gave White no advantage but was nothing special for Black either.

 

6. b4!

Consistent and best. White's alternatives are not promising:

a) 6. e3 Nf5! the point! 7. exd4

(No better are 7. e4 Nh4! 8. Nbd2 Bg4 ) (or 7. b4!? dxe3 8. Qxd8+ Nxd8 9. Bxe3 )

7... Nfxd4 8. Nxd4 Qxd4! 9. Qxd4 Nxd4 10. Ra2 Bf5 and the weakness created by 5.a3 tells against White.

 

b) 6. Bf4 Ng6 7. Bg3 h5! 8. h3 h4 9. Bh2 Rh5!? is a cute way to recover the e-pawn!

 

c) 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bxe7 Bxe7 gives Black good long-term compensation.

 

6... Ng6 7. Bb2 a5 8. b5 Ncxe5 9. Nxe5

9. Bxd4 Nxc4 10. e3 Be6 is similar to the game line.

 

9... Nxe5 10. e3 Be6 11. Bxd4 Nxc4 12. Qc2 Nd6 13. Bd3 Qg5! 14. f4!

The best way to defend g2 without immediately surrendering the initiative to Black.

 

14... Qh4+ 15. g3 Qh5 16. Nc3 Nf5!

16... O-O-O 17. b6

 

17. O-O O-O-O!? 18. Ba7!

A highly original and challenging move! 18. Bxf5 Bxf5 19. Qa4 b6 gives White no entries on the queenside.

 

18... Qg4!

Counter-attack or die!

 

19. Ne4?!

19. Na4! threatening immediate mate with Nb6 seems hard to meet! 19... Rd6!? 20. Rfc1 but maybe Black can hold with 20... c6 21. Bc5 Nxg3!!

 

19... Rd7 20. Rfd1 Qf3!?

Black wants to remove the Queens and trap the Bishop at a7--a deep conception for blitz and one unfathomable by computers.

 

21. Ng5 Nxe3 22. Nxf3

22. Qd2 Rxd3! 23. Nxf3 Rxd2 24. Rxd2 b6

 

22... Nxc2 23. Bxc2 b6 24. Ne5 Rxd1+ 25. Rxd1 Bxa3!

Black's in no hurry to pick up the Bishop.

 

26. f5

26. Be4 a4! and the Bishop is irrelevant due to the scary passed a-pawn.

 

26... Ba2!

The Bishop must stay on the a2-f7 diagonal to combat Be4, and thanks to some tactics it can with advantage!

 

27. Ra1 Bc5+ 28. Kf1 Re8! 29. Re1

29. Rxa2 Rxe5-+

 

29... f6

Even better is 29... Bd4!

 

30. Nd3 Rxe1+ 31. Kxe1 Bd6!

Stopping Nf4 and Be4

 

32. Nc1 Bd5

and White never had time for Be4!

 

33. Bb3 Be4 34. Bxb6 cxb6

The trapped Bishop has sold himself for a pawn, but Black remains up a dangerous outside passer, with the two Bishops and a likely second pawn on the way. White's position is hopeless.

 

35. Be6+ Kc7 36. Ke2 Be5 37. Nd3 Kd6 38. Ke3 Bd5

An amazingly good fighting game from both players!

 

0-1

Games in PGN

Bibliography of Albin Resources (focused on ...Nge7)

Books and Articles

Jeroen Bosch, "Morozevich’s Pet Line in the Albin" Secrets of Opening Surprises 2 (New in Chess 2004)
I actually have not seen this article, though I will likely be getting hold of it soon, especially if I decide to present my analysis. I imagine it is the most important piece on the Albin in recent years.

Angus Dunnington, Attacking with 1.d4 (Everyman 2001)
In a rather short but influential chapter on the Albin, Dunnington recommends 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Nbd2! Interestingly, he does not even mention Morozevich and Nakamura's response of 5....Nge7. But his analysis of other lines does suggest why 5....Nge7 has become the standard Black response: the rest give Black only trouble!

Tim Harding, Counter Gambits: Black to Play and Win (British Chess Magazine 1974)
Covers mostly 5.a3 and 5.Nbd2 with a note on 5.g3.

Luc Henris, Albin Counterambit / Albins Gegengambit (ChessBase CD 2003)
This is likely the most important current Albin resource, with many games and excellent text files. The Albin, though, is still very much open territory in many lines and there is little theoretical concensus. Henris thinks 5.Nbd2 Bf5!? is best.

Paul Lamford, The Albin Counter-Gambit 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5!? (Batsford 1983)
Some very good analysis that holds up fairly well against more contemporary sources. He suggests in a footnote that the game Pillsbury-Brody, Hanover 1902, puts the line 5.Nbd2 Nge7 6.Nb3 Nf5 7.e4 dxe3 8.Qxd8+ into question with 8....Kxd8!? But this seems a dubious idea.

Ariel Mengarini, Predicament in Two Dimensions: The Thinking of a Chess Player (Thinker's Press 1979)
Mengarini discusses the game Dunning-Mengarini, Mass. 1979, where he takes credit for playing and analyzing lines featuring 5...Nge7. I wonder if J. S. Hilbert (who inherited Mengarini's unpublished game scores) can confirm that?

Susan Polgar, "The Albin Counter-Gambit" Chess Life (February 2005)
A useful little article that inspired Nakamura to play the 5...Nge7 line against her (see links below).

Alexander Raetzki and Maxim Tschetwerik, Albins Gegengambit (Kania 1998)
Written in Informant-style notation by Raetsky and Chetverik, this book is quite useful for those studying the line. The same pair that wrote the article below (and many other books and articles), but with a different spelling....

Alexander Raetsky and Maxim Chetverik, "A 'Suspect Variation' in a Suspect Counter-Gambit." New in Chess Yearbook 155-159
Explores Morozevich's 5.g3 Nge7, which had been tried previously by co-author Cheterik with success and has a longer pedigree than is widely realized (including games by Ariel Mengarini they do not mention).

John van der Weil and Erik Hoeksma, "Still Suspect" New in Chess Yearbook 129-136.
Uses Chris Ward's book (see below) and the games from the Groningen Theme Tournament (see links below) as a focus for discussing the latest theory on the Albin.

Chris Ward, Unusual Queen's Gambit Declined (Everyman 2002)
Very solid coverage though not the most in-depth since the book also covers the Chigorin and Baltic.

Web Resources

The X-Rated Albin by Andrew Martin
A good fun article on the vulgar caveman way to play the Albin against 5.g3 by simply going straight for the standard attack with Be6 (or f5 or g4), Qd7, O-O-O, Bh3, and h5-h4.

Polgar-Nakamura, Virginia Beach 2005 annotated by Susan Polgar
An Albin featuring Morozevich's 5...Nge7 and analyzed above.

Adolf Albin and the Genesis of the Albin Counter Gambit, Part One and Pat Two, by Olimpiu G. Urcan
Despite the title's promise, these articles are more about Albin and his contributions to chess than about his (or was it really someone else's?) famous opening concept. But there is enough of a historical survey of the gambit to make these articles worth reading.

Albins Gegengambit
An excellent piece of analysis and a complete statistical survey of the opening from Scid.

Albin Counter-Gambit
From the Chess Corner Opening Survey site, with several sample games to view online.

How to Meet the Albin by Eric Schiller
This piece on the 5.Nbd2 line has vanished from the web and cannot be found in the Archive, but you can still find it in the Google Cache.

A Fistful of Novelties by Tim McGrew
Includes an interesting novelty in an Albin sideline with 5.Bf4 Nge7.

Albin Counter Gambit Tournament, Groningen 2001
A powerful thematic tournament, with games to download in PGN format.

Tiviakov-Brenninkmeijer, Groningen 2001, annotated by Tiviakov

Albin Counter Gambit Thematic E-mail Tournament
Tournament sponsored by CCN, with completed games in PGN format and in Java replay.

Ippolito-Shapiro, NJ Open 2001 annotated by Dean Ippolito

A Marvelous Combination of the XX Century by Boris Schipkov
A very well-annotaed game, though one with a White bias.

Checkpoint #58 by Karsten Hansen
Includes a review of and excerpt from Luc Henris's excellent Albin CD.

Levitt-Speelman, Torquay 1982 annotated by Jon Edwards
Interesting game annotated by US Correspondence champ and former chess blogger.

Kokesh-Hammer 1997 annotated by Kokesh
An interesting game by two experts.

Download 470 PGN Albin Games from the Pitt Archive

Albin Countergambit
A mystery personal site with insufficient information. Includes games from other openings without explanation for club players.

Contre Gambit Albin Focuses on the more unusual White replies.

Queen's Gambit Declined, Albin Countergambit from Chessgames.com
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessopening?eco=D08
A nice collection of games to play over online.

Albin CounterGambit Thematic Email Tournament
Sponsored by CCN, 2002 A collection of games from the theme tournament, some of which reveal interesting ideas.