Tal's Janowski-Indian Games

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Bf5!?

The Janowski-Indian (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Bf5!?) was a favorite of Mikhail Tal's during the 1960's and 1970's, when he used it as a way of avoiding the Saemisch and the Four Pawns Attack in the King's Indian. Basically, if White played an early Nf3, Tal would go into the King's Indian (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nf3 g6) but otherwise he chose the Janowski. I've collected Tal's games with the line, and he played enough of them that they basically represent an excellent introduction to the system. For those interested in learning more there is the short bibliography below (which may well be a complete bibliography on this otherwise quite obscure line).

Game One: 4.g3

Georgy K Borisenko - Mihail Tal [A53]

URS-ch32/Kiev 1964


1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 Bf5 4. g3

Alekhine's choice. White typically plays for a space advantage. Black plays to mitigate the power of the fianchettoed Bishop while seeking to weaken the dark squares.

 

4... e5!

Black must play actively. Too slow is 4... c6 5. Bg2 Nbd7 6. e4 Bg6 7. Nge2 e5 8. h3 Be7!? Schiller (8... Qb6?! 9. O-O O-O-O? 10. d5 Alekhine-Janowski, New York 1924) 9. f4! exd4 (9... h5?! 10. Be3 h4 11. g4 ) 10. Qxd4 and Black will be quite cramped.

 

5. Nf3

5. dxe5 dxe5 6. Qxd8+ Kxd8= This basic endgame position is well known to be good for Black. The White pawn at c4 limits the scope of the White Bishop, weakens the dark squares, and presents a potential target of attack. Black also gets good play after 5. Bg2 Nc6 (5... exd4?! 6. Bxb7 dxc3 7. Bxa8 ) 6. d5 Nd4 7. e4 Bg4 8. f3 Bd7 9. Nge2 c5! 10. dxc6 Nxc6 11. Be3 Be7 12. O-O O-O 13. Qd2 a6 14. Rfd1 Na5 15. b3 b5 Piket-Sokolov, Amsterdam 1996

 

5... Nbd7 6. Bg2 c6 7. Nh4 Bg4

7... exd4!? 8. Nxf5! (8. Qxd4 Be6 ) 8... dxc3 9. Nxd6+ Bxd6 10. Qxd6 cxb2 11. Bxb2 Qa5+ 12. Qd2 Qxd2+ 13. Kxd2 O-O-O= Play is probably balanced, since Black has better open lines and a potential target at c4, but it's difficult not to think that White's two Bishops give him the long-term edge in this open position.

 

8. h3

8. d5!? cxd5 9. Nxd5 Nxd5 10. Qxd5 Rb8=

 

8... Bh5?

This gets Tal into trouble. Much better is the thematic 8... exd4! 9. hxg4!? (9. Qxd4 Be6=) 9... dxc3 10. g5 cxb2 11. Bxb2 Ng4

 

9. Be3

9. d5

 

9... Be7

9... exd4 10. Qxd4

 

10. Nf5!? Bg6!

Forcing matters in a way that eventually presents Black with counterplay. 10... O-O 11. Qb3 exd4 12. Bxd4 Nb6 13. O-O-O

 

11. Nxg7+ Kf8 12. Bh6 Kg8 13. g4

13. e4!?

 

13... Bf8! 14. Nf5 Bxf5 15. Bxf8 Kxf8 16. gxf5 Rg8! 17. Kf1 Qa5 18. Qd2

18. d5

 

18... exd4 19. Qxd4 Qxf5 20. Qxd6+ Kg7 21. Qd3 Qxd3 22. exd3 Ne5 23. Rd1 Rad8 24. Be4 Kh6?!

24... Nxe4=

 

25. b3 Rge8 26. Rg1 Nxe4! 27. dxe4 Rxd1+ 28. Nxd1 Nf3!=

From this point on, Tal plays recklessly for advantage and risks losing the game, but manages to rescue it in the end.

 

29. Rg2 Rxe4 30. Ne3 Nd4 31. Rg8 f5 32. Rb8 Kg5 33. Rxb7 f4 34. Ng4 h5 35. Nh2 f3 36. Rf7 Rf4 37. h4+ Rxh4 38. Nxf3+ Nxf3 39. Rxf3 Rh1+ 40. Kg2 Ra1 41. a4 Rb1 42. Rf7 Rxb3 43. Rxa7 Ra3 44. a5 h4 45. a6 h3+ 46. Kg1 Kg4 47. Rg7+ Kh4 48. a7 Ra1+ 49. Kh2 Ra2 50. Rf7 c5 51. Rf4+ Kg5 52. Rf8 Rxa7 53. Kxh3 Ra3+ 54. f3= 1/2-1/2


Game Two: 4.f3

Yuri S Balashov - Mihail Tal [A53]

Moscow 5'/Moscow 1972


1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 Bf5 4. f3 e5 5. e4

White's alternatives are not better:

 

a) 5. dxe5 dxe5 6. Qxd8+ Kxd8 as usual, Black is fine in this ending. 7. Bg5 c6 8. O-O-O+ Kc7 9. g3 (9. e4 Be6 10. f4?! h6 (10... Ng4!?) 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. f5 Bc8 will give Black the advantage once he unravels according to Schiller) 9... Be6 10. b3 Bc5! 11. Bh3?? (better 11. e4 Na6 )

 


Black to play and win.

 

11... Bxg1! 12. Rhxg1 (12. Bxe6 Bd4!-+) 12... Bxh3 13. g4 h5 14. Rg3 hxg4 15. fxg4 Nbd7-+ 0-1 Visier Segovia,F-Tal,M/Palma de Mallorca 1966 (15)

 

b) 5. d5 e4 (5... Nh5!? 6. g3 Be7 7. e4 Bc8 is unclear but avoids the draw of 6.g4!?) 6. Bg5 (6. g4!? forces a draw after 6... Nxg4 7. fxg4 Qh4+ 8. Kd2 e3+ 9. Kxe3 Qg5+ 10. Kf3 Qxg4+ 11. Kf2 Qh4+ 12. Ke3 Qg5+=) 6... exf3 7. gxf3 Be7 8. e4 Bg6 9. h4 h6 10. Be3 Nbd7= Doncheva-Shikova, Bakia 1992. Also interesting for White is 6.Be3!?

 

5... exd4 6. Qxd4 Nc6

Tal also experimented with the idea of gaining time on the Queen by ...g6 and ...Bg7 after 6... Be6 7. Nd5!

(Probably better than 7. Bd3 Nc6! 8. Qe3 Nb4!? (8... Ne5 ) (8... Nd7 ) 9. Nd5! Nxd3+ 10. Qxd3 Nd7 11. Qc2 g6 12. Bd2 Bg7 13. Bc3 Bxc3+ 14. Qxc3 O-O 15. Ne2 Re8 16. O-O c6 17. Ndf4 Qb6+ 18. Kh1 Qc5 19. Rac1 Rad8 20. Rfd1 Nf8 21. Rd2 f5 22. Ng3 Qe5 23. Nxe6 Nxe6 24. Rcd1 Qxc3 25. bxc3 Nc5 (25... f4!=) 26. exf5 Re3 27. Rc2 Rde8 28. h4 Re1+ 29. Rxe1 Rxe1+ 30. Kh2 Kf7 31. fxg6+ hxg6 32. Kh3 a5 33. Rd2 Re3 34. Rxd6 Rxc3 35. h5 gxh5 36. Nxh5 Rxc4 37. g4 Ke7 38. Rf6 Ne6 39. f4 Ng7 40. f5 Nxh5 41. Re6+ Kf7 1/2-1/2 Balashov,Y-Tal,M/Moscow 1971 (41))

7... Nc6 8. Qe3 (better 8. Qc3) 8... Be7 9. Bd3?! Ne5 10. Ne2 Nfd7 11. b3?! Bh4+! 12. Ng3 (12. g3 Bf6 ) 12... c6 13. Nc3 Bg5 14. Qxg5 Nxd3+ 15. Ke2 Nxc1+ 16. Qxc1 Qh4 17. Qd2 O-O-O 18. Kf2 Ne5 19. Rhd1 g6 20. Kg1 f5 21. Nce2 fxe4 22. Nxe4 d5 23. Qg5 Qxg5 24. Nxg5 Bg8 25. cxd5 Bxd5 26. Nc3 h6 27. Nxd5 Rxd5 28. Ne6 Nd3! 29. Rd2 Re8 30. Rad1 Nb4 31. Rxd5 Nxd5 32. Nc5 Re2! Though material is equal, Black has a clear edge due to his powerfully posted pieces and White's restricted King. 33. Ra1 Ne3 34. g3 Rg2+ 35. Kh1 Rf2 36. f4 Ng4 37. h4 Re2 38. a4 b6 39. Nd3 Re3 40. Ne5 Nxe5 41. fxe5 Rxg3 Finally Black is able to cash in on his advantage in position. 42. Rf1 Rxb3 43. Rf6 Rh3+ 44. Kg2 0-1 Popov,L-Tal,M/Tallinn 1973 (44). A wonderful endgame performance by Tal who is better known for his tactics than for his technique.

 

7. Qd2

7. Qf2!? Be6 8. Be3 Be7 9. O-O-O!? O-O is unclear.

 

7... Be6 8. b3 g6 9. Bb2 Bg7 10. Bd3

10. Nge2 O-O 11. Ng3 h5! 12. Be2 h4! Yrjola and Tella

 

10... Ne5

10... O-O 11. Nge2 a5 12. O-O Nd7 13. Rad1 Nc5= Tella-Ubilava, Benasque 1997

 

11. Nge2 c6 11... Nfd7 12. Rd1 O-O 13. Bb1 Bxc4?!

A risky attempt to keep an initiative. 13... Ne8!?

 

14. Qxd6?!

White seems to trust his famous opponent's tactical instincts. Better was 14. bxc4 Nxc4 15. Qc1 (15. Qc2 Ne3 with compensation ) 15... Qb6 16. Ba1 Ne3 17. Rd3 Bh6 18. Na4! Qb4+ 19. Bc3 Qxa4 20. Rxe3 which should favor White.

 

14... Qa5 15. b4 Qb6 16. Na4?!

16. Qxe5 Qxb4 (16... Ng4? 17. Qxg7+ Kxg7 18. Nd5++-) 17. Rd2! Bxe2 18. a3! Qb6 19. Kxe2

 

16... Qe3 17. Qd2 Qxd2+ 18. Rxd2 Rfe8 19. Nc5 b6 20. Nb3 Bb5 21. Bxe5 Rxe5 22. Nbd4 Bh6 23. Rd1 Ba4 24. Bc2 Bxc2 25. Nxc2 c5 26. b5 a6 27. bxa6 Rxa6 28. Rd8+ Kg7 29. Nc3 b5 30. a3 b4 31. axb4 cxb4 32. Nxb4 Rb6 33. Nd3 Ree6 34. O-O Be3+ 35. Kh1 Rb3 36. Nd1

36. Ne2!

 

36... Bb6 37. Rb8??

Likely a time-pressure blunder. 37. Nc1! Rxf3! 38. gxf3 Bxd8=

 

37... Rxd3-+ 0-1


Game Three: 4.Nf3!

Gennadi Zaichik - Mihail Tal [E61]

Moscow GM-Young M/Moscow 1972


1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3

Tal typically met 3. Nf3 with 3... g6 transposing to the King's Indian Defense, having avoided several sharp lines, including the Saemisch and Four Pawns Attack.

 

3... Bf5 4. Nf3! c6

There are many alternatives for Black, including 4...e6!? (not covered below):

 

a) 4... h6 Schiller's recommended line 5. g3 Qc8 6. Bg2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. e4 Bh7 9. Re1 Be7 10. b3 O-O 11. Bb2 Re8 12. Qd2 c6 13. Rad1 Qc7 14. d5?! Nc5= 15. Nh4 a5 (15... cxd5! 16. Nxd5 Nxd5 17. Qxd5 Qa5 ) 16. Nf5 Bf8 17. h3 Rab8 18. Ba3 Red8 19. Qe3 Na6 20. Qf3 Ne8 21. Qe2 Nb4 22. Bc1 Nf6 23. Ne3 Re8 24. Kh2 Ra8 25. f3 Nd7 26. a3 Na6 27. Qc2 Nac5 28. b4 Na6 29. dxc6 bxc6 30. b5 Nac5 31. bxc6 Qxc6 32. Nb5 Nb6 33. Bf1 Rec8 34. Qa2 Kh8 35. Rd2 a4 36. Rdd1 Nb3 37. Bd2 Nd4 38. Nxd4 exd4 39. Nd5 Nxd5 40. cxd5 Qc2 41. Qxc2 Rxc2 42. Kh1 Rac8 43. Rc1 f5 1/2-1/2 Rodriguez Gonzales,J-Tal,M/Halle 1974 (43)

 

b) 4... g6 is the recommendation of Yrjola and Tella, with the idea of transposing to the Classical KID after 5. Nh4 Bd7 6. e4 Bg7 7. Be2 e5 8. Nf3 O-O 9. O-O with the main line KID, only Black has the extra move Bd7 which avoids an exchange of Queens. However, 5. Ng5! may be a challenge to that approach.

 

c) 4... Nc6!? is something I have tried, when 5. Qb3?! (5. d5 Nb8! followed by ...e5, ...Nd7 or ...Na6, ...Be7, ...a5, and ...Nc5 is playable) 5... a5! 6. a3 a4! 7. Nxa4 (7. Qxb7? Na5 8. Qb5+ Bd7 9. Qg5 h6 10. Qh4 Nb3 11. Rb1 Rg8! ) 7... Na5 8. Qd1 Be6! (8... Nxc4?! 9. e4 ) 9. d5 Bd7 is interesting.

 

5. Bf4

Slowing Black's e7-e5 break.

 

5... Nbd7 6. Rc1 Ne4 7. d5

7. Nxe4 Bxe4 8. Nd2 Bg6 9. e4 e5=

 

7... Qb6 8. Nd4 Ndf6 9. Be3 Qxb2 10. Nxf5 Nxc3 11. Qd4 Na4! 12. Qd3?!

12. Qxb2 Nxb2 13. Bd4 Na4

 

12... g6 13. Ng3 Bg7-/+ 14. Rb1 Qxa2 15. Bd4 c5 16. Ra1 Nb2[] 17. Bxb2 Qxb2 18. Rb1 Qa2 19. e3 Qa5+

19... Nxd5!! 20. cxd5 c4!

 

20. Qd2 Qc7

and Black is simply up two pawns.

 

21. Bd3 O-O 22. O-O a5 23. Ne2 a4 24. Nc3 a3 25. Rb3 Qa5 26. Rb5 Qa6 27. Bb1 Ne8 28. Ba2 Nc7 29. Rbb1 Qa5 30. Rfc1 Rfb8 31. Qd3 Bxc3 32. Rxc3 b5 33. cxb5 Rxb5 34. Rxb5 Qxb5 35. Qxb5 Nxb5 36. Rb3 Ra5 0-1

Games in PGN

Janowski-Indian Defense Bibliography

Graham Burgess, 101 Chess Opening Surprises (Gambit 1998)
Recognizing that many players use the Janowski-Indian as a system for transposing to the King's Indian, Burgess recommends 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 Bf5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Ng5!? which will force through an early e4 and present the Knight with other retreat squares than the more typical 5. Nh4, thus "surprising" Black with a unique system that does not allow for easy transpositions to other lines.

Eric Schiller, The Janowski-Indian Defense (Sid Pickard e-book)
There appear to be several older paper versions of this book on the market, but his e-book is probably most useful since you will want to check his analysis yourself rather carefully. This is the most complete coverage of the opening available in print. The text files that make up the book are practically worthless, but the PGN analysis is very useful and seems generally good.

Jouni Yrjöla and Jussi Tella's, An Explosive Chess Opening Repertoire for Black (Gambit 2001).
In Chapter 31 of this book (pages 240-252) the authors offer a basic repertoire version of the Janowski. They generally make good recommendations but occasionally leave out interesting ideas (such as 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Bf5 4.Nf3 h6!? which they do not mention but which Schiller offers as the main line). Overall, though, I think this is an excellent book and they do a great job of representing this system by focusing on Black's most active choices.

Norman-Janowski, Hastings 1925
An early version of Janowski's Old Indian line.

Levitt-Day, London 2005
A recent outing for the defense.