Kenilworth Chess Club Championship (8)
1. e4 e6! Geoff
made a little joke by pushing the pawn two squares, with his hand still on
it, and then withdrawing it one move back. We both knew that I had fully
expected him to play 1....e5 and head into the Urusov or Two Knights, where
he could easily prepare something against me. I had also been very well prepared
to play against the Scandinavian. The French, as he rightly expected, was
a complete surprise.
2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 dxe4 The
chief drawback of the Two Knights system against the French is that it allows
this exchange, which seems pretty much equalizing.
3... d4 4. Ne2 c5 5. Ng3!? is
rather like a Nimzovich or Two Knights Tango in reverse.
3... Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. d4 c5 is
the most common line here, transposing into a well-known variation.
4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. d4 Ngf6 6. Qd3!?N I
was shocked to learn that this move has never been played in master competition!
The idea is well known in the Caro-Kan, but no one seems to have tried it in
the French. I actually invented it at the board, after searching desperately
for something that could make me enjoy playing this game, since the Rubinstein
French has always seemed to me so equal and boring. It suddenly struck me that
I might get my favorite Urusov formation after all if he exchanges -- which he
More standard is 6. Bd3 Nxe4 7. Bxe4 Nf6 8. Bg5 Be7 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Qe2+/=
6... Nxe4 The only game I
could find in the databases with my Queen move continued 6... Be7!? 7. Be2 (White
has a number of better options: 7. c3!?)
(7. Bd2!? Nxe4 8. Qxe4 Nf6 9. Qh4)
(7. Nxf6+ Nxf6 8. Bf4!?)
7... Nxe4 8. Qxe4 Nf6 9. Qh4 and
White went on to win after some very bad play by his opponent.
6... c5 7. dxc5! (7. Bg5?! Qb6 8.
Geoff offered a draw and I accepted after some deliberation. The position is still quite complex, but I feared that the initiative was slipping into Black's hands. Just before Geoff moved, I started to get an inkling that Black had the better position. But it is very sharp and both players must play precisely. I think best for Black was instead 17... Bc2! trying to get in Bb3! 18. Rxd8+ Rxd8 19. Nd4 (19. Bc4!?) 19... Ne4! (19... Rxd4? 20. cxd4 Bb3 21. Rc1+<=>) 20. Qxg7?! Nxc3! and White is in trouble After the specific move that Geoff chose, though, I should have played on -- but only if I could have found the best move: 18. Rd4! with threats on the Bishop and on the King with Rc4+! I spent all my time examining 18. Qxg7?! when I did not like Black's attack beginning 18... Bc2! (18... Bf6?! 19. Qxf7 Nxc3 20. Qxe6+ Kb8 21. Rxd8+ Rxd8 22. a3 is messy, but there sure are a lot of Black pieces hanging.) 19. Rxd5! (19. Rd2? Bb3 20. a3 Nxe3!-> (20... Bxa3 21. bxa3 Qxa3+ 22. Kb1 Nxe3) ) 19... Qxd5 (19... Rxd5?? 20. Qxh8+) (19... exd5?! 20. Nd4! Bg6 21. Nb5!->) 20. Qxf7 Bd1!? 21. Qxe7 Bxe2 22. Nd4 Rhe8 23. Qg5 Qxg5 24. Bxg5 Rd5 25. Be3 Bh5~~ I also got worried about lines like: 18. Bd4? Bc2! 19. Rd2? (19. b4!?) 19... Bb3! 20. a3 Bxa3!-+ ouch! 18... Bg6 18... Nxe3 19. Rxe4! Nf5 20. Rc4+ Kd7 21. Rd1+ Ke8 22. Rxd8+ (22. Qf4!?) 22... Qxd8 23. Qf4+/= 18... Bd6 19. Qxg7! Bc2 20. Bd1! and White is able to stop Black's counterplay and keeps a safe pawn.(20. Qxf7? Bb3!<=> 21. Qxe6+ Kb8 22. a4 Rhe8 23. Qf5 Bc5 24. Bb5 Bxd4 25. Bf4+ Ka8 26. Nxd4 Bxa4 27. b4 Nxb4!->) 18... Bc2? 19. Rc4+ Kd7 20. Ne5+ (20. Qxg7 Rhf8 (20... Bb3 21. Ne5+ Kd6 22. Bc5+ Kc7 23. Bb4+) 21. Ne5+) 20... Ke8 21. Qxg7 Rf8 22. Bh5 Bg6 23. Bxg6 hxg6 24. Bh6 Nf6 25. Ng4+- 19. Rc4+ Kd7 20. Ne5+ Ke8 21. Rd1 21. Bd4 Bd6 22. f4+/= 21... Bd6 22. f4+/= and White s hould develop play against Black's king in the center, though it is still quite sharp. 1/2-1/2 [Michael Goeller]