02 June 2012

Annotated Game #48: English-Leningrad Dutch Swindle

This sixth-round tournament game featured the first time I had taken on a true Leningrad Dutch-style defense by Black in the English Opening; Annotated Game #3 doesn't really count, as it contained a major (and inferior) deviation by Black.

It's amusing to see how both sides somewhat mishandle the opening, for opposite reasons.  White, at the time unfamiliar with the opening, wastes a bit of time with an early Qc2, then a few moves later makes the strategic error of exchanging his dark-square bishop for Black's Nf6.  Black in the meantime, despite his evident experience with a true Leningrad Dutch setup, did not think to seize the opportunity offered by the English-style approach taken by White, which he could have done by playing an earlier ...e5.

The position is therefore level going into the middlegame.  From my perspective, it was instructive to see how the delay in White's queenside pawn advance and the bishop exchange significantly weakened my overall prospects for good play.  On the Black side, his putting the queen on d7 meant that the standard kingside attacking motifs would not be available to him.  Nevertheless, after White prematurely resolves the central pawn tension, Black is left with whatever play there is in the position by move 17.  White then chooses to trade queens, but thereby leaves himself with a difficult queenless middlegame.

Despite Black's threatening central mass of pawns, White almost manages to finesse things with 21. d4, but then misses two tactics in a row, while Black only misses the first one, leaving him with a winning positional and material advantage.  White therefore goes into swindling mode starting on move 25, playing actively and aggressively, trying to create situations for Black to go wrong.  As occurred in Annotated Game #37, my opponent failed to fight off the swindle, being distracted by White's threatening play; in fact, the game becomes won for White.

Alas, I too go wrong in the endgame and the swindler is in turn swindled into a draw due to a nice rook sacrifice from Black, with White then having to force perpetual check or let Black queen a pawn.  The endgame play is overall rather typical of Class players, with neither side understanding the kinds of winning ideas that needed to be executed.  While I'm not particularly proud of my play in this game, at least it's another plus sign for my tenacity.

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