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.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A10"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "94"] {A10: English Opening: Unusual Replies for Black} 1. c4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O d6 6. Nc3 O-O {this marks the first time I had faced a proper Leningrad Dutch setup with the English.} 7. Qc2 {the only three games in my database with this move are all wins for Black.} (7. d3 {is more to the point here, following the English strategy of taking away the e4 square from Black rather than transposing to the main line Leningrad Dutch with d4. Queen placement is better deferred.}) 7... Qe8 $146 {Black seems to be playing the opening on automatic; this is one of the standard Leningrad Dutch main lines moves, with the idea of supporting e5 and swinging the queen over to the kingside eventually.} (7... e5 {can be played immediately without the White pawn on d4; it would strike harder in the center and support a future ...f4 push. The general rule in the Leningrad Dutch is that if Black can get in ... e5 without any problems, it should be played.}) 8. d3 c6 {Consolidates b5+d5, notes Fritz.} 9. Bg5 {White chooses to exchange off Black's strong Nf6.} (9. b4 {would instead more quickly activate White's plan of queenside expansion.}) 9... h6 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 {Houdini now rates the position as equal. Black has an excellent, unopposed dark-square bishop and a head-start on his kingside pawn advance.} 11. Rab1 e5 (11... Qf7 {alternatively would deploy the queen as part of the kingside attack buildup.}) 12. b4 Be6 13. Nd2 (13. b5 {immediately may be slightly better.}) 13... Qd7 {I'm a little skeptical that this is the best placement for the queen, which in the Dutch usually is most effective on the g- and h-files.} 14. b5 d5 15. bxc6 {a premature resolution of the pawn tension.} (15. Rfd1 {would put the rook in play with latent threats on the d-file.} d4 {closing the file would lead to other penetrations by White on the queenside.} 16. Na4 Qe7 17. Nb3) 15... bxc6 16. cxd5 cxd5 17. Qa4 (17. Nb3 $5 { is Fritz's preference.} Na6 18. Qd2 $11 Bg5 {and Houdini also assesses the position as equal, but I think Black is having all the fun.}) 17... e4 $15 { Black finds the most effective counter, mobilizing his central pawn wedge.} 18. Qxd7 Nxd7 19. Nb5 Rfc8 20. Rfc1 Be5 (20... Rab8 {is the engines' choice.} 21. Rxc8+ Rxc8 22. Nb3 a6 23. N5d4 Bf7 {and Black's superior minor pieces and rook placement give him a definite edge.}) 21. d4 {White takes the opportunity to improve his central position.} a6 22. f4 $2 (22. Rxc8+ Rxc8 23. dxe5 axb5 { and only now} 24. f4) 22... axb5 {misses an opportunity to win a pawn via a desperado tactic.} (22... Rxc1+ 23. Rxc1 Bxf4 24. gxf4 axb5 25. Rc2 $19) 23. fxe5 $2 {this costs White a pawn.} (23. Rxc8+ {and White hangs on, comments Fritz.} Rxc8 24. dxe5 $11) 23... Rxc1+ $19 {this time the tactic is much simpler to spot.} 24. Rxc1 Rxa2 25. Rc6 {White chooses to play aggressively and actively. We are starting to reach swindle territory here, as White's game is essentially lost.} Rxd2 {a misstep.} (25... Kf7 $5 {keeps an even firmer grip, notes Fritz.} 26. Nb3 Rxe2 27. Rc7 $19 {and here White's rook is effectively contained, with no counterplay evident.}) 26. Rxe6 Rxd4 27. Rxg6+ Kf8 28. e6 $4 {objectively very poor, but I was in desperado mode by now.} (28. Bh3 Nxe5 29. Rb6 Rd1+ 30. Kg2 $17 {is preferred by the engines.}) 28... Ne5 29. Rxh6 Rd1+ 30. Bf1 ({Not} 30. Kf2 Ng4#) 30... Ng4 31. Rh7 {White by now is completely lost but is determined to keep throwing difficulties at Black.} Ne3 32. Kf2 Nxf1 33. h4 Nh2 {Black starts to get distracted here.} (33... d4 { instead would create unstoppable queening threats.} 34. g4 fxg4 35. Rd7 e3+ 36. Kg2 d3) 34. Ke3 Ng4+ 35. Kf4 {White's aggressive play now gives Black a chance to go wrong.} Nf6 {and he does!} (35... Rf1+ {and Black has triumphed, trumpets Fritz.} 36. Kg5 d4 $19) 36. Rf7+ Ke8 37. Rxf6 b4 (37... d4 38. Ke5 Rc1 $18) 38. Ke5 {the engines show this is now in fact won for White.} Ra1 39. Rh6 (39. Rxf5 $6 {is a weaker possibility, notes Fritz.} b3 40. Rh5 b2 41. Rh8+ Ke7 42. Rh7+ Kf8 43. Rh8+ Ke7 44. Rh7+ Kd8 45. Rh8+ Ke7 $11) 39... Ra6 40. Kf6 Kd8 41. Rh8+ Kc7 42. Kf7 $2 {the position is now drawn, White having missed Black's saving rook sacrifice.} (42. Kxf5 {secures the point} Kd6 43. Kf6 $18) 42... Rxe6 $11 43. Kxe6 b3 {the point being that Black's king covers the b8 square, preventing White's rook from stopping the pawn.} 44. Kxd5 (44. Kxf5 $4 {the pawn is safe and cannot be captured without dire consequences, notes Fritz.} b2 45. h5 b1=Q $19) 44... b2 45. Rh7+ Kb8 46. Rh8+ Kc7 47. Rh7+ Kb8 1/2-1/2

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