03 September 2012

Annotated Game #61: English vs. KID - danger in the center

This fifth-round tournament game followed Annotated Game #9, which was an interesting look at the 5. Nc5 sideline of the Caro-Kann Classical favored by Fischer.  Here we return to the theme of the King's Indian Defense (KID) setup against the English.

Black's choice of playing ...c6 instead of ...Nc6 allows him to better fight for the d5 square, always a key one for the English.  The drawback is that the pawn on c6 gives White a target for his b4-b5 queenside push.  The early middlegame is always a critical time in these types of positions, as White can either gain the initiative on the queenside, or cede it to Black in the center or kingside, depending on who uses their initial moves most effectively.

In this game, White waits too long for the key b5 push, then when he does make it, it is (ironically enough) insufficiently prepared due to Black's threats on the long diagonal.   By move 16, Black has largely defused White's threats on the queenside and opened the key e-file.  However, he then exchanges away his beautiful Bg7 and White is perhaps slightly better afterwards.  White fails to see some complicated tactical possibilities on move 22 and the position then is equal.

What happens on move 24 is very instructive.  White goes for a cheap threat pinning the Nc5 to the queen without bothering to calculate Black's response (...Qd5+), which is an example of failing to see the opponent's Checks, Captures and Threats (CCT).  Black's check immediately frees him up to take advantage of the ...Nd3 fork threat, which White completely misses, although there was still a defense.  Once Black goes up the exchange, the game is won.

In this game, I failed to appreciate the significance of Black's central counterplay, both originally with his 14...e4 push uncovering the attack on the Nc3 (although I had seen the threat) and then with the ...Nd3 fork and queen maneuver (which I completely missed).  The analysis of this game should help me increase the necessary sense of danger in such situations.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A24"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "62"] {A24: English Opening vs King's Indian: Lines without ...Nc6} 1. c4 d6 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 e5 6. d3 c6 {the main alternative to Nc6 in the KID. Black fights directly for the d5 square.} 7. O-O O-O 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bxf6 { the logical conclusion of the Bg5 choice. White eliminates a strong piece on the kingside, at the cost of giving Black the two bishops.} (9. Be3 $5 { is favored by Houdini, who prefers to retreat the bishop after creating the weakness on h6.} Ng4 10. Bd2 Be6 11. Qc1 Kh7 12. Qc2 {is one possible line of play.}) 9... Qxf6 (9... Bxf6 {is slightly more often played here, with excellent results for Black. The queen move seems premature and White scores well (60 percent). However, Houdini considers the two essentially equivalent.}) 10. Rb1 Be6 11. Nd2 {this move uncovering the Bg2 would be better saved for later, when White actually has a threat against b7/c6.} (11. b4) 11... Nd7 12. b4 Rab8 {this allows White to move forward without a challenge.} (12... Qe7 13. Qc2) (12... a6) 13. a4 {this wastes a tempo by over-preparing the b5 advance.} (13. b5 $5) 13... Qe7 14. b5 {now, ironically, the advance is not sufficiently prepared, as the Qf6 is no longer a target and Black's f-pawn is free to advance.} (14. Qc2) 14... e4 {uncovering the attack on the unprotected Nc3.} 15. Qc2 (15. Ncxe4 $2 {is no good because of} f5 $19) 15... exd3 16. exd3 { Black has done well by opening the e-file, a potential invasion route for him on the kingside.} Bxc3 $6 {Black gives away the two bishops and opens the long diagonal for White's queen.} (16... Rbc8 $5 $11 {was Fritz's preference.}) ( 16... Ne5 {is Houdini's recommendation.}) 17. Qxc3 d5 18. Rfe1 Qd6 19. d4 c5 20. cxd5 Bxd5 21. dxc5 Nxc5 22. a5 {here I didn't see that ...Nxa4 wouldn't work, although the reason why isn't obvious.} (22. Bxd5 {was Fritz's choice and involves a pawn sacrifice that pays off six moves later, although it's not clear if White has anything more than equality.} Qxd5 23. Re5 Nxa4 24. Qe3 Qd6 25. Nc4 Qf6 26. Rb4 Nb6 27. Nxb6 axb6 28. Rh4) (22. Rbd1 {is the clever move found by Houdini, involving a discovered attack on the Bd5 or in some variations the Qd6, along with some fancy footwork by the Nd2.} Nxa4 $2 (22... Bxg2 23. Kxg2 Nxa4 $2 (23... Nd3 24. Ne4 Nxe1+ 25. Rxe1 Qd5 26. Kg1 Qf5 27. Nf6+ Kh8 28. Nd7+) 24. Qa1 Nc5 (24... Qd5+ 25. Ne4 Qxb5 26. Nf6+ Kh8 27. Nd7+) 25. Nc4 Qc7 26. Ne3 $16) 23. Qa1 Nc5 24. Nc4 Qc7 25. Bxd5 $18) 22... Bxg2 23. Kxg2 Rbc8 24. Qb4 {White doesn't realize the danger here, in this case creating a potential knight fork on d3 for Black. The pin on the Nc5 is easily disposed of, with tempo.} (24. Qe3 $5 {would keep things equal.}) 24... Qd5+ $15 25. Nf3 $2 (25. Kg1 {would allow White to play on, for example} Nd3 26. Qe4 ) 25... Nd3 $19 {now Black wins the exchange, as Nxe1+ means that Qe4 no longer works.} 26. Qh4 Nxe1+ 27. Rxe1 Kg7 {here Houdini prefers taking the b5 pawn, which it sees as leading to a quicker victory with the 2v1 queenside majority.} 28. Re5 Qd8 29. Qxd8 Rfxd8 30. Re7 Rb8 31. Ne5 $4 {White forgets that a king can fork its opponent's pieces.} (31. Rc7 {would have prolonged things.}) 31... Kf6 0-1

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