21 September 2013

Annotated Game #104: Queenside? check. Center? check. Kingside? fail

This round 4 game from a Slow Chess League tournament shows the swift punishment that can occur when the kingside is neglected, regardless of what else is happening on the board.  The English Four Knights opening allowed me (White) to establish strong central pressure and at the same time restrain Black effectively on the queenside.  However, my plan to establish a battery against Black's king to increase the pressure was too slow and an ill-advised queen maneuver allowed Black to quickly marshal what looked like a crushing attack.

Despite feeling a certain amount of despair at my predicament, I was determined to actively defend and not allow Black to achieve an easily winning position.  After a harrowing sequence, I emerged down two pawns but having avoided the mate threats.  Continuing to play as actively as possible and make threats with my queen in the initial queen and minor piece endgame, I was able to catch Black in a tactic and suddenly I had the only piece left on the board, a mighty dark-square bishop, which combined with my king was enough to sweep up all the Black pawns and force the queening of the last White one.

While the outcome was eventually positive, next time a bit of prophylaxis on the kingside would not hurt...


  1. The English opening is very unfamiliar to me. 4....Be7 seems to be a move that develops a piece, but doesn't fight for or support the center. Development without playing a part in a greater plan is asking for trouble. White is showing it's intention of playing 5. d4 to build a space advantage and trade e-pawns at d4. Black should try to take the space left behind by the c-pawn and e-pawn advances. 4....d6, intending Bf5, and Nb4 to pressure on the d3 hole in white's camp. Be7 can be played later or get the bishop outside the pawn chain with Bb4 and pressure the c3 knight which hits the e4 and d5 squares.

    Do you find the e4, and d3 squares to be a problem for white in the English opening?

    14. e4 I think the issue with this is the combination of the f2 point and more holes in the white camp (long term weaknesses). As long as Yamaduta doesn't fall asleep and deals with the d-pawn pin, he should get good counterplay against the f2, d3, or d4 points. I like 14....Bc5, with the intention of Ng4. Bxd2 immediately if forced and Ng4+ followed by Ne3 forking queen and rook and/or Qc7 looks scary. Some deaper calculations would be needed to see if it is good for black, but white doesn't need the problems right now.

    25......Qh3+ I did something really similar to this in a recent game. The queen has the king tied down with nowhere to go (similar to the position I had in my game). Just to get a check on the king and win a pawn lost black the game here. Congrats on holding on and turning the tables here.

    Here is the move list.

    1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bg5 Be7 8.Bc4 Qa5 9.Qd2 O-O 10.O-O-O Re8
    11.f3 d5 12.exd5 cxd5 13.Bb5 Rd8 14.h4 a6 15.Bd3 d4 16.Ne4 Qxa2 17.Qf4 Nd5 18.Qg3 Bb4 19.c3 dxc3 20.Nxc3 Bxc3
    21.bxc3 Qa3+ 22.Kd2 Qxc3+ 23.Ke2 Qb2+ 24.Rd2 Nc3+ 25.Kf2 Qb6+ 26.Be3 Ne4+ 27.fxe4 Qb8 28.e5 g6 29.h5 Qb3 30.hxg6 fxg6
    31.Qh4 Rf8+ 32.Ke2 Rf7 33.Qd8+ Kg7 34.Bh6# 1-0

    I felt I was doing fine until move 21.....Qa3+ and I let the king get out of his prison as black did here. Eventually one meaningless check after another led to a loss for me.

    1. Hello jeichmj, thanks for your comments.

      The usual stem game for 4...Be7 in the English Four Knights is Timman-Karpov (Montreal, 1979) in which Karpov wins nicely. There are improvements for White of course, but the variation is solid for Black. 4...d6 is fine but is also solid and unremarkable, since it doesn't intend to challenge in the center with ...d5. Without the knight on e5 as in the game, White doesn't have a hole on d3 and can play Bd3 if desired at some point. This particular variation doesn't revolve around pushing e4, rather focusing on other central play and as always the square d5.

    2. Thank you for your blog. I have taken your advice and annotated my own games. It has helped me both improve my play and enjoy the process of learning from my games.