In the last few weeks, I’ve spent some time in the train analysing positions from a book “Damen sind Luxus” (“Queens are a luxury”) by W. Heidenfeld which my friend Steve Giddins leant to me over Christmas. I made a few little discoveries which I thought I’d share with you in this article. The games are available again in playable form at http://cloudserver.chessbase.com/MTIyMTYx/replay.html
Elsinger – Schmid
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd3 c5 5.exd5 Qxd5 6.Bd2 Bxc3 7.Bxc3 cxd4 8.Bxd4 Qxg2 9.Qf3 Qxf3 10.Nxf3 f6 11.Rg1 Kf7 12.Nd2 Nc6 13.Bc5 Nge7 14.Nc4 Rd8 15.Nd6+ Kg8 16.0–0–0 Nd5
In this position, 17.Bc4 led to a neat perpetual. 17.Be4 looked stronger to me as I couldn’t see how Black can unravel and Komodo concurs. However, the line that attracted me was Heidenfeld suggestion of 17.Rxg7+!
17.Rxg7+ Kxg7 18.Rg1+
a) 18…Kh8 19.Nf7#;
b) 18…Kh6 19.Nf7+ Kh5 20.Be2+ Kh4
b1) 21.Nxd8 Nxd8 22.c4
was recommended by Heidenfeld, and also gives White some advantage but I wanted something clearer;
was my first attempt, clearing f2 for a check from the White bishop on c5. I’ll show you my main line. It took me some time before I dared check it with the computer!
21…e5 was the engine’s improvement on my analysis 22.Bf2+ Kh3 23.Bf1+ Kxh2 24.Rg2+ Kh1 25.Rg1+ Kh2 with a very neat perpetual that often crops up in these lines!
22.Rg4+ is best giving White some advantage after 22…Kh3 23.Rxf4 e5 24.Rf3+ Kxh2 25.Nxd8
22…Kh3 23.Bg4+ Kxh2 24.Bf3
It all looks pretty terminal, but I found the following amazing defence:
24…Ne2+ 25.Bxe2 Nd4 26.Bf1 e5 27.Nxd8 Bh3 28.Nxb7 Bxf1 29.Bxd4 Bg2
Wow! White has no way to maintain his material advantage! This train line was confirmed by the engines – pleased about that!;
b3) 21.Rg7 My second go was much more powerful
b31) 21…h5 22.Nxd8 Nxd8 23.f3 Nf4 24.Bf1
followed by Bf2 mate
b32) 21…h6 22.Rh7 Kh3 23.Bf3 Kxh2 24.Rxh6+ Kg1 25.Rh1#
b331) 22.Bg4+ Kxh2 (22…Kh4 23.f3) 23.Bf3
was my first idea, and is also very powerful
23…Nf4 (23…e5 24.Nxd8 Nxd8 25.Rxh7+ Bh3 26.Bxd5) 24.Rxh7+ Nh3 25.Nxd8 Nxd8 26.Bg4;
b332) 22.Rxh7+ Kg2 23.Rg7+ is a transposition 23…Kxh2 (23…Kh3 24.Bf3 –> 22.Bf3) 24.Bf3 –> 22.Bg4+
b333) 22.Bf3 h5 23.Rg3+ Kh4
23…Kxh2 24.Rg2+ Kh1 25.Rg4+ Kh2 26.Rh4+ Kg1 27.Rh1#
24.Nxd8 Nxd8 25.Bxd5 exd5 26.Be7
with Bxf6+ mate to follow. I liked that a lot when I saw it!;
c) 18…Kf8 Unfortunately ruins White’s party!
19.Nf5+ Nde7 20.Nh6 Rg8+ is such a nice mate but… 20…Ke8
19.Nxc8+ Nce7 20.Nd6 b6 21.Ba3 didn’t thrill me too much. Komodo suggests 21…a5 22.c3 Nb4 as a clear path to a Black advantage
19…Kf7 20.Nxd8+ Nxd8 21.Bxh7 Ne7 is better for Black
Back to the game after 17.Bc4.
17.Bc4 Ne5 18.Rxd5
18.Nf5 was suggested by Heidenfeld as a winning attempt. 18…g6 19.Ne7+ Kg7 20.Nxd5 exd5 21.Bxd5 Bg4 22.Bxb7 Bxd1 23.Bxa8 Bxc2 24.Kxc2 Rxa8 Komodo’s line looks a touch better for White. The text forces a draw
18…Nxc4 19.Nf5 Rxd5 20.Nh6+ Kh8 21.Nf7+
After that wildness, something more sedate but no less intriguing:
Reshevsky,Samuel Herman – Stahlberg,Gideon
La Plata-New York radio m
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.d4 Bg7 5.0–0 0–0 6.c4 c5 7.dxc5 dxc4 8.Qc2 Qd5 9.Na3 Qxc5 10.Qxc4 Qxc4 11.Nxc4 Nc6 12.Nce5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Ne8 14.Nd3 Nd6
“What a boring position” I thought when I came across the diagram in the book. And then a strange parallel struck me. In a previous blog article – http://matthewsadler.me.uk/chess-for-life/alekhines-themes-move-like-morphy/ – I talked about the secret of Morphy’s attacks, in particular their incredible velocity. My theory was that Morphy – just like Alekhine after him – started his attacks with an early move that created some awkwardness in his opponent’s position. Leading on from that, Morphy’s subsequent developing moves contained threats that the opponent had to parry with (non-developing) pawn moves. After a couple of moves like that, Morphy had built up such a lead in development that his attack was irresistible. Take a look at Morphy’s game against Count Isouard in that article to see a perfect illustration of this technique. Play in symmetrical positions is less extreme, but the same principles apply. The first player to move attempts to extract a “holding” move in reply to a developing move of his own and therefore hopes to gain an initiative through more rapid development. Let’s see how that works out in the game.
White is first to move and takes the chance to put pressure on e7. As Heidenfeld points out, Black cannot respond in kind with 15…Bg4 and has to respond to White’s threat with a solid defensive move. White therefore sees the glimmer of an initiative.
15…Bg4 16.Bxe7 (16.f3 f6 17.Bxf6 is also better for White) 16…Bxe2 17.Bxd6 (17.Rfe1 Bxd3 18.Rad1 Ba6 19.Rxd6 Rfe8 20.Rd7 is Komodo’s favourite line which also looks more pleasant for White) 17…Bxd3 18.Bxf8 Bxf1 19.Bxg7 Bxg2 20.Kxg2 Kxg7 21.Rc1 is a more pleasant rook ending for White due to his early occupation of the 7th rank.
Black now played 16…h6 17.Be3 Bf5 and eventually lost, but I was curious what would have happened after 16…Bg4 (not mentioned by Heidenfeld) After all, if Bg5 could hurt Black, then …Bg4 should hurt White in this symmetrical position!
If White is forced to play this quiet protecting move, then you feel that the force of his initiative is dying down.
17…Rac8 18.Rxc8 Bxc8 19.Rc1
White manages to keep things going a little, as he is first to the c-file
My idea, which I thought contained a trap…
19…h6 20.Be3 b6 is Komodo’s preferred recipe
19…Bd4 20.Rc7 f6 21.Bd2 Bb6 is another Komodo idea
20…h6 21.Be3 Nb5 is also sensible
21.Bxe7+ (21.Rc5 Nd4) 21…Kg8 22.Rc5 Nd4
I thought that this was turning out well for Black, but Komodo stays calm
23.e3 Bf5 24.exd4 Bxd3 25.Rc7 Bf8 was my spectacular idea with sudden back-rank threats against the White king
23…Bd7 24.Nd5 Nxe2+ 25.Kf1 Nd4 looks pretty even to me
This was the move I really wanted to play: it feels as if White can keep the momentum he created with 15.Bg5 going by elegantly protecting his e-pawn while preparing to double on the open c-file. However, chess is a strange game! Sometimes, logical extra moves (such as Rc1–c2) just serve to give the opponent a better idea of where he should put his pieces! Black doesn’t need to just think of neutralising White’s control of the c-file: he can counterattack!
A very unpleasant idea, threatening …Nd4. 17…Nb5 is a similar idea to …Nf5 but it allows the bishop to retreat to e3 to cover d4 18.Be3
18.f3 Nd4 19.Rd2 Be6 20.b3 Rac8 is Komodo’s best, but Black just stands fine
18…Rad8 is suddenly awkward for White! His bishop on g5 is trapped and his own light-squared bishop will get a square on d1 once the knight leaves d3.
Another idea I had, desperately trying to keep White’s momentum going
17…Bxb2 18.Rc2 Bf6
18…Be5 19.Nd5 f6 is even better according to Komodo
19.Bxf6 exf6 20.Rd1
got me interested for a while, but Black can defend without too much difficulty. 20.Nd5 is met by 20…Rxe2
20…Rad8 21.f3 Be6 22.Rcd2 a5 23.Nd5 (23.Nc2 Rc8) 23…Bxd5 24.Rxd5
I thought Black had 2 possible ways of dealing with White’s threats, but my analysis was not up to standard I’m afraid 24…Rxe2
24…Re6 25.e4 Kf8 26.Bh3 f5 27.e5 missed that one!
25.Rxd6 Rxd6 26.Rxd6 Rxa2
I thought this might be quite interesting due to White’s passive bishop and the open 2nd rank but…
27.Rb6 Ouch! Missed that one too!
21.Bxb7 Rab8 22.Bf3 Bxf3 23.exf3 Na3 is nothing for White.
So indeed nothing much happening in the position, but I did like the thoughts I had about such symmetrical positions. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve really enjoyed analysing one, and that’s always the first step to playing them well!