Provocation

More often than not I’m among the last players going in the wee hours at the chess club. I play slowly and don’t pack the tactical punch to put people away early very often. But occasionally…

me – RH (1850)
1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.g3 Nd7 5.Bg2 Rb8 6.0-0 b6 7.d5 Bb7 8.Nd4 Ngf6 9.Nc3 a6 10.f4 0-0 11.e4 h6

Black’s semi-hippopotamus setup is like chum in the water. Often I overextend myself trying to smash this kind of opening. Which is what Black would like to provoke. In reality, often this type of setup (for us amateurs) isn’t so bad; Black just tries to complete his development modestly and flexibly, then counterpunch in the center or the wing files. In this particular case I’d like to think the c6 hole is truly a liability, but maybe White’s early d5 was unnecessarily committal.

Anyway, Black’s move …h6 is the sort where an instructional book might tsk, ‘weakening the light squares around Black’s king’. And as a reader, I honestly would say, ‘so what? White isn’t even remotely attacking those squares.’ But the thing about pawn structure weaknesses is that they’re semi-permanent. (See – I’m catching on. A mere 27 years into it.) So even if it takes ten moves or twenty, White may get around to exploiting those squares. And of course the White player in this game was already dreaming of a fast e5-e6 push. And now that sequence would attack the base of Black’s remaining pawn chain on the kingside…

12.Be3 Re8 13.Bh3 Nc5 To crib from James Marshall and Swine Lake: If Black had played …Nf8 (guarding g6 as well as e6), much that follows could have been avoided.

14.e5 Nfe4 15.Nxe4 Nxe4 16.Qc2 Squarely at g6. The undefended Ne4 just happens to give White a tempo.

16…dxe5 Tricks! I overlooked that this will give him the option of …Ng5 (since I have to reply 17.fxe5, as 17.Qxe4 exd4 18.Bxd4 Bxd4 19.Qxd4 e6 and White’s center falls apart). On the other hand, Black has just opened another line on the kingside.

17.fxe5 Ng5 18.Bxg5 hxg5 [diagram]

Hm. Obviously the long-awaited e6 push would hang my knight with check. If White has no immediate action here, he may have some problems – Black’s got the two bishops, White’s king is kinda nekkid. Happily he has some immediate action:

19.Ne6! Qd7 20.Nxg5 e6 21.Rxf7 1-0

19…fxe6 20.Bxe6+ Kh7 21.Bf7 and Black gets mated because there’s no way to protect g6 – the magic light square weakened by 11…h6.

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7 thoughts on “Provocation

  1. GK – thanks – I know you are a reformed member of the overpresser club :) Hurry up and finish all that lawyer stuff and get back to the hobbies that matter!

    Matt – *rolls eyes* – I sorta knew we were in for this kind of setup, in which case doesn’t matter which pawn you move first as white.

  2. True dat.

    I jest. I’ve even played 1. d4 in a few blitz games online recently. In the immortal words of NM Ilya Krasik, “It’s a move.”

    -Matt

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