Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pirc Defense 5...c5

At the Morton Metz Memorial tournament, held at the Marshall Chess Club on the weekend of October 12th through 13th*, I finished with 3 points, defeating an international master and drawing a grandmaster along the way. Here is my victory against the IM who told me afterwards that it was the worst game he had ever played!

Jim West [FIDE 2225] - Mikhail Zlotnikov [FIDE 2373]

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 c5 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.Bd3 Qxc5 8.Qe2 O-O

Another plan for Black is to transpose into a Najdorf variation set-up, where 6.f4 has been played, with moves such as ...a6, ...Qc7, and ...e5. This was the system used by Bernie Friend (USCF 2143) against me in a tournament held at Dumont, NJ in 1989.

That game continued 8...a6 9.Be3 Qc7 10.O-O Nbd7 11.h3 b5 12.Rae1 e5 13.Qf2 Bb7 14.g4 O-O-O 15.fxe5 dxe5 16.g5 Nh5

17.Bxb5! Nf4 18.Bxf4 exf4 19.Bd3 Ne5 20.Qe2 h6 21.Kg2 Qa5 22.Nxe5 Bxe5 23.gxh6 Bxc3 24.bxc3 Qg5+ 25.Qg4+ Qxg4+ 26.hxg4 g5 27.Rh1 Rde8 28.Rh5 f6 29.Kf3 Rh7 30.Kf2 Re5 31.Kf3 Kc7 32.Rb1 Kc6 33.Bc4 Kc7 34.Bd3 Bc6 35.Rb4 a5 36.Rd4 Bd7 37.Bc4 Re8 38.Rd1 Re5 39.Bg8 Rh8 40.h7 Be6 41.Bxe6 Rxe6 42.c4 Re7 43.c5 Rexh7 44.Rdh1 Rxh5 45.gxh5 Rh6 46.Kg4 Kc6 47.Rd1 Kxc5 48.Rd5+ Kb4 49.e5 fxe5 50.Rxe5 Rc6 51.Re2 Ka3 52.Kxg5 f3 53.Rh2 Kxa2 54.h6 a4 55.h7 Rc8 56.h8=Q Rxh8 57.Rxh8 Kb2 58.c4 a3 59.Kg4 f2 60.Rh1, Black resigns.

9.Be3 Qa5 10.O-O Nc6

The famous encounter between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer at Reykjavik in 1972 proceeded differently with 10...Bg4 11.Rad1 Nc6 12.Bc4 Nh5 13.Bb3 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Qxc3 15.f5 Nf6 16.h3 Bxf3 17.Qxf3 Na5 18.Rd3 Qc7 19.Bh6 Nxb3 20.cxb3 Qc5+ 21.Kh1 Qe5 22.Bxf8 Rxf8

23.Re3 Rc8 24.fxg6 hxg6 25.Qf4 Qxf4 26.Rxf4 Nd7 27.Rf2 Ne5 28.Kh2 Rc1 29.Ree2 Nc6 30.Rc2 Re1 31.Rfe2 Ra1 32.Kg3 Kg7 33.Rcd2 Rf1 34.Rf2 Re1 35.Rfe2 Rf1 36.Re3 a6 37.Rc3 Re1 38.Rc4 Rf1 39.Rdc2 Ra1 40.Rf2 Re1 41.Rfc2 g5 42.Rc1 Re2 43.R1c2 Re1 44.Rc1 Re2 45.R1c2, draw.

Rather than 11.Rad1, the recommended move in most books on the Spassky-Fischer match is 11.h3 to secure the bishop pair. A couple of my games now ended in draws. For example, here is the finale to Jim West (USCF 2213) - Matthew Traldi (USCF 2100) from a quad at Somerset, NJ in 1998: 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Nc6 13.a3 Nd7 14.Bd2 Qb6+ 15.Kh1 Nc5 16.Rab1 Nxd3 17.cxd3 Rac8 18.Nd5 Qd8 19.f5 Ne5 20.Qg3 Re8 21.Rbc1 Rxc1 22.Rxc1 Nc6 23.Bc3 Bxc3 24.Rxc3 e6 25.Ne3 d5 26.exd5 exd5 27.Rc1 Ne5 28.fxg6 hxg6 29.Ng4 Nxg4 30.Qxg4 Qb6 31.Rc8, draw.

Instead Jim West (USCF 2226) - Nenad Vulicevic (USCF 2451), played at the Marshall Chess Club in 1996, took a more tactical course with 14...f5 15.exf5 gxf5 16.Rab1 Kh8 17.Kh1 Rae8 18.Qd5 Qd8

19.Bxf5 Nf6 20.Qd3 e6 21.Be4 d5 22.Bf3 Nd7 23.Bh5 Re7 24.b4 Nd4 25.Ne2 Nf5 26.Bg4 Nf6 27.Bxf5 exf5 28.Bc3 Ne4 29.Bxg7+ Rxg7 30.Rf3 Rf6 31.Qd4 Rfg6 32.Rg1 h5 33.c4 Rd6 34.c5 Rdg6 35.Nc3 Qg8 36.Nxd5 Ng3+ 37.Kh2 Ne2 38.Qe5 Nxg1 39.Kxg1 Rxg2+ 40.Kf1 Rd2 41.Rg3 Rxd5 42.Rxg7 Qxg7 43.Qxd5 Qa1+ 44.Kf2 Qxa3 45.Qd8+ Kg7 46.Qd7+ Kf6, draw.

11.h3 Bd7 12.Qf2

In the game Olafsson-Benko, Beverwijk 1969, White played more cautiously with 12.a3 Rfc8 13.Qf2 Be8 14.f5. But I was not particularly worried about ...Nb4 followed by ...Nxd3 because it takes time and leaves the e5 square without adequate protection. In fact, one of the ideas behind Fischer's 10...Bg4 is to overprotect the e5 square. The other idea is to eliminate possibilities of Ng5 which, in conjunction with Qh4, yields White a powerful kingside attack.

12...Nb4 13.g4 b5 14.a3 Nxd3 15.cxd3

Ironically a similar position can arise from the accelerated fianchetto variation in the Sicilian defense, as happened in a game that was played at the Marshall Chess Club on the final weekend in November 2002.

Jim West (USCF 2200) - David Spigel (USCF 1915)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Bc4 Qa5 8.O-O Qb4 9.Bb3 O-O 10.a3 Qa5 11.h3 d6 12.f4 Bd7 13.Nf3 Rac8 14.Qe1 Qc7 15.Qh4 Na5 16.e5 Nxb3 17.cxb3 dxe5 18.fxe5 Ne8 19.Nd5 Qd8 20.Nxe7+ Kh8 21.Ng5 h6 22.Rxf7 Rc2 23.Qxh6+ Bxh6 24.Rh7#.

15...Bc6 16.f5 Nd7 17.Qh4 Qd8 18.Ng5 h6 19.fxg6 Ne5 20.gxf7+ Nxf7 21.Nxf7 Rxf7 22.Rxf7 Kxf7 23.Rf1+ Kg8 24.Bxh6

Here Black could have resigned, since he is two pawns down with no compensation.

24...e6 25.Qxd8+ Rxd8 26.Bxg7 Kxg7 27.Kh2 a5 28.Ne2 Bd7 29.Kg3 b4 30.axb4 axb4 31.Rc1 Kf6 32.d4 Ra8 33.Nf4 Ra2 34.Rc2 b3 35.Rf2 Bc6 36.d5 exd5 37.exd5 Bb5 38.h4 Ra1 39.g5+ Kf5 40.g6 Rg1+ 41.Rg2 Rxg2+ 42.Kxg2 Be8 43.Kg3 Ke4 44.h5, Black resigns.

After this third-round victory, I completed my day with a 61-move draw against GM Michael Rohde. Not a bad day's work!

*{This article originally appeared in the Winter 2003 issue of Empire Chess}