Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Philidor Counter Gambit 4.dxe5 and 6.h4

At this year's U.S. Amateur Team Championship East tournament which ended yesterday, I played board two alongside fellow teammates Mike Shapiro, Paul Song, and Steve Ferrero. My team Insufficient Losing Chances finished with a record of 4 wins and 2 losses. My personal score was 3-1-2.

In round four, I defended a Philidor Counter Gambit against Parker Zhao of Khodarkovsky's Tycoons.

Parker Zhao (USCF 2185) - Jim West (USCF 2224), USATE 2/18/2007

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.dxe5 fxe4 5.Ng5 d5 6.h4

My opponent spent more than 30 minutes on this move. Usually White plays 6.e6 with the idea of 7.Nf7.


Black should strive to play this move as soon as possible.


In January 1999 at the Manhattan Chess Club, candidate master Fabrice Fiol played 7.Nc3 Ne7 8.Ncxe4 dxe4 9.Qxd8+ Kxd8 10.Nf7+ Ke8 11.Nxh8 Be6 12.h5 after which I should have played 12...Kf8 13.h6 Kg8 14.hxg7 Nf5 with the possible continuation 15.Rh6!? Nxh6 16.Bxh6 Nc6 17.Rd1 Nxe5 18.Be2 Ng4 19.Bxg4 Bxg4 20.Rd5 Bd6 21.c4 b6 when the white knight is in grave danger. For example, 22.Kf1 Be6 23.Rd4 Be5 24.Rxe4 Re8 25.f4 Bxg7 26.Bxg7 Kxg7 27.f5 Bd7 28.Rxe8 Bxe8 29.g4 Kxh8.

7...c6 8.cxd5 cxd5 9.Nc3

In October 1994 at the Manhattan Chess Club, candidate master Tommy Smith varied with 9.Bb5+ Nc6 10.Nc3 Nge7 11.Qb3 Qb6 12.O-O Rf8 13.Nd1 h6 14.Nh3 Bxh3 15.gxh3 Rf3 16.Qa4 O-O-O 17.Be2 Nxe5! 18.Bxf3 Nxf3+ 19.Kh1 Qe6 20.Kg2 Nxh4+ 21.Kh2 Bd6+ 22.Kg1 Qg6+, White resigns.

9...Ne7 10.Ncxe4 dxe4 11.Qxd8+ Kxd8 12.Nf7+ Kc7 13.Nxh8 Be6

Safer would have been 13...Bb4+ 14.Bd2 Bxd2+ 15.Kxd2 Be6 16.Rc1+ Nbc6 17.Bc4 Bxc4 18.Rxc4 Rxh8 19.Rxe4 Rd8+.

14.Bd2 Nbc6 15.Rc1 Kb6 16.Bc4

Instead White could have pressed Black to the limit with 16.b4 Bd4 17.b5 Nxe5 18.a4 a5 19.bxa6 Nd3+ 20.Bxd3 exd3 21.O-O Bd5 22.axb7 Rxh8 23.Rb1+ Ka7 24.Rfe1 Nc6 25.a5 Rf8 26.Be3 d2 27.Red1 Bxe3 28.fxe3 Be4 29.Rb5 Ka6 30.Rc5 Kxb7 31.Rxd2, but 31...Rf7 32.Rb2+ Ka7 probably holds for Black.

16...Bxc4 17.Rxc4 Rxh8 18.Rh3 Bd4 19.Rb3+ Kc7 20.Bb4 Nc8 21.Bc3 Rd8 22.Bxd4 Rxd4 23.Rxd4 Nxd4 24.Rg3

On 24.Rc3+ Nc6 25.Rc4 Kd7 26.Rxe4 Ke6 27.f3, Black must avoid 27...Nxe5?? 28.f4. But 27...N8e7 looks drawish.

24...g6 25.Rg4 Kc6 26.Rxe4 Kd5 27.f3 Ne7

Now the threat of 28...Nec6 virtually forces White to take a draw by repetition of position.

28.Rf4 Nef5

Black sidesteps the trap 28...Kxe5?? 29.Re4+!.

29.Re4 Ne7 30.Rf4 Nef5, draw.