Saturday, April 7, 2007

Monokroussos Analyzes PCG

In the April 4, 2007 entry to his The Chess Mind blog, Dennis Monokroussos analyzes the variation in the Philidor Counter Gambit that begins with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Neg5.

After 6...e4 7.Ne5 Nh6, he gives analysis by Christian Bauer from his new book The Philidor Files as follows: 8.Nxh7 Ng4 9.Nxf8 Nxe5 10.dxe5 Kxf8 11.c4 d4 12.Qd2 after which White has the advantage and an extra pawn.

I remember the first time that the position after 8.Nxh7 was shown to me. It happened in between rounds at the New York Open 1996 (which, for some odd reason, was held in Newark, NJ that year) when Macon Shibut asked me my opinion of it. Immediately I suggested 8...Bb4+, a standard idea in the PCG, vacating the f8 square for Black's king and thereby enabling Black to follow with 9.c3 Rxh7 10.cxb4 Nc6.

In his review of the second edition of my book, Shibut also mentions 10...Nf5 and 10...Bf5 as possibilities.

The correct continuation for White after 7...Nh6 is 8.Nxe4! dxe4 9.Bxh6 when Black is prohibited from playing 9...gxh6?? because of the following elegant line, given several years ago by grandmaster Paul Motwani in an e-mail to former Atlantic Chess News editor Peter Tamburro: 10.Qh5+ Ke7 11.Qh4+ Ke8 12.Bb5+! c6 13.Qh5+ Ke7 14.Qf7+ Kd6 15.Nc4#.

Monokroussos analyzes my recommendation 6...exd4 (see my blog entry of December 26, 2006), giving two lines:

a) 7.Nxd4 with "a very nice edge" for White, but I have had success with 7...Qe7+

after both 8.Qe2 and 8.Be2.

b) 7.Bb5+ c6 8.Bd3.

But now instead of Monokroussos's 8...Qe7+9.Kf1, I prefer 8...Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 Nf6 11.O-O-O O-O 12.Nxd4 Re8 13.Rhe1 h6 14.Rxe8+ Qxe8 15.Re1 Qh5 16.Nge6 Bxe6 17.Nxe6 Nbd7 where Black is very nearly equal.

In an earlier blog entry, Monokroussos analyzed 6...h6.

Monokroussos also shows his victory against me at the Manhattan Chess Club in February 2000 in the 6.Ng3 e4 7.Ne5 Nf6 8.f3 variation where I tried gambiting a couple of pawns for rapid development by 8...Bd6 9.fxe4 O-O 10.exd5, but I played inaccurately and finally hung a piece in an inferior position. The simplest way of handling the position after 8.f3 is Kosten's suggestion 8...exf3 9.Qxf3 Bd6 10.Bd3 O-O 11.O-O Nc6!? 12.Nxc6 bxc6 when, once again, Black is close to being equal.

Fortunately I recuperated from this disastrous loss a week later at the USATE, beating Steven Sinding with the PCG in round one.