Saturday, August 8, 2009

Both Sides of the Board

At the Viking 4-County Open 2009, which I won on tie breaks, I found myself playing against a variation that I have tried from both sides of the board.

Round Three: Latvian Gambit

Jim West (USCF 2210) - Steve Ferrero (USCF 1930), Mount Arlington NJ 7/26/2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.d3 d6 4.Nc3

In my games as Black, I usually arrive at this position via the Philidor Counter Gambit move order 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 f5 4.d3. In the game Carlsen-Dolmatov, Aeroflot 2004, the same position occurred from a Dutch formation after the opening moves 1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 d6 3.e4 e5 4.Nc3.


This is the move that I have preferred. Dolmatov got into trouble after 4...Nc6 5.exf5 Bxf5 6.d4 Nxd4 7.Nxd4 exd4 8.Qxd4 Nf6 9.Bc4 c6 10.Bg5 b5 11.Bb3 Be7 12.O-O-O Qd7 13.Rhe1 Kd8 14.Rxe7 Qxe7 15.Qf4 Bd7 16.Ne4 d5 17.Nxf6 h6 18.Bh4 g5 19.Qd4, Black resigns.

5.Bg5 Be7 6.Qd2 Nc6

In my opinion, Black's knight is misplaced on c6, a square that should be occupied by his c-pawn. The rule of thumb in the PCG is that Black should only develop the queen knight on c6 after White has played the king bishop to c4, when White loses a tempo if he pins the knight by moving the bishop from c4 to b5. With the bishop on c4, Black's knight often attacks it from the a5 square.

7.O-O-O O-O 8.Kb1 Be6?!

Black throws away a valuable tempo by this inaccuracy. The one drawback to White's 3.d3 is that he will be down a tempo, compared with normal lines in the PCG, after an eventual pawn push to d4. Now White is allowed to regain the tempo. In a game from October 2006, where I was White against Adam Levine-Weinberg (USCF 1741) at the Marshall Chess Club, Black varied with 8...f4 9.Be2 Be6 10.g3 fxg3 11.hxg3 Nd4 12.Rdf1 b5 13.Bxf6 Nxf3 14.Bxf3 Rxf6 15.Bg2 c6 16.Bh3 Qd7 17.Bxe6+ Qxe6 18.f4 Raf8 19.f5 with a clear advantage for White who won in 33 moves.

9.exf5 Bxf5 10.d4 exd4 11.Nxd4 Nxd4 12.Qxd4 Be6 13.Bc4 Bxc4 14.Qxc4+ Kh8 15.Rhe1

White has a clear advantage here. Now the best attempt for Black would have been 15...Qd7 16.Re6 Ng8. Instead his next move is a blunder.

15...Ng8? 16.Rxe7! Nxe7 17.Nd5

I missed a stronger continuation by 17.Qh4! Re8 18.Nd5 Nxd5 19.Bxd8 Raxd8 20.Qa4 Ra8 21.Qb3 Nb6 22.Kc1 with a winning advantage.


Black should have tried to hang on by 17...Rf5!? 18.Bxe7 Rxd5 19.Qxd5 Qxe7 20.Qxb7 Qd8 although White is clearly better with an extra pawn.

18.Bxe7 Qg8 19.Qd4 Rxg2 20.Nxc7 Rc8 21.Bxd6

White is winning, but play is still tricky.

21...Qd8 22.c3 Rg6 23.Be5 Qf8 24.a3 h6 25.Nd5 Rg5 26.Ka1 Rd8 27.h4 Rf5 28.Rg1 Rf1+ 29.Rxf1 Qxf1+ 30.Ka2 Qf7 31.c4 b5

Objectively speaking, I should now have played 32.b3 which maintains White's win. But with time trouble looming for both players, I was worried about exposing my king.

32.Qc3?! bxc4 33.Ne3 Rc8

White stays on top after 33...Rd3 34.Qxc4 Qxc4+ 35.Nxc4 Rh3 36.Nd6 Rxh4 37.Bxg7+!.

34.Bd4 Rc7 35.Ng4 Kg8 36.Ne5 Qe6 37.h5 a6 38.Ka1 Rc8 39.Qb4 Qd5 40.Bc3 Qh1+ 41.Ka2 Qxh5 42.Qb7

After 42...Re8 43.Nxc4 Qg6 44.Nd6 Rd8 45.Be5 h5, Black has good drawing chances.


With little more than a minute left on his clock, Black makes a fatal error.

43.Nc6!, Black resigns.

On 43...Qf8, White decides the game by 44.Ne7+.