Friday, February 2, 2007

Philidor Counter Gambit 4.Bc4

Having authored two books on the defense 1.e4 e5 2.Nf6 d6 3.d4 f5 [The Philidor Countergambit, Chess Enterprises 1994 and The Dynamic Philidor Counter-Gambit, Chess Digest 1996], I suppose it was only a matter of time before I wrote about this opening in Empire Chess. This article focuses upon the continuation 4.Bc4, an attempt to exploit the weakness in Black's kingside created by 3...f5. It should be noted that upon the two occasions when Paul Morphy was confronted with 4.Bc4, he developed a piece with 4...Nc6 rather than explore the tactical complexities after 4...exd4 which in more recent times has been the preference of grandmasters Jonathan Mestel and Tony Kosten. Morphy drew both games following 5.dxe5 dxe5 6.Qxd8+ Nxd8. As White, he disposed of 6...Kxd8 in Morphy-Worrall, London 1859 by 7.Bg5+ Nf6 8.Nc3 Bb4? 9.O-O-O+ Bd6 10.Rhe1 h6 11.Bxf6+ gxf6 12.Nb5 Ke7 13.Nh4 Rd8 14.exf5 Ke8 15.Re3 Rd7 16.Rg3 Ne7 17.Be6 e4 18.Bxd7+ Bxd7 19.Rxd6 Bxb5 20.Rxf6, 1-0.

A 1979 correspondence game Trobatto-Krustkains improved upon 8...Bb4? with 8...Bd6 9.O-O-O Ke8 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.exf5 Bxf5 12.Nh4 Bg6 13.Nb5 Ke7 14.Nxd6 cxd6 15.Nxg6+ hxg6 16.c3 Rad8 when the game was agreed drawn.

In the past 18 months*, I have been successful as Black against masters after 6...Kxd8, a position that can be arrived at via the move order 1.d4 d6 2.e4 e5 3.dxe5 dxe5 4.Qxd8+ Kxd8 5.Bc4 f5 6.Nf3 Nc6. All five games of mine in this article began as queen-pawn openings, giving me the additional psychological advantage of taking a 1.d4 player into unfamiliar territory.

Not everyone played for Bg5+, some opting for Ng5 instead as these two games illustrate.

Game #1

Eric Fleischman (USCF 2234) - Jim West (USCF 2210), Manhattan Chess Club 1/13/2001; Game/45

1.d4 d6 2.e4 e5 3.dxe5 dxe5 4.Qxd8+ Kxd8 5.Bc4 f5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Ng5
(better 7.Bg5+) Nh6 8.O-O Bd6 9.c3 Ke7 10.Nd2 Na5 11.Bd3 b6 12.exf5 Bxf5 13.Be4 Raf8 14.b3 Ng4 15.Bxf5 Rxf5 16.Nde4 h6 17.Nh3 Rff8 18.f3 Nf6 19.Nhf2 Nb7

20.c4 Nxe4 21.Nxe4 Nc5 22.Be3 Nxe4 23.fxe4 Rxf1+ 24.Kxf1 Bb4 25.Rd1 Rd8 26.Rxd8 Kxd8 27.Ke2 Kd7 28.Kd3 Kd6 29.Bc1 a5 30.Bb2 h5 31.Ke2 g6 32.Kf3 Ke6 33.g4 hxg4+ 34.Kxg4 Bd2 35.h4 Be3 36.h5 gxh5+ 37.Kxh5 c6 38.Kg6 b5 39.cxb5 cxb5 40.Bc3 a4 41.Bb4 axb3 42.axb3 Bb6 43.Kg7 Bc7 44.Kf8 Bd8 45.Ke8 Bg5 46.Ba5 Bh4 47.Bc7 Bg5 48.Kf8 Bf4 49.Kg7 Kd7 50.Ba5 Ke6 51.Kg6 Be3 52.Bb4 Bf4 53.Kh5 Be3 54.Kg4 Bh6 55.Kf3 Bf4 56.Ke2 Kd7 57.Kd3 Kc6 58.Be7 Kb6 59.Kc3 Bg3 60.Bd6 Kc6 61.Bb8 Kb7 62.Bd6 Kc6 63.Bf8 Be1+ 64.Kd3 Bg3 65.Ke3 Bf4+ 66.Kf3, draw.

Game #2

Mark Kernighan (USCF 2257) - Jim West (USCF 2218), Bound Brook NJ, 12/3/2000; 30/60 followed by game/30

1.d4 d6 2.e4 e5 3.dxe5 dxe5 4.Qxd8+ Kxd8 5.Bc4 f5 6.exf5 Bxf5 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.c3 Bd6 9.Ng5 Nh6 10.Ne6+ Bxe6 11.Bxe6 Ke7 12.Bb3 Ng4 13.Nd2 Nf6 14.O-O Rae8 15.Nc4 b5 16.Nxd6 cxd6 17.Be3 a5 18.Rfd1 a4 19.Bc2 Ra8 20.Bg5 Rhb8

21.Bxf6+ gxf6 22.Bxh7 b4 23.h4?! (better 23.Be4) a3 24.Be4 axb2 25.Rab1 bxc3! 26.Bxc6 c2 27.Bxa8 cxd1=Q+ 28.Rxd1 b1=Q 29.Rxb1 Rxb1+ 30.Kh2 Rb2 31.h5 Rxa2 32.Bd5 Rxf2 33.Kg3 Rd2 34.h6 Kf8 35.Be6 Rd4 36.Kh3 Rd1 37.Kh2 d5 38.g4 d4 39.Kg2 e4 40.Bc4 Rc1 41.Bb3 Rc3 42.Bd5 d3 43.Kf2 d2, 0-1.

In the remaining games, the same position after move 9 as in Trobatto-Krustkains was reached.

Here my opponent offered a draw after his next move!

Game #3

Jay Bonin (USCF 2413) - Jim West (USCF 2200), Marshall Chess Club 10/8/2000; Game/60

1.d4 d6 2.e4 e5 3.dxe5 dxe5 4.Qxd8+ Kxd8 5.Bc4 f5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bg5+ Nf6 8.Nc3 Bd6 9.O-O-O Ke8 10.exf5, draw.

Fortunately the players in the next game were in a more combative mood from this position, but the eventual outcome was the same.

Game #4

Dragan Milovanovic (USCF 2265) - Jim West (USCF 2200), Hamilton NJ 9/23/2000; 40/80

1.d4 d6 2.e4 e5 3.dxe5 dxe5 4.Qxd8+ Kxd8 5.Bc4 f5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bg5+ Nf6 8.Nc3 Bd6 9.O-O-O Ke8 10.exf5 Bxf5 11.Rhe1 h6 12.Bf4 (better 12.Be3) Bg4 13.Bxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Bxd1 15.Ng6+ Kd7 16.Nxh8 Bxc2 17.Nf7 Bg6

18.Bb5+ c6 19.Nxd6 Kxd6 20.Rd1+ Kc7 21.Bd3 Bxd3 22.Rxd3 Re8 23.h3 Re7 24.Kd2 Ne4+ 25.Nxe4 Rxe4, draw.

In the final game, White chose to swap down, only to get outplayed in the endgame.

Game #5

Jim Gwyn (USCF 2230) - Jim West (USCF 2201), Hamilton NJ 3/25/2000; 40/80 followed by 15/30

1.d4 d6 2.e4 e5 3.dxe5 dxe5 4.Qxd8+ Kxd8 5.Bc4 f5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Bg5 Bd6 9.O-O-O Ke8 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Nb5 Ke7 12.exf5 Bxf5 13.Nh4 Be6 14.Bxe6 Kxe6 15.f4 a6 16.Rxd6+ cxd6 17.Nc7+ Kf7 18.Nxa8 Rxa8 19.fxe5 dxe5 20.Rf1 Rd8 21.g4 Ne7 22.g5 Rd6 23.gxf6 Rxf6 24.Nf3 Ke8 25.Nd2 Rxf1+ 26.Nxf1 Kf7

27.Kd2 Ke6 28.Kd3 Kf5 29.c4 Kf4 30.Nd2 Nc6 31.a3 a5 32.c5 h5 33.h4?! (better 33.Ne4) Kg4 34.Kc4 Kxh4 35.b4 axb4 36.axb4 Kg3 37.b5 Na7 38.Ne4+ Kf4 39.Nd6 h4 40.b6 Nc6 41.Nxb7 h3 42.Kb5? (better 42.Kd5) Nd4+ 43.Kc4 h2 44.Na5, 0-1.

*{This article originally appeared in the Fall 2001 issue of Empire Chess}