23 April 2012

Annotated Game #42: The Punishing Slav

The following game occurred in the last round of this particular tournament and was a much-needed win.  Even with the victory, I ended up at -1 (win-loss) for the tournament along with three draws, all of which were with significantly lower-rated players.  Not a terrible overall result, but one that served to underline the declining trend in my chess performance, primarily due to the lack of systematic practice between tournaments and only playing seriously around once a year.  This was not enough exposure to chess to either improve my skills or keep my mind in good practical shape for OTB play.

Nevertheless, this game is a good example of what I was capable of when warmed up.  White with 5. d5 enters a falsely seductive line against the Slav, one which you won't find in any opening books, for good reason.  Black correctly reacts aggressively and soon regains the gambit pawn, along with forcing the win of the exchange (although alternative play on move 9 is objectively better).  Despite Black's material advantage, White has good attacking possibilities and some compensating factors, leading to a tactical tussle.  White leaves his remaining rook out of the fight - a classic amateur mistake - and then Black is able to force enough simplifications to segue into a clearly won endgame.

The Slav has a deserved reputation as a solid defense, but it can also be a punishing one when White does not respect it, as this game shows.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D20"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2003.??.??"] [TimeControl "240+2"] {D10: Slav Defence: cxd5 (without early Nf3) and 3 Nc3} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 dxc4 {an independent move that tests White's setup with Nc3.} 4. e4 e5 5. d5 {an aggressive-looking move which however can land White in trouble quickly. } Nf6 6. Bxc4 {this is the basic idea by White, to quickly regain the gambit pawn with what appears to be a strong point at d5.} b5 {this counterattacking move is considered best by Houdini and has a high scoring percentage in the database.} (6... Bb4 {is the other popular choice here.}) 7. Bb3 b4 {the necessary follow-up to the previous move, pushing away the defender of e4.} 8. Nb1 {a poor third choice for a knight retreat. Two example of games that went differently:} (8. Nce2 Nxe4 9. Nf3 Bc5 10. Be3 Bxe3 11. fxe3 Nc5 12. Rc1 Nxb3 13. Qxb3 cxd5 14. Qxb4 Nd7 15. Nc3 a5 16. Qa3 Qe7 17. Qxe7+ Kxe7 18. Nxd5+ Kf8 19. Rc7 f6 20. Nd2 Rb8 21. Ne4 Kf7 22. Nc5 Rxb2 {Szollosi, L-Garcia Palermo,C/ Berlin West 1984/MCD/1/2-1/2 (51)}) (8. Na4 Nxe4 9. Qe2 Nf6 10. dxc6 Bd6 11. Nf3 O-O 12. O-O Ba6 13. Bc4 Bxc4 14. Qxc4 Qc7 15. Bg5 Qxc6 16. Qb3 Nbd7 17. Rac1 Qa6 18. Bd2 Qb5 19. Rc4 Rac8 20. Rfc1 Rxc4 21. Rxc4 Rb8 22. Ng5 Qd5 { Sabolik,F-Kijac,M/SVK 2000/EXT 2001/1/2-1/2 (55)}) 8... Nxe4 9. Nf3 {now out of the database.} Bc5 {this aims for the following line, in which Black wins the exchange. Houdini sees nothing better for White than entering it.} (9... Ba6 $1 {immediately would instead prevent White from castling and the bishop's dominance on the f1-a6 diagonal would prove difficult to challenge.}) 10. O-O Ba6 {forcing the win of the exchange, as White cannot interpose on the diagonal and Re1 fails to ...Bxf2+} 11. Nbd2 Nxd2 {necessary, otherwise the Ne4 is hanging.} (11... Bxf1 $2 {leads to nothing, notes Fritz.} 12. Nxe4 Bxg2 13. Kxg2 $18 {and White has a big attack coming while Black is underdeveloped.} (13. Nxc5 $6 Bxf3 14. Qxf3 Qf6)) 12. Bxd2 Bxf1 {now that Nxe4 is no longer possible for White, Black can take the rook.} 13. Qxf1 O-O {White has compensation for the exchange, notably in his advantage in development and in possessing the two bishops. He also has the potential for an attack on Black's king. Houdini rates the position as equal.} (13... cxd5 {is inadvisable.} 14. Qb5+ Nd7 15. Nxe5 {and Black will lose the d-pawn and have his king exposed in the center.}) 14. Qc4 (14. Rc1 {would activate the rook and immediately increase the pressure on Black. The text-move looks dangerous, but White in effect chooses to conduct the attack while not having his rook in play.}) 14... Qb6 (14... Qd6 {would be more solid.}) 15. Nxe5 Bxf2+ 16. Kh1 Qd4 {this defensive move is considered best by Houdini.} (16... a5 {was Fritz's choice, which Houdini considers significantly better for White.} 17. dxc6 Ra7 18. Rf1) 17. Nxf7 {this doesn't turn out to be good for White.} (17. Bxb4 c5 18. Bc3 Qxc4 19. Bxc4 {is considered equal by Houdini. White is still down the exchange, but the bishop pair and strong positions of his minor pieces compensate.}) 17... Qxc4 {leads to a winning advantage for Black.} (17... Rxf7 18. dxc6 Qxc4 19. Bxc4 Nxc6 20. Rf1 Ne5 21. Bxf7+ Kxf7 22. Rxf2+ Kg8 {draws.}) 18. Bxc4 Kxf7 $1 $19 ({Inferior is} 18... Rxf7 19. dxc6 Bh4 20. c7 $15 { says Fritz.}) 19. dxc6+ Ke8 20. Bxb4 (20. Rc1 a5 21. Bb5 Ke7 22. Bg5+ Ke6 { was White's best chance, keeping Black under greater pressure.}) 20... Rf4 ( 20... Nxc6 {is clearly inferior, notes Fritz.} 21. Bxf8 Ne5 22. Rf1 Nxc4 23. Rxf2 $16) 21. b3 $6 (21. Rc1) 21... Rxc4 {Black makes the decision to simplify into a won endgame with a large (piece for pawn) material advantage.} (21... Nxc6 $5 {is considered better by the engines.} 22. Bd2 Rd4 23. Bc3 $19 Rd6) 22. bxc4 Nxc6 {now White's possible queening and mating threats have disappeared.} 23. Ba3 Rd8 24. Bb2 Bd4 25. Re1+ {sidestepping further trade of material.} Kf7 26. Rf1+ Kg6 27. Ba3 Re8 {Black's control of the f2 square and the e-file prevents White from being able to stop Black penetrating on his second rank.} 28. Bd6 Re2 29. a3 Ra2 30. h4 Ra1 {Black opts for further forced simplification.} 31. Rxa1 Bxa1 32. g4 Be5 33. Bxe5 {this hastens White's demise, but there was little he could do at this point anyway.} Nxe5 34. c5 Kf6 35. Kg2 Nxg4 36. Kf3 Ne5+ 37. Ke4 Ke6 {now Black's king is centralized and in tandem with the knight can neutralize counterplay from White, then go after White's weaknesses.} 38. Kd4 h6 {done to win in the simplest way possible, without allowing any hope for White.} (38... Nf3+ {makes it even easier for Black, comments Fritz.}) 39. Ke4 g5 40. h5 (40. hxg5 hxg5 41. Ke3 Nc4+ 42. Kf3 Nxa3 $19) 40... a5 41. a4 Nc6 {reaching a zugzwang, where White is forced to let Black penetrate.} (41... Nc6 42. Kf3 Kd5 $19 {and if White tries to queen a pawn, then} 43. Kg4 Kxc5 44. Kf5 Kd5 45. Kg6 g4 46. Kxh6 g3 47. Kg6 g2 48. h6 g1=Q+) 0-1


  1. Hey man I just went through the game. You make very good notes, informative for both yourself and the reader. I'm not so much a fan of the Slav (more of a Dutch player) but I can definitely respect it and you played it well. Love how you pounced on the seemingly innocuous Bxc4 thematic recapture that QGD players are so used to.

  2. Thanks for the comment. If you've seen my earlier posts on the Dutch, you know I'm a fan of that as well.

    This is one of those games that's great to analyze - it has an opening deviation punished (although the opponent is not put away), some nail-biting tactical complications and a successful winning strategy. While my play wasn't perfect - such is chess - it's good to go back and be able to see how I've won games like this, as well as taking appropriate lessons away from the losses I've looked at.


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