10 June 2012

Annotated Game #49: The evil e-file

The following tournament game was against a much lower-rated player, who nevertheless played well and solidly out of the opening, a Caro-Kann Classical.  Certain decisions he made, including playing 10. c3, indicated that he was probably aiming for a draw rather than a win.  That might help explain him missing 16. Qxd5! which would have nastily exploited the pin on the e-file.

Caro-Kann players need to have an internal radar/warning system about White's play up the e-file, in the Classical variation especially.  While the pressure White can exert with a rook or Queen (usually both) appears to be going nowhere, danger can lurk in various forms, including potential piece sacrifices on e6 and tactical ideas (as in this game) involving the e-file.  Having a solid opening doesn't mean there is no danger, something in the past I repeatedly overlooked by failing to check for tactics on every move.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class C"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B18"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "56"] {B18: Classical Caro-Kann: 4...Bf5 sidelines} 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nf3 Nf6 {this is a move-order trick in the Classical variation. Normally white plays 6. h4, prompting Black to reply with h6. Now, if White plays h4, Black can block the further advance to h5 with ...Nh5.} 7. Bd3 {Instead of h4, White opts for a quieter sideline.} e6 (7... Bxd3 {is in fact the most common move in the database, but it also scores much better for White. After} 8. Qxd3 {White is significantly ahead in development, with three pieces out to Black's one.}) 8. O-O Be7 9. Re1 Nbd7 10. c3 {this signals White's desire for a solid and relatively unambitious game, c4 being the more active alternative.} O-O 11. Bxg6 {finally deciding that since he can't develop his queen for free, with Black not willing to exchange on d3, White proceeds with his own exchange.} hxg6 {Black at this point has an equal game.} 12. Bg5 {no other place for the bishop, so might as well get it out.} c5 { with all of his pieces developed, Black now goes for the thematic pawn break.} 13. dxc5 {this simply releases the energy of the Black pieces, particularly the Nd7.} (13. Qe2 {is more principled for White.} cxd4 14. Nxd4 Re8 15. Nf3 Qb6 16. Rad1 Rad8 17. Qc2 Nf8 18. Be3 Bc5 19. Bxc5 Qxc5 20. Qb3 Qc7 21. h3 Nd5 22. Rd4 Nb6 23. Red1 e5 24. R4d2 Rxd2 25. Rxd2 Nfd7 26. Re2 Qc6 27. Ne4 Nc4 { Yanofsky,D-Golombek,H/Hastings 1951/EXT 99/[ChessBase]/1-0 (102)}) 13... Nxc5 14. Re2 (14. Qe2 {would avoid the queen exchange and keep alive some chances of a kingside attack for White.}) 14... Nd5 (14... Qxd1+ $5 {is the best way to maintain a level position.} 15. Rxd1 Rad8 $11) 15. Bxe7 $14 Qxe7 $4 (15... Nxe7 16. Rd2 {and Black will have an unpleasant game, but not a lost one.}) 16. Rd2 $2 (16. Qxd5 $142 $1 {is immediately spotted by the engines, exploiting the pin on the e6 pawn.} Rfd8 17. Qc4 $18) 16... Rad8 {Black has now passed the danger point and should have no trouble keeping White at bay.} 17. Qc2 Qc7 18. Rad1 Nb6 {this is rather awkward. Better would be to ignore the buildup on the d-file, as White can do nothing with it.} 19. Ne4 {this signals White's willingness to simplify to a drawn position.} Nxe4 20. Qxe4 Rxd2 21. Nxd2 Rd8 22. Qc2 Qd6 23. b3 {taking away potentially useful squares from the Nb6.} Qd3 { Black heads for the draw.} 24. Qxd3 Rxd3 25. c4 a5 {the point of this is to prevent b4 and thereby secure c5 for the knight.} 26. Kf1 Nd7 27. Ke2 Nc5 28. Nb1 Rxd1 1/2-1/2

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