Strictly for Amateurs

by Bobby Ang

The importance of opening study is inversely proportional to the amount of time you have for the opening phase. In active tournaments where the time control is 30 minutes for all of your moves you just cannot succeed without a prepared set of opening formations to steer into.

I had always studied Mikhail Tal's openings. Not, of course, due to any dreams that I could play like him, but more because he had a genius for bringing out the maximum potential of all of the pieces. When the question arose as to what should be suggested to "crush the Caro-Kann" I simply looked up Tal's treatment against Botvinnik in their world championship match. This was it ...


Readers of my column last issue might have surmised that (1) I am an 1.e4 player, and (2) the quality of my play is nowhere near the Master standard - more on the Executives level, actually. Not that I haven't played against the masters. You know, the problem with matching up against these guys is that it is so hard to prepare openings against them. With a few notable exceptions, they are just as likely to play 1...e5, 1...e6, 1...c6 or even 1...d6. It does not matter - they will wipe you off the board anyway (alas! I am speaking out of personal experience).

The situation is different at the Executives level, where most of your opponents are rated 1600-2000 (remember, I said most - not all) it is quite possible to guess what opening Black is going to go for purely from non-chess reasons. For example, if your opponent is in his 30s and is a dashing lawyer with fire in his eyes or he is a financial wizard connected with a leading bank probably he will essay the Sicilian, and at the same time affix you with a withering stare as if to say "alright, it's you or me". On the other hand, if the guy sitting opposite you is in his 40s or 50s and is a college professor or a medical doctor, more often than not he will opt for solidity with the Caro-Kann and play 1...c6. So what do you do against that? I have a suggestion.

Tomkins,K (2295) - Miles,A (2520) [B18]

Software Toolworks American op (2), 1989

1.e4 1...c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6

The line I am suggesting here is the formation with White's knights on g3 and f4, bishop on c4, queen on e2, and a pawn on h4. What follows is the most accurate order of moves - the pawn must go to h4 first before the g1 knight goes to f4 via e2.

6.h4 h6 7.N1e2

There is a little trick here. Some people like to bring this knight to f4 via h3. What is the difference? Well, he is trying to provoke Black to play 7...e5 The actually occurred in Espig-Boenisch from the East German Championship of 1979. After 7.Nh3 e5 there followed 8.dxe5 Qa5+ 9.Bd2 Qxe5+ 10.Be2 Qxb2 11.0-0 Qxc2 12.Qe1 Be7 13.Rc1 Qa4 14.Nf4 Nd7 15.Bc4 White now had quite an attack /Espig,L-Boenisch,M/ DDR-ch 1979 1-0 (27)

7...Nf6 8.Nf4

OK, now is the time to take stock. Picture this same position but without the pawns on h4 and h4: Black can now simplify with e7-e5 (see game 1 of supplementary games). It might not be very desirable for White to exchange his knight for the bishop on g6 as it opens up the h-file for the h8 rook. On the other hand, with the pawns where they are then Black has no choice but to withdraw the bishop to h7.

8...Bh7 9.Bc4

[9.c3 is a slower but no less dangerous buildup. 9...e6 10.Bd3 Bxd3 11.Qxd3 (11.Nxd3 seems too boring - after 11...Bd6 12.Qf3 Nbd7 13.Bf4 Bxf4 14.Qxf4 Qb8 Paul Keres and Tigran Petrosian agreed to a draw after a few more mechanical moves in Bled 1961)) 11...Nbd7 12.0-0 (12.Bd2 is not active enough, Black got an equal game with 12...Bd6 13.Nfh5 Nxh5 14.Nxh5 g6 15.Ng3 Be7 16.Ne4 Qb6= Diaz,JC-Mateo,R/ Bayamo 1984 1-0 (34)) 12...Bd6 13.Re1 0-0 14.Qf3 Nd5? White's position is ripe for an all-out attack. Now White plays 15.Nfh5! and let us see ...

A) 15...Qxh4? does not work because of 16.Re4 Qd8 17.Nxg7 Kxg7? (17...N7f6 18.Rh4 Kxg7 19.Bxh6+ Kg8 20.Nf1! White now threatens Rg4+ followed by Qh3.) 18.Bxh6+;

B) 15...N5f6 16.Ne4 Be7 17.Bxh6! Nxh5 18.Qxh5 Bxh4 19.Qg4 Bf6 20.Re3 g6 21.Bxf8 Qxf8 22.Nxf6+ Nxf6 23.Qh4 and White should win /Rigo,J-Seger,R/ Dortmund op-A 1992 1-0 (32)]


What are the alternatives for Black? Well, the Argentinian IM Foguelman tried 9...e5 against two former world champions. Please look these up in the supplementary games.


[10.Qe2 just seems to be a little too impatient. Now, after 10...Bd6 there are three possibilities:

A) 11.Be3 Nbd7 12.Ngh5 Nxh5 13.Nxh5 Rg8 (13...0-0 14.g4 Be7 15.Nf4 Bxh4? 16.Nxe6 fxe6 17.Bxe6+ with an attack.) 14.g4 Qc7 15.g5 Bg6 16.0-0-0 0-0-0 17.Ng3 hxg5 18.Bxg5 Bf4+ 19.Bxf4 Qxf4+ 20.Qe3= Tal,M-Botvinnik,M/ Wch-Moscow 1960 draw (42);

B) 11.Bxe6? 0-0!;

C) 11.c3 with a further subdivision C1) 11...0-0 this is best, now White has a problem of where to castle 12.Nd3 Nbd7 13.Ne5 Qc7 14.Nxd7 Qxd7= Hebert,J-Vranesic,Z/ Montreal zt 1981 draw (26); C2) 11...Nbd7? 12.Bxe6! (12.Ngh5 0-0 13.Be3 b5 14.Bd3 Bxd3 15.Nxd3 Nxh5 16.Qxh5 Nf6 17.Qe2 Nd5 18.g4 Re8 draw /Stein,L-Petrosian,T/ Stockholm izt 1962) 12...fxe6 13.Nxe6 Qe7 14.Nf5! Bxf5 15.Nxg7+ Kf7 16.Nxf5 Qxe2+ 17.Kxe2 and White has three pawns for the knight /Keres,P-Olafsson,F/ Bled 1961 1-0 (41); C3) 11...Qc7 12.Ngh5 Nxh5 13.Nxh5 Rg8 (13...0-0?! 14.Qg4 Bg6 15.Nxg7!) 14.Qg4 Bf5 15.Qf3 Nd7 16.Bf4 Bxf4 17.Nxf4 Qb6 18.Qe2 0-0-0 19.Bd3= Edvardsson,K-Jelling,E/ Gausdal 1992 0-1 (31)]


This is precisely what I like about this opening. White's moves are easy to see and come naturally, while Black must exercise extreme caution or he might fall under a blitzkrieg. Now, 10...Bd6 might be the best; however, in that case Black should also be ready to face .. 11.Nxe6!? as Tal played against Botvinnik in their 1960 world championship match (alternatives are taken up in supplementary games nos 4-6) 11...fxe6 12.Bxe6 and now

A) Kasparov's suggestion is to remove the white knight immediately with 12...Bxg3 13.fxg3 Qe7 14.Re1 Be4 15.Bf5 0-0 everything is still unclear;

B) 12...Ke7!? was GM Attila Schneider's novelty against GM Barczay in the Hungarian 1977 championship. Actually, Black got a winning position after ... 13.Re1 Re8 14.Bxh6?! (14.Bc8+ is better) 14...gxh6 15.Qd2 Bxg3 16.fxg3 Ne4-+;

C) 12...Qc7! as played by Botvinnik in the aforecited world title match. 13.Re1 (13.Nh5?! was Tal's subsequent "improvement"; it was not very successful though, as GM Vukic got a slightly more comfortable game after 13...Rf8 14.c4 Bg6 15.Ng3 Nbd7 16.c5 Bxg3 17.fxg3 Nd5 18.Re1 0-0-0 Tal,M-Vukic,M/ Bugojno 1978 draw in 56) 13...Nbd7 (13...Bxg3 14.fxg3 Qxg3 15.Bc8+ is +- according to Vukic in Inf 25/215. This assessment is incorrect 15...Kd8! 16.Bxb7 Ng4!-+) 14.Bg8+ Kf8 15.Bxh7 Rxh7 16.Nf5 g6 17.Bxh6+ Kg8 18.Nxd6 Qxd6 19.Bg5 gives White sufficient compensation for his acrificed piece /Tal,M-Botvinnik,M/ Wch-Moscow 1960 0-1 (58)]


[GM Barczay was successful against Honfi (Hungary 1977) with 11.Qe2 Nxf4 12.Bxf4 Qxd4 13.Bxe6! Qxf4 14.Bf5+ Be7 15.Bxh7 the threat is now Rfe1 and Nf5.]


[11...exd5 is obviously weaker, leaving Black open for blitzkrieg attacks. Here is a possibility - 12.Re1+ Be7 13.Nfh5 0-0? 14.Nxg7! Kxg7 15.Qh5 Qd6 16.Rxe7! Qxe7 17.Bxh6+ Kh8 (17...Kg8 18.Qg4+ Bg6 19.h5+-) 18.Nf5+-]


[12.Qh5! might even be stronger. Ulvin-Wessel from Gausdal 1988 saw a Black wipe-out after ... 12...Qf6 13.Re1 Kd7 14.Nxd5! exd5 15.Qxd5+ Kc7 16.Re8 Bxc2 17.Nh5 the attack on the queen is only incidental, the main threat being ...Bf4+ 17...Qf5 18.Bf4+ Kb6 19.Re5 1-0 Ulvin,D-Wessel,H/ Gausdal 1988]


At least picking up a pawn for his troubles

13.Re1 Nc6 14.Bd2 Qd7 15.Rac1 Bh7 16.b4

[16.Nxe6 is a bit premature. The position after 16...fxe6 17.Rxe6+ Be7 18.Rxe7+ Qxe7 19.Re1 Be4 20.Nxe4 0-0 is still unclear]

16...Rg8 17.Qh5 Kd8 18.Rxc6!? bxc6 19.b5 g6?

Black is a little confused with all the threats. Tougher is 19...c5. Of course he cannot play 19...cxb5? 20.Ba5+ Kc8 (20...Ke7? 21.Nxd5+; 20...Ke8? 21.Nxe6) 21.Rc1+ Kb8 22.Rc7 g6 [only move] A) 23.Qe2 Qxc7! (23...Qe8? 24.Qe5! Bg7 25.Rc8+ white queen will go to c7 next move) 24.Qxb5+ Qb7 25.Qe8+ Qc8 26.Qb5+=; B) 23.Qe5! 23...Qd6 (23...Bd6 24.Rxd7 Bxe5 25.dxe5±) 24.Nd3!+-

20.Ba5+ Ke8 21.Qf3 Bd6

[21...Be7 leaves a hole on e5 which White will exploit by Nf4-d3-e5. But still that might be the best course, as now White has a clear win]

22.bxc6 Qc8

[22...Qxc6? 23.Nxe6!]


[23.Nxe6! wins the house 23...fxe6 24.Qf6 Be7 25.Rxe6 Rg7 26.Re5!]

23...Rh8 24.Nf6+

[It is always a sadistic pleasure to look for quicker wins in such positions. 24.Ne4! right away is already the end. 24...Qxc6 25.Nxd6+ Qxd6 26.Bb4 Qb8 other moves lose the queen 27.Qa3! it doesn't look like Black can get away from mate]

24...Kf8 25.Nd7+ Kg8 26.Ne4 Be7 27.d5 f5 28.dxe6 Qa6 29.Bc3 Qc4 30.Qf4 Qxe6 31.Nef6+ Bxf6 32.Rxe6 Bxc3 33.Qc4 1-0


(1) Tseitlin,M (2465) - Khenkin,I (2450) [B18]
Voskresensk, 1990

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.N1e2 Nf6 7.Nf4 e5 8.dxe5 Qxd1+ 9.Kxd1 Ng4 10.Nh3 h5 11.Bd3 h4 12.f3 Nxe5 13.Bxg6 hxg3 14.Re1 gxh2 15.Rxe5+ Be7 16.Re1 fxg6 17.Bf4 Na6 18.Bxh2 0-0-0+ 19.Kc1 Bg5+ 20.Nxg5 Rxh2 21.Rg1 Nc5 22.a4 Rh5 23.Nh3 Re5 24.Ra3 Ne6 25.Rd1 Re2 26.Rxd8+ Kxd8 27.Rd3+ Ke7 28.Rd2 Re1+ 29.Rd1 Re2 30.Rd2 Re1+ ½-½

(2) Spassky,B - Foguelman,A [B18]
Mar del Plata, 1960

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.N1e2 Nf6 8.Nf4 Bh7 9.Bc4 e5 10.Qe2 Qxd4 11.0-0 b5 12.Bb3 Bc5 13.Be3 Qd6 14.Rad1 Qe7 15.Bxc5 Qxc5 16.Nfh5 Nxh5 17.Nxh5 0-0 18.Qg4 g6 19.Rd3 a5 20.Rfd1 Ra7 21.Rd6 Kh8 22.Nf6 a4 23.Nxh7 axb3 24.Nxf8 bxc2 25.Nxg6+ fxg6 26.Rd8+ Kg7 27.Rg8+ Kxg8 28.Qxg6+ Rg7 29.Rd8+ Qf8 30.Rxf8+ Kxf8 31.Qxc2 Kg8 32.Qc5 1-0

(3) Tal,M - Foguelman,A [B18]
Amsterdam, 1964

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.N1e2 Nf6 7.h4 h6 8.Nf4 Bh7 9.Bc4 e5 10.Qe2 Nbd7 11.0-0 Qe7 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Rd1 Nfd7 14.Bd2 0-0-0 15.Bc3 Re8 16.Re1 g5 17.hxg5 hxg5 18.Ne6 f6 19.Rad1 Bg6 20.f4 gxf4 21.Nxf4 Qh7 22.Be6 Bc5+ 23.Bd4 Qh2+ 24.Kf2 Qh4 25.Bxd7+ Nxd7 26.Qd2 Bd6 27.Rxe8+ Bxe8 28.Rh1 Bxf4 29.Rxh4 Rxh4 30.Be3 Bxe3+ 31.Qxe3 Bg6 32.c3 a6 33.Kg1 Rg4 34.Qf3 Rh4 35.Ne2 Be4 36.Qg3 Rh5 37.Qg8+ Kc7 38.Nf4 Re5 39.c4 c5 40.Ne6+ Kd6 41.Nd8 Ke7 42.Nf7 Re6 43.Qg7 Ke8 44.g4 Bd3 45.b3 b5 46.g5 fxg5 47.Qg8+ Nf8 48.Nxg5 Rf6 49.Qd5 bxc4 50.Qe5+ 1-0

(4) Muhametov,E (2390) - Bode,W (2280) [B18]
Krumbach op, 1991

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nh3 Nf6 8.Nf4 Bh7 9.Bc4 e6 10.0-0 Bd6 11.Re1 0-0 12.c3 Re8 13.Qf3 Nbd7 14.Bd2 Nd5 15.h5 Qc7 16.Nd3 N5f6 17.Re3 b5 18.Bb3 c5 19.Nxc5 Bxc5 20.dxc5 Nxc5 21.Rae1 Rad8 22.R3e2 Qe7 23.Bf4 Nd3 24.Ra1 e5 25.Bc1 e4 26.Qe3 Ng4 27.Qd2 Qh4 28.Nf1 Qxh5 29.Qc2 e3 30.Bxe3 Ndxf2 31.Bxf7+ Qxf7 32.Rxf2 Bxc2 0-1

(5) Diez del Corral,J - Pomar Salamanca,A [B18]
Palma de Mallorca, 1969

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nh3 Nf6 8.Nf4 Bh7 9.Bc4 e6 10.0-0 Bd6 11.Ngh5 0-0 12.Re1 Nbd7 13.c3 Nxh5 14.Nxh5 Qxh4 15.g3 Qe7 16.Qg4 Bg6 17.Bd3 Bxh5 18.Qxh5 Rae8 19.Bxh6 gxh6 20.Qxh6 f5 21.Qg6+ Qg7 22.Rxe6 Bc7 23.Qxe8 Rxe8 24.Rxe8+ Nf8 25.Rae1 Bd6 26.Bxf5 Qg5 27.Bh3 Kf7 28.R8e4 Ng6 29.R1e3 Qh5 30.Be6+ Kg7 31.Rg4 Kf6 32.Bd7 Nf8 33.Rf3+ Ke7 34.Rg7+ Kd8 35.Bg4 Qb5 36.Rff7 Qxb2 37.Rxb7 Qxc3 38.Rxa7 Bb8 39.Ra8 Qb2 40.Rf7 Ng6 41.Rd7+ Ke8 42.Rh7 Qb1+ 43.Kh2 Kf8 44.Be6 Qb2 45.Kg2 Qb6 46.a4 c5 47.d5 Qb4 48.a5 Qb1 49.Rf7+ Ke8 50.a6 Nh4+ 51.gxh4 Qg6+ 52.Kh3 Qd3+ 53.f3 Qf1+ 54.Kg4 Qg2+ 55.Kh5 Qg3 56.a7 Qe5+ 57.Kg6 Qg3+ 58.Bg4 Qd6+ 59.Rf6 1-0

(6) Bellon Lopez,J - Seirawan,Y [B18]
Las Palmas, 1981

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nh3 Nf6 8.Nf4 Bh7 9.Bc4 e6 10.0-0 Bd6 11.Ngh5 0-0 12.Re1 Re8 13.c3 Nbd7 14.Bd2 e5 15.Qb3 Rf8 16.dxe5 Nxe5 17.Rad1 Nxh5 18.Nxh5 Qxh4 19.Bf4 Nxc4 20.Qxc4 Bb8 21.Qb4 c5 22.Qxc5 Bxf4 23.g3 Bxg3 24.Nxg3 Rae8 25.Qxa7 f5 26.Qc5 Bg6 27.Qd5+ Kh7 28.Rxe8 Bxe8 29.Qh1 Qg4 30.Rd4 f4 31.Kf1 Bc6 32.Qh5 Qe6 33.Ne2 g6 34.Qc5 Re8 35.Qc4 Qf5 36.Qd3 Bb5 37.Qxf5 Bxe2+ 38.Kg2 gxf5 39.Rd7+ Kg6 40.Rxb7 f3+ 41.Kh3 Re4 42.b3 Bf1+ 43.Kh2 Rh4+ 44.Kg3 Rg4+ 45.Kh2 f4 0-1


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