11 March 2013

Win a Pawn

In the French Defense, Black seeks counterplay by attacking White's backward d-pawn. If White fails to defend this vulnerability, Black might gain an endgame advantage out of the opening. These two games illustrate the game going badly for White when the d-pawn falls. Black does not win with dramatic attacking tactics, but with a simple and comfortable game.

These two games were played at correspondence time controls. The first started two weeks ago and ended this morning. The second was played a bit over six years ago.

Internet Opponent (1734) -- Stripes,James (2020) [C02]
chess.com championships - Round 3 Chess.com, 26.02.2013

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.f4

5.Nf3 is considered best

5...Qb6 6.Nf3 Bd7 7.Be2

One way to protect the d-pawn involves moving more pawns: 7.a3 Nh6 8.b4 cxd4 9.cxd4 Nf5 10.Bb2.


7...Nge7 is another route to f5. I have played both. In six games from the position after 7.Be2, I have five wins with Black and one loss. In that loss, I played Ne7-f5 prematurely, permitting the g-pawn to drive the knight back. In the other five, I won the d-pawn easily. Most of these games were online blitz.

White to move

8.h3 cxd4 9.cxd4 Nf5 10.a3 Ncxd4 11.Nxd4

Black to move


11...Nxd4 is stronger, but I was playing for an easy endgame.

12.Qxd4 Nxd4 13.Bd1 Rc8 14.Be3 Nc2+ 15.Bxc2 Rxc2 16.0–0 b6 17.b4 Be7 18.Rc1 Rxc1+ 19.Bxc1 0–0 20.Bb2

Black to move


It seemed important to give my bishops some mobility through pawn exchanges.

21.exf6 Bxf6

And then I opted to get more pieces off the board, trusting that my center pawn majority would rule.

22.Bxf6 gxf6 23.Nd2 Kf7 24.Rc1 Rc8 25.Rxc8 Bxc8 26.Kf2

Black to move


26...e5 seems better in retrospect.

27.a4 Bd3 28.g4 Kg6 29.Ke3 Bc2 30.a5 h5 31.Nf3 hxg4 32.hxg4 Bd1

White to move


33.Nd4 retains a small chance. The pawn ending is too easy for Black.

33...Bxf3 34.Kxf3 e5 35.fxe5 fxe5 36.axb6 axb6 37.b5 Kg5 38.Kg3 e4 0–1

My opponent on GameKnot made the same opening error, but followed it with more vigorous play.

Internet Opponent (1641) -- Stripes,James (1782) [C02]
Team match http://gameknot.com, 27.09.2006

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.f4 Bd7 6.Nf3 Qb6 7.Be2 Nh6 8.0–0 cxd4 9.cxd4 Nf5 10.Bd3

Moving this bishop a second time does not seem unreasonable.

Black to move

10...Ncxd4 11.Nxd4 Qxd4+ 12.Kh1 Ne3 13.Bxe3 Qxe3 14.Nc3 Bc6 15.Bb5 Qb6 16.Bxc6+ bxc6 17.Qc2 Rb8 18.b3 Be7 19.Na4 Qb5 20.Rac1 Rc8 21.Nc5 Bxc5 22.Qxc5 Qxc5 23.Rxc5 Kd7

I made several inaccuracies getting to this position, but retain a clear advantage.

White to move

24.Rfc1 h5

After the game, my opponent praised my h-pawn thrust.

25.Kg1 h4 26.Kf2 Rh5 27.Ra5 Rc7 28.b4

Black to move

28...g5 29.g4 hxg3+

The en passant capture.

30.hxg3 gxf4 31.gxf4 Rh2+ 32.Kg3 Rb2 33.a3 Kc8 34.Rac5 Kb7 35.R1c3 Rc8 36.Kf3 Rh2 37.a4

Black still had some work to do before this error.

Black to move

37...Rh3+ 38.Kg4 Rxc3 39.Rxc3 a5 40.Rb3 Ka6

Following a strong move with a weak move. Sometimes easy endings prove difficult when they invite carelessness.


41.b5 gives Black more trouble.

41...axb4 42.Rxb4 c5 43.Rb5 c4 44.fxe6 fxe6

Although still only down one pawn, White's few remaining hopes have disappeared.

White to move

45.Rb1 Ka5 46.Kg5 Rf8 47.Rb7 Kxa4 48.Kg6 Rf5 49.Re7 Rxe5 50.Kf6 Re4 51.Rc7 Kb3 52.Rb7+ Kc2 53.Rc7 c3 54.Ke7 Kd2 55.Kd6 c2 0–1

Was 5.f4 the decisive error, or did it come a few moves later? I have faced 5.f4 once in over the board play. That, too, was an easy win for Black.

No comments:

Post a Comment