25 March 2017

A QID Miniature

The Queen's Indian Defense fascinates me. Due to my preparations for facing it from the White side, I have started employing it more often when I have the Black pieces. Last week, I played it in the first round of the Spokane Chess Club's Game 61, and was never at a disadvantage in the game (see "Playing Tired"). Thursday morning, I employed it against a National Master in a three minute online blitz game and was never really worse. Then, with ten seconds left, my opponent dropped a rook in a rook and pawn ending that should have been drawn and I obtained another master scalp.

Thursday night, I faced Michael Cambareri in the final round of our Game 61. Michael is our City Champion and won several grade restricted national championships when he was in elementary school in the first decade of this century.

Stripes,James (1853) -- Cambareri,Michael (1977) [E17]
Game 61 Gonzaga University (4), 23.03.2017

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.Bg2 e6 5.c4 Be7 6.Nc3 0–0 7.Qc2 c5 8.d5 exd5

Michael and I have had this position earlier this year. It was one that I was well prepared for and expected to reach again.


9.cxd5 White's third most popular move has White's best scoring percentage, but I had resolved before the game began to try 9.Ng5. I played 9.cxd5 in our Club Winter Championship in February. See "Home Preparation".

9.Nh4 is also popular, and has scored better than 9.Ng5.


9...h6 is Black's most popular reply, but after 10.h4 White has scored 100% in the handful of master games reaching this position. I would have been happy to play that position, which the chess engines say is equal.

10.cxd5 Na6

White to move 

I expected 10...d6, and indeed thought it was necessary. If so, then my failure to find the refutation highlights a focus area for further opening preparation.


I looked at something along the lines of 11.0–0 Nb4 12.Qd1 Nfxd5 13.Nxf7 Rxf7 14.Nxd5 Nxd5 15.Bxd5 Bxd5 16.Qxd5. However, because I failed to anticipate Black's next move, I was in less of a hurry to castle. The ensuing tactics might serve as an argument in favor of 9.Nh4.

11...Nxd5! 12.Nxf7

12.Nxh7 did not seem as good 12...Ndb4 13.Qd1 Kxh7 and White is down a piece.

12.Nxd5 is plausible 12...Bxg5 13.Bxg5 Qxg5 14.f4 was the end of my analysis during the game. Had I carried it further, perhaps I would have been less concerned about the one pawn deficit. 14...Qd8 15.e5 Bxd5 16.Bxd5 Nb4 17.Qd2. In this position, perhaps White has compensation for the pawn.

12...Rxf7 13.exd5?!

13.Nxd5 was better 13...Nb4 14.Nxb4 cxb4 15.0–0 with equal chances for both sides.

13...Nb4 14.Qd1 Ba6

White to move


I considered 15.Bf1, but my move seemed more active because I underestimated Black's next move.

15...Bf6-+ 16.a3


16...Bxc3+ 17.bxc3 Qf6 18.f3 Qxc3+ 19.Bd2

19.Kf2 Qxa1 20.axb4 cxb4 21.Qd2

19...Nd3+ 20.Bxd3

20.Kf1 Nb2+


White to move

21.Kf2 Rxf3+ 0–1

I have had enough suffering and resigned. Obviously 22.Qxf3 is no good. 22...Qxd2+ 23.Kg1 Rf8.

Michael thought that I might play on with 22.Kg2, but Black has all the fun. For instance 22...Raf8 23.Bf4 R3xf4.

1 comment:

  1. I would've played h4 on move 10 or 11. 11.h4 specifically looks pretty good. That move does lots of good things--gains space, creates a possible h5 idea later, but most importantly takes care of all his knight discoveries.

    This 12.Nxd5 line is interesting. I didn't understand at first why he couldn't respond 12...Bxd5 before ...Bxg5, so that you couldn't get this e4/f4 pawn duo. But if they do that, 13.Nxh7! works again. Finally, in the "perhaps White has compensation for a pawn" position you gave, White has a lot of extra space, all of Black's heavy pieces are passive, and d7 is basically falling. White absolutely has compensation for a pawn, and I think the only question is whether White is better (probably not, but maybe if he tries too hard to cling to d7).

    So on move 12, we basically had the choice to:
    1) Let go of a pawn, but get a big center vs passive black pieces (rooks on a8/f8, queen on d8, weakness on d7)
    2) Hold on to a pawn, but activate his rook.

    Regardless of what the computer says, I think 1) is a much better practical choice.

    Also, although you're already in big, big trouble (13.exd5 is probably losing), on move 15, Bf1 should essentially be your only candidate. That Ba6 is wayyyy too strong, and your only goal is to remove it so you can avoid getting mated in the center. Like I don't think the problem was that you underestimated ...Bf6, I think you didn't quite appreciate that after 12.Be4 you basically can't move anything and Black's pieces will just walk in to checkmate you. Like, this position should give you heart palpitations.

    Positions like the one after 12.Be4--hopelessly passive positions where we can't move anything--are a difference I've noticed again and again between players around 2000 and masters. A players and lower experts (myself definitely included when I was in this range) will often fall into these positions, while masters will generally make any concession (such as giving up material or groveling with Ke1-f1-g2) to avoid them. Could be worth taking another look at this moment.