Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The RetiCK - final part

1.e4 c6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 dxe4 4.Ne2!? Bf5 5.Ng3 e6 This is Schandorff's recommendation in The Caro-Kann.

6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Qe2

A) Schandorff also mentions a slight deviation on Black's part: 7...Nbd7 which does look sensible.  

8.Ngxe4 Be7 Diagram 

Reprintsev-Dreev, Internet blitz 2003.

And now, instead of "castling into it" with 0-0-0 as in the game, I think white should develop with g3, Bg2 and castle kingside or perhaps delay castling to first see where the black king goes, and then decide if his own king should follow suit or not. For example: 9.g3 Qa5 10.Bg2 h5 11.h4 (11.h3!? h4 12.g4 Bg6 13.a3) 11...0-0-0 12.0-0-0 Nxe4 13.Bxe4 Bxe4 14.Qxe4.

B) 7...Bb4!? An idea inspired by the real Reti Gambit vs the French - and even there it looks suspicious to me. So, personally, if I were Black here, I wouldn't be interested in exchanging my darkfielder for a measly c3-knight just to keep an exposed e4-pawn. But Caro-Kann players are usually more likely to argue that 'Greed is Good'.

8.0-0-0 Diagram

8...Bxc3 This is similar to the mainline in the real Reti Gambit (1.e4 e6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 dxe4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2 Bb4 6.0-0-0 Bxc3). Personally, as black, I'd rather go for Dreev's Nbd7 and Be7 above. But this is of course a big part of what makes Chess so interesting - we all have different preferences and ideas, so what one considers 'doubtful' or 'too weakening' another will label 'ambitious' or 'interesting'.

(By the way, 8...Qe7 might be worth a try - if there is a CK-player who would not hang on to an extra pawn for dear life?! 9.Ncxe4 Bxe4 (9...Ba3? 10.Nxf5+- ; 9...Nxe4 10.Nxe4 Ba3 11.Ng3=) 10.Nxe4 Nbd7=)

B1) 9.dxc3!? Allowing the pawns to be doubled on the c-file and removing the d-pawn pawn from the centre. But on the other hand it opens the d-file and allows White to control the d5-square by means of c3-c4, without weakening the pawn cover of his king.

9...Nbd7 10.c4 Qa5 Diagram

And now according to Schandorff, white doesn't have enough for the pawn. Which may of course be true, but in the following game white still beat "a computer enhanced human", and the dark squares in Black's camp do look kind of inviting.

So, to me it's a verdict open to at least debate. 11.Nxf5 (11.Qe3 Bg6 (11...Qxa2 12.Nxf5 exf5 13.Qg5 Qa5 14.Qxg7 Rg8 15.Qh6=) 12.Kb1 0-0-0=/+) 11...Qxf5 (11...exf5 12.Qe3) 12.h3 Qg5+ (12...Qf4+!? 13.Kb1 0-0-0 14.Bc1 Qf5) 13.Kb1 0-0-0 (13...h5!? 14.Bc1 Qg6 15.Qe3 and white can play for g2-g4 or hope to open the g-file with f3 perhaps. My engine consider white to be "0.3" down, which in human terms sound like "compensation". In a blunderchess game I suppose both sides would be reasonably happy.) 14.g4 h5?! 15.Bc1 Qg6 16.g5 Ne8 17.f3 exf3 18.Qxf3 with initiative, the game we're following continued: 18...f5 19.Qe3 a6 20.Ba3 Nc7 21.Be7 Rde8 22.Bd6 e5 23.Qa7 Rd8 24.h4 e4 25.Bf4 Qe8 26.c5 Nb8 27.Rd6 Qe7 28.Be2 Rd7 29.Rhd1 Rhd8 30.R1d4 1-0 Berlinger,G-Caressa,M (2126) ICCF Email 2003.

B2) 9.Bxc3 This gains the bishop pair without incurring any static weaknesses, but on the other hand it doesn't increase White's chances for dynamic counter-play either.   


(9...Nbd7 10.Nxf5 exf5 11.g4! fxg4 12.h3 Qc7?! (12...g3 13.Rg1!?) 13.hxg4 Qf4 14.g5 Qxg5 15.Bh3 Qc5 16.f3 0-0-0 17.Bxf6 (17.fxe4) 17...gxf6 18.fxe4 Qd6 19.Bf5 +/- Borwell,A (2215)-Coleby,R (2058)/ICCF 2008 (1-0 68).)  

10.h4 Diagram


(10...h6!? may be a more exact way for black to play, as white's d3-idea loses some force. 11.h5 Bh7 12.f3 (12.d3 exd3 13.Qe1 (13.Qd2?! a5! with g5 unavailable, there was no point in playing Qd2, as black has other options than moving the queen.) 13...Nbd7 14.Bxd3 Bxd3 15.Rxd3 Qc7 with an edge for black, as his queen is more actively placed to limit the weakness on the dark squares.) 12...exf3 13.gxf3 Nbd7 14.Ne4 Qe7 15.Re1 0-0-0 16.Qh2 Diagram

with reasonable compensation due to better dark square control and the bishop pair.)

11.d3!?N Diagram

My computers idea, the point seems to be that with an open centre white can optimise all his pieces, making it hard for black to break out to make his extra pawn count. Having a black pawn on h5 probably helps white, as it will require either to be defended by pieces or the weakening of more dark squares if ...g6 needs to be played.

[11.f3 exf3 12.gxf3 Qc7 13.Ne4 Nbd7 Horvath-Krizsany, HUN 1995. "White has some compensation for the pawn, but Black is solid and I prefer the material" - Schandorff.
White has no immediate threats so he should probably set his house in order with moves like Rg1, Bh3 and Kb1 and then react to what black comes up with. Which is another way of saying that black is slightly better, I guess.]

11...exd3 12.Qd2!? 

[12.Qe1 Nbd7 13.Bxd3 Bxd3 14.Rxd3 Qc7 15.Kb1 0-0-0 16.Bb2 and with white's queen less active on e1, Black has a slightly better version than in the mainline.]  


[12...Qd5 13.Bxd3 Bxd3 14.Qe1 Nbd7 15.Rxd3 Qxg2 16.Nf5 Qg4 17.Nd6+ Kf8 18.Nxb7 looks promising for white.; 12...Na6 13.Bxd3 Bxd3 14.Qg5=;
12...Qe7 13.Bxd3 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 Nbd7 15.Rhe1 0-0-0 16.Nf5!? Qa3+ 17.Bb2 Qf8 18.Nd6+ Kb8 19.Nc4 Ka8 20.Qg3 with good compensation, perhaps more.]  

13.Bxd3 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 Qc7 15.Qf3 = with the white queen active on f3 and a black pawn on h5, White's compensation is better than in the note on 10...h6!?, for example:

15...0-0-0 16.Rhe1 Diagram

16...Nb6 [16...Kb8 17.Kb1] 17.Bd4 Nbd5 18.c4!? [18.Ne4 Nxe4 19.Rxe4 Rhe8 20.Qxh5 f6 21.Qf3] 18...Nb4 [18...Qf4+ 19.Re3!] 19.Bxf6 gxf6 20.a3 Na6 21.Qxf6 Qa5 22.Qb2 Rxd1+ [22...Qc7 23.Ne4 Qf4+ 24.Rd2 Rxd2 25.Qxd2 Qxd2+ 26.Kxd2+/=] 23.Rxd1 Rd8 24.Ne4= Diagram

White might even have an edge due to fewer pawn islands when it trades down to a simpler ending, but I'll let you determine that for yourself. After all, as Larsen said, a long variation is often a wrong variation...

In conclusion it seems that 2.b3 is (surprisingly enough) playable for White, even with Bc8 outside of the pawn chain. Though you shouldn't expect an edge, unless Black gets over confident or too cavalier.

Still, while there are more critical variations available for a booked-up White-player, 2.b3 seems a decent surprise weapon, and over the board I'd suspect that it gets stronger and stronger as the players get weaker, since Black needs some experience and a sense of danger to not underestimate White's chances in the middlegame...

No comments: