SOS - Secrets of Opening Surprises - August 2012

SOS - Secrets of Opening Surprises - August 2012

| 6 | Opening Theory

No time to study opening theory? Shock your opponent with an SOS!
With an SOS you deviate early (usually before move 6!) from regular lines in mainstream openings. So you will reach positions you have actually studied without having memorized tons of stuffy theory, while gaining time on the clock! And you will have fun watching the horror on your opponent's face... 


Every month, the editor of the SOS Secrets of Opening Surprises book series, IM Jeroen Bosch, annotates a game which was recently played with an SOS-variation.

SOS Game of the Month: August 2012

See also SOS–14, Chapter 4, page 34
In the most recent volume of SOS Alexander Finkel discusses an enterprising way to liven up the play in one of the most popular positions in the Slav. As he notes, it is 'hard to think of a more unexpected and yet sound idea than 8...b5!?'. In a recent game played in one of the many summer opens in Europe, Swedish IM Erik Blomqvist picked up an easy point. Undoubtedly he was inspired by his countryman and the inventor of the whole line Tiger Hillarp Persson.

Here's the complete text of this game analysis:

Slav D12
Luben Spassov
Erik Blomqvist
Golden Sands 2012 (8)

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Be4 7.f3 Bg6 8.Qb3



Your database will cite some 800 games with 8.Qb3, with Black invariably continuing with 8...Qb6 or 8...Qc7. The text is a sharp attempt to grasp the initiative. After the acceptance of the pawn sacrifice, Black will obtain long-term structural compensation.


White takes the pawn, this is the most critical continuation according to Finkel.
9.cxd5 is dubious according to Finkel. For the details see SOS–14. Let me show you examples of Hillarp Persson against strong opposition (he won both games): 9...exd5 10.Nxg6 hxg6 11.Bd2 a5

analysis diagram

12.0–0–0 (12.a4 b4 13.Ne2 Nbd7 14.Qd3 c5! - again Black is doing great after the opening - 15.b3 Qc7 16.Rc1, Kuzubov-Hillarp Persson, Helsingor 2009, and now best was 16...Rxh2! 17.Rxh2 Qxh2 18.dxc5 Nxc5 19.Qb5+ Nfd7 20.Nd4 Qd6, with a slight edge for Black - Finkel) 12...Be7 13.g4 Na6 14.Qc2 a4 15.h4 Nb4 16.Qb1 a3 17.b3 Qd6 and Black is clearly better; he went on to win after 18.Be2 Rc8 19.h5 gxh5 20.gxh5 Qe6 21.f4

analysis diagram

21...c5! 22.h6 Rxh6 23.Rxh6 gxh6 24.Bxb5+ Kd8 25.Bd3 cxd4 26.exd4 Qh3! 27.Bc4 dxc4 28.bxc4 Rxc4 29.Qb3 Rc8 30.Be1 Nfd5 31.Qa4 Rxc3+ 0–1, Giri-Hillarp Persson, Wijk aan Zee 2009.
9.c5 is more challenging though than 9.cxd5. See Finkel's analysis in SOS–14.


This was Black's idea! He now has a numerical edge in the centre, and this should compensate for the sacrificed pawn.


White will have to take the bishop at some point.
Mark Hebden first took on c5, before taking the bishop - after 10.dxc5 Bxc5 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Bd2 Nbd7 13.0–0–0 Be7 Black had decent compensation. It is very difficult for White to do anything with his extra pawns on the queenside: 14.Kb1 Qb8 15.g3 Nc5 16.Qc2 0–0 17.Na4 Rc8 18.Nxc5 Rxc5 19.Qb3 Rc7 20.Be2 Rb7 21.Qc2 Ne8 22.Rc1 Nd6 23.Bb4

analysis diagram

23...Nxb5! 24.Bxb5 Bf6! (because of two bishops on the b-file, Black has regained his pawn, with equal chances) 25.a4 a6 26.Qc6 axb5 27.a5 Qa7 28.Rhd1 Rbb8 29.Rd3 Be7 30.Bxe7 Qxe7 31.Ra3 b4 32.Ra4 b3 33.Rc3 Qd8 34.Qc7 Qe8 (34...Qxc7? 35.Rxc7 with an edge for White) 35.Qc6 Qd8 36.Qc7 draw, Hebden-Hillarp Persson, Oslo 2011.




A natural 'novelty' (it wasn't played before), and already analysed by Finkel in SOS–14.
Play is also complex after 11.Bd2 cxd4 (11...Nbd7) 12.exd4 Bd6 13.0–0–0 Nbd7 14.Kb1 Nb6 15.Na4 Rc8 16.Ba5 Rxh2 (risky but playable; 16...Nfd7) 17.Rxh2 Bxh2 18.Bd3 Nfd7 19.Rh1

analysis diagram

19...Qg5! 20.g4 Qe3 (20...Qf4! with a slight advantage for Black) 21.Bxg6! Qxd4 (21...Qxb3? 22.axb3 and White is better) 22.Nxb6 axb6 23.Bc3 Qf4 24.Bc2? (24.Qc2! fxg6 25.Rxh2 (25.Qxh2 Qxh2 26.Rxh2 Kf7=) 25...Kf7 26.Rh7 Nf6 27.Rxg7+! Kxg7 28.Bxf6+ Qxf6 29.Qxc8 Qxf3, and the queen ending will end in a draw) 24...Nc5! 25.Qb4 Qxb4? (25...Qxf3! was much better, the point being 26.Rxh2 Qf1+ 27.Be1 Nd3!, regaining the piece) 26.Bxb4 Be5 27.Bd2 Ke7, and the ending was about equal in Garza Marco-A.Hunt, Utebo 2012 (but White won).


As Finkel points out, Black needs to gain time with tricks against White's kingside.
Therefore 11...Nbd7?! 12.Bg2 Bd6 13.0–0 is inaccurate - White has safely castled kingside and is better now.



Finkel condemns this move because of 12...Rxh2, but Blomqvist prefers to interpolate the exchange on d4, and this is indeed even better.
12.dxc5 Bxg3+ and 12.Kf2 Nbd7 13.Bg2 Qc7 are both analysed more extensively by Finkel.

12...Rxh2 13.Rxh2 Bxg3+ 14.Kf1 Bxh2 15.dxc5 is less clear.

13.exd4 Rxh2!



Play is very sharp after 14.Rxh2 Bxg3+ 15.Kf1 Bxh2 (Black has an edge) 16.f4 Nbd7 (safer is 16...Bg3!? 17.Nxd5 Nxd5 18.Qxg3 Nd7) 17.Ne2 Ng4! 18.Qh3 f5 19.Bf3 Ndf6 20.Qh8+ Kf7 21.Qxd8 Rxd8 22.Kg2.

14...Rxh1 15.Bxh1 Nbd7

Black has regained his pawn, and I would rate his chances slightly higher because of his strong centre. The pair of bishops is fairly meaningless here.

16.Qd1 Rc8 17.Ne2 Nh5!

Provoking a weakness.



Missing the threat.
After 18.f4 Nhf6 or 18.Kg2 Qc7 Black has a slight advantage.

18...Bxg3+! 19.Kf1

White loses after 19.Nxg3 Qh4 20.Qg1 Rc2 (20...Qxd4+).

19...Qh4 20.Bg2 Nf4

Black has won a pawn and controls all the right squares.

21.Nxf4 Bxf4 22.Rc1 Rxc1

The engines like 22...Rc4 but Blomqvist plays in human fashion - exchanging all the right pieces.

23.Qxc1 Bxd2 24.Qxd2 g5!

Queen and knight form a good team here, although that isn't difficult with such a bishop.


25.a4 Qf4 26.Qc3 Kd8?!

26...e5! 27.dxe5 Qxa4 is the solution that the engines prefer.

27.a5 g4?



Black's previous inaccuracies could have been punished with 28.b6! axb6 29.a6! Qc7 30.Qa3 with plenty of counterplay.

28...gxf3+ 29.Bxf3 Qc7 30.Qb4 g5

Black sets his passed pawns in motion.

31.Qc3 Qh2+ 32.Kf1 f5?

32...Qh3+ 33.Kf2 g4.


Again White could have played 33.b6! axb6 34.a6! Qc7 35.Qa3.



Now it's all over.

34.Qe3 f4 35.Qg1

35.Qxe6 Qh1+ 36.Kf2 g3 mate.

35...Qh3+ 36.Ke1 f3 37.Bd1 Qh4+ 38.Kd2 f2 39.Qg2 g3 40.Kc3 Nf6 41.b6 axb6 42.a6

Too late now!


White resigned.

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