SOS - Secrets of Opening Surprises

| 8 | 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: October 2011

SOS Game of the Month October. The Commonwealth and South African open was a joint victory for Nigel Short and Gawain Jones, although the latter took home the title on Buchholz.

Against Belgian player Ringoir, Short employed an old opening idea from Oleg Romanishin to score a 'simple' win. Dorian Rogozenco analysed this line for SOS-5 (Chapter 7, pages 59-64, "A Spanish Surprise from Romanishin - Facing 5.Qe2 with 5...Qe7!?"). So, a 'short' update is in order!

Here's the complete text of this game annotation:

Ruy Lopez Worrall Attack - C77
Tanguy Ringoir
Nigel Short
Ekurhuleni Commonwealth Championship 2011

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.Qe2


The so-called Worrall Attack. One of the great heroes of this line is... Nigel Short, who twice defeated Karpov with this line back in their 1992 Candidates match.


And this 'opposing' queen move is Oleg Romanishin's original idea. As Rogozenco mentions, the odd queen move has a lot going for it: 1. pawn e5 is defended 2. Black is ready for d2-d4, when after taking on d4, pawn e4 will be under attack 3. Black refrains from ...b5 for the moment, not giving White a target for playing a4. The downside is of course the development of Black's king's bishop. However, a fianchetto will solve that problem.



This move is not mentioned by Rogozenco, but he does mention 6.0–0 g6 7.Nc3, when he feels that 7...Nd4 is already slightly better for Black (on the basis of an internet game Rogozenco-Mikhalevski). You can imagine that the situation after the immediate 6.Nc3 Nd4! must be worse still for the first player (0–0 is more useful than ...g6).
6.0–0 is the main line: 6...g6, and now 7.d4 is a pawn sacrifice (7.c3 Bg7 8.Re1 (8.d4 exd4 9.e5 d3! 10.Qd1 Ne4 was the stem game Ubilava-Romanishin, Sukhumi 1970) 8...d6 (8...b5; 8...0–0) 9.d4 Bd7 10.d5 Nb8 11.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 12.c4 a5 13.Nc3 Nc5 14.Rb1 0–0 15.b3 Nh5 16.Be3 Nf4, with decent counterplay, was an internet blitz game Fernando-Mikhalevski, 2003) 7...Nxd4 8.Nxd4 exd4 9.e5 Bg7 10.Re1!? (10.Bg5 was analysed by Rogozenco in SOS-5) 10...Nd5 11.Bb3 Nb4! 12.Nd2 0–0 13.Nf3 Nc6 14.Bf4. According to Andrew Greet in Play the Ruy Lopez (Everyman, 2006) who sensibly stops his analysis here, White now has 'quite reasonable compensation for the pawn'. This could be true. However, Glenn Flear was happy to enter this line as Black against the author, and he won after 14...Qc5 15.Rad1 d5 16.exd6 cxd6 17.Ng5 Bf5 18.g4?! d3! 19.Rxd3 (19.cxd3 Nd4 and Black takes on g4 on the next move) 19...Bxd3 20.Qxd3, and White had insufficient compensation for the exchange in Greet-Flear, Southend 2007.
6.c3 g6 7.d3 (7.0–0 Bg7 transposes to 6.0–0 g6 7.c3 Bg7) 7...Bg7 8.Nbd2 0–0 9.Nf1 h6 10.Ng3 d6 11.0–0 b5 12.Bb3 Be6 13.h3 d5 14.Re1 Rfd8 15.Bd2 dxe4 16.Nxe4 Nxe4 17.dxe4 Na5 18.Bxe6 Qxe6 was completely OK for Black in Bartel-Solys, Warsaw rapid 2009.


6...Nd4! 7.Nxd4

When White moves his queen, Black is also fine: 7.Qe3 c5; 7.Qd1 b5 8.Bb3 a5!? (8...Bb7; 8...Nxb3).

7...exd4 8.Nd5

8.e5 dxc3 9.exf6 cxd2+ 10.Bxd2 gxf6 and White has some compensation, but I would prefer the pawn.

8...Nxd5 9.exd5



A pawn sacrifice to gain the initiative. White's queen's bishop will find it difficult to develop now.


10.cxd3 b5 11.Bb3 Qxe2+ 12.Kxe2 Bc5 is also somewhat better for Black.

10...Bxe7 11.0–0 0–0

Note how Short leaves his pawn on d3 to obstruct White's development.

12.Re1 Bc5 13.cxd3?!

Ringoir finally takes the pawn, but it was best to ignore this Greek gift.13.c3 b5 14.b4, or 13.c4 b5 14.cxb5 Bb7, with a slightly better position for Black.

13...b5 14.Bb3 d6



Returning the pawn was stronger: 15.d4 Bxd4 16.Re4 Bf6 17.d4 Bf5 18.Rf4 Rfe8 19.Be3.

15...Bf5 16.Bc2 Rfe8 17.Rxe8+ Rxe8

Black is fully developed and can start his play against White's tripled d-pawns.

18.b3 Re5

Black is also better after 18...Bd4! 19.Rb1 Re5 20.Bb2 Bxb2 21.Rxb2 Rxd5 22.Ke2 (22.d4 Be6!) 22...Re5+ 23.Kf1 Rc5 24.Ke2 b4 fixing White's pawns on the colour of the bishop.

19.Bb2 Rxd5 20.d4?

Aiming for drawing tendencies due to bishops of opposite colour. 20.Ke2 was stronger.

20...Bxc2 21.dxc5 dxc5





Driving back the king.

23.Kg1 f6

Black is a pawn up, and the quality of his position is much higher. There is no draw in sight for White.

24.f3 Bg6 25.Bc1 Kf7 26.Re3 b4

Fixing the pawns on the queenside, not on the colour of White's bishop but on the colour on which Black can attack them!

27.Kf2 Bb1


And White had enough (or lost on time?). The b-pawn will remain a permanent weakness after the forced 28.a3 Bc2 29.Ke2 a5, but still it makes sense to wait for Black's winning plan.

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