SOS - Secrets of Opening Surprises

| 5 | 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: December 2011

The 2011 European Team Championships were held in Porto Carras (Greece). A well-organized event in which Russia was successful in the women section, and Germany in the open section. With many interesting games from Europe's finest players, let's look at a devastating SOS win. In the last round Georgia's Baadur Jobava quickly blasted the Grünfeld of the usually rock-solid Hans Tikkanen from Sweden on the top board.



Here's the complete text of this game annotation:

Grünfeld-Indian D80
Baadur Jobava
Hans Tikkanen
Porto Carras ETCC 2011

See SOS-6, Chapter 2, p.16

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.h4!?


Well, this certainly makes for a change compared to the 'boring' backdrop of the bishop to h4 or f4. Ian Rogers wrote on this line in the course of an article called 'Triple Trouble for the Grünfeld' in SOS-6. The subject being lines in which White allows Black to take his bishop, such as 5.cxd5!? Nxg5 6.h4 and 5.Qc1 and of course the aggressive text.
For 5.Nxe4 dxe4 6.Qd2 see SOS-9, Chapter 6, p. 45, and of course the game Morozevich-Carlsen, Biel 2011 (with extensive notes by Morozevich in New In Chess 2011/6, pp. 24-27).


5...Nxg5 is hardly ever played. Probably because opening the h-file looks quite threatening, while pawn g5 somehow restricts Black's play. The resulting position after 6.hxg5 e6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.e3 is more similar to a Queen's Gambit Declined - perhaps hardly the taste of a Grünfeld player.
5...c6 6.Nf3 Bg7 7.e3 ought to be playable, but playing ...c6 in a Grünfeld always looks a little passive.

6.bxc3 dxc4

This is Rogers' main line, while he indicates 6...Bg7 7.e3 c5 8.Nf3 Nc6 (8...Qa5?! 9.Qb3 cxd4 10.exd4 Nc6? 11.cxd5 Bxd4? 12.Bd2 1–0, Haak-Montenegro Garcia, Vlissingen 1999) 9.cxd5 (9.h5!?) 9...Qxd5 10.Qb3 as slightly better for White. Instead 10.Be2 cxd4 11.cxd4 e5 12.dxe5 Qa5+ 13.Qd2 Qxd2+ 14.Kxd2 Nxe5 15.Nxe5 Bxe5 was just equal in Teplyi-Smith, Odense 2011.


A very logical novelty over 7.e3 Be6 8.h5! Bg7 9.h6 Bf8 10.Rb1 Qd5 11.Bf4 Qc6 12.Nf3 Nd7 (12...f6) 13.Ng5 0–0–0?! (13...Bd5! 14.f3 f5 is unclear according to Rogers) 14.Nxe6 fxe6 15.Rb4 Nb6 16.Be5 Rg8 and now in the game Doyle-Stevenson, Clarkston 1998, White played 17.Qb1 and won.However, as indicated by Rogers, stronger was 17.Qf3, or the even more promising 17.Be2.



After 7...Bg7 8.Bxc4 c5 White has two extra tempi compared to the main line of the Grünfeld Exchange. Needless to say that he can use those to good effect. Most aggressively with 9.h5.

8.a4 c6 9.h5

White has excellent compensation for the pawn.



An awkward move, designed to prevent any deterioration of Black's pawn structure.
9...Nd7 10.hxg6 fxg6 leaves Black with a bad pawn structure, while 9...Bg7 10.h6 (10.e5; 10.Nf3) 10...Bf6 11.Bf4 should be comfortable for White, as long as he does not take things too lightly after 11...0–0 (11...e6 12.Qb1 Qa5 13.Bd2, white better; 11...e5 12.dxe5 Qxd1+ 13.Kxd1, white slightly better), when 12.Nf3 is preferable to the direct 12.axb5 cxb5 13.e5 Bh8 14.Qf3 due to 14...Qd7! 15.Qxa8 Nc6, with unclear play. (Black has decent chances due to the threat of ...Bb7.)

10.hxg6 hxg6 11.Qf3

Setting up some threats along the diagonal and along the f-file (f7 is vulnerable).


Or 11...Qa5 12.Bd2 with ideas like Nh3-g5 and Rh1–h7.

12.Bf4 Qa5 13.Be2!?

Making space for the king - in certain concrete lines White would like to sacrifice pawn c3, when he has to be able to respond with Kf1. See for example the notes on move 14.

13...Nd7 14.e5



14...fxe5?! 15.dxe5 Bg7 (15...Bb7 16.e6 Nf6 17.Nh3 0–0–0 18.0–0 is very dangerous for Black too; 15...Nb6 16.Rd1! Bb7 17.axb5 Qxb5 18.Nh3 is much better for White as well)


analysis diagram

16.Rd1! (a key move) 16...Bb7 (16...Nxe5? 17.Bxe5 Bxe5 18.Qxc6+ and wins; 16...Bxe5 17.Qxc6 Bxf4 18.Qxa8 Nb6 19.Qf3, white better) 17.e6 Nc5 (17...Bxc3+ 18.Kf1 Nf6 19.axb5, white better; 17...Nf6 18.Qg3) 18.Be5! Nxe6 19.Bxg7 Nxg7 20.axb5 Qxb5, and Black is two pawns up, but White has an obvious positional advantage. One of his main concerns is the safety of his king.




15...Nxf6 16.Nh3 provides White with excellent compensation for the pawn.
15...c5 requires some calculation: 16.Qxb7 Qxc3+ 17.Bd2 Qxa1+ 18.Bd1, when 18...Rd8 seems to end in a draw by perpetual check in most lines (although there seems to be a narrow path towards a clear edge: after 18...Rb8 White has the fantastic


analysis diagram

19.Rh7!!+- (19.f7+ Kxf7 20.Qd5+ Ke8 21.Qxg8 also wins, though) 19...Rxb7 (19...Bg7 20.Rxg7 Rxg7 21.fxg7 Rxb7 22.g8Q+ Nf8 23.Ne2) 20.f7+ Kd8 21.Ba5+! (21.fxg8Q c3!) 21...Kc8 22.fxg8Q and wins.)

(After 18...Rd8) 19.Nf3 c3! (19...Nxf6 20.Qxb5+ Rd7 21.0–0+-; 19...exf6 20.Qe4+ Kf7 21.Qd5++-). The direct 20.f7+ now ends in a draw again after 20...Kxf7 21.Qd5+ Ke8 22.Qxg8 cxd2+ 23.Nxd2 Ne5 24.dxe5 Qxe5+ 25.Be2 Qa1+ 26.Bd1 Qe5+.
19.Ba5 Qxd4 this is not forced 20.Bxd8 Qc3+ 21.Kf1 Qd3+ 22.Ke1 Qc3+=.
19.Rh7 Nxf6 20.Qxb5+ Rd7 21.Qb8+ Rd8 22.Qb5+=.
However, 20.0–0! is the way forward, when all engines like White - do have a look for yourself, it's quite an enjoyable mess!



16...Kf7 17.Nh3 Re8 18.Qf3

A human will understand that White has tremendous compensation for only a pawn. What is more, defending is tough in such a position when you're not a silicon monster. The engines require some time before they also come to the conclusion that White is better.Tikkanen now blundered the game with



18...c5 19.d5 (19.Qxb7?? Qxc3+) 19...Re7 20.Rd1 Rg7 was more stubborn, but White is better after 21.axb5.

19.Ng5+ Ke7

19...fxg5? 20.Bc7; 19...Kf8 20.Bd6+.


Black resigned.
20... Kd8 (20...Ne5 21.dxe5 fxg5 22.Qc5+ Kf7 23.Bxc4+!) 21.Nf7+ Kc8 22.Nd6.
A fine attacking game by Jobava.

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