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: January 2012

The first Super Tournament of the year has just ended in a resounding win for Levon Aronian. It was the Armenian's biggest success to date, but clearly many will follow. For Italy's top player Fabiano Caruana the 74th Tata Steel Chess Tournament was also the highlight of his career so far. A shared second place in Wijk aan Zee with Radjabov and Carlsen was his impressive result.

In round 10 Caruana scored an important point against Veselin Topalov. He did so by employing an old SOS idea of Romanishin (see SOS-3), which recently entered mainstream theory; most notably after the games Karjakin-Svidler, Moscow Tal Memorial 2011, and Caruana-Nakamura, Reggio Emilia 2011/12. Let's see how things stand after 6... e5!? in the Sicilian Kan Variation.


Here's the complete text of this game annotation:
Sicilian Kan Variation - B42
Veselin Topalov
Fabiano Caruana
Wijk aan Zee 2012 (10)
1.Nf3 c5 2.e4

An interesting way to reach the Sicilian!

2...e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.0–0



First played by Dorfman in 1989, especially the efforts of Oleg Romanishin in the late 1990s deserve to be mentioned. See SOS-3 for some history and theoretical background. Here you will also find the strongest reply (a brilliant move by Peter Wells):


The main reply in recent years, although 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.Nc3 Bc5 11.Nd5 Qd8 is another common way of responding to 6...e5.


Also of interest is 7...d6 8.Nf5 Be6!, while Romanishin's 7...d5 remains untested.
Worse is 7...Nc6?! 8.Nf5.
Accepting the piece is just bad: 7...exd4? 8.e5 Qa5 (8...Be7 9.exf6 Bxf6 10.Re1+ Kf8 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Qh5 Nc6 13.Nd2, White better) 9.Bd2, and White is better.

8.Bxf6 Qxf6



The most logical reply. The knight is placed on an active square and aims for d5 via e3.
Here 9.Nf3 Bc5 10.Nc3 d6 11.Nd5 Qd8 12.c3 (12.Nh4!? 0–0 13.Nf5 Bxf5 14.exf5 Nd7=, Romanishin, 2005) 12...Nc6 transposes to 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.Nc3 Bc5 11.Nd5 Qd8 12.c3 d6.
Play was about equal in the following blitz game: 9.Ne2 Bc5 10.Nbc3 d6 11.Nd5 Qd8 12.c3 0–0 13.Ng3 Be6 14.Bc2 Nd7 15.Bb3 g6 16.Qd2 Kg7 17.Rad1, Z.Almasi-Giri, Beijing blitz 2011.


9...d5 is bad - see the game T.Kosintseva-Hou Yifan, Hangzhou 2011.
The alternative move order 9...Bc5?! 10.Nc3 g6 11.Nd5 Qd8 turns out badly for Black after 12.b4! Bxb4 (12...Ba7 13.Nd6+, and wins; 12...Bf8 13.Nfe3, and wins) 13.Nxb4 gxf5 14.exf5, and wins.

10.Ne3 Bc5

10...d6?! 11.Nc3 leaves the bishop inside the pawn chain.


An earlier Caruana effort (with White!) went: 11.Nd5 Qd8 12.b4 Ba7 13.a4!? d6 14.a5 Be6 15.Bc4 0–0 16.Qd3 Nc6 17.c3 Ne7 (17...Kg7) 18.Nd2 Rc8 19.Rac1 Kg7 20.Kh1 Nxd5 21.Bxd5 Qe7, draw, Caruana-Nakamura, Reggio Emilia 2011/12.

11...d6 12.Ncd5 Qd8



Highly spectacular was the following short draw: 13.c3 Be6 14.Bc2 0–0 15.Ng4 Nd7!? (15...Kg7) 16.Nxh6+ Kg7 17.Nf5+! gxf5 18.exf5 Bxd5 19.Qg4+ Kh6 20.Qh3+ Kg5!? 21.Qg3+ Kh5 22.Qg7 (only move) 22...Bf3 (only move) 23.Qh7+ Kg5 24.Qg7+ Kh5 25.Qh7+ Kg5 26.Qg7+ Kh5, draw, Karjakin-Svidler, Moscow Tal Memorial 2011.
13.b4 Ba7 14.a4 0–0 15.a5 Be6.


13...Be6 14.f4.
13...0–0 14.Ng4 (14.f4 exf4 15.Rxf4 Bd4=) 14...Nc6 (14...Kg7!?) transposes to the game.


14.Ng4 0–0 15.Ngf6+

15.Nxh6+ Kg7 16.Ng4 Qh4, with good compensation due to the attacking chances against the white king.


Play is complicated but about equal. White has typical control over square d5, but Black has a powerful bishop on c5.






17.Bc2 Ne7 18.Bb3 Nxd5 19.Nxd5 is equal.


17...Ne7?! 18.f5 Nxd5 19.exd5 Bxf5 20.Nh5+! Kh8 (20...gxh5 21.Rxf5, White better) 21.Bxf5 favours White.

18.Nxd5 exf4 19.Rxf4 Qg5 20.Qf1

After 20.Qd2 White is slightly better.

20...Ne5 21.Rd1 Rae8 22.Bc2 h5



This is a mistake that allows Caruana to grab the initiative.
Play is still equal after 23.g3 or 23.b4 Ba7 24.g3.

23...Ng4! (Black is better)



24.h3?! Rxe4! 25.Rxe4 Nf2+.
24.Re1? Qxf4 (24...Qh4 25.h3 Qg3!, winning) 25.Nxf4 (25.Qxf4 Nf2+ 26.Kg1 Nh3+ 27.Kf1 Nxf4 28.Nxf4, winning) 25...Nf2+ 26.Kg1 (26.Qxf2 Bxf2, winning) 26...Nxe4+ 27.Kh1 Nf2+ 28.Kg1 Nd3+, and wins.

24...Rxe4 25.Rxe4 Nf2+



Topalov typically goes for complications. They will turn out to favour Black.
White would have had excellent drawing chances after 26.Kg2 Nxe4 27.Re1 Re8 (27...Nf2 28.Re2 Ng4 29.Qf4) 28.Qf4 Qxf4 29.gxf4.

26...Bxf2 27.Kg2 Bc5 28.h4 Qf5 29.Re2



The immediate 29...g5 was also to be considered: 30.Bc2 (30.hxg5 h4 31.Nf4 Qg4 32.Rd3 d5! 33.Bxd5 Bd6!, and wins) 30...Qd7 (30...Qg4?! 31.Re4 Qd7 32.hxg5) 31.Ne7 (31.hxg5 Re8 32.Rxe8 Qxe8 33.Bd3 h4! intending 34.gxh4? Qa4! 35.Rd2 Qg4+, and wins; 31.Re7 Qb5 32.Bb3 gxh4 33.gxh4 Bb6!?, and Black is better) 31...gxh4 32.b4! (32.Nf5+ Kh8 33.Nxh4 Re8, and wins) 32...Qg4! 33.Nf5+ Kh8 34.Rde1 Ba7 35.Nxh4 Rg8, with advantage for Black.


30.Re7! b5 (30...g5 31.Rh1) 31.Rf1, with counterplay.


The position is still highly complicated of course, but objectively Black has a winning position from now on.



31.Ne3 Bxe3 (31...Qe4+) 32.Rxe3 gxh4 33.Rh1 Qg5! 34.Rf3 Re8 35.Rxf7+ Kg6 36.Rxh4 Re2+ 37.Rf2 Rxf2+ 38.Kxf2 Qd2+, and wins.

31...Qf5 32.R1e2

32.hxg5 Qf2+ 33.Kh3 h4! 34.gxh4 Qf3+ 35.Kh2 Bf2, and wins.




33.gxh4 Qg6+ 34.Kf3 (34.Kh3 Bf2!, winning; 34.Kh2 Qg1+ 35.Kh3 Bf2, winning) 34...Re8! intending 35.Rxe8 Qg4, mate.
33.Rxh4 Re8! intending 34.Rxe8? Qf2+ 35.Kh3 Qf1+ 36.Kh2 Qg1+ 37.Kh3 Qh1, mate.

33...Qg5 34.Kh1



34...hxg3 also wins.

35.Bxd5 hxg3 36.c4 Qh4+ 37.Kg2 Qh2+ 38.Kf3 Qh1+ 39.Kxg3 h4+


White resigned.

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