SOS - Secrets of Opening Surprises, March 2012

| 10 | 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: March 2012

[See also SOS–14, Chapter 2, p.16.] In the previous game of the month we referred to the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, quoting the Topalov-Caruana game from the A-group. The B-group could boast of an attractive line-up as well. The deserved winner of the B-group was Pentala Harikrishna. But in Round 11 he lost an attractive game in a topical SOS line.


Here's the complete text of this game annotation:

Queen's Gambit, Lasker Defence - D56
Sipke Ernst
Pentala Harikrishna
Wijk aan Zee 2012 (11)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 0–0 7.e3 Ne4 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.Rc1 c6 10.h4

Aronian's great idea in the Lasker Defence. See SOS–14 for an extensive analysis of the game Aronian-Harikrishna(!), Ningbo 2011.
Also playable is 10.g4 Nd7 11.Rg1?! (the rook is sometimes better placed on h1, so this doesn't look like such a good idea.
11.h4 transposes to the stem game Aronian-Harikrishna, and several other games. For an explanation of the move order differences between 10.h4 and 10.g4 see SOS–14) 11...Ng5!? (11...Rd8; 11...Nxc3) 12.cxd5 exd5 13.Bd3 Nxf3+ (13...Nf6!?) 14.Qxf3 Qh4?! 15.Qg3 Qxg3 16.Rxg3 and the ending is slightly better for White but Black won in Mamedyarov-Granda Zuniga, San Sebastian 2012.



This move was suggested by Golubev in Chess Today.
10...Nd7 was Harikrishna's previous choice (against Aronian).


11.Qc2 was my much more sedate suggestion in SOS–14. Ernst immediately goes for broke with the sharp text move.


This was the idea behind the rook move on move 10.



As I mentioned in SOS–14, Black has considerable counterplay after 12.cxd5 exd5 13.g5 Nc6 14.gxh6 Qf6!. Ernst prefers to keep the bishop 'locked in' on c8. Play now becomes extremely sharp, and the price of each move rises sky-high.


It makes sense to exchange on d4, after 12...cxd4 13.exd4 (of course not 13.Nxe4 dxe4 14.Nxd4 e5–+; and 13.Qxd4 Nc6 14.Qd3 h5 is alright for Black) 13...hxg5 (13...h5!?) 14.hxg5 Nc6, and the position is very sharp. Black has done everything by the book, by reacting in the centre in response to White's flank attack. However, with the h-file open, he should still be afraid of sudden mates. A fun draw is: 15.Ne5 (15.g6 can be met by 15...fxg6 16.Bd3 Ng5) 15...Nxe5 (15...Qxg5? 16.Rh8++-) 16.Qh5 Nf3+! 17.Ke2! (17.Qxf3 Qxg5 gives Black a slight edge) 17...Nxd4+ (17...Ng1+?! 18.Rxg1 and White is slightly better) 18.Ke1 Nf3+ with a perpetual! (Black loses after 18...f5?? 19.g6+-, for example: 19...Nf3+ 20.Ke2 Nd4+ 21.Kd1 Nxf2+ 22.Ke1 Nf3+ 23.Kxf2 Qc5+ 24.Kxf3+-).


13.gxh6 Qf6

13...cxd4 14.Nxd4 (14.exd4!?) 14...Qf6 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.hxg7 transposes to the game.

14.hxg7 cxd4 15.Nxe4

Black is more than fine after 15.exd4 e5! 16.cxd5 Nxd4.


15...dxe4 16.Nxd4

The pawn on g7 is very uncomfortable for Black. Still Black has counterplay, so this is not the moment to draw conclusions just yet.


White keeps an edge after 16...e5?! 17.Qh5 Qxg7 18.Nf5 (18.Nxc6 bxc6 19.Qg5 is also a sound pawn up for White) 18...Qg6 19.Qxg6+ fxg6 20.Ng3;
16...Qxg7!? 17.Qh5 Nxd4 18.exd4 Qxd4 19.Rg1+ Kf8 20.Qh6+ Ke7 21.Qg5+ Ke8 (21...Kf8 22.Be2) and now White can go for a better ending with 22.Qxd8+! Kxd8 23.Rd1 Qxd1+ 24.Kxd1;
16...Nxd4 17.exd4 Qxd4 (not 17...Rxd4? 18.Qh5 Qxg7 - 18...Kxg7 19.Rg1+ Kf8 20.Qc5+ Ke8 21.Rg8+ Kd7 22.Qxd4+! Qxd4 23.Rd1 Qxd1+ 24.Kxd1 Ke7 25.h5+- and White wins material due to his passed h-pawn - 19.Rh3 Kf8 20.Rg3 Qf6 21.Qc5++- transposes to the ending mentioned after 18...Kxg7) 18.Qxd4 Rxd4 19.Rg1, with a clear edge for White.

17.Rg1 Nxd4

It is important that Black loses immediately after 17...e5? 18.Nxc6 Rxd1+ 19.Rxd1+-.




The only move to muddy the waters.
18...Qxh4 19.Rc3! is very awkward.


Here your engine will indicate 19.Rg3 as an interesting option: 19...exf2+ 20.Kxf2 Qxh4?! (but 20...f5 is stronger) 21.Bd3 f5 22.Qh1! Rxd4? (22...Qf4+) 23.Rd1!+-.


White is better after 19...exf2+ 20.Kxf2 Qf4+ 21.Qf3 Qxd4+ 22.Ke2 Qxb2+ 23.Bc2 Qe5+ (23...f5) 24.Kf1 f5 25.h5, although Black is still equal in material for the moment.




Up until this moment Harikrishna had played more or less 'a tempo', which would suggest that he was still in his preparation. He himself conceded that he had made a 'crazy decision' when he stupidly played for a win. So it is possible that he was in the spur of the moment deciding to play 'va banque' here.
However, objectively Black really ought to have played 20...exf2+ 21.Kxf2 Qxh4+ when White cannot avoid perpetual check.



Inventive play by Ernst!


This is another clear mistake, Black had to take on f2: 21...exf2+ 22.Kxf2 Qxh4+ 23.Kf1 (23.Ke2) 23...Be6 24.c5!? Re8 25.Rh1 Qg4 26.Qxg4 (26.Qf2) 26...fxg4 27.Bb5 Rec8 28.Re1, and White's chances are to be preferred in this complex ending.

22.Qxe3 f4

The ending now wins for White.
22...Qxe3+ 23.fxe3 Rd7 24.cxd5+-.


Or 23.Qf3 dxc4 24.Rxc4!, a motive that will keep on recurring.



23...Bf7 was the best chance, when 24.Qf5 keeps a substantial edge.


Walking away from the open e-file. Curiously Black cannot profitably open the d-file.


The alternatives are no better: 24...f3+ 25.Qg5; 24...dxc4 25.Rxc4! Rad8 (25...Bxc4 26.Bxc4+ Kh7 27.Qf5++-) 26.Qxf4+-.

25.Qg5 Qb6

25...Qxg5 26.Rxg5 dxc4 and now it is important that White has 27.Rxc4! (27.Bxc4 is bad, as he would still face a difficult technical task after 27...Rad8+ 28.Bd3 Bxa2 29.h5).


The only winning move.


White also wins after 26...Qxf2+ 27.Kc3 Re4 28.Bxe4 dxe4 29.Qxe4.

27.Kd1 Re4 28.cxd5

White is now completely winning, but he still has to avoid some perpetuals.

28...Rae8 29.Bxe4 Qd4+ 30.Bd3 Bh5+ 31.Kc2 Qa4+ 32.Kb2?!

32.Kc3 Qa3+ 33.Kd2 Qb2+ 34.Rc2 Qb4+ 35.Rc3 (but not 35.Kc1 Re1+ 36.Rxe1 Qxe1+ 37.Kb2 Qb4+=) 35...Qb2+ 36.Bc2 Re2+ 37.Kd3 Qb5+ 38.Rc4+-;
32.Kd2 leads to the game (on move 34).




There is nothing to it, White has to return to the centre.
Or 33.Ka1 Qd4+ 34.Kb1 Qb4+ 35.Kc2 Qa4+ 36.Kd2! (36.Kc3!).

33...Qa4+ 34.Kd2! Qa5+ 35.Rc3 Qxa2+ 36.Rc2

Repeating moves once more

36...Qa5+ 37.Rc3 Qa2+ 38.Bc2 Re2+ 39.Kd3! Qa6+ 40.Rc4 Qa3+ 41.Rc3 Qa6+ 42.Kd4 Rd2+ 43.Ke5 Qe2+ 44.Kf6

And Black resigned. A fantastic fight!

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