Trial and Error

Trial and Error‎

GM vbhat
12 | Middlegame

I recently played a series of 4 events in Europe, and the first of those was in Seville, Spain. I tied for first in this tournament, and my best game of the tournament was my win against the young Argentine GM Damian Lemos. Here's how that game started:

Here I'll take a brief detour and go over my history in this variation. While material is equal and both sides are about equally developed, it's important to notice that White has a bit more central space (with his e4-pawn), Black's queenside is slightly compromised (with ...c6 and ...b5), and his queenside pieces are slightly awkward (the ...Bb7 and ...Qb8 in particular). These considerations dominate the ensuing middlegame play.

Last year, I was on the black side of this exact position twice. In my first game, I hadn't prepared this line before and had to come up with some plan over the board. Here's what I did:

Notice how in this game it took me a while to get anything going on the queenside (as I never quite achieved ...c5 to activate the Bb7). I ended up winning the game, but that was because of later adventures, and in fact, White had a chance for a clear plus as in the Akopian game. This inability to execute ...b4/...c5 motivated my investigation into an immediate tactical solution, which I tried out a couple months later (also in Montreal), against GM Varuzhan Akobian. Here's how that game went:

Ok, that's been my experience on the black side of this variation. As you can see, I didn't quite equalize in either game (although I scored 1.5/2 against higher rated opponents!), and that experience suggested that this line could be a good one for me to try as White. Like me in my Bluvshtein game above, Lemos was surprised by this variation and had to solve some problems over the board ...

This is a key position in the game. What would you do here for White?


I guess one moral of the story is that this line is very tough for both sides to play! Luckily, I've escaped the worst of it in this line so far ...
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