Pogonina vs Chess.com Move 17. ...

Jan 24, 2010, 6:13 AM |

After the double exchange on d5(http://www.chess.com/votechess/game.html?id=14051) it is time to sum up the position. Easy to see is that the king sides are about equal. A castled king, pawns e4/e5 and white's bishop and rook are slightly more mobile and developed but all in all fairly equal. On the queen side only the white queen is active, Bc1 and Ra1 are still sleeping, held back somewhat by Nc4. Rc8/Qc7 are ready to attack c2 but also need to defend b7 and clear Nc4. The backward pawn d6 is a potential target but at the moment easily defended. As I see it no progress can be made on the king side and the only advantage black has is a somewhat better activity on the queen side. Therefore I do not believe in a queen exchange with moves like Qc6 or Qa5. Given the pawn structure and white's bishop pair, a queen exchange is a slow death.

I therefore believe in Nb6. Again I see no real alternatives, so further analysis is, to my mind, superfluous. But since blacks next move is crucial I'll look ahead some. The queen must move. Anywhere but b3 or a5 costs a pawn. The queen indirectly guards c2 from those squares because Nb6 is hanging. Remember, black is better developed queen side and a pawn is worth roughly 3 tempi. So, 17. ... Nb6 18.Qb3/a5 d5!? that is, sacrificing the d6-pawn, since it's not worth much in its present position and since it will better the prospects of the dark squared bishop. Black has compensation in greater mobility especially since there no need to locate a massive defence to d6. Is it enough? I don't know but I think it is a lot more fun than being on just defence for the rest of the game.