A strange Fischer Attack in The Queen's Gambit
("The Queen's Gambit" Episode 3. Netflix, 2020)

A strange Fischer Attack in The Queen's Gambit


Bobby Fischer apparently didn't exist in the alternative reality of "The Queen's Gambit" series. But the Fischer Attack versus the Sicilian Najdorf, 6.Bf1-c4 (or 6.BQB4 if you like) was played by the heroine. So I decided to take a closer look at one such example.

Elizabeth Harmon - Benny Watts
Las Vegas. The Queen's Gambit Episode 3
B87 [Golubev]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.O-O

A rare and rather strange move, which in real life has been used by grandmasters in only 3 games as far as I can see. Bd7 was almost undiscussed in my book The Sicilian Sozin (2001) and not mentioned in Understanding the Sicilian (2017).
Much more often Black has experimented with 8...b4!? 9.Na4 (now ...Nxe4? is known to be bad) and only here 9...Bd7. While the main line is 8...Be7 and then Fischer's 9.Qf3!.

Quite an important continuation is 9.f4 Nc6! (instead, difficult for Black is 9...b4? 10.e5! bxc3 11.exf6 with the idea of 11...Qxf6 12.f5! e5 13.Ne6 +- A.Silver-A.Ramos, Rio de Janeiro 2000) 10.f5!?N (10.Be3 b4! 11.Na4 transposes to known stuff: 11...Rb8! with mutual chances as, in particular, in Lautier-Anand, Biel 1997) 10...Nxd4 (not 10...e5? 11.Ne6! fxe6 12.fxe6 Bc8 13.Nd5 h5 14.Be3, etc.) 11.Qxd4 and 11...Be7! is, probably, slightly better for White but playable for Black.
A 3+0 blitz game Mikhail_Golubev-Ali_12891, Arena Kings 2019 followed 9.Re1 Qc7? (correct is 9...Be7!) 10.Bg5!N Be7 11.Nf5! and Black is in trouble.
White can also play 9.a3!? and if 9...Nc6 10.Be3 Be7 11.f4! with a position, which usually arises through different move orders.

After 9...Nc6?!, Hauge-Alexiadis, Euro U-18 Ch Prague 2016, the precise move order for White is 10.a4! where 10...b4 11.Nxc6! (avoiding 11.Nd5 Nxd4! 12.Nxf6+ gxf6 13.Qxd4 e5 14.Qd5 Be6 15.Qc6+ Bd7 16.Qc4 Be6 = with a draw) 11...Bxc6 transposes to the aforementioned game: 12.Nd5! (White is better after other moves as well) 12...exd5 13.exd5 Bd7 (or 13...Bb7 14.Re1+ Be7 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Re3!) 14.Re1+ Be7 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Re3! Bc8?! and here very strong would have been 17.Qd4! (the game Hauge-Alexiadis continued 17.Qh5?! h6!) 17...O-O 18.Rae1 Re8 19.c4!! Bf5 (19...Bd7 20.Rg3+! Kh8 21.Bc2! Rg8 22.Qe4!? +-) 20.a5 Qd7 (or 20...Qxa5 21.g4!) 21.Qd1!! +-. This queen move prepares Ba4!.

10.Nf5?N is, likely, also wrong because of 10...exf5 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Qd5 Qb6! 13.Qxf7+ Kd8 14.Nd5 Qd4! and it turns that Black is better: 15.Rad1 (or 15.exf5 Ra7!) 15...Qe5 16.exf5 Qe8! 17.Qxe8+ Rxe8 18.Nxf6 gxf6 19.Rxd6 Ke7.
Quite normal is 10.f4 Nc6 11.f5N (11.Nxc6 Bxc6 12.f5 =) 11...Nxd4 (11...Qb6?! 12.fxe6 fxe6 13.Be3!) 12.Qxd4. Here Black has a choice between a number of alternatives, and 12...0-0 is not necessarily the most precise (12...h6!?; 12...Qc7!?; 12...Rb8!?). White can try 13.Rad1!? (instead, 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Qxd6 transposes to several games, including Ka.Mueller-Heinemann, Ch-GER Altenkirchen 1999, which continued 14...Bc8! 15.Rad1 Qxd6 16.Rxd6 Be5 17.Rd3 and, having a very strong dark-squared bishop, Black could have preserved considerable compensation for the pawn after 17...g6!?).


...And how in the following play has White's pawn emerged on d2 (???), only the series chess consultant Garry Kasparov can possibly explain, or maybe he already has? But there are not many similar mistakes in "The Queen's Gambit" and I like the series, generally.

After the correct capture 10...Bxf6! Black is much better because 11.Nf5 doesn't work properly: O-O (11...exf5!? transposes to 10.Nf5 and is good for Black as well: 12.Qd5 Qb6!, etc.; also 11...Bc6!? 12.Nxd6+ Ke7 13.Nf5+ exf5 14.Qh5 is, likely, worse for White in the long run) 12.Nxd6 Qb6!? with advantage to Black: White's knight feels bad on d6. (After 12...Qc7?? White has 13.f4! instead of 13.Re1?? Be5 -+ 14.Nf5 exf5 15.exf5 Bc6 0-1 Haefner-Herzog, Ingolstadt 1964).

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