TEST YOUR CHESS: SICILIAN KAN #2
Gormally, D. (2509) - Ciuksyte,D. (2426) [B43]
Liverpool Open, 2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 b5
If I was allowed to name variations, I'd call this the Bully Variation. Black is pushing forward very early and hasn't bothered to develop a single piece. He still threatens to play ...Nf6, ...Bb7 and a quick ...b4 to pressurize e4. What a bully.
Just as in Panjwani-Arencibia we find White takes advantage of the absence of a Nc6 and develops his bishop to this aggressive post.
Just as we see in versions with an early ...Bc5 in the Kan, Black's intent is to force this knight away from its advanced square to an inferior one.
Question 1: How does White react to the pressure on d4?
7.Nf3! (2 points for this move, which has been causing Black problems)
7.Nb3 (1 point) Black achieves his goal of driving the knight from d4. 7...Qc7 The Black Queen has served her purpose and now retreats to avoid White expanding on the Queenside with gain of time. 8.0–0 Bb7 9.Qe2 Nf6 10.f4 Sees White with a small plus.
7.Be3 (1 point) White can try and be obstinate about his control of d4, but it only leads to a quick series of exchanges: 7...Bc5 8.Be2 Nc6 9.Nxc6 dxc6 10.Bxc5 Qxc5 11.Qd3 Nf6 Has seen Black winning more than his fair share of games at master level (>50%!). This line was probably one of the reasons the early ...b5 with ...Qb6 was once such a hot topic.
7.Nce2!? (1 point) hasn't really been explored at top levels. A point because it was a suggestion of John Emms in his book on the Kan.
8.Be3 Seems to be natural, but the bishop move proves kind of useless since both sides quickly end up exchanging their dark-squared bishops: 8...Bc5 9.Bxc5 Qxc5 10.0–0 Nf6 11.Re1
8.e5 Qb8 9.0–0 (9.Bf4 f5 10.Qe2 Nge7 11.h3 Nb4 12.0–0 Bb7 13.Rfd1 Nxd3 14.Qxd3 Qc7 15.a3 h6 16.Nd4 Qc4 17.Qg3 g5 18.b3 Qc5 19.Bc1 Bg7 20.f4 Rg8 21.b4 Qc7 22.Nce2 gxf4 23.Bxf4 Bh8 0–1 Ashley,M (2482)-Smirin,I (2677)/Los Angeles 2000/EXT 2001) 9...Nxe5 10.Nxe5 Qxe5 11.Qf3 Qb8 12.Bf4 d6 13.Ne4 e5 14.Rfe1 Be7 15.Rad1 exf4 16.Nxd6+ Kf8 17.Be4 Ra7 18.Nxf7 Kxf7 19.Bd5+ Kf8 20.Bb3 Nf6 21.Rd4 Bg4 22.Qd3 Rd7 0–1 Vandevoort,P (2385)-Lemmers,O (2395)/Belgium 2004/EXT 2006
Black has a great deal of alternatives to try here, but it seems she doesn’t want to face an early e5 push by White, so she sets up the small center to make sure it wont happen in the near future.
Question 2: Black is far behind in development, but this cannot cost him as long as the position stays fairly closed. Add to that Black has just played ...d6, preventing an e5 push, and it may be difficult for White to come up with a constructive plan. How should he proceed?
9.a4! (2 points)
Exactly! White understands that he is ahead in development by quite a bit and that central action is going to be slow thanks to Black's small center. Therefore he aims to open the position where he can - the Queenside! No points for anything else, sorry!
Question 3: How did Gormally continue in this position?
10.a5! (2 points)
This is a really nice move which we like to see. It’s always nice when a player refuses to blindly react to his opponent’s threats. Here we are still well within the preparation of both players (according to Palliser) and so we must look and see if we can figure out what the big idea is, and more importantly, if it's worth repeating. Isn't white just dropping a pawn.
10.Nb1!? (1 point) This thought occurred to me as it is an idea passed down by my coach which I remembered. The knight will head to c4. 10...Nf6 11.Nbd2 Be7 12.Nc4 Qc7 13.a5 Bb7 ½–½ Parligras,M (2490)-Manik,M (2419)/Bled 2002/EXT 2003 (27)
10...Nxa5 11.Be3 [11.Na4 Qc7 12.Be3 Will transpose.] 11...Qc7 12.Na4
Now the purpose of the pawn sacrifice is abundantly clear. White has gained an initiative on the Queenside for his pawn. Black is now busy responding to White's threats.
Question 4: How should White continue?
13.Nb6! (2 points)
Not an easy move to find, and obviously a result of preparation on White's part.
13.Qe2 (1point) is less accurate because now the White Queen cannot participate in the invasion on the a-file. 13...Nf6 14.Nb6 Rxb6 15.Rxa5 Rb8
13...Rxb6 14.Rxa5 Rb8 15.Qa1 Nf6
Instead, 15...Ne7 is the attempt to stop the madness played by Hellsten. However things did not work out well for him 16.Bxa6 Nc6 17.Bb5! Bd7 18.Bxc6 Bxc6 19.Ra7 Rb7 20.Ra8+ Rb8 21.Ra7 Rb7 22.Ra8+ Rb8 23.Rxb8+ Qxb8 24.Nd4 Bd7 25.Qa6 Be7 26.Nc6 Qc8 27.Qxc8+ Bxc8 28.Ra1 Bf6 29.Ra7 0–0 (29...Bxb2?? 30.Re7+ Kf8 31.Rc7 Ba6 32.Ra7 Bc8 33.Ra8) 30.b3 e5 31.Nxb4 and white went on to convert the pawn 1–0 Felgaer,R (2588)-Hellsten,J (2554)/Santiago 2005/CBM 106 (39)
Question 5: White would like to continue his attack, but first must do something about his e-pawn. How did he continue?
16.Bxa6! (1 point)
Alright, I wasn't completely upfront for this question. But hopefully you didn't take the words you read at face value. Hopefully you questioned here why Black might not be able to take the pawn.
16.Nd2 (0 points) is just too tame here, and not in the spirit of the initiative that White is playing for. 16...Ng4 17.Bf4 Be7 18.Nc4 e5 19.Bd2 0–0 and White is not much closer to regaining his pawn.
16...Nxe4? (VARIATION 1)
Question 6: How does white continue after this move (16...Nxe4)?
17.Bb5+! Bd7 (17...Ke7 18.Nd4 Kf6 is awkward to say the least.) 18.Ra7 Rb7 19.Ra8+ Ke7 20.Ba6 (1 point for making it this far) Rb8 21.Ra7 Qc6 22.Nd4 and White is winning with a huge invasion force.
16...Bxa6 (VARIATION 2) Is not so cut and dried, however, and Black could certainly complicate things by playing this move. 17.Rxa6 Be7 18.Ra7 Rb7 19.Rxb7 Qxb7 20.Qa4+ Nd7 21.Nd4 0–0 22.Qc6 Rb8 23.Ra1 and White still retains a slight edge due to his activity.
Returning to the game where Black played 16...Bd7
Question 7: No tricks this time. How should White continue?
17.Bd3 (1 point)
Essential as the bishop is completely misplaced, as well as blocking White's invasion force.
17...Be7 18.Ra7 Rb7
Question 8: How should White continue?
19.Ra8+ (1 point)
19.Rxb7 (0 points) does nothing and is therefore worth nothing. The game is equal as white has tossed away his initiative.
Question 9: This seems rather annoying; there is no way into the position after all. Or is there? How would you continue?
20.Qa7 (1 point)
20.Ra7 (0 points) is just a repitition.
20...Qxa7 21.Rxa7 e5
21...0–0 22.e5 dxe5 23.Nxe5 leaves Black with great difficulties defending against White's 7th rank invader.
Black takes on the Shvesnikov/Najdorf pawn center as he is worried about the effects of an e5 push by White.
Question 10: How should White continue his invasion (after 21...e5)?
22.Bg5?! (1 point)
This looks quite natural, and I wonder if that is because pattern recognition is screaming at us to play the move. Indeed Palliser suggests it could be inferior.
22.Rfa1 is probably better (1 point) ½–½ Conquest,S (2556)-Strikovic,A (2501)/Zaragoza 2003/EXT 2004
22...Be6 23.Rfa1 h6 24.Bxf6 Bxf6
Question 11: Once again it seems we have difficulty finding a weakness in the Kan structure. How should White continue his invasion?
25.R1a6 (1 point)
This isn’t really the Kan structure anymore!
The problem with White`s 22nd move. White could not really secure control of d5 and so swapping off his dark bishop has simply given Black two very strong bishops with a fluid center to boot. It looks like black is going to be fine after all, but if you could stop him from being fine, how would you do it?
Very nice, keeping the pressure on. No points here, because it is not an official question.
26...dxe4 27.Bxe4 0–0 28.b3 Rfd8
Question 12: How should White continue?
29.h3 (1 point) Mavros says: "Make luft not war".
29.Kf1 (1 point) is also possible, although the King could still be subject to a lot of fire power.
29...Rd1+ 30.Kh2 g6
Question 13: Now how should White continue?
31.R5a6 (1 point for caution)
31.Nxe5 (1 point for bravery) Bd8 32.Ra1 Rxa1 33.Rxa1 Bc7 34.f4 and Black has counterplay according to Palliser.
31...Bd8 32.Nxe5 Bb6 33.Re7
33.Ra8? Rxa8 34.Rxa8+ Kg7 35.Nd3 Rd2 36.Ra4 f5 37.Bf3 Bxf2 and Black's bishops could be a winning force in the ending.
Question14: Now how should White continue?
34.Raxe6! (2 points)
A lightning bolt destroys Black's camp!
34.Bxg6 (1 point) is also playable, but less accurate. 34...Bb6 cuts off the rook's attack on e6. 35.Nxf7 Bxf7 36.Bxf7+ Kf8 37.Bh5 Kxe7 38.Bxd1 White should win this ending if he is careful to keep his rooks on long enough.
Question 15: How should White continue the attack?
35.Bxg6 (1 point)
It may be hard to fathom, but three uncontested pieces swarming a bare king caught against the edge of the board spells certain doom.
Question 16: To see just how powerful the piece swarm around the Black King is, imagine you have an extra move. That is you've just played 35.Bxg6 and your opponent gave you another move for the hell of it. What would you play?
36.Bh7+ Kf8 (36...Kh8 37.Ng6#) 37.Ng6# (1 point if you saw everything written here)
Black is just tossing in a spite check I suppose.
36.Kxg3 Kf8 37.Rf7+ Kg8 38.Bh7+
A very lovely positional response to the dreaded Bully variation. 1–0