Where Experts Go Wrong... Part 2

May 23, 2009, 7:44 PM |

This is the follow-up to the last article, since I could not fit it all in to one of the blogs:


Whissell (1895) - Rohanchuk (2085), North Ontario Closed 2004, Thunder Bay










Entering this game, my opponent had used a completely unorthodox move order to try and toss me out of book as early as possible. Thus we have entered a bastardization of the 8...Bd7 line of the Sicilian Dragon that could have come from the move order:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.f3 Bg7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Qd2 Bd7 9.Qa5?! Kb1!


Black’s idea in the 8...Bd7 variation is - by delaying castling - to create a quick attack on the Queenside via moves like ...Rc8 and ...Ne5 as well as to plug up White’s attack with an ...h5 push. This plan has been utilized by GM Tiviakov with strong effect.


However, my opponent has constructed a different plan. He has just played 9...Qa5?! and not followed any real cohesive idea. What is the Queen doing on a5? In fact it is doing nothing. It has no pressure on c3 with the help of a  Black rook on c8. It has no real pressure on a1 which would require a bishop on e6. The Queen is clearly out too early. My opponent compounded his poor piece placement with a startling continuation.




Now don’t get me wrong, the Dragadorf is a testing opening when it is played with the correct move order. Here however, with the way things are, Black chooses a slow plan that must be considered too slow.


Black wants to bomb in with his b-pawn, but the White attack is much faster than that. Also note what the Queen is doing on a5. Nothing! It’s threatening to cost Black time or fall to tactics. The Queen is deadweight in conjunction with this bad plan.



Not too hard a move to find. Those with a penchant for pushing their h-pawn first with 2.h4?! may have found some disappointment in the reply 2...h5!, which greatly slows things down and could buy Black some time. White’s plan of cracking open Black’s Kingside – which you will note has no king for a target – is less good here. Instead White has a plan more appropriate to the position. He will push g5, kick the Black knight out of f6 and then plant a powerhouse knight on d5!


2...h6 3.h4

White is whole-heartedly devoted to the plan of pushing g5, which his moves show. Note first he must take care of his loose rook on h1.



At last this piece comes into play.



White decides not to allow an exchange on d4 any longer, and to play to squish Black, who still possess all his minor and major pieces in a slightly cramped position. The Queen will now lose time running back from its useless post.



The Queen will of course lose another tempo from this square, but 4...Qd8 looks scarcely any better.



Protecting the rook. Now everything is in place for the planned push.



Black thinks that now the race is on, but he has spent too many moves preparing his Queenside advance.



The race is over. Black cannot respond with 6...b4 or he loses a piece (can you see why?).


White had a clear plan in mind and headed toward it on all thrusters. Black muddled around with ...Qa5 and tried the slow build up of ...a6 and ...b5 in a very fast position.


6...hxg5 7.hxg5 Nh5

Now the move everything up to this point had prepared.



White achieves positional dominance. He went on to win the game with little trouble, greatly aided by his powerhouse position in the middlegame.


Black’s bad plan was bad because it was slow and uncoordinated. Note how his moves did not all lead to the goal he wanted. The worst of these offences was probably the ...Qa5 sortie.