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The Modern Defence: The Achilles Heal of the Classical Chess Player
Karl Robatsch

The Modern Defence: The Achilles Heal of the Classical Chess Player

Spoorsny
Nov 5, 2017, 4:08 AM 0

The Modern Defence, also known as the Robatsch Defence, after Karl Robatsch, is a chess opening in which Black allows White to occupy the center with pawns on d4 and e4. Black's hope is to attack and undermine White's "ideal" position without directly attempting to occupy the center himself. A typical move order for the Modern Defence is 1.e4 g6. Main line is 2.d4 Bg7. The Modern Defence has been most notably used by British Grandmasters Davies and McNab.


The Modern Defence is closely related to the Pirc Defence; the primary difference between the two openings is that in the Modern Black delays developing his knight to f6. Transpositional possibilities between the two defences are rife. The flexibility and toughness of the Modern Defence has provoked some very aggressive responses by White, including the attack crudely named the Monkey's Bum (a typical sequence being 1.e4 g6 2.Bc4 Bg7 3.Qf3), a more refined version of which is the Monkey's Bum Deferred, where White only plays Bc4 and Qf3 after developing his queen's knight.


The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings classifies the Modern Defence as B06. Codes B07 to B09 are assigned to the Pirc. The tenth edition of Modern Chess Openings (1965) grouped the Pirc and Robatsch together as the "Pirc-Robatsch Defense".


 

Other unusual openings can be reached after 1.e4 g6. The Hippopotamus Defence is one such system. Another is the Norwegian Defence, also known as the North Sea Defence, which begins 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Nf6 3.e5 Nh5. If White plays 4.g4, Black retreats the knight with 4...Ng7. On 4.Be2, Black can retreat the knight or gambit a pawn with 4...d6!? If White plays 3.Nc3 instead of 3.e5, Black can transpose to the Pirc Defence with 3...d6 or continue in unconventional fashion with 3...d5!?

 


The delaying of Nf6 allows blockading the Bg7 with 3.c3.

Main Lines of the Modern Defence are 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 c6 5.Nf3 Bg4 and 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.Be3 e5 6.d5 Ne7. 7.g4 will be answered by f5 8.gxf5 gxf5 9.Qh5+ Ng6 10.exf5 Qh4 11.Qxh4 Nxh4 12.Nb5 Kd8


In the following game, Canadian grandmaster Duncan Suttles, one of the Modern's leading exponents, defeats Czech-American grandmaster Lubomir Kavalek:

Kavalek vs. Suttles, Nice Olympiad 1974 1.e4 g6 2.d4 d6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Be2 Nf6 5.Nc3 (The Pirc Defence is reached now.) a6 6.a4 O-O 7.O-O b6 8.Re1 Bb7 9.Bc4 e6 10.Bf4 Nbd7 11.Qd2 b5! Initiating a deep combination.

Suttles later remarked that Kavalek has occupied the center and developed his pieces in the manner advocated by Fred Reinfeld, yet now stands worse. 12.axb5 axb5 13.Rxa8 Qxa8 14.Bxb5 Bxe4 15.Nxe4 Nxe4 16.Rxe4 Qxe4 17.Bxd7 Ra8 18.h4 Qb7!

Despite his material advantage, White is in trouble. Note that his bishop on d7 is almost trapped. 19.d5 e5 20.Bh6 Qxb2 21.h5 Ra1+ 22.Kh2 Qb1 23.Bxg7 Qh1+ 24.Kg3 Kxg7 25.Bh3 Qc1 26.h6+ Kf6 27.c4 Qxd2 28.Nxd2 Kg5 29.Ne4+ Kxh6 30.Bd7 f5 31.Nf6 Ra7 32.Bb5 g5 33.Ng8+ Kg7 34.Ne7 Kf6 35.Nc6 Ra3+ 36.Kh2 h5 37.Nb8 h4 38.Na6 g4 39.Nxc7 Ra2 40.Kg1 g3 41.fxg3 hxg3 42.Kf1 e4 0

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