The Great Race: Opposite Side Castling

The Great Race: Opposite Side Castling

Mar 15, 2016, 5:28 AM |

I landed myself in the race that is Opposite Side Castling whilst playing on the Black side of a London System which I won.

In post mortem, the most interesting position for me was how I would have dealt with my opponent's threat in the following position with White to move.

How should White attack h6?

Black clearly is planning ... b4. How should White best get his Kingside play going?

My opponent 19. Rh3, which in my view is too slow in doubling Rooks.

Instead, the move I feared was 19. Qe3 pointing directly at h6 and threatening Rxh6 gh, Qxh6 with Rh1 to follow.

I'm at a loss as to how Black can defend this?

How does Black Defend?

If White had played 19. Qe3, I would have had difficult questions to answer

A) There is no time for 19. ... b4 in view of 20. Rxh6 gh 21. Qxh6 and Rh1 to follow is disastrous. The interposing 20. ... Bg5 is met with 21. Rh8+!

B) 19. ... Bg5 looks the most direct to defence, to liquidate and face 20. Nxg5 Qxg5 21. Qxg5 hg 22. ed Nf6 (only move) 23. de Bxg2 24. ef+ Kxf7 25. Rhg1 Bf3 and I'd say White is slightly better

C) 19. ... Nf6 just invites 20. g5 Ng4 21. Qf2 hg 22. ed Bxd5 23. Bh7+ Kh8 24. Ne5 Nh6 25. Rxh6! and White has massive attack

D) 19. ... Re8 is tempting as this allows Bf8 winning tempo on the Queen landing at h6 before switching to g7 to guard h8, as well as give the King an escape at h8. However, 20. e5 places Black in a conundrum as g5 is coming, and the Bishop at e7 is needed there to defend this threat.

How does Black handle this Opening Position?

Here I played 10. ... h6 which I think is unnecessary and very weakening, giving White a latching point at g5 in the event of Opposite side castling.

In hindsight, best I think is 10. ... Qc7 with the flexibility of Queenside castling

The Threat is Mightier than the Execution








Here I wanted to clear the b-file with tempo and only considered 22. ... Bxe4.

Stronger may have been 22. ... Rb8 which leaves the clearance of the b-file in the air, with a concentration at b2.

It also leaves the possibilty of Bd5 to reinforce b3, as White may need to sacrifice his Bishop with Bb3 to block the b-file

My Game Annotations and Analysis