Repertoire Holes Filled!

Jul 4, 2008, 4:26 PM |

LOL, OK maybe that doesn't deserve an exclam by anyone else's measure, but if you knew how much I've been wrestling with a putting together a workable repertoire for my push to NM (and then to FM) you'd sympathize.

One of the reasons I became a BDG expert is because of my frustration with 1. e4.  There was sooo much theory on the Smith-Morra (my Sicilian weapon of choice) and besides, everyone was declining it (with mixed success) with 3...Nf6 anyway.  I never had a workable repertoire element against 1...e5, and although I loved the accepted lines of the Danish Gambit, there, too, I rarely got any takers.  Much more typical was a liquidation using Schlecter's Defense:

So whether your opponent was rated 1300 or 2300, they had a reasonable chance of drawing.  The romantic attack store was closed.

And, from previous posts, it's clear I've been wrestling with the Sicilian options as well, since I've been trying to wean myself off of the Smith-Morra Gambit.  Not because of any inherent unsoundness in the gambit (I find it to be quite sound), but rather because everyone and his brother was declining it with 3...Nf6.

With respect to other 1. e4 defenses, I have comfortable lines against the so-called "semi-open games", i.e. French, Caro-Kann, Alekhines, Center-Counter/Scandanavian, Pirc, and others of this ilk.  I don't like playing against Petroff's and Philidor's, but I will deal with them when I have to.  Fortunately, they're not overly popular (although Philidor's Defense does seem to be making a bit of a comeback), so haven't had to face them too often.

But if you have a 1. e4 repertoire that struggles against 1...c5 and 1...e5 (the two major responses) then you really don't have a 1. e4 repertoire.  Cry

But at this point, with my next tournament a weekend away, I have to say I'm feeling pretty good about things.  Because I don't just want solutions to those two openings, I want solutions that will almost assure good positions against weaker players and very playable positions but preferably with a narrow path to equality for black, which means there will be a lot more advantageous positions, even against strong players.

Also, I wanted choices I could grow into, perhaps become an expert in.  And I think I've got it covered now.

FIrstly, I'm not an "expert" in the Smith-Morra, but I regard myself as a strong Smith-Morra player.  I have quality wins under my belt against opponents in almost every rating class, up to the 2200 level.  I don't think I've BEATEN a 2300, but I believe I drew one once.  It's just that damn 3...Nf6 I hate.  So, I am going to swallow my pride, head back to the familiar Smith-Morra waters but use one of GM Rozentalis (a 2. c3 Sicilian afficionado) line, namely 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cd 3. c3 Nf6 !? 4 e5 Nd5 5. cd d6 6. Bc4 ?! 

 Rozentalis' novelty (which, in the end, still just delivers an equal game, but at least it forces those less-likely to come up with the moves to do so) is this 6. Bc4 move, the key idea shown on 6...Nb6.  After 6...Nb6, white plays 7. Bb5+ Bd7 8. e6!? Bxb5 (8...fe 9. Bd3 is +=) 9. Qh5 !? (D) 











Can you find the correct reply for black in this problematic position?







The move for black is 9...Qc8! which makes room for the king, while simultaneously hitting the bishop on c1 AND the pawn on e6.  What a move!  Some players will find this move.  My guess is many won't.  Even if they do, the book line here peters to equality (can also lead to a trade of queens after 10. Qxb5+ Qc6 (lol, now black is hitting c1 and g2...that queen is a workhorse!).  I'm gonna let old Fritzy have a swipe at 11. Nc3 here, just in case its worthwhile.

So, in large measure, there goes the 3...Nf6 problem out the window.  Black either finds the right move or he doesn't. 

My 1...e5 prayers have been answered by Anthony Soltis, in his book "Winning With 1. e4" where he presents an AWESOME line.  I'm very juiced up about it!

The best thing about this line is it does a avoid lot of the e4 e5 sidelines (Philidor's, Petroff's, Latvian, Elephant, etc.) and almost forces black into the target position.  Amazing. 

Here is the target position, an old King's Gambit Declined line, which still has quite a bit of spunk.  I complemented Soltis' book with John Emms' excellent treatise ("Play the Open Games as Black" ) and Nigel Davies ("Play 1. e4 e5!") along with Fritz to get a pretty decent consensus on what was going on in target position, which is:

With black to move, he can find equality here if he knows how, but it's a fairly thin line he has to walk.  White's plan is basically to play f5, Qe2, and g4 (on ...Nxg4 white will play Qg2 hitting g7).  Also, he can trade on e5, play Bg5, Qe2 and castle queenside.

Generally, its a line (like a lot of open games lines) where the color that knows what they're doing is better, regardless of the theoretical assessment of the position.  So, hopefully, black does not normally play the KGD and will find himself out of his element.

 How is this positions essentially forced on black?  Using the following sequence:

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 (if Nc6 or Bc5 white continues with 2. Nc3) 3. d3 Nc6 (if 3...c6 4. Bb3 d5 5. Nf3 will make it hard for black to hold his center; if 3...d5 4. ed Nxd5 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. O-O O-O 7. Re1 and white will play h3 and g4, kicking the bishop and taking the e-pawn) 4. Nc3 Bc5 (if 4...Bb4 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. Ne2 supporting the N at c3 and the f4 push after O-O) 5. f4 d6 6. Nf3 and voila...we're here.

This satisfies my goal as nothing prevents white from becoming an expert at the target position, giving me a fighting chance against better players and making me an odds-on favorite to get a superior position against players of my own strength.  THAT's what I'm talkin' about baby!  Cool