Fighting the Petroff
I didn’t receive any suggestions this week, so I chose the opening this week. This week I will examine a line that I think is white’s best chance for an advantage in the highly drawish Petroff Defense.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 And now, instead of the main line 5. d4 5. Nc3!?
Now for the theory:
More interesting than the main line, don’t you think?
Now for the examples:
The above game was a perfect example of the plusses in black’s position in this opening. Gelfand shut down all chances for a white kingside attack, knowing that all rook endings and pawn endings favor black. In a mutual time scramble, Gelfand let Nisipeanu back into the game, but Nisipeanu returned the favor and black won.
Karjakin gave an excellent demonstration on how to attack the black king in this line, and was able to beat no less of a Petroff expert than Kramnik.
Vachier Lagrave played an offbeat line, so Giri was in unfamiliar territory. After the opening phase, the 2 players went back and forth with inaccuracies. After Giri made the last mistake, Vachier Lagrave started a dangerous kingside attack, but black defended excellently, and white had nothing better then a perpetual check (and even if he didn’t black would give it.
Conclusion: The Petroff defense is what Grandmasters break out when they want a draw, but at club level it is seen often as well (I have faced it many times). What I have presented is what I think is white’s best try for an advantage, or at least a position fertile enough to where both sides can look forward to a complex, equal fight. For those of you that have studied the positions arising after the main line (5.d4), I am sure you will agree.
If anybody has requests for next week, let me know. I didn’t get any this week, so I decided what opening to use.