Understand The Position 14: “My Favourite Trap.”
There has to be a mistake coming from the opponent, if we want to win a game. And if the opponent is to make a mistake, he has to be given the opportunity. If you don’t let him do any hard decision and if he doesn’t feel the pressure on the board or on the watch, you will hardly squeeze a weaker move out of him. Titled players in particular make “unforced errors” very rarely.
Translated by: Dusan Turcer
Therefore I love traps. Of course not the trivial and prehistoric ones. There is nothing like “grab the piece and you will get mated” in professional chess. Modern traps are sensitive, often with a very interesting strategic flavor.
I will show you one of them today. It is a modern line of Slav Defense; the main structure of the system arises after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 5.e3 a6 4.Nf3 6.c5 b5.
It may appear at first glance, that White wasn’t doing very well in the opening. He released the pressure in the center by playing c4-c5 and moreover, with early e2-e3, he blocked his dark-squared bishop, which is now bored behind the pawn wall. However, the strategic idea of the system is very healthy. White created a pawn wedge on c5 and Black is not able to get rid of it in no way, because he already played …d7-d5 and …b7-b5. White therefore won the space on the queenside and the game against the “eternal” weakness on c6. Black is not able to help this pawn in any way. In endgames in particular, it will be very difficult to cover it; pieces that will attempt to do that, will have to stand behind their own pawns and will therefore also become weaknesses. Furthermore, b5-pawn is the so-called “target” – even if it is not weak itself, it allows White to open the a-file whenever he wants.
Moreover, White did set a sensitive trap. If the opponent doesn’t know the line, it is a very good chance that he falls into it; so it is a natural move that triggers it, and so the strategic refutation is hidden. Finally, try it yourself – what is the most natural move for Black?
If you see the position on the diagram for the first time, you might consider 6…Bg4? as the best move. Black is harmoniously developing his pieces and there should not be any problem after the next …e7-e6, …Nb8-d7, …Bf8-e7 and …0-0. But he will not be able to make all these moves, because the trap snapped. White gains the edge after the surprising 7.Qb3!!
What is the idea of this strange move? Well, Black moved away the Bc8 from the queenside with his previous move. Thanks for that, the Ra8 lost its natural covering piece; it is possible to cover it only once now, by the queen. White is therefore planning to play a2-a4 and Qb3-a3, after which the threat a4xb5 will arise. It is important to do this maneuver immediately; otherwise Black will be able to cover the Ra8 by another rook. This way, he will miss the tempo.
After the normal 7… e6 8.a4 Nbd7 9. Qa3 Black must retreat with the rook and give the opponent the control of the a-file. After 9…Rc8 10.axb5 axb5 11.Qa5 White is not very far from the wishful ending in which the weakness on c6 and control of the a-file give a significant edge, which could be graded without any risk.
I have attracted several opponents into this trap and it always brought me the whole point. And when your opponent doesn’t fall into the trap, well, never mind… You have a whole game in front of you and there is still enough time to set him a couple more traps…