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Understand The Position 6: “Spicy Version of Nimzowitsch.”

GM Ján Markoš | May 24, 2011 – 12:15One Comment | 685 views
Understand The Position 6: “Spicy Version of Nimzowitsch.”

Today’s demonstration is from the game which was played under very strained circumstances. Two leading teams met in a direct duel in Czech Extraliga to fight for the first place – Novy Bor and Ostrava. In such an important match, the captain’s instructions are: to put the pressure on the opponent, but not to risk uselessly. However, I wasn’t able to follow this strategy and I turned usually quiet Nimzo-Indian defense into a dangerous and chaotic ride in a few moves.

Translated by: Dusan Turcer

Markos (Novy Bor) – Michenka (Ostrava):

White offered a pawn sacrifice in his last move. Black can either accept or refuse, either to open the center, or to close it. Which of these reactions is correct?

It is necessary to consider strategic factors and to calculate in similar critical positions. Let’s start with the positional considerations:

Firstly, White has the advantage of a bishop pair. Black usually gains a good control of the center as an exchange for this bishop pair, especially the e4-square. But after 12.d5 White threatens to play also e3-e4 and Black will lose the control of the center.

Furthermore, a major weakness of Black’s position is d6-pawn. This pawn can neither be defended by any other pawn, nor by the bishop. Once Black accepts the sacrifice and takes the pawn on d5 he is exposed to the risk that White will attack the d6-pawn by placing his rooks on d-file. Then, this pawn will be lost.

Finally, there is a position with opposite castling on the board. Black king is safer than his opponent, because the pawn structure in front of the white king is weakened by the c2-c4 advance. Of course, black king’s castle is weak (by the move h7-h6), but White will need some time to prepare the g2-g4-g5 advance, because it weakens the long white diagonal. After some strategic thoughts, let’s take a look at specific calculations. Black can close the position by playing 12…e5. This advance “kills” the bishop on b7, but at the same time, it stabilizes the center; d6-pawn could breath out for a while. A considerable advantage of the 12…e5 move is also the fact that Black has a clear plan in the forthcoming position:

To enforce the … b6-b5 advance (also at the cost of a pawn) and to attack the white king. 12…e5 is a healthy and strong move. Completely different strategy is to take the d5-pawn. When this White’s pawn disappears from the centre, Black win not only gain the material advantage, but will also open the door to the white king. But the question is: how to take back on d5?

Tactical mistake 12…g5? 13.dxe6! leads to the position in which Black remains with a lot of pawn weaknesses.

Even worse position for Black arises after 12….exd5 13.cxd5 Nxd5??, because after 14.Bh7+! he is not able to avoid a material loss.

If Black wants to take back on d5 with the knight, it is necessary to combine these two ideas:

12…exd5 13.cxd5 g5. Now white can’t sacrifice the knight and to play for the pin of Nf6 because after 14.Nxg5 hxg5 15.Bxg5 black simply plays 15…Ne4! and pin doesn’t exist anymore.

So it remains to play 14.Bg3 Nxd5 15. Qb3. While Black won a pawn White has a good compensation thanks to his two bishops, weakness on d6 and weakened position of black king.

Recapture on d5 with a bishop doesn’t win any material: 12…exd5 13. cxd5 Bxd5 14.Bb5 Bxa2 15.Bxd7 Qxd7 16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.Qxf6 leads to a position where both kings are weakened, but the white queen is closer to the opponent’s king. Moreover, White can also play 15.Rxd6 with a troublesome pressure.

My opponent probably found the ideal solution. He played 12…exd5 13.cxd5 Qe8! He removed the pawn from the c-file, where the white king is placed, unpinned the queen without a necessity of playing weakening moves like …g7-g5 and moreover, avoided the early e3-e4 advance. After the queen left the d8-square, Black threatens to take on d5 naturally, with the knight.

After the accurate move 13…Qe8! White has a lot of work to find a way to equalize. D5-pawn is weak and Black threatens to open the position of the white king by the advance of the pawns c and b. Therefore, the strongest approach here is to force the moves. The move 14.Bb5 renews the pin with utilizing the awkward position of the black queen. Long and logical line 14…Nxd5 15.Qb3 Nc7 16.Rxd6 Nxb5 17.Qxb5 Ne5 18.Qxe8 Rfxe8 19.Nxe5 Rxe5 leads to a completely equal endgame.

This post is also available in: Slovak

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