Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Anti-Moscow Gambit: 9th Moves

The Anti-Moscow tabiya is the position where games and theory really begin:

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. e4 g5 8. Bg3 b5

Black has an extra pawn. But White is better developed, controls the center, and Black's advanced wing pawns may prove to be over-extended. In this sort of position you either win or lose... rarely do games fizzle out to a draw.

9.Be2 - This is intuitive and the mainline. Before White initiates hostilities, he ensure that his king is able to castle at the first sign of danger.

9.a4? or 9.b3? - An a4 advance is strong in the Slav, but both a4 and b3 are losing in the Semi-Slav. After 9...Bb4!, White must spend time defusing the pin and protecting his a- and e-pawns, which gives Black time to develop.

9.h4 or 9.Qc2 - These transpose to the Be2 mainlines after 9.h4 g4 10.Ne5 h5 11.Be2 Bb7 or 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Be2 .

9.Ne5!? Δ 10.h4 - Black can no longer answer 10.h4 with 10...g4 without losing a pawn. Black has a couple answers:

Black's simplest answer is the direct 9...h5. In Aronian-Anand, Mexico City 2007 the game went 9...h5 10.h4 g4 11.Be2 Bb7, transposing to the mainline.

Sharper is 9...Bb7!?. Sasikiran-Stefanova, Zafra 2007 went 9...Bb7 10.h4 g4 11.Nxg4 Nxg4 12.Qxg4 Qxd4. See annotated game below for details:

[White "Sasikiran, Krishnan"]
[Black "Stefanova, Antoaneta"]
[Site "Zafra"]
[Date "2007.03.22"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 {Semi-Slav} 5. Bg5 h6 {Semi-Slav / Moscow} 6. Bh4 {Semi-Slav / Moscow / Anti-Moscow Gambit} dxc4 7. e4 $8 {Threatening e4-e5.} g5 8. Bg3 $8 b5 {This is the Anti-Moscow tabiya. Black is up a pawn, but his flank pawns may prove overextended. Whitei s better developed and enjoys better central control.} 9. Ne5 $5 {A sharp move! In the mainline, Black answers h4 with g4, but now that the knight covers g4, that would hang the g-pawn.} (9. Be2 Bb7 10. h4 g4 11. Ne5 h5 {The mainline.}) 9... Bb7 $5 {Black's reply is also sharp. Antoaneta ignores the threat and goes about her developing her pieces to their usual squares as if Ne5 hadn't been
played.} (9... h5 10. h4 g4 11. Be2 Bb7 {Transposing to the mainline.}) 10. h4 g4 11. Nxg4 Nxg4 12. Qxg4 Qxd4 {After this recapture, Black's still up a pawn.} 13. Rd1 {White forces Black to spend a tempo moving her queen.} Qg7 { Black forces White to spend a tempo moving her queen.} 14. Qf4 Na6 $1 { A critical move, preventing Qc7.} 15. a4 $2 Bb4 $1 {The typical way to punish an a-pawn advance. At this point, Black has a clear advantage.} 16. Be2 { An admission that White should have castled early with 9.Be2. This position is not as benign as it looks. Do you see atactic?} O-O $1 (16... Bxc3+ $2 17. bxc3 Qxc3+ {While this tactical sequence may seem to win a pawn, it's really a clever trick that allows the dangerous penetrations Qd6 or Qxh6.}) 17. O-O Nc5 18. Qe3 Nb3 (18... Bxc3 $1 19. Qxc5 Bxb2) 19. axb5 Bc5 20. Qf4 cxb5 21. Nxb5
Nd4 22. Nxd4 Bxd4 23. Bxc4 e5 24. Qf3 {Sasikiran's played some tremendous moves, going from an opening disadvantage to an advantage in the space of a few moves. The rest of this game is very exciting but probably not so important from an opening theory perspective.} Kh8 25. Rxd4 exd4 26. Qf4 Rae8 27. f3 Bc8 28. Rd1 Be6 29. Bf1 Rc8 30. h5 Qg5 31. Qxg5 hxg5 32. Bd6 Rg8 33. b4 g4 34. f4 g3 35. Bc5 Rg4 36. f5 Bb3 37. Rxd4 a5 38. Rd3 a4 39. Re3 Rd8 40. Be2 Rgg8 41. Kf1 Rd2 42. Rc3 Kh7 43. Ke1 Rc2 44. Rxc2 Bxc2 45. Bc4 Bb3 46. Bxb3 axb3 47. Kd2 Re8 48. Kc3 Rxe4 49. Kxb3 Re2 50. b5 Rxg2 51. b6 Re2 52. b7 Re8 53. Ba7 g2 54. Kc4 f6 55. Kd5 Kh6 56. Kd6 Kxh5 57. Kd7 Rg8 58. Ke6 Kg4 $4 59. Kxf6 Rb8 60. Kg6 Rxb7 61. Bd4 Rd7 62. Bf2 Rd2 63. Ba7 Rd7 64. Be3 Kf3 65. Bc5 Rd5 66. Ba7 Ra5 67. Bg1 Ra1 68. Bc5 g1=Q+ 69. Bxg1 Rxg1+ 70. Kh7 Kg4 71. f6 Rf1 72. Kg7 1/2-1/2

9.e5!? - Forcing 9...Nd5, and now it's White who must be careful. In Utkin-Potyavin, St. Petersburg 2004 after 10.Be2? Bb4 11.Rc1 Qa5 12.O-O Nxc3 13.bxc3 Bxc3 Black had a winning advantage. 10.Nd2! is accurate.

[White "Lajthajm, Borko"]
[Black "Aleksandrov, Aleksej"]
[Site "Budva"]
[Date "2003.??.??"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 {Semi-Slav} 5. Bg5 h6 { Semi-Slav / Moscow} 6. Bh4 {Semi-Slav / Moscow / Anti-Moscow Gambit} dxc4 7. e4 g5 8. Bg3 b5 9. e5 $5 Nd5 10. Nd2 Bb7 11. Be2 Nd7 12. O-O Qb6 { Typical development.} 13. Nde4 c5 $1 {This is a really opportune time for this pawn break. Black can't continue to develop with Bg7 due to Nd6+, and he has no need to castle immediately with O-O-O.} 14. dxc5 Bxc5 15. a4 Nxc3 16. Nxc3 a6 17. axb5 axb5 18. Rxa8+ Bxa8 { All these liquidations should benefit Black, who is still up a pawn.} 19. Bf3 Bc6 $1 {A brilliant call. Bxf3 Qxf3 may liquidate even further, but it also cedes the a8-h1 diagonal to the enemy queen, leaving Black on the defensive for the near future. The rest of this game is probably not theoretically important.} 20. Qe2 Ke7 21. h4 Bd4 22. Bxc6 Qxc6 23. hxg5 hxg5 24. Rd1 Bxc3 25. bxc3 Nc5 26. Qe3 Rh5 27. Qe2 Rh8 28. Qg4 Ne4 29. Rd4 Qa8 $1 (29... Nxc3 30. Qxg5+ Kf8 31. Rd8+ $18) 30. Qf3 f5 (30... b4 $1 31. cxb4 c3 32. Rd1 c2 33. Re1 Rc8) 31. exf6+ Nxf6 32. Bd6+ Kf7 33. Qe2 Rh4 34. Rd1 Qh8 35. f3 Rh1+ 36. Kf2 Rxd1 37. Qxd1 Nd5 38. Bb4 Qh4+ 39. Kg1 Qf4 0-1

An early 9.Be2 is the most flexible move, but 9.e5!? and 9.Ne5!? are also interesting options White could use as a surprise.


Chessaholic said...

whoa! good stuff man. I really need to get RSS feeds set up so I can be sure to see good posts like this right away.

I've been studying the semi-slav as well (for a relatively short time). I really love the Botvinnik variation but unfortunately I don't get to it very often because my opponents will deviate. I haven't studied the Moscow variation much even though I realize it's hot right now. So you stay up to date with NIC and Informant?

Chessaholic said...

I just realize I need to digest your previous two posts as well, preferably with a board in front of me. That'll be what I'm doing tonight :)

likesforests said...

Thanks... just plugging away trying to understand the key positions! Certain themes are becoming clearer. After I study a couple more model games I should be ready to generate a repertoire. Then I just need to learn the mainline Moscow. And some of those sideline openings. And then I'll be ready for field testing. ;)

Anonymous said...

Interesting, but difficult to read the green on black...