Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Anti-Moscow Gambit: 7th Moves

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4!?

The Anti-Moscow Gambit is a popular way for White to try to obtain an advantage against the Semi-Slav. 6...dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 is now forced, according to my openings books, but what if White deviates on move #7?

♦ 6...dxc4 7.a4?! - In the Slav, this is how White prevents Black from playing ...b5 and consolidating the extra pawn. That doesn't work in the Semi-Slav. 8.Bb4! 9.e3 (or most other moves) 9...b5 and due to the pin on the c3 knight, White can't prevent Black from consolidating the extra pawn.

[White "Arab, Adlane"]
[Black "Aleksandrov, Aleksej"]
[Site "Bled"]
[Date "2002.10.26"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. e3 b5 8. a4 c6 9. Be2 Nbd7 10. O-O Qb6 11. Qc2 Bb7 12. Rfd1 a6 13. e4 O-O 14. h3 c5 15. dxc5 Qxc5 16. Bg3 e5 17. Nd5 Nxd5 18. exd5 Rae8 19. axb5 axb5 20. Qf5 Bc8 21. d6 Re6 22. Qe4 Rfe8 23. Ra8 Nf6 24. Qc2 Qc6 25. Raa1 Bxd6 26. b3 Ne4 27. bxc4 b4 28. Rd3 Nc3 29. Ra5 Bb7 30. Bf1 Bc7 31. Qb2 0-1

When White castles, 10...Qb6 or 10...a6 are the proper counter-measures. While 10...Bxc3 also protects b5, that wastes the bishop pair.

After 13...O-O we have a position similar to the Semi-Slav : Anti-Moscow mainline except Black's king is tucked safely away behind his pawn wall and his dark-squared bishop is operating on a different diagonal.

Of course, White still had chances. 16.Bg3 threatened Bd6, provoking e5, allowing Nd5, provoking Nxd5, allowing exd5 (a passed pawn). Once the passer was squashed, White's hopes of a victory or draw were more or less extinguished.

♦ 6...dxc4 7.e3?! - After gambiting a pawn, White can't afford to play this slowly. Black doesn't have to weaken his kingside, and if/when White plays e3-e4, he's down a tempo.

[White "Cruz, Filemon"]
[Black "Granda Zuniga, Julio E"]
[Site "Arequipa"]
[Date "2003.12.06"]

1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. e3 b5 8. Be2 Bb7 9. O-O Be7 10. Ne5 Nbd7 11. Bg3 Nxe5 12. Bxe5 O-O 13. Bf3 Qb6 14. a4 Rad8 15. Qc2 Nd5 16. a5 Qa6 17. Ne4 Nb4 18. Qe2 Nd3 19. Ng3 c5 20. Bxb7 Qxb7 21. Qg4 g6 22. h4 Kh7 23. h5 g5 24. f4 f5 25. Qe2 gxf4 26. Bxf4 Rg8 27. Rf3 cxd4 28. Raf1 Rg4 29. Bxh6 Kxh6 30. exd4 Qd7 31. Rxf5 Rxg3 32. Qd2+ Bg5 0-1

Again, after 12...O-O White has minimal compensation for the pawn. White's seemingly half-hearted attempts to crack open Black's kingside share blame for the loss.

♦ 6...dxc4 7.Bxf6? - Trash. White doesn't save his pawn with 6.Bxf6, then gives up his bishop pair with 7.Bxf6.

♦ 6...dxc4 7.Qa4? - Trash. Now 7...b5! comes with tempo.

♦ 6...dxx4 7.Ne4?! - White's playing in an aggressive manner... but again... no pawns on e4 and g5 mean inadequate compensation for the pawn.

[White "Rogule, Laura"]
[Black "Le Kieu Thien, Kim"]
[Site "Mallorca"]
[Date "2004.10.28"]

1. c4 c6 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 d5 4. d4 dxc4 5. Ne5 e6 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 b5 8. g4 Nbd7 9. Bg2 Bb7 10. Nxc6 Qb6 11. d5 Bc5 12. O-O O-O 13. b4 cxb3 14. Qxb3 Rac8 15. e4 Nxg4 16. Rad1 Bxc6 17. dxc6 Nde5 18. h3 Ng6 19. Bg3 N4e5 20. c7 Qxc7 21. Kh1 a6 22. Ne2 Qb6 23. f4 Nc4 24. f5 Nge5 25. f6 g6 26. Bf4 Be3 27. Bh2 Rfd8 28. Nf4 Rxd1 29. Rxd1 Nd2 30. Qb2 Nec4 31. Qc2 Qd4 32. Ne2 Qxf6 33. e5 Qe7 34. Ng3 Rd8 35. Re1 Qh4 36. Re2 Bf4 37. Be4 Nxe4 38. Nxe4 Bxh2 39. Nf6+ Kg7 40. Kxh2 Nxe5 41. Rf2 Rd3 42. Ne8+ Kh8 0-1

After beginning as a Slav, the game transposed into an Anti-Moscow Gambit. Both sides played some inaccuracies in the opening--perhaps it's neither player's pet line... but after 12.O-O White had an uphill battle for the same reason as in the previous games. White fought back tenaciously and was getting close to a draw until around move 21.

So 7.e4! is White's only real move, not only staking a claim to the center, but also forcing Black to weaken his kingside after either 7...g5 8.Bg3 b5 or 7...b5 8.e5 g5.

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