Sicilian experiment: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4?!

by ChessBase
6/4/2022 – At the Tata Steel Masters 2022 Jorden van Foreest got the opportunity to conduct a long-planned opening experiment: In the Sicilian with 2.Nc6 he surprised his opponent Praggnanandhaa with 3.Bc4?! "Finally, here it was. There aren't all that many good reasons for why I like the move, the main probably being the fact that it looks so stupid :-)", writes the young Dutchman at the beginning of his analysis in the new CBM Extra #207. And the game continued no less exceptionally: after 3...e6 4.0-0 d5 5.Bb5! dxe4 6.Ne5 Qc7 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.Bc4! White hast lost a pawn and moved his bishop three times in the opening! In the end, with a bit of luck, Van Foreest still won the game. It's "The brillancy" in CBM Extra #207. On top of that, the new edition offers no less than 56 annotated games and over an hour of video training with Elisabeth Pähtz and Ivan Sokolov.

ChessBase Magazine Extra 207 ChessBase Magazine Extra 207

Videos: Elisabeth Paehtz presents one of her favourite weapons against the Gruenfeld. Ivan Sokolov shows a comfortable way to gain an advantage against the Budapest Gambit. "Lucky bag" with 57 analyses by Jorden van Foreest, Nijat Abasov, Igor Stohl et al

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CBM Extra #207: The brilliancy 

Jorden van Foreest – Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (Tata Steel Masters Wijk aan Zee, 17.01.2022)

Jorden van Foreest comments.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4

I had been wanting to play this move for a long time already but hadn't gotten the chance. Finally, here it was. There aren't all that many good reasons for why I like the move, the main probably being the fact that it looks so stupid :-)

3...e6 4.0–0 d5 5.Bb5! Another surprising move! Mainly with the point being to confuse the opponent. It seems that White is just playing a Rossolimo a tempo down, but in fact ...d7–d5 has its drawbacks as well. Later, on the internet, I found out that this position is a Nimzo Indian reversed (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3) with Black having played ...e6–e5 instead which I thought is quite funny as well.

5...dxe4 Principled, although by no means the only way of playing.

6.Ne5 Qc7 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.Bc4!

So White has lost a pawn and moved his bishop trice in the opening. That must be one of the worst outcomes of the openings one would think. Yet, things are not altogether clear as White has a clear structural advantage and Black actually must act swiftly.

8...Bd6 9.Kh1 Another somewhat surprising way of defending against ...Bxh2+, although this one already makes a bit of sense. In many cases White would like to play f2–f3 after Which the king will be doing well on h1.

9...Nf6 10.Nc3 e5 My opponent plays very well and is in fact following the first line of the computer. Here, Black opens up the diagonal to bring out the bishop to f5 since his pawn on e4 is to be attacked.

11.f3! Seeing as there is no other way to increase the pressure on e4 White gives up the pawn to open the gates for his pieces to spring into action.

11...exf3 12.Qxf3 0–0 13.d3 Be6?!

Only after this move, I was out of preparation. While my opponent was thinking I had a feeling he might play this one. Although it ruins his pawn structure for good, he does get a pretty outpost for his knight on d5 and can fight for the half-open f-file. - 13...Kh8! is probably best, although it is quite an odd move. The idea is that Black gets his king out of the pin and can potentially drop back the knight to g8 if need be.

14.Bxe6 fxe6 15.Bg5 Qd7?! I had not been expecting this and had mainly focussed my attention on 15...Nd5, after which some long forcing lines can ensue. With the text, my opponent wants to protect e6 first, but it strikes me as too slow. - 15...Nd5 16.Qg4 Nxc3 17.Qxe6+ Kh8 18.bxc3 e4 19.Qxe4 Bxh2 20.Be7 Rxf1+ 21.Rxf1 Bd6 22.Bxd6 Qxd6 I had been trying to evaluate such a type of position, and was not entirely sure how big my advantage really would be here.

16.Bxf6?!

During the game I thought that this exchange would be in my favour, as there will be no more ...Nd5's to worry about and I can easily position my pieces on good squares now. As it turns out, it was probably better not to repair my opponent's pawn structure and to fall back with 16.Qe2 instead, retaining all the positional plusses of my position.

16...gxf6 17.Ne4 f5?! Too hasty, as now the pawns become too vulnerable once again.

17...Be7 was the best move, and only then to slowly prepare ... f6–f5. I had considered this move in my calculations and thought I would be better after the transfer of my knight to c4, but this transpires not to be quite true. 18.Nd2 The plan is to deprive my opponent of any ...c5–c4 and ...-f6–f5 pushes, but at the same time White has very few plans as well, e.g.: 18...Kh8 19.Nc4 Rg8 20.Rae1 Rg6 21.Re2 Rag8 Black has coordinated his pieces in a good way, and the position is around equal.

18.Nxd6 18.Nd2 was another interesting option since ...e5 is an easy target here, but the heavy piece endgame seemed too tempting for me not to go for.

18...Qxd6 19.Rae1

White is down a pawn, but the Black structure is so weak I felt I must be much better. In fact, things are not so simple and the game is still quite close to equality as Black can often give back his pawn in order to simplify the position.

19...f4 During the game I had been expecting this one as well, since at least Black will be able to protect from f5 with his rook now and Qg3+ is stopped. However, there was another very interesting option. - 19...Kh8! I had seen this, but deemed it not to be good after 20.Qe3 But in fact, Black can simplify to a drawish endgame with 20...c4! 21.Qxe5+ Qxe5 22.Rxe5 cxd3 23.cxd3 Rfe8=

20.Re4 Rab8 A clever way by my opponent to bring the rook into the game and block the 4th rank.

21.b3 Rb4 22.Rfe1 Rf5 23.Qe2

Forcing Black to exchange the rooks after which I can use the 4th rank again to target the black pawns via a4.

23...Rxe4 24.Qg4+!? A cute move, which allows me to recapture on e4 with the rook, rather than the queen. 24.dxe4 would have been quite interesting as well, as White now has the d-file to work with, but I really did not want to close the e-file. 24...Rf8 25.Rd1 Qe7 26.Qg4+ Kh8 27.Qh5 Qg7 and Black should hold as there is no real way to increase the pressure.

24...Kh8?! The most logical move, but as it appears it is not too good as the king will be locked up here. There was no real danger in going to the centre, from where the king can assist in the protection of the weak pawns.

24...Kf7 25.Rxe4 Qd8! 26.Ra4 a5 Somehow Black has everything under control!

25.Rxe4 f3?

Having been under pressure for a long time, my opponent decides to force things and hopes to create some counterplay. However, there is no real counterplay, and the opening of the position only plays into White's hands. Had Black simply waited it is unclear whether White can break through. One of the plans I had was the eventual transfer of the king the queen-side followed by opening up a front on the king-side.

26.gxf3 Qf8 27.Qg3!

Tying Black's rook to the defence of the e-file.

27...h6 28.Kg2 Protecting the only weakness. I felt I was doing much better here, maybe close to winning. The engine evaluation is already astronomically high and in the neighbourhood of +5!

28...Qf6 29.Rg4 Kh7 30.Qh4 Black could take on f3, but it would be no tasty pawn as all his pawns on the other side of the board would fall.

30...Qxh4 30...Rxf3 31.Qxf6 Rxf6 32.Rc4 etc.

31.Rxh4

Rf4! A ingenious defence by my opponent, attempting to keep my rook out. Still, there are too many inroads into the black position and the defences can not hold.

32.Rg4 32.Rxf4 exf4 would be a surprising draw, as my king can not infiltrate into the enemy camp.

32...h5 33.Rg5 Rf5 Once again offering the rook trade. I spent a lot of time here attempting to calculate the king and pawn endgame to a win. The difference being that compared to a couple moves ago White can open things up with f3–f4. I could not calculate everything to the end however and finally decided to not risk it.

34.Rg3 34.Rxf5 As it turns out, the pawn endgame was in fact winning, although accuracy is needed. 34...exf5 35.f4 exf4 36.h4! Kg6 37.Kf3 Kf6 38.Kxf4 Ke6 Black has to let the White king in eventually anyway. (38...a5 39.a4 Ke6 40.Kg5) 39.Kg5 Ke5 40.Kxh5 Kf4 (40...Kf6!? I had seen this resource in my calculations and thought I may in fact be losing here. What I had forgotten is that I am not forced to go Kh6 by any means and can just wait for Black to let my king out again. 41.c3 a6 42.a3 a5 43.a4) 41.Kg6 Kg4 42.h5 f4 43.h6 f3 44.h7 f2 45.h8Q f1Q 46.Qh5+ Kg3 47.Qxc5 With an easily winning queen endgame.

34...Rf4 35.Kf2 Rf7 36.Rg5 Rf5 37.Rg1 c4!?

Creative defence once again. There was no time to allow Re1–Re4 with an easy conversion.

38.dxc4?! This does not throw anything away, but 38.bxc4 would have been simpler as White will use the f3+e4 pawns to queen.38.bxc4 e4 39.dxe4 Ra5 40.Ke3 Rxa2 41.Kd4 Rxc2 42.Ke5 Rxh2 43.Kxe6 Shows a real difference in the quality of the pieces, as the 2 connected passers in the centre are way stronger than the passed pawns of Black on the sides of the board.

38...e4 39.Rg3 h4 40.Rh3 Kg6 41.Ke3 exf3 42.Rxf3 Despite my slight inaccuracies White is still up a full pawn to the good and the win is only a matter of time.

42...Ra5 43.a4 Re5+ 44.Kd3 Rg5 45.b4 Rg1 46.b5 c5 47.a5 Rd1+ 48.Ke4 Activating the king is often key in (rook) endgames, and here it will help promote the b-pawn.

48...Rd4+ 49.Ke5 Rxc4 50.b6 axb6 51.axb6 Rxc2 52.Rb3! With the rook behind the b-pawn there is no more stopping it.

52...c4 53.Rb1 c3 54.b7 Re2+ 55.Kd4 c2 56.Rg1+ 1–0

ChessBase Magazine Exta #207

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ChessBase Magazine Extra #207

Opening videos

Ivan Sokolov: An idea vs. the Budapest Gambit

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.e3

The Budapest Gambit is especially popular in club-level chess. That White should objectively get the better game seems clear. But by what means? If White gets involved in the main variations after 4.Bf4 or 4.Nf3, there is a large amount of theory to deal with. In his video Ivan Sokolov recommends the alternative 4.e3 followed by 4...Nxe5 5.f4! - an idea recently brought to his attention by his friend, Ivan Salgado. Black must now move again with the knight, either to g6 or to c6. In his video analysis Sokolov first explains how White arrives at a comfortable and clearly advantageous position after 5...Sg6 6.Sc3 Lb4 7.Sge2 a5 8.a3 Le7 9.Sg3. After the more obvious 5...Nc6 White has the choice of continuing with 6.Nc3 or 6.Nf3.

Elisabeth Pähtz: Gruenfeld Defence Fianchetto Variation with 10.h3

Germany's strongest WGM introduces you to one of her favourite weapons against the Gruenfeld Defence. After the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nb6 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.e3 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 Elisabeth Pähtz proposes to continue with 10.h3. For a better overview, she has divided the different variations into four videos.

Video 1: 10…a5 11.d5 Ne5 –  video playing time: 06:15 min
Video 2: 10…a5 11.d5 Nb4 – video playing time: 10:27 min
Video 3: 10…Be6 –  video playing time: 04:28 min
Video 4 - The main line: 10…e5 11.d5 Na5 12.Qc2 –  video playing time: 19:59 min

Jorden van Foreest contributes "The brilliancy" of this edition. At the Tata Steel Masters 2022, the young Dutchman conducted an opening experiment against Praggnanandhaa: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4?! "I had wanted to play this move for a long time, but had not yet had the opportunity. Finally the time had come. There are not too many good reasons why I like the move, the main one is probably that it looks so stupid. :-)" Van Foreest explains. But things continued no less surprising after that: 3...e6 4.0-0 d5 5.Bb5! dxe4 6.Ne5 Qc7 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.Bc4! made the following position arise on the board:

"So White has lost a pawn and moved his bishop three times in the opening. ..." A very original game with many illuminating comments and a happy outcome for the Dutchman in the end!

In addition to that game, no fewer than 56 other games with detailed annotations await you in the "Lucky bag"! Among them are analyses by Nijat Abasov, Michal Krasenkow, Igor Stohl, Spyridon Kapnisis and many others.

And last but not least: the “Update Service” provides over 48,000 new games for your database!

Once again, almost the entire world's top players are represented!

The games of the Update Service are also included in the Mega Update Service 2022, which you can use with the ChessBase 15/16 programmes (and a corresponding subscription).

New: ChessBase Magazin Extra #207

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