Reece Thompson Battles the Restless Queens

In the fourth round of the move first, think later, Ga Open, Reece Thompson faced the veteran Senior Alan Piper and once again faced the Caro-Kann defense, and again drew his f3 sword. The Pipe responded with the currently poplar 3…Qb6, which has scored the best for Black recently, holding White to an astounding 41%! White has scored 56% versus the choice of both SF & Houey, 3…e6. The third most played move, 3…g6, has scored 57%, while the second most played move, 3…dxe4 has been hammers to the tune of 66%!

In his new book, “The Extreme Caro-Kann: Attacking Black with 3. f3,” Alexey Bezgodov titles chapter four, “3…Qb6: The Restless Queen Variation.” Reece answered with the most popular move, 4 Nc3, which has held White to only 41%. Houdini prefers the little played 4 c3, which has held White to an astoundingly low 31%, albeit in a limited number of games. I have previously seen the set-up with c3 used when Black opts for g6. Alan took a pawn with 4…dxe4. There is much disagreement about how to recapture. In the book Bezgodov writes about 5 Nxe4, “I think taking with the pawn is better.” That may be so, but Komodo takes with the Knight, after which White has scored 50% in practice. SF takes with the pawn, 5 fxe4, after which White has scored only 36%. The Pipe then plays 5…e5, about which Bezdodov says, “The whole of Black’s play is based n the possibility of this counterblow. Otherwise he is simply worse.” Reece played 6 Nf3, the most frequently played move, which also happens to be the choice of both SF & Houey, but it has only scored 32%! GM Larry Christiansen played 6 dxe5, a move not for the faint of heart, but possibly the best move, against GM Joel Benjamin at the 2010 US Championship. In a limited number of games Larry C’s move has scored far better, 54%, than 6 Nf3, which is not discussed in the book. After 6…exd4 one Stockfish plays 7 Nxd4, while the other SF plays 7 Qxd4. My antiquated Houdi plays the latter move. The Pipe responded with ‘s 7…Nf6. At this point Reece played a TN, 8 Bc4. The usual move, 8 e5, is also the choice of SF. Alan responded to the new move with 8…Bc5, with advantage. 8…Bg4 is the first choice of both Houdini & Komodo. After the young man checked the Queen with 9 Na4, the older veteran played 9…Qb4, when both Komodo & Houdini prefer 9…Qa5+. Like Lewis & Clark, the players were now exploring new territory.

Reece Thompson (2116) vs Alan Piper (2055)
Georgia Open Rd 4 Hurry up time control
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Qb6 4. Nc3 dxe4 5. fxe4 e5 6. Nf3 exd4 7. Nxd4 Nf6 8. Bc4 Bc5 9. Na4 Qb4 10. c3 Qxc4 11. b3 Qa6 12. Nxc5 Qb6 13. Na4 Qc7 14. O-O O-O 15. Bf4 Qa5 16. Bd6 Re8 17. e5 Ne4 18. Qf3 Nxd6 19. exd6 f6 20. Rae1 Rf8 21. Re7 c5 22. Qg3 g6 23. Qh4 h5 24. Rxf6 Bg4 25. Rxf8 1-0

Nikita Vitiugov (2555) – Lasha Janjgava (2479)
B12 Sevan Blue

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Qb6 4. Nc3 dxe4 5. fxe4 e5 6. Nf3 exd4 7. Nxd4 Bc5 8. Na4 Qa5+ 9. c3 Be7 10. b4 Qe5 11. Bd3 Nf6 12. O-O O-O 13. Bf4 Qh5 14. Qe1 Re8 15. Qg3 Nbd7 16. e5 Nd5 17. Nf5 Bf8 18. Bh6 g6 19. Bxf8 Nxf8 20. Nd6 Re7 21. Rae1 b6 22. Ne4 Qh6 23. Nb2 b5 24. Bc2 Be6 25. Bb3 a5 26. bxa5 Rxa5 27. Nd3 Kh8 28. Ndc5 Raa7 29. Nd6 Qg7 30. Qf2 Ra8 31. Qd4 Nc7 32. Qh4 g5 33. Qd4 Ng6 34. Nxe6 Nxe6 35. Qb6 1-0

Mr. Thompson faced yet another Caro-Kann in the sixth round and his opponent once again had a restless Queen. Neo chose the wrong color pill.

Reece Thompson (2116) vs Neo Zhu (1780)
Georgia Open Rd 6

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Qb6 4. Nc3 e6 5. a3 Nf6 6. Bf4 Be7 7. Nh3 h6 8. Be2 Nbd7 9. O-O Nh5 10. Be3 Nhf6 11. Qd2 Nf8 12. e5 N6d7 13. f4 c5 14. Kh1 a6 15. f5 cxd4 16. Bxd4 Qd8 17. Bh5 exf5 18. Nf4 Nb8 19. Ncxd5 Bg5 20. Bb6 Bxf4 21. Rxf4 Qd7 22. Nc7 Ke7 23. Qb4 Kd8 24. Ne6 Ke8 25. Nxg7 1-0

Once again Reese plays a TN with 6 Bf4. SF plays 6 e5, which could be considered the “normal” move.

Yangyi Yu ( 2585) vs Weiqi Zhou (2585)
Danzhou 1st 2010

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 e6 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Bf4 Qb6 6. a3 c5 7. Qd2 cxd4 8. Nb5 Na6 9. O-O-O Bd7 10. Nxd4 dxe4 11. fxe4 Nc5 12. Ngf3 Ncxe4 13. Qe1 Bc5 14. b4 Bd6 15. Bxd6 Nxd6 16. Ne5 Rd8 17. g4 h6 18. Bg2 Ba4 19. h4 Nb5 20. Nxb5 Rxd1+ 21. Qxd1 Bxb5 22. Kb1 Nd7 23. Nxd7 Bxd7 24. Rh3 Ke7 25. Rd3 Rd8 26. Qd2 Bc6 27. Bxc6 Rxd3 28. Qxd3 Qxc6 29. Qd4 Qh1+ 30. Kb2 b6 31. Qe5 Qd5 32. Qxg7 e5 33. g5 hxg5 34. Qxg5+ Ke6 35. Qg4+ Kf6 36. Qg5+ Ke6 37. Qg4+ Kf6 38. Qg5+ Ke6 39. Qg4+ 1/2-1/2

Yes – I’ve Seen All Good People

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Would You Take the Pawn?

Imagine you are the General of the black pieces and reach the following position in the opening:
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 f5 4. Nc3 fxe4 5. fxe4 dxe4 6. Nxe4 Nf6 7. Bd3

Would you take the proffered pawn? Cogitate on the answer a few moments until we come back to it.

Chess players have a style. The choices a player makes signals his style, whether or not he is aware of this fact. Humans communicate with not just what they say, but how they say it. Chess players also communicate, giving information to their opponent not only not only with what they play, but what they do not play.
For decades I have used a position with students in order to discern what type of player he may be. I have also shown the position to groups of students on a demo board, and listened to some lively discussions as each student tries to justify their answer. It is also very useful as a way to teach that in chess it is sometimes possible that there can be more than one way to skin a rabbit. It is from a standard opening, the Caro-Kann. The position arises after the standard opening moves of, 1 e4 c6 2 d4 3 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nf6 5 Nxf6. With which pawn do you capture the Knight?

Statistics show that after capturing with the e-pawn Black draws far more than when capturing with the g-pawn, but also wins much less. Such a simple choice says something about a players style.
Most players would choose one move or the other. The Legendary Georgia Ironman is one of the few who has played both captures, but his predominant choice has been 5…exf6, which is better suited to his style. During a recent conversation about openings Tim mentioned something about liking the Berlin because, “It suits my style.” I would much prefer to undergo waterboarding by Darth Cheney than be forced to sit behind the Berlin. The move 5…exf6 is anathema to me. I cringe at the thought of ever having to play such a move. On the other hand, my eyes light up and become filled with fire at the prospect of playing 5…gxf6! This move opens the g-file, giving the black General something with which to work. It also follows the principle of capturing toward the center, whereas the capture 5…exf6 leaves the black General with an ugly pawn structure with the future prospect of long hours of laboriously striving to hold an inferior position. Where is the fun in that?

The game in question is the first one in the first chapter, “Rare Continuations,” of “The Extreme Caro-Kann: Attacking black with 3. f3,” by Alexey Bezgodov.

Paul Kuijpers (2074) – Harry Van der Stap Sr
Vlissingen HZ op 8th 2004

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 f5 4. Nc3 fxe4 5. fxe4 dxe4 6. Nxe4 Nf6 7. Bd3
Here the author writes, “A well-founded pawn sacrifice, which Black dare not accept.” I closed the book to sit there for some time thinking about the position, finally coming to the conclusion that I would take the pawn. Then I wondered if this position could also provide a clue into a players style. It is well-known that Bobby Fischer had a fondness for taking material and defending that choice with “machine like defense.” This could be one reason GM Mark Taimanov, in answer to the question, “Do you think that you had chances of winning your match against Bobby Fischer?” answered, “It was the first time I was encountering not a playing partner, but a computer that didn’t make mistakes.” (http://www.chessclub.org/news.php?n=678)

Inquiring minds want to know, so I put the position into my now antiquated Houdi, as I now think of it, dropping the “ni” since it has been passed by Stockfish and Komodo. Houdi took the pawn and it is not close. Taking the pawn leaves Black with an even game, whereas Houdi’s second choice, 7…Nxe4, gives White an advantage of 2/3 of a pawn. Not taking did not turn out well for the General of the Black pieces in this game: 7…Nbd7 8. Bg5 Qc7 9. Qe2 Nxe4 10. Bxe4 Qa5+ 11. Bd2 Qb5 12. Qxb5 cxb5 13. Bd3 a6 14. Nf3 Nf6 15. O-O e6 16. Rfe1 Be7 17. Ng5 Nd5 18. Nxe6 Kf7 19. Ng5+ Bxg5 20. Bxg5 h6 21. Rf1+ 1-0

The Andrew Sisters & Bing Crosby-Accentuate The Positive