Monday, 18 March 2019

046. Creating Problems

White: J. Shepley - C&DCCC Sinclair Trophy, 2019

As mentioned in Game 9: “I once wrote an article on 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 f5!? (the Calabrese Counter-Gambit) for a special issue of Tim Harding's magazine Chess Mail (May 1997).” The same article also had brief analysis of a variation I dubbed ‘The Calabrese Counter-Gambit Deferred’, in that it goes 1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 and if 3 Bc4 then 3...f5!?.

This can transpose to the Calabrese itself if, as usually occurs, White responds with 4 d3. But there some independent lines, and I gave a couple of paragraphs on 4 exf5 and 4 Bxg8. The latter of those I appear to have mangled:

“(b) 4 Bxg8 Rxg8 5 d3 (5 Qh5+ g6 6 Qxh7 Rg7 7 Qh3 fxe4 or 7 Qh8 Nd4) 5...d5 6 Qe2? (6 Qh5+ g6 7 fxg6 Rxg6 8 Qxh7 Qf6) 6...Bxf5 7 Nf3 Qd6 8 Bd2 0-0-0 Bixby-Curt, USA 1904 (via 2 Bc4 f5).”

Obviously 5 d3 d5 doesn't make any sense. It should have been 5 exf5 d5, but then 8...Qf6 (in the second bracket) drops the d5-pawn; and I can't find any reference to Bixby-Curt elsewhere, after either 5 d3 or 5 exf5. My original file in fact gives (respectively) 5 exf5 and 8...Bxf5 (Stockfish says 8...Qg5 is better) and doesn't mention “Bixby-Curt” at all. Okay, this was back in the day when we were – or I was – still typing stuff manually into word processor programs instead of entering them in ChessBase files. Mangling was an occupational hazard.

At least the bracketed 5 Qh5+ etc seems to be correct. My own file carried this further: 5...g6 6 Qxh7 Rg7 7 Qh8 Nd4 “-/+” 8 Kd1 (8 d3 f4) 8...Qg5 9 Qh3 (9 g3 fxe4 10 Nxe4 Qf5) 9...d5! 10 Qg3 (10 Nxd5 fxe4; 10 Nf3 Nxf3 11 Qxf3 fxe4) 10...Qh5+ 11 f3 fxe4 12 Nxd5 Rf7 “-+”. Stockfish doesn't have much of significance to add to that. And in the game below, played over 20 years later, my opponent made only four more moves before resigning.

Returning to the opening, I find it a little odd that 3...f5!? hasn't been seen more in chess praxis. MegaBase 2018 has just five games (dating back to I.Rabinovich-A.Flamberg, Triberg 1914), despite Black scoring 4/5. CCDatabase 2018 has another three, with Black scoring 2½/3. In total that's 6½/8 (81.25%) for Black. Even if we add the moves 4 d3 Nf6
5 Nf3, as recommended in Ovetchkin & Soloviov's book The Modern Vienna Game (Chess Stars 2015), and which can arise via various move orders, the figures are still in Black's favour: P51 W28 D5 L18 (59.8%).

I guess it's the professional mindset. After 1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Black can play simply 3...Nf6 4 d3 Na5 and has no problems. Whereas for us non-professionals, “no problems” may be less appealing. Personally, I'm willing to weigh potential problems (for me) against practical problems (for my opponents). And if they solve theirs, then I have to solve mine. But if they don't...

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