Thursday, 31 October 2019

057. Not the Halloween Gambit

White: A. Faller - BCCL Premier Division, 1991

On October 31st I should be posting a game with the Halloween Gambit: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nxe5. There are two reasons why that isn't happening:

1. It's rubbish. After 4...Nxe5 5 d4 Ng6 6 e5 Ng8 7 Bc4, GM Bologan's straightforward 7...d5! 8 Bxd5 c6 9 Bb3 Be6 is just good for Black.

2. Although not deterred by rubbish (as you'll see below), I haven't actually played any games with the Halloween Gambit, from either side.

So, instead, here's a Belgrade Gambit: 4 d4 exd4 5 Nd5!?. My reply 5...Nb4!? was unusual at the time, and the follow-up 6 Bc4 Nfxd5!? 7 exd5 Qe7+ even more so.

My plan was to win a pawn after ...Qc5, which I duly achieved. Unfortunately, White's lead in development more than made up for it. (Bologan, in 2014, rightly preferred 6...Nbxd5 7 exd5 Bb4+!.)

Inevitably, Stockfish puts up a better defence than I managed – first of all with 8...d3! (which I saw, but it wasn't my plan) and then 12...Qd6! (which I never considered at all).
A few moves later, my opponent went very wrong himself with 16 Rh5?? (the preliminary 16 Bxh7+! wins), when I might have escaped with 16...g6 but rejected this because of 17 Rxh7 Kxh7 18 Qh5+, overlooking 17...Bf6!.

And following that fine display I soon obtained the CC-IM title. Perhaps I should have turned it down.