Sunday, 9 February 2020

059. The King Goes For a Stroll

White: Honeybunch - all-play-all tournament,, 2019

I used to try and defend the main lines of the Max Lange: 8 Re1+ Be6 9 Ng5 Qd5 10 Nc3 Qf5 11 Nce4 0-0-0 12 g4 Qe5 and so on. But that was a long time ago. Because...

Well, the positions are extremely complicated and – worse – it means playing on White's turf. I never like doing that. So I switched to the sideline 8...Kf8!?, as in ‘The King Steps Sideways’.

One slight annoyance is that White can pre-empt the king move by taking on g7 at once. Then theory runs 8 fxg7 Rg8 9 Bg5 Be7 10 Bxe7 Kxe7 (best) 11 Re1+ Be6 12 Re4 with more complications, again on White's turf. I don't much like that either.

I'm sure you'll have noticed the common factor in those two lines. Black blocks a rook check on e1 by sensibly developing the light-squared bishop to e6.

Right, so we won't do that after 8 fxg7 either. Instead, we'll send the king on a little walk: out to f6, capture the pawn on g7, and then drop back into the corner.

And it turns out that the king can stroll this path in blithe serenity — as long as the queen is ready to rush back and forth ensuring his safety: 15...Qg5, 17...Qd8! (a key novelty), 19...Qf6 (19...Nxf4? is far too greedy), 20...Qxb2, 21...Qg7, 23...Qxc3 and the various traps and tribulations – which concerned the king not at all – are finally past.

Caution: Special Agent Queen needs to be thoroughly prepared for her protection duties before being deployed in the field.

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