Sunday, 29 November 2020

066. Can I Still Draw?

White: afms - all-play-all tournament,, 2018

Perhaps the most important question to ask about provocative openings is whether, should your opponent find (or know) good moves, you'll still be able to draw. An affirmative answer means you can essay that opening with confidence, ready to conduct a difficult defence if required or, more frequently, have your fun when it isn't. An answer to the contrary means you're essentially playing Hope Chess. In that case you'll need both to fake confidence and be prepared even so to take the occasional hit.

Colours are naturally a factor. As White you have considerable leeway to play suboptimally while remaining within the drawing zone, supposing you regard a draw as a satisfactory result. As Black a draw is theoretically theoretically acceptable, but the margins are tighter. A couple of inferior moves, especially in an open position, can mean you're losing right off the bat. I don't like to lose.

And yet I do like quarrelsome openings, particularly as Black. Here's a case in point: the Two Knights Defence with 4 d3. White refuses the confrontation posed by 3...Nf6 and simply defends the e-pawn, aiming for a slower, more positional game. Okay, we can go along with that, aiming to equalize after 4...Bc5, 4...Be7, or even 4...h6, all of which I've played on numerous occasions.

On the other hand, if you eventually end up wondering why you're bothering, you might be tempted just to push 4...d5. It's the sort of move you want to make with one finger. That's what I think of your opening. Pah.

Of course, breaking in the centre is very thematic. The downside to doing so so soon is that the e5-pawn is left exposed. And if White is unphased by your aggression and goes and takes it off, what then? Then we must show we can still draw.

From the diagram: 9...Bxf2+! 10 Kxf2 Qh4+ 11 Kf1 (11 Kg1?? Qd4+ is a not completely obvious trap) 11...Qf6+ 12 Qf3 Qxe5 13 Bxd5 c6, followed by 14...Qxh2, leads to an obscure non-Italian middlegame with rook and pawn vs. bishop and knight. Yes, the minor pieces ought to favour White at this stage – certainly Stockfish thinks so. Nonetheless, my score is P5 W1 D4 L0. Lost nil. It's not always easy, but it seems Black can still draw. The game below is a typical example.

At the finish, 33...Kh7 34 Bf6 Rexf6 35 Nxf6+ Rxf6 36 Rxh4+ Kg7 37 Rh3 Rg6 38 Kf1 c5 39 Ke2 f5 40 Kf3 Rb6 was one way to reach a drawn ending.

No comments:

Post a Comment