Sunday, 20 June 2021

070. A Line in a Book

White: verdi - all-play-all tournament,, 2021

I've not blogged for three months. The reason for my absence is that all my time and energy has been going into writing a book. A chess book. A repertoire for Black based on the disreputable openings that appear in this blog. Having very nearly finished it – just half a chapter to go – I'm taking a day off. And using it to write about chess some more right here. Insert rolling eyes emoji.

Well, anyway... one of those openings is 4...Qh4 in the Scotch, so the game below has particular relevance.

White's set-up with Re1 and Bg5 in the main line is one of the most testing. My previous (three) games with this all featured 11...Qf5. One I drew as White, two I won as Black – all well and good – but I wasn't very convinced with any of them. So this time I thought I'd try 11...Bd7, as in the 18th Top Chess Engine Championship Superfinal between LcZero and Stockfish. Although White won their game, I had a novelty in mind for Black.

My idea didn't fare any better. At a critical juncture, where the black king needs to defend himself and his infantry, it turns out he can't.

The desired 20...Kd7?? loses to 21 d5!, intending 21...c5 22 Qb5+ and mates. So I had to give up the extra pawn and then try to hold a major piece endgame with an exposed king and a lot of pawn weaknesses. I didn't manage it.

Due in no small part to precise play from my opponent, concluding in an impressive king march (Kh2-h3-g4-f5-f6-e7-d8-c7xc6-d5-e5) through counterfire from my own heavy artillery. In the final position Kxf5, or Qxh6, or both, would have followed, since 60...Qxh4 61 Qf6+ swaps queens for a trivial win.

Will this reverse put me off 4...Qh4 from now on? No, it won't. I've played it four times since, for (I'm hoping) three wins and a draw. It's simply that, sometimes, you just have to take the hit.