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Alle Rechte vorbehalten. Rev. 1.0 - 14.06.2003
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IM Gary Lane...

... about the merits of giving away a pawn for nothing

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This month inquiries from around the world continue to be answered and the solution to one is to choose a fantasy. Readers from Australia, England, Tunisia and USA want to know more about the openings. As usual, the final question covers a subject that is rarely covered in other columns and this time it is about the merits of giving away a pawn for nothing.

Martin Alvin (England) wants to play a gambit but has little co-operation from his opponents. "I have played the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit a little. One problem for white is that after 1 d4 d5 2 e4, Black can play e6 which forces white into the dreaded French Defence! Another line I came across was: 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 e4 Nxe4!? This looks daft, but after 4 Nxe4 dxe4, it is not obvious how White gains an advantage. The black pawn on e4 is very annoying and is difficult to shift. Maybe 5 f3... should be played in the spirit of the gambit?"

The line featuring 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 e4 Nxe4 4 Nxe4 dxe4 causing the problem is known to Blackmar-Diemer Gambit players as the Hübsch Variation after the game Hübsch - Tartakower, Vienna 1922. The idea is that after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 e4 Nxe4 4 Nxe4 dxe4 Black has exchanged off a potentially attacking piece in the form of the queen's knight. The variation can still be awkward for Black and GM Joel Benjamin has lost to this tricky opening.

P. Theon - E. Girard  Bescanon 1999

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 e4 Nxe4 4 Nxe4 dxe4 (See Diagram)

5 Bc4... 5 f3... is well met by 5 ...e5 because 5 fxe4?... allows 5 ...Qh4+. 5 ...Bf5 6 g4... The Frenchman plays a move which is certainly in the spirit of this adventurous line. I also like 6 c3..., which offers White more options such as Qb3. In the game J. Fletcher - A. Powell, 4NCL (British league) 1999, Black returned the extra pawn but still came under attack: 6 ...Bg6 (6 ...Nc6? 7 Qb3 e6 8 Qxb7 Na5 9 Bb5+ Ke7 10 Qa6+- P. Aston - T. Thynne, Torquay 1990) 7 h4 e3 8 Bxe3 Be4 9 Nf3 e6 10 Rh3 Nc6 11 Qe2 Bxf3 12 Qxf3 Be7 13 Rg3 Bf6 14 Bg5 Bxg5 15 Rxg5 g6 16 d5 exd5 17 Bxd5 and White was better. 6 ...Bg6 7 Ne2 e5! Black deprives White of the f4 square for the knight. If 7 ...e6 then 8 h4 h6 9 Nf4 Bh7 10 g5 gives White an initiative. 8 Be3 Nd7 9 h4 h5 10 Ng3... White reveals his intention to round up the e4 pawn. 10 ...Nf6 11 gxh5 Nxh5 12 Qg4... 12 dxe5... is a possible alternative. 12 ...Qd6 12 ...exd4 is a sterner test of White's play. 13 0-0-0... (See Diagram)

13 ...Nxg3 14 dxe5 Ne2+ 15 Bxe2 Qe6 16 h5 Bh7 17 Qxe6+ fxe6 18 h6... White is doing well but now Black walks into a mating net. 18 ...gxh6? 19 Bh5+ Ke7 1-0

Earl Takasaki (USA) has an interesting question "In the Caro Kann after 3...dxe4 I've been playing 4 f3... with fairly good results after 4 ...exf3 (at club level). Are white's attacking chances enough compensation for the pawn?

After 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 f3 exf3 5 Nxf3... we have transposed into the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit and a variation called the Ziegler Defence. An annotated game can be found in my December column. If you are looking for another gambit against the Caro Kann then the following question might be of some interest.

Ben Harkness (England) wishes to know more about 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 f3 which can lead to sharp, entertaining positions. This is known as the Fantasy Variation and has been played by a number of top players.

G. Meszaros - C. Astengo  Ticino 1994
1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 f3...
(See Diagram)

This signals the start of the Fantasy Variation. 3 ...dxe4 Speelman recommends Black to decline the pawn. 4 fxe4 e5 5 Nf3... Of course, 5 dxe5... allows 5 ...Qh4+ when Black has a big advantage. 5 ...exd4 6 Bc4... White is no rush to take back on d4 and instead concentrates on targeting f7. 6 ...Be7 7 0-0 Be6 Black wishes to cut out the pressure on the f7 pawn. 7 ...Nf6 has been played a number of times followed swiftly by Black resigning. For instance: 8 Ng5 0-0 9 Nxf7! Rxf7 10 Bxf7+ Kxf7 11 e5... and White won material in T. Wall - D. Rej, Copenhagen 1995. In the game H. Klip - E. Knoppert, Netherlands Champ 1993, saw 7 ...Qa5 when White offered another pawn to secure a strong initiative after 8 b4 Qxb4 9 Ne5 Qc5 10 Bxf7+ Kd8 11 Nd3 Qa5 12 Nd2 Nf6 13 Nc4 Qa6 14 Nf4 c5 15 e5 Ne4 16 Qd3 Ng5 17 Bd5 g6 18 Rb1 Nc6 19 h4 Bf5 20 Qe2 Ne4 21 Bxe4 Bxe4 22 Qxe4 Qxc4 23 Rxb7 Rc8 24 Nd5 Re8 25 e6 Rf8 26 Rxf8+ Bxf8 27 Rd7+ 1-0. 8 Bxe6 fxe6 9 Nxd4 Qd7 10 Qh5+! Kd8 If 10 ...g6 then 11 Qe5... is very strong. 11 Be3... (See Diagram)

Meszaros continues with his development and Black is in trouble with his king looking vulnerable in the middle of the board. 11 Qe5... also looks good after 11 ...Bf6 12 Bg5. 11 ...Nf6 12 Qf7 Na6 13 Nxe6+ Kc8 14 Nc3... White has a big positional advantage although there is no immediate breakthrough. Therefore, it makes sense for Meszaros to activate his pieces. 14 ...Bd6 15 Qxd7+ Kxd7 16 Nxg7... White is two pawns up in an ending which provokes Black to try and upset matters. 16 ...Bxh2+ 17 Kxh2 Ng4+ 18 Kh3 Nxe3 19 Rf7+... The rook comes to the seventh rank starting a king hunt which makes a mockery of the attempted fight back which won a pawn for Black. 19 ...Kd6 20 Re1 Nxc2 21 Rd1+ Kc5 22 Rxb7 Rhb8 23 Na4+ Kc4 24 b3 mate ...

Gary Lane

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