Friday, August 8, 2014

King's gambit with Bc4

Many clubplayers still play today regularly the king's gambit despite the dubious reputation. The exact evaluation of the positions is for those amateurs less important than getting a complex position on the board in which uncompromising chess can be played. Therefore I still don't understand very well which market John Shaw with his monumental book about the King's gambit wants to tap. 680 pages counts the book so clearly no simple literature in which an amateur will peek when having a break. I recently asked Ben of the denksportkampioen how many copies he already sold and if I remember well then it were about 15. That is not much for a quality-book (which it surely is) but it does correspond to the number of players which I esteem not only aspiring uncompromising chess but also are an adept of the King's gambit.
Naturally the book got a lot of attention in reviews on the internet. Most comments were rightly discussing the refutation which the author found against the Bc4 line of the King's gambit. Former-worldchampion Robert James Fischer played this opening with white several times so I was curious what exactly was discovered. Opening-books I still don't buy but thanks to chesspub I was able to get a pretty good idea of where the hot potatoes were. Below a summary of the most important lines.
[Event "CL/2012/B2"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2012.10.15"] [White "Eberl, Hans-Christian"] [Black "Craciuneanu, Viorel"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2334"] [BlackElo "2463"] [PlyCount "114"] [WhiteTeam "Schlechter’s Erben"] [BlackTeam "Chimia Ramnicu Valcea"] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Bc4 Nc6 {(John Shaw considers this the refutation of Bc4. In my analysis of 2010 I recommended Nf6 as strongest continuation without proving any advantage for black.)} 4. d4 (4. Nf3 g5 5. O-O d6 6. d4 h6 7. c3 Bg7 8. Qa4 {(The German FM Stefan Bucker thinks this move could also refute Johns claim but I have my doubts.)} Bd7 9. Qb3 Na5 10. Bxf7 Ke7 11. Qa3 Kxf7 12. Qxa5 c5 13. Qa3 Qc7 14. Qb3 Kg6 15. Na3 Re8 {(Stefan only mentions Ne7 on chesspub.)} 16. Re1 Ne7 17. Bd2 a6 18. Rad1 Nc6 19. Qc2 b5 20. Qd3 c4 21. Qf1 Kh7 22. Nc2 Rhf8 23. Qf2 Bg4 24. h4 Bf6 25. hxg5 hxg5 26. Ra1 Qd7 27. a4 bxa4 28. Rxa4 Nxd4 29. Rxa6 Nxc2 30. Ra7 Nxe1 31. Rxd7 Bxd7 32. Bxe1 Rxe4 33. Nd2 Re6 34. Nxc4 Bb5 35. Na3 Rfe8 36. Qc2 Kg7 37. Bf2 Re2 38. Qf5 Rd2 39. Qxb5 Rd1 40. Be1 Rexe1 41. Kf2 d5 42. Qd7 Re7 43. Qf5 Rd2 44. Kf1 Ree2 45. Qg4 Rf2 46. Kg1 Rxb2 47. Qd7 Kg6 48. Qe8 Kh6 49. Qf8 Bg7 50. Qd6 Kh5 51. Qxd5 Rxg2 {(Rebord,M - Fernandez,L 0 - 1 a high-level correspondence game played in 2010.)}) 4... Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Nge2 {(In OTB I could only find 1 game with a 2300 player. On the other hand in correspondence chess this is very hot)} f3 {(My analysis of 2010 only discuss g5 and Nxe4 but this move is clearly more critical.)} (6... Nxe4 7. O-O Nf6 8. Nxf4 $14 {(Here an improvement was possible on the game Spencer,E - Bryson,D played in 2007.)}) 7. gxf3 d5 8. exd5 Nxd5 9. O-O Nxc3 10. bxc3 Bd6 11. Ng3 {(Qd2 with the idea of Qg5, recommended by Stefan on chesspub also looks playable.)} O-O 12. Ne4 Be6 {(White encountered in an earlier game Be7 and drew.)} 13. Bxe6 fxe6 14. Rb1 b6 15. d5 Ne7 16. dxe6 Qe8 17. Nxd6 Qg6 18. Kh1 Rad8 19. Ba3 cxd6 20. Qe2 {(Probably Re1 is more accurate which was played by a lower rated player recently.)} (20. Re1 Rf6 21. Rb4 Rxe6 22. Rxe6 Qxe6 23. Re4 { (Whites pawn-structure does not look healthy and it is probably the reason why engines show a small advantage for black. However white is sufficiently active to keep the balance.)} Qf7 24. c4 Nf5 25. Qd3 h6 26. Bb4 Rf8 27. Be1 Qh5 28. a4 Kh8 29. Rg4 Qe8 30. Bc3 Qc6 31. Rf4 Qc5 32. Re4 Kg8 33. Kg2 Qc7 34. Bb4 Qf7 35. a5 bxa5 36. Bxa5 Qf6 {(Kebert,E - Tarmak,M 1/2-1/2 a correspondence-game played in 2013.)}) 20... Rf6 21. Rbe1 Nf5 22. Rg1 Qh5 23. f4 Qxe2 24. Rxe2 Kf8 25. Rge1 Ke7 26. Re4 Rc8 27. c4 g6 28. Kg2 Rff8 29. Kf3 Rc6 30. Kg4 Rfc8 31. c5 dxc5 32. Kg5 Rg8 33. Bb2 h6 34. Kg4 Rd8 35. Bc3 Nd4 36. Bxd4 cxd4 37. R1e2 Rd5 38. Rd2 a5 39. Rexd4 Rxd4 40. Rxd4 Rxc2 41. Rd7 Kxe6 42. Rb7 Rg2 43. Kf3 Rb2 44. a4 Rb3 45. Kg4 Kf6 46. h3 h5 47. Kh4 Rb4 48. Kg3 g5 49. fxg5 Kxg5 50. Rg7 Kf5 51. Rh7 h4 52. Rxh4 Rxh4 53. Kxh4 b5 54. axb5 Ke5 55. b6 Kd6 56. b7 Kc7 57. b8=B Kxb8 0-1
So the refutation with 3..Nc6 sounds to me rather optimistic. Black has comfortable play but an advantage I don't dare to claim for black. I already play for quite some time 3...d5. It is surely not better than 3...Nc6 or today's more popular 3...Nf6 but it has the advantage that white in most cases is playing on territory which I know better. Recently in the cup-competition I got it twice on the board.

Rapid-games I haven't played for a decade but as mentioned in my previous article I am annoyed by problems of inactivity so decided to subscribe anyway with the motto "better something than nothing at all". Rapid-games don't fit in my scientific approach and I like blitz more for fun. So I participated mainly as preparation for the Open of Gent. I am by far not the only one looking at rapid-tournaments in this way, see Bart Michiels statement on Schaakfabriek: "My next tournament is the olympiad and I searched a rapid-tournament to become in good shape." I am digressing from the subject so time to return to the King's gambit with Bc4.

In the quarter-finale the opening was encountered a first time thanks to Marcel Van Herck. Marcel already has the King's gambit for decades on his repertoire but I didn't expect any dangerous novelties. This was a bit optimistic as afterwards he surprised me by telling that he knew the content of John Shaw's book. Marcel noticed a few weeks earlier how I suffered in a variation in some blitz-games so he decided to test me with it.
[Event "Beker kwartfinale 1ste partij"] [Date "2014"] [White "Van Herck, M."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C36"] [PlyCount "34"] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Bc4 d5 {(This is for many years already my answer on this opening. It is not that I find it really better than other tries but because white is in most cases not very familiar with the details.)} 4. Bxd5 {(I met already exd5 3 times in official games but it is clearly inferior.)} Nf6 5. Nf3 {(Hereby we transpose to the modern variation or also called Abbazia defense. I never heard about this name till I looked it up on wikipedia.)} Nxd5 6. exd5 Qxd5 7. Nc3 Qf5 {(A month earlier Marcel surprised me with this line in blitz but this time I knew Qf5 is the best square. Nevertheless more details I could not recall.)} 8. d4 {(D4 before castling is more interesting.)} Be7 {(After the game Marcel mentioned that John Shaw prefers here Nc6 of which the correctness was confirmed by my analysis.)} (8... Nc6 9. d5 Nb4 10. O-O Bc5 11. Kh1 O-O 12. a3 Nxc2 13. Nh4 Qg4 14. Qxc2 Qxh4 15. Bxf4 {(Some engines show a small advantage for black while others consider it approximately equal.)}) 9. O-O O-O 10. Ne5 g5 11. g3 $6 {(Logical but Nd5 is here better.)} (11. Nd5 {(Some superficial engine-analysis end in perpetual checks.)} Bd6 (11... Bd8 12. Nxf4 $146 gxf4 13. Bxf4 Qe6 14. Qh5 Nc6 15. Rf3 Nxe5 16. Bxe5 f6 17. Raf1 Rf7 18. Rg3 Rg7 19. Rxg7 Kxg7 20. Qg5 Kf7 21. d5 Qg4 22. Rxf6 Bxf6 23. Qxf6 Ke8 24. Qh8 Kd7 25. Qxh7 Ke8 26. Qh8 Kd7 $11) 12. Bxf4 gxf4 13. Rxf4 Qg5 14. Nf6 Kh8 15. Qd3 Qh6 16. g3 Bxe5 17. dxe5 Qg6 18. Qe3 Kg7 19. Rh4 h6 20. Nh5 Kh7 21. Nf6 Kg7 22. Nh5 $11) 11... c5 {(F6 is surely also good for some advantage.)} 12. gxf4 {(I still found 1 game in the database with Nd5.)} (12. Nd5 Bd8 13. gxf4 cxd4 14. Qxd4 Nc6 15. Qc3 Re8 $146 {(With a winning advantage for black.)}) 12... cxd4 13. Ne2 Nc6 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. Nxd4 Bc5 16. Be3 Qe4 17. Qf3 $2 {(White does not have a comfortable position but this blunders a piece. )} Re8 0-1
The positive element from the game is that whites opening contains a few interesting elements which are worth repeating. In the semi finales I encountered the opening for a second time thanks to our president and former Belgian champion Robert Schuermans. In the normal rapid-games Robert embarrassed me with openings I've never seen him playing before. In the tiebrake-blitzgames he reverted to his standard repertoire which I considered a dubious strategy. Since a few years Robert also plays the King's gambit in Fischers style so with Bc4. It is well known that Robert is a big fan of Fischers chess, see eg. the interview on radio 1. Robert chose contrary to Marcel for the more fundamental approach with 5.Nc3 which I consider more critical but he run into a better armed opponent.
[Event "Beker halve finale blitzbarrage"] [Date "2014"] [White "Schuermans, R."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C33"] [PlyCount "52"] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Bc4 d5 4. Bxd5 Nf6 5. Nc3 {(At contrary to Marcel, Robert chooses for the critical continuation.)} Nxd5 {(More popular is Bb4 but the exchange is also playable.)} 6. Nxd5 g5 7. h4 c6 8. Nc3 Rg8 9. h5 { (I analysed D3,d4,hxg5,Df3 and Dh5 at home. Not h5 but black gets very easily an advantage hereafter.)} Bc5 10. Nf3 g4 11. Ne5 Qd4 12. Nd3 f3 13. gxf3 g3 {(A trick which I was already familiar with. Black is already completely winning. The finish is not flawless but I add it anyway just for information.)} 14. Ne2 g2 15. Rg1 Qf6 16. Nf2 Bd6 17. d4 Bh2 18. Qd3 Qh4 19. f4 Bxg1 20. Nxg1 Qh2 21. Nfh3 Bxh3 22. Qxh3 Qxg1 23. Kd2 Qxd4 24. Ke2 g1=Q 25. Qc8 Ke7 26. Qxb7 Nd7 0-1
Eventually with some luck I was able to play the final and accomplished my objective of getting into good shape. However also Robert extracted something from the cup-games. In round 3 of the Open of Gent he played to my surprise the same opening against the French FM Julien Lamorelle. Soon I  paid more attention to the developments on his board than to my own board.
[Event "Taminco Gent Open"] [Site "KGSRL Gent"] [Date "2014.07.20"] [Round "3.11"] [White "Schuermans R"] [Black "Lamorelle J"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C33"] [WhiteElo "2107"] [BlackElo "2340"] [PlyCount "84"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Bc4 d5 {(Initially I seated wrongly next to Robert out of oblivion so I had to ask the arbiter to reset the clocks. Next I took a seat embarrassed 2 boards further. After blacks 3rd move of course I was curious about what exactly would happen.)} 4. Bxd5 Nf6 5. Nf3 {(Obviously Robert still remembered our mutual game so this time chooses the same continuation as Marcel.)} Nxd5 6. exd5 Qxd5 7. Nc3 Qf5 8. O-O {(As earlier stated, I think d4 first is more accurate.)} Be6 9. d4 Nc6 {(This more or less refutes whites setup. I am interested to hear if black found this on the board or already had seen it before.)} 10. Nh4 Qa5 11. d5 O-O-O 12. Bxf4 Nb4 {(White loses a pawn without compensation.)} 13. Bg5 f6 14. Qe2 {(Normal moves will not give anything so white just tries to complicate.)} Bxd5 15. Qg4 Kb8 16. Bd2 h5 17. Qg6 Bc4 18. Rf4 Bc5 19. Kh1 Rxd2 20. Rxc4 Rhd8 21. Nf3 R2d7 22. Re1 Bf2 23. Rf1 Bb6 24. Rh4 Qa6 25. Rb1 Nxa2 {(Td1 was 1 of the many wins which black missed. )} 26. h3 Nxc3 27. bxc3 Bf2 28. Rxh5 Rd1 29. Rxd1 Rxd1 30. Kh2 Qd6 31. g3 a6 32. Kg2 Bc5 33. Qf5 g5 34. h4 Qe7 35. hxg5 fxg5 36. Rh7 Qe2 37. Kh3 Bd6 38. Kg4 Rg1 39. Rh3 Ka7 40. Kxg5 Rf1 41. g4 Qg2 42. Kh4 Be7 {(Black is still better but physically he was exhausted and preferred with a minute remaining on the clock to agree with a half point. Our 64 years old president seems more resistant against the heat than his 33 years old much higher rated opponent.)} 1/2-1/2
I can well understand that the opening won't become popular among professionals but for mortals this opening is surely sufficient to have hours of pleasure. A clear refutation doesn't exist for now and more a romantic player does't need.


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