Daring Defences, October 2003
One whole year of covering the Daring Defences for Chesspublishing.com and so it's about time I did something on the Albin Counter Gambit! I didn't have any space last month for the Dutch Defence so this month's update will deal entirely with these two openings.
GM Glenn Flear
A number of the Dutch games covered this month feature lesser lines. Here general understanding is often more important than precise move orders.
In Game 1, in the popular 2 Nc3 and 3 Bg5 system, Yegiasarian avoids the positional 4 Bxf6, instead playing 4 e3 with an early g2-g4 in mind. It's worth noting that Dutch-specialist Stefan Kindermann defended competently against 4 Bxf6 in the annotations to this game. All-in-all, lots of ideas for both colours.
Game 2 sees Kurajica suffer a surprise defeat at the hand of a lesser-known Belgian who refines a schema previously used by Bareev. This all looks adequate against 4 Nh3.
The interest in Game 3 is not really in the opening, which gave White nothing. The game illustrates rather some double-edged strategic decisions in the middlegame.
Game 4 features the rare but noteworthy 10 a4:
It looks as if Black is OK after this move but it's important for 7...Nc6 practitioners to compare analogous positions. Those with the same strategies but with subtle differences in the pawn structure. In the game White blundered horribly on move 40 throwing away a whole point. Who hasn't done that?
The complications in Game 5 were too tricky for both players in a wild time scramble. The opening idea of 8 Qc2, aiming for e2-e4 before castling, deserves respect and Black didn't react that well. Definitely worth a closer look, for instance the immediate 8...Qe8 looks more reasonable.
In Game 6 Stonewall-gourmet Vaisser goes down to Lautier but only because of an error near the end. The opening and middlegame were pleasant to his palate but his error on move 39 left a bad aftertaste.
Game 7 was a torrid affair with Black obtaining an excellent opening in Simon Williams's expert hands. He let his advantage slip after virtually losing his queen and was finally very fortunate to win. Putting the queen on c2 on move 23 would have kept the better game.
Ovetchkin introduces a new move in Game 8, but I'm puzzled as to why he didn't exchange rooks first. See the notes for my thoughts. In the game White's opening edge gradually disappeared and he blundered horribly later on.
Many games this month were lost because of time trouble blunders but in Game 9 Black can have no complaints as he was outplayed throughout. There was an aesthetic moment in White's handling of the game. In the following position:
White continued with....
No, I'm not giving it away that easily! You'll have to work it out or see the game! In any case the opening didn't work and needs a closer look if you like playing 7...Qe8.
The Albin Counter Gambit is almost universally avoided by master strength players. It's just considered too risky. Here two strong Grandmasters facing the Albin as White weren't that convincing, perhaps they were surprised and unprepared.
In Game 10 Hebden ignored Black's threat to grab the exchange and just launched into a decisive attack, but before that Black certainly had a couple of improvements.
In Game 11 A.Sagalchik played to quickly recuperate the pawn and indeed earned a half-point against highly ranked Shabalov. I suspect that White could have kept an edge with more precise play.
In any case we can conclude that the Albin has surprise value and is perhaps underestimated by GMs!
Next month we'll get back to those openings that I didn't cover this time and I'll reply to reader's e-mail queries.