15. Get inspired by your Opponent!

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In 1986 the French IM Bricard surprised me with an interesting idea in the Philidor Defence. I was White and played down my book knowledge, which happened to be the mainline of the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings. But this variation appeared to have a flaw and he could equalize without effort (this game is embedded here; you will find it under 10.Qd1). I was quite impressed. Not only did I like his position. The fact that there was an apparent hole in the ECO meant, that I would get “customers”, if I would adopt it myself. It was the time before ChessBase, when the Chess Informant and the ECO were the most important sources of information. Now, is there anything interesting for you in that little story? Possibly yes. First, I would like to give you the advice to get inspired by your opponents actions. Very often, you might run into something and lose or you have to suffer for your draw. Why not make the best of it and incorporate this nasty line in your own repertoire? That way, your hardship might turn into a profitable event, at the end of the day. Secondly, the Philidor might be something for you. Honestly, I don’t consider it a first class opening, but it isn’t crap either. These days, you see many high class player using it. Ivanchuk played it four times between 2012 and 2016. Finally, it all depends on your specific situation. If you – like to play easy to learn sidelines – like surprise weapons – like flexible pawn structures – don’t mind to defend for a while – like Kings Indian structures … then, it might be something for you.

[Event "Berlin"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1989.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Muse"]
[Black "Wahls"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C41"]
[WhiteElo "2415"]
[BlackElo "2535"]
[Annotator "Wahls"]
[PlyCount "96"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1991.04.01"]

1. e4 d6 {Please don't
get confused. This was actually my way of reaching the Philidor. Back then, I
was afraid of the variation} (1... e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bc4 {Diagram [#] Now, White
can prevent you from reaching the main line:} Nf6 (3... Be7 $6 4. d4 {Black is
forced to abandon the centre with 4...exd4 because of very concrete problems:}
Nd7 $2 5. dxe5 Nxe5 (5... dxe5 6. Qd5 $18) 6. Nxe5 dxe5 7. Qh5 $18) 4. Ng5 {
Formerly I feared that move, but as I see it now, it is not harmful at all.
Hence, there is no problem of reaching the Philidor via 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6.} (4.
Nc3 Be7 5. d4 Nbd7 {leads to the main line.}) 4... d5 5. exd5 h6 (5... Nxd5 $2
6. Qh5 g6 7. Qf3 $16) 6. Nf3 e4 7. Ne5 {and now, both 7...Qe7 and 7...Bd6 are
satisfactory for Black.}) 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5 {Diagram [#]} 4. Nf3 {Black
doesn't have to fear losing his right to castle, because after the queens
leave the board, his king is comparatively safe in the centre.} (4. dxe5 dxe5
5. Qxd8+ Kxd8 {If he gets in Bd6, c6 and Ke7, Black is very much okay. Note,
how the Nc3 is dominated by the pawn on c6. White must fear an expansion with
b5 and a5 and if he stops it with a4, the squares d4, b4 and c5 might serve as
outpost for Black's pieces. The doubled pawns after} 6. Bc4 Be6 7. Bxe6 fxe6 {
Are not easy to attack and control a lot of important squares.}) 4... Nbd7
5. Bc4 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Qe2 {Diagram [#] This is the ancient main line of the
ECO I was talking about. If I knew that I would get this position on the board,
I would still be playing the Philidor today. Alas, moves like 7.Re1 or 7.a4 are
more difficult to play against. But for some reason, 7.Qe2 is still quite
popular today, so you would have a fair chance to get it.} c6 8. a4 {It was
necessary to prevent 8...b5.} exd4 $1 9. Nxd4 Re8 $1 {Diagram [#] That is the
idea. The opposition of rook and queen gives Black attractive chances along
the e-file. For you convenience, I deal with all important moves now.} 10. Be3
(10. Nf5 $2 {My first victim with this line played far to optimistic.} Bf8 11.
Bg5 $2 (11. Ba2 d5 12. f3 Nc5 13. Ng3 dxe4 14. fxe4 Be6 15. Bg5 Ncd7 $15 {
and White has no compensation for his weak e-pawn. Also, the pawn on b2 could
be attacked by the queen.}) 11... d5 12. Bd3 Nc5 {[%cal Rc8f5]} 13. Qf3 $2 (13.
Ng3 h6 14. Bxf6 Qxf6 $17) 13... dxe4 $19 {White was overlooking, that at the
end of the ensuing variations his knight on f5 would be without defence.} 14.
Bxe4 Ncxe4 15. Nxe4 Rxe4 16. Rad1 (16. Qxe4 Nxe4 17. Bxd8 Bxf5 $19) (16. Bxf6
Qxf6 17. Qxe4 Bxf5 $19) 16... Qa5 17. Nh6+ (17. Bxf6 Qxf5 $19) 17... gxh6 18.
Bxf6 Qf5 19. Qc3 Be6 20. Rd3 Rg4 21. Rfd1 Bd5 22. Rg3 Rg6 23. Re1 a5 24. Ree3
Bb4 25. Qd4 Qxc2 26. h4 Bc5 27. Qc3 Qxc3 28. Rxc3 Bb4 29. Rce3 Bd6 {0-1
Kebbekus,T-Wahls,M (2440) Dortmund 1988}) (10. Ba2 $1 {This is the reason why
the move 7.Qe2 is still popular among good players.} Bf8 11. Qf3 Nc5 $1 {
Diagram [#] An easy route to equality which has never been played
so far! Instead, most games have continued with 11...Ne5 and 11...g6, which
both lead to playable positions.} (11... Ne5) (11... g6) 12. Bg5 (12. Re1 $2 d5
13. e5 Ng4 14. Bf4 g5 $1 15. Bg3 Bg7) 12... h6 13. Bxf6 (13. Bh4 $2 g5 14. Bg3
Bg4 15. Qe3 Ncxe4 16. Nxe4 Nxe4 17. Qb3 Qf6 $19) 13... Qxf6 14. Qxf6 gxf6 {
A corrupted king's position is not such a big deal without queens, and as you
will see, Black will get rid of his doubled pawns very soon. At the moment,
the pawn e4 is hanging.} 15. Rfe1 (15. f3 f5 16. exf5 d5) 15... Bg7 16. Re3 (
16. Rad1 f5) (16. a5 f5 17. Nxf5 Bxf5 18. exf5 d5 19. Kf1 b5 $1) 16... f5 $1
17. exf5 (17. Nxf5 Bxf5 18. exf5 Rxe3 19. fxe3 Bxc3 20. bxc3 Re8 $15) 17... Bd7
18. Rd1 d5 {Diagram [#] The pawn sacrifice not only activated the fianchetto
bishop, but also made White's bishop bite on granite. Black's compensation is
obvious.} 19. g4 Rxe3 20. fxe3 Re8 21. Kf2 h5 22. h3 (22. g5 Bxd4 23. exd4 Ne4+
24. Nxe4 Rxe4 $11) 22... hxg4 23. hxg4 Bh6 24. Re1 Bg5 25. Kf3 Bc8 {In order
to meet 26.Nb3 with Nd7, but Black can also do without that:} (25... Kg7 {
[%cal Re8h8]} 26. Nb3 Na6 27. e4 b6 28. Rd1 Nb4 29. Bb1 Rh8 30. exd5 Bf6) 26.
Re2 (26. Bb1 Kg7) (26. Nb3 Nd7) 26... Bf6 (26... Kg7 $2 27. e4) 27. Nb3 Nd7 28.
e4 d4 29. g5 dxc3 30. gxf6 cxb2 31. c3 Nxf6 32. Bb1 Rd8 33. Kf4 Rd1 34. Rxb2
Nd7 35. Rg2+ Kf8 36. Nd2 Rh1 37. Ba2 Rh4+ 38. Kg3 Rh8 39. Kf4 Rh4+ $11) (10. a5
$2 {The Anti-Malaniuk-weapon, which is very blunt, however.} Bf8 11. a6 Nc5 (11... d5 $5 12.
axb7 Bxb7 13. Ba6 Qc7 14. Bxb7 Qxb7 15. Qa6 Qxa6 16. Rxa6 c5 17. Ndb5 d4 18.
Nc7 dxc3 19. Nxe8 Rxe8 20. f3 c4 21. bxc3 Bc5+ 22. Kh1 Bb6 $15) 12. axb7 Bxb7
13. Bd3 (13. Qf3 Qd7 14. Nf5 Ncxe4 15. Nxe4 Rxe4 16. Bd3 c5 (16... Re5 $2 {
1-0 (21) Zelcic,R (2380)-Malaniuk,V (2550) Katowice 1992}) 17. Qh3 Re6 $15)
13... d5 $1 (13... h6 {Godarz,K (2123)-Malaniuk,V (2482) Rasht 2016}) 14. e5
Nxd3 15. cxd3 c5 $1 16. Nb3 d4 (16... a5 $17) 17. Na5 Bxg2 18. Kxg2 dxc3 $17) (
10. Bg5 $2 h6 $1 11. Bh4 Ne5 12. Nf5 $2 (12. Bb3 Nxe4 $1 13. Bxe7 Nxc3 14. Qxe5
dxe5 15. Bxd8 Rxd8 16. bxc3 exd4 17. Rad1 c5 18. cxd4 cxd4 19. Rfe1 Kf8 20. Re4
Bf5 21. Rf4 Bg6 22. Rfxd4 Rxd4 23. Rxd4 Rc8 24. Rd2 Ke7 $15) 12... Bxf5 13.
exf5 Nxc4 14. Qxc4 d5 15. Qd3 Nd7 16. Bxe7 Qxe7 $17 {Vrban,M (2333)-Jovanovic,
Z (2546) Bol 2014}) (10. Qd1 {Diagram [#] This was my option in 1986, when I
was surprised by Bricard. With such a move, you cannot win a beauty contest,
but is a very reasonable reaction. Not only is it stronger than most of the
Hilly-Billy moves that were played in this position, it also displays a healthy
attitude. When confronted with a strong novelty, I paid my opponent respect.
He played his moves quickly and I had all reason to believe, that he had done
his homework and prepared some nasty lines. Of course, I did some calculations
here, but when I didn't find anything convincing, I played it safe. I was
aware of the fact, that my queen stood on that square just three moves ago,
but so what? You don't play chess to impress people, you do it to find the
move which you think is the best in any specific moment. In Biel 1990 I had White
against De Firmian and didn't achieve anything in the opening. In fact, I
didn't see any constructive plan. So I played 18.Kh1 and 19.Kg1, instead of
ruining my position. I deemed that the objective best way to interpret that
situation.} Bf8 (10... d5 11. exd5 Nb6 12. Bb3 Nbxd5 13. Nxd5 Nxd5 $11) 11. Re1
Nc5 (11... d5 12. exd5 Rxe1+ 13. Qxe1 Nb6 14. Ba2 $6 (14. Bb3 Nbxd5 15. Bg5 Qd6
16. Bh4 Qf4 $1 17. Nf3 Nxc3 18. Qxc3 Nd5 $11) 14... Nbxd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 $11 {
Borosova,Z (2206)-Vajda,S (2407) Szeged 2007}) (11... a5 $5 {That's
an ambitious move which improves on the Bricard-plan (see below). The queen on
b6 won't be molested by White's a-pawn anymore.} 12. h3 (12. f3 $2 Qb6 $1 13.
Be3 (13. Kh1 d5) 13... d5 14. Ne6 (14. Nxc6 $2 Bc5 $19) 14... Qxb2 15. Nxf8
Nxf8 16. Qd2 Qb4 17. Bf1 dxe4 $15) 12... Nc5 13. Bg5 (13. f3 Qb6 14. b3 (14.
Be3 $6 Qxb2 15. Qd2 Qb6) 14... Be6 (14... d5 15. exd5 Rxe1+ 16. Qxe1 Nxb3 17.
Bxb3 Qxd4+ 18. Be3 Qe5 $11) 15. Bxe6 (15. Nxe6 $2 fxe6 $15) 15... fxe6 16. Kh1
Rad8 $11) 13... h6 14. Bxf6 Qxf6 15. Re3 Re7 16. Qd2 Bd7 17. Rd1 Rae8 18. Rf3
Qg6 19. Qf4 Nxe4 20. Nxe4 d5 21. Bxd5 cxd5 22. Ng3 Re1+ (22... Qg5 $2 {
Powierski,E (2153)-Voloshin,L (2426) Travemuende 2012}) 23. Rxe1 Rxe1+ 24. Kh2
Bd6 25. Qd2 Rb1 $17) 12. f3 Qb6 $2 (12... d5 13. exd5 Rxe1+ 14. Qxe1 cxd5 15.
Ba2 Bd7 16. Be3 Nxa4 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 18. Bxd5 Qc7 $11) 13. a5 Qb4 $2 {Careless
play. The queen is in great danger.} 14. Bf1 d5 $2 (14... Ne6 {Necessary to
rescue her majesty, but it will cost a pawn.} 15. Nb3 d5 16. Ra4 Qe7 17. exd5
Nxd5 18. Nxd5 cxd5 19. Qxd5) 15. e5 Nfd7 $2 (15... Ncd7 16. Ra4 Qe7 17. Bd2 $16
Nh5 (17... Nxe5 18. f4) 18. g4 Nxe5 19. gxh5 Qh4 20. Ne6 Qxh5 21. Nxf8 Bf5 22.
Re3) 16. Nxd5 $18 {Not the most difficult combination.} Qxe1 (16... cxd5 17. c3
$19) 17. Qxe1 cxd5 18. f4 Ne4 19. Nb5 Ndf6 20. Be3 Ng4 21. Bd4 f6 22. Nc7 fxe5
23. fxe5 Rxe5 24. Nxa8 Rh5 25. Bc4 Nef6 26. Be2 Bd6 27. h3 Bh2+ 28. Kh1 {
1-0 Wahls,M (2460)-Bricard,E (2310) Hamburg 1986}) 10... Bf8 11. Nf3 (11. f3 $2
d5 $1 12. exd5 (12. Ba2 c5 13. Nf5 d4 $17 {Rodriguez Vila,A (2522)-Perelman,H
(2326) Buenos Aires 2009}) 12... Nb6 {The sequence "...d5/exd5 Nb6" is an
important motive in the Philidor.} 13. Ba2 (13. Bb3 $2 c5 14. Ndb5 c4 15. Ba2
Bc5 16. Bxc5 Rxe2 17. Nxe2 Nxa4 $17 {Pribyl,J (2460)-Hasangatin,R (2380) Decin
1996}) 13... Nbxd5 14. Nxd5 Nxd5 15. Bxd5 Qxd5 $15 {Who doesn't like to play
with two bishops? Giesen,D-Haakert,J Stadtallendorf 1975}) (11. Rad1 Nxe4 12.
Nxe4 Rxe4 13. Nf3 h6 14. Rd4 Rxd4 15. Bxd4 d5 16. Bd3 Nc5 17. Bxc5 Bxc5 $17 {Flueckiger,C (2265)-Costa,J (2320) Bern 1987}) (11. Bd3 Nc5 12. Qf3
Bg4 13. Qg3 $2 (13. Qf4) 13... Bh5 $1 14. f3 $2 d5 15. Nf5 (15. e5 Nxd3 16.
cxd3 Nd7 17. f4 c5 18. Qh3 cxd4 19. Bxd4 Bg6 20. f5 Nxe5 $17) 15... Bg6 16.
Bxc5 Bxc5+ 17. Kh1 Bxf5 18. exf5 Qb6 19. Nd1 a5 20. b3 Re7 $17 {Voloshin,L (2390)-Belikov,V (2450) Frydek Mistek 1994}) 11... h6 {Diagram [#]
The the knight sortie to g5 has to be prevented. After that silent move, the
pawn e4 is hanging and White is in the defence.} (11... Nxe4 $2 12. Nxe4 Rxe4
13. Ng5 Re7 14. Qd3 $1 g6 (14... Nf6 15. Bd4 $16) 15. Qxd6 Qa5 16. Qf4 Ne5 17.
Bd4 Bg7 (17... Nxc4 18. Qf6 Ne5 19. Rfe1 $18) 18. Rae1 Qc7 19. Qh4 h6 20. Nxf7
Rxf7 21. Bxf7+ Kxf7 (21... Qxf7 22. Bxe5) 22. Qf4+ Ke6 23. Rxe5+ {1-0 (23)
Adams,M (2495)-Bricard,E (2370) France 1989}) 12. Nd2 $6 (12. Qd3 Ng4 13. Bd4 (
13. Bf4 $2 Nc5 14. Qd4 Qf6 $1 {That's a double attack. Black threatens the Bf4
and one of the defenders of the e-pawn.} 15. Qxf6 Nxf6 16. e5 Nh5 17. Be3 dxe5
18. Rfe1 Nf6 19. Bxc5 Bxc5 20. Rxe5 (20. Nxe5 Bxf2+ 21. Kxf2 Rxe5) 20... Bxf2+
$1 21. Kxf2 Ng4+ 22. Kg3 $2 Rxe5 $2 (22... Nxe5 23. Re1 Be6) 23. Nxe5 Nxe5 $17
{Apicella,M (2495)-Nevednichy,V (2495) Bucharest 1993}) 13... Nde5 14.
Bxe5 (14. Nxe5 $2 dxe5 15. Be3 Qxd3 16. cxd3 Nxe3 17. fxe3 Be6 $15) 14... Nxe5
15. Nxe5 dxe5 16. Qf3 Be6 {There is no sense in conserving the bishop pair,
since otherwise, the Bc8 would have to give his life for the knight.} (16...
Qc7 17. Nd1 a5 18. Ne3 Bc5 19. Nf5 Bxf5 $11) 17. Bxe6 Rxe6 18. Rfd1 Qh4 (18...
Qc7 $5) 19. Rd7 Rf6 20. Qe2 Bc5 21. Rf1 $11 {Deidun,J (2254)-Verde,P ICCF
email 2005}) 12... Ne5 {By molesting the bishop, the initiative stays with
black.} 13. Bb3 (13. Rad1 Nxc4 14. Qxc4 d5 15. exd5 Nxd5 16. Nxd5 Be6 $15)
13... Neg4 $15 {Diagram [#] Now his colleague is being chased.} 14. Bf4 ({After
} 14. h3 Nxe3 15. Qxe3 {Black has the choice of playing a favorable isolani
position or to exert pressure along the e-file:} Be6 (15... d5 16. Qf3 Be6 17.
exd5 cxd5 18. Rfd1 Qa5 19. Nf1 Rad8 20. Ne2 Ne4 21. Nd4 Bd6 22. c3 Bb8 {
[%cal Ga5c7]}) 16. Bxe6 (16. Qd3 d5) 16... Rxe6 17. Qd3 Qe8 $1 18. Rad1 (18.
Rfe1 d5) (18. f4 d5 19. e5 Nd7 20. Nf3 f6) 18... a6 {[%cal Gb7b5]} 19. a5 Rd8 {
[%cal Gd6d5]}) (14. Bd4 d5 15. Qd3 (15. h3 dxe4 {[%cal Rd8d4]} 16. Bxf6 Nxf6
17. Ndxe4 Nxe4 18. Nxe4 Be6 (18... Bf5 19. Qf3 Bg6 $15) 19. Rad1 (19. Qf3 $2
Bxb3 20. cxb3 Qd5) 19... Qh4 20. f3 Bxb3 21. cxb3 Rad8 $15) 15... Qc7 16. f4 (
16. g3 Ne5 $15) 16... dxe4 17. Ndxe4 Nxe4 18. Nxe4 c5 19. Be5 (19. Bc3 c4 20.
Bxc4 Bf5 21. Rae1 Rad8) 19... Nxe5 20. fxe5 Be6 21. Nd6 c4 22. Nxc4 Rad8 23.
Qe2 (23. Nd6 Qb6+ 24. Kh1 Bxb3 25. Qxb3 Qxb3 26. cxb3 Bxd6) 23... Rd4 $15)
14... Nh5 15. Qf3 $2 ({After} 15. Be3 {White's position is still okay.}) (15.
Bg3 $2 Nxg3 16. hxg3 Qa5 $17 {[%cal Ra5h5]}) 15... d5 {Diagram [#]} $1 $17 {[%cal Rf8d6,
Rd6h2,Yh5f4,Rg4h2] Now the pawn h2 is in danger of being attacked by the
bishop-knight-combo, since its defender is under fire itself.} 16. Bg3 (16.
exd5 Nxf4 17. h3 (17. Qxf4 $2 Bd6 $19) 17... Nxh3+ 18. gxh3 Ne5 $17) (16. h3
Nxf4 17. exd5 (17. Qxf4 $2 Bd6 18. Qf3 Nh2) 17... Nxh3+ 18. gxh3 Ne5 $17) 16...
Nxg3 17. fxg3 (17. hxg3 Qg5 {[%cal Rg5d2,Rg5h5,Rh5h2]} 18. Qd3 Qh5 19. Nf3 dxe4
20. Nxe4 Bf5 21. Rae1 Bc5 22. Nh4 (22. a5 {(our zero move to demonstrate the
threat)} Bxe4 23. Rxe4 Rxe4 24. Qxe4 Bxf2+ 25. Rxf2 Qh1+ $1 $19) 22... Rad8 23.
Nf6+ gxf6 24. Rxe8+ Rxe8 25. Qxf5 Qxf5 26. Nxf5 Re2 27. a5 Bxf2+ 28. Kh1 Re5
$19) (17. Qxg3 Bd6 18. f4 Qb6+ 19. Kh1 Qe3 $1 $17) 17... Bc5+ 18. Kh1 Ne5 {
Diagram [#]} 19. Qf4 $2 {An oversight. After} (19. Qd1 Be6 {there is no direct
win, but my advantage is obvious, e.g.} 20. exd5 cxd5 21. Nf3 Ng4 22. Qd2 Be3
23. Qe2 d4 $17) 19... g5 20. Qf6 Qxf6 21. Rxf6 Ng4 22. Rff1 Nf2+ 23. Rxf2 Bxf2
24. exd5 {Diagram [#] There are many ways to win this position. I choose to
exchange his rook and then clear the way for my remaining one.} Re1+ 25. Rxe1
Bxe1 26. Nde4 Bxc3 27. Nxc3 Bf5 28. Kg1 Rd8 29. Kf2 (29. dxc6 bxc6 {[%cal
Rd8d2]}) 29... cxd5 30. Bxd5 (30. Nxd5 Bxc2 $19) 30... b6 31. Ke3 (31. Bb3 Bxc2
$19) 31... Bxc2 32. Bc4 Kg7 33. b3 Bf5 34. Nb5 Rd7 35. Nd4 Re7+ 36. Kf2 Be6 37.
Bxe6 fxe6 38. Ke3 Kf6 39. Ke4 Rd7 40. b4 Rc7 41. Kd3 e5 42. Nb5 Rd7+ 43. Ke3 a6
44. Na3 Rc7 45. Kd3 Rd7+ 46. Kc3 e4 47. Nc4 b5 48. Nb6 Rd6 {My passed pawn will
promote. 0-1} *

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