1. Play the “Little Spanish”!

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My first international tournament was the international Danish junior championship in Soro. The result was satisfactory with 6/9 taking into account that I was only 14 and playing against the big boys. Reading this you might think “What can I possibly learn from a 14 year old?” Since I was not a child prodigy your assumption that my game was far from flawless back than is right. But still I think, that some of my earlier ideas are very well worth mentioning. An interesting part of this game is my choice of opening. As you all know, the most demanding way to conquer 1.e4 e5 is to play the main lines of the Spanish Opening, which means 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 and so on. Thus, you put maximum pressure on your opponent and additionally learn about the positional richness of the the Spanish structures. This is what every aspiring player should do and what should happen in a perfect world. In the real world however, our resources are confined. 99% of all chess players have to deal with the problem of how to allocate a limited amount of time in the most efficient way to their chess education. Following your common sense, you will have to resort to small openings or side lines most of the time. Now the big question is: How can we meet 1.e4 e5 without choosing a doubtful gambit or employing something rustic as the Scottish Opening? The solution is presented here: Play the “little Spanish”!

 

[Event "DEN-chJ int"] [Site "Soro"] [Date "1982.??.??"] [Round "5"] [White "Wahls, Matthias"] [Black "Brynell, Stellan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C55"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "1982.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1999.11.16"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 {The Italian
Opening, regardless of how it will be interpreted later, leads to calm
positional play. I had no intention of jumping into the wild complications
which would occur after 4.Ng5.} Be7 {This move is not necessarily timid if it
is followed up by the pawn advance d7-d5 within the next two moves. 5..Bc5 is
more common, however.} 5. c3 {[%csl Gc3,Gd3,Ge4] Diagram [#] That's our move!
Even though the opening is labeled as Italian, the pawn structure resembles
the one of the Spanish main lines.} d6 6. Bb3 {Should the bishop be molested by Na5, it can now
safely retreat to c2.} O-O 7. O-O Bg4 $6 {Normally this is not the best square
for the bishop in these kind of structures, since it can be easily molested by
h3 and g4. Better is} (7... Na5 8. Bc2 c5) 8. Nbd2 d5 9. Qe2 {[%cal Gc3d4,
Ge4d5] Only at first glance Black seems to be more active due to his
slightly more advanced center pawns. His problem is however, that he always
has to reckon with e4xd5 which might put the pawn on e5 in danger. On the
other hand, the advance d5-d4 only rarely makes sense, since there is no
support from a black pawn on c5 which would be the case in Indian openings.
Hence, Black will be most often compelled to give up the tension by d5xe4.
However, after White recaptures with the pawn, his structure is superior due
to his control of both, d4 and d5. Black's position will suffer from a
misplaced knight on c6, which not only is dominated by the pawn c3 but also
prevents his own pawn from covering the square d5. That's one of the basic
keys to understand the Spanish Opening.} Re8 10. h3 Bh5 11. Re1 (11. g4 Bg6 12.
Nh4 $14) 11... Bf8 (11... h6) 12. Nf1 Bg6 $2 {Diagram [#] Necessary was} (12...
h6 {to prevent Bg5.}) 13. Bc2 $2 {This responds to Black's attack on White's
e-pawn. By itself it is no unusual move in such positions but here it is far
too timid. Even 13.Ng3 was better. However, indicated was to exert maximum pressure on black's centre with 13.Bg5!. Now, 13...dxe4 14.dxe4 Bxe4? would simply lose to 15.Qxe4.} b5 $2 {Again, 13..
h6 was the right move.} 14. Bg5 {Finally!} b4 $2 ({The only move here is} 14...
d4 {, exploiting the fact that Ba4 is now not possible any longer.} 15.
cxd4 Nxd4 16. Nxd4 Qxd4 (16... exd4 17. f4 (17. a4 a6 18. Bb3 $14) 17... h6 18.
Bh4 $14) 17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Ne3 c6 19. Bb3 $14) 15. Bxf6 $6 {This one is not
too bad, but a superior move order would have been:} (15. Ba4 Qd6 (15... Re6 16.
exd5 Qxd5 17. Bb3 Qxd3 18. Qxd3 Bxd3 19. Bxe6 fxe6 20. Nxe5 $18 {Compared to
the game, this move is now possible.}) 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. Ne3 (
17. cxb4 Red8 18. a3 Ne7 19. Rac1 a5 20. b5 Qb6 21. Rc3 Bh6 22. Qc2 Rac8 23.
Rc5 Rd6 24. Nh4 $16) 17... bxc3 18. bxc3 dxe4 19. dxe4 Qc5 (19... Bxe4 $4 20.
Nc4) 20. Nd5 $18) 15... gxf6 16. Ba4 Re6 {Diagram [#]} 17. exd5 $2 {I
definitely was to much material orientated due to my lack of chess
understanding. The weaker the player the more he his inclined to grab
something solid rather than letting his dynamic advantage harvest something
bigger a bit later down the road. We all know the fear that our dynamic
advantage evaporates, leaving us empty handed. But with increasing playing
strength comes confidence and we are progressively more inclined to go for the
bigger loot.} (17. Ne3 $1 {Also the simple 17.Rad1 comes into consideration.}
dxe4 (17... Ne7 18. cxb4 $16) 18. dxe4 Bxe4 19. Rad1 Qc8 20. Qc4 Bxf3 21. gxf3
{White's dominance on the White squares and better piece coordination will
guarantee a successful attack.} Qb7 22. Qg4+ Kh8 23. Nf5 Ne7 24. Rd7 bxc3 (24...
Nxf5 25. Qxf5 Be7 26. Rxe7 Rg8+ (26... Rxe7 27. Qxf6+ $18) 27. Kh1 Rg5 28. Re8+
Kg7 29. Rg1 $18) 25. Kh1 cxb2 (25... Qc8 26. Rxe7 Rxe7 27. Rg1 Bh6 28. Bc2 e4
29. Qh5 Qf8 30. Nxh6 $18) 26. Nxe7 Rxe7 27. Rg1 Bh6 28. Bc2 Rxd7 (28... e4 29.
Rxe7) 29. Qf5 $18) 17... Qxd5 18. Bb3 Qxd3 19. Bxe6 fxe6 20. Qxd3 Bxd3 21. Rac1
{Diagram [#] Often one pawn and two bishops are enough compensation for the
exchange. Here, Black's somewhat compromised pawn structure gives White the
edge.} Bd6 $2 (21... Rc8 $14) 22. Ng3 f5 {Understandably, Black doesn't like
the idea of White's knight entering e4.} (22... Rc8 $2 23. Ne4 f5 24. Nxd6 cxd6
25. cxb4 {This line shows, how the bishop on d6 became a tactical liability.}) (
22... Rb8 23. Ne4 Bxe4 24. Rxe4 f5 25. Rc4 {And White's chances are intact as
the following representative line shows.} Rb6 26. cxb4 Nxb4 27. Ng5 Be7 28. h4
h6 29. Rxc7 Nd5 30. Rc8+ Kg7 31. Nf3 e4 32. Nd4 Bf6 33. Nb3 Bxh4 34. R8c6 Bf6
35. Rxb6 axb6 36. Rc2 Kf7 37. Kf1) 23. cxb4 Nxb4 $2 {It was absolutely
mandatory to hang on to the central pawn mass:} (23... Bb5 24. a3 e4 25. Ng5
Nd4 26. Red1 Bd3 27. Nf3 $1 Nc2 28. Ne1 Nxe1 29. Rxe1 a5 30. bxa5 Rxa5 {and
even though White has the advantage, the fight isn't over yet.}) 24. Nxe5 Bb5
25. a3 Nd5 26. Nc4 Kf7 27. Ne2 e5 {Diagram [#]} 28. f4 {The idea was to give a
pawn for inflicting doubled pawns on Black and, more importantly, making him
part with his bishop pair. Better, however, is the following line which I might
have declined because of my fear that Black's central pawns would move forward.
As it turns out, the strong unit of White's rooks renders this endeavor
impossible.} (28. Nxd6+ $1 cxd6 29. Nc3 Nxc3 30. Rxc3 Ke6 31. Rc7 Bd7 (31... d5
32. Rb7 Bd3 33. Rc1 e4 34. Rc6+ Ke5 35. Rxh7 Re8 (35... d4 36. Rc5+ Kf6 37. Rd7
$18) 36. Rh5 Rf8 37. g4 $18) 32. Rec1 a5 33. Rb7 a4 (33... f4 34. Rcc7 Rd8 35.
b3 e4 36. Ra7 d5 37. Rxa5 Ke5 (37... d4 38. Ra6+ Kd5 39. b4 d3 40. Rc5+ Kd4 41.
Rd6#) 38. Raa7 Bf5 39. Kf1 h5 40. Ke2 Kd4 41. Rf7 Ke5 42. Rae7+ Kd6 43. Rb7 Ke5
44. a4 $18) 34. f4 Rg8 (34... e4 35. g4) 35. Kf2 Rg7 36. Ra7 Rg8 37. fxe5 dxe5
38. Ra6+ Kf7 39. Rc7 $18) 28... e4 $2 {Finally, my opponent breaks down.} (
28... Bxc4 29. Rxc4 exf4 30. Rec1 $16) 29. Nxd6+ cxd6 30. Nd4 $18 Bd7 31. g3
Kf6 32. Red1 Ne3 33. Rd2 Be6 34. Rc6 Rd8 35. Rc7 Rg8 36. Rxh7 Nc4 37. Rg2 Bd5
38. Rh6+ Kf7 39. b3 Ne3 40. Re2 Nd1 41. Rxd6 1-0

 

 

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