54. Reasons for declining a Gambit – Part 3

In the previous posts I enumerated the reasons for declining a gambit (despite knowing that accepting it would possibly be stronger). When facing the Morra in 2002 in a rapid game, I wasn’t equipped with concrete analyses. Hence, I decided to shun a theoretical discussion and went for a pragmatical solution. Being knowledgeable in the Hedgehog allowed me to instantly return the pawn in order to play a normal game of chess. This is a good example for the importance of studying patterns or pattern openings. I’m dealing with this crucial topic in both seminars, “Das Schachuniversum 1” and “Das Schachuniversum 2” (“The Chess Universe 1 and 2”).

 

[Event "Wedel (20 minutes) 2002"] [Site "?"] [Date "2002.06.15"] [Round "?"] [White "Rubach"] [Black "Wahls"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B21"] [Annotator "Wahls"] [PlyCount "70"] [SourceVersionDate "2002.05.06"]

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 d3 4. Bxd3 Nc6 {Alternatively, Black can choose a
setup with the knight on d7.} 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 d6 {[#]} 7. h3 ({After} 7. Nf3
Bg4 {Black will play on the dark squares, by following-up with g6, Bg7, 0-0
and Nd7.}) 7... e6 {This move makes the position a Hedgehog, while} (7... g6 {
would have lead to a Maroczy-structure. I have to mention that due to the
specific tempo situation, this is not the best of all Hedgehogs. So, don't
judge the Hedgehog by this game alone.}) 8. Nf3 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Bf4 $1 {[#] Thanks to the location of the king's knight (which is normally on d4), White
can target the d-pawn. The standard plan is to move a rook to d1 and withdraw
the bishop to e2 or b1.} Nd7 {The knight will be transferred to e5 in order to
neutralize the Bf4.} (10... b6 $5) 11. Qe2 ({Possibly better is} 11. Be2 Nde5
12. Qd2 $14 {as in Tomescu,V (2340)-Moldovan,D (2405) Bucharest 1994}) 11...
Nde5 12. Rfd1 Bd7 13. Rac1 {[#]} Qb8 $2 {This acknowledges the necessity to
find a safe place for the queen, but misses out on a window of opportunity for
liberation:} (13... Qc7 $2 {begs for the standard} 14. Nd5 $1) ({Preferable,
however, would have been} 13... Nxf3+ $1 14. Qxf3 Nd4 {in order to exploit the
lack of good squares for the queen:} 15. Qh5 (15. Qe3 e5 16. Nd5 Bh4 17. Bh2
Bg5 18. f4 Bh6 $11) 15... g6 16. Qh6 e5 17. Bd2 Bc6 {Now, Black can either
continue with f5 or, more solidly, aspire to exchange the dark-squared bishops,
e.g.} 18. Qe3 Ne6 19. b4 Bg5 20. Qe1 Bxd2 21. Rxd2 b6 $11 {White's space
advantage is compensated by the weak square d4 and the bad Bd3.}) 14. Bb1 {
By controlling the square d4, White managed to install an annoying grip.} Rd8
$6 {It would have been more accurate to exchange on f3 first.} 15. b3 $6 {
More direct is} (15. Nh2 $1 a6 16. Be3 b5 17. cxb5 Na5 18. f4 Nec4 19. Bd4 axb5
20. Ng4 $1 {[%cal Rg4h6] with good attacking prospects.}) 15... a6 16. a4 $2 {
This weakens both the square b4 and the b-pawn. Again, withdrawing the Nf3 is
the key to this position:} (16. Nh2 $1 Na7 17. Be3 b5 18. f4 $14) 16... Be8 17.
Bg3 $2 {Surprisingly, this passes on the initiative to Black. After} (17. Nh2 {
Black doesn't face the same problems as before, as he now can find a good
location for his knight:} Nd7 $1 18. Be3 $6 Nc5 $11) 17... Qa7 $1 {[%csl Yd4] [#] Placing the queen on a7 is a rare motif in the Hedgehog, conferring some
value to this game. With his last move White removed a natural defender from
the vicinity of the structural weakness d4. The significance of this topic was
increased by 16.a4?, which weakened the b-pawn. Now, 18..Nxf3 19.Qxf3 Nd4 is a
concrete threat. As an aside, the queen pins the f-pawn and also might
approach the enemy via c5 and b4 or a3.} 18. Ne1 $2 {White reacts to the
threat, but by losing control over g5, he admits a different kind of calamity.
Such things easily happen in 20 minute games. Let's examine the alternatives:}
(18. Bc2 Qc5 19. Bf4 Bf6 {sees Black with the initiative, e.g.} 20. Be3 $2
Nxf3+ 21. Qxf3 Nd4 22. Qg3 Qa3 $1 {Maintaining the knight by tactical means,
while the b-pawn is being contacted.} 23. Rd3 {White has to play artificially,
in order to keep his position together.} h5 $1 {Introducing the option h5-h4,
in order to disturb White's coordination in a suitable moment.} (23... Nxc2 24.
Rxc2 Qxb3 $2 25. Nd5 Qxc2 26. Nxf6+ Kh8 27. Qh4 $18) 24. Bd2 (24. Bd1 $2 h4 25.
Qf4 Nc6 $17 {[%cal Rc6e5]}) 24... Nc6 25. Re3 Rac8 $36 {White has to be aware
of all kinds of active moves: Nd4, b5, h4 or Be5.}) (18. Nd5 $5 {Dealing with
the problem in tactical fashion:} Nxf3+ 19. gxf3 Bf8 (19... exd5 20. exd5 Bg5
21. dxc6 Bxc6 22. Rc3 $11) 20. Nc7 Rac8 21. Nxe8 Rxe8 22. Qe3 Qc5 $11 {White's
space advantage and bishop pair are compensated by his structural flaws.})
18... Bg5 $6 {[#] That's only the second best move.} (18... Nd4 19. Qb2 Bg5 {
wins the exchange}) 19. Bxe5 $6 {In order to avert losing the exchange, White
already capitulates on the dark squares.} (19. Rc2 Nd4 20. Rxd4 Qxd4 21. Bxe5
Qxe5 22. Nf3 Qf6 23. e5 Qg6 24. Rd2 Qh6 25. Nxg5 Qxg5 26. exd6 Rac8 $17) 19...
dxe5 20. Rxd8 Rxd8 21. Rd1 Nd4 22. Qg4 $2 {White finally collapses under the
pressure. More resistant was} (22. Qb2 {, although Black completely dominates
after} Qb6 23. Bc2 (23. b4 a5 $17) 23... Be7 24. Nd3 f6 25. Kf1 Bh5 {If now} 26.
f3 {, it would already be possible to strike:} Nxf3 $1 27. gxf3 Bxf3 {The
beautiful line is} 28. Re1 $2 Rxd3 $1 29. Bxd3 Qd4 $1 {Silent moves are my
favorite topic in the realm of tactics.} 30. Qd2 Bc5 $19) 22... Be7 $19 23. Ba2
$2 {[#]} Bb4 $2 {Winning, but far quicker was} (23... h5 24. Qxh5 (24. Qg3 Ne2+
$19) 24... f5 $19) 24. Rd3 Qb6 25. Kf1 Qa5 26. Qg3 b5 27. cxb5 $2 (27. Qe3 f5
$19) 27... axb5 28. f4 exf4 29. Qh4 bxa4 30. bxa4 g5 31. Qh6 Bxc3 32. Rxc3 Bxa4
(32... Qxc3 33. Qxg5+ Kf8 34. Qxd8 Qd2 $1 35. Bc4 Nf3 $1 $19) 33. Bc4 Rc8 34.
Bd5 Qxc3 35. Qxg5+ Kf8 0-1

 

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