In the Queen Pawn Game there are numerous opening defenses to meet White’s 1.d4. One such opening is the Slav Defense which is reached most directly by 1.d4 d5, 2.c4 c6. As early as 1604 it appeared in the publication authored by the Italian Salvio. He mentions in his book that Polerio mentioned the idea in 1590 so it is certainly an ancient relic against White’s Queen Pawn advance. While it has been known, the popularity of it rarely attracted much serious attention until Bogoljubov’s book P-Q4! in which he calls it the “Russian Defense” because Chigorin, Rubinstein, Alekhine and himself contributed considerably in its popularity. The name given the defense is probably because this group were Slavs and was probably given lots of investigation in study and practice.
Tigran Petrosian (White) vs Pfeiffer (Black)
Slav Defense Transposing to Meran Defense
1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.d4 e6 6.Qc2
Petrosian often avoided main lines, here being 6.Bd3. His choice leads to a different type setup but also has some history to it. In the 1946 Groningen Tournament, the Swedish star Stolz used it, play usually going 6…Bd6, 7.e4 dxe4, 8.Nxe4 Nxe4 9.Qxe4 e5! pulling the fangs as after further exchanges, Black can play Qa5+ attacking the e5 square. Then, as a result of a 6-game match between Taimanov vs Botvinnik who tied for top honors in the 20th USSR Championship, Taimanov played after 6…Bd6 his improvement 7.Bd2. Botvinnik won the match 3.5-2.5.
6…a6 7.b3 b6 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0-0 Be7 10.Bb2
White has a space/square count advantage so probably Black does best to remove his King from the center and castle. He plays instead to complicate matters in the center aiming to weaken White’s pawn structure. While Black accomplishes his short term plan, the problem is that White is better situated to take advantage of such central exchanges and action. Pawn exchanges open up the lines for attack and due to Black having avoided castling soon finds his King stuck in the center. Just the cup of tea Petrosian likes from his opponents.
10…dxc4 11.bxc4 c5 12.Ne5!
This strong central outpost accomplishes one important task–continues to make castling very risky. TP visions placing Rad1 and Nxd7 with dxc5 that opens lines favoring White.
Giving White the famous ‘hanging pawns’ so skillfully written up in MY SYSTEM by Nimzowitch. However, Black intends to give White an isolani (c4) and transfer a Knight to c5 where he hopes it to be useful and acts as a blockade. The problem is that in this case it seems to be too slow and in no way prevents White from advancing his own plan.
13.exd4 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Nd7 15.f4 Nc5
Mission accomplished but White has also made progress in advancing the f-pawn and securing e5 and again making castling rather dangerous because of the strong f5 pawn advance.
16.Be2 g6 17.Rad1 Qc7
Where oh where doeth I move my Queenie? Three square, take your pick!
A lightning bolt! The sacrifice must be accepted.
19.cxd5 Qc8 20.e6 0-0
Black finally castles but it is too little, too late. The reason is that this is really not a tempo play because White is in no way limited in furthering his attack. The essential central squares are being invaded by a pawn phalanx like a wave crashing into a weak levee.
21.Qc3 f6 22.d6 Na4 23.Qxc8 Rfxc8 24.Ba1 Rc2 25.dxe7 Rxe2 26.Rd8+ Kg7 27.Rc1!
This relatively inactive piece now enters the attack and adds to the coming coup de grace and end to a sizzling adventure.
Black has no time for Rxg2+ as the Rook must stop the e7 pawn queening.
28.Rc7 Kh6 29.Bxf6
Now the Bishop that for so long had been denied access to a capture or more aggressive role enters the house that was weakly constructed.
29…Be4 30.Bg5+ Resigns. 1-0. 30…Kh5 31.d8(Q) Rxd8 32.h3 sets up the mate either by Rxh7 or g4.
Lesson from this game:
1. The most important point of this instructive game is that Black was not quite ready to disrupt the center with pawn exchanges while the King was not castled. A major principle of chess was ignored in that one should not open up the game position when behind in development. Had Black been able to castle and then threaten to exchange as he did, he might have had a good position enabling him to cripple White’s pawn structure and perhaps blunt what occurred. Still, it took inspired play and thorough calculation to visualize that the central pawn roller was worth the sacrificed Knight.