Kindred’s Special: Petroff or Russian Defence comes up short. Don’t shilly shally

White:  Peter Leko     vs.  Black:  Rustam Kasimdzhanov     Opening:  Petroff Defence

1. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nf6  3. Nxe5  d6  4. Nf3  Nxe4  5. d4  d5  6. Bd3  Nc6  7. O-O  Be7  8. Nc3  Nxc3  9. bxc3  Bg4  10. Re1  O-O.

This is one of the standard lines arising in the Petroff.  White has emerged with the Bishop-pair while Black has created a weakened Pawn structure–three pawn islands versus two which, in pawn talk is a plus, not to mention the doubled pawns.

11. Bf4  Bd6  12. Bxd6  Bxf3.

Black’s aim is to exchange pieces and hopefully to make use of the weakened Pawn structure.  Even so, now White enjoys greater freedom on the King-side and with his next moves increases square count.

13. Qxf3  Qxd5  14. Re3  Rae8  15. Rae1 Rxe3  16. Rxe3  g6 17. h4  Nb8  18. h5.

So far logic and man power now in the computer home analysis by Rustam Kasimdzhanov decided to take the computer’s recommendation that may be a new move in this position.  However, previous play had lacked success when Landa tried 17. … Qd8  18. g3  h5  19. Bf1  Qd7  20. Bg2 Rd8  21. Qf4  Qd6  22. Qh6  b5  23. g4  hxg4  24. h5 with a favorable attack.

18. … Nd7  19. g4  Nf6  20. h6  Kh8.

Tucking the King in the corner for defense purposes and opening the g8 square for the Knight as a later option.  But this seems too slow and at least something like …c7-c6 would strengthen the Pawn formation, guard the d-square Pawn and aim for …b5 to stop c3-c4 attack on the center. Like in the previous example game, Black lets White gain space by square count building blocks.

21. Re5  c6  22. c4!

This prying open of the center with advances in square count makes the burden by the defender too much to bear.

22. … Ng8  23. Qe3  dxc4  24. Bxc4  g5  25. Rxg5  Nxh6  26. Qe4!!

An excellent book by Nimzowitch called Chess Praxis gives a wonderful chapter on the centralization importance of the Queen in many tactical positions.  White wants to play the Bishop to d3 but if he does so without this move, 26. …Qe6 is a powerful resource.

26. … f6  27. Rh5  f5

Black pins all hope on this move.

28. gxf5  Nxf5  29. Be6!  Qxd4 30. Rxh7+ Black resigns.

The Queen is lost.  A nice example where the Bishop and Queen combination has as much tactical beauty as that in a Queen and Knight attack.

Sitting at the board and having to establish an idea and then map out a strategy to hopefully keep the battle in the realm of what is called good or correct chess is hard to do.  You are not alone as you have an opponent who has something to say about how variations arise and are ultimately chosen. That is a fascinating aspect of chess every time you sit down to do battle.  On top of this, you face different styles of chess play– attacking, positional, defensive, where often a combination during the game arises in one or more elements that leads to a position crisis.

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