'Anasthetising the Winawer'

Sat, 2014-03-22 08:58 -- IM Max Illingworth
[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2014.03.20"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Survey Introduction"]
[Black "4.exd5 Winawer"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C01"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "9"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]

{In this week's post I'll survey a simple but in my view quite annoying
antidote to the Winawer French.} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 {The starting
position of the Winawer.} ({If this post inspires you to start playing 3.Nc3
against the French, you'll still need to know how to meet the Rubinstein,} 3...
dxe4) ({and the Classical with} 3... Nf6 {. If you want something unorthodox I
can suggest} 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Qh5 {as a dangerous weapon.}) 4. exd5 (4. e5 c5 5.
a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 {is the main line, but after} Ne7 {, any moves other than} 7.
Qg4 {fail to fight for an advantage, and then} Qc7 8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 cxd4 {
has been ultimately analysed to a draw by repetition.}) 4... exd5 (4... Qxd5 {
is known to favour White after} 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. Bd3 b6 7. O-O Bxc3 8. bxc3 Bb7 {
because of his bishop pair and central control.}) 5. Bd3 {White's subsequent
setup depends on how Black plays - he has a lot of options here, but I think
White can fight for an edge or at least get a very interesting strategic
struggle after each of them. Now let's see some games.} * 
[Event "Paris"]
[Site "Paris"]
[Date "1867.06.27"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Steinitz, William"]
[Black "Winawer, Szymon"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C01"]
[Annotator "Illingworth, Max"]
[PlyCount "55"]
[EventDate "1867.06.04"]
[EventRounds "26"]
[EventCountry "FRA"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2001.11.25"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. exd5 exd5 5. Bd3 Be6 {Not a good move as it
leaves the bishop passive and is a bit committal, but it is the sort of move I
often see played when I go through beginners' games.} (5... Nf6 {is perhaps
the most obvious continuation.} 6. Nge2 O-O 7. Bg5 h6 8. Bh4 c6 9. O-O Re8 {is
then quite comfortable for Black as it isn't easy to improve White's position.}
) 6. Nf3 h6 {Another move that doesn't make much sense.} (6... Nf6) 7. O-O Bxc3
8. bxc3 Nd7 9. Rb1 {White's position is already close to winning because of
his bishop pair, lead in development and initiative, though Black's next move
doesn't help matters.} Nb6 (9... Rb8 10. Re1 Ne7 11. Nh4 O-O 12. Qf3 {still
gives White a strong kingside offensive.}) 10. Ne5 Ne7 11. f4 (11. Qh5 O-O 12.
Re1 {with the unstoppable threat of Bxh6! crashing through on the kingside is
even crisper.}) 11... Bf5 12. Bxf5 Nxf5 13. Ba3 Nd6 14. f5 Ne4 {A blunder, but
even} (14... Qg5 15. Qe1 Qe7 16. f6 gxf6 17. Ng4 Qxe1 18. Rbxe1+ Kd7 19. Rxf6
Nbc4 20. Bxd6 Nxd6 21. Ne5+ Ke7 22. Rff1 {sees White win material and preserve
his initiative.}) 15. f6 g6 (15... gxf6 16. Qh5 Ng5 17. Ng4 {is nothing short
of devastation.}) 16. Qg4 Qc8 17. Qxg6 {A very cute tactic to conclude the
game.} Qe6 (17... fxg6 18. f7+ Kd8 19. f8=R+ Rxf8 20. Rxf8# {is a pretty mate.}
) 18. Qg7 O-O-O 19. Nxf7 Nxc3 20. Nxd8 Rxd8 21. f7 Nd7 22. Rbe1 Ne2+ 23. Kh1 c5
24. Bxc5 Qe4 25. f8=Q Nxf8 26. Rxf8 Ng3+ 27. Qxg3 Rxf8 28. Bxf8 {Black gave up.
} 1-0 
[Event "Hannover"]
[Site "Hannover"]
[Date "1926.??.??"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Saemisch, Fritz"]
[Black "Nimzowitsch, Aaron"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C01"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "88"]
[EventDate "1926.??.??"]
[EventRounds "7"]
[EventCountry "GER"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1999.07.01"]

{For the sake of balance, let's now look at a game where Black wins.} 1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. exd5 exd5 5. Bd3 Ne7 {I think the knight's more passive
here than on f6 (and we already saw that the Bg5 pin is not a real issue),
though it does prepare ...Bf5 to exchange off White's good bishop in these
positions (conversely Black has the better dark-squared bishop in this
structure).} 6. Nge2 (6. Qh5 {is a bit better for White, as Black no longer
has ...Nf6 to kick the queen away and ...g6 weakens the kingside dark squares.
Surprisingly, Nimzowitsch (the first real proponent of 5...Ne7) never faced
this move.} c5 {It is logical to counter in the centre in response to White's
wing play, but White is well poised for a central confrontation.} (6... Nbc6 7.
a3 Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 {transposes to 5...Nc6, which we'll consider later.}) 7. dxc5
Nd7 (7... d4 8. a3 Qa5 9. axb4 Qxa1 10. Nce2 Nbc6 11. Nf3 Nxb4 12. Bb5+ Nbc6
13. O-O {gives White a decisive attack - his pieces are a million times better
placed than Black's.}) 8. Be3 Nf6 (8... Nxc5 9. Bxc5 Bxc5 10. Nf3 {gives White
a nice anti-IQP position, but this was perhaps the better choice.}) 9. Qg5 O-O
10. Nge2 {and it isn't obvious where Black's compensation for the pawn lies.})
6... O-O 7. O-O (7. Ng3 {tries to stop ...Bf5 but runs into} c5 {instead.})
7... Bg4 {Nimzowitsch's idea is a bit sophisticated - he should just trade the
bishops with} (7... Bf5 8. Ng3 Bxd3 9. Qxd3 Nbc6 10. Nce2 Qd7 11. c3 Bd6 12.
Bf4 {with an equal position.}) (7... c6 8. Ng3 {meanwhile would stop the ...
Bf5 idea.}) 8. f3 Bh5 9. Nf4 Bg6 10. Nce2 (10. Nxg6 hxg6 11. Bg5 {with a small
edge due to the bishop pair is very obvious.}) 10... Bd6 11. Nxg6 hxg6 12. Bf4
b6 {I quite like this idea of preparing ...c5 to create some pawn tension in
the position.} 13. Qd2 c5 14. c4 (14. c3 {is probably better, but can't really
trouble Black.}) 14... dxc4 15. Bxc4 Nbc6 16. dxc5 Bxc5+ 17. Kh1 Qxd2 18. Bxd2
Rfd8 {This is just an equal endgame, but the way Nimzowitsch outplayed Samisch
was very instructive and I'd recommend you analyse this endgame for yourself.
As it isn't at all important for our opening investigation I'll leave the rest
of the game unannotated.} 19. Rfd1 Ne5 20. Ba6 Nd3 21. Bxd3 Rxd3 22. Bc3 Rad8
23. Rxd3 Rxd3 24. Nf4 Rd7 25. g3 f6 26. Re1 Kf7 27. b4 g5 28. bxc5 gxf4 29.
cxb6 axb6 30. Bb4 Nf5 31. Kg2 Rd4 32. Re4 fxg3 33. Rxd4 Nxd4 34. hxg3 Ke6 35.
g4 b5 36. f4 g6 37. Bc5 Kd5 38. Be7 f5 39. gxf5 gxf5 40. Kf2 Ke4 41. Bd6 Kd3
42. Be5 Ne2 43. Bd6 Nc3 44. a3 Ne4+ 0-1 
[Event "Grand Slam Final 5th"]
[Site "Sao Paulo/Bilbao"]
[Date "2012.10.09"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Black "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C01"]
[WhiteElo "2843"]
[BlackElo "2697"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "84"]
[EventDate "2012.09.24"]
[EventRounds "10"]
[EventCountry "BRA"]
[EventCategory "22"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2012.11.13"]

{Even the reigning World Champion has played our little system; obviously we
can't overlook his game!} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. exd5 exd5 5. Bd3 Nf6
(5... c5 {is what I would want to play as Black, as the bishop on d3 is
misplaced in the resulting IQP position. But maybe I'm just not a Francophile!}
6. dxc5 Nc6 7. Nf3 d4 {for instance seems promising at first, but backfires to}
(7... Nge7 8. O-O Bxc5 {is best, but I think White has a bit of pressure in
this IQP position after} 9. Bf4 {(if Black can achieve ...Qd6 he is probably
fine)} O-O 10. h3 a6 11. a3 Ba7 12. Re1 {, when here even an IM made the
strategic mistake of} d4 {, blocking the a7-g1 diagonal for his bishop.}) 8. a3
Ba5 {(it's preferable to take on c5, but then White is just better)} 9. b4 Nxb4
10. axb4 Bxb4 11. Bb5+ Kf8 12. O-O Bxc3 13. Ra4 {and Black is getting killed
because his king is stuck in a wide open centre.}) 6. Nge2 Bg4 {I'm not a fan
of this move - I think White is just better in the resulting position because
of the good old bishop pair.} (6... O-O 7. O-O Re8 {is Watson's main line in
'Play the French 4'. I think White's position is still easier to play after} 8.
h3 c6 9. Bf4 Nbd7 10. a3 Bf8 11. Qd2 {- all of his minor pieces are
fractionally better than Black's.}) 7. O-O O-O 8. f3 (8. Bg5 c6 9. f3 Bh5 10.
Nf4 Bg6 11. Nxg6 hxg6 12. f4 {has scored very well for White in practice too.})
8... Bh5 9. Nf4 Bg6 10. Nxg6 hxg6 11. Ne2 {After this improvement of the
knight's position, I think White has a slight but very irritating edge.} (11.
Bg5 c5 12. dxc5 Qa5 {is fine for Black, as indicated by Watson.}) 11... Re8 12.
Bg5 Be7 13. Ng3 {This may have given Black a good chance to break out.} (13.
Nf4 {is better, so that} c5 {is now well met by} 14. Nxg6 fxg6 15. Bxg6 Rf8 16.
Qe1 {with a strong attack for the piece.}) 13... Nbd7 (13... c5 {is stronger,
exploiting the fact that White's knight no longer controls the d4-square.
Perhaps Magnus intended} 14. f4 c4 15. Be2 Nc6 {, with a complicated position,
but one that shouldn't be worse for Black, who in the long-term has the better
pawn structure because of the weakness of White's e4-square.}) 14. f4 Nh7 15.
Qf3 c6 16. h4 {This works in the game only because Black chickened out.} (16.
Bxe7 Rxe7 17. f5 {with equality was better.}) 16... Ndf8 (16... Qb6 {wins a
pawn and is a big problem:} 17. c3 (17. Qf2 Bd6 {leaves the g5-bishop sticking
out like a sore thumb, and is perhaps what both players missed.}) 17... Qxb2
18. Rab1 Qxc3 19. Ne2 Qd2 20. Rfd1 Qxa2 21. Rxb7 Nhf8 {and White has activity,
but that's not enough for two pawns.}) 17. Rae1 Qc7 18. Bxe7 Rxe7 19. Re5 {Now
White is firmly in control, and plays the rest of the game very clinically.} f6
20. Rxe7 Qxe7 21. h5 gxh5 22. Qxh5 Qf7 23. Qg4 {White's kingside attack is
simply too powerful.} g6 24. Nf5 Kh8 25. Nh4 (25. Nh6 Qg7 26. Qh3 f5 27. c3 {
followed by g4! is even better.}) 25... f5 26. Qh3 Qe6 27. Kf2 Re8 28. Nf3 Re7
29. Ne5 Nd7 30. Rh1 Nxe5 31. dxe5 c5 32. b3 c4 33. bxc4 dxc4 34. Be2 g5 35. g3
Qb6+ 36. Kg2 Qe3 37. Kf1 Rf7 38. Qh5 Qxg3 39. Qxf7 Qxf4+ 40. Kg2 Qe4+ 41. Bf3
Qxc2+ 42. Kg3 f4+ 1-0 
[Event "TCh-NED Meesterklasse 2013-14"]
[Site "Netherland NED"]
[Date "2014.02.08"]
[Round "5.2"]
[White "Smeets, J."]
[Black "Van Haastert, E."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C15"]
[WhiteElo "2618"]
[BlackElo "2421"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "53"]
[EventDate "2013.09.21"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "NED"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2014.02.10"]
[WhiteTeam "En Passant"]
[BlackTeam "LSG"]

{Even in a relatively 'stable' variation such as ours (where theoretical
knowledge isn't as important as understanding the arising middlegame), we
should still be familiar with some recent games. For instance, the following
game is a good advertisement for White's prospects in the 5...Nc6 variation.} 
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. exd5 exd5 5. Bd3 Nc6 (5... c6 {is in some ways
the most intelligent move as the ideal position for Black's bishop is on d6
and Black stays flexible, waiting on White's setup. Then I quite like} 6. Bf4 {
so that} Bd6 7. Qd2 Bxf4 8. Qxf4 Qe7+ 9. Nge2 Nf6 10. O-O-O O-O 11. f3 {gives
White good attacking chances on the kingside starting with g4, and an edge.})
6. a3 Bxc3+ (6... Ba5 {misplaces the bishop (which can't easily return to the
kingside/centre) and} 7. Nge2 Nge7 8. O-O O-O 9. Na4 {leaves the a5-bishop out
on a limb, while} Bf5 10. Nc5 Bxd3 11. Nxd3 Bb6 12. c3 {corrects the placement
of the knight and gives White a pull.}) (6... Be7 7. Bf4 Be6 (7... Nxd4 8. Bb5+
Nxb5 9. Nxb5 {is White's devilish trick.}) 8. Nf3 {on the other hand gives
White a tiny bit of pressure, due to the better placement of his bishops.}) 7.
bxc3 Nge7 (7... Nce7 {has been suggested as a good try for Black, but I don't
completely see the logic of it. Sure, it improves the placement of the knight,
but after} 8. Nf3 Nf6 9. O-O O-O 10. c4 dxc4 11. Bxc4 {White is just better
with the bishop pair and a central majority. It's like a main line Petroff
where Black gave up the bishop pair.}) (7... Be6 {is Watson's recommendation
in 'Play the French 4' and makes a lot of sense, as now White can't play c4 to
undouble his pawns.} 8. Rb1 b6 9. Qf3 Nge7 10. Ne2 Qd7 11. Nf4 Bf5 12. O-O Bxd3
13. cxd3 O-O-O {and Black's position is fine, but given the choice I'd take
White.}) 8. Qf3 (8. Qh5 Be6 9. Rb1 Qc8 10. Ne2 Bg4 11. Qg5 O-O 12. O-O {and
White's bishops are more important than his bad queenside pawn structure,
which he'll be able to rectify with c4 at some point.}) 8... Be6 9. Ne2 {It's
worth committing this setup to memory as the queen really is a good supporting
actor on f3.} Qd7 10. Ng3 (10. Nf4 {is an untried idea that deserves
investigation.}) 10... O-O-O (10... O-O 11. h3 Na5 {aims to clamp down on c4
and would have been my choice.}) 11. h3 g6 12. O-O {I don't think White has to
fear any attempts at a kingside attack from Black, and is probably just better.
} Nf5 13. Ne2 (13. Nxf5 Bxf5 14. Bxf5 Qxf5 15. Qxf5+ gxf5 {is clearly better
for Black as White can't exploit the doubled f-pawns and Black has the
dominant minor piece.}) (13. Rb1 Nxg3 14. fxg3 {keeping up the pressure was
better.}) 13... Nd6 (13... Nh4 14. Qg3 Nf5 {makes sense, as to avoid a
repetition White has to slightly misplace the queen with} 15. Qh2 {.}) 14. Nf4
Ne7 15. a4 c6 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Re1 {White is clearly better as Black now has
a backward e6-pawn and he lacks any counterplay.} Rde8 18. Qe2 Nef5 19. Bf4 Nf7
20. Rab1 N5d6 21. c4 {Black's king will be toast once the position opens up.}
dxc4 22. Bxc4 Nxc4 23. Qxc4 Re7 24. Qc5 b6 25. a5 {A cute way to break through.
} e5 (25... bxc5 26. Rb8#) 26. axb6 axb6 27. Rxb6 {Black resigned.} 1-0 
[Event "World Cup"]
[Site "Skelleftea"]
[Date "1989.08.??"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Kortschnoj, Viktor"]
[Black "Vaganian, Rafael A"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C01"]
[WhiteElo "2655"]
[BlackElo "2585"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "123"]
[EventDate "1989.08.??"]
[EventRounds "15"]
[EventCountry "SWE"]
[EventCategory "16"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1990.02.01"]

{I'll wrap up this post with a closer look at my 6.Bf4 suggestion. If you want
to examine this Anti-Winawer in more detail, I advise you to check out http://
www.chesspub.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1391619848/0, which is an
interesting and quite involved discussion.} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4.
exd5 exd5 5. Bd3 c6 6. Bf4 ({The main move} 6. Nge2 {was hotly debated on the
aforementioned thread. Personally, I like Korchnoi's fresher approach.}) 6...
Ne7 (6... Nf6 {is the other placement for the knight, and definitely more
logical as there's no longer a Bg5 pin. Perhaps White should go for} 7. Nge2
O-O 8. O-O Re8 9. Ng3 {, though in all fairness Black can't be objectively
worse here after} Bd6 10. Qd2 Bxf4 11. Qxf4 Be6 {and ...Nbd7.}) 7. Qh5 (7. Qf3
O-O 8. Nge2 Bf5 9. O-O-O Bxd3 10. Rxd3 {with attacking chances on the kingside
and the easier game is better.}) 7... Nd7 (7... Ng6 {should be fine for Black
after say} 8. Bg5 Qd6 9. Nge2 O-O 10. O-O h6 11. Bd2 Nd7 {followed by ...Nf6.})
8. Bg5 {Now it's too late for Black to play ...Ng6, and White has a good game.}
h6 9. Nf3 Rg8 (9... O-O 10. O-O {is naturally a bit better for White.}) 10. O-O
{This is just crazy.} (10. Bf4 {with a big advantage was obvious and good.})
10... hxg5 11. Nxg5 g6 (11... Rf8 12. Ne6 Nf6 13. Nxg7+ Kd7 {was the simplest
way to obtain a winning position.}) 12. Qh7 Nf8 13. Qxf7+ Kd7 14. Rae1 {Now
White is just winning.} Kc7 15. Re2 (15. Re5 Bd7 16. Rfe1 {is crushing.} Nf5
17. Bxf5) 15... Bd7 16. f4 (16. Rfe1 Nf5 17. Qxg8 Qxg5 {is the key difference.}
) 16... Rh8 17. Rfe1 Nf5 18. Bxf5 gxf5 19. Qg7 Rh5 20. Nf7 Qh4 (20... Qb8 {was
the correct defence - instead Black gets smashed.}) 21. g3 Qg4 22. Qe5+ Kb6 23.
a3 (23. Na4+ {is decisive, e.g.} Kb5 24. Qc7 Bxe1 25. Qxb7+ Kxa4 26. Rxe1 {and
mate will soon follow.}) 23... Re8 24. Nxd5+ cxd5 25. Qf6+ Bc6 26. Rxe8 Bxe1
27. Rxe1 Nd7 28. Qd8+ Ka6 29. b4 Nb6 30. Ng5 {White has at last consolidated
and now it's a matter of technique.} Rh6 31. Qf8 Rg6 32. Qc5 Nc4 33. Ne6 Rxe6
34. Rxe6 Qd1+ 35. Kg2 Qxc2+ 36. Kh3 Qa4 37. Kh4 Nd2 38. Qxd5 Qb5 39. Qxb5+ Kxb5
40. Re5+ Kc4 41. Rxf5 Nf3+ 42. Kh5 Nxh2 43. g4 Bf3 44. Rg5 Kxd4 45. Kh4 Ke4 46.
f5 Bd1 47. Rg7 Ke5 48. Kh3 Nxg4 49. Rxg4 Bc2 50. Rg5 Bxf5+ 51. Kg3 Kf6 52. Kf4
Bd7 53. Re5 Bc6 54. Ra5 a6 55. Re5 b6 56. Re2 a5 57. Re5 axb4 58. axb4 Bg2 59.
Rb5 Ke6 60. Ke3 Bf1 61. Rxb6+ Ke5 62. Rc6 1-0