Egoism, according to Jonathan Rowson. Last year I played open tournament in Senta and in round 3 I was paired to play young girl Ana Gebejes. On the previous day I was “butchering” an IM and I thought 200 points lower-rated opponent will just roll over and lose without too much effort from my side. Wrong! Each game demands full mobilization and each opponent deserves respect. The former U18 Serbian champion, as she told me after the game, played very well. Here is the game with comments of GM Michael Roiz and I will add couple of notes to explain my decision-making process.
Ana Gebejes – Goran Urosevic
- d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3
Earlier I played Semi-Slav but after three years of inactivity I wanted to try Nimzo Indian defence. Before the tournament, I planned to enter classical Queens Indian on 3.Nf3, but when she actually played it, I started to doubt my choice. What if she, unlike myself, knows perfect theory and I end up in one of those annoying plus/equal positions? What if we end in one of the most drawish variation(s) in the world? I had no clue about the Benoni, but I wanted to play for win.
3… c5 4. d5 exd5 6. cxd5 Bd6!?
This move earned the post title. I wanted to avoid the theory and played rare move expecting to confuse the young girl. Bd6 makes it slightly different than regular Benoni, in the sense that Black is losing some tempi but it could be possible to build stronger pressure against e4 pawn (by exchanging its defender Nc3). I tried the variation on couple of blitz occasions and almost all of my opponents, including FMs, failed to find good solutions. But this “statistics” actually tricked me, as longer time controls are something completely different.
GM Roiz: First of all, I would recommend you not to play this rare line, it is too risky and White has several dangerous continuations. Even against the weaker players, I suggest playing the main lines of Benoni. Of course, the opening repertoire is a matter of your personal choice, but believe me, with the regular Benoni you will achieve more against weaker and feel safer against stronger players.
- Nc3 0-0 7. e4 Re8 8. Bd3 Bc7 9. 0-0 d6
It is still necessary to play d6, and Bd6-c7-a5, eventually Bxc3, takes a lot of precious time. Meanwhile, White continues with normal development.
- Bg5 h6 11. Bh4 Ba5?
Having in mind only my own plans and paying no attention to Ana’s play, I mechanically continued with my “scheme” and committed a mistake.
GM Roiz: This is a serious strategical mistake. White already has significant development advantage [four pieces in the play versus two mine], and in situation like this, you should first consider completing your development and neutralizing the initiative. 11…Nbd7 12. Nd2 a6 13. a4 Ne5!, it is very important to remove the Knight from d7 and open Bc8 diagonal before White gets to play f4, 14. Be2 and only now 14…Ba5 with the idea 15. f4 Ng6 where Black is holding.
Here I realised that after Nc4 I will have huge problem with d6 pawn (Prospects of Bg3 and absence of Ba5) and my queenside pieces.
GM Roiz: Exactly! Now you have no time for development and White achieves huge advantage.
12… Nbd7 13. Nc4
GM Roiz: I would even prefer 13. f4!? first and if 13…Nf8 14. Nc4 Bxc3 15. bxc3 Ng6 16. Bxf6! Qxf6 17. e5 Black position is falling apart
13… Bxc3 14. bxc3 Ne5
Basically the only move. Qe7 or Qc7 would be answered with devastating Bg3 and 14…Nb6 15. Nxb6 axb6 (16… Qxb6 17. Bxf6 ruins my pawn structure) 16. f4! preventing my g5 and preparing 17. Qb3.
- Nxe5 dxe5
This pawn structure can arise from Gruenfeld Indian defence and it should be okay, but my pieces are too clumsy to handle it. Nf6 is pinned, my Queen is limited to protecting that Knight avoiding the pawn structure defects, Bc8 is crying for good square and Re8 is simply standing on my ways.
GM Roiz: This pawn structure may be accepted only if the Knight can quickly reach d6. However, here it is not the case and White has wonderful opportunity to open files and diagonals for powerful Bishops pair. On Grandmaster level, this position is already considered lost for Black.
A big sigh of relief. I was very worried about 16. Bb5! Rf8 (now we see how awful was Rook placed) 17. d6! and I’m all tied up. White’s center and passed pawn are very stable at the moment and there was no need for solidifying c4. Furthermore, this wasn’t only a tempo waste, which I desperately needed to start breathing again, but it also locks light-squared Bishop. Okay, similar structures usually see Bishop getting involved via c2-a4 and possibly Bc6, because Black will have to play b6 sooner or later, but in this case it might prove to be too slow.
GM Roiz: Your opponent is missing his chance and allows you to consolidate. In order to maintain the initiative, White has to play energetic moves, therefore 16. Bb5 Rf8 17. f4 Qd6 18. Qf3 exf4 19. Qxf4 Qxf4 20. Rxf4 with decisive advantage.
Again the only move. Queen is preventing deadly opening of the f-file and moves out of the pin. It also blocks d-pawn but that is of minor importance at the moment. Queen is worst possible blockader and it should be replaced with Knight preferably. Main task is to keep the position closed and prevent cleaning diagonals for enemy Bishops.
GM Roiz: Well played. Although the Queen shouldn’t operate as blockader, here it was very important to establish the blockade as soon as possible. Now White cannot immediately push f4 and his advantage has been reduced.
GM Roiz: Another pointless move. Black will be forced to play b6 anyway and Rook does nothing on b-file. More to the point would be 17. a4 b6 18. a5 when Rook does its share on the a-file.
I have to release and develop light-squared Bishop, finally connecting the Rooks.
- Bg3 g5!
Slightly weakening move, but I have to stop f4 at any cost. As we will see, White couldn’t benefit from the direct assault at my kingside.
GM Roiz: Correct decision. The problem with the opening didn’t allow you to play for win, but at least you have defended well.
GM Roiz: This plan leads only to exchanges, but White hardly had anything better. Without the Knights, it’s almost impossible to break this fort.
19… Bd7 20. hxg5 hxg5
Now I only have to eliminate possible threats on the h-file.
21. Qd2 Nh7 22. f3 f6 23. Kf2 Nf8 24. Rh1 Kg7 25. Rh5 Ng6 26. Rbh1 Rh8 27. Rxh8 Rxh8 28. Rxh8 Nxh8 29. Bc2 and here Ana offered draw which I accepted.