So I managed to play against two of my favorite opening structures in one game. The KID has been popular because it’s aggressive and is a a must know when playing online at this point, I enjoy playing against it because I know it well. The Exchange Grunfield is very similar to the Marshall Defense against the Queens Gambit (if you’ve read I’ve wrote about the Marshall on this blog you’ll know I say to never play it).
Black is going for the counter strike to the center from the flanks as more modern openings go. The downside here is if you don’t know that you have to play on the flanks and continue in the fashion of a normal game White gets an absolutely awesome position. I have a feeling that Black knew some theory but it quickly ran out in the next 3 moves as c5, the proverbial pawn break Black needs after 6…Nxc5 7. bxc3, was never played.
Here is the position stated above, Black needs to break the control White has over the center immediately. Rather than c5 Black plays a6 which is far too slow and continues to push the Queen side pawns in lieu of developing the Queen side pieces.
We come to the above position where Black has played b5 and I respond with a4. Playing a4 forces Black to make some choices where none of the answers lead to anything good. The computer recommends Black to play b4 in the attempts to undermine the structure temporarily giving away a pawn and then play Nc6 to fork the b and d pawns while accepting isolated a and c pawns.
Minor advantages add up over time, the weak c pawn, the lack of center control, the eventual two bishops all culminate in a dominate position for me in the end. Check out the full game and analysis on Lichess below.
I’ll admit tunnel vision in a blitz game can some times come back to bite me but luckily in this game I was focused on a decent line instead of overlooking a major threat. My opponent also had their own hyper focused idea which followed mine the next move but luckily I realized and corrected my oversight before they managed to have a chance to. We’ll get to the position later in the game as it happens near the end when I was winning and got a bit complacent.
The first interesting thing about the game was the opening we played. It was a QGD Anti-Nizmo where Black still played Bb4+. If Black is playing this line it’s best to know the proper moves to follow it up because anything but the best line gives White an advantage right from the start.
The whole point of White playing Nf3 here is to dissuade Black from playing the Bishop to b4 and instead using it to break the pin on Nf6 when it’s played. Black plays it anyway and white has a few replies. My favorite and what I played in the game is Bd2 immediately challenging the bishop. This is where most people go wrong, the best move is to retreat the bishop to e7 since capturing with Bxd2 means Black has moved the bishop twice and I will get to recapture with knight or Queen developing at the same time. Most people don’t want to retreat and will capture or even worse will play Nc6 giving white an advantage from the opening.
Here is my mistake: I have the option to recapture in e6 with the rook or the knight. Clearly the knight is better as it forks the two rooks but I recaptured with my own rook with the idea of doubling and then infiltrating the 7th rank. I had done this very thing so many times in so many games I did it without considering anything else. As I said before the move was fine but it wasn’t as good as winning an exchange.
It’s Black’s turn to move and miss an idea: They choose to play Nc4 getting the knight to a great outpost and threaten a3 which I would have to defend by moving my rook to a passive square. The problem is the looming knight fork on the King and rook on g6. Black does win the pawn but at the cost of a rook and eventually the 7th rank.
This game was against a 1540 opponent who played an interesting idea in the exchange slav.
You’ll notice the red arrow showing the bishop hitting the pawn, this is because in the Slav it’s typical to play Bf5 or Bg4 which can no longer be played. Black tends to play bg4 due to White not having pushed e3 yet so the bishop wouldn’t be pinning the knight to the Queen.
My assumption here is that this is a pet line of Black’s and it does accomplish some things. For example, Black has control over the d4 square at the moment and may have ideas of pushing f4 in the future to attempt to restrict me from play e4 directly. I was interested to see a new position, usually the games in the 1500-1700 tend to have a good amount of opening theory so the same lines are played until the middle game.
We come to the position as seen above where the light squared bishop isn’t accomplishing much and I have pressure on f5 and an xray attack on on h7 with check if the knight moves from f6. In the end the threat of Bxh7+ costs Black the game since they used a tempo to play h6 when other threats were on board.