Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Noah's Ark Trap

If you play the Sicilian on the Internet, sooner or later you'll run into someone who plays 1.e4 c5 2.Bb5?! a6 3.Ba4?? against you, losing the bishop after 3...b5 4.Bb3 c4. The Noah's Ark Trap in the Ruy Lopez (supposedly called that because of its antiquity) is a slightly more sophisticated version of this. The game below shows Endre Steiner falling into it against Capablanca at Budapest 1929. White's 5.d4 is considered inferior to 5.0-0, 5.c3, and 5.Bxc6+ if White is playing for a win. After Capablanca's 6...Nxd4! 7.Nxd4 cxd4, it is a little awkward for White to regain his pawn, as Steiner discovered to his chagrin. He could have done so safely with 8.Bd5 Rb8 9.Qxd4, or played 8.c3, when after 8...dxc3 he could choose between gambitting a pawn with 9.Nxc3!? and forcing a draw with 9.Qd5 (threatening both the rook and Qxf7#) Be6 10.Qc6+ Bd7 11.Qd5 Be6 12.Qc6+. Instead, poor Steiner fell into the trap with 8.Qxd4??, allowing Capa to trap his bishop with 8...c5! 9.Qd5 Be6 10.Qc6+ Bd7 11.Qd5 c4!

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