Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A trap in the QGD, Baltic Defense

The Baltic Defense to the Queen's Gambit Declined (1.d4 d5 2.c4 Bf5) is very sharp. It is frequently seen on the Internet, in my experience mostly from people who don't know what they're doing. The theoretically critical move is 3.Qb3!?, aiming to exploit the bishop's absence from the queenside, and threatening both 4.Qxb7 and 4.cxd5. The only good response is the startling 3...e5!, leading to wild play. White often wins two or three pawns while Black gets a big lead in development. One line that White should emphatically avoid is 4.cxd5 exd4 5.Nf3 Bc5 6.Nxd4? Bxd4 7.Qa4+ Nc6! 8.dxc6 b5! 9.Qxb5 Ne7 with a huge lead in development for just one pawn, as Ward-Rausis, 1992 (0-1, 17!). Better is 6.Qc4 Nd7 7.Nxd4 Qh4 8.e3 Bxd4 9.Qxd4 Qxd4 10.exd4 Ngf6 11.Nc3 Nb6 112,d6 cxd6 1/2-1/2, Hracek-Bagirov, Brno 1991. I recommend instead 4.Qxb7 Nd7 5.dxe5!, which has scored well for White, for example 5...Nxe5 6.Qxd5 Bd6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Qd1 and White eventually exploited his material advantage in Koch-Haselhorst, Muenster open 1989.

Usually my Internet opponents haven't found 3...e5!, and instead have played something weak like (a) 3...Bxb1 4.Qxb7! Nd7 5.Rxb1 e5 6.Nf3! Rb8 7.Qxa7 e4 8.Nd2 e3 9.fxe3 Bb4 10.g3 Ngf6 11.Bh3! O-O (11...Ne4 12.Qa4!) 12.O-O Qe7 13.Nf3 and White successfully consolidated his material advantage in Skyva-Joukl, Czechoslovakia (ch) 1973; (b) 3...b6 4.cxd5 Bxb1 (4...Nf6 5.Nc3, followed by f3 and e4 if necessary, keeps the extra pawn) 5.Rxb1 Nf6 6.e4! Nxe4 7.Bb5+ Nd7 8.Nf3 f6 9.0-0 a6 10.Bc6 Ra7 11.Re1 Nd6 12.Bf4 g6 13.Qe3 Qc8 14.Nh4! Kd8 15.Bh6 1-0 Campos Vila-Miranda Llanes, Cuba 2009; (c) 3...dxc4? 4.Qxb7 Nd7 5.Nc3 e6 6.e4 Bg6 7.Bxc4 Nb6 8.Bb5+ Nd7 9.Bxd7+! Kxd7 10.Nf3 Be7 11.Ne5+ Ke8 12.Qc6+ Kf8 13.Nd7+ 1-0 Rhine-N.N., Internet blitz 2010; or (d) 3...Nc6? - see above game.


Bill Brock said...

After 1. d4 d5 2. c4 Bf5 3. Qb3 e5 4. Qxb7 Nd7, 5.Nf3 looks fine (there's no perpetual attack on the queen after 5...Rb8 6.Qxa7 Rb8 7.Qb7 (with the idea of Qa6 & Qb5 if needed).

May your basements be dry!

Frederick Rhine said...

5.Nf3 certainly isn't a ridiculous move, although as far as I can tell it's never been played. (See http://tinyurl.com/27uowml) Fritz likes it, but then Fritz likes 5.Nc3 even better, and that move has scored only 30% (albeit with a tiny sample size: +1 =1 -3).