Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rosen-Magness, Skokie 2011

Here's one of the two decisive games from the last round of the Illinois Denker Qualifier (which, just to refresh your collective memory, is the Illinois Chess Association's High School Invitational Championship).

I'm very impressed by Magness's choicce on move three!

Rosen-Magness, Skokie 2011
Black to play

3...c5 was Karpov's choice against Korchnoi in the 1978 world championship.  The idea of swapping the c-pawn for White's d-pawn is positionally sound, and Black scores well with this variation.  But I always felt a little uncomfortable after 4.e5 Ng8.  The artificial isolation of the e5 pawn offsets White's space and time advantages, but doesn't make the opening fun to play!  And Karpov lost that game.

After 4...Ng8: White to play
Would you be comfortable with the Black pieces?

3...d5 is the most popular move here, but White just seems to have a nice position after 4.e5 d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.d4.

After 7.d4: Black to play
Seems pleasant for White!

Trevor's radical choice was new to me, but it's been played recently by the Filipino prodigy Wesley So:

After 3...e5!?
Beginner's move or brilliant idea?

One idea behind Black's deliberate waste of time is that White's combination of e2-e4 and c2-c4 is double-edged, as dark squares are weakened.  Another way of looking at this position: it's as if this were a Vienna Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6) in which White gets the move c2-c4 "for free," but the value of the extra tempo is unclear.  Anyway, 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.d4 cxc4 6.Nxd4 seems like a critical continuation.  White would love to trick Black into an advantageous version of the Scotch Four Knights (recall that there's a line in which White plays Nc3-a4 to gain space with c2-c4), but Black doesn't have to allow such nonsense.

In the game above, Eric played more quietly against Trevor, and didn't get anything from the opening.  If I can learn a new move on move three of an opening that I defended against for twenty years, then I've got to believe that chess is still full of surprises!

After busy season, I'll have more to say about this game on the ICA website.  Perhaps in the interim, folks can explain this opening to me :-)


Frederick Rhine said...

As I've told you before, Bill, 3...e5 was played by Erik Karklins at the 1979 U.S. Open against a certain junior who went on to become a well-known master. The game continued 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.g3 Bc5 6.Nxe5?? Nxe5 7.d4 Bxd4 0-1 in light of 8.Qxd4 Nf3+.

Frederick Rhine said...

I know that 3...e5 is also mentioned briefly by Watson in his tetralogy on the English.

Bill Brock said...

A memory expert I'm not! Was the junior Albert Chow?

Frederick Rhine said...


Anonymous said...

Actually, White sometimes plays 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e4 with the idea 4... Bc5 5. Nxe5. In the line in the game, White will be up a tempo on this line. Though it's probably not the best line, White probably can fight for an advantage up a tempo.

Bill Brock said...

But what does White do with the extra tempo? Moving the g-pawn allows the Chow-E. Karklins tactic; moving the d-pawn makes ...Bb4 stronger. Or White could make a neutral move (Be2, a3).

Trevor said...

After 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 e5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.d4 black can play the interesting ...Bb4!?. In the comparable Scotch line with the c-pawn back on c2 (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4), this move is risky - white continues with 5.Nxe5 Nxe4 6.Qg4! Nxc3 7.Qxg7, after which he should have the advantage. All moves by the c3 knight are met by 8.c3.... However, put the c-pawn back on c4 and white no longer has this resource! After 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 e5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.d4 Bb4!? 6.Nxe5 Nxe4!, then, white's best is probably 7.Qf3, with chances for both sides.

The few GMs to face this e5 idea seem to favor playing more quietly with 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Be2. I get the feeling that white's space advantage will leave him with the preferable game, as d4 is not the easiest square for black to control. On the plus side it's a fresh position with a lot to discover.

If white, like black, is in an inventive mood, he could try 4.f4!?, in Vienna style, when the pawn on c4 hopes to be part of a large pawn mass and prevents black from countering with d5.

Trevor Magness