Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An "Anti-Sicilian" Trap

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 is an "anti-Sicilian" line that might be called an "Alapin Variation Deferred." White prepares to grab the center with d4, and meets the natural 3...Nf6 with 4.Be2, when 4...Nxe4? 5.Qa4+ is a transparent trap. Best may be 4...Nbd7!?, forcing White to do something about his hanging e-pawn. The natural 4...Nc6, as in the game below, is playable, but allows 5.d4!? Black can then win material with 5...cxd4 6.cxd4 Nxe4!? 7.d5 (the point, meeting 7...Nb8? with 8.Qa4+, winning the knight) Qa5+ 8.Nc3 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Ne5 10.Nxe5 Qxc3+!? (the less greedy 9...dxe5 is possible) 11.Bd2 Qxe5 12.O-O! Qxd5 13.Rb1! and White has very dangerous compensation for his three(!) sacrificed pawns. In Basman-Stean, Hastings 1973/74, among other games, Black came to a grisly end. See Informant 17/439 or Shamkovich's book The Modern Chess Sacrifice for more details. Hodgson managed to survive after 13...f6!? in Gildardo Garcia-Hodgson, World Open 2000, as I also did in an Internet blitz game.

Black's 5...Nxe4??, as my opponent played in the game below, is just another way to blunder a piece, losing to the simple 6.d5. In Acunzo-Semenyuk, European Senior Championship 2011, Black soldiered on with 6...Nb8 7.Qa4+ Bd7 8.Qxe4, even managing to draw after White later hung a rook.

My opponent chose to lose a piece in a different way with 6...Nxf2, but I wrapped up the game in energetic fashion. Note that after 10.Bf6!, 10...gxf6? would have allowed 11.Bb5! double check and mate, à la Nimzowitsch-NN, Pernau 1910, which Bill alluded to the other day (position 14).

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