Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A trap in the Vienna Gambit (II)

In the Vienna Gambit, after 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5! (rather than 3...Nc6? or 3...exf4?, which I looked at previously), play usually continues 4.fxe5 Nxe4. Then 5.d3!? (the second most common move, behind 5.Nf3), tempts Black to play 5...Qh4+ 6.g3 Nxg3. At first blush, this looks very attractive, winning a pawn, further weakening White's king position, and attacking White's rook. Appearances are deceiving: White's counterattack is stronger. After 7.Nf3 Qh5 8.Nxd5! (threatening Nxc7+), Black will be in trouble whether he tries to save his rook, or takes White's rook, allowing White to win his.

The first alternative was seen in Perez Pietronave-Campagnoni, 1996, where Black tried 8...Na6. White chased Black's queen around, beginning with 9.Nf4!, and won Black's knight on g3. Bruce Pandolfini in Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps gives a similar line after 8...Kd8. Note that in either case (8...Na6 or 8...Kd8) if Black responds to 9.Nf4 with 9...Qg4, White wins the queen with 10.Bh3!
The second alternative was seen in Sax-Petran, 1973, where Black played 8...Bg4 (the immediate 8...Nxh1 9.Nxc7+ scores even worse for Black) 9.Bg2 Nxh1. After the dust settled White was left in an endgame a piece up.
The moral of the story: resist temptation with 5...Nxc3! 6.bxc3 and now the most common move, 6...d4, or better yet 6...Be7 7.Nf3 O-O 8.d4 f6, which scores very well for Black.

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