Dennis M's Chess Site

This is a blog for chess fans by a chess fan. I enjoy winning as much as anyone else, and I've had a reasonable amount of success as a competitor, but what keeps me coming back to the game is its beauty. And that, primarily, is what this site will be about! All material copyrighted.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Follow-up (2) on TWIC Theory II: Return of the Dragon

In my previous post I addressed some background issues concerning Martin's latest contribution to TWIC Theory; in this post I will briefly address some of Victor Reppert's suggestions to rehabilitate Black's fortunes against Martin's (and Rogozenko's) critiques.

We start with the position after the moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 O-O 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.O-O-O Qa5 11.Bb3 Rfc8 12.Kb1 Ne5 13.Bg5 Rc5 14.h4 Re8 15.h5 Nxh5 16.Bh6.

Martin is following the game Movsesian (2624)-Bergez (2370), Cappelle op 2002 which concluded rather brutally for Black after 16...Bxh6 17.Qxh6 Rxc3 18.bxc3

18...Rc8 19.g4 Nf6 20.g5 Nh5 21.Rxh5 gxh5 22.Nf5 Bxf5 23.exf5 (threatening 24.f6) Kh8 24.Rh1 Qd8 25.g6 Nxg6 26.Qxh5 Qg8 27.fxg6 fxg6 28.Qh3 1-0

Dragon fan and fellow blogger Victor Reppert offers two improvements, one for each diagram above.

(I) 16...Bh8 instead of 16...Bxh6.
(II) 18...Nf6 instead of 18...Rc8, with the key point that 19.g4 Bxg4! gives Black good compensation.

I offer the following not as anything remotely resembling the final truth of the matter, but as a start for future analysis:

(I) 16...Bh8 17.g4 Nf6 18.Qh2 and now three lines:

(IA) 18...Bxg4? 19.fxg4 Nexg4 (19...Rxc3 20.Bd2+-) 20.Qg2 Nxh6 21.Rxh6+-
(IB) 18...Nc4 19.Bxc4 Rxc4 20.Nd5 and Black is in trouble, e.g. 20...e6 (20...Nxd5 21.Bd2+-) 21.Nxf6+ Bxf6 22.Bf4 h5 23.Nb3+-
(IC) 18...Bc6 looks reasonable, not rushing to commit and helping shore up the d5 square. White has lots of possibilities here; I'll just present one: 19.Qh3 (with the idea of 20.Bg5; 19.Bg5? failed due to 20...Nexg4-+) e6 20.Qh4+=, or 20.Bg5 Nexg4 21.Bh4 Ne3 22.Nxc6 bxc6 23.Bxf6 Rh5 24.Qxh5 gxh5 25.Rdg1+ Ng4 26.Bxh8 Kxh8 27.fxg4 hxg4 28.Rxg4 Rg8+=.

(II) 18...Nf6 19.Ne2 and now two ideas come to mind, both with the idea of advancing Black's queenside counterplay with ...Nc4:

(IIA) 19...Bb5 20.Nf4 (threatening 21.Nd5) and now

(IIA1) 20...Nc4 21.Nd5 Qa3 22.Nxf6+ exf6 23.Qxh7+ Kf8 24.Qh6+ Ke7 25.Qc1 and Black's compensation seems inadequate.
(IIA2) 20...e6 21.Qg5 (preventing ...Nc4 because of the horizontal pin - 21...Nc4?? 22.Bxc4 Bxc4?? 23.Qxa5) Qd8 (21...Nfd7 22.Rxh7! Kxh7 23.Rh1+ Kg7 24.Nh5+ Kf8 25.Nf6+-) 22.Rd4 +-

(IIB) 19...b5 20.Nf4 (the prophylactic 20.Ka1 might be best, preparing Rb1 in case of emergency) Bc6 and now there are lots of possibilities, like 21.Nd3, 21.Rh3 and 21.Rd4, and just for fun, 21.Rd5!? Bxd5 22.Nxd5 Ned7 (22...Nc4!?) 23.f4 e6 24.Nxf6+ Nxf6 25.e5 Ne4 26.Qxh7+ Kf8 27.exd6 Nxd6 28.Qh6+ Ke7 29.Qg5+ Kd7 30.Rd1 Rd8 31.Qe5 Qb6 32.g4 with some initiative.

I'm sure much more can be said about this, but Reppert is right that Black can at the very least put up much more of a fight. Perhaps St. George hasn't slain the 10...Qa5 Dragon just yet!


  • At 8:17 PM, Blogger Ken said…

    Hi Dennis...I've been following your anti-French, and Dragon variations with some interest. With all the work you must put in on this site, plus your Monday evening show, I feel somewhat bad about asking this question...but is there any chance of getting the variations in PGN format?

    If not, I can just enter the variations in Fritz myself, and then merge with the relevant files/games.

  • At 10:18 PM, Blogger Dennis Monokroussos said…

    Sorry, Ken. Maybe someday, but not any time too soon.

  • At 1:41 PM, Blogger Ken said…

    That's ok. In doing it myself, it might help the ideas sink in a bit more.

  • At 2:48 PM, Blogger Victor Reppert said…

    Dennis: I've found more problems with the Martin article. Ward doesn't cover 14 h4, but he does have some things to say about 14 Rhe1. Now for someone who is clearly baiting Chris Ward with his talk about "propaganda specialists" (I mean who else could he be talking about when he talks about advocates of the Qa5 system!-are you listening Chris?) Martin just ignores what Ward says in his book about positions he blithely evaluates as better for White. After 14 Rhe1 b5 15 Bxf6 exf6 and now instead of 16 Bd5, as found in Schekachev-Ward, he recommends, as does Golubev 17 Nd5, but he considers only Qxd2, but Ward says 16 Nd5 Qd8 17 f4 is perhpas more critical when black has a potentiallt dominant (in teh absence of its enemy counterpart) Dragon bishop to compensate him for the weak d-pawn. Logically White should shut this out by getting his own pawn tof5 before Black, but 17...a5 exploits the frailties of his own bishop. Now 18 fe5 fe5 19 c3 a4 20 Bc2 exd4 21 cxd4 Rc4 is very good for Black and thus 18 a3 may be necessary, when the position remains unstable (WWTD 2 p. 83).

  • At 12:02 AM, Blogger Dennis Monokroussos said…

    Victor: I agree that Martin's "propaganda" comment is directed at Ward. Ironically (or not), Rogozenko, in his text survey to the 13.Bg5 line, expresses some skepticism towards and criticism of Ward's evaluations of that line in WWTD 2, though without going so far as to call him a "propaganda specialist."

    Leaving name-calling aside, there's the further question of whether he has correctly assessed 14.Rhe1. Everyone continues 14...b5 15.Bxf6 exf6 16.Nd5, and now Martin only mentions 16...Qxd2+ 17.Rxd2 with a clear advantage for White.

    However, given that he's (presumably) (a) criticizing Ward and (b) Ward offers something here, it should be addressed: 16...Qd8 17.f4 and now 17...a5! ,improving on 17...Nc4 as in Mietzner-Schaffer, Dresden 2002, quickly 1-0).

    Ward's line (as quoted by Reppert - I don't have the book) continues 18.fxe5 fxe5, but now instead of 19.c3 how about 19.Nf5? Here's some plausible but unforced analysis:

    19...gxf5 20.Ne3 Ra6 21.Nxf5 Bxf5 22.exf5 Rac6 23.f6 Bxf6 24.Re3 and now we come to a fork:

    (a) 24...a4 25.Rg3+ Kh8 26.Bd5 Rxc2 27.Qh6 e4 28.Bxc6 Rxb2+ 29.Kc1 Rxa2 30.Qf4 Ra1+ 31.Kd2 Ra2+ 32.Ke1 Qa5+ 33.Kf1 Bd4 34.Rf3!! exf3 35.Qxd4+ Kg8 36.Bxf3 +-, but I'm not sure anyone ought to trust that line!

    (b) 24...Kh8 25.Rh3 Qg8 26.Rg3 Bg7 27.Qxa5 with a clear White advantage (maybe).

    In sum, the evaluation of the 10...Qa5 variation still looks like it's Black who has more to prove, but there's also a ways to go before White can truly say "case closed."

  • At 4:54 PM, Blogger Victor Reppert said…

    A couple of last comments on this issue (I don't want to clog up the comments with Dragon-stuff); first you have to wonder about the theoretical significance of games with a rating difference over 200 points. I'm not saying they can't be important, but one side can rack up good results because the better player always has, say, White. Second, after 14. Rhe1, there are lots of alternatives: the one my version of Fritz prefers is 14....Nc6.

    The debate over the Moles variation goes on on the Dragons Forum: the consensus is that Martin's article is far from convincing. One person besides myself has mentioned this blog.


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