Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Playing to win with the Exchange Slav: The Hawk Attack?

Things didn't go to plan last night against Jonathan Hawkins. He's a difficult opponent to prepare for, because, despite his recent successes, very few of his games have been published. Suspecting he would have prepared for my King's Indian, I switched tack and played the Slav variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined.

Unfortunately, after 4 moves, all my preparation was out of the window. Jon played the exchange variation (4 cd), which as every chess player knows is tantamount to offering a draw straightaway, or so I thought! After the recapture 4 ... cd, Jon's 5th move was an even bigger surprise: 5 f3!?

Hawkins vs Coathup Slav Chess after 5. f3
I'd never seen this before. I suppose it has characteristics of a Blackmar Diemer Gambit without the c-pawns. Rather than confront it head on, I decided to treat the position as a French Defence where White has lost a tempo (f3), but gained a better square for his Knight (c3), and where the central tension has been resolved early.

5. ... e6 6. e4 Nc6 7. e5 Nd7 8. f4 f5

I didn't like playing this move, but was worried that White can simply go Bd3, Qh5 with a very strong attack. The trouble is that after f5, Black has difficulty initiating active play.

9. Nf3 Be7 10. a3 O-O 11. Bd3 Nb6 12. b3 Bd7 13. Bb2 Rc8 14. O-O Be8 15. Rc1 Bh5 16. Ne2 Qd7

Given that I decide not to double rooks on the c-file, this and 17... Rc7 just lose time. 16. ... Nb8 would be better.

17. Qd2 Rc7 18. h3 Nb8 19. Rxc7 Qxc7 20. Ng5 Qd7

Here, ... Bxe2 would have been more natural.

21. g4 Bxg5?

Based on an oversight (I missed 23 Bxh7+ when analysing). After 21. ... Bg6, the game would have remained very interesting.

22. fxg5 fxg4?? 23. Bxh7+ Kxh7 24. Rxf8 Nc6 25. Nf4 Qe7 26. g6+ Bxg6 27. Rh8+ 1-0

After the game, Jon told me he'd played the line on a number of occasions and scored 100% with it; so, in his honour, we'll name it the 'Hawk Attack'.

A scan on Chessbase reveals it's been played a few times before, so be warned if you are facing Wolfgang Labahn, Hans Georg Kleinhenz, or Daniele de Val. No-one over 2400 has ventured it though.

Here's how's IM Peter Varga crushed the line:

Daniele de Val - Peter Varga, 2003
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.f3 e6 6.e4 dxe4 7.fxe4 Bb4 8.Bd3 Nxe4
Daniele de Val vs Peter Varga Slav Chess
9.Qa4+ Nc6 10.Bxe4 Bxc3+ 11.Ke2 Bxd4 12.Nf3 Bf6 13.Rd1 Bd7 14.Qb3 Qb6 15.Qd3 Rd8 16.Qb1 Nd4+ 17.Nxd4 Bxd4 18.Rxd4 Qxd4 19.Be3 Qc4+ 20.Kf2 Bc6 21.Bxh7 Qh4+ 0-1

Expect improvements though, as Daniele (FIDE 2182) is still playing the variation and used it to draw against Russian IM Vasilij Gagarin:

Daniele de Val - Vasilij Gagarin, 2004
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.f3 a6 6.e4 dxe4 7.fxe4 e5 8.Nf3 exd4 9.Qxd4 Qxd4 10.Nxd4 Bc5 11.Nb3 Bb4 12.Bd3 0-0 13.0-0 Be6 14.Be3 Nbd7 15.Bd4 Bxb3 16.axb3 Bc5 17.Bxc5 Nxc5 18.Bc2 Rae8 19.Rfe1 Re5 20.b4 Ne6 21.Ra5 Rxa5 22.bxa5 Rd8 23.e5 Rd2 24.Ba4 Nd5 25.Rd1 Rxd1+ 26.Bxd1 Nb4 27.Bf3 Nc5 28.Ne4 Ncd3 29.Nd6 Nxe5 30.Bxb7 Ned3 31.Nc4 Kf8 32.Kf1 Ke7 33.Ke2 Nc5 34.Bf3 Nb3 35.Ke3 Kd7 36.Bd1 Nc5 37.Ne5+ Kd6 38.Nxf7+ Kd5 39.Be2 Nb3 40.Bf3+ Kc5 41.Ng5 Nxa5 42.Kd2 Kc4 43.Nxh7 Kb3 44.Ng5 Nc4+ 45.Ke1 Kxb2 46.Be2 Nc2+ 47.Kf2 Kc3 48.Ne6 a5 49.Nc5 Nb2 50.h4 Kb4 51.Nd3+ Nxd3+ 52.Bxd3 Kc3 53.Bb5 Nd4 54.Bd7 Kb4 55.Ke3 Nb5 56.Kd3 a4 57.Bxb5 Kxb5 58.Kc3 Kc5 59.g4 Kd5 60.h5 Ke5 1/2

And finally, WGM Anna Zatonskih, meeting it with 5. ... Qa5.

Carl Brando Boor - Anna Zatonskih, 2004
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.f3 Qa5 6.Bg5 Nc6 7.a3 e6 8.e3 Be7 9.Bd3 h6 10.Bh4 0-0 11.b4 Qd8 12.f4 Ne4 13.Bxe7 Nxc3 14.Bxd8 Nxd1 15.Kxd1 Rxd8 16.Nf3 Bd7 17.Kd2 Ne7 18.Rhc1 Rdc8 19.g4 Rxc1 20.Rxc1 Rc8 21.Rg1 Rc7 22.h4 Nc8 23.h5 Nd6 24.g5 hxg5 25.fxg5 Bb5 26.h6 Bxd3 27.Kxd3 gxh6 28.gxh6+ Kh7 29.Ne5 Kxh6 30.Rg8 Ne4 31.Rd8 Kg5 32.a4 f6 33.Rg8+ Kf5 34.Nf3 Rc3+ 35.Ke2 Ng5 36.Rg7 Ra3 37.a5 Ra2+ 38.Nd2 Ne4 39.Rxb7 Rxd2+ 40.Ke1 a6 0-1

On a postive note about last night. Despite my loss, the team won 3-2, including victories (again!) for Paul Dargan and David Henderson (both unbeaten this season). So, we've finished second in the league.

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Chess Tales by Roger Coathup: A collection of online articles about chess and chess players.