In a way co-authoring a book with a grandmaster is the perfect learning tool: First you do your very best to understand and systemize all available material on an opening and write it down. Then you have a strong player to answer your questions and point out your misunderstandings and the subtleties and move-order finesses you didn’t note. Finally - as a last check that everything is crystal clear - you have to verbalize it all as lucidly as possibly. So far everything seems perfect.
Unfortunately it doesn’t end there. Books usually are published and some of them even sell well. After a while you must suspect that your opponent has scrutinized your analysis and have some improvements ready. At this point you have to ask yourself if you learned something from the writing process that is not publicly available. And in my experience there usually are quite a few lines that did not quite make it to the book but are still eminently playable.
One such line that got only a passing mention in “The Ruy Lopez: A Guide for Black” is Kuzmin’s Closed Ruy Lopez variation:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 b5!? (5...Be7 is the most common path to the Closed Ruy) 6.Bb3 d6!? (Dia.)
Black’s moves so far are not very committal and can be played with various ideas in mind. If allowed, Black would like to develop his kingside with ...g6, ...Bg7 and ...0-0 rather than the somewhat cumbersome ...Be7, ...0-0, ...Re8, ...Bf8, ...g6 and ...Bg7 which Black in the standard Closed Ruy Lopez lines often completes around move 20.
The most obvious question is what happens if White immediately attacks f7:
This probably is too optimistic. The critical 7.c3 and some minor alternatives will be the subject of a future blog entry.
7...d5 8.exd5 Nd4 (Dia.)
This position should be compared to the one arising from the Fritz variation in the Two Knight’s Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nd4!?). Despite Black's tempo loss (...d6 and ...d5) it's clear that Black's chances have been improved by the extra moves ...a6, ...b5 and Bb3. The essential difference is that Black now threatens to remove White's strong light-squared bishop.
This is the natural move, but White has also tried 9.d6, 9.c3 and the somewhat surprising 9.Qe1 which has been preferred by Kveinys among others.
This probably is even stronger than 9...Bd6 which however was good enough for Fuentes to beat Capablanca in a simultaneous exhibition in
a) 10.Nf3?! Bg4 11.Rxe5+ Kf8 12.d3 Bd6 13.Rg5 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Qd7 15.Kh1 Qh3 16.f4 Nf3 17.Rg2 Re8 wins for Black. This is only semi-forced, but obviously difficult for White.
b) 10.h3 0–0 11.d3 Nxd5 12.Nc3 Nxb3 13.axb3 f6 14.Nge4 Nxc3 15.bxc3 Bb6 16.Ba3 += Prathamesh-Khruschiov, Moscow 2006
You may wonder how a player of Korchnoi’s caliber (oh yes, he was already a world class player 56 years ago!) could do such a horrible move. Most of the explanation probably is that White is more or less lost whatever he does:
a) 11.h3 Nd7 12.Nxf7 Qf6 13.Re3 Qxf7 14.c3 Nxb3 15.Rf3 Nf6 16.axb3 Qxd5 and Black had a piece for a couple of pawns and was probably winning in Deshmukh-Peng Xiaomin, Calcutta 2000.
b) 11.Re3 Bg4 12.Qe1 Nxb3 13.Rxb3 Qxd5 is also very difficult for White, e.g. 14.Nc3 Qxg5 15.d4 Qh4 16.dxc5 Re8 and Black should be winning again.
Black is winning already.
This probably is a bit more exact than 12...Nxe5 13.Nxc5 which should also win.
Don’t forget that the rook at e5 is hanging.
13...Qxh5 14.h3 Qh4 15.Nxc5 Qxf2+
Even stronger would have been 15...Nxf2! 16.Qf1 Nxh3+ 17.gxh3 Qg3+ 18.Qg2 Nf3+ 19.Kh1 Qe1+ with mate to follow.
16.Kh1 Qg3 17.hxg4 Bxg4 18.Qf1 Nf3! 19.gxf3 Bxf3+ 20.Qxf3 Qxf3+ 0–1 Korchnoi-Estrin, Chigorin Memorial (