Wednesday, January 28, 2009

He That Seeketh Findeth

He who seeks shall find ... but not always what he seeks for. When looking for games in the 6...a5 line that I wrote about yesterday, I came across this game. It has little relevance to the theme but still is food for thought:

Dautov - Maier, Garmisch Partenkirchen 1991
1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0–0 0–0 6.c4 a5!?
This may look strange if you don't know that 6...d6 7.Nc3 a5 and 6...d6 7.b4 are two quite critical lines in the Classical Dutch. See yesterday's entry for some more thoughts.
If there is a way to take advantage of Black's rare 6th move, it most likely is 7.d5.
Black presumably is happy to have avoided the 6....d6 7.b4 variation and enters a position more frequently reached by the move-order 6...d6 7.Nc3 a5. Normally I would have gone on to the next game in my database but I noticed that the unrated player held a draw with Black against a strong GM so I had a closer look:
8.Re1 Ra6!? (D)

An amazing move that I would never have considered in a serious game. I have seen ...Ra6 played at a later stage in this kind of positions - after Black has played ...e5 and accepted an isolated e-pawn. But then there has always been a clear way to the kingside.

9.Qc2 Kh8
I am not quite sure whether Black is preparing ...e5 with this move or if he is mainly waiting for White to play e4.
10.e4 fxe4 11.Nxe4 Nxe4 12.Qxe4 e5!?

In his book Play the Classical Dutch, Simon Williams states "If Black can achieve the ...e5 advance he will generally be at least equal". This advise is not at all hard to remember. The tricky part is to decide when Black can do this and when he cannot. It may be a question of calculation but also of evaluation. Here ...e5 certainly is a legal move. But after seeing the game, I am still not quite certain whether Black here can play ...e5 or not.
13.dxe5 dxe5
The Isolated King's Pawn (IKP) occurs far less frequently than its cousin, the Isolated Queen's Pawn (IQP). Normally Black is doing fine with the IKP in the Dutch as he is well placed to attack White's kingside fianchetto. But isn't the pawn just for taking?

One of two critical lines. The other starts 14.Qxe5 and one possible continuation is 14...Re6 15.Qxa5 Nc6 16.Qd5 Rd6 and Black has at least some practical compensation. However, in a practical game one may wonder whether a developing move like 14...Be3 hadn't been better.
14...Bb4 15.Rf1 Re6 16.Be3 Qe7 17.f4 Nd7 18.Bd4 Re8
White is pretty much tied up to the defence of his central knight.
19.Bh3 Nxe5 20.fxe5 Rd6 21.Bxc8

Isn't Black clearly better after 21...Rxd4 22.Qxb7 Qxe5?

I am not sure how well Black played in this game. But I think that for the next few months I will be looking a little harder for ...Ra6 ideas in the Dutch.

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