In the third round of the Aeroflot Open in Moscow, we saw something exciting coming out of an apparently mundane opening.
V.Zvjaginsev (2658) – B.Bok (2587) C44
Aeroflot Open (Moscow) (3), 29.03.2015
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 g3 Bc5 4 Bg2 d6 5 0–0 f5
A sharp continuation that basically claims that White's play has been so harmless that Black can allow himself the freedom to attack without having completed his development or secured his king...Instead, the solid alternative is 5...Nf6 which promises more level-headed positions and about equal chances.
6 exf5 Bxf5 7 b4!?
In order to take advantage of Black's king still being in the center and the kingside being weakened with 5...f5, White gives up a pawn to generate an initiative. My computer agrees with White's decision to sac the pawn in this fashion, somewhat in the style of the Evans Gambit.
The alternatives are:
7 Nc3 Nf6 8 Na4 Bb6 9 Nxb6 axb6 10 d4 0–0 11 c3 e4 12 Nh4 Be6 13 Bg5 d5 14 f3 exf3 15 Qxf3 Qd7, and the chances are about even, R.Lendwai-H.Baumgartner, Voitsberg 1995.
7 d3?! (This is entirely too tame) 7...Qd7 8 Nc3 0–0–0 (Black is unafraid) 9 Re1 a6 10 Be3 was V.Doronine-A.Danilov, Kimry 2008, and here Black should simply have played 10...Bxe3 11 Rxe3 Bg4 12 b4 Nf6 with a pleasant game.
7...Bxb4 8 d4
That is the idea behind the previous move, Black no longer controls the d4–square and White is trying to open things up.
8...Nge7 9 c3 Ba5 10 d5 Nb8 11 Qa4+ c6 12 Bg5 Bb6 13 Nh4
13 Nd4!? can also be considered; Black cannot allow himself to be careless, for instance: 13...Bd7 14 Qb3 Qc8 15 Nd2 cxd5 16 Bxd5 Nxd5 17 Ne4! 0–0 18 Qxd5+ Kh8 19 Nxd6 Qxc3 20 Nf7+ Rxf7 21 Qxf7 Qc8 22 Nb3 is a long line, but it is also relatively forced and looks promising for White.
13...0–0 14 Nxf5 Rxf5 15 Qh4!
Keep putting pressure on Black's tied up pieces.
15...Rf7 16 a4 h6 17 Bxe7 Qxe7 18 Qxe7 Rxe7
The queens have come off the table, but the pressure remains.
19 a5 Bd8?!
Black is trying to hang on to the pawn White so generously gave up on earlier. However, it may have been a safer policy to have handed back at this point after 19...Bc5 20 Nd2 Nd7 21 dxc6 bxc6 22 Bxc6, Black seems only marginally worse after 22...Rc8 23 Bb7 Rd8 24 Bd5+ Kh8 25 Ne4.
20 Nd2 Rc7 21 Nc4
White could also have considered 21 a6!?, e.g. 21...bxa6 22 Nc4 Be7 23 dxc6 Nxc6 24 Ne3 Rb8 25 Nd5 with a clear advantage, but the text move is ultimately stronger, and as we will see in the game, also more effective.
Black continues as intended when he played 19...Bd8 a couple of moves ago, but how can White take advantage of his lead in development and generally much more active pieces?
21...Na6 22 Nxd6 Be7 is playable and safer.
Nunn's dictum: "LPDO - Loose pieces drop" off is a rule worth remembering. Black has an awful lot of loose pieces here.
22...axb6 23 axb6
Both black rooks are hanging...
23...Na6 24 dxc6 bxc6
Black may have hoped for 25 bxc7 Nxc7 26 Rxa8+ Nxa8 although this is lost too after 27 Bxc6. However, after the text move, it is curtains.