Brave BishopI recently finished one of the cleanest games of chess I've ever orchestrated, including what I think is a pretty cool bishop maneuver. I will be getting on to flogging myself over losses soon enough, but first, something to smile about.
The game started out as an awkward Sicilian,
1. e4 c5 2. Bc4!?
This is supposed to be one of white's worst choices here. In fact, it's not even covered in my book on the Sicilian that covers 5 other "rare second moves". Instead of playing a solid refutation (2. ... e6) I just continued with normal accelerated dragon moves.
2. ... Nf6 3. c3
I don't know if this is some kind of delayed Alapin or what but I decide I should be trying to play d5 so
4. ... e6 5. f4?! d5.
White is playing a mix of early Bc4, Alapin, and Grand Prix which seems uncoordinated to me. c3 is supposed to support a d4 push, which doesn't go well with f4 because it leaves a big hole on e4. I have the feeling black has already equalized.
6. exd5 exd5 7. Qe2+
White gets a check in:
Black to move
White's pawn structure isn't good for development
6. ... Be7 7. Bb5 Nf6
Black just develops his pieces. It's easier to know where to put the knight than the c8 bishop.
8. Nf3 0-0 9. Bxc6 bxc6 10. 0-0
This is a critical position
Black to move
White might get away with playing d3, Be3, and Nbd2 and his position might not suck. This would be bad, we would like black's position to suffer more than if we simply allow these moves. A natural move here is just Bg4 because it feels nice to develop a piece with a pin, but this doesn't really do anything and perhaps the bishop might be better going to a6.
Instead, black finds a move that accomplishes two things.
10. ... c4!
The exclam might be excessive, but lets see what we've got. First, we're holding back white's easy development since it's not as simple to move the d-pawn any more. Second, we're clearing the c5 square for our dark squared bishop that was in danger of not getting active. We do cut off the a6-f1 diagonal from our light squared bishop, but that bishop can have scope on the other side of the board (f5, g4).
This sticks black with a decision. There is only one chance to capture this pawn. There is some temptation to leave the pawns on f4 and d4 when white has a bad bishop. But the closed position doesn't bode well for black's bishop pair. Black would prefer to open up the vulnerable a7-g1 diagonal.
11. ... cxd3ep 12. Qxd3
If you can see all the tactics from this position, give yourself a gold star
Black to move
Black needs to strike while the iron is hot. White is threatening to just play Be3 and Nbd2. It's still not the prettiest position for white, but it seems to hold together.
12. ... Qb6+
Better than Bc5+ which can be met by Be3 or Kh1. Now Be3 hangs the b-pawn and there may be even worse consequences if 13. Be3 Ba6! Thankfully black doesn't have to calculate that line unless black actually makes the mistake Be3 and then it's just a matter of choosing the winning line he's more sure of. Kh1 loses material to Ba6.
13. Qe3 Bc5 14. Nd4 Re8
White's moves are pretty much forced. After loading up on the weak diagonal, black goes to work on the open file and the exposed queen. Black doesn't want to lose a pawn on d4 so:
15. Qd2 Ne4 A great post of the knight with tempo. 16. Qd1
Black to move
Black's pieces have gone forward while white's have not. Black can be proud of his better placed pieces, but this is not the moment to let up. Black might be tempted to play Ba6 to develop with tempo, but there is a better option for this brave bishop in this position. The c8 bishop enters the game in the most forceful way
16. ... Bg4!!
This move is brought to you by the letter "f" and the number "2". This hint is probably enough to figure out why 17. Qxg4? is an immediate loser. So once again white is making an unhappy move with his queen instead of developing his pieces. White still doesn't want to hang a pawn on d4 and so chooses:
17. Qd3 And now black demonstrates why the previous move gets two exclams
17. ... Be2! This move forks the queen and rook, so black will certainly pick up material if white declines the bishop a second time, so how does black pull it out when the bishop is accepted?
18. Qxe2 Nxc3
White to move
This move simultaneously captures a pawn, attacks the queen, and removes a defender of the d4 knight. If white tries to save the queen, black will recoup the sacrificed piece by taking the knight on d4 with check and still retain the extra pawn he's just captured on c3. Black does need to be certain that white can't get too much material for the queen. For example, 19. Nxc3 Rxe2 20. Nxe2 puts the material at a rook and two pieces for a queen and pawn, but the position is not yet quiescent and black regains one of the pieces with 20. ... Bxd4. In the game, white tried:
19. Qxe8 Rxe8 20. Nxc3
Trying to protect the d4 knight with 20. bxc3 loses more material to 20. ... Bxd4+ 21. cxd4 Qxd4+ 22. Kh1 Qxa1 picking up the rook.
20. ... Bxd4+ and white has a Queen and pawn for Rook and knight, a winning material advantage.
The rest of the game is more technical in converting the advantage.
21. Kh1 Bxc3 22. bxc3 Re2 White has no real development and black is invading on the 7th
White to move
23. Ba3 Qa6
This is an interesting move. White has to be prepared to meet Re1. In the game I decided I was willing to give back material in order to reach a winning King and Pawn endgame.
24. Rae1 Rxe1 25. Rxe1 Qxa3 26 Re8+ Qf8 White resigns.
Maybe a bit early, but black retains the extra pawn going into the King and Pawn ending. This ending is not difficult to play.