Friday, March 19, 2010

The Queen's Gambit

The Queen's Gambit is a variation of the Queen's Pawn Game (1. d4), and characterized by the opening moves 1. d4 d5, 2. c4.   The Bishop's Pawn is the gambit, being offered in exchanged for control of the center.

White's aim is eventually to create a pawn center at d4 and e4, coupled with pressure on the Q-side using the QB-file. Black must either accept the gambit (Queen's Gambit Accepted), resort to a speculative counter-gambit, or protect his QP with a pawn (Queen's Gambit Declined) - if he makes an immediate developing move White gains an advantage. In most lines Black declines the pawn (although the Gambit Accepted (2...dxc4) is not unpopular), whereupon White seeks a Q-side minority attack.

Buenos Aires, 1952
Queen's Gambit Declined

1. d4, d5
2. c4, e6
3. Nc3, Nf6
4. Nf3, Be7
5. Bg5, N8d7
6. e3, 0-0
7. Qc2, c5
8. cxd5, Nxd5

The usual continuation is now 9. Bxe7 Qxe7, 10. Nxd5 exd5, 11. dxc5 Nxc5 - whereby Black has freedom of action in return for an isolated Queen Pawn which may come under pressure from White's pieces.

9. Nxd5 .....

Now it is possible for Black to transpose into the previous note with 9. .....exd5, 10. Bxe7 etc.  Instead, he varies.

9. ..... Bxg5
10. h4! .....

A successful attempt to entrap Black, who should resist sturdily with 10. .....Be7.

10. ..... Qa5+?!

11. b4!! .....

Completely unexpected by Black.  It is now too late for him to retreat his Queen, for then 12. hxg5 (threatening Qxh7 mate) leaves White a piece ahead.

11. ..... cxb4

This looks like a clever maneuver, for after 12. hxg5 Black has 12. .....b3 discovered check driving White's Queen off the critical diagonal.  Then, after 13. Qd2 or Qc3, Black can safely answer 13. .....Qxd5 and all is well.

This is as far as Black calculated.  But White saw farther ahead.

12. Qxh7+!!, Kxh7
13. hxg5+, Kg6
14. Ne7 mate

One of the greatest surprise combinations ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting opponent.

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