Thursday, December 9, 2010

When Minor Pieces Play

When Queens are exchanged in a turbulent opening, the minor pieces working in harmony may conquer the uncastled King and create a beautiful mating combination.

Budapest, 1939
Nimzovich Defense

1. e4, Nc6
2. d4, d5
3. exd5 ....

Better is 3. e5 for a stronger central pawn structure.

3. .... Qxd5
4. Nf3, Bg4
5. Nc3?! ....

The best reply is 5. Be2, then Black's hope of winning a pawn by 5....Bxf3 can be scuttled by 6. Bxf3 Qxd4, 7. Bxc6+ winning the Queen.

5. .... Bxf3
6. Nxd5, Bxd1
7. Nxc7+, Kd7
8. Nxa8, Bxc2

The next few moves illustrate White's hopeless pursuit to make a getaway plan for his Knight at a8.

9. Bf4 ....

9. ....  e4!!

A powerful tempo-making move. If White replies 10. Bxe5, there follows 10....Bb4+, 11. Ke2 Nxe5, 12. dxe5 Ne7, 13. Rc1 Be4, 14. Nc7 Bc6 and White's Knight is lost after all.

10. dxe5 ....

Now, White's control over the b8-f4 diagonal is broken.

10. .... Bb4+
11. Ke2, N8e7
12. e6+, fxe6
13. Nc7 ....

White has succeeded in letting his Knight escape. But Black has the last word....

13. .... Nd4+
14. Ke3, Nef5 mate.

An excellent mating combination.

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