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Oleg Romanishin vs Viktor Kupreichik
48th USSR Championship (1980), Vilnius LTU, rd 13
Zukertort Opening: Queen Pawn Defense (A06)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-31-06  Karpova: 4...Nb4 was a waste of time. This is what happens if Master's ignore beginner's rules.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: The game might have been funny had the situation not been so important.

Coming into this round, Kupreichik had scored 9.0/12 and was leading the USSR Championship by 1.5 points. This game started a four-game losing streak that left him tied for sixth.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: On the contrary: the position after 4...Nb4 5.Na3 occurs about 25 times in the CG database, with several of the games won by black.

It's not just a crude beginner's attack. Obviously, the Nb4 will have to retreat - but the probe induces a lack of harmony (eg Na3) in white's position. Meanwhile black can play ...Na6, and either go ultra-solid with ...e6 and ...c6, or play more aggressively with ...c5.

I've taken an interest in this line, not because I plan to play ...Nb4 myself, but because I could easily find myself on the white side. It comes about via all sorts of move order, from 1.d4 d5 to 1.g3 Nc6, but - for both sides - it's a way of getting 'out of the books'. The variety of [D02] positions - aka Queen's Pawn Game, or anything with 1.d4 d5 but no c4 from white - is such that very little has been written about them, apart from mainlines like the Veresov.

Jul-19-11  DrMAL: A transposition of today's featured opening (after 1.d4 Nc6 with variation 2.Nf3 d5 3.g3 Bf5 4.Bg2). Instead of 4...Nf6 or 4...e6 or 4...h6 Kupreichik tries 4...Nb4. At first this move looks rule-breaking and time-wasting but it does have the merit of provoking 5.Na3 that also loses tempo for white. Another good plan for white is to simply castle and quickly develop. Here, 5...Nxc2 is an obvious mistake and 5...Bxc2 (probably black's best) can be met by 6.Qd2 and if 6...e6 or 6...a5 then 7.a3 Bxb1 to get full compensation (8.Rxb1 or 8.axb4).

In the game, Romanishin chose the simpler 5.Na3 with 7.Qb3 a good idea among several (I like 7.Ne5 best) and black defends the pawn via b6, not bad but a little loosening compared with more typical 7...Qc8 or 7...Rb8 or even the retrograde 7...Bc8 (7...Na5 also works in this position). 8.Ne5 would again work nicely here among many moves but 8.Bf4 was also fine. Maybe 8...a6 was best to stop the counter 9.Nb5 but 8...Na5 works about as well as on move 7. With white's choice of 9.Qd1 (probably best) 9...e6 was a mistake.

After 10.Qa4+ black's best was probably 10...Nd7 which can be followed with 11.Nb5 for a solid advantage but 10...Qd7 increased it more. Now black's best is to move the king (castling is a bad idea) and, in order to avoid this, Kupreichik chooses 11...Bd6 the only other move to stay alive. After Romanishin plays the obvious 12.Bxd6 cxd6 13.Nxd6 black has to move the king anyway and the moves that followed gains either grabs a second pawn or puts black's king even more in the center with 16...Ke6 (probably best) with a looming attack.

4...Nb4 was somewhat dubious, not a mistake, and certainly not why black lost. All too many times the opening is either merited or blamed for the game result. Another comical part of human nature is a tendency to believe an opening is good (or not) based on its popularity among top players. Nearly always in these games the opening had nothing to do with its outcome.

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