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Angel Pons vs Mariano Castillo Larenas
Mar del Plata it-03 1936  ·  Sicilian Defense: Marshall Gambit (C10)  ·  0-1
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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-18-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Black missed an opportunity in the opening by playing the 'automatic' knight retreat 5...Nfd7.

In this position, with a White knight already on f3, 5...Ne4! is good for Black. If White takes it, he gets into trouble after 6.Nxe4 dxe4 7.Nd2 cxd4.


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Best may be 6.Bd3, but Black then has 6...Nxc3 7.bxc3 c4!? 8.Be2 with a double-edged position. Black will play ...b5-b4 and ...Qa5 with initiative on the queenside, while White tries to get something going on the kingside. Bf4/g5, Qd2 and 0-0 seems to be too slow: White's best try is probably a quick h4-h5 and Rh3-g3.


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This position was reached (via Alekhine's Defence!) in Baklan-Danneel, Gent 2002. White won after h4 etc, but he also outrated his opponent by 600 points.

The crucial position can be reached via a French (Two Knights Variation, or Marshall Gambit), Sicilian, or Alekhine's. It's also possible after 1.d4 Nf6 or 1.d4 d5, eg a Richter-Veresov.

Mar-18-12  ephesians: How would the game continue after 5....Ne4 6. dxc5?
Mar-18-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <ephesians> I like the look of 5...Ne4 6.dxc5 Nxc3 7.bxc3 for Black. White has trebled pawns, though the one on c5 probably won't survive long. It's a bit like positions that can arise in the Winawer after ...Bxc3+, but here Black has exchanged another knight for the Nc3 and still has a dark-square bishop.

Which must be good, I think.

Mar-20-12  ephesians: Let's say it goes 5..... Ne4 6. dxc5 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Bxc5 8. Bd3. It appears that black cannot castle because white has a Bxh7+ attack lined up. 8....Nc6 9. 0-0 Bd7 10. Qe2.

On 5.....Ne4 6. dxc5 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Nc6, white may consider 8. Be3.

Finally, 5.... Ne4 6. dxc5 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Nd7 8. c4 is interesting.

All lead to interesting play, I guess.

Mar-20-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <ephesians> I agree that Black would have to be very careful about castling. Playing the French, you tend to develop a sort of 6th sense about Bd3xh7+, because it's such a regular theme. I've often played to exchange light square bishops, either with ...Ba6 or ...Bd7-b5. Or even to keep White's bishop off that diagonal with ...c4.

But the Black King is reasonably safe in the centre, and the chance to castle either side may arise later on. As you say, it leads to interesting play.

Of course, Black did very well in this game after ...Nd7, so my original comment about ...Ne4 was slightly redundant. But when I had this position in a recent game, White was taken aback by ...Ne4, having expected the usual ...Nd7. Sometimes, a surprised opponent is a rattled one who feels the position has taken an unexpected turn. Which tends to be psychologically useful, even if you can't really demonstrate a clear advantage on the board.

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