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Alexander Morozevich vs Rafael Vaganian
Biel (2017), Biel SUI, rd 5, Jul-28
French Defense: Winawer. Advance Variation General (C16)  ·  1-0
ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-28-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Afternoon: According to the database, 6.Bb5+, which seems only a minor annoyance, has absolutely killed the 4...b6 variation of the Winawer French--and this game will do nothing to instill confidence for Black. Perhaps 10...c5 improves?
Jul-29-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Keyser Soze: 16. c4? Black gave up his pawn for no clear compensation. Strategically , the game was lost already before move 20.
Jul-29-17  Big Pawn: Seems like the whole line of play with 8...Ba6, 9...Bb5 and 10...a4 is artificial.

Why not just 8...b5, 9...a4 pushing the bishop to a2?

Say

8...b5
9.Bb3 a4
10.Ba2 c5

This positions looks okay for Black, as though the Bb5 line didn't really cause any harm and now it's time to get back to playing the French. If both sides just develop their knights now,

11. Nf3 Nc6

What does White have? I guess the Bishop can find activity in the future by going to b1 and bear down on h7, should black castle on that side. Even if black doesn't castle k-side, white's bishop on the b1-h7 diagonal is good, better than being buried on a2, but is the position really good enough that it's putting the 4...b6 line out of business?

If white tries to bolster the center now with:

12.c3 then black has ...Na5 clamping down on the weak b3 and c4 squares. C4 in particular looks very weak given the positions of the white knights and the bishop if it goes to b1.

If white keeps his pawn on c2 and just castles, then black can lock up the q-side with ...c4.

12.0-0 c4
13.Bb1

So now, if white plays c3 to give his bishop scope on the diagonal, he finds himself cramped on the q-side. The bishop can eventually go to c2 but it bites on granite on a4. Black owns the d3 square. White is cramped on the q-side, but he still has the plan of k-side expansion with f4-f5 and it seems as though he can prepare this unfettered. Black is still undeveloped, banking on this blocked position. Can black develop before white can enact the f4-f5 plan?

Another annoying plan for white is to bring his Ne2 to g3 and then to h5. Bad things happen to French Defense players when the Knight makes it to h5. Pressure on g7 tempts black to create weaknesses. What should black do?

Sometimes in positions like this, black sets up a restrictive pawn formation, like Nimzovich advocated, to prevent a plan like f4-f5. This suggests ...g6 and maybe ...h5, keeping the dark square bishop close by in case white ever gets a knight to f6. ...g6 also has the benefit of keeping a white knight off of h5. It's hard to see starting with ...g6 now though.

I guess a plan for black would be to basically play a waiting game with moves like ...h6, ...g6, ...Bg7, ...Na5, ...Ne7, ...Bd7.

Say,

13...Bd7
14.Be3 h6
15.c3 Na5 (jumping in the new holes)
16.Nd2 (preparing f4-f5) g6

With ...Bg7 and ...Ne7 coming, black seems to have a safe, playable position.

Any improvements or better ideas for White along the way?

Jul-29-17  Big Pawn: Doesn't it seem like Black just blundered a pawn with 16...c4? If he rushed to exchange off the lsb with 15...Bxe2 because he planned on closing the position with 16...c4, then that seems like it could have been the problem. The Ne2 isn't bothering anybody and the ...Bb5 is protecting the a4 pawn, cramping black. Maybe black should have held off on this exchange?
Jul-31-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Big Pawn: Doesn't it seem like Black just blundered a pawn with 16...c4?>

Yes, it was a blunder.
According to Morozevich, Vaganian was expecting 16.Qe2 c4.

He didn't realize white captured with the rook!!!

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