"Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Trevor Palmer on the Petroff's Defence

The doyen of the Grantham Chess Club and my esteem colleague, Trevor Palmer, has kindly sent me his manuscript on the Petroff's Defence. Never in my life I have been big fan of Petroff's and my theoretical knowledge was just limited on the 5th game of the candidate match Fischer-Petrosian, played in Buenos Aires in October 1971 when Petrosian had comfortably drawn and it was Fischer who had had to defend his position carefully.

However, over the years, Petroff's has become popular opening even among the grandmasters of Kramnik's or Anand's caliber because it is quite solid weapon and for that reason we have to take this opening quite seriously. In the Trevor's manuscript you can see two interesting games as well. So let's speak Trevor:

Trevor Palmer
"Many years ago, playing in Leicestershire, I adopted Petroff’s Defence against 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3.  Those who know my style of play may wonder why I chose this as opposed to, say, the more combative Sicilian.  Not having much faith in my memory and my powers of remembering all the lines of the Sicilian (which, with my memory diminished even more, I now play!), I then liked the simplicity of Petroff’s.  My results between 1969 and 1985 were W14, D11, L15.  Four of the losses were against County champions.

A bonus for me was that I only ever met one Leicester player who really knew it.  All that was to change when Korchnoi tried it in his World Championship matches against Karpov.  He lost them but it did draw a lot of attention to this Defence.  Now, of course, Anand uses it.

Following are 2 games to illustrate how it may go … Firstly one of the Karpov v Korchnoi games (4th in 1981 Championship) and then one of my own better results with it.  Basically there are only 3 or 4 main lines to learn – plus the more hectic Cochrane’s Gambit. This is basically an unsound sacrifice by White but you ignore it at your peril! The main lines after 2.. Nf6 are 3.Nc3 (this usually leads into a 3 or 4-Knights Game): 3.Bc4:  3.d4: or the more often played Classical Line, 3.Nxe5.

After the latter, Black must not play 3..Nxe4. (4.Qe2 Nf6?? Loses the queen to 5.Nc6+ or if 4..d5 a pawn is lost after 5.d3 Qe7 6.dxe4 Qxe5 7.exd5). Usual is 3..d6 4.Nf3 (or 4.Nxf7 – Cochranes) 4..Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 and Black should get a draw.

World Championship Match 1981, Karpov v Korchnoi, 4th game."

"Nottingham Congress 1979, Intermediate, L.J.Crane v T.Palmer

(I finished with 3.5 /5 after throwing away a half in the last round)".

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