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

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Pandora's Box Grantham & English Opening

Reigning Lincolnshire Chess Champion and Grantham Chess Club’s player Claudio Mangione [2098] had his début in 4NCL last weekend and he gained for Pandora’s Box Grantham team two very important points. He played his very solid opening repertoire and today I would like to present you his game from round 2 when Grantham played against Anglian Avengers.
His, opponent Phillip Tozer [2193] played rather aggressive set-up against 1.c4 when he chose 1...f5. Typically this is a signal that Black is going to play for win. And despite the fact that he did not play 2...e5 and went for a kind of Stone Wall setup, his intentions seems to be quite clear right from the outset. However, his opening strategy became rather enigmatic in the moment when he decided to take on c4 and eventually he exchanged the Queens! This is not the typical way how the “Stonewallers” like to play.
Then Claudio came up with a sheer stroke of genius fighting aggressively for centre playing 10.e4!? . Correct me if I am wrong but according to my database this move has never been tested before and whole line has got 
not very good reputation because all what White has achieved so far in terms of statistics was 33% which does not look as a very sound result.
But then, Black perhaps did not want to spoil his pawn-structure playing 10...Nxe4 which was perhaps an equalizer (I am not convinced whether I wouldn't still prefer to be White) and went for some adventurous sortie with 10...Ng4. The position was still rather equal, however, after White’s move 14 it is only White who may claim some advantage if any. However, Black, having had certain vision of some crazy tactics, went for complications and overlooked (perhaps) simple tactical motif which granted White an exchange and winning position. The Black’s ordeal than had lasted ten more moves only...

Marcos Capuzzo had an opportunity to show how to play against an English Opening. And without hesitation he went for aggressive set-up e5 & f5. Daniel Lindner did not give him too much chance to show his attacking ability and the game finally finished draw.

IM Colin Crouch is the highest rated and strongest Pandora’s Box player, an author of several interesting chess textbooks and kind of chess celebrity. So it is very difficult for me to make any comments on his game. Then let me just to stick to the facts.
He chose 1...c6 against an English Opening. His opponent, Alan B Merry, was obviously not interested to join a theoretical battle in fashionable and very solid Slav Defence. His Anti-Slav set-up was based on fianchettoeing of light-squared Bishop and trendy sacrifice of a queenside pawn. Whether White has enough compensation for the pawn is a matter of discussion for experts much more educated in the theory of  The Slav and The Réti Opening then I am, however, the indisputable fact is that Colin came up with a novelty in the move 9, when he played 9...Qc8.
So far three moves only have been tested in practical games: 9...Qd5 (55% success rate for White), 9...g6 (62.5%) and 9...Bd5 (50%). So optically it doesn't look very promising for Black. However, my silicon monster Houdini likes pretty much the line 9...g6!? and offers even certain novelty in move 12 (12...Bg4). Whatever you can thing about this line, some games have to be played to test this it. Make an opinion for yourself.
9...Qc8 is perhaps not bad either but White then may claim certain edge. A critical position perhaps arises after move 11...Bh3 and one cannot believe that White's position is so much better. Black achieves his target and swaps the dangerous "Catalan" Bishop, however, White has a lead in development and his pressure against queen-side pawns (even in absence of light-squared Bishop) is similar like in Benko gambit (with reversed colours certainly). White Rooks a1 and b1 and Be3 are a tremendous power!
11...g6!? was perhaps better choice, but to see the difference is beyond my analytical ability. I just can speculate that Black doesn't waste the time and puts his dark-squared Bishop on very important long diagonal a1-h8, throwing the spanner in the White’s works, and taking the square a1 under control. Also, White has no time to execute the plan d3, Be3 with the pressure against a7. For a simple-minded chess lover like me seems unbelievable what tiny subtleties can decide a game... 
And if I am wrong please “do not shoot the pianist, he is doing his best” and do not hesitate and post some comments.

Hope you enjoyed the games and I really welcome any input or burst of inspiration and certainly all you comments.

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