1. e4 d5 2. e4:d5 Q:d5 3. NDc3 Qa5 4. b4 Q:b4 5. Rb1 Qd6 6. d4 e6 7. NDf3 a6 8. Bd3 Be7 9. O-O NAd7 10. NDe4 Qc6 11. NDc4 Qd5 12. NDe3 Qc6 13. c4 NAg8-f6 14. Bb2! O-O 15. d5 e:d5 16. B:f6 NA:f6 17. ND:d5 NA:d5 18. e:d5 Qd6 19. Bf5 b6 20. Qd3 g6 21. B:c8 Rf:c8 22. Rbc1 a5 23. Rc6 Qa3 24. Qc4 b5 25. Qf4 Bd6 26. Qd4 h6 27. Qd2 Kh7 28. h4 Qb4 29. Qd3 Qa4 30. h5 Rg8 31. Rc2 Rab8 32. Re1 b4 33. NDd4 Qd7 34. h5:g6+ R:g6 35. NDf5 Kg8 36. Rc2-e2 c5 37. Qh3 Kf8 38. Qh5 Rb6 39. g3 c4 40. ND:h6 Rb8 41. NDf5 Resigns
Note to 1...d5
The Scandivanian was played against me in Philly by a master. It should be stronger than usual with N++, I think, as it draws the Knight out, making it vulnerable to attack. We'll see.
(Italicized sections are from Vlad's email.)
Note to 6...e6
It seems no modern books even mention the fide-chess version of this gambit, but sir G.A. Thomas won a game in 1912 where he played 6...a6 and hung on to win by virtue of the Pawn. I think a6 better than e6 especially here, with N++, because Black threatens to get the Bishop out, and White can't afford to play NDf3.
Note to 9...NAd7
9...NAf6 10 Bg5 NAd5 11 ND:d5 Q:d5 12 B:e7 K:e7 13 NDe5+!, and after Kf8 or Kh8, 14. Qh5 starts an attack which, though complicated, can be proven to win.
9...NAf6 10. Bg5 NAd5 11. ND:d5 e:d5 12 B:e7 Q:e7 13 Re1 Be6 14 NDe5 and 15 R:b7 should be good for White.
Note to 10...Qc6
Have you considered Ba3 at any point? I didn't want to say anything till now, because it was playable all along. I thought it was interesting, in that it would prevent castling, especially before I played e6, or force me to play Q:a3 (which I planned to do);
Yes, but your Kf8 seemed safe enough as I had no black-squared B anymore. e.g. 6 Ba3 Qd8, which I almost played. In fact, I played b4 *because* I had Ba3 available (as opposed to the same line in fide-chess), but then I chose not to use it.
it looked like I would have sufficient compensation for the Queen, plus you'd lose your development edge by losing your most active, and dangerous, pieces.
Q:a3 seems like a good idea. I missed it.
Note to 12...Qc6
In effect, White has gotten the free move NDc3-e3, which doesn't seem like much of a reward for all the thinking it required.
If 12...Q:a2 13 Bd2 seems to win the Queen.
Note to 14...O-O
I just noticed Qd6 d5 e5 Be5; so I expect there's nothing better for you than O-O d5 ed5 Bf6, which might not be as deadly as losing the (normal) Exchange simply because the techniques of these endgames aren't known.
Well, I've been thinking about Nh4, which avoids losing the Exchange, though you get the g7 pawn and so I can't castle. Or, I could simply not castle; at least I would get the d5 pawn then for the Exchange. Neither option seems appealing. :-(
I used to be so worried about my Pawn deficit, and how was I going to find a weakness and catch up; and now look! Maybe 9...Qd8 or 8...Qd8 or 7...Qd8 or 6...a6
The only time I questioned your gambit is when I accepted it; it
seemed so unusual. But it became clear right away that my position
is difficult, since it's so hard to develop my Knights and c8
Bishop, and also since my Queen is vulnerable.
Yes, Qd8 might have been good; it does lose another tempo, but at
least the Queen is well hidden then. I looked at 6..a6, and it
seemed too slow. I think I was afraid of Nge2, Bf4 Be5 manouever.
That's one of the reasons I played e6. On the other hand, e6 does
block the c8 Bishop and the g8 Knight. That is the real problem with
this line for me: my N++ are too vulnerable to your Bishop attacks.
So, here we see their disadvantage: the long-move Knights are easily
attacked and difficult to hide. Therefore, they may be best suited
to closed positions (where their ability to jump over pieces also
comes in handy).
Yes, Qd8 might have been good; it does lose another tempo, but at least the Queen is well hidden then. I looked at 6..a6, and it seemed too slow. I think I was afraid of Nge2, Bf4 Be5 manouever. That's one of the reasons I played e6. On the other hand, e6 does block the c8 Bishop and the g8 Knight. That is the real problem with this line for me: my N++ are too vulnerable to your Bishop attacks. So, here we see their disadvantage: the long-move Knights are easily attacked and difficult to hide. Therefore, they may be best suited to closed positions (where their ability to jump over pieces also comes in handy).
[Spoken by me a few moves later:] O-O is probably less bad than 14...Nh4 15 N:h4 B:h4 16 d5, where your Bh4 is disorganized, and vulnerable to Qh5 or Qg4.
Note to 19. Bf5
My intention was to win by virtue of my material advantage; however, in fide chess, when one side is the Exchange up, and there are lots of heavy pieces on the board, the game is normally won by mate and not by attrition -- and so to win by mere material is less dull than it sounds.
Note to 24. Qc4
Already White is trying to avoid trading Queens, in order to preserve the possibilities of a mating attack. Perhaps it would have been better to play 23. a4; I assume that when I played 23 Rc6, I did not yet realize that I wouldn't want to trade Queens.
(Remember, the games are played by email, which means there are two or three quick blindfold moves a day, followed by an overnight move which is sometimes the result of deep analysis.)
Note to 26...h6
Of course, 26...Q:a2 27 R:d6 28 NDg5 29 Qg7 mate.
Note to 30...Rg8
Again, 30...Q:a2 31 h5:g6+ fg6 32. Ne5!; the move Q:a2 has been available quite a few times during the game, with a different refutation every time.
Note to 34...R:g6
The alternative of giving up the e6 square was just too ghastly.
And yet, I never did find anything really satisfying against it. I thought you *had* to do it; [...snip...]
Note to 35...Kg8
A really nice possibility here is 35...a4 36 Re6! (if the Rook is not captured, the threat is first 37 NDh5+ and then either 38 R:g6 or 38 Qd4+).
Also strong is 35...a4 36 Re7! B:e7 37 ND:f7+
Note to 37. Qh3
Vlad points out the clever 37 dc Bh2+?? 38 K:h2 Q:d3 39 Re8+ R:e8 40 R:e8+ and 41. NDh5 mate, or 38...R:g2+ 39 K:g2 Q:d3 40 Re8+ 41 NDh5+ 42 Nf4+ 43 ND:Qd3, and says he would have been satisfied with 37 dc Q:c6.
My overnight analysis showed that 37 Re7 B:e7 38 ND:e7+ Kh7 39 Re6 Rbg8 40 ND:g8 was not a very good winning try, so I had to hope that Qh3 would be good enough. In fact, Qh3 was so good that the game ended in just a few moves, but they were difficult moves, and neither player knew that the end was so near.
In order to explain the difficulties of this position for both sides, I must also mention 37 NDh5 Qg4 38 Re8+ Re8 39 R:e8+ Bf8, which is good for Black.
Note to 38...Rb6
[From email...] Yes, but I'm amazed that you were able to defend against so many different threats at the same time!
I only saw two - N:h6 and Re7.
Actually three, since the possibility of Re8+ was supposed to keep some of your pieces tied up. Or more, since whatever move you made *also* had to keep from allowing Re6 or Re7 (38..Bf4?) or ND:d6 (38..Qa4? 39 ND:d6 40 Qg3+) or even probably ND:f7, though I didn't see a line where that would come into play.
In other words, you had to defend two new threats while keeping all the old ones defended, so I was amazed you could hang on even one move longer and make me think so hard to find 39. g3.
[After the game:] It seems so simple in retrospect, that the desperate 38...Rb6 was foiled by the simple 39. g3; but I remember that g3 was hard to find, and that no other move seemed likely to make progress.
Note to 40...Rb8
If 40..B:g3 41. Re8+ Q:e8 42. NDh8+ wins.
Note to 41...Resigns
I didn't expect the end to come so soon, but I'm not very surprised,
since I've been hanging on for a while. Perhaps I could have
defended better earlier by playing h5, and before that by playing
Re8 before you played Re1.
Resigns, in view of 41..Kg8 42. Re7! B:e7 43. ND:e7+! Kf8 44. Qh8+ Rg8 45. Q:g8 mate
I didn't expect the end to come so soon, but I'm not very surprised, since I've been hanging on for a while. Perhaps I could have defended better earlier by playing h5, and before that by playing Re8 before you played Re1.
Yes, I thought you'd resign here; I went back and looked at some earlier positions, and I never did find a move for you. I had thought that ...Re8 would be a good idea, but no. At least as far back as 34. h5:g6+ R:g6 (when it might have been better to cede e6 than to give up f5), I'm pretty sure you have nothing better.
It's been a while since I played such a monumental game. Every move was difficult to find, for a long, long time. Almost every move, anyway, for about the last 30 moves or so.
Vladimir Roytman is a USCF National Master.