Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Sicilian Exercise

Although I started my chess life playing sharp e4 openings, like the King's Gambit I never bothered to learn the main lines of the Sicilian. I played the closed Sicilian at most opportunities and occasionally tried out 2. c3. In high school I mostly switched over to closed openings and left the Sicilian behind except for an occasional experiment with black (I drew FM Andrew Karklins, but also drew a seven year old). Nowadays I'm usually afraid to venture into these waters in high stakes games, but I occasionally use the Sicilian to get some calculation practice in training games. This was the case today when I played a G/30 against a friend. As one might expect from someone without Sicilian experience, I got a good position out of the opening, but had no feel for how to play the attack and made an unsound sacrifice. With both players getting low on time, I reached the above position with white to move. Before scrolling down you may want to ask yourself, "What would you play and What's the evaluation of the position"

Did you try to figure out the answer?

No, seriously... Did you?

I figured that I was probably lost thanks to the extra material and some issues with the back rank. Fortunately, there weren't a lot of choices for this move so the decision wasn't too hard. I had to prevent Qf1+, which would trade into a winning endgame for black. This left the only playable move as Bxb5+! I was actually able to win after 1...axb5 2. Qd7+ Kxg6?? 3. Rg2+ and black resigned due to an upcoming checkmate. The most interesting variation occurs after 2... Kf8 (although Kf6 is even playable. I think black should be better with precise play, but it's a complicated position after 3. Qxd6+ Kg8 4. Qe7 (threatening Qh7+, g7) Rf1+ 5. Nd1 Bxe4! Black can combine attack and defense. 6. Qh7+ Kf8 7.g7+ Ke7 8. g8=Q+ Bxh7. The resulting position is better for black, but I'm not sure whether it's actually winning. Either way, I'm glad that my opening usually don't make me solve this sort of problems. Doing this every day would just be too much stress.

No comments:

Post a Comment