Tuesday, December 18, 2007
[Edit: Forgot to include this originally ... don't forget tonight's the night of the chess club quiz. Kick-off at 7:45pm at the usual venue in Woodfield Grove. See you there.]
Today's position arose in game twelve of the 1958 Botvinnik - Smyslov match and then again more recently in the somewhat less exalted circumstances of my game for the S&BCC London League 2nd team against Athenaeum earlier this month.
My opponent played 11. ... Re8, to my eyes an eminently sensible move, but Smyslov, and if you weren't already familiar with the game the arrow is a bit of a clue, retreated his Bishop.
I know this is not an uncommon manoeuvre in this line, see the near identical positions below, and (I think) I understand the general point ... the Bishop is a bit exposed on f5, potentially vulnerable to Nf3-d4 or perhaps e2-e4 at some point so tucking it away safely on h7 removes it from danger. What I'm totally unable to grasp is why he needs to do it at this precise moment.
OK, the Reti is hardly the kind of opening where every tempo is crucial but consider Petrosian - Furman, 1975, which after Smyslov's retreat continued,
12. Bc3 Re8, 13. Qb2 Bd6
and now White played 14. Ne5 ("!" - Ray Keene *) blocking the advance of the e-pawn. Had Black not played the Bishop retreat first, of course, White wouldn't have got there in time.
So why 11. ... Bh7? Am I missing something or is Black just fannying around?
* BTW: I found all the material for today's post in Ray Keene's Flank Openings - a book unlike a lot of RDK's output in that it's pretty useful.
Posted by Jonathan B at 9:10 am