Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Order! Order!

The diagram below is taken from James Vigus' Play the Slav, Everyman, 2008, page 177. The position depicted arises after the following sequence:

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 dxc4 4.e4 b5 5.a4 b4 6.Nb1 Ba6 7.Nf3 Nf6 8.e5 Nd5 9.Ng5 h6.

Vigus writes:
The untried 10.Ne4, focusing on the d6-square, is perhaps not so bad for White: for example, 10...e6 11.Nbd2 c3 12.Nc4 Bxc4 13.Bxc4 cxb2 14.Bxb2 Be7, when the potentially strong bishop on c4 gives him arguable compensation for the pawn.

Untried? Sort of.

But sort of not. Let's have a look, for instance, at page 119 of James Vigus' book Play the Slav (Everyman, 2008) in which the following sequence is investigated:

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 b5 6.e5 Nd5 7.a4 e6 8.Ng5 h6 9.Ne4 b4 10.Nb1 Ba6

bringing us to the following diagram...

...which is the same position as would have arisen after the "untried" 10.Ne4 and then 10...e6 as given above.

Three game references are given.

[Number one in an occasional series]


Anonymous said...

A database search shows the first position to be uncommon and Ne4 would have been untested. But it just leads back into a much better known line after .. e6 as pointed out. Something of a failure by the author then either to understand the position well enough to spot the transposition or to use a database tree to check.

It was a problem for authors in the pre-computer era as well. The otherwise excellent Batsford by Keene and Botterill in the early seventies suffered from this as well. In the chapter on the Austrian, the sequence 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 g6 4 f4 Bg7 5 Bc4 is considered. In the chapter on Bc4 lines, the line 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 g6 4 Bc4 Bg7 5 f4 is discussed. There's no cross reference and different ideas are suggested depending on the move order. Presumably as a joint work, each author wrote one of the chapters. One of the lines suggested is ... d5. This chapter was presumably by Keene himself as he had played the variation against Ljubojevic.

ejh said...

Just for information, as well as the three game references that are given, we're also informed that Ivan Sokolov has played the line - and that his preferred move, 11.Qg4, has a "formidable practical score". None of the three specific references are to Sokolov's games, so there must be at least one more.

Two of the three games continue 11.Nbd2, as does Vigus' main line. But in both instances Black plays not 11...c3, as suggested on page 177, but 11...Nf4. To which Vigus attaches an exclamation mark.

I liked the book - if I hadn't, I doubt I'd have followed it closely enough to spot the error - but it's an odd one to miss, because the structure involved seems to me quite distinctive.

Anonymous said...

The second position has been reached around 50 times, so Vigus would have had plenty of material to work with and choose from. Only three moves have been tried with one of them, Qf3, a minority and unsuccessful try. The two other moves being Qg4 and Nbd2.
After Nbd2, both c3 and Nf4 have been tried.

I'm not sure what we should expect from chess authors these days. A mere catalogue of supposed main lines isn't enough, because we can get that from the databases. Recommendations of moves can become obsolete and the alternative practical choices by players at least as strong as the author can be illuminating. Perhaps the author's contribution should be to highlight the main positional and tactical ideas without being dogmatic about the best move.