Michael Goeller vs. Geoff McAuliffe
French Defense, Rubinstein Variation
Round 8, March 26, 2005
Kenilworth Chess Club Championship, Kenilworth, NJ
Annotated by Michael Goeller
Geoff made a little
joke by pushing the pawn two squares, with his hand
still on it, and then withdrawing it one move back.
We both knew that I had fully expected him to play
1....e5 and head into the Urusov or Two Knights, where
he could easily prepare something against me. I had
also been very well prepared to play against the Scandinavian.
The French, as he rightly expected, was a complete
2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4
The chief drawback
of the Two Knights system against the French is that
it allows this exchange, which seems pretty much equalizing.
Black has two main alternatives:
a) 3...d4 4.Ne2 c5 5.Ng3!?
(or first 5.c3 Nf6! 6.Ng3) is rather like a Nimzovich
or Two Knights Tango in reverse.
b) 3...Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.d4 c5 is the
most common line here, transposing into a well-known
line of the Steinitz variation.
4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.d4 Ngf6
I was shocked to learn that this move has
never been played in master competition! The idea is
well known in the CaroKann (where the Queen discourages
the development of Black's Bishop), but no one seems
to have tried it in the French. I actually invented
it at the board, after searching desperately for something
that could make me enjoy playing this game, since the
Rubinstein French has always seemed to me so equal
and boring. It suddenly struck me that I might get
my favorite Urusov formation after all if he exchanges
-- which he did. More standard (and better) is 6.Bd3
Nxe4 7.Bxe4 Nf6 8.Bg5 Be7 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Qe2 with a
Position after 6.Qd3
There are several alternatives:
a) The only game I could
find in the databases with my Queen move continued
6...Be7!? 7.Be2 (White has a number of better options:
7.c3!? ; 7.Bd2!? Nxe4 8.Qxe4 Nf6 9.Qh4; 7.Nxf6+
Nxf6 8.Bf4!?) 7...Nxe4 8.Qxe4 Nf6 9.Qh4 and White went
on to win after some very bad play by his opponent.
b) 6...c5 7.dxc5! Nxe4! (7...Nxc5?
8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Neg5! Ke8 10.Ne5!+-) 8.Qxe4 Bxc5
9.Bd3 Nf6 10.Qh4 += is similar to a line that could
have arisen from our game.
c) 6...b6!? 7.Nxf6+ Nxf6 8.Ne5!?
is rather Capablanca-esque.
7.Qxe4 Nf6 8.Qh4
pointed out after the game that I always seem to get
my Queen out onto my 4th rank, as I did in my game
9.dxc5!? Bxc5 10.Bd3
also gives White a nice development.
Position after 9.Bg5
10.Bb5+!? (10.0–0–0 Bd7 11.Rxd4!? +=)
10...Bd7 11.Bxd7+ Qxd7 12.Bxf6 gxf6 13.0–0–0
The alternative is 10.Bd2!?
Qb6 (10...Qa4 11.b3 Qa3 12.Bd3 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Be7 14.0–0
cxd4 12.Bg5 Be7 13.Qxd4!? unclear
I worried about
11.Bd3 (11.dxc5 Bxc5! 12.b4?! Nxb4!
13.cxb4 Bxb4+ 14.Kd1 Qa4+ 15.Ke2 Bd7!) 11...cxd4 (not
11...c4? 12.Bxc4 Ba3 13.Bc1!+- or 11...Nxc3? 12.Bd2+-)
12.Nxd4 h6 13.0–0 but this looks good for White
Perhaps instead 11.Bxf6!
gxf6! (11...Bxf6?! 12.Qh5! +=) 12.Qh6!? cxd4 13.Qg7
Rf8 14.Nxd4 e5 15.Nb3 Qa4 16.Qxh7 winning a pawn --
though Black has compensation.
Bd7 (=) 13.Kb1 0–0–0
Position after 14....Qa5
White's best is 15.Qg5! Qxg5 16.Nxg5 going into a
slightly superior ending. Now Black begins to grab
15...Bc6! 16.Qg3 Be4+ 17.Ka1
The Final Position - Agreed Drawn
Geoff offered a draw
and I accepted after some deliberation. The position
is still quite complex, but I feared that the initiative
was slipping into Black's hands. I was also behind
on time. Just before Geoff moved, I started to get
an inkling that Black had the better position, so I
didn't mind the draw. But it is very sharp and both
players must play precisely. I think best for Black
was instead 17...Bc2! (trying to get in Bb3!) 18.Rxd8+
Rxd8 19.Nd4 (19.Bc4!?) 19...Ne4! (19...Rxd4? 20.cxd4
Bb3 21.Rc1+ wins) 20.Qxg7?! Nxc3! and White is in trouble.
specific move that Geoff chose, though, I should have
played on -- but only if I could have found the best
move: 18.Rd4! (with threats on the Bishop and on the
King with Rc4+! -- not 18.Qxg7?!
or18.Bd4? Bc2! 19.Rd2? Bb3! 20.a3
Bxa3!–+ ouch!) 18...Bg6! (18...Nxe3 19.Rxe4!
Nf5 20.Rc4+ Kd7 21.Rd1+ Ke8 22.Rxd8+Qxd8
23.Qf4 +=; 18...Bd6 19.Qxg7! Bc2 20.Bd1! and White
is able to stop Black's counterplay and keeps a safe
pawn up; or 18...Bc2? 19.Rc4+ Kd7 20.Ne5+Ke8 21.Qxg7
Rf8 22.Bh5 Bg6 23.Bxg6 hxg6 24.Bh6 Nf6 25.Ng4+-) 19.Rc4+
Kd7 20.Ne5+ Ke8 21.Rd1 Bd6
22.f4 += and White should
develop play against Black's king in the center, though
it is still quite sharp.
Not a bad outing for my novelty. But
I doubt I'll try it again.
Updated 04.07.2005 |