Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Bust to the King's Bishop's Gambit

Fischer's "A Bust to the King's Gambit" was really only a "bust" of the King's Knight's Gambit.  As I mentioned in the Bishop's Gambit game post, I have developed a response, or "bust", to the Bishop's Gambit.  So I should flesh that out for any readers.  If I am successful, you can file this under Fischer's concluding statement to the effect that White can play different moves (in this case 3.Bc4) but will just lose in a different way.

This post is dedicated to "zavenc" on ICC, a Turkish player who likes marathons, and who likes to accommodate me in ICC marathons by often playing the King's Gambit as White, both Knight's and Bishop's!  :-)

1.e4 e5 2.f4  King's Gambit.

2...exf4  Accepted.

3.Bc4  King's Bishop's Gambit

3...Qh4+ 4.Kf1 Nf6  This is my proposed "bust".
As elaborated in previous KG posts, the knight has a free path to g4, and then to e3 after White plays d4.  In addition to immediately attacking e4 of course.

Theory only considers the obvious 5.Nf3 at this point, which I'll cover in a later post.  But in honor of zavenc's preferred line, I'll cover it first:

5.Nc3  which protects e4.  But because the queen has not been ejected, it allows Black's plan with a mate threat which must be answered:

5...Ng4 6.Nh3  This is zavenc's preferred answer, guarding both the mate threat at f2 and the capture threat on h2.  6.Qf3 is also possible and may be better:
Here Black's most direct response is 6...Qxh2 7.Qh3 Qg3 8.Qxg3 fxg3 9.Nge2 c6 10.Nxg3 d6; Black has exchanged queens and exchanged her f pawn for White's h pawn.

The alternative capture 6...Nxh2+ is also possible.  It gets Black the exchange in addition, but gives White a massive development advantage as compensation: 7.Rxh2 Qxh2 8.d4 Qg3 9.Bxf4 Qxf3 10.Nxf3 d6.

Black's best response to the 6.Qf3 alternative however, is probably an "attacking retreat" making use of the available queen-bishop fork:  6...Ne5 7.Qe2 d6 8.Nd5 (or 8.Nf3 Nxf3 9.Qxf3 c6) 8...Qd8 9.Nf3 Nxc4 10.Qxc4 c6 11.Nxf4 Nd7.

6...c6  This is needed to neutralize the threat of the Nc3 hitting c7.
From this point on, Black holds the threat of d6 followed by Ne3 or Ne5 hitting the knight on h3.

7.d4 g5  Hitting f4, protecting f4.

8.e5  Ready to exchange on d6 or f6, exposing Black's king.

In our last game, zavenc played 8.Qe1 to eject the black queen.  I don't know if this is in his repertoire or just an over-the-board choice, but it doesn't seem best.  In fairness, in the game I responded badly also, pulling the trigger with Ne3+ and thus throwing the f pawn; and zavenc did win the game in the end.  But the correct response to 8.Qe1 is 8...Qxe1+ 9.Kxe1 h6, when White has nothing better than 10.Nf2 d6 11.Nxg4 Bxg4 12.Be2 f5 13.Bxg4 fxg4, Black simply holding the solid extra pawn.

8...Ne3+ 9.Bxe3 fxe3  Black carries through on her plan.
10.Qe2  White has to find this move; nothing else works.  It hits e3 and continues the lineup against the king.  But White also has to protect against developing threats at f2 and c4 simultaneously.

10...b5!  An important in-between move for Black.  Now White has to choose between her bishop and her pawn center.

11.Bd3  The more likely move psychologically, saving the bishop.  11.Bb3 fails to the combo threat b4 and Ba6.  But White can also sac the bishop for e3 plus counterplay against the king:  11.Qxe3 bxc4 12.Ne4 h6 13.Re1 Kd8 14.Nhf2 Qf4 15.Qc3 Na6 16.a3 Bb7; Black will lose c4 but otherwise is secure.

11...Qxd4 12.Nxg5 Qxe5 13.Nf3 Qf4  and Black will lose e3 but still holds a solid extra pawn.
For example:

14.Nd1 Bc5 15.Nxe3 Kd8 16.Nf5 Re8 17.Qd2 Qxd2 18.Nxd2 d5
Or 14.g3 Qh6 15.Nd1 d5 16.Qxe3+ Qxe3 17.Nxe3 Bg7 18.c3 O-O

So that's my first "bust" of the Bishop's Gambit.  Comments, criticisms, improvements, corrections, suggestions all welcome.  Thanks for reading.