Analysis (1)

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Johansson-Bakels after ...Ba4

Johansson – Bakels, ICN 2014-2015, Round 1

White is a pawn down and has a very vulnerable bishop, that does not have many squares to go to. The white knight is well placed, but cannot develop much further activity from there. In return the advanced a-pawn provides some counterplay. Black’s last move was Bb3-a4 with the idea to transfer the bishop to c6, securing a firm grip on the promotion square. As there was no time to lose, White came up with the radical


Question: How is the position to be assessed? How should Black reply?

In the game, Black played the strong-looking


In fact, this move gives White an unexpected chance to gain an advantage. What should he play?

- 2.a7

- 2.Qc8

- another move?

2 Responses to Analysis (1)

  1. Frank Hoffmeister on 02/10/2014 at 10:59

    After 1. Bc3 Qa5 I would think of 2. Bd2. Black cannot take on a6 with 2…Qxa6 in view of 3. Bxb4. So he would probably play 2…Bc6. In this case, White has 3. Qc8 Bd5. This could allow 4. Be3 with the crushing idea Bc5 and I do not see how Black can defend that. If he exchanges the knight with 4…Bxe4 5. fxe4 the a-pawn marches on.

  2. admin on 06/10/2014 at 12:43

    Frank is right!
    The computer assesses the diagramme position as completely drawn (0.00). After 1.Bc3, Black should just play 1…bxc3. Following 2.Nxc3 Qc4 3.Nxa4 it is just important that Black has to take the passed pawn and not the piece: 3…Qxa6 with a slight edge, but a draw is still likely because of the strong knight vs. weak bishop.
    After 1…Qa5, Mattias played 2.a7 Bc6 3.Bxb4 (Bd2 was still possible) Qxb4 4.a8Q Bxa8 5.Qxa8 resulting in the same type of endgame as above.
    2.Qc8 looks interesting, but is only good to force a draw after 2…bxc3 3.Qe6+ Kh8 4.Qc8 Kg8 and repetition of moves. Note that 4.Nd6 threatening mate with Nf7+, Nh6++ and Qg8, fails to 4…h5 when White will run out of checks.
    The simple and calm 2.Bd2 gives White an unexpected advantage. Probably it is difficult to spot, because White was courageously prepared to give the Bishop in order to simplify the position. So retreating it in the next move was not an obvious choice. But after that the Black queen is hopelessly overtasked, having to fight against the advancing a-pawn, and defend the pinned Bf8 and the Bc6 which will come under attack. A nice example of tricky positions that can even arise in the 6th hour of play!

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