10 d4 11 Wc2 0-0 12 g4 J.g6 13 £)h4 with a grip on the light squares, King-Norwood, German League 1994

11 cxd5 <Sxd5

12 Wb3

Black will be too busy keeping his own queenside intact to find time to hit the d3-pawn Ideally White would like to profit from his hypermodern pattern of development by offering to open the position still further with d3-d4 at some stage In the meantime White should resist the temptation to grab the b7-pawn with his queen until it is completely safe In an earlier game. Hodgson-De la Villa Garcia, Dos Hermanas 1992, White first hit the bishop with 12 Ac7, then played 13 #b3 with the idea of taking on e5 to leave the d5-knight unprotected After 13 <&5b6 14 Ag5' #e8(14 15£icxe5+) 15Bacl (15 fife I also looks good, eg 15 &xc4 16 *xc4 Bc8 17 Wh4 Axf3 18 Ax O f6 19 Ad5+ &h8 20 Ae3) 15 &xc4 16 #xc4 Bc8 17 ^h4 Ab6 18 #d5 the b7-pawn was still hanging and White had succeeded in retaining the initiative

For the moment Black need not worry about his b-pawn The alternative is to drop the knight back to b6, which denies White the useful c4-square for his knight Then White switches to Plan B

13 £)c5 loses a pawn to 14 &xc5 Axc5 15 £sxe5, so Black must retreat another piece 13 Ae7 (13 Ac7 14 Ag5) 14 a4 Bb8 (14 &h8 15 a5 f5, Vaganian-Khalifman, Eupen 1994, is only slightly worse for Black but at least keeps White on his toes, while the odd 14 has been suggested) 15 a5 £ic8 16 d4' (D)

Perfect timing Clearing away the last two centre pawns is sure to give White dangerous attacking chances thanks to his more active pieces, while the d-pawn could cause havoc if allowed to advance unchecked In M lvanov-Kharitonov, Moscow 1995, White dominated — 16 Axf3 17 AxG £ld6 (17 exd4™ 18 Af4 Sa8 19 Wxb7) 18 Bdl *c7 (18 £ixe4 19 Axe4 Wc7 20 Ae3 exd4 21 Axd4 £>ffc 22 Ag2 gives Black nothing to compensate for ceding the bishop pair) 19 £lc3 (19 Ae3 £>f5 20 d5 £ixe3 21 0X63 Ab4 22 d6 lCd8 23 Ag4 24

£>xf6+ tfxf6 25 d7 illustrates the potential of the d-pawn if White chooses another path) 19 Bfe8 (or [9 exd4 20 £id5 Wd8 21 Af4) 20 IMS Wd8 21 dxe5 ®xe5 22 Ag2 C2 £sxe7+ Wxe? 23 Af4) 22 Af8 (22 £>ec4 23 Afl) 23 Ae3 and now Black's best hope is 23 £>c6 24 Wa4 a6 25 Ab6 with an unenviable defensive task ahead, but he buckled under pressure with 23 a6" 24 Ab6 #d7 25 Ac? Bbc8 26 Axd6. losing the exchange (27 £}b6) and with it the game It is interesting that in his notes to the game Ivanov is surprised at either his opponent's apparent ignorance of Vaganian's model games with this line or, otherwise, a strong player's willingness to take it on 13 £ic4!

13 <£le4 wastes a wonderful opportunity to make life difficult for Black In Norwood-Adams, British Ch 1989, the symmetry resulting from the trade of knights in the centre produced instant equality — 13 &xe4 14 dxe4 £ic5 15 VdS Axf3 16 Axf3 #f6 17 Ag2 Bfd8 18 Ae3 Af8 19 !fc4 &d3 etc As I mentioned earlier White should be wary of taking the b7-pawn Here, for instance 13 Ifxb?1» is too inconvenient after 13 £>c5 14 #b5 Sb8 15 #c4 Ag6 16 £iel Bc8, when Black has easily enough play for the pawn 13 ... Ac7

The text was a new move at the time, attempting to improve on 13 £ic5 14 Wa3 (D)

This powerful move is by no means easy to find or expect at the board, and it is sure to come as an unpleasant surprise for the defender Rather than being open to attack on the a3-f8 diagonal the queen is quite menacing

a) If Epishin's fate against Vaga-nian in Moscow 1996 is anything to go by, mere mortals should tread carefully if they wish to use this variant of the Ag4 line 14 Bc8 15 £xd6 #xd6 16 Ae3 b6 17 £ixe5' £id5 (17 lTxe5 18 d4) 18 d4 &xe3 19 fxe3 and White was a safe pawn to the good with a nasty pin b) In another episode from Learn with Vagaman, Black simply parted with his e-pawn in return for some drawing chances Vagaman-Kaidanov, Glendale 1994 saw Black rewarded with a little short-term activity and a firm blockade on the d-file, but White is rarely limited to a single plan when there are several pieces remaining on the board 14 Axf3 15 Axf3 Ae7 16 ®xe5 £>cd7 17 #c3 Bc8 18 «el1 (there is no point being stubborn with 18 «d4?l in view of 18 Ac5 19 «f4 &xe5 20 «xeS «xd3 21 Axb7 Ad4 22 «g5 h6 23 Wf4 Bc2, when Black enjoys much more play than he deserves) 18 Ac5 19 £lxd7 «xd7 20 <&g2 b6 (20 #xd3'?< 21 Axb7 Bce8 22 «c3) 21 Ag5 «f5 22 #d2 Ad4 23 Ae3 Bcd8 24 Badl Bd7 25 Bfel Bfd8 and although White's extra pawn does not amount to much at the moment it remains a constant worry to Black, who faces the prospect of a long defence

14 Ae3!

14 VtHxb7° &c5 is still not advisable, but with c5 now covered White finally threatens to capture the b-pawn

The most sensible looking moves are not necessarily the best It is natural to remove the rook from the firing line of White's bishop now that Vaganian's plan has been accomplished and the long diagonal is clear However, in view of what happens in the game perhaps Black should have first turned to his other rook, for after 15 Be 8 he defends the e5-square with enough pieces to answer the thematic 16 d4 with 16 e4, when 17 £}fe5 is not available to White

It is fitting that White is able to turn the screw by giving his weak pawn a taste of the action Again we have an example of the removal of pawns in the centre working to the benefit of the fianchettoed bishop, which is one of the reasons the variations based on the solid c6-d5 centre have a deserved reputation tor their reliability Taking on d4 or permitting d4xe5 could prove embarrassing for Black's queen after Eal-dl, but the e-pawn cannot step out of the challenge immediately as 16 e4 17 £}fe5 highlights the new hole on c6 and undermines the defence of the e-pawn Consequently Black is forced to make a concession in order to keep the d-ftle closed

17 AxO e4

Even if c6 is no longer threatened by an enemy knight Black should avoid 17 exd4 18 Axd4 with a clear advantage to the bishop pair

18 Ag2 Se8

18 a6' must be an improvement Apart from keeping the queen out of b5, which is a surprisingly effective post. Black can then entertain the possibility of b6-b5, giving his bishop some freedom and making b6 available for a future

£}d7-b6-d5 etc This is certainly preferable to the cramped conditions Black is experiencing now, so (18 a61 19 a4 followed by bringing the queen's rook to c 1 or d I is practically the only way to stay on top

19 Bad

19 WbS'7 is worth considering

Black is not sure which of his problems requires the most attention so he settles for a standard safety move, giving the king some air and ruling out a the pinning Ae3-g5 for good Meanwhile, over on the queen side and to some extent in the centre. Black is vulnerable on the light squares Moreover letting the bishop go to force through 17 e4 means that this problem will persist, and White's g2-bishop is eager to make its presence felt Others are 19 iid5 20 £id6 Axd6 21 Bxc8 *xc8 22 »xd5 and 19 a6 20 a4 tte7 (or 20 h6 21 Bed I to threaten d4.d5) 21 Ag5 <21 Hedl") 21 Wf8 22 Axfb £ixf6 23 &xb6 £xb6 24 Bxc8 Bxc8 25 #xb6, with a clear advantage to White in both cases The text makes Black's situation even worse because he is now reduced to shuffling around while White calmly builds on his lead 20 Wb5! (D)

support the e5-square, connecting the rooks in the process

White skilfully holds back the d-pawn until its advance achieves the maximum effect His consistent follow-up to the previous moves guarantees further progress on the queen side while he waits

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