This long-term positional pawn sacrifice in order to acquire the advantage of the two bishops has become a main line, despite Black's lack of weaknesses. It is known as die Marshall Gambit and has recently become very popular. The moves 9 $La5 and 9 JLd6 are also regularly played, which demonstrates that White's idea is positional pressure rather than a specific knockout. Ever since Kasparov started making this kind of pawn sacrifice on a regular basis, other leading players have joined in and found new contexts in which to do so. In this particular line, White has won a large majority of
games, although it is likely that Black can hold his own with accurate play.
A game between two top-notch non-humans is of illustrative interest here: 9...^e7 10 JLxg7
(both engines like alternatives such as 13...£ff5 and 13...^c5, judging that Black has a small advantage, but that reflects their innate materialism; Black indeed has to establish threats like quickly, but even then the bishops are worth at least a pawn).
discussed in SOMCS in the line 1 c4 £if6 2 £>c3 e6 3 e4 c5 4 e5 £>g8 5 ®tf3 £ic6 6 d4 cxd4 7 £ixd4 £ixe5 8 £>db5 a6 9 £>d6+ i.xd6 10 Wxd6 f6 11 ±e3 12 ®a3. White doesn't regain the pawn in that case either, but uses his bishops and a flank advance to increase the pressure gradually. Not surprisingly, the example of that line given in SOMCS was a game of Kasparov's.
16...£tf5 17 0-0-0 2b8 18 £>b3 c5 19 2d2 thb4 20 <£>bl b6 21 Shdl a5 22 a4?!
An unnecessary weakness. 22 Ae4! a4 23 !? 24 £ic2 prepares g4, with the bish-14 ®d2! (as seen in a great many games ops growing ever stronger. This would have from the last decade, two bishops in a queenless middlegame can be devastating, easily compensating for a lost pawn; Kasparov has been a leader in demonstrating this) 14...®xd2+ 15 £}xd2 e5 (15...f5 stops £>e4, but now Black's weaknesses and development are awful; e.g.,
16 ±h5+ <S?f8 17 £tf3 Ad7 18 £ie5 AeS 19 ±f3 2g8 20 0-0-0 and 2d6) 16 £>e4 <£>f7 17 2dl 2g8 18 f4! (already decisive; Black never justified White's strategy.
The right idea, but premature, since White has trouble protecting f4. 23...£ife7
Now Black has the advantage, so White speculates:
got any outposts for his knights) 18...£if5 27 !.xc6 Wxc6 28 2d8+ <4>f7 appears safe
(18...ög6 19 2d6 ¿hxf4 20 2xf6+ 4>e7 21 Axe5 ¿hxe2 22 ±d6+ sfrd8 23 <S?xe2) 19 fxe5 fxe5 20 JLxe5 (a classic two-bishop position) 20...£>b4 21 ±c3 Ôc2+ (21...£>xa2 22 Ad2!) 22 <à>f2 ±e6 23 ®tf6 &ce3 24 àh5+ 4>e7 25
£}xg8+ 2xg8 26 Sdgl and White won easily in Nimzo S-Deep Fritz, Cadaques 2001. An ideal demonstration of two-bishop compensation for a pawn when the queens are off the board.
10 &e7 11 12 ttf4 12 g3 Wc7 13 àh5+ ¿hg614 f4 0-015 We2 £>e716 &f3 (D )
The bishops are still dangerous, but Black is a pawn up and only goes seriously wrong in the coming complications.
Because of the pin, White has regained the advantage.
This is the sort of position that White is after. Jk.e6! ®xe6! 35 2xe6 2xe6 36 Sfc7, when It reminds me of the two bishops compensation White remains better, but it's still a game.
33 Sde2 #d7 34 i.xe5 foxe5 35 fixe5 ®xa4+ 36 £a2 Sxe5 37 ®xe5 Ag6 38 ®d6 Se8 39 Sxe8+ ®xe8 40 £>c3 h5 41 ®xb6 a4 42 We6 1-0
I find the next example fascinating because it demonstrates the sophisticated understanding needed to assess whether one should enter into a bishops versus knights face-off.
Krasenkow - Rustemov
Panormo ECC 2001
Remarkably popular, this ultramodern non-developing move threatens ...dxc4 and intends an early ...b5. White has tried nearly everything against it, but some of the world's leading players are still successfully defending with it.
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