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Axel’s e3: Still Poisonous…

Since e3 Poison was published, I have incorporated some of Axel’s ideas into my repertoire from time to time. Yesterday was one such occasion; I thought it could make for a worthwhile blog post, as it is a good example of how a reasonable player (2100 strength) may quickly go wrong when confronted with an unfamiliar set-up.

Andrew Greet – Patrick Coffey
SNCL, 04.11.2018

1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 c5 3.e3
Pat Coffey has been known to play all kinds of weird openings. I had already suffered a bad defeat in the morning round against IM Bryson, so for this game I was happy to keep things solid.

3…Nf6 4.c4 d5 5.Nc3
One of my early games with the e3 Poison continued 5.a3 cxd4 6.exd4 Be7 7.Nc3 0–0 8.c5 Ne4 9.Bd3 Nxc3 10.bxc3 b6 11.h4!? and, though I got into some trouble in the early middlegame, I eventually won in Greet – Williams, Dundee 2017.

5…a6
An important alternative is 5…cxd4 6.exd4 when White will most likely have to play with an IQP.

6.cxd5 exd5 7.Be2 Nc6 8.0–0
It’s Greet – Williams in reverse, with an extra tempo for White. There is a lot to be said for playing IQP positions from both sides, as this is one of the most fundamental pawn structures which can arise from many different openings.

8…Be6?!
An understandable inaccuracy. Black is anticipating dxc5, and he wants to avoid losing a tempo with his dark-squared bishop, so he makes another developing move. It’s rather a short-sighted decision though, as White can easily postpone dxc5, so Black should just make an immediate decision as to how to develop that bishop.

Either 8…cxd4 9.Nxd4 Bd6 or 8…Bd6 9.dxc5 Bxc5 should have been preferred.

9.b3 cxd4?!
Again 9…Bd6 was preferable, either here or on the next move.

10.Nxd4 Bc5?!
White will exchange on either c6 or e6; which one would you choose?

11.Nxc6!
I guess Black was hoping for 11.Nxe6 fxe6 when his position makes reasonable sense. But now we get a thematic hanging-pawn structure where his bishop has gone to e6 prematurely, and White will soon gain a tempo by attacking the bishop on c5, all of which adds up to a serious positional advantage. In the next few moves, White’s position practically plays itself.

11…bxc6 12.Bb2 0–0 13.Rc1 Be7 14.Na4 Bd7 15.Nc5 Bf5 16.Qd4 Ne8 17.Qa4 Bd6?
A mistake in an extremely unpleasant position.

18.Nb7

18…Bxh2+? 19.Kxh2 Qc7+
This was Black’s idea. I had already seen that I could allow him to trade this bishop for my knight, then capture on c6 with a near-decisive advantage. But then I noticed something even better…

20.Qf4!
1–0

 

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  1. Tim S
    November 5th, 2018 at 15:28 | #1

    Nice game. “Either 8…cxd4 9.Nxd4 Bd6 or 8…Bd6 9.dxc5 Bxc5 should have been preferred.” This reminds me of a comment Axel made in (I believe) the Panov chapter. His opinion was in general the bishop is better placed on d3 (in this case d6) and therefore taking on d4 first (in this case d4!) is a good idea. I took this as a general advice, but maybe I shouldn’t have?

    Another thing this game reminded me of when working with the e3 Poison book was that the move order 1.d4 e6 isn’t covered. Andrew played 2.Nf3 here but after 2…f5 White can’t play the anti-Dutch lines recommended. I came to the conclusion that 2.e3 was the best fit with the repertoire, delaying Ng1-f3 for a few more moves if Black is still able to go for a Stonewall set-up.

  2. Andrew Greet
    November 5th, 2018 at 16:05 | #2

    Tim S :
    Nice game. “Either 8…cxd4 9.Nxd4 Bd6 or 8…Bd6 9.dxc5 Bxc5 should have been preferred.” This reminds me of a comment Axel made in (I believe) the Panov chapter. His opinion was in general the bishop is better placed on d3 (in this case d6) and therefore taking on d4 first (in this case d4!) is a good idea. I took this as a general advice, but maybe I shouldn’t have?

    It partly depends on which side has the IQP. If White wants to play ambitiously, then Bd3 aims at the kingside and avoids simplifying. If Black has the IQP, he may be possible to equalize with …Bc5 and a quick …d4.

  3. Andrew Greet
    November 5th, 2018 at 16:06 | #3

    Tim S :
    Another thing this game reminded me of when working with the e3 Poison book was that the move order 1.d4 e6 isn’t covered. Andrew played 2.Nf3 here but after 2…f5 White can’t play the anti-Dutch lines recommended. I came to the conclusion that 2.e3 was the best fit with the repertoire, delaying Ng1-f3 for a few more moves if Black is still able to go for a Stonewall set-up.

    Every move order has its own pros and cons – one should always take into account the opponent’s repertoire preferences when deciding which options to keep open. In this particular game, I was fairly sure my opponent never played the Dutch so it wasn’t on my mind at all – and if he did play it, I would be happy to revert to Avrukh style.

  4. Gollum
    November 5th, 2018 at 21:04 | #4

    Is it me or this move order is not recommended in e3-poison? The move it recommends should have been 5.a3 (in the Timid Tarrasch chapter).

    On the other hand, the move order played is recommended as Black by Ntirlis and Aagaard in the Tarrasch book and it gives 8…Bd6 as the move to play if I recall correctly.

    Curiously that position is very common when you face opponents who does not know Tarrasch’s theory.

  5. John NS
    November 6th, 2018 at 04:15 | #5

    Great win Andrew.

    However, this is the sort of game I just don’t understand. You mention that Bd6 is better on moves 8 or 9 and yet 10…Bc5 is not good. But apart from the bishop on e6, the position is similar to the variation given on move 8 where the bishop ends up on c5 anyway. I just don’t get it. What am I missing? Thanks.

  6. Andrew Greet
    November 6th, 2018 at 09:54 | #6

    @Gollum
    I haven’t referred back to the book, but you’re probably right. (That would also explain why I chose 5.a3 against Williams, when the book was fresher in my memory!) Nevertheless, the two options are quite similar, and I could imagine playing either of them in future, depending on the opponent.

  7. Andrew Greet
    November 6th, 2018 at 10:13 | #7

    @John NS
    The reasoning goes like this:
    – Black needs to develop the f8-bishop and castle. At move 8, he can do this with either of the two options I mentioned.
    – The same is true on the next move. But if we accept that this is true, it’s obvious that Black gained nothing by committing his bishop to e6 so soon.
    – When it comes to 10…Bc5?, it’s not simply a matter of the c5-square being good or bad – one must take into account the placement of the white knight. In the …Bd6, dxc5 Bxc5 position, the knight is on f3 and Black’s position is okay. But after luring the knight to d4, Black has to take into account the possibility of the exchange on c6. And when that happens, the bishop is clearly misplaced because Rc1 and Na4 are natural moves for White anyway. I hope that explains it.

  8. John NS
    November 6th, 2018 at 10:36 | #8

    Andrew

    Many thanks for the extra explanation as it’s a lot clearer now. I obviously need to study IQP positions more to improve. I generally avoid them like the plague!

  9. Andrew Greet
    November 6th, 2018 at 10:58 | #9

    @John NS
    I used to avoid them too (except for playing against them) but eventually came round to the idea, and there is no doubt that it’s been beneficial, both for my general chess understanding and my ability to play that structure when the position demands it. So I’d certainly encourage you to study the IQP and try playing with it when you feel confident enough.

  10. RYV
    November 6th, 2018 at 22:50 | #10

    IQP and hanging pawns are not always bad. It is important to learn how to play with either side

  11. RYV
    November 8th, 2018 at 19:59 | #11

    black Failure is typical of “the battle for a tempo” that happened in many opening ( QGD, semi-slav..) where one side is waiting for the opponent to commit himself with a bishop move before taking the c-pawn.
    In This battle for a tempo, each side tries to play useful developping moves while keeping the tension of central pawns until some kind of zwugwang where the opponent has to play his bishop or break the central tension with some pawn exchange.

  12. Andrew Greet
    November 9th, 2018 at 10:16 | #12

    @RYV
    Yes, my opponent fell into exactly this kind of trap on move 8. He was battling for a tempo but it’s obvious that White has many more useful moves which postpone dxc5, such as b3, Bb2 (or Ba3) and Rc1. That’s why Black should have either accepted the loss of a tempo with 8…Bd6 or prevented dxc5 by playing …cxd4 himself, followed by …Bd6.

  13. Seth
    November 11th, 2018 at 19:35 | #13

    There’s a World Championship match going on! Do members of the Quality Chess team have any opinions and/or observations about the developments there so far? It might make for some good blogging opportunities if you guys are short on potential topics at the moment.

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