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Paths of Glory
The Colorado Gambit 2...f5 is the new trend.
Jonathan Adams from Australia e-mailed to ask, "What is the best line to play against the Colorado Gambit? 1 e4 Nc6 2 Nf3 f5. Has it been refuted?"
The short answer is no, and the long answer is not yet. It looks like such a weird opening that one assumes that White is instantly better after a couple of moves, but many masters have given it a go. Even the name is open to dispute, as I have seen Colorado Defence, Colorado Gambit, and Nimzowitsch ...f5. If anyone can enlighten me to the origin of the name, I would appreciate it. Admittedly, a big bonus for Black is the surprise value, which is enough to confuse an inexperienced player because it is so different from the average opening where you routinely develop rather than shed the vital f-pawn.
After some research on the Internet I eventually found a thread discussing the line where someone had a seen a video on YouTube, but the discussion was cut short when someone said they had seen an article written about it by ... Gary Lane! Yes, after more than fifteen years writing this column it seems my memory is fading. Still, I managed to track down the article entitled The World Cup from June 2002 and the reader posing the question was Santul Kosmo from Finland. The one thing that has not changed in all that time is that the opening is usually employed by strong masters when they play much lower rated players and want to beat them quickly. Here is a recent example:
Hans Bodach – Hagen Poetsch
1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 f5?!
The Colorado Gambit has a dubious reputation, but it is a tricky line. Instead 2...e5 is put forward by some experts on the Nimzowitsch (1...Nc6), though that is hardly what you want when playing something different on move one. Perhaps 2...d6 and 2...Nf6 are also worth investigating if Black wants to play something different in the opening. 3.exf5 The only way to refute a gambit is to accept it! 3...d5 4.d4 It is standard practice to happily give back the extra pawn, because the attempt to hang on to it with 4.g4 just allows Black to have some excellent counterplay after 4...h5! with double-edged play. My 2002 column initially focussed on a game where 4.Nh4 had been played, yet nowadays, instead of 4...e5, it seems that 4...Nh6! is perfectly acceptable as a way of helping to win back the pawn. For instance, the game R.Strohhaeker-I.Schneider, Deizisau 2009, continued 5.Qh5+ g6?! (5...Nf7 looks more sensible, but when you play the Colorado Gambit the onus is bound to be on the ridiculous) 6.fxg6 hxg6 7.Qxg6+ Nf7 8.Nf3 Rh6 9.Qg3 Bf5 it is worth pointing out that when the game was played Black was rated over 2500 while White was 2439, so this is a high class fixture despite of what it looks like on the board 10.d4 Rg6 11.Qh4 Qd7 12.Be3 0-0-0 13.Nc3 Bg7 14.h3 Nb4 (14...e5!? looks promising) 15.0-0-0 Nxc2 16.g4 Be4 17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.Qh5 Nxe3 19.fxe3 Qc6+ 20.Kb1 exf3 21.Qf5+ Qe6 22.Bd3 Rd6 23.Qxg6 Qxg6 24.Bxg6 Rxg6 25.Rdf1 Ng5 26.Kc2 (26.h4 Ne4 27.Rxf3 Nd2+ is fatal so; 26.Rh2, preparing h3-h4 while evading the later fork on d2, offers equal chances) 26...e5 27.dxe5?! (or 27.h4!?) 27...Bxe5 28.h4 Rc6+ 29.Kd1 Rd6+ 30.Kc1 Ne4 31.Rxf3 Rd2 32.Kb1 Bxb2 33.a4 Nc3 checkmate. 4...Bxf5 5.Bd3 The idea is to trade light-squared bishops so that e6-square is weakened, which will give Black long-term problems. 5.Bb5 is the main alternative and is examined in the next game. 5...Bg4 Poetsch wishes to exert some pressure on the d4-pawn by pinning the king's knight. Instead, 5...e6!? is a popular retort and after 6.0-0 play might continue a) 6...Bd6 7.Bg5 (7.Bxf5 exf5 8.Re1+ Nge7 9.Ng5 is promising for White thanks to the prospect of the knight invading the influential e6-square) 7...Nge7 8.Bxf5 exf5 9.Nc3 h6 10.Bxe7 Nxe7 11.Re1 with a slight edge, H. Speck-M.Schmid, Basel 2001. b) 6...Nf6 7.Re1 Be7 8.Bxf5 exf5 9.Ng5 Qd7 10.Ne6 Kf7 11.Qf3?! (11.Bf4 looks like a decent improvement with level chances) 11...Rhe8 12.c3 Bd6 13.Ng5+ Kg8 14.Rf1 Ne7 15.Qd3 h6 16.Nf3 Ng6 17.g3 Ne4 when Black has the better position, M.Vasiliev-M.Demuth, Werfen 1994. It is also worth noting 5...Qd7 when N.Fercec-M.Parpinel, Porto San Giorgio 2008 continued 6.0-0 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 e6 8.Re1 0-0-0 9.c3 Nf6 10.b4 this theme of attacking on the queenside immediately presents Black with serious problems because the onus now is on defence. 10...Bd6 11.Nbd2 Rhf8 12.Nb3 Ne4 13.b5 Nb8 14.c4 gave White an excellent position thanks to the pawn avalanche on the queenside. 6.h3 Bxf3 If 6...Bh5!? 7.g4 Bf7 8.Bb5, intending Ne5, with decent prospects. 7.Qxf3 Nf6 The tempting 7...Nxd4? allows a tactical response that gives White a huge advantage upon 8.Qh5+ g6 (8...Kd7 9.Qg4+ Ne6 10.Bf5 wins) 9.Qe5 when the attack on the rook and knight will decide the outcome of the game. 8.Bb5 The knight is pinned in order to deal with the threat to the d4-pawn and anticipate the counterplay attempt with ...e7-e5. Also possible is a) 8.Qe3!? I am beginning to think this is White's best reply to put a stop to Black safely playing ...e7-e5 8...Qd7 (8...Qd6 to support the idea of ...e7-e5 is interesting) 9.c3 e6 10.0-0 0-0-0 11.Nd2 e5? 12.dxe5 d4 13.cxd4 Nd5 14.Qe4 Ndb4 15.Nf3 Nxd3 16.Qxd3 Nxd4 17.Nxd4 (17.Bg5 Nxf3+ 18.Qxf3 Re8 19.Rfd1 is also good) 17...Qxd4 18.Qf5+ Kb8 (Black should try 18...Qd7, but it is hardly an enticing prospect being a pawn down in the ending) 19.Bg5 Rd5?! 20.Qf3 c6 21.Rad1 1-0, E.Krivoborodov-M.Lenz,Schwaebisch Gmuend 2013. b) 8.c3 e5! if this sort of position happened in every game, we would all be playing 2...f5. 9.dxe5 (9.Qe2 fails to impress after 9...Qe7) 9...Nxe5 10.Qe2 Qe7 11.Bc2 0-0-0 12.0-0 Re8 13.Bf4 Nc414.Qxe7 Bxe7 15.b3 Bd6 (perhaps 15...Nd6!?) 16.Bg5 Nb6 led to equal chances in the game E.Dervishi-O.Salmensuu, Leon 2001. 8...e6 9.Qe2 Kf7!?
A startling way to confuse White and cope with the threat to the e6-pawn. It is not as bad as it looks, although I prefer the more sedate line 9...Qd7 10.0-0 0-0-0 with level chances. 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.0-0 Bodach has the safer king and the superior pawn structure, but it is not obvious how White can convert this to a lasting advantage. In part, this is the reason why the opening has such appeal for Black, because it gets White well away from the standard book lines and usually gains time on the clock. 11...c5 Poetsch does the sensible thing and prepares to rid himself of the doubled -c-pawns. 12.Re1 Qd7 13.c3 Bd6 14.Be3!? It might be wise to adopt a more positional approach by fighting for control of the e5-square. For instance, 14.dxc5 Bxc5 15.Nd2, intending Nf3-e5, with an edge. 14...cxd4 15.cxd4 Rhe8 Black is busy artificially castling by bringing the king's rook into play and it means that the prospect of advancing the e-pawn looks rather dangerous. 16.Qc2 e5 17.Nd2 Or 17.dxe5 Bxe5 18.Nd2 is about level. 17...e4 18.Rac1 Rab8 19.Nb3 Qa4 Black has a nagging initiative that requires accurate defending by White, but this is not so straightforward when Poetsch has a much higher rating. 20.Qb1 Qb5 21.Rc2 Nd7 The knight retreat will give White pause to wonder, because it can head over to c4 via b6 or shift back to the kingside via f8 and head for the f4- or h4-square to annoy White by making a few attacking threats. 22.Qd1 Kg8 23.Qe2 Qa4 24.Nc1 Nf8 25.b3 Qd7 26.Qa6 Ng6 27.Qe2 It looks risky to try 27.Qxa7? and this is confirmed upon 27...Ra8 28.Qb7 Ne7! when the white queen cannot safely escape via the c6-square, so the prospect of ...Reb8 is decisive. 27...Re6 28.Qg4 Qf7 29.Ne2 Rf8
Poetsch shifts another piece over to the kingside in preparation for a tactical assault on the white king. Improving players, who can't always think of a good sequence of constructive moves in the middlegame, often ask 'how to think of a good plan'. In my book Prepare to Attack I provide a guide to help with the process. Basically, to 'count the pieces' when deciding whether to start attacking; and in this case it is obvious Black has a good foundation because all his pieces are primed to invade on the kingside. It must be admitted that White has plenty in store in terms of defence, but it does help to simply define when it is a good time to increase the pressure. 30.Ng3 Perhaps 30.Qh5 in preparation of multiple exchanges which favour White after 30...Nf4? 31.Qxf7+ Rxf7 32.Nxf4 Bxf4 33.Bxf4 Rxf4 34.Rxc7 with an extra pawn in the ending. 30...Ne7 The knight moves again, but this time it is in preparation for a rook to swing across to g6 in order to harass the white queen. 31.Nf1 Nf5!? It is slightly more accurate to try 31...Rg6! 32.Qh5? this is the difference compared to the actual game, as it fails big time to a tactical trick (32.Qe2 is met by 32...Nf5, aiming to play...Nh4, to target the g2-pawn) 32...Rxg2+ 33.Kxg2 Qxh5 winning. 32.Kh1 Kh8 33.Rd1 Rg6 34.Qh5 Qf6 Maybe 34...c6 is a decent alternative. For instance, 35.Rxc6 Nxe3 36.fxe3 (36.Nxe3 Qxf2 37.Rxd6 Rxd6 38.Rf1 Qxf1+ 39.Nxf1 Rxf1+ 40.Kh2 Rd8 and I would rather be Black) 36...Qxf1+ 37.Rxf1 Rxf1 checkmate. 35.Re1 Nh4 36.Ng3 If 36.g3, then 36...Nf3 37.Rd1 Qe6, preparing ...Rf5, wins. 36...Bxg3 37.fxg3 Nf5 Or 37...Rxg3 which allows White to fight back with 38.Qe5. 38.Bf4 c6 Black has enough time to reinforce his pawns before carrying on with his plans to step up his attacking ambitions. Or 38...Nxg3+ 39.Bxg3 Rxg3 40.Qxd5 is just good for White. 39.Rc3 Qxd4 40.Rec1 Qf2 41.R1c2 If 41.Rxc6, then 41...Rxg3! is a winner. 41...Qe1+ 42.Kh2 Nd4 43.Rc1 43.Bd2 allows 43...Qf2 and Black must win material. 43...Qe2 44.Qxe2 44.Qh4 falls victim to 44...Nf3+ and White can resign. 44...Nxe2 45.Rxc6 Nxc1 46.Rxc1 d4 47.Rc7 Re6 48.Rxa7 e3 49.Rd7 h6 0-1
A popular reply is 4 d4, but in the next game Kasparov loses! OK it was not Garry, but Sergey, who is not related. Still, he is a formidable grandmaster who goes astray while attempting to smash the Colorado.
Sergey Kasparov – Torben Schulze
1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 f5 3.exf5 d5 4.d4 This is a standard reply to help exert some control over the e5-square, but I am beginning to think that 4.Bb5 causes more problems for Black in the opening and it is discussed in the next game. 4...Bxf5 5.Bb5 Kasparov pins the queen's knight; the idea is to exert extra pressure with a future Ne5. 5...e6 6.Ne5 Nge7
The fact that Black has time to defend the knight so comfortably indicates that the position is roughly equal. 7.Qh5+?! This can, in some circumstances, be judged a high class move, in that White deliberately compromises the black pawn structure and then retreats the queen. However, in this case Schulze is more than happy to fianchetto on the kingside. Instead, I prefer 7.Bg5!? with a slight initiative. 7...g6 8.Qe2 The point is that now the bishop on f5 is in danger of being trapped with g2-g4 which adds another worry for Black. 8...Bg7 9.Bg5 White pins the king's knight to set up extra threats against the knight on c6. Also possible is 9.Bxc6+ Nxc6 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.g4 (the bishop is trapped, but Black has plenty of counterplay) 11...Be4 12.f3 Qh4+ (the computer likes the line 12...0-0! 13.fxe4 Bxd4 for Black despite the piece deficit thanks to the threats of ...Qh4+ and ...Rf2) 13.Kd1 0-0 14.fxe4 Bxd4 15.h3 Qg3 (or 15...Rf2 16.Qe1 Qg3 17.Nd2 Be3 is difficult to defend for White) 16.Nd2 Rf2 17.Qd3 Qg2? (17...Be3! maintains the tension) 18.Re1 c5 19.c3 Bf6 20.exd5 exd5 21.Rf1 gave White all the winning chances, V.Bologan-I.Schneider, Mainz 2010. 9...0-0 A brave, but calculated decision. Instead, 9...Qd6 is a decent alternative offering equal chances. 10.Bxc6 Nxc6!
Schulze sensationally offers the queen as bait in return for active piece play which will help to regain material. If 10...bxc6, then 11.0-0 is the best option as direct action with 11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.Nxc6 might win a pawn, but Black generates excellent counterplay upon 12...Qd6 13.Ne5 c5 14.c3 cxd4 15.cxd4 Qb6 16.Qd2 Rfc8 when I prefer Black. 11.Bxd8 Nxd4 12.Qd2 Nxc2+ 13.Ke2 Bxe5 The slight twist is that Black can take his time to capture on a1, which allows him to snap up the white knight. 14.Nc3? A casual move by such a strong player is a reminder that it is easy to go wrong in such a sharp position. It is more prudent to try 14.Be7 when play might continue 14...Rf7 15.Bc5 d4 (or 15...Nxa1 16.Na3 b6 17.Be3 when White has the edge; 15...Bxb2 16.Na3! Bxa3 17.Bxa3 Nxa3 18.Qb2 Nc2 19.Rac1 and White has the better chances) 16.f4 Bg4+ 17.Kd3 Bxf4 (17...Bf5+ 18.Ke2 Bg4+ soon fizzles out to a draw) 18.Kxc2 Bxd2 19.Nxd2 Bf5+ 20.Kb3 e5 21.Nf3 with a tricky ending that offers roughly equal opportunities. 14...Raxd8 15.Rac1 d4
The difference compared to the lines in the note on White's fourteenth move is that now the knight on c2 is a menace and White does not have a dark-squared bishop to act as a defender. 16.Nd1 Be4 17.Qg5 If 17.f3, then 17...d3+ 18.Kf2 Bf4 19.Qc3 Bxc1 gives Black a winning advantage. 17...d3+ 18.Kf1 d2 19.Rb1 Bf4 0-1
The best way to combat the Colorado Gambit is 4.Bb5. In the next game a top grandmaster shows how it is done:
David Baramidze – David Hoeffer
1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 f5!? 3.exf5 d5 In the game from Jonathan Adams, Black responded with the obscure 3...Nh6?! when 4.d4 d5 5.Bb5 Nxf5 6.Ne5 Bd7? (6...Qd6 is the best try in the difficult circumstances) 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Nxg6! gave White a winning advantage, J.Adams-K.Blazeski, Sydney 2013. 4.Bb5
White pins the queen's knight in anticipation of Nd4 or Ne5 to increase the pressure. It is similar to the 4.d4 lines, except Black does not have time to organise a quick ...Nge7 to help protect the knight on c6. 4...Bxf5 5.Ne5 a6?! There are various replies available: a) The obvious reply is just to block the pin with 5...Bd7, but it is all good news for White: a1) 6.Qh5+ is the brave move, but I could not track down any recent games in this variation, although a sample line runs 6...g6 7.Nxg6 Nf6 8.Qh4 hxg6 9.Qxh8 Nb4 10.Bd3 Nxd3+ 11.cxd3 Bf5 12.0-0 when White should be better. a2) 6 Bxc6 bxc6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.d4 e6 9.c4 dxc4 10.Nc3 Bd6 11.Bg5 0-0 12.Qe2 Rb8 13.Rad1 Qe8 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Nxc4 Qe7 16.Rfe1 with the superior chances, R. Schmaltz-G.Gross, St Ingbert 1994. b) 5...Qd6 is another popular way to defend the queen's knight: 6.d4 Nf6 (6...Bd7 7.Bxc6 Bxc6 8.0-0 Qf6 9.Qh5+ g6 10.Qh3 Bg7 11.Re1 when I prefer White, C.Ward-P.Navarro Torres, Gibraltar 2007) and now b1) 7.Nc3 Nd7 8.Bf4 (maybe 8.0-0! because if Black grabs an extra pawn, he soon come under intense scrutiny 8...Ndxe5 9.dxe5 Qxe5 10.Re1 Qd6 11.Qf3 is very promising for White) 8...Ncxe5 9.Bxe5 Qb4 10.Bxd7+ Kxd7 11.a3 Qxb2 12.Nxd5 e6 13.Ne3 Qc3+ 14.Kf1 Bd6 15.Bxd6 cxd6 16.Rb1 and the position is level, F.Vallejo Pons-D.Hoeffer, German Team Championship 2011. b2) 7 0-0 Nd7 8.Nc3! e6 (8...Ndxe5 9.dxe5 Qxe5 10.Re1 Qd6 11.Qf3 is the same variation explored in the previous note stemming from 7 Nc3 and once again is good for White) 9.Nd3 Bxd3 10.Bxd3 Nf6 11.Nb5 Qd7 12.Re1 Kf7 (12...0-0-0 is the best bet to defend the e6-pawn, but 13.Bf4 Bd6 14.Nxd6+ cxd6 15.c3 with an edge) 13.Bf4 Rc8 14.Qe2 and White is on top, S.Movsesian-M.Lammers, German Team Championship 2011. 6.Bxc6+ bxc6 7.d4 In the game R.Lau-G.Gross, German Team Championship 1997, a German grandmaster playing White found a way to do it without the usual d2-d4 in the opening. That game went 7.0-0 e6 8.d3 Bd6 9.Qh5+ g6 10.Qe2 Qh4 11.Nd2 Nf6 12.Ndf3 Qh5 13.Re1 0-0 14.h3 c5 15.Bf4 (15.g4? Nxg4! 16.hxg4 Bxg4 17.Nxg4 Qxg4+ 18.Kf1 Rxf3 19.Qxe6+ Qxe6 20.Rxe6 Raf8 favours Black) 15...Rab8 16.b3 h6 17.Nd2?! (17.Qd2 g5 18.Bg3 with a better game) 17...Qxe2 18.Rxe2 with roughly equal chances although White eventually won. After 7.Nxc6 White wins a pawn, but Black has an easy game 7...Qd6 8.Nd4 Qe5+ 9.Ne2 Qe4 (9...e6 is also not bad) 10.0-0 Qxc2 and the material level is equal. 7...e6 8.Qh5+! A clever idea that is designed not to checkmate Black in the opening, but to compromise the pawn structure. Or 8.Nxc6 Qh4 9.Nc3 Bd6 10.Be3 Nf6 (10...Ne7 looks like a possible improvement 11.Nxe7 Qxe7 12.0-0 Qh4 with a slight initiative) 11.Qd2 Ne4 12.Nxe4 Bxe4 13.0-0-0 Bxg2 14.Rhg1 Bf3 15.Rxg7 Bxd1 16.Qxd1 Rf8 17.Qg1 Rf7 18.Rg8+ Rf8 19.Qg7 Rc8 20.Ne5 1-0, R.Dudek-G.Gross, German Team Championship 1997. 8...g6 9.Qe2
The point is that now the bishop on f5 cannot retreat, which means Black has to be extra careful. A similar idea was seen in the previous main game by S.Kasparov, but Black conjured up too much counterplay. 9...Qh4? It might look ugly, but 9...h5 is necessary to avoid serious loss of material. 10.g4 Be4 11.0-0! I suspect Black underestimated the power of this simple, but elegant move. The point of ...Qh4 was to prevent f2-f3, but now White is ready to try and trap the light-squared bishop. 11...Bd6 Instead, 11...g5 preserves the bishop by offering an escape route, but after 12.f3 Bg6 13.Nxc6 and White has a clear advantage. 12.f3 Bf5 13.Nxc6 Ne7 14.Nxe7 Kxe7 15.gxf5 Baramidze is just a piece up and gives a master class on how to convert that advantage into a quick victory. 15...gxf5 16.f4 The bishop on d6, attacking the h2-pawn, is slightly annoying, so it is just snuffed out by blocking the diagonal. 16...Rhg8+ 17.Kh1 Rg4 18.Nd2 Rag8 Or 18...Bxf4 19.Nf3 Qf6 20.h3 and Black is embarrassed; while the alternative 18...Rxf4 19.Rxf4 Qxf4 20.Nf3 Qe4 21.Bg5+ Kd7 22.Qf2, intending Re1, gives White a winning position. 19.Nf3 Qh5 20.Bd2 Bxf4
Well, Black is lost so trying to steal an extra pawn makes sense, but White is ready to combat the plan. 21.Rae1! R8g6 22.Bxf4 Rxf4 23.Qe3 Re4 23...Qg4 24.Qa3+ Ke8 25.Rf2 is also excellent for White. 24.Qa3+ Kf7 25.Rxe4 1-0
If anyone has any games in the Colorado, send them in. Also, anyone familiar with where the name comes from should write in and let us know.
Andrew Zhileikin from Russia emailed to ask, "Please, can you show in your next column this variation 1.e4 d6 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.f4 Nf6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e5 Nd7 7.h4!? c5 8.h5 cxd4."
This can be a powerful line for White with numerous swift victories to justify an attempt to checkmate straight out of the opening. The drawback is that players of the Pirc should be used to such aggression, enabling them to seek counterplay while White crashes and burns by sacrificing too much material. In the next game White follows a critical line and triumphs in style:
Radoslav Dimitrov – Marij Petrov
1.e4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.d4 d6 4.f4 This move signals the Austrian Attack. It is well known to be one of White's must aggressive attempts to meet the Pirc, so a lot of work has been done analysing the resulting positions. 4...Nf6 5.Nf3 0-0 A main alternative is 5...c5. 6.e5!?
This advance has been played by some elite players, but it tends to drift in and out of fashion. It is arguably reserved at the highest level as a surprise weapon, but I reckon at a weekend tournament it has plenty of potential. 6...Nfd7 Or 6...dxe5 7.dxe5 Qxd1+ 8.Kxd1 Ng4 9.Ke1 gives White a tiny edge.; 6...Ng4 7.h3 Nh6 the king's knight is out of the action on h6 and when it does get involved via f5 there is always the possibility of a kingside pawn advance with g2-g4 8.Be3 c5?! 9.dxc5 Nf5 10.Bf2 dxe5 11.Qxd8 Rxd8 12.Nxe5 Nc6 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.g4 Nd4 15.0-0-0 with the advantage, B.Filipovic -Z.Gabre, Sibenik 2011. 7.h4 c5 This is the classic response by Black to an attack on the wing in the Pirc, by countering in the centre with ...c5. In the heavyweight encounter, A.Gipslis-M.Botvinnik, Moscow 1965, Black tried 7...Nb6. That game continued 8.h5 Bg4 9.hxg6 fxg6 (or 9...hxg6 10.Be3 with the better chances) 10.Be2 (10.Be3 is also OK) 10...dxe5 11.Ng5 Bf5 12.fxe5 (12.Nxh7! exd4 13.Nxf8 Nc6 14.Ne6 Bxe6 15.Ne4 with the better prospects) 12...h5 13.g4 hxg4 14.Bxg4 Nc6 led to roughly equal chances. 8.h5 As far as I know, it was former world championship contender David Bronstein who popularised this attacking system involving the h-pawn advance. 8...cxd4
9.hxg6 White goes all in for the attack, which is likely to frighten Black if his knowledge of the variation is limited. 9.Qxd4 dxe5 10.Qf2 (10.fxe5? Nxe5 11.Qh4 Bf5 looks sound for Black) 10...exf4 11.hxg6 fxg6 12.Qh4 with promising play despite the two pawn deficit. 9...dxc3 Black accepts the challenge, but White's attack at first glance looks formidable. The point is that if Black is not prepared for this sideline, then it is very difficult for the average player to work out the best defence at the board. 9...hxg6? 10.Qxd4 Nc6 (10...dxe5 11.fxe5 Nxe5 12.Qh4 presents White with a winning attack) 11.Qf2 e6 12.Ng5 (12.exd6 Nf6 13.Bd2 aiming to castle queenside also benefits White) 12...Re8 13.Be3 dxe5 14.0-0-0 exf4 15.Qxf4 Qe7 16.Nce4 Nce5 17.Qh2 f6 18.Qh7+ Kf8 19.Nf3 (19.Bc4! is the brilliant way to ensure victory; for example, 19...Nxc4 20.Rxd7 Bxd7 21.Qxg6 Nxe3 22.Nh7+ Kg8 23.Nexf6+ winning) 19...Ng4 20.Rxd7 Qxd7 21.Bc5+ Kf7 22.Nfg5+ fxg5 23.Nxg5+ Kf6 24.Bd3 Qxd3 25.cxd3 Kxg5 26.Qh4+ Kf5 1-0, L.Lekic-B.Maric, Cetinje 2013. 10.gxf7+ Rxf7 Not 10...Kh8? in view of 11.Rxh7+! Kxh7 12.Ng5+ Kh6 (12...Kg6 13.Qd3+ Kh5 14.Be2+ Kh4 15.g3 checkmate) 13.Qd3 Nf6 14.exf6 Rh8 15.f5!, intending Qh3, leads to checkmate. 11.Bc4 It looks logical to pin the rook in pursuit of greater glory. In the game D.Bronstein-S.Conquest, Reykjavik 1996, White tried to immediately storm the barricades with 11.Ng5?, but it fails to impress: 11...cxb2! 12.Bxb2 (12.Bc4 Nxe5 13.fxe5 Qa5+ 14.Ke2 bxa1Q wins) 12...Qa5+ 13.c3 Nxe5! 14.Qb3 Qc5 15.Be2 Qe3 16.Bc1 Qg3+ 17.Kd1 Bg4 18.Re1 Qd3+ 19.Bd2 Nc4 0-1. Instead 11.e6?! is met by 11...cxb2 when 12.exf7+ Kf8 13.Bxb2 Bxb2 is just better for Black. 11...Nf8 Perhaps 11...e6 is best when White should carry on with 12.Ng5 Nxe5! 13.Qh5 h6 14.fxe5 hxg5 15.Qh7+ Kf8 16.Qh8+ Bxh8 17.Rxh8+ Kg7 18.Rxd8 Nc6 19.Rxd6 Nxe5 20.Be2 amazingly the game is now reduced to equal chances, E.Martinez Ramirez,-J.Fluvia Poyatos, Barbera del Valles 2013. 12.Ng5 After 12.Bxf7+ Kxf7 13.Ng5+ Kg8 14.Qh5 h6 15.Qf7+ Kh8 it is not obvious how White can win, but chances are even. 12...e6 The startling 12...d5?! is nothing special and is easily rebuffed upon 13.Qxd5 Qxd5 14.Bxd5 e6 15.Nxf7 Kxf7 16.Bf3 with a decent game because Black's pieces lack co-ordination. 13.Nxf7 Kxf7 If 13...cxb2 14.Bxb2 Kxf7, White has an extra option compared to the game 15.Qh5+ Kg8 and now 16.0-0-0 is very good for White and the possibility of queenside castling is not usually available unless Black takes on b2. 14.Qh5+ Kg8 15.Bd3 The tempting 15.f5?! allows 15...Qa5!; for instance, 16.fxe6 cxb2+ 17.Ke2 bxc1N+ (17...Qc7 runs into 18.Qf7+ Qxf7 19.exf7+ Kh8 20.Bxb2 when opportunities are even) 18.Raxc1 Bxe6 19.Bxe6+ Kh8 20.Qf7 Qxe5+ 21.Kd2 Qg5+ 22.Ke2 Qxg2+ 23.Ke3 Nxe6 24.Qe8+ Nf8 25.Rcg1 Bh6+ 26.Rxh6 Qxg1+ 27.Ke2 Qg4+ 28.Kd3 Qf3+ 0-1, S.Bochinski-H.Hoffmann, German Team Championship 1994. 15...h6 16.Rh3
The consistent approach, as White is poised to transfer the rook to the g-file to boost the onslaught. Then again 16.bxc3 intending to castle kingside looks like a viable option. 16...Qb6? I would suggest 16...dxe5 is a sterner test of the line, although 17.fxe5 (17.Rg3 e4 looks fine for Black) 17...cxb2 18.Bxb2 Qg5 19.Qxg5 hxg5 20.Rh5 with complications offering equal chances. 17.Be3 cxb2 18.Rb1 Qa5+ This merely encourages Dimitrov to co-ordinate his rooks. However, the defensive choice 18...Qc7 is also met by 19.Rg3 winning. 19.Ke2 Qc7 20.Rg3 b6 21.exd6 Qf7 Or 21...Qxd6 22.Qxh6 Qd7 23.Rh1 b1Q 24.Qh8+ Kf7 25.Rxg7+ Ke8 26.Bg6+ Kd8 27.Rxd7+ Nbxd7 28.Rxb1 and Black can resign. 22.Qxh6 Nbd7 23.Bd4 e5 24.Rh1 1-0
If you have tried to crush the Pirc with this wild line, then send in the games.
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