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Thursday, November 16, 2006

New Ideas in the Petrov's Defense

*DISCLAIMER* This isn't exactly a new idea in this opening. To my knowledge Alfonso Romero (who i believe was a GM) was the first to explore this opening and write an article about it in a Spanish magazine in 1998, and a more in depth article in the New In Chess Yearbook #54 in 2000. (I had access to neither of these) I am merely expanding on what i could find of his original theory, using some top level games played since and ideas of my own.*

I already know what you are thinking, "but I don't want to play the Petrov's, its too
drawish." When you are white, and black starts out on that ever-familiar path, try moaning to him that you don't want to play this opening, see how far it gets you J. Or, you can learn some lines here that may very well keep you from drawing, and not having to worry about drawing in this opening again. We all know how the Petrov's starts out: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 and there are some alternatives here, but I'm not going to get into those, I'm here for another rather rare, little spoken of variation. Let's continue: 3. Nxe4 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe5. And here it is, the kicker black almost never thinks of: 5. Bd3, the Anti-Development Variation. Why can I hear scoffing already? You haven't seen the rest and already people are coping an attitude J. Yes, this opening does hinder development for a few moves, but in some lines blacks development can also be rather lacking. This opening doesn't enjoy the same popularity as other lines in the Petrov, but it has about the same winning percentage for white, when played correctly, as the more common lines. Why is this line so uncommon? For starters, it goes against ideas that we as experienced chess players have ingrained in our heads. We obnoxiously throw the light squared bishop out on a square that blocks both the d pawn and therefore its dark squared brother. Another may be because of its rather bad sounding name. So I am giving you a job my minions, I am going to change the name of this opening, and you are going to spread the word. It shall henceforth be called… the "Trajan Variation"!!! (What did you think I was going to call it? J). Will this variation really get a name change; I highly doubt it, BUT THAT WON'T STOP ME FROM TRYING!!! Now my minions, here is all the information you will need to know in order to go out in the world and spread the news. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe3 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Bd3, and you get this position:

Black has three main alternatives to chose from: 5. … Nf6, d5, or Nc5. We shall go over each of these options separately.
5. ... Nf6: 6. h3 (A) Be7 7. 0-0 0-0 8. c3 Nc6 (B) 9. Bc2 Ne5 (C) 10. d4 Nxf3+ 11. Qxf3 c6 12. Bf4 Qb6 13. b3 d5 with equal chances

(A) 6. 0-0 Nc6 7. Re1+ Be7 8. c3 Bg4 9. h3 Bh5 10. Bb5 0-0 11. d4 is about equal
(B) Both 8. ... d5 9. Bc2 Re8 10. d4 Bd6 and 8. ... c5 9. Bc2 Nc6 10. d4 Be6 lead to equality.
(C) 9. ... d5 10. d4 Ne4 11. Re1 f5 12. Bf4 and white is well off

5. ... d5: this line is most often chosen by top players: 6. Qe2 Qe7 7. 0-0 And here we get two different paths:

1.7. ... Nd6 (A) 8. Qd1 Qd8 9. Nc3 c6 10. Re1+ Be7 11. Qe2 Bg4 (B) is about equal (Morozevich-Kramnik Wijk aan Zee 2000)
2.7. ... Nc5 8. Re1 Be6 9. Bb5+ c6 10. d4 cxd5 11. dxc5 Nc6 (C) 12. Be3 a6 13. a4 b4 14. c3 a5 and white is a bit ahead (Morozevich-Shirov, Sarajevo 2000)

(A) This novelty was first played by Kramnik in Linares in 1999 (see below)
(B) 11. ... Nd7 12. b4 Nf8 13. b5 Ne6 is better for white
(C) Not-11. ... Qxc5 12. Ng5 Qc4 13. Nxe6 Qxe2 14. Rxe2 fxe6 15. Rxe6+ Kf7 16. Re5 and black is in bad shape.

5. ... Nc5: 6. Be2 Be7 (A) 7. 0-0 0-0 8. d4 Ne4 9. c4 c6 10. Qc2 d5 11. Bd3 Be6 is unclear

(A) 6. ... d5 7. d4 Ne4 8. 0-0 Bd6 9. c4 c6 10. Nc3 0-0 11. Qb3 Nxc3 12. bxc3 dxc4 13. Bxc4 h6 14. Re1 Nd7 15. Wc2 Nb6 16. Bd3 c5 was even in
Constantini-Raetsky, Biel 2001

"But o' wise one, this is still missing something". Yes my minions, it does need something. IT NEEDS STREET CRED!! Here it is my followers, three games, won by white, using the Trajan Variation.

Kateryna Lahno vs. Margiz Umudova Int. Youth Games U14 Girls-Moscow 2002

e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. h3 !? Be7 7. 0-0 0-0 8. c3 d5 9. Bc2 Bd6 10. d4 h6 11. Nbd2 Re8 12. Re1 Nc6 13. Nf1 Ne4 14. c4 Bf8 15. a3 Bf5 16. cxd5 Qxd5 (Better is 16. ... Nb8 17. Bf4 Nd6 18. Rxe8 Qxe8 19. Bxf5 Nxf5 20. Qc2 Qd7 21. Ne3 Nxe3 22. fxe3 Qxd5 23. Bxc7) 17. Ne3 Qd7 18. Nxf5 Qxf5 19. Qd3 1-0.

Kateryna Lahno vs. Ekaterina Polovnikova-Atalik Fide Women's World Championship-Elista Russia 2004

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. c3 Be7 7. Bc2 0-0 8. d4 b6 9. 0-0 Bb7 10. Nbd2 Nbd7 11. Re1 Re8 12. Nf1 Bf8

13. Be3 g6 14. Ng3 Bg7 15. h3 Nf8 16. Nh2 Qd7 17. Qd2 Ne4 18. Bxe4 Bxe4 19. Bh6 f5 20. Nxe4 fxe4 21. Ng4 Qf5 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. Qh6+ Kh8

24. Re3 d5 25. Rae1 Ne6 26. f3 exf3 27. Rxf3 Qg5 28. Rxe6 Qxh6 29. Rxe8+ Rxe8 30. Nxh6 Kg7 31. Ng4 Re1+ 32. Rf1 Re2 33. Rf2 1-0

"But Master, who would listen to us if you only give us examples of an inexperienced girl?" Well, let me tell you a little something about Kateryna Lahno. In 2002, at the age of 12 years 4 months and 2 days, she became the youngest WGM in chess history. She has had many impressive tournament results, and although it may be argued that she has hit somewhat of a slump, she will hopefully regain her form soon, and hopefully one day this Ukrainian star will achieve her goal of becoming a GM (2 norms down, 1 to go). You want more proof? Bigger names you say? Fine, as long as you are doing my bidding and spreading the word, I will indulge your needs.

Alexander Morozevich vs. Alexey Shirov 2001

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Bd3 d5 6. Qe2 Qe7 7. 0-0 Nd6 8. Qd1 g6 9. Re1 Be6 10. Bf1 Bg7 11. d4 0-0 12. Bf4 Nc6 13. c3 Qd7

14. Nbd2 Rfe8 15. h3 f6 16. Qa4 Bf7 17. Rxe8+ Rxe8 18. b4 a6 19. Nb3 Ne4 20. Nc5 Qf5 21. Be3 Nd8 22. Qc2 Qc8 23. a4 Nd6 24. Bf4 Nc4

25. a5 Ne6 26. Bg3 Nxc5 27. bxc5 Bh6 28. Bd3 Re7 29. Nh2 Qe8 30. Ng4 Bg7 31. Bh4 Re1+ 32. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 33. Kh2 f5 34. Nf6+ Kh8 35. Bxc4 dxc4

36. c6 bxc6 37. Qb2 Bf8 38. Bg3 Bd6 39. Bxd6 cxd6 40. Qb8+ Kg7 41. Qxd6 Qxf2 42. Nd7 Kh6 43. Qg3 Qd2 44. h4 Be6 45. Nb8 Bc8 46. Nxc6 Bb7

47. Ne5 Bd5 48. Nd7 Be4 49. Nc5 Kg7 50. Ne6+ Kh6 51. Qg5+ Qxg5 52. hxg5+ Kh5 53. Kg3 h6 54. gxh6 Kxh6 55. Nc5 Kg5 56.Nxa6 f4+

57. Kf2 Kf6 58. Nc5 Bc6 59. a6 Ke7 60. Nb7 Bd5 61. Na5 Kd6 62. a7 Kc7 63. Nxc4 g5 64. Ne5 Kb6 65. c4 Bf7 1-0

YOU WANT MORE??!! All right, but you will be working overtime for me now. This next game, even though a draw, is still a good example of how to play the opening.

Peter Leko vs. Vladimir Kramnik Linares 1999 (This was also the first time this variation was seen in top level play.)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Bd3 d5 6. Qe2 Qe7 7. 0-0 Nd6 8. Re1 Qxe2 9. Rxe2 (9. Bxe2 favors black slightly) Be7 (9. … Kd8 10. Nc3 c6 11. b4 Bg4 is unclear.) 10. Nc3 Be6 11. Nd4 Kd7 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. Nb5 Nxb5 14. Bxb5+ c6 15. Bd3 Bf6 16. c3 c5 17. Bb5+ Nc6 18. d3 Rhe8 19. Bf4 a6 20. Bxc6 Kxc6 21. Rae1 Kd7 22. Be5 Rf8 23. f4 Rae8 24. g3 Bxe5 25. Rxe5 Rf5 26. c4 Rxe5 27. Rxe5 dxc4 28. Rxc5 1/2-1/2

Well, now what do you think? As you can see, with the "Trajan Variation" you can unbalance the game and try for the win instead of despairing because for your drawing potential. Give this opening a try; See how you do with it. Hopefully you will learn from it and enjoy the games you play. I really hope you learn from this article and enjoy both the Petrov's defense and the game of chess just a little more.



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