Thread: White 18
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Old 2014-01-13, 18:23   #4
Romulan Interpreter
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Jun 2011

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So, 18.Nd2 is a very good move. Much better (in my opinion) than the two other mentioned in the first post. Practically, in this case their defense can only come with 18..0-0 or 18..a4. Any other move is kinda bad, they lose at least a pawn. For example, 18..Nd5 19.a4, they may take or push b4, 20.Nsc4 and they can't link the horse-rook because of the check and we can save both.

Now, if 18.Nd2 0-0 19.a4 b4, 20Rf2 and we exit the link and force Ba6, otherwise he will lose the pawn for free. We stay very good, after 21.Ne4, he can't hush the horse off from c5 or d6, or even more aggressive check in f6, and we also already prepared doubling the rooks on the column f, targeting f7. We are very good here.

So, only "reasonable" response from them to 18.Nd2 would be 18..a4. With this one, the pawns are blocked, so after 19.Ne4, their only reasonable move is 19..0-0. Moving any horse is bad, if (a) Nf5, we do g4 and he goes back and after check, loses the pawn in f7 (and the game). Alternative is to give the horse for a pawn in d4 (beating the bishop in e3 is worse). If (b) Nd5 (??? this would be really stupid!), (c) Na5 etc the bishop in b7 is under fire, and they can't save the pawn in f7 either. We are very good here again. In fact, if we arrive here, their response will better be to sacrifice a rook, with Rd8, Nd6 check, Rxd6, exd6, and they get better control of the table now, got rid of the dangerous white horse, but they will have to play the rest of the game with a knight against the rook.

So, the only path which is a bit better for black is 18 Nd2 a4, 19 Ne4, 0-0.

How do we go from here? Nf6 check? Nc5? g4? this version is questionable, and that is because we allowed them to block the pawns on the a-b-c columns. My feeling is that we should try to dizzy those pawns, if they stay blocked, black has advantage. This is because their king is better protected after the castling, we still have to fight on the queen's side to get to the black king, and his blocked pawns are more advanced, in case they get free (black still has two horses, to reach behind the white pawns). In a word, I don't like those pawns blocked. Due to our pawn in d4, it is easier for black to attack the pawn n b2 than it is for us to attack the pawn in b5. He also has more space to defense. After 18 Nd2 a4, 19 Ne4, 0-0, the game gets very complicate. What I would do now, I would try to break those pawns.

So, what can they reply to 18.a4?

There are 3 possibilities for black: bxa4, b4, or Ba6. If he puts the bishop somewhere else (to defend the pawn with the rook) for example Ba8, 19.axb5 Rxb5, 20.Nd2 - we play exactly the same game, but they can't defend the second pawn. The horse? 18..Na7 19.axb5 Nxb5 20. Nd2 has the same fate.

Now, after one of the 3 mentioned possibilities, we still can play 19.Nd2 directly. And we still may play Ne4 after, etc. But now, depending on their move, we still may beat the second pawn in c4 (if no 0-0, otherwise we link the horse, so we need to move the rook first to f2, same as above, but now the pawns are not blocked, and we get a slightly advantage there too. The key here is not to let them to push a4.

So, my vote (I am still studying the position, but I don't think I will change something, unless I may find some better versions with that rook) is:

18. a4 - 5p
18. Nd2 - 4p
18. Nf2, g4 - 2p
18. Rb1, Rc1 - 1p
18. Bd2 - 0p (??! this is extremely defensive, brings nothing good, they will not push to get in the trap)

Last fiddled with by LaurV on 2014-01-13 at 18:27 Reason: few typos... hey, it is 1:30 AM here! and I am after a full working day!
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