Whose Variation is it Anyway?

I’m not sure if Whose Line is it Anyway? is featured on British television but it’s worth finding some archived footage of the American version starring Colin Mochrie. You gave us ┬áThe Office so it’s the least we can do. Sometimes I feel I’m improvising when I’m playing chess. I play combinations and I’m hopeful, but, much like an impromptu gag with a rubber chicken, count on the unexpected happening. The results of my failed tactic late in this game sure had unforeseen consequences.

It is a game I played on Chess.com. It demonstrates some of the problems that face a setup featuring bishops both fianchettoed. It’s possible to fall into passivity early if you cannot pry open one good diagonal. I used the shaky Four Pawns Attack against the formation since it at least provides white great space. The onus is on the defender to prove the instability of the attacker’s central formation.

1. e4 g6 2. d4 b6 3. c4 Bb7 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. f4 e6 6. Nf3 Ne7 7. Be2 d6 8. O-O
Nbc6 9. e5 (9. d5 {The crux of this move is that Ng5 is able to punish the
weak e6 pawn if the f pawn recaptures. Thus exd is virtually forced and white
gets a great position.} exd5 10. cxd5 {The queen’s knight has no useful square.
}) 9… dxe5 10. fxe5 Nf5 11. Bg5 Qd7 12. d5 Nxe5 13. dxe6 Qxe6 14. Nb5 {I was
concerned about Qc6. This consolidating move stops the threat of the fork.
This plagued black for some time.} Nxf3+ 15. Bxf3 Bxf3 {?} 16. Qxf3 {? I
evaluated Nxc7 several moves deep but did not recognize it as an effective try.
I did see that Kf8 was forced after Nxc6, but I missed the fact that I can
recapture black’s queen with check. It’s a simple but important geometric
pattern.} (16. Nxc7+ Kf8) 16… O-O 17. Nxc7 Qxc4 18. Nxa8 Bxb2 19. Rab1 Nd4 {
Sometimes concrete analysis is the only way to find the right move. Qb7 looks
so ugly but it’s the only try that wins directly. What is the queen to do
there besides defend the wayward knight? It also lets black off the hook with
his f7 weakness. I am flummoxed here.} 20. Qf2 (20. Qb7 {With the idea of
extracting the piece and making sure white’s queen doesn’t get overburdened.})
20… Ne2+ 21. Kh1 Bd4 22. Qf3 Qxa2 {I commented during the game that Rbe1 was
a better try, and certainly safer than the text. Once the b-rook punches its
ticket to the 7th rank white is doing well.} 23. Nc7 (23. Rb3 {Looking at …
Rc8 and then Rb3!? on I am proud of this move although it’s objectively not
that fantastic. I chop a lot of wood and try to keep the game rather stable.
Once in a great while I sense an opportunity to do something cool with my guys.
I was not at all confident. As it turns out, I foresaw little of the variation
that I ended up getting in the game. Chess is a game of luck indeed.}) 23…
Rc8 {Nd5 was accurate and Rbe1 is still winning here.} 24. Rb3 Rxc7 25. Qa8+ {
? Move order is everything! I needed to stop the king from running.} (25. Bh6
Qa6 26. Rd3 {Gradually increasing the pressure until black cracks. With so
many loose pieces the game must be close to a close here.}) 25… Kg7 26. Rh3 {
H5 scared the dickens out of me. It is the correct defense.} (26. Bh6+ {A neat
try that I dismissed because I did not think I could force a mate. It turns
out I was correct in one line and not the other.} Kxh6 27. Qf8+ Kh5 (27… Kg5
28. Rh3 h5 29. Qd8+ f6 30. Qxc7 {Anything can happen! How’s that for expert
analysis? Hey, maybe you should upgrade to the premium membership!}) 28. Rh3+
Kg4 29. Rh4+ Kxh4 30. Qh6+ Kg4 31. h3+ {Good luck seeing this! I certainly
didn’t}) 26… Rc2 (26… h5 27. Qd8 {Everything is aimed at f6} Qc4 28. Bf6+
Bxf6 29. Qxf6+ Kh7 30. Rxh5+ gxh5 31. Qf5+ Kg8 32. Qg5+ Kf8 33. Qd8+ Kg7 {
Perpetual check!}) 27. Bh6# {A sad way to end a hard-fought game. I wanted to
keep playing.} 1-0


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