SmithyQ – LuisFloresa, Feb 2017: Attacking the Modern

Last week I published a game analysis I played in 2015, the main thrust being a single mistake in the Pirc/Modern can lead to instant defeat.  I recently finished another game that shows this perhaps even better, as Black was essentially lost by move 10.

In some ways, this isn’t a very instructional game.  Black blundered an important pawn, and he was then helpless to resist my advance.  Nonetheless, we all know nothing is harder to win than a won game, and I finished the game off with a picturesq mate.

If nothing else, it’s a 20-move romp, so let’s take a look.

[Event “2- Chess is for fun – Round 4”]
[Site “Chess.com”]
[Date “2017.01.13”]
[Round “?”]
[White “SmithyQ”]
[Black “LuisFloresA”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B07”]
[WhiteElo “2156”]
[BlackElo “1605”]
[PlyCount “39”]
[EventDate “2017.??.??”]
[TimeControl “1”]

1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Bg5 {I generally prefer more positional games,
but I think the best way to play against the Modern and Pirc set-ups is to go
all-out aggressive. If Black makes a single mistake, he loses almost instantly.
} h6 5. Be3 Nf6 6. f3 {I’ve provoked h6, and now I continue as if this were
the Sicilian Dragon: f3, Qd2, Bc4, 0-0-0 and then a pawn storm. h6 is not
useful in the dragon and the extra tempo should be useful here.} ({I need to
play f3 first.} 6. Qd2 Ng4 7. Bf4 e5 8. dxe5 Nxe5 {Black has opened the long
diagonal and has his Knight on a brilliant square.}) 6… b6 $6 {This is a
poor decision. I’m clearly set to castle Queenside and attack with my pawns.
Black MUST create some counterplay, and that means attacking on my Queenside
with c5 and a6-b5-b4. b6 is thus a waste of tempo.} 7. Qd2 Bb7 {Again, the
Bishop is misplaced here. For one, it stares at my wall of pawns, and two, it
blocks the b-file. Even if Black does manage to open up lines against my King,
the Bishop is in the way of the Rooks.} 8. O-O-O O-O $2 9. Bxh6 {Black
overlooked this move, and now he’s likely losing by force. The attack is too
fast.} a5 {Notice how Black’s attack with a5 isn’t threatening in the least,
as he has no targets and I no weaknesses.} 10. h4 {And in contrast, Black has
no defence against h5, with or without g4 assistance, opening up his King
further.} Nbd7 11. h5 e5 12. hxg6 fxg6 13. Bc4+ {Bringing the piece in with
tempo, and Black has to give up material to avoid immediate mate.} d5 (13…
Kh7 14. Bxg7+ Kxg7 (14… Nh5 15. Qh6#) 15. Qh6#) 14. exd5 b5 {The only move,
attempting to distract the Bishop from its powerful diagonal.} 15. Nxb5 Nb6 16.
Bd3 {According to the engine, this was my only ‘mistake,’ in the sense that
I’m only up +6 when I could be up +9. I looked at the computer’s prefered move,
Bxg7, at the time, but after a few moments I dismissed it. I’m already up two
pawns with a huge attack; why risk sacrificing a piece when the safe option is
clearly just as winning?} ({For completion sake, here is the computer line.}
16. Bxg7 Nxc4 17. Qh6 Kf7 18. Nh3 Nxd5 19. Ng5+ Ke7 20. Bxf8+ Qxf8 21. Qh7+ Ke8
22. Qxg6+ Kd8 23. Ne6+) 16… Bxd5 17. Bxg6 Nc4 {To Black’s credit, he is
moving his pieces against my King, with the Rook set to come over as well.
It’s the right idea, but it just took too long.} 18. Qg5 Rb8 ({When the
computer suggests that this is the best defence} 18… Ne8 19. Bh7+ Kf7 20.
Qg6+ Ke7 21. Bxg7 Rf7 {, maybe allowing a mate in two isn’t the worst decision.
}) 19. Bxg7 Kxg7 20. Be8# {A pretty final move to play. As we can see, a
single mistake in the Modern / Pirc can be too much to overcome.} 1-0

Conclusions

Mainly, don’t lose your h6-pawn in the Pirc/Modern.

More than that, I don’t recommend most players playing the Pirc/Modern.  I used to play it, and I lost just as badly as Black here.  One mistake leads to almost certain death, and not every mistake is as obvious as Black’s castling blunder here.  Simple things, such as playing b6 instead of a6 and b5, can cripple your middlegame.  As an opening, I just don’t think the rewards outweigh the risks.

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