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Evgeny Romanov vs Ian Nepomniachtchi
"Finding Nepo" (game of the day Mar-18-2013)
European Championship (2007), Dresden GER, rd 3, Apr-05
French Defense: McCutcheon. Lasker Variation (C12)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-07-07  zluria: what an interesting and complicated game.
Apr-07-07  xanadu: Yes. If it is always dangerous "to keep the king at the center", this applies particularly for White in the French.
Mar-18-13  Abdel Irada: <xanadu>: This game may represent an exception, but it is not by any means "*always* dangerous to keep the king at the center." In fact, in closed positions, it often proves the safest location for him.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ultra: Agreed, Abdel. Many would say that castling is a mistake in the French.
Mar-18-13  Abdel Irada: Certainly, castling has often proved fatal for *Black* in the French.

(Stock sacrifice Bxh7†, anyone?) ;-)

Mar-18-13  morfishine: "Nice game Mr. Nep, Mr. Nepom, Mr. Nepomn...Can I just call you Ian?"
Mar-18-13  Abdel Irada: <morfishine>: That reminds me of why KGB agents used to refer to their agency by its abbreviation rather than its full name.

"Good evening, Mr. Solzhenitsyn. We are here to ask you a few questions on behalf of Komitet Gosudarstvenoyye Bezopast—

"Mr. Solzhenitsyn?"

Mar-18-13  morfishine: <Abdel Irada> Very good!
Mar-18-13  daveinsatiable: Pardon my French, but what's the dénouement?
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Per Critter 1.6a White has several choices to die:

1. 33.Bxe2 Qd2+ 34.Kf3 Qxg5 35.Bd3[] Qd2 36.Kg2 c2 37.Bxc2 Qxc2. White's attack is over and Black is two pieces up with no perpetual in sight.

2. 33.Kf4 Rxf2+ 34.Kg3 Qd2 35.Qh7+ Kf8 36.Qh6+ Ke7 37.Qh4 Rg2+ 38.Kf3 Rxg5. White's attack is again over and Black is R+N+2P ahead. Critter indicates a forced mate in all variations in at most 17 moves.

3. 33.Kf3 Rxf2+ 34.Kg3 Qd2 with the continuation the same as line 2 above.

I'm very familiar with the McCutcheon as a result of Team White vs Team Black, 2011. I believed then that the maneuver ...Nd7-b6-a4 was better for Black than the usual ...Nc6 since it got the knight closer to the action but we couldn't get it to work satisfactorily. I suppose we should have tried to get Nepomniachtchi on our team!

One difference between the two games is that Romanov played 9.Qf4 and 11.Qxd2, presumably to (unsuccessfully) retain the castling option but requiring extra time, and after 12.Be2 his queen was less aggressively posted and one tempo down in development, even though White is still quite ahead. Black's only "developed" piece is his king! Yet the extra tempo in a totally closed position (when tempos are not supposed to be so important) made a big difference.

E Romanov vs I Nepomniachtchi, 2007 after 12.Be2:

click for larger view

Team White vs Team Black, 2011 after 12.Be2:

click for larger view

So credit to Team White for selecting a better line.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White seems to be winning,but his attack is short-circuited. Black will win very,very soon.
Premium Chessgames Member
  hedgeh0g: The McCutcheon seems to be becoming increasingly popular and I find it very difficult to play against as White. Black always seems to have a way to keep the position closed and his king is by no means an easy target.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Shams: <hedgeh0g> Have you tried the fun 6.Bc1!? line?
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: W's handling of the variation looks a bit naive, but he seemed be OK until 14 g4, which I'm sure is a mistake. W's attacking prospects simply did not justify such a move. As B graphically demonstrated.

Generally against the French, when W has doubled c pawns and B has or is going to play Qa5, I think W is advised to play a4 PDQ.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <scormus> I'm sure that you know that with a2-a4 (or a2-a3-a4) White is effectively gambiting a pawn if Black is really determined to win it (...Qa5, ...Nd7-b6, ...Bd7) which may not be to anyone. As compensation Black loses time going after the pawn and his q-side pieces get somewhat tied up due to the pin on either the N or B if White's rook remains on a1. And White gets a strong k-side attack. But if Black survives White's attack he probably has a won endgame with his extra passed a-pawn, if he can ever get to it.

Rather than blaming 14.g4, I think that White's problem was the time he lost with his queen, first 9.Qf4 and 11.Qxd2 to presumably try to keep the castling privilege and then finding out that he had to play 15.Qe3 and 17.Kd2 anyway in order to protect his Pc2. And maybe 20.h4, although slow, trying for 21.h5 and 22.g6 to open up Black's k-side might have been a better chance, since Black would have needed either ...a5 or ...Rb8 to prepare ...b4.

I found it funny at the end of the game how Black kept offering his rook and White was unable to take it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  hedgeh0g: <Shams> No - thanks for the tip. I only really play online blitz, so I never really considered anything besides 6.Bd2, but that line looks very interesting!

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