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atrifix 418 ( +1 | -1 )
French defense Awhile ago I found a game that piqued my interest. I meant to analyze it at the time, but I never got around to it until now. Unfortunately, the original thread has been deleted, so I am starting a new thread. Perhaps someone else will comment--I hope I didn't make any mistakes.

rorefa vs. philaretus
board #2049549

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6

Personally, I play the Winawer, but I hardly expect to turn this into a discussion of Classical vs. Winawer.

4. Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 6. h4 c5

The old main line 6... f6 has fallen out of favor these days due to 7. Qh5+. I believe 6... Bxg5 is fashionable, but 6... c5 and 6... a6 are also playable.

7. Nb5

This is not really a good move by White. Black has very little difficulty in equalizing now. Better is 7. Bxe7 forcing 7... Kxe7 or Black to sacrifice the exchange.

7... f6 8. exf6 Nxf6 9. dxc5

Likewise, this move is not very good. Consistent would be 9. Bf4. 9. Nf3 is also playable.

9... Bxc5 10. Nf3?!N 0-0?!

White has serious troubles after 10... Qb6. He will lose at least a pawn. Best would have been 10. Qd2, preparaing 0-0-0 and keeping Nh3 if necessary.

11. Bd3? Qb6

Again, White should have played 11. Qd2.

12. 0-0 Ne4?

Best is 12... Ng4! 13. Qe2 a6 14. Nc3 Qc7 threatening 15... Rxf3. White has enormous problems and will probably lose at least a piece.

13. Qe2?

This move really isn't very good. White could have hung on to his material with 13. Qe1.

13... Ng3 14. Qe5 Nxf1 15. Rxf1 Nc6-+

Black is winning here. White is down the exchange with no compensation, and his pieces are miscoordinated.

16. Qg3 Kh8?

Missing the chance to play 16... e5!. Then if 17. Nxe5 a6 18. Nc3 Qc7 19. Bf4 Rxf4 20. Qxf4 Qxe5 and the rest is easy. If 17. Nxe5 a6 18. Bh6 Bxf2+! 19. Rxf2 Qxf2+ 20. Qxf2 Rxf2 should be good enough to win.

17. Bf4 e5

I can understand the sentiment, but this is very unclear now.

18. Nxe5 Bf5 19. Nc3?

If White wanted to attack the d5 pawn, he could have played 19. Nc7. then 19... Rac8 (or 19... Rad8 20. Bxf5 Rxf5 21. Ne6 Rg8 22. Nd7+-) 20. Nxd5 is very unclear.

19... Bd4

I don't understand this move. Why not 19... Qxb2? The threat is 20... Qxc3, and Black moves his queen off of b6 with tempo. It is not so clear that after Nxd5 ...Bd4 will be a good move, e.g., perhaps ...Nd4 is better. I wouldn't be terribly worried about 20. Na4 Qb4 21. Nxc5 Qxc5, as more exchanges seem to favor Black and he should be able to bring his Queen back to defend the Kingside after that exchange.

20. Nxd5 Qxb2 21. Nc4

I don't really like this move. The knight is much better on e5 than c4. Either 21. Nxc6 bxc6 22. Nc7 or 21. Nf3 look better to me.

21... Qxa2 22. Nc7 Bxd3

I'm not sure about this move. One would think it would be better to let White exchange on f5, when his knight on c4 will be en prise and he will lose a tempo defending it. Presumably Black would make this exchange to avoid a tactical trap, but I don't see anything that White can do after 22... Rad8.

23. cxd3 Rac8 24. Ne6 Bf6

Again, I don't understand this move. Black should be able to still hold onto the exchange with 24... Rf7 (I think). 25. Nd6 is impossible because the knight on e6 hangs. Perhaps I am missing something.

25. Nxf8 Rxf8= 26. Bg5 Bxg5 27. hxg5 Qe2 28. g6?!

White ought to have prepared this a bit better so he would not have to exchange queens.

28... hxg6 29. Qxg6 Rf6 30. Qe4 Re6?!

This position is more or less drawn. Black would have an advantage in the endgame due to the outside connected passed pawns, so he ought to have exchanged queens here with 30... Qxe4. Then 31. dxe4 b5 32. Ne3 a5 would allow Black to create some winning chances.

31. Qh4+ Rh6 32. Qe4 Qh5

Again, exchanging queens is best.

33. f4 Qh2+ 34. Kf2 Qh4+ 35. Ke3 Qh5 36. Kd2 Qg6

Now the exchange of queens does not favor Black because White's King's position has improved. This ought to be a draw.

37. f5 Qg5+ 38. Ne3 Qe7 39. Rb1 Qxe4 40. dxe4 Rd6+ 1/2-1/2

It is White who has the initiative now, but this position is still a draw.

In short: White's opening novelty was terrible, but Black let White back in the game by inaccuate play. After that, both sides played reasonably well, but there were probably some improvements before the 25th move. After the 25th move the game is not all that interesting and rightly ends in a draw.