Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Vienna with Bc4 Busted?


Schlechter-Steinitz, Cologne 1898
What's Black's best move?

I have been trying out different ideas to expand my Bishop's Opening repertoire to include the Vienna Game with Bc4 (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3/Bc4 Nf6/Nc6 3.Bc4/Nc3). But I have no solution for White against 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d3 Na5! which seems to me practically a bust of the whole line. Black gains the two Bishops as a long term advantage and likely doubles White's pawns. And what has White got? I don't see anything to get excited about.

I was looking through an old issue of Chess Review the other day and became temporarily excited by the old game Schlechter-Steinitz, Cologne 1898, where White appears to use his slight time advantage to engineer a winning attack. Fred Reinfeld's notes have nothing but praise for Schlechter's play. But closer examination proved that Black has lots of defensive resources. In the diagram above, for example, Black does not even have to play 12...Be7 to defend the d-pawn (whereupon Schlechter began an attack by 13.c5! dxc5? 14.Qg3!) What has Black got that's better?

Anyway, I am not too downhearted. After all, I now have a good line to use against the Vienna as Black in my 1.e4 e5 repertoire (as recommended by Nigel Davies, for example).


Anonymous said...

Around 30 years ago, after 4...Na5! (like you, I find White's position unappealing after this), I got the bright idea of exploiting Black's "loss of time" with 5.f4? My opponent, Frank Pokorny, responded with 5...Nxc4 6.dxc4 Bb4! and I found myself utterly busted. I ended up getting tripled pawns and losing horribly. Some years after this, Tony Miles was fortunate enough to get the same position. He of course found the same idea and crushed his opponent.

Frederick Rhine

Unknown said...

Doesn't white just play 5. Qf3 Nxc4 6. dc Bb4 7. Ne2 O-O 8. a3 Bc5 9. Bg5 followed by O-O-O? If 6...Bc5 then 7. Bg5 with Nd5 or O-O-O to follow. Seems to me white has the initiative in these lines, with his control over d5.