Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Hybrid Zukertort Retort

I have posted analysis of what I call The Hybrid Zukertort Retort (1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 c5 5.b3 Nbd7 6.O-O Bd6 7.Bb2 Qc7!?), which is a surprisingly playable Black system against the Colle-Zukertort. I analyzed the line after reading David Rudel's excellent Zuke 'Em: The Colle-Zukertort Revolutionized, which I will soon be reviewing. I discussed the analysis with Rudel himself, as I acknowledge in my notes, and he has agreed to an interview (which will be up later this week). Rudel maintains a great website on the Zukertort at which I recommend to you if you are looking for more information on his book or the system he recommends.

I took a close look at this line because it seemed a principled retort to the Zukertort, fighting White for control of the critical c4 and e5 squares. Rudel discusses this line in Chapter 11 and again in Chapter 12 of his book, calling it "the Hybrid Zukertort" because "Black combines the Classical line with the Bogolyubov by putting the Knight on d7 and the Bishop on d6" (231). I think the critical idea also involves playing Qc7 (which Rudel and most previous writers think is dubious) and delaying castling in order to gain a tempo for pushing forward in the center. With Qc7, Black simultaneously threatens two potentially equalizing pawn advances with c4 and e5. The c4 advance is actually not so critical (though it seems to gain enough space on the queenside to claim equality), but if Black can win control of e5 and play the e5 pawn push then he has basically dismantled the cornerstone of the Zukertort strategy. A couple of drawn GM games suggest that this method might squelch any White initiative and close analysis mostly supports that conclusion--though White has a few options to explore in search of an edge (especially in the lines following 8.Nbd2).


David Rudel said...

Hey Mike, thanks for inviting me to comment on this.

I think that after 8.Nbd2 e5!? 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.Nxe5 Bxe5 11.Bxe5 Qxe5 12.c4 Bg4 13.Nf3 Qh5 14.cxd5, Black might just have to concede an advantage by playing 14...Qxd5 (allowing 15.e4!). If Black goes with 14...Nxd5 instead, 15.Bb5+ Ke7 16.Qc1!? looks very strong.

There is the obvious threat of Qxc5. This should buy White time to play Be2, after which White's Queen just looks fantastically placed (she has access to a3, b2, pressures c5 and will have scope along the c1-h6 diagonal once White pushes the e-pawn.

Now, there are plenty of other options for Black along the way, but this line gives me confidence about the general chances for White here.

I think this line (8.Nbd2 e5 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.Nxe5 Bxe5 11.Bxe5 Qxe5 12.c4 will be my new official recommendation for this setup.

I wonder what Steve will have to say if/when he can take a look.

Thanks again, and I've put a link here on the zuke dukes forum, so hopefully some others will come here to check things out.

Michael Goeller said...

I agree -- this looks shaky for Black, especially among human players and not computers. The basic concept of exchanging off the Black d-pawn with your c-pawn opens lines and makes an eventual e4 and f4 possible. I think there are actually a lot of basic structural similarities among all the better lines here, including your initial favorite (8.c4 with 13. f3! and 18. Bb5+!? Kf8 19. Kxh2) -- and the under-estimated line 11. Bxe5 Qxe5 12. Nd2 O-O where White can play 13.cxd5 Qxd5 14.Qc2 meeting 14...Rd8? with the surprising 15.Ne4! as analyzed elsewhere.

George Jempty said...

Here's how I just dismantled somebody's Colle/Zukertort that was rated 200 points higher than me, in a 10-minute game. Maybe not so much due to the opening but rather perhaps to my having memorized the first 8 games from "Capablanca's Best Chess Endings" in the past month? Anyway:

[Event "InstantChess"]
[White "perkyleo33"]
[Black "jemptymethod"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteIFlag "US"]
[BlackIFlag "US"]
[WhiteITeam "20"]

1. d4 Nf6
2. e3 d5
3. Nf3 Bg4
4. Be2 e6
5. O-O Be7
6. b3 O-O
7. Bb2 c5
8. Nbd2 Nc6
9. a3 a6
10. Ne5 Bxe2
11. Qxe2 Rc8
12. Rac1 b5
13. c4 dxc4
14. bxc4 b4
15. Nxc6 Rxc6
16. axb4 cxb4
17. Nb3 a5
18. Ra1 Ra6
19. c5 Qa8
20. Ra4 Qa7
21. Rfa1 Ra8
22. Qb5 Nd5
23. Nxa5 Nc3
24. Bxc3 bxc3
25. c6 Bd8
26. g3 Rxa5
27. Rxa5 Bxa5
28. Qb7 g6
29. Rxa5 Qxa5
30. c7 Kg7
31. c8=Q Rxc8
32. Qxc8 Qa1+
33. Kg2 Qb2
34. Qc7 c2
35. Qe5+ Kg8
36. h4 c1=Q
37. h5 Qcc2
38. Qf6 gxh5
39. Qd8+ Kg7
40. Qg5+ Qg6
41. Qe5+ Qf6
42. Qxh5 Qfxf2+
43. Kh3 Qh2+