Alekhine’s Defence, Haakert-Variation, Pt 4

Reply to the Markovich Comments.

The rook exchange sacrifice 14...Rxb5 is unsound, as shown by Markovich.

The alternative 14....Nb4 is sufficient, despite that Markovich considers this move

to be also bad. The material balance can be restored, but white is able extract

a slight space advantage and black may need to play accurately against

persistant positional grinding play. A crucial move is the 42... Nxb5 knight sacrifice,

and white must fight to save the game. Improvements are likely to be found, but

the general atmosphere of the game is instructive to how the development of

the variation could procede.

**1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.c4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg4 7.Be3 e6** [7...g6 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Bg7 (9...dxe5 10.dxe5 e6 11.c5 Nd7 12.0–0–0 Bg7

13.Bb5 0–0 14.Bxc6 bxc6 15.Qe4 Bxe5 16.Rxd7 Qxd7

17.Rd1 Qe7 N+B v R+p 18.Qxe5+- ) 10.c5 Nd7 11.cxd6 exd6 12.Ba6

Rb8 13.Bxb7 Rxb7 14.Qxc6 Rxb2 15.exd6 cxd6 16.Qxd6 Qb6 17.Qd5]

**8.exd6 cxd6 9.Qb3 Be7 10.c5 Nd5 11.Nxd5 exd5 12.Qxb7 Bd7 **

13.Bb5 Rb8 14.Qa6 Nb4 Diagram 1

[14...Rxb5 Markovich's claim of the unsound rook exchange sacrifice is

correct. 15.Qxb5 Nxd4 16.Qd3 Nxf3+ (16...Qa5+ 17.Bd2 Nxf3+ 18.Qxf3 Qxc5

19.0–0 +- The black pawns are too weak.) 17.gxf3 dxc5 (17...Qa5+ 18.Bd2

Qxc5 19.Rc1 Qb6 20.Bc3 0–0 21.Qd4 Qxd4 22.Bxd4 Bd8 23.Bxa7 Ba5+

24.Kd1 Ra8 25.Bd4 Bd8 26.a3 Ra4; 17...0–0 18.Qxd5 Be6 19.Qb7 dxc5

20.Rd1 Qa5+ 21.Rd2 Bf6 22.0–0 c4 23.Rfd1 Qh5 24.Bf4 h6 25.Re2 c3

26.bxc3 Bxc3) 18.Qxd5 Qc7 19.Rg1 0–0 (19...Bc6 20.Qc4+-) 20.0–0–0

Be6 (20...Bc6 21.Qd2) 21.Qe4 Qb6 1.2 but white does have a bad pawn

structure! (21...g6 22.f4 Rb8 23.Qe5 Rb7 24.Qxc7 Rxc7 25.a3 Rb7

Diagram 2.

26.Rge1 Bg4 27.Rd5 Be6 28.Rd2 a5) 22.Bf4 g6 23.Be5 Bxa2

24.Rd7 Qe6 25.Rxa7 Bb3 26.Bf4 Bf6 27.Qxe6 fxe6 (27...Bxe6 28.Re1 Bd4

29.Be3 Bg7 30.Rd1 Rc8 31.Rb7 h5± If the queenside pawns are swapped off,

black may be able to save the game?)

28.Bd6 Re8 29.f4+-)

**15.Bxd7+ Qxd7 16.Qe2** Diagram 3.

Markovich claims that white is a solid pawn up. My assessment is that black is

able to regain the pawn and, but White is able to steer the game into a

slightly favorable end game.

**16...dxc5** The best continuation?

[16...Qb5 An interesting continuation, but white seems to get the advantage in

all variations. 17.Qxb5+ Rxb5 18.Kd2 dxc5 (18...Nc6 19.Rab1 Kd7

(19...dxc5 20.dxc5 Kd7 21.Rhc1 Re8 22.b3 h6 23.a4 (23.g3 Bf6 24.h4 Re4

25.Ne1 g5 26.f3) 23...Rb4 24.Rd1 d4 25.Bxd4 Nxd4 26.Kc3 Bxc5 27.Nxd4

Rxd4 28.Rxd4+ Bxd4+ 29.Kxd4 Re2±) 20.Rhc1 Re8 21.b3 h6 22.Rc2 dxc5

23.dxc5 Nb4 24.a4 Nxc2 25.axb5 Nxe3 26.c6+ Kc7 27.fxe3 Bc5 28.Nd4)

The white queenside pawn mass looks too menacing.

Diagram 4.

19.a4 Rb8 (19...Ra5 20.dxc5 Bxc5 (20...Nc6 21.Rhe1 0–0 22.Nd4 Nxd4

23.Bxd4 Bxc5 24.Bxc5 Rxc5 25.Rac1 Ra5 26.b3 g6 27.Rc7 d4 28.Rb7 Rc8

29.Re4 Rf5 30.f3 a5 31.Rxd4 Rfc5±) 21.Rhc1 Bxe3+ 22.fxe3 0–0 (22...Kd7

23.Nd4 Ra6 24.Nb5 Nc6 25.Rc5 Rb6 26.Rf1 Ke7 27.Rfc1 Rc8 28.b4 a6

29.Nc3 Ke6 30.b5+-) 23.Rc7 Ra6 24.Nd4 White has a better position.)

20.dxc5 Na6 21.Rhc1! Bf6 (21...Rxb2+ 22.Kd1 0–0 (22...Kd7 23.c6+ Kc7

24.Nd4 Bb4 25.Nb5+ Kd8+-; 22...Bf6 23.Rab1 Ke7 24.Rxb2 Bxb2

25.Rb1 Rb8 26.c6 Rb4 27.Bxa7 Kd6 28.Ng5 f6 29.Nxh7 d4 30.Kc2 Bc3

31.c7 Kxc7 32.Rxb4 Nxb4+ 33.Kb3 Nd3 34.Nf8 Kd6±) 23.c6 Rc8

24.Bxa7 Bf6 25.Rab1 Rxb1 26.Rxb1 Rxc6 27.Rb5 h6 28.a5 Nc7

29.Rb6 Re6 White's outside passed pawn is too strong.

Diagram 5.

22.Rab1 Bxb2 23.Rc2 Bc3+ 24.Kc1 Rxb1+ 25.Kxb1 Bf6 26.c6 Kd8

27.Bxa7 Re8 28.Bb6+ Kc8 29.Bd4 Bxd4 30.Nxd4 Re4 31.Rd2±; 16...0–0

17.0–0 Nc6 18.Qd2 dxc5 19.dxc5 Rfd8 White has a extra pawn.]

**17.dxc5 Qb5** [17...0–0? 18.0–0 Nc6 19.b3 Bf6+-]

**18.b3! ** The most challenging continuation.

Diagram 6.

Both sides have the same amount of material, but white has dangerous passed queen side pawns, which can be assisted by the white king. The black king will have limited influence on the queen side and it seems that the black king must be prepared for opportunities on the opposing flank. White can now apply the grinding method, which almost works.