(1) Baruch,A - Smith,O [A13]
Leamington League, 14.03.2016

A typical hypermodern move which is very flexible. The opening could now transpose into a huge range of lines including the English, Reti, regular QP openings, or even KP openings. Its probably best, therefore, for black to have a pre-planned opening set ups to counter these options.

1...Nf6 2.Bg2 d5
Not only occupying the centre but offering the problem piece of the Bc8 chances to develop, most usually, to f5 or g4. In addition, the move prevents e4 and White suddenly switching to a KP opening for instance via [2...g6 3.e4 d6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.d4 (whilst 5.d3 c5 6.f4 produces a Closed Sicilian.) 5...0-0 6.Nge2 gives a Pirc Defence. In both cases White may have these lines as a preference and Black might not.]

3.c4 e6 4.Nf3 Bd7
A very rare move against White's set up but an idea that is known in a related opening. In the Catalan Opening, where White has played d4 already, the move Bd7 followed by Bc6 has been played by,for example, the former World champion Karpov. [Instead, 4...Be7 is by far the most often played move here where Black castles quickly and keeps open his options too. Black may then take on c4, play c6 to support the centre, or occupy space with c5. In fact, Black can play all these moves before castling as well.]

[Guarding the c4 pawn is also a promising option for White and after 5.b3 c5 6.Bb2 again the bishop does not quite sit comfortably on d7.]

[5...Nc6 is another option that has been played which does develop pieces but after, for example, 6.b3 Bd6 7.Bb2 0-0 8.d4 Ne4 9.Nc3 f5 10.Rc1 Black has a poor version of a Dutch set-up]

[6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Qxc4 Bc6 8.d3 is an alternative approach as in Giffard-Chabanon, FRA-Tch 2001.]

The logical follow up to Black's last two moves. Other moves do not look better, for example, [6...c6 7.Nxc4 b5 8.Ne5 Bd6 9.Nxd7 Qxd7 10.Nc3 a6 11.d4 Simon-Von Oppenkowski, Leverkusen open 2008.; or 6...Nc6 7.Nxc4 Be7 8.d4 0-0 9.Nc3 Hoffman-Just, Leipzig VfB open 2006. In each case White is beginning to dominate the centre.]

[7.Nxc4? is of course an ouright blunder as Black nets a piece after 7...Bxg2 8.Kxg2 Qd5+ 9.f3 Qxc4-+ ]

7...Nxc6 8.Bxc6+
The most principled move in this position. White has also tried [8.Qa4 Qd7 9.Qxc4 Nd5 (9...0-0-0 10.Bxc6 Qxc6 11.Qxc6 bxc6 12.d3 is good for White due to a better pawn structure as in Bratuszewski-Demey, BEL U-16 ch 2015.) 10.Nc3 Nb6+/= transposes to Pantsulaia-Essing, playchess.com blitz (Champions Challenger) 2006.; The other White choice here of 8.Na3 should have been less effective 8...Be7 (8...Bxa3 looks better with about equal chances) 9.Bxc6+ (9.Nxc4 0-0 10.a3+/- Volodin-Kozlov, Zagorovsky Memorial 2014.) 9...bxc6 10.Qa4 Qd5 11.Nxc4+/= Kaid-Wilde, Oberliga Nord Germany 2014.]

An interesting position. Black has won a pawn and exchanged off the usually modestly active bishop for White's often powerful Bg2. However, Black's pawn structure is severely damaged so its a question of can White win back the c4 or c6 pawn without allowing Black to develop effectively and/or simplify the game by say a queen exchange.

[9.Nc3 turned out well in Barthelmann-Kranzl, AUT-Tch 2017 following 9...Qd4 (but 9...Bb4!? 10.Qa4 Qd6 gives Black a decent game.) 10.Qa4 Qc5 11.d4 cxd3 12.Be3 Qd6 13.Rfd1 with advantage.]

[9...Qd7 is perhaps a better try 10.Qxc4 h5 11.h4 Bd6 when although White remains more comfortable Black has at least some activity.]

develops with gain of tempo.

[If 10...Qd7 then White retains the better chances via 11.Rd1+/= (or simply 11.Qxc4 ) ]

[11.d4 cxd3 (11...Qb6 12.Qxc4+/- ) 12.Be3 is also promising when the game has transposes to one given earlier in the notes.]

Possibly Black missed White's next clever move so steadier was [11...Bd6!? 12.bxc4 Rb8 13.d3 0-0 14.Kg2 Qb4 15.Bd2 Qxa4 16.Nxa4+/= ]

This tactical line is uncomfortable for Black.

[12...Qxa3 loses to 13.Qxc6+ Ke7 14.axb3 (or 14.Qxa8 b2 15.Rab1 ) 14...Qd6 15.Qxa8 ]

13.Bxf8 Kxf8
[13...Rxf8 14.axb3 Rd8 15.d3+/- as Black's king is stranded in the centre and Black still remains with a poor pawn structure.]

A nice finesse by which the rook becomes active in recovering the pawn.

[14...b2 does not help due to 15.Qa3+ ]

15.Rxb3 Qc5 16.Qf4 Kg7??
Black, who has been under pressure virtually from the start, appears to have consolidated the position into one of relative safety but in reality makes a fatal error. [Retrurning the pawn with 16...Qf5 was better although White retains considerable pressure with 17.Qxc7 Kg7 18.Rb7 Nd5 19.e4 Nxc7 20.exf5 Rhc8 21.fxg6 hxg6 22.Rc1 ]

a powerful sacrifice which decides the game at a stroke. [17.Qxf6+ Kxf6 18.Ne4+ Ke7 19.Nxc5+- and Black has simply lost a piece.; In contrast snatching back the pawn with 17.Qxc7? is very poor due to 17...Rad8 18.d3 e5 and Black is equal. A good example of hypermodern play in that all the action took place from the wings towards the centre, and also in the fact that at the end, White's king's and queen's pawns (the very essence of KP and QP openings) remained unmoved.] 1-0