Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Euwe Defense and the Move h7-h6

In the first year of BDG World (1983) I wrote an article with the title of this post, in which I quoted Diemer (from the 2 January 1956 issue of Schach) on the move h7-h6:
"All instruction books warn of too many pawn moves in the opening. In this category is the move h6--enthusiastically played mostly by beginners, but often enough also by experienced players."
After noting that h6 is not "of itself" bad, Diemer goes on to enumerate its drawbacks:
1) It loses time and neglects development.
2) It weakens (often decisively) the field g6.
3) After Black castles Kingside, it offers White the opportunity to tear open the position through a g2-g5 pawn storm, or through a sacrifice on h6.
In the article I noted that h7-h6 appears frequently in the Euwe Defense, a natural reaction to White’s placing his Bishop on g5. The other day I came across a new game that reminded me of this article. It’s from a blog, called Korch Chess, which is worth a visit. The link is at the end of this post. Korch (2017) - Viner (1942) 16 min rated, Playchess, 10.07.2009 BDG, Euwe Defense 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Bd3 h6 8.Bh4 game_118 8...a6 [In a (fondly remembered) correspondence game from thirty years ago my opponent played 8...Nc6 here. See Purser-Carra below.] 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Kh1 g5 11.Bg3 Bd6 12.Ne5 Nxd4 game_119 13.Ne4 [Korch remarked that he missed 13.Bg6! After 13...fxg6 14.Qxd4 Black hurts for a good move. Note that if Black’s h-pawn were still on its original square Bg6 would not work.] 13...Nf5 14.Nxd6+ Qxd6 15.Rxf5 exf5 16.Nxf7 Qf8 game_120 17.Nxh8 f4 18.Ng6 Qc5 19.Qe2+ Kf7 20.Bf2 Bg4 21.Ne5+ Kf8 22.Bxc5+ 1-0 game_121 I was living in Germany when this next game was played in a postal tourney of the Rheinland-Pfalz Schachbund. The tourney, a Blackmar-Diemer thematic, was organized by longtime BDG-devotee Viktor Kuntz, who died shortly after it began. Purser,Tom – Carra Correspondence, Germany, 1979 BDG, Euwe Defense 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 Be7 8.Bd3 game_122 Reaching the same position as in the previous game. 8...Nc6 9.Qd2 Nb4 10.0-0 Nxd3 11.Qxd3 0-0 12.Ne5 Nd5 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 game_123 14.Ne4 Nb4 15.Qg3 Nxc2? 16.Nf6+ Kh8 [And again, White’s next move was made possible by the weakening h7-h6.] game_124 17.Qg6! gxf6 [17...Qxf6 18.Rxf6 fxg6 19.Rxf8+ Kh7 20.Rc1 (Another interesting line is 20.Nf7 g5 21.Rf1 Ne3 22.Rh8+ Kg6 23.Ne5+ Kh5 24.Rf3 g4 25.Rxe3) 20...Nxd4 21.Rxc7+-] 18.Qxh6+ 1-0 [18.Qxh6+ Kg8 19.Rf3 and mates.] Play through the games and download PGN here. Visit Korch’s blog here.