I have never met David Smerdon, the Australian grandmaster and author of Smerdon’s Scandinavian (Everyman Chess). Last week I gave a ringing endorsement of his new book and I must say that in my mind’s eye I visualise him as some swashbuckling buccaneer of the chessboard, complete with eyepatch, wooden leg, tricorn hat and probably a parrot. Under Fidé’s regulations this dress code would probably have him thrown out of any tournament, so I am sure that the real-life Smerdon is far more unobtrusive.
Here, though, is a further example of the freebooting style which characterises Smerdon’s new publication.
Moylan-Smerdon; Sydney 2003; Scandinavian Defence
1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Nf6 3 d4 Bg4 4 Be2 Bxe2 5 Qxe2 Qxd5 6 Nf3 e6 7 0-0 Be7 7 … Nc6 is more accurate, preventing c2-c4 due to the weakness of the d4-pawn. 8 c4 Qf5 9 Nc3 0-0 10 d5 The critical move. Otherwise, Black’s position is solid and worry-free. 10 … Bc5 A great concept from Rui Damaso — a Scandinavian pioneer. (see diagram 1) 11 Na4 11 dxe6 Nc6! is the idea. Black is happy to sacrifice a pawn in exchange for rapid development and open lines. For example, 12 Be3 Rae8 13 Bxc5 (here 13 Nh4 Qe5 14 exf7+ is more testing: 14 … Rxf7 15 Rae1 Bb4 16 Nf3 Qf5 with compensation for Black, but practical tests are needed) 13 … Qxc5 14 exf7+ Rxf7 15 Qc2 Qxc4 with equality, Leko-Damaso, Yerevan Olympiad 1996. 11 … Bd6 12 c5 Bf4 13 dxe6 Nc6 14 exf7+ Rxf7 White has snatched a pawn, at the cost of lapsed development and an offside knight. 15 Nc3 Re8 16 Qc4 Nh5 17 Nd5 Re4 18 Qb3 Na5 Suddenly all of Black’s pieces are active and playing a useful role, while most of White’s forces are still sleeping. 19 Qc3 White could have stayed in the game with the computer-like sequence 19 Qd3 Rd7 20 Nd2! Bxd2 21 f3!!, though even then, after 21 … Rxd5 22 fxe4 Rxd3 23 Rxf5 Nf6, Black is clearly better. 19 … Qxd5 20 Qxa5 Bxc1 21 Raxc1 Rxf3 22 gxf3 Nf4 23 Kh1 (see diagram 2) 23 … Re1!! The culmination of Black’s attacking strategy. The rook severs the white forces in two, dramatically imposing itself with devastating effect. 24 Qc3 Qg5 25 Qc4+ Kh8 26 Qxf4 The only way to stave off mate. 26 … Rxf1+ 27 Rxf1 Qxf4 28 Kg2 Qg5+ 29 Kh1 Qxc5 30 Rd1 h5 White resigns