Raymond Keene


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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