Vorotnikov-Kogan-Hebden Attack [D00]
And this includes the position occurring after 3.Bf4 Bg7 4.Nc3 Actually, I am not at all afraid of Black playing the d4-d5 structure with his king's bishop biting on the granite of my d4-pawn, but am more concerned by the fact he may delay ...Bg7 (as in the more common move order 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4) when I put my queen on d2, presumably after 4...d5, with the crystal clear intention of Bh6 to weaken the dark squares in the vicinity of the black king (which is the only justification I can see for blockading my c-pawn with the knight on c3).
This strategy, that one may regard as rather primitive, is the main feature of this "Vorotnikov-Kogan-Hebden Attack" that will occupy us for the next two updates:
The first reaction that comes to one's mind is 5...Ne4, as compared to a pure Barry, with 5.e3 instead, the knight is denied the d2 square and has to venture forward to e5 after the exchange 6.Nxe4 dxe4 7.Ne5:
Black dubiously continued with 7...f6?! 8.Nc4 Be6 9.e3 Bf7? in Game One (an idea difficult to understand when d5 should be the square for this bishop) and rapidly ran into trouble after the powerful recycling 10.Na5!
Indeed, a5 is an important square from the White point of view in this opening...
Likewise, after Game 2's 7...Nc6? which is, I imagine, a 'logical' move when Black discovers this position for the first time, without much calculation, passing into 'refutation mode' with the naive idea ...c6-c5 2 times against b2.
Alas for him it fails to 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.e3 c5 10.Qa5! winning a pawn:
because 10...cxd4? loses even more in the form of the queen herself!
Although one may think 7...Nd7 is a more straightforward way to get rid of the white knight with tempo, 7...Be6 8.e3 Nd7 is not without interest. Then White was right to exchange by 9.Nxd7 Qxd7 and play 10.c4 in Game 3, which provided him with a small edge in connection with the undermining plan f2-f3, queenside castles and Bd3.
8...0-0!? looks trickier, keeping Black's intentions somewhat veiled regarding the e5-knight's fate. Indeed, White is clearly not in a rush to castle queenside as long as this has not clarified.
In Game 4 Black came close to equality after 9.Be2 c5! Since realizing the exchange c5xd4 when White is forced to recapture with his e-pawn and only then getting rid of the Ne5, preferably with ...Nc6 in order to open lines, is the plan Black should strive to execute after 5...Ne4.
7...c5!? immediately, on the other hand, authorizes the capture 8.dxc5!? Although it seems to lose time, Black should exchange the queens now by 8...Qxd2+ 9.Kxd2 and try to recover the investment without waiting by 9...Na6! Instead Black castled in Game 5 but never saw the pawn back after 8...0-0 9.0-0-0 Qxd2 10.Rxd2 f6 11.Nc4 Na6 12.Be3!
Avoiding the exchange of the dark-squared bishops with 5...h6!? is also far from being ridiculous because in order to keep the Qd2-Bf4 battery alive, and thus prevent Black from short castling, White will soon have to castle queenside. In Game 6 it allowed Black to launch a typical Veresov-like attack on this very wing with ...c7-c6 and ...b7-b5 that proved far-from-evident to counter.
5...0-0 undoubtedly appears the most 'logical' move in the position although it allows White to justify his set-up with 6.Bh6 ipso-facto:
Then 6...Bxh6?!, bringing the enemy queen one square from a checkmate, assuredly does not look very prudent, especially after 7.Qxh6 c6? 8.Ng5! This queen and knight configuration proved so powerful in Game 7 that, much like the previous game, with the opposite colours though, 'everything worked' for White from that stage on.
7...c5, attacking the centre while the white queen is away, is more consistent and in fact associated with a crude trap. Game 8 demonstrated it after 8.0-0-0?? Ng4 9.Qh4 e5!:
soon leading to the loss of f2 with disastrous consequences for White.
8.dxc5! is the correct reaction, of course, similar to the critical 6...c5 line we will examine next month, with other less gambling possibilities than 6...Bh6 and earlier deviations prior to 5.Qd2 with the black pawn already committed to d5.
As a result Black was not in measure to prevent the formation of the mortal device Qh6-Ng5 after 8...Qa5 9.0-0-0 in Game 9 and succumbed to a sacrificial blitz attack in an even more sizzling way than game 7!
See you soon, Eric