Before I return to the core of my subject of my last post, I will first take the time to answer to the analysis that I received in the comment section of this blog. I asked my readers to give their suggestions for white in this position.
The position is taken from the game Andersson - Vaganian, Skelleftea 1989.
The Caquetio Knight said:
1.Qd2! Putting pressure on the d6 pawn.
Plan white: Rfd1 increasing the pressure on d6, b3 protecting c4, f3 protecting e4 if necessary. Look out for the appropriate moment to play Nd5 or exchange the dark bishop on h6.
Plan black: black’s counter play is on the Q-side with a6, b5 and the bishop looking down the long diagonal and on the long run the breaking move f7-f5. But the rook belongs than behind the lever pawn. For now if he plays 1…Rd8? 2.Rfd1 Ne5 3. b3 and black is in trouble cause f4! is in the air.
1…Nd4! 2.b3 (2.Bxd4? cxd4 3.Nd5 d3!) f5!
Tanc (happyhippo) came up with the following analysis:
a. The key to the position is to note that Black's 2 most active pieces are his g7 bishop and e6 Knight. The Queen is strangely offside at b8.
b. Black has a Knight that is likely to come to e5.
c. Black's other Knight is also coming to d4 soon so I need to find a way to counteract it. If I allow these 2 Knights a chance to come into the center, White's position would be difficult.
d. On the White side, the b2 pawn is weak.
e. Black is very unlikely to trade the strong Bishop on g7 for the Knight on c3 else it just opens up the dark squares around his King and that is suicidal.
I first thought about the move f4 then f5. to pry the position on Black's kingside open. But then I run into the problem of Black responding with Nd4. This is a monstrous Knight and needs to be removed. How do I do it? I cannot shuffle my Rook nor move my Queen to attack the d4 square once Black put his Knight there.
With this in mind, it seems tempi is critical here. How about Rc2? I now protect the b-pawn.
The move looks good. I'm also threatening to play Nb5 next attacking the d pawn so it looks like Black is forced to play a6 on the next move to stop to defend this crucial pawn. Afterwhich Black will surely play Nd4 on the next move and Rd2 Black's Knight is now threatening to overwhelm the position with Ne5 and those 2 Knights will be a handful to deal with.
So after 1 Rc2 Nd4 2 f4 (to stop Ne5). This is probably what I would play.
Polly agrees more or less with Cauqetio
Hippo: I'm not overly afraid of the knight coming into d4 though it does stop the idea of piling on the d6 pawn. Perhaps Bg4 pinning the knight on e6. It might provoke f5, though I think that's a lousy move for black.
It's funny looking position with the knight on e6. It looks like a Maroczy bind type position, though as Black I would not have been so eager to get rid of my e pawn. I can't even imagine the move sequence that had black capturing on e6. Having played the Black side of the Maroczy I know that one needs a lot of patience to get a break for Black. I've also reached the White side by transposing against players of play c5 against my English.
I like Qd2 because it not only gives White a chance to put a rook on d1, but also gives the possibility of Bh6 trying to trade Black's dark squared bishop.
Nd5 also looks appealing just out of general principle
This is paraphrased (to avoid copyright issues) what Aagaard has to say about this position:
He points out whites completed development and think it is hard to say what the best position is for the queen, so it would be best to leave her where she is. He feels that the rook on c1 needs to be improved, and that b2 needs protection. Blacks position is in his eyes in a bit of trouble, though the knight on e6 and the bishop are well placed. He might consider a6 followed by b5, but he also has to take care of his weaknes on d6.
The only way for black to defend this weakness is by utilizing the control over d4. So white should attack down the d-file with Rc1-c2-d2.
He gives the game continuation with the following analysis.
15 Rc2! threatening 16 Nb5! 15 ... a6 16 Rd2 Nd4 17 Bxd4 cxd4 18 Rxd4! Bxd4 19 Qxd4 leading to the following position.
Here, according to Aagaard, white is slightly better, and brings under the readrs attention the white threats Nd5 and Bg4.
When I tried to solve the position, my thoughts were about the same as those of Caquetio and Polly. I saw the apparently strong outpost on d5 as a significant feature, and realized that the pawn on b2 needed to be defended before the knight could be played. So in my opinion playing Qd2 (which also connected the rooks) seemed to be more than obvious.
After reading Aagaards analysis I do however agree with his judgment, and must confess that Rc2 is way stronger, so cheers for Tanc (happyhippo) who also thought this was the move to be played). The key to this position is the exchange sac. This is what I had missed, and what really gives a bite to Rc2.
Though Andersson gets the credits for finding this exchange sac, I think Aagaard also deserves some credit for his explanation. However I believe that this position is a very bad choice for an exercise. Even Temposchlucker, who seems to like this book, agrees with me. In my next post I will try to make clear why this position is not suitable as an exercise for self improvement, which at the same time is my answer to Temposchluckers comment.