Travail Pursuit #23: Red hot pawns?

Black has just played 16... Qg5. What would you do next if you were playing White?

Black has just played 16… Qg5. What would you do next if you were playing White?

Today’s challenge is one of judgement and calculation. We’re back with the Budapest Gambit again although the position on the right is a middle game position rather than an opening position. Black (me) has just played 16…Qg5 and this asks White an important question: “I’m being offered the a5 pawn. Can I afford to take it?”

You’ll remember in a recent post on this opening I mentioned that Black gambiting this pawn (and sometimes the c7 pawn after that!) to gain time for an attack on the White king is a thematic trend in this particular line of the Budapest. That doesn’t always means it’s sound though. The challenge for readers today then is to study the position and decide:

  • Can White take the pawn?
  • If he does take it what is Black’s plan?
  • Will Black have enough compensation for the pawn if he can initiate his plan?
  • After 16… Qg5 which set of pieces would you prefer to be operating?

Once you’ve had a think about that (or not as the case may be!) you can play through the whole game in the viewer below. This is one of those cases where I don’t think one can make a concrete conclusion about the assessment of this pawn sacrifice (although the engine would disagree) so personal preference comes into play.


5 Responses to “Travail Pursuit #23: Red hot pawns?”

  1. Martin Carpenter

    Jul 24. 2014

    Not sure about the initial diagram position. Looks ‘comfortable’ for white to me actually. A touch more central control, happier bishops and a very silly black rook on h6 dreaming of mate :)

    Qxa5 obviousy *possible*, although white’s edge isn’t going anywhere fast so he doesn’t have to go in for it.

    It didn’t occur to me you might be trying to make Rxe3 that way (Bc1 another problem surely?). Bxe3!? must be closer to working, although Qxc7 might well just bury it due to the bank rank stuff.

    What’s difficult about that position in the note to 23 hxg5/27 Kh1 ? Obvious risk that black has a draw somewhere yes, but the only square white could possibly get mated on is g2 and the d5 bishop is a rock solid cover for that.

    So its fairly to see that its two results, with good chances of saving the king. Much safer than the game with leaving a pawn on g3!

    Lucky break in that ending :) That position after Bd4 looks like pure torture to me, and probably winning for white.

    Reply to this comment
    • Dave

      Jul 24. 2014

      HI Martin,

      As always, good to hear your perspective :)
      I agree that by the initial diagram White is pretty comfortable and has ‘solved’ the issue of where to place his bishops.
      Regarding the position in note to 23.hxg3… I think it’s difficult in the sense that all the sacrifices look very promising and it’s tough to calculate accurately at the board. Looking at the final position in that variation it’s very easy to say that Black has nothing. It’s rather more challenging to be certain that White is fine at the beginning of the variation.
      Yes, I definitely got a lucky break in the endgame. So many people play the endings of correspondence games horribly badly. I think that if you are just popping on line to check your games quickly and have an endgame position in amongst a bunch of games it’s far too tempting to just play an “obvious” move rather than taking time to check and analyse properly. I’ve been the victim myself and have also been the beneficiary many times as this game proves.
      If you’re interested in a game of slightly higher quality then I’d encourage you to take a look at the position and game in the recent “Anything but quiet” post which is much less messy than this one :)

      Reply to this comment
      • Martin Carpenter

        Jul 24. 2014

        Bd5 is the (relatively) tricky move I think :) It isn’t an obvious candidate move for a human.

        If you saw it though, I think its fairly clear that no black sacrifice could possibly work? Simply not enough pieces anymore, especially without the dark squared bishops.

        Playing endings genuinely badly in correspondence chess really does strike me as something of a crime against Cassia :)

        Reply to this comment
        • Dave

          Jul 24. 2014

          Of course I didn’t see Bd5! I’m far too much of an optimist to have spotted that. :)
          I agree with you about correspondence endings but do remember that we’re talking about online correspondence here which has become a bit like ‘chess polyfiller’ for us died-hard addicts. Now that I can play correspondence on my phone I can fit chess into parts of my day where it would previously have been impossible. i.e.:

          – on my daily commute
          – instead of watching programmes on telly that my wife wants to watch, all the while pretending that I am in fact watching them
          – whilst on conference calls that I can take part in on ‘mute’
          – on the toilet

          You get the idea.
          BTW it’s also a crime against Caissa to spell her name incorrectly. You will be checkmated horribly in your next game as punishment for your tardiness :)

          Reply to this comment
  2. Martin Carpenter

    Jul 24. 2014

    Maybe I can burn a chess book instead or something :)

    My silicon monster here can however offer a bit of enlightenment – have a play with the position after Qxa5 Qf5(!). No sacrifices needed this time – Bg2 Qh5 or Kg2 Qh3+ are the main points.

    Comps are great at this sort of geometry! Looks like white can hold with care after throwing in Qc3 to bring both kings into dire straits but its all very risky.

    Actually almost might as well take a5, as it doesn’t look at all easy to bail out sensibly (and being able to go b4/c5 seems crucial for white.).

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