Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Sicilian Kan puzzle

by Junta
In the Kan after 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nxc6
Looking at some lines of the Sicilian Kan (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6) tonight, I remembered one episode from the World U/16 Olympiad in Singapore, 2007. I was examining the above position with teammate Moulthun and Ian Rogers present.

As many players should be able to relate, it can be fun to consider unintuitive, unnecessary or unusual moves (within the boundary of not being completely pointless) when analysing positions, and for Black's 6th move here I found 6...Qb6 - White must give a piece back, and Black can reach a Hedgehog pawn structure!

Objectively it is of course a waste of time, and after 7.Ne5 Qa5+ 8.Nd2 Qxe5 9.O-O for example, White is much better. Still, Moulthun and I were amused at discovering such a 'novelty', but showing it to Ian, he quickly pointed out that White can stay material up with a surprising move: 7.Bxa6!?

We had completely missed this intermezzo, and White stays a pawn to the good (although Black has some compensation in the two bishops). The novelty had been refuted...

But checking it again tonight after five-and-a-half years, I realised it isn't so simple - after 7...Rxa6 8.Nd4 Bc5 9.c3 e5, Black regains the pawn with equality, e.g. 10.b4 Bxd4 11.cxd4 Qxb4+ 12.Qd2 Qxd4 13.Qxd4 exd4. Either way, it's fun to get sidetracked with lines like these sometimes.

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