[Event "Turin Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2006.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Al Modiahki"] [Black "Macieja"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B27"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2006.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 c5 {I should say that the actual game came from the Sicilian Sniper move order of 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 g6 3 d4 Bg7, and I have changed it here just to show how Black can achieve the same position by playing a Pure Sniper move order, which is the main focus of this book. In fact there will be many instances of the actual game coming from a Sicilian Sniper, and for clarity I have sometimes taken the liberty of amending the moves and replacing them with the Pure Sniper.} 4. dxc5 {A common theme in the Sniper is to sacrifice this c5-pawn, either permanently or temporarily, in return for good dynamic compensation. Here, though, Black just regains it immediately.} Qa5+ 5. c3 Qxc5 {It looks as though the queen is not well placed, but Black has managed to trade a wing pawn for a central pawn and will argue that he can defend against White's initiative and use that central advantage later in the middlegame or even the endgame.} 6. Na3 Nf6 7. Nb5 O-O 8. Be3 Qc6 9. Bd3 b6 { A very useful move that provides a permanent haven for the queen and ensures Black has the better pawn structure.} 10. O-O Bb7 11. Re1 d6 12. a4 a6 13. Nbd4 Qc7 14. a5 b5 15. Nc2 Nbd7 {I have found a new rating system for pawns which I use as their base values. I call it the 'Storey Pawn Scale', and I have found that it is an extremely good rule of thumb both in my own games and in coaching. Of course we normally assign a value of one unit for one pawn, but the following is a much more pertinent rating system: Rook pawns = 1/4 Knight pawns = 1/2 Bishop pawns = 1 Central pawns = 11/2 The Storey Pawn Scale clearly shows that a trade of a bishop pawn for a central pawn is quite beneficial for Black, and this is the true compensation that Black seeks in the Sniper. The Sniper is all about the battle for the centre, be it in the opening phase, middlegame or endgame. The Storey Pawn Scale is an excellent simple guide to pawn values and their effect on the central battle.} 16. Bf4 e5 17. Bg5 h6 18. Bxf6 Nxf6 19. Nb4 Rad8 20. Qb3 d5 $1 {Black is always on the lookout to seize the centre.} 21. exd5 Nxd5 22. Be4 Nxb4 23. cxb4 Bxe4 24. Rxe4 Kh7 25. Ree1 f5 {Black has won the centre and will convert this to a won game. This is the primary strategy of the Sniper.} 26. Rac1 Qd6 27. Rcd1 Qe7 28. Nd4 Rd6 29. Nc2 Rfd8 30. Rxd6 Rxd6 31. Ne3 e4 32. Qc2 Rd8 33. h4 Qxh4 34. Qc6 f4 35. Qxe4 Rd4 {See Chapter Two for a more detailed discussion of this game and variations.} 0-1 [Event "European Union Championship, Liverpool"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Tiviakov"] [Black "Storey"] [Result "*"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c3 d5 ({This is the only major variation following 1 e4 against which} 3... c5 {is not appropriate, and after playing through the game I hope you will appreciate why that is so – I certainly did. Some background to this game will be of interest. Liverpool 2008 was my first venture into the European Union Championship and I was particularly keen to prepare well for each opponent. I quickly realized that Tiviakov is an excellent opening theoretician and rarely does any player of the Black pieces get complete equality against him, let alone any advantage. Using the Sniper, however, you will see that I managed to outplay him in the opening phase of the game, with a variation that I consider to be my most important contribution to opening theory:}) 4. Nd2 c5 {The move order of 1...g6, 2...Bg7 and 3...c5 has not been played, but we still see the main character of the Sniper. This game's move order is therefore defined as 'The Deferred Sniper' simply for reference purposes and for future classification of Sniper games. As I have resurrected this 4...c5 gambit in modern times and brought some new enhancements, and as a struggling FM who would like to leave my stamp on the chess kingdom, I have called it the 'Storey Gambit', which is simply useful for reference purposes. Many years ago Grandmasters Gulko and Razuvaev played 4...c5, but it has fallen into disuse and my recent contributions should make it very appealing. In short, Black sacrifices the c5-pawn and as a consequence prevents White from using that square for his knight. Keep an eye on that square as you play through the game. Black progressively improves his pieces better than White, and as a result he is the one who obtains central control. White may hang on to the pawn on c5 for some time, but just as in the Benko, Black's superior development ensures that the weak pawn will eventually fall, after which Black's pieces can take further advantage of the better squares they occupy to win another pawn or to initiate an attack on White's king.} 5. dxc5 Nf6 $1 { Black is in no immediate hurry to capture the weak pawn on c5. He can still keep a very good position by continuing with development, gaining advantages in the centre and then capturing on c5 at an opportune moment, possibly as late as the endgame.} 6. exd5 Qxd5 7. Nb3 Qxd1+ 8. Kxd1 O-O 9. Nf3 Rd8+ 10. Ke1 Nc6 11. Be2 e5 12. Be3 Be6 13. Ng5 Bd5 14. f3 h6 15. Nh3 Be6 16. Rd1 Nd5 17. Bd2 f5 18. Nf2 a5 19. Nc1 a4 20. a3 Nf6 21. Ncd3 Bb3 22. Ra1 {Having outplayed a 2600-Grandmaster up until here, I became too excited. That is the only explanation I can give for playing the poor move} Ra5 $2 {. Unfortunately, this allowed Tiviakov to find good counterplay, and he went on to get the better of the position in my time pressure.} ({Instead} 22... Rd7 $1 {is the simple and logical move. Let us see how the game could have proceeded had I found the correct continuation rather than 22...Ra5:} 23. g4 Rad8 24. gxf5 gxf5 25. Bc1 {White's position is inferior as his pieces are passive, his king position is poor, and his pawn structure is weak. This can be contrasted with Black's well placed minor pieces, superb rooks and central control that all together spell danger for White.} Kf7 26. Rg1 Bf8 27. Kf1 Bc4 28. Nb4 Bxe2+ 29. Kxe2 Na5 30. Nbd3 Re8 31. Rd1 Nc4 {Black's advantage is clear: he has control of the centre, better squares piece for piece, and the more active – yet safer – king. All that adds up to a significant plus, even though White has an extra pawn. I hope this position convinces you there is something worthwhile to the Sniper. The important thing for the Sniper practitioner is that the opening was a tremendous success. If you get the opportunity to play this variation – do so.}) * [Event "World Under-16 Chess Olympiad, Akhisar"] [Site "?"] [Date "2009.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "S.Ter-Sahakyan"] [Black "Y.Zhou"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B75"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "89"] [EventDate "2009.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will show that by simply delaying castling, new possibilities can be opened up for Sniper practitioners that would like to play a mainline Sicilian Dragon. It will also show that a much lower-rated player can defeat a Grandmaster by applying the key principles of the Sniper outlined in this book, namely timely central thrusts by the use of the extra central pawn, constant central awareness, excellent use of the Sniper bishop and delaying castling until the rook is needed for attack. It also gives me the opportunity to take up the role of your guide as brothers in arms on our journey towards mastering the Sniper! This game has particular emotional interest for me, because Yang Fan Zhou played top board for the English under 16 team at the 2009 Olympiad, and for the first time I was appointed coach to the England squad, and accompanied them to the event as coach and manager. I had won over Yang Fan to the idea of using the Sniper, albeit via the Sicilian Sniper move order, and he gave a near perfect performance, gaining a superb victory against a young Armenian Grandmaster who was the top-rated player participating in the event.} 1. e4 c5 ({You may straight away be puzzled as to why 1...c5 was chosen when the moves ...g6, ...Bg7 and ...c5 are all pre-determined by the system. Well, the point is this: when you become experienced with the Sniper you will find that you can choose the Sicilian Sniper move order 1...c5, even though the main essence of the Sniper is to play the Pure Sniper sequence} 1... g6 { , 2...Bg7, 3...c5! In fact, I strongly recommend you stay with the Pure Sniper move order until you have mastered all of the material in this book. Only then should you consider 1...c5 as a Sniper move, perhaps to avoid your opponent's preparation. To further help the reader appreciate some of the move orders that make up the Sniper, Yang Fan heads for an Extended Pure Sniper Transposition at 7...Nc6. An Extended Pure Sniper occurs when a position that could have come from a Pure Sniper is reached not at move three, but deeper into the opening. Extended Pure Snipers can be a bit difficult deciphering, and this is the main reason I recommend the reader to always view the variations from the 1...g6, 2...Bg7, 3...c5! perspective, at least until they have read this entire book.}) 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 {We now have a mainline Sicilian Dragon which could have also come via a Pure Sniper move order as follows: 1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 c5 4 Nf3 cxd4 5 Nxd4 d6 6 Be3 Nf6. Of course this only transposes if both parties are willing, and it is the nature of a Sniper practitioner to search for interesting unchartered positions that can be found by playing the Pure Sniper move order, and to aim for those positions. For example, Black could deviate at move four with 4...Qa5, or instead of 6...Nf6 with 6...h5!?. There are countless creative possibilities, and even though this book will equip you with many, this could be fertile ground for your own research too. What is the difference between a Pure Sniper and a Sicilian Sniper? Why not just play the Sicilian move order? 1. In a Pure Sniper Black can often avoid exchanging on d4 and instead develop other pieces first, as will be shown later in this chapter. It will also be shown that this can be highly beneficial for Black. 2. Black may not wish to play ...d6 at all but in fact play ...d5 in one turn, taking play along similar lines to a favourable Accelerated Dragon. 3. Black will attempt to play the 'Sniper Sacrifice' (a trendy way of describing the Sniper bishop on g7 exchanging itself for the c3-knight with ...Bxc3, which will often involve the temporary or permanent sacrifice of the c5-pawn) at every possible favourable moment, with the aim of achieving an excellent or dynamically equal position, so the knight on g8 is left at home for as long as possible. This is the beauty of the Sniper bishop. It has a selfless desire to sacrifice itself to secure the centre for the rest of the troops, who can then quickly use it launch an attack on the newly weakened white pawn structure on a2, c2 and c3. Another great bonus of learning the Sniper is that all the ideas can be tweaked simply by playing the Sniper with White as well! This can be achieved simply by starting with a very useful waiting move of 1 a3!, and then playing just like a Black Sniper but with the bonus of having control of the b4-square. I have tried this myself to date in two rated games, with an ECF rating performance of 240 (2520 FIDE) – that is with no specific study but rather simply applying the principles of Black's Sniper play over to White and being aware of the differences created by the bonus move 1 a3.} 7. f3 Nc6 {The pressure created by the c6-knight on the d4-square is considered by theory to be very useful. I strongly recommend ...Nc6 as part of the Sniper repertoire when Black plays a Dragon. This is in conjunction with ...h5 or – if you're feeling creative – ...h6, but both with delayed castling. You will find this a very effective antidote to playing those who have sharpened their h2-pawn battering ram, normally a simple and effective way to easy rook development and a free attack against Dragon players. This ...Nc6/...h5/delayed ...0-0 Sniper Dragon will also ensure that your prized g7 Sniper soldier will be firmly protected from its opposite number – White's dark-squared bishop. This approach of delaying ...0-0 makes it a far more attractive proposition for anyone looking to play the Sicilian Dragon.} 8. Bc4 {The young Armenian Grandmaster tries a sideline in an attempt to confuse Yang Fan.} (8. Qd2 O-O { is covered in the Magnus Carlsen section, but if you're looking for a novel alternative I can strongly recommend the following Black piece deployment: ... Bd7, ...Rc8, ...h6 or ...h5 and delaying ...0-0.}) 8... Bd7 {There's no need to castle, as the tempo is far better served by accelerating an attack on to the c4-bishop which has no communication with its allies. This system of development (...Bd7, ...Rc8, ...h6 or ...h5, and delayed ...0-0) is not so dependent on concrete variations but mainly ideas based. If it becomes more mainline in the future then concrete variations will surface, but for the foreseeable future there is much fertile ground for simply playing chess within a safe framework of development. According to my own study of players below 2700 there is an overwhelming tendency to castle when a piece pressures a weak square around the king, but Sniper trainees and 2700+ players know these squares are easily defended and therefore they only castle when they have to, or if the rook is needed for rapid deployment.} (8... Qb6 $1 {is a highly underrated move and one I recommend with confidence. This is covered in the next game.}) 9. Qd2 Rc8 ({More normal is} 9... O-O {here; however, the England camp had decided not to play by pure theory but always look to delay .. .0-0 for as long as safely possible, thus allowing one extra move for central concerns. This, coupled with the ...Na5 attack on the light-squared bishop, proves extremely problematic for the Armenian Grandmaster.}) ({The alternative } 9... Rb8 {, using a delayed ...0-0 scheme of development, may seem attractive. Let's call it the 'delayed ...0-0 Chinese Dragon'. Well, I do not recommend the delayed ...0-0 Chinese Dragon in this situation, as the following short variation will prove. I have included it to show an instance of when delaying ...0-0, albeit a rarity, does not work effectively:} 10. O-O-O h5 {neglects the centre and White is allowed a breakthrough after} 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. e5 dxe5 13. Ne4 Nd5 14. Bxd5 cxd5 15. Qxd5 {, when the d-file pressure gives White a small advantage.}) 10. Bb3 Na5 $5 {I really like this... Na5 idea, which is a popular way of playing against the White Sicilian setup. When White cannot crack open the h-file, the best plan for him is to centralize rooks and then play f4 followed by e5 with a great central advantage. This ...Na5 'knight on the rim' idea prevents the central initiative that White's f4 may bring and also it allows ...Nxb3 at a moment of Blacks choosing.} 11. O-O-O a6 {Black has still not committed his king to the kingside and thus is still preventing a cheap 'all-out attack' by White. On the other hand, Black has clear coordinates on White's king location.} 12. Kb1 b5 13. g4 {This attempts to discourage ...h5 should White play h2-h4, which is good from the viewpoint of preventing a solid defensive setup by Black on the kingside, but it does allow Black an extra tempo on the queenside. Yang Fan uses this to set his attack in motion and gain a great share in the centre, which turns into more tangible advantages as the game develops.} Nc4 ({Yang Fan prefers the traditional approach and rightly rejects} 13... Nxb3 {as this makes it difficult to attack the white king. For example,} 14. Nxb3 O-O ({after } 14... Be6 15. Nd4 O-O 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Ne2 Qe8 18. Nd4 Qf7 19. h4 e5 { Black is passive but solid}) 15. h4 a5 16. h5 a4 17. Nd4 b4 18. Nd5 Nxd5 19. exd5 b3 20. axb3 axb3 21. Nxb3 Qc7 {when White is more comfortable and can expect to go on to win.}) 14. Bxc4 Rxc4 15. h4 b4 (15... h5 {may be better, as it stops 16 h5 which could have caused some awkward defensive problems for Black. Furthermore, 15...h5 would halt White's 'straightforward attack' in its tracks and force him to search for another solution. For example,} 16. g5 Nh7 17. Nd5 Nf8 {(an added bonus of delaying ...0-0 is that this move is available) } 18. Rhe1 Ne6 19. Nb3 {.}) ({Clearly 15...b4 is stronger than} 15... O-O $6 { . Black has no urgent need to castle unless the rook is required for duties, and it is exactly moves like ...b4 that are the reason why Sniper players rarely castle kingside at an early stage. If Black had castled at an early stage then he would likely be mauled on the kingside with a speculative sacrifice that no Dragon/Sniper player would want to face.}) 16. Nce2 a5 { Still not castling yet. The tempo saved could be critical as it is allowing and disallowing a number of short and long-term plans, and this is mainly beneficial to Black.} 17. Ng3 $6 ({A major strategic error – it was better to play} 17. h5 $1 {with good attacking prospects.}) {Yang Fan's next move is highly instructive – it prevents further h-file danger, encourages closure of the g- and h-files and also helps to prevent attacks in the centre by moving the knight to the h7-square releasing the g7-bishop's energy.} 17... h5 $1 { 17 moves in and Black has pressured the centre and expanded on the queenside. The pressure of the extra attacking move gained by not castling has actually had an exponential effect on Black's queenside counterplay and could be held responsible for 'wasting' the knight's time moving from c3-e2-g3, thus engineering a major strategical error in White's plan which in turn brings about Black's eventual win.} 18. g5 Nh7 19. f4 {If White can play e5 Black may be in big trouble especially with his king in the centre!} Bg4 $1 {Sending in a 'disruptor' – this starts action against White's centre by removing the white rook's influence over the central file. It is highly instructive how Black fights for the centre and increases advantages there before delivering a final assault on the king.} 20. Rc1 O-O {Just what did Black achieve by delaying ...0-0? Well, he has: 1. The two bishops; 2. Advanced queenside pressure; 3. A very safe king (no files open); and 4. Forced a non-standard plan upon White, as well as persuading the knight to go to the poor square at g3.} 21. f5 Be5 {More central control and more indirect pressure on the centre. Rybka still thinks this is level, but I claim Black has an almost decisive advantage. I would argue that, with the better centre, more realistic attacking chances on the white king, options to trade minor pieces, and with White's weak e4-pawn, this is highly favourable for Black.} 22. Nge2 $6 { Probably the fatal error by the Armenian Grandmaster – White is now doomed to a long-term defence that is probably just hoping for an error to survive. Yang Fan shows a level of technique way above his years and rating to bring home the point for England – each move is quite instructive.} Qa8 {A superb way to pressure the weak central pawn and allow the f8-rook to participate.} 23. b3 Rcc8 24. Qd3 Rfd8 {How many players would rush to attack an enemy king? Yang Fan prefers to mobilize his redundant pieces (rook and knight) thus keeping good control of the centre before the clinical finish. The knight on h7 still has to make an important contribution to the attack and has an easy way in via d7.} 25. c4 a4 {This 'tin opener' move attempts to open the a-file and weaken the white king position.} 26. bxa4 Qxa4 {The white king begins to feel the draught.} 27. Qb3 Qa8 {The queen shows that she can demonstrate her power on the centre even from the corners.} 28. Qd3 Rb8 {'X-Ray check' is the first major warning sign for White.} 29. Rhe1 Nf8 {The cavalry is set to arrive and the Rybka chess engine is very happy with Black (-0.98). In English, that means clear advantage for Black.} 30. Nb3 Bf3 {Yang Fan's pressure on the centre in this game has been grandmasterly.} 31. Nd2 b3 $1 {The clinical finish commences – now is the time for Yang Fan's calculation ability to be demonstrated.} 32. axb3 Rxb3+ $1 {Dramatic measures to increase the weakness of the white king.} 33. Qxb3 Rb8 {There is a defence to the pin but Yang Fan has a great way to develop his final piece into the attack.} 34. Bb6 Bxe4+ 35. Nxe4 Qxe4+ 36. Rc2 Nd7 $1 {The knight finds its way into the game.} 37. Kc1 Rxb6 {Black has a material deficit but enjoys the following advantages: 1. The centre; 2. The much safer king; 3. The initiative; 4. More simple targets to attack; and 5. No obvious targets of his own for White to attack. All this blended together makes for a decisive advantage.} 38. Qa3 Nc5 39. Kd1 Nd3 40. Rf1 Rb1+ {White's position is a shambles. Yang Fan holds his nerve to deliver a simple technical finish.} 41. Nc1 Nxc1 42. Rxc1 Rxc1+ 43. Qxc1 Qd3+ 44. Ke1 Bg3+ 45. Rf2 {The Armenian Grandmaster resigns and history is made, as an English under-16 defeats a Grandmaster at this event for the first time. This game saw a Sicilian mainline Dragon via the Sicilian Sniper move order, but it equally could have arisen via a Pure Sniper move order. The Sicilian Dragon is one of the variations that the Sniper player may allow. Black played a delayed ...0-0 with ...Na5, and this way of playing the Dragon clearly has some excellent benefits. Using the move saved by delaying ...0-0 enables Black to defend by central means or gain some queenside initiative. In other words, bringing in extra support to the centre or removing a piece that is pressuring the centre can help prevent an attack coming from its source. This is a subtle form of defensive prophylaxis which fights against ...0-0 apathy that is prevalent from beginner and even up to Grandmaster level. Sniper players only castle when their king is genuinely about to come under fire, or when the rook is urgently needed for central matters. These Sniper principles defeated one of the best juniors in the world.} 0-1 [Event "Odessa"] [Site "?"] [Date "1968.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "A.Shmit"] [Black "V.Kupreichik"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B75"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "1968.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will persuade the reader to add 8...Qb6 to their repertoire in the Sicilian Dragon. The reader will find the variation tactically volatile but promising for Black, and the sidelines will prove that theoretical opinions favouring White in the past can be turned upside down.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. Nc3 Bg7 {Although this game is not the Pure Sniper move order, this position could easily have been reached that way. The Sicilian Sniper move order should be compared with the Pure Sniper until the reader is fully acclimatized to the similarities and differences involved. A way to reach this position via a Pure Sniper move order would be 1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 c5 4 Nf3 cxd4 5 Nxd4 Nc6, but as always Black can choose to deviate earlier if he is seeking original positions (see below).} 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bc4 ({ Another line is} 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. e5 Ng8 9. f4 f6 {and now:} 10. Z0 (10. exf6 Nxf6 {and Black has a superior central pawn mass which guarantees at least an equal game.}) (10. Bd4 {is not much better:} fxe5 11. Bxe5 (11. fxe5 {is more popular but my Rybka engine claims after} Qa5 12. e6 Nf6 13. exd7+ Bxd7 14. Bc4 Rd8 {that Black is slightly better due to the d-file pressure and the bishop's access to the g4-square which can monitor any white rooks coming to d1}) 11... Nf6 12. Bc4 d6 {leaves Black well placed for further central advances with gain of time; for example,} 13. Bd4 d5 {with a completely level middlegame.})) {If these methods by White of avoiding the mainline Dragon are not to your taste, or if you have arrived at this book as a Dragon player who has to meet such sidelines, then the Pure Sniper is definitely for you. The key advantage of the Pure Sniper is that Black will have the option of going into new and promising sidelines if both sides are heading for a Sicilian Dragon. For example, the 7 Nxc6 sideline could have been avoided if Black had attempted to enter the Dragon with a Pure Sniper move order: 1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 c5 4 Nf3 cxd4 5 Nxd4 d6. Here a new Dragon position has arisen where Black can choose to delay his g8-knight's development, bring his knight to d7, or even play a Sniper Dragadorf (a mix of Dragon and Najdorf with ...a6). Black could also play 5...b6 and ...Bb7. Basically, there are many ideas here, and this shows the richness of available options in an opening that allegedly has been analysed to death. The Sniper brings many new interesting Dragon possibilities. } 7... d6 8. f3 {It is possible this may actually be a weak move. After all, it does weaken the a7-g1 diagonal and there is an excellent way to take advantage of this. Black's ensuing response has been disrespected by mainstream theory but I predict a popularity explosion of 8...Qb6, and White players may have to find a different approach unless they can make 8 f3 work.} ({Another problem for White is that there is no easy way back to the main line, as attempts to do so with} 8. Qd2 {can be met by} Ng4 {which is favourable for Black.}) ({The alternative} 8. h3 {could be the way forward, but after} O-O 9. Bb3 Bd7 10. O-O {,} Qa5 {is known to be quite good for Black, with plenty of queenside play.}) 8... Qb6 $3 {Kupreichik has a good reputation for innovative opening ideas. For ease of reference I call this position 'the Kupreichik Sniper Dragon'. This is my recommendation against the Bc4/f3 Sicilian setup when white omits Qd2. A further generic Sniper tip: always be on the lookout to play ...Qb6 in the Sniper. Not only does it seriously de-book and confuse an opponent, but the tactics and positional elements normally favour the Sniper. Let's see how the Belarusian Grandmaster handles his pet line:} 9. Nf5 {The following tactics may look a bit scary for Black but deeper investigation will prove Black is not only equal but in fact has the better prospects. There are a couple of complicated alternatives, but all are favourable for Black or at least equal:} ({a)} 9. Bb3 $6 {is overly cautious and enables a Black tactic involving releasing the bishop on g7:} Nxe4 $1 10. Nf5 (10. fxe4 $6 Bxd4 {leaves Black with a safe extra central pawn after} 11. Nd5 Qa5+ 12. Bd2 Qd8 13. c3 Bg7 14. O-O O-O) 10... Bxc3+ {(this Sniper bishop trade again enables Black to gain an advantage in the centre)} 11. bxc3 Qa5 {and Black has a good middlegame. He enjoys a numerical advantage in pawns on the central files, pressure against c3 and a safe king.}) ({b)} 9. Bb5 Qc7 $1 10. Nd5 Nxd5 11. exd5 a6 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Nxc6 Bb7 {. Black will look forward to regaining the pawn with a solid position and a safer king. After} 14. Bd4 Bxd4 15. Qxd4 O-O 16. O-O Bxc6 17. dxc6 Qxc6 {, according to the Storey Pawn Scale, Black is slightly better here as other factors are equally balanced.}) ({c)} 9. Ncb5 O-O {(Black calmly castles and gets ready for the melee)} 10. Nf5 Qa5+ 11. Bd2 Qb6 12. Be3 Qa5+ 13. Bd2 Qb6 14. Nxg7 a6 15. Nc3 Kxg7 16. Qc1 Kg8 17. Be3 Qc7 18. Qd2 Be6 19. Bb3 Rac8 {. Black's extra central pawn and superior development more than compensate for his lost Sniper bishop.}) ({d)} 9. O-O {is covered in the next game.}) {Returning to 9 Nf5:} 9... Qxb2 {Grabbing a pawn in 'Bobby Fischer, Poisoned Pawn style'.} 10. Nxg7+ {Rarely is it good to give an entire piece away with check – let alone our favourite stealth soldier, but his sacrifice is again for the greater central good as Black benefits from a superior pawn structure and play against the loose white pieces on c3, c4, g7 and e3. This position is directly connected to the position after 16...h5 (see below), and this is where the debate will appear at the highest level.} Kf8 11. Nd5 ({This active continuation is the critical test of Black's cheeky play.} 11. Bd2 {attempting to embarrass the queen comes to nothing and just weakens the g1-a7 diagonal:} Kxg7 12. Rb1 Qa3 13. Rb3 Qc5 {. Black's pawn structure is excellent, and together with the extra pawn and extra support the h8-rook will bring to h6 ensures Black will likely go on to take the full point.}) 11... Nxd5 12. Bxd5 Kxg7 {Black has nothing to fear on the long dark diagonal, as he has a useful check to recapture the white bishop should White attempt to use the diagonal at d4 by capturing the c6-knight. This is the critical position and is subject to some debate at the top level. It is my recommendation to aim for this position in the Sniper when a Dragon can be reached. If it does not stand the test of time, then playing a normal mainline Dragon and delaying ... 0-0 is my backup recommendation.} 13. Kf2 {This threatens to take on c6 and win the queen but Black has a simple solution. Alternatives are:} ({a)} 13. Rb1 Qc3+ 14. Kf2 {transposes to this game.}) ({b)} 13. O-O Qc3 14. Qc1 {is the line recommended in modern texts but my Sniper analysis can refute any challenge that claims a victory for White:} Be6 $3 {. An excellent bishop move, improving over some recent analysis that suggested this line may blow the Sniper away – the Sniper lives! For example:} 15. Rd1 ({if} 15. Rb1 Bxd5 16. exd5 Nd4 17. Bh6+ Kg8 18. Kh1 b6 {when Black can defend and has the better pawn structure and an extra pawn,}) ({or} 15. Bh6+ Kg8 16. Rb1 Nd4 17. Qd2 Bxd5 18. exd5 Qxd2 19. Bxd2 b6 20. Rb4 Nf5 21. g4 Ng7 22. Re1 e6 23. dxe6 fxe6 24. Rd4 Kf7 25. Bh6 e5 26. Rxd6 Rhd8 27. Rxd8 Rxd8 28. Rxe5 Ne6 {, when the better pawn structure and more active king give Black an excellent endgame}) 15... Rhb8 16. Rb1 Kg8 {is the critical position and I like Black.}) 13... Qc3 { Again preparing to recapture on c6 should White take the knight there. Although it looks extremely brave staying on the dangerous diagonal, Black is doing fine mainly because the d4 square is well under control. If White takes on c6, the queen captures at c6 and is safely removed from the dangerous diagonal with an excellent position for Black.} 14. Rb1 Qa5 15. Rb3 f6 $1 { The star move: it fights against the weakness on the long dark diagonal, supports e5 and stops g5 access. On the flipside it does weaken e6, but there's no knight to really put this to great use. Sniper practitioners will come to realize the importance of this little ...f6 pawn advance in many Sniper positions; it is one of the most important features in the Sniper setup. Remember it well and try and appreciate its impact every time it is played – it is often the difference between winning and losing in the Sniper.} 16. Qc1 { A position arises that I predict will be the subject of many theoretical battles in the near future. I also predict Black's chances will be proved slightly better due to having an extra central pawn relevant to the Storey Pawn Scale. White advocates may look for an all-out attack on Black's monarch, but my belief is that Black can defend any attack successfully.} h5 $1 { This pawn advance is a key defensive move which is highly instructive for all Sniper Sicilian Dragon positions, and is also a recurring theme. The rook brings direct protection to the h6-square, while the h5-pawn suppresses the g4 advance and also prevents a later h-pawn battering ram. This is not a traditional defensive setup, but a moment should be taken to remember that Black has an extra central pawn and should look forward to a successful defence. He will bring as many pieces as possible to defend the weak squares around the king, in conjunction with timely central defences and eventual central pawn advances.} 17. Rd1 Qc7 $1 {Black has over-protected his b7 weakness and removes the queen to a safe haven. He also prepares to improve communication with the queenside and free the bishop up for development.} 18. Qa3 Bd7 19. Rc3 {It is difficult for White to find a good plan that does not risk the safety of his own king.} Rac8 {Black is now already better on account of his superior pawn structure and extra pawn.} 20. Rd4 Qb8 21. Rdc4 Ne5 { As his queenside attack never gained any momentum, White must surely try a different plan. The two bishops aren't really getting going, and it's good to note that the lack of a Sniper bishop has not been critical in Black's defence as the centralized knight more than compensates.} 22. Rb4 b6 {Black's pawn structure is strong and stable, and he is simply a pawn up.} 23. h3 Rxc3 24. Qxc3 Qc8 25. Qd2 Bxh3 $5 {White's king safety is weaker than Black's, and this is always a key factor in accurate assessments. I have to admire Kupreichik's f6-pawn; it completely neutralized any White attack. Sniper trainees are often ready to use their wing pawns to attack the central squares.} 26. gxh3 Qxh3 27. Qe2 g5 {Since my youth I have always loved playing positions like this for Black, whereby the opponent's king is exposed and the advancing pawns are going to dramatically gain in value as they approach promotion or add favourably to a direct attack. Let's call this attack 'Pawn Promotion And Attack' (PPAA). This type of attack is normally favourable when the opponent cannot generate any obvious threats or breakthroughs near the king or in the centre. Being aware of this type of position will reap many points – especially if your repertoire invites them!} 28. Bd4 Qh2+ 29. Kf1 Qh1+ 30. Kf2 g4 {The '3 Piece Attack' rule – this general rule dictates that a successful middlegame attack on the king requires three pieces. Although there is normally a distinction between pieces and pawns, for the purposes of this attacking rule a pawn may be considered to be the value of a piece when it creates an anchor point around the king. Here the 3 Piece Attack rule enables Black to bring the full point home.} 31. Bxe5 fxe5 32. Rb3 g3+ 33. Kxg3 Rh6 { The 3 Piece Attack rule is also related to the '2 Heavy Pieces' rule, which also normally yields a decisive attack (just as a reminder, a heavy piece is one valued at five points or higher).} 34. Kf2 Rg6 35. Qf1 Qh2+ 36. Ke3 Rg1 37. Qe2 ({If} 37. Qf2 {, there follows} Rg2 38. Qe1 Qf4+ 39. Kd3 h4 40. Be6 Qxf3+ { .}) 37... Rg2 38. Qd1 Rg1 39. Qe2 Qg3 {The heavy pieces continue to create game-winning threats – ...Re1 is the immediate concern.} 40. Qd2 Rg2 {A great advert for the Kupreichik Sniper. The tactics favour Black and he also has the opportunity to shape the events for the coming battle. If this is not to your taste and you love your own mainline variation of the Dragon, by all means stay with it. Alternatively, consider how the up-and-coming World superstar plays the Dragon. We will consider Carlsen's approach with the Dragon soon, and Sniper students may wish to play like Carlsen or, as I have recommended previously, by delaying ...0-0. These various approaches can make up a range of quality Black responses, which in this day of computer preparation can help your results immensely.} 0-1 [Event "European Junior Championship, Niemeyer"] [Site "?"] [Date "1965.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "A.Lombard"] [Black "V.Kupreichik"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B75"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "56"] [EventDate "1965.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game again demonstrates Black's efforts to take advantage of the move order and exploit White's avoidance of Qd2 in the Sicilian Dragon.} 1. Nf3 g6 2. e4 c5 {This is a Black move order in the Sniper that doesn't really have a name, so let's give it one now – 'The Modern then Sicilian'. It seems to have some move-order trick value as it prevents White from playing d4 and gaining a large centre, although that is nothing to be feared.} 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Bg7 5. Nc3 {SMOT – Sniper Move Order Transposition. Please spend a few seconds to work out how this position would have been reached with the Pure Sniper move order.} Nc6 6. Be3 {Alternatively:} ({a)} 6. Nb3 {allows Black to implement the signature Sniper Sacrifice with} Bxc3+ $3 {. This crippling of White's queenside pawn structure ensures good prospects for Black. After} 7. bxc3 Nf6 8. Bd3 O-O 9. Bh6 Re8 {, White would prefer to have the dark-squared bishop contributing to central matters as that is where the struggle will take place. Black is slightly better here, justifying the martyrdom of the bishop on move 6.}) ({b)} 6. Nde2 Nf6 7. g3 h5 8. h3 d6 9. Bg2 Bd7 $3 {. Okay, two exclamation marks are hardly warranted for the actual move, but its application upon the average player's memory completely justifies it. The astute soldier will clearly see that Black's opening moves are an exact replica of the Sniper recommendation for Black in the mainline Sicilian Dragon, which if you have a memory like mine is a tremendous feature of the Sniper. If} 10. Be3 {Black can try} b5 $1 {. This is a great way of grabbing a queenside initiative, as capturing on b5 would enable Black to bring his rook to the b-file with great play.}) 6... Nf6 7. Bc4 (7. f3 $6 {is a common mistake by White, trying for the main line without Bc4. Black can exploit this error by} O-O 8. Qd2 d5 $1 {. White occasionally chooses a quiet setup. For example:}) ({ a)} 7. Be2 d6 ({it is the 'way' of the Sniper to delay castling for as long as possible, and this position is no exception; however,} 7... O-O 8. O-O d5 $1 { also equalizes for Black}) 8. O-O O-O 9. Nb3 (9. f4 Qb6 $1 {intending} 10. Qd3 Ng4 {is known to be fine for Black}) 9... Be6 {(as played by Kasparov)} 10. f4 Qc8 $1 {(here the queen prevents f5, covers the g4-square and still leaves a retreat square for the e6-bishop)} 11. Kh1 Rd8 12. Bf3 Bc4 13. Rf2 e5 $1 { (a surprising choice as the d6-pawn appears to be weak, but the gains in the centre fully justify this voluntary weakening)} 14. Rd2 Qe6 15. fxe5 Nxe5 16. Nd4 Qc8 $1 {. The queen once again finds the same perfect square for the exact situation. Black's centralized knight and activity ensure a comfortable middlegame for him.}) ({b)} 7. Nb3 {can easily transpose to the note 'a', for example} d6 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O Be6 {.}) 7... d6 8. f3 Qb6 {Kupreichik remains faithful to the cheeky Sniper recommendation.} 9. O-O {This is an obvious-looking move that has been played countless times by my opponents in blitz games at the Internet Chess Club. Black acquires the advantage with:} Qxb2 {Black wins this game not just because he wins a pawn, but because it damages White's pawn structure on the queenside which enables good Black counterplay.} 10. Qd2 ({After} 10. Ncb5 Qb4 11. Nc7+ Kd7 {surprisingly Black is doing very well:} 12. Nxc6 Kxc6 {(the king is brave, and correctly so)} 13. Nxa8 Qxc4 14. Bxa7 Be6 15. Nb6 Qa6 16. Rb1 Qxa7 {and despite the temporary danger to his king, Black will go on to win with the two pieces against the rook.}) 10... Qb4 {It's always good to escape from enemy territory with a gain of tempo.} 11. Bb5 {White attempts to justify the pawn loss by trapping the queen.} ({If} 11. Bb3 {then} Nxd4 12. Qxd4 Qxd4 13. Bxd4 Bd7 {with a clear pawn advantage for Black.}) 11... Bd7 12. Rab1 Qa5 {Black's pawn at b7 can be easily protected; therefore White must find another idea. However, I see no easy plan for White here that justifies being a central pawn down and also having weaker queenside pawns.} 13. Nb3 Qc7 {Black's queen has finished her 'tour of duty'. White's position is damaged whereas Black's is completely solid. One of the reasons I have such faith in the Sniper is that Black's pawn structure is so strong, but even more importantly Black more often than not has an additional central pawn.} 14. g4 Ne5 15. g5 Nh5 {In Dragon positions, responding to g5 with ...Nh5 is highly favourable if the knight cannot be easily dislodged by a white knight or bishop.} 16. Nd5 Qc8 {A nice observation here is that the black king still defends e7. As I've mentioned before, it is always a good policy to castle kingside in the Sniper, but only when necessary and never automatically. To a Sniper player this should be as important a factor as the fight for the centre.} 17. Nd4 e6 {Weakening the d6-pawn/square in this manner is justified here. It has a dramatic central impact, the knight's attacking value is reduced and it will take considerable effort to organize an attack on d6. White attacks that involve retreating the d5-knight can be easily parried and leave White's pieces entrenched in their own territory, hardly the type of play required to justify a pawn (and pawn structure) sacrifice. This extra central pawn will provide a number of useful functions throughout this book.} 18. Nc3 O-O {It is now necessary to allow the kingside rook to be ready to participate.} 19. Rb4 Bxb5 20. Ncxb5 Nc4 {Using the c-file with the queen can be just as effective as controlling it with the rooks.} 21. Qd3 Nxe3 22. Qxe3 Qc5 {The queen returns to the centre with tempo, allowing a consolidation of Black's advantages.} 23. c3 a6 24. Na3 Nf4 { A nice move that activates the passive knight.} 25. Qxf4 Bxd4+ 26. Kh1 ({If} 26. Rxd4 e5 $1 {and again the central thrust wins. My experience of the Sniper is that these timely thrusts can cause chaos in the White camp.}) 26... Be3 27. Qg4 a5 {The knight will soon be lost.} 28. Rb3 a4 {This game showed how solid the Black pawn structure is. Even when White gets a lot of activity, it is still very difficult to turn that activity into something more tangible. The cheeky pawn raid for Black at b2 was a complete success.} 0-1 [Event "Wijk aan Zee"] [Site "?"] [Date "2010.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "V.Anand"] [Black "M.Carlsen"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B77"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "37"] [EventDate "2010.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 { Carlsen tends to prefer Dragons with ...Nc6 as opposed to other development squares, and I strongly agree that this knight should come to c6. After analysing some of the other trendy Dragons without ...Nc6, I've realized the lack of central pressure enables very good options for White. So ...Nc6 gets my approval, but mainly with delaying ...0-0 because I want to play for the full point. This development has the added bonus of being relatively unchartered, and therefore the resulting positions and assessments are less reliant on memory and more on middlegame chess understanding.} 8. Qd2 O-O (8... Bd7 {was covered in Ter-Sahakyan vs. Zhou and is the Sniper recommended way to play.}) 9. Bc4 (9. O-O-O {is covered later in the chapter. White players have taken this approach with some regularity when facing the up-and-coming genius.} ) 9... Bd7 ({Of course} 9... Qb6 {here would have no point, as White can simply play} 10. O-O-O {.}) 10. Bb3 ({This early bishop retreat, which avoids the Chinese Dragon after} 10. O-O-O Rb8 $5 {, has gained some popularity lately. Will Carlsen have a good answer against it?}) 10... Nxd4 {Carlsen finds a useful way to exploit White's multiple bishop moves. If the bishop does not control the b5-square then Black can immediately expand on the queenside.} ({Carlsen has also played the alternative} 10... Rc8 {(see the next game).}) 11. Bxd4 b5 12. a4 ({Or} 12. h4 a5 13. a4 bxa4 14. Nxa4 e5 { with counterplay.}) 12... b4 13. Nd5 Nxd5 14. exd5 Bxd4 15. Qxd4 Qa5 {Both pawn structures are quite weak and to offset the strong position of the white queen, Black can be happy with the better of the bishops and a lead in development.} 16. O-O Rac8 17. Rfe1 Rfe8 18. Kh1 Qc5 19. Qh4 {Carlsen proved a simple way to reach equality against 10 Bb3 by changing tack and exchanging on d4. Black can look forward to a quick ...e5 and a series of exchanges leading to a drawish position. Black's advantageous central pawn mass will be offset by his slightly more exposed king, and just a queen and rook each is notoriously drawish.} 1/2-1/2 [Event "FIDE Grand Prix, Baku"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "T.Radjabov"] [Black "M.Carlsen"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B78"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. Bb3 Rc8 11. h4 ({Another theoretically important moment.} 11. O-O-O Ne5 12. Kb1 {is an approach which has caused Black some problems. The next two games show how Carlsen has dealt with this.}) 11... h5 {We can see that Carlsen's setup is similar to my recommendation, with the exception that I promote delaying ...0-0 as long as safely possible.} 12. O-O-O Ne5 13. Bg5 Rc5 {Introduced by Sosonko in 1977, the rook on the fourth rank helps out both in defence and attack. This quickly became the main line.} 14. Kb1 $5 Re8 $1 {Black does better to think about defensive measures first. The text move overprotects e7 and waits for the action to arrive.} 15. g4 $6 {It was reported by Stohl that Radjabov confessed after the game he got confused and mixed up the sharp lines.} (15. Rhe1 Qa5 16. f4 Nc4 17. Bxc4 Rxc4 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Nd5 Qxd2 20. Nxf6+ exf6 21. Rxd2 f5 {, as played in A.Beliavsky-K.Georgiev, Wijk aan Zee 1985, leads to equality.}) ({Better is} 15. Bh6 $5 Nc4 16. Bxc4 Rxc4 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. Nd5 {and we transpose to the next two games, albeit with one extra move from both sides.}) 15... hxg4 16. h5 Nxh5 17. Rxh5 gxh5 18. Qh2 Ng6 19. Qxh5 Qa5 $5 20. f4 {The best way to defend the bishop.} Rxg5 (20... Rxc3 $6 {is thematic but} 21. bxc3 Qxc3 22. Bxf7+ Kxf7 23. f5 {gives White the attack and some advantage.}) 21. fxg5 e6 22. Nf5 $6 ({A mistake – White is in no position to make this sacrifice and his demise can be specifically attributed to this overzealous attack.} 22. Qxg4 {would have been wiser.}) 22... exf5 23. Qxg6 Be6 24. Qh5 fxe4 25. Rf1 Qe5 26. Rxf7 Bxb3 27. axb3 g3 28. Ka2 Rf8 29. Rxf8+ Kxf8 30. Qg4 e3 31. g6 e2 $2 {A surprising error by Carlsen which could have allowed White to escape with a draw.} 32. Qf3+ $2 (32. Qd7 $1 {would have forced a draw by using attacking threats on the light squares at c8, b7, f7 and h7.}) 32... Ke8 33. Qf7+ Kd8 34. Qg8+ Kd7 35. Qf7+ Qe7 36. Qf5+ Kd8 37. Qa5+ b6 38. Qd5 e1=Q 39. Qa8+ Kd7 40. Qb7+ Ke8 {The mainline Dragon, with some quality defensive moves from Magnus, brings home the full point against another really strong prodigy.} 0-1 [Event "FIDE Grand Prix, Baku"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "S.Karjakin"] [Black "M.Carlsen"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B78"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "109"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This and the next game feature another main line for Carlsen, where he plays an interesting ...e5 move that leads to drawish positions. Carlsen is effectively drawing with this style, and to draw with Black against the likes of Karjakin and Leko is an excellent achievement. However, I cannot recommend this approach to non-grandmasters because it lacks fun and complications.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 {SMOT: Again please take a moment to appreciate how the Pure Sniper move order would have been played to reach this position.} 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. Bb3 Rc8 11. O-O-O Ne5 12. Kb1 Re8 13. h4 h5 {This important defensive move prevents what I call 'zero development' by the h1-rook – in other words, the rook is developed without moving when the h-file is opened.} 14. Bh6 Nc4 15. Bxc4 Rxc4 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Nd5 e5 {Fighting back in the centre. Carlsen will often deploy his e-pawn on this square in the Sicilian Dragon, and I therefore suggest it should become a candidate idea for all Sniper players.} 18. Nxf6 Qxf6 19. Ne2 Rc6 {Carlsen is very solid despite the backward d-pawn weakness. Not exactly the type of position Black wants, but it's solid enough for a draw. } 20. Nc3 Be6 21. Nd5 Bxd5 22. Qxd5 Qf4 23. Qd2 Qxd2 24. Rxd2 f5 {This position is a near certain draw at the top level. However, for lesser players, rook and pawn endings have twists and turns that can see the advantage swing to and fro like a pendulum.} 25. Re1 Kf6 26. c3 Ke6 27. Kc2 fxe4 28. Rxe4 Rec8 29. Kd3 b5 30. a4 a6 31. axb5 axb5 32. Rb4 Rc5 33. Re2 Rd5+ 34. Kc2 Rc4 35. Kb3 Rxb4+ 36. Kxb4 Kd7 37. b3 Kc6 38. Ra2 Kb6 39. Re2 Rd1 40. f4 exf4 41. Re6 Kc6 42. Rxg6 Rh1 43. c4 bxc4 44. bxc4 Rxh4 45. Rg5 Rg4 46. Rxh5 Rxg2 47. Rf5 Rf2 48. Kc3 f3 49. Kd4 Rf1 50. Ke3 Ra1 51. Kxf3 Rf1+ 52. Ke4 Rxf5 53. Kxf5 Kc5 54. Ke6 Kxc4 55. Kxd6 {Carlsen is quite happy to draw with his Sicilian Dragon, and an important feature is his willingness to accept a backward d-pawn by playing 17...e5. He does exactly the same in the next game, which was played a month later, and again he finds an easy route to drawing with Black.} 1/2-1/2 [Event "1st matchgame, Miskolc (rapid)"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "P.Leko"] [Black "M.Carlsen"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B78"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. O-O-O Rc8 11. Bb3 Ne5 12. Kb1 Re8 13. h4 h5 14. Bh6 Nc4 15. Bxc4 Rxc4 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Nd5 e5 18. Nxf6 Qxf6 19. Nb3 {Leko chooses a different retreat to Karjakin.} Rec8 20. Qxd6 Be6 {I was surprised to find that this d6-pawn sacrifice is quite viable. In my opinion, Black has enough for the pawn, and I could recommend this way of playing the Dragon if you are aiming for a draw.} 21. c3 b5 22. Qd2 {Black's initiative ensures a massive head start in the race to open a file on each other's king. Is this worth a pawn? Magnus seems to think so.} a5 $5 23. Qg5 (23. Nxa5 $1 {would have finished Carlsen off. For example,} Ra4 24. Nb3 b4 ({or} 24... Rca8 25. Qg5 Rxa2 26. Qxf6+ Kxf6 27. Nc5 {and the endgame is excellent for White}) 25. cxb4 Rxa2 26. Kxa2 Ra8+ 27. Kb1 Bxb3 28. Qe3 Bxd1 29. Rxd1 Qxh4 {is good for White.} ) 23... Qxg5 24. hxg5 a4 25. Nd2 R4c7 26. a3 Rd7 27. Kc1 f6 28. gxf6+ Kxf6 29. Nf1 Rxd1+ 30. Kxd1 Rd8+ 31. Ke1 Kg5 {Black's active king and control of the only open file compensate for the pawn deficit.} 32. g3 Rd3 33. Nd2 Bc4 34. Nxc4 bxc4 35. Ke2 Rd6 36. Rh2 1/2-1/2 [Event "1st matchgame, Leon (rapid)"] [Site "?"] [Date "2009.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "V.Ivanchuk"] [Black "M.Carlsen"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B76"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "101"] [EventDate "2009.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {In this and the next few games we will see Carlsen's approach to handling White's 9 0-0-0 as opposed to 9 Bc4.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. O-O-O ({Ivanchuk decides against} 9. Bc4 {and Carlsen heads for Konstantinov's 9...d5.}) 9... d5 10. exd5 (10. Qe1 {is examined in our second Leko-Carlsen encounter, below,}) ({and} 10. Kb1 {in Short-Carlsen.}) 10... Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bd4 ({The alternative} 12. Nxd5 {runs into problems in the forthcoming variation. Watch out for 17...Qc6! and then 18...Qc3!, which are important moves that could justify White's decision not to play this way:} cxd5 13. Qxd5 Qc7 14. Qc5 Qb7 15. Qa3 Bf5 16. Bd3 {(the following sequence by Black will probably put this move to sleep)} Rab8 17. b3 Qc6 $3 {(a star Sniper move which ensures an excellent position for Black)} 18. Bxf5 Qc3 $1 {. This 'in-between move' tactic puts an end to this as a theoretical contest as White is now struggling for equality:} 19. Bd3 Rbc8 $3 {(it may appear that Black is just a piece down but in fact White has a lost position!)} 20. Qa4 Rfd8 $1 {(with the simple idea of removing the c2 defender by ...Rxd3)} 21. b4 Rxd3 $1 22. Rxd3 Qa1+ $3 23. Kd2 Qxh1 24. Qxa7 Qxg2+ 25. Bf2 e5 26. a4 e4 27. fxe4 Bh6+ 28. Kd1 Qg4+ 29. Ke1 Qxe4+ {and Black wins easily.}) 12... Bxd4 (12... e5 {is the most usual move, but 12...Bxd4 seems to be a plausible alternative. This is one of the very few times when the Sniper bishop is exchanged by Black and he gets no 'little advantages'. However, the position is still completely level. Although the kingside is weakened, Black's coming initiative with ...Qb6 neutralizes any attack.}) 13. Qxd4 Qb6 {This seems to head for a level endgame.} 14. Na4 {Alternatively:} ({ a)} 14. Bc4 {is covered in the next game.}) ({b)} 14. Nxd5 cxd5 15. h4 (15. Qxb6 axb6 {is equal}) 15... h5 ({or} 15... Qxd4 16. Rxd4 e6 17. h5 g5 18. h6 Rd8 19. Bd3 e5 20. Ra4 Bb7 {when Black's better centre enables equality}) 16. Qxd5 Be6 17. Qd4 Qc7 18. Bd3 Rad8 19. Qb4 Bxa2 20. b3 Bxb3 21. Qxb3 Qf4+ 22. Rd2 Rd4 23. g3 Qxg3 24. c3 Rd7 25. Qa4 Rc7 26. Qd4 Rfc8 27. c4 Qxf3 28. Re1 Qh3 29. Bf1 Qa3+ {and Black stands better.}) 14... Qc7 {Carlsen avoids an endgame situation with a similar assessment to the text – tiny advantage for Black due to the better centralized knight.} 15. Bc4 Rd8 {The position is pretty balanced, although I would be quite happy to try and win here with Black.} 16. Bb3 Bf5 17. g4 Nf4 {Black takes advantage of the knight on the rim and takes over the initiative.} 18. Qe3 Be6 19. h4 Bxb3 20. axb3 Ng2 21. Rxd8+ Rxd8 22. Qe4 Qf4+ 23. Qxf4 Nxf4 {Black has a tiny advantage but a draw is the likely outcome. The Dragon is often associated with wild tactical complications, but in Magnus's hands it seems like a nice drawing method against his 2700 opponents. Magnus seems happy to do this and then up his rating when he has the white pieces.} 24. Nc3 h5 25. Re1 hxg4 26. fxg4 Ne6 27. Ne4 Kg7 28. b4 Rh8 29. Ng5 Nxg5 30. hxg5 e6 31. Re4 Rb8 32. Rc4 Rb5 33. Rxc6 Rxb4 34. c4 a5 35. Kb1 e5 36. Rc5 e4 37. Rxa5 Rxc4 38. Re5 e3 39. Rxe3 Rxg4 40. Re5 f5 41. gxf6+ Kxf6 42. Re8 g5 43. Kc2 Rf4 44. Rf8+ Ke5 45. Rxf4 Kxf4 46. b4 g4 47. b5 Ke5 48. b6 Kd6 49. b7 Kc7 50. b8=Q+ Kxb8 51. Kd3 1/2-1/2 [Event "3rd matchgame, Leon (rapid)"] [Site "?"] [Date "2009.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "V.Ivanchuk"] [Black "M.Carlsen"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B76"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "125"] [EventDate "2009.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {In this game, against the same opponent in the same match, Carlsen again heads for a drawish ending but overpresses and surprisingly loses.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 {SMOT: There will be plenty of Pure Sniper move orders in later chapters. For now be aware this can come from a Sniper move order.} 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. O-O-O d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bd4 Bxd4 13. Qxd4 Qb6 14. Bc4 {Ivanchuk shows his improvement over the previous game versus Carlsen, but although he goes on to win the game this position is completely balanced.} Qxd4 {Once again Carlsen is happy to exchange queens and enter a drawish ending.} 15. Rxd4 Nxc3 16. bxc3 {The ending is completely level, and this game should really have finished in a draw. It is interesting to watch Magnus overstretch at the thought of a draw with Black, even versus a 2746-rated player.} Rb8 17. Re1 Rb7 18. Re5 Rc7 19. a4 Kg7 20. a5 Kf6 21. Rc5 e6 22. h4 h6 23. f4 h5 24. Kd2 Ke7 25. Ke3 Rd8 26. g3 Rd6 27. Kd3 Rdd7 28. Kd2 Rd6 29. Ke3 Rdd7 30. Rd3 Rd6 31. Ke4 Rdd7 32. Kf3 Rd6 33. Ke3 Rdd7 34. Bb3 Rd6 35. Ba4 Ba6 36. Rd4 Bf1 37. Kf2 Ba6 38. Kf3 Bb7 39. Ke3 Rd5 40. Rdxd5 exd5 41. a6 Bxa6 ({Black could play} 41... Ba8 $5 42. Kd4 Kd6 43. c4 Re7 44. cxd5 cxd5 45. Rc8 Re4+ 46. Kd3 Rxa4 47. Rxa8 Rxa6 {, with an extra pawn. This variation should put 14 Bc4 under a cloud and confirm my opinion that White has no advantage in this line.}) 42. Rxc6 Rxc6 43. Bxc6 Kd6 44. Be8 Bc4 (44... Ke7 45. Ba4 Kd6 46. Kd4 {with a level ending.}) 45. Kd4 a5 46. Ba4 f6 47. Ke3 Ke7 48. Kd2 Ke6 49. Ke3 Ke7 50. Bc6 Kd6 51. Be8 Ke6 52. Bxg6 a4 53. Kd2 Be2 54. Kc1 a3 55. Kb1 d4 56. cxd4 Kd5 57. c3 Kc4 58. Ka2 Kxc3 59. d5 Bc4+ 60. Kxa3 Bxd5 61. Bxh5 Be4 62. Bf7 Kd4 63. h5 {Carlsen misplayed the ending and suffered a loss from a drawn position, but White will need something better than 10 exd5 to get some advantage in this line.} 1-0 [Event "5th matchgame, Miskolc (rapid)"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "P.Leko"] [Black "M.Carlsen"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B76"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "129"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will show Carlsen's handling of 10 Qe1.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. O-O-O d5 10. Qe1 {This peculiar queen retreat has the virtue of uncovering an X-ray attack on the queen with the d1-rook.} e5 ({The alternative is} 10... e6 $5 {and now:} 11. Z0 (11. exd5 Nxd5 12. Nxd5 exd5 {is fine for Black. He can look forward to counterplay on the e-file in this favourable 'Isolated Queen's Pawn' (IQP) position.}) (11. Kb1 {(in my early development of understanding complex middlegames I learned something very useful from Kasparov's games – he very often commenced an aggressive attack after a king move such as the one seen here)} Qe7 $1 {steps out of the line of fire from the d1-rook and safely prepares ...e5, and taking on e4 may also become viable for Black. For example, } 12. g4 dxe4 13. g5 Nd5 14. Nxe4 Nxe3 15. Nxc6 bxc6 16. Qxe3 Rb8 {with equal chances, as the superb knight is offset by the radiance of the Sniper bishop.}) (11. h4 e5 ({many games have gone down the complications of} 11... Qc7 12. h5) 12. Nxc6 bxc6 13. exd5 cxd5 14. Bg5 Be6 15. Bc4 {gives a nagging edge.})) 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. exd5 cxd5 13. Bg5 Be6 14. Bc4 Qc7 15. Bxf6 dxc4 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Nd5 Bxd5 18. Rxd5 {With most of the dynamism removed, winning chances for either side are diminished.} Rfe8 19. Qc3 Kg8 20. Qa5 Qe7 21. Re1 Qh4 22. Rdxe5 Rxe5 23. Qxe5 Rd8 24. h3 c3 25. Qxc3 Qg5+ 26. f4 Qxg2 27. b3 Qf2 28. Re4 Qg2 29. Rc4 Qd5 30. Kb2 Qf5 31. a4 h5 32. Qe3 a6 33. Rc5 Qf6+ 34. Qe5 Kg7 35. Qxf6+ Kxf6 36. Rc4 Kf5 37. b4 f6 38. Kc3 g5 39. fxg5 fxg5 40. Rc7 Rg8 41. Rh7 h4 42. b5 axb5 43. axb5 Kf4 44. Rd7 g4 45. hxg4 h3 46. Rh7 Kxg4 47. Kb4 Kg3 48. c4 Rg6 49. Ka5 Rg5 50. Kb4 Rg6 51. Rxh3+ Kxh3 52. c5 Rg4+ 53. Ka5 Rc4 54. Kb6 Kg4 55. Kc6 Kf5 56. Kd5 Rc1 57. b6 Rd1+ 58. Kc6 Ke6 59. b7 Rb1 60. Kc7 Kd5 61. c6 Rb2 62. Kd7 Rb6 63. c7 Rxb7 64. Kd8 Rxc7 65. Kxc7 1/2-1/2 [Event "London Chess Classic"] [Site "?"] [Date "2009.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "N.Short"] [Black "M.Carlsen"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B76"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "141"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {In this, the final game of this section, Carlsen shows a very creative way of dealing with 10 Kb1.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. O-O-O d5 10. Kb1 {Short's attempt to improve over other 10th moves that Magnus has easily neutralized.} Nxd4 11. e5 { This surprising in-between move suddenly requires some calculation. Magnus chooses to pressure the e3-bishop.} Nf5 12. exf6 exf6 {Ambitious play from Magnus: he accepts a terrible pawn weakness at d5 in return for dynamic counterplay.} 13. Bc5 d4 {Another surprising move, as Magnus offers 'the exchange'. Short is happy with the extra material.} 14. Bxf8 Qxf8 15. Nb5 Ne3 { Black has full compensation for the two units sacrificed. The initiative, an excellent placement for the knight and the potential pressure from the Sniper bishop offer superb compensation and a lot more fun. If this is the best White can get from playing 10 Kb1, then it has to join the potato peelings on the compost heap.} 16. Rc1 Bh6 $1 {The Sniper bishop shows its versatility and changes its line of sight, eyeing up the c1-rook.} 17. Qxd4 Nf5 18. Qc3 Bxc1 19. Kxc1 Bd7 {Black secures a small advantage. A slight lead in development, a safer king in the short and long-term, and pressure on the b5-knight weave together in order to help make Black's position a bit more pleasant.} 20. Bd3 Rc8 21. Qd2 Bxb5 22. Bxb5 Qc5 23. Bd3 Ne3 24. Re1 Re8 25. Qf2 f5 (25... Re5 $5 26. c3 f5 27. Re2 Re6 28. f4 {continues to pose White problems.}) 26. f4 Qd4 27. g3 Re6 28. Qd2 Ng4 29. h3 Rxe1+ 30. Qxe1 Nf2 31. Bf1 Ne4 32. Bg2 b6 33. c3 Qd3 34. g4 Ng3 35. b3 Ne2+ 36. Kb2 Kf8 37. Bc6 fxg4 38. hxg4 h5 39. gxh5 gxh5 40. a4 a6 41. f5 h4 42. Bg2 Ng3 43. f6 Qd6 44. Qf2 Kg8 45. b4 a5 46. bxa5 bxa5 47. Kc2 Kh7 48. c4 Qa3 49. Be4+ Kg8 50. Qf4 Qxa4+ 51. Kd2 Nxe4+ 52. Qxe4 Qa2+ 53. Kc3 Qa1+ 54. Kb3 Qd1+ $2 ({After} 54... Qxf6 $1 {Black has all the winning chances. In the game Carlsen errs and ends up having to find some accurate moves to draw.}) 55. Kb2 Qh5 56. c5 h3 57. c6 a4 58. Ka2 Qd1 59. Qe8+ Kh7 60. Qxf7+ Kh6 61. c7 Qc2+ 62. Ka3 h2 63. Qg7+ Kh5 64. Qh8+ Kg6 65. Qg8+ Kxf6 66. c8=Q Qxc8 67. Qxc8 h1=Q 68. Qa6+ Ke5 69. Qb5+ Qd5 70. Kxa4 Qxb5+ 71. Kxb5 { Magnus made White's 10 Kb1 look poor. An excellent exchange sacrifice made full use of the weakened e3-square. Except for the final stages Short was never in the game and was lucky to draw.} 1/2-1/2 [Event "British Championship, Scarborough"] [Site "?"] [Date "2004.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "G.Jones"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "115"] [EventDate "2004.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will show the value of a good centralized knight over a good bishop, or even over the bishop pair. The damaged pawn structure White has to accept is a result of the Sniper Sacrifice – in other words, the g7-bishop exchanges itself for White's c3-knight. This martyrdom is to ensure the black knights will have good control over the centre and the white bishop operating on the dark squares will not be able to use the a1-h8 diagonal, thus forcing it to a diagonal it is not completely comfortable with.} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 {The Sniper hides within its little mound, protected and camouflaged from attack. It will eye up any adversary on the long diagonal and restrict their movements. It will often coordinate a team attack on d4, c3 or b2. This is the nature of the Sniper System.} 3. Nc3 c5 {We at last come to the Pure Sniper move order.} 4. dxc5 {This is one of the more interesting positions that can materialize through playing the Pure Sniper move order.} Bxc3+ $1 {One of the major themes of the Sniper is the willingness of the Sniper bishop to achieve martyrdom! Time after time we will see this exchange, as the Sniper bishop reasons that a number of dynamic factors arrive in Black's favour to justify the trade. A quick snapshot of the diagram position reveals that the c-file could be used for Black's rooks, Black has an extra central pawn for later central thrusts, and the queen will gain some initiative if she moves to a5.} 5. bxc3 Qa5 { For those looking for some extra opening camouflage they can try:} ({a)} 5... Nc6 $5 {preventing 6 Qd4 (see Mascarinas-Adianto and Masserey-Adianto).}) ({b) } 5... Nf6 $5 {reaches a novel position with equal chances, as after} 6. e5 Ne4 7. Bc4 Qa5 8. Ne2 Nxc5 9. Qd5 e6 10. Qf3 Nc6 {Black is fine. To date, there is practically no theory on 5...Nf6.}) 6. Bd3 Qxc3+ {It's not really the pawns that Black is after; it's more about reducing the central control that these pawns can give.} 7. Bd2 {Black has achieved his mini-aim of trying to keep the white bishop off its favoured diagonal, and this gives him time to organize an excellent defence/counterplay setup.} Qxc5 8. Rb1 {This aggressive move looks to bring the rook to the centre or kingside via b5, when the position can become completely unclear.} d6 {Black is three moves behind in development, and normally this would be enough to give White more than enough compensation for the pawn and damaged pawn structure. However, White's pieces are developed on non-aggressive squares, and they will have to move a second time to achieve a threatening position.} 9. Rb5 {It looks like the rook is actively placed, but it is actually just on a square that will allow Black to catch up on development with a move like ...Bd7 or ...Ba6 in the near future.} Qc7 10. Qa1 {This queen move takes full advantage of the missing Sniper bishop. The question is, are the black knights capable of defending the squares the Sniper has left behind?} Nf6 11. Bc3 (11. Bh6 {is examined in the next game.}) 11... Nbd7 {White has claimed the long diagonal but what now? How can he make further progress? The black knights neutralize the pressure and Black can start to play against White's weak pawn structure. Black may claim a small edge as he has far fewer targets that can be attacked and the better pawn structure. White would like to make use of the long dark diagonal, but Black has more than enough resources to win the battle as the black knights are ready to support key central squares and thus neutralize the power of the two bishops. The knights' defensive coordination and extra central pawn are what really attracts me to Black's setup. Not only does he have an extra pawn, but White's c2/a2 pawn structure is very weak too.} 12. f4 O-O 13. Ne2 b6 {Black angles for some defensive comfort via exchanges with ...Ba6 then capturing on d3.} 14. O-O Nc5 {A well-centralized knight is as good as or better than White's excellent c3-bishop.} 15. e5 {White is playing to force the pace but holes are also developing in his own position.} Ng4 16. h3 Nxd3 17. cxd3 Ba6 { The in-between move and the in-between idea are the kings of all chess tactics. Always, always, always search for these, especially in Sniper middlegames.} 18. Rb2 Ne3 {The knight enters a hole that was left behind when White invested heavily in the attack with 12 f4.} 19. Rf3 Nd5 20. exd6 Qxd6 21. Be5 Qd7 22. f5 f6 {I have so much respect for the ...f6 move. It can throw a spanner in the works of so many White attacks.} 23. Bh2 gxf5 24. Nd4 f4 $1 {Suppressing the white pieces at the cost of a pawn, but with the resulting exchanges it becomes clear that Black will gain a decisive advantage.} 25. Bxf4 e5 26. Bh6 exd4 27. Bxf8 Rxf8 28. Rbf2 Nc3 29. Qc1 Nd5 30. Rg3+ Kh8 31. Qb2 Ne7 32. Rg4 Rd8 33. Qa3 f5 34. Rh4 Qe6 35. Rhf4 b5 36. Qb2 Qe1+ 37. Kh2 Qe5 38. g3 Bb7 39. Re2 Qd5 40. Rf1 {This position lends much weight to the argument of playing the Pure Sniper. It was inexcusable on my part for not converting it into a full point; although in my defence may I say it was not wise to organize a 'blind date' during the national championship!} Ng6 (40... f4 $1 41. gxf4 Rg8 42. Rg1 Rxg1 43. Kxg1 Nf5 {wins for Black.}) 41. Ref2 f4 42. gxf4 Nh4 43. Qe2 Ng6 $6 (43... Rg8 $1 44. Qe5+ Qxe5 45. fxe5 Bg2 46. e6 Bxf1 47. e7 Bxd3 48. Rf8 Bg6 {reaches a winning position for Black.}) 44. Qg4 Rg8 45. Qg5 Qd6 46. Re2 Rf8 47. Ref2 b4 48. Qg3 Rg8 49. Rg1 Ne7 50. Qh4 Rxg1 51. Kxg1 Qc6 52. Re2 Nf5 53. Qg5 Qh1+ $2 54. Kf2 Qf3+ 55. Ke1 Qg3+ $2 {Talking with your blind date during a game is not recommended!} (55... Qh1+ $1 56. Kd2 Qc6 57. Qxf5 Qc3+ 58. Kd1 Qa1+ 59. Kd2 Qc3+ {is a draw.}) 56. Qxg3 Nxg3 57. Re8+ Kg7 58. Re7+ { A painful loss for the author, but nevertheless a major triumph for one of the key Pure Sniper systems of 4...Bxc3+!. White must be very confident in his attacking skills if he is to allow Black to rupture his pawns in this manner, otherwise Sniper players will be very happy to pick up easy points. After reflecting on my loss in this game it made me more determined to prove the Sniper System was 100% theoretically and practically sound so I persevered with it.} 1-0 [Event "British Championship, Torquay"] [Site "?"] [Date "2009.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "T.Gavriel"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2009.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {Here's another demonstration in the power of centralized knights over bishops in a Pure Sniper:} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c5 {The Pure Sniper.} 4. dxc5 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 Qa5 6. Bd3 {Although in my opinion 6 Bd3 is not the best move for White to meet this Sniper Sacrifice, it is probably the most aggressive. There may be some way on a 'quantum level' to justify Black's weak dark squares, and if that is true I suspect 6 Bd3 will be the way for White to prove it. My current assessment of this position is that it is practically better for Black, remembering of course that human beings are not capable of 'quantum-level chess', at least not with any consistency!} (6. Qd4 {is covered in the next game.}) 6... Qxc3+ 7. Bd2 Qxc5 8. Rb1 {Of course Tryfon had seen my game against Gawain Jones. He still liked White's position and was happy to play the same moves.} d6 9. Rb5 Qc7 10. Qa1 Nf6 11. Bh6 {Excellent dark-square attacking by Tryfon, but moving the bishop to this offensive square is neglecting central duties. It normally takes three pieces to mount an effective attack on a king.} Rg8 {This move emphasizes the neglect of the bishop's central responsibilities. Perhaps trapping the bishop with ...g5 and . ..Rg6 may become a factor.} 12. Bd2 Nbd7 13. Ne2 Nc5 {The point of the Sniper Sacrifice is revealed with this move: this knight is immune to pawn attacks and is easily better than any white minor piece. It is worth pointing out that a knight may get to this square from d7, a6 or e6 in the Sniper.} 14. f3 b6 15. Qd4 {Black must guard against White playing f4 successfully.} g5 {This deals with the f4 threat and gives life to the g8-rook. Please note the pawn structure around the black king.} 16. h3 h5 17. h4 gxh4 18. Qf2 h3 19. gxh3 Nfd7 20. Rg1 Rf8 {Note here that Black is much better. Bruce Lee had a famous quote that has a parallel here: 'The art of fighting without fighting!' Well, here's my effort: 'The art of castling without castling!'} 21. Rg5 Ne5 22. Nf4 Ncxd3+ 23. Nxd3 Ba6 {If the rook's position can't be exploited in the opening, it can be used for some initiative-gaining middlegame objective.} 24. Rbxe5 dxe5 25. Nb4 Bc4 26. Qe3 O-O-O {Another advantage of delaying ...0-0 is that Black can 'teleport' his king to the queenside. An exchange up and with a safer king, Black can also look forward to attacking the weak pawn structure.} 27. Bc3 f6 {My favourite move in the Sniper weakens the white bishop's range.} 28. Rxh5 Rg8 29. Nd5 Bxd5 30. exd5 Rxd5 {A good demonstration in the dangers of White attacking Black's strong pawn structure. Black's king in the centre was well covered by the unmoved pawns and Black was able to operate effectively on the flanks.} 0-1 [Event "Dieren"] [Site "?"] [Date "2002.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "P.Span"] [Black "K.Van der Weide (variation)"] [Result "*"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "2002.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will see a key feature of the Sniper in an area that has had limited theoretical coverage – the 8...b6 pawn sacrifice. It will show the pressure Black gets against White's weak queenside pawn structure and how Black can gain great activity playing in what I would term 'Benko-style' (there are many features akin to the Benko Gambit Accepted). The reader should be aware of the weakness of the b6-pawn and how relatively weak all three white queenside pawns are in terms of compensation.} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c5 4. dxc5 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 Qa5 6. Qd4 {A good attempt at refuting Black's play. In fact if it wasn't for the ...b6 pawn sacrifice idea then the whole Sniper system would be busted. It is my opinion that with the ...b6 pawn sacrifice Black is at least equal, and it is this discovery that makes the Sniper extremely viable.} Nf6 7. Bd2 $5 {Black must be precise to equalize here. I first encountered 7 Bd2 against Scottish IM Steve Mannion and found it to be quite a tough nut to crack. Thankfully there is a way, otherwise I would not be writing this book!} (7. Qb4 {is seen in the next game.}) 7... Nc6 (7... b6 { can also be played but it makes sense to get a free development move in first.} ) 8. Qe3 b6 $3 ({Without going into details too deeply, I will say that this is the only move and it has to be played now, not for example} 8... O-O { and then 9...b6.}) 9. cxb6 Qxb6 $1 {I believe this is the move which easily equalizes for Black, and the rest of this game will be replaced by my own analysis. Black shouldn't fear the endgame after a queen exchange on b6. He gets excellent activity for his rooks down the a- and/or c- files. What then happens is that Black has more space and strong pressure which often translates into winning of one of the pawns. If the first pawn is won then naturally the second pawn will also come under incredible pressure. Then guess what? I think you get the picture. This type of play resembles positions seen in a Benko Gambit, although there are some differences and I would argue it's even better for Black than in the Benko. The Benko was so respected by Kasparov that he never accepted the free pawn on offer. I hope I am putting forward a good argument for the Pure Sniper ...b6 sacrifice here.} ({The alternative} 9... axb6 {was played in the Span-Van der Weide game. A quick snapshot shows that Black has sacrificed a pawn for some useful advantages: pressure down the a- and c-files, an extra central pawn and superior development. The game continued} 10. Nf3 Qc5 $5 {(again Black seeks the endgame despite being a pawn down)} 11. Bd3 Ng4 12. Qe2 O-O 13. O-O d6 14. Rfb1 Nge5 15. Rb5 Nxf3+ 16. Qxf3 Ne5 17. Qe3 Qxe3 18. Bxe3 Ba6 19. Rxb6 Nxd3 20. cxd3 Bxd3 21. f3 Rfc8 22. Rb7 Kf8 23. a4 Rxc3 24. a5 Ba6 25. Ra7 {and a draw was agreed here.}) {Back to my analysis, with assistance from Rybka.} 10. Qxb6 axb6 11. f3 O-O 12. Kf2 Ba6 {Here my Rybka engine claims a small advantage for White, but this is an example of the Dilution Principle. Up to move 34 the best Rybka moves, monitored by me, are played by either side, whereupon the assessment changes to small edge for Black. This phenomenon is found frequently in the Benko Gambit Accepted and other openings involving long-lasting pressure or initiative. It's a style of play that Anand – the current world champion – has employed in his own games, so there is hope for humans against the machines!} (12... Ne5 $5 13. Bf4 d6 14. Bd3 Be6 15. a4 Bd7 16. Ne2 Bxa4 17. c4 {reaches a balanced endgame.}) 13. Bxa6 Rxa6 14. Ne2 Rfa8 15. Rhb1 Ne5 16. Bg5 Kg7 17. a4 h6 18. Be3 Nc4 {It is this superb position of Black's knight on c4, playing against White's poor queenside pawn structure, that justifies the pawn deficit and promises Black full equality.} 19. Rb4 Rc8 {Black must maintain the knight and offer White an option to overstretch.} 20. Rd1 d6 21. Bd4 e5 22. Be3 Rc6 23. g4 h5 24. h3 Ra8 25. Bc1 hxg4 26. hxg4 { It's a level position but there are some attacking prospects for Black if he can organize ...f5 later on.} Ne8 {The start of the knight's 'tour of duty'.} 27. Rh1 Nc7 28. Bg5 Na6 (28... Ne6 $5 {is also possible.}) 29. Rb5 Nc5 { The knight gets to its favourite square in the Sniper Sacrifice position where it monitors the centre, especially e4.} 30. Bh6+ Kg8 31. Bg5 Kg7 {The king defends the weak dark square f6.} 32. Bh6+ Kf6 33. Ra1 Ke7 34. Nc1 f5 {The Dilution Principle is in full effect: the 'best moves' have been played since 12...Ba6 and Black now has a small advantage – Hooray for the Sniper! This line of analysis shows how well the black knights can influence the position from the c-file and how White's weakened queenside pawns can be pressured.} * [Event "Chelmsford"] [Site "?"] [Date "2001.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "C.Desmarais"] [Black "J.Fang"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "84"] [EventDate "2001.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c5 4. dxc5 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 Qa5 (5... Nc6 {is a bid to confuse White, creating a modern and unique Sniper position. This is seen in the next two games.}) 6. Qd4 Nf6 7. Qb4 Nc6 $5 {Attempting to enter a ...b6 gambit position via this route is also recommended for Black. Again the Dilution Principle will take effect, coming to full fruition in Black's favour some 5-7 moves later.} 8. Qxa5 Nxa5 9. Bd3 O-O 10. Ne2 b6 11. cxb6 axb6 12. Be3 d5 {Black's pieces will soon all be active and targeting White's weak pawn structure.} 13. Bxb6 dxe4 {Suddenly Black's pressure in the centre and gain of time pass a favourable assessment to him. With the Dilution Principle activated Black is very happy. One of the great advantages of playing the Sniper is that there are many favourable and stealthy Dilution Principle positions.} 14. Bb5 Ba6 $1 {The trading of the light-squared bishops gives Black great squares for his knights to utilize.} 15. Bxa5 Bxb5 16. Bb4 Nd5 17. Nd4 Bc4 {Black has a good share of the centre, and White's queenside pawn 'assets' simply suppress their own rooks' activity and are more like sitting ducks.} 18. a3 Rac8 ({Much better was} 18... Rfc8 $1 {when both rooks pile on the pressure against the weak pawns.}) 19. O-O-O Nxb4 20. axb4 e5 21. Nb3 Bxb3 22. cxb3 Rxc3+ 23. Kb2 Rd3 {Black has the better ending and White is struggling to draw.} 24. Rc1 Rb8 25. Rc4 Rd2+ 26. Kc3 Rxf2 {The seventh rank falls, and Black's control of the centre is still a very relevant factor even in the endgame.} 27. Rxe4 f6 28. Rc4 Kf7 {It is always important not to have the king imprisoned on the back row.} 29. g4 Rf3+ 30. Kc2 Rh3 31. Rc7+ Ke6 32. Rd1 e4 {This ensures victory. The black king has cover from the bombardment of the tanks as it moves through the centre and offers support to promoting the pawns.} 33. Rdd7 Ke5 34. Rxh7 Rxh7 35. Rxh7 Kf4 36. Re7 f5 37. gxf5 gxf5 38. Kc3 Ke3 39. Kc4 f4 40. b5 f3 41. Kc5 f2 42. Rf7 Ke2 {It is often the side whose king first controls the centre in the ending that wins the game, and not the side with the most pawns.} 0-1 [Event "Vung Tau"] [Site "?"] [Date "2000.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "R.Mascarinas"] [Black "U.Adianto"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "97"] [EventDate "2000.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This and the next game will show an ingenious way of preventing Qd4 (by way of 5...Nc6!?) before playing ...Qa5. The first of these emphasizes the importance of playing ...b6 rather than ...d6. Black chooses the latter but gets mauled.} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c5 4. dxc5 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 Nc6 $5 ({ Preventing Qd4 with this move is a very interesting and viable alternative to} 5... Qa5 {. The only downside of this move is that it becomes far more difficult for this knight to get to its best square in the Sniper Sacrifice position, which is of course c5.}) 6. Be3 Qa5 7. Qd2 Nf6 8. f3 O-O 9. Ne2 (9. Bd3 {is seen in the next game.}) 9... Rd8 $6 ({The X-ray attack on the queen could spell danger for White, but it is much better to play the recommended ... b6 gambit sooner rather than later:} 9... b6 $1 {.}) 10. c4 Qxd2+ 11. Kxd2 d6 { Black is soon struggling, and this game clearly shows the value of keeping central pawns rather than wing pawns. Translated, this means that Black should always look to exchange the pawns furthest away from the centre (the b6-pawn) rather than ones in the centre (the d6-pawn), as indicated by the Storey Pawn Scale.} 12. cxd6 Rxd6+ 13. Kc1 Rd8 14. Nc3 Nd7 {This position has similar properties to a Sämisch King's Indian gambit which has proved to be good for Black, but here the b-file is useful for the white rook.} 15. Nd5 Kg7 16. c5 e6 17. Nc7 Rb8 18. Nb5 Nf6 19. Rb1 Ne8 20. Bc4 a6 21. Nc3 Bd7 {Black has become cramped, White's extra pawn is useful and all of his pieces have valuable functions when the h1-rook arrives.} 22. Rd1 Na5 23. Bxa6 {Under pressure Adianto blunders a pawn. He was surely wishing he had played the ...b6 gambit at this juncture.} e5 24. Bf1 Nc6 25. Nd5 Be6 26. a4 Rdc8 27. Bb5 Nf6 28. Nb6 Rc7 29. c3 Na5 30. Kc2 Ne8 31. Nd5 Rcc8 32. Be2 Nc7 33. g4 h5 34. gxh5 Nxd5 35. exd5 Bf5+ 36. Kb2 Bxb1 37. Rxb1 f5 38. Kc2 f4 39. Bf2 Rh8 40. h4 Rxh5 41. c6 Rc8 42. Rb5 Nxc6 43. Rxb7+ Kf6 44. dxc6 Rxc6 45. a5 e4 46. Bd4+ Ke6 47. fxe4 Rxh4 48. Kb3 g5 49. Bb5 {This was an instructive game that showed how bad Black's position can become if he does not play the ...b6 gambit early. A 2500+ rated player got into a poor position with no chance of escape. In the next game the same player doesn't make the same mistake.} 1-0 [Event "Lausanne"] [Site "?"] [Date "2001.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Y.Masserey"] [Black "U.Adianto"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "151"] [EventDate "2001.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c5 4. dxc5 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 Nc6 6. Be3 Qa5 7. Qd2 Nf6 8. f3 O-O 9. Bd3 b6 {Again the Dilution Principle position commences. Black offers a pawn in exchange for pressure down the a- and c-files.} 10. cxb6 axb6 11. Ne2 d5 {The ...d5 advance is very frequently played in the Sniper Sacrifice.} 12. Nd4 Ne5 13. Nb3 Qa4 {The Dilution Principle from 9...b6 is triggered. Black now has a small advantage: his knights are well placed, as is the queen, all pressuring the centre. White's weaknesses on the queenside will also become irritations for him.} 14. exd5 Nxd5 15. O-O Nc4 {Although White is strong on the dark squares because of the Sniper Sacrifice, this also means that, relatively speaking, Black will be stronger on the light squares.} 16. Bxc4 Qxc4 17. Bd4 f6 {My favourite move appears again. This pawn blunts the white bishop and prepares central expansion with initiative.} 18. Qf2 Ba6 19. Rfe1 Qc6 20. a4 e5 21. Be3 {I prefer Black's pressure on the light squares to White's on the dark squares.} Rfc8 22. a5 bxa5 23. Rxa5 Nxc3 24. Nc5 Bc4 25. Rxa8 Rxa8 26. Qd2 Nd5 27. Bf2 Re8 28. Ne4 Kg7 29. Nc3 Nf4 30. Ne4 Bd5 31. Bg3 Bxe4 32. Bxf4 Bf5 33. Be3 Qc7 34. c3 Rd8 35. Qb2 Rd3 36. Bb6 Qc6 37. Bf2 Rxc3 { The Benko-style attack is completed and the queenside pawns are won. The question now is, can Black win this opposite-colour bishop early endgame? Whatever the outcome, the opening has been a complete success for the Sniper Sacrifice.} 38. Qb6 Qd7 39. Qa7 Rc7 40. Qa3 h5 41. Qe3 Qa4 42. Qb6 Rd7 43. Qb8 Qc2 44. Qe8 Qc7 45. Be3 Qc3 46. Bf2 Qc6 47. h3 Be6 48. Be3 Bf7 49. Qb8 Qc3 50. Bf2 g5 51. Qb6 Bg6 52. Qe3 Qb2 53. Qb6 Qc2 54. Be3 Qd3 55. Bf2 Bf5 {After some careful approach work Black is on the verge of playing ...g4 which will contribute to a major weakening of the white king.} 56. Qe3 Qc2 57. Qc5 Qb2 58. Qc1 Qb3 59. Qe3 Qa4 60. Qc5 g4 {The pawn advance arrives and the final attack begins.} 61. hxg4 hxg4 62. Bg3 gxf3 63. gxf3 {The effect of 60...g4 becomes apparent: the white king is exposed.} Kh7 64. Kf2 Qa2+ 65. Re2 Qf7 66. f4 Rd5 67. Qc1 Bg4 68. Rd2 Qa7+ 69. Kg2 Qe3 70. Qc7+ Kh6 71. Rxd5 Bf3+ 72. Kh3 Qe2 { The light squares are fatally weakened and the rook capture is just a distraction.} 73. Qd7 Bg2+ 74. Kh2 Bxd5+ 75. Kh3 Bg2+ 76. Kh2 {A great example to justify the Sniper Sacrifice. This game showed once again the value of ... b6 and the Benko-style pressure against White's queenside weaknesses. Black's pressure on the light squares was considerably faster than White's pressure on the dark squares.} 0-1 [Event "Gausdal"] [Site "?"] [Date "1983.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "E.Mortensen"] [Black "R.Keene"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B27"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "89"] [EventDate "1983.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will see the Pterodactyl take flight! It will show that Ray Keene was a visionary in his unveiling of this incredible idea, and with a few refinements he could have had a dinosaur far superior to even Tyrannosaurus Rex! Keep an eye out for my tweak 12...0-0!!, making Keene's idea completely valid.} 1. e4 c5 {The Sicilian Sniper move order is played.} 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 Bg7 4. Nc3 Qa5 {A fascinating Sicilian Dragon materializes, as Black has chosen not to capture on d4 thus keeping the central tension. This line was coined 'The Pterodactyl' by Raymond Keene and Lawrence Day – that is ...g6, ... Bg7, ...c5 and ...Qa5 against the White Sicilian setup. For clarity, and to show that it can be encountered if you are a Sniper practitioner, I will refer to 4...Qa5 as a Sniper Pterodactyl. I think these two guys were way ahead of their time playing this variation.} 5. d5 {White has two other reasonable tries with 5 Be3 or 5 Be2:} ({a)} 5. Be3 Nf6 6. Qd2 cxd4 7. Nxd4 Nc6 8. Nb3 Qc7 9. Be2 d6 10. h4 Be6 $5 {leaves Black with a promising middlegame} ({and} 10... h5 $5 {is also playable.})) ({b)} 5. Be2 {is a passive approach that gives Black an easy ride,} Z0 ({but} 5... Nc6 {should be avoided as after} 6. d5 Nd4 7. O-O Nxf3+ 8. Bxf3 Be5 9. Bg5 d6 10. Qd2 Nf6 11. Bf4 Bxf4 12. Qxf4 O-O 13. e5 {Black will struggle to equalize in the centre.}) ({Instead, after the stronger } 5... Nf6 {White has a choice:} 6. Z0 (6. e5 Nd5 7. Bd2 cxd4 8. Nb5 Qb6 9. O-O O-O {when Black has the better position with good pressure on the e5-pawn.}) ( 6. O-O cxd4 7. Nxd4 Nc6 8. Be3 O-O 9. f4 d6 10. Nb3 {(although this knight move gains a tempo, the net effect is that it is removed from the centre and, more so, from any attack on the black king)} Qc7 11. Qd2 Bg4 12. Bd3 Be6 13. Rae1 Rad8 ({Black can also consider} 13... Ng4 $5 {, as hunting White's dark-squared bishop is certainly useful:} 14. Nd5 Qd8 {(it is generally a good idea to delay capturing the knight on d5 for a few moves, or simply to play around it for the entire game)} 15. c3 Nxe3 16. Rxe3 Rb8 {(it is very difficult for White to break through as the g7-bishop becomes a stout defender) } 17. f5 Bxd5 18. exd5 Ne5 {; Black has a simple defence on the dark squares and can also look forward to some initiative with a later ...Qb6+}) 14. f5 Bd7 15. Nb5 Qb8 16. h3 a6 17. Nc3 b5 {with plenty of queenside counterplay and access to e5 for the black knight which should ensure adequate defensive resources against any kingside assault by White.}))) 5... Bxc3+ {Yet another effective Sniper Sacrifice.} 6. bxc3 Nf6 $1 ({A gain of a tempo that fully justifies 5...Bxc3+. This is much better than} 6... Qxc3+ {which allows tremendous activity for White.}) 7. Nd2 (7. Bd3 {is seen in the next game,}) ({ and} 7. e5 {is covered in Thavandiran-Day.}) 7... Qxc3 {A brave acceptance of the sacrificed pawn. Black's position is dangerous but if the minefield is carefully navigated he will come out with a small advantage. This capture was not recommended one move earlier, but the development of the g8-knight makes it far more attractive for Black.} 8. Rb1 Nxe4 {Central pawns in general should be captured and this position is no exception.} 9. Rb3 (9. Bd3 Nxd2 10. Bxd2 Qe5+ {is okay for Black.}) 9... Qd4 {Black's moves must be precise here otherwise White will gain a quick victory.} 10. Nxe4 Qxe4+ 11. Re3 Qd4 { Black is okay after this move.} 12. Qe2 e6 $6 {I cannot recommend this move, and perhaps the resulting position discouraged players from repeating this Jurassically-named variation.} ({Well, the Sniper can resurrect this killer bird with} 12... O-O $3 {. Black gives back the e-pawn but enables a rapid catch-up in development and counterplay against the overly developed white rook:} 13. Rxe7 Na6 14. Bh6 d6 $1 {(Black has to offer material otherwise he can quickly end up lost)} 15. Bxf8 Kxf8 16. Re8+ Kg7 {. Initially this looks very dangerous for Black, but when we look a little deeper it becomes clear that Black is doing very well on account of a future ...Nc7. For example,} 17. Qe7 $6 ({or} 17. Qc4 Qf6 18. Re3 Nb4 19. a3 b5 20. Qc3 Qxc3+ 21. Rxc3 Nxd5 22. Rd3 Bb7 {and again Black is winning}) 17... Qc3+ 18. Kd1 Bg4+ 19. f3 Rxe8 { followed by...Bxf3+ is a nice full point for the Sniper.}) 13. c4 Qa1 $6 ({ Black is better advised to castle here instead of this provocative gesture:} 13... O-O $1 14. Bb2 Qf4 15. Be5 $6 (15. Rf3 Qc7 16. Qe3 d6 17. Qh6 {is a bit of an unclear mess}) 15... Qg5 16. h4 Qd8 17. h5 d6 18. Bc3 (18. hxg6 fxg6 19. Rxh7 $5 {is interesting}) 18... e5 {(Black's 'Bermuda Triangle' central pawn setup locks out the dangerous bishop)} 19. hxg6 fxg6 20. f4 Nd7 21. g3 Qb6 $1 22. Bg2 Nf6 23. O-O Ng4 24. Ref3 e4 25. Qxe4 Bf5 26. Qe7 Rf7 27. Qe2 Qc7 28. Re1 Kf8 $1 {. Black defended successfully and still has an extra pawn in reserve.}) 14. Qc2 Na6 15. a3 d6 16. Bd3 Bd7 {Black is clearly worse here, and I must refer the reader back to 12...0-0!! to keep the Pterodactyl alive.} 17. O-O Qg7 18. Bb2 e5 19. f4 f6 20. fxe5 fxe5 21. Ref3 O-O-O 22. Rf7 {White's penetration via f7 yields a big advantage.} Qh6 23. Qf2 Bf5 24. Bxf5+ gxf5 25. Qxf5+ Kb8 {White is now clearly winning due to four main reasons: f-file domination, Bc1 threats, the d6 weakness and the poor position of the a6-knight.} 26. Bc1 Qh4 27. Bg5 Qd4+ 28. Kh1 Rc8 29. Qd7 Nc7 30. Be7 Ka8 31. Bxd6 Rhd8 32. Qf5 Na6 33. Bxe5 Qxc4 34. d6 Nb8 35. Rb1 Qd5 36. Rc7 Rg8 37. Qf3 Qxf3 38. gxf3 Rxc7 39. dxc7 Nc6 40. Rd1 b5 41. Rd5 Kb7 42. Bd6 Kb6 43. Rxc5 a5 44. f4 Na7 45. Rh5 {Although the game itself was a mauling for Black, Keene's opening idea was sound. The Sniper can resurrect the Pterodactyl with the incredible new discovery 12...0-0!!, returning the e-pawn and maintaining a small advantage. The Sniper Pterodactyl lives!} 1-0 [Event "Swiss League"] [Site "?"] [Date "1999.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "V.Atlas"] [Black "F.Velikhanli"] [Result "*"] [ECO "B27"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "32"] [EventDate "1999.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game also arises from the Pterodactyl. The Sniper Sacrifice allows Black to win the e4-pawn with a ...c4 tactic and acquire excellent compensation after an exchange sacrifice.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. d4 Qa5 5. d5 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Nf6 7. Bd3 c4 {This cute pawn move fully justifies Black's previous play, as a white centre pawn will be captured.} 8. Be2 Nxe4 9. Qd4 { This common tactical device of a double attack by White nearly always fails on account of Black's counter-tactics against the weakened c3-pawn.} O-O 10. Bh6 Qxc3+ 11. Qxc3 Nxc3 {Black offers the exchange but gains ample compensation in the form of extra central pawns and an active knight – Black's position is preferable.} 12. Bxf8 Kxf8 13. Bxc4 b5 14. Kd2 Ne4+ 15. Ke3 Nxf2 16. Kxf2 bxc4 {A draw was agreed on move 73, but I have omitted the remaining moves because it is only the opening that is especially instructive.} * [Event "Todd Southam Memorial, Toronto"] [Site "?"] [Date "2004.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "S.Thavandiran"] [Black "L.Day"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B27"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "2004.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will demonstrate an excellent win by one of the pioneers of this system, Lawrence Day, who developed a reputation for playing sound, creative openings and must take credit for resurrecting the Pterodactyl.} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c5 4. Nf3 Qa5 5. d5 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Nf6 $1 7. e5 $2 {This shows how some White players might forget that their c-pawn may well be captured effectively.} Nxd5 {White may have missed this tactic. Black simply goes a central pawn up and should go on to win.} 8. Bd2 Qa4 {Black exploits the weakened a4-square. Thanks to the Sniper Sacrifice, the queen can sit safely and menacingly in the white camp with direct pressure on the weak queenside pawns, which in turn prevents the white pieces from activating successfully.} ( 8... Qa3 $1 {is a serious alternative, as she also sits here with immunity. For example,} 9. c4 Nc3 {(forcing a queen trade, after which White's poor pawn structure remains but Black's weak dark squares are more difficult to take advantage of)} 10. Qc1 Qxc1+ 11. Bxc1 Na4 12. Rb1 f6 {(my favourite move again appears, and here it confirms Black's small advantage)} 13. exf6 exf6 14. Bd3 Kf7 15. O-O Re8 {and White has no compensation for the pawn deficit.}) 9. Bd3 Nf4 {The surprising occupation of f4 ensures the sting is taken out of any White attack, as one of the sharp attacking bishops is removed.} 10. Bxf4 Qxf4 11. Qe2 Nc6 12. h4 d5 13. exd6 Qxd6 14. h5 Bg4 15. hxg6 fxg6 16. Rd1 Qf6 17. Kf1 O-O-O {Again, the Sniper policy of deferring ...0-0 cancels out the 'zero development' of White's h1-rook.} 18. Rb1 Rd7 19. Be4 Nd8 (19... Ne5 $1 { makes Black's life a lot easier.}) 20. Qc4 Rc7 $6 (20... b6 {was better. It is often difficult psychologically to weaken the light squares in this manner with the white bishop slicing them up, but White has no way to progress effectively.}) 21. Bxb7+ Rxb7 22. Qxg4+ Qf5 23. Qxf5+ gxf5 24. Rxb7 Kxb7 25. Ke2 Nf7 26. Rh5 e6 27. Ke3 h6 28. g4 fxg4 29. Ne5 Nxe5 30. Rxe5 h5 31. Kf4 Rf8+ 32. Kg5 Rxf2 33. Kxh5 g3 34. Rg5 Rf5 {Black gained a clear advantage because of the obvious error 7 e5?. Giving Sniper practitioners a central pawn numerical advantage is generally very unwise, and this is no different in the Pterodactyl variation.} 0-1 [Event "Northumberland League"] [Site "?"] [Date "2009.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "D.Graham"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "66"] [EventDate "2009.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will show how delaying central pawn advances can easily acquire points for 'Snypermodernists'.} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c5 4. Be3 {This has been a very popular way of meeting my Sniper, although I could never really figure out why.} ({Another option is} 4. d5 d6 {which reaches the Schmid Benoni. Here} 5. Nf3 ({the aggressive} 5. f4 {transposes to the f4 Schmid Benoni - see Chapter 4}) 5... Nf6 {transposes to Sokolov-Topalov.}) 4... cxd4 ( {If the complications below are not to the reader's liking,} 4... Qa5 {is a perfectly good alternative (see the next game).}) 5. Bxd4 Nf6 {The bishop's central position must be exploited to gain a useful tempo. If the knight can come to c6 and force a retreat of the bishop, not only will Black have equalized, but in fact he will have wrested the initiative from White.} (5... Bxd4 $5 {is an additional weapon in the Sniper arsenal. For example,} 6. Qxd4 Nf6 7. Nd5 O-O 8. Nxf6+ exf6 9. O-O-O Nc6 10. Qd6 Re8 11. Bd3 Qa5 12. Kb1 Re6 13. Qd5 Qb6 14. Nh3 Ne7 15. Qb3 {with a messy but level position.}) 6. e5 { This advance violates the opening principle of not moving a pawn twice. However, here there is some justification as the knight makes a second move and is posted to the flank, where not only is its central value reduced, but it is also short of squares. Fortunately, Black has an ace up his sleeve to solve all problems associated with the knight's difficulties on the rim.} Nh5 7. Qd2 {White simply threatens to win the knight and the game with 8 g4. Therefore Black has only one defence (see below).} ({Another key line is} 7. Nge2 $1 f5 $1 ({the only move;} 7... f6 $6 8. Ng3 $1 Nxg3 9. exf6 {and White stands better,}) ({or} 7... Bh6 $6 8. g4 Nf4 9. Be3 Nxe2 10. Qxe2 Bg7 11. f4 Nc6 12. O-O-O d6 {and White's space advantage gives Black a difficult game}) 8. f4 b5 $1 {. After spending a lot of time analysing this variation, I've concluded that 8...b5 is the only try to keep Black alive. Following} 9. Nxb5 Nc6 10. Qd3 Nxd4 11. Nbxd4 Qa5+ 12. c3 Rb8 13. b4 Qd5 {Black has some compensation for the pawn in a complicated middlegame.}) 7... f6 $1 {My favourite move appears again. This time ...f6 is the only move to keep Black on the board, and of course it also offers excellent central counterplay.} 8. exf6 Nxf6 9. Bc4 {This looks like a dangerous problem for Black but simple and careful pawn advances, using the extra pawns in the centre, will easily neutralize White's temporary activity. I love the fact that Black can choose when to advance his central pawns in the Sniper. This is 'Snypermodern' theory! } Nc6 {The move that Black was staking his opening play on. If the dark-squared bishop now retreats, not only does it lessen its value, but the extra tempo will allow Black to use his central pawn majority effectively in the near future. Therefore White does not have the luxury of preserving this piece, but its trade will have the net effect of giving the Sniper bishop a free role.} 10. Bxf6 ({Better was} 10. Nf3 {, catching up on development, with equal chances.}) 10... Bxf6 {The opening dust has settled and not only does Black have the two bishops, he also has the two central pawns. If Black is not taken out in the next few moves, the Sniper bishop will easily decide matters in the late middlegame, but I can see no way for White to press home any advantage.} 11. Nge2 e6 12. h4 d5 13. Bd3 {Black now controls the centre. Next the kingside defence and c8-bishop problems must be solved.} Qb6 14. h5 g5 { Black of course does not want to open lines against his kingside. Again the policy of delaying ...0-0 gives extra benefits, and as we can see there is no need for Black to be concerned about the king in the centre just yet.} 15. h6 Bd7 16. a4 {White is forced into flank action. Black now just consolidates his centre and improves his position with each move.} Ne5 17. a5 Qb4 {Dean Graham is a multiple county champion from Northumberland, rated around 2200. I remember being somewhat surprised at the amount of energy he was investing in his wing pawn advances. The centre should almost always be given priority before such luxuries are permitted.} 18. a6 b6 19. O-O-O {White prepares his rooks to join the action but Black's central superiority will easily nullify any White attacks on the horizon.} Rc8 20. Kb1 {The humble ...f6 move should be given full military decoration for allowing the Black forces to reach this position. Black now begins active operations while simultaneously ensuring there are always adequate defences to his king.} Nxd3 21. Qxd3 O-O {At last Black castles, because almost all attacking options have now passed on the kingside and the black king is completely safe. In fact, the black king is quite happy to take some fire if the rest of his forces can increase active operations against weak areas in the White camp – specifically the a-file and of course the centre.} 22. Rh3 Rc5 23. Rf3 Rb5 {The cheeky mating threat on b2 takes advantage of a tactical concept I teach my students called 'the illusion of defence' – in short, a square that looks defended but in fact is not defended. This particular type of tactic is quite a blind spot in the tactical awareness of under-2200 players. I would advise that students pay particular attention to this type of attack, as finding it can often decide the middlegame battle.} 24. b3 {White's dark squares are fatally weakened and the Sniper bishop surveys White's entire domain. The slightest movement will result in any target being taken out!} Ra5 25. Rxf6 {Desperation – there is no compensation for this sacrifice except that it is stopping mate.} Rxf6 26. Qg3 Qf8 {Black postpones the immediate attack and simply consolidates with the extra material. He eyes up the capture of the one hope in White's position, namely the pawn on h6.} 27. Qc7 Rf7 28. Qxa7 {Now Black again changes tack and plays for mate, rather than taking out the h6 threat.} Qa3 29. Na4 Bxa4 { With a discovered attack on the queen.} 30. Qxb6 Be8 {Always protect your king to prevent counterplay, whether it is on ranks, files or diagonals.} 31. c4 Rxa6 32. Qb8 Re7 {Complete consolidation, and now the bishop prepares an invasion on the h7-b1 diagonal.} 33. Qe5 Bg6+ {This game saw White seize the centre early, but Black found the modest but extremely potent 7...f6!, saving the h5-knight and allowing an initiative against the bishop on d4. Black's extra central pawns negated any attack and their eventual advance created problems for White that could not be solved.} 0-1 [Event "European Club Cup, Neum"] [Site "?"] [Date "2000.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "M.Mrva"] [Black "Z.Azmaiparashvili"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "54"] [EventDate "2000.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {The final game of this chapter features a bizarre Dragon without dark-squared bishops that favours Black:} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Be3 c5 4. Nc3 Qa5 5. Qd2 ({ Here} 5. Nf3 {instead transposes to the note to White's fifth move in Mortensen-Keene.}) 5... cxd4 6. Bxd4 Bxd4 $5 7. Qxd4 Nf6 {A Dragon without the dark-squared bishops may in many instances favour White. Here, however, the central initiative-gaining ...Nc6 will equip Black with an extra move to cope with any White opening attacks.} 8. O-O-O ({Alternatively} 8. b4 $5 Qd8 9. Nf3 Nc6 10. Qd2 b6 11. b5 Na5 12. e5 Nh5 {with a comical position for Black's knights. White has a small advantage but Black can make a complex meal of it with ...Bb7 and ...Rc8.}) 8... Nc6 9. Qe3 d6 {The lack of dark-squared bishops has decreased White's initiative and the position is completely level. However, Black has yet to commit his king to any area, and this could still prove useful and offer Black some winning prospects.} 10. Bc4 Bd7 ({Better was} 10... Ng4 $1 {seizing the dark squares which are favourably accentuated by the omission of both dark-squared bishops. After} 11. Qe2 Qc5 12. Rd2 Nd4 13. Qd3 Ne6 14. Qd5 Qc7 15. Bb5+ Kf8 16. f3 Nf6 17. Qb3 a6 18. Bd3 Qa5 {Black is faster in the race to attack the kings.}) 11. h3 Rc8 {Gaining a useful tempo in the quest for some initiative.} 12. Bb3 Be6 $1 {This quashes any attack that White may have been dreaming about and gives Black better prospects with his current lead in central pressure.} 13. Kb1 Ne5 14. Nge2 Nc4 15. Qd4 O-O 16. f4 b5 {With opposite-side castling there's a race to open up a file for the rooks. Black's position looks preferable.} 17. Rhf1 b4 {These 'central modifiers', just like passed pawns, should be continually placed under surveillance. Now wherever the knight goes Black acquires the advantage.} 18. f5 {White does not give up the fight for the centre by retreating his knight. Instead his response is an invitation to deep calculation but it's all in Black's favour.} bxc3 19. fxe6 Nxb2 20. Rxf6 {White was perhaps pinning his hopes on this, but the Sniper position is still strong – even without the Sniper bishop.} exf6 21. Qxf6 Nc4 {Shutting off the bishop's attack and securing a winning position.} 22. e7 Rfe8 23. Nxc3 Rxe7 24. Nd5 Re6 25. Qd4 Qc5 {Offering simplification is always a great way to increase an advantage, as in order to avoid trades the opponent often has to give away good central squares that he had under control.} 26. Qd3 Kg7 {Always remember the king can take care of weak squares too. Here it brings support to f6 and prevents any accidents on e7.} 27. Rf1 Rxe4 {Losing a central pawn can sometimes make a Master resign – just like in this case. In this game we saw the 4...Qa5 approach and a Dragon middlegame without the dark-squared bishops which simply favoured Black.} 0-1 [Event "Voronezh"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "V.Meribanov"] [Black "V.Onoprienko"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B38"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "116"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This and the next game will demonstrate a creative way for Black to play against the Maroczy setup, taking White away from his traditional easy path and presenting a number of early problems with ...Qb6.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Bg7 5. c4 {SMOT: If this needs explanation please go back and read the introduction. The Maroczy Bind played via a Sniper move order is slightly more favourable for Black than Maroczy Binds with ...Nf6 inserted, as the Sniper bishop offers additional options which may cause some problems for White. This is particularly useful against White players who have one pre-programmed variation of the Maroczy Bind, as these Sniper Maroczy positions are independent and relatively unchartered, primarily because the knight remains on g8 for an extended period of time.} Nc6 6. Be3 Qb6 {This is my personal Sniper recommendation against the Maroczy setup.} 7. Nb5 (7. Nb3 Qc7 {transposes to the next game.}) 7... Qa5+ 8. N1c3 Nf6 {There is a natural human reflex to remove the knight from 'our territory' but there is no need as there is no real threat. Black can simply go about his own business rather than play the overly cautious ...a6 immediately.} 9. f3 O-O 10. Be2 d6 11. O-O Bd7 12. Qd2 Rfc8 13. a4 a6 14. Nd4 {Black has a tiny advantage due to the long-term potential against the d4-square. He should look to play the position slowly and bring the queen to b4 or f8.} Be8 {This is a commitment to moving the queen to b4.} 15. Nb3 Qb4 {The cheeky queen invasion is perfectly safe and gains the initiative against the loose b3-knight.} 16. Qc2 Na5 {Black is quite happy to trade knights and keep the queen on a5, where at a moment's notice she can communicate with any part of the board.} (16... Ne5 $5 {is another possibility.}) 17. Nd2 e6 ({Accepting a weak pawn on d6 but ensuring the c3-knight can't activate on d5.} 17... Rxc4 $5 {is an interesting alternative.} ) 18. Na2 Qxa4 {This brave pawn grab will give Black good winning chances.} 19. Qxa4 Bxa4 20. Nc1 $6 ({This gives Black a nice edge.} 20. Nc3 {would have been stronger.}) 20... b5 $1 21. Ra3 Nd7 22. Ra2 {White is keen to win a piece with b3 but Black has a good answer.} Nc6 23. b3 Nb4 {The rook is trapped.} 24. bxa4 Nxa2 25. Nxa2 bxa4 {The passed a-pawns become very problematic for White.} 26. Rc1 Nc5 27. Nc3 a3 28. Ndb1 {The white pieces have to neglect their central duties in order to restrain the a-pawns. Black should be able to find a way to exploit this.} Nb3 29. Rc2 Nd4 30. Ra2 Nxe2+ 31. Nxe2 Bb2 32. Nxa3 Bxa3 33. Rxa3 Rxc4 {Black's opening has been a success. His position is preferable here – there is no risk of losing and he has many winning chances.} 34. Kf2 a5 35. Bd4 f5 36. Ke3 Kf7 37. Kd3 Rc6 38. Ra4 e5 39. Be3 Rb8 40. Bd2 Rb3+ 41. Nc3 Rc5 42. Ra2 Ke6 43. Kc2 Rb4 44. Be3 Rc6 45. Kd3 Rb3 46. Bd2 Rc5 47. Kc2 Rb4 48. Be3 Rc6 49. Kd3 Rb3 50. Bd2 Ra6 51. Kc2 Rb7 52. Nd5 a4 53. Bb4 Kd7 54. Kb2 Kc6 55. Ka3 fxe4 56. fxe4 Rf7 57. Rd2 Kd7 58. Ne3 Ke6 {Black's 6...Qb6 forced White into finding a new path in a Maroczy situation. By sending the d4-knight away from its best location, a number of difficulties were presented to White. This allowed Black an opportunity to pressure White's queenside and eventually capture the a-pawn.} 1/2-1/2 [Event "Kavala"] [Site "?"] [Date "2002.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "F.Grunberg"] [Black "Z.Stanojoski"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B38"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "132"] [EventDate "2002.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game sees a super-accelerated 5...Qb6, played even before the queen's knight develops. This may be even better than the last variation! I've presented both in this book so that your variations will be camouflaged, not just in various move order transpositions in Sicilians, Pircs, Moderns and Benonis, but also in move nuances that look similar to recommended variations. In modern day chess it's wise to have a few different variations to hand, just to make an opponent's preparation a bit more difficult.} 1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Bg7 5. e4 {SMOT: Of course this position could arise from the Pure Sniper move order of 1...g6, 2...Bg7 and 3...c5.} Qb6 {Not only is 5... Qb6 a good move aiming for dark-square control, it also helps take White out of his comfort zone.} 6. Nb3 {This way of playing against the Maroczy must be good for Black considering the white knight has moved three times only to have the disadvantage of preventing the b-pawn from supporting the c4-pawn.} ({After } 6. Nb5 $5 a6 7. Be3 Qa5+ 8. N5c3 Nf6 9. Nd2 d6 10. Be2 O-O 11. Nb3 Qd8 12. O-O Nbd7 13. f4 {Black has a hedgehog position with some extra help from White's misplaced knight on b3.}) 6... Nc6 7. Be3 ({Attempting to keep the pawn structure intact with} 7. Be2 Qc7 8. O-O b6 {reaches a solid balanced middlegame, mainly because it is hard for White to launch any strong offensive due to the passively located b3-knight.}) 7... Qc7 8. Nc3 Bxc3+ $1 {This is yet another Sniper Sacrifice that Black is happy to play. In return, Black can look forward to pressure against the c4-pawn with rooks, knights and bishop.} 9. bxc3 Nf6 {More central pressure forces defensive moves and prevents White from assuming an initiative.} 10. f3 d6 {An important awareness for Sniper practitioners against this pawn structure should be to play ...b6 and ...d6 in that exact order.} 11. c5 $1 {This counter-activity by White is the reason I prefer 10...b6!. I would rather have central pawns in reserve, in harmony with the Storey Pawn Scale, rather than the wing b-pawn. By playing 10...b6! first, this simply allows Black to play ...bxc5 in answer to c5, followed by ...d6, .. .Nf6 and c-file pressure from the rooks. I have no hesitation in recommending 10...b6!. In fact, I would push the boat out and say that Black would be clearly better after that move. This game shows that 10...d6 is not as good, even though Black still gets a reasonable position.} d5 $5 {Black is not happy to trade a central pawn for a wing pawn and finds another way of striking at White's centre.} 12. exd5 Qe5 {Black's opening with 5...Qb6 and 8...Bxc3+ has been a success, although I think Black could have got an even better position than this with 10...b6.} 13. Kf2 Nxd5 14. Bd4 Nxc3 {Although Black emerges a pawn up in the resulting endgame, White is extremely well placed to neutralize the deficit.} 15. Bxe5 Nxd1+ 16. Rxd1 Nxe5 17. Na5 O-O 18. Bb5 b6 (18... a6 { was a little better.}) 19. Rhe1 $1 bxa5 20. Rxe5 Rb8 {White's activity and passed c-pawn will more than compensate for the pawn.} 21. c6 a6 22. Bc4 Rb2+ 23. Re2 Rb6 24. Rc2 Kg7 25. c7 Rd6 26. Rxd6 exd6 27. Rd2 Kf6 28. Rxd6+ Ke7 29. Rd5 a4 30. Ke3 f6 31. Kd4 Bb7 32. Rc5 Kd6 33. Bd5 Bxd5 34. c8=Q Rxc8 35. Rxc8 Bxa2 36. Ra8 Bb3 37. Rxa6+ Ke7 38. Ra7+ Ke6 39. Rxh7 a3 40. Ra7 a2 41. Ra3 Kf5 42. Kc3 Bf7 43. Kb2 g5 44. Ra5+ Kf4 45. Ra4+ Ke5 46. g3 Kf5 47. Ra5+ Kg6 48. Ra4 Kh5 49. h4 Bd5 50. hxg5 fxg5 51. Ra3 Kg6 52. Rd3 Be6 53. Rd4 Kf5 54. Ra4 Bd5 55. f4 gxf4 56. Rxf4+ Kg5 57. Ra4 Be6 58. Kc3 Bf7 59. Kd2 Bb3 60. Ra3 Kg4 61. Ke2 Bf7 62. Kf2 Bb3 63. Ra5 Bf7 64. Ra4+ Kg5 65. g4 Bb3 66. Ra3 Kxg4 { 11...d5 was a nice idea but the simple 10...b6! gives Black a steady small advantage, so why risk the complications? Use the Storey Pawn Scale!} 1/2-1/2 [Event "Chrudim"] [Site "?"] [Date "2003.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "M.Konopka"] [Black "S.Vesselovsky"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B27"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "25"] [EventDate "2003.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. e4 c5 {There have not been too many Pure Sniper move orders of 1...g6, 2...Bg7 and 3...c5. I hope the reader has spent a moment at each Sniper Mover Order Transposition (SMOT), comparing the Pure Sniper move order with the one chosen in the actual game.} 4. dxc5 Qa5+ 5. c3 (5. Nc3 { enables Black to transpose to a favourable Sniper Sacrifice line with} Bxc3+ $1 {.}) (5. Bd2 Qxc5 6. Nc3 Nf6 7. Be2 d6 8. Be3 Qa5 {leaves Black ready for a good middlegame where he can eventually use his central pawn advantage.}) 5... Qxc5 {Black's early queen development means the white knight can no longer come to c3. The cost for Black is that his queen can be harassed by the c1-bishop.} 6. Na3 (6. Bd3 {is covered in Popovic-Wojtkiewicz,}) ({and} 6. Be3 {in Abreu-Gonzalez Garcia.}) 6... Nf6 {Sniper players should always insert ... Nf6 first in this position; otherwise they will find themselves in a lost position:} ({a)} 6... d6 $6 {is an error which simply allows White a central pawn exchange which in turn enables some strong pressure; for example,} 7. Be3 Qa5 8. Qb3 Nf6 9. Bb5+ Nbd7 10. e5 $1 dxe5 11. Ng5 $1 {. The Sniper practitioner should avoid this stereotypical d-pawn advance and keep it in reserve for later.}) ({b)} 6... b6 $2 {is also bad. Although it may look attractive, White gains a huge initiative after} 7. Be3 Qc6 8. Bc4 Qb7 9. Qb3 e6 10. Nb5 Bf8 11. O-O-O {followed by doubling on the d-file.}) 7. Be3 (7. Nb5 {is covered in the next game. Alternatively:}) ({a)} 7. Bd3 {is a weaker choice that makes the Sniper's life even easier than the text. After} O-O 8. Be3 Qa5 9. O-O Nc6 10. Qe2 d6 11. h3 h6 12. Nc2 Qh5 (12... Bd7 {gives a safe, level middlegame but Black can easily try for more}) 13. c4 g5 14. Nd2 g4 { Black's position is preferable in the complications.}) ({b)} 7. e5 Ng4 8. Qd4 { (I.Rajlich-A.Jakab, Budapest 2006)} Qxd4 9. cxd4 {reaches a key position for the assessment of the 4 dxc5 Sniper. It seems like an equal ending to me, but there are still plenty of pieces and opportunities for both sides to try and win. One possible line is} b6 10. Bd2 Bb7 11. Nb5 Na6 12. h3 Nh6 13. Rc1 Nf5 14. Be2 f6 {, which is playable for Black.}) 7... Qc6 $5 ({Attacking e4 and not encouraging Nb5 as much as} 7... Qc7 {would.}) 8. Nb5 {This is the critical test, as the pressure against a7 and c7 must be successfully addressed. Alternatives include:} ({a)} 8. e5 Ng4 9. Bd4 O-O 10. h3 Nh6 { and now:} 11. Z0 (11. g4 {is double-edged:} d6 12. exd6 Bxd4 13. cxd4 exd6 14. Be2 f5 15. g5 Nf7 16. h4 f4 $5 {, and if White sacrifices a pawn with} 17. h5 Nxg5 {then Black also gets a lot of chances in the arising complications.}) ( 11. Bd3 Nf5 12. Bxf5 ({or} 12. O-O d5 {with approximate equality}) 12... gxf5 13. O-O b6 {with a double-edged middle game – Black can look forward to counterplay with his bishop on b7.})) ({b)} 8. Bd3 O-O 9. O-O {and now:} Z0 ({ Avoid} 9... Nxe4 $6 10. Nd4 Bxd4 11. Bxd4 {. Only give up the Sniper bishop if you get some very clear compensation. Here Black wins a pawn but White has no other weaknesses and therefore I cannot recommend this position to Sniper practitioners.}) (9... d6 10. Nb5 b6 11. a4 ({or} 11. e5 dxe5 12. Nxe5 Qb7 13. Qf3 Qxf3 14. Nxf3 Nbd7 15. Rfe1 Bb7 16. Bd4 a6 17. Na3 Rfe8 {with a balanced position}) 11... a6 12. Nbd4 Qb7 13. a5 b5 {with an equal position in which a Sniper practitioner could expect to outplay White.})) 8... b6 $1 {It's so important to play this humble pawn move here, creating a safe haven for the queen.} 9. Nfd4 ({Also possible is} 9. e5 Ng4 {and now:} 10. Z0 (10. Bd4 { leads to a complex middlegame:} O-O 11. h3 Nh6 12. Be2 Nf5 13. O-O Bb7 { (the Sniper's brother is clearly a good piece and Black will enjoy plenty of counterplay because of it)} 14. Re1 a6 15. Na3 d6 {and Black has a good position.}) ({After} 10. Nfd4 {the resulting exchanges are in Black's favour:} Nxe3 11. Nxc6 Nxd1 12. Nc7+ Kf8 13. Nxe7 Kxe7 14. Rxd1 Bxe5 15. Nxa8 Bb7 16. Nxb6 axb6 {and Black has the better endgame chances.})) 9... Qb7 {This 'Sniper queen' position ensures Black has decent prospects in a dynamic middlegame.} 10. f3 {When f2-f3 is played, Black should always be looking to carry out ... d5 in one move, as he does in this game.} (10. e5 Nd5 {reaches a double-edged position. For example:} 11. Z0 (11. Nf5 gxf5 12. Qxd5 Qxd5 13. Nc7+ Kd8 14. Nxd5 Bxe5 {hardly offers White enough play for the pawn.}) (11. Bg5 $5 a6 12. Bxe7 $1 axb5 13. Bd6 Nf4 14. f3 Nc6 $1 15. Nxb5 Nxe5 (15... Ne6 $5) 16. Nc7+ Kd8 17. Nxa8 ({after} 17. Kf2 Ra5 18. b4 Rd5 19. Nxd5 Qxd5 20. Qxd5 Nxd5 { , the knights in the centre and the weakness on c3 mean Black should go on to win}) 17... Qxa8 {and the centralized knights give Black a promising middlegame.})) 10... a6 11. Na3 O-O 12. Bc4 ({After} 12. Be2 {Black has a choice of options:} d6 ({alternatively, on} 12... e5 $5 13. Nb3 d5 {Black may claim a small edge, as the white knights have activated then deactivated over to the backwaters of the queenside,}) ({but Black should avoid} 12... d5 $6 { ; although this would normally be a good idea, here White may close the centre with} 13. e5 {and gain some initiative by attacking the f6-knight, which would pass the advantage to White}) 13. O-O Nbd7 {with a nice solid middlegame in store and the possibility of a useful minority attack for Black on the queenside.}) 12... d5 13. exd5 ({The players agreed a draw at this moment, but after} 13. exd5 b5 $1 14. Bb3 Rd8 {Black enjoys a small advantage, with his central activity offering good winning chances in a complicated middlegame for the Sniper practitioner. This short game showed us how Black can effectively deal with the 4 dxc5 line. He found a nice home on b7 for his queen and achieved a good position. The sub-variations proved that Black will also get a good position if White attempts to gambit for the initiative.}) 1/2-1/2 [Event "Turin Olympiad"] [Site "?"] [Date "2006.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "M.Al Modiahki"] [Black "B.Macieja"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B27"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2006.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 Bg7 {SMOT.} 4. dxc5 Qa5+ 5. c3 Qxc5 6. Na3 Nf6 7. Nb5 O-O (7... b6 {occurred in A.Alavkin-M.Kanep, Moscow 2004, which continued} 8. e5 Ng4 {(threatening mate in one)} 9. Qd4 Nxe5 10. Qxc5 Nxf3+ 11. gxf3 bxc5 12. Nc7+ Kd8 13. Nxa8 Bb7 14. Bg2 Bxa8 {. The dust has settled and we can take stock: two pawns for the exchange, two extra central pawns and better development – this is practically a win for Black! The game continued} 15. O-O $1 d6 16. Be3 Nd7 17. f4 Bxg2 18. Kxg2 Kc7 19. Rac1 Rb8 20. Rc2 Kc6 21. Rd1 a5 {(Black has all the pressure)} 22. b3 a4 23. Rb1 c4 24. Rcb2 a3 25. Rc2 Nc5 26. Bxc5 Kxc5 27. Kf3 d5 28. Ke2 Rb6 29. Rcc1 cxb3 30. Rxb3 Rxb3 {(Black is more than happy to take rooks off as dangerous passed pawns can be created simply)} 31. axb3 d4 32. Kd3 dxc3 33. Kc2 Bd4 34. Rd1 e6 {(Black carefully prepares the advance of his pawns)} 35. f3 h5 36. h3 f6 37. Re1 e5 38. fxe5 fxe5 {(the bishop is secured and the king is ready to support the passed pawns)} 39. h4 Kb4 40. Rf1 a2 41. Ra1 Ka3 42. Rd1 Bb6 43. Re1 Bd8 44. Re4 {(careful – mate in one is threatened!)} a1=N+ {(a nice under-promotion to finish)} 45. Kxc3 Nxb3 46. Re3 Bb6 {0-1.}) ({After} 7... Ng4 $6 8. Nfd4 a6 9. Qxg4 axb5 10. Nxb5 d6 11. Qh4 Be6 12. Be3 Qc6 13. f3 Nd7 14. Nd4 Bxd4 15. Bxd4 {even my favourite move} f6 {does not give Black an acceptable position. Thus 7...Ng4 is to be avoided.}) 8. Be3 Qc6 9. Bd3 {Alternatively:} ({a)} 9. Nfd4 $5 Qxe4 10. Nc7 { leads to a material plus for White, but Black can grab the centre. I do not believe Black has quite enough for the exchange in the resulting position, in which case he should go back to 7...b6, although there is certainly a complicated struggle ahead. For example,} b6 11. Be2 Qb7 12. Nxa8 Qxa8 13. O-O Bb7 14. Bf3 d5 15. a4 {(L.Bruzon Bautista-V.Malakhov, Yerevan 2000)} e5 16. Nb5 Bc6 17. Re1 a6 18. Na3 Nbd7 {.}) ({b)} 9. Nxa7 $6 Qxe4 10. Bd3 Qd5 {. It seems a little strange, but the queen is quite safe on this central square because there is no knight to come to c3 to attack it, and this ensures an equal game for Black after} 11. O-O Nc6 12. Nxc8 Rfxc8 13. a3 Ng4 {.}) 9... b6 10. O-O ({ If} 10. e5 $5 {then} Ng4 11. Bf4 a6 $1 12. Nbd4 Qc5 13. O-O Nxe5 14. Be4 Ra7 15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. b4 Qd6 17. Bxe5 Qxe5 18. Re1 Qc7 {and Black has a safe extra pawn.}) 10... Bb7 {Black can look forward to a good safe middlegame involving a queenside minority attack.} 11. Re1 ({After} 11. e5 $2 Ng4 12. Bf4 Nxe5 { the extra central pawn guarantees an advantage.}) 11... d6 12. a4 a6 13. Nbd4 Qc7 14. a5 b5 (14... bxa5 {is another good alternative.}) 15. Nc2 Nbd7 16. Bf4 {A 'Double Sniper' arrangement is a common target for Sniper practitioners. I suggest trainees take a moment to familiarize themselves with all of the black pieces. Okay, maybe the b5-pawn is sometimes on b6, but this piece deployment should be given extra scrutiny. I strongly recommend this structure – and the study time in understanding it. Please pay particular attention to the possibilities for each piece over say 4-5 moves.} e5 $1 {This move which is often a favourite of Magnus Carlsen's when he plays the Sicilian Dragon. Here it ensures Black keeps a small edge as the weakness of the d5-square is offset by the central advantages gained and the initiative against the bishop.} 17. Bg5 h6 18. Bxf6 ({Otherwise ...Nc5 wins the central pawn after} 18. Bh4 g5 19. Bg3 Nc5 {.}) 18... Nxf6 19. Nb4 Rad8 {If Black achieves ...d5 he will be pressing for the full point.} 20. Qb3 d5 $1 {When Black gets this in without material loss, more often than not his entire position springs to life – this case is no exception.} 21. exd5 Nxd5 22. Be4 Nxb4 23. cxb4 ({After} 23. Qxb4 Bd5 $1 24. Bxd5 Rxd5 25. Rad1 Rxd1 26. Rxd1 Rd8 27. Re1 f5 {Black has good winning chances.}) 23... Bxe4 24. Rxe4 Kh7 {Black is cueing up ...f5 with a much better centre and play against the f3-knight with ...e4. This will chase the knight away from safe central defensive duties.} 25. Ree1 f5 $1 {Black has a trivial win from here.} 26. Rac1 Qd6 27. Rcd1 Qe7 28. Nd4 Rd6 29. Nc2 Rfd8 30. Rxd6 Rxd6 31. Ne3 e4 {Black has full command of the centre and great targets on the queenside should an ending materialize.} 32. Qc2 Rd8 33. h4 Qxh4 34. Qc6 f4 35. Qxe4 Rd4 {In my early days with the Sniper, this White setup was the most problematic for me to deal with. My faith was restored by Macieja's play in this variation, which confirms my assessment that the Sniper is a fantastic opening system that can continually fight for the full point. This game saw Black consolidate against White's early activity, add pressure in the centre and then win the centre, and with it the full point followed.} 0-1 [Event "Internet (blitz)"] [Site "?"] [Date "2005.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "D.Popovic"] [Black "A.Wojtkiewicz"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B27"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "98"] [EventDate "2005.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will also feature the favourite piece/pawn development for expert Sniper practitioners and will show how Black can easily acquire a small advantage with the structure. It will also demonstrate how badly top players can play in the latter stages of a blitz game!} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 Bg7 4. dxc5 Qa5+ 5. c3 Qxc5 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. O-O d6 8. h3 O-O 9. Be3 Qc7 10. Re1 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 a6 {The highly favoured Sniper Army piece and pawn deployment has once again arisen. This setup should ensure that Black has some promising middlegame plans.} 12. Bf4 e5 {Black is happy to accept a backward d-pawn if it ensures long-term extra support in the centre, especially with a gain of a tempo on the f4-bishop.} 13. Be3 b6 {This Sniper deployment is solid but always poised for a full-on counterattack at a moment's notice. Black will wait for some more weaknesses to appear in the White camp before beginning active operations.} 14. c4 Bb7 15. b4 {Giving squares to get squares as Bobby Fischer would say. This approach is always a doubled-edged sword.} Rfc8 16. Qe2 {Black has a small advantage, although there is still clearly an enormous amount of play left in the position. If I was to try and identify why Black has an edge here, I would point to the weakness at c4 coupled with the difficulty of the white f-pawn to contribute to the centre. As a result Black has slightly the better of it in the centre, although according to Rybka the advantage is only tiny.} Nf8 17. Rab1 Ne6 {It is fair to say the d6-pawn is weak. It's also fair to say the pawn cannot be attacked for some considerable time with traditional doubling or tripling on the d-file. So it would also be fair to say it's not weak. Confused? Me too!} 18. g3 Nd7 19. Red1 a5 $1 { To help the a8-rook enter the game using 'zero development'!} 20. a3 axb4 21. axb4 Nd4 ({Even better was the surprising} 21... Nb8 $1 22. Nb3 Nc6 23. Bd2 Ra3 24. Bc3 Ned4 25. Nbxd4 exd4 26. Bb2 Ra2 27. Ra1 Rxa1 28. Bxa1 Nxb4 29. Bxd4 Nxd3 30. Qxd3 Qxc4 {with a great position for Black as both bishops are firing. }) 22. Nxd4 exd4 {Black's activity and initiative in the centre ensures he gets the better of the middlegame.} 23. Bf4 Ne5 {A superb square for the knight, made available by allowing White to weaken the central pawn structure. It comes down to this: Is the centralization of the knights worth the weakened structure? Wojtkiewicz thinks so and this is also backed up by Rybka and my Dilution Principle analysis. So the tip is: don't be afraid to accept pawn weaknesses if it means you can centralize your knights. It is the pressure and occupation of the centre with the black knights which is a major feature in expert Sniper practitioners' play. Always be vigilant to this and remember: a centralized knight is better than an active bishop in the Sniper – that is Snypermodern theory!} 24. Bxe5 Bxe5 25. Ra1 h5 26. h4 Qe7 (26... Bc6 {with the idea of bringing the bishop to g4 is a better idea. After} 27. Kg2 Bd7 { Black keeps an edge.}) 27. Kg2 Bg7 28. Nf3 Re8 29. Rxa8 Rxa8 30. Bb1 Ra3 $2 ({ An error – Black misses his chance to add further pressure to the weakened dark squares. After} 30... Ra4 $1 31. Qe1 Qe6 {Black is pressing for more advantage.}) {The rest of the game shows how much the quality of moves can deteriorate in a blitz finish, even with extremely strong players.} 31. Nxd4 Ra1 32. Nf3 f5 33. Kg1 fxe4 34. Ng5 Bh6 35. Re1 Bxg5 36. hxg5 e3 37. Bxg6 Qxg5 38. Rxa1 exf2+ 39. Qxf2 Qxg6 40. Rf1 h4 41. Kh2 Qe8 42. gxh4 Kh7 43. Qg3 Qe2+ 44. Rf2 Qe4 45. Qf4 Qh1+ 46. Kg3 Qg1+ 47. Kh3 Qh1+ 48. Kg4 Qg1+ 49. Kf5 Qg6# 0-1 [Event "Capablanca Memorial, Havana"] [Site "?"] [Date "2003.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "A.Abreu"] [Black "J.Gonzalez Garcia"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B27"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "54"] [EventDate "2003.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game sees White quickly bring his bishop to d4 to try and dominate in the centre, but Black shows with 9...f6 that he can nibble away at the centre and finally control it.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 Bg7 4. dxc5 Qa5+ ({Also interesting is} 4... Nf6 $5 {, which makes a future ...Qa5 a lot more potent. One line runs} 5. e5 Ng4 6. Qd4 d6 7. cxd6 Nc6 8. Bb5 O-O 9. Bxc6 bxc6 10. Bg5 f6 {(my favourite little move again) giving Black a good game.}) 5. c3 Qxc5 6. Be3 Qc7 ({Of course not} 6... Qc6 {as this would simply attract the knight to d4 with tempo.}) ({Black must also avoid} 6... Qa5 $6 7. Bc4 Nf6 $2 (7... Nh6 8. h3 f6) 8. e5 Ng4 9. Bxf7+ Kxf7 10. Ng5+ {.}) 7. Bd4 ({The alternative is} 7. Na3 {and now:} Z0 (7... Bxc3+ $6 {is an instance of when not to play the Sniper Sacrifice. White gets too active after} 8. bxc3 Qxc3+ 9. Nd2 Qxa3 10. Rc1 Nc6 11. Nc4 Qb4+ 12. Bd2 Qc5 13. Bc3 f6 14. Ne3 Qb6 15. Nd5 Qd8 {and White is better.}) (7... Nc6 8. Nb5 Qb8 {. The queen is tucked into an area that is passive, but if ...a6 and ...b5 appear then it will have a good active role from its current location.} 9. Qd2 Nf6 $1 ({this is good as it encourages White to bring the bishop to the passive d3-square; instead} 9... d6 10. O-O-O Nf6 11. Bd3 O-O 12. h3 a6 13. Nbd4 Bd7 14. Bh6 b5 {was level in E.Paehtz-T. Kosintseva, Athens 2001}) 10. Bd3 d5 {(Black's activity ensures equality)} 11. Bf4 {(this may look menacing but there is a simple response...)} e5 {and it is Black who has the better share of the centre. After} 12. exd5 Nxd5 13. Bg5 O-O 14. O-O a6 15. Na3 Be6 16. Bc4 Nc7 17. Qe2 b5 {the b8-queen is now active, and Black has plenty of counterplay with a queenside minority attack and play against the dimly placed a3-knight.})) 7... Nf6 8. e5 Nh5 9. Qd2 {Threatening to win the knight, but there is a standard treatment seen in earlier games that offers excellent counterplay to Black.} ({After} 9. Na3 Nc6 {there are two main options:} 10. Qe2 ({or} 10. Nb5 Qb8 11. Qe2 Nf4 12. Qe3 Ne6 13. Bd3 a6 14. Na3 b5 15. O-O Bb7 16. Nc2 O-O 17. Be4 Ncxd4 18. cxd4 Bh6 19. Qxh6 Bxe4 20. Nce1 d5 21. Ng5 Nxg5 22. Qxg5 Qb6 {with a completely equal middlegame}) 10... Nxd4 11. cxd4 O-O 12. Qd2 d6 13. Rc1 Qd8 14. exd6 exd6 15. Be2 Qf6 {with a balanced position.}) 9... f6 $3 {The two exclamations are to demonstrate the impact and initiative that can be created by this humble little move. By now all Snipers trainees should understand the importance and necessity for inserting this move at every appropriate opportunity.} 10. Na3 ({Or} 10. exf6 Nxf6 11. Bd3 Nc6 12. Be3 d5 13. Bh6 O-O 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 {(protecting h6 with the king often prevents a nasty invasion on the kingside)} 15. O-O e5 ({also good is} 15... Ng4 $1 16. h3 Rxf3 17. hxg4 Ne5 {when the knight is looking to help checkmate on h2}) 16. Be2 Be6 17. Na3 Bg8 18. Nc2 Rad8 19. h3 Nh5 {and Black's strong centre ensures the better middlegame chances.}) 10... Nc6 11. exf6 (11. Nb5 Qb8 12. exf6 Nxf6 13. Bc4 ({if} 13. Be3 a6 14. Nbd4 O-O 15. O-O-O d5 16. Kb1 Ne4 {Black's position is preferable}) 13... a6 14. Bxf6 Bxf6 15. Nbd4 Nxd4 16. Nxd4 b5 17. Bb3 Qe5+ 18. Ne2 ({on} 18. Qe2 Bb7 {, the two bishops are better than White's minor piece pair, so it's a small advantage for Black}) 18... Bb7 19. O-O Qg5 20. Qxg5 Bxg5 {reaches a level endgame.}) 11... Nxf6 { Black now has two dormant centre pawns, but White has none. The battle revolves around whether Black can effectively bring these pawns into the centre.} 12. Bc4 (12. Nb5 Qb8 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. Rd1 a6 15. Na3 O-O 16. Be2 b5 17. h4 $5 (17. O-O Ne5 {with equality}) {offers White some attacking possibilities, but Black has adequate defensive resources after} 17... b4 { , with level chances in a double-edged position on account of the weakness of both kings.}) (12. Be3 d5 13. Bh6 Bxh6 14. Qxh6 Ne5 15. Bb5+ Bd7 16. Bxd7+ Nfxd7 17. Qe3 Nxf3+ 18. Qxf3 Qe5+ 19. Qe2 Qxe2+ 20. Kxe2 O-O-O {reaches a level-looking ending, although Black does have better chances to dominate the centre.}) 12... Nxd4 {This exchange ensures a good game for Black as there is no longer a marker of the Sniper bishop.} 13. Qxd4 ({After} 13. Nxd4 d5 14. Bb5+ Kf7 {Black is better, with a strong centre and the bishop pair.}) 13... a6 {Black possesses the two bishops and the central pawns. If he gets these active the win should be near – so White must do everything to prevent their activity.} 14. O-O-O ({If} 14. O-O {then} b5 15. Bd5 Rb8 16. Rfe1 e6 {followed by castling short, with an edge for Black.}) 14... e6 {The extra central pawns created through the ...f6 break begin to make their presence felt.} 15. Kb1 O-O {Black will soon finish development and look forward to ...b5-b4 and a timely . ..d5 with a nice small advantage.} 16. Bd3 Nd5 {Action in the centre commences. Black's position is preferable here mainly due to the advantage of having two central pawns in exchange for wing pawns, which brings us back to the Storey Pawn Scale.} 17. Qc4 Qb6 18. Qb3 Qxb3 $6 ({A desire to enter a favourable endgame. However, Black could simply take the pawn with} 18... Qxf2 $5 { in an attempt to be better in the middlegame, and this was certainly worth a try.}) 19. axb3 Nf4 {Black's activity ensures he has the advantage despite having three pawn islands compared to White's two – it is the central advantage that takes priority.} 20. Bf1 b5 21. Nc2 Bb7 (21... Ra7 $1 {would have kept a clear edge. After} 22. Ng5 Rc7 23. g3 Bb7 24. f3 Nd5 {, the advantage of having the two bishops is sufficient to claim a clear advantage overall.}) 22. Rxd7 Bxf3 23. gxf3 Rfd8 24. Rxd8+ Rxd8 25. Kc1 Bh6 26. Ne3 Nd5 ( {Black could play on for a win (after} 26... Kf7 27. Kc2 {he is still pushing) but it seems a draw was sufficient.}) 27. Bh3 Nf4 {White gave up the centre early on by giving Black two dormant central pawns. This meant that their later advance would offer Black a central advantage, which did happen, although White successfully grovelled for a draw.} 1/2-1/2 [Event "Cappelle la Grande"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "T.Gharamian"] [Black "V.Gashimov"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B27"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "102"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game sees White's efforts to support the centre by neglecting piece development and playing the pawn to c3. Black immediately strikes in the centre with ...d5 and then piles pressure on the weak d4-pawn.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. c3 Bg7 4. d4 {SMOT: The Pure Sniper move order would be 1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nf3 c5 4 c3.} cxd4 5. cxd4 d5 {This central thrust immediately gives Black full equality.} 6. e5 (6. exd5 Nf6 7. Bb5+ Nbd7 8. d6 {is a popular way of playing and is best met by Malakhov's approach of} O-O {when Black acquires excellent play down the e-file regardless of whether White grabs an extra pawn or not. For example,} 9. dxe7 Qxe7+ 10. Qe2 Re8 11. Qxe7 Rxe7+ 12. Be3 Nd5 13. Kd2 N7f6 14. Nc3 Nxc3 15. Kxc3 Bg4 {and Black is the one who is pressing.}) 6... Nh6 7. h3 {White is concerned about the c8-bishop trading itself for the f3-knight, which has an important defensive role in protecting the weak and attackable d4-pawn. Even so, excessive prophylaxis with h2-h3 ensures that Black can easily equalize.} O-O ({Also good, and more in tune with the Sniper ethos, is} 7... Nc6 $5 {. There is of course no need to rush with ...0-0.}) 8. Be2 Nc6 {Black's light-square access for the knights will allow him to build up great pressure on the d4-pawn.} 9. O-O Bf5 10. Nc3 Be4 $1 {A surprising best move: the bishop offers itself to cause advantageous chaos in the centre.} 11. Ng5 Qb6 {Just as he would do in an Advance French Defence pawn structure, Black will try and throw everything he can at the d4-pawn/square.} 12. e6 Nxd4 {Black's success in the centre gives him a middlegame advantage.} 13. Ngxe4 dxe4 14. Bxh6 Bxh6 {The Sniper bishop loves to have no opposing bishop.} 15. exf7+ Rxf7 16. Bc4 e6 {The two central pawns are weak but they still have useful roles in attacking central squares.} 17. Ne2 Bg7 18. Nxd4 Bxd4 {The dust settles and Black is left with the centre, good attacking prospects against f2 and b2, and a later pawn thrust with ...e3.} 19. Qe2 Qc6 20. Rad1 Rd8 21. b3 Kg7 22. Qg4 Rf5 23. a4 a6 24. Kh1 e5 25. f4 h5 26. Qh4 Qf6 27. Qxf6+ Kxf6 28. g3 exf4 29. gxf4 Rc5 30. Rd2 b5 31. axb5 axb5 32. Be2 Kf5 33. Kg2 (33. Rfd1 {may look dangerous but the centralized king decides matters:} Kxf4 34. Rxd4 Rxd4 35. Rxd4 Ke3 $1 {will makes the endgame simple for Black.}) 33... Bf6 34. Rxd8 Bxd8 35. b4 Rc7 36. Bxb5 Bh4 37. Ba4 Rc3 {Black's three advantages combine to ensure the victory: more active king, more active rook and superior pawn structure. In general, two advantages are required to ensure the win but three clear advantages make the process trivial – although as always care is required.} 38. Rb1 Rg3+ 39. Kh2 Ra3 40. Bd7+ Kxf4 41. b5 Ra2+ 42. Kh1 e3 43. Be6 Rd2 44. Bc4 e2 45. Bxe2 Rxe2 46. b6 Re8 47. b7 Rb8 48. Rb4+ Kg3 49. Rb3+ Kf2 50. Rb2+ Ke3 51. Kg2 g5 {This game saw Black's pieces attack the d4-pawn viciously in the opening, and this resulted in an excellent middlegame for the 2665-rated Grandmaster Gashimov.} 0-1 [Event "Hoogeveen"] [Site "?"] [Date "2006.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "I.Sokolov"] [Black "V.Topalov"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A43"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "94"] [EventDate "2006.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {It's nice to see Topalov play and win with this Sniper variation as Black, thus giving it quite a high stamp of approval which in turn means it doesn't need my recommendation!} 1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 Nf6 ({Also playable is} 4... d6 $5 5. h3 a6 6. a4 Nf6 7. Nc3 {with a space advantage for White but plenty of middlegame play in store to neutralize that.}) 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bb5+ ({After the solid} 6. Be2 O-O 7. O-O {Black can play} Ne8 $3 {. I've given this move two exclamation marks: one because it's a very good move and another because it was the first plan that I learnt from a Grandmaster (albeit in a different position) when I was fortunate enough to see Grandmaster Mihai Suba analyse. As an impressionable teenager, I recall being absolutely amazed as he nonchalantly doubled his king's pawn (at this point, graded 167 BCF, I believed doubled pawns were worth only half a pawn each!) only a few moves later to see him plant his knight on d6 with apparent immunity and with excellent surveillance of all the key central squares – truly Dynamic Strategy! This experience of watching a brilliant dynamic strategist at work remained deeply lodged in my psyche, and I unwittingly sought out positions of complex dynamism within my playing style – with mixed results but always great joy. An example of how to continue as Black can be seen from Grandmaster Minasian's play, in a 1994 game played against Rotstein, in Paris:} 8. Bf4 Nd7 9. Qd2 Rb8 ({if I could replace this move with the Suba/Storey idea of} 9... Ne5 {, then Black can look forward to a fairly safe queenside expansion and good counterplay; if White tries to mess the pawns up, then} 10. Nxe5 dxe5 { (gaining a useful tempo)} 11. Be3 b6 12. a4 Nd6 {and we have the Suba/Storey knight and a messy position with level chances}) 10. Bh6 Nc7 11. a4 a6 12. a5 Nf6 13. Bxg7 Kxg7 14. h3 b5 15. axb6 Rxb6 16. b3 e6 {when White is quite comfortable.}) 6... Nfd7 {The most complex move.} ({Blocking with the other knight is my other recommendation:} 6... Nbd7 $1 7. a4 O-O 8. h3 Qc7 $1 { . The protection of e5 from ...Qc7 gives Black a nice middlegame, as it is quite difficult for White to easily organize his thematic e5 thrust without leaving some weaknesses behind.}) 7. a4 Na6 {If the knight comes to c7, not only does it get some initiative against the b5-bishop but it also supports a quick ...a6/...b5 with excellent counterplay.} 8. O-O Nc7 9. Re1 {Leaving the bishop to be captured, but Topalov finds a good solution to White's active play.} (9. Be2 {was a quick draw in I.Khenkin-B.Savchenko, Havana 2009.}) 9... Nxb5 10. axb5 O-O 11. Bf4 Nb6 12. e5 Bf5 13. h3 h6 14. Qe2 g5 $1 {An excellent move that denotes Topalov's intention to utilize his bishop pair. Many players would frown at weakening their own kingside, but Black's dominating light-squared bishop has all of the weak squares covered.} 15. Bg3 Qd7 16. h4 f6 {Even Topalov has a liking for my favourite little move!} 17. e6 Qe8 18. Nh2 Bg6 {The position is dynamically balanced, but Topalov goes on to win.} 19. f4 Bh5 20. Qd3 gxf4 21. Bxf4 Qg6 22. Nf1 f5 23. Kh2 Qg4 24. Qg3 Qxg3+ 25. Nxg3 Be8 26. Nge2 Kh7 27. Bg3 Nc4 {Black seizes the initiative. As the white pieces go backwards, Black's advantage grows greater.} 28. b3 Ne3 29. Rac1 Rg8 30. Nd1 Nxd5 31. c4 Nb4 32. Ne3 a6 33. bxa6 Rxa6 34. Nxf5 Bf6 35. Nf4 Ra2 36. Nd5 Nxd5 37. cxd5 Bh5 38. Rf1 Rd2 39. Ne3 Bd4 40. Nc4 Rd3 41. Bf4 Rxb3 42. Nd2 Rb2 43. Rb1 Bg6 44. Rxb2 Bxb2 45. Rf3 Rf8 46. Nc4 Be4 47. Bxd6 Bxf3 {Here we saw Black deal effectively with White's Bb5+ and later play a weakening kingside move: .. .g5! Black was able to cover all his light squares and the bishop pair triumphed.} 0-1 [Event "European Union Championship, Liverpool"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "S.Tiviakov"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "*"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c3 d5 {Not quite a Sniper – yet!} 4. Nd2 {Tiviakov plays a Tarrasch-style line against the Sniper, but I had prepared an ambitious idea. } c5 $1 {Behold – the Deferred Sniper. The knight is not exactly well placed on d2 and this pawn sacrifice is highly instructive. Does Black have enough for the sacrificed pawn? Yes, but it is very long-term compensation.} 5. dxc5 Nf6 $1 6. exd5 ({Alternatively,} 6. Bb5+ Bd7 7. Bxd7+ Nbxd7 8. exd5 Nxc5 { and Black stands well.}) 6... Qxd5 7. Nb3 ({For} 7. Ngf3 {, see the next game.} ) 7... Qxd1+ 8. Kxd1 O-O 9. Nf3 Rd8+ 10. Ke1 Nc6 {Black's lead in development together with White's inability to castle or to move a knight to c5 (the extra pawn occupies that square) ensures that Black has a small advantage. This highly original position demands further tests.} 11. Be2 e5 {Black's advantage may not be obvious, even to a Grandmaster, but he is better in the centre and can create further weaknesses in the White camp.} 12. Be3 Be6 13. Ng5 Bd5 14. f3 h6 15. Nh3 {Further central costs for White, as the knight is forced to the rim.} Be6 16. Rd1 Nd5 17. Bd2 f5 {Black has the centre and better piece positioning, and added up this is worth more than the pawn.} 18. Nf2 a5 $1 { Another piece will be pushed away from the centre.} 19. Nc1 a4 20. a3 Nf6 { Black is still better but there is a strange pressure that comes over a player when he faces opponents much higher-rated than himself. I am not blaming this pressure for one of the moves I soon play, but just noting my general inability to swim with the grandmaster dolphins who can calculate considerably better than me.} 21. Ncd3 Bb3 $1 {The white rook is forced back to an inactive square. I think I just needed a bit more belief here, but instead I got carried away and played what even a beginner would call an error! In fact any beginner could see the best move here – simply double on the d-file. That's the strange pressure I mentioned earlier that a higher-rated player can inflict on an opponent.} 22. Ra1 Ra5 $2 {The remaining moves of the game are too painful for me to add – I just got outplayed.} ({Of course it's easy to win in analysis, but had I played the 'beginner's'} 22... Rd7 $1 {, the simple and logical move, I could have gained a clear advantage as I previously showed in the introduction:} 23. g4 Rad8 24. gxf5 gxf5 25. Bc1 Kf7 26. Rg1 Bf8 27. Kf1 Bc4 28. Nb4 Bxe2+ 29. Kxe2 Na5 30. Nbd3 Re8 31. Rd1 Nc4 {, etc.}) * [Event "German League"] [Site "?"] [Date "2002.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "J.Heissler"] [Black "L.Thiede"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "107"] [EventDate "2002.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {In this game White deviates from Tiviakov's play and Black quickly acquires a small advantage.} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c3 d5 4. Nd2 c5 5. dxc5 Nf6 6. exd5 Qxd5 7. Ngf3 ({Instead of Tiviakov's} 7. Nb3 {.}) 7... Qxc5 {Black regains the pawn and enjoys a temporary development advantage.} 8. Nb3 {The knight has moved twice but hardly occupies a great square. Black does not have to worry too much about a quick opening attack.} Qc7 9. Bb5+ Nbd7 $6 {After this move White is fully equal again.} (9... Nc6 $1 {is better than the text as it leaves the bishop a little loose and there is no way White is going to gain from a c6 capture:} 10. O-O O-O 11. Re1 Bg4 12. h3 Rad8 {with better prospects for Black.}) 10. O-O O-O 11. Re1 e5 12. Bg5 Re8 13. Nbd2 a6 14. Bxf6 Bxf6 15. Bxd7 Bxd7 16. Ne4 Bg7 17. Qd6 Qd8 ({Not the most inspiring of moves. After} 17... Rac8 $1 {Black has great winning chances in the ending.}) 18. Rad1 Bc6 19. Qc5 Qe7 20. Qxe7 Rxe7 21. Nd6 Kf8 22. Nc4 f6 23. Nb6 Rae8 24. c4 Kf7 { Even in this ending Black has the better winning prospects on account of ...f5 at an opportune moment.} 25. b4 Rc7 $6 ({Black is doing his best not to win this one.} 25... f5 $1 {would have been the clearer way to keep the advantage.} ) 26. c5 Bf8 27. Nd2 {Now the two knights start to increase their grip over important central squares, including the rook access square at d7.} Rd8 28. Ndc4 Rxd1 29. Rxd1 Be7 {White has secured the d-file and placed the knights on solid squares. Black was probably now wishing he had played 25...f5! to gain some activity.} 30. a4 Ke6 31. f3 (31. Na5 $1 {pressures the bishop and helps to keep the advantage.}) 31... f5 ({Black begins to get some counterplay.} 31... Bxa4 $1 32. Nxa4 b5 {is a somewhat surprising tactic, difficult for a human to see but simple for a computer engine.}) 32. Re1 e4 33. Kf2 Bf6 { Now the bishops are active and suddenly Black has the winning chances.} 34. Rd1 Bc3 35. Rb1 exf3 36. gxf3 Bd4+ (36... g5 $1 {mobilizing the majority gives Black an advantage.}) 37. Kg2 Kf6 38. Na5 Re7 $2 ({The lure of gaining activity allows White to seize some of his own.} 38... Kg5 $1 {still fights for the win.}) 39. Nxc6 $6 ({After} 39. Rd1 Re2+ 40. Kf1 Rf2+ 41. Ke1 { suddenly a black piece will be lost.}) 39... bxc6 40. Rd1 {After a complicated 'Not Quite Endgame' and a plethora of errors therein, White emerges with a small advantage and soon goes on to increase it:} Bc3 41. b5 axb5 42. axb5 Re6 43. bxc6 Rxc6 44. Nd5+ Kg5 45. Nxc3 Rxc5 46. Nd5 Rc4 47. Kg3 Kh6 48. Nf4 Rc6 49. h4 Ra6 50. Rd7 Ra8 51. Nh3 Rh8 52. Ng5 Kh5 53. Nxh7 f4+ 54. Kh3 {This game saw Black acquire the two bishops, although White's centralized pieces were equal to them. Black had some good opportunities to fight for the advantage – specifically 9...Nc6 can be recommended.} 1-0 [Event "Pardubice"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "D.Gjuran"] [Black "I.Khmelniker"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B22"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This and the next game will show a good way of playing against the c3-Sicilian, which could feature in the Sniper if White plays in this manner.} 1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 {SMOT: But this time it is a Deferred Sniper! The Sniper could reach this position with 1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 c3 d5 4 exd5 Qxd5 5 Nf3 c5.} 6. Na3 ({The best way to meet} 6. Be2 {is with} cxd4 {. For example,} 7. cxd4 Nf6 8. Nc3 Qd6 {(the best square for the queen)} 9. O-O O-O 10. Qb3 Nc6 11. Rd1 Qb4 {(Black is well placed to have slightly the better of the ending)} 12. d5 Qxb3 13. axb3 Nb4 14. Bf4 Ne8 15. Be3 Na6 16. Nd4 Nac7 17. Ndb5 Nxb5 18. Nxb5 a6 19. Nc3 {1/2-1/2, Zhang Pengxiang-Ni Hua, Budapest 2000. When we consider that Pengxiang was rated nearly 200 points higher than his opponent, this has to be viewed as a very successful opening for Black.}) 6... cxd4 7. Nb5 (7. Bc4 {is the other main try for White.} Z0 ({ After some analysis I've concluded that I cannot recommend the popular} 7... Qe4+ $6 {, because of} 8. Be3 Nh6 9. cxd4 O-O 10. Nb5 Nc6 11. Nc7 Nf5 12. Nxa8 Nfxd4 13. Rc1 Bg4 14. Nc7 Bxf3 {leading to complications which are favourable for White.}) ({Instead Black should play} 7... Qd8 $1 {, which is the best square for the queen. After} 8. Qb3 e6 9. Bf4 Nf6 10. Nb5 O-O 11. Nbxd4 { (when White moves backwards from b5 with this knight, it is a sign that his early opening aggression has not worked)} Nc6 12. Nxc6 bxc6 13. O-O Nd5 14. Bg3 Qb6 {Black is by no means worse.})) 7... Na6 8. Nbxd4 {A simple development count is in Black's favour and shows that he has done something right in the opening, even though White gets good centralized knights.} Nf6 9. Bb5+ ({ In the next game we will consider} 9. Bxa6 {.}) 9... Bd7 {Black has a slight lead in development, ensuring an equal game.} 10. Qe2 O-O 11. O-O Bxb5 (11... Nc5 $5 {is also a good try.}) 12. Nxb5 Qe4 {Black has no weaknesses and enjoys a level position.} 13. Re1 Qxe2 14. Rxe2 e6 15. Be3 b6 16. Bd4 Rfc8 17. Ne5 Ne8 18. f4 Nac7 19. Nxc7 Nxc7 20. c4 Ne8 21. b3 Rd8 22. Rd1 f6 23. Nf3 Kf7 24. Rde1 {This game set no real problems for Black and ...g6 is a good way of playing against the c3 Sicilian via a SMOT at move 5....} 1/2-1/2 [Event "St Petersburg"] [Site "?"] [Date "1998.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "A.Karpatchev"] [Black "A.Galliamova"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B22"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "1998.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This c3-Sicilian Sniper game sees the Sniper's brother take charge of the long a8-h1 diagonal.} 1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. Na3 cxd4 7. Nb5 Na6 8. Nbxd4 Nf6 9. Bxa6 bxa6 {White attempts to justify his development lag by damaging Black's pawn structure, but now Black's light-squared bishop has no challenger and Black can look forward to play on the long a8-h1 diagonal.} 10. O-O O-O 11. Re1 Re8 12. Qb3 e5 (12... Qd6 $5 { is better than 12...e5 as it prepares the initiative-gaining move ...Rb8 with great activity in the middlegame.}) 13. Nc2 Bb7 {This bishop takes over the role of the dominant piece and will generate threats for a long time along its diagonal.} 14. Bg5 Rab8 {Black's activity already ensures the better middlegame prospects.} 15. Qxd5 Nxd5 16. Rad1 h6 17. Bc1 g5 18. c4 Nf4 { The two-bishop advantage is only an advantage when they are controlling many key squares. Here both are doing so, especially the Sniper's brother.} 19. Bxf4 exf4 20. b3 g4 {Always look to gain advantages in the centre, be it occupying, controlling, or reducing the opponent's control of it. Black gains an edge here by forcing the knight to occupy a good central square. This prevents the d1-rook from utilizing its control of an open file and thus negates its ability to arrive on the seventh rank.} 21. Nfd4 Rxe1+ 22. Rxe1 Rd8 23. Re7 Bxd4 24. Rxb7 Bb6 25. Re7 ({Black has a won game as the threat of mate on the back row cannot easily be dealt with. For example,} 25. h3 Rd1+ 26. Kh2 g3+ 27. fxg3 Bg1+ 28. Kh1 Bf2+ 29. Kh2 fxg3# {is checkmate!}) 25... Rd2 26. Ne1 g3 { White has no defence but plays on for a few more moves.} 27. hxg3 fxg3 28. Nf3 gxf2+ 29. Kf1 Rd1+ 30. Ne1 fxe1=Q+ 31. Rxe1 Rxe1+ 32. Kxe1 a5 33. Kd2 Kg7 34. Kd3 Kf6 35. Ke4 Ke6 36. g4 Bc5 {This game showed that the presence of two active bishops can force other positional advantages. In particular, Black's domination of the d-file and penetration of the seventh rank came about due to White's desire to capture the useful bishop on b7 which was performing an excellent active role for Black. In conclusion, these two games gave Black no real problems, and ...g6 is a good way of playing against the c3-Sicilian via a Deferred Sniper.} 0-1 [Event "Belgrade"] [Site "?"] [Date "1989.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "M.Jevtic"] [Black "M.Simic"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "52"] [EventDate "1989.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will show how difficult it is for a Master to play well when forced to think for himself in a new situation. A basic principle is broken which allows Black to assume the initiative as early as move five.} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c3 d5 4. Bd3 $6 (4. e5 {transposes to other lines after} c5 {:} 5. Nf3 ( {and} 5. f4 {transposes to positions considered in the next chapter}) 5... cxd4 6. cxd4 {transposes to Gharamian-Gashimov.}) 4... dxe4 $1 {Black quickly finds a way to gain a free development move and with it seize a tiny advantage.} 5. Bxe4 Nf6 {This drives the bishop back and gains a free move. In terms of development advantage, this simply gives Black White, and White Black!} 6. Bd3 {Black has an extra piece developed and also has the move – a complete success for the Sniper.} O-O ({All Sniper players know that ...0-0 is always a last resort and other moves that affect the centre should be played first if possible. The interesting alternative} 6... c5 $5 {was more in the spirit of the Sniper, and if} 7. dxc5 O-O 8. Bc2 Qxd1+ 9. Bxd1 Nbd7 10. b4 $2 {Black has} Nd5 {.}) 7. Be3 Nbd7 ({Black gains a clear plus by grabbing the centre with} 7... e5 $1 {, with chances of an e-file attack and ...Ng4 gaining the two-bishop advantage.}) 8. Nf3 Re8 9. Qc2 e5 {Black is already close to winning and 4 Bd3 must be assigned to the scrapheap.} 10. Nbd2 exd4 11. cxd4 Nd5 {The pressure on the e3-bishop ensures more advantage for Black.} 12. Be4 Nxe3 13. fxe3 Nf6 14. O-O Nxe4 15. Nxe4 Bf5 16. Nfd2 Qe7 17. Rf4 Bh6 18. Raf1 Bxf4 19. Rxf4 Bxe4 20. Nxe4 f5 21. Qc4+ Kh8 22. g3 b5 23. Qc3 fxe4 24. d5+ Qg7 25. Qc6 Rf8 26. Rxe4 Qf6 {This game once again showed the power of two active bishops, who converted their pressure into a material advantage. This transpired because White immediately handed Black the initiative with the error 4 Bd3?!.} 0-1 [Event "Ciocaltea Memorial, Bucharest"] [Site "?"] [Date "2000.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "D.Svetushkin"] [Black "V.Iordachescu"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2000.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. f4 d5 $1 ({The Pure Sniper move order of} 3... c5 { is put on hold in favour of the Deferred Sniper, and for a very good reason because Black soon emerges with an excellent position. 3...c5 can be played and is still okay for Black (see the next section), but 3...d5 is better at exploiting White's optimistic aggression.}) 4. e5 {White has the central advantage but Black can solve the problem of his worst minor piece, which is of course how to develop the c8-bishop.} c5 ({In a bid to make the position unclear,} 4... Nh6 $5 {is worth a try, although the text is fine.}) 5. c3 ({ Alternatively,} 5. dxc5 Nc6 6. Nc3 Be6 7. Nf3 Nh6 8. Bd3 O-O 9. O-O b6 { (this gambit is again useful for Black)} 10. cxb6 Qxb6+ 11. Kh1 {with pressure on the queenside for both black rooks and plenty of play for the pawn.}) 5... cxd4 6. cxd4 Nc6 ({Black will now gain counterplay by throwing everything he has at the d4-pawn. The immediate} 6... Nh6 $5 {is also a good move.}) 7. Nc3 Nh6 {Black already has a small advantage. The newly developed knight will enjoy a superb role at f5 where it will survey the entire White army and especially the weakness at d4.} 8. Be2 O-O 9. Bf3 (9. Nf3 {is covered in the next game.}) 9... Nf5 {I particularly like this idea of offering to trade d-pawns, and it also helps centralize the black knights.} 10. Nge2 ({If} 10. Bxd5 Qb6 {Black is ready to take on d4 with a lead in development, and ...Rd8 will help Black considerably.}) 10... Be6 {This surprising move ensures a good advantage for Black. The key weakness is defended and the Sniper's brother remains active on the light squares. Had the pawn on d5 been defended with ... e6, locking in the bishop, Black would have lost whatever advantage he had.} 11. g3 ({Of course} 11. g4 {is met by} Nh4 {.}) 11... Qb6 {Black really should have gone on to win this position and White can consider himself very lucky to have drawn after being outplayed in the opening.} 12. Na4 ({Winning a central pawn with} 12. Bxd5 $6 {may look attractive. However, Black crashes through on d4, with his rook applying long-range support. For example,} Rad8 13. Bxe6 fxe6 14. Na4 Qa5+ 15. Nac3 Ncxd4 16. Nxd4 Bxe5 $3 17. fxe5 Nxd4 {. The white king is looking very bare and the discovered attack is looking lethal.}) 12... Qa5+ 13. Kf2 b5 (13... Rac8 {is also extremely good for Black.}) 14. Nc5 {It is Black's willingness to trade his e6-bishop for a knight that will secure him a good advantage.} Qb6 15. Nxe6 fxe6 {The most important factor in chess is who has the safer king – immediately or potentially. Here we see that Black gains in his attack on the weaker white king as a result of allowing his e6-bishop to be traded. The pawn increases its value as it is now a central pawn, and also the centre is blocked which somewhat neutralizes White's potential two-bishop advantage. In fact, Black has the 'not two-bishop' advantage! I hope I have enlightened readers as to why the 2569-rated Grandmaster was so keen to allow White to capture his e6-bishop.} 16. Be3 g5 (16... Nxe3 $1 { is the best move:} 17. Kxe3 g5 18. Bg4 Kh8 {highlights the weaker position of the white king and ensures Black's advantage. Note that} 19. Bxe6 {is met by a discovered attack from the queen on b6,} ({while} 19. Rf1 {is answered by} Bxe5 $3 {;} 20. fxe5 Nxe5 21. Bf3 g4 22. Bg2 Nc4+ 23. Kd3 Nxb2+ {is a nasty fork that fully justifies the incredible ...Bxe5 sacrifice.})) 17. Qd2 gxf4 18. gxf4 Bh6 19. Rhg1+ Kh8 20. Rg4 Rad8 $6 (20... Rac8 $1 {keeps Black's winning chances alive.}) 21. Rd1 a5 22. Ng3 Nxe5 23. dxe5 d4 24. Nxf5 exf5 25. Rgg1 dxe3+ 26. Qxe3 Qe6 27. b3 a4 28. Be2 axb3 29. axb3 Qc6 30. Rxd8 Rxd8 31. Rc1 Qa8 32. Bxb5 Rg8 33. Rg1 Rxg1 34. Kxg1 Qg8+ 35. Qg3 Bxf4 36. Qxg8+ {This game saw the Deferred Sniper easily cope with White's early pawn aggression. It also highlighted the dangers of weakening the squares that the pawns neglect after being moved into the centre in such an aggressive manner. Sniper players prefer to place their pawns aggressively in the centre only when there is something tangible to be gained. They avoid being overly speculative as they know this can leave fatally weak squares behind.} 1/2-1/2 [Event "Politiken Cup, Helsingor"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "N.Laursen"] [Black "T.Hillarp Persson"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "56"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game sees a transposition to the previous one at move five. White deviates with 9 Nf3, Black answers with a quick ...Bg4 and then again throws everything he can at d4. This is a simple and highly effective plan that all Sniper players should look to implement against White's central pawn structure. } 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. f4 c5 {A Pure Sniper, but not recommended in this instance as the Deferred Sniper is better. In other words, play ...d5 before .. .c5.} 4. c3 $6 ({I believe White has some chances for a small advantage by playing} 4. d5 {against the Pure Sniper move order in this variation, reaching a f4 Schmid Benoni (see the next section). Credit must go to IM Byron Jacobs, who scored some good results with d5 against me on the ICC and forced me to re-evaluate the variation.}) 4... d5 {This transposes to the previous game which was a Deferred Sniper, but of course Laursen declined the opportunity to play the critical 4 d5!. I hope the reader appreciates the difficulties in compiling this work and presenting the material in an easy-to-absorb manner!} 5. e5 ({An interesting pawn sacrifice is available to Black after} 5. dxc5 Nf6 6. exd5 O-O 7. Nf3 Nxd5 8. Bc4 Be6 9. Na3 Nc6 {, when his position is preferable despite being a pawn down.}) 5... cxd4 6. cxd4 Nc6 {Black has a simple plan of attacking the pawn base at d4. The black pieces are drawn to it like a bear to honey!} 7. Nc3 Nh6 8. Be2 O-O 9. Nf3 Bg4 {Black will enjoy a decent middlegame advantage, with some simple pressure against d4.} 10. Be3 Nf5 11. Bf2 Bh6 12. Qd2 f6 13. h3 Bxf3 14. Bxf3 e6 15. g4 {Tiger Hillarp Persson is well known for piece sacrifices for a few central pawns. Here White forces him into it, and he takes little persuasion.} Nfxd4 {The pressure against d4 yields a good material gain.} 16. Bxd4 fxe5 {Simply blowing the White position apart.} 17. Be3 d4 18. g5 Bg7 19. Bxc6 bxc6 20. O-O-O dxe3 21. Qxe3 Qb6 { One advantage of being ahead on material is that you can increase your advantage through offering simplification. In this instance Black simply gets free development and takes charge of an important diagonal.} 22. Qe2 exf4 23. Qxe6+ Kh8 24. Rd2 Qc5 25. Rc2 Rae8 26. Qd7 f3 27. Qd2 Rd8 28. Nd1 Qe5 {This was an excellent attack against d4 after a quick ...Bg4, and a huge triumph for Black against the aggressive Three Pawns Attack. Should this line be classified as a Pure Sniper or a Deferred Sniper? Well, if it can be reached via a Pure Sniper then that should get priority, but the earlier game was definitely a Deferred Sniper. The complexities of move orders – their mastery is difficult!} 0-1 [Event "British Championship, Torquay"] [Site "?"] [Date "2009.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "L.Varnam"] [Black "A.Summerscale"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A43"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2009.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {Here we will see a slow queenside expansion by Black with ...b6 and ...a6 to deal with White's a4. However, ...b5 is eventually achieved and when it arrives it comes with advantage.} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. f4 d6 ({Again I refer the reader to} 3... d5 $1 {against this opening aggression. However, I should stress that the Sniper practitioner does need to be ready for the f4 Schmid Benoni, because of the move order 1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 c5 4 d5 d6, and now 5 f4, etc.}) 4. Nf3 c5 {SMOT: A Deferred Sniper, although after committing to an early ...d6 some of Black's options are removed.} 5. d5 Nf6 6. Nc3 O-O 7. Be2 ( {The more aggressive} 7. e5 {is covered in the next game.}) 7... e6 8. O-O ({ White should avoid exchanging with} 8. dxe6 Bxe6 {as Black is a touch better there.}) 8... exd5 9. exd5 Na6 10. Bd2 Nc7 11. Bc4 a6 {Black threatens ...b5 with a huge initiative gain on the queenside, control of some useful extra squares, and more importantly the central modifier threat of ...b4 would be made ready for use at Black's discretion. White has only one reasonable move:} 12. a4 b6 $5 {Aaron finds a nice slow way of playing. First of all he prevents the crippling a5 by White, and next he intends to put the black rook behind the pawn and then push it to b5.} 13. Be1 Rb8 14. Bh4 b5 {The ...b5 push arrives, securing excellent queenside counterplay and additional spatial control.} 15. axb5 axb5 16. Ba2 Qd7 {Taking a4 away from the knight and helping to connect the rooks.} 17. Ng5 c4 18. Nge4 Nxe4 19. Nxe4 f5 {White's last chance of using the f6-square is taken away, and the white pieces are placed on 'non-dangerous active squares'. The English Grandmaster has shown an excellent way of playing the Sniper.} 20. Ng5 Bb7 21. Ne6 {This is definitely not a position where White can fall asleep after achieving his knight to king six – he is simply lost.} Nxe6 22. dxe6 Qxe6 23. Re1 Be4 {With complete control of the centre and an extra pawn, the remainder of the game is trivial for a Grandmaster.} 24. c3 Ra8 25. Bf2 Ra4 26. b3 Ra3 27. bxc4 Rfa8 28. cxb5 Rxa2 29. Rxa2 Rxa2 30. Bd4 Rxg2+ {With mate in 11! Here we saw Black counterplay with ...b6 and later ...b5, eventually leading to the win of the d5-pawn (albeit when it arrived at e6).} 0-1 [Event "British Championship, Douglas"] [Site "?"] [Date "2005.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "P.Littlewood"] [Black "S.Conquest"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A43"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2005.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game sees Grandmaster Conquest deal effectively with an early central pawn thrust. He attacks the e5-pawn with everything he has and then switches his attack to win the other central pawn. However, White's play can be improved upon (see the note to White's 11th move).} 1. d4 c5 2. d5 g6 3. e4 Bg7 4. f4 $1 {An excellent positional approach – the large centre is good for White.} d6 5. Nf3 ({An important point to remember after} 5. Nc3 {is not to fall into a line that can place Black in a positional crush:} Z0 (5... Nf6 $4 { (a poisoned arrow to the heart of this variation for Black)} 6. Bb5+ Nfd7 7. a4 {when White is already on the verge of a 'winning slow bind' across the entire board.}) ({Black needs a fantastic resource, and we must reverse back to 5... Nf6 to extract the arrow and heal the wound with yet another superb Sniper Sacrifice:} 5... Bxc3+ $3 6. bxc3 Nf6 $1 {(quick central pressure combined with ...Qa5 causes some uncomfortable problems for White that are unique to the Sniper)} 7. Bd3 Qa5 $1 {(this cheeky queen move causes disharmony in White's development)} 8. Qd2 c4 9. Bxc4 Nxe4 10. Qd4 O-O 11. Ne2 Nf6 12. O-O Na6 {with a complex but level middlegame struggle that fully justifies the Sniper Sacrifice.})) 5... Nf6 6. Nc3 O-O 7. e5 {Conquest finds good counterplay against this early aggressive central thrust.} dxe5 8. fxe5 Ng4 { White's centre is formidable but can become a target. Black must attack it immediately or he risks getting completely suppressed.} 9. Qe2 Nd7 (9... f6 $5 {is an interesting alternative, and may well be stronger.}) 10. Bf4 Qc7 { Conquest has a habit of putting his queen here to attack the e5-square. It also pins the e5-pawn to the bishop.} 11. Nb5 {The lure of the attack on the queen works, and Conquest now grabs the initiative.} ({Much better was} 11. O-O-O $1 Ngxe5 12. Kb1 a6 13. g3 f6 14. Bh3 {when White has great piece mobility and very realistic attacking potential which is well worth a pawn. This is the reason I cannot recommend this for Black, despite Conquest winning with it.}) 11... Qa5+ 12. c3 c4 ({After} 12... a6 13. Na3 b5 14. h3 Qa4 $1 15. g3 Nh6 16. Bg2 Nb6 17. Qd2 Nf5 18. g4 Nxd5 $1 19. Qxd5 Qxf4 20. gxf5 Qe3+ 21. Kf1 Bxf5 {Black has a winning position as the rook and bishop will help to make ...Bd3+ a reality.}) 13. Na3 (13. Qxc4 a6 $1 14. Nc7 b5 15. Qc6 Qa4 { is a cheeky move that grabs the advantage. After} 16. Nd4 Rb8 {White's centre will soon be blown up by the Sniper bishop.}) 13... Qxd5 14. Rd1 Qc5 { Preventing Qxc4 due to...Qf2 mate!} 15. Nxc4 b5 16. Ne3 Nxe3 (16... Ngxe5 $5 { is also a good move for Black.}) 17. Bxe3 Qc7 18. Bd4 Nc5 ({An interesting alternative is} 18... Bb7 $5 19. e6 Bxd4 20. Rxd4 Nc5 21. exf7+ Rxf7 22. Qe5 Qxe5+ 23. Nxe5 Rf5 24. Nf3 a6 {when Black's superior activity more than compensates for the extra pawn island.}) 19. Qe3 Ne6 20. Be2 Bb7 21. O-O a6 22. h4 Qc6 23. Ne1 Rad8 24. Bf3 Qc8 25. Bxb7 Qxb7 26. Nf3 h6 27. Nh2 Qc8 28. h5 g5 29. g3 $2 (29. Ng4 {keeps the game a contest.}) 29... b4 30. Qf3 Qc4 {Black starts to attack the queenside weakness and the d4-square.} 31. b3 Qd5 32. Qe2 {Here Conquest played} Qc6 {and eventually won.} ({However, after} 32... Qa5 { Black already has a winning position as the c3-pawn will fall due its need to support d4. This game showed how to play against early central pawn aggression. Black allowed White to advance the central pawns but pressured them for the rest of the game, combining this with threats against White's weak queenside to create winning chances. White may be able to improve upon his aggressive play at some point, especially with 11 0-0-0!, while for Black 9...f6 could be an improvement.}) 0-1 [Event "Paris"] [Site "?"] [Date "1994.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "J.Roos"] [Black "S.Belkhodja"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B25"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "1994.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This and the next game show a dynamic way for Black to deal with a Closed Sicilian setup using one of our favourite Sniper moves, ...Nh6, in conjunction with ...f5. This approach ensures that Black gets excellent counterplay.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 {SMOT: This position can easily come from a Pure Sniper move order.} 5. d3 d6 6. f4 ({The popular} 6. Be3 {is well met by} Nf6 $1 7. h3 Qb6 $1 {with some irritating pressure for White to deal with, which ensures Black has a good middlegame.}) 6... Nh6 $1 {After searching the length and breadth of the planet for an excellent way to play against the Closed Sicilian via the Sniper, I have found it! I present it to you here. The Sniper practitioner will immediately notice that the diagonal stays open, f4-f5 is prevented and ...Bg4 is supported.} ({An alternative to 6...Nh6 is} 6... a6 $5 {reaching another rare position with the knight still on g8, but I will focus on the text and leave the other to your own investigations.}) 7. Nf3 f5 ({Black immediately fights for the centre but wisely refrains from committing the e-pawn.} 7... O-O $5 {was also a good try.}) 8. Bd2 O-O 9. O-O Rb8 {Preparing ...b5-b4 which will have the net result of removing a key defender from the centre.} (9... Qb6 $5 {is also playable,}) ({as is} 9... Bd7 $5 {.}) 10. Qe1 Kh8 11. Rb1 b5 12. a3 b4 13. axb4 cxb4 14. Nd5 e6 15. Ne3 (15. Nxb4 $2 Nxb4 16. Bxb4 Qb6+ {wins a piece.}) 15... a5 {A complex but level struggle lies ahead.} 16. exf5 Nxf5 {Black gets an extra central pawn but will there be any chance to make use of it?} 17. Nc4 Ncd4 (17... Qc7 $5 {is another good way of playing.}) 18. Nxd4 Nxd4 {Black's central knight ensures a good game.} 19. c3 Nb3 20. Be3 Qc7 21. Qd1 a4 (21... bxc3 $5 22. bxc3 a4 {also is good for Black.}) 22. cxb4 Rxb4 {Black's more active rook and extra central pawn offer the better prospects.} 23. Re1 Bb7 24. Bxb7 Rxb7 25. Bf2 Re8 26. Qg4 Nd4 27. Rbc1 Qd7 28. Re4 Nf5 29. Nb6 Qb5 30. Nxa4 d5 {The early ...f5 and ... Nh6 plan offers not only a good defence against White's own f5 threats, but also good central counterplay and actually sets White problems. This is a great way of meeting the Closed Sicilian.} 0-1 [Event "Belgrade"] [Site "?"] [Date "1980.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "M.Todorcevic"] [Black "B.Vujacic"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B25"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "106"] [EventDate "1980.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 {SMOT: This should need no explanation by now, and if so you have mastered the move order part of the Sniper. If you are still confused, please read the end of the introduction again.} 5. d3 d6 6. f4 f5 {Black prefers to play ...f5 first before ...Nh6. Perhaps this is better than the last game – you decide! I think they are both good.} 7. Nf3 Nh6 8. O-O O-O 9. Kh1 {Neglecting central duties but putting the king safe. It is nearly always better to defend by central control than by preparing a defence for the king. Therefore it is always better to strengthen the centre first if you really want to protect your king.} Nf7 ({Alternatively,} 9... Bd7 $5 {gives an interesting position.}) 10. Be3 Nd4 ({Or} 10... Qa5 $5 11. Qd2 fxe4 12. dxe4 Rb8 {with a level middlegame.}) 11. Nd2 {Neglecting the centre in this manner is a triumph for Black's opening. Black's approach of defending his king by strengthening in the centre proves to be the better option.} Bd7 12. a4 Bc6 13. Nc4 e6 {Black has slightly the better of the middlegame. A timely ...fxe4 and centralizing the rooks will enable good prospects for further advantage.} 14. Bg1 b6 15. Qd2 Qd7 16. Ne3 a6 (16... Rae8 {prepares central thrusts and exchanges, and gives Black a small advantage.}) 17. Rab1 b5 18. axb5 axb5 19. Ne2 Nxe2 20. Qxe2 Ra2 21. Nd1 Rc8 22. Re1 b4 {Black has all the queenside play, more space and more active pieces.} 23. b3 Bb7 24. Ne3 d5 25. e5 Nd8 26. Ra1 Rca8 27. Rxa2 Rxa2 28. Qd1 {Control of the only open file and a secure centre guarantee Black a plus.} d4 29. Nc4 Nf7 30. Qb1 Bxg2+ 31. Kxg2 Qc6+ 32. Kf1 Ra8 33. Qd1 {Black dominates the a-file and a8-h1 diagonal but something more is required to attain victory. Undermining the centre or weakening White's king position further would likely achieve the objective.} Ra2 34. Qe2 g5 $1 35. Rc1 gxf4 36. gxf4 Bh6 {The extra pressure should now help to achieve victory.} 37. Qf2 Nh8 $1 {The point of the earlier ...g5 is revealed: Black now has a won game as the f4-pawn becomes an easy target.} 38. Qh4 Qf3+ 39. Bf2 Qxf4 { With the centre undermined, Black's task becomes trivial.} 40. Qd8+ Bf8 41. Re1 Rxc2 42. Re2 Rc1+ 43. Re1 Nf7 44. Qe8 Rc2 45. Re2 Rxe2 46. Kxe2 Qg4+ 47. Ke1 f4 48. Qc6 Qh3 49. Ke2 Ng5 50. Nd2 Qxh2 51. Ne4 Qh5+ 52. Kd2 Nxe4+ 53. dxe4 Qh3 { In this game we learnt that it is better to defend by playing in the centre rather than tucking the king away in the corner. In both games we saw a player defeating a higher-rated opponent with Black by deploying the ...f5/...Nh6 defence, confirming it as an excellent way of meeting the Closed Sicilian. Sniper practitioners can expect many easy points.} 0-1 [Event "Atlantic Open, Washington DC"] [Site "?"] [Date "1998.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "S.Fink"] [Black "A.Ivanov"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "66"] [EventDate "1998.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This and the next game see an incredible idea for Black against a Scholar's Mate-style attack. White's setup is aggressive but Black has an unorthodox answer: 6...Ke7!!. Grandmaster Ivanov is so confident with this idea that he plays it again, against the same opponent, with the same result.} 1. e4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. Bc4 c5 4. Qf3 {This is a cheeky setup that threatens Scholars Mate, but also applies some positional pressure.} e6 {Black will be delighted if ... d5 arrives with a free attack on the c4-bishop.} 5. Nb5 {White has two extra pieces in play and reasons that this may justify the second move of the knight, but Black has an extremely novel solution waiting in the wings:} d6 6. Qg3 Ke7 $3 {I love this move, but how and why can it be a good move? Let me attempt to explain: 1. It protects the d-pawn. 2. It prepares ...Re8 (after ...Nf6). 3. There is a Black initiative brewing with ...a6 and ...b5. 4. Black has good pawn cover on the central squares d5 and e5, thus White has medium to long-term difficulties bringing in his troops. 5. The c5-pawn clamps down on the d4-square, rendering the d2-pawn ineffective in contributing to the attack. In truth, 6...Ke7!! is difficult to explain completely. Just sit back and admire the beauty of the Sniper!} 7. d4 {White tries to make use of his pieces in their current active locations, otherwise Black will send them all backwards with an initiative rebound.} a6 8. Nxd6 $6 {Not happy with facing the inevitable initiative rebound, White sacrifices the knight. Black reasons that the risky king move has enticed White into this losing position!} Qxd6 9. Bf4 Qxd4 10. Ne2 Qxc4 {Black accepted the extra piece and has adequate defensive resources. White has simply no compensation.} 11. Bxb8 Nf6 12. Rd1 Bd7 13. Qd6+ Ke8 14. Nc3 a5 15. Qc7 Bf8 16. Rd3 Be7 17. O-O Kf8 18. Rfd1 Bc6 19. b3 Qa6 20. Qe5 Rxb8 21. Qxb8+ Kg7 {The dust has settled. Black not only has two bishops for a rook, but also some initiative against the white queen.} 22. Qe5 Re8 23. Rf3 Qa7 24. g4 Qb8 25. Qg5 Nxe4 26. Qe3 Nf6 27. Rh3 Nxg4 28. Qe2 h5 29. f3 Nf6 30. Rg3 Bd6 31. Rg2 Be5 32. Nb1 Nd5 33. Qf1 Ne3 {This game saw a Grandmaster very successfully play 6...Ke7 against a Scholar's Mate-style attack, and also showed us the interesting criteria that justified such an outrageous opening move.} 0-1 [Event "World Open, Philadelphia"] [Site "?"] [Date "2002.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "S.Fink"] [Black "A.Ivanov"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "2002.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. Bc4 c5 4. Qf3 {Stanley Fink could be forgiven for playing the same line again, against the same player, but 6...Ke7 once again stands firm!} e6 5. Nb5 d6 6. Qg3 Ke7 $3 7. a4 {Better than his 1998 effort.} Nc6 {Black defends by adding extra control to the centre.} 8. Ne2 a6 9. Nbc3 { No sacrifice of the knight this time by Mr Fink, but Black's grip on d4 prevents any heavy d-file artillery from getting at the d6-pawn.} Nb4 (9... Nf6 {is also good.}) 10. O-O Nxc2 11. Rb1 Nf6 12. d3 (12. e5 {comes to nought as well:} dxe5 13. Qxe5 Qd6 14. Nd5+ Nxd5 15. Qxg7 Bd7 16. d4 Rag8 {and once more 6...Ke7!! is justified.}) 12... Nh5 13. Qh3 Kf8 14. f4 {This looks like the seed of a strong attack but there are no good tactics available and Black starts to get his grip on the centre.} d5 $1 {Once again the advantage passes to Black and White doesn't have enough for a pawn.} 15. f5 dxc4 {Black's 6... Ke7 has achieved quite a useful psychological effect; it is almost as though White is 'honour bound' to try a piece sacrifice.} 16. fxe6 Qe7 {This ends the game as a contest, as Black will now play ...Bxe6 with defence and tempo.} 17. dxc4 Bxe6 18. Qf3 Nd4 19. Nxd4 Bxd4+ 20. Kh1 Kg7 21. g4 Nf6 22. g5 Nd7 23. b3 Rhe8 24. Bf4 {I have sympathy for Mr Fink but this is an outstanding mini chess tale. 6...Ke7!! once again proves its value and I am delighted to include it in this book.} 0-1 [Event "European Club Cup, Izmir"] [Site "?"] [Date "2004.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "J.Ristoja"] [Black "E.Inarkiev"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B23"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2004.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 {SMOT: A Deferred Sniper with ...Nc6, but of course this position could have arisen via a Pure Sniper.} 5. Bc4 ({ After} 5. Bb5 Nd4 6. O-O Nxb5 7. Nxb5 b6 $1 8. c4 Bb7 {Black has good middlegame prospects with the bishop pair advantage.}) 5... e6 6. f5 $5 { If Black is greedy and grabs this pawn it becomes an excellent move, but trust me Snipers-in-training, do not take it! Strengthen your centre instead, which will negate its value.} Nge7 7. fxe6 fxe6 $1 ({Black has acquired a tiny advantage due to better central placement and f-file usage.} 7... dxe6 $5 { is also okay for Black.}) 8. d3 O-O 9. O-O d5 {Central initiative gaining is a constant weapon in the Sniper's arsenal.} 10. Bb3 Na5 $1 {An important moment as the knight prepares to neutralize any aggressive potential of the bishop.} 11. Bg5 {Alternatively:} ({a)} 11. Qe1 $6 c4 12. Ba4 (12. dxc4 dxc4 13. Ba4 a6 $1 {is good for Black}) 12... a6 $1 {and Black is better.}) ({b)} 11. exd5 Nxb3 $1 {is a good move as it removes the aggressive bishop from the battle.}) 11... d4 {Shutting the centre is nearly always good if you gain some initiative with it.} 12. Ne2 h6 $1 {This secures g5 and prevents White's minor pieces from using the square for logistical operations.} 13. Bd2 Nec6 ({Rushing in with} 13... Nxb3 14. axb3 e5 15. b4 $1 {offers White good counterplay against Black's centre.}) 14. Qe1 Nxb3 {At last the capture is played but only after White has committed his queen to an idea that does not improve his position, so this 'waiting to capture' policy proves to save a tempo.} 15. axb3 e5 { This is a balanced middlegame and well worth an hour's study, especially since the Grand Prix Attack is quite popular and this is a key position.} 16. Qh4 ({ With} 16. Qg3 {White could be forgiven for thinking he has some attack on the kingside, but Black can fight fire with fire:} Qd6 17. h4 Bd7 18. Kh1 Rf7 19. h5 g5 {(Black's kingside is stronger than White's)} 20. Nh2 Raf8 21. Kg1 Qe6 { and Black takes control of the light squares.}) (16. b4 cxb4 17. Bxb4 Nxb4 18. Qxb4 Kh7 {is completely equal.}) 16... Qxh4 {Black is more than happy to take on the endgame.} 17. Nxh4 Bg4 18. Ng3 Kh7 {Black is slightly better due to the knights being away from the centre.} 19. h3 Be6 20. Nf3 Kg8 21. Nh2 a5 22. Ng4 Kh7 23. Rxf8 Rxf8 24. Rf1 Rxf1+ 25. Kxf1 Nb4 26. Bxb4 cxb4 {Black is on the verge of a won game as the two bishops have easy and quick access to the edges of the board, whereas the white knights will struggle with this important requirement.} 27. Ke1 b5 28. Ne2 Kg8 29. Nh2 h5 30. Kd1 Kf7 31. Nf3 Kf6 { Black will penetrate on the kingside with his pieces and create a timely passed pawn on the a-file to win. This game saw Black simply exchange White's aggressive b3-bishop. Then White entered a poor endgame and Black's bishop pair helped the 2600+ Grandmaster easily convert to a full point. Overall, this is a good way of playing against the Grand Prix Attack.} 0-1 [Event "Ostersund"] [Site "?"] [Date "1992.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "L.Karlsson"] [Black "H.Olafsson"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B21"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "118"] [EventDate "1992.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will demonstrate an additional option that Black has with the Sniper move order versus a Grand Prix Attack, specifically playing without ... Nc6. It will also show that White has difficulty in exploiting this omission.} 1. f4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. e4 Bg7 {SMOT: This move order came from Bird's Opening. As Black is used to the structures it is easy for him to adapt to new situations. This shows one of the advantages of the Sniper, and most of the move order tricks are covered in this book. In other openings there are often tricky move orders that White can use at opportune moments to gain a great advantage in surprise. The beauty of the Sniper is that it is often Black who provides these surprises.} 4. Bc4 e6 5. Nc3 Ne7 {Black of course must strive to use his d-pawn as quickly as possible, and 5...Ne7 prepares ...d5 with gain of development time.} 6. d4 ({No better is} 6. e5 d5 7. exd6 Nf5 {.} ({This is stronger than} 7... Qxd6 {as the black knight recaptures the pawn with a good position.}) {For example,} 8. d3 Nxd6 9. Bb3 O-O {when Black is solid and slightly better.}) 6... cxd4 7. Nxd4 d5 {The ...d5 thrust arrives and Black is happy even if White forces him to accept an Isolated Queen's Pawn.} 8. Bb5+ ({ Black's activity in an IQP position resulting after} 8. exd5 exd5 {ensures that he is fully compensated for his weakened d-pawn. Even so, this may be a wiser way of playing for White, as Black is simply better in the game continuation. One possible line is} 9. Bb3 Nbc6 10. Be3 O-O 11. O-O Qb6 { (Black is active with his pieces and would welcome the chance to play...d4), and now after} 12. Nce2 ({or} 12. Nf5 d4 13. Nxe7+ Nxe7 14. Bf2 Nf5 {(the d-pawn cramps White's queen and f2-bishop)} 15. Re1 Be6 16. Bxe6 fxe6 17. Qe2 Ne3 {when the advantages of the IQP become apparent; Black's play on the dark squares ensures a preferable position for him, even with the weak e-pawn}) 12... Bg4 13. Qd2 Bxe2 14. Nxe2 d4 15. Bf2 Nf5 {when Black is still the more active, has a greater share of the centre and thus a small advantage.}) 8... Bd7 9. e5 Nbc6 {Black has an edge on account of the d4 pressure and trading potential against the b5-bishop.} 10. Be2 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 {The queen being on this square will allow Black to gain some central initiative, which guarantees him the better of the middlegame.} Nf5 12. Qf2 d4 (12... Bc6 {preparing the ... d4 advance for later would have offered more winning chances for Black, rather than just having the better of a draw.}) 13. Ne4 Bc6 14. Bd3 Qb6 {This dynamic Sniper move irritates White at e3 and b2, and of course defends d4.} 15. O-O O-O 16. Re1 Rac8 (16... Bxe4 {keeps the advantage, as a 'good knight' that could be improved is a fair trade for a 'good bishop'.}) 17. a4 a6 18. Ra3 f6 19. Nxf6+ Bxf6 20. exf6 Rxf6 {Black's advantage has disappeared but he is still almost equal. The 'good knight' neutralizes the advantage of the two bishops.} 21. a5 Qb4 22. Bd2 Qd6 23. Rb3 Ne3 24. Bxe3 dxe3 25. Qxe3 Rxf4 26. Rc3 Rg4 27. Bf1 Rf8 28. Qxe6+ Qxe6 29. Rxe6 Ra4 {The endgame is level.} 30. Ra3 Rxa3 31. bxa3 Rf5 32. Re7 Rxa5 33. Bc4+ Kh8 34. Re3 Kg7 35. Re7+ Kf6 36. Rxh7 Ke5 37. Rc7 Rxa3 38. Bd3 g5 39. Rg7 Kf4 40. Rf7+ Ke3 41. Re7+ Kd4 42. Kf2 Rc3 43. g3 Rc5 44. h4 gxh4 45. gxh4 a5 46. Bg6 a4 47. Re3 Re5 48. c3+ Kd5 49. Bf7+ Kd6 50. Rxe5 Kxe5 51. Ke3 Bd5 52. Bxd5 Kxd5 53. Kd2 b5 54. Kc2 Ke4 55. Kb2 Kf5 56. Ka3 Kg4 57. c4 bxc4 58. Kxa4 Kxh4 59. Kb4 Kg4 {An early f4 and Bc4 is no test for the Sniper; expect easy points from any White suitors. This game also showed the Sniper is rich in move order transpositions, but Black can easily adapt to new situations as his structure has common traits and there are also many common ideas from other Sniper variations that we have already covered.} 1/2-1/2 [Event "Holzoster"] [Site "?"] [Date "1981.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "A.Herzog"] [Black "A.Sznapik"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B21"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "78"] [EventDate "1981.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {The final game in this Grand Prix Attack section will illustrate the danger in allowing a Sniper practitioner a tempo in the centre. White's 7 Be2 is an instructive type of error that all Snipers can capitalize on.} 1. e4 g6 2. f4 Bg7 3. Nf3 c5 4. Bc4 e6 5. Nc3 Ne7 6. O-O d5 7. Be2 {Simply conceding a tempo in this manner is a complete success for the Black opening.} dxe4 ({Black can improve with} 7... Nbc6 $1 {, which is even better than the game continuation.} ) 8. Nxe4 Nbc6 9. c3 b6 10. Qe1 Bb7 {Double Sniper power! Black has good prospects and no development difficulties. In fact Black has the development advantage.} 11. d3 h6 12. Qh4 Nd5 13. Qg3 Qc7 14. Nfd2 O-O-O {Remember that Sniper practitioners never castle early. Delaying castling in this game has given Black the option to castle queenside in a position which is now highly favourable. Black is well placed for the coming pawn assault races against the respective kings and can expect a full point from here.} 15. Nc4 f5 16. Qxg6 fxe4 17. dxe4 Nxc3 18. bxc3 Bxc3 19. Bb2 Bxb2 20. Nxb2 Kb8 21. Rad1 Nd4 { Black's superior knight and g-file activity ensure a winning advantage.} 22. Bd3 Rdf8 23. Qg4 Rhg8 24. Qh4 Qh7 25. Qe1 Rg4 26. Qe3 Qg7 27. g3 h5 28. Nc4 Qc7 29. Ne5 Rg7 30. Rd2 h4 31. g4 Nc6 32. Nxc6+ Qxc6 33. h3 Rd7 34. Bc2 Rxd2 35. Qxd2 c4 36. Qd4 b5 37. f5 Qc7 38. e5 Rd8 39. Qe3 Qc6 {A perfect demonstration of how losing a tempo in the centre (with 7 Be2) passes the advantage to Black which was never passed back. Black built upon the advantage and converted it into a full point.} 0-1 [Event "Czech League"] [Site "?"] [Date "2003.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "P.Bazant"] [Black "L.Ftacnik"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "2003.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Be3 c5 4. c3 {White tries a cautious c3 but this attempt at a solid setup allows Black easy equality.} (4. Nc3 {transposes to 3 Nc3 c5 4 Be3 and this was covered at the end of Chapter One.}) 4... cxd4 5. cxd4 ({For } 5. Bxd4 {, see the next game.}) 5... d5 {Black quickly strikes with ...d5, giving him a good game. This is a common thrust that all Sniper trainees should be aware of.} 6. exd5 ({Blocking the centre with} 6. e5 $5 {is fine for Black, with the g8-knight heading to f5 via h6.}) 6... Nf6 ({Of course not} 6... Qxd5 {as Black has a great game when the knight arrives at d5.}) 7. Bb5+ Nbd7 {White hangs on to the doubled d-pawn but it is well known that this pawn structure offers Black good play.} 8. Nc3 O-O {Black now threatens ...Nb6 followed by ...Nxd5 to reach a great setup against the IQP. White will have no compensation in terms of activity, advancing the pawn or a realistic kingside attack. He must find a radical solution or face the prospect of no counterplay in the middlegame.} 9. d6 {An interesting attempt to try and get back to equality, but White doesn't get quite enough activity and Black's superior development ensures a good Sniper position.} exd6 10. Nge2 a6 {By returning the pawn, White has prevented Black from acquiring good play against White's IQP position. However, Black's lead in development combined with rapid queenside pawn expansion offers excellent middlegame prospects.} 11. Bd3 b5 { Black seizes useful space on the queenside and prepares a central modifier with ...b4 chasing the knight.} 12. O-O Bb7 {Black has a lovely position, with the Sniper bishop complemented by his brother on b7.} 13. Bg5 Re8 14. Qd2 Qb6 { Black is now well coordinated and has more space than White – a clear success against White's opening effort with 4 c3 and 5 cxd4.} 15. Qf4 b4 {The central modifier arrives and, as so often happens, Black's position improves considerably when a white piece is forced away from its central duty.} 16. Nd1 Be4 ({Although Black wins the game,} 16... Ne4 $1 {in conjunction with ... Nf8-e6 is even more clinical. It is always good to try and exploit an opponent's weird piece positioning. Here White's queen on f4 together with Bg5 is unusual, and this can be effectively met by the equally unusual knight retreat, only to reappear with such massive gain of initiative at e6:} 17. Ne3 Nf8 {and Black is ready to play ...Ne6.}) 17. Qd2 Bxd3 18. Qxd3 Qb5 19. Qxb5 axb5 20. Ne3 Nb6 21. Rfe1 Ne4 22. Bf4 g5 23. Bg3 h5 24. Nf5 b3 25. Bxd6 Rxa2 26. Rab1 Nd2 27. Neg3 Rxe1+ 28. Rxe1 Rxb2 29. Nxh5 Rb1 30. Rxb1 Nxb1 31. Nfxg7 b2 32. Nf6+ Kxg7 33. Ne4 Nc4 34. Bb4 f5 {Another central modifier was the catalyst for acquiring the opening advantage. Sniper practitioners love to attack the centre – eventually! White's efforts to play a solid 4 c3, 5 cxd4 and 6 exd5 came to nought, as the IQP position that resulted was an ineffective one for White.} 0-1 [Event "Pillsbury Memorial, Natick"] [Site "?"] [Date "1997.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "K.Pohl"] [Black "A.Ivanov"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "1997.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {In this game White tries a Be3 approach coupled with four moves of his e-pawn after only eight moves:} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Be3 c5 {Grandmaster Ivanov was one of the early pioneers of the Pure Sniper move order, and his games are well worth a study.} 4. c3 cxd4 5. Bxd4 {A desperate attempt to confuse a Sniper expert proves to be practically and theoretically erroneous.} Nf6 $1 { As is often the case, Black is happy to gain a tempo on the bishop with ...Nc6. White will rarely be happy with such a trade.} 6. e5 Nd5 7. e6 {A bold attempt for complications but Black already has a lead in development and will get a small advantage.} f6 {Here is ...f6 again! The Sniper bishop hides in the undergrowth for a while and will resurface later with doubled pressure in centre from itself and the pawn moving to f5.} 8. exd7+ Qxd7 9. Bc4 Nc6 { The attack on the bishop arrives and Black has a definite small advantage.} 10. Ne2 b6 11. O-O Bb7 12. f3 O-O-O {Remember the Sniper Code: 'Only castle when you have to or if you need your rook in the centre'. Black clearly sees he has the advantage in an opposite-side castling position and that normally results in a full point, even more so than in positions where castling occurs on the same side.} 13. Na3 Nxd4 14. Nxd4 e5 {Another central modifier again results in a big change in assessment, from a small advantage to a clear advantage. Black's two-bishop advantage is going to be well used and he also has an excellent square for his knight on f4, which can cause chaos in the attack against White's king position.} 15. Ndc2 Nf4 {Black has secured the centre with the use of his extra central pawn and now commences attacking operations on the kingside. White tries to seek salvation in the endgame, but Black is doing very well and his central control is eventually converted to other advantages.} 16. Qxd7+ Rxd7 17. Rfd1 Rhd8 18. Ne3 f5 19. Nac2 Rd2 {The whole purpose of controlling the centre is that it enables quick and direct access to useful areas of the board.} 20. Rxd2 Rxd2 21. Rd1 Rxd1+ 22. Nxd1 {The dust has settled, and Black has a number of advantages that should bring home the full point: 1. A stronger centre; 2. An advanced knight; 3. A central initiative that may allow Black's light-squared bishop to force access to the e4-square; and 4. The two bishops, which have realistic attacking prospects.} e4 23. fxe4 Bxe4 24. Ne1 Bf8 25. b4 Bg7 {The Sniper bishop returns to his home after decisively weakening White's queenside pawns.} 26. Bg8 h6 27. c4 { The rest of the moves are unavailable on the database, but Black went on to win at move 40. This game saw an aggressive 7 e6 by White, but these pawn moves wasted time and allowed Black to gain the advantage in the centre by simply developing sensibly. Black later activated the Sniper policy of delaying castling to ensure a winning middlegame.} 0-1 [Event "Geller Memorial, Odessa"] [Site "?"] [Date "2001.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "S.Petrenko"] [Black "I.Gorbunov"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "84"] [EventDate "2001.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {3 Bc4 followed by 4 Qf3 is another Scholar's Mate-style attack. This caveman approach by White is dangerous if not countered exactly as recommended in this section.} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Bc4 c5 4. Qf3 {A crude effort that almost refuted the Sniper, but after burning the midnight oil I found a dynamic solution:} d5 $3 {An incredible move that is completely justified as you will soon see.} 5. Bxd5 ({The alternatively capture} 5. exd5 {is covered in Babrikowski-Hackel.}) 5... e6 {All is revealed – it is simply a pseudo-pawn sacrifice as the Sniper fire will soon bear down on d4.} 6. Bb3 cxd4 {Black has more pawns in the centre. White is slightly ahead in development but can't take advantage of this, and therefore in my opinion Black will be better in the long term.} 7. Ne2 Nc6 (7... Ne7 {is covered in the next game.}) 8. O-O Nge7 (8... Nf6 $5 {is also worthy of playing.}) 9. Nd2 O-O {Black has achieved his objective of better central control and may claim at least full equality thanks to 4...d5.} 10. Qg3 Na5 {As we've seen before, this is a common theme in Sniper positions. Neutralizing the most aggressive minor piece normally takes any sting out of a White attack.} 11. f4 Qc7 12. c3 dxc3 13. Nxc3 Nxb3 14. Nxb3 b5 ({A clever idea to gain space, but it was better to grab central squares with} 14... Rd8 15. Be3 b6 16. Rfd1 {and now} Bxc3 $1 {(another Sniper Sacrifice)} 17. bxc3 Bb7 {. The trade on c3 is fully justified here: 1. White's pawn structure is damaged and the influential knight has been removed to allow the b7-bishop to arrive with tempo by attacking e4. 2. Black's bishop is far better than White's, and the advantageous position of Black's knight over White's is also a factor. 3. Even though the dark squares around Black's king are rather weak, White cannot easily exploit them.}) 15. Be3 b4 16. Nb5 Qc6 17. Nxa7 Qxe4 {The battle for the centre is won and the full point should follow.} 18. Bc5 Nf5 $6 ({It seemed attractive to secure the knight and gain a tempo, but this was an error. It was better to play} 18... Ba6 $1 {immediately, which would make Black's life easy and continue to keep a clear advantage.}) 19. Qf2 Ba6 {Now ...Ba6 has lost a bit of its punch and White can equalize.} 20. Rfe1 Qb7 21. Na5 Qc7 22. N5c6 {The error of 18...Nf5 is revealed: the white queen protects c5 and a7, otherwise Black would have ...Rxa7 with a winning position.} Rfe8 23. Rac1 Bf6 24. Bb6 Qb7 25. Rc2 h5 ({Better was} 25... Bd3 $1 26. Rd2 Bc4 {and Black has once again won the central battle. This instructive two-move manoeuvre is well worth appreciating as it leads to a clear advantage to Black, in contrast to the equal position offered by Black's move in the game.}) 26. Rd1 h4 27. Rcd2 {It may superficially appear as though White has won the battle for the centre, but Black has a clever way of fighting back:} Rxa7 $1 28. Nxa7 Bc4 {Black gets an excellent diagonal for the bishop but White's position is still preferable – Sniper players must look back to 25...Bd3! or 18...Ba6!.} 29. Bd8 Bg7 30. Rd7 ({Black is also struggling after} 30. Qb6 $1 {.}) 30... Qe4 31. Re1 Qa8 32. Bxh4 Bd5 33. Nb5 $2 {A tactical error. These types of error are easy to make in time pressure, even for 2300-strength players.} Qc6 {Black regains material and is better in the centre. We all know what happens when the Sniper is better in the centre – the full point normally follows!} 34. Rxd5 exd5 35. Na7 Rxe1+ 36. Qxe1 Qa4 37. Bf2 d4 38. Nc8 d3 {While White has been saving his knight, Black's central pawn has become a major asset.} 39. Ne7+ Nxe7 40. Qxe7 Qd1+ 41. Qe1 Qc2 42. Qe8+ Kh7 {So the 4...d5 pseudo-gambit effectively deals with Scholar's Mate! Black followed up this great idea by exchanging the Scholar's Mate bishop and this resulted in stronger central control. White did have a decent position at one stage, but Black can improve with 25...Bd3 rather than 25...h5, and also 18...Ba6 rather than 18...Nf5.} 0-1 [Event "Budapest"] [Site "?"] [Date "1973.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "D.Laszlo"] [Black "C.Meleghegyi"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "56"] [EventDate "1973.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. Bc4 c5 4. Qf3 d5 $3 5. Bxd5 e6 6. Bb3 cxd4 7. Ne2 Ne7 8. c3 $1 {This is a dangerous move that requires careful attention. However, with some precise play Black always has more than enough to counter White's middlegame activity.} dxc3 {Black reasons that he can successfully repulse the middlegame initiative White gains after this capture and effectively handle the bishop's invasion when it arrives at d6.} 9. Nbxc3 O-O 10. Bf4 Nbc6 11. Rd1 Qa5 12. Bd6 b6 13. O-O Ba6 {In conjunction with ...Rfd8 this is a precise way of combating White's excellent attempt to gain the initiative with 8 c3.} 14. Rfe1 Rfd8 15. Nf4 Be5 $1 {This surprising move allows Black to release the d8-rook's energy. Not eradicating the excellently placed d6-bishop would have resulted in a big build up of pressure most likely leading to a decisive sacrifice on e6.} 16. Nxe6 {White becomes a little optimistic in the attack.} Rxd6 $1 17. Rxd6 Bxd6 18. e5 Bxe5 19. Ng5 Bxh2+ {The queen gains access to g5. Once again the Sniper bishop is only too willing to sacrifice itself for the greater good!} 20. Kxh2 Qxg5 21. Qxf7+ Kh8 22. Nd5 Qh6+ {Moves that give the defence a tempo normally spell the end for any attack.} 23. Kg1 Rf8 24. Qe6 Bc8 25. Qd6 Qd2 26. Rxe7 Qxf2+ 27. Kh2 Ba6 $4 (27... Rf5 $1 {wins immediately. There is no attack for White and Black heads for ...Rh5+ mating.}) 28. Qc7 $4 ( {White should play} 28. Re4 $1 {.}) 28... Qh4+ {It's mate next move with 29... Rf1.} 0-1 [Event "German League"] [Site "?"] [Date "1996.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "P.Babrikowski"] [Black "M.Hackel"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "106"] [EventDate "1996.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Bc4 c5 4. Qf3 d5 5. exd5 cxd4 6. Ne2 Nd7 7. O-O Ne5 { This is possibly a little bit premature, although if played in conjunction with 8...Kf8 after the inevitable bishop check it may have some value.} (7... a6 $5 {is a safer alternative.}) 8. Bb5+ Bd7 $6 ({White now acquires a useful initiative. Sniper practitioners should instead go with my recommendation of} 8... Kf8 $1 {. Black gets a fine position after this bizarre king displacement, mainly due to his immediate initiative coupled with play that can be generated against White's b5-bishop. For example,} 9. Qb3 a6 10. f4 axb5 11. fxe5 Bxe5 12. Bf4 Bxf4 13. Rxf4 Qb6 14. Kh1 Nf6 15. Na3 g5 $1 {(the rook must retreat away from its central position)} 16. Rff1 Bd7 17. Rad1 Ra4 {. Now is the time to assess the value of the cheeky 8...Kf8!. Black has successfully managed to get his queenside rook influencing the key central square d4 and can claim some advantage.}) 9. Qb3 Qb6 10. Na3 ({The alternative} 10. Bxd7+ Nxd7 11. Rd1 {helps Black develop.}) 10... Nh6 11. Bf4 Rd8 12. Bxh6 Bxh6 13. Rad1 O-O ({ After this move White goes into the endgame with the advantage. Stronger is} 13... Bxb5 $1 14. Nxb5 d3 $1 {and Black is fine; for example,} 15. cxd3 a6 16. Nbc3 Qxb3 17. axb3 Nd7 18. Ra1 Nf6 19. Ra5 O-O 20. b4 Rd7 21. b5 Rfd8 22. bxa6 bxa6 23. Nd4 Nxd5 24. Nc6 Nxc3 25. bxc3 Rc8 26. Rc5 Kg7 27. d4 Rb7 28. g3 Rb6 29. Nxe7 Rxc5 30. dxc5 Re6 31. Nd5 Rc6 32. Ra1 Rxc5 33. c4 Rxc4 34. Rxa6 Rd4 35. Ra5 {with a drawn ending.}) 14. Bxd7 Qxb3 15. axb3 Rxd7 16. Rxd4 Rfd8 17. c4 Bg7 18. Nb5 a6 19. Nbc3 Rd6 20. f4 Nd7 21. Re4 Kf8 22. b4 Nf6 23. Re3 Rb6 24. b5 axb5 25. Nxb5 Rc8 26. b3 Nxd5 27. Rd3 Nb4 28. Rd7 Nc6 29. Rfd1 Bf6 30. Ng3 Na5 31. R1d3 Bh4 32. Kf2 Kg7 33. Kf3 Re6 34. Ne4 f5 35. Ned6 Rc6 36. Nxb7 Nxb7 37. Rxb7 Re1 38. g3 Bf6 39. Nd4 Ra6 40. Rd2 Rf1+ 41. Ke2 Raa1 42. Nf3 Rfc1 43. Ne5 Rab1 44. Kd3 g5 45. Rb5 Rf1 46. fxg5 Bxg5 47. Re2 Bf6 48. c5 Rbc1 49. Nc4 Rc3+ 50. Kd2 Rfc1 51. h4 R1c2+ 52. Ke1 Rc1+ 53. Kd2 R1c2+ {In conclusion, Black has adequate resources against this Scholar's Mate attack but he must play 4...d5.} 1/2-1/2 [Event "Sensommer Open, Denmark"] [Site "?"] [Date "1999.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "N.Andersen"] [Black "H.Frederiksen"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A44"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "157"] [EventDate "1999.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 ({This move order (instead of} 3. e4 c5 4. d5 { ) offers Black some additional options, specifically 4...Bxc3+ which is examined later in this chapter.}) 3... c5 4. d5 d6 5. e4 e5 6. h3 a6 {A useful move that can be played sooner or later. Rather than give specific variations in this blocked position, it is better to ask the reader to be aware of when he wants to play this move. It is essential that it is played at some point and according to my experience, the sooner the better.} 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. Be2 Ndf6 {The knight has consumed most of Black's quota of development. Now the purpose is to see whether this is acceptable in a blocked position – I believe it is.} 9. g4 h5 {Inviting White to play g5, gaining more space but enabling Black to play a later ...f6. This would give Black the option of acquiring good play for his rooks on the f-file when he is in a position to do so.} 10. g5 Nd7 { A major strategical undertaking is required by both sides.} 11. Be3 Ne7 12. Nh4 Nb6 $2 {This move provides Sniper trainees with a very instructive loss by Black. On b6 the knight simply hinders any real Black counterplay with ...b5. It also prevents Black from adding extra protection to the c5-pawn by means of ...b6.} ({Perhaps Black was too keen to 'develop' his c8-bishop, but a much better way to develop is to simply leave the bishop where it is and play ...b6 and ...Ra7 allowing the rook to enter the game successfully along the second rank. The rook can look forward to happily settling on f7 in the future, after which the double-rook pressure would offer good play. For example,} 12... O-O 13. a3 b6 (13... f6 {is premature and better for White after} 14. gxf6 { ; Black should be in a position to activate his a8-rook before playing this}) 14. b4 {(Black will be happy to recapture on c5 with his knight should White play bxc5)} Ra7 15. Rb1 f6 {(this could be delayed for even more moves if Black so chooses – for example, some waiting moves to see how White responds include ...Rc7, Kh7 and ...Rb7)} 16. gxf6 Nxf6 17. Rg1 Bxh3 18. Nxg6 Nxg6 19. Rxg6 Ng4 20. bxc5 Nxe3 21. fxe3 bxc5 {when Black can look for activity on the dark squares.}) 13. Rb1 a5 14. Nb5 {I will provide no more commentary on this game as Black gets demolished – and this is all connected to the very weak move 12...Nb6.} Ra6 15. a3 Nd7 16. Bd2 a4 17. Bc3 O-O 18. Bd2 f6 19. Rg1 Qe8 20. Nc7 Qf7 21. Ne6 f5 22. Bxh5 Nb6 23. Nxf8 gxh5 24. g6 Qxf8 25. Qxh5 Qf6 26. Bg5 Nd7 27. Bxf6 Nxf6 28. Qg5 fxe4 29. Ng2 Nf5 30. Ne3 Nd4 31. Rg3 b5 32. Ng4 Bxg4 33. hxg4 bxc4 34. Kf1 Ra8 35. Qe3 Rb8 36. Qd2 Rf8 37. Qc3 e3 38. Qxe3 Nxd5 39. Qe4 Nf4 40. Qh1 Rb8 41. Rc3 d5 42. Qh4 Re8 43. Qh1 e4 44. Rh3 Nxg6 45. g5 Re5 46. Rh6 Rxg5 47. Rxg6 Rxg6 48. Qh5 Rd6 49. Qe8+ Kh7 50. Qh5+ Kg8 51. Qe8+ Bf8 52. Kg2 Ne6 53. Rg1 Ng7 54. Kf1 Rf6 55. Rg6 Rf7 56. Qe6 Be7 57. Qxd5 e3 58. f3 Kf8 59. Ra6 Nf5 60. Ra8+ Kg7 61. Qe5+ Kh7 62. Qh8+ Kg6 63. Rg8+ Ng7 64. Qh3 Bf6 65. Rh8 Re7 66. Qg4+ Kf7 67. Ke2 Bd4 68. Ra8 Ne8 69. Qh5+ Kf8 70. f4 Bxb2 71. Qxc5 Kf7 72. Qxc4+ Kf6 73. Ra6+ Kg7 74. Qb4 Bf6 75. f5 Re5 76. Qg4+ Kf8 77. Qg6 Be7 78. Ra8 Bxa3 79. f6 {Here we saw a good knight manoeuvre from b8 to f6, but this was followed up by the very bad 12...Nb6? which gave White excellent queenside play. Black was doing fine before 12...Nb6, and the variation with .. .b6 and ...Ra7 showed how to obtain good counterplay.} 1-0 [Event "British Championship, Torquay"] [Site "?"] [Date "2009.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "P.Cumbers"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A44"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "84"] [EventDate "2009.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game sees White try and blow up the Bermuda Triangle with the aggressive early 7 h4. The Bermuda Triangle shows its hidden counter-attacking power against these direct attempts as it leaves White's kingside much weaker than Black's.} 1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. e4 c5 4. d5 e5 {I prefer to enter the Bermuda Triangle with this move order, rather than playing ...d6 before ...e5.} 5. Nc3 ({After} 5. dxe6 fxe6 {Black's extra central pawn will be more than a match for any White attempt to attack the pawns:} 6. Nc3 Nh6 $1 ({the Sniper bishop is more than happy to keep firing directly down the Sniper diagonal; if} 6... Nc6 7. Nb5 Nd4 8. Nd6+ Ke7 9. Bg5+ Bf6 10. Qd2 $1 {and White would stand a little better}) 7. Nf3 Nf7 {(this is one of the most underrated squares for a knight – it is well poised to enter the game, supports its own centre, protects the pawn when it goes to d6 and has great defensive value on the kingside)} 8. Bf4 d6 9. Qd2 Nc6 {and the grip on d4 guarantees Black a good game.}) 5... d6 6. Bd3 Ne7 7. h4 h5 {The general rule of thumb of 'try and play ...h5 before ...0-0' is the best method of dealing with White's h4 aggression.} 8. Nge2 Nd7 9. Nb5 {An interesting attempt to exploit the weak d6-pawn but White cannot bring the rest of the troops in quickly enough to justify this attack.} Nf6 10. b4 a6 11. Qa4 $6 {A major commitment but an error, as Black can find a great solution to this early queenside attack.} O-O 12. bxc5 Bd7 $1 {The in-between move is extremely common and Sniper trainees should always search for this type of tactic.} 13. cxd6 Nf5 $3 {Suddenly the threat of capturing on b5 with initiative ensures an advantage for Black.} 14. Qb3 axb5 15. c5 {White grabs the centre but it is in no way worth a piece as Black has many trumps: more activity, safer king, a semi-open a-file and play against the weakened kingside – all because of the earlier 7 h4 aggression.} Qa5+ (15... Nd4 {was better than the move I played and guarantees an advantage. After} 16. Nxd4 exd4 17. f3 Qa5+ 18. Bd2 Qa3 19. Rc1 Rfc8 {Black is on the verge of winning the centre and with it the game.}) 16. Bd2 Qa3 17. O-O (17. Rc1 {offered some hope.}) 17... Nxh4 18. Bg5 Nxg2 {A weak king can be well defended if its troops have good central control, but a very weak king cannot.} 19. Kxg2 Qxc5 20. Bd2 Ra3 21. Qc2 Bh3+ $1 {Black seizes the weakened light squares.} 22. Kg1 (22. Kxh3 $2 Qxc2 {wins the queen.}) 22... Qxd6 23. Rfe1 Rc8 {White has the centre but Black has the white king within his scope.} 24. Qb1 Nxd5 25. Kh2 Bd7 26. exd5 e4+ 27. Bf4 Be5 28. Bxe5 Qxe5+ 29. Ng3 h4 {The game is over but White struggles on in frustration.} 30. Re3 hxg3+ 31. Kg2 Rxd3 32. Qxd3 Qxa1 33. Rxe4 Bf5 34. d6 gxf2 35. d7 Qg1+ 36. Kf3 f1=Q+ 37. Qxf1 Qxf1+ 38. Kg3 Rc3+ 39. Kh4 Rh3+ 40. Kg5 Rh5+ 41. Kf6 Bxe4+ 42. Ke7 Re5+ {This game showed how robust the Bermuda Triangle is versus the White Arrow. Against early aggression by White, Black was more than capable of getting the better of things. White's 7 h4 and 11 Qa4 were simply overly-aggressive and too risky. } 0-1 [Event "British Championship, Great Yarmouth"] [Site "?"] [Date "2007.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "G.Flear"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A44"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "117"] [EventDate "2007.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {Here we will see how a Grandmaster, famous for his excellent positional play and use of a space advantage, defeats my Sniper. Recommended improvements within Black's arsenal will be suggested in the notes.} 1. d4 c5 {At this point in my Sniper career I was unsure which move order was best against 1 d4. I am now of the opinion that the Pure Sniper move order is the best, although there is not much difference.} 2. d5 ({Some Grandmasters have taken the c-pawn here against me in blitz games. After} 2. dxc5 {I would suggest} e5 {, but I would much prefer Sniper trainees to play a Pure Sniper move order and eliminate that possibility altogether.}) 2... g6 3. e4 Bg7 4. c4 e5 5. Nc3 d6 6. h3 {Glenn loves to have a space advantage and this seems to be his own best way of acquiring it.} Nd7 {Alternatively:} ({a)} 6... f5 {is playable if you're happy to have your king exposed in the early middlegame. After} 7. exf5 gxf5 8. Qh5+ Kf8 9. Nf3 Nf6 10. Qg5 {the king is exposed but White's queen is also awkwardly placed and a complicated struggle lies ahead.}) ({b) Traditional development with} 6... Nf6 {leads to a level position, e.g.} 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. O-O Nh5 10. Ne2 h6 11. Rb1 Qe7 {with lots of play available for both sides.}) ({c)} 6... Na6 $6 {intends ...Nc7 and ...b5, but White can get his queenside attack with b4 in first:} 7. a3 Bd7 8. Rb1 Nc7 9. b4 cxb4 10. axb4 a5 11. c5 axb4 12. Rxb4 dxc5 13. Rxb7 {with a good position for White.}) 7. Bd3 a6 8. Nf3 b6 9. Qe2 Ndf6 10. g4 Bd7 (10... Ne7 {would also keep a level position.}) 11. Be3 h5 12. g5 Nh7 13. Rb1 Ne7 14. b4 Nc8 $6 {This move was born of an over-exaggeration of my chances to get the knight to d6 (after bxc5 and ...dxc5). My loss here is a good lesson for any Sniper trainee. In blocked positions always be realistic and always consider the realistic potential activity for each piece. This game taught me the value of never moving knights away from the centre unless there is an absolutely clear and good reason to do so, because the time and energy it takes to complete their return is very resource-intensive.} ({It would have been much better for me to play} 14... O-O $1 {. This is a big improvement over 14...Nc8 as it ensures the knight still has a role in the central fight by leaving it on its good centrally-influencing square. For example,} 15. bxc5 bxc5 16. Nd2 f5 17. exf5 Nxf5 {(this is a much better square than the passive c8, which was the source of Black's downfall in the game)} 18. Bxf5 Bxf5 {. This bishop is good and Black also has the two-bishop advantage. In exchange for these advantages White may occupy e4 with one of the knights, but this makes the other defending knight superfluous. Overall the position is balanced, although Black has certainly made headway since move one. After} 19. Nde4 Qe7 20. Rb3 Rab8 21. f3 {White's pawn structure is quite dysfunctional. Although Black cannot exploit it in the next few moves, there are likely to be opportunities later in the game, say in the late middlegame or early endgame.}) 15. Bc2 O-O 16. Ba4 Bxa4 17. Nxa4 cxb4 18. Rxb4 b5 $6 {This was a lack of grandmaster calculation power within my own ability and an expectancy of an optimistic tactical opportunity, but Black was already in an inferior position.} 19. cxb5 Qa5 20. Qb2 axb5 21. Nc3 f5 {Black is active but White's superior space in the centre is worth more than this activity, mainly because of the poor position of the c8-knight.} 22. gxf6 Rxf6 23. Nd2 Na7 $2 {I am lost here. Please avoid ...Nc8 is the moral of the Storey!} 24. a4 bxa4 25. Rxa4 Qc7 26. Qa3 Rf7 27. Ke2 Bf8 28. Rg1 Kg7 29. h4 Qd7 30. Nc4 Qc7 31. Kd3 Nf6 32. Ra1 Ng4 33. Rxa7 Rxa7 34. Qxa7 Qd8 35. Qb6 Qxh4 36. Nxd6 Bxd6 37. Qxd6 Qh3 38. Ra6 Nxf2+ 39. Kc2 Qg3 40. Rc6 h4 41. Rc7 Ng4 42. Rxf7+ Kxf7 43. Qe6+ Kg7 44. Qe7+ Kg8 45. Bc5 Qf4 46. d6 Nf6 47. Qd8+ Kh7 48. d7 Nxd7 49. Qxd7+ Kh6 50. Qh3 Kh5 51. Kd3 g5 52. Ne2 Qf6 53. Ng3+ Kh6 54. Nf5+ Kg6 55. Qg4 Qa6+ 56. Ke3 Qa1 57. Nxh4+ Kh6 58. Bf8+ Kh7 59. Qd7+ {This game demonstrated the problems Black can face in the Bermuda Triangle if his knights do not find attacking, aggressive or central squares. The recommended improvements showed ways to get the knights into the game.} 1-0 [Event "South Wales International"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "R.Williams"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A44"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "46"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will see Black send both knights to h5 before conducting a devastating middlegame attack using themes similar to those found in the King's Indian Defence. Black is able to play in King's Indian-style if White chooses a setup against the Sniper move order which is not favourable against the King's Indian.} 1. d4 c5 2. d5 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. e4 {SMOT: Again I used the Sicilian Sniper move order.} e5 5. Nc3 d6 6. h3 {Playing h2-h3 against the King's Indian is quite risky as it allows Black to aim for a kingside attack.} Nd7 7. Nf3 Ngf6 {A big decision to play in King's Indian-style with ...Nh5 and a later ...f5. This approach is especially effective in this position because White has already created a major weakness on the kingside by playing h3. If White opts to castle kingside he will face a very powerful attack from Black.} ({If you fancy completely confusing your opponent, another good try is} 7... Ne7 8. Nb5 ({or} 8. Be2 O-O) 8... Nf6 9. Nc3 Nh5 {which leaves Black with the better attacking prospects.}) 8. Bd3 {This gives a certain amount of immunity to the black knight when it sits on h5. With the bishop on e2, White can often exploit the knight's position on h5.} Nh5 9. g3 O-O 10. Nh4 a6 ({This is a sensible approach, but it was more accurate to invade with the knight immediately by playing} 10... Nf4 {.}) 11. a4 Nf4 {The knight quickly invades and would gladly trade itself for White's light-squared bishop, which in turn would give added power to the c8-bishop.} 12. Nf3 Nxd3+ 13. Qxd3 Nf6 14. Bd2 Bd7 15. h4 {The light squares at h3, g4 and f3 have become very weak for White. With no bishop to defend them, a successful attack on these squares is likely.} h6 (15... b5 {is also strong and is a good way of demonstrating another approach for Black:} 16. axb5 axb5 17. Rxa8 Qxa8 18. O-O {(now that the king's position is fixed it is time for the bugle to sound – attack!)} bxc4 19. Qxc4 Rb8 20. Rb1 Rb4 21. Qe2 Qb7 22. Bg5 Bg4 {(the light-square invasion begins)} 23. Bxf6 Bxf6 24. Kg2 {leaves White wishing his pawn was on the h2- or h3-square.}) 16. O-O {With the king committed to the kingside, it is clearly time for all-out attack.} Nh5 17. Kh2 f5 18. Kg2 f4 19. Rh1 Qf6 20. Raf1 Bg4 21. Nh2 f3+ {Accentuating the weakness on the light squares.} 22. Kg1 Bh3 23. Rc1 Nxg3 {A smooth win helped by a number of minor errors. This game highlighted the weaknesses of developing the white bishop to d3 against the Bermuda Triangle pawn structure. A big advantage of the Sniper is that there are always possibilities to transpose to favourable-for-Black King's Indian-type positions if that's the way Black would like to steer the game. 15. ..b5 is also a nice idea and this thrust can be used in associated positions.} 0-1 [Event "British Championship, Great Yarmouth"] [Site "?"] [Date "2007.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "S.Conquest"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A44"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "115"] [EventDate "2007.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will once again emphasize the importance of keeping the black knights as centralized as possible. It will also highlight the importance of not giving White an extra pawn in the centre.} 1. d4 c5 2. d5 g6 3. e4 Bg7 4. c4 {SMOT: Once again I play a Sicilian Sniper move order rather than a Pure Sniper. Back in 2007 I liked to chop and change between move orders to make it harder for my opponents to prepare for me. They had to spend considerably more time preparing if they were to do so properly. It also changed ECO classifications so that when opponents searched my openings it altered the statistics which could affect their approach!} e5 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bd3 {This without h3 is not especially problematic for Black. As already noted, the bishop doesn't attack the h5-square, so a knight's occupation there becomes very attractive. With hindsight, aiming for ...Nh5 and a good King's Indian position would have been a better plan.} Nd7 7. Nge2 a6 8. Be3 Ne7 9. Qc2 h5 $6 {This move is symptomatic of my over-optimism during this period of my chess development.} (9... O-O $1 {intending ...f5-f4 is much better, with an extremely complex strategical middlegame in which Black's chances are equal. There is also scope to quickly play ...b5 if White does decide to castle queenside. If} 10. h4 $6 {Black hits the flank attack with the standard central treatment,} f5 {:} 11. exf5 ({or} 11. h5 f4 12. Bd2 g5 13. h6 Bf6 { when Black is well placed to defend the kingside and can even look forward to breaking through on that wing in the late middlegame or early endgame; he also of course has the pawn sacrifice ...b5 waiting in the wings}) 11... gxf5 { (the extra central pawns ensure Black has the better middlegame prospects)} 12. f3 b5 13. g4 e4 $1 {. Black shifts the focus from the wings to the centre. It is this thrust that ensures Black is better, as the knight comes to the brilliant e5-square to survey all that's relevant:} 14. fxe4 fxg4 15. Nf4 Ne5 16. O-O-O Qa5 {(Black is faster in the race to attack the kings and the brilliance of the e5-knight is clear)} 17. Ne6 Bxe6 18. dxe6 Rf3 19. Rhe1 b4 20. Qa4 Qxa4 21. Nxa4 Rxe3 22. Rxe3 Bh6 23. Kd2 Rf8 {. Black has all the activity and can simply plan for liquidation followed by a king munching exercise on White's pawns. 9...0-0 would have given me a much better chance of winning this game. At this point in time the Sniper was in its experimental stage and I hadn't learnt all of my lessons – I have now!}) 10. h4 Nf6 11. f3 Bd7 12. a3 O-O 13. b4 {If White gets this in he is generally doing well, provided of course that Black has no obvious breakthrough on the kingside. However, Black does have some compensation in that the h4-pawn is not only a weakness in itself, it has also weakened the g3- and g4-squares which Black's pieces may one day hope to occupy.} b6 14. Rb1 Be8 15. bxc5 dxc5 {I was experimenting with this pawn structure at the time and planning to plant a knight on d6. The astute reader will notice that it contradicts my Storey Pawn Scale. This may be a reason why I lost this game and then decided to research the value of the pawns to come up with said pawn scale!} 16. a4 a5 17. O-O Nd7 {Clearly White is happy on the queenside but his king is at risk from a potential attack on the kingside.} 18. Nb5 Nc8 19. Qd2 Nb8 {These knight manoeuvres, although not terrible, are still neglecting central responsibilities.} 20. Bg5 f6 {This move is often underestimated by White players and can sometimes offer Black great counterplay. Here it simply provides an attack on the bishop, with Black looking to play ...f5 under favourable circumstances.} 21. Be3 Nd6 22. f4 Bxb5 23. cxb5 {Mission accomplished! The knight is excellent, but Black's light squares are very weak. } Nd7 24. Rbc1 Qe7 25. Bb1 Rae8 26. f5 $1 {Exploiting the light squares and securing the advantage.} gxf5 27. exf5 (27. Rxf5 $1 {was even better for White. }) 27... Kf7 28. Ng3 Rh8 29. Ne4 Reg8 30. Nxd6+ Qxd6 31. Rc4 Bf8 32. Qe2 Ke7 33. Rd1 Rh7 34. Kh1 Rhg7 {At the time I thought I had enough to draw or even win. However, in this period I was a bit too optimistic – in reality I was struggling to draw.} 35. Be4 Rg4 36. Bf3 Rxc4 37. Qxc4 Rh8 {Black has had to go passive and White is clearly better.} 38. Qc1 Kd8 39. Be4 Kc8 40. g3 Rg8 41. Kh2 Rg4 42. Qc4 Be7 43. Kg2 Nf8 44. Qc2 Bd8 45. Bf3 Rb4 {Again, I still thought I might get adequate counterplay now that I had an active rook, but Stuart had it all under control.} 46. Bxh5 Bc7 {Lining up a b8-h2 battery, and with time pressure looming I was still not certain of the assessment of this position. One thing I was sure of was this: had this been an opponent below strong Grandmaster strength I would have found a way to win – but the 2008 British Champion finds all the correct moves after a tiring session, showing his true class.} 47. Be2 Nd7 48. h5 {This ties down my pieces.} Nf8 49. Bc4 Nh7 50. h6 Kb8 51. Bd2 Ka7 52. Re1 Qf8 53. Bxb4 axb4 54. d6 {Nice technique by Stuart: 1. The pawn push simplifies the position; 2. The c4-bishop increases its mobility and potential to attack the black king; and 3. The queen and rook have rapid access to the d-file and the d7 penetration point.} Bxd6 55. Qd2 Ng5 {I can't allow the trade of queens at d7 so this is one last try to get active, but it's a trivial problem for a Grandmaster.} 56. Rh1 Bc7 57. Qd7 Kb8 58. Bd5 {The bishop finally enters the battle and forces my resignation. This game saw a bold, creative effort by Black to set up a blocked position with ...Nd6 which backfired. Black should instead play 9...0-0! with a later ...f5, exploiting the fact he has not blocked his own f-pawn, when he is slightly better.} 1-0 [Event "European Union Championship, Liverpool"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "P.Bennett"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A44"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "78"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will emphasize the value of learning the lessons from my previous game against Conquest, and will also show the implementation of those lessons. } 1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c5 4. d5 e5 5. e4 d6 6. Bd3 Nd7 7. Nf3 Ne7 8. Be3 O-O 9. Nd2 f5 {The lesson has been learnt from my earlier 'Conquest defeat': the knights monitor the centre well.} 10. f3 Nf6 11. Qc2 Nh5 {The knight is better here than on less aggressive posts – again White's Bd3 ensures some immunity for this knight.} 12. O-O-O {Now it becomes a race to open the files so that the rooks can contribute to the attacks on the enemy kings – first in normally wins.} Nf4 13. Rdg1 a6 {Black is already slightly better.} 14. g4 Nxd3+ 15. Qxd3 f4 16. Bf2 b5 {A thematic offering of the a6-pawn via a b5 trade.} 17. Kb1 Bd7 {Black is well placed for a direct assault on the white king, whereas White's rook are trapped like a genie in a bottle and I had no intention of releasing Mr Bennett's genie!} 18. Bh4 Bf6 19. g5 Bg7 20. Be1 { White will now be aiming to play h4-h5 to open the h-file with some counterplay, but Black can prevent this with the 'keep the genie in the bottle' ...Bh3!} bxc4 {First of all, let's open the b-file with tempo.} 21. Nxc4 Bh3 $1 22. Na4 Nf5 {The knight uses its immunity on f5 to head for its ideal square on d4.} 23. Ba5 Qe7 24. Bc3 Nd4 {The knight is too powerful so White exchanges it, but this potentially activates the Sniper bishop.} 25. Bxd4 exd4 26. b3 Rab8 27. Nab2 Qd8 28. Qd2 d3 {The Sniper bishop ensures that all White's pieces must tread with caution in their own territory, otherwise it will support a rapid queen invasion.} 29. Nxd3 a5 30. Nxa5 Bd7 31. Nb2 Bd4 32. Rg2 Qb6 33. Nbc4 Qa6 {White puts up stiff resistance so Black needs to find a way to get a few pieces into the White camp for a raid on the king.} 34. h4 Rb5 35. a4 $2 {The building pressure induces an error and now Black breaks through. } Rb4 36. Ka2 Bxa4 $1 37. bxa4 Rxc4 38. Nxc4 Qxc4+ {Black's pieces are in. The Sniper bishop dominates the white rooks and makes a mockery of the initial starting values.} 39. Ka3 Ra8 {All of Black's pieces are working well and White resigned. This game saw the implementation of the lessons learnt from my Conquest defeat, specifically ...f5 and the knights remaining on central duty. It also showed how the value of the Sniper bishop can be increased from its initial three points, especially when it's involved in an opposite-side castling attack.} 0-1 [Event "British Championship, Liverpool"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "E.Auckland"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A44"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game sees another aggressive opening attempt to blow the Bermuda Triangle out of the water, but Black quickly turns the tables and it is White who is mated after a king hunt.} 1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. c4 c5 {A Pure Sniper move order, and the recommended way of playing.} 4. d5 e5 5. Nc3 d6 6. f3 { White plays in Sämisch Kings Indian style.} h5 {Putting a direct stop to any White attempt to grab space with g4, and maybe Black may push the pawn to h4 and even h3 to trigger 'zero development' of the h8-rook. But this does weaken some key dark squares.} (6... f5 {grabbing the centre immediately is also worthy of consideration. After} 7. Bd3 Nf6 8. exf5 gxf5 9. Nge2 O-O 10. O-O Na6 11. a3 {Black is doing well.}) 7. b4 {Extremely aggressive and risky. White reasons that his tactical play can directly refute Black's opening. In fact it does force Black to give up his castling rights but at quite a major cost for White.} cxb4 8. Qa4+ Kf8 {Black can no longer castle but is very well placed to gain a central initiative by exploiting White's queen position on the queenside.} 9. Qxb4 Na6 $1 10. Qa3 Bh6 $1 {The dark squares are even more inviting for the black knights if White's dark-squared bishop is removed, even if it is at the cost of our own Sniper hero.} 11. Nge2 Nc5 12. Bxh6+ Nxh6 13. Nc1 Qg5 {Black grabs more dark squares with the queen and prevents White's bishop development.} 14. Nb5 Qh4+ 15. Ke2 Qd8 {Now both kings have lost castling rights but Black is better placed to exploit this.} 16. Nd3 b6 17. Nxc5 bxc5 {Keeping the Bermuda Triangle pawn structure intact.} 18. Kd2 f5 { Black has a desire to get his rooks to f2 and this move helps in that process.} 19. h3 h4 20. Rb1 Kg7 21. Nc3 Qg5+ {The queen returns to take the dark squares again.} 22. Kc2 Rf8 {Looking forward to an imminent arrival at f2.} 23. Qa4 fxe4 24. Nxe4 Bf5 25. Qd7+ Rf7 26. Qxd6 {Winning the important d6 base pawn but at the expense of having to face a direct attack on the king – rarely a good win of a pawn, even a central one.} Bxe4+ {The king hunt begins. Can White escape?} 27. fxe4 Rf2+ 28. Kb3 Qe3+ 29. Ka4 Rxa2+ 30. Kb5 Nf7 {Defending the king and bringing the knight into the attack – with tempo!} 31. Qc7 Qa3 32. Kc6 Qa6+ 33. Kd7 Rd8+ 34. Qxd8 Qd6+ 35. Ke8 Qxd8# {This game saw an ambitious attempt by White to win quickly on the queenside with an early b4 followed by a queenside invasion. Black proved this was unjustified with an incredible king hunt that forced the white king to the black king's starting square! This game also saw Black willingly lose the right to castle in exchange for active play and control of the dark squares, helped by the exchange of bishops.} 0-1 [Event "Sniper Training Match, Monkseaton"] [Site "?"] [Date "2009.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "A.Lawson"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A44"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "141"] [EventDate "2009.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {Here we will see a White setup akin to a traditional Classical King's Indian, with Nf3 and Be2. The ideal aim for Black is to take advantage of not having moved a piece in front of his f-pawn, so that ...f5 can be realized immediately. However, we will see that White's classical development is well placed to deal with such cheek, and that Black must also revert to more classical play with 10...0-0! or suffer a small disadvantage.} 1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. e4 c5 4. d5 e5 5. Nc3 d6 6. Nf3 {I call this 'the Lawson System' because my training partner plays it, and as the pioneer of the Sniper I am allowed to, despite just being a wannabe Grandmaster!} Nd7 7. Be2 {Dissuading a knight from coming to h5 – compare this to the bishop going to d3 in the previous games.} a6 {White can exploit this move with Rb1, when Black should play ...a5. Therefore ...a5 should be played in one move to generate counterplay.} ({For example,} 7... Kf8 8. h4 h6 9. Be3 {,}) ({or even better} 7... f6 $1 {(in Braveheart style: 'come on to the spikes with your troops')} 8. Nb5 Ke7 $3 {. In Ivanov style, Black will look to get activity against this cheeky invasion to offset losing his right to castle:} 9. O-O a6 10. Nc3 Nh6 11. Rb1 Nf7 12. Ne1 Rf8 $1 {(the black king is safe in the centre)} 13. Be3 Bh6 {(the plan for Black is to get a level ending)} 14. Bxh6 Nxh6 15. Nd3 Kf7 16. f4 Kg7 {(Black has now artificially castled and is level)} 17. fxe5 Nxe5 18. Nxe5 fxe5 19. Qd2 Bd7 20. Rxf8 Qxf8 21. b4 cxb4 22. Rxb4 Qc8 {(the queen may re-enter at c5 with tempo against the white king)} 23. Qe3 b5 {(Black is always looking to play this – even if it loses a pawn)} 24. cxb5 Bxb5 25. Bxb5 Ng4 $3 {. Great activity for Black begins. White must be careful to avoid a vicious king attack; for example, even after} 26. Qb6 (26. Qg3 Qc5+ {is game over}) 26... Qxc3 {Black has a clear advantage.}) (7... Ngf6 {can still be played and is a safe, respectable alternative. After} 8. O-O Nh5 9. Re1 Nf4 10. Bf1 O-O {play is analogous to a mainline King's Indian but I suspect Black has a slightly better version on account of the Bermuda Triangle pawn structure.}) 8. O-O Ne7 9. Rb1 h6 $6 {A waiting move which is an instructive error. Waiting moves are too risky if White can simply make headway in a certain area of the board, and here the b4 plan offers fast and good play for White, thus negating the prophylactic impact of 9...h6?!.} (9... a5 {is a better move. It's well worth accepting the weakening of the b5-square in return for slowing down White's active play on the queenside. For example,} 10. Nb5 Nf6 11. Nd2 O-O { and Black is okay – he will soon turn his attention to the kingside.}) 10. Ne1 f5 $6 ({Martin Seeber's idea of} 10... O-O $1 {is better and the move I recommend to Sniper trainees. One possible continuation is} 11. b4 cxb4 12. Rxb4 f5 13. Nd3 b6 (13... b5 {is an error here as White simply plays} 14. cxb5 axb5 15. f3 {when the kingside pressure is way too slow and White wins the queenside}) 14. f3 f4 15. Ba3 Rb8 16. Rb2 Qc7 17. Qc2 h5 {with chances for both sides in a complex position.}) 11. exf5 gxf5 12. Bh5+ Kf8 {Black looks for a quick ...b5.} 13. f4 ({The simple} 13. b4 {may refute Black's play. After } e4 14. Ne2 cxb4 15. Rxb4 {I would not be too confident with the location of the black king – the position is a bit too open and can be opened further with f2-f3.}) 13... e4 14. Be3 Nf6 ({Black's goal now is ...b5 and ...Nxd5. The immediate} 14... b5 $5 {can always be thrown in if Black would like to radically alter the shape of the game, and here} 15. cxb5 axb5 16. Nxb5 Nf6 17. Be2 Nexd5 {gives Black a good position.}) 15. Nc2 b5 {With fairly equal chances in a complex middlegame.} 16. Bf2 Qa5 17. a3 Nxh5 18. Qxh5 Bxc3 { Sniper Sacrifice!} 19. bxc3 Qxc3 20. Rfc1 Qg7 21. cxb5 Nxd5 22. Qd1 Rg8 23. g3 Nc3 $2 (23... Qf7 $1 {would have kept an edge:} 24. Ne3 Be6 25. b6 Kg7 26. Qd2 Nxe3 27. Bxe3 Rgd8 28. a4 Kg8 29. Qc2 Bd5 {with a pressing advantage.}) 24. Qxd6+ Kf7 25. Bxc5 $6 ({Much better was} 25. Qc7+ $1 Kg6 26. Qc6+ Kh7 27. Qxa8 Ne2+ 28. Kf1 Nxc1 29. Rxc1 Qb2 30. Be3 {which would have won for White. Therefore I must refer trainees back to 23...Qf7!, or even further to Seeber's 10...0-0!.}) {After White missed his chance the game headed for a draw.} 25... Ne2+ 26. Kf1 Nxg3+ 27. hxg3 Qxg3 28. Ne1 Re8 29. Bf2 Qh3+ 30. Ke2 Be6 31. Rc7+ Kg8 32. Qd4 Qg4+ 33. Kf1 Rad8 34. Qe3 Rd7 35. Rc3 Red8 36. Qg3 axb5 37. Qxg4+ fxg4 38. Rxb5 Rf8 39. Bg3 Kg7 40. Nc2 Rd1+ 41. Ke2 Rd3 42. Rb7+ Kg6 43. Rxd3 exd3+ 44. Kxd3 Bf5+ 45. Kd2 Rd8+ 46. Kc1 Rd3 47. Rb6+ Kh5 48. Rb5 Kg6 49. Rb6+ Kh5 50. Rf6 Rxg3 51. Rxf5+ Kg6 52. Re5 Rf3 53. Re6+ Kh5 54. f5 Rxf5 55. Ne3 Ra5 56. Kb2 Kg5 57. Kb3 h5 58. Kb4 Ra8 59. a4 Kf4 60. Nd5+ Kf5 61. Rh6 Kg5 62. Rh7 Rg8 63. a5 g3 64. Ne3 Kg6 65. Rc7 h4 66. Ng2 Rh8 67. a6 Kf6 68. a7 h3 69. Rh7 Ra8 70. Rxh3 Rxa7 71. Rxg3 {White played Nf3 and Be2 in Classical Kings Indian style, and it posed some serious problems for Black. However, Seeber's recommendation of 10...0-0! and earlier improvements on moves 7 and 9 ensure Black gets a good game, and overall this approach should be easy for Black to meet.} 1/2-1/2 [Event "Durham"] [Site "?"] [Date "2005.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "D.Eggleston"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A43"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2005.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will see an attempt by White to prevent the Bermuda Triangle pawn structure by way of 6 dxe6 en passant. It will also show that Black simply equalizes and may use the extra central pawn to useful effect later in the game.} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c4 c5 4. d5 d6 ({Playing in the Benko style is certainly worth considering. For example,} 4... a6 5. Nc3 b5 6. cxb5 d6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. Bf4 Ngf6 9. Be2 axb5 10. Bxb5 Nxe4 $1 11. Bxd7+ Qxd7 12. Nxe4 Qf5 13. Nxd6+ exd6 14. Bxd6 Qe4+ 15. Kf1 Kd7 16. Bg3 Bxb2 17. Rb1 Rxa2 18. h4 Re8 { , when Black's superior centre defends his king adequately and he can look forward to ...Bb7 with great play on the long diagonal. The Benko-style approach is further considered later on in the chapter.}) 5. Bd3 {David Eggleston likes setups with Bd3 in King's Indians, but in this game it simply offers Black easy equality.} e5 (5... Nd7 {is a playable alternative.}) 6. dxe6 fxe6 {Black has already equalized. The extra central pawn will help in many defensive setups and will easily neutralize any initiative White may gain. Conceding a central pawn for a 'wing pawn' is a fundamental error unless some obvious compensation results from it.} 7. Ne2 Nc6 8. Nbc3 Nd4 9. O-O Ne7 10. Bf4 Nec6 {Black secures d4 and is now even slightly better. This is a clear success for Black in the opening.} 11. Qd2 O-O 12. Bg3 a6 13. Rad1 Ne5 14. f4 Nxd3 15. Qxd3 b5 {Black's two bishops and attack tell us that dxe6 in this variation is not to be recommended.} 16. e5 dxe5 17. fxe5 Rxf1+ 18. Rxf1 Nxe2+ 19. Qxe2 Qd4+ 20. Rf2 bxc4 21. Qf3 {With a powerful double attack that is defused by a powerful 'double defence'.} Ra7 22. Ne4 h6 (22... Rc7 {may also neutralize any White attack that may have been brewing.}) 23. Nd6 Bd7 24. Qf7+ Kh7 25. Ne8 Bxe8 26. Qxa7 Qd1+ 27. Rf1 Qd4+ 28. Kh1 Bc6 (28... Qxb2 {was slightly better.}) 29. h3 Qxb2 30. Rf2 {David could have been forgiven for expecting to win this position, but suddenly a surprising move rocks him in his seat:} c3 $5 31. Qxc5 ({If} 31. Rxb2 cxb2 32. Qb6 Bb5 $1 {and the pawn promotes safely.}) 31... Be4 {Again the queen sacrifice is offered!} 32. Bf4 c2 33. Kh2 g5 34. Qe3 Bg6 35. Qc1 Qd4 $6 {Taking the a2-pawn would have made the win easier. In time pressure I allow David back into the game.} 36. Bg3 Bxe5 37. Rf1 Bg7 38. Re1 Bf5 39. Rf1 Qc4 40. Re1 Qxa2 41. Be5 Bxe5+ 42. Rxe5 Qc4 43. Re1 g4 44. hxg4 Qxg4 45. Qd2 Kg6 46. Re3 Qh4+ (46... Qh5+ {followed by 47... Qd1 wins for Black.}) 47. Kg1 h5 ({And here the accurate} 47... Qg5 $1 { still wins.}) 48. Rc3 {In the crazy time scramble that later occurred David managed to draw. From an opening viewpoint this was a clear success for the Sniper, and Sniper practitioners can face this anti-Bermuda Triangle approach with complete confidence. The d4-square can be easily utilized by the knight coming to c6.} 1/2-1/2 [Event "Beliaev Memorial, Moscow"] [Site "?"] [Date "2006.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "L.Murzin"] [Black "A.Makarov"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E91"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "88"] [EventDate "2006.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {In this, the final game of this section, Black doesn't play a Bermuda Triangle but instead opts to leave the pawn on e7 and simply prevents White from playing e5. I won't go into too much detail, but I just want to give readers a glimpse of an alternative plan to the Bermuda Triangle – in short, a Sniper with ...d6, ...Ne8 and ...Qc7. It's worth playing if you can do a little study on it, as White's pieces generally have to re-route themselves in an attempt to get the e5 thrust in.} 1. d4 g6 2. c4 d6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. e4 O-O 6. Be2 c5 7. d5 {SMOT.} a6 8. O-O Nbd7 9. h3 Ne8 {Black must fight against White's central thrust e5 – this is the main battleground.} 10. Bf4 Qc7 {This is an excellent move that prevents e5 and forces White's pieces to different squares to try and achieve the thematic advance.} 11. Qd2 Ne5 12. Nh2 f5 13. Bh6 Bxh6 14. Qxh6 f4 {Black locks the queen in and prevents f2-f4 dislodging his pride and joy.} 15. f3 $6 (15. Nf3 $5 {was necessary, to challenge the excellent knight on e5.}) 15... Ng7 16. Qh4 Nh5 {The black knights have found superb squares and White's attack has been repulsed – a clear sign that something has gone wrong for White.} 17. Qf2 Bd7 18. Rfd1 Rab8 19. a4 Ng3 20. Nf1 Nxe2+ 21. Qxe2 Qb6 {The start of an interesting plan of playing on the queenside to realize Black's advantage. I must point out that it would have been difficult for me to resist the alternative plan of ...h5, .. .g5-g4, ...Kh8 and ...Rg8 with attack!} 22. Rdb1 Qb4 23. Nd2 b5 24. axb5 axb5 25. Na2 Qa5 26. Nc1 Qb6 27. b3 Ra8 28. Rxa8 Rxa8 29. Nd3 Nxd3 30. Qxd3 Ra2 { White has removed the excellent black knight but at the cost of allowing a penetration on his second row.} 31. Re1 Qa5 {The queenside invasion is complete and the end is near for White.} 32. Re2 Qa3 {Increasing the pressure.} 33. e5 {This attempt to get active is easily rebuffed.} Qc1+ 34. Nf1 Bf5 { It's always the win of the central squares that gain points for the Sniper. White could reasonably resign here.} 35. Qxf5 gxf5 36. Rxa2 bxc4 37. bxc4 Qxc4 38. Ra8+ Kf7 39. e6+ Kf6 40. Rf8+ Ke5 41. g3 Qxd5 42. g4 Kxe6 43. gxf5+ Kd7 44. Rh8 Qd4+ {This game saw an alternative Sniper recommendation to the Bermuda Triangle. A black knight went to e5 rather than the pawn and it seemed highly effective. However, White might have improved with 15 Nf3.} 0-1 [Event "Pula"] [Site "?"] [Date "2000.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "I.Morovic Fernandez"] [Black "G.Laco"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A40"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2000.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. c4 g6 2. d4 {Of course this could have come from 1 d4.} Bg7 3. Nc3 c5 { A Pure Sniper versus an English/d-pawn hybrid.} 4. d5 Bxc3+ {I love this move!} 5. bxc3 Qa5 ({Both ...Qa5 and ...f5 are played, but a key question is: which one should come first? I will let the reader decide, but here is some food for thought:} 5... f5 6. g4 (6. h4 Nf6 7. h5 Nxh5 8. Rxh5 $6 gxh5 9. e4 Qb6 10. Qxh5+ Qg6 11. Qxf5 Qxf5 12. exf5 d6 13. Rb1 b6 {is good for Black}) 6... Qa5 7. Qc2 d6 8. Rb1 Nd7 9. Rb5 Qa6 {when Black has a good position; for example,} 10. gxf5 gxf5 11. Qxf5 Qxa2 12. e3 Ne5 13. Qh5+ Kd8 14. Qe2 Qa4 15. h3 Bf5 16. e4 Qa1 17. Kd1 Bd7 18. Rxb7 Qxc3 {with a great game for Black.}) {By playing ... Qa5 first Black prevents the dangerous g4 move, but it does allow White the option of sacrificing the c3-pawn and grabbing the centre with 6 e4 (see the next game).} 6. Qc2 f5 7. f3 e5 $6 {This is not an effective way of playing for Black.} (7... d6 $1 {is much better. This is a brilliant and deep idea involving a bishop to f5 sacrifice which justifies the exclamation mark:} 8. e4 Nf6 9. Bd3 Nbd7 10. exf5 Ne5 {(this is why an early ...e5 is not good – Black can get active central piece play with some advantage so it is not in his interest to completely block the centre up)} 11. fxg6 Nxd3+ 12. Qxd3 Bf5 $1 { . The Sniper's martyrdom echoes into eternity as the c3-square remains a permanent weakness. After} 13. Qxf5 Qxc3+ 14. Kf1 Qxa1 15. Qc2 hxg6 16. Qxg6+ Kd8 17. Qc2 b5 {Black is clearly better despite the early king adventure and should go on to win.}) 8. e4 fxe4 9. fxe4 Nf6 10. Bd3 d6 {With the black queen stranded on the queenside, White can make more use of the open f-file and this leads to Black's downfall. 7...d6! is to be much more preferred for Sniper practitioners.} 11. Nf3 Bg4 12. O-O Bxf3 13. Rxf3 Nbd7 14. Bh6 Ng4 15. Bg5 h6 16. Bd2 Ngf6 17. Raf1 {White is just too active – Black has no counterplay.} Ng8 18. Rf7 O-O-O 19. Be2 {The win becomes trivial.} Re8 20. Bg4 Ne7 21. R1f6 Qc7 22. Qa4 a6 23. Rxg6 Kd8 24. Rxh6 Nb6 25. Qb3 Rhg8 26. Be6 Nbc8 27. h4 b5 28. Rhh7 Nb6 29. cxb5 c4 30. Qa3 axb5 31. Rxe7 Rxe7 32. Rxe7 Qxe7 33. Bxg8 Qxh4 34. Qxd6+ Ke8 35. Qe6+ {I love this variation! 7...d6!, given in the notes, puts 6 Qc2 under a cloud, but 7...e5?! is to be avoided as Black will be smashed down the f-file.} 1-0 [Event "Teheran"] [Site "?"] [Date "2007.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "E.Ghaem Maghami"] [Black "O.Anilkumar"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A40"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "78"] [EventDate "2007.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will highlight the dangers of capturing White's c3-pawn early, as White's activity more than compensates. In fact, this provides a good argument for playing 5...f5 before ...Qa5.} 1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. d4 c5 4. d5 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 Qa5 6. e4 {White grabs the centre at the expense of the c3-pawn. However, if Black captures it White may make good use of the a1-h8 diagonal.} Qxc3+ ({ This cheeky pawn capture is somewhat brave as the bishop on c1 will look forward to a happy life. Although in this game a 2200-rated Black player draws against a 2550-rated Grandmaster, this simply doesn't sit comfortably with me and I can't recommend it. Black should instead play} 6... d6 $5 {or 5...f5 before ...Qa5.}) 7. Bd2 Qg7 (7... Qa3 {tries to fight against White's queenside and hinder the bishop's occupation of the long diagonal. After} 8. Ne2 {White has adequate compensation for the pawn, and} d6 9. Nc3 Qa5 10. Nb5 Qd8 11. Qa4 Nd7 {reaches an unbalanced but level position. Black has no obvious weaknesses but White should be able to create one in the near future due to his good lead in development and advanced position of the knight on b5.} ) 8. Qc1 {White seizes the dark squares. If defending passively with your extra pawn does not suit your style, then I refer you back to the note on 6... Qxc3+.} e5 9. f4 {White has to get into the dark squares to justify the pawn deficit.} (9. dxe6 {is met by} fxe6 $1 {– always look to have a numerical central pawn advantage to use later. After} 10. Bc3 Nf6 11. e5 Ng8 {the bishop is now blunted and Black can look forward to some nice central squares and central pressure for his knights.}) 9... f6 {The little ...f6 move appears again, and it is the power contained in this little move that can offer Black defensive hope.} 10. Nf3 d6 {Black has set up a dark-square defence.} 11. Bd3 Nd7 12. O-O exf4 13. Bxf4 Ne5 14. Nxe5 fxe5 15. Be3 h6 {Further dark-square defensive gestures from Black.} 16. Rb1 g5 17. Rb2 Nf6 18. Rbf2 Ng4 19. Rf3 Nxe3 20. Qxe3 {The position is completely level. White is in command of the f-file but Black can attack the f3-rook with his bishop, follow up with ...Ke7 and then challenge the f-file with the a8-rook.} Bg4 21. R3f2 Ke7 22. Be2 Bxe2 23. Qxe2 Raf8 24. Qg4 Qg6 25. Rxf8 Rxf8 26. Rxf8 Kxf8 27. Qc8+ Kg7 28. Qxb7+ Qf7 29. Qb8 Qf4 30. Qc7+ Kg8 31. Qc8+ Kg7 {With the two 'easiest to draw' pieces on the board, there can only be one result:} 32. Qd7+ Kg8 33. Qc8+ Kg7 34. Qc7+ Kg8 35. Qxd6 Qc1+ 36. Kf2 Qd2+ 37. Kf1 Qd1+ 38. Kf2 Qd2+ 39. Kf1 Qd1+ {Black can grab the c3-pawn with the queen, but a long and dour defence will be required. The alternative is to play 6...d6 with a less defensive setup, or simply play 5...f5 before ...Qa5. The jury is out as to which approach is best. My gut feeling is that 5...f5 is better than 5...Qa5, but if you want to excel – learn them both!} 1/2-1/2 [Event "St Petersburg"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "E.Levin"] [Black "S.Klimov"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A40"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "92"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {In this game White tries 6 Qb3, but it is very passive and White simply gets no active play.} 1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c5 4. d5 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 Qa5 6. Qb3 { This queen move looks less relevant than ...Qa5. It does have the virtue of protecting c3 and hitting b7. On the flipside, the rook will have less impact on the b-file and the queen will exert no influence on the kingside for quite a long time. A blocked centre with lots of manoeuvring is in store.} f5 { This clampdown on the centre ensures that Black acquires plenty of counterplay and holds White's central pawn expansion by preventing e2-e4.} (6... Nf6 { is also possible. After} 7. e4 Nxe4 8. Bd3 Nf6 9. Nf3 {White has adequate compensation for the pawn but nothing more.}) 7. g3 Nf6 8. Bg2 d6 9. Nh3 { White has been forced to play less powerful central attacking moves – for instance, 7 g3 and 9 Nh3 didn't directly attack the centre – and this should make life a little easier for Black.} Nbd7 10. Nf4 {The knight arrives at an excellent square. However, it is at the expense of allowing Black's knight to organize an attack on c4.} Nb6 11. Ne6 Bxe6 12. dxe6 {White's light-squared bishop looks powerful, and it is, but it's often only a match for a centralized knight.} Ne4 ({Delaying ...Ne4 and playing} 12... O-O {instead is also possible.}) 13. O-O Qa6 {The c4-square (and pawn) is won. Winning this pawn is far better than winning the c3-pawn, as that would of course allow the bishop on b2 brilliant action on the long diagonal.} 14. f3 Nf6 15. e4 Qxc4 16. exf5 gxf5 17. Bh3 Nfd5 {Black has the centre and with it the advantage – the two bishops are no match for the centralized knights.} 18. Bxf5 Nxc3 {Another pawn that was affecting the centre is removed and now White is near lost.} 19. Qxc4 Nxc4 20. Bh6 d5 {Black claims the centre even more, making the conversion to victory considerably easier.} 21. Bd3 Nb2 22. Bc2 d4 {As I always tell my students, who then look at me as if I'm a parrot: 'Centre, Centre, Centre... Centre.' It does tend to get the message across!} 23. Bg7 O-O-O 24. Bxh8 Rxh8 { Black is even ready to sacrifice an exchange. Note the bishop that was exchanged could have had quite a bearing on the... centre!} 25. Rf2 d3 26. Bb3 Ne2+ 27. Rxe2 dxe2 28. Kf2 c4 29. Bc2 Rd8 30. Kxe2 c3 31. Bxh7 Rd2+ 32. Ke3 Rxh2 33. Be4 b5 {Black's active rook and 'hyper-advanced' passed pawn should ensure the victory.} 34. a3 Rd2 35. Rc1 Nd1+ 36. Kf4 a5 37. g4 b4 38. axb4 axb4 39. Rb1 Nb2 {There is no way to stop the formidable pawns advancing successfully.} 40. g5 b3 41. g6 Rg2 42. Rc1 Na4 43. Ke3 b2 44. Rh1 c2 45. Bxc2 Rxc2 46. Kd3 Rc1 {Black's strategy of doubling White's c-pawns, strengthening in the centre with his knights, followed by attacking the c4-pawn made light work of a 2440-rated opponent. An extremely effective Sniper Sacrifice that let Black fight for the full point.} 0-1 [Event "Mainz"] [Site "?"] [Date "2002.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "E.Pigusov"] [Black "M.Ivanov"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A57"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "92"] [EventDate "2002.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. Nf3 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c4 c5 {The Sniper Benko still starts with a Pure Sniper. } 4. e4 d6 5. d5 b5 {Black has engineered an unusual Benko Gambit that has somehow avoided a number of recommended setups for White against the mainline Benko. White's knight is already committed to f3 and Black's knight remains on g8. This gives Black better options and ensures a decent version of the Benko. The Sniper Benko may also be played against other White setups, but an early Nf3 clearly prevents setups of f3, f4 or Nge2, all of which are known to be quite challenging for Black.} 6. cxb5 {Not capturing the pawn will only help Black gain free counterplay on the queenside.} a6 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. a4 ({White could capture on a6 but a 'Dilution Principle' position would follow where Black piles his pieces down the a- and b-files and possibly follows this with a timely ...c4. Okay, that's a little vague, but there's a standard pattern of highly effective play for Black in the Benko Gambit accepted which is easy to digest and then play. Here's one example:} 8. bxa6 O-O 9. Be2 Bxa6 10. O-O Nbd7 11. h3 Qa5 12. Re1 Rfb8 13. Bxa6 Qxa6 14. Re2 Rb4 {, with good play for Black, A.Ipatov-O.Perez Mitjans, Barcelona 2009.}) 8... O-O 9. b6 {Returning the pawn, but now Black can claim some advantage already.} Qxb6 10. a5 Qd8 11. Be2 Bg4 12. Nd2 Bxe2 13. Qxe2 Nbd7 14. O-O Ne8 {Heading for b5 and awaking the Sniper bishop!} 15. Nc4 Nc7 16. Na4 Nb5 17. Ncb6 Ra7 {White's knights look as though they have penetrated into Black's camp; the reality is they are semi-neglecting the centre.} 18. Nxd7 Qxd7 19. Nb6 Nd4 {Gaining a key tempo to give Black a clear advantage.} 20. Qc4 Qb5 $1 {As so often in Benko positions, Black is very well placed to enter the ending.} 21. Ra2 Rb8 22. Bd2 Qxc4 23. Nxc4 Rb3 24. Re1 Rab7 {Black is pressing and probing. White is simply too passive and has to wait like a fly stuck in a web – a great advert for the Sniper Benko.} 25. Bc3 Ne2+ 26. Rxe2 Rxc3 {The back row threat forces the knight away from its central duties and ensures what should have been a full point for the Sniper Benko. Black really should have won this game, even playing a 2600+ opponent.} 27. Ne3 Rc1+ 28. Nf1 Rb1 (28... c4 $1 {followed by . ..c3, again exploiting the back row weakness, is very strong.}) 29. g3 Bxb2 30. Kg2 Bd4 {When the Sniper bishop comes to the centre with immunity, no white piece can rest easy.} 31. Rec2 R7b5 32. Nd2 Rd1 33. Nc4 Rbb1 34. Nd2 Rg1+ 35. Kh3 Rbc1 36. Nf3 Rxc2 37. Rxc2 Rd1 38. Kg2 Bg7 39. Nd2 h5 40. h4 Kf8 41. f4 Bd4 42. Kf3 Ra1 43. Nc4 Rf1+ 44. Kg2 Rg1+ 45. Kf3 Rf1+ (45... Ke8 {should still lead to victory.}) 46. Kg2 Rg1+ 1/2-1/2 [Event "European Club Cup, Rethymnon"] [Site "?"] [Date "2003.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "M.Karttunen"] [Black "A.Morozevich"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A43"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2003.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game sees Morozevich transpose from a Sniper into a Sniper Benko, but only after exchanging the light-squared bishops.} 1. d4 c5 ({As I've mentioned before, although the 1...c5 move order is playable against 1 d4, I strongly recommend Sniper trainees to stay with the} 1... g6 {move order for a couple of years. Just like training in any subject, there will be setbacks, but I guarantee you this: if you stay with the Sniper it will reap more points than other opening systems you might have played as Black. Practice – Patience – Perseverance – Progress – Points!}) 2. d5 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. e4 {SMOT: Of course this could have come via a Pure Sniper.} d6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. Be2 Nd7 8. O-O Ngf6 9. Ne1 Bxe2 10. Qxe2 {Black's strategy is now all about achieving ... b5 and monitoring White's potential e5 thrust.} O-O 11. f4 Ne8 12. Nf3 b5 { Always looking for ...b5, even at the cost of a pawn.} 13. cxb5 Qb6 14. bxa6 Nc7 {It's well worth taking a few minutes to fully examine this position. The meaty features are as follows: 1. Black will head his rooks down the a- and b- files to compensate for the pawn deficit. 2. The disappearance of the light-square bishops weakens the a6-square and a6-f1 diagonal.} 15. e5 { White's thematic break arrives but it also weakens the d5-pawn.} Qxa6 { Morozevich is more than happy to enter an endgame, even with a pawn deficit, as long as his pieces remain active.} 16. Qe4 Rfb8 17. a3 Nb5 18. Be3 Nxc3 19. bxc3 Rb3 {Black invades on a weak light square.} 20. c4 Nb6 21. Nd2 Rxa3 { Black wins back the pawn and is also well placed to attack White's remaining pawns from the advanced entry points he has engineered on the queenside.} 22. Rxa3 Qxa3 23. Rb1 Na4 {Moving a knight away from the centre is rarely a good idea, but here it is coming straight back in with such devastating effect it is more than warranted.} 24. Rb7 Nc3 25. Qf3 Qa1+ 26. Nf1 dxe5 27. fxe5 Bxe5 28. Rxe7 Bf6 $1 {This is a lovely defensive move that gains a critical counter-attacking tempo.} 29. d6 $2 ({An overly optimistic sacrifice. White might be just about surviving after} 29. Rc7 Nd1 $1 30. Bxc5 Bd4+ 31. Kh1 Nf2+ 32. Kg1 $1 {.}) 29... Bxe7 30. dxe7 Re8 31. Bxc5 Qe1 32. g3 Ne4 33. Ba3 Nd2 34. Qf2 Qxf2+ 35. Kxf2 Nxc4 36. Bc5 Ne5 {Black wins with ...Nc6 and ...Nxe7. A good Sniper Benko game by Morozevich, who invaded on the queenside and then launched an attack on the dark squares around the white king.} 0-1 [Event "British Championship, Torquay"] [Site "?"] [Date "2009.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "K.Arkell"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A40"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "76"] [EventDate "2009.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game sees one of England's top Grandmasters play against the Sniper. His response: an 'Anti-Sniper' involving 3 b4. The resulting position might seem like a crazy mess to untrained Snipers, but a number of similar themes and patterns unfold that can act as navigation beacons for well-trained Snipers.} 1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. b4 {Arkell was determined to prevent me from playing 3.. .c5. He achieved this but I still got it in two moves later – a Deferred Sniper! It was this game that convinced me the Sniper was something special. It is not just an opening but a chess system of structural development extending deep into the middlegame. Even Grandmasters can lose to it when facing considerably lower-rated opponents. Not only did I defeat a Grandmaster in this game with Black, he also lost on time in a lost position – this again shows the power of the Sniper. With so many new positions and ideas it is not possible even for players as excellent as Keith to fully understand the complexities. Anyone who becomes familiarized with the resulting middlegames can gain time and reach better positions, which often translates to extra points over the course of a career – which in turn means higher ratings. That's my opinion, but this only kicks in if you can put some effort into the system and stick with it. That is true of mastering anything, I suppose.} d6 4. Bb2 {A bizarre setup by White confuses us both – as the player with Black I think that means I have cancelled out White's initial opening advantage!} a5 $1 {Snipers are always on the lookout for wing pawn exchanges in return for more centrally influencing pawns.} 5. b5 c5 {Phew – it's in! Behold another Deferred Sniper.} 6. Nbd2 Nh6 {I like the knight's development here as it can still attain a brilliant position on its next move, thus annulling the negative effect of 'knights on the rim are dim'.} 7. e4 O-O 8. c3 {Keith is world-class when it comes to understanding pawn structures and endgames. If he has a weakness from a GM viewpoint it may be his calculation in middlegames, so 'the messier the better' should offer some prospects – and there is nothing messier than an unclear new system. This is exactly the approach players who may not be as good as GMs should take, especially with Black. Otherwise time and again they will be ground down by a space or central advantage.} cxd4 9. cxd4 d5 10. e5 a4 {Here the position is level but it is the calm before the storm – a storm that cannot be evaluated properly as it becomes absolutely chaotic.} 11. Ba3 {A little optimistic, allowing the Sniper bishop to affect the centre by nibbling away with my favourite move in the Sniper:} f6 12. Be2 Nf5 $5 ({The knight surveys its domain and reasons that White will not play the risky g2-g4 to evict it. However, if g4 is played I believe White could equalize the position. Alternatively, after} 12... fxe5 13. Nxe5 Nf5 14. O-O { Black has a nice small advantage.}) 13. Rc1 (13. g4 Nxd4 14. Nxd4 fxe5 15. Nc2 {reaches an unclear mess that Keith probably didn't fancy defending.}) 13... g5 14. h3 Nd7 15. Bb2 Qb6 16. Qc2 {This allows Black to make the position ultra-sharp. The question for Black is: how does he get the a8-rook to the kingside?} fxe5 17. dxe5 a3 {Always be on the lookout for the initiative in the centre or on the enemy king.} 18. Ba1 Qh6 {The queen makes her aggressive kingside intentions clear.} 19. O-O {How to get the a8-rook in?} Nb6 $1 20. Rfe1 Ra4 $1 {With the added bonus of 'Centre, Centre, Centre ... Centre!'} 21. Nf1 g4 22. hxg4 Rxg4 {Objective achieved: the a8-rook has massively upgraded its value and function. White must be very careful otherwise a mating attack could be just around the corner. Keith wisely brings extra troops to defend his monarch.} 23. N1h2 Rg6 24. Qd2 {A nice attempt to neutralize the attack and then grind me down in the endgame. Level endgames against Arkell – who I would argue is even better than Capablanca in the endgame – will normally translate to a win for him.} Nh4 $5 {Although I was absolutely delighted with this move and the result of the game, I learned that it is difficult for top players sometimes to find simple three-move combinations in messy positions. Keith does have an opportunity to acquire a clear advantage later in the game but he can be forgiven as there are so many of these three-move combinations around – all requiring analysis and assessment.} 25. Qxh6 Rxg2+ {The position is a complete mess! This has nothing to do with the game but my favourite footballer is Messi – I can't play football like him but I can play chess like him!} 26. Kh1 Bxh6 27. Nxh4 (27. Rxc8 $3 {is the move we both missed, and it even took a few seconds for my Rybka to find it. After} Rxc8 28. Nxh4 Rxf2 29. Ng4 Rxe2 30. Nxh6+ Kf8 31. Rxe2 Rc1+ 32. Kg2 Rxa1 33. Rf2+ Ke8 34. N4f5 { Black's king will be under siege from White's attacking troops.}) 27... Rxh2+ 28. Kxh2 Bxc1 29. Rg1+ Kh8 {After the game was published in The Daily Telegraph, a number of players asked me how much I had seen. Well, the truth is I had seen all the ideas after 24...Nh4 (except 27 Rxc8!!) but was a little uncertain on some of the evaluations. I couldn't 'see' anything convincing for White and in hindsight this is correct except for 27 Rxc8. Therefore, not the perfect Sniper game but very close.} 30. Rxc1 Rxf2+ 31. Kh1 Rxe2 32. e6+ { It was this move that Keith had pinned his hopes on, but I had seen an excellent response back at 24...Nh4!?. These ideas are easy to see when attacking but not so easy when defending and when many other ideas have to be calculated and assessed.} Rb2 $3 {White is now lost.} 33. Re1 ({The rook is immune from capture because the a3-pawn becomes a black queen:} 33. Bxb2+ $6 axb2 {(this pawn simply becomes the winning trump)} 34. Rb1 Na4 $1 35. Nf3 Bxe6 36. Nd4 Bf7 37. Nf5 Bg6 {and Black wins.}) 33... Kg8 34. Nf5 {Black must be careful, as there is still some danger to the king.} Kf8 35. Nd4 Rxa2 36. Rf1+ Ke8 37. Rg1 {Threatening mate in one. After four hours of hard chess work, and in time pressure, it is possible to miss such things.} Kd8 38. Bc3 Nc4 { Keith lost on time in a lost position. The Sniper had at last successfully arrived on the world stage with the taking of a 2500 GM scalp. This game demonstrated the value of playing middlegames that you have some familiarity with – at least more familiarity than your opponent. This is a key virtue of the Sniper system; it is not an opening in the traditional sense, as its structure works against any White setup.} 0-1 [Event "British Championship, Liverpool"] [Site "?"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "S.Ledger"] [Black "C.Storey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A41"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This game will show an effective way of dealing with the London System. It is the only time in the entire book where a Sniper system has not been recommended, as Black plays ...e5 instead of ...c5. Black's setup has been played with good success by Grandmaster Pia Cramling.} 1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. Bf4 {This setup for White appears to be calm and simple, offering a small advantage. Not so – the bishop can be hit by a pawn. Let's see how:} d6 { Although ...c5 can be played, this approach endorsed by Cramling is so good that this is a rare instance where I recommend an alternative to the Sniper setup. Black's powerful aim is an all-out attack on the kingside!} ({The Pure Sniper way would be} 3... c5 4. c3 Qb6 {, with complete equality.}) 4. e3 Nd7 5. h3 e5 $1 {The entire point: this central initiative allows a scheme of development that ensures good attacking prospects for Black.} 6. Bh2 Qe7 7. Be2 ({After} 7. Bc4 Ngf6 8. Qe2 c6 9. dxe5 Nxe5 10. Nxe5 dxe5 {Black has slightly the better of a quiet position.}) 7... f5 {Black can safely add the f-pawn to the centre as the e2-bishop is somewhat passive.} 8. O-O Nh6 9. c4 O-O 10. Nc3 c6 11. dxe5 ({Deviating from} 11. Rc1 Nf7 12. b4 g5 13. Ne1 Nf6 14. b5 Bd7 15. bxc6 bxc6 16. Rb1 f4 17. Nc2 Bf5 {, when Black was already very strongly placed to attack on the kingside, S.Ledger-P.Cramling, British League 2006.}) 11... dxe5 {Black has strong central control and the h2-bishop is out of the game.} 12. Rc1 g5 13. Kh1 g4 14. Ng1 Nf6 15. Qc2 Nh5 {Black is poised for the attack.} 16. hxg4 fxg4 17. Ne4 Bf5 18. Bd3 {One final piece is required to do something useful – then attack!} Rad8 19. Ne2 Bg6 20. Kg1 Nf5 {The computer likes White here but the Dilution Principle is in effect. The satisfying thing about this game was that I was aware of this – there may be hope yet for humanity against the silicon beasts!} 21. Rcd1 Bh6 22. N2g3 Nxe3 $3 {Two exclamation marks may be a bit generous really, as two central pawns, the initiative and a weaker enemy king is well worth one unit of material, and that's before forward calculations are applied.} 23. fxe3 Bxe3+ 24. Kh1 Nf4 25. c5 Kh8 26. b4 h5 {The pawn advance will plough through, driving away pieces and allowing the black pieces to attack.} 27. Rfe1 Bd4 $6 ({Black wins easily by} 27... h4 $1 {(a central modifier!)} 28. Rxe3 hxg3 29. Bxg3 Nxd3 30. Rdxd3 Rf1+ 31. Kh2 Rxd3 32. Qxd3 Qh7+ 33. Bh4 Qxh4+ {. If there is one thing I've learned since commencing the research and writing of this book, it's that central modifier moves can win games!}) 28. Ne2 Nxd3 29. Qxd3 Bf2 30. Nxf2 Bxd3 31. Nxd3 e4 32. Ne5 Kh7 33. Rxd8 Qxd8 34. Ng3 Qd2 {With the cat among the pigeons the position is won and should be trivial. However ... I proceeded to lose on time after thinking I had made the time control!} 35. Rxe4 h4 36. Ne2 Rf2 37. Nf4 Rf1+ 38. Bg1 Rxf4 39. Nc4 {I lost on time in a trivially winning position. Comical now, but very painful at the time. Still, this was another superb victory for the Sniper recommendation, even though it was not actually a Sniper. Black built up an extremely effective kingside attack by using the early central thrust 5...e5 gaining a very useful tempo. If Black plays a Pure Sniper against the London System it just leads to equality.} 1-0 [Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2011.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "The English Opening:"] [Black "A Simple Sniper Antidote"] [Result "*"] [ECO "A37"] [Annotator "Charlie Storey"] [PlyCount "16"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] [SourceTitle "The Sniper"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2011.04.04"] [SourceQuality "1"] {This work would not be complete without a quick word on how to play against the English Opening. Of course after 1 c4 g6 White may transpose to many games discussed earlier in the book, but if White plays in 'English style' Black needs a good, reliable answer and here I will offer a simple and clever idea. In short, it involves a Double Sniper: a quick ...b6 and ...Bb7, and a delayed development of the g8-knight. This straightforward method not only helps Black to just equalize, it also creates good chances to play for the full point.} 1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. g3 c5 $1 {The Pure Sniper treatment.} 4. Bg2 Nc6 {Please note that the kingside knight remains on g8, and does so until the queenside Sniper position is completed.} 5. Nf3 (5. a3 b6 6. b4 Bb7 {is another promising version of the Double Sniper, with Black more than equalizing here. For example,} 7. bxc5 bxc5 8. Rb1 Qc8 9. Ne4 Nd8 10. Bf3 Bc6 11. Nh3 Ne6 12. O-O Nf6 13. Neg5 Bxf3 14. Nxf3 O-O 15. d3 Rb8 16. Bf4 d6 {with a pleasant position for Black in the game M.Gurevich-V.Anand, Bastia (rapid) 2006.}) 5... b6 $1 {This early challenge on the light squares gives Black a fine game.} 6. O-O Bb7 7. e3 Nf6 8. b3 ({After} 8. Ne5 Qc7 $1 {Black is delighted and has no problems; for example,} 9. Nxc6 Bxc6 10. d3 O-O {with equal chances.}) (8. d4 { is White's best way to press for an advantage, but Black is equal after} O-O 9. d5 Na5 10. Qd3 d6 11. Rb1 e6 12. Re1 exd5 13. cxd5 {.}) 8... Ne4 {White has completely lost any starting advantage he may have had. This variation will dissuade anyone from playing the English against you.} *