Avrukh’s Slav in action

Here is a game from the local league, played last month. I certainly don’t deserve any medals for beating a sub-2000-rated opponent. However, one-sided games can contain some instructive value, as the viewer gets to see one side’s strategy play out perfectly. The present game also gave me a chance to test Avrukh’s Slav repertoire. Even though my opponent deviated from theory quite early, I was able to apply a few of the ideas that were recommended by Avrukh in other variations.

The concept of “learning ideas instead of memorizing moves” has become rather a hackneyed phrase, usually associated with products such as chess DVDs, and books that place less emphasis on detailed analysis than the GM Repertoire series. However, I have often found my general understanding has been elevated by studying high-level opening books. (Not just from Quality Chess; the “Opening According to Kramnik/Anand” books from Chess Stars also spring to mind.)

Alan Jelfs (1922) – Andrew Greet (2485) D15
Glasgow, 04.03.2014

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 a6 6.b3
My opponent was obviously not familiar with this particular set-up with the pawn on a6 and bishop on f5, and he chooses an innocuous reply.

6…e6 7.Bd3 Bd6!?
I decided to leave the bishop to be taken, as the change in the pawn structure would make the game more interesting.

A decent alternative is: 7…Bb4 8.Qc2 (8.Bb2 Qa5) 8…Bxd3 9.Qxd3 Black has won a tempo and is doing fine.

Interestingly, about a month later I reached the same position against the same opponent. On that occasion he avoided exchanging on f5 but made the strategic error of blocking the centre with c4-c5. It was a strange attempt to improve, and I won quickly.

During the game, I remembered that one of Avrukh’s lines featured a similar position, but with the white knight still on g1, which gave him the option of putting the queen on f3 and knight on e2 to challenge Black’s central pawns. (I have since checked and found the line on page 57 of GM 17.) Here there is no such plan, and I already assessed my position as slightly preferable.

9.Qc2 g6 10.Bb2 0–0 11.g3
Hardly a necessity at the moment.

11…Nbd7 12.Rd1 Qe7
Off the file of the enemy rook.

13.0–0 Rac8
13…b5 is a good alternative, but I had something else in mind.

14.Qb1 h5
Black is not threatening …h4 yet, but I decided it would be useful to have this option in case the knight moved away.

A strange move; the rook has no apparent purpose here. I find it slightly amusing that this piece did not move again for the remainder of the game.

15.h4 would leave White permanently vulnerable to sacrificial ideas on the kingside.

15…dxc4! 16.bxc4 b5
I had been keeping this idea in mind for some time, and with the rook clumsily placed on d3 there was no better moment for it. Once again, Avrukh’s book proved useful, as I remembered having seen a few other lines where he recommended the same plan of …dxc4, apparently giving up the centre, followed by …b5. See for instance page 112 of GM 17. The situation is completely different, but I think my familiarity with Avrukh’s book made it easier for me to decide on this plan in my game.

17.c5 Bc7 also favours Black, who can solidify the light-square blockade with moves like …Ne4 and …Ndf6.

17…cxb5 18.Rc1 Nb6 19.Nd2 h4!
I had a feeling the h-pawn would prove useful!

20.Ne2 Nbd5 21.Nf1 Ne4
Black has a huge positional advantage. The rest of the game contains a few inaccuracies, but the general evaluation remains the same.

22.Re1 Qb7?!
22…Ng5 23.Nd2 Bb4! would have won more quickly; I did not notice the …Bb4 idea until the next move.

23.gxh4 Bb4
I wanted to give the knight the option of retreating to d6 in the event of f2–f3.

24.Red1 Qe7 25.Nfg3?
25.f3 Nd6 26.h5 was the only real chance to resist.

Now Black has a massive positional advantage plus an attack, in a position with equal material.

26.f3 Ng5 27.Rf1 Bd6
27…Kg7! was slightly more accurate, but my move is also fine.

28.Ba3 b4 29.Bc1 Kg7!
I had been looking for a good moment to bring the last piece into play, and the rook’s arrival on the h-file will break the defence.

30.Nf4 Bxf4
The machine points out 30…Rh8 31.Qb2 Rxc1!

31.exf4 Rh8 32.Qb2 Nh3+ 33.Kh1 Nhxf4 34.Bxf4 Qxf4
Extra pawn and total domination.

35.Rg1 Rh3 36.Qd2 Rch8 37.Qf2
37.Rg2 Rxg3 38.Qxf4 Nxf4 39.Rxg3 Nxd3 leaves Black with an extra piece.

37…Rxh2+ 38.Qxh2 Rxh2+ 39.Kxh2 Qh4+ 40.Kg2 Nf4+ 41.Kf1 Qh3+
Avoiding 41…Nxd3?? 42.Nxf5+; the tactical training must be paying off.


16 thoughts on “Avrukh’s Slav in action”

  1. In that context I´d like to point out Carlsen´s approach to bypass the Avrukh repertoire against Nakamura. After 6.Be2 h6 he played 7.Bd3 when Avrukh´s recommendation against 6.Bd3 Bg6 is no longer possible.

  2. Hi Andrew,
    Many thanks for the game. Any chance you could show the follow-up with the c5 idea ? I’ve had this played twice against me when posting the bishop on d6. Both ended in draws, with White doing all he could to prevent e5 and me going for f5.

  3. “my general understanding has been elevated by studying high-level opening books”. I very much agree with this comment, and this has been my experience too.
    I have been disappointed several times with the ‘other type’ of book with their lack of real content. They seem to be more about making easy money without doing any real work.

    Keep up the good work in producing REAL opening books.

  4. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Nice game, inspires me again to play the Slav even more. Also, not sure I was where to mention, that a game with 13. Qg4 b5 in the 7…0-0 Winawer like Berg recommended I found this game Saric-Huzman, 03.03.2014, EU Championship from ChessBase. Then 14. h4 Rf5 15. Ng5 Qe7 16. f4 looks new to me. Then instead of 16…h6, it seems to me that continuing along with counterplay 16…a5 looks better perhaps with …Ra7 ideas, with the idea 17. h5 gxh5 18. Qxh5 h6 19. g4 Rf8, or 18. Rxh5 h6 trades off rooks.

    16…Qe8 also looks interesting. But after 16…h6 17. Nf3 Qf7 looks odd to me blocking off retreat for the rook. 18. Qh3 Bd7 19. g4 and Black had to sacrifice the exchange for a pawn, which looks dubious to me. 18…Qe8 looks necessary to me, which alrady loses a tempo. But the problem with 16…h6 is that retreating with 17. Nf3 is tempo gained to defend g6, but again maybe just 17…Qe8 is fine, then White must advance the kingside with 18. Qh3 a5 19. g4 Rf8 20. h5 gxh5 21. g5 (21. gxh5 Ne7) hxg5 22. Nxg5 Ne7 looks unclear with ideas of …g6 and …Nf5. I am not a Winawer expert though, but it looks plausible. Still, 16…a5 looks better to me.


    ###  GM Repertoire Sicilian Najdorf & GM Repertoire Beating the Anti-Sicilians ###

    Please make clear! GM Repertoire Sicilian Najdorf will have number 6 in the GM Rep series, and it won’t include anti-Sicilians section?

    Instead, Beating the Anti-Sicilians will have number 20, and it will include only anti-Sicilians which were included in the 1st edition of Grandmaster Repertoire 6 – The Sicilian Defence by Lubomir Ftacnik?


    Besides, if GM Repertoire Sicilian Najdorf 2nd edition won’t include anti-Sicilians, then why can’t you expand given repertoire including …e5 lines against Be3 and Be2, since many of us play those lines.

    Please don’t stick stubbornly by …e6 Scheweningen lines! Look at Avrukh who gives 2 lines in Slav, and Berg even 3 lines against Winawer 🙂

  7. As Kotronias is writing the new GM Rep Anti-Sicilian book, I am sure it will have some different lines than the ones given in the original GM6.

    I agree with above comment that it would be AMAZING if it had 6…e5 lines against 6.Be2 & f4 IN ADDITION to the 6….e6 lines (Original GM6 already gave 6….e6 & 6…e5 lines against 6.Be3)

    It would be simply amazing and think of the sales. I would imagine if both lines were given SO many more people would purchase the book!!

    Can’t wait to see what is recommended against 6.Bg5, as I would imagine it will be something slightly different from the original GM6. Personally would love to see lines with …Qc7 or Old Main Line! Just dreaming 🙂

    Anyway based on Jacob’s comments and dates given previously I think he has started working with Ftacnik on the new Najdorf book!!

  8. This constant demand and pressure to include …e5 lines in GM6 is getting really annoying.

    Ftacnik already gave the reason they were not included – he is not an expert in them.
    It would also be a major additional project which would considerably delay the book. We have waited long enough for this book already.

    There have been numerous books on the …e5 lines, but very few on the …e6 lines. It is high time the …e6 lines were covered properly – …e5 players are already spoilt for choice.
    I would much rather see a more thorough coverage of the …e6 lines, and more options given within them, in GM6. This would be quite enough material for one book.

    If …e5 players want their lines covered, then request a separate book by a different author.

  9. @Ray
    Well, more like two half-books for the price of one. For the analysis of, and the effort put into, the …e6 lines would be diluted.
    Also, the Keres Attack is not included.

    Ftacnik offers a repertoire much along the lines of Emms’ ‘Najdorf – Scheveningen Style’. It should stay that way.

  10. @Jacob Aagaard
    I’m sure you do. And the quality of the GM repertoire series shows this.

    But if …e5 lines were included, this must inevitably take some of your attention away from the …e6 lines. As you are not superhuman, this must have some sort of effect, however big or small it may be. This was the sense in which I was meaning.
    Unless the book is unreasonably delayed.

  11. Also, note that I said that I would prefer more options given within the …e6 lines.
    Ftacnik said that he had to make some agonising decisions about excluding some lines. I found the GM6 repertoire to be rather narrow, and several of the lines which I prefer were excluded. No reasons were given as to why such lines were excluded or why they might be inferior. Frankly, in this respect I was finding more in the old lightweight ‘Guide to’ series or in Kasparov’s ‘Revolution in the 70’s’.
    Now is the chance to include the lines that Ftacnik said he was reluctant to exclude (presumably for space reasons). But this chance will be gone if …e5 lines are included. This is another sense in which I meant the …e6 lines would be diluted.

  12. One other suggestion:
    I prefer to play 2…e6 rather than 2…d6 because of the very popular and drawish 3.Bb5ch. But going this way allows the Keres Attack, which while I don’t fear it, to play soundly against doesn’t seem to allow any winning chances for Black.
    Therefore the best way to get into the Scheveningen might be via the Taimanov move-order. But this requires a N on c6 early. It might therefore be nice to see lines against 6.Be2 in which Black plays an earlier Nc6.

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