Tiger’s Novelty in the Slav vs. Avrukh’s 1.d4

1.d4 d4 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Be4 7.f3 Bg6 8.Qb3

This is a line recommended by Boris Avrukh in Grandmaster Repertoire 1: 1.d4. The usual replies are 8…Qb6 and 8…Qc7. In January this year Sweden’s No.1, Tiger Hillarp Persson, introduced a stunning new idea: 8…b5!!?

Last month, in a training session in Edinburgh, Tiger explained how he came up with the idea. Most new ideas are prepared in advance at home and computer-checked: Tiger’s was an over-the board inspiration. He had intended to play 8…Qb6, then he suddenly thought, “Was 8…b7-b6 so bad?” and then 8…b7-b5 popped into his head. He quickly checked that 9.cxb5 c5 offered some play, and that he had some ideas against 9.c5, and then Tiger was ready. He used less than 10 minutes before playing 8…b5: a new move in a position that had been played over 400 times.

So if you follow Avrukh’s repertoire, how should you reply to Tiger’s gambit? Playing 9.c5 with the idea of a2-a4 to follow is interesting, but my suggestion is to try to refute the gambit by accepting it: 9.cxb5 c5 10.Nxg6 hxg6 11.g3!? White’s king will often find a home on g2. For example if 11…Bd6 then 12.Kf2 (stopping …Bxg3) 12…Qc7 13.Kg2 (again stopping …Bxg3). The king looks safe and White is a pawn up.

So far 8…b5 has been played 4 times and no one has tried 9.cxb5. If you have the chance, give it a go.

John Shaw

2 thoughts on “Tiger’s Novelty in the Slav vs. Avrukh’s 1.d4”

  1. Hi
    I looked at this line a bit as I have Avrukhs excellent book. First of all 9.c5 Bg6 !? seems ok for black.
    I think white can play 9.Nxg6 hxg6 (9…dxc4 10.Bxc4 ! bxc4 11.Qb7 is the main point) 10.c5 and a4 to follow is quite pleasent for white. Also Avrukh analyses similiar positions.
    Worth a try ?

  2. Hi Boris,

    Thanks for your analysis.

    You say 9.c5 Bg6, but I guess you meant 9.c5 Bh5. If so, I think that is too slow for Black. White probably replies 10.a4, which is messy but I believe Black is worse.

    After 9.c5 I think Black should choose between 9…Nbd7 and 9…a5.

    In the other line you mention there is a position that needs further analysis: 9.Nxg6 dxc4 10.Bxc4 bxc4 11.Qb7. Now play 11…hxg6 12.Qxa8 Qc7 and what is happening? The white queen looks trapped, but this is one to check with a computer.

    After all that, I am sticking with my original recommendation: 9.cxb5!

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