No time to study opening theory? Shock your opponent with an SOS!
With an SOS you deviate early (usually before move 6!) from regular lines in mainstream openings. So you will reach positions you have actually studied without having memorized tons of stuffy theory, while gaining time on the clock! And you will have fun watching the horror on your opponent's face...
SEE FOR YOURSELF HOW AN SOS CAN SHOCK AND CONFUSE!
Every month, the editor of the SOS Secrets of Opening Surprises book series, IM Jeroen Bosch, annotates a game which was recently played with an SOS-variation.
SOS Game of the Month: December 2012
See also SOS–6, Chapter 17, page 135
The FIDE Women World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk was fiercely contested. We saw a lot of fighting chess in which many of the elo-favourites were eliminated in the earlier rounds. In a short match (or in a rapid tie-break) it may pay off to surprise your opponent at an early stage, and many chose to do so.
Let us have a look at a Caro-Kann SOS as played by European women champion Valentina Gunina (pictured above) in her first-round match.
Here's the complete text of this game analysis:
Caro-Kann with 3... a6 - B11
Khanty-Mansiysk 2012 (1.2)
1.e4 c6 2.Nc3
(Our actual SOS runs 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 a6, but the game just transposes to this line.)
Latvian player Starostits has been the most active promotor of 3...a6 recently.
Let us investigate a few games after 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 a6. Grandmaster John van der Wiel wrote an insightful article on this line in SOS-6. I refer to this volume for his full explanation on the usefulness of 3... a6. Let it suffice here, that Black plays this waiting move in order to develop his light-squared bishop outside the pawn chain (a pawn chain that (s)he will often try to maintain - as opposed to the main line of the Caro-Kann after 3... dxe4).
Now 4.Nf3 Bg4 is the main line and will transpose to Gu Xiaobing-Gunina.
Some alternatives are:
- 4.h3 (this is not very testing according to Van der Wiel. White prevents Black's main idea ...Bg4. Starotits now likes to transpose back into the main line of the Caro-Kann, when he often ends up with a useful extra move, ...a7-a6, as White then plays h2-h3-h4-h5 rather than h2-h4-h5)
4...dxe4 (Van der Wiel likes both 4...e6 and 4...b5) 5.Nxe4 Bf5 6.Ng3 Bg6 7.h4 (White goes for the 'main line' and acknowledges that Black has an extra move in the form of ...a6)
7...h6 8.Nf3 e6 9.h5 (9.Ne5 Bh7 10.Bc4 Nd7 11.Qe2 Nxe5 12.dxe5 Ne7 is comfortable for Black, Kalvaitis-Starostits, Lithuania 2012) 9...Bh7 10.Bd3 Bxd3 11.Qxd3 Nf6 12.Bd2
12...c5 (12...Nbd7 13.0-0-0 Qc7 14.Kb1 c5 15.Ne4 0-0-0 16.Nxf6 Nxf6 17.Rh4 cxd4 18.Bf4?! Bd6 19.Bxd6 Rxd6 20.Qe2 Rhd8 21.Rd3 Rd5 22.Rhxd4 Rxd4 23.Nxd4 Rd5 24.Rc3 Rc5 25.Rxc5 Qxc5 and Black won the h-pawn and the game in Studer-Bauer, Flims 2012) 13.0-0 Nc6 (Black is very comfortable already) 14.Qb3 cxd4 15.Qxb7 Qc8 16.Qb3 Bd6 17.Qa4 0-0 18.Nxd4 Nxd4 19.Qxd4 Rd8! 20.Qc3 Bxg3 21.fxg3 Ne4, with a nearly winning advantage in Mustaps-Starostits, Riga 2012.
- 4.a4 (prevents ...b5 but is not a very special move) 4...dxe4 5.Nxe4 Bf5 6.Ng3 Bg6 7.h4 h6 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Ne5 Bh7 10.Bd3 Bxd3 11.Qxd3 e6
(compared to the main line of the Caro-Kann, White has been provoked into playing a4, which makes queenside castling a less attractive option) 12.Bf4 Be7 (12...Nbd7!) 13.h5?! (13.Qb3!) 13...Nbd7 14.Ne4 Nxe5 15.Bxe5 Qd5 16.f3 0-0-0 17.Kf2 Nxe4+ 18.fxe4 Qa5 19.Ke2?! Bf6 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.c3 Rhg8, and with White's king in the centre, Black was doing very well in Giron-Starostits, Istanbul 2012.
- According to Van der Wiel the Advance Variation is one of White's more dangerous options. In SOS-6 he explains how Black should proceed in that case. After 4.e5 Bf5 he feels that 5.g4 ought to be better for White (5.Nce2 e6 6.Ng3 Bg6 7.h4 h6 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 c5 11.c3 Nc6 was a favourable French Defence in Andrenko-Cherniaev, St Petersburg 2012) 5...Bd7.
- 4.Bd3!? g6!? (4...dxe4 5.Nxe4 Qxd4 is also analysed by Van der Wiel) 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.0-0
6...Nh6?! (6...Bg4 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 e6) 7.Bf4 0-0 8.Qd2 dxe4 9.Nxe4 Nf5 10.c3 Nd7 11.g4 Nd6 12.Nxd6 exd6 13.Bxd6 Re8 14.g5, and Black did not have enough for the pawn in Demchenko-Epishin, St Petersburg 2012.
2...d5 3.Nf3 a6!?
Very interesting, White hardly has a better move than 4.d4 now, when we transpose to our SOS line.
3...Bg4 is the main reply to the two knights variation, but 3...Nf6 4.e5 Ne4 is another SOS idea. See Igor Khenkin's article in SOS-10.
4.d4 Bg4 5.h3
Immediately putting the question to the bishop. The interesting thing if you take up this line is that Black has two options. You can take on f3 for a solid position or play the more enterprising (but risky) 5...Bh5. Depending upon your mood, the tournament situation, or your opponent you can play either the one or the other.
5.Be2 e6 6.h3 Bxf3 7.Bxf3 Nf6 8.0-0 Be7 9.g3 0-0 10.Bg2 b5 11.a3 Nbd7 12.Kh1 dxe4 13.Nxe4 Rc8 14.Be3 Nxe4 15.Bxe4 Nf6 16.Bg2 Nd5 17.Qe2 c5 was a slight edge for Black in Azam-Labeckas, Istanbul 2012.
5...Bxf3 6.Qxf3 e6 (Van der Wiel prefers 6...dxe4 7.Qxe4 Nf6 8.Qd3 e6) 7.Bd3 (or 7.Bd2! Nf6 8.0-0-0, see SOS-6) 7...Nf6 8.0-0 dxe4 9.Nxe4 Qxd4?! 10.Be3 Qd8 11.Nxf6+ Qxf6 12.Qg3 Qd8 13.Rad1 Nd7 14.Rfe1 g6 15.Bd4 Rg8 16.Bc4 Qe7 17.Qc7 Nf6 18.Qa5 Nd7, and now rather than repeat moves, White should play on. For the pawn she has more than enough compensation, with Black's king stuck in the centre: 19.Qc7 Nf6 20.Qa5 Nd7 21.Qc7 draw, Makropoulou-Petrenko, Braila 2012.
6...dxe4!? is probably best met by 7.Ne5!?.
Dangerous is 7.Ne5!?, and now:
- 7...e6 8.Nxg6 (or 8.exd5 cxd5 9.h4) 8...hxg6 9.Bg2 Nf6 10.e5?! Nfd7 11.Ne2 c5 12.c4!? dxc4 13.Bxb7 Ra7 14.Bg2 cxd4, with a very sharp game, after 15.Qxd4 Qa5+ 16.Bd2 Bb4 17.0-0 Rc7 18.Bxb4 Qxb4 19.Rac1 Qc5 20.f4 g5! the game is about equal, Black won after a complex fight in Bologan-Berkes, Paks 2011.
- Too risky is 7...Bxe4 8.f3!? (8.Nxe4 dxe4 9.Bg2 Nd7 is slighty better for White) 8...Bg6 (8...f6!?) 9.h4 f6 10.Nxg6 hxg6 11.Qd3 g5 12.Bd2 Kf7 13.h5, and White was better (although Black won) in Veszpremi-Medvegy, Hungary 2011.
Quiet moves will favour Black of course. She has the superior structure. Thus White has to go forward with 8.Ne5 and 9.h4.
9.f4?! e6 10.Be3 Bb4 11.Bg2 Nf6 12.0-0 Bxc3! 13.bxc3 Be4 was a clear edge for Black, Milliet-Bauer, Cap d'Agde rapid 2012.
This is actually too sharp. 9...Nxe5 10.dxe5 h5 is a decent alternative here. For example 11.Qxd5! Qxd5 12.Nxd5 0-0-0 and White is somewhat better in a sharp ending.
After this move everything is more or less OK for Black again. Very strong was 10.a3!. Now:
- 10...Qa5 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Bd2! Nc6 13.Bg2 e6 14.Nxd5 Qd8 15.Nb4 would have given White a superior position.
- 10...Bxc2 11.Qd2 Qa5 12.axb4 Qxa1 13.Qxc2, and wins.
- 10...Nxc2+ fails to 11.Kd2! (11.Ke2? Qb6! 12.Nxg6 Nxd4+, Black slightly better) 11...Nxa1?? (11...Nxd4 12.Qa4++-) 12.Qa4+ b5 13.Bxb5+ and wins.
10...hxg6 11.Be3 e6
Correct was 12.a3 Nc6 13.Qd2 Nf6 14.Be2, with about equal chances.
12...gxh5 13.gxh5 Nf6 14.a3 Nc6 15.Be2 Qa5
Black's pawn structure gives her an edge, and White's pair of bishops is fairly meaningless. The remainder of the game with a few light notes.
16.Qd2 Bb4! 17.Rb1 Bd6
17...Bxc3!? 18.Qxc3 Qxc3+ 19.bxc3 b5.
18.Bg5 Be7 19.Kf1 Qb6 20.Be3 Qc7 21.Bf4 Bd6 22.Bg5!
22.Bxd6 Qxd6 favours Black.
22...Nh7!? 23.Be3 Nf6 24.Bf3
24.Bg5 was not possible, as White had to win this second game of the match.
But now Black is simply much better.
25.Bg5 Nc4 26.Qe2 0-0-0 27.Kg2
27...Bf4 28.Bh4 g5 29.hxg6 Rhg8
Now White's king is a target as well.
30.Bxf6 Rxg6+ 31.Bg4 Rxf6 32.Rh7 Kb8 33.Rbh1 Rg6
Black also wins after 33...Nxb2.
34.Kf1 Bc1 35.Nd1 Qf4 36.Bh5 Rf6
Black's forces are concentrating around White's king. The end is near.
37.b3 Nd2+ 38.Ke1 Ne4 39.Rg1 Qh2 40.Rhg7 Bd2+ 41.Kf1 Qh3+ 42.R1g2 Rf5 43.Bxf7
43...Rxf7 44.Rxf7 Rg8 45.Qf3 Qh1+ and wins.
44.Qg4 Qh1+ 45.Rg1 Nd2+ 46.Ke2 Qf3+ 47.Qxf3 Nxf3 and wins.
44...Nd2+ 45.Kg1 Nf3+ 46.Kf1 Bxg7