[FEN ""]
[StartPly "25"]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Be2 d5 8.O-O Qc7 9.f4 Bc5+ 10.Kh1 d4 11.Na4 Ba7 12.b3 Ne7 13.Bd3 O-O 14.Qh5 f5 15.Ba3 Rf6 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.Nb2 Rh6 18.Qe2 Bc5 19.Rf3 Bd6 20.Nc4 Bc5 21.Ne5 Qc7 22.Bc4 Kf8 23.exf5 exf5 24.Re1 Bd7

White seems better. How could I have capitalized?

In my opinion, White has a decisive advantage here. He has a better pawn structure and a safer king, and all of his pieces are splendidly centralized.

Black on the other hand has pieces scattered all over the place, his bishops are restricted (but well posted for defense), and his queen is a bit clumsy on c7 but can be repositioned to a better square in a few moves.

At first, I wanted to play 1. Rh3 to remove the only defender of the kingside Rh6. That turned into an endgame where my minimal advantage fizzled out.

But then I found a new way to attack by opening the center with 1. c3!. This catches Black unprepared for combat as his Ra8,Qc7 and Bd7 are poorly placed. Since the White pieces are faster, it should not take them too much time to*decisively reposition themselves.

After checking this extensively with the engine, I have confirmed my conclusions.

Since the number of lines is vast, they will not fit here if I try to just copy/paste them. Therefore I will supply illustrative lines from the engine's first analysis.

If you need more efficient demonstrations, I suggest running each line separately through the engine, or posting a new question with the sub-variation you have a problem with.

Without further delay, here are the lines:

[fen "r4k2/2qb2pp/p1p4r/2b1Np2/2Bp1P2/1P3R2/P1P1Q1PP/4R2K w - - 0 1"]

1.c3! dxc3 ( 1...Be8 2.cxd4 $18 ) 2.Rd3 Be8 ( 2... Be6 3.Bxe6 Rxe6 4.Rh3 h6 5.Qc4 Qe7 6.Rxc3 Bb4 7.Ng6+ Rxg6 8.Rxe7 Bxe7 9.h3 a5 10.Re3 Rf6 11.Re6 c5 12.Rxf6+ gxf6 &18 ) 3.Qc2 Ba7 ( 3... Rd8 4.Rxd8 Qxd8 5.Qxf5+ Qf6 6.Ng6+ Rxg6 7.Qxc5+ Qd6 8.Qf5+ Qf6 9.Qc8 Qe7 10.Rxe7 Kxe7 11.Qc7+ Bd7 12.Qe5+ Kd8 $18 ) ( 3... Rh5 4.Rh3 Qc8 5.Rxh5 Bxh5 6.Qxc3 Qd8 7.b4 Bd4 8.Qd3 Bxe5 9.Qxf5+ Qf6 10.Qxh5 g6 11.fxe5 gxh5 12.exf6 Rd8 $18 ) (3... Bb4 4.Rh3 Bg6 5.Rxh6 gxh6 6.a3 a5 7.axb4 axb4 8.Qf2 Qd6 9.Qb6 Re8 10.Qb7 c5 11.Qa7 h5 12.h3 c2 $18 ) (3... Ra7 4.Rh3 g6 5.Rxh6 Bb4 6.Rh3 Ba5 7.Qe2 Qe7 8.Qf2 c5 9.Nxg6+ Bxg6 10.Rxe7 Rxe7 11.Kg1 Rc7 12.Rd3 Re7 $18 ) ( 3... Ba3 4.Rh3 Qe7 5.Rxh6 gxh6 6.Qxc3 Qg7 7.b4 Bc1 8.Qd4 Ra7 9.Qd6+ Re7 10.Rxc1 h5 11.Re1 a5 12.Bf7 Bxf7 $18 ) (3...Rf6 4.Qxc3 a5 5.Qc2 Bb4 6.Red1 Ra7 7.Qf2 h6 8.Qe3 Be7 9.Re1 Qb7 10.Nd7+ Qxd7 11.Rxd7 Rxd7 12.Qe5 Bf7 $18 ) (3... Qc8 4.Nf3 Qb7 5.Ng5 Bd7 6.Rh3 Re8 7.Nxh7+ Rxh7 8.Rxe8+ Kxe8 9.Rxh7 Bd4 10.Rh8+ Ke7 11.Qe2+ Kd6 12.Rd8 c2 $18 ) 4.Rh3 Qd6 5.Rxh6 gxh6 6.h3 Kg7 7.Qxc3 Bd4 8.Qg3+ Bg6 9.Nf3 Bf6 10.a4 c5 11.Re6 Qd1+ 12.Kh2 h5 13.Nh4 Rf8 14.Rxa6 Qc1 $18

Hopefully this helped. If you have any questions or remarks leave a comment.

Best regards.

  • thanks, going through the c3 variations was very instructional. – user2306 Apr 25 '14 at 18:39

Here's the continuation per Stockfish at 5 minutes per move. The thing that strikes me first is how many moves it takes for White to secure the mate. @Always is spot-on with his "why white is better" comments. But still... 43 moves to win a "won" position!

Stockfish liked @Alway's c3 well enough but still preferred Qd3 by about half a pawn.

I have a few short variations in the moves to show how very very close Black is to losing instantly. This is because his King is exposed. White's gotta be feeling very confident, having his King snuggled away...

6. cxd4 removes black's only credible threat, except for the back-rank mate. Now Black's wretched pawn structure and inferior piece placement gives White a fun game.

After 9... Qe6 Black superficially has it together. He's got two pieces on c4, Q+R are lined up pinning the Knight on e5 (exploiting White's weak bank rank), the f5 and h6 pawns are defended. The issue is that Black's Queen is overloaded and the Bishop on d5 is misplaced. The simple 10. Bd3 shows this. Now the f5 pawn is about to fall with tempo. Black has no means to defend it. His exposed King runs instead. With 11.Bxf5 the game really is over. White has to adopt a grade-school-complexity plan of just trading off pieces as he'll be able to make passed pawns on both wings of the board. To survive, Black needs to play like a GM.

With 12. Qd3 White lines up on the h7 pawn. Black snags the d4 pawn, hoping to decoy the Queen so Black can eat the Bishop on f5. White is having little of it and saves his Bishop with tempo, offering Black the opportunity to exchange a lot of pieces, which is deadly for Black. Black has little choice however. 14. Nxd7 with tempo adds insult to injury.

After 17... Qg4 Black is fairly doomed, but he's tricky. He still has the Qg2# threat as well as exploiting White's bank rank with Qd1+. White really wants that Queen off the board.

20. Re2 is a common super-efficient computer move. The Rook simultaneously defends g2, blocks the diagonal leading to d1, and threatens mate on e7. Black's response is to expose his King. :-P

22.h3 removes forever the threat of the backrank checkmate and does so with tempo. The Queen must leave and finds only 2 squares where it can save the Bishop.

After White's 27th move, Black is nearly in Zugzwang. There's aren't any good moves left, no credible threats to be made.

33... Kc7 is because of the White's threat to pin the Black Queen with Rd3.

That'll do ;-)

[fen "r4k2/2qb2pp/p1p4r/2b1Np2/2Bp1P2/1P3R2/P1P1Q1PP/4R2K w - - 0 1"]

    1.Qd3 (1.c3 dxc3 2.Rd3 Be6 3.Bxe6 Rxe6 4.Rh3 Rh6 5.Qc4 Bd6 6.Rxh6 gxh6+2.78) Re8 2.Rh3 Qd6 3.Rxh6 gxh6 (3... Qxh6?? 4.Nxd7#oops) 4.c3 Bb6 (4...dxc3? 5.Qxd6+ Bxd6 6.Nxd7+ Kg7 7.Rxe8 h5 8.Bd3 Bxf4 9.Re7+ Kg6 10.Re6+ Kg7 11.Bxf5 Bg5 12.Rxc6 Bf4 13.Rxc3+11.5) 5.Rd1 Re7 6.cxd4 a5 7.Qc3 Be6 8.Qf3 Bd5 9.Qh3 Qe6 10.Bd3 Ke8 11.Bxf5 Qf6 12.Qd3 Bxd4 13.Bd7+ (13.Qxd4? Qxf5) Rxd7 14.Nxd7 Qg7 15.Rd2 (15. Qxd4?? Qxg2#DOH) Bc3 16.Rc2 Kxd7 17.Qxc3 Qg4 18.Qd4 (18.Qg3?? Qd1+DOH) Ke6 19.Qe3+ Kd6 20.Re2 Be6 21.Qe5+ Kd7 22.h3 Qg6 23.Qxa5 Qf6 24.Qa7+ Kc8 25.Qa8+ Kd7 26.Qb7+ Kd6 27.Qb8+ Kd7 28.a4 Qd4 29.Kh2 Qd5 30.Qb7+ Kd6 31.Qxh7 h5 32.Re3 Qc5 33.Qe4 Kc7 34.Qxe6 Kb7 35.Qd7+ Kb6 36.Qd8+ Ka6 37.Re8 Qa7 38.b4 Qf7 39.Qa8+ Kb6 40.Rb8+ Kc7 41.Qa7+ Kd6 42.Qxf7 h4 43.Rd8# *
  • @user2306, there are a few good moves here. And what my engine says is best is not necessarily the subjective or objective "best." c3 was good too, for example. And while we should strive to play the best moves, any move that demonstrates your ability to win decisively may cause a doomed opponent to resign, sparing you the real work of checkmating, and removing the specter of you making a mistake. See the annotations above for the simple one-shot mates that are possible. I have lost to them! What did you play? – Tony Ennis Apr 26 '14 at 15:21
  • Indeed, Houdini suggested Qd3 as well, but I just like the direct c3 approach. Still, it seems that Qd3 is stronger but requires more effort and caution to convert properly. Upvoted. Best regards. – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Apr 26 '14 at 16:36
  • I played Rh3 and soon won because of a blunder brought on by time pressure. Thanks for the analysis. – user2306 Apr 26 '14 at 17:07

Just my opinion:

25.Bxa6 Be6 (preventing 26.Qc4, threatening mate and winning the Bishop on c5) 26. Bc4 Re8 (26...Rxa2 27.Bxe6 Rxe6 28.Ng6+) 27. Qd3 Bd6



You can win a pawn with 25. Nxd7 Qxd7 26. Be6 forking the queen and the pawn. The queen can't defend the pawn. However, after 26... Qe7 27. Bxf5 Qxe2 28. Rxe2 it is not clear if White has enough advantage to win. The pawn structure definitely favors White.


First of all, here's some complementary analysis of the whole game using Stockfish DD 64 SSE4.2

    [Event "Complementary analysis of whole game"]
    [FEN ""]

    1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Be2 (7. Bd3
    $1 d5 8. O-O Nf6 9. Re1) 7... d5 8. O-O Qc7 9. f4 $6 (9. Re1!) 9... Bc5+ 10. Kh1
    d4 $2 (10... Ne7 $1) 11. Na4 $1 Ba7 12. b3 (12. c3! dxc3 13. bxc3 Bb7 14. c4 Nf6
    15. Bf3 c5 16. e5 Nd7 17. Bxb7 Qxb7 18. Be3) 12... Ne7 13. Bd3 (13! c3 dxc3 14.
    Ba3 c5 15. Qd3 Bb7 16. Rac1 O-O 17. Rxc3) 13... O-O 14. Qh5 (14! Ba3 c5 15. c3)
    14... f5 15. Ba3 Rf6 16. Bxe7 (16. Qe8+ $1 Rf8 17. Qxe7) 16... Qxe7 17. Nb2 (
    17. exf5! exf5 18. Rae1 Be6 (18... Qd6 19. Re8+ Rf8 20. Rfe1 Bd7 21. R8e7) 19.
    Bxf5) 17... Rh6 18. Qe2 (18. Qg5 $1) 18... Bc5 19. Rf3 (19. Nc4 $1) 19... Bd6
    20. Nc4 Bc5 21. Ne5 Qc7 22. Bc4 (22. exf5 $1 exf5 23. Ng4 $3 Re6 24. Bc4 fxg4
    25. Bxe6+ Bxe6 26. Qxe6+ Kh8 27. Qxg4) 22... Kf8 23. exf5 exf5 24. Re1 Bd7 

Basic Idea - Win material. Exchange bishop.

Win the pawn on a6 and exchange off the light squared bishops. Then the knight on e5 will be stronger and Black's pawns on the light squares will be weaker.

Thus, a simple line seems to be -

   [Event "Basic Idea"]
   [FEN "r4k2/2qb2pp/p1p4r/2b1Np2/2Bp1P2/1P3R2/P1P1Q1PP/4R2K w - - 0 25"]

   1. Bxa6 Be6 2. Bc4 Re8 3. Bxe6 Rhxe6 4. Qd3

This gives white a small advantage.

Basic Idea with Optimizations -

In the previous idea, Black's rooks are too strong. With some calculation, it can be shown that White can exchange the rook on h6 and also damage Black's kingside pawn structure and then proceed with the basic idea. Black cannot really avoid this, as the variations show -

    [Event "Basic Idea With Optimizations"]
    [FEN "r4k2/2qb2pp/p1p4r/2b1Np2/2Bp1P2/1P3R2/P1P1Q1PP/4R2K w - - 0 25"]

    1. Qd3 $1 Re8 (1... Rf6 2. Rh3 h6 3. g4 $1 fxg4 (3... Re8 4. g5 Rd6 5. gxh6 gxh6          
    6. Qg3 Be6 7. Rxh6) 4. Nxd7+ Qxd7 5. Qh7 gxh3 6. Qg8#) (1...
    Bc8 2. Rh3 Qd6 3. Nf7) 2. Rh3 Bc8 (2... Rxh3 3. Qxh3 h6 (3... Be6 4. Bxe6 Rxe6 
    5.  Qxf5+) 4. Ng6#) 3. Rxh6 gxh6 4. Bxa6 Be6 5. Bc4 Bxc4 6. Qxc4

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