Recently, I have played online blitz game against very strong GM ( who is also a chess writer ). I didn't even know it until asking him if he has any ELO / title.
We played 7 games and I lost all of them. Although I know my opening choice for White is "idiotic" I just couldn't resist and "went Sparta on him" -> sadly, he dispatched me with ease. Still, with Black, I offered real resistance. Even he said that he had to "work for those wins."
I knew exactly when I made the mistake in all the 7 games, but for the life of me, I was not able to find an idea on how to generate long-term counterplay.
Even analysis with StockFish 5 confirmed my evaluations but the engine couldn't find any move that will give me counter-play when I was Black.
It also confirmed that the GM played the only winning moves which confirms that his above comment wasn't an "empty" compliment but the truth.
I am interested in improving the
3...Qd8 line of the Scandinavian defense so I will limit my question to the positions that arose from those games.
To further help you, I will quote the opening positions from those games, and will give additional info / instructions in order to make your task easier.
[Title "How can Black generate counterplay?"] [fen ""] 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.d4 c6 5.Nf3 Bf5 6.Nh4! Bg6 7.g3! e6 8.Bg2 Be7 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.O-O Nf6 11.Ne2! ( 11.a3 a5! $8 ) 11...Nbd7 12.a4 O-O?! ( 12...a5! $8 ) 13.a5! $16
The point of
a5! is in grabbing as much space as possible in the center ( with subsequent
c4 ) and queenside. He also tried with
a3 instead of
a4 in other games, but the idea was the same:
c4 -> gain space on the queenside.
Bg2 killed my
...c5 push, so I was without any counterplay. I still think Black would be fine if he had played
12...a5!, but I don't see how to generate freeing break or any other sort of counterplay.
As a good chess writer he knew for
g3! plan from the Slav defense, but so did I. It didn't surprise me. His
Ne2! maneuver didn't surprise me either but the idea to gain space on queenside threw me off.
How can Black generate queenside counterplay that gives him equality?
Please avoid computer-only analysis. This is the position where they can do little as it involves planning, for which engines are not capable of.