Games, analysis and discussion

French Winawer Poisoned Pawn

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[Event "Lloyds Bank"]
[Site "London, UK"]
[Date "1985.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "B. Stein"]
[Black "A. Beliavsky"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]

{Discussion of French Winawer, Poisoned Pawn, Euwe Variation game:} 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Kd1!? {The Euwe Variation, which nowadays is uncommon in over the board tournaments. It's an old favourite of mine to analyse and play. It aims to be more aggressive than 10.Ne2, at least initially, and it is not clearly a worse continuation.} Nbc6 {If Black wishes to, he can safely deviate from the heavy theory with ECO's 10...Qxc3 11.Rb1 Nd7 12.Nf3 Nc5 13.Bb2 Qa5 14.Bxd4 Bd7 unclear - Schonneberg-Pietzsch, DDR (ch) 1967 [edit: My machine prefers White heavily].} 11.Nf3 Nxe5 {The modern main line of the Euwe Variation goes 11...dxc3 12.Ng5 Nxe5 (12...Qxe5 13.Qxf7+ Kd7 [13...Kd8? 14.Qxg8+!] and in this messy position Watson's PTF4 gives 14.h4 Qd4+ 15.Bd3 e5 16.Be3 Qg4+ 17.Kc1 as favouring White. I think 17...b6 may now be needed, and then matters are not so clear) 13.Bf4 (13.f4 f6! is generally thought to ultimately favour Black) 13...Qb6 (13...Qc5 14.Bxe5 [after my old 14.Be3 I think 14...Qc7 15.Bf4 repeating may be best] 14...Rxg5 15.Qh4 Rg8 16.Qd4 Qxd4+ transposes) 14.Bxe5 Rxg5 15.Qh4 (if 15.Bxc3 Bd7 [I once did an analysis of 15...Qxf2?! 16.Bb5+ back in the 1970s as a junior] Black is considered fine here, though White might try my old 16.Bd3 and if 16...Rxg2 17.Qh8+ Rg8 18.Qf6 Nc6 then 19.Bh7 Rg8 20.Rg1 provides compensation) 15...Rg8 (15...Rf5 16.Qh8+ Kd7 17.Bd4 Qd6 is given by Psakhis as = but this is messy, and needs testing) 16.Qd4 Qxd4+ 17.Bd4 and in this roughly balanced ending Watson's PTF4 gives 17...Nf5 18.Bxc3 d4 19.Bd2 e5 20.g3 Nd6 as perhaps =/+, but this is debatable, and White's last two moves are not forced.} 12.Bf4 Qxc3 13.Nxe5 Qxa1+ 14.Bc1 d3 {Here 14...Rf8!? is a risky way to avoid allowing White the option of a forced draw. The main line goes 15.Bd3 Bd7 16.Re1 (16.Ke2!? is another branch) Nc6 17.Nxf7 Rxf7 18.Bg6 0-0-0 19.Qxf7 with a messy position where Black might have other playable moves than the expected 19...e5.} 15.Qxf7+ Kd8 16.Qf6 {16.Nxd3!? has hardly been tried.} 16...dxc2+ 17.Kd2 {if 17.Kxc2 Qa2+ 18.Bb2 Bd7 19.Nf7+ Ke8 White has nothing better than a perpetual.} Qd4+ {One opponent played 17...Qb1?! 18.Bd3 Bd7 (18...Qb6 19.Ke2) against me, when my machine offers 19.Bh7!} 18.Bd3 Qc5 19.Ke2 Bd7 20.Be3 {20.Nf7+ is not better (and might ultimately lead to a draw according to Pedersen).} d4 {Instead B. Stein gives 20...Qxa3! 21.Ra1 Qb4 unclear.} 21.Bxd4 c1Q 22.Rxc1 Qxc1 23.Nf7+ Ke8 24.Nd6+ Kd8 {Here the players agreed to a draw. Instead 25.Nxb7+ may well favour White; if 25...Ke8? then 26.Bc5 +-. Notes by Kevin Pacey.} 1/2-1/2

Updated 08-08-2022 at 04:26 PM by Kevin Pacey

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Opening analysis and observations


  1. Sean Coffey's Avatar
    Interesting analysis! Euwe's line is a favourite of mine also: very sharp lines and much of theory is incomplete or wrong.

    If you're interested I have analysis on this line at, issue 10 (with more on 10. Kd1 in issues 1, 2, 7, and 11). (I hope it's not out of order to mention my own site here -- if you take a look you'll see that it's directly on topic.)

    I think Black's in trouble after 17. Kxc2.

    I see you've also analysed Canba-Eliskases, another interesting one. See issue 8 for my take on it.

    Sean Coffey
  2. Kevin Pacey's Avatar
    Hi Sean

    I trusted Pedersen and the conventional wisdom regarding 17.Kxc2. In the analysis of your issue 10, after 17.Kxc2 Qa2+ 18.Bb2 Bd7 19.Nf7+ Ke8 20.Nd6+ Kd8 21.Bd3! (my tentative punctuation) Ba4+ 22.Kd2, instead of 22...Kd7? etc. or your improvement 22...Rxg2+ etc. (Black surviving to a pawn down ending), all of 22...Qb3, 22...b6, 22...Rb8, 22...Bc6 and 22...d4 occured to my human eyes. From the brief time I looked at these with a computer, I concluded 22...b6 seems only slightly worse for Black, but all of the other alternatives I thought of are losing. At least 21.Bd3! certainly gives White a way to play on if he hopes to win contrary to my game notes above to Stein-Beliavsky.

    Otherwise, I felt a bit relieved to come across nothing in issue 8 contrary to my suggestions for Black in my notes to the Eliskases game. I played that ...b6 Rossolimo Winawer Poisoned Pawn line just yesterday as Black and won too easily, after my opponent went off the rails early.

    Take care, Kevin Pacey
    Updated 07-26-2014 at 02:13 PM by Kevin Pacey (Noting 22...b6 is only alternative I thought of that's not losing)