FICS - Free Internet Chess Server
8708 31ST Ave N
New Hope
Mn 55427
                The Modern Defence
                                      by GM Nigel Davies
             It was in the late 1970s that I first made the
          aquaintance of this provocative counter-attacking defence.
          Under the influence of Raymond Keene, a great many British
          players were playing it around that time and I decided to
          jump on the bandwagon. Later on it proved quite difficult to
          jump off again and play more classical openings, but then
          that's another story.
             With his first two moves, 1...g6 and 2...Bg7 Black makes
          no attempt whatsoever to follow the tried and trusted
          classical precept of occupying the center. Instead he calmly
          fianchettoes a bishop and argues the he can attend to things
          like development later in the game.
             Some practitioners of the Modern (Colin McNab and David
          Norwood for example) like to try and close the position up
          with ...c6 and possible ...d5. But I have my own
          interpretation involving a fierce counterattack against the
          d4 square.
             Above all I want that bishop on g7 to breathe fire, to
          strike terror along the h8-a1 diagonal. Sometimes I play
          ...c7-c5, sometimes ...e7-e5, but always something against
          the d4 square and with that long diagonal in mind.
             There isn't enough time to show all the ins and outs of
          this defence, but the following games show my interpretation
          in action against a variety of White set-ups and how this
          opening has served me faithfully in some critical games.
          Amongst my victims with this opening are the likes of Bent
          Larsen and Viswanathan Anand, but on this occasion I'll show
          you the real crushes!
             The first game was played in the last round of the
          student team Championships in Graz 1981 in which the England
          team was going for the silver medal....
          Student Team Ch., Graz (Austria), 1981
          1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.e4
             According to the late Mikhail Botvinnik, setting up the
          pawns on d4, c4 and e4 is the strongest answer to the Modern
          Defence. I have usually preferred my `stock' recipe; a
          counterattack against the d4 square.
          4...Nc6! 5.Be3 e5! 6.d5 Nce7
             Reaching a kind of King's Indian Defence in which the
          fact that Black's knight has not been developed on f6 yet
          means that he can sometimes play ...f7-f5 before bringing it
          out. White takes immediate measures against this.
          7.g4 c5 8.h4 Nf6 9.g5 Nh5 10.Be2 Nf4 11.Bf3 0-0 12.Nge2 f5
          13.Qd2 Qa5 14.0-0-0 Rb8!!
             One of the best moves I have ever played. The idea,
          should White play quietly now, is to prise open the
          queenside with ....b5 followed by ....a6. And there are
          other points should White capture on f4.
          15.Nxf4 exf4 16.Bxf4 fxe4 17.Bxd6
             The line which most beautifully illustrates the power of
          14...Rb8 is 17.Bxe4 Bxc3 18.bxc3 Rxf4 19.Qxf4 Qxc3+ 20.Kb1
          (or 20.Bc2 Bf5 21.Rd2 Qa1+) and now 20...b5, opening up the
          b-file. White, by the way, loses a piece after 17.Nxe4
          17...Rxf3! 18.Bxb8 Rxc3+! 19.Kb1
              Or 19.bxc3 Bxc3 20.Qc2 Qa3+ 21.Kb1 Bf5 followed by
          19...e3 20.fxe3 Bf5+ 21.Ka1 Rc2! 0-1
             White lost on time by he could equally have resigned.
          22.Qxa5 is met by 22...Bxb2+ 23.Kb1 Rd2+ followed by mate.
          I still count this as my most artistic miniature.
             This next game was one of the wins which earned my first
          Grandmaster norm in Oslo 1988. After a few careless moves in
          the opening Black develops a murderous attack. White, by the
          way, is not a patzer. These days he has a rating of around
          2500 and is on the verge of becoming a GM.
          Oslo, 1988
          1.d4 d6 2.e4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.Be3 Nf6 6.h3
             Preventing 6...Ng4 but losing time for development.
          6...e5 7.dxe5 Nxe5 8.Bb3 0-0 9.Qd2 b5!
             White's neglect of development allows Black to take the
          10.f3 b4 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.Bxd5 c6 13.Bb3 a5 14.a4 d5
             Blasting open the center before White has got his cing
          safe. If he had now  tried to remedy this with 15.0-0-0
          there would follow 15...Qf6 and after 16.Bd4 there is
          16...c5!, distracting the bishop from the defence of b2.
          15.exd5 Nc4! 16.Bxc4 Bxb2!
              Suddenly White is in desperate trouble; the threats
          include 17...Bxa1 and 17...Bc3, not to mention 17...Qh4+.
          17.Ne2 Qh4+
             Even stronger than capturing the rook on a1, as that will
          remain a threat.
          18.Bf2 Qxc4 19.Rb1 Bc3 20.Nxc3 bxc3 21.Qd3 Re8+ 22.Kd1 Qa2!
          23.Rc1 Ba6 24.Qxc3 Qxd5+ 25.Qd2 Rad8!  0-1
            The final position shows the true extent of White's
          Engedal,N-Davies N
          Gausdal Peer-Gynt , 1990
          1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 Nc6
             I was later to abandon this move after Dragan Velimirovic
          answered it with 5.Bb5 in a tournament in Vrnjacka Banja in
          1991. Since then I have answered the Austrian Attack (4.f4)
          with 4...e6 followed by ...Ne7, ...Nd7, ...b6 and ...Bb7,
          obtaining a similar set-up to the game.
          5.Be3 Nf6 6.Nf3 e6 7.Be2 0-0 8.0-0 Ne7 9.Nd2 b6 10.a4 a6
          11.Qe1 c5
             Black's usual way of challenging White's set-up from this
          structure. Here it proves especially effective because White
          has plalyed the rather artificial 9.Nd2.
          12.Qf2 Bb7 13.Bf3 Qc7 14.a5 cxd4 15.Bxd4 b5 16.Bb6 Qc8
          17.Rac1 Nd7 18.Bd4
             18.Be3 was better, as now Black rips apart what is left
          of White's center.
          18...e5 19.Be3 f5!
              The opening of the position proves good for Black as his
          pieces are better placed. Note that White's king also proves
          weak, a consequence of 4.f4!
          20.g3 exf4 21.gxf4 b4 22.Nd1 Nf6 23.Qg2 fxe4 24.Nxe4 Nxe4
          25.Bxe4 Bxe4 26.Qxe4 Qg4+ 27.Kh1
             27.Qg2 Qf5 would also have been unpleasant for White.
          27...Nf5 28.Qxb4
             A suicidal pawn snatch but it is already rather difficult
          to give White good advice.
          28...Ng3+! 29.Kg1
             Taking the knight allows 29...Qh3+ followed by 30...Qg3+
          and 31...Rf5.
          29...Nxf1+ 30.Kxf1 Qf3+ 31.Kg1 Rae8 32.Qd2 Rxf4!  0-1
             White has had enough. 33.Bxf4 is answered by 33...Re2
          threatening both mate and the queen.
             For a period of about 10 years I played nothing but the
          Modern, but in the late 1980s I started to branch out into
          other openings. Even eating caviar every day can become
             Yet faced with the prospect of having to win my last
          round game for a GM norm in a tournament in Budapest, I
          could hardly answer 1.e4 with 1...e5, after which I would
          get a boring Four Knights or Ruy Lopez. The only chance was
          the Modern Defence, and this was it's finest hour.
          First Saturday Tournament, Budapest, May 1993
          1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Nge2
             The safe way of introducing the fianchetto line for
          White, as after the immediate 4.g3 there is 4...Nc6 and if
          5.Nge2 then 5...Bg4. After the text move I either play the
          immediate 4...Nc6, or sometimes 4...a6 5.a4 Nc6.
          4...Nc6 5.Be3 Nf6 6.h3 e5 7.dxe5 Nxe5 8.Ng3 0-0
             The safe way to play it would have been 8...Be6 9.Qd2
          Nc4, but given that I had to win this game I was not afraid
          of danger.
          9.Qd2 Re8 10.0-0-0 b5!?
             A pawn for an open file - not a bad deal with opposite
          wing castling. If White doesn't capture Black gets the c4
          square for his knight on e5.
          11.Bxb5 Bd7 12.Be2
             After 12.f4 my opponent didn't like the look of 12...Bxb5
          13.fxe5 Rxe5 14.Bd4 Qe7, which he felt gave me good
          compensation for the sacrificed exchange. In the post mortem
          we looked at 12.Ba6!? but then 12...Be6 wasn't clear.
          12.... Qb8 13.f4 Nc6 14.Bf3 Qb4
              Preparing to move a rook to b8 and threaten mate on b2.
          15.a3 Qb7 16.e5 Rab8 17.b3
              An alternative way to defend b2 was with 17.Na4, but
          then Black has 17...dxe5 18.fxe5 Qb5! 19.exf6 Bxf6 20.b3
          Rxe3 21.Qxd7 Bg5 and if 22.Kb1 then 22...Rxb3+.
          17...dxe5 18.fxe5 Rxe5 19.Nge4 Qa6!
             It is less good to play this move after a preliminary
          exchange of knights on e4. Thus 19...Nxe4 20.Nxe4 Qa6 can by
          met by 21.a4 after which White's  defences hold.
             The decisive mistake. White should take this opportunity
          to exchange on f6, as for the time being Black is forced to
          recapture with the bishop. After Black's next move it
          becomes possible to take back on f6 with the queen.
          20...Na5! 21.Nxf6+ Qxf6!
             The point, after which the latent threats along the long
          h8-a1 diagonal prove decisive. Perhaps White thought that
          his next move made the capture with the queen impossible,
          but a serious disappointment is waiting.
          22.Bd4 Qd6!
             Ouch! Only now did he see that the intended capture of my
          rook on e5 is met by 23...Qa3+ followed by 24...Nxb3.
          23.Nb1 Rxb3!
             KAPOW! White must kiss his castled position goodbye.
          24.Bxe5 Qb6! 0-1
             White has had enough. The threat is 25...Rb1+, the rook
          is immune to capture because of the knight fork picking up
          White's queen and after 25.Nc3 there is either 25...Nc4 or
          25...Ra3, depending on Black's mood.

 This event was brought to you by Warwick chess club (England)

Login Now | Register | Download | Teaching Ladder | Events | Sponsors | Contact us | Links
Last modified: Sun Feb 11 14:27:58 GMT Standard Time 2007