Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Damianco defense (gambit)

GAME #1  (Sunday Dec 14) of the WARREN chess club

            theGreatPatzer vs Micheal
1.      e4              e5
2.      Nf3            f6?
3.      d4              e6
4.      dxe6           dxe6
5.      QxQ          kxQ

It turns out that this is in fact called the Damianco Defense; one of the oldest openings in chess.  It was named after the Portugese Master Pedro Damianco (1480-1544) who condemned it as weak.  The great chess publicist (and player)  Howard Stauton referred to the f6 move as the Damianco Defense- though he probably meant the Sacrificial Attack Nxe5.  (

I kind of wished I had the boldness to play Nxe5; instead I spent last night analyzing it with my sparring partner.

The Real issue with the defense of course is that playing the fpawn forward invites a sacrificial attack that opens the key diagonal h5-e8.
            3. Nxe5            fxe5
            4. Qh5+
There are only two legal replies and they both invite further attack by the White queen

4……              Ke7
5. Qxe5+         Kf7
6.      Bxf5+         Kg6
7.      Qf5+          Kh6
8.      d4
A key moment. It would almost seem that black is mated but for the fact that a pawn can step in a offer a little defense
………            g5
9.      h4              Be7
There are a number of replies, but I think the double check is best as it makes the King move!
10.  hxg++        kg7
11.  Qe5+         Kg6
12.  Qxh8(R)
There are a number of poor moves here; (Bf6 Qxh7#, Ng6 Rh6#). The only made that kept black in the game (that we saw) was Nh6
………            Nh6
13.  Bf7+          Kf7
14.  Qxh7+       Ke8
15.  RxN           Bf8
16.  Qh8           d5       
17.  Rf6

Black is only down a knight for 2pawns! Nevertheless he is under serious attack
……                Rf6
18.  Qe7           g6
19.  Kd7           Rf7
20.  Nc6           Qxf8
Ok, move 19 and 20 are pretty weak moves for white.  But there was a pretty serious attack building against the king and it defied 2 patzers* to figure out any clever way for black to defy the coordinated white attack.

4……              g6
5. Qxe5            Qe2
6. QxR             Nf6
In this variation the queen grabs the rook and Black tries to hold  the game.  Black can’t easily attack the Queen but he can immobilize it, and black has counterplay!   My first thought is d4 (though there are issues- and I’ll compare it against another move)
            7. d4                Nc6
            8. Bh6              Nxd4
            9. QxB             QxQ
            10. BxQ
White may feel he did good because he’s grabbed a rook and now is trading pieces, but black can offer a complication of his own
            …….               Nxc2+
            11. Kd2           NxR
            12. Bg7            Nf7
            13. BxN           KxB
            14. Nc3           d6
            15. Bf4 Nb3
            16. BxN
White sticks to the plan.  Save pieces exchanging when possible and though black briefly gets his piece back, it gets trapped on the back row- and white is one minor piece ahead.

This is definitely NOT I think the optimal play for white; in his quest to quickly exchange with d4-Bh6  he misses the fact that white has time to play for a rook attack of his own.

Instead, white should play with to reduce complications….
            7.c3                 Qxe4+  (white has made a passive move so why not!?)
            8. Be2              Qc2
            9. O-O
The kingside castle will diminish any possible counter-play nicely.  Does white have enough time to bust his Queen out of their?
            ……                Ke7    
            10. g4              b6
            11. g5              Qf5 
            12. Qxf6          QxQ
            13. gxQ            KxQ

Now white is a ROOK ahead has a good file for his rook and will get his bishops in the game.

MORAL:  Black is just unwise to allow for the opening of the diagonal in the first place.  Black will have to play pretty accurately to stay in the game.  For him, the best idea is to play the less forced g6.  yeah he seems to be giving away material with the obvious attack Qfork- but white will have to play accurately after the thematic Nf6 (similar in fact to the poisoned pawn variation of the French).  His best hope is that perhaps he can play for a swindle-If white plays slowly on these calculations- perhaps black can encourage white to go into time trouble. 

For white, the strategy goes two ways.  while keeping a good watch on the clock; he needs to play more slowly during complications that follow Ke7- black has loosened his king, and if white plays slowly to develop his forces with tempo; white can gain unstoppable mate.

On the other hand, if blacks plays g6- white grabs the Piece that carefully considers the consequences.  “When your ahead, beware of Complications!”.  Carefully confirm that the Queen is safe and safeguard your position against the counter-play that black has. 

THE QUESTION of sacrificial attack!:  This is the kind of game that I struggle with OTB.  While the pattern was clear and I truly saw a King attack/ rook fork; the issue is whether I can accurately enough calculate the resulting position.  G6 is THE main variation to consider.  It was clear with Ke7 that white could develop with tempo and most likely gain enough compensation from losing the knight- but It wasn’t clear whether Black could trap white’s queen.

My hope is that by examining the pattern closely- I’ll be in better shape to calculate a similar sequence. 

1 comment:

  1. let me right away adknowledge that this has been analyzed before on the blogosphere at least once (and prolly more than that)....

    A blog that caught me eye was posted here;

    J. Stripes; you have a good blog