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Chigorin Defense players: I need your help

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  • Chigorin Defense players: I need your help

    I've been using the Chigorin defense as my main weapon vs. the Queen's Gambit, but I've been having some trouble with it lately. A buddy of mine that I play with regularly (who i usually beat) has been giving me trouble lately using lines recommended in Kaufman's repertoire. I've tried looking up lines in Bronznik's book and Morezevich's book, but both predate Kaufman's and don't mention what to do against his recommendations. Running the lines in an engine doesn't give me much encouragment either.

    I've always been most comfortable in the open games and it has taken me years to find something vs. d4 that feels comfortable and that meshes well with the rest of my openings. When I discovered the Chigorin I was so happy to find a d4 defense that felt more like an open game. Now my faith in the opening has been shaken and I've considered leaving it all together.

    If there are any other Chigorin players out there that are familiar with Kaufman's work and have any suggestions or know of any up-to-date information on the Chigorin I could sure use the help. Thanks!

  • #2
    Wow I don't think I've ever played that once in all my playing years lol. Seems interesting enough to take a peek at though.
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    • #3
      I play the Chigorin. I used to own Morozevich's book but no longer do. I'm unfamiliar with Kaufman.

      Post the lines and some of your own comments and I'll see what I can do for you.


      • #4
        The line I'm having trouble with is 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3. I usually play Nf6 here. The reason is after 3...dxc4 4.d5 Na5 leads to the line where you sac the knight for a couple of pawns which isn't quite sound, however black can get a better version with the moves Nf3 and Nf6 inserted. The line goes 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.d5 Na5 6.Qa4+ c6 7.b4 b5 8.Qxa5 Qxa5 9.bxa5 b4 10.Nd1 cxd5. The idea according to Bronznik is that having the knight moves Nf3 and Nf6 inserted favors Black since it prevents e4.

        Going back to 3.Nc3 Nf6 White can try 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 which gives White a big pawn center but 6...e5! gives Black a good game. If 7.d5 Nb8 is fine with the idea that Black gets good play on the dark squares and White doesn't have any pieces developed so Black isn't falling behind. The knight will go to d7 eyeing the c5 square and the bishop on f8 usually goes to d6. I've done quite well with this line in tournament play. Kaufman's recommendation for White is instead of 5.e4 to play 5.Nf3 first to prevent the e5 idea. According to Kaufman playing 5...e5 anyway is probably the best move for Black (he list a few others but they look worse for Black). He gives the line 6.dxe5 Bb4 7.Bd2 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Ba5 9.Qa4 0-0 10.e3 Bd7 11.Be2 Qe7 12.0-0 where White's inferior pawn structure gives Black some, but not full compensation for the pawn. Looking at the position it seems playable, but I can't help but feel if this is the best Black can hope for I would be better off just playing a different opening where I'm not down the pawn. Going back to White's 5.Nf3 line I ran the position in my computer (I think I was using Komodo) and it also felt that Black should play e5 also and after 6.dxe5 Be6. Down a pawn again. I like gambits and what-not but this is not what I usually have in mind.


        • #5
          The other way of dealing with 3.Nc3 is to immediately take with 3...dxc4 and after 4.d5 Ne5 5.f4 and from there go 5...Ng4, Ng6 or Nd7. 4...Na5 leads to the dubious knight sacrifice. These lines lead to interesting play, but I've had better results (except against Kaufman's line) with the lines where Black delays dxc4 and plays Nf6 as in the previous post although I actually used to like the line where the knight heads for g4: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 dxc4 4.d5 Ne5 5.f4 Ng4 6.e4 e5. 7.Nf3 Bc5. Bronznik goes on to list a few continuations that seem pretty good for Black, however Kaufman gives the novelty 8.h3 with the sample line 8...Ne3 9.Bxe3 Bxe3 10.fxe5 Ne7 11.Bxc4 Ng6 12.Bb5+ Bd7 13.Qa4 a6 14.Bxd7+ Qxd7 15.Qxd7+ Kxd7 16.e6+ fxe6 17.dxe6+ Kxe6 18.Nd5 Bf4 19.0-0 Raf8 20.Rad1 c6 21.Nxf4+ Nxf4 22.g3 Ng6 23.Rf2 with a better endgame for White with ideas of Nd4+ and Rfd2.

          It's tough because my opponents always regurgitate Kaufman's lines and I have yet to find any up-to-date material to help me (there's not much on the Chigorin). Running these lines in an engine fails to yield anything that makes me excited to play the Chigorin.


          • #6
            If 2.c4 is a definite by your opponent, you can always revert to the Albin Counter Gambit. It opens your game up faster and does have some similarities with the Tchigorin. I never really played against 3.Nc3 in the Tchigorin.

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            *I found I needed a change in study material as what I felt there was a difference in 'just studying chess' and 'studying chess for tournament play'.

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            • #7
              I do like the Albin and I occasionally use it as a surprise weapon; unfortunately if I rely on the Albin as my main defense I'd have to tweak my entire black repertoire. I have a very narrow repertoire, which is nice in that it cuts out a lot of study time and also allows me to learn my openings in great detail. The core of the repertoire actually meshes together really well and is resilient against various move order tricks. It's also aggressive which works great for me because I tend to be more comfortable in open tactical games.

              The core of the repertoire is this:

              Against the Ruy Lopez I play the Schliemann Defense
              Against the Queen's Gambit I play the Chigorin
              Against the English I play e5

              It's actually difficult for White to sidestep these lines with transpositional tricks like 1.Nf3 or 1.c4. For example against 1.Nf3 I reply 1...Nc6 and now if 2.e4 e5 and I'm back in the King's Pawn opening. If 2.d4 then I play 2...d5 with a likely transposition into the Chigorin (they can delay c4 and try some independent line like 3.g3, but I don't think they lead to any edge for White). If 2.c4 then 2...e5 and I'm in my English repertoire. Also, if they start 1.c4 I like to reply 1...Nc6 and invite a transposition to the Chigorin. Occasionally an unsuspecting English player will play the natural 2.d4 and find himself in a Queen's Pawn opening which he may not normally play.

              Unfortunately if the Chigorin is replaced with some other opening then some of those options are no longer available. The Chigorin is probably the weakest link in the repertoire, but I refuse to believe it's unsound. I don't mind if White maintains a tiny edge; it's just a matter of finding a line that's playable for Black and offers some decent chances. If I decide to play something else I'd probably go back to using the QGD Tartakower variation. I'd have to pick a new line vs. 1.Nf3, but the QGD is a respectable line that's easy to learn and play.


              • #8
                Interesting.... We have similar opening philosophies.

                The Tchigorin used to be my main defense against 1.d4. I paired it up with the French if someone tried to pull the BDG on me. I also played French straight up. When I was a 1600, I scalped a few experts with this defense. I not only played it, I also believed in it and it became a cornerstone of my chess philosophy. Sure, I was cramped early in the game, but I knew the breaks and ideas behind those breaks. I became so comfortable with it that a majority of the time i would not castle when white got in e5. That move locks the position and closes a couple of attack avenues around my king, especially the e-file.

                On 1.c4 I played Nc6, and if d4 came next, so would d5.

                But if they played 2.Nc3, then I have e5 to follow. I use sort of a reversed Grand Prix attack. Key for me is exchanging White's c3N before I can move onto kingside operations because c7 can be a weakspot in a counter attack.

                My old repertoire for white was 1.d4 2.Nf3. Against g6 formations I play 3.Bf4 and play for a Queen side attack. Against e6 formations I play 3.Bg5 and go for a kingside attack. Simplistic, yes. But at least I am in familiar territory.

                But things have changed. I now embrace the open game. It could mean a quick victory or a quick death, but at least it gives me more free time between rounds.

                Active Library (updated 07/11/15)
                *I found I needed a change in study material as what I felt there was a difference in 'just studying chess' and 'studying chess for tournament play'.

                The King In Jeopardy
                Perfect Your Chess
                Sharpen your Tactics
                The Middlegame, Book I
                ICC Tactical Trainer bot

                "It's not the book. It's what you can understand and learn from it."


                • #9
                  Alright, so my 2 cents go like this:
                  I think it's better to bring the pawn to c5 before playing Nc6. It gives more space + the tension in the center comes quicker. You could also try slav setups.
                  So the lines would be 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 (slav) or 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c5 (Tarrash-like, black is either planning e6 and Bxc5 [with Nc6] or Na6 and then Nxc5 [with Bg7]).
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                  • #10
                    I have the impression that no one actually read deranger's analysis and prefer to just babble about their own openings.

                    1 d4 d5 2 c4 Nc6! (a good move) 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Nf3
                    5 ... f5 6 Qb3 e6 7 Bg5 Be7 8 Bxe7 Qxe7 9 Nxd5 Qxd5 10 Qb4+ Not forced.

                    If ... f5 is not to your positional taste (but Nc6 is?) maybe 5 ... Bg4?
                    5 ... Bg4 6 Qb3 e6 7 e4 Nb6 8 d5 (not forced) exd5 9 exd5 (9 Nxd5 Nxd5 10 exd5 Bb4+ 11 Bd2 Bxd2+ 12 Nxd2 O-O 13 ) 9 ... Bxf3 10 gxf3 Nd4 11 Qd1 Qf6

                    Surely Kaufmann analyzes 5 ... Bg4 (maybe not 5 ... f5). What does he give against it?


                    • #11

                      I think the French and Chigorin go together well. It is kind of neat to compare our repertoire ideas since we share similar philosophies. I like the open games as both colors. I especially enjoy that extra time between matches!


                      The Slav setups are really solid and a good choice, but I'm not really interested in replacing the Chigorin with the Slav in my repertoire. I just enjoy the Chigorin so much more.


                      I really appreciate you looking over the lines I posted. That 5...f5 idea is pretty interesting! I like that it stops e4. It reminds me of the Dutch. I played the Stonewall a little bit so I don't mind that hole on e5. I'm stuck at work now, but when I go home I'm going to take a better look at it with an engine and check if Kaufmann mentions it in his book. I think you skipped a move though for Black on move 9 (after 9.Nxd5 I'm assuming it goes 9...exd5 10.Qxd5 Qb4+). Just want to make sure.

                      Was 5...f5 something you discovered on your own or is it mentioned somewhere in a book or article? I'm just curious since there is so little on the Chigorin out there (I had to pay some outrageous prices for both Bronznik's and Morozevich's books).


                      • #12
                        Looks like Kaufman doesn't cover 5...f5. As for 5...Bg4 he gives this sample game Murtas Kazhgaleev v. Igor Miladinovic, Sibenik tt 2008: 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 e6 8.Rb1 Bd6 9.Rxb7 0-0 10.Be2 Na5 11.Rb1 c5 12.0-0 Qe7 13.h3 Bh5 14.Ng5 Bxe2 15.Qxe2 cxd4 16.cxd4 h6 17.Nf3 Qc7 18.Re1 Rae8 1-0

                        He gives a bunch of side lines along the way. Here's one example:

                        6...Bxf3 7.gxf4 Nxc3 8.bxc3 e5 9.d5 Nb8 10.Rb1 Bc5 11.Rxb7 0-0 12.Rg1 Nd7 13.Bg5N Qc8 14.Rb1 Kh8 Bh3 and here he pretty much says that even though White hs a poor pawn structure he has the bishops as compensation and is ahead becase he has a strong d pawn.


                        • #13
                          The intended line was: 1 d4 d5 2 c4 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Nf3 f5 6 Qb3 e6 7 Bg5 Be7 8 Bxe7 Qxe7 9 Nxd5 exd5 10 Qxd5 Qb4+

                          ... f5 is my own. Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Mikhail Chigorin (1896) was fresh in my mind although it was better in that position with the pawn on e4 instead of e2.

                          These positions are complicated. When you analyze them yourself you'll realize that. If your opponents will follow Kaufmann verbatim then you have to deviate. It's not as easy for your opponent to select the correct line as it is for Kaufmann. You play the Chigorin because you believe you can navigate—bamboozle—obscure, perhaps unfavorable, complications better than your opponent (Moro was a master at this: I've seen games where you turn on an engine and he's completely lost but his 2600 opponents can't navigate the morass OTB and he works his magic into a win.)

                          1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 e5 8. d5 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 Na5 10. Bd3 Bc5 11. Rb1 O-O 12 O-O b6 is an interesting idea to reroute the Knight to d6, trade off dark squared bishops and then have the better minor piece. It's founded on simple principles.

                          13 Ba6 is interesting. Black will have to find a new plan (prepare ... f5 with ... Qd7 maybe) unless he plays something outrageous like ... Qb8 (though trading White's bad bishop for Black's to-be-good knight is not correct procedure, it does make a later ... f5 more appealing).

                          I'm not saying this is a line to play but it's an example.

                          Final piece of advice: I play a lot of bad openings as black (1 ... Nc6 against everything) and find myself in the situation where I'm definitely worse but the position is imbalanced. You have to ask yourself "Why do I want to be Black here?" and figure out how to make this imbalance favor you. In that last instance it's because the Bc5 is strong, white will want to trade it off for his Bc1. The remaining Light-squared bishop is bad and the knight can be good. The knight can blockade White's center. Black will have to sufficiently prepare a pawn-break (as both ... f5 and ... c6 accrue risks—maybe he'll do something amazing like push his a and b-pawns up the board to open a file), but in so preparing he will have put all of his pieces on their proper squares (i.e. maybe Rooks e8 f8, pawns on a5 b6 c7, Qd7, Nd6—beautiful). You can imagine all three results when you have the imagination.
                          Last edited by Octal; 07-15-2015, 05:13 AM.


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the detailed reply! You are very knowledgeable and have a lot of practical advice!

                            Sometimes I think I listen to my sparing parter and good friend too much. He's a good player, but has a very different approach to the game. He's scientific and methodical; he only plays "correct" openings like the Nimzo-Indian, English, Sicilian, etc. and thinks openings such as the King's Gambit, Schliemann, or Chigorin are garbage. He places a lot of faith in computer analysis and believes that computers are the key to the "truth" in chess so he's always analyzing the hell out of our games. Even though I win the majority of our games (usually by out-calculating my him in tricky positions or beating him on time) I have to constantly listen to how the computers favored his position which is discouraging.

                            It's encouraging to know that many of my victories are won in a similar manner to how Morozevich played, by complicating the position and finding something positive to work with, even if the computer doesn't like it and even if I'm nowhere near as good as Morozevich!
                            Last edited by the_lone_deranger; 07-15-2015, 04:47 PM.