T45L game, cachboy VS MusiqueWand, The PORTUGUESE Gambit

I was inspired by GM Smerdon and decided to look into this dreaded and if I may say so, misunderstood defence.

If you’re interested then I’d recommend John Watson’s interview with GM David Smerdon. He seems to be a really cool guy with an open mind.

I hardly knew anything about this Gambit and was surprised to discover (with what I can only describe as minimal preparation) that it ha been severely misunderstood.

Yes, Black does “give it all he has” but it’s not a suicidal defence at all.
Some lines are extremely dangerous for White. If he leaves his King in the centre and attempts to keep his pawn advantage he may unleash an impossible attack. What’s even more interesting is that unless you’re familiar with it it’s really hard to anticipate it.

In other lines where White does play 0-0 Black doesn’t try to presume he has a spectacular King side assault but that doesn’t mean he is a clear pawn down!
Black has a lot of positional compensation. Black seems to have a lot of positional assets while on the other hand White seems to have a few liabilities. Of course, he is a pawn up, so assuming White can defend he’s supposed to have a winning Endgame right? 
Well, I’m not so sure.

One thing that this game reminded me is how effective it is to be prepared!
I’ve played over some games, read articles and spent some time analyzing. What surprised me is that the ideas weren’t that difficult to learn and that I was able to follow them quite well.
If you follow this game with Rybka you’ll see that I hardly made any crucial mistakes.

[Event "ICC"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2011.03.12"]
[Round "?"]
[White "cacheboy"]
[Black "MusiqueWand"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B01"]
[WhiteElo "2308"]
[BlackElo "2372"]
[Annotator ",USER"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2011.??.??"]
[TimeControl "2700+45"]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 3... Bg4 


{This is the start of the Portuguese. Sometimes White tries to avoid it with: 3. Nf3 but alas, Black can still employ 3… Bg4. the modern “refutation” continues with: 4. Bb5+ Nbd7 5. h3, and here most websites I’ve seen give …Bh5 but I think that after 5… Bxf3 6. Qxf3 a6 7. Be2 Ne5 8. Qg3 Qxd5 Black is doing just fine.}

4. Bb5+ 

{It’s amazing how fast White can find himself in total oblivion! For instance after: 4. f3 Bf5 5. c4 e6! 6. dxe6 Nc6!! [image]  and here, believe it or not but after: 7. exf7+ Kxf7 White is very close to a losing game! He’s King is just too weak and the pressure is coming and coming fast!}

4... c6 


{Quite playable and more thematic is: 4... Nbd7 but I wasn’t sure about it since Black doesn’t have the thematic …Nc6 anymore. However, after: 5. Nf3 Nxd5 6. O-O (6. c4 c6) 6... c6 7. Be2 e6 8. c4 N5b6, With a CK structure, I think Black should be ok.}

5. dxc6 Nxc6 6. Ne2 Qd5 


{Also interesting are: 6... Qb6) and the simple 6... e6} 

7. Bxc6+ Qxc6 8. O-O e6 9. Nbc3 Rd8


{Black has a lot of pressure over White. The Bishop on g4 pins the Knight and the d8 Rook exerts a lot of pressure on the d-file all the way to White’s d-pawn. 
Some of the positional ideas that Black has: …Be7 to finish development and protect against Bg5 without disturbing the d8 Rook or …Bf8-d6-b8 from where the Bishop will point to White’s King side with threats like …Qc6-c7 threatening checkmate!
Two key moves for White are f3 and/or Bf4. Bf4 should be able to stop …Bd6 but that leaves Black with the annoying Knight pin. While, f3 creates holes in the position. When White plays f3 instead of Bf4, Black can then switch from the …Qc6-c7 plan to …Qc6-b6 plan and pressure the newly weakened diagonal.

It’s interesting to note that if White decided not to play f3 at all and instead goes for a quick 9. Bf4 then the game reaches equality very quickly: 9… Rd8 10. Nbc3 Bd6 11. Bxd6 Rxd6 12. h3 Bf5 13. Ng3 Bg6 14. Rc1 O-O 15. Nce2 e5}

10. f3 


{We can see how the b6-g1 and h4-e1 Diagonals have been weakened. Moreover, White has a hole on the e3-square a possible King side weaknesses, especially on g3}

10… Bf5 11. Be3 

{Right, White takes care of the hole on e3 but allows …Bd6 instead. Other moves to consider were 11. Bf4 and 11. Bg5} 

11... Bd6 


{One point to notice here is piece strength. Black has the Bishop Pair, he has a beautifully active LSB on f5, his Knight on f6 is better than either of White’s Knights, he has a very powerful Rook on d8 and most importantly his DSB is significantly better than White’s. it’s quite easy to understand why this gambit has more than cheap King side attacks! Black’s piece placement is superior to White’s in all areas, in fact, once Black castles or connect the Rooks he’ll be ahead in development.}

12. Qd2!


{Good move. White’s plan is to exchange the DSB with Be3-f4 however Qd2 was quite a multipurpose move. it connects the Rooks and protects the c2-pawn. One finer nuance to this plan is that exchanging the DSB will further weaken White’s e3-hole and g3-square.}

12… h5!? 


{Now we see another point to Black’s game. He didn’t intend …0-0 unless he had to. Instead he wants to secure the weakness on the g3-square with …h5-h4 and initiate a possible attack. So far I was still in my preparation so the ideas came quickly and easily.
Black can always play …Kf8 to defend the g-pawn and plans like …Bd6-b8 / …Qc7 are still playable and dangerous. If White plays Bf4 to exchange the DSB Black will follow up with …Qb6 attacking along the b6-g1 diagonal and the b-pawn with possible Knight sacs on g4}

13. Bf4 Bxf4 14. Qxf4 h4 


{Black secures the weakness on g3, prevents Ng3, adds more King side pressure and prepares …Qb6 with a positional grip}

15. Rf2!? 

{Quite interesting! We are now out of my “book” I’m no longer in preparation but the move itself is understandable and doubled edged. White blocks the pressure with his Rook, indirectly defends the c-pawn as well as the e3 Knight and if possible will later on may attempt to play g3 / Rg2. if instead 15. Qg5 then 15… Kf8 and it’s hard for White to make progress}

15... Qb6 16. Na4 Qb4 17. b3 Bxc2 


{Material count is now equal! However, closer inspection should prove that black is clearly better. White’s Knight on a4 is quite inactive and a bit goofy. White has an isolated d-pawn. White has a lot of weaknesses, especially the e3-square and the Rook on f2 doesn’t look all that happy. In the mean time, Black is trying to decide which is better, …Rd7 / prepring …Rhd8 or …Rc8 taking control of the c-file with a possible …Rhd8.}

18. Nc5 Nd5! 


{Actually, a lucky move! apparently White had some tactics. for instance: 18... b6? 19. a3! Qb5 20. Nc3 Qc6 21. Nxe6 [image]  , luckily my intuition naturally went for …Nd5 attacking the Queen.} 

19. Qg5 

(19. Qc1 Bf5 20. a3 Qb6) 

19... O-O


20. Qxh4

{Truthfully, I don’t know. I couldn’t tell while playing whether Black is still better or rather, if his positional pluses outweigh material deficiency. Apparently it does! Still, upon reaching this position I was a bit worried.}

20… b6 21. Ne4 



(21... Rd7 22. Rc1 Rfd8 23. Qg3 (23. Rxc2 Qe1+ 24. Rf1 Qxh4) 23... Bd3, should also be ok.) 

22. Qg5 Bd3! 


{Black is clearly better now. White’s weaknesses are about to be dismembered. Notice how Black’s Knight stops the isolated pawn a-la-Nimzovich while controlling White’s weak e3- and c3-sqaures. Black has two major threats: …Bxe2 / …Qxd4 and …Rc2 / …Rfc8. Another idea to think about it …Ba6 with …Nb4-d3 but that takes some preparation.}

23. Qd2 Qxd2 

{The next few moves are forced}

24. Nxd2 Rc2 25. Nc1 


{An important position to study. Silman likes positions of this sort. White’s Knight is completely out of play and with it the a1 Rook as well. Keep an eye for that Knight, it is about to become a completely useless piece, as though White is playing a piece down.
Black has some interesting ideas here, …Ba6, …Rc8 but the best reply which I found was …Nb4. White is being strangled. What’s amazing about it is that these positional concepts came straight from the opening so I didn’t have to go through intense calculation to find them! Quite an important point about the Portuguese don’t you think?}

25… Nb4 

(25... Ba6 26. Nc4 Nb4 27. Ne3 Rc3 28. Nd1 Rc6 is not as good since Black no longer controls key squares inside the White camp.) 

26. a3 Rfc8 27. Nc4 Bxc4 28. axb4 Bb5 


{Notice how to Knight is completely paralyzed}

29. Na2 

{Talking about a misplaced piece! Yawza!}

29… Kf8!? 


{Rybka says 29... g5 is much better. 30. g4 Kg7 31. Kg2 f5} 

30. h4 Ke7 31. g4 f5 32. g5 g6 33. Rh2?

(Better was 33. f4)  

33... f4 0-1


Online sources for the Potuguese:



As usually you can find this game on my ICC library, game number 59


Anonymous said...

I like the style of your site! It looks really great.

John said...

Thanks :D
Although I have no idea who you are ;)

Anonymous said...

http://hermesbag.finniwolf.com Trgypuu http://hermeshandbag.finniwolf.com hermes bags outlet kelly hermes sale i am definitely not toward big brands rather i like the notion that people even use name brand spending belongings that is ample research to them. choosing the best message connection regarding the hermes the handbag helpful and thus amusing team. truly want snacks? don just pop a serving your day buttery snack pop a complete plate the fat free popcorn popper that looks identical to the popper at all the theatre.