Custer's Last Stand

Attacking Indian systems without c2-c4

When the Indian Defences were first mooted they were considered suspect - fancy giving away the centre like that, when White can fill it up with pawn moves like c2-c4, and e2-e4. While there are defenders of this classical viewpoint, all White players of 1.d2-d4 have learned to respect the counterpunching power of the Indian defences and many Black players use them.

 So now there is another school of thought, saying White players can get better practical chances by avoiding the main lines after 2. c2-c4, and instead play with a more solid centre for activity on the wings, or perhaps playing a simple developmental move and only playing in the centre when Black's activity has been limited.

 One other common theme is to play the Bc1 out early, to exchange off the Black Knight on f6 (the best defender of the castled King) and perhaps create weaknesses. We can see all these themes at work in the following game, where the wily Korchnoi leads the young Karpov up an unfamiliar alley and duffs him up:

Korchnoi-Karpov, Hastings 1974-5.
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. Bg5 b6 4. e4 h6 5. Bxf6 Qxf6 Black has the two bishops and an apparently easy game.

6. Bd3 Bb7 7. Nbd2 d6 8. Qe2 Now ...O-O-O will be met strongly by Ba6 and a2-a4. 8...a6 9. O-O-O Nd7 10. Kb1 e5 11. c3 Be7 12. Nc4 O-O 13. Bc2 Rfe8?! 14. d5 c5



(Apparently sealing the fate of the White Bc2, but better was 14... c6: now the centre is closed on the Black bishops too and a King's-side attack appears out of nowhere)

15. Ne3 Bf8 16. g4 Qd8 17. g5! h5! 18. g6 fxg6 19. Rhg1 Qf6 20. Ng5 Be7 21. Ne6 Nf8! 22. Nc7 Qf7 23. Rdf1 b5 24. Nxa8 Bxa8?!

  More counterplay was to be had through transferring the rook across. Karpov is now doomed to await his fate.

25. c4 Rb8 26. Bd3 Qe8 27. Rc1 Bf6 28. Rg2 Rb6?! 29. Rcg1! Rb8 30. Qf1 b4 31. Be2 h4 32. Rxg6! Qxg6 33. Rxg6 Nxg6 34. Bg4 Nf4 35. Qd1 b3 36. axb3 Bb7 37. Ng2(!) Bc8 38. Bxc8 Rxc8 39. Qg4 Re8 40. Nxf4 exf4 41. Qxf4 Be5 42. Qxh4 Rf8 43. b4 Bd4 44. bxc5 1-0


A. Colle System

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 and; 3. e3


White will play slowly for the e2-e4 break, opening up the game.

  There is a booklet on the Colle somewhere in circulation.

Landau - Book, Kemeri, 1937
1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 e6 4. Bd3 c5 5. c3 Nbd7 6. Nbd2 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 Qc7 9. e4 cxd4 10. cxd4 dxe4 11. Nxe4 Nxe4 12. Rxe4 Re8 13. Rh4 Nf8 14. Ng5 h6 15. Qh5 e5 16. Bd2 exd4 17. Rc1 Qe7 18. Ne4



18... Ng6 (else Bxh6) 19. Bg5 Qe5

[19... hxg5 20. Qh7+ Kf8 21. Qh8+ Nxh8 22. Rxh8#]

20. f4 Qd5 [20... Qa5 21. b4]

  White now lands two good punches

21. Nf6+ gxf6 22. Bxg6

  Black's pawn cover has suddenly disappeared.

22... Bf8 The alternatives didn't convince:

[22... fxg6 23. Qxg6+ Kf8 24. Qxf6+ Qf7 25. Bxh6+ Kg8 26. Qg5+ Kh8 27. Bg7+ Kg8 28. Rh8#]

[22... fxg5 23. Qxh6 gxh4 24. Bh7+ Kh8 25. Be4+ Kg8 26. Bxd5]

23. Rc7 Be6 24. Bxf6 Qxh5 Ordinarily, exchanging queens is an important achievement for the defence.

25. Bxh5 Rec8 26. Bxf7+ and still they come! 26... Kh7 [ 26... Bxf7 27. Rg4+ Kh7 28. Rxf7+ Bg7 29. Rgxg7+ Kh8 30. Rg6#] 27. Rxc8 Bxc8 28. Bxd4 Cashing in 28... Bf5 29. Rh5 1-0

B. London System

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 and; 3. Bf4


White holds the centre and develops quickly, attacking on either side as the opportunity arises.
Pribyl - Penrose (Nice) 1974
1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bf4 c5 4. c3 e6 5. e3 Be7 6. Nbd2 O-O 7. Bd3 b6 8. Ne5 A common theme in the London: White can also try here [8. O-O Bb7 9. a4 or 9. Ne5]

8... Bb7 9. Qf3 Nc6 10. Qh3 g6 11. Bh6 Re8 12. f4 Nd7 [12... Nxe5 13. fxe5 Ne4 14. Bxe4 dxe4 15. O-O with a strong attack: White can contemplate Rxf7!]

13. O-O f5 14. Ndf3 Ncxe5 15. fxe5 Bf8 16. Ng5 Bxh6 17. Qxh6 Nf8

[17... Qe7 18. g4 Qg7 19. Qxg7+ Kxg7 20. Bb5 Rad8 21. gxf5 gxf5 22. Nh3 with an endgame plus]

18. Rf3 Re7 19. g4 Rg7 20. Raf1 Qd7 21. Kh1 Qe7 22. h4 Bc8 23. Rg3 a5 24. Rfg1 Ra7...1-0 DIAGRAM Black fiddles while the King's side burns... White won an endgame in about 40 moves.



C. Torre Attack/Torre System vs. King Fianchetto

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 and; 3. Bg5

We saw this in action in the introductory game. The founder of this system scored a famous victory over Lasker with a 'windmill' combination. It has similar ideas to the London System, and chooses perhaps a better square for the Bishop. It also tempts Black to chase the bishop, as we can see in this line against a King Fianchetto system.



Smyslov,V - Nunn,J [A48] (Tilburg), 1982
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. Nbd2 O-O 5. e4 d6 6. c3 h6 7. Bh4 Does driving the bishop back have any effect in this formation? Yes - it does further weaken the kingside fortress.

7... Nc6 8. Bb5 Bd7 9. O-O a6 10. Bc4 e5 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Re1! Overprotection of e4 frees up the minor pieces for more useful tasks.

12... Qe8

[12... b5 13. Bf1 followed by an eventual a2-a4 would put strong pressure on the queenside.]

13. a4 Nh5 14. Nb3 g5 15. Bg3 Rd8 16. Nfd2

  DIAGRAM White's pieces have been quckly transferred to the queenside. Black's pieces, especially the offside knight, cannot get there so quickly.

16... Nxg3 17. hxg3 Kh8 18. Qe2 Qe7 19. Nf1!

  The exchange of the Black knight for the Bg3 has created new opportunities on the kingside. Smyslov is the master of harmonic play - his pieces are often ready to switch to new targets quickly.



19... Qf6 20. Nc5 Bc8 21. Ne3 Ne7 22. a5 Qg6 Black has chosen to sue the Bc8 to defend the queenside, but the heavy guns are all on the kingside, and White controls a bit more of the center. But before foraging on the queenside, Smyslov squashes the counterplay.

23. g4! b6?! Black is paralyzed on the kingside, unable to transfer the knight to f4 due to the placement of the queen at g6. But this sacrifice of a queenside pawn leads to disaster. There is nothing more rueful than a lost pawn formation. Black could resign without remorse

24. Nf5! Nxf5 [24... bxc5 25. Nxe7 Qd6 26. Nxc8 Rxc8 27. Bxa6+/- ] 25. gxf5 Qc6 26. Nxa6 Bxa6 27. Bxa6 bxa5 28. Rxa5

  Now White has an extra pawn and better bishop. The rest is easy for a player of Smyslov's caliber.

28... Ra8 29. Rea1 Rfd8 30. Bc4 Rxa5 31. Rxa5 Kg8 32. Ra6 Qd7 33. Bd5 Qe7 34. Qh5 Rd6 35. Rxd6 cxd6 36. b4 1-0 Resigns; a tale of two bishops...

D. Trompovsky

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5

An even earlier Bishop move, and now only ...e6 and ...Ne4 can stop White from kicking a hole in the Black pawn formation. In the 'seventies Hort and Jansa often adopted it with a positional approach, but the brawling style seen below has been more characteristic of Hodgson's revival of the line in the 'nineties.



Vaganian-Botterill, Hastings 1974
1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 g6 Consciously provocative.

3. Bxf6 exf6 4. e3 Bg7 5. Ne2 b6 6. Nf4 d5 7. h4 h5 8. c4 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Bb7 10. Nc3 Bh6 11. Bxf7+ Kxf7 12. Qb3+ Ke8 13. Nxg6 Qd7 14. Nxh8 Qg7 15. Qe6+ Kf8 16. Nd5 Nd7 17. Ne7 1-0

Hodgson,J - Gokhale,J [D00] British Ch, Dundee, 1993
1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 d5 3. Bxf6 exf6 4. e3 Be7 5. c4 dxc4 6. Bxc4 O-O 7. Nc3 c6 8. Nge2 Nd7 9. Qc2 Bd6 10. Bd3 g6 11. h3 Qe7 12. O-O-O a5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. h4 Be6 DIAGRAM



15. h5 f5 16. g4 Nd5 17. gxf5 Nb4 18. Qd2 Nxd3 19. Qxd3 gxf5 20. d5 cxd5 21. Nxd5 Qd8 22. Rdg1+ Kh8 23. Qc3+ f6 24. Ndf4 Qd7 25. Ng6+ hxg6 26. hxg6+ Kg8 27. g7 Rfc8 28. Qxf6 Bxa2+ 29. Ka1 1-0

E. Systems with g3

1. d4 Nf6 2. g3

Transpositional except against the King's Indian where the double fianchetto system is known (with b2-b3).

  Against the ...e6 systems it usually transposes into the Catalan, where Black may have problems whether the centre is closed (Botvinnik) or open (Keene).



Botvinnik,M - Padevsky,N [E07] Monte, 1968
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. d4 Nbd7 7. b3 b6 8. Bb2 Bb7 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Nc3 Re8 11. Ne5 Bd6 12. f4 Ne4 13. Nxe4 dxe4 14. e3 Nf6 15. a3 c5 16. Qe2 cxd4 17. Bxd4 Qe7 DIAGRAM 1



White has a central grip

18. b4 a5 19. b5 Bxe5 20. Bxe5 Nd7 21. Bd4 Nc5 22. f5 Nd7 DIAGRAM 2



White turns his advantage into attack.

23. f6 Qe6 24. Qh5 Ne5 25. Rf5 Ng6 26. fxg7 Rad8 27. Qxh7+ 1-0

Keene,R - Robatsch,K [E08] Madrid, 1971
1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. d4 Nbd7 7. Qc2 b6 8. Nc3 Bb7 9. cxd5 Nxd5 10. Nxd5 Bxd5 11. e4 Bb7 12. Bf4



Black now tries to break up the centre, but White offeres a pawn sacrifice based on his more active pieces.

12... c5 13. d5 exd5 14. exd5 Bf6

[14... Bxd5 15. Rad1 Nf6 16. Ng5] [14... Nf6 15. Rad1 Nxd5]

15. h4 Re8 16. Ng5 Nf8 17. Rad1 Bd4 18. Be3 h6 19. Ne4 Bxe3 20. fxe3 Ng6 21. Rxf7 Kxf7 22. Rf1+ Ke7 23. d6+ Kd7 24. Rf7+ Ne7 25. Qa4+ Kc8 26. d7+ Qxd7 27. Bh3 1-0

F. Systems with a delayed c4

Even if White has c2-c4 lines in their repertoire, it may reduce Black's options to delay



this, e.g. in the Catalan

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4

  avoids the active Black system with

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 dxc4

Fyllingen Roy - Tisdall Jonathan D (8) [E05] Ch Norway, Namsos (Norway), 1995
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4 Bd7 9. Rd1 Bc6 10. Nc3 Bb4



DIAGRAM: Black's pieces are actively contesting central squares. White now finds an ingenious way of shedding a piece.

11. e4 Bxc3 12. d5 exd5 13. exd5 Bxd5 14. Ng5 c6 15. bxc3 h6 16. Ne4 Nxe4 17. Bxe4 Bxe4 0-1

  We can see both the g3 and delayed c4 ideas in the following game:

Speelman,J - Mestel,J [D02] Hastings, 1979
1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 e6 3. g3 c5 4. Bg2 Nc6 5. O-O cxd4 6. Nxd4



6... Bc5 7. Nb3 Bb6 8. c4 Nf6 9. cxd5 Nxd5 10. Nc3 Nxc3 11. Qxd8+ Nxd8 12. bxc3 Bd7 13. c4 Bc6 14. Ba3 Bxg2 15. Kxg2 Nc6 16. Rfd1 Rd8 17. e3 f6 18. Bd6 Rd7 19. Rab1 Kd8 20. c5 Bc7 21. Nd4 Nxd4 22. Rxb7 Bxd6 23. Rxd7+ Kxd7 24. Rxd4 Kc6 25. Rxd6+ Kxc5 26. Rxe6 a5 27. Re7 g6 28. Rb7 Kc6 29. Rf7 f5 30. a4 Re8 31. Rxh7 Re4 32. Rh4 Rxh4 33. gxh4 Kc5 34. f4 Kb4 35. e4 fxe4 36. Kf2 1-0

G. Stonewall Opening

1. d4 2. e3 3. Bd3 4. f4


White locks up the centre and rolls down the King's-side

1. d4 d5 2. e3 Nf6 3. Bd3

[3. f4 is sometimes played to avoid the 3...Nc6 line, but then Black can always play ...Bf5]

3... c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. f4 e6

  blocks the Bc8; probably not best. The dangers in this line can be seen in this line, given by Fine:

6. Nf3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. Ne5 Qc7

  Ne5 needs some response; Black could also try to occupy e4

9. Nd2 Re8 10. g4 DIAGRAM with a crushing attack




Black can usually see this coming but it (and the Stonewall Dutch) is still played:
Aldrete,Jorge - Ramirez,P (2) [D45] Tel Aviv ol prel, 1964


1. d4 Nf6 2. e3 d5 3. Bd3 e6 4. Nd2 c5 5. c3 Nc6 6. f4 Bd6 7. Ne2 O-O 8. O-O Qc7 9. Nf3


9... c4 10. Bc2 b5 11. Ng3 Rd8 12. Ne5 Bf8 13. Bd2 a5 14. Be1 g6 15. h4 Ba6 16. h5 Ne7 17. hxg6 hxg6 18. Qf3 Bg7 19. Nh1 Bb7 20. Qh3 Kf8 21. Bh4 Nf5 22. Bxf6 Bxf6 23. g4 Nd6 24. g5 Bg7




25. Bxg6 fxg6 26. Qxe6 Bxe5 27. fxe5+ Kg7 28. Qf6+ Kh7 29. exd6 Qc8 30. Qf7+ Kh8 31. Rf2 Qg4+ 32. Rg2 Rd7 33. Qf6+ 1-0


  Lots of these Bf4/Bg5 systems can be played with the Stonewall-style attack in mind but having the dark-squared bishop the other side of the f-pawn (Burgess below), and of course Harry Pillsbury imported it into the Queen's Gambit.

Burgess Graham - Johannesson Larus (8) [A46] It, 1995
1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bg5 Be7 4. Nbd2 d5 5. e3 O-O 6. Bd3 b6 7. Ne5 c5 8. c3 Qc7 9. f4 Bb7 10. Qf3 h6 11. h4 Nc6 12. Rh3



seems familiar!

12... Nxe5 13. fxe5 Ne4 14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Bxe4 Bxe4 16. Qxe4 Qd8 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. O-O-O c4 19. Rf1 b5 20. Rf6 Kh8 21. Rg3 b4 22. Qf4 bxc3 23. Qxh6+ 1-0

Pillsbury,Harry N - Marco (Paris, 1900)
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 O-O 6. Nf3 b6 7. Bd3 Bb7 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Ne5 Nbd7 10. f4 c5



This is the basic formation which Pillsbury often steered for against the ...b6 lines.

11. O-O c4 12. Bc2 a6 13. Qf3 b5 14. Qh3 g6 15. f5 b4 16. fxg6 hxg6




Black's king's side has been weakened.

17. Qh4 bxc3 18. Nxd7 Qxd7 19. Rxf6 a5 20. Raf1 Ra6 21. Bxg6

  DIAGRAM Black didn't need to be shown any more: 1-0




H. The Richter-Veresov system

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 (Other moves transpose into e.g. the Pirc or French)



This is another system emphasising piece play - again with the threat of doubling the f-pawns, or reserving King's-side chances. In the following game we see both:
Bellin-Penrose, British Ch'p 1974
1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bg5 h6 4. Bxf6 exf6 5. e3 c6 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. Qf3 O-O 8. Nge2 Re8 9. O-O-O b5 10. g4 Nd7 11. h4 b4 12. Na4 g6 13. Rdg1 Be7 14. g5 fxg5 15. h5 g4 16. Rxg4 g5 17. Rgg1! Qa5 18. b3



Black has a decision, to counterattack or defend passively, but Bellin says both lose. In the game Black defended:


(or 18... Nb6 19. Nc5 Qxa2 20. Kd2 explains the idea behind move 17. If instead 19... Bxc5 20. dxc5 Qxc5 21. Qf6 Re6 22. Rxg5+ hxg5 23. Qxg5+ Kh8 24. Qd8+ Kg7 25. h6+ Rxh6 26. Rxh6 Kxh6 27. Qf6+ Kh5 28. Nf4+ Kg4 29. Be2# )

19. Ng3 Bg4 20. Qg2 Kh8 21. Bf5 Bxf5 22. Nxf5 Bf8 23. f4 Ne4 24. fxg5 Nxg5 25. Rh4 Re4 26. Rf4 Rae8 27. Nxh6 Bxh6 28. Rf6 Qd8 29. Rxh6+ Kg7 30. Rxc6 f6 31. Qf1 Rxe3 32. Rxg5+ fxg5 33. Rg6+

(221) Torre,C - Lasker,Em [A46] Moscow, 1925
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 c5 4.e3 cxd4 5.exd4 Be7 6.Nbd2 d6 7.c3 Nbd7 8.Bd3 b6 9.Nc4 Bb7 10.Qe2 Qc7 11.0-0 0-0 12.Rfe1 Rfe8 13.Rad1 Nf8 14.Bc1 Nd5 15.Ng5 b5 16.Na3 b4 17.cxb4 Nxb4 18.Qh5 Bxg5 19.Bxg5 Nxd3 20.Rxd3 Qa5 21.b4 Qf5 22.Rg3 h6 23.Nc4 Qd5 24.Ne3 Qb5



And the famous finale:

25.Bf6 Qxh5 26.Rxg7+ Kh8 27.Rxf7+ Kg8 28.Rg7+ Kh8 29.Rxb7+ Kg8 30.Rg7+ Kh8 31.Rg5+ Kh7 32.Rxh5 Kg6 33.Rh3 Kxf6 34.Rxh6+ Kg5 35.Rh3 Reb8 36.Rg3+ Kf6 37.Rf3+ Kg6 38.a3 a5 39.bxa5 Rxa5 40.Nc4 Rd5 41.Rf4 Nd7 42.Rxe6+ Kg5 43.g3 1-0


  All these systems can be met in practical play, and apply to both the East and West Indian systems (with ...d6/...g6 or ...e6/....b6). One can combine these ideas in defence, but we'll leave that to another session.