Enter the Wu-Tang Zone

“The game of chess, is like a swordfight
You must think first, before you move”

I first heard this line from the Wu-Tang Clan’s song “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’,” a seminal rap group that has two members (RZA and GZA) who are chess fans. (The original kung-fu film that opening line sample is taken from is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uPAfsrXpp8)

I was briefly reminded of this when playing through one of the games from the ongoing US Junior Championship in Saint Louis. In the second round, Kayden Troff had the white pieces against IM Daniel Naroditsky, and the game started out as a King’s Indian: 1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.e4 Nf6 5.f4.

I’m no expert on this line – I don’t play the KID as black, and I don’t play the 4 Pawns Attack as White – but Black’s next move was definitely new to me. Naroditsky played 5…Bg4!?, and it looks pretty interesting.

(FEN: RNBKQB1R/PP4PP/5N2/1bPPPP2/8/1pn1p3/pbpp1ppp/r2kq1nr)

I have seen the 4 Pawns Attack transpose to a Benoni-like position before with 5…0-0 6.Nf3 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5. There, Black often plays …Bg4 (and later exchanges on f3), as the light-squared bishop is a typical problem piece in the Benoni, while the removal of the Nf3 makes it harder for White to play for e4-e5 later on.

So maybe 6.Nf3 would only lead to something like that, but I think Black might also have a different idea. After 6.Nf3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 Nc6, there are some issues with the d4-pawn. After 8.Nge2 e5, maybe Black is on his way to equalizing. I’m not totally sure, though. Anyways, Troff could’ve used that Wu-Tang warning to think first.

At least according to the relay on Monroi, it doesn’t look like he spent much time at all on his reply of 6.Qb3?. Naroditsky replied with 6…Nc6! and all of a sudden, White seems to be in trouble!

(FEN: RNBK1B1R/PP4PP/5NQ1/1bPPPP2/8/1pn1pn2/pbpp1ppp/r2kq2r)

The exchange of b7 for d4 is clearly something Black would be happy with, while 7.d5 Nd4 sees Black plant a knight on a square he can normally only dream about in the KID. Troff played 7.Be3 after having a real think, which was met with 7…e5!. (7.Nge2 is probably met with 7…e5 as well.)

White should already be looking to try and limit the damage, but he’s probably a little worse no matter what he comes up with at this point. Unfortunately for Troff, he came up with 8.Qxb7?, and then he’s left with a completely lost position after 8…exd4.

(FEN: RNBK3R/PP4PP/3B1N2/1bPPpP2/8/1pn1pn2/pbp2pQp/r2kq2r)

Taking the Nc6 doesn’t work (9.Qxc6+ Bd7 10.Qb7 dxc3 and the e4- and h8-a1 diagonal are problems), while 9.Nb5 0-0 as in the game only sees Black make more development gains. The game ended soon after (and can be replayed here).

A pretty brutal beatdown of 6.Qb3, but remember, think first before you move!

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