Tuesday 20 January 2009

Breathing life into the Moller

The Moller/Greco Attack was one of the earliest 'romantic' openings I discovered. White sacrifices a pawn in the opening, and then offers a rook which Black does well not to take. However in not taking the rook, White still had attacking chances, until Lajos Portisch came along and took the fun out of it with 13. ... h6!
Over the years there has been rumours that a new line has been found for White which makes the opening playable again, although the fact that no one seems to play the line consistently casts some doubt on these claims.
The book where I both discovered the opening (and learned about the refutation) was The Italian Game by Tim Harding and George Botterill. This was published in the mid 70's and in some variations theory has moved on a little. Ironically, one of the attempts to resurrect the Moller Attack was by Harding himself in a correspondence game played in the mid 1990's, which I discovered while cataloguing a set of his excellent Chess Mail magazine I had recently acquired. While the game ended in a draw, it is quite possible that White stood better in the final position, and until I discover anything played later, may make the line playable for White once more.
The key ideas occur from move 21 onwards, where White repositions his knight and aims for a mating attack (which also validates the original intent of the opening!).

Harding,T - Lindblom,P [C54]
Correspondence, 1994

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Nxe4 8.0-0 Bxc3 9.d5 Bf6 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Rxe4 d6 12.Bg5 Bxg5 13.Nxg5 h6 14.Bb5+ Bd7 15.Qe2 Bxb5 16.Qxb5+ Qd7 17.Qxb7 0-0 18.Rae1 Ng6 19.Nf3 Rfb8 20.Qa6 Rxb2 (D)
21.Nd4 Ne5 22.h3 Qc8 23.Qa3 Qb7 24.Nf5 Kh7 25.Qg3 Rg8 26.Ne7 Re8 27.Nf5 ½-½

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