Marin's Solution to 1.Nf3 - Part 2
In this database, GM Marin continues with the investigation of the Hedgehog. Before starting out the overview, we shall take a look at the starting position of the English Hedgehog.
This position arises after the moves 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 a6
In Part 1, you can find all the variation after 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 which is the main line of the English Hedgehog.
The current database practically completes Marin's survey on the Hedgehog. Below, I would like to provide you with a brief overview of the different chapters.
- Chapter 1 features the positions which arise after 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nd4
- Chapters 2-5 deal with the system with 7.b3
- Chapters 6-11 are dedicated to the critical line - 7.Re1
Chapter 1 - 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 a6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4!?
this move looks very natural, but it is not very ambitious.
The exchange of the light-squared bishops favors Black and weakens White’s kingside.
A fundamental idea for Black is to exchange the knights by playing Nc6 at the appropriate moment.
This exchange makes the thematic b6-b5 break easier.
After the moves 8…Bxg2 9.Kxg2 Qc7, the author analyzed four different moves but in all the lines, Black is more than fine. Very instructive line is 10.Qd3 Nc6 11.b3 Ne5 12.Qd2 Qb7 13.Kg1 h5!
Black’s position is already preferable.
This variation is quite common on a club level, so each Hedgehog player should be ready for it.
In chapters 2 and 3, the Romanian grandmaster is dealing with the position which arises after the moves 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 a6 7.b3 Be7 8.Bb2 0-0 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4!?
this continuation is harmless, but Black needs to know how to react properly.
The main line continues with 10…Bxg2 11.Kxg2 Qc7
In chapter 2, Marin examines the move 12.e4
This move is harmless, and Black has two good options here:
12…Nc6 – neutralizing the knight on d4 is a valid idea.
12…d6 is Marin’s main line which leads to a more complicated play. He analyzes different setups for Black and White. The verdict is that White cannot pose any serious problems in line with 12.e4.
Chapter 3 is dedicated to a tricky move 12.e3!?
Had black pawn been on d6, this plan would have been hazardous for Black. In this position, however, we are not in a hurry to play d7-d6. Bllack should apply the same concept as in chapter 1 - exchange the central d4-knight by means of 12...Nc6.
After 12…Nc6, White tried different setups, but after all of them Black exchanges the knights and manages to carry out the advance b6-b5 with a wonderful position.
White needs to be precise to maintain the balance.
Chapter 4 is about one very tricky move order:
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 a6 7.b3 Be7 8.d4!? cxd4 9.Qxd4 d6 10.Ba3!?
This is an interesting try to put pressure on d6 and to make use of our move order. Black’s typical reactions to Ba3 are Nd7-c5 or Na6-c5. Since both are not possible here, we are forced to go for an out-of-the-box idea 10…Nc6!
White has a choice between 11.Qd2 and 11.Qf4. The first one is always an option, but it is more passive and less challenging.
the main line follows with 11…Qc7 12.Rfd1 Rd8 13.Rac1 – the threat is 14.Nd5!
Black should play 13…Na7!
A lovely move which is also played by Anatoly Karpov.
The knight looks passive, but from c8 it will defend the pawns on b6 and d6.
Later, Black is planning to finish the development by playing 0-0, Re8, Qb8, and Bf8.
After making these useful moves, he usually goes for the maneuver Nc8-e7-g6.
White’s position looks nice, but it is hard to suggest any concrete plan.
The practice shows that things smoothly can go wrong for the first player.
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 a6 7.b3 Be7 8.Bb2 0-0 9.e3!?
This is probably the critical try after 7.b3.
White is delaying the move d2-d4 and will have the option to answer cxd4 with exd4!
The main line goes: 9…d6 10.d4 Nbd7 11.d5!
This is the critical continuation. Alternatives are considered to be harmless for Black. If 11.Qc2, then the typical equalizer is 11…cxd4 12.exd4 d5 – White’s queen is misplaced on c2.
Let’s return to 11.d5!
White prevents Black from playing Ne4 and blocks the b7-bishop. The main line continues 11…exd5 12.Nh4! (12.cxd5 b5! With a nice Benoni-type of position)
In this position, Black tried many moves, but Marin prefers 12…g6.
The structure is like in Benoni Defence.
In the database, you can find in-depth analysis, but you need to remember the two key ideas:
If White takes with a pawn, Black goes for b6-b5 with a serious counter-play.
If White takes with a piece, Black is exchanging the dark-squared bishop via f6.
In the next chapter, Marin starts dealing with the move 7.Re1.
This move is considered to be a critical test for the English Hedgehog.
The idea is to play e2-e4 and only then d2-d4 followed by Nxd4. In this way, White manages to avoid the exchange of the light-squared bishops.
It is worth mentioning that in the move order with 6…Be7, Black can meet 7.Re1 with 7…d5 or 7…Ne4 with a solid but slightly passive position.
In Marin’s move order with 6…a6, these moves do not work, because White can meet them with an active play using Black's lag in the development.
The main line is 7…Be7 8.e4 d6 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Qc7 (Parrying the threat of 11.e5 Bxg2 12.exf6!)
This position is the starting point of the variation with 7.Re1.
Marin explains White’s ideas in the following way: White's main plan is f4-f5, possibly combined with g4-g5, while the typical Sicilian sacrifice Nc3-d5 is always an issue.
In Chapter 6, the author deals with White's setups based on bishop development to b2.
The main position of the chapter is reached after the moves 11.b3 0-0 12.Bb2.
This looks like a very harmonious regrouping for White with both his bishops placed on the longest possible diagonals. But the b2-bishop has two knights standing in his way, and his threats are far from obvious.
As we already pointed out, Black should be careful. In the analysis, you will find different schemes for White. Nevertheless, Black needs to remember only one plan – Nbd7, Rfe8, Rad8, Bf8 with a very flexible position. Later on, Black will be trying to carry out one of the typical breaks - b6-b5, d6-d5, and e6-e5. According to the theory, this variation is not the most dangerous one for Black.
Chapters 7 - 11 are dedicated to the main White’s try – the move 11.Be3.
From the e3-square, the bishop has a clear target here - the b6-pawn. True, for the time being, the pawn is well defended, but in case of a force play, the move Bxb6 would always be a resource Black must reckon with.
The position is arising after the move 11.Be3 is the first essential crossroads. At this point, Black should choose the most precise move order.
It is possible to keep the king in the center for a while and to finish the development by playing 11…Nbd7 12.Rc1 Rc8 13.f4 Qb8.
In this position, however, both 14.Qe2 and 14.Nd5!? are possible and lead to a promising position for White.
Hence, Marin suggests 11…0-0!? 12.Rc1 (12.g4 and 12.f4 are also analyzed) 12…Nbd7 13.f4 (the spectacular 13.Nd5!? is examined, but fails to offer an advantage) 13…Rac8! not the main move, but Marin’s suggestion.
In the analysis, you will understand, why 13…Rfe8 is in crisis now.
This position is the starting point of author's investigations
Marin analyses 14.f5 (chapters 8-9), 14.g4(chapters 10-11), 14th moves alternatives (Chapter 7)
In Chapter 7, Marin makes an overview of the variation and analyzes the second-rate White’s options:
14.Bf2, 14.b3, 14.Nd5?!, 14.Qe2 – all these continuations are possible, but not challenging.
Let’s have a look only at the first one. After 14.Bf2 Re8, it seems that Black is blundering a piece. Nevertheless, in a case of 15.e5 Bg2 16.exf6, he has the fantastic 16...Ba8!! 17.fxe7 Qb7
You can try to analyze this position yourself or to read Marin’s excellent analysis.
The verdict is that White should be careful to hold the balance.
Chapter 8 is dedicated to the line 14.f5 e5 15.Nd5
This move is not very challenging.
Unfortunately for White, Black is not forced to take the knight and the simple 15…Qd8 leads to a pleasant game. He enjoys a very resourceful Najdorf structure.
Chapter 9 features White's most precise move order - 14.f5 e5 15.Nb3!
Here is how the author describes the position:
White tries to keep the position static. He needs to prevent the freeing ...b6-b5 (which could result in a later ...d6-d5) and prepare his kingside attack. There are some technical problems regarding the latter issue as he needs to control g5 after a knight retreat. Otherwise Black would play ...Qd8 and ...Bg5. The only drawback of the last move is that the knight is far from c6, making Nd5 (followed by a knight exchange) less dangerous for Black.
In this position, Marin shows his tremendous understanding of the position and suggests a substantial novelty.
In Chapter 10, you will find the move 14.g4!?
This move yields White's attack a more extensive character than in the previous lines.The main line goes 14…Nc5 (Forcing the bishop to abandon the defense of the c1-rook, thus turning Nd5 inoffensive) 15.Bf2 g6 (preparing to answer 16.g5 with 16…Nh5)
16.b4 (16.f5 you will find in the next chapter) 16…Nd7
Marin analyzes here five different continuations for White but proves that Black has reasonable chances after all of them.
Chapter 11 is dedicated to the position after 16.f5!?
Mihail suggests 16…gxf5 (16…exf5 is also analyzed) 17.gxf5 e5 18.Nc2 Kh8!
with a very sharp game with mutual chances.
Marin analyzes the position in depth. Armed with his ideas, you should be able to play for a win here.
As always you will find 20 test positions at the end of the database. Below, you can find 5 of them:
All the variations dealt with in this database are quite ambitious for White. In the spirit of Hedgehog, Black wants to play a long game with many pieces and very complicated positions. Marin avoids variations with early exchanges and offers a fighting repertoire.
He played this position during his long career, and he feels the arising positions very well.
Armed with his explanations, analyses, and novelties, you should be able to face each opponent.