It can be one of the most difficult defensive formations to crack, but in this game, White breaks through after a small mistake by Black.

In this game, Stanislav Bogdanovich, a Ukrainian international master, playing White, uses a slightly odd move and a finesse to overwhelm Hovik Hayrapetyan, an Armenian grandmaster. 

Bogdanovich, S. vs. Hayrapetyan, Ho
Andranik Margaryan Mem | Yerevan ARM | Round 2.4 | 09 Jan 2017 | ECO: B41 | 1-0
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. c4 I have always liked this move. White grabs as much space as he can since Black has not yet compelled him to play Nc3.
5. Nc3 This is another common move, and I recently wrote about another game which had this position.  )
5... Nf6 6. Nc3 Qc7
6... Bb4 When I analyzed this position, I remember thinking that this was the more challenging move.  )
7. Be2 b6 8. O-O Bb7 Black wants a standard hedgehog setup. I have never liked such positions.
9. Qd3!? This is unusual but very interesting.
9. f3 This move would lead to a classical hedgehog. Theory regards White as being a bit better.  )
9... Nc6
9... d6 10. f4! The point. White has plans to use the f-pawn as an offensive weapon, not for defense.
10... Nbd7 11. b4 a5 12. f5 e5 13. Ndb5 Qb8 14. Ba3 Black is in trouble.  )
10. Nxc6 dxc6 This looks natural, fixing the pawn structure. And if Black has the time, in a couple of moves he will be fine. White must play energetically.
11. Rd1 Rd8? One mistake and Black's position is basically beyond repair.
11... Be7! After this move, Black looks okay. He can castle next, play c5, trades the rooks on the d-file, and then he seems to have a healthy position.  )
12. Bf4! Surely Black overlooked this move.
12... Qc8
12... Rxd3 13. Bxc7 Rxd1+ 14. Rxd1 Black cannot stop both Rd8 and Bxb6.
14... Nd7 15. Na4! b5 16. Nb6 Nxb6 17. Rd8+! Ke7 18. Bxb6 Rb8 cannot be stopped.  )
13. Qg3 Black is far behind in development. The bishop on f8 cannot move because g7 will be unprotected, and White already threatens to play Bc7.
13... Rxd1+ It was hard to suggest anything else, but this helps White develop his last piece.
14. Rxd1 Nd7
14... c5 15. Bc7 And white wins a pawn.
15... Nd7 16. Na4  )
15. Bc7
15. c5! This move was even better.
15... Nxc5 16. Bg5! f6 17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Bh5+ Ke7 19. Qd6#  )
15... g6 16. Na4 Be7 17. Bd6!?
17. Nxb6 I probably would have contented myself with having an extra pawn, but White wanted more.
17... Nxb6 18. Bxb6 White should win eventually.  )
17... Bd8 18. c5! This anchors the bishop on d6, preventing Black from castling, and entombs bishop on b7. Black is absolutely dead lost.
18... b5 19. Nc3 f6 20. Bg4 f5 There was nothing else, although Black cannot expect to survive the opening of the center.
20... Kf7 21. Nxb5! axb5 22. Bxe6+! This is pretty nasty.
22... Kxe6 23. Qb3#  )
21. exf5 exf5 22. Bxf5
22. Ne4 This move was the engine's choice. Of course, the move played by White was more than enough.
22... fxg4 23. Qf4  )
22... gxf5 23. Qg7 Bf6 24. Re1+ Kd8 25. Qf7! Simple and efficient. Black is basically in zugzwang.
25. Be7+ Bxe7 26. Qxh8+ Nf8 27. Qe5 This would have won, too, but the move that White played is much simpler.  )
25... Ba8 26. Re7! It is not easy to stop Rxd7 followed by Qxf6.
26... Bxc3 27. bxc3 Black had seen enough.


Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter, has his own site, and is also on Facebook.