The ongoing individual European Championship, a scramble among 344 of the world’s best players, provides us with this relatively brief exploration of the Petroff. Defense. The main line puts Black’s king’s knight on e4, but it can rarely if ever be held there. This game is Sergei Zhigalko (White) of Belarus, former runner-up in the 2009 World Junior Championship, v. Namig Guliyev (Black), a player from Azerbaijan. Black decides to retreat the king’s knight after being confronted with 5. Nc3. He rejects the main line, which is 5…NxN, minimizing loss of time but giving up space in the center.
In this game, Black never seems to achieve equality as White keeps Black’s queen’s bishop from developing. Black proceeds to fianchetto that bishop. White shuts it in with 12 d5 and follows that move with 15 Bg4, creating a critical pin. Black struggles to find freedom, but his attempts to wriggle out open up his king to destruction.