Puzzle of the week #172

Chess Diagram: 

[Event "Puzzle #172"][Date "2011.10.16"][Result "0-1"][SetUp "1"][FEN "1b2rrk1/3b1ppp/5n1q/1N1P4/p1B1p3/P5P1/1P1NQP1P/R4RK1 b - - 0 1"]

Let's do a small test: read the next question try to find the best answer for it before reading on. What opening is the above position coming from?
Now continue reading and see if your guess was good. Looking at how pieces are positioned on the board, White has been making progress on the Queen side, while Black is ready to attack on the King side. Would you believe the opening was a French advanced variation? Probably not. What could really happen to change things so dramatically from the normal well known plans? Well, in two words White's center has disappeared and both sides tried to surprise each other with playing unexpectedly. Now the important question is who has succeeded for a better chance? Your tasks:
a) Analyze the position and decide on the best plans for both sides
b) Black to move and play the best plan you found

Total available points for this puzzle is 20. The answers will be published next week together with puzzle #173.

Puzzle #171 solution:
As I said in class each one of you made good points in your answers; some had more than the others and I deducted points for wrong answers and missing good points made by others. What you see below is all good points and names of those providing them. The result (sum of all good points) is how the best answer should have looked like!
(Frank) Black has a Rook for a Bishop and a pawn.
(Leroy) Black is up a point.
King safety:
(Philip) Black’s King is better because it is endgame and he can get to the center faster. White’s King is blocked and cannot get to the center.
(Ziyao) White controls the center but most play is happening on the wings.
(Harmony) Nc4 has a quite good position at this time as it restricts the Nf1 from moving out. It should not move unless it can create some real threats. Rf8 is targeting the f2-pawn and even the Knight behind it. Ra2 is not doing much at this time. Our plan is to move it to create some real threats.
(James) White Bishop and Rook are attacking and there aren't that many defenders for Black King.
(Derrick) Black also has a Rook on the 7th rank

[Event "Puzzle #171"][Date "2011.10.16"][Result "0-1"][SetUp "1"][FEN "1k3r2/2p5/8/3R3p/2n3pP/2P3B1/r4PP1/5NK1 b - - 0 36"]36...Ra1! {The key move; now white loses no matter what} (36...Nd6? 37.Rxd6 {I blundered a piece and lost the game shortly}) 37.f3 {Derrick} (37.Bxc7+ {Harmony} 37...Kb7 38.Rxh5 Nd2 {Black wins}) (37.Rc5 {James, Leo} 37...Ne3 38.Bxc7+ Kb7 39.Kh2 Nxf1+ 40.Kg1 Nd2+ 41.Kh2 Ne4 42.Rc4 Nxf2 43.Kg3 Nh1+ 44.Kh2 Rc8 {Black wins}) (37.Rb5+ {Ziyao} 37...Ka8 38.Bxc7 Ne3) (37.Rxh5 {Frank} 37...Ne3 38.fxe3 Rfxf1+ 39.Kh2 Rh1#) 37...Ne3 38.Re5 Nxf1 {Black wins}

Correct solutions:
Ziyao, Philip - 18 points
James, Harmony - 16 points
Frank - 14 points
Leo - 10 points
Derrick - 8 points
Leroy - 2 points


Storming the castle (6)