Thursday, June 21, 2007

Urusov Gambit Update


I have annotated ten relatively recent games featuring the Urusov Gambit. I had been meaning to offer a Urusov Gambit Update like that for a while, and was finally prompted to action by Steve Doyle and Pete Tamburro's very nice column in The Sunday Star-Ledger (June 17, 2007) which annotated the game Svensson-Tolksdorf, Correspndence 1973-1974 and made positive mention of my Urusov Gambit website. The game they chose, while a typically attractive Urusov blow-out, struck me as rather out-dated, especially since its formerly main line with 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Qxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.Bg5 Be7 8.Qh4 d6 9.O-O-O Be6 10.Bd3?! is convincingly refuted by the simple 10....Ng4! as I discuss on my site. Fortunately, White has other choices at move 10 -- though Black does not have better than 9...Be6 in my view. Doyle and Tamburro suggest 9...h6 10.Bxf6(?) Bxf6 as being better for Black, which it is, of course; but White hardly need oblige by exchanging at f6 since there is no threat on his Bishop with the h-pawn pinned. White should therefore play 9...h6?! 10.Rhe1! with a strong attack.
In any event, Svensson-Tolksdorf is no longer important to "theory," if traditional theory is really keeping track. After all, the Urusov, while very popular at the amateur and club level, is not played by GMs and therefore not likely to receive extensive "book" coverage. For instance, Nunn's Chess Openings, which I have handy, offers only a single line of text and seven brief footnotes (less than a sixth of a page in a 544 page volume). As my extensive analysis suggests, a bit more might be written, though the absence of GM games is inhibiting. There are, however, plenty of interesting games, many by masters (2200+) and even some by titled players. French IM Luc Bergez has added it to his repertoire, and I have annotated a few of his games. But, as my notes suggest, even strong players are not the best guides to the "theory" of the line. The Urusov remains very much an unexplored territory, and therefore fertile ground for the adventurous gambiteer.
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6 comments:

Grandpatzer said...

n00b 1...e5 player here, so maybe the following is addressed. But my repertoire books avoid the gambit entirely through what appears to be sound continuations.

1. I use Kaufman's 2...Nc6, which may not be objectively better than 2...Nf6 but it gets the job done. This is also Marin's choice in his new repertoire book.

2. Emms says that 4...Nc6 transposes to the Two Knights Defense. Didn't see this move addressed during a quick glimpse at your urusov gambit site.

This may be very superficial on my part...I haven't even begun to read all your material on the gambit, and this may have already come up.

Grandpatzer said...

I am an idiot. These were clearly addressed. Disregard.

However, bottom line I think is the big repertoire books out there dodge this entirely.

Michael Goeller said...

Grandpatzer -- Thanks for the note. I will have to check out Marin's book. You are absolutely right, though: one reason Urusov theory does not evolve is that no one gets to play it. All the books avoid it by just focusing on the Two Knights (as Emms does in Play the Open Games as Black) or 2...Nc6, which is a good way to get a Giuoco Piano (my latest preference as White) with 3.Nf3 etc.

Anonymous said...

llooks like your homeboy Evan Ju won a big tournament! check uschess.org if you've not seen it yet.

Ryan Emmett said...

I'd seen the Urusov site before and had no idea it was yours! Nice work - it's a terrific site which makes me want to try the Urusov myself!

Grandpatzer said...

I just learned that you can reach the Urusov via the Petroff... 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4. I may have to look at the Urusov after all.