Monday, March 10, 2008

The Brooklyn Defense

Position after 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Ng8!? 3.d4

I have posted some analysis of the game Robert Gruchacz - Joel Benjamin, New York 1980 which features the surprisingly interesting Brooklyn Defense (1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Ng8!?) You have to see it to believe it, but I think this is a fully viable system and one with lots to teach us about opening play!

As GM Benjamin and Eric Schiller note in Unorthodox Openings (1987), it's "not nearly as dumb as it looks" and can even be "psychologically devastating." Most opponents will be insulted by such a cheeky retreat and will expect to obtain a big edge, which may lead them to over-reach. Yet Black's position remains fundamentally sound (he has introduced no weaknesses, after all!) and so any premature attack is bound to fail. In fact, it may be White who is most in danger since his center pawns have ventured forward and can be attacked or exchanged in typical hypermodern fashion.

This is the first in a series of opening articles inspired by GM Joel Benjamin's American Grandmaster: Four Decades of Chess Adventures. While I enjoyed the book very much and recommend it, I was disappointed not to find more analysis of the numerous unorthodox opening systems that Benjamin has helped to popularize--and by which he has probably had the most lasting influence on other chess players. These articles are my own attempt to fill in the blanks, and to highlight the important contributions that GM Benjamin has made to opening theory.


Anonymous said...

Fuster Defense. IM Geza Fuster played this frequently starting in the 1930s and up through the late 1980s.

Michael Goeller said...

Do you have any of his games with the line? I can't seem to find any in the databases -- which may explain why we don't call it the "Fuster Defense."

Anonymous said...

There's a smattering--unfortunately only losses--at
but there are probably many more in Canadian magazines of the 50s through 80s, and it was pretty well-known that he played it. I should drag out my Informators as well, though Informant always hated to publish games in "irregular" openings.

I'm not blaming you for this, since you were just relying on a (rather bad) book. A conscientous author would have done some research before decided he had naming rights to an opening--but of course, we're talking about Benjamin (and Schiller).

Anonymous said...

Big Database 2004 has three of these games -- all losses by Fuster.

Mark Ginsburg said...

This was Yakov Yukthman's favorite blitz defense at the Game Room, Broadway and 74th St., NYC, in the 1980s.

It took me quite a while to realize that
1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Ng8 3. d4 d5
4. exd6 e.p.! and white is just better.

Once I "eureka'd" this, the dangerous Yakov (he beat lots of GMs OTB in the old USSR) stopped playing it.

Michael Goeller said...

I'd love to see more games with this line if anyone has them. As for 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Ng8 3. d4 d5
4. exd6 e.p.: I really don't think this is very much for White after 4...cxd6. Just consider: the exact same position could arise by 1.d4 c5 2.e3 cxd4 3.exd4 d6, which nobody would think of as especially inspiring for White--yet it's the same position! And Black's other two recaptures are not bad: 4...Qxd6 5.Nc3 is a position from the Scandinavian and 4...exd6 almost immediately starts to look like a Petroff.

Granted, White has some edge in all of these lines, but very little.

Anonymous said...

I ran a computer simulation starting with 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Ng8 3.d4 d5 4.exd6

Though the engine evaluated white as clearly better on move 4 (approx +1.0), the edge was gone by move 25.

Black won convincingly with an exchange sacrifice. I used Shredder 2.1 as the engine. Here is the game.

[Event "xx"]
[Site "xxx"]
[Date "2008.03.15"]
[Round "x"]
[White "Shredder"]
[Black "Shredder"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Ng8 3. d4 d5 4. exd6 cxd6 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. Nc3
e6 7. Bg5 Be7 8. Bd3 O-O 9. a3 Bd7 10. O-O Bc6 11. Qe2 Nbd7
12. Nd2 Qb6 13. Qe3 d5 14. b4 a6 15. Nf3 Rac8 16. Rfe1 Qa7
17. Rac1 h6 18. Bxf6 Nxf6 19. Ne5 Bd6 20. Rb1 Rc7 21. Rbc1
Rfc8 22. f3 Be8 23. Nb1 a5 24. b5 Nd7 25. f4 Qb6 26. Nxd7
Bxd7 27. a4 Rc4 28. Bxc4 Rxc4 29. Nd2 Rxa4 30. c4 Ra3
31. Qf2 Bb4 32. Red1 Ra2 33. Rb1 Qc7 34. cxd5 exd5 35. Rbc1
Qb8 36. f5 Qe8 37. f6 g5 38. Re1 Qf8 39. Red1 Bg4 40. Ra1
Rc2 41. Qe3 Bxd1 42. Rxd1 Rxd2 43. Rxd2 Bxd2 44. Qxd2 Qb4
45. Qe3 Qxb5 46. Qe7 a4 47. h4 gxh4 48. Qc7 Qb1+ 49. Kh2 a3
50. Qe7 Qg6 51. Qxa3 Qg3+ 52. Qxg3+ hxg3+ 53. Kxg3 b5 0-1

Anonymous said...


I haved played Brooklyn several times. I can send these games. Write me to

Regards from Spain