Monday, December 06, 2010
Grand Prix with Na3!?
I could not resist annotating the game Pullin - Villarreal, 1st North American Amateur Closed, Skokie IL 2010, which features the seemingly inevitable new idea of Na3!? in the Grand Prix Attack against the Sicilian. I say "inevitable," because ever since Vadim Zvjaginsev's amazing run with 1.e4 c5 2.Na3!? (against Khalifman, Ponomariov, and Wang Yue among others) it was probably just a matter of time before someone put the knight on the rim in the Grand Prix.
I have been trying the traditional Grand Prix Attack move order with 1.e4 c5 2.f4 myself from time to time and have been surprised that most opponents do not throw Tal's 2...d5 at me like I had expected, though I'm not sure what is the best way to meet that (I'm curious what Pullin has in mind). One of the chief attractions of 1.e4 c5 2.f4 is that you can meet 2....e6 (annoying vs. 2.Nc3 in my opinion) with 3.Nf3 d5 4.e5 transposing to the Labourdonnais - McDonnell Attack, which Zvjaginsev - Zhang Pengxiang and Stripunsky - Nakamura have shown to be quite viable even at the highest levels. I see from his games that Pullin has been trying out this line himself and it makes an excellent repertoire fit with his idea of Na3 in the Grand Prix, often leading to thematically similar positions.
Readers may remember that Matt Pullin produced some nice videos devoted to analyzing my favorite Left Hook Grand Prix with a3. I'm glad that he has given me a good substitute for pawn to a3 after his critique of that line! There is a good article at the USCF site describing how he won the A-section of the 1st North American Amateur Closed, from which this game comes. I wish him continued success and look forward to seeing a video about this line some time in the future.