Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Labourdonnais - McDonnell Attack

I have posted analysis of what I call The Labourdonnais - McDonnell Attack against the French Defense, with 1.e4 e6 2.f4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Nf3. It is a fascinating line well worth reviving, as Igor Glek recently argued in SOS #8.

Though theory clearly prefers the name Labourdonnais Variation for the line that begins 1.e4 e6 2.f4 and McDonnell Attack for 1.e4 c5 2.f4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.e5, I think that even a glance at the historical record should convince anyone that McDonnell deserves credit for both. I suppose Labourdonnais gains the name on the strength of his attractive game De LaBourdonnais - Lecrivain, Paris 1837. But this example is clearly preceded by McDonnell - De LaBourdonnais, Match 1834 which began with the French move order, let alone the more than a dozen additional games with the line between these two unofficial rivals for the "world championship." My favorite game with this opening between the two, McDonnell - De LaBourdonnais, London Match 1834, shows what an exciting and hard fought series of contests it was. It seems fitting that the opening be named after both of them, as they are forever linked in the annals of chess history and even lie in nearly adjacent graves in London's Kensal Green.


CMoB said...

This also complements an eventual Steinitz attack 2.e5 when Black responds 2...c5.

Mark Ginsburg said...

It looks dreadful. White prematurely commits f4 and e5 and look at that nice f5 square for the black horse. Black can plan accordingly after this neanderthal lunge.

It's foxier to do, e.g., 1. e4 e6 2. Qe2!? and keep black guessing as to the eventual pawn structure.

Anonymous said...

The Knight to F5 for black looks nice, but it often has to supported by h5 to stay. If black has played Rac8 or Rad8 this leaves the king in the middle or 0-0 into a compromised castled position. As black I've tended to stay away from NF5, instead pushing with d4 and maybe later (or maybe not) trying f5 or f6.

Graham Clayton said...

Seeing that White has the potential for the Greek Gift bishop sacrifice on h7, maybe Black should play Nf5 before 0-0.