Saturday, August 29, 2009

New Jersey State Chess Championship

The 2009 New Jersey State Chess Championship celebrates its 63rd year on Labor Day weekend, September 5 - 7, 2009 at the Somerset Ramada Inn, 60 Cottontail Lane, Somerset NJ (Exit 12 off I-287). It looks like it will be a very competitive event, thanks in part to the low entry fee for former champions. According to Ken Thomas's website, advance entries include former NJ champs IM Dean Ippolito (2001 & 2002), FM Tommy Bartell (2004, 2005, & 2007), IM Mikhail Zlotnikov (1994 & 2007), FM Steve Stoyko (1973, 1983, and 1988), and Steve Pozarek (1979). As always, I will be dropping by to see old friends and browse Fred Wilson's book table. I am also curious to meet one participant, Max Zavanelli, who is probably the world's best known practitioner of the Urusov Gambit (whereas I may be the Urusov's most devoted analyst). Advanced entries are still accepted through September 1st by mail and September 4th online.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

French Defense, Monte Carlo Exchange Variation

The Monte Carlo Variation
I have posted an article on the Monte Carlo Exchange Variation of the French Defense (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.c4 -- download PGN), which is an ideal short-cut or low-theory line for those who like a wide-open game with plenty of piece play. There are also several themes and tactical motifs that are easy to learn and that will score you many points over the board and in online blitz. I have included a bibliography, reproduced below and kept up to date here.  See also my games collection at which includes games from books and articles on the line and other games important to the theory of the line.

Monte Carlo Variation Bibliography

Avrukh, Boris.  Grandmaster Repertoire 1B - The Queen's Gambit (Quality Chess, 2016).  In his repertoire against the Queen's Gambit Accepted, Avrukh recommends the line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 which transposes to a weak version of our line after 3...e5 4.Bxc4 exd4 5.exd4, and White has an advantage.  See table of contents.

Baburin, Alexander. "Play on the e-file." Winning Pawn Structures (Batsford 2003): 92-101.
In his contemporary classic on the isolani pawn structure, GM Baburin devotes a chapter mostly to positions where the e-file is unobstructed by pawns. This position can arise from many openings, but especially the Queen's Gambit Accepted (1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 e5 4.Bxc4 exd4 5.exd4) or the French Exchange Variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.c4 dxc4 5.Bxc4). Baburin notes that "pressure along the e-file is particularly unpleasant for Black where it is combined with pressure along the a2-g8 diagonal." An excellent book and a very useful chapter.

Burgess, Graham. 101 Chess Opening Surprises (Gambit 2001): 62.
Offers a brief repertoire with the line 4.c4 Bb4+ 5.Nc3 Ne7, focused around the games of Tal Shaked and biased toward Black.

Glek, Igor. "French Defence, Exchange Variation." New in Chess Yearbook 20 (1991): 39-41.
A balanced treatment of the line with an early White c4, focused on the game Klinger - Glek, Werfen Open 1990, which began 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.c4 Bb4+ 6.Nc3 O-O 7.Be2 Ne4?! 8.Qb3! += and was eventually won by White.

Lane, Gary. "A French Farce." Opening Lanes 46 at ChessCafe. (link above goes to Web Archive)

Lane, Peter. "Exeter Chess Club: The Queen's Gambit Accepted/Isolated Queen's Pawn." Exeter Chess Club 1998.
See especially the second half of this survey for discussion of IQP type positions arising from the QGA or French Exchange with c4, which includes the games Timman-Panno, Mar del Plata 1982 and La Bourdonnais - McDonnell, Match (Game 15), London 1834.

Mednis, Edmar. "The Not-so-harmless Exchange Variation of the French Defence." Practical Opening Tips (Cardogan / Everyman 1997): 110-117.
Mednis's book is an excellent treatment of themes in the opening, but this chapter also offers a rather thorough and positive treatment of lines following both 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 c6 (which can also arise via the Slav move order 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e5 4.e3 exd4 5.exd4 Nf6) and 4.Nf3, which can transpose.

Minev, Nikolay. "French Defense – Exchange Variation: The Potential of c2-c4." (TheChessLibrary 2012).
A nice PDF article offering numerous interesting games with the line, showing interesting tactical motifs for both White and Black.

Pedersen, Steffen. French Advance and Other Lines (Gambit 2005): 104-106.
Focuses on the line 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.c4 Bb4+ 5.Nc3 Ne7 6.Nf3 Bg4 as illustrated by the games of Miezis as White and Shaked as Black. Pedersen's main line goes 7.Be2 dxc4 8.Bxc4 O-O 9.Be3 Nbc6 10.O-O Nf5 11.Qd3 Nd6 12.Bd5 which has occurred in numerous high level games (including at least one of Pedersen's own).

Razuvaev, Yuri. "You were right, Monsieur La Bourdonnais!" Secrets of Opening Preparation. Ed. Mark Dvoretsky and Artur Yusupov. (Olms 2007): 170-180.
A useful article that reinforces my favorite theme in these pages: that there is still a lot of opening knowledge to gain from the great players of even the most distant past. Razuvaev considers the line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 e5!? as contested in the classic LaBourdonnais - McDonnell match -- a line that typically transposes to the Monte Carlo Variation after 4.Bxc4 exd4 5.exd4. Thanks to reader Jose for pointing me to this article, which I had initially overlooked.

Sielecki, Christof.  Keep it Simple: 1.e4: A Solid and Straightforward Chess Opening Repertoire for White (December 31, 2018)  A solid repertoire for White that recommends this line against the French Defense as White.  See review video (below) which gives a good overview of the lines dicussed in the book and online.

Smith, Axel.  "Exchange French."  e3 Poison: A 21st Century Opening Repertoire (Quality Chess 2017): 345-360.   See table of contents and excerpt.

Van der Sterren, Paul. "Transposition from the Queens Gambit." New in Chess Yearbook 32 (1994). Considers the line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 e5 4. Bxc4 (Queens Gambit Accepted or Monte Carlo French) 4...exd4 5.exd4 Nf6 6.Nf3 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8. h3 Nc6, which is now a Petroff, as in Gelfand - Adams Wijk aan Zee 1994. Thanks to reader Jose for this information.

Watson, John. Play the French, 3rd Edition (Everyman Chess 2003): 71-73.
Focuses on the games of Watson's former student Tal Shaked with the line 4....Bb4+ 5.Nc3 Ne7 -- as he notes, "A move this book helped to bring to attention."

Games collection at by kenilworthian

Monte Carlo French Exchange games at Chess Tempo

The best videos show the system that GM Maurice Ashley and IM Josh Waitzkin developed, featuring Nge2 rather than Nf3.