Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Alrick H. Man Vienna Gambit Theme Tournament

I have annotated the game Carlos Torre - C. E. Norwood, New York 1925 as the first installment in a new series on the Vienna Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4) which will feature all of the known games from the Alrick H. Man Vienna Gambit Theme Tournament.  The tournament ran from December 1924 through March 1925 and was played at the Marshall Chess Club in New York City.  Participating were Frank James Marshall, Carlos Torre, Erling Tholfsen, Horace Ransom Bigelow, Rudolph Smirka, C. E. Norwood, and G. Gustafsson.  Torre's games were the most inspired, and his win over Norwood has some great tactical moments (see diagrams below).

I learned about the 1920s series of sponsored theme tournaments held at the Marshall Chess Club back when I collected the games of the Dimock Theme Tournament of 1924, which featured the Urusov Gambit.  Other tournaments I know about required a line of the Greco Counter-Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Bc4), the Lasker Variation of the Evans Gambit, and the Sicilian Wing Gambit, though there may have been others besides those held from 1921 - 1927.  I have collected the games from the Greco Counter-Gambit tournament (from October 1921) as part of my Bishop's Opening coverage, and there were some interesting games, especially Forsberg - Jaffe which adds to the theory of the Rousseau Gambit.  I decided to write up the Vienna Gambit event because I have suddenly become interested in the line myself, as it seems such a natural repertoire fit with the Grand Prix Attack, Labourdonnais - McDonnell Attack, and Saemisch Variation vs the Alekhine.   I may eventually work my way through all of the events, as I find it such a pleasure to work on projects that combine historical research, chess opening analysis, and web publishing.  I hope readers enjoy them as well, and perhaps they will inspire interest in holding sponsored theme tournaments, which is a wonderful tradition well worth reviving.

Torre - Norwood, New York 1925
White to play after 19...Bxd3
Torre - Norwood, New York 1925
White to play after 25...Kh8


Unknown said...

I have been thinking that a better fit for this repertoire would be the Halasz Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.f4!?

After the upcoming ...d5 counter white pushes past with e4-e5 and achieves the f4,e5 pawn spearhead like in the Saemisch Alekhine, Labourdonnais or Grand Prix. White does not achieve this pawn formation in the Kings Gambit nor the Vienna.

That is not to say that the Halasz is good (it probably isn't) but might be worth looking into. A lot of preparation is probably necessary as I can personally attest; White can get some hideous positions if a Black N settles on e4 or e3.

Michael Goeller said...

I will take a look at the Halasz and see what I think. I have looked at the version against the Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.f4), which is discussed by Eric Schiller in Gambit Opening Repertoire for White (Cardoza 1998), where even he suggests it is not good and that he only presents it for space reasons.... There is a good amateur article by Glenn Budzinski on the e-pawn Halasz you mention (http://www.chesscafe.com/text/halasz.txt), though it tends to favor the black side with good play. I seem to recall an article by Tim Harding at ChessCafe too.

I think the ultimate goal of the opening is to get a sort of "Big Clamp" position, as Lawrence Day advocated. Nigel Davies lays out an interesting repertoire along these lines in his 1.e4 for the Creative Attacker, and there was a Bangiev CD. I am starting to think you can get away with a lot with 1.e4 an 2.f4, including in the Caro-Kann -- which Joel Benjamin once played against Larry D. Evans. I think there is only so far you can go before you are just playing ugly chess. But it is worth a look.

MNb said...

I'd like to learn what your view on 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.fxe5 Nxe5 5.d3 (5.Nf3 Bc5 6.d4) Nxc3 6.bxc3 d4 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.cxd4 Bb4+ is. This is the reason I never wanted to try it.

Michael Goeller said...

I have been confining myself to 5.Nf3, which was the main line chosen in the tournament (though 5.Qf3 was seen). Torre played 5.Nf3 Bc5 6.Qe2!? against Marshall and had an interesting game. I am not sure yet, but it looks interesting. I am not sure about 5.d3.

MNb said...

In that case: 5.Nf3 Bc5 6.d4 Bb4.

MNb said...

I find it hard to believe in White's chances after 5.Nf3 Bc5 6.Qe2 Bf2+ 7.Kd1 Nxc3+ 8.bxc3
a) 8...Bb6 9.Bg5 Qd7 10.Kd2 0-0 11.Rd1 h6 and 12...Qa4, cf Pedersen-Ochsner, DAN 2002
b) 8...Bh4 9.Bf4 Be7 10.Kd2 0-0 (Be6) 11.Rd1 c5 12.Kc1 Qa5 13.Kb1 Be6 and Tseitlin and Glaskov think Black is better.

Prof Camenares said...

I've always thought that 5.d3 can be handled by 5...Qh4 6.g3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 Qa4, when Bg4 is an annoying threat. White does enjoy more space but doesn't seem to have the development to back it up.

Other sources give 6...Nxg3 7.Nf3, leading to wild positions in which White is seems much better. The 6...Nxc3 line seems to neutralize and give Black a more or less even game, and one abit different from the normal fare a Vienna player faces.

Michael Goeller said...

Devin --

I agree: the d3 line offers some traps, but it is not very promising. I think the Nf3 line may still be the best try for an interesting game. It was also the main line used in the Alrick Man tourney -- along with Qf3 in a few Torre games (about which I am still undecided -- hence part of my delay in publishing on them all).

Michael Goeller said...

Complete annotated games from the tournament can be found at: