Friday, December 30, 2011

Kavalek Annotates His Masterpiece

Kavalanche!  Black to play.
In his article on The World Chess Hall of Fame at the Huffington Post, Lubomir Kavalek analyzes his own "hall of fame" game against Eduard Gufeld, featuring its famous pawn avalanche (or "Kavalanche" as some have called it).  I looked briefly at the game when examining a similar Pawn Steamroller by a local player, and it has been very widely annotated.  But, according to Kavalek, this is the first time he himself has ever annotated his "Mona Lisa."  Even if you have played it over before, it is worth another look with notes by the master himself.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Xtreme Chess Is Cool

Who said chess is not cool enough for TV?  I really enjoyed the first episode of the Xtreme Chess Championship on video.  Afterward, I didn't feel too bad about having lost to Justus myself in last year's USATE.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Bryntse-Faj Gambit

1.e4 c5 2.f4 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4 4.Ne5!?

I have posted an article on the Bryntse-Faj Gambit: 1.e4 c5 2.f4 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4 4.Ne5!?  (download PGN here).  It is a very rare but interesting variant on the more familiar Bryntse Gambit with 4.Ng5 and might be considered a reversed Budapest Fajarowicz (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4, which I treated in a webliography): hence my calling it "Bryntse-Faj."  The similarity with the Faj is especially highlighted where Black plays an eventual ...f5 in that opening, and I conclude my game collection with a couple of Faj games where this happens.  

I started looking at this line when I developed an anti-Sicilian and anti-French repertoire built around the Grand Prix with 1.e4 c5 2.f4!? (see Grand Prix with Na3 for example) and the line 1.e4 e6 2.f4!? d5 3.e5 against the French (see The Labourdonais McDonnell Attack).  Of course, the main problem with this repertoire is that Black can immediately equalize against the 2.f4 Grand Prix with 2....d5!  The Bryntse-Faj offers at least an opening surprise for even the most booked-up opponent who plays this way.

Giving this opening a name has been difficult for me, and I've chosen "Bryntse-Faj" simply because it most succinctly communicates the idea, which is to play the traditional Bryntse Gambit more like a reversed Fajarowicz.  Of course, it is hard to give a name to an opening that so few strong players have tried and almost no one else discusses in print.  In his discussion of the Bryntse Gambit (2004), Thomas Johansson mentions that GM Henrik Danielsen had tried this reversed Faj idea on ICC, and I found two of his games (played as H-Danielsen) as evidence.  But a couple games on ICC hardly constitute a strong argument for naming it the "Danielsen Gambit."  I thought of naming it after Dana Mackenzie, who has played it on several occasions and was kind enough to annotate and share those games with me (they are the centerpiece of the article).  But Dana is much better known for his play of the main line Bryntse with 5.Ng5, with which he famously beat a GM in Mackenzie - Pruess, Western States Open 2006 (a topic he has covered in a great video, a great Chess Life article, and on his blog, as I mention in The Nuclear Option in the Sicilian Grand Prix.)  Calling 4.Ne5 "the Mackenzie Gambit" would be confusing to anyone familiar with his current preference for 5.Ng5.  Dana himself had suggested the "Sicili-pest" (after the Budapest) and the "Sicili-wicz." But both names sound too si-silly to take seriously. Bryntse-Faj gets to the same idea and seems a little clearer.

In sharing his games, Dana explained that he mainly ended up preferring 4.Ng5 over 4.Ne5 because he "got seduced by the Bryntse Gambit queen sacrifice."  He then elaborated: "There are two reasons I didn't stick with 4. Ne5. One, as I said, was the Bryntse Gambit [with 4.Ng5]. The other was that, playing against Fritz 7 set at its highest level, I found myself constantly fighting for a draw with 4. Ne5, but when I started playing the Bryntse Gambit [with 4.Ng5], all of a sudden I could *beat* Fritz 7 at its highest level. (And Fritz 9, too, after I upgraded.) You can imagine how intoxicating that was! So I switched to the Bryntse [with 4.Ng5] and never looked back."  Food for thought.  And if I revisit this repertoire, I may take a closer look at the 4.Ng5 line myself.

Like Dana, I have also moved on to other approaches against the Sicilian, but I welcome any reader games played with the line, which I would be glad to publish here.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Google vs. Brooklyn Castle

Justus Williams vs. Don Carrelli

On December 1st, Google NYC hosted the PS 318 chess team featured in the upcoming documentary Brooklyn Castle. At least 8 "Googlers" came and went, attracted to the chess boards and these exuberant kids. Highest rated on the Google team was our own Don Carrelli, former president of the Kenilworth Chess Club, who also sent me the picture above showing his game against NM Justus Williams.  The kids, who included at least two masters, won almost all of the games.  Don included the following comments:

"Justus and James went undefeated, even in bughouse! Seemed like all the games were 10 minutes or less. After skittles, we took lunch then a tour of the office. Followed by more skittles!" 

"The kids had a blast, and so did I. It was fun to have everyone want to play against me. They probably just wanted to beat me....which for the most part, they did. Even their 1200 rated players gave me tough times in blitz. 2 wins 15 losses (give or take) and a draw. Justus even gave me 3-5 time odds."

A recent article in the NY Daily News emphasized the economic plight of this national championship team, which is greatly in need of your support.  I hope some people at Google were reading that.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Nona Gaprindashvili's Epic Battles

There is an interesting ChessBase interview with Nona Gaprindashvili (see original here) at the recently completed Senior Championship.  In it she discusses or alludes to several of her most memorable games, all slugfests:  

I am sure you can find many more "epic battles of the chessboard" if you play through her games.  Worth a look.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Fred Wilson Lectures at DoCA

Renowned chess author, bookseller, and trainer Fred Wilson will give a lecture titled “Simple Attacking Plans” at Dean of Chess Academy on December 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm.  The lecture will showcase several unknown attacking “gems” from Nicholas Rossolimo and Peter Biyiasis.  The games are featured in Fred’s forthcoming book entitled Simple Attacking Plans.  Fred’s lectures are interactive and last for 90 minutes.  Every attendee will receive a handout covering the material presented.  The cost is $20.  Please email or call 908-595-0066 for more information.

 Dean of Chess Academy is located at 3150 Route 22 West in Branchburg, NJ  08876.