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.


MNb said...


Michael Goeller said...

Yes, but then 4.e5 and White has the Labourdonais - McDonnell French, which is part of the system.

katar said...

Very creative, but this looks really unsound. Making this work would seem to require a lot of memorization and/or precision at the board. I have worked on 1.e4 2.Nf3 3.Nc3 and now selectively going 4.d4 in limited circumstances. (completely avoiding Sveshnikov, Kalashnikov, and "Pin" sicilians altogether) White compromises very little other than opting out of Maroczy setups. And you still get all those tricky "Two Knights" anti-Sicilians.

Michael Goeller said...

Hi Katar --

I wouldn't say the line is "unsound," though I would never claim an advantage for White. However, I agree with your view that there are easier ways to approach the Sicilian, and I personally have been following more of a Two Knights approach lately, which I will have to write about here at greater length some time.