Monday, March 31, 2014

BBC's The Master Game

The Master Game chess program from the BBC has been issued on DVD in response to online interest, including lobbying by bloggers like Mark Weeks and the obvious consumer interest in the program evidenced by many popular copyright infringements on YouTube.  I have compiled PGN files of the games in Series 1-7 and information for purchasing DVDs and books below.

The Master Game was the first program to show chess on television in a way that had a chance of connecting with the larger chess-playing public.  As producer Robert Toner notes:
I had seen many forms of television chess coverage, but none of them was satisfactory.  Pieces would disappear from one square and appear in another, and only experts seemed to be able to follow a game.  Also, it was all so remote, I felt no involvement with the game or the players.  What we needed was direct access into their thoughts, not the high-speed technical thoughts of a chess-playing mind, but thoughts put in such a way that anyone who knew the rules would be able to follow the most complicated game. (Foreword, The Master Game, 1979)
The system Toner developed had players compete in a knock-out tournament at a BBC studio, where the games themselves were recorded; then, about two days later, the players recreated their thoughts during the game in a sound studio.  The games were played under tournament conditions, with forty moves in two-and-a-half hours followed by an hour sudden death.  (In the first three series, with absolute knockout format, there were also rules for replaying drawn games, but in later tournaments the rules were changed to avoid replays.)  The game play was edited to a 30-minute program, so the audience did not have to endure long and unpredictable delays between moves, and commentary by the players was added.  

What made the program so successful was the fiction that the players were commenting on the games as they were happening, with the comments always expressed in present-tense form, thus creating a sense of engagement and immediacy that is not achieved in other formats, except perhaps in the now ubiquitous videos where players comment on their blitz games while in progress.  The types of comments offered by the players were also quite effective at communicating the way GMs usually choose a move, relying more on chess reasoning and intuition than the calculation of long variations, except where the position called for that.  Though we now have access to a lot of chess on video, no one seems to have invested the time and resources to create a similar product, though Maurice Ashley's Speed Chess DVD comes close, substituting exciting play-by-play commentary for the players' own thoughts.

Besides serving as excellent instructional videos, these DVDs are worth having for the living history they contain.  Where else are you going to find the great players of the 70s and 80s commenting on their games?  The Series 7 DVD also contains a bonus documentary feature about Matthew Sadler titled "The Lowdown: The Master of the Game" (1989).  Highly recommended.

Purchase DVDs
The videos can be purchased directly from Odeon Entertainment as DVDs or digital downloads.  So far they have re-issued Series 6 and Series 7, which can also be purchased from New in ChessChess & Bridge and other European online re-sellers. I have not been able to identify a U.S. distributor, but I had no trouble ordering from New in Chess, which always provides excellent service.  One important note: the DVDs are "Region 0" and PAL format, so they will not play on older DVD players made for the U.S. market.  I have a ten-year-old DVD player on which they do not play, but they do work on my computer's DVD player with no problem.
BBC: The Master Game Series 6Contains all 13 30-minute programs for a total of 390 minutes on two DVDs, featuring Bent Larsen, Nigel Short, Svetozar Gligoric, Vlastimil Hort, Robert Byrne, Tony Miles, Lothar Schmid and Jan Hein Donner.
BBC: The Master Game Series 7.  Contains all 13 30-minute programs for a total of 390 minutes on two DVDs, featuring Andras Adorjan, Nigel Short, Walter Browne, Eric Lobron, Raymond Keene, Larry Christiansen, Miguel Quinteros and Hans-Joachim Hecht.

Games and PGN File Downloads
I have annotated one of the better games in "How Passed Pawns Win 'Master Games'" on this blog, which includes several passed pawn puzzles from the series.  I have also collected all of the games played in the Master Game tournaments and posted them as separate PGN files for download or Java replay:   
Series 1 - 1975 (PGN) (Java replay)
Series 2 - 1976 (PGN) (Java replay)
Series 3 - 1977 (PGN) (Java replay)
Series 4 - 1979 (PGN) (Java replay)
Series 5 - 1980 (PGN) (Java replay)
Series 6 - 1981 (PGN) (Java replay)
Series 7 - 1982 (PGN) (Java replay)

Special thanks to Tom Martinak from the Pitt Chess Archives for supplying me with the PGN files from the first three series, which saved me a lot of trouble compiling them by hand.  The Pitt Archives were taken down due to security concerns over their FTP hosting, but I understand they will eventually be available again when a new host is chosen.  I found PGN files of other games at 365chess and, and some games I added by hand from the books (see below).  I have followed the books for game order and moves where sources disagreed.  Unfortunately, only very late in my research did I discover Mark Weeks's excellent zipped PGN of the games, which saved me from having to compile Series 6 by hand.  I think the files are now complete, but I welcome corrections and additions if I have overlooked anything.


The copies of the books I own are wider than represented.
The books of The Master Game are out of print but available for purchase from various online sellers of used books.  I was fortunately able to purchase them both for under $10 each (with shipping), but I suspect the price will rise significantly as the series attracts renewed interest.  Both are excellent books and I hope the BBC considers re-issuing them to accompany the DVDs.
The Master Game by Jeremy James and Leonard Barden, British Broadcasting Corporation (1979).   Contains all of the games from the first three series (1975, 1976, and 1977), with a foreword by producer Robert Toner, biographies of the players in each series, and the 36 annotated games (with notes drawing from the GM commentary on the show), plus opening and player indexes.  In algebraic notation.  This is a very attractive and well edited book.
The Master Game, Book Two by Jeremy James and William Hartston, British Broadcasting Corporation (1981).  Contains 41 annotated games from Series 4, 5, and 6 (1979, 1980, and 1981), plus the game scores from the first three series.  Like the first volume, it has biographies of players and indexes.

Videos Online
There have been a number of people posting The Master Game videos online, but most have been taken down recently as the publisher has moved to protect the copyright in anticipation of re-issuing them on DVD.  Only the first two videos below are official trailers, so the others may vanish at any time.



Monday, March 24, 2014

Glek Four Knights and Paulsen Vienna Bibliography

The Four Knights, Glek System
The Glek Four Knights (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3 - C46) may not guarantee White an opening advantage but it does lead to an interesting game.   It is worth comparing the Paulsen / Mieses Variation of the Vienna Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6/Nc6 3.g3 - C26) which will often transpose, though we should note that Black has more options after 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6!? 3.g3, including 3...h5!? and the infrequently mentioned 3...f5!? transposing to a Vienna Gambit with colors reversed after 4.exf5 d5 5.g4 (losing a tempo, but this is still probably best -- see Tim Harding's Kibitzer columns #96 and #97 on the Pierce Gambit if you want to play this way); and after 2...Nf6 3.g3 Black can try the Ponziani reversed with 3....c6!? (which White might want to meet with 4.Qe2 as I discuss below).  The Vienna move order thus gives Black more options and does not promise more for White, since the option of Nge2, while playable, usually does not offer White as much chance for advantage as Nf3 (even if it leaves the f-pawn free to advance).  Glek's move order via the Four Knights is therefore probably most accurate, though amateur players will have equally good results with either method.  

In the material below, I consider both the Four Knights and Vienna move orders.  I generally play this variation myself as a way of reaching the types of positions I often play as Black in my Black Fianchetto System in the Open Games (see Part One and Part Two) and in the King's Indian Defense.  Treating the Glek System like a "reversed" opening allows me to "just play chess" in territory that will likely be more familiar to me than to my opponent.

The resources I have found most helpful for learning the Glek System are Igor Glek's two-part theoretical survey of his line in New in Chess Yearbooks 42 and 43 and Jan Pinski's coverage in The Four Knights.  There are several games collections, including 
 at 365Chess-C46, 365Chess-C26Igor Glek Playing the Four Knights,  and Glek 4 Knights (4.g3).  As always, I welcome additions and corrections from readers.


"Maneuvering for GMs" by Valeri Lilov, (July 15, 2013).  A 21.5 minute video on the Four Knights Game: Glek Variation (C26), featuring the game Igor Glek - Arno Zude, Vienna 1996.  Membership required.

Secret Weapon Four Knights Game by Valeri Lilov, ChessBase DVD (2013).  Covers all lines in the Four Knights, including the Glek System, in video format.  

"Mamedyarov wins first Geneva Masters," ChessBase (July 2, 2013)
Annotations to the game Mamedyarov - Kramnik, Geneva Masters 2013.

Scotch Four Knights Glek Variation [C26] by Abby Marshall, ChessCafe PDF (2012).  If you are looking for a good short introduction to the Glek, look no further.  And it is free to download.  It is possible that this article will disappear behind a firewall in the coming website revision at ChessCafe.

The Four Knights: Move by Move by Cyrus Lakdawala, Everyman Chess (2012): 259-291.
I have not seen this book, but based on my experience with other books in this series I would say this is probably not a bad introduction to the Glek for amateur players.

"Not so Harmless! - Part II" by Alexander Finkel, New in Chess Yearbook #102 (2012): 131-138.
You can download the games from this volume from the Archives page.  This article covers the line 
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Nc6 (usually to be followed by 7...Bc5, as 7...Bd6 would transpose to lines covered in Part I). White usually plays 7.Nf3 transposing to the Glek System and follows with either an open d2-d4 push or a more strategic d2-d3 idea, but Finkel also discusses the Nge2 option.  The most important theoretical games in this line were played by Igor Glek, Hrvoje Stevic, and the author.  According to Finkel, the lines with 6...Nc6 and 7...Bc5 give Black the best chance of fighting for the initiative.

"Not So Harmless! - Part I" by Alexander Finkel New in Chess Yearbook #101 (2011): 105-112.
You can download the games from this volume from the Archives page.  This article covers the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bd6, when White usually plays 7.Nf3 transposing to the Glek System.

"The Greatest Bullet Game Ever Played" by Bryan Smith, (December 23, 2009).  A 21.5 minute video analyzing the bullet game Hawkeye vs. The-Joker (2001), featuring the Vienna Game: Paulsen Variation (C25).  Membership required.

"Clean Tricks and Creative Attacks," ChessBase (2008)
A ChessBase review and ad for "1.e4 for the Creative Attacker" by Nigel Davies, which features the Glek Variation.  As part of the presentation, you can download the opening of the Glek section on video (.wmv format).  You can find the games from the book online at Chessgames.

Beating the Open Games, 2nd edition, by Mihail Marin, Quality Chess (2008).  I only have the first edition.  Thanks to FM James Vigus for pointing out this source I had left off the original bibliography.

Beating the Open Games by Mihail Marin, Quality Chess (2007): 93-97.  Marin recommends 4...Bc5 5.Bg2 (5.Nxe5?? Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4! -+) 5...d6 6.d3 a6 7.O-O, with the main analysis citing the games Glek - Sokolov, Mainz 2003; Glek - Zaja, Austria 2004; Polivanov - Smirnov, Lvov 2002; and Glek - Zeier, Baden Baden 2002, with many additional games in the notes.

"The Obscure Glek" by Erik (2007)
Three of the author's own games, all of which show how dangerous the Glek can be against thoughtless play by Black.

Play 1.e4 e5!  A Complete Repertoire for Black in the Open Games by Nigel Davies, Everyman Chess (2005): 161-164.  Recommends 4...d6!? followed by a Black kingside fianchetto.  Sample games include Hector - Giorgadze, Lanzarote 2003; Ansell - Davies, British League 2005; Giorgadze - Illescas Cordoba, Mondariz 2002; Malaniuk - Kuzmin, Kharkov 2004; and Bosiocic - Loncar, Zadar 2003

"Sunday Chess Column" by Nigel Short, The Telegraph (December 26, 2004).  Analyzes the crazy looking 4...Nxe4!? in the game Sengupta - Petrosian, World Junior 2004.

"Gambit Lines in the Glek Variation" by Igor Glek, SOS-Secrets of Opening Surprises #2 (2004): 91-101.  Considers the dangerous gambits 4....Nxe4!? (when White can transpose to normal lines after 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Nc3 d4 7.Bg2 dxc3 8.bxc3 as in Sedina - Carlsen, St. Vincent 2003) and 4...d5 5.exd5 Nd4!? (when 6.Bg2 is best as in Romanko - Zaiatz, Russia 2009 perhaps).

"When I Was Young" by Maxim Notkin, SOS-Secrets of Opening Surprises #2 (2004):  28-37.  Discusses the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 h5!? as in Dreev - Khalifman, Kirovabad 1984; Short - Kavalek, Prague 1990; Mieses - Marshall, Berlin 1908 (worth mentioning a later game in the same match too); Rosta - Halasz, Hungary tt 1992; Pestov - Notkin, Moscow 1994; Vorotnikov - Notkin, Moscow 1997; Finkel - Almasi, Bratislava 1993; and Finkel - Tseitlin, Beer Sheva 1997 (where Notkin suggests 8.Nd5!?).  White's best is definitely Finkel's idea of h3 to meet h4 with g4.

The Four Knights by Jan Pinski, Everyman Chess (2003): 131-184.    I discussed this book before in my coverage of the Spanish Four Knights, where I complained that the Glek System received more discussion than the traditional Spanish Four Knights (which I was playing at the time); but in this context, that suddenly becomes a plus.  This is one of the best overviews of the Glek besides Glek himself.  Main games include Pinski - Pedzich, Czestochowa 1998; Seger - Koch, Dortmund 2001;  Schmaltz - Romanishin, Franken 2001; Hector - Barkhagen, Skara 2002; Glek - Mikhalchishin, Dortmund 1998; Glek- Zeier, Baden-Baden 2002; Hector - Sokolov, Malmo 1997; Shaked - Leko, Tilburg 1997; Ganguly - Acs, Pardubice 2002; Glek - Inkiov, Porto San Giorgio 2001; Lima - Santos, Brazil 2000; Motwani - Christensen, Copenhagen 1991; Marinkovic - Yuneev, Leningrad 1989; Smyslov - Polugaevsky, Baku 1961; Shariyazdanov - Blauert, Calcutta 2002; Glek - Marcelin, Germany 2001; Harikrishna - Cvek, Pardubice 2002; Solovjov - Gavritenkov, Tula 1999; Hector - Timoshenko, Bled Ol 2002; Hector - Johannessen, Malmo 2002; Glek - Kroeze, Netherlands 1996; Kovalevskaya - Xie Jun, New Delhi 2000; Glek - Nikolic, Wijk aan Zee 1997; Glek - Vucic, Zillertal 1993; Hector - Hartman, Port Erin 1996; Belikov - Zaitsev, Moscow 1996; Glek - Grabarczyk, Griesheim 2002; Glek - Wells, Ostend 1993; Glek - Klovans, Willingen 2001; and Glek - Onischuk, Biel 1996.

"Theoretical Highlights from the 2003 British Championship" by Andrew Martin, JeremySilman (2003)
Analyzes the game Harikrishna - Haslinger, Br. Ch 2003.  From the Internet Archive.

"War Zone" by Jeremy Silman (2003)
Silman responds to a reader question about 4...Nxe4!? and analyzes a game with it.  White's simplest answer, as Silman points out, is "7.Bg2 dxc3 8.bxc3 when we've transposed back into the line 4...d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nxc3 7.bxc3."  The link I give is via the Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine" as Silman's website revision has made these older articles hard to locate.

Vienna Game by Gary Lane, Everyman Chess (2000): 105-117; 132-136.
Gary Lane provides some useful discussion of the Vienna with g3.  Oddly, he treats the 2...Nf6 and 2...Nc6 lines at a far remove from each other when they are clearly part of the same system.  Games include Glek - Kroeze, Holland 1996; Afinogenov - Yandemirov, Kstovo 1998; Stripunsky - Ippolito, New York 1999; Jedryczka - Dworakowski, Krynica 1997; Popov - Malaniuk, St. Petersburg 1995; Zdanevich - Ustinova, Rostov on Don 1996; Wahls - Ivanchuk, Las Vegas 1999
Short - Kavalek, Prague 1990; Finkel - Tseitlin, Beersheva 1997; and Schmittdiel - Smejkal, Polanica Zdroj 1991.

"Ponziani Reversed: Vienna Opening, Fianchetto Variation with 3....c6 by Ivanchuk" by Karel Van der Weide and Vassily Ivanchuk, New in Chess Yearbook #53 (2000).
Considers the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 c6, and now most of the games feature a quick d4 for White -- taking advantage of the fact that after 4.d4 exd4 5.Qxd4 the queen is not easily attacked since Black cannot play ...Nc6.  But it seems to me that a better way to take advantage of 3...c6 is by 4.Qe2! (as the queen cannot be threatened by Nc6-d4 here), as in my recommended line against the Ponziani for Black in "A Black Fianchetto System in the Open Games, Part One"; White will play d3, Bg2, Nf3, h3, O-O with a King's Indian Attack type of position.  Dmitriev - Kiselev, Poland 1994 offers a good illustration, as mentioned by Gary Lane (see above).  However, the article does not even consider this.  Sample games from the article include Wahls - Ivanchuk, Las Vegas 1999; Weiss - Hux, cr NCT-01 1991; Arnason - Benjamin, St. Martin 1992; Kholmov - Rozentalis, Sverdlovsk 1984; Mikhailov - Klompus, cr 1970; Watson - Shvidler, Beer Sheva 1987; Fernandez - Kobese. Ubeda 1998; Watson - Greenfeld, Hastings 1985; Watson - Rogulj, London 1982; Motwani - McKay, Scotland 1992; Watson - Shaw, London 1993; Polgar - Lima, Salamanca 1989; Galego - Camejo, Lisbon 1998; Sax - Westerinen, Budapest 1976; Arakhamia - Maric, Groningen 1997; Mariotti - Kortchnoi, Roma 1982; Vorotnikov - Zlotnik, Daugavpils 1978; Konstantinopolsky - Brglez, cr 1980; Soltis - Murey, Beograd 1988; and 
Watson - Nielsen, Thessaloniki 1988.

"Four Knights Opening: The Glek Variation 4.g3 - Part Two" by Igor Glek, New in Chess Yearbook #43 (1997): 184-201.

"Four Knights Opening: The Glek Variation 4.g3 - Part One" by Igor Glek,  New in Chess Yearbook #42 (1997): 190-218.  Glek offers a remarkably thorough treatment of his system in two theoretical articles in New in Chess Yearbook.  I think these articles were also put out as a monograph, at least in Germany, but I could not find any clear references to that in my research.  In any case, it was probably the exact same material that appeared in these two articles.  There is no better resource available for studying the Glek than Glek's own work.

New Ideas in The Four Knights by John Nunn, Henry Holt / Batsford (1993): 50-53.  Thoroughly annotates the game Kremenietsky - Beliavsky, USSR 1982.

"Vienna Game with 3.g3" by Leon Pliester, New in Chess Yearbook #18 (1990): 69-71.  Only analyzes the game Short - Kavalek, Prague 1990, and offers 16 additional games with very sparse or no notes.

Monday, March 17, 2014

White Fianchetto vs. the Pirc Defense

The Fianchetto Variation against the Pirc Defense (1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 O-O 6.Nge2) is a very easy system to learn and one that will teach many lessons of positional play.   It has been recommended for amateurs by one of the chief advocates of the Pirc as Black, GM Alex Chernin, who describes White's straightforward development plan as follows: "Play 4.g3, then Bg2, Nge2, h3, O-O, Be3, Qd2, Rd1, Re1, and then, if the coast is clear, play an immediate f2-f4, or prepare it first with g3-g4 and Ne2-g3.  White can meet either ...c7-c6 or ...a7-a6 with a2-a4.  In the 4.g3 line, all of White's actions seem natural and intuitive" (Pirc Alert! 1st edition 341).  The line may not be as obviously aggressive as other approaches to the Pirc, but it definitely poses some difficult problems for Black, who has to know what he is doing to develop counter-play.  And, because of its placid appearance, the Fianchetto Variation is not frequently studied by Pirc players, who direct most of their attention against more popular attacking systems such as the Austrian Attack with 4.f4 and the 150 Attack with 4.Be3.   

White's plan in the Fianchetto line is no less aggressive than other systems, it just starts by preventing Black's counter-play.  As shown in the classic games Karpov - Timman, Montreal 1979 and Benko - Fischer, Curacao 1962, White's plan is first restraint (with h3 and a4) and then attack (with g4, Ng3, and f4-f5).  Players on the Black side who feel the pressure building will often self-destruct even before White's plan comes to fruition.

There are a number of books that discuss this system, but I have found the most useful to be Viktor Moskalenko's The Perfect Pirc-Modern, James Vigus's The Pirc in Black and White, and Andy Soltis's Beating the Pirc / Modern with the Fianchetto Variation, all described in greater detail below -- along with other books, videos and online sources.  You can find game collections at 365chess and Chessgames, which are always a good place to start when learning a new opening.

I will likely post some analysis in coming weeks.  For now, I am posting this bibliography.  As always, I invite additions and corrections from readers.



The Pirc Defense, Part 6 - Facing 4.g3 by Mackenzie Molner, (March 2013)
Though focused on Black, this video offers a useful introduction to the line before recommending ...c6 and ...exd4 (as in Bologan - Chernin, Bastia 2000).  Membership is required to view the entire video.

The Perfect Pirc-Modern: Strategic Ideas and Powerful Weapons by Viktor Moskalenko, New in Chess (2013)
Moskalenko deeply analyzes games he has played on both sides of the opening, though he points out that he has a much better record as Black than as White (and has therefore given up on the line from the White side).  Of course, he faced significantly weaker opposition as Black!  Games include Penalosa Pinillas - Moskalenko, Benasque 2007; Moskalenko - Rodriguez, Barcelona 2003; Waitzkin - Moskalenko, Iraklion 1997; and Moskalenko - Movsziszian, La Pobla de Lillet 2004 -- but the notes are much more interesting than the games.   

Chess Developments: The Pirc by James Vigus, Everyman (2012): 230-240.  Features the games Svidler - Mamedyarov, Ohrid 2009 and Yudin - Smirnov, Moscow 2008.

Les blancs face à la Pirc, Le Cheval d'Odin (April 2011)
Useful overview, in French.

First Rest Day and Rounds 5-8 by Mark Bluvshtein, Mark Bluvshtein's Blog (February 2011).  Comments on his Round 8 game with 15-year-old Benjamin Bok at Tata Steel, Wijk aan Zee 2011 (Group C).

A Simple System Against the Pirc: 4.g3, Brooklyn 64 (2010)
An interesting blog post that makes a good case for the fianchetto line as part of an amateur white opening repertoire.

"Prophylaxis and Restriction" by Valeri Lilov, (September 14, 2010).  Discusses Karpov - Timman, Montreal 1979in a 20-minute video presentation.  By subscription only.

"Spicing up the Fianchetto Variation."   Dangerous Weapons: The Pirc and Modern by Richard Palliser, Colin McNab and James Vigus,  Everyman Chess (2009): 145-160.  Covers the line 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.Nge2 e5 7.h3 a6 from Black's perspective.  Games examined include Cherniaev - Van der Wiel, Wijk aan Zee 1998 and Anna Akhsharumova - Garry Kasparov, Harvard (simul) 1989.

Pirc Alert!: A Complete Defense against 1.e4 (2nd edition) by Lev Alburt and Alexander Chernin, Chess Information and Research Center (2009).  I have not seen the revised and improved second edition of this book, so see my notes on the first (2001) edition below.

"Side Events in London" by Malcolm Pein, TWIC (2009).  Notes on Svidler - Mamedyarov, Ohrid 2009.  See here and here for additional notes on this game.

Starting Out: The Modern by Nigel Davies, Everyman Chess (2008).
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3,Nc3 (3.g3?! d5!) 3...d6 4.g3 Nc6!? immediately putting pressure on d4.  White's best may then be 5.Be3, as in Geller - Hickl (see discussion below), but many players as White instead try to reach the regular g3 lines by 4.Nge2 -- typically without success.  Like Speelman, Davies points out that "the Modern Defense move order allows Black to throw a spanner in White's works....  The counterattack with ...Nc6 (either with or without a preliminary 4...a6) makes it well nigh impossible for White to continue his plan....  White's position is not objectively bad, but it requires a certain amount of psychological adaptability." Games include Spasov - Speelman, Biel 1993; Klinger - Davies, Budapest 1988; and Godena - Davies, Budapest 1993 -- all of which demonstrate that they are not the way White should play.  Instead, White should examine 5.Be3 -- or prepare a different line against the Modern move order.

The Pirc in Black and White by James Vigus, Everyman Chess (2007): 164-185.  Vigus has written widely on the Pirc and here offers a very balanced discussion and useful theory.  Sample games include Karpov - Timman, Montreal 1979Salov - Polgar, Madrid 1997; Khairullin - Mihajlovskij, St. Petersburg 2006; Burmakin - Mamedov, Balaguer 2005; Sai - Gagunashvili, Dubai 2006; and Milov - Solak, Biel 2001.  

Tiger's Modern by Tiger Hillarp Persson, Quality Chessbooks (2005): 163-171.  Surprisingly, Tiger's solution to the g3 line does not involve ...a6 but instead ...Nd7 and ...c5.   Main games are Sermek - Tkachiev, Pula 1998; van der Weide - Gulko, Wijk aan Zee (B) 2001; Aseev - Khalifman, Vilnius 1997; and Marinkovic - Vujadinovic, Niksic 1997.

La Defensa Pirc (n.d.)
Analyzes Aseev - Zakharavich, St. Petersburg 1995.

Starting Out: The Pirc / Modern by Joe Gallagher, Everyman (2003): 114-127.
Examines several games focused around the line 6.Nge2 e5 7.h3 (7.O-O Nc6 8.dxe5) 7...Nc6 (7...c6 8.a4) 8.Be3.

"The Philidor Pirc" by Karel Van der Weide, New in Chess Yearbook #61 (2001) 

Pirc Alert!: A Complete Defense against 1.e4 (First edition), by Lev Alburt and Alex CherninChess Information and Research Center (2001): 339-357.  I only have the first edition of this book.  Games mentioned in the notes include Motwani - Ivanchuk 1990, Gulko - Hort 1987, Ivanchuk - Nikolic 1990, Aseev - Zakharevich, Mohr - Chernin 1997 -- but the analysis offered improves upon existing theory at every turn.

Modern Defence by Jon Speelman and Neil McDonald, Everyman (2000): 64-66.
Features the game Geller- Hickl, Dortmund 1989, which shows White's careful handling of the Modern move-order 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.g3 Nc6!   GM Viktor Moskalenko (see above) offers some useful discussion of this line, noting that after 5.Be3 (5.Nge2 Bg4! 6.Qd3!? is also interesting) 5...e5 (5...Nf6 6.h3 e5 7.Nge2 d5! may be better) 6.dxe5 a mistake is 6...dxe5? (6...Nxe5 7.h3 Nf6 8.Bg2 O-O 9.Nge2 Re8 10.O-O leads to familiar territory) 7.Qxd8+ Nxd8 8.Nd5! Ne6 9.Bh3! with initiative for White.

"Pirc Fianchetto Variation 4.g3" by Mihail Marin, New in Chess Yearbook #47 (1998) 

The Ultimate Pirc by John Nunn and Colin McNab, Batsford (1998): 238-255.  In a substantial chapter titled "White Plays g3," Nunn expands his earlier coverage of the Fianchetto Variation from "The Complete Pirc" (below) but follows the same basic lines, again recommending 6.Nge2 e5 7.h3 Nc6 as the main line, but adding some interesting alternatives at move 7 to the coverage.  Main games (most reflecting favorably on Black) include Cherniaev - Van der Wiel, Wijk aan Zee 1998; Gulko - Dzindzichashvili, USA Ch 1990; De la Villa - Azmaiparashvili, Leon 1994; Sadler - Ftacnik, Ischia 1996; Kavalek - Ftacnik, Ceska Trebova 1997; Bologan - Kakageldiev, Erevan Ol 1996; Waitzkin - Fedorowicz, New York 1995; Magem - Krasenkov, Las Palmas 1993; Aseev - Nogueiras, Linares 1996; Gufeld - Pribyl, Tbilisi 1980; Prandstetter - Gliantes, Ceske Budejovice 1992; Gelfand - Adams, Madrid 1996; Sadler - Nevednichy, Erevan Ol 1996; Svidler - Gipslis, Gausdal 1992; Rodin - Glianets, Ekaterinburg 1997; Vogt - Zaichik, Berlin 1989; Milov - Greenfeld, Israel 1992; Khenkin - McNab, Kozalin 1997; Stefansson - Zagema, Leeuwarden 1995; Wockenfuss - Plaskett, Lugano 1986; Rittner - Mohrlok, corr. 1990; Lazic - Mozetic, Tivat 1995; Sanz - Moreno Ruiz, Spanish Ch 1994; Svidler - Hennigan, Oakham jr 1992; Markowski - Gallagher, Geneva 1996; King - Gallagher, Wnterthur 1996; Dzhandzhgava - Gurevich, Lvov 1987; Tal - Torre, Brussels 1987; Klinger - Cuijpers, Vienna 1984; Gufeld - Peng Xiaomin, Beijing 1996 -- and more to follow.  One of the last books that tried to present truly comprehensive coverage of the Pirc and therefore still worth having.

Beating the Pirc / Modern with the Fianchetto Variation by Andrew Soltis, Chess Digest (1993).   Though over 20 years old, this Chess Digest pamphlet can still be found for sale and is worth having for its useful discussion of themes and selection of classic games.  Games featured include Vulicevic - Rosenberg, New York 1992; Benko - Fischer, Curacao 1962Karpov - Timman, Montreal 1979; Short - Donner, Amsterdam 1982; Hort - Nunn, Wijk aan Zee 1983; Galliamova - Arribas, Adelaide 1988; Mohr - Kosten, Altensteig 1989; Timoshchenko - Dorfman, Moscow 1989; Popovic - Popchev, Moscow 1989; Byrne - Christiansen, US Championship Berkeley 1984; Chandler - Ftacnik, Vrsac 1981; Sydor - Dorfman, Warsaw 1983; Klinger - Norwood, Baguio 1987; Kurajica - Gruenfeld, Biel 1981; Popovic - Rakic, Novi Sad 1981; Sveshnikov - Grigorian, USSR 1981; Speelman - Nunn, England 1979; Kirillov - Lyutzko, Riga 1986; Adams - Wolff, London 1989; Romanishin - Rodriguez, Barcelona 1992; Nunn - Pfleger, Plovdiv 1983; Chernin - Bilek, Copenhagen 1984; Tseshkovsky - Benjamin, Wijk aan Zee 1989; Rachels - Gurevich, US Championship Long Beach 1989; Gufeld - Torre, Baku 1980; Miles - Kavalek, 1982; Karpov - Lerner, USSR 1983Hort - Gallagher, Bled 1991; Byrne - Dzindzikashvili, New York 1989; Lau - van der Sterren, Plovdiv 1983; Barlov - Parma, Vrbas 1982; Geller - Chernin, Belgrade 1988; Martinovic -Gligoric, Budva 1986; Ivanchuk - Ehlvest, Linares 1991.

Winning with the Pirc Defense by Ken Smith (1993)
Has a short chapter on the g3 variation.  Games cited include 
Minic - Hulak, Yugoslavia 1974; Mestel - Christiansen, Hastings 1979/80; Speelman - Nunn, Hastings 1979/80; Vogt - Zaitchik, Berlin 1989; Wessman - Shirov, Moscow 1991; Motwani - Ivanchuk, Novi Sad Ol 1990; Garcia - Chernin, Pamplona 1992; Klinger - Zsyk, Viena 1991 and others.

The Complete Pirc by John Nunn, Batsford (1989): 153-163.
Offers very detailed coverage of this line in a chapter titled "White plays g3."  Recommends 6.Nge2 e5 7.h3 Nc6 but covers other lines as well.  Main games cited include 
Byrne - Christiansen, US Championship Berkeley 1984; Wockenfuss - Plaskett, Lugano 1986; Sek - Ksieski, Poland 1981; Pigott - Nunn, London 1980; Lerner - Tal, Jurmala 1983; Barlov - Parma, Yugoslavia 1982; Chandler - Ftacnik, Vrsac 1981; Sveshnikov - Speelman, Hastings 1977-78; Miles - Kavalek, Bundesliga 1981; Karpov - Lerner, USSR 1983; Bisguier - Taulbut, Lone Pine 1978; Sveshnikov - Tsheshkovsky, Sochi 1976; Wockenfuss - Pfleger, Bundesliga 1986; Mandl - Seyb, Bundesliga 1985; Wilder - Benjamin, USA Ch 1986; Speelman - Nunn, British Ch 1979; Sveshnikov - Grigorian, USSR 1981; Nunn - Hunt, Peterborough 1984; and Barlov - Hickl, Zagreb 1987.  Later editions of the book may have improved the analysis or added later games examples, but Nunn's "Ultimate Pirc" (above) offers much more contemporary and expansive coverage of this line.

Karpov - Timman, Montreal 1979 commented by Karpov (in Spanish, no date)
The java board to view the game online can be found at the main page, to the left.

Montreal 1979: Tournament of the Stars by Mikhail Tal et. al., Pergamon Press (1980): 50-53.  Karpov provides excellent notes on the Round 2 game Karpov - Timman, Montreal 1979.  Karpov says he had prepared some deep lines in "fashionable variations" of the Pirc, but "on that particular day, I for some reason had no wish to repeat lengthy variations that had been prepared at home."  The g3 line is a great way to play with little preparation for White even among top players.

How to Beat Bobby Fischer by Edmar Mednis, Bantam (1974): 115-118.  The game Benko - Fischer, Curacao 1962 is a great illustration of White's squeeze-play strategy.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sämisch King's Indian, Byrne System (E80)

I used to play the King's Indian Defense as Black only when opponents committed to an early Nf3, and I would switch to the Janowski IndianTango or Budapest if they didn't.  This way I could avoid the dreaded Four Pawns Attack and Sämisch Variation.  But I recently decided to commit to the King's Indian completely, which means learning a defense against everything White can throw at you.  

The Sämisch was a big worry of mine until I came across the system developed by the late American GM Robert Byrne (1928-2013) that goes 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 c6 6.Be3 a6 with the plan of ...b5 (E80 in ECO).  As GM Efstratios Grivas has analyzed in some key articles and GM Eugene Perelshteyn helpfully discusses in a series of videos, this is quite a viable line -- especially if Black correctly delays castling in order not to provide White an easy target on the kingside.  This is exactly how Byrne himself played it, so it is puzzling to find so many sources giving 5....O-O(?) as the standard move in the Byrne (E81 in ECO).  Castling early not only creates a target, but it delays Black's queenside counterplay.  The ...b5 advance indirectly strikes at the center, and one idea that Black has is to exchange off White's c-pawn by bxc4 and then break with d5.  Black can also attack the center with ...e5 or ...c5 in some lines.  It is a very flexible system.

Those adopting the Byrne against the Saemisch might also want to use it against the Hungarian 5.Nge2 with 5...c6 6.Ng3 a6 7.Be2 b5 (as recommended by Joe Gallagher in Beating the Anti-King's Indians, for instance), since White otherwise might transpose to the Sämisch later with 6.f3 leaving you flat-footed.

The system with ...a6, ...c6, and ...b5 was the subject of renewed interest following Byrne's death last year, so I suspect it is due for revival.  I have personally never been a fan of the widely recommended anti-Sämisch gambit with 5.f3 O-O 6.Be3 c5, especially after I analyzed the game Elsness - Gallagher, Gotheberg 2005, where I found it hard to prove compensation for the pawn after 7.dxc5 dxc5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Bxc5.  

I have only been able to consult publications on the Byrne from the last decade, but I am sure it was analyzed in print much earlier.  I therefore welcome reader additions and suggestions -- especially regarding its early history.


The King's Indian Defense: Beating the Sämisch! - Part 3 by Eugene Perelshteyn, (January 2014).  GM Perelshteyn's introduction to the Byrne variation looks at his own games with the line -- here Fishbein - Perelshteyn, Burlington Open 2012.

The King's Indian Defense: Beating the Sämisch! - Part 2 by Eugene Perelshteyn, (January 2014)

The King's Indian - Beating the Sämisch! by Eurgene Perelshteyn, (December 2013)  Discusses the game Novikov - Perelshteyn, San Diego 2004.

Robert Byrne and My Modern Defence by Nigel Davies, The Chess Improver (April 2013).  Examines Larsen - Byrne, Leningrad 1973.

"Instructive Pawn Play in the Saemish King's Indian" by Eugene Perelshteyn, (January 22 2013). Runs 14:41 minutes. Analyzes Matthew Fishbein - Eugene Perelshteyn, Burlington Open 2012 which began 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 a6 6. Be3 c6 7. Qd2 b5 8. a3 bxc4 9. Bxc4 d5.   By subscription only.

"Several Ways to an Advantage: Saemisch System, Byrne Variation" by Boris Schipkov ChessBase Magazine #140 (February 2011).  Looking at the Byrne from the White perspective, Schipkov agrees with Grivas that if Black castles White gets good attacking chances by normal means (Qd2, g4, Bh6, h4 etc.), but he also tries to show chances for a White edge after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 c6 6.Be3 a6 by one of three methods: (1) 7.c5 b5 8.cxb6 with play on the dark squares or by attacking the c-pawn; (2) 7.Bd3 b5 8.e5 Nfd7 9.f4 bxc4 10.Bxc4 Nb6 11.Be2 or 11.Bb3; and (3) 7.g4 b5 8.h4 h5 9.g5 with some advantage in space for White.  Games include Campos Moreno - Can, Khanty Mansiysk 2010; Narcisco Dublan - Sielicki, Andorra op 2008; Botsari - Managadze, Nikaia op 2009; Del Rio Angelis - Jaksland, Calvia 2005; Volodin - Seeman, Tartu 2010; Graf - Hug, Mitropa Cup 2002; Tomashevsky - Soto Paez, Khanty Mansiysk 2010; Chekhover - Shamkovich, Leningrad 1953; Piket - Van Wely, Hoogovens 1999; and Sakharov - Nesterov, Udmurtia 2008.  Schipkov chooses games that favor White and do not feature best play by Black. The lines he recommends are challenging, but they should not discourage amateur players who will rarely if ever encounter the most theoretically correct lines of play from opponents.

"Initiative at all Costs!" by Eugene Perelshteyn, (January 13, 2011).  Runs 19:58.  Analyzes Chanda Sandipan - Eugene Perelshteyn, King of Prussia 2010, which opened 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 c6 7. Qd2 b5 8. O-O-O Bb7!? (unusual) 9. e5 dxe5 10. dxe5 Qxd2+ 11. Bxd2 Nfd7.  By subscription only.

"Tricky Pawn Moves in the Opening" by Eugene Perelshteyn,  (October 22, 2010).  Runs 23:10.  Analyzes the game Darwin Yang - Eugene Perelshteyn, Arlington 2010, which began 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 a6 6.Be3 c6 7.c5 O-O 8.Nge2 b6 9.cxd6 exd6 10.Qd2 b5 11.g4 b4.  By subscription only.

"Recent Developments in the Byrne System" by Efstratios Grivas, New in Chess Yearbook 92 (2009): 187-195.  Grivas has written a number of articles on the Byrne, and here he does his usual detailed and thorough analysis.  Main games include Przedmojski - Witek, Warsaw 2008; Moiseenko - Grivas, Kemer 2009; Andrianov - Grivas, Athens 1993; Schandorff - Erdogdu, Dresden 2008; and Papaioannou - Grivas, Iraklion 1995.

"379. 22 April 2008: Stunning computer move in a pre-computer game" by Tim Krabbe, Open Chess Diary (2008). Examines Timman - Greben, Amsterdam 1967.

King’s Indian Saemisch System (CD) by Boris Shipkov, ChessBase (2007)
Reviewed by Carsten Hansen.

The Sämisch King's Indian Uncovered by Alexander Cherniaev and Eduard Prokuronov, Everyman Chess (2007): 73-88.  The authors begin already with a grave error by only considering lines that arrive at the Byrne via the move order 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 O-O(?) 6.Be3 c6, when Black is prematurely castled and exposed to a straightforward attack on the kingside.  The relatively slim volume offers scant coverage of the best lines in the Byrne Variation, though the games offered show relatively balanced play.  Sample games include Wang Yue - Zvjaginev, Petrosian Memorial 2004; Riazantsev - Novikov, Moscow 2007; Haba - Golubev, Bundesliga 2001; and Postny - Socko, Moscow 2002.  I did not find this book useful, even as an overview of the Saemisch.

King's Indian Saemisch, Byrne Variation (E80), by Efstratios Grivas, ChessBase Magazine #115 (December 2006).  Also available in the ChessBase's Encyclopedia of Chess Openings.  Grivas analyzes over 30 of his games with the Byrne Variation.  Those looking to analyze the line closely would do well to begin with Grivas's PGN files here and with his article in the 2009 NIC Yearbook (see above).  Games analyzed include Mishra - Grivas, Sharjah 1985; Marinelli - Grivas, Vinkovci 1989; Ionescu - Grivas, Kavala 1990; Mitrandzas - Grivas, Athens 1991; Kalesis - Grivas, Corfu 1991; Kalesis - Grivas, Athens 1991; Davies - Grivas, Tel Aviv 1991; Sarno - Grivas 1992Raicevic - Grivas, Athens 1992; Knaak - Grivas, Athens 1992; Kalesis - Grivas, Athens 1993; Botsari - Grivas, Corfu 1993Andrianov - Grivas, Athens 1993; Papaioannou - Grivas, Iraklion 1995; Konstandinou - Grivas, Aegina 1995; Orfanos - Grivas, Aegina 1996Elsness - Grivas, Yerevan 1996; Atalik - Grivas, Karditsa 1996; Kanellakis - Grivas, Athens 1997; Efthimakis - Grivas, Athens 1997; Mouroutis - Grivas, Athens 1999; Nikolaou - Grivas, Athens 2000; Kaminellis - Grivas, Athens 2000; Meister - Grivas, Hungen 2002; and Vafiadis - Grivas, Aghia Pelaghia 2004. 

The Controversial Sämisch King's Indian by Chris Ward, Batsford (2004): 118-126, 188-192.  Ward offers a useful overview of the Saemisch, but his game selection seems a little idiosyncratic and White-focused.  The treatment of the Byrne Variation is also rather limited, and games include Levitt - Friedgood, Birmingham 1998; Campos Moreno - Candela Perez, Orense op 1997; and Motwani - Hanley, British Ch 2004.

King's Indian Battle Plans by Andrew Martin, Thinker's Press (2004): 75-77, 86-88.  There are many original ideas in Martin's book, so he naturally does cover the Byrne Variation in two games: Khenkin - Kozul, Belgrade 1999 and Ward - Hebden, British Ch Scarborough 2001.

The Sämisch King's Indian by Joe Gallagher, Henry Holt / Batsford (1995): 168-179. Discusses the games Christiansen - Wahls, Munich 1991; Schneider - Safin, Budapest 1991; Portisch - Ivkov, Wijk aan Zee 1968.

"The Sämisch Byrne" by Leonard Barden, The King's Indian Defence (2nd edition) by Leonard Barden, William Hartston, & Raymond Keene, Batsford (1973): 301-311.  It is quite surprising how little has changed in the first dozen moves of theory in this line since 1973.  Barden's treatment of the Byrne is quite thorough, covering 6...Nbd7, 6...O-O, and 6...a6 (the main line), referencing the following games (among others): Spassky - Kavalek, San Juan 1969; Portisch - Lehmann, Las Palmas 1972; Yanofsky - Saidy, Netanya 1969; Lombardy - Kavalek, Netanya 1969; Korchnoi - Gheorghiu, Moscow 1971; Nicolai - Gheorghiu, Hastings 1965-66; Botvinnik - Smyslov, Game 6 W. Ch. 1958; Pachman - Bednarski, Marianske Lazne 1965; Carbonnel - Berliner, World Corr. Ch. 1965-68; Ghitescu - Bednarski, Zinnowitz 1964; Gheorghiu - R. Byrne, Monaco 1968; Bykov - Gurgenidze, Harkov 1958; Korchnoi - R. Byrne, Hastings 1971-72; Nowak - Donner, Solingen 1968; Nowak - Szabo, Solingen 1968; Bronstein - Evans, Amsterdam 1964; Kende - Kupreichik, Riga 1967; Hodos - Pavlov, Sinaia 1965; Benko - R. Byrne, Monaco 1968; Darga - R. Byrne, Lugano 1968; van Scheltinga - Benko, Beverwijk 1969; Gheorghiu - Savon, Orebro 1966; Jones - R. Byrne, US Open 1970; Reshevsky - Stein, Los Angeles 1968; Bobotsov - Stein, Ukraine - Bulgaria 1968.

I am sure that there were articles before the turn of the Century on this line, and I welcome reader additions.