Thursday, August 14, 2014

King's gambit with Nf3

While the "refutation"of the King's gambit with Bc4 only arouse my curiosity, it was mainly the anti-dote against my favorite system of the King's gambit with Nf3 which worried me. I already play approximately 20 years the Fischer-defense. I am not aware of any anti-dote, at contrary as in recent years I more and more got convinced of the viability of blacks system. Besides we see also today top-grandmasters still choosing regularly for this setup.

The available excerpt on the official site of quality chess doesn't give a hint about the anti-dote but thanks to some reviews on chessvibes and Marsh Towers I was able to find out more. In the reviews is explained how white tries to get a favorable transposition to the Quaade-gambit via 5.g3.

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Pf3 d6 4.d4 g5 5.g3 !?
I have already played with blacks position after move 4, 5 official games and about 320 online blitz/bullet games but never I met 5.g3. On top a quick check with the engines let us understand that the idea is not easy to answer. Did John Shaw discover something or was this already known? I recently was able to look into the book and it stroke me that nowhere is mentioned from where 5.g3 originates. Not one example from practice is covered in the book. So the author invented the idea. No as I did find 5 games in the megadatabase  of which 2 white-games of the Dutch grandmaster Harmen Jonkman and 1 of the Russian grandmaster Vadim Zvjaginsev. Besides the latter player, Vadim is one of my favorite players whom I invariably replay his games when I accidentally come across them. Maybe the reader still remembers his introduction of 2.Na3 against the Sicilian in the Russian Superfinal of 2005. Something he still dared to repeat at least 8 times even against + 2600 players.

To ignore the history of the King's gambit is too bad (see my article manuals) but to present ideas as new in a book is at least dubious. You could claim that the earlier mentioned mega-database games were all lost by white so are irrelevant but a.f.a.i.k. an idea should be evaluated on its value and not only on the score (or the rating of the players, see blogarticle theory). On the other hand I have to admit that the author is the first to really initiate an attempt to popularize the idea. Loyal readers know from the blogartikel SOS that I am rather sensitive for that kind of details.

Enough about the origin of the idea as now we want surely to know how dangerous and interesting the idea is for practice. Beginning of June I started with a study of the idea lasting several weeks without looking in advance at what John Shaw tells. I was up to date with my analysis of the own played games so some time remained till Open Gent to make some extra opening-analysis as I did earlier e.g. for the Aljechin see article. By the way in an open tournament the chance is considerably bigger to meet opponents choosing for an experiment with e.g. the King's gambit and on top are also informed about the latest developments.

Not peeking to what the book says, has the advantage that one can look open-minded to the position which permits easier to find new ideas. This way I indeed found an interesting concept with f5 which checking later wasn't covered in the book.

I surely don't claim any advantage for black after f5 but it does seem very well playable. Somebody blindly following Johns book, can be forced quickly to think independently which in this explosive position isn't so funny.

Next I had a look to g4 which the engines recommend. We enter hereby the Quaada-territory. I spent a lot of time on the different sort of positions as this is very virgin territory and a lot of subtleties decide about what is and what is not playable.

In the book a much simplified view is given of the possibilities so partly misguiding how complex the task is for both players. I do have to admit that the type of position seems very attractive for the true King's gambit adept as white has nice compensation for the sacrificed pawn.

Next I covered Bg7. My analysis completely overlap the book but I am less optimistic about whites chances in the mainline after replaying a recent key-game.

Is the author not familiar with this game as it is clear white had to fight hard for the half point or worse was this game on purpose ignored? In the book games of 2013 are used so weird. Finally I don't want to deny the reader of a very interesting possibility which not by coincidence also seems to give the best chances to refute the idea.

After the 8th move the author writes: "This is exactly the sort of position I want to reach with white in the King's Gambit. It's sharp, interesting and little explored with just five games from this position.... In such virgin territory it is impossible to give a comprehensive coverage." So the reader is left alone in the line which I consider as the most critical against 5.g3. Isn't it the task of the author to make a serious in depth analysis (as usually done in top-correspondence)? My idea of 6... , Bd7 is not covered and is as interesting as 6..., fxg3. Besides I also show several refinements and schemes which are useful for the 6..., fxg3 line.

Despite the remarks I do have to admit that the book is really good. It comprises a complete overview of the existing relevant theory with correct evaluations (although sometimes they are a bit too subjective). However I do understand too the comment of MNb on my previous article. Somebody possessing already a lot of material about the King's Gambit will find few or no new findings which have been worked out for weeks as I did for this article. The book is a reference for otb-players but a correspondence-player can just better consult the databases and make the research with an engine.


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