Friday, May 22, 2015

The Glek

Strong ambitious players will surely know which openings are today trendy. In the British chessmagazine simply called Chess, each month there is a summary of which openings became more or less popular for top-players. However most amateurs try to stay faraway of those openings and prefer a repertoire which is more stable so without quick theoretical developments. It is not hard to avoid theory but it is less evident to achieve at the same time an interesting position on the board. I mean with an interesting position that a battle of ideas are possible instead of reciting theory.

An opening which complies at these conditions for black and already touched on my blog is the Czech defense. In this article I want to look at a white opening which is already for some time very popular between amateurs: the Glek. The Glek is defined as a four knightsgame with g3. The Russian grandmaster Igor Glek developed the system beginning of the 90ties and still regularly uses it today. Meanwhile about 40 games of Igor are with his system in the databases.

The popularity is likely owned a great deal to the large number of books propagandizing the opening as easy playable: Mikhail Tseitlin & Igor Glazkov "The Complete Vienna" (Batsford, 1995)Gary Lane "Vienna Game" (Everyman, 2000)John Nunn "New Ideas In The Four Knights" (Batsford, 1993)Jan Pinski "The Four Knights" (Batsford, 2003)Cyrus Lakdawala "The Four Knights: Move By Move" (Everyman, 2012),... I remember that just before the millennium foremost Paul Motwani was peddling his books door to door in my region. This created a big boost of players using the opening in their repertoire.

Although the opening is particularly attractive for amateurs, also some professional players like to experiment with it. Not every professional is always keen to battle a complex theoretical duel. Sometimes they also just want to play chess and avoid any preparations. Recently the Azerbaijani grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov used this opening in his game against the Russian grandmaster Dmitry Jakovenko in the Fide Grandprix at Tbilisi. Yes probably no coincidence that Shak again is a protagonist as in the article of the Czech defense.

My analysis indicate that probably white must try to improve with 12.g4. While preparing this article I discovered that the same recommendation was done on chesspub by Markovich already in 2013 ! (Markovich is a senior international master ICCF Mark Morss)

The Vienna move-order is today at least as popular as the 4 knights order but that can well change when players get informed about the recent game Vedder - Geirnaert.
Steven Geirnaert
Steven Geirnaert is one of the current rising stars in Belgium although he is not anymore in his childhood. Some people will wonder how this is possible but if you look more closely to the little pieces of shared information then you realize that hard working is as often the key to success. Reading and studying chessbooks, analyze endgames, preparationsplay abroad (with this year a grandmaster-result in the Dutch interclub) ... witness motivation and an iron discipline. Hereby I should not forget the role of his chessloving and supporting girlfriend Iris.

Of course also his repertoire maturated. At the previous week finished Flemish championship he told me that often his experience outweighs a specific preparation of the opponent. Now it is not only in the depth that the progress is seen but also in the diversity. He shocks in his game against Vedder with a stunning novelty at move 4!
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 c6 !?
Well new isn't fully correct as there are already some games in the database with this move but above screenshot proves no strong players (+2400) ever played it. Besides till now none of the games by titled players choosing black were won. At the contrary as almost all games were lost by black. So is this novelty again a bluff from Steven? Time to investigate the game more deeply.

My analysis clearly demonstrates that the new idea is perfectly playable. On top it also testifies how dangerous it can be for white to play such position on sight so unprepared. If players want to continue playing this opening then I advise them to check carefully my analysis how to improve Vedders game. Now it is a little bit too strong just to attribute Stevens victory solely to the opening. Some strong moves still needed to be played. While giving recognition, I should certainly not forget to mention that Steven was offered this novelty by nobody less than Stefan Docx on the condition that I can trust the interclubreport of Borgerhout for round 10. It is no coincidence that Stefan is also a not so young player anymore but recently made quite some progress by working very hard see e.g a grandmaster norm for stefan docx.

I can imagine quite some players don't want to study the details of this novelty or just don't like the resulting positions. Well fortunately we still have the 4 knights-sequence. In 2004 the only active grandmaster of Andorra: Oscar De La Riva Aguado chose in our mutual game for that sequence.

Quite some small mistakes on both sides but the game shows very well how complex the positions are in the Glek. Almost every move has alternatives and often the small details define the correct evaluation.

Probably some players will prefer the Vienna order as they want to avoid some lines in the 4 knights game. Personally I think there is little or no theoretical difference between both sequences. Besides in both lines you can have interesting battles. This article just warns the reader for c6 in the Vienna sequence.



  1. Thanks for this great analysis. The ...c6 sac is very interesting, and probably best avoided, as you say. I think the Glek move order is probably more principled, only because of the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 f5!? when White ends up playing as Black, basically, after 4.exf5 and an eventual loss of time with g4 etc. Of course, these Vienna Gambit lines are not necessarily bad, but from a principled stand point I think I'd rather keep my half-tempo advantage.

    I have a useful bibliography on both lines here:

  2. Thanks for the reference. I checked your blog more than once in the past as it contains a huge amount of useful information. Sad that you don't write anymore but understandable as nothing lasts forever.