Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Romantic chess

In modern chess top players don't hesitate to grab the opponent by the throat right from the start. Labels as immortal game or evergreen are again used to express our amazement for those brilliant contemporary games. Finally we experience again the atmosphere of the romantic 19th century. The origin of the evergreen can be found in the game Adolf Andersson - Jean Dufrese played in 1852.

Many decades the Evansgambit was one of the most popular openings but this popularity declined once Lasker found a good anti-dote largely removing the sting out of the attack. This anti-dote is even today still approved and played by the leading players as we saw end of last year in the London Classic.

Just like many other gambits from the romantic era it wasn't only the anti-dote which caused the decline. More and more playable setups were found for black which made white vulnerable for dangerous preparations. I like to play a setup with 6...exd4 instead of 6...d6 as shown in the game below from the passed Open Gent.

The ever strengthening engines neither help the gambits. In below recent correspondencegame Nigel Shorts 12.Nb5 introduced in 2003 is dismantled.

No I don't believe romantic chess will popularize again. It makes no sense to sacrifice material while the opponent can play an exact sequence of moves vaporizing the compensation. It is pity but don't cry as Anand stated: for every door the computers closed they have opened a new one.

Further I also want to point out that many gambits despite their theoretical status are still a dangerous practical weapon especially with the faster timecontrols. We are no computers so using the Evansgambit in the right circumstances (opponent/ tempo/ preparation) can still bring success. Finally I also agree with coaches trying to convince their students to try out for some time gambits. Romantic chess is an excellent school to learn abstract concepts like development and initiative. These are basic concepts which should be mastered first before studying more complex strategies discovered after the romantic era.


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