Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Hyper Modern French

Last year my son collected a number of prizes. Especially money he likes as he was able to buy 2 boxes of lego, a trendy step, 2 footballs,... Briefly although he earned the money by playing chess, nothing is invested to improve his chess capabilities. Therefore he was quite disappointed to find out that he got a voucher to spend at chessconsult when he won the Antwerp championship for the category of -8. Fortunately I knew how to cheer him up as I exchanged the voucher with my cash and used the voucher myself to buy 2 new books: Nadorf x Najdorf and Timman's Titans both published in 2016.

In the meanwhile I finished Najdorfs book. We all know the opening but the person Najdorf is after this death (1997) already largely forgotten. This book tries to bring him out of the oblivion and I think they managed this quite well. The books reads very smoothly and also the selected games are well analyzed. Especially the countless anecdotes make this book a real joy. One is about why Najdorf didn't play his own opening anymore in his later years. There is nothing wrong with the opening but he didn't like to fight against the much better opening-knowledge of many youngsters while his strength mainly positioned around technique and creativity.

Some will state the same about the Modern French. The theory exploded in this opening due to its enormous popularity. I got it 5 times on the board in standard-games about which I wrote in my articles (see e.g. the modern french, the modern french part 2, switching colors part 2, ...). That is really a lot if you take into account that I only play approximately 15 standard games each year. Also today several systems are discovered which allow white to put pressure. An idea which I prepared for a next encounter, was introduced a few months ago accidentally by the strong Dutch grandmaster Benjamin Bok.

Not surprisingly we see more and more players looking for new ideas in the French opening. The 20 years old strong German grandmaster Matthias Bluebaum is for sure a pioneer in this area. More and more he likes to play with the sequence of moves to sidestep the preparation of his opponents. His influence upon the hyper-modern French opening in which Nc6 is delayed or even sometimes cancelled, should not be underestimated. His fresh strategical ideas gave this hyper-modern approach a serious boost. Even some super grandmasters have noticed this and gave it a shot. This year the Indian top-grandmaster Pentala Harikrisha scored a sensational victory in Altibox Norway Chess with this line.

Forewarned is forearmed but I shamefully had to admit in the last Open Leuven that I didn't understand anything about the opening. Besides I was totally surprised that the 47 years old Jan Rogiers had such hyper modern opening in his repertoire. That explains of course why I quickly got into troubles in our game and only an incredible counterattack avoided a big rating-upset.

My analysis causes doubts about the full correctness of this hyper-modern system but I expect we will still see new developments. Besides those rich strategical positions are excellent to play for a win with both colors. A noteworthy statistic is that all my 6 standard-games in this opening had decisive results while always respecting the rating-logic.

Brabo

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