Dennis M's Chess Site

This is a blog for chess fans by a chess fan. I enjoy winning as much as anyone else, and I've had a reasonable amount of success as a competitor, but what keeps me coming back to the game is its beauty. And that, primarily, is what this site will be about! All material copyrighted.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Junk Openings and "My" Anti-French Line

In two posts so far (here and here - and more to come), I have presented an objectively dubious but practically dangerous line against the French (1.e4 e6 2.c4!? d5 3.cxd5 exd5 4.Qb3?!), and Rick Kennedy and DG each have an important question.

Kennedy asks if I learned of this line through the work of eccentric openings theorist Stefan Bücker. (I add that that "eccentric" modifies "openings," though his ideas are so unusual one might start to wonder!) The answer is yes: I read an article about him in an issue of New In Chess back in the mid-to-late 1980s. The majority of the article's chess content, as I recall, presented the alleged virtues of his most famous invention, the Vulture (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 Ne4?!), while only mentioning the four moves in the first paragraph's parentheses, without comment.

It seemed interesting, and there wasn't any theory on it in the traditional sources (and no databases to look up Bücker's games or anyone else's in the variation), so I worked out what I could and started to play it from time to time. I would be interested to know what conclusions he's drawn about the line, but at this point, what I'm writing about this variation is solely the product of my games and analysis.

DG's query is of a very different sort - he wants to know if I'm going to tell the beleagured French player how to defend! My first inclination was to encourage him to work out a good response for himself, and that was my second inclination, too. But here are four thoughts to help him (and others in his shoes) as they do.

First, think about it this way: if this line isn't mentioned in the usual sources (even the recent third edition of John Watson's excellent Play the French doesn't mention it) and there aren't any real players trotting it out, then it must be pretty bad! So if I were in your shoes, I'd cultivate an attitude of offense: I'm going to find a way to destroy this garbage.

Second, you might want to re-read my early post on responding to junk openings. White's goal is to sac a pawn or two in return for a raging initiative, so one counter-approach is to look for a way to turn the tables - especially considering that White hasn't done much to develop by move four.

Third, help will come in due course. I will eventually address some of the problems with the variation, but having spent so much time on it over the years I'm not in a hurry to send it to the grave. And I'd like other players to enjoy it for a while too!

Finally, let me reassure you that the French is safe. In fact, I'm willing to make an informal bet with my readers that there are at least a dozen ways, starting from move 2, that Black can achieve rough equality or better. (I haven't counted anything up - it's just my strong suspicion.) That's yet to come, however; for now, I'll continue to present White's trumps and leave French players with the opportunity to develop their own contributions to the theory of this variation.


  • At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In 1983 Stefan Bucker published Gambit 59, a pamphlet (in German) of his analyses of several odd gambits, including a short chapter on the Orthoschnapp-Franzosisch, 1.e4 e6 2.c4 d5 ed 4.Qb3!?

    Although his treatment of the attack is similar in places to what you give, the divergences are interesting. For example, after 1.e4 e6 2.c4 d5 ed 4.Qb3 de 5.Bc4 Qe7 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.d3 ed+ he has played 8.Be3 followed by 0-0-0, while you've focused on 8.Kf1.(He does look at 6...c6 7.d3 ed+ 8.Kf1, though.)

    One line that caught my eye was 1.e4 e6 2.c4 d5 ed 4.Qb3 de 5.Bc4 Qd7 6.f3 Nc6 7.fe Na5 8.Qc3 Nxc4 9.Qxc4 Qe6.

    On 1.e4 e6 2.c4 d5 ed 4.Qb3 Nf6 5.e5 Ne4 6.Nf3 Bucker makes the interesting comparison with the English Opening line 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 ed 5.e5 Ne4.

    He does not have seem to have tumbled to your 1.e4 e6 2.c4 d5 ed 4.Qb3 Nf6 5.Nc3 d4 6.Bc4!!

    As a French Defender myself, I would probably opt for either the ...Qd7, ...Nc6, ...Na5 plan after; or maybe just 4...c6 instead.

    I suspect there is a line where Black doesn't worry about playing or White playing ed, but develops quickly, even at the cost of a pawn. Haven't found it yet, though.


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