“Nuke the GM!” Lecture Posted

by admin on December 30, 2014

Today ChessLecture posted my lecture on my game with Sergei Kudrin from the October Western States Open. I’ve blogged about the game here before, but I didn’t post the complete game score because I wanted ChessLecture to release it first.

Now that the ChessLecture is published, I’m glad to present the entire game for my blog readers. Click on the PGN viewer below to get started!

I’ve provided the game without notes, but here are a few basic comments for any readers who may be wandering by for the first time. The game has a looooong history behind it.

The move 3. Nf3 was introduced by Axel Bryntse, a Swedish correspondence player, in the 1960s. Therefore it is properly known as the Bryntse Gambit. Bryntse also discovered the amazing queen sacrifice on move 6. However, it remained super-obscure, and I rediscovered it while playing against my computer in 2004. I finally got my first chance to play it against live human opposition at the Western States Open in 2006, first against a class A player named Drayton Harrison and then, most notably, in the final round against International Master David Pruess. I believe that these were the first two over-the-board (as opposed to correspondence) tournament games anywhere in the world where the queen sacrifice was played.

A funny thing about this opening, though, is that you can only play the queen sacrifice if your opponent cooperates. Most Black players don’t play 2. … d5, which is supposed to be Black’s best move but is a little bit sharp. Also, most humans will sensibly play 5. … e6 instead of 5. … Bg4?!, and I personally think that Black gets a reasonable game out of this. For these reasons, opportunities to play the queen sacrifice are quite rare, and I had to wait eight years for my next opportunity. It was a situation very much like the Pruess game — a last-round game against a very well-known opponent, with lots of money at stake. This time my opponent was a grandmaster, Sergei Kudrin, who has won the Reno tournament many times in the past.

Kudrin varied from the Pruess game when he played 10. … Nd7, so after that move we were both in a position we hadn’t played before.  However, I had a huge advantage, because the Bryntse Gambit queen sacrifice isn’t just an opening but a system. As I explain in my lecture, there are five basic principles for playing the system for White:

  1. Develop and coordinate your pieces as rapidly as possible. White has a 4-2 edge in minor pieces, and he needs to take advantage of this fact. “Coordination” is a somewhat nebulous term, but you know it when you’ve got it. A good example is on move 44, when Kudrin decided against 44. … Qxc2 because of 45. b4! A key point is that if Black steps out of the pin with 45. … Ka6, then 46. Rxc5 not only threatens the queen, it also threatens mate with 47. Ra5+! This is piece coordination to the max: White only has the two bishops and a rook, but together they weave a mating net.
  2. Restrain Black’s queen. Do not allow it to make inroads into the position. (You can see several of these “restraining” moves in the Kudrin game.)
  3. Avoid opening files. This makes Black’s rooks very ineffective. (Again, the Kudrin game is a great example.)
  4. Don’t cash in too soon. This is really important. You’ll get many opportunities to win back some material (as early as move 10) but success depends on remaining pure and chaste and not giving into temptation. My favorite moment in the Kudrin game is on move 29, when he puts both of his rooks under attack from my bishop and I refuse to take either one. My bishops are just as good as his rooks, maybe even better.
  5. When possible, exchange a knight for his remaining bishop. This is not obligatory, but it helps White a lot because the two bishops become immensely powerful when there is no bishop opposing them. Thus I considered the exchange on move 22-23 to be a big step forward.

By applying these principles, White gets to play a relatively easy game while Black has to struggle with a bewildering variety of possibilities.

Not that my play was perfect. I missed very good opportunities at moves 38 (38. Be5! practically wins a pawn by force) and 47 (47. Re4 with the idea of Rc4, combining attack and defense, seems to be just about winning). Not to mention agreeing to a draw in a position where I stood much better — we could argue for a long time about whether that was a mistake or not.

Even so, I think that the opening was a big success and the game is a good illustration of my five principles in action. Gjon Feinstein told me that it’s the best example of prophylactic chess that he has ever seen me play, and probably he’s right. It seemed as if every time Kudrin tried to do something, I had already anticipated it a move or two earlier.

OK, hope you enjoy the game! And if you want to hear more about it, go sign up for ChessLecture.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Matt January 6, 2015 at 10:25 am

This was another superb video on the Nuke The Sicilian! variation. I hope ChessLecture adds it to the DVD they have on this system.


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