Agony Sunday!

by admin on May 5, 2019

As I mentioned a few days ago, Jonathan Speelman’s Agony column at featured two of my games this week. I hope you’ll click on over, see what Speelman has to say, and enjoy the thrill of paying without your queen from move six on!

Speelman’s comments are well thought-out and appreciated. Some of the reader comments below the article — well, one of them in particular — were surprising to me, and remind me why you should never read the comments (unless you have a thick skin).

After the first (Pruess) game, Speelman comments, “The queen is the most powerful piece on the chessboard but only if she has something to attack. Here Dana defended all of his pieces and left her looking singularly useless.” Indeed, this is a good take-home lesson from the Bryntse Gambit. Getting two pieces and two pawns for a queen gives White a huge numerical advantage in pieces, and as long as they coordinate well and leave no targets, it is very hard for Black to create any kind of counterplay. This is why White’s pressure just keeps going on forever, or until Black cracks.

That’s kind of what we saw in the Kudrin game. I never really had a clearly forced win until the last move of the game — the move Kudrin made just before he offered a draw. As it turns out, his last move loses by force, but I accepted the draw and only later realized how winning I was. Although you could say the Bryntse Gambit didn’t really win that game, in fact it is almost to be expected that 47 moves of constant defense will wear down any opponent — even a grandmaster.

Although I think it is not worth responding in detail to the reader who wrote, “Just love to hear a show-off rambling on…” let me say that I do sort of understand his point. One thing that a writer has to learn is the art of self-promotion. Just look at the blurbs on any book, some of which are likely to have been written by the writer himself. I do think I have a tendency to forget that such extreme self-promotional behavior will be off-putting to some people and in some circumstances. I don’t think that I was always a show-off, and I don’t even feel as if I am a show-off now, but alas, modesty is poorly rewarded in the writing business.

Anyway, I was glad that the other comments were more positive, and glad that Speelman gave me space in his column to promote the Bryntse Gambit. That’s really my main point. It’s not about the games that I played, but the games that you can play with this wonderful and incredibly fun opening!

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admin May 6, 2019 at 10:03 am

Addendum: ChessLecture ( has made my lectures on these two games (“Nuke the Sicilian!” and “Nuke the GM!”) available for free for this week. Most of what I said in the lectures is also said in my annotations in Speelman’s column. But for those of you who are auditory rather than visual learners, the lectures are a great resource. And there are 3500 more of them at their website!


Matt May 6, 2019 at 12:44 pm

I saw the post and noticed the comment too. Perhaps it was the not chess-related mentioning of you recent book, which the commentator felt was unnecessary advertisement. But for people unfamiliar with this blog, it might have been interesting info. And “to sit like that”… was an interesting but perhaps bit idiosyncratic analysis!

In any case, hardly a serious matter and the gambit itself certainly deserves a column! When I first read about it here years ago I was astonished as well. 🙂
And btw., now GM Simon Williams has also added it in his latest show:


admin May 6, 2019 at 2:59 pm

Matt, thanks so much for the link to Simon Williams’ video. I was not expecting that! I’m thrilled that he noticed it, because with somebody like that talking about the Bryntse Gambit, it is sure to get more exposure. He even said that he might try it out in blitz!

I also like the fact that he did some research (in one day!) and found some other really nice games by a player named Prorok. (Russian for Prophet!) My only criticism of Williams’ video, which is completely unimportant but a little bit funny, is that he bungles the pronunciation of just about every name. At least he gets “Mackenzie” right! 😎


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