Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Alekhine-Chatard Attack coverage underway

I've been busy recently, but started coverage of the Alekhine-Chatard Attack in the French Defence, 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4!?.

I find that the 3.Nc3 lines of the French Defence often lead to crazy and rich positions, although of course 3.Nc3 is one of the main lines, and many of the variations are quite theory-heavy.  The various attempts to steer play into a sort of pseudo Blackmar-Diemer Gambit with 3.Be3 and 3.c4 are not convincing, although there is a subvariation of 3.Nc3, 3...Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.f3!?, which aims to transpose into a line of the Blackmar-Diemer (Euwe Defence) which probably gives White full compensation for the pawn.

The Alekhine-Chatard Attack is one of the soundest gambits that I've looked at so far; indeed French Defence guru John Watson considers that it is holding up well at high levels.  I've been a fan of this gambit for many years, and recall having quite a few nice wins with it as a junior in the late-1990s.

I have only got around to covering 6...c5 and 6...0-0 so far, but am trialing out a new way of displaying the coverage (sort of like a article but with the games still presented as replayable java games via ChessBase).

The coverage is here:
My overall assessments seem to broadly agree with Watson's comments on 6...c5 and also 6...Nc6, which I cover briefly as a sideline, although of course Watson will have gone into far more detail.

I had a recent game as White in the Alekhine-Chatard Attack but unfortunately lost the game score.  I managed to crash through on the h-file by putting rooks on h1 and h6 and a queen on h4, and breaking through on h7, and Black's counterattack ended up being a tempo too slow.  (If I remember rightly, Black met 6.h4 with 6...c5 7.Bxe7 Kxe7, and later moved the king over to the kingside to guard h7).

Meanwhile I've recently received my copy of Smerdon's Scandinavian.  It is refreshing to see a grandmaster frequently using and being enthusiastic about a line that is objectively of marginal soundness.  I'll be looking at his Caro-Kann transposition lines (1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.d4, involving an early ...g6) with some interest since I didn't look at those when I last covered the line.  Of course White should avoid 4.dxc6?! Nxc6 in that variation; I remember a few games when I tried that greedy variation as White at the local chess club just to see if it was really as bad as its reputation, and inevitably I got crushed every time.

Smerdon also recommends the Vienna Defence (1.e4 d5 2.d4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Bf5) against the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, and is quite dismissive of White's chances.  Personally I always thought 4...exf3 5.Nxf3 Bf5 was a more serious test of the gambit, but I'll be looking at his lines more closely shortly to see if he's found any major improvements for Black over what I know of.


  1. Great! I used to play the Anderssen Attack until silicon analysis showed me it's inferior. Hence I have little experience with the AC-attack and it will take me a while before I can delve into it.
    Have your read my comment on your previous article with the nice Albin's exchange sac? If I may brag a bit, it's quite spectacular and I'd like you to take a look.

  2. Found your blog and the accompanying opening analyses ( just a couple of days ago, and I am sure that I will have a good time reading up on all the stuff that I have missed, which I will hopefully have time to do during the winter holidays at the latest.

    Regarding your opening analyses, I really like the fact that you discuss how various openings can transpose into other variations. I also have a short remark on this: I have been looking for something against the Petroff. Since both Boden-Kieseritzky and Cochrane seem too wild for my taste (at least at present), I am now interested in 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 with the idea to meet 3. - Nxe4 with 4. Bd3 d5 5. dxe5 (as Goeller suggests) and 3. - exd4 with 4. Bc4, intending either the Urusov (if black answers 4. - exd4) or the Scotch gambit (if black answers 4. - Nc6). However, this possibility to transpose - i.e. reaching the Scotch Gambit via the Petroff through 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 Nc6 - is (as far as I can see) not mentioned in your coverage of the Scotch Gambit. Perhaps this is an addition that you would like to make.

    Anyway, I really enjoy what I have seen of your blog so far and hope that "real life" will not get too much in the way and that you manage to keep up the really good work that you are doing with the blog!

    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks for the comments- I think "real life" will get in the way somewhat in the next couple of days but I should have more time to update things further at the weekend. I've been aware of the transposition (e.g. Tim Harding mentioned the transposition to the Urusov, whereupon 4...Nc6 is of course the transposition to the Two Knights Defence/Scotch Gambit) but simply forgot about it when compiling the coverage of the Cochrane Gambit and Scotch Gambit.

      I don't trust the Boden-Kieseritzky Gambit since, unlike many other dubious-but-trappy gambits, it scores badly in the databases that I've looked at, implying that it is not a good practical try. The Cochrane scores better but you do have to know what you're doing, and I have to admit that my results with it haven't been great. Thus, there's a very strong case for your approach.

    2. Unless you enjoy 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 very much you should consider the transpositions via 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 (or 3.Bc4 - both have the disadvantage of allowing ...Bb4+) and 2.Bc4.

      1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 is the Urussov and can transpose to the Two Knights/Scotch Gambit.
      1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 (Bc5 is the Italian) 4.d4 exd4 is also the Two Knights/Scotch Gambit.
      1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 3.Nf3 d6 (Nc6 is the Italian again) 4.c3 and 5.d4 is very similar to the Italian with 4.c3 d6 and probably pretty good for White.

    3. Ian Simpson, thank you for your response and for sharing your view on the Boden-Kieseritzky and the Cochrane. I will most likely go through your analysis of those openings anyway when time allows to learn something about attacking chess. Once again, keep up your good work with the blog and associated sites!

      MNb, I assume your comment was a response to my first comment. Thank you for your suggestion, but I actually have a Ruy Lopez repertoire that I am quite pleased with. At the moment, I have just taken up chess again after finishing my studies (which might seem weird as most people have more time to play chess when studying than when working, but anyhow). Since time is still a somewhat limited resource in my life I intend to begin by covering up some holes in my opening repertoire (before possibly reconsidering the Scotch Gambit as my main weapon), and the Petroff is one of the major holes (which is fine since I have never had to meet it in a real game).

      Still, I initially want something relatively simple (compared to 20-move main lines) against the Petroff, and as such I think my choice is a relatively good one. I play 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 and if 3. - exd4 4. Bc4 it can become the Urusov or the Scotch Gambit (which are not that heavy; learning them are also a good investment in learning attacking chess). If, instead, black responds 3. - Nxe4 I am now considering playing 4. dxe5 upon which either 4. - Bc5 5. Bc4 (double-edged) or 4. - d5 5. Nbd2 (or 5. Bd3) can follow. This way, I am learning some of the Scotch Gambit repertoire, and if I like what I learn I might later move on to make it my main weapon against 1. - e5. Anyway, thank you for your input - I will definitely save it for later!

  3. Hi Ian,

    In the Scotch Gambit - Two Knights Defense the reply 5...Ng4 6.O-O (Efimenko-Short) (6.Qe2 doesn't convince me) Be7 has bothered me for a while as 7.Bf4 (7.Re1 leaves f2 weak in too many lines) g5 seems to give White an awkward choice:
    a) 8.Bg3 h5 9.Bd5 Nb4 10.Bb3 c5 Pap-Pressman and for instance 11.Nbd2 Nc6 12.Ne4 h4 13.Bxf7+ is a very early but forced draw;
    b) 8.Nxg5 Bxg5 9.Dxg4 d5 simplifies too much.

    So I took a look at the weird 8.Bc1 (a novelty as far as I know)
    c1) 8...Ncxe5 9.Nxe5 Nxe5 10.Qxd4 with sufficient compensation as White develops smoothly and always has f2-f4;
    c2) 8...d6 9.exd6 Qxd6 10.Re1 Bf5 11.Bxg5 or even 11.Bb5 with equal chance in an unbalanced position;
    c3) 8...h6?! 9.Re1 d6 10.exd6 Qxd6 11.b3 and White looks already better.

    What do you think?

    1. Regarding your above comment on the Scotch Gambit, I would just like to direct your attention to another interesting possibility for black, which was played in a game in Rilton Cup a week ago where black (FM [soon IM] Philip Lindgren, E2418) played 7. - f6 and quickly obtained a good game against FM Timur Radionov, E2321 (see the link below).

  4. Apologies- I thought you'd asked that question a week ago, but it was two weeks, time flies!

    Indeed, it doesn't seem to have been tested according to the database. White ends up well behind in development but Black's pawn advances can potentially be long-term weaknesses. The computer initially regards the positions as much better for Black but drops its evaluation as I coax it down its recommended lines.

    In the position after 8...d6, 10...Bf5, If 11.Bb5 then Black keeps an extra pawn but has difficulty with king safety (e.g. Black will have to be careful in the long run if 11...0-0-0 12.Bxc6 bxc6 13.h3 followed by 14.Qe2, and although the position is equal, I would rather be White due to Black's weakened queenside). 11.Bxg5 is met by 11...f6 12.Bh4 (12.Bd2 reduces the pressure on Black's d4-pawn) 12...0-0-0 and I think Black is slightly better due to the better development and half-open g-file pointing at the white king.

    Another option for Black is 8...0-0 but then 9.Re1 d5 10.Bb5 f6 11.exf6 Bxf6 12.Bxc6 bxc6 13.h3 Nf6 gives us an insane position with Black having an extra pawn, but two adjacent sets of doubled pawns. After 14.Nbd2 chances are probably equal.

    It reminds me of some of Stefan Bucker's suggestions in the line 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.Re1 d5 7.Bxd5, involving sacrificing a pawn with Bg5 and Re4. At first glance they didn't look right, but a closer examination revealed that they were worth taking seriously and led to unorthodox and double-edged play.