Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Update on the Urusov

It's been a while, but I finally completed my update of the Urusov Gambit coverage at http://www.ianchessgambits.com/urusov-gambit.html 
I've managed to get the ChessBase dynamic diagrams working, which allow viewers to move the pieces.  The new ChessBase game replayers is, I think, a significant improvement over the old one but I found that having multiple instances of the replayer on one web page caused glitches, so I have chosen to provide links to the annotated examples that are published using the One Click Publishing feature.

As for the assessment of the gambit, the accepted lines still seem to be holding up well, but of the declining lines, 4...Bb4+ does, as Michael Goeller suggested a while ago, appears to be the main problem at high levels, if Black aims for equality by striking out in the centre with a well-timed ...d5.  However, in the Chesslive.de database, Black tends to follow up 4...Bb4+ poorly, and so the move is scoring only 41% for Black.  The highest-scoring reply for Black is the more well-known 4...Nc6 transposing to the Two Knights Defence (where Black is scoring 49%).  Black is scoring 44% after grabbing the bait with 4...Nxe4.

For White, if faced with a prepared opponent, there are some ideas for unbalancing the position after 4...Bb4+.  There is 5.c3 dxc3 6.0-0 0-0 (6...cxb2 7.Bxb2 and as in many such lines, it is unclear if White has two pawns' worth of compensation, but White's initiative is extremely dangerous) 7.a3!? (7.bxc3 d5), which gives some compensation, though I'm not sure if it is objectively enough.  More definitely sound but less in the gambit-style are 6.bxc3 d5 7.cxb4!?, and 6...Bc5 7.e5 d5 8.exf6 dxc4 9.Qxd8+.

I don't expect to be giving up the Urusov anytime soon, having had a lot of fun with it in practice, but in view of 4...Bb4+ as well as 4...Nc6, I don't expect it to catch on among grandmasters either.


  1. Today I did some analysis on the corr. game Elburg (the guy from the stupid internetreviews) vs. Primrose, ICCF 2015. The results are stunning: a bishop can be stronger than a queen.

    1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 O-O 7.Bd3
    At first sight I like this move better than 7.Qg4.

    7...c5 8.Qh5 g6 9.Qh6 cxd4 10.Nf3 Nxe5 11.Nxe5 dxc3 12.b3
    12.Nxg6 draws.

    12...Bf6 13.Ng4 Be7 14.Be3 f5 15.Bd4 Rf7 16.h5.
    12...Qe8 13.f4.

    13.f4 Nc6 14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.h5 Nxe5 16.fxe5 f6 17.hxg6 fxe5 18.g7 Qxg7 19.Bxh7+ Kh8 20.Qh3 Rf6 21.Rd1 Bd7 22.Rd3 Be8 23.Bf5+ Kg8 24.Rg3 Bg6 25.Rxg6 1-0.

    According to Rybka the unnatural 13...Na6 is better. The refutation is amazing.

    14.Nf3 Rd8
    14...Nb4 15.h5 Nxd3+ (Bd8 16.O-O-O) 16.cxd3 Bd4 (c2 17.Ke2) 17.hxg6 fxg6 18.Bxd8 Rxd8 19.Ng5 c2 20.Rc1.
    Also nice is 14...Re8 15.Bxe7 Rxe7 16.h5 Nb4 17.Ng5.
    But wait until you see what we get now. As the rook is protected on d8 (iso e8) 15.Bxe7 doesn't work.

    15.h5 Bf8 16.hxg6 Bxh6 17.gxh7+ Kg7 18.Bxh6+ Kh8
    18...Kf6 also 19.Ne5.

    19.Ne5 f5 20.Bg5.
    This bishop is stronger than the black queen.

  2. I remember reading some of John Elburg's reviews, and finding that all of them were positive (sometimes unreasonably so), except, interestingly, for his review of Jan Pinksi's Italian Game and Evans Gambit, where he flagged up Pinski's dismissal of the Italian Gambit (giving 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d4 Bxd4 5.Nxd4 Nxd4, where Pinski only gave the inferior 6.f4?! instead of 6.0-0 or Acers & Laven's 6.Be3). He concluded something like, "I am a little bit disappointed!". It's a shame I can't find that review on the net now.

    The Alekhine-Chatard line with 7.Bd3 is interesting and I think it definitely deserves another look, especially as I've used this gambit quite a few times in the past few years.

    1. I found it - and I didn't.


      When you click Italian game etc. you get a dead link. The shame is not yours.

    2. Copy paste error.


  3. The correct link still seems to be dead for me.