I Am a Hou YiFAN!

When I began playing chess seriously what now seems like a lifetime ago the French defense gave me trouble. The defense also gave Bobby Fischer trouble; the loss to Edmar Mednis comes to mind. I experimented with all the “tried and true” variations, but did not feel comfortable with any of them. then Branko Vujakovic, an exchange student in Atlanta from Yugoslavia, and a strong player, showed me the variation, 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 Bd3!? White usually plays 5 c3, or even 4 c3. the idea is to sac a pawn for development after 5…cxd4 6 0-0. Although it has been called the Milner-Barry, it actually has no name, as far as I can ascertain. NiC has it listed under “C02,” while http://www.365chess also has it as “C02, advance, Nimzovich system.” I liked the variation because it was little known. Because of that I was able to score several knock-outs, including one over Roger Sample, may he R.I.P. The game was played in a tournament in the Great State of Tennessee. We both smoked cigarettes then and Roger suggested we play in his hotel room so we could smoke, and I wholeheartedly agreed. The TD allowed us to do so, with the proviso that, “If there any problems you are on your own as to how to settle it. I just want to know the outcome.” I sacked a Knight on f7 and attacked Roger like a wild man, winning the game. When I saw Roger decades later he said, “I still have Knightmares about your move.” I also recall being on the road with Branko somewhere, sometime, and playing the variation against an expert (with my being a class “D” player). I played like Branko had taught me, advancing my h-pawn, opening up his castled position. Someone my opponent knew was standing, looking at the position, when my opponent looked up and plaintively said, “Would you look at that. Hardly out of the opening and I’m busted…”
My chess “bible” was “Chess Openings: Theory and Practice” by I.A. Horowitz. This particular opening was listed under “UNUSUAL VARIATIONS.” I found that appealing. A variation from Alekhine-Euwe from Nottingham, 1936 is mentioned in the notes, but there was one full game:
Igor Bondarevsky v Mikhail Botvinnik
Absolute Championship Leningrad/Moscow 1941
Round: 2 Score: 0-1
ECO: C02 French, advance, Nimzovich system
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bd3 cxd4 6. O-O Bc5 7. a3 Nge7 8. Nbd2 Ng6 9. Nb3 Bb6 10. Re1 Bd7 11. g3 f6 12. Bxg6+ hxg6 13. Qd3 Kf7 14. h4 Qg8 15. Bd2 Qh7 16. Bb4 g5 17. Qxh7 Rxh7 18. exf6 gxf6 19. hxg5 e5 20. gxf6 Kxf6 21. Bd6 Re8 22. Nh4 Rg8 23. Kh2 Bf5 24. Re2 d3 25. Rd2 dxc2 26. f4 Be3 27. Bxe5+ Nxe5 28. fxe5+ Ke7 29. Rf1 c1=Q 0-1
This loss did not deter me from essaying the Nimzovich system. But my opponents began to study the opening and I needed to find another variation with which I was comfortable. “Seek and you shall find.” I sought, and found, the answer in “Theory and Practice.” You will not be surprised to learn I “discovered” the variation once again in the “UNUSUAL VARIATIONS” section. This is the only complete game with my new variation contained in T&P:
Mikhail Chigorin – Hermann Von Gottschall
Barmewi, 1905
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. f4 Nc6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Nc3 d5 6. d3 d4 7. Nd1 Nf6 8. g3 b5 9. Bg2 Ba6 10. O-O Rc8 11. b3 c4 12. Ne1 cxd3 13. cxd3 O-O 14. Bd2 Qb6 15. Nf2 Nb4 16. Qd1 Bb7 17. a3 Nc6 18. g4 a5 19. g5 Nd7 20. Ng4 b4 21. a4 Nc5 22. Rf3 f5 23. gxf6 Bxf6 24. Rh3 Bd8 25. Rc1 Rc7 26. Rh5 Nb8 27. Ne5 Nbd7 28. Nc4 Qa6 29. Rb1 Nf6 30. Rh3 Ncd7 31. Nf3 Qa7 32. Qe2 Nc5 33. Nfe5 Ncd7 34. Kh1 Nxe5 35. fxe5 Ne8 36. Rg1 Rcf7 37. Qh5 g6 38. Bf3 Rg7 39. Qg4 Bc8 40. Bh6 Qe7 41. Be2 Bc7 42. Bxg7 Qxg7 43. Qg5 Bd7 44. Rhg3 Rf7 45. h4 Kh8 46. h5 gxh5 47. Bxh5 Qxg5 48. Rxg5 Rf8 49. Bf7 1-0
I was hooked. Who was Mikhail Chigorin? I tried to discover as much as possible about the player, and it was not easy “back in the day.” It took months, YEARS, to find all I could about the man responsible for 2 Qe2. Who would play such a move? What would GM Reuben Fine, PhD, say about a player who moves the Queen to e2 leaving the King in her rear? I managed to locate the games of the famous match between Siegbert Tarrasch and Chigorin in which the move Qe2 was played eleven times by the latter, scoring six wins, two draws, with three losses. 365Chess shows an astounding FIFTY games played by Chigorin with 2 Qe2 (http://www.365chess.com/search_result.php?search=1&m=3&n=118&ms=e4.e6.Qe2&wid=158099). For this Mikhail had twenty five wins, ten draws, and fifteen losses.
After reading the above you may have an idea of how elated I was upon discovering Hou Yifan essayed Qe2 against Harika at the recently completed Lopata Women’s Grand Prix. It is rare to see a game with the early Quees move by such a strong player.
Hou Yifan – Dronavalli Harika
Lopota WGP 2014 Lopota GEO , Rd 8 2014.06.27
1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 c5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d6 5.Bg2 g6 6.O-O Bg7 7.c3 e5 8.a4 Nge7 9.Na3 O-O 10.Nc4 h6 11.d3 Be6 12.Bd2 Re8 13.h3 b6 14.Rfe1 Qd7 15.b4 cxb4 16.cxb4 d5 17.exd5 Bxd5 18.Nfxe5 Nxe5 19.Nxe5 Qb7 20.f4 Nf5 21.Qf2 Nd4 22.Rac1 Rad8 23.Bc3 Qa8 24.b5 Nb3 25.Rc2 Nc5 26.Bb4 Bxe5 27.Bxc5 Bxg2 28.Rxe5 Rxe5 29.fxe5 Bxh3 30.Bd6 Qd5 31.Qe3 Re8 32.Re2 Bg4 33.Qe4 Qxe4 34.Rxe4 Bf5 35.Rc4 Bxd3 36.Rc7 Ra8 37.Kf2 Bf5 38.Ke3 Be6 39.Kd4 g5 40.Rb7 h5 41.Rb8+ Rxb8 42.Bxb8 h4 43.gxh4 gxh4 44.Ke3 Bb3 45.Bxa7 Bxa4 46.Bxb6 Bxb5 47.Kf4 Bd7 48.Bd8 h3 49.Kg3 Be6 50.Bf6 Bf5 51.Bd8 Be6 52.Bf6 Bf5 53.Bd8 ½-½
8 a4 appears to be a TN. While researching the opening on http://www.365chess.com and http://database.chessbase.com/js/apps/onlinedb/ I found two games in which GM Kevin Spraggett, the man responsible for the best chess blog, “Spraggett on Chess” (http://kevinspraggettonchess.wordpress.com/) had to face 2 Qe2.
Lawrence A Day v Kevin Spraggett
C00 Toronto Summer op 2000
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Qe2 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 e5 8. a3 Nge7 9. b4 O-O 10. Bb2 b6 11. Rd1 Qc7 12. d3 h6 13. Nbd2 Bb7 14. Nc4 Rad8 15. b5 Nb8 16. a4 d5 17. exd5 Nxd5 18. Re1 Rfe8 19. Qc2 Nd7 20. Qb3 N7f6 21. Nfxe5 Nh5 22. d4 Re6 23. Nc6 Rxe1+ 24. Rxe1 Bxc6 25. bxc6 cxd4 26. cxd4 Qxc6 27. Ne5 Qe6 28. Rc1 Ndf4 29. Qxe6 Nxe6 30. Nc6 Rd7 31. Ne5 Rd8 32. Nc6 Rd7 33. Ne5 1/2-1/2
Igor Ivanov v Kevin Spraggett
C00 Montreal m 1981
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Qe2 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 e5 8. b4 cxb4 9. cxb4 Nxb4 10. Nc3 Ne7 11. Rb1 Nbc6 12. Ba3 O-O 13. Nb5 Bg4 14. Nxd6 b6 15. Qc4 h6 16. h3 Be6 17. Qc2 Qd7 18. Kh2 Rfb8 19. Rfe1 Nc8 20. Nb5 a6 21. Nc3 b5 22. Nd5 N8e7 23. Rec1 Rb7 24. Qc5 Rab8 25. Bb2 Kh7 26. Nxe7 Nxe7 27. Bxe5 Rc8 28. Qe3 Bxa2 29. Rxc8 Qxc8 30. Ra1 Be6 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 32. d4 Rb8 33. d5 Bd7 34. Qd4+ Kh7 35. Qf6 Qf8 36. Rxa6 Ng8 37. Qf4 b4 38. Ra7 1-0
Jaan Ehlvest – Robert Huebner
C00 Rubinstein mem 32nd 1995
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O d6 7. c3 e5 8. d3 Nge7 9. Nh4 O-O 10. f4 f5 11. Nd2 exf4 12. gxf4 Kh8 13. Ndf3 Be6 14. Ng5 1/2-1/2
Ian Nepomniachtchi (2704) v David Navarra (2722)
Event: 28th European Club Cup
Site: Eilat ISR Date: 10/12/2012
Round: 2
ECO: B40 Sicilian defence
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Qe2 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 e5 8. Na3 Nge7 9. Nc2 O-O 10. Rd1 Qb6 11. b3 Be6 12. Bb2 c4 13. Ng5 cxb3 14. Ne3 bxa2 15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Ba3 Qb3 17. Bxd6 Rfd8 18. Bxe7 Nxe7 19. Qc4 Qxc4 20. Nxc4 b5 21. Ne3 a5 22. Rxa2 b4 23. Rda1 b3 24. Rxa5 Rxa5 25. Rxa5 b2 26. Rb5 Rxd2 27. Bf1 Nc6 28. Nc4 Rc2 29. Rxb2 Rxc3 30. Bh3 Nd4 31. Rb8+ Kf7 32. Rb7+ Kf8 33. Bf1 Nf3+ 34. Kg2 Ne1+ 35. Kh3 h5 36. Rb1 Nf3 37. Kg2 Ng5 38. Rb8+ Ke7 39. Rb7+ Kf8 40. Nd6 h4 41. h3 Kg8 42. Be2 hxg3 43. h4 Bf8 44. Rb8 Nf7 45. Nxf7 Kxf7 46. fxg3 Rc2 47. Kf3 Bc5 48. Rb7+ Kf6 49. Bb5 Rf2+ 50. Kg4 Rb2 51. Bc6 Rxb7 1/2-1/2
Igor Glek (2575) v Stephen Brady (2320)
Event: EU-Cup 21st
Site: Saint Vincent Date: 09/20/2005
Round: 3 Score: 1-0
ECO: C00 French, Chigorin variation
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. c3 Bg7 7. h4 h5 8. d3 Bd7 9. Na3 Nh6 10. Nc4 Qc7 11. a4 Ng4 12. Ng5 Bh6 13. O-O Nge5 14. Ne3 f6 15. Nh3 Ne7 16. d4 Nf7 17. f4 cxd4 18. cxd4 Rc8 19. Bd2 Qb6 20. Bc3 Bg7 21. f5 gxf5 22. Nf4 Bh6 23. exf5 e5 24. Ned5 Nxd5 25. Nxd5 Qd8 26. dxe5 dxe5 27. Kh2 Bf8 28. Nf4 Be7 29. Ng6 1-0
I discovered Stoltz played Qe2 eleven times, winning four, losing five, with two draws. (http://www.365chess.com/search_result.php?submit_search=1&eco=C00&wid=154632#)
Goesta Stoltz – Mikhail Botvinnik
Staunton mem 1946
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 Nge7 5. Nc3 g6 6. d3 Bg7 7. Be3 d5 8. exd5 Nd4 9. Qd2 exd5 10. Nce2 h6 11. Qc1 Bf5 12. c3 Nxe2 13. Nxe2 d4 14. Bd2 Bxd3 15. Bxb7 O-O 16. Bf3 g5 17. O-O Ng6 18. Re1 Ne5 19. Bg2 Ba6 20. Qd1 Nd3 21. Qa4 Qf6 22. f4 Rae8 23. Bc6 Nxe1 24. Bxe8 Nf3+ 25. Kf2 Nxd2 26. Bc6 Bxe2 27. Kxe2 dxc3 28. bxc3 Qxc3 29. Rd1 Rd8 30. Be4 gxf4 31. gxf4 Qh3 32. Rg1 Qh5+ 33. Ke3 Qh3+ 34. Ke2 Qxh2+ 35. Rg2 Qh5+ 36. Ke3 Qh3+ 37. Ke2 Qe6 0-1
White may not win every game, but every game will be interesting!

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