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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4 (Read 23537 times)
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Re: Openings that you suspect are a forced loss?
Reply #60 - 09/09/11 at 22:02:30
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Stefan Buecker wrote on 08/15/11 at 05:57:12:
Did you see the link? Before criticizing you could at least look at my article. I am tired of the empty talk. Give me a concrete suggestion for Black. I think the logic (principles, if you want) behind the move is pretty good, and yes, I have a tree of variations which only partly went into the article.


I'll try that.

As a preface: I enjoy 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4 on a regular basis, counting on the facts that it hasn't been in the spotlight of the big guys and the fact that it poses concrete problems to solve from move 2 on. Nevertheless, I am aware of the fact that this variation (IMHO) yields better prospects for white, who is (IMHO) good-advised to reply with 3.Nd5 (!).

This constitutes the first try:

A) What is your reply to

1.e4 c5
2.a4?! Nc6
3.Bb5 Nd4

? In the mirror variation, black's best retreat is Be7, yet the appearance of a pawn on a2 or a4 will not change the evaluation. The only retreat trying to utilize this move is by 4.Bc4, when black may just mirror the english variation by the means of 4...Nf6, when 5.c3 Nc6 6.d3 d5 7.exd5 Nxd5 may be equal, but the additional move a4 doesn't impress much. I'd rather be black here.

This tells me that you mostly will keep the bishop on b5, which however automatically puts you into standard openings in which a4 is harmless, like 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5!? Nd4 4.a4?.

If you propose to challenge the d4 knight classicaly by 4.Nf3, black seems to be able to level the game by

4...Nf6!? (gamblers might also enjoy 4...a6!?, when 5.Nxd4 transposes to the note below and 5.Bc4 gives the additional possibility 5...d5!? 6.exd5 Bg4 - as well as a transposition by the means of 5...Nf6)
5.e5 (the desired 5.Nxd4 cxd4 6.d3 seems harmless: a6! 7.Bc4 d5 8.exd5 Bg4! this nice yet typical zwischenzug gives black a fine game)

and if the white bishop does not retreat onto the a2-g8 diagonal, the whole point of a2-a4 seems to be missing (6.Bd3 Nd5=). Yet after

6.Bc4 d5!
7.Be2, it seems simplest for me to play 7...Nxe2 8.Qxe2 Ng8 9.d4 Bg4, which resembles a superior C-K (Bf1 exchange clearly favors black). 

The only true independent line is constituted by 4.c3?!, when 4...Nxb5 and 5...d5 next levels the game immediately.

And it should be kept in mind that this is a variation in which white was allowed to get his "dream" exchange on d4.


B) Your variation

1.e4 c5
2.a4?! g6
3.Nc3 (One can surely look what Marin has analyzed in the mirror variation following 3.d4?!, but you already agreed upon white having nothing in this line) Bg7
4.f4 Nc6
5.Bb5

B1) - of course! - allows black to transpose into one of the GPA main lines by the means of 5...Nd4 6.Nf3. I think we agree that objectively, black does not have to fear this line, even though black was not able to "punish" the first player for his rather strange move order.

B2) There is also the independent idea 5...Nh6!?, which enjoys a certain popularity against the "normal" Bb5 GPA (it takes the sting out of e4-e5, allows the defence manoeuvre f7-f5 and does not block the Bg7's view onto d4). The move a2-a4 seems rather dispensable in this variation.

B3) Also the "direct punishment" 5...Nb4 (!) seems adequate. After 6.Nf3 a6! (it seems to be most precise to first question the bishop and then play according to its retreat square) 7.Bc4 (7.Be2 is harmless, 7...d5 =+, the possibility Nh6, controlling f5, secures black the better game), black should rather not try the energetic 7..d5?!, when 8.exd5? Nf6 = as well as 8.Nxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxd5 Nf6 = gives him an easy game and 8.Bxd5! Bg4! is a creative and troublesome counterplay attempt (e6 comes with tempo, when Ne7-c6-d4 will be quick), yet does not seem to give enough compensation for the pawn.

WAY better (after 6...a6 7.Bc4) is 7...e6!. This basically forces 8.e5, as otherwise black gets a hyper anti GPA setup with 8...d5. After 8.e5 d5! 9.exd6 Nf6 and Qxd6 next, black is at least equal.

C) After

1.e4 c5
2.a4?! e6
3.Nf3 Nc6
4.Bb5 you give 4...Nf6 in your analysis, but fail to mention the 'natural' 4...Ng-e7. This position is known with Nc3 instead of a4, with the former being way more useful. Usually, in this line White tries to exploit his development advantage, and a single wasted tempo can be quite telling.



Having employed the GPA exclusively (and quite successful) for several years, I do not feel comfortable with such an early a4. There are some subtleties in which White is better off with a2-a3 instead of a2-a4, and there are a LOT of positions in which the move is not needed at all. I have therefore at least mixed feelings regarding this move, even though it does not seem so easy to dismiss it. Nevertheless, as my considerations above show it is also not easy to claim an advantage.
  

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Stefan Buecker
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Re: B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4
Reply #59 - 09/09/11 at 10:09:33
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Hmm... I just notice a small gap in my analysis: 1.e4 c5 2.a4! Nc6 3.Bb5 Na5. I doubt that Black equalizes though. 
  
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Re: B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4
Reply #58 - 08/23/11 at 16:01:49
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I noticed, I just don't know how the dates compare to when an event was finished in correspondence chess.

Ok, a decade is a bit long for a tnmt to drag on, even using snail mail.
  
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Re: B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4
Reply #57 - 08/23/11 at 15:36:58
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Smyslov_Fan wrote on 08/23/11 at 15:08:34:
Jon, what does "BCCA DJKO 39/1" represent? From the rest of your text, I'm guessing this was one of the correspondence games from your World Championship tnmt where you earned the CC IM title. (Congratulations!)


Nope. As you'll notice, the WC tournament was back in 1995 and the game above was from 2004. Wink

BCCA DJKO 39/1 = British Correspondence Chess Association, Diamond Jubilee Knockout Tournament No.39, Round 1.

I used to use the DJKO for trying out unusual openings.
  

blog inspired by Bronstein's book, but using my own games: http://200opengames.blogspot.co.uk/
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Re: B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4
Reply #56 - 08/23/11 at 15:08:34
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Jon, what does "BCCA DJKO 39/1" represent? From the rest of your text, I'm guessing this was one of the correspondence games from your World Championship tnmt where you earned the CC IM title. (Congratulations!)
  
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Re: B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4
Reply #55 - 08/22/11 at 15:06:45
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Checking my games files, I was surprised to see I've actually played this line:



I don't remember that game at all. Smiley

On the effectiveness of Bb5 + a2-a4 vs. the Sicilian in general, if it's of any significance my results with 2 Nf3 d6 3 Bb5+ Bd7 (or 3...Nd7) 4 a4 are:

P46, W29, D16, L1, 80%

And the CC subset of those is:
P11, W8, D3, L0, 86%
including three wins in a world championship semi-final (1995-97) which got me the CC-IM title.

Needless to say I have a much higher score with these lines than with 3 d4. The point, I think, is not that a2-a4 (with Bb5) is better, but that Sicilian players are thrown onto their own resources from very early on, and often it seems they find that a little confusing (having studied their usual defences to move 20 and beyond).

Edit: I've uploaded a scan of an article I wrote on 3 Bb5 and a2-a4 (basically just some of my games). If anyone is interested they can get it here:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/eoq1ku
  

blog inspired by Bronstein's book, but using my own games: http://200opengames.blogspot.co.uk/
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Re: B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4
Reply #54 - 08/21/11 at 21:58:29
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SWJediknight wrote on 08/15/11 at 18:56:59:
The evidence for forcing matters in the centre early on being a bad thing is pretty mixed.  The aforementioned Staunton Gambit isn't that bad for White [...] and the Scotch Game (a particularly good analogy with the Open Sicilian) is currently considered White's second-most serious try for advantage after 1.e4 e5 after the Lopez.

I don't know whether forcing matters early with White is bad. Some of my 2010 ideas (still unpublished) are sharp white gambits. With the Sicilian, I have this reservation because of (a) Black's extra pawn in the center, and (b) the Pelikan/Sveshnikov and other lines seem to equalize.

John Watson speculated "meta-theoretically" that there may be a difference between 1.d4 and 1.e4: pawn e4 can be attacked more easily. If not today, this instance may gain relevance in the future, with PCs getting faster and the software stronger. Let's assume for a moment that John were right and 1.e4 invites simplifications (more than 1.d4). Instead of "Is forcing matters with 2.Nf3 good?" the real question may be: "Is it easier for Black to force matters (= simplify) in the Open or in the Closed Sicilian?"

But following this line of argumentation is risky, it comes dangerously close to "1.d4!" (Hans Berliner), something I certainly don't agree with.
  
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Re: B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4
Reply #53 - 08/21/11 at 16:27:46
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Interesting.  Thanks.  I'll consider what you have said.
  

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Re: B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4
Reply #52 - 08/20/11 at 17:54:29
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Markovich wrote on 08/16/11 at 16:50:51:
So l'd like to come back to that and 2...a6, which is a move I continue to like.  Since 2...a6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.f4 e6 5.Nf3 d5 6.d3 Nf6 does not appear to be very good for White, I assume White's main idea would be 4.g3.  Against that, Black's set-up ...g6, ...Bg7, ...e6, ...Nge7 looks flexible and preserves ...d5 in one go as an option.  For example 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.d3 e6 7.f4 Nge7 8.Nf3 d5 9.O-O O-O.  This position has come up in 20 games in my database, White scoring 30.2%.  That score seems ridiculous to me, since I don't think White is worse, but I don't think that Black is worse either.  He has the obvious plan of ...Rb8, ...b5 and so forth. It looks like a game of chess where both sides have pretty significant winning chances, which is just what I like about Black's side of Closed Sicilian.

If White instead of 7.f4 goes with 7.Be3, then 7...d6 8.Qd2 Rb8 looks pretty interesting, and I see no reason why Black should be worse.  E.g. 10.Nge2 b5 11.axb5 axb5 12.0-0 b4 13.Nd1 Nd4 appears to be another one of those positions where both sides have good winning chances.

Stefan, you apparently understand these Closed Sicilian positions better than I do, since you've worked out a theory under which a4, ...a6 favors White.  So I look forward to being educated on this subject.  Why is White better after the methods that I've proposed for Black?


White can choose between many set-ups in the Closed, and while I am sure that the additional a4/a6 doesn't "ruin" the system, I am less sure which of the possible set-ups is best. 

My article http://www.chesscafe.com/text/kaiss21.pdf tells the "history" of 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 g3 g6 4 Bg2 Bg7 5 d3 d6 6 f4 e6 7 Nf3 Nge7 8 0-0 0-0 9 Be3 Nd4 10 e5. I propagated this exotic gambit (and versions of it) in two publications: S. Bücker: Geschlossener Sizilianer Teil 1, Nordwalde 1983; and S. Bücker: “Closed Sicilian,” in New in Chess Magazine 7/1985, pp. 52-56. I didn't invent it, but it was almost forgotten in 1983. In the late 1980s the brothers Bastian liked the 10.e5 version and used it successfully; so it's fair to call it "Bastian Gambit". Today there are 1.700+ games in the database, 53% for White, Miles and Spassky played it, Balashov scored heavily ("success elo": 2800).

I still have much sympathy for the gambit 10.e5 and for my related ideas from the 1980s. But before I could confidently recommend the gambit in the a4/a6 version, a lot of work would be necessary. I really don't want to go into that now, I hope you understand. Maybe the following is sufficient to convince you that an experienced "Closed" player should not fear 2...a6.

1.e4 c5 2.a4 a6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.g3 (let's leave 4.f4 e6 5.Nf3 d5 6.d3 Nf6 for another day - I don't believe that Black has fully equalized) 4...g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.d3 e6 7.Be3 d6  

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As I said above, gambit ideas starting with 8.f4 Nge7 9.Nf3 still seem promising. In particular as you intend to strive for b7-b5, which rather invites the gambit (pawn c5 becomes weak) than discourages it. E.g. 9...0-0 10.0-0, and now it seems wiser to play 10...b6 than some idea with b5.

On the other side after a4/a6 there are factors which rather encourage set-ups without f2-f4. The additional a6 reduces Black's counterplay against d3-d4 (typically b6 +Ba6 attacking Rf1 is a plague). Therefore the direct 8.Nf3 comes into consideration: followed by 0-0, d4, Nce2, c3; or followed by Nf3-d2-b3, "working" on the c5 pawn. Other options are 8.h4!? or 8.Nge2 or 8.Nh3, so I'd be in trouble to identify a single best move. Finally, you gave 8.Qd2 Rb8 9.Nge2 b5. But after 10.axb5 axb5 11.d4 White is better. You'd have to prepare the advance b7-b5, e.g. 9...Nd4 which gives, however, White tons of concrete ideas, like 10.a5 Ne7 11.Bxd4 cxd4 12.Na4 or 10.Rb1 Ne7 11.b4 or even 10.0-0 Ne7 11.b4!? or 10.h4!?.

There is a lot more to say, e.g. 9.f4(!) threatens both f4-f5 or 9...b5? 10.e5. Another case with many options. Probably Black should play 9...Nge7 10.Nf3 Nd4 11.0-0 Nec6 (or 11...b5 12.e5; or 11...0-0 12.a5 Nec6 13.e5) 12.e5.

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Just like in the 10.e5 gambit, it is difficult to say what is going on in the diagrammed position. All I can say is that I'd feel very much at home, it's quite similar to my pet line 10.e5. 
  
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Re: B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4
Reply #51 - 08/20/11 at 15:50:50
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Well then, how about a reply to the Closed Sicilian considerations in my post #44?
  

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Re: Openings that you suspect are a forced loss?
Reply #50 - 08/18/11 at 04:48:25
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Smyslov_Fan wrote on 08/18/11 at 03:37:55:
I really didn't want to move everything over to the Sicilian thread. I have a strong feeling that it won't get read nearly as much once it's split off. [...]

Many thanks for moving all these posts, Smyslov_Fan. If members ignore 2.a4, they hurt only themselves.  Smiley
  
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Re: B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4
Reply #49 - 08/18/11 at 03:41:26
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Stefan Buecker wrote on 08/17/11 at 23:39:39:
The variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4 was invented by the American opening theoretician and author Hugh Edward Myers (1930-2008), inspired by a discussion in 1958 about 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 with GM Nicolas Rossolimo. The latter liked to combine his pet line with an early a2-a4. Myers' stem games with 2.a4 from the 1960s appeared with instructive comments in Exploring the Chess Openings (1978) and in Myers' autobiography A Chess Explorer (2002).

My own article http://www.chesscafe.com/text/kaiss65.pdf gives an introduction into the ideas, recommending 2.a4 as part of my semi-unusual repertoire for 1.e4 players. The line remained a rarity, but the Dutch IM Gerard Welling used it with success. In his games Welling follows Myers' main concept: White hopes for a version of the Rossolimo Variation, but in contrast to the beginning 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 White may be able to choose a different set-up including f4 or develop his king's knight to e2 after, say 1.e4 c5 2.a4 Nc6 3.Bb5 or 2...Bd7 3.Bb5+. Moreover, in contrast to 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6, when White must be familiar with another system, the Myers Variation offers possibilities to steer the game into Rossolimo channels (or d6 Bb5+ channels) even against 2...g6. - To the following game I added some analysis in order to illustrate White's options after 2...g6.



I am just adding this original comment by Stefan to the end of the thread because I combined so many comments from the original thread in the General Chess section.
  
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Re: B20: Myers' Variation 1.e4 c5 2.a4
Reply #48 - 08/18/11 at 03:40:12
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The last 47 Posts were moved here from General Chess [move by] Smyslov_Fan.
  
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Re: Openings that you suspect are a forced loss?
Reply #47 - 08/18/11 at 03:37:55
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I really didn't want to move everything over to the Sicilian thread. I have a strong feeling that it won't get read nearly as much once it's split off.

But,

Thank you Stefan for creating another thread. I'll copy and paste the relevant comments to that thread, leaving the original here. That should satisfy everyone, with the one caveat that someone may make a comment in one thread and get a response in the other. If that happens, I'll just cut this one.
  
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Re: Openings that you suspect are a forced loss?
Reply #46 - 08/17/11 at 18:07:11
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More on identifying "high level" games: you could also order on the minimum of the Elos of the two players.
  

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