Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jeremy Katz Best French Alapin Gambit

Jeremy Katz of Brooklyn, New York, was rated 2256 in USCF postal at the time of this game. I was often listed among the top APCT players 20-30 years ago, played Board 4 for the Xth World Correspondence Chess Olympiade 1982-84 US team, was a USCF Postal Master off and on in 1990, and won an ICCF Master Class section 1995-97. I tend to play chess more by instinct and pattern recognition than by analysis. Of course, often in my correspondence play, like in the game below, I had to make very specific calculations.

Against the French Defence, White can choose from several good third moves. Below is a beautiful little game played in BDG style. Some come to the BDG after years of playing against the French after 1.e4 and feel comfortable with whatever they have been playing. I played all four common responses, 3.Nc3, 3.Nd2, 3.e5 and 3.exd5, as well as the offbeat and risky 3.Be3!? Alapin French. My performance with 3.Be3 has been slightly higher.

The Alapin-Diemer may not be sound, but it can be very dangerous for Black. Bill Wall's 500 French Miniatures gives 16 games (and others that would transpose); White scored 16-0. In 1995 my book on the variation called the "Alapin French, Tactics for White" was published. In the introduction to that book I wrote: "Welcome to the King's Gambit of the French Defense! White gets quick slashing attacks that often win in 20 moves.

John Watson cites my book in his 1996 edition of "Play the French". Watson gave about one half of a page to the Alapin with variations that go beyond move eight in only a few cases. Eric Schiller recommended the Alapin as the gambit to play vs the French Defense in his book "Gambit Opening Repertoire For White".

My new French 3.Be3 Playbook is a step by step guide to the Alapin Diemer Gambit.

Sawyer (1993) - Katz (2256), corr USCF 89NS61, 28.07.1991 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 [We have reached a very normal and popular French Defence.] 3.Be3 dxe4 [Consider the psychology is at work here. Most French Defense players do not 3...dxe4 in other lines. They provoke the e4 pawn to advance to e5; but the e-pawn is just hanging there. If Black wants to refute this gambit, he must make the capture now. Anything else gives White at least equality, and usually the better position with equal material.] 4.Nd2 Nf6 5.f3 exf3 6.Ngxf3 Be7 7.Bd3 b6 8.0-0 Bb7 9.Bg5 [No longer needed on e3, the Bishop redeploys to g5 where it threatens to capture on f6 leaving h7 less defended.] 9...0-0 10.Qe1 [This prepares Qh4 with combinations on h7 and f6.] 10...c5 11.Qh4 [White has compensation for the pawn and practical chances.] 11...h6 [Black challenges White to attack or slink away.] 12.Bxh6 [When Black combines kingside castling with a pawn on h6, I capture that pawn and rip open the protection in front of Black's king.] 12...gxh6 13.Qxh6 Qd5 14.g4! [Black missed this winning pawn advance which takes h5 away from the Black Queen and threatens to dislodge the Knight on f6.] 14...cxd4 15.g5 Nbd7 16.gxf6 Nxf6 17.Kh1 Qh5 18.Rg1+ 1-0 [Revised November 5, 2013]

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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