At times during my career, I have followed Anatoly Karpov. He chose variations where his pieces dominated the most important squares on the board. Karpov became champion mostly through piece control rather than pawn advances or rapid attacks. In his early 1.e4 days, Karpov played the Tarrasch Variation 3.Nd2 vs the French Defence to win the title. I won some nice games with 3.Nd2, but then I switched to gambits. When I lose an Alapin-Diemer 3.Be3 or a Winawer Variation 3.Nc3 Bb4, I think about returning to the simple open piece development of the Tarrasch 3.Nd2.
Jeffrey Baffo and I played two six-game correspondence matches 18 years ago. Jeff won most of the games and this one is no exception. I have a foggy memory of that year. It seems the games were played maybe during February, March, and April. I know I was in Atlanta, Georgia for a conference during Valentine's Day 1996. Later that summer the Olympics came to Atlanta. For some reason, I resigned in an equal position! Maybe I was seeing ghosts. I cannot blame the opening, a good active and logical variation.
One key point of the 3.Nd2 Nf6 line is that White's kingside knight plays to 7.Ne2 (after 5.Bd3) to protect d4 and c3, leaving f3 open for the queenside knight 10.Nf3. As Karpov demonstrated, it can be good for White to trade bad dark squared bishops. I did everything well - except keep playing!
My new French 3.Be3 Playbook is a step by step guide to the Alapin Diemer Gambit.
Sawyer (1950) - Baffo (2273), corr USCF 95P135, 11.03.1996 begins 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4 8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Nf3 Bd6 11.0-0 Qc7 12.Bg5 0-0 13.Bh4 Bd7 14.Bg3 a6 15.Rc1 Bxg3 16.Nxg3 Qf4 17.Ne2 Qd6 18.Nc3 Be8 19.Re1 Bh5 20.Be2 Qb4= [White resigned in an equal position. Maybe I thought White would lose a pawn due to the threats on b2 and d4, however 21.Ne5! Nxe5 22.dxe5 Bxe2 23.Nxe2 (or 23.Rxe2) 23...Nd7 24.Qd4= holds everything.] 0-1
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