Monday, October 15, 2007

The Haldane Hack Busted

The other day Tom published a piece on his favourite move (2. ... Ng8 in the Alekhine). It reminded of a chapter in John Watson's most recent book on the French, Dangerous Weapons dedicated to the following line,


1. e4 e6, 2. d4 d5, 3. Nc3 Nf6, 4. e5 Ng8!!



Watson points out the position can also be reached by the even more splendid 1. e4 e6, 2. d4 d5, 3. Nc3 Bb4, 4. e5 Bf8!!!!

for those times when you wish to play the Winawer but don't fancy the Bryant variation (see here and here) for some reason

or indeed via Tom's Alekhine move order 1. e4 Nf6, 2. e5 Ng8, 3. d4 d5, 4. Nc3 e6.


After 4. ... Ng8 the sage of all things French considers various lines for White (5. f4, 5. Be3, 5. Nce2, 5. Bd3, 5. Qg4, 5. Nf3 and even the ultra amusing 5. Nb1, which Watson notes transposes into the Advance variation), but who cares about precise variations? Clearly this is an ideal method of dealing with the Haldane Hack - avoiding any nasty tactical tricks Robin might have had in mind by keeping your pieces as far away as possible.

Petrosian, as in Tom's post, shows us the way.

Only a draw, but even World Champions have off days.

22 comments:

Tom Chivers said...

After 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Ng8, I once faced a startling TN in a blitz game that my opponent had had up his sleeve for over a decade. Any guesses?

ejh said...

No, but I can add that Wolfgang Heldenfeld, in (I think) Lacking The Master Touch, gives several games he played with 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Ng8!?

ejh said...

The Petrosian game reminds me of something I've often felt about reading Nimzowitsch. The problem is that you start trying to play like him, retreating your knights to odd squares, putting your rooks on blocked files, adopting cramped set-ups, all on the basis that you are cunningly outplaying your opponent who is falling into your positional traps. You lose in 23 moves.

Jonathan B said...

EJH:
That tends to happen to me anyway, regardless of whether I'm trying to play like Nimzo.

Jonathan B said...

TOM:

3. Qh5


?

Tom Chivers said...

Nope...

ejh said...

You start wanting to play rubbish like 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e5. After that you usually end up playing Nh8 whether you wanted to or not.

ejh said...

Tom, can we have a clue, just to tell us whether anything is actually put en prise?

Tom Chivers said...

Mm, it's hard to give a clue, to be honest, without giving it away. I'll try one, though...

The move is consistent.

ejh said...

3.e6?

Tom Chivers said...

Bingo! It proved surprisingly awkward, too.

Jonathan B said...

I'd thought of 3. e6 but assumed that was too obvious.

curses.

ejh said...

Funny, Rybka seems to like it, giving nearly full compensation.

Kasparov, of 9.Nh3 in the Two Knights, said something to the effect that he'd happily play the Black side every game if someone would agree to play that opening in advance. I'd say the same of 3.e6.

A bloke I used to know, now the Oxford Times chess correspondent, once devised a gambit against the Pirc - can't remember exactly what, but I think it involved letting the e-pawn go. Anyway, he happened to see John Nunn at a tournament and showed it to him. Nunn looked at it very briefly and dismissed it with "not enough play for a centre pawn". Ditto 3.e6.

Tom Chivers said...

I think the reason not to play 3.e6 is simply that you don't need to. Normal moves like 3.d4 are simply better for white. But 3.e6 has extreme comedy value!

Anonymous said...

I used to play that 5...Ng8 Justin in my youth. It is called the Frankfurt Variation. I did ok with it, but nothing special.
Andrew

ejh said...

It's basically an anti-Alekhine-Chatard line, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Well I suppose so, but it does have some merits. Irish IM Mark Heidenfeld I think used to do very well with this line.
Andrew

ejh said...

Presumably his old man showed him the ropes.

Anonymous said...

I played 5...Ng8 against the very man himself, Robin Haldane. It was in March 2009, in the Richmond Rapidplay (Open). Of course, he continued with 6.Qh5. In the end, the result was a draw; but throughout, it seemed he was better (on time and position, possibly with some missed mates).

Peter Lalic

Jonathan B said...

Peter,

I only got to play 5. ... Ng8 against Tom not Robin himself.

I thought 6. Qh5 wasn't as good with the knight on g8 rather than d7 because there's no Nxe6 trick anymore because the Bc8 defends.

Good result for you anyway?

Did you deliberately take on The Hack? Pretty ballsy move if so.

Jonathan B said...

oh have I got confused about move numbers here ...

was the game the line mentioned in the original article or the one EJH menions in the comments above?

(i.e. with Nc3 Nf6, Bg5 Be7, e5 before ... Ng8)

Peter Lalic said...

Sorry, the moves were: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Ng8. Robin continued 5.Qh5 as expected, which was why I felt confident with the knight retreat. Besides, even if White does not play the Hack, it seems that it's not just strategically game over. I had already played 4...Ng8 in two serious slow-play games: against a cocky 130 junior, and another 130. Weak opposition, I know, but I slowly and steadily wiped the floor with them, in a positional manner. I was surprised that it is so playable. I use ideas like ...Ng8-e7-f5, accompanied by ...h5. Both times, I went for the plan of ...Qd7, ...b6, and ...Ba6. For the French Defense fans out there, this is behind the interesting opening which Nigel Short has played a few times: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 b6!?. Weirdly, I have even tried 4...Ng8 in the French against IM Graeme Buckley, in blitz matches. The endings I got into were superb!
Peter Lalic