Thursday, 18 February 2010

Before the Sicilian ....

Due to my editing duties with Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly, I spend some of my time digging through archives of old magazines. When I look at the games published in the late 40's and early 50's I am intrigued by the number of French Defence games. It seems like a very popular opening, although in must published games, Black gets smashed.
There are probably a few reasons for this (in Australia at least). CJS Purdy recommended it for Black in a number of articles in Chess World (which much much later was turned into a book title "Action Chess" published by Thinkers Press). I also suspect that the subtleties of the Sicilian Defence hadn't reached these shore post WWII, leaving the French and the Caro-Kan as the two main non-symmetrical defences to 1.e4.
But as I said earlier, despite its popularity it seemed to take quite a beating. Of course this could simply be a matter of game selection, with snappy wins much more publishable than slow, positional grinds. Here is an earlier example of what was happening to the French from 1933. Dug up by Paul Dunn it is a quick win by Spencer Crakanthorp over Gary Koshnitsky from the NSW Championship. When the game was played, Koshnitsky was the reigning Australian Champion, but Crakanthorp both won this game, and the NSW Championship as well.

Crakanthorp,Spencer - Koshnitsky,Gregory Simon [C01]
NSW ch Sydney (5.1), 29.05.1933

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bd3 Ne7 6.Nge2 Bg4 7.0-0 Nbc6 8.f3 Be6 9.Re1 Qd7 10.a3 Bxc3 11.bxc3 0-0 12.Bf4 Na5 13.Ng3 Ng6 14.Qd2 Rfe8 15.Nh5 Re7 (D)
16.Bg5 f6 17.Bxf6 Rf7 18.Bxg7 Qe7 19.Qh6 Nc4 20.Bxg6 hxg6 21.Qh8# 1-0

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