An important lesson in an unorthodox French

by ChessBase
5/24/2007 – Vadim Zvjaginsev is one of the most original players on the chess scene, a man who introduced the improbable 1.e4 c5 2.Na3 into grandmaster praxis. Tonight our Playchess trainer Dennis Monokroussos takes a look at an attractive, picturesque, thematic and instructive Zvjaginsev game that started 1.e4 e6 2.f4. French and anti-French aficionados should check it out.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Dennis Monokroussos writes:

In a recent poll of Russian experts trying to choose the best game of 2006, two candidates received almost the exact same number of votes. The winner, by a single point, was Topalov-Aronian from Corus. That’s a great game – no question – but one most, if not all of you have already seen (if you haven’t, you can find the game, with notes, on my blog). You probably haven’t seen the other game, though – a pity, but we’re going to do something about that.

The game is Zvjaginsev-Zhang Pengxiang, from the China-Russia Summit match played in August of 2006. Vadim Zvjaginsev is one of the most original players on the chess scene, a man who introduced the improbable 1.e4 c5 2.Na3 into grandmaster praxis, and whose other experiments include 1.e4 e6 2.f4 – as played in our featured game. Zhang Pengxiang is a fine player in his own right; not as well-known as his opponent, but now that his rating is approaching the upper 2600s, that’s bound to change. His official rating is 2657, and the FIDE site says his current expected gain is +14. Impressive!

Back to the game. Zvjaginsev, as mentioned, chose the peculiar 2.f4 against the French, but although the game didn’t follow standard theoretical channels, the basic French Defense themes remained firmly in place. There are occasions in more mainstream version of the opening where White gets a nice dark square bind with, e.g., a bishop on d6. That happened here, too, but what was so unusual is that the dark square bind (a) cost White the exchange and a pawn, (b) happened in a position where he was almost completely undeveloped, and (c) took place in an almost entirely blocked up, closed position! As the old movie reminds us, though, there can be a big difference between being x and being mostly x, and Zvjaginsev did a beautiful job of utilizing all the open and potentially open lines on both sides of the board. It’s an attractive, picturesque, thematic and instructive game, and chess fans and (anti-) French aficionados should all check it out.

So please join us at our usual place and time: the playchess server, Thursday night at 9 pm (ET). See you there!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EDT, which translates to 01:00h GMT, 02:00 Paris/Berlin, 11:00h Sydney (on Friday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).

Dennis Monokroussos is 40, lives in South Bend, IN, and is an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

He is fairly inactive as a player right now, spending most of his non-philosophy time being a husband and teaching chess. At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S., but quit for about eight years starting in his early 20s. His highest rating was 2434 USCF, but he has now fallen to the low-mid 2300s – "too much blitz, too little tournament chess", he says.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for seven years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register