Benjamin and the Philidor Defense

by ChessBase
7/15/2009 – There is nothing (too) wrong with Philidor's Defense, and its notable advocates include stars like Nisipeanu, Beliavsky, Azmaiparashvili and –- at least in the 2009 World Open – Joel Benjamin. It seemed to go pretty well for him, at least until his round seven game against Polish IM Jacek Stopa, which is the subject In this week's Playchess lecture by Dennis Monokroussos. 9 p.m. ET.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Benjamin went for one of the very sharpest lines in the Philidor, a remarkable gambit idea of Romanian GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, and the players followed the beaten track through move ten. Stopa's 11th move was very rare, having been played just once before. That game was a 2008 contest in which Black achieved a pretty easy draw, but on move 13 Stopa introduced a novelty.

Was it prepared at home or over the board improvisation? My guess is the latter, for reasons that will become clear as we examine the game more closely, but this will serve as a launching pad to discuss the role of computers and human ingenuity in preparation. At this point, at least, computers haven't manage to solve chess, so the question of how the two fit remains a pressing one.

As for the game, Stopa went on to win, quickly, with an attractive concluding combination. Whether he should have won in that way is something we'll discuss during the show. When? It will be at the usual time: Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET, which is equivalent to 3 a.m. CEST early Thursday morning. But whatever time it is where you are, I very much hope to see you there. To watch, log on to the Playchess server at the appropriate time, go to the Broadcast room, and select Stopa-Benjamin from the Games menu. The show runs for about an hour and is free as air.

François-André Danican Philidor (September 7, 1726 - August 31, 1795) was a French composer and chess player, the best of his age. His book, Analyse du jeu des Échecs, was considered a standard chess manual for at least a century. Here's a report on Almira Skripchenko showing us Philidor's bust on the side of the Paris Opera. It also includes an example of a Philidor composition (in music).

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Thursday). 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).

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Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten 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.

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