ChessBase show: Ftacnik's Hedgehog brilliancy

by ChessBase
2/16/2010 – The Hedgehog is a system against the English Opening that's easy to underestimate. In 1982 Lubomir Ftacnik, today part of the ChessBase team, produced a remarkable brilliancy with it against Lev Polugaevsky, one of the world's very strongest players at the time. It is the subject of this week's Playchess presentation by Dennis Monokroussos. See you on the server!

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Playchess training with FM Dennis Monokroussos

The Hedgehog is a fascinating system against the English Opening (it can arise via other openings as well, but in its pure form it's an anti-English system), one that's easy to underestimate. White obtains a huge space advantage, free of charge, while Black's pieces are huddled together on the last three ranks. At least that's how White may look at it. From Black's point of view, it's like a coiled spring, full of potential energy awaiting release. It might look passive and harmless, but the large number of elite players to get crushed with the white pieces should warn us othewise.

This week's ChessBase show offers a noteworthy example. The late Lev Polugaevsky was one of the world's very strongest players in 1982, but it was his opponent, Lubomir Ftacnik, who produced a game that has become a classic. Everything seemed perfectly normal after White's 19th move. "Polu" had more space and what seemed like a solid enough position, but ten moves later he resigned. His position had been smashed to bits and he was getting mated in just a couple more moves!

GM Lubomir Ftacnik, who is today part of the ChessBase team

How did this happen? The answers will come on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET (= 3 a.m. Thursday morning CET) as we take a closer look. The point isn't just to celebrate a brilliancy, but to gain some insight into the Hedgehog system. Our aim will be to obtain an understanding how it works and to see how much White can – and cannot! – get away with, so that we can play either side of this opening with a fundamental grip on the opening from both sides' perspective.

To watch, go to the Broadcast room of the Playchess server at the time given above, and look for and select "Polugaevsky-Ftacnik" under the Games tab. Hope to see you there!

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). You can find the times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date, with exact times for most larger cities 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.

Monokroussos in Mexico: World Championship 2007

Dennis Monokroussos is 43, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and has worked 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.

Playchess Training with IM Merijn van Delft

Everyone is invited to join this weekly training hour on Wednesday evening. Together we will have a look at the most recent grandmaster games. Recurring themes during our analyses and discussions are the latest opening developments and how to work on your own chess.

A word about myself: I was born (March 13, 1979) and raised in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands. In 1995 I won the Dutch U16 Championship and played the European Championship in Poland and the World Championship in Brasil. In 1998 I moved to Amsterdam to study psychology and had a great time there. In 2003 I met my wife Evi Zickelbein and ever since we've been living together in Hamburg, Germany. In 2004 I made both master titles: one at the university and one in chess. Since 2005 I've been working fulltime in the chess world: training, coaching, writing, organizing and still actively playing myself. By now I have about fifteen years of experience as a chess trainer. Together with my dad I wrote a book about chess training (Schaaktalent Ontwikkelen), of which the Dutch version is already available and the English version will follow April 2010.

IM Merijn van Delft's lecture starts at 20:00h Central European Time (Berlin, Paris, Rome), which translates to 19:00h London. You can find the times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. The lecture is in the "Broadcast" room of Playchess. It is free for Premium Playchess members (50 Ducats for others).


The lectures are broadcast live on the chess server If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!

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