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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Practical Chances and a Romantic Opening Shootout

In keeping with the new focus of this blog, I decided to carry out a small experiment regarding opening theory. As a way of judging the merits of several romantic opening lines, such as the Pierce Gambit, Frankenstein-Dracula variation, and Halloween Gambit, I have performed a series of Engine-Engine matches using HIARCS (I use a Mac).

In these matches, I varied the time allotted to the engines for making moves, in order to determine in a quantitative fashion if a particular line offers practical chances and pressure, but can be defused with accurate defense. In the complete article below, I explain my motivation, methodology, and my results. This is a preliminary analysis, and future posts will continue this work, for example by looking at engine evaluations and comparing them with the results.

Still, a few interesting results were apparent. In particular, I was interested in several lines in the Pierce gambit, which starts with 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.Nf3 g5 5.d4 g4 6.Bc4 gxf3 7.O-O Nxd4! (Strongest test against the Pierce) 8.Bxf4 (the Knight is immune due to threats of Qg5 followed by Bc5 or Qg2) Bc5 9.Bxf7?! Kxf7 10.Be3

According to my analysis, the line with 9.Bxf7 Kxf7 10.Be3 is inferior for White, as others have suggested in the past. Notably, Ian Simpson at his excellent blog and site, The Gambiteers Guild, suggests that this might be playable for White, if it wasn't for 10...Qf6 11.Nd5 Qe5 12.Rxf3, when White's compensation falls short. In fact, 12.c3 instead should lead to at least an even game, with some pressure and practical chances for White. Some of the computer lines that I generated from this line are both amusing and instructive.

Select read more to see the complete article, with results, discussion, and my methodology. Think I missed something, or have an opening you'd like analyzed this way? Please feel free to share in the comments below.