Being a long-time French Defense practitioner (26 years) & knowing that the illustrated games would be in The Kenilworthian archives or my database, I probably took fewer notes than others who attended FM Steve Stoyko's October 4th lecture but I hope the following synopsis suffices for those who missed it.
Stoyko French Defense Lecture
Part 1 of 4
Part 1 of 4
Exchange & Advance Variations
- Steve has a slight bias for Black in the Exchange & Advance Variations... has never played them as White!
- Although recognized as an opening authority, Steve doesn’t memorize theory. Instead, he comprehends positions by playing over key Grandmaster games – going over them slowly to understand the ideas behind the pawn structures. Thus, his games often follow book for 15-20 moves.
- Anytime Black surrenders the center with ...dxe4, White gets a slight advantage because a pawn on the 4th rank (d4) is worth more than one on the 3rd (e6).
Exchange Variation (2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5)
- If White plays exd5, he’s usually looking for a draw.
- The onus is on Black to create winning chances though White can play c2-c4, as Kasparov did once... only once.
- We can say that White is better because he has an extra move in the symmetrical position but the person who goes 1st is possibly at a disadvantage because he commits himself.
- The Bc1 is a theoretically bad B & Black can sometimes win a Knight vs. dark-squared B ending.
- Games presented were : West-Stoyko (in part), where White made mechanical development & soon ran out of good moves; Melekhina-Stoyko : USATE 2006 (0-1, 32), where the game was basically over after 11.h3; & Kovacs-Kortschnoi : Sarajevo 1969 (0-1, 25), which the Melekhina game paralleled.
- Also mentioned was M. Gurevich-Short : Manila Interzonal 1990 where Short created a piece imbalance, rather than a pawn imbalance (...c5) & won the aforementioned N vs. B (+ rooks) ending.
Advance Variation (2.d4 d5 3.e5)
- After 3...c5 4.c3, Steve advocates the Wade Variation (4...Qb6 5.Nf3 Bd7 idea 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Bb5, trading off Black's bad Bishop) to avoid the Milner-Barry Gambit (4...Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Bd7 8.0-0 Nxd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.Nc3), which he says is tricky.
- Due to time constraints, only Grasso-Stoyko : NJ Open 2006 (0-1, 23) where Black dominated the light squares, was demonstrated.
- Ivanovic-Beliavsky : Igalo 1994, mentioned as a model Wade Variation game, was included in Steve’s printed handout.
Part 2 of the series is tomorrow, Thursday, October 25th at 8:00 p.m., & will cover
- the King’s Indian Attack
- Rubinstein’s Variation (3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7)
- the Fort Knox Variation (3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7).