by Steve Lopez

One of the many fun aspects of writing/editing Electronic T-Notes is the mail I receive. It's frequently a form of instant gratification as well; publishing in the electronic media means that I frequently get feedback on an article with a few hours of its "publication".

I frequently receive excellent tips from other Fritz/ChessBase users. Larry Woodlock sent me this fine example about a month ago:

I recently decided I was tired of my old opening system and, after reading John Donaldson's new book advocating 1.Nf3, followed by c4 and g3, I decided to adopt it for a trial period. In the course of study, I soon found that Ulf Andersson and Rafael Vaganian employed 1.Nf3 almost exclusively, so to get a quick database of real exponents, I went to Big98 and set up a file of their games as White, with a few dozen of Donaldson's to boot. I ended up with about 1400 games, probably 80 percent using this system or transposing into it. Useful enough, but then I set up a tree and imported the games into it. Now THAT has really been a kick!

Donaldson's book is very good, but paging thru the tree has really made this system come alive for me. The database became a greater resource as I gained an understanding of how these players put this system of thematically related openings to work in OTB play. Finally, I set Fritz and Hiarcs to blows using this book in 25' games... What a way to learn! I think that one of the features that REALLY sets Fritz apart from the competition is its ability to generate opening books, whether from other programs or, more importantly in my view, from the games of the real experts.

I was looking into a system that doesn't have a lot of published material, but which is extensively employed by a couple of prolific GMs, circumstances just begging for a custom Fritz tree -- but there are probably many other species of opening systems that have the same qualities -- reasonably solid, heavily represented in the games of specific players, but largely unpublished in existing studies or monographs. This is really an area where Fritz shines, and I think you could remind your readers who, if not today, then tommorrow will be thinking of new openings, all of whom could look to Fritz as a terrific compiler/statistician/training partner.

Larry's e-mail vividly illustrates an excellent technique: how to use traditional books in conjunction with electronic tools to increase one's knowledge and understanding. This is particularly true in cases like the one Larry illustrates: openings that are a bit "off the beaten track". A good book on an opening can explain its concepts while a database program can aid in finding supplemental material to reinforce those points. Larry elaborates on his technique in a second e-mail, providing us with another tip:

One thing I forgot to mention is screening out games decided in fewer than 20 moves. This usually accounts for 12-15 percent of games in a database (check it out!), most of which are grandmaster draws that bias the stats, while the rest seem to be early blunders that also convey little info of general use.

Of course, one may wish to review the short wins to identify any traps which one could fall into. But these tend to be fairly rare cases (except in my games after a two to three week layoff from chess!) so one can make a case for excluding them from the tree. Thanks for the tips, Larry!

Several weeks ago I wrote about adjusting the board colors in ChessBase. I mentioned that I couldn't get the white squares to look like the "buff" color of USCF roll-up vinyl mats. John Wingfield wrote an e-mail that essentially said that I must be color-blind:

...was surprised you had the same color board in Chessbase 7.0 as I have in Fritz5. Why can't you get light squares the color you want? In Fritz5 all you do is access the color palette and go to yellow and adjust from there. You should be able to get "Buff". My board from Fritz5 adjusted to buff with no problem.

I went back and tried it again. I had no trouble getting the light-squares in Fritz to appear as buff, but I'm having a devil of a time adjusting ChessBase to get that color. I either get a sour-milk yellow or a sort of "M&M" light tan ( a color they've since disposed of in favor of blue. I'm sorry, but I just can't get into eating blue M&Ms, but that's another rant for another time).

However, thanks for the e-mail, John. With your inspiration I managed to get one of my programs to display the way I want. I'll keep working on getting it right in CB7.

Another benefit of writing ETN is that I get pointed to chess pages that I would otherwise have overlooked. Eleven year old Matthew Herman has a 2100 USCF rating (egad!) and has posted some of his games on his web page . It's worth a look. He has some nice annotations (and the fact that he created the page using ChessBase 7's HTML output doesn't hurt either. Congratulations on your chess accomplishments, Matt, and I hope to see you challenging for the World Championship someday (then I can brag to my friends that I knew you way back when...Presently my only "brush with greatness" was spending some time with Peter Svidler at the 1995 World Open. We definitely started off on the wrong foot, but after a couple of days we became friends. Again, another story for another time...).

Speaking of web pages, Bob Pawlak has a new review of ChessBase 7 up now at his Chess Widower's Home Page. Bob's site is one of the best around for checking out the features of chess software before you buy it. He has no financial or business ties to any software manufacturer, so you can be sure of an unbiased report. And here's the part that really freaks me out: he actually buys most of the stuff he writes about! How does he get away with it? I bring home a new chess book or a copy of a chess program that I bought for $10 down at Babbage's and I get read the riot act. Heck, I even sometimes get yelled at for freebies that I receive as a chess journalist/reviewer. Bob pays full price for the latest software, has a huge collection of it, and has managed to remain breathing. Bob has an extremely understanding "significant other" and I stand in awe of him.

I recently suggested to Bob that he should start another page about chess books, but he politely declined. I guess he doesn't want to push his luck...

I recently wrote about the fact that chess allows you to meet players from around the world. I met Carl Tillotson on Compuserve's Chess Forum a number of years ago and was recently delighted to hear from him again. He, too, has a website with games from the Lancashire (England) Chess Association generated by ChessBase 7's HTML output feature. I wish more chess clubs and leagues would create home pages. I could spend all day perusing pages like this one. It's quite good and you really should check it out. Carlos has done a fine job with it.

John Richards (manager of Bristol's 4NCL team), Matt Herman, and a few other folks have asked me to explain the "repertoire database" functions of ChessBase 7. I'll be glad to -- as soon as I figure them out myself (said with a wry grin).

I few weeks ago I mistakenly said that the colored bar graph from Fritz5's tree was not avilable in ChessBase 7. Arif Dalvi has shown me the error of my ways (and is my face red!):

This is how it is done:

1. Build tree
2. Right click in the area where the tree moves are
3. From the menu that shows up, choose [Properties]
4. In the Properties box put a checkmark against statistics.

Hope this helps... Hope you will correct the section where you lament the fact that you cant display these bar graphs.

Actually, it was more of a "whine" than a mere "lament", if I correctly remember my state of mind at the time. Thanks, Arif, for coming to the rescue!

And now we come to the big old stinky can of slimy worms I cracked open last week with my bit about the Bonxdorf Variation. Hoo-boy! I've received more mail on this than on anything I've written since "The Pirc Horror" short story last summer.

Egad! Where do I begin?...

First, a quick memory refresher. I was taking issue with a bit of analyis in Eric Schiller's book Unorthodox Chess Openings in which he describes a "trap" in the Bonxdorf Variation, a trap that doesn't appear to work:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.a3 b6 5.Qd5 Nc5 6.Qxa8 Nc6

I followed this up with some Fritz analysis that appears to support my claim:

7.Bg5 Qxg5 8.Qxc8+ Qd8

Ciaran Quinn wrote to disagree with Fritz's assessment:

It seems to me that 8 ... Qd8 by Black is obviously hopeless, swapping off queens and going into the middlegame a rook down.

What alternatives did Fritz have for this? I am thinking of 8 ... Ke7 with the idea of Qxe5,g6 and Bg7 trapping the queen.

At least Black would have some practical chances.

Well, Ciaran, Fritz gave that as the only move. However, this is probably due to the settings I used when I set up the correspondence analysis. I fed Fritz the position after 8...Ke7 and it came up with 9.Nc3 (of course, the immediate 8.Nf3 to chase the Queen doesn't work due to 9.Qc1#). Now the Queen must move, but if 9...Qxe5, then White can play 10.Nf3 and run the Queen around a bit. So Fritz liked 9...f6 10.Nf3 Qf5 11.exf6+ Kf7 12.Qxc7 Qxf6. But your ideas are good ones, Ciaran -- if White's not careful, he can certainly find himself with a trapped Queen.

Dresden's Wolfgang Kuechle sent a large amount of analysis which I now reproduce here in it's entirety:

Fajarowicz analysis [A51]

[comments by Wolfgang Kuechle]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.a3 b6 5.Qd5 Nc5 6.Qxa8 Nc6 7.Bg5

[7.Nf3 Nb3 8.Bg5 f6 9.exf6 gxf6 10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11. Qxc8+ Ke7! 12.Ra2 Nc1 13.Ra1 Nb3= If White allows Black to capture the Rook, Black's tremendous lead in development should provide compensation for the missing pawns.;

7.Nd2! That's a tough nut to crack. I couldn't come up with convincing lines for Black. Interesting is 7...Na6 8.b4 Nab8 9.b5 Bc5 10.bxc6 Nxc6 11.a4 0-0 12.a5 bxa5 13.Rxa5! Bb6! 14.Ra1 White's Queen is still trapped but it's not clear how Black will exploit this. Maybe 14...f6 15.Ngf3 fxe5 16.Nxe5! Qf6 17.Nxc6 dxc6 18.Rxa7 Qxf2+ 19.Kd1 Black may have drawing chances here.]

7...f6! 8.exf6 gxf6 9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.Qxc8+ Kf7! Now Black threatens ...Qxb2 picking up the Rook on a1 and probably some more material on the Queenside. Therefore: 11.Nc3 Bd6 Trapping the Queen. 12.Qxh8 Qxh8 White has two Rooks and two pawns for the Queen but is considerably lagging behind in development. I believe Black has sufficient counterplay in this murky position. One possible continuation is 13.Nf3 Nb3 14. Rd1

[14.Ra2!? Nc1 15.Ra1 Nb3=]

14...Bxa3 15.Rxd7+

[15.bxa3 Qxc3+ 16.Nd2 Nxd2 17.Rxd2 Nd4 18.f3 Nb3-/+]

15...Ke6 16.Rxc7 Kd6 [16...Bxb2!? looks interesting too, but the situation after 17.Nd5 Bc3+ 18.Kd1 is dazzling; both Kings are in dire straits.]

17.Nb5+ Kc5 18.Nfd4 Nbxd4 19.Nxd4 Qxd4 20.bxa3 Qxc4 21. e3 Qc1+ followed by ...Qxa3 and Black's Queenside pawns should secure the win.

Wolfgang, this is some extraordinarily impressive analysis, made doubly so by the fact that you did it without computer aid! My head hurts after thinking about that, and I'm not a terribly accomplished tactician, so I will leave it for the readers to comment on your ideas. Additional analysis, anyone?

Then there was this gem from ChessBase's own programmer, Mathias Feist (known to yours truly as "1T", as a means of differentiating between him and Matthias Wuellenweber, "2T"). Mathias hit me with this bombshell early in the week:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.a3 b6 5.Qd5 Nc5 6.Qxa8 Nc6??
Steve, what Eric Schiller had in mind was probably:
6.Qxa8 Bb7! 7.Bg5 (7.Qxa7 Nc6) 7...Qc8 8.Qxa7 Nc6. This looks much more logical and seems to be rather unclear to me ;)

Mathias, it does look better! Now we have the possibility of a typographical error being thrown into the mix!

Hoping to "clarify" things a bit, I tossed the line over to Hiarcs6 the other night. Here's what Hiarcs spat out:

Fajarowicz analysis [A51]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.a3 b6 5.Qd5 Nc5 6.Qxa8 Bb7 7.Qxa7

[7.Bg5 Qc8 (7...Be7 8.Bxe7 Kxe7 9.Qxa7 Nc6 10.Qxb7 Nxb7 11.Nf3 Qe8=) 8.Qxa7 Nc6 9.Qxb7 Qxb7 10.Nf3 Ne6 11.Bd2 Ned4=; 7.Qxb7 Nxb7 8.Nf3 (8.Bf4 Nc6 9.Nf3 f6 10.Bg3 fxe5 11.Nxe5 Nxe5-/+) 8...Nc6 9.b4 d6 10.exd6 Nxd6 11.e3 Qf6=/+]


[7...Nc6 8.Qxb7 Nxb7 9.Nf3 Qe7 10.Bf4 f6 11.Nc3 fxe5=; 7...h6 8.b4 (8.Nc3 Nc6 9.Qxb7 Nxb7 10.Nf3 g5 11.g4 Nba5=) 8...Nc6 9.Qxb7 Nxb7 10.Bb2 Qg5 11.Nf3 Qg6+/=]


[8.Bf4 Nc6 9.Qxb7 Nxb7 10.Nc3 f6 11.exf6 Bxf6=]

8...Nc6 9.Qxb7 Nxb7 10.Bf4 f6 11.exf6 Bxf6=

So it looks as though with anything resembling competent play by Black, he at least achieves equality in this line (which is, of course, Black's major goal in the opening).

So this brings us back to the question: was 6...Nc6 a typo? Has Mathias found an improvement? The floor is open for further commentary and explanation.

For the sake of completeness, I now present my entire collection of Bonxdorf games -- all six of them:

(1) Timoshchenko,G (2505) - Welling,G (2330) [A51]
Oostende op (4), 1991

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.a3 b6 5.Nd2 Bb7 6.Qc2 Nxd2 7.Bxd2 a5 8.f3 Bc5 9.e4 Nc6 10.Bc3 Qe7 11.Ne2 Nxe5 12.Nd4 f6 13.Nf5 Qf7 14.Qd2 a4 15.Bd4 Nc6 16.Bxc5 bxc5 17.Bd3 g6 18.Ne3 Nd4 19.Qc3 0-0 20.0-0 Rfe8 21.Nc2 Nxc2 22.Bxc2 Bc6 23.b4 axb3 24.Bxb3 Qe6 25.a4 Qe5 26.Qxe5 fxe5 27.a5 Reb8 28.Ba4 Bxa4 29.Rxa4 Ra6 30.Rd1 d6 31.Ra2 Kf7 32.Kf2 Ke6 33.Ke3 Rba8 34.Rda1 c6 35.Kd3 d5 36.cxd5+ cxd5 37.exd5+ Kxd5 38.Kc3 Kc6 39.h4 R8a7 40.Re1 Rxa5 41.Rxa5 Rxa5 42.Rxe5 Ra3+ 43.Kb2 Rd3 44.Kc2 Ra3 45.Kb2 Rd3 46.Kc2 Ra3 47.Kb2 1/2-1/2

(2) Sarmiento,B (2215) - Romero Holmes,A (2490) [A51]
Mesa op, 1992

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.a3 b6 5.Nf3 Bb7 6.e3 Nc6 7.b3 Qe7 8.Bb2 0-0-0 9.Qc2 Ng5 10.Be2 Nxf3+ 11.Bxf3 Nxe5 12.Bxb7+ Kxb7 13.Nc3 Qe6 14.Qe4+ c6 15.Ne2 Ng6 16.Qc2 Nh4 17.0-0 Qg6 18.Qxg6 hxg6 19.Rfd1 f6 20.Rd3 Be7 21.Rad1 Kc7 22.e4 g5 23.b4 Rhe8 24.Ng3 Bf8 25.Kf1 Ng6 26.f3 Ne5 27.Bxe5+ Rxe5 28.Nf5 a5 29.Nd6 Bxd6 30.Rxd6 axb4 31.axb4 Re7 32.b5 Ra8 33.R6d2 Ra4 34.Rc1 Rb4 35.h3 Kb7 36.Rcd1 Kc8 37.Rc1 cxb5 38.cxb5+ Kd8 39.Rd5 Re5 40.Rxe5 fxe5 41.Kf2 Rxb5 42.Rc2 Rc5 43.Rb2 Kc7 44.Kg3 d5 1/2-1/2

(3) Kelecevic,N (2435) - Guensberg,A [A51]
Lenk op (6), 1995

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.a3 b6 5.Nf3 Bb7 6.e3 d6 7.Be2 Nd7 8.exd6 Bxd6 9.0-0 Qf6 10.Nbd2 0-0-0 11.Nxe4 Bxe4 12.Qd4 Qg6 13.Nh4 Qe6 14.Nf3 g5 15.Nxg5 Bxh2+ 16.Kxh2 Qh6+ 17.Nh3 Bxg2 18.Kxg2 Rhg8+ 19.Kh2 Nc5 20.Qf4 Qf8 21.e4 Ne6 22.Bg4 Qc5 23.Be3 Qe7 24.Rad1 Rdf8 25.Rg1 1-0

(4) Saksgard,C - Gundersen,H (2240) [A51]
Namses op, 1995

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.a3 b6 5.Nf3 Bb7 6.Nbd2 Nc5 7.b4 Ne6 8.Bb2 g5 9.e3 Bg7 10.Nd4 Nxd4 11.exd4 Qe7 12.Qe2 Nc6 13.h4 h6 14.hxg5 hxg5 15.Rxh8+ Bxh8 16.g3 0-0-0 17.0-0-0 d6 18.Qg4+ Kb8 19.Re1 dxe5 20.d5 Bc8 21.Qe2 Nxb4 22.axb4 Qxb4 23.Qe3 f6 24.Qa3 Qxa3 25.Bxa3 b5 26.Ne4 a5 27.Be7 Rg8 28.cxb5 f5 29.Nxg5 e4 30.Rd1 Be5 31.Nf7 Bc3 32.Nd8 e3 33.Kc2 Bd2 34.Nc6+ Kb7 35.Bc5 f4 36.gxf4 Bf5+ 37.Bd3 e2 38.Bxf5 e1Q 39.Rxe1 Bxe1 40.Be4 Re8 41.Ne5 Kc8 42.b6 cxb6 43.Bxb6 Bb4 44.Bd4 a4 45.Bf5+ Kc7 46.Be6 Kd6 47.Nd3 Ba3 48.f5 Kc7 49.f6 Bf8 50.Nc5 a3 51.f7 Ra8 52.Nd7 Bd6 53.Kb1 Ra4 54.Bg7 a2+ 55.Ka1 Rf4 56.f8Q Bxf8 57.Bxf8 Rxf2 58.Ba3 Rd2 59.Ne5 Kb7 60.d6 Kb8 61.Bb4 Re2 62.d7 1-0

(5) Pedersen,B (2120) - Jensen,J (2195) [A51]
Aarhus Foraar (1), 1997

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.a3 b6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Nc3 Nc5 7.Nf3 d6 8.exd6 Bxd6 9.Be3 0-0 10.0-0-0 Nbd7 11.Bxc5 Nxc5 12.e3 a5 13.Bd3 Nxd3+ 14.Qxd3 Qe8 15.Nb5 Rd8 16.Qc2 Be4 17.Qc3 Qc6 18.Nxd6 cxd6 19.Nd4 Qa4 20.Nb5 Rc8 21.Rd4 d5 22.Nd6 b5 23.Nxe4 dxe4 24.c5 b4 25.Qc4 Qc6 26.axb4 axb4 27.Qxb4 Rb8 28.Qc3 Rb5 29.b4 Qf6 30.Qb2 Rfb8 31.Rhd1 h6 32.R1d2 Qg5 33.Qc3 Rc8 34.g3 Kh7 35.Rxe4 Qf5 36.Rc4 Qh3 37.Qd3+ 1-0

(6) Miralles,G (2520) - Toulzac,P (2265) [A51]
FRA-chT Mulhouse (4), 1998

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.a3 b6 5.Nd2 Bb7 6.Nxe4 Bxe4 7.Bf4 Qe7 8.e3 Bb7 9.Qc2 g6 10.Nf3 Bg7 11.Be2 Nc6 12.Bg5 Qe6 13.0-0-0 0-0 14.h4 h5 15.Bf4 Bxe5 16.Nxe5 Nxe5 17.Bxe5 Qxe5 18.Rxd7 Rad8 19.Rhd1 Rxd7 20.Rxd7 Bxg2 21.Bd3 Bc6 22.Rd4 Kg7 23.Qc3 Re8 1/2-1/2

A few noteworthy points:

1) I'm not saying that these are the only six Bonxdorf Variation games in existence. However, this line is a branch of the Budapest Defense which is a specialty of mine. I go out of my way to collect Budapest games, so if there are any more games of this variation, I suspect that they're few in number;

2) Notice that none of the players of the White pieces in these games fell into the mess following 5.Qd5;

3) Most importantly, please take note of the complete absence of Black wins.

Pardon me while I throw some more gasoline on this particular brushfire: Tseitlin and Glaskov's book on the Budapest doesn't even mention 4...b6 in passing. The first and second editions of ECO fail to mention this line; the line is also absent from the first and second editions of BCO and the tenth, twelfth, and thirteeth editions of MCO.

Perhaps we need Clyde Nakamura or Hugh Myers to weigh in on this one?

Even if we're making a mountain out of a molehill, at least we're having fun! I'm just happy that I didn't choose to write about the Grob...

Thanks to everyone who's taken time to write to me. Your e-mail is greatly appreciated! Until next week, happy Bonxdorfing and have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments, suggestions, and analysis for Electronic T-Notes.