Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Sarratt Attack

Of the Sarrat / Vitzthum Attack (see the recent "Another Distant Relative" as well as "A Bridge To... Somewhere" and "Abridged"), The City of London Chess Magazine wrote in 1875
This attack, invented by Count Vitzthum, was very much practised about twenty years ago. [Here, Readers may recall Meek - Morphy, Mobile, Alabama, 1855; Meek - Morphy, New Orleans, 1855; and Kennicott - Morphy, New York, 1857 as examples; although Lowenthal, in Morphy's Games (1860), had already opined "This {5.Ng5}is far from an effective mode of proceeding with the attack, and is decidedly inferior to castling" and "This mode of proceeding with the attack is comparatively obsolete, as with the correct play the defense is perfectly satisfactory." ] It is now abandoned in contests of strong players, as the analysis proved that Black can maintain his Pawn with a good position.
Cook's Synopsis of the Chess Openings (1874) had been equally dismissive
This attack is now seldom played; with correct play it results in an even game.
Wait a minute!

What if White is happy with "an even game" and is interested in tricky play? 

I am surprised that the opening is not played more often!

As it turns out, a recent game of mine, with the Black pieces, at (3 days / move) started with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Bc5 (I was thinking about a reversed Jerome Gambit) 3.Bc4 Nc6 4.d4 exd4 5.Ng5 Nh6 6.Nxf7 Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5.

In fact, after 9...d5 10.Nd2 Re8 11.0-0 12.Re1 Bf5 13.c3 Kg7 14.cxd4 Nxd4 (instead of ...Qxd4!) Blacks game fell apart quickly.

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