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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Weaver Adams Plays the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation

     Eric Schiller wrote a book on this variation in what has been called "the worst chess book ever written," but because I don't own the book I can't verify the truth of the claim. From reading the reviews it sounds like most people's complaints are about the publisher's poor printing, but one reviewer wrote, "...its value is primarily for entertainment, not so much analysis (there are only 30 or so very scant pages of opening analysis, followed by a poorly organized database dump of lightly annotated games. But for amusement purposes you won't be disappointed." You can take a look inside Schiller's book on Amazon HERE
     The Frankenstein–Dracula Variation ( 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Qh5 Nd6 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nb5) usually arises from the Vienna Game, but can also be reached from the Bishop's Opening. The opening involves a lot of complications and it's not seen much in top-level play although Ivanchuk once used it against Anand back in 1992 and drew. And, I even found a game where Alex Shabalov played it though it was in an open tournament against a "mere" 2400 player.
    The blurb for Schiller's book calls it "a monstrous thicket of complications which still have not been fully explored. The opening leads to fascinating positions which will bring enjoyment both in tournament and correspondence play. Although some theorists have treated the variation as dead and buried, experiments have managed to bring the monster variation back to life for Black, and it can now be considered fully playable."  Looking over this game with Stockfish and Komodo makes me believe that description is about right.
     In the following old game between Weaver Adams and Harry Lyman we seen Adams playing the Vienna, an opening which became closely associated with him. In his first book, White to Play and Win, published in 1939, Adams claimed that 1.e4 was White's strongest move and that if both sides played the best moves white ought to win. After 1...e5 Adams claimed the magic bullet was the Bishop's Opening.
     When the Bishop's Opening didn't produce the desired results, he switched to the Vienna Game, claiming a win with what is today known as the Frankenstein–Dracula Variation. When that failed he switched to the Adams Gambit where he played 6.d4 instead of 6.Nb5.  
     The Massachusetts Chess Association has a very nice tribute to his opponent, Harry Lymam, HERE.

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