‘A Famous Old Line’

Issue 10 starting positionThis month marks 60 years since the tournament at Venice 1953, and the game Paoli-Schmid, in a then-critical variation of the Winawer. Schmid uncorked a startling innovation, forcing White to sacrifice an exchange, reaching the diagrammed position. Black, to move, is undeniably precariously placed, but here it is White who is down material and with something to prove.

This variation is renowned (or notorious, depending on your point of view) for its dizzying complications and very dense theory. However the theory has been stuck in a state of suspended animation for decades: in particular the line is too specialised to justify the space it would require in textbooks. John Watson, in his recent Play the French (4th edition) gives it more attention than most when he says this ‘famous old line’ has draws for Black ‘if he desperately needs them’.

Actually it seems to me that Black is better placed than that. White gets an edge, certainly, but theory has greatly overestimated its scope. The details are all in issue 10 of The New Winawer Report, now posted on The Winawer page.

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