12/03/2008 20:27




James Plaskett



Many of us look around for a surprise weapon in the opening.  An opening that will make our opponents rock back in their chairs and wonder what is about to hit them.  Such a weapon is the Queen's Bishop Attack in the queen's pawn opening.  The first moves are:-

1.d4 d5 2.Bg5!  pinning the ghost of a knight!

The opening has been around for a number of years, perhaps not in the precise form given above as sometimes it can arise by transposition from the Trompovsky Attack.  Although the opening has been known, nothing has been written about it.  Now we have a book devoted to the attack written by James Plaskett.

This is the latest in the Batsford Series "REVEALED" which adds to "The Sicilian Bb5", "The Modern Benoni", "The Benko Gambit" and "The Gruenfeld" all "REVEALED".

Batsford have adopted a new method of presentation in this series.  Gone are the hackneyed two column presentation with variations numbered "A", "A1", "A2", "Aa1" etc which always left me in haze, having to go back a number of pages to trace whether or not I was following the same line as that I started out researching.  The new format does not have columns and the text is well spaced and easy to read.

The structure of the book also makes for easy reading and assimilation, this being:-

Although Plaskett is not a regular player of this attack, my database, which has 6200+ queen's bishop attack openings and 967 Plaskett games, has only eight examples of such games played by him.  However, his success cannot be denied as he won six of these games, drew one, and lost one to Julian Hodgson - a pioneer of the attack.  This puts Plaskett in a good position to write such a book.  His style is quite laid back and he makes no attempt to laud the merits of the system.  Rather he describes the strategy etc and allows the reader to make his own judgements on the efficacy of the various stratagems.

"Why 2.Bg5?"  

This must be the first question to be answered and Plaskett quotes the perfect response made a couple of years ago by Genrikh Chepukaitus in an interview on Chesscafe.com:

"The bishop-kamikaze is not like Lasker's desperado, a different concept.  I want to play 1.d4 on the first move, then to put my pawns on dark squares - c3, e3 ....  With this plan I make my bishop on c1 a kamikaze.  I want him to die as soon as possible.  So, I plan to bring it to g5, and I am happy when I can exchange it .....  When you get rid of your kamikaze bishop your other bishop becomes a general.  Do not exchange it or your light squares will fall apart."

Such a philosophy involving the development of the queen's bishop, underlies other openings, i.e. the London System.  There, however, the bishop is retained.  The Queen's Bishop Attack aims ideally to exchange the bishop against a knight which will invariably appear on f6.  This also has another virtue (?) of inflicting doubled pawns in the black position.

Among the practitioners of this attack have been Miles, Adams, Akopian, Lputian, Rogers, Torre and even Alekhine.  However, the prime mover must be Julian Hodgson.  Of the 6200+ games in my database, 117 have been played by him.

The games that Plaskett chooses for the book have not been analysed "ad infinitum" (or should that be "a la Kasparov"?) but the comments made are succinct and sufficient for the purpose of drawing attention to the game theme.  Obviously there are many ways for Black to reply to this system, and to attempt to get the various ways into any structure would be a mammoth task and would probably be outdated before it was finished.  The general approach chosen by Plaskett is a better way to deliver the message.

The book contains 58 complete games with notes and the final sections have 21 positions that have arisen in play, and invite you to find the continuation.  The solutions appear in another section.

There are 219 pages and the price is a reasonable 14.99.  A good buy for anyone looking for a fresh weapon to add to their repertoire.

Below are four games selected from the book.  The first two are from the section "Strategy in the Queen's Bishop Attack", the third from "What's Hot" and the last from "Tricks and Traps".


(1) Gallagher,Joseph G (2525) - Unzicker,Wolfgang (2420) [D00]
Bundesliga 9798 Germany, 1997
[J. Plaskett]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 d5 3.Bxf6 exf6 4.e3 Be6 5.Nd2  

GM Eric Lobron made the rare decision of taking play back into a line of the Veresov System when he was faced with 4.Be6 in his game with Klovans in 1998 after 5.Bd3 Nd7 6.Nc3!? c6 7.Qf3 g6 8.e4 dxe4 9.Qxe4 f5 10.Qf4 Bg7 chances were level.


Alternatively 5...c6 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.Qf3 Nd7 8.Ne2 g6 9.e4 0-0 10.0-0 Qc7 11.h3 dxe4 12.Nxe4 Bh2+ 13.Kh1 f5 14.Ng5 Bd5 15.Qe3 Rae8 16.Qd2 h6 17.c4 hxg5 18.cxd5 Bf4 (Before White goes g3) 19.Nxf4 gxf4 was unclear when two strong GM's Agdestein and Heine Nielsen met in the Bundesliga in 2000, although after errors White won.


A rarer but also strategically justifiable way, as White isolates d5.

6...Bxc5 7.Nb3 Bb6 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.Nfd4 0-0 10.Be2 f5 11.a4 f4!  

The old guy was alert.

12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.exf4 Qf6  

The regaining.

14.a5 Bc7 15.g3 Qxb2 16.0-0 Bd6  

Black emerges quite comfy from the opening.


Joe not at his best. 17.Qd3 was superior.


17...Bh3 Winning the exchange, as 18.Re1 Bb4 19.Rb1 Qc3 still insists on the win, unless White grovels pathetically with 20.Nf3 Bxa5  

18.Nxc6 Bxf1 19.Bxf1 Rfc8 20.Rb1 Qc3 21.Nd4 Qxa5 22.Rb5 Qc7 23.Rxd5 Bc5  

Wolfgang Unzicker made no mistake in wrapping this up.

24.Nf5 Rd8 25.Qg4 Bf8 26.Bc4 Kh8 27.Ne3 Rxd5 28.Bxd5 Rd8 29.Qf5 Qd7 30.Qh5 Kg8 31.c4 g6 32.Qf3 Bg7 33.c5 Bd4 34.c6 Qd6 35.Nc4 Qxd5 36.c7 Bxf2+! 37.Qxf2 Rc8 0-1