Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Flogging the Fajarowicz
After three rounds of the Greater Midwest Classic this past weekend, Greg Bungo was the sole leader of the top section with 3-0. I was one of five players a half-point behind. We met on Board 1. Greg surprised me - pleasantly - with the Fajarowicz Gambit, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4?! The regular Budapest with 3...Ng4, though rarely played by top GMs, borders on respectability. Black usually regains the gambit pawn and it's hard for White to get much advantage if Black plays well. The Fajarowicz, on the other hand, has never made much sense to me. There are a fair number of traps at Black's disposal, but if White avoids them Black doesn't get much for the sacrificed pawn. His knight on e4 often ends up retreating to c5, and then sometimes to e6. IM Timothy Taylor writes in his excellent book The Budapest Gambit (2009), p. 225, "I don't understand this gambit. Black is a pawn down but, unlike in the regular Budapest, has no threat to get it back and no significant lead in development." "[M]y recommendation for Black is simple: don't play it!" But it has its fans. GM Lev Gutman wrote a whole book on the thing. In the Chicago area, its adherents include NMs Steve Szpisjak and Bungo, as well as Dean Arond. Greg recovered well from this debacle with a win in Round 5. Unfortunately, a last round loss kept him out of the major prize money. I drew in Rounds 5 and 6 to tie with David Peng, Aaron Jing, Karthikeyan Pounraj, and Maggie Feng for second prize, each of us earning $700. Audrius Macenis, whom Greg beat in Round 2, won his other five games to win the $1500 first prize outright.