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Reputations: the Schliemann

Sabino Brunello’s first book, Attacking the Spanish, is getting ever nearer to ready. This started me thinking about the Schliemann variation (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5), one of three lines the book covers, with the Marshall and the Gajewski. For decades most GM’s believed that the Schliemann was unsound, but in the last few years Radjabov has single-handedly convinced the chess world that 3…f5 is a respectable move.

Has any other variation enjoyed such a sudden improvement in its reputation? The best alternative I can think of is the a6-Slav, but that was a gradual process, I think. Whereas overnight the Schliemann switched from ?! to !?

John Shaw

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  1. slavof
    June 11th, 2009 at 14:32 | #1


    maybe another similar causes would be Kings Indian which was less popular for some time (even Kasparov stop using it) after Kramnik’s success with so-called Bayonet attack. Or maybe classic stonewall which still have not very favorable reputation on high level …


  2. John Shaw
    June 11th, 2009 at 21:06 | #2


    I agree: the King’s Indian does seem to have greater swings in popularity than most mainline openings. And as with the Schliemann, Radjabov’s results have been rather impressive.

    I think the Stonewall (Dutch?) needs one of the top players to take it up and boost its image. Maybe Magnus Carlsen? I had a good view of Rowson-Carlsen, Dresden Olympiad 2008, which was a Stonewall via a Semi-Slav move order, and Carlsen won in great style.

  3. Seth
    June 12th, 2009 at 05:46 | #3

    What about the Sveshnikov Sicilian? That underwent a huge boom in popularity. I was just starting chess at around the same time, so I do not know for sure what it’s reputation was before the explosion…

  4. Alexei Lugovoi
    June 12th, 2009 at 09:10 | #4


    Dear editors,

    I’m wondering if you can publish GM repertoire for Black against 1.d4 based on KING’S INDIAN, in following way:

    * a massive 400++ pages book
    * top notch main lines – bulletproof
    * sections on history, heroes, strategy, tactics
    * introduction/interview with Kasparov and Radjabov

    So let us see now what we have on the market:

    1. Bologan: The King’s Indian, 2009
    2. Golubev: Understanding the King’s Indian, 2006
    3. Gallagher: Play the King’s Indian, 2004
    4. Keene & Jacobs: The Complete King’s Indian, 2003

    As a leading chess publishing house, in my opinion, could you stand up against mentioned books and produce a masterpiece?

    I and other KID die-harts are waiting with bloodthirsty axes and hardcore power!!!!

  5. Jacob Aagaard
    June 12th, 2009 at 10:24 | #5

    We have a major KID project coming, but it will be some time before it is finished. The author is top-notch, which is what is the real challenge.

  6. John Shaw
    June 12th, 2009 at 10:51 | #6


    The Sveshnikov is a good example: my impression was that in the 1970s Evgeny Sveshnikov single-handedly took the obcure Lasker-Pelikan variation and made it a good main line. Wikipedia suggests Gennadi Timoshchenko also deseves some of the credit, which I didn’t know.

    I am not sure that was the boom you meant, as the Sveshnikov has had a few more swings since then.

  7. Seth
    June 15th, 2009 at 05:41 | #7

    @John Shaw

    Well from around the years 2002 to 2005 or so (I began to follow chess in 2001), it seemed like every other Sicilian was a Sveshnikov thanks to the efforts of Kramnik and Leko. I had wondered if that was the only boom the Sveshnikov had.

  8. Thomas Johansson
    June 21st, 2009 at 21:22 | #8

    Didn’t the Albin Counter Gambit have a similar history, before & and Morozevich? So, maybe this ?! to !? is something that happens more frequently in gambits.

  9. John Shaw
    June 22nd, 2009 at 13:49 | #9


    Morozevich’s influence on the Albin is another good example, but perhaps it has gone from ?! to !? back to ?! again.

    I am not an expert on the Albin, but I think a big part of the boost in popularity was the idea that Black could get the gambit pawn back with …Ng8-e7-g6xe5. It seems that “real” gambits (where the material deficit is long term) are still much less popular than regular level-material openings.

  1. June 12th, 2009 at 19:14 | #1