Lev Polugaevsky was a great player, worthy of commemorating with a chess tournament or two, but alas: both in the recent event won by Dvoirys and in the famous Buenos Aires tournament in 1994, held a year or so before his death, none of the players saw fit to honor him by playing his signature variation. The Polugaevsky Variation (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 b5!?) is quite risky, of course, but it would be a fine tribute. (A suggestion to players, in case there are any subsequent Polugaevsky Memorial events: if Black is in sufficiently bad shape in the main line, perhaps the players could agree in advance to simply avoid the main line.)
Entries in Polugaevsky (2)
The Hedgehog is a fascinating system against the English Opening (it can arise via other openings as well, but in its pure form it's an anti-English system), once that's easy to underestimate. White obtains a huge space advantage, free of charge, while Black's pieces are huddled together on the last three ranks. At least that's how White may look at it. From Black's point of view, it's like a coiled spring, full of potential energy awaiting release. It might look passive and harmless, but the large number of elite players to get crushed with the white pieces should warn us othewise.
This week's ChessBase show offers a noteworthy example. The late Lev Polugaevsky was one of the world's very strongest players in 1982, but it was his opponent, Lubomir Ftacnik, who produced a game that has become a classic. Everything seemed perfectly normal after White's 19th move. "Polu" had more space and what seemed like a solid enough position, but 10 moves later he resigned. His position had been smashed to bits and he was getting mated in just a couple more moves!
How did this happen? The answers will come on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET (= 3 a.m. Thursday morning CET) as we take a closer look. The point isn't just to celebrate a brilliancy, but to gain some insight into the Hedgehog system. Our aim will be to obtain an understanding how it works and to see how much White can - and cannot! - get away with, so that we can play either side of this opening with a fundamental grip on the opening from both sides' perspective.
To watch, go to the Broadcast room of the Playchess server at the time given above, and look for and select "Polugaevsky-Ftacnik" under the Games tab. Hope to see you there!