A few weeks ago
, I mentioned that I was sick of playing the c3 Sicilian as white, and that I was ready to find a new response. At the time, I had narrowed down my choice to either the Smith-Morra Gambit or the Grand Prix Attack (GPA). I decided on the GPA (2. f4). I decided against the Smith-Morra Gambit, not because it isn't sound, but because good players don't accept it, and transpose into the French. I hate the French. I really like playing the GPA so far, and am clearly in the early "in love" phase of the relationship, so caveat emptor.
Here are some thoughts about the pluses and minuses of the GPA (note that there is an excellent Bibliography
of literature on the GPA at the Kenilworth Blog):Pluses:
1. Natural and principled moves, with a few exceptions, lead to a solid middlegame.
2. No hypermodern crap, which I hate, as in the Closed Sicilian. And I don't have to learn the reams of theory that go along with it, and the same goes for the Open Sicilian. Since the GPA isn't a main line, there isn't tons of theory to learn. (The GPA isn't mentioned in any of my beginning opening books!).
3. Tak complained that the GPA seemed like the KG, but with no gambit. Exactly! Translation: it's like the KG except you don't have to give a pawn away on move two! Don't most experts agree that the KGD is better for white than the KGA?
4. The pawn duo on e4/f4 is a powerful force, immediately applying pressure to black's kingside. Besides opening up a file for your f rook, the pawn on f4 creates a nice outpost on the e5 square, and threatens an f5 advance, blocking in black's white bishop. The power of the duo partly explains why it is smart for black to play 2...d5 against the GPA!
5. The pawn structure is similar to those I usually transpose into as white in the King's Pawn openings. Hence, I am already somewhat comfortable with the pawn duo on e4/f4, and the GPA has given me some new ideas that I'll be able to use in my King's Pawn games. I had read about synergy between repertoire choices, and now I get to see it. It's pretty sweet.Minuses:
1. As Tempo pointed out, c2 is often a weak square. I'm not sure this is unique to the GPA response to c5. However, it is a genuine problem, a problem which the c3 Sicilian remedies (I have learned that in chess you pay for safety with boredom
). I wonder if an early Na3 could sometimes be a good move to protect that square?
2. Typically black has a space advantage queenside, and has the opportunity to trap white's pieces there (for example, see this game
where my bishop was trapped queenside). This is sort of unnerving.
3. Because of 2, there is a very tense middlegame, where black is gearing up for a queenside attack, and white for a kingside attack. It's all about the initiative, and if you aren't good at seizing the initiative when the position calls for it, you will be screwed. I am not
good at seizing the initiative, or knowing when the position calls for an attack (any good books on this other than Art of Attack?), so I'll be taking some lumps as I improve.
4. The GPA will soon gain in popularity, unfortunately, as it is the recommended line in Chess Openings for White, Explained
, which will surely be a chess bestseller. Oh well, at least I can say I played it before it was the cool thing to do.
5. Some say that 2...d5 refutes the GPA (hence, many have gone to playing the 'delayed' GPA 2. Nc3 3. f4, as white, to deal with it). Frankly, I think this obituary was written prematurely, but if the GPA starts to feel broke, I'll switch to the delayed GPA.
All in all, I'm very happy with the GPA. Typically, I can tell that I don't
like an opening after a week or so playing with it (this happened with the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit and the Sicilian as black). I may have found a new life-partner (speaking of which, tomorrow is my 2-year wedding anniversary: Hi Julia!).