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Budapest Fajarowicz

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Title: Budapest Fajarowicz Author: Lev Gutman
Language: Pages: 287
Cover: Paperback Published: 2004
Publisher: Batsford Homepage:
Price: £ 15,99 ISBN: 0-7134-8708-9
Reviewed by: Erik Sobjerg Date: 2/7 2004

Budapest Fajarowicz

Lev Gutman has once again decided to throw his attention on a less played and generally disrespected Opening. Earlier he has covered the 4…Qh4 line of the Scotch in great detail, and this time he has put a considerably amount of time and devotions into covering the fearless gambit:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 named after Sammi Fajarowicz from Leipzig.

Contrary to the more common 3…Ng4 the Fajarowicz is a real gambit and Black most often tries to seek his compensation in positions a clear pawn down. Playing it will soon earn you the reputation of being a true daredevil.



  • Introduction  (4 pages)
  • Part 1: Less Popular Variations  (22 pages)
  • Part 2: Steiner Variation 4.Qc2  (46 pages)
  • Part 3: 4.Nd2  (76 pages)
  • Part 4: 4.Nf3  (58 pages)
  • Part 5: 4.a3  (75 pages)
  • Index of Variations and Bibliography (3 pages)

The Fajarowicz Gambit has never been getting the theoreticians full approval, and there are some key problems that has to be solved for the Fajarowicz to be genuinely playable.


Two Important Lines

Lets take a look at what Gutman has found in the two most important cases (both of which can arise from several move orders and therefore is very important):

Line A:
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.Nf3 Bb4 5.Bd2 Nxd2 6.Nbxd2 Nc6 7.a3 Bxd2 8.Qxd2 Qe7 9.Qc3

This line has been under a cloud since Smyslov-Steiner 1946, where the great Russian claimed a very fine victory. Since then 9…b6 has been tried as an improvement, but 10.g3 Bb7 11.Bh3! 0-0-0 12.0-0-0 has proven clearly better for white. Gutman returns to 9…0-0 of the Smyslov-Steiner game and has found several interesting improvements. I.e. 10.0-0-0 Re8 11.Rd5 d6! 12.exd6 cxd6 13.e3 Be6 14.Rd2 Rac8 with fine counter play, or 11…b6 12.g3 a5!

Smyslov played 10.Rd1 Re8 11.Rd5 b6 12.e3 Bb7 13.Be2 and now Gutman prefers 13…Nd8 14.Rd2 Ne6 15.0-0 a5 to Steiner's 13…Rad8 which he however also seems to save with 14.0-0 Nb8 15.Rc1! Bxd5 16.cxd5 d6! 17.Bb5 Rf8 18.e4 a6 19.Bd3 Rfe8! (departing from the stem game) 20.e6 fxe6 21.dxe6 b5!? 22.Nd4 Qf6 and black is fine according to Gutman.

This may not be to everybody’s likening but seems the best way for Black in this crucial line.

Line B:
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ne4 4.a3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Qc2 d5 7.e3

Here 7…Bg4 8.cxd5 Qxd5 9.Bc4 Qa5 10.b4 Bxb4 11.axb4 Qxa1 12.Qxe4 Bh5! 13.e6 has been considered very critical, but Gutman defends Black with 13…0-0-0.

But instead he points out that both 8.Nbd2 and 8.Nd4 is better options for White giving less than adequate compensation to Black. By the way a very good illustration that Gutman's analysis is not one-sided at all.

This leads Gutman to recommend the more positional 4…b6 which he thinks is quite playable for Black. 5.Qd5 gives Black the option of 5…Bb7!? 6.Qxb7 Nc6 or the calmer 5…Nc5 both with equal chances according to Gutman and other Fajarowicz experts.


Serious Drawbacks

I have some experience with the Fajarowicz as Black, but concluded that it theoretically may be reasonably playable, but in practical terms has at least three serious drawbacks:

  1. It is not easy to learn. You need to have quite an amount of concrete knowledge to play it. That is not unlike many other openings, but here the consequences of forgetting something can be fatal due to the very tactical nature of the Opening. (I have some very painful memories as you might have guessed!)
  2. It is easy to avoid for the opponent. 2.Nf3 means that Black needs to have another opening at hand. 2…d6 3.c4 e5?! 4.dxe5 Ne4 5.Nd2 is doubtful for Black and White has of course other options on move 3, 4 and 5 as well.
  3. It is not easy to avoid simplified positions. One often would like to use it in games, which has to be won, but will then often tend to get very dull positions if White chooses to return the pawn on e5 for some exchanges of the minor pieces. Simple to play for White, and very hard to win for Black.

Gutman's book does not remove these drawbacks, but it certainly gives all the possibilities to be well prepared before trying the gambit.

Gutman has made the by far most thorough and best analysis of the Fajarowicz gambit to date. One can only appreciate that sort of dedicated work. If only Gutman had put a minor piece of work into presenting the material and his findings in a better and more easily comprehendible way, The Budapest Fajarowicz would have been an instant classic.

As it is, it does very little to help its reader understand and get an overview of this indeed very interesting Opening. It is the exact opposite of an “easy guide” to the Fajarowicz!

Recommended highly to everybody interested in unconventional Opening systems and who is willing to do a lot of hard work learning the numerous variations and plans.



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