Strange Names – A Frenchie Fort Knox

Georgia’s GM Baadur Jobava has been working up a storm on what has become known as the Fort Knox variation of the French Defense.  I first became acquainted with this when I saw analysis and games published in the ICCF Chess Magazine.  A postal player had put a keen edge on the whole idea …Bd7.  Now it raises it’s ugly head to perhaps taunt me should any of my opponents wander into a French when meeting 1. e4.  An excellent article appears in NEW IN CHESS, issue 6, 2016: Secrets of Opening Surprises by Jeroen Bosch, a regular columnist in NIC.

l. e4  e6  2. d4  d5  3. Nc3  d:e4  4. N:e4  Bd7.  Originally seen in a casual game by Capablanca in 1902.  The English IM Andrew Martin coined it after the line in Nunn vs. Karpov, Wijlk aan Zee 1993: 5. c4  Bc6  6. Nc3  Nf6  7. Nf3  B:f3!? 8. Q:f3  c6  9. Be3  Nbd7 10. Be2  Bd6  11. O-O  O-O.  IM Martin gave it the handle after 8…c6 as the Fort Knox because it was as hard to crack as the gold in Fort Knox.

The main line is considered to be: 5. Nf3  Bc6  6. Bd3.  However, watch out for some sharp traps.  6. Ng5  6….h6?? 7. N:f7.  Karpov tried, 6…Bd6 which was met by 7. N:f7 K:f7 8. Ng5+ Ke8 9. N:e6 Qh4  10. Bd3 with excellent positional compensation. A safe idea is 6…Be7 7. Bd3  Nd7  8. Qe2 h6 sacs don’t work now. A normal Rubinstein results after: 9. Ne4 Ngf6.

The amateur is probably best off playing solid developing moves: 6. …Nd7  7. O-O  Ngf6 8. Ng3  and heading for a type of hedgehog defensive position such as 8… g6!? > Bg7; and, white has two good ideas in 9. c4 >d5 or 9. b3 > Ba3 to prevent castling.  In the recent St. Louis game 9. Re1 Bg7  10. Bg5 O-O  11. Qe2 h6  12. Bd2 B:f3  13. Q:f3 c6 keeping in the realm of the Fort Knox ideal but even stronger is 13….c5.

This material will give the amateur some basic background in this Rubinstein off-shoot called the Fort Knox variation of the French Defense.  I have tried to present for amateur club players another weapon for their arsenal.



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