Sunday, 9 June 2019

050. The Transvestite Attack

Black: Jarolim - Unrated game,, 2004

If you've ever clicked on my profile, you'll have read the words: “genderqueer femme”. In short, that means my gender is “queer” in some unspecified way, qualified by the placement “femme” within the butch/femme spectrum. To explain that in long would mean a conversation and likely some more reading on your part.

And what does it have to do with chess anyway? Not very much. Neither gender, nor sex, is a serious indicator of inherent chess ability. (Nuts to Nigel Short.)

But there is one instance where chess and non-normative gender collide, and that's the Transvestite Attack. This was an invention of US player Jack Young, and involves the moves 1 e3, 2 Ke2, 3 Qe1, 4 Kd1, whereupon White's king and queen are on each other's squares, wearing each other's clothes, as it were.

For instance: 1 e3 e5 2 Ke2 d5 3 Qe1 Bc5 4 Kd1 f5 5 Nf3 e4 6 Ng1 Nf6 7 b3 0-0 8 Bb2 c6 9 Ne2 Nbd7 10 f3 Qe7 11 Qh4 Bd6 12 h3 Be5 13 Nbc3 a6 14 f4 Bd6 15 g4 Nc5 16 gxf5 Bxf5 17 Nd4 Qd7 18 Nxf5 Qxf5 19 Be2 Ne6 20 Bg4 Nxg4 21 hxg4 1-0 was J.Young-D.Sarkisiam, USA 1988. This appeared in Rainer Schlenker's offbeat openings magazine Rand Springer, issue #46 (1989).

Obviously White's set-up has no merit whatsoever. On completing the manoeuvre White is clearly worse, having wasted three tempi with the royalty, and is now unable to castle. But it seems Jack's thing was to see what he could get away with. Hence a few characteristically silly moves, given a name for posterity, and start the game from there. It helped that he was (is?) quite a decent player, rated USCF 2261 in 1988.

I've never tried 1 e3 e5 2 Ke2 myself. Even if I had, it wouldn't be blog-relevant, and trying a similar thing in an Open Game (e.g. 1 e4 e5 2 Qe2 Nc6 3 Kd1 Nf6 4 Qe1) would probably lose by force. However, there is one opening in which it can arise naturally: 1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nc3 (the Mason Gambit) and now 3...Qh4+ 4 Ke2.

In this sequence the white king has to go to e2, and is going to have to move again; challenging queens with Qe1 is then often useful for White; and retreating the king to d1 frees the light-squared bishop. This situation has occurred several times in my praxis. Each time, Qe1 and Kd1 were actually correct and led to an advantage for me (even if I didn't always follow them up correctly). The game below is one example. (I've included another, more recent one in the notes.)

Here 9 Kd1 has uncovered an attack on the a6-knight, which is defending the c7-pawn. A further threat is 10 d4, regaining the f4-pawn with advantage. Black has no satisfactory way to solve these problems. Captain Transvestite strikes again!


  1. My king and queen had an early adventure in this game:

    [Event "4NCL Division 2c"]
    [Site "Puma Hotel, Hinckley Island EN"]
    [Date "2013.05.06"]
    [Round "11.41"]
    [White "Rudd, Jack"]
    [Black "Yeo, Michael J"]
    [Result "1-0"]
    [WhiteElo "2285"]
    [BlackElo "2155"]
    [PlyCount "67"]
    [EventDate "2013.05.06"]
    [WhiteTeam "Bristol 1"]
    [BlackTeam "Wessex"]

    1. Nc3 Nf6 2. e4 e5 3. f4 d5 4. fxe5 Nxe4 5. Nf3 Bc5 6. Qe2 Bf2+ 7. Kd1 Nxc3+
    8. bxc3 Bc5 9. d4 Be7 10. Qe1 Bf5 11. Qg3 g6 12. h4 Qd7 13. h5 Nc6 14. hxg6
    Bxg6 15. e6 Qxe6 16. Qxc7 O-O 17. Bd3 Bd6 18. Qxb7 Rac8 19. Qb5 Bg3 20. Rh3 Rb8
    21. Qa4 Bf2 22. Bf4 Rfe8 23. Bxb8 Bxd3 24. Ne5 Nxe5 25. Bxe5 Qg4+ 26. Kc1 Rxe5
    27. Rxd3 Re6 28. Qxa7 Qg6 29. Rb1 Ra6 30. Rb8+ Kg7 31. Qc5 Qxg2 32. Qf8+ Kf6
    33. Qh6+ Qg6 34. Rf3+ 1-0

    1. Hello Jack. Nice game :) . I might try that line myself some time. Though I suppose I'd need an idea against 5...Be7 first.

    2. I used to have decent results with 6.d4 O-O 7.Bd3 f5 8.Ne2. Not sure whether the passed pawn compensates for the black knight outpost, but it's a fun imbalance.

    3. I might have a look at that then. Thanks :)