The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

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Kevin Thurlow
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The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed Jan 05, 2022 5:35 pm

Not a review actually, but I got this advert https://www.newinchess.com/the-sicilian ... 01d2fcb96f

which looked interesting. The blurb says, "Correspondence senior master David Willis is one of the strongest American correspondence chessplayers. He is also a master in over-the-board play and has been relying on the Sicilian Four Knights as his go-to defense against 1.e4 for years."

But ICCF has him as inactive and only ever playing 4 games. (ICCF has a "Senior IM title", not SM.) So maybe he just plays CC in USA, where his rating was 2427. USCF Master is about the same as FIDE's CM. I was puzzled by this - it may well be a perfectly good book. Has anyone out there read it? What do you think?

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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by John Upham » Wed Jan 05, 2022 6:28 pm

A search of Correspondence Database 2020 from Chessbase reveals three games from 1968.

MegaBase 2022 reveals 11 games from 1967 and 1969.

Chessgames.com has 3 games from 1967 and 1969

FIDE appears to be unfamiliar with him
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jan 05, 2022 7:06 pm

John Upham wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 6:28 pm
FIDE appears to be unfamiliar with him
It's all rather odd. Google searches for his name with chess only reveal adverts and reviews of the book. Is perhaps the author using a pseudonym?

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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by John Upham » Wed Jan 05, 2022 8:17 pm

I am reminded of what was allegedly said about Sir Percy Blakeney

I tried the October 2006 USCF list of their top 100 correspondence players and there is no mention.
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MSoszynski
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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by MSoszynski » Wed Jan 05, 2022 11:23 pm


Roger de Coverly
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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jan 06, 2022 12:48 am

There's renewed interest in the Four Knights Sicilian. It's not that people want to play the main lines with 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Nbd5 Bb4 7. a3 Bxc3 8, Nxc3. It's that after 6 . .. d6 7. Bf4, there's a transposition to the Sveshnikov with 7. .. e5 8. Bg5 . As a consequence, the various move 6 alternatives are receiving attention. That includes 6. a3 which fifty years ago or more would have been dismissed as a tempo losing harmless transposition to Scheveningen style positions.

Players unfamiliar with the Four Knights may be likely to play 6. Be3 after which White can come under some pressure with the .. Bb4 and .. d5 ideas.
Last edited by Roger de Coverly on Thu Jan 06, 2022 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.


John Townsend
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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by John Townsend » Thu Jan 06, 2022 11:48 am

Is 6.Nxc6 discredited nowadays? I recall playing it in the 1970s, when play could proceed: 6...bxc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Ne4. Black subsequently moved his queen to c7 or perhaps a5, but when he started moving it to b6, it seemed good for him.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jan 06, 2022 12:05 pm

John Townsend wrote:
Thu Jan 06, 2022 11:48 am
Is 6.Nxc6 discredited nowadays? I recall playing it in the 1970s, when play could proceed: 6...bxc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Ne4.
Height of fashion with recent surveys in NIC Yearbooks. Move 8 for Black was and still seemingly is 8. .. f5 .

John Townsend
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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by John Townsend » Thu Jan 06, 2022 12:29 pm

Good Lord! Fashions come back if you wait long enough! Mind you, at one time Black used to play 8...Qc7, and, then, after 9.f4 f5 White could cheerfully capture twice on f6. 8...f5 may be better.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Thu Jan 06, 2022 2:34 pm

Isn't the "time losing" Black...Qc7 and then immediately .....Qb6 maneuver also a main line?
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John Townsend
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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by John Townsend » Thu Jan 06, 2022 2:45 pm

Thank you, Matt. I think that's the Qb6 line that I was trying to remember. I found the White side hard to play and it put me off 6.Nxc6.

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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jan 06, 2022 3:49 pm

I'm getting a count of 1450 of games played in 2021 reaching the basic Four Kinghts position. Many internet games of course.


395 continued with 6. Nxc6 and 602 with 6 Ndb5. Of the latter, the replies 6. .. d6 and 6. .. Bc5 were as popular as 6. .. Bb4.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed Jan 26, 2022 5:17 pm

I asked "New in Chess" if they knew anything about the author's illustrious career and have been met with a resounding silence, but I am used to that.

An US CC player said Mr Willis was inactive, and although his 2427 rating is of course good, there are a dozen or so US CC players over 2500.

You expect blurbs to talk up the author, and of course it could be argued that he is a strong CC player.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: The Sicilian Four Knights by David Willis

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jan 26, 2022 5:45 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Wed Jan 26, 2022 5:17 pm
You expect blurbs to talk up the author, and of course it could be argued that he is a strong CC player.
It would be critical as to whether the book is about the Four Knights or just the Four Knights move order.

It's the position that arises after 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd5 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Ndb5. Someone looking for the typical Four Knights struggle would play 6. .. Bb4. Otherwise they play 6. .. d6 and then after 7. Bf4 e5 8. Bg5 it transposes to a well known position in the Sveshnikov.

Presumably it's about the former. In many lines Black gives up the Bishop pair and gets an isolated d pawn as well. Is the activity sufficient to stay in the game?

Lines where White tries something else like 6. Nxc6,6. Be2r even 6.a3 would be common to both approaches.

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