The Jalalabad Defense

Within the last few days, several chess players have asked me about the Jalalabad Defense. I am surprised that anybody remembers it.

The Jalalabad Defense was invented by me in 1978 during the six weeks that I was in Jalalabad Prison, Afghanistan. When they locked me up, they allowed me to keep the pocket chess set I had brought with me. I had nothing else to do besides trying to learn Farsi and Pashtu and of course I had no chess books to study, so I spent my time trying to see if I could create something new. I came up with an opening which I dubbed the Jalalabad Defense.

When I got out of prison and made it back to New York, I naturally had to try out my invention, so I played it in a tournament at the Marshall Chess Club. In my very first game, I scored a spectacular victory over veteran chess master Jans Pamiljens of Latvia. The game was published in Chess Life. However, the Chess Life editor decided to make fun of the name and so called it the Jalalalabad Defense. Perhaps he did not know that Jalalabad is a real name of a place on the map. Everyone knows it now, because that is the place where Osama bin Laden is said to be hiding.

The Jalalabad Defense !?

The basis for my discovery is that black can play the Jalalabad Defense from several move orders. For example, it can arise from the Sicilian Defense or from 1. Nf3 c5 2. e4 e5. The point is that Black can recover the pawn.

I only played the Jalalabad Defense three times in tournament play. I always played it against masters. After beating Pamiljens with it, I played it against Jeffery Kastner. I overlooked a move which would have given me a clear advantage in the opening and lost. Next, I played the Jalalabad Defense against Grandmaster Michael Rohde. This was probably a mistake. Rohde said after the game that he decided that he had better take a hard look at this, because I had paid money to enter the tournament and he did not think I would throw my money away.

Rohde crushed me so convincingly that I never played the Jalalabad Defense again. However, I still think it might be playable. It is no worse than some of the other openings I play.

Unfortunately, I no longer have the score sheets. I do not know what happened to my chess game scores from the 1978-1981 period, except that all of them are lost. I think my ex-wife got them when we divorced. All I have is fragments from my memory plus the Chess Life article.

Here is the game against Pamiljens. It was one of my best games ever. I finished him off with a nice combination. I do not have the complete game below, but it is clear at the point that the score stops that I have a winning advantage.

My game against Kastner I remember started 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c5 3. Nxe5 Qe7 4. d4. Now I made a mistake. I should have played 4. ... Nc6 which at least equalizes because of 5. Nxc6 Qxe4+. Instead I played 4. ... cxd4 and got a bad game.

In my game against Rohde, I clearly got crushed. However, I doubt that anybody would play the way that Rohde played. I still think that the Jalalabad Defense is playable.

Sam Sloan

[Site "New York, Marshall Chess Club (USA)"]
[Date "1978.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Pamiljens, Jans"]
[Black "Sloan, Sam"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C40"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c5 3. Nxe5 Qe7 4. Nf3 Qxe4+ 5. Be2 d5 6. O-O Qe7 7.  Bb5+ Nc6 8. Nc3 Be6 9. Re1 Nf6 10. Ne5 Qc7 11. Qe2 Bd6 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 
13. Nxf7 Bxh2+ 14. Kh1 O-O 0-1

[Site "New York, Marshall Chess Club (USA)"]
[Date "1979.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Rohde, Michael A (USA)"]
[Black "Sloan, Sam"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C40"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c5 3. Nxe5 Qe7 4. Nf3 Qxe4+ 5. Be2 d5 6. O-O Qe7 7. d4 
c4 8. b3 cxb3 9. Re1 Be6 10. c4 Nf6 11. Nc3 Qd7 12. Ne5 Qc8 13. Qxb3

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