Venturing Into the Unknown

I enjoy researching chess openings. There are many opening positions where the other side may falter, fall into a trap, or even just find himself in bad position. Knowing how to take advantage of these mistakes is essential in correspondence. So, yeah theory and knowing well-researched lines are important.

But occasionally, a player may want to venture into the unknown, or create a new line. There are many reasons for this.

One is that the competing players may eventually know what lines a player excels in and try to learn his favorite lines. For example, a dedicated Najdorf player may avoid playing in the Sicilian, just to throw one player out of sync. Another is that sometimes a player can get tired playing the same lines, even if he does well with them. Just how many times can one play the Euwe variation of the Advance French? Or perhaps he wants to enjoy a game, fresh and unburden with theory. He may study this new thought with analysis or not, depending on his confidence.

One quick and easy way to try out a novelty is a blitz game. There is less stress, and one does not have to worry about losing some well-earned rating points.

Escalante-“Avila83″ (1643)
Blitz Game
chess.com, Feb. 17 2021
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3
(A move I have been experimenting.) 3…a6 (3…Qe4+? 4.Be2 and White has a small lead in development.) 4.Be2 b5?! (Flanking in a Center Counter game!? Doesn’t seem consistent.) 5.d4 Bb7 6.Nc3 Qd8 7.Be3 [White has an interesting gambit here: 7.Ne5!? Bxg2 8.Rg1 Bb7 9.Bf3 c6 (not 9…Bxf3? 10.Qxf3 +-) 10.Ne4 and his development outweighs his pawn minus. This is something to research!] 7…Nf6 8.O-O g6 (> 9…e6.) 9.Qd2 Bg7 10.Rad1 O-O 11.Bh6 Re8 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.Rfe1 (13.Qe3!?) 13…Nbd7 14.Ne5 Qc8 15.Ng4?! (With the idea of 15..Nxg4? 16.Bxg4 with a pin on the d7-knight. But White has no good continuation. Only if the f6-knight moves does White have anything positive. Better is 15.b4 which blocks any queenside expansion with …c5.) 17…Nd5?? (Incredibly the f6-knight moves!) 16.Qh6+ Kg8 17.Nxd5 Bxd5 (Please forgive the next few moves. It was blitz game.) 18.Ne5 (18.Rd3! with the idea of Rh3 is hard to stop. In fact, it wins!) 18…Nf6 19.h3 (Bad, as it stops a future Rd3, Rh3. White can try a later Re4, Rh4. But why should he wait?) 19…e6 20.Bf3 Bxf3 21.Nxf3 Nh5 22.Ng5 Qd8?? 23.Qxh7+ 1-0

Escalante-“chessNrun”
Practice the French Thematic Tournament, Round 2
chess.com, 2020/1
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 g6 5.Bg5 Be7

[White got a very good game in Kvick-Thuring, Sweden, 1978, which reached this position by transposition: 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 e6 4.Nxe4 g6 5.Bg5 Ne7? (Black makes the best move by blocking, but with the wrong piece.) 6.Nf6# 1-0.]

6.h4

[White 5…Be7 has been seen before, this move, 6.h4 is a true, almost untested gambit. Previous moves included the tempo wasting 6.Be3?!, which doesn’t give White anything to cheer about. I should be honest here. While preparing this game for this week’s post, I came across this game.

Alex Galaktionov-A. Simao
World U16 Ch.
Bratislava 1993
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 g6 5.Bg5 Be7 6.h4 Nf6 7.Nxf6+ Bxf6 8.Bxf6 Qxf6 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.O-O-O Bd7 11.Qg5 Qxf2 12.Nf3 h6 13.Qf4 O-O-O 14.Rd2 e5 15.Qe4 Qg3 16.d5 Nd4 17.Qxe5 Qxe5 18.Nxe5 Rhe8 19.Nxf7 Re1+ 20.Rd1 Rxd1+ 21.Kxd1 Bg4+ 22.Kc1 Rxd5 23.Nxh6 Be6 24.Bc4 Rh5 25.Bxe6+ Nxe6 26.Nf7 Rf5 27.Nh6 Rh5 28.Ng8 g5 29.Re1 Nd4 30.Re8+ 1-0 (30…Kd7 32.Nf6+).

Imagine, my gambit idea was tried and tested in tournament 18 years before I ventured it. And by someone who is less than 16 years old! Ah, chess is hard enough even if you do not come up with original ideas!]

6…Bxg5 7.hxg5 Nc6 8.Nf3 Nge7? 9.Nf6+! (This is again a natural move. Black is in trouble, although it is hard to see to the end.) 9…Kf8 10.Qd2 Nd5 11.Ne4 Kg7 12.O-O-O a5 [Black, who can’t castle (on either side), has a blocked h8-rook, and doesn’t want to open the center, makes for a break on the queenside.] 13.c4! (If Black is not going to open the center, then White must.) 13…Ndb4 14.a3 Bd7 15.d5 exd5 [White is winning, but still has to be careful. 16.Nf6? Bf5! 17.Qc3 (or 17.axb4? axb4 and Black threatens 18…b3 and 19.Ra1#) 17…Na2+ and Black wins.] 16.cxd5 [Now two Black pieces are under attack, White has all the attacking possibilities, will win material, and Black is lost. 16…Bf5 is Black’s best. But he still loses after 17.axb4! (White gets rid of Black’s biggest threat) 16…Bxe4 (17…Nxb4 18.Qd4+ Kg8 19.Nf6+ Kf8 20.Nxh7+! Rxh7 21.Rxh7 Na2+ 22.Kd2 Qe7 23.Rh8#) 18.Qc3+ f6 (18…Kg8 19.dxc6 Qe7 20.Rd7 axb4 21.Qxh8+! Kxh8 22.Rxe7 Ra1+ 23.Kd2) 19.dxc6 Qe7 20.Rd7. Consider this position a +-.]

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