Earlier this week I won two interesting, and quite fun, games.
Oh! – before I go on, I’ve got to mention that I won both games on the same day. I found two resignations on my cell phone when I woke up. Nice way to start the day!
My opponent likes to keep the position closed. So a gambit is the way to go!
Escalante (2020)-“PaulKaspar” (1907) USCF Internal Championship, Spring 2020 (Round 4) chess.com, Oct.-Nov. 2021 1.e4 c6 (The Caro-Kann, usually a safe response to 1.e4.) 2.d4 d5 3.f3 (The gambit is known as the Fantasy variation. Not only is it tactical, but there are many unexplored paths.) 3…e6 4.Nc3 dxe4 5.fxe4 Bb4 6.Bd3 Ne7?! (Black also has 6…Qxd4 7.Bd2 Nd7 8.Nf3 Qd6!? But I was willing to try this line as White has some open lines to play with.) 7.a3 Ba5 8.Nf3 Nd7 9.O-O O-O (Better is 9…O-O. The text move closes all attacking chances by Black. And White’s attack is still brewing.) 10.e5! c5?
11.Bxh7+! (Black loses quickly after 11…Kxh7 12.Ng5+ Kg6 13.Qg4 f5 14.Qg3. His best, which only loses, is 11…Kh8 12.Ng5 Nxe5 13.Be3.) 1-0
Earlier this year I self-published 2000 Sozin Miniatures (3rd Edition) and 2000 Dragon Miniatures. I concluded, and stated in both books, that Black wastes time and can easily run into problems if he combines these two (separate) openings.
Escalante (2008)-“Tacktickle” (2111) USCF Internal Championship, Spring 2020 (Round 4) chess.com, Oct.-Nov. 2021 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 (OK – this is the Najdorf) 6.Bc4 (And this move makes this game into a Sozin Najdorf. Which doesn’t last long as Black attempts to make it into a main line Dragon.) 6…g6?! (This Najdorf Sozin-Dragon hybrid can cause Black to be on the defensive very quickly.) 7.Bb3 Bg7 8.Be3 O-O 9.f3 Nbd7 10.Qd2 (White continues to develop as if this game was a pure Dragon setup, a perfectly good response to the hybrid.) 10…Qc7 11.O-O-O Ne5 12.Bh6 Nc4? (Black has better with the counter-intuitive 12…Nc6, which at least keeps his center flexible.) 13.Bxc4 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Qxc4 15.h4! (Opening up Black’s position by creating a pawn storm; a well-known thematic idea in the Dragon.) 15…Bd7 (> 15…Rc8) 16.h5! (The pawn now enters Black’s territory.) 15…Bc6 17.g4! Rfc8 18.g5 Nxh5 (This might be Black’s best move, but it runs into another thematic idea in the Dragon.)
There is an opening, or rather a gambit, that appears to have no name. Yet, this series of moves is well-known among most chess players. But no matter what you may call it, Black doesn’t do that well.
Let’s look at it.
Now known as a Owen’s Defence, this move seeks to avoid main lines after 1.d4 and 1.e4. But as you will soon see, there are main lines that arise from 1.e4 b6 as well. And one of those lines is the gambit.
White takes advantage of the opportunity to take the center.
Usual move here is 3.Nc3 e6 with similarities to a Nimzo-Queen’s Indian hybrid.
Before we get to the gambit line, let’s look at some tamer, and safer, Black lines.
Zbigniew Gorecki (2005)-Augusto Caruso (2286) Padova Open, Dec. 2 2000 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 b6 4.e4 Bb7 5.Bd3 d5!? (By far, the most common response is 5…e6. The text move is an attempt to throw White off his game by introducing a less common move. It works in this game.) 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Qb3 Nxe4 8.Nxe4 dxe4 9.Bc4 Qe7 10.Bd2 Nc6 11.Bc3 O-O-O 12.Ne2 Qg5 13.O-O e3 14.f4 Qg4 15.h3 Qh5 16.Bxf7 Qxe2 17.Rae1 Qd3 18.Qe6+ Kb8 19.Rxe3 Nxd4 20.Qe5 Qc2 21.Rf2 Qf5 22.Bh5 Qxe5 23.fxe5 Bc5 24.b4 Nf5 0-1
Black stakes a claim in the center and has the possible threat of …fxe4
White can decline the f-pawn of course.
Schelli-Andrae corres. 1985 1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.Nc3 Nf6! 5.Qe2 e6 6.f3 (As it turns out, slow and quiet moves do not work in this variation. Better is 6.Bd2 with the idea of O-O-O, as the kingside is rapidly becoming a mess.) 6…fxe4 7.Bxe4 Nxe4 8.Nxe4 Be7 9.Nh3 O-O 10.Nhf2 Nc6 11.O-O Nxd4 12.Qd3 Nf5 13.Bd2 d5 14.Nc3 a5 15.Rfe1 Ba6! 0-1
Zolnierowicz-Zvara Prague 1990 1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.f3 e5?! (The start of a bad plan.) 5.dxe5 fxe4 6.fxe4 Bxe4?! (Black was hoping for 7. Bxe4? Qh4+ 8. Kf1 Qxe4. White avoids this problematic check with a simple developing move.) 7.Nf3 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 Bc5 9.Nc3 Nc6 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Bxe7 Ngxe7 12.O-O-O Ng6 13.e6 O-O 14.exd7 Kh8 15.Qe4 Na5 16.Rhe1 Qf6 17.Qxa8 1-0
This move lets Black spear the h1-rook. But this move is probably the best for White. Things now get very interesting.
Black cannot immediately take the g-pawn as he loses quickly.
Here is the game that popularized White’s response to Black’s gambit.
Greco-N.N. Rome 1620? 1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 (White is willing to give up his rook to get the king.) 4…Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Nf6 (This is a huge error. Black has to play 6…Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.hxg8=Q+ Kxg8 and while White’s rook may fall, Black has to worry about his very exposed king. Amusing by the way, is 6.fxg6 e5? 7.g7+ Ke7 8.Qxe5+ Kf7 9.gxh8=N#) 7.gxh7+ (White is now willing to give up his queen for the forced mate. King safety is more important than safety for the rook or queen, and even both. Note: While 7.g7+ Nxh5 8.gxh8=Q Bxh1 9.Qxh7 would eventually win, the text move is faster, and fast attacks are always better for winning the game (less mistakes possible) and for one’s own ego.) 7…Nxh5 8.Bg6mate 1-0
So Black must do something other than to immediately take the g2-pawn or the h1-Rook. In fact, he can never the rook (due to the tempi needed to take the rook and the fact that his king ends up being a target). And probably can’t ever take the g2-pawn either.
Well, If Black can’t take the h1-rook, or the f3-knight, can he at least take the g2-pawn? Black must play this move to gain any material for the attack that is about to commence on his side of the board, so he is virtually forced to play into this variation with the queen check.
Maybe Black can play 4…Nf6 and wait a tempo or two before snagging the g2-pawn. Can that win the game for him? I don’t know, but with the games on hand, I wouldn’t count on it.
When a person hears the word “Siesta”, they would likely think of Spain, where, because of the heat, a long slumber between 2 and 5 PM is frequently practiced. And if that same person hears of the Siesta Variation in chess, it is quite likely that they envision a long, slow-moving positional game where nothing interesting occurs for most of the game.
Except the Siesta Variation is anything but boring. It is extremely tactical and wild enough to feature a few piece sacrifices.
Why this name then? It turns out that the name comes from the location of a 1928 Budapest tournament. Which was held in the Siesta Sanatorium, a private mental hospital in the Buda Hills. And yes, that means there are a lot of craziness in that place. Now the name makes more sense.
Let’s get going by first defining what the opening moves are.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 (yes, this is a Ruy Lopez) a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.c3 f5. Black’s 5th move challenges the normal, but still fully under tension, slow pace of many Ruy Lopezes. In fact, it blows up the kingside and center.
White can certainly try to sidestep the main lines of the variation, but he doesn’t get too much, and Black can easily take over the initiative.
(1) 5.c3 f5 6.exf5 Bxf5 7.d4, which White seeks to quickly open the center as he believes can take advantage of open lines faster than Black.
(2) 5.c3 f5 6.exf5 Bxf5 7.O-O, which White seeks king safety before launching any attack.
The first line was more popular from the 1950s to the 1970s. But after getting crushed too often, esp. after …h6 (a good combination move, defending Black’s kingside and threatening to open the h-file), White changed tactics.
Here are some games White probably does not want to remember.
Black does better with moves like 3…Nf6, 3…Nc6, 3…d6, and 3…d5.
But even with the better moves, Black can find himself in trouble.
GM Fischer-GM Evans US Ch. New York, Nov. 16 1963 [Fischer, “Exclusive Commentary on Round Two”, Chess Life and Review, Jan. 1964] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 [I knew that my opponent had some prepared line (since he usually plays the Sicilian) but felt that he would be unfamiliar with the King’s Gambit. Besides, I’d made up my mind to play it in this tournament anyway.] 2…exf4 3.Bc4 [Better than 3.Nf3 which is practically refuted by 3…d6 (see my analysis in the American Chess Quarterly.)] 3…Qh4+ (Turning it into an old-fashioned slugfest. The moderns frown on this move and prefer to fight in the center with 3…Nf6 4.Nc3 c6, etc.) 4.Kf1 d6? [Evans said this game would set chess back a hundred years. He didn’t know how right he was! The defense he chooses was also played by LaBourdonnais against MacDonnell (20th Match Game, 1834) which continued 5.d4 Bg4 6.Qd3 Nc6 7.Bxf7+? Kxf7 8.Qb3+ Kg6 9.Qxb7 Nxd4 10.Qxa8 f3 with a winning attack. More usual is 4…g5 (or d5) 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.d4 Ne7 7.Nf3 Qh5 8.h4 h6 and it’s a hard game.] 5.Nc3? [Returning the compliment. It’s natural that White should want to save the juicy tempo (5.Nf3!) and I make the same mistake as MacDonnell by delaying this move.] 5…Be6! (I overlooked this move. Now Black has a choice of where to put his Queen once she’s attacked.) 6.Qe2 c6 7.Nf3 (Inaccurate. Having made the mistake of delaying this move once, White should hold off a while longer and play 7.d4, which does not permit Black’s Queen to retreat to e7 without relinquishing his “f” pawn.) 7…Qe7 (If 7…Qh5 8.Nd5! Now, however, Black has time to consolidate his king’s position.) 8.d4 Bxc4 9.Qxc4 g5 (Despite White’s strong center and great lead in development, Black’s position is not easy to crack. If 10.h4 g4 11.Ne1 Bh6, etc.) 10.e5 d5 [During the game I thought Black’s best defense was 10…dxe5 11.Nxe5 (11.dxe5 Nd7 12.Ne4 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Qxe5 14.Bd2 is unclear) 11…Nd7 12.h4 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Qxe5 14.hxg5 O-O-O 15.Bxf4 Qf5 with equality.] 11.Qd3 [11.Nxd5 cxd5 12.Qc8+ Qd8 13.Qxb7 Nd7 is unsound. (14.Nxg5? Rb8). Now the threat is simply 11.Qf5.] 11…Na6 12.Ne2 (Not 12.Qf5 Nh6 13.Qxg5 Qxg5 14.Nxg5 Nb4 15.Bxf4 Nxc2 16.Rd1 Nf5 and Black wins.) 12…Nb4 (12…f6 loses 13.Qf5 Bg7 14.exf6 Bxf6 15.Bxf4! gxf4 16.Nxf4 with a winning attack. It is important to repel White’s queen from its present diagonal.) 13.Qd1 O-O-O (Very complicated, and possibly better, is 13.c3 which leads to a more active defense.) 14.c3 Na6 15.h4 g4 16.Nh2! h5 (Better was 16…f3 17.gxf3 gxf3 18.Nxf3 f6 although White’s king is quite safe and Black lags in development. Also to be considered was 16…Qxh4 17.Nxf4! g3 18.Qg4+ Qxg4 19.Nxg4 with a powerful ending.) 17.Nxf4
17…Qxh4? [The losing move. Relatively best is 17…Kb8 (preventing Nxh5!) but his game is already bad.] 18.Kg1 (Black apparently underestimated the strength of this move. He has no adequate defense now to the twin threats of 19.Nxg4 and Nf1.) 18…Nh6 (The only way to avoid outright material loss. Black originally intended 18…Bh6 but 19.Nf1 followed by Rxh5 stands him up.) 19.Nf1 Qe7 20.Nxh5 Rg8 (Black already knew he was lost and was shaking his head in amazement at how quickly White’s dead pieces had sprung to life.) 21.Nfg3 Rg6 22.Nf4 Rg5 (If 22…Rg8 23.Nxd5, etc.) 23.Be3 Nc7 (The last hope. 23…f6 is answered by 24.Qd2 fxe5 25.Nxd5, winning a full rook.) 24.Qd2 Rg8 25.Nfe2 (This piquant retreat wins a piece, putting a clear end to black’s agony.) 25…f6 (Black is still hoping for a miracle.) 26.exf6 Qxf6 27.Bxh6 Bd6 28.Rf1 Qe6 29.Bf4 Rde8 30.Rh6 Bxf4 31.Qxf4 Qe7 32.Rf6 (Tripling on the Bishop file.)
32…Ne6 33.Qe5 Ng5 34.Qxe7 Rxe7 35.Rf8+ (Trading down to skin and bones.) 35…Rxf8 36.Rxf8+ 1-0
Weiss-Brasket Minnesota Masters Cup Invitational, 1989 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 d5 5.exd5 Nf6 (Black has to be careful after 5…f3? The game can easily continue with 6.Bb5+ c6 7.Nxf3 Qh5 8.Qe2+ Be7 9.dxc6 Nxc6 10.Ne5 Qf5+ 11.Ke1 Qxc2 12.Nc3 Bd7 13.Nxc6 Bxc6 14.Bd3, and the Black Queen is trapped.) 6.Qe2+ Be7 7.Nf3 Qh5 8.Nc3 a6 9.d3 b5 10.Bb3 g5 11.Bd2 Kf8 12.d6 Bxd6 13.Ne4 g4 14.Nxf6 Qg6 15.Bc3 gxf3 16.Qe8+ Kg7 17.Ng4+ f6 18.Bxf6+ Qxf6 19.Nxf6 fxg2+ 20.Kxg2 Bb7+ 21.Kh3 Rxe8 22.Nxe8+ Kf8 23.Nxd6 cxd6 24.Rhg1 1-0
V. Ivanchuk (2716)-Nikolic (2648) 5th IECC Playoff Final Antalya, Turkey, May 30 2004 [Tim McGrew, The Gambit Cartel] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ [This check must have been one of the first defensive ideas explored in the Bishop’s Gambit. Emmanuel Lasker recommended it for black in Common Sense in Chess, and even Fred Reinfeld, who revised the openings analysis for the 1946 edition (which practically no one has – the Dover edition on your shelf is a reprint of the 1917 edition), retains 3…Qh4+ as the recommended line.] 4.Kf1 (The king is not nearly as exposed here as he would be on e2, and Black’s queen may herself be harassed by Nf3. In fact, Ivanchuk achieves a powerful position here without a great deal of difficulty.) 4…d6 [Here Lasker (and Reinfeld) both recommend 4…d5 Bxd5 5.g5. Oddly, I can find hardly any games in this formerly popular line between 1929 and 1989. But then van den Doel won a droll game with it (by transposition: 3…d5 4.Bxd5 Qh4+ etc.) in 18 moves at Cappelle la Grande 2001. Someone ought to investigate this.] 5.d4 Be6 6.Qd3 Nf6 7.Nf3 (The anticipated strike at the queen.) 7…Qg4 8.Nc3 Be7 9.h3 Qg6 10.Bxf4 (I have to admit that White’s centralization here is impressive. Ivanchuk is also setting a little trap – at this level of play, really more of a joke for the players to share, though such a joke could easily turn fatal for someone unable to evaluate the end of a tactical sequence accurately.) 10…O-O (Nikolic politely declines the bait. 10…Bxc4 11.Qxc4 Nxe4? looks merely messy at first glance, but after 12.Qxc7! Black has no way to recover his balance.) 11.Re1 (Black’s position could not be said to be bad, but because of White’s grip on the center it is difficult for him to find an effective plan. He decides to go shopping for the perfect exchange of minor pieces, but meanwhile his queenside is sleeping.) 11…Nh5 12.Bh2 Ng3+?! (In hindsight this looks like the turning point of the game.) 13.Bxg3 Qxg3 14.Ne2! Qg6 15.Nf4 (White has repositioned his knight to a very effective square without any loss of time.) 15…Qh6 16.g3 (We now come to a puzzling set of moves where White allows Black to swap on c4 and Black declines to do it. I had thought that the idea was 16.Nxe6 fxe6 17.Qb3. But perhaps Chucky saw what Deep Fritz 7 suggests: after 17…Nc6 18.Bxe6+ Kh8 White’s advantage is evaporating because Black threatens to take on d4.) 16…Nd7 17.Kg2 Nb6? (But this is pretty clearly an error. 17…Bxc4 18.Qxc4 c6 still looks like a reasonable way for Black to hold the balance, though White’s position is a bit more pleasant to play.) 18.Bxe6 fxe6 19.Rhf1 (19.Qb3 would provoke the same exchange sacrifice we see in the game.) 19…c5 20.d5 Rxf4 (This doesn’t quite work, but it is instructive for us lesser mortals to see even the near misses of the super-GMs because it teaches us to consider ideas we might never have thought of. Black was under pressure in any event since White was threatening to sink a knight into e6, so it is hard to suggest really good alternatives.) 21.gxf4 Qxf4 22.dxe6 Rf8 23.b4!? (When someone figures out how super-grandmasters come up with moves like this, please let me know! Until then, my best guess is that it is intended to clear the d4-square, e.g. 23…cxb4 24.Nd4 when the f-file is very useful and the knight has bright prospects on f5.) 23…Rf6 24.Qb5 Rxe6 25.bxc5 Bh4? [Now the roof caves in. 25…dxc5 26.Qe8+ (26.Nd4!? Qg5+ 27.Kh1 Qh5 28.Qb3 c4 29.Qf3 +/-) 26…Qf8 27.Qxf8+ Bxf8 28.e5 looks like a longish but winning ending.] 26.Nxh4 Qxh4 27.Qb3 (Neatly pinning the rook and defending h3 laterally.) 27…d5 28.cxb6 1-0
Escalante (1949)-“klaxcek2” (1771) King’s Bishop Gambit Thematic, Round 2 chess.com, Sept. 2021 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 Nf6 5.Nf3 Qh5 6.Nc3 d6 7.d4 g5 8.h4 h6 9.e5 Ng4 10.Qe1 (10.Qe2!?) 10…Be7?! (Black has to chance 10…Kd8) 11.Nd5! (White is practically winning after his move.) 11…Kd8
12.Nxe7! Kxe7 13.exd6+ (White has a good position. But as White will have trouble attacking the king from open lines of the center, 13.Kg1, with the idea of hxg5, is probably better.) 13…Kxd6?? (13…Kf8 is Black’s only chance. Then White should continue with 14.Kg1.) 14.Ne5 Be6 15.Qb4+ (Mate is coming.) 1-0
Does this mean that Black cannot win against the Bishop’s Gambit? Of course not. But it’s not as easy as it might seem.
Swiderski-Teichmann Vienna, 1903 [Fletcher, Gambits Accepted – A Survey of Opening Sacrifices, 1954] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 d5 4.Bxd5 Qh4+ 5.Kf1 g5 6.g3 Qh6! 7.d4 c6 8.Bb3? (All subsequent trouble could have been avoided if White had played 8.Bc4, with a continuation such as; 8…Nf6 9.Nc3 Bh3+ 10.Nxh3 Qxh3+ 11.Kg1 fxg3 12.Bf1.) 8…Nf6 9.Nc3 Bh3+ 10.Ke1 Bg2 11.e5 Nfd7 12.h4 Bxh1 13.Nh3 Be7 14.Qg4 gxh4 15.Bxf4 Qg6 16.Qe2 Nb6 17.a4 hxg3 18.Kd2 Bd5 19.Bxd5 cxd5 20.Rg1 Nc6 21.Nb5 Rc8 22.c3 Nc4+ 23.Kc1 N6a5 24.Qd1 Qb6 25.Qg4 Nb3+ 26.Kb1 Qg6+ 0-1
A. Miller-Curdo Central N.E. Fall Open Leominster, MA Nov. 11 1972 [John Curdo, “Chess Caviar”, #32 1982] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 d5 5.Bxd5 Nf6 6.Nf3 Qh5 7.Nc3 Bb4 8.Ne2 (Curdo gives this move a “?”. But I think it’s more of a “?!” – RME) 8…Nxd5 9.exd5 g5 10.c3?! (RME) 10…Bd6 11.Qa4+ Kf8 12.Qd4 Rg8 13.Qf6 g4 14.Qd8+ Kg7? (What is wrong with 14..Bd7 – RME.) 15.Qg5+ Qxg5 16.Nxg5 Bf5 17.h3 Bd3 0-1 (18…Re8 or 18..h6)
Jaroslav Netusil (1990)-Miroslav Honcu (1890) Czech Team Boys Ch., 2001 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 d6 5.d4 g5 6.Nc3 Ne7 7.Nf3 Qh5 8.Kg1?! (8.Rg1 with the idea of h4.) 8…g4! 9.Ne1 f3! (And now Black has a very advanced pawn.) 10.g3?! (10.Nd3! is better.) 10…Rg8 11.Nd3 Bh6 12.Nf4 Bxf4 13.Bxf4 Ng6 (13…Be6 is an alternative.) 14.Be3 c6 15.b4 Nd7 16.b5 Nb6 17.Bd3 Be6 18.Qf1 d5 19.Kf2 (Better is 19.Re1 to bring the rook into play.) 19…O-O-O 20.a4 dxe4 21.Nxe4 Nd5 22.Bd2 f5 23.Ng5 Nf8 24.Qc1 f4 25.Nxe6 Nxe6 26.bxc6 Qh3 27.cxb7+ Kb8 28.Qf1 Qg2+ 29.Qxg2 fxg2 30.Rhe1? (White should play 30.Kxg2! and if 30…f3+, then 31.Kf2 and the White king is perfectly safe.) 30…Nxd4 31.Kxg2 Nf3 32.Red1 Nxd2 33.Rxd2 Ne3+ 34.Kf2 Nxc2 35.Rc1 fxg3+ 36.Kxg3 Nb4 37.Rc8+ Rxc8 38.bxc8=Q+ 1/2-1/2
Here are some sample lines that you might want to research before playing this version of the King’s Gambit. There are many more unknown or unclear lines than the usual (and over-used – in my opinion) 3.Nf3 lines. Use these lines to start your exploration. You might discover something new to your arsenal.
Annotation is adding evaluations, thematic considerations, analyses, comments, notes and references to other games or manuals.
It is meant to help the chess enthusiast who is playing over a game.
EVALUATIONS, Informator Style
In 1966 the Šahovski Informator (more commonly known as Informator) was first published in Belgrade (then the capital of Yugoslavia). Introduced were many easy-to-understand symbols to help evaluate a game. They included a “+-“, meaning White is winning and “-+” meaning Black is winning. These symbols, because of their simplicity, became standard in annotated games. A more complete list, along with other universal symbols, can be found here:
Chess Engines give a +1.00 if White is pawn ahead. This does not necessarily that White is a physical pawn up in the game. Instead, White has a position that worth a pawn more than Black. An evaluation of +3.00 means that White is up a piece (1 piece = 3 pawns). This means White is winning.
Black’s advantages are indicated by a “-“ sign. So, a -1.00 means Black has a position worth a pawn up and -3.00 means he has a position worth an extra piece.
But they don’t usually tell you why a position is worth +0.45 or why 0.90 is better. Or how to use or exploit your advantage.
Stick with the Informator evaluations.
Sometimes it is useful to consider moves that support thematic ideas. For example, one could mention that in the Nimzo-Indian (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4), White wants to put a pawn on e4 with a broad center and threatening .e5. Or one could be reminded that in the King’s Gambit, a tempo is often worth more than a piece.
Simply put, an analysis is what will happen with best play from both players from a certain position. It can be easy as stating and showing a mate in 10 moves, or how a pawn grab can result in a loss for the player that took the pawn that proved to be poisonous.
COMMENTS and NOTES
Such items can make the game even enriching; more interesting. Here, we are introduced to what a player’s thoughts and concerns may be. And they may be non-chess related (like a how he might worry about missing a bus if he game goes on too long). And maybe he will tell us why he chose a Najdorf rather than a Pirc. (it’s happened before!)
REFERENCES to other games or manuals.
It is common for an annotator to reference the reader to other games that have similar themes in the opening, or other moves he can consider. It is not by only one game that a student learns the Game.
A good annotator is also one to seek out what others have said about the game, the opening, or a sacrifice. And give credit when it is due.
I enjoy annotating games – believe me, it helps and forces me to become better.
And when I do not, usually because someone’s annotations are better than mine, I document it.
Here is my basic format:
[A, B, C]
From a magazine
A=Annotator B= Name of article C=Name of magazine, along with issue date
From a book or web page
A=Annotator B= Name of book or web page C= Game number (such as Chernev’s 1000 Best Short Games of Chess or any other book where the games are numbered).
When something is unknown that section is left blank.
Villanueva-IM Pablo Michel Buenos Aires, 1960 [IM Minev, “Tactic, Tactics, and More Tactics – The Long Dozen”, Inside Chess, May 27 1991, pg. 28/9] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.dxc5 Bxc5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bg5 Qa5 8.O-O-O? (Recent theory shows 8.Bd2 Qd8 9.e3 O-O 10.Be2 with a slightly better game.) 8…Nb4 9.Qb3 Ng4! 10.a3 Nc6 11.Ne4 f5 12.Nxc5 Qxc5 13.h3? (White is in trouble. He thinks that in this way the f3-pawn will be saved.) 13…Nxf2! 0-1 (White missed the point that after 14.Be3 Black has 14…Na5 15.Qc3 Nxd1 winning an exchange.)
Phil Thoma (2153)-Kokesh (2009) Team Ch., 1996 [Thoma, Oklahoma Chess Bulletin, Nov. 1996, pg. 7,8] 1.b4 Nf6 2.Bb2 g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.f4 O-O 5.Nf3 d6 6.d3 (The only move to keep a knight on f3 and not trade off the white-squared bishops after 6…Bg4) 6…c6 (Announcing his intention of sending the lady to b6 where it hits two pawns and also keeps an eye on white’s ambitions.) 7.a4 (I wanted this move to work so badly that I gave up trying to calculate all the ensuring variations and just played it.) 7…Qb6 (And why not? The resulting firestorm was hard to see and the move itself was excellent.) 8.Qd2 (Only move.) 8…Ne4
9.a5 Nxd2 [Black rises to the occasion and plays the only move. For example, 9…Bxb2 10.axb6 Nxd2 11.Rxa7 Nxf3+ 12.gxf3 Nd7 (not 12…Rxa7 13.bxa7) 13.Rxa8 Nxb6 14.Ra2 Bg7 and White has the center. If 9…Qc7 10.Qc1 Bxb2 11.Qxb2 and N retreats.] 10.axb6 Nxf3+ (But here the dragon should strike back with 10…Bxb2 11.Rxa7 Nxb1 12.Rxa8 Nd7 and Black appears to have a big plus.) 11.gxf3 (Now it is too late for 11…Bxb2 as White wins the exchange.) 11…Na6 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 (And White now has the upper hand again.) 13.bxa7 Nxb4 14.Kd2 (It is important to understand that time is of the essence here. If White is to make use of the bone in the throat, he has to attack the Black king with utmost speed. The back rank must be cleared and the rooks brought into play. It is not dangerous for White to keep his king in the center because Black’s queen rook is tied to the bone.) 14…c5 15.Nc3 Bd7 (To stop 16.Na4) 16.Be2 Na6 (Maybe 16…Bc6 and stopping the knight maneuver is better, but I can understand Black’s reluctance to part with his prelate considering White’s could become powerful in attacking the Black king.) 17.Nd5 (The stallion rears and stomps down on a powerful square.) 17…Rxa7 (Otherwise 18.Nb6 wins the exchange.) 18.Nb6 (Note that 18.Nxe7 Be6 19.c4 Re8 20.Nd5 Bxd5 21.cxd5 Rea8 22.Rhb1 Nb4 23.Rxa7 Rxa7 24.Rb2 leaves Black with a big plus due to his passed b-pawn and dark square dominance.) 18…Bc6 19.h4 h5 (Necessary.) 20.Rhg1 Kf6 21.Rg5 (Stopping 21…e5 as 22.f5 would really turn the rackscrew.) 21…e6 22.e4 Re8 23.f5 exf5 24.exf5 Re5 25.fxg6 fxg6 (Not 25…Rxg5 26.gxf7 Kxf7 27.hxg5 and White rolls.) 26.Rg3 d5 27.Rag1 Be8 28.Nc8 Ra8 29.Nd6 Nb4 30.Nxe8+ Raxe8 31.Rxg6+ Ke7 32.R1g5 Kd8 33.Rxe5 Rxe5 34.Rg5 Rxg5 35.hxg5 d4 36.f4 h4 37.Bf3 b5 38.f5 Ke7 39.f6+ Kf7 40.Bh5+ Kg8 41.g6 h3 42.Bg4 (As after 42…h2 43.Be6+ Kh8 44.g7+ Kh7 45.g8=Q+ Kh6 46.Bf7 and mates next move.) 1-0
Lapshun (2566) – Paschall (2483) New York Masters, 2003 [G. Shahade] 1.b4 d5 2.Bb2 Bg4 3.Qc1!!! (NEW WORLD RECORD!!! Fastest Qc1 ever in master level chess!!! After watching enough of Lapshun’s openings I’ve run out of ways to poke fun at his unorthodox moves.) 3…Nd7 4.c4 e6 5.e3 Ngf6 6.a3 a5 7.c5 c6 8.Be2 Bxe2 9.Nxe2 b6 10.d4 Be7 (Lapshuns bishop on b2 isn’t looking so happy…) 11.O-O O-O 12.Nd2 Qc7 13.Qc2 Ng4 14.g3 f5 15.Nf4 Rf6 16.h3 Nh6 17.Nd3 a4? (A huge positional mistake…if black wanted to close up the position, he had to play ….b5 first.) 18.cxb6 (And all the sudden white has all the play…..the c-pawn is very weak, and the knights will come to e5 and f4.) 18…Qxb6 19.Rac1 Nb8 20.Nf3 Rf8 21.Nf4 Re8 22.Ne5 (Lapshun’s position looks extremely pleasing. Most of white’s pieces are very well placed, whereas blacks pieces are randomly scattered about.) 22…Ra6 23.Qe2 Bd6 24.Nfd3 Ra7 25.Rc2 Nf7 26.Rfc1 Nxe5 27.dxe5 (Ooops….and now the bishop that looked so bad earlier in the game, will trade itself for a rook after Bd4 next move.) 27…Bf8 28.Bd4 Qa6 29.Bxa7 Qxa7 30.Nc5 g6 31.Rc3 Bg7 32.f4 Bf8 33.h4 h6 34.Kf2 Re7 35.Qc2 Re8 36.Qd1 g5 37.hxg5 hxg5 38.Qh5 (Completely crushing, attacks the rook on e8, prepares either Qxg5 or Rh1.) 1-0
Philippe Jaulin-Frederic Coudray Avoine Open, 1996 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 Nf6 4.e5 Ne4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.d3 (A move that is often overlooked.) 6…Ng5 7.Bxf4 Nxf3+ 8.Bxf3 d6 9.Bxc6+ bxc6 10.O-O (Even better is 10.Qf3! as White gains a tempo or two.) 10…dxe5 11.Bxe5 Bd6? 12.Bxg7! Qh4 13.Qe2+ [Black’s best is 13…Be6. (not 13…Kd7? 14.Rxf7+). But even stronger is 13.Qe1+! as 13..Qxe1 14.Rxe1+ is check and the White’s has the attack and the material advantage.] 1-0
Black also has 3…Qh4+. And like in the Bishop Gambit, the White is dislodged from a good hiding square. The downside, again copying from the Bishop Gambit, is the Black queen is slightly out of play and facing all of White’s pieces on her own.
Mr. Sutton-Blackburne Simpson’s Chess Divan London, 1884 [Blackburne, “Blackburne’s Chess Games”, #176] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 f5 (Although a favorite defence of mine I do not recommend it to the young amateur.) 5.Nc3 (Qe2 is stronger.) 5…Nf6 6.d3 g5 7.Nf3 Qh5 8.h4 h6 9.Kg1 g4 10.Ne5 Rh7 11.Ne2 (An attack on the Queen persistently followed up in White’s succeeding play.) 11…fxe4 12.Bxf4 Qf5 13.Qc1 d5 14.Bb3 Nbd7 15.Ng3 Bc5+ 16.Kh2 Nxe5 17.Nxf5 (Now White has attained his object, but the fruit is of the Dead Sea.) 17…g3+ 18.Bxg3 (Any other move is equally fatal.) 18…Neg4+ 19.Kh3 Ne3 20.Bf4 Bxf5+ 21.Kh2 Neg4+ 22.Kh3 Nf2+ 23.Kh2 N6g4+ 24.Kg1 Nxd3+ 25.Kf1 Nxc1 26.Rxc1 O-O-O 0-1
But perhaps the best response is 3…d5, aggressively opening up more lines for an attack. White meets this best with 4.exd5 Nf6, and usually 5.Nf3.
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 (5.Nf3)
Tartakower-Capablanca New York 1924 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.c4 c6 6.d4 Bb4+ 7.Kf1?! (7.Bd2) cxd5 8.Bxf4 dxc4 9.Bxb8 Nd5 10.Kf2 Rxb8 11.Bxc4 O-O 12.Nf3 Nf6 13.Nc3 b5 14.Bd3 Ng4+ 15.Kg1 Bb7 16.Bf5?! (White’s king needs some breathing room and a chance for activating his rook. He can do both, and even attack a piece, with 16…h3!) 16…Bxc3 17.bxc3 Ne3 18.Bxh7+ Kh8 (Even after 18…Kxh7? 19.Qd3+ Kg8 21.Qxe3 Black still has the advantage due to his more secured king.) 19.Qd3 Bxf3 20.gxf3 Nd5 21.Be4 Nf4 22.Qd2 Qh4 23.Kf1 f5 24.Bc6 Rf6 25.d5 Rd8 26.Rd1 Rxc6 27.dxc6 Rxd2 (Even Capablanca is known to make mistakes as Black does even better with 27…Qh3+ 28.Kf2 Qg2+. ) 28.Rxd2 Ne6 29.Rd6 Qc4+ 30.Kg2 Qe2+ 0-1
Mark F. Bruere (2250)-J.M. Vaassen corres., WT/M/GT/284 ICCF, 1990 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nf3 c6 6.dxc6 Nxc6 7.d4 Bd6 8.O-O (Castling seems to be overdone in the King’s Gambit Accepted. Better is 8.c4 claiming a stake in the center and still holding the possibility of castling on either side.) 8…O-O 9.c4 Bg4 10.Nc3 Rc8 11.Nb5 Bb8 12.b3 (12.d5!? needs to be investigated.) 12..a6 13.Na3?! (13..Nc3) 13…Re8 14.Nc2 Qc7 15.Bb2 Ba7 16.Kh1 Ne7 17.d5? (Opening attacking lines where Black is the only one who profits. And it also drops a pawn.) 17…Nexd5! 18.cxd5 Qxc2 19.Bxf6 Rxe2 20.Bd4 Bxf3! 0-1
C. Sánchez-A. Alexander IECC 2000 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bd6 6.c4 O-O 7.d4 b6 8.Ne5 c5 9.dxc6 Qc7 (9…Ne4, threatening, …Qh4+ is a possibility.) 10.Bxf4 Nxc6 11.Nc3 a6 12.Nxc6 (12.Bf3!?) 12…Qxc6 13.Bxd6 Qxd6 14.O-O Bb7 15.d5 Rae8 16.Qd2 Ne4 (> 16…c5.) 17.Nxe4 Rxe4 18.Bd3 Rh4? (Black is having problems and he needs to play 18…Re5. The text is simply a waste of time.) 19.g3 Rd4 20.Bxh7+ 1-0
I briefly touched on the Hennig-Schara Gambit in my last post (an opening named after two players).
But after I reviewed it, I thought it might be a fascinating subject to share. So here are some surprising opening moves for you, the good reader.
The gambit starts with the moves, 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4. White gets an early advantage while Black develops. The game can easily enter lines where tactics and unclear continuations come into play.
Basically, with the c-file and d-file open, Black’s dream position would be one that he would castle queenside and have the enemy king stuck in the center. This obviously cannot happen in all games as can White castle kingside and Black often has a problem developing his b8-bishop, necessary for him to castle queenside.
But before going over the main lines, let’s first take a look at well-known trap that many Black players fall into, especially in speed chess.
Which leaves White with taking the pawn. He can either take it immediately with 5.Qxd4 or the move after with 5.Qa4+ Bd7 (played to disrupt Black’s development and close the d-file, at least for the moment).
White’s first plan, 5.Qxd4 is an obvious move. Black’s response is overwhelmingly in favor of 5…Nc6, if only because 5…Nf6 fails.
One line which we DO NOT recommend for White is: 6.Qd1 exd5 7.Qxd5 Bd7 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qd1 Bc5 10.e3? Qe7 11.a3 O-O-O 12.Be2? Bh3!
The following games demonstrate the reasons why.
Dr. A. A. Mengarini-M. Radoicic Third Forum Open New York, 1967 [Hans Kmoch, “Games from Recent Events”, Chess Review, July 1967] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qxd4 Nc6 6.Qd1 exd5 7.Qxd5 Bd7 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qd1 Bc5 10.e3 Qe7 11.a3 (11.Be2 is urgent.) 11…O-O-O 12.Be2 (Now White returns the Pawn for no obvious reason. 12.Bd2 is indicated. White has a difficult job then but does after the text move also.) 12…Bh3 13.Qc2 Bxg2 14.Rg1 Bxf3 15.Qf5+ Kb8 16.Qxf3 Ne5 17.Qf5 g6 18.Qc2 Rd7 19.b4 Bb6 20.Bb2 Rc8 21.Rd1 Rdc7 22.Qb3
22…Bxe3!! (This brilliant breakthrough destroys whatever dreams of safety White has.) 23.fxe3 (On 23.Nb5, Black probably continues with 23…Bxf2+ 24.Kxf2 Ne4+) 23…Nf3+! 24.Bxf3 (Or 24.Kf2 Rxc3! 25.Bxc3 Rxc3 26.Qxc3 Ne4+, etc.) 24…Qxe3+ 25.Be2 (White has nothing better.) 25…Qxg1+ 26.Kd2 Qg5+ 27.Kc2 (Or 27.Ke1 Qh4+ 28.Kd2 Rxc3! or 28.Kf1 Qh3+ 29.Ke1 Ne4 30.Rd3 Qh4+ with a winning attack.) 27…Ne4 28.Rd3 Rxc3+! 29.Bxc3 Rxc3+! 30.Rxc3 Qd2+ 0-1
Eric Marathee (2068)-Herve Daurelle (2230) Paris Ch. France, July 24 1999 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxd4 exd5 7.Qxd5 Nc6 8.a3 Nf6 9.Qd1 Bc5 10.e3 Qe7 11.Be2 O-O-O 12.Nf3 Bh3 13.Qb3 (13.Qa4 may be the only move here – RME.) 13…Bxg2 14.Rg1 Bxf3 15.Bxf3 Ne5 16.Bh1 Rhe8 17.Na4 Nd3+ 18.Ke2 Ne4 19.Bxe4 Qxe4 20.Bd2 Nf4+ 21.Ke1 Qf3 22.Qd1 Nd3+ 0-1
White has better luck with 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxd4 as Black’s counter attack is slowed down by his bishop on d7.
“weiran” (1775)-“mrjoker” (1778) Blitz Game ICC, September 6, 2008 [The reason not to grab the “b” pawn, part 2. Louis Morin is presumably “mrjoker”.] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxd4 exd5 7.Qxd5 Nf6 8.Qxb7 Nc6 9.Bf4 Nb4 10.O-O-O (10.Rc1! was much better.) 10…Rc8 11.Kb1 Rxc3 (A little too fancy. I saw 11…Bf5+! 12.e4, but simply missed 12…Qxd1+! 13.Nxd1 Bxe4+.) 12.bxc3 (I was expecting 12.Rxd7. Even with the help of Fritz I cannot find anything better than a perpetual check after 12…Qa5 13.a3 Qf5+ 14.e4 Nxe4 15.Ka1 Nc2+ 16.Ka2 Rc5 17.Bb5 Nc3+ 18.bxc3 Nb4+ 19.axb4 Qc2+ etc.) 12…Bf5+ 13.Kb2 Qxd1 14.Qb8+ Kd7 15.Qxa7+ Kc6 16.Qc7+ Kb5 17.c4+ (Again it seems as if a perpetual check should be the logical outcome after 17.Qb7+ Kc4 18.e4+ Qxf1 19.Nf3 Nd3+ 20.Kc2 Nb4+ 21.cxb4 Qd3+ 22.Kc1 Qc3+ 23.Kd1 Nxe4 24.Nd2+ Nxd2 25.Qxf7+ Kd3 26.Qxf5+ Ne4 27.Qh3+ etc.) 17…Ka6 (Sorry, no more checks.) 18.Kc3 Qc2+ 19.Kd4 Qb2+ 20.Ke3 Qc3mate 0-1
Sometimes the opening is named after the pieces. The King’s Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4), the Queen’s Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4), the Two Knights Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6), the Three Knights Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6), the Four Knights Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6), the Bishop Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4), and the Bishop Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4).
Pawns are featured in the Two Knights Variation of the Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3), the Three Pawns Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O), and the Four Pawns Variation in the King’s Indian Defence (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4) and the Four Pawns Attack in the Alekhine’s Defence (1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4).
1-0 (White has a piece, two pins, and all the attacking chances; Black has nothing.)
But this, the opening names – not the opening play – can get boring.
Some openings are named after the first person who was successful with the opening moves. Others are named after a player or student of the game who first published the analysis.
Opening names such as Alekhine’s Defence (1.e4 Nf6), Fischer’s Defence in the King’s Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 and now 3…d6 instead of the usual 3…g5), Larsen’s Opening (1.b3), the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 Bb5), the Marshall Attack (a variation of the Ruy Lopez going 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5), the Albin Counter- Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5), Anderssen’s Opening (1.a3), the Najdorf (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6), and the Benko Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5).
And that’s just for starters.
We also have the Smith-Morra (1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 – actually named after two players), the Caro-Kann (1. e4 c6, another opening named after two players), the von Hennig-Schara Gambit (yet another opening named after two players):
The Greco-Counter Gambit, by the way, is named after Greco who the first known person to write about the openings. The opening moves are 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5!?. And the opening is also known as the Latvian Gambit.
This is a good time to segue into another area where chess openings are named after not just one or two players, but after a group of localized players who studied and popularized these openings. Not only do we have the Latvian, but also the Budapest (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5), the French (1.e4 e6), and the English (1.c4).
Making things interesting is that some openings are named after cities and countries. We have the Catalan (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3), the Saragossa (1.c3), the Italian (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4), the Berlin Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6), the Vienna (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3), and the London (1.d4 Nf6 and White will play an early .Bf4).
Openings are also named after animals. Most players know of the Dragon (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 and Black will soon play …g6, …Bg7, and usually …Nf6).
And some might even know the Chameleon (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nce2, and now White can continue with the Closed Sicilian with .d3 and .g3, or the Open Sicilian with .d4 cxd4 .Nxd4).
But how many players are familiar with the Elephant Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5), the Orangutan (1.b4), the Pterodactyl Variation (1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.e4 c5 5.Nf3 Qa5), or the Vulture Defence (1.d4 c5 2.d5 Nf6 3.c4 Ne4)?
Some players would mistakenly add the Bird (1.f4). But this opening was named after the English player, Henry Edward Bird (1830–1908).
But there are some opening names that are mysterious.
For example, the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 are collectively known as the Indian Defences, such as the King’s Indian Defence, the Queen’s Indian, the Nimzo-Indian, the Old Indian. But why? We don’t know either.
And who knows where the Fried Liver Attack (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7)? It is said that Black, playing this variation, is dead as a piece of fried liver But, why Fried Liver and not, say, Fried Chicken or even Fried Zucchini? Surely, more people know what chicken and zucchini than Fried Liver? Maybe Fried Liver is less desirable or digestible? And Black is surely not dead after taking the knight on f7 – there are ways for him to fight on, and even to win. Ok, back to tropic.
We also have the Benoni (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5). Where did that name come from and how did it become popular? We know the latter comes from “a Hebrew term meaning “son of my sorrow” (cf. Genesis 35:18) – the name of an 1825 book by Aaron Reinganum about several defenses against the King’s Gambit and the Queen’s Gambit”, as least according to Wikipedia. But why and how did it become popular if it concerns itself with the Queen’s Gambit?
Finally, we have the Halloween Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nxe5), where it is said that this gambit is scary. We agree – but to which side?
What is the Borg? For Star Trek aficionados, they are an evil group of aliens who kidnap indigenous and sentient life forms and enslave them by use of electronic and computer implants.
But for the chess player, it is a dangerous, reply by Black against 1.e4. And when we say dangerous, we mean dangerous for Black, not White.
What makes this opening so bad for Black?
First of all, White can open the game with 1.g4 and Black can’t stop that move. But Black can really only play this move after 1.e4 (Both 1.d4 g5? 2.Bxg5 and 1.Nf3 g5? 2.Nxg5 quickly loses the game for Black).
Secondly, no one have ever claimed that 1.g4 is a good move. And it’s even worse when it is played a move behind for the following reason:
Thirdly, the move 1.g4 severely weakens White and since Black is a move behind, his reply 1…g5 weakens him even more.
But how did Black’s opening 1.e4 g5 get the name, Borg? Well, the move 1.g4 is known as Grob’s Opening. And Borg is Grob spelled backwards.
But this name only took hold after Star Trek, The New Generation introduced the Borg in an episode titled, “Q Who?”, which aired on May 8, 1989.
18.Nxf7+ Kc8 19.Nd6+!! (Much better than taking the rook and losing the initiative. Keep the enemy king on the run!) 19… Kd8 20.Qg5+ Nf6 21.Qxf6+ Kd7 22.Qf7+ Kd8 23.Nc4 Qxb2+ 24.Kxb2 b5 25.Bd6 a3+ 26.Kb1 bxc4 27.Qc7+ Ke8 28.Qe7mate 1-0
Alan R. LeCours-Richard Pugh New York Ch. Kerhonkson, Aug. 31 2003 1.e4 g5 2.d4 e5?! 3.d5 d6 4.Nc3 g4 5.Be3 Nf6 6.Qd2 Nbd7 7.O-O-O Rg8 8.Bd3 a6 9.Nge2 Nc5 10.Ng3 Bd7 11.Kb1 b5 12.Nce2 a5 13.c3 b4 14.c4 a4 15.Nc1 c6 16.f3 Qa5 17.Rhe1 Nb3 18.axb3 a3 19.bxa3 (19…Qxa3 20.Qa2, and White keep his extra piece.) 1-0
Escalante-“Chsstrrrst” (1637) Blitz Game chess.com, Jan. 16 2021 1.e4 g5 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Bxg5 Qb6 5.Qc1= [The chess.com computer says this is an error and suggests the sharper 5.c4, and then the question becomes, can Black reasonably take the b2-pawn with his Queen?
5…Qxb2 6.Nd2, White’s best move, and now:
6…Qxd4?! 7.Ngf3 +/- Qg4 8.cxd5!, and the position between +/- and +- for White.
6…cxd4 7.Bxc4, and White has the advantage.
6…Nc6 7.Rb1 Qxa2 8.Ngf3, and there should be an infinity sign here (which means an unclear position, but I can’t upload that symbol here).]
6.cxd4 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bd3 Bg4 8.Nbd2 O-O-O 9.O-O f6 10.exf6 exf6 11.Bf4 h5 12.h3 Bd7 13.Nh4 Nh6? (Better is 13…Ne5 as the move not only stops Ng6, but White can’t open the c-file with c4.) 14.Ng6 +/- Bg7 15.Nxh8 Rxh8 16.Nf3 Nf5 17.Re1 Nb4 18.Qd2 Nxd3 19.cxd3! (Finally, opening the c-file and Black is ill equipped to defend his isolated king on that file.) 19…h4
If Black chooses to ignore the Bxg5 threat, he might also want to counter-attack. And he occasionally succeeds.
IM Craig W. Pritchett-IM Michael J. Basman Great Britain Ch. Southampton, England, 1986 1.e4 g5 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5!? (This is an interesting, and possibly even a good, move.) 4.d5 h6 5.h4?! (This is possibly where White starts to go wrong. The position is closed and he should not open it up so soon.) 5…gxh4 6.Nf3 d6 7.Nxh4 Nd7 8.Nf5 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Ne5 10.Bb5+ Kf8 11.Be2 Qa5 12.Kf1 Bxf5 13.exf5 Nf6 14.Rxh6 Kg7 15.Rxh8 Rxh8 16.Kg1 Qxc3 17.Rb1 Ne4 18.Bh5 Qd4 19.Be3 Qxd1+ 20.Bxd1 Nc3 21.Ra1 Nxd5 22.Bc1 b5 23.Bb2 f6 24.Rb1 b4 25.Be2 Nf4 26.Bf1 Rh5 27.Bxe5 fxe5 28.g4 Rg5 29.f3 Kf6 30.a3 a5 31.axb4 axb4 32.Bc4 d5 33.Bf1 Rg8 34.Ra1 Rb8 35.Ra6+ Kg5 36.Ra7 c4 37.Rxe7 b3 38.cxb3 cxb3 0-1
But if White remains flexible, he can often take the pawn and still have enough pieces and space to engineer an attack. There is also the issue of Black trying to win the b2-pawn with his queen.
Vladimir Petrienko-Jan Svatos Trimex Open Pardubice, Czech Republic, 1992 1.e4 g5 2.d4 Bg7 3.Bxg5 c5 4.Be3 Qb6 5.Nc3 (Again, we have the question about Black taking the b-pawn with his queen. The biggest counter-threat from White is of course, Nd5. So, again, is it worth for Black to take the b-pawn? According to result of this game, the answer is No.)
You might not find it in a magazine. And you might not find it in a book. But there is a gambit that seems appropriate for Halloween. It is known as the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation (or FDV for short).
In this gambit (perhaps attack would be more descriptive), Black gives up a rook and a few pawns and then proceeds to gain control over a large portion of the board and threatens White’s queen in numerous ways.
Is it any good? Let’s check it (sorry, bad pun) out.
L. Janse-GM J. Hector Paskturneringen Open Sweden, Apr 20 2019 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Qh5 Nd6 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nb5 g6 7.Qf3 f5 8.Qd5 Qe7 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 b6 11.Nxb6 axb6 12.d3 (White wants to develop his Bc1. As events will show White will not have the time to develop this bishop. 12.Ne2 is the better choice.) 12…f4 13.Qf3 Nd4 14.Qd1 Bb7 15.Nf3 Nxf3+ 16.gxf3 Nf5 17.h4 Nxh4 18.Rh3 Qg5 19.Qe2 Bc5 20.Kd2 Qh5 21.Rxh4 Qxh4 22.Qxe5 Re8 23.Qb8+ Bc8 24.Bc4 Bb4+ 0-1
Ray Bott-Roger D de Coverly Match, Game 7 London, 1988 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Qh5 Nd6 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nb5 g6 7.Qf3 f5 8.Qd5 Qe7 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 b6 11.Qf3 Bb7 12.Qh3 Nd4 13.c3 Bg7?!
14.Bd1? (White has to play 14.cxd4 and while Black runs wild over the board with his pieces, he is doing so with one less piece. White’s sole developed piece, his queen, is stuck in the open and becomes a target. The end is swift.) 14…Ne6! 15.d3 Bxa8 16.Ne2 f4 17.Kf1 Ng5 18.Qh4 Nf5 0-1