Chess.com offers a feature known as Team Vote Chess. This is where your club or team can compete against another team in a single game. All members are allowed to vote and encouraged to share their thoughts and analyses.
It can be humbling finding out that a move you thought might be brilliant is torn apart by your own team members. But that is infinitely better than having your opponent tear it apart.
Anyway, the games are usually sociable and fun.
Here are two games featuring one of my favorite openings.
“The Atheists”-“Paradise Chess Club” Team Vote Chess chess.com, 2021 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Nbd7 8.Bg5 Qb6 9.Be3 Qc7 10.Qd2 Be7 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.Nxe6 Qc4 (The best move for Black in this position.) 13.Nxg7+ Kf7 14.Nf5 Nxe4 15.Nxe4 Qxe4 16.Nxe7 Qxe7 17.O-O-O Ne5 18.Bg5 Qe6 19.Rhe1 Qxa2? [Better are 19…Re8 or 19…Rg8 when White must play accurately to keep whatever advantage he still may have. 19…Qg6? is bad as White regains the attack after 20.Qd5+ Be6 (not 20…Qe6? 21.Qxd6 Qxd6 22.Rxd6 Nc4 23.Re7+) 21.Qxb7+.] 20.Qf4+ Ke8
21.Rxe5+! +- dxe5 (Nothing saves Black. If he instead tries 21…Kd7, then 22.Re7+ Kc6 23.Qxd6+ Kb5 24.Re5+ Ka4 25.Rd4+ Qc4 26.b3 is mate.) 22.Rd8mate 1-0
“Chess Unlimited”-”LIVE WIRE” Team Vote Chess http://www.chess.com, Aug. 20 2012-Jan. 2 2013 [I was the team captain for LIVE WIRE. We had excellent analysists and contributors for the game. Most enjoyable was seeing our analysis grow from +/- to +- , and then from a +- to a forced mate.] 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.O-O b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.Re1 Be7 10.f4 O-O 11.e5 (This move loses at least a pawn. And probably much more.) 11…dxe5 12.fxe5 (To keep his losses to a minimum White has to play 12.Nf3.) 12…Qxd4+ 13.Kh1 (A bit of a crossroad here. Black is certainly winning What to do now? At first glance, it looks like 13…Ng4 with the idea of 14…Nf2+, with a smothered mate coming seems attractive. Even the knight is protected by the queen on d4. Of course, nothing is protecting the queen and White wins after 13…Ng4? 14.Bxh7+ Kxh7 15.Qxd4. So this idea was quickly and rightfully dismissed. 13…Qg4 is better since after the trade of queens Black is still ahead a piece and still winning. But 13…Qh4!! is the best. Take a look at the following moves.) 13…Qh4 14.exf6 Bd6!! (The team foresaw this position. White is suddenly finding he doesn’t have any good moves. 15.g3 is illegal. Both 15.Ne4 and 15.Be4 immediately lose to 15…Qxh2#. And 15.Bxh7+ fails to 15…Kxh7! 16.Qxd6 Qxe1+ -+. We thought we accounted for all possible moves.) 15.Re5? (But we didn’t see this one! Never mind, it’s a blunder.) 15…Bxe5 16.Qg1 gxf6 (With the idea of 17…Kh8 and 18…Rg8.) 17.Be3 Kh8 18.Rf1 Rg8 19.Rf2 Nd7! (To bring the last rook into play.) 20.Ne2
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.)
A couple of decades ago I was reading a short story titled, “The Three Pawns Gambit”. It featured mysticism and the usual crazy chess hero.
But what is the Three Pawns Gambit? Does is lead to insanity? Or, perhaps more important to the average chess player, can you win with it?
Let’s look into it.
To get to the starting point of the three pawn gambit (3PG), you have to begin with the Kings’ Gambit Accepted (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4). Then we move onto the Cunningham 3.Nf3 Be7). And then onto one of the many main lines of the Cunningham with 4.Bc4 Bh4+)
And now White usually continues with 5.Kf1.
If White continues instead with 5.g3, then we have reached with position that leads to the 3PG.
Now, wait, you might say, “White has only gambitted only one pawn, not three.
You are correct. But Black almost always takes the second pawn with 5…fxg3. And why not? He is ahead by two pawns and is ready to invade White’s kingside with his pieces.
And now White castles with 6.O-O, offering up a third pawn.
Let’s review all the moves so far as we’ll proceed rapidly from this point.
Newton-V. Jurgenson, 1994 [Escalante] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O d6 (6…gxh2+ is considered best. But no matter how good accepting a sacrifice, some players will still decline it.) 7.Bxf7+ (White says, “So if Black won’t take my pawn, he might not take my bishop”. Actually taking the bishop is dangerous due to 7…Kxf7 8.Nxh4+.) 7…Kd7 8.e5 gxh2+ 9.Kh1 Nc6 10.e6+ Ke7 11.Nxh4 Bxe6 12.Bxe6 Kxe6 13.Qg4+ Kd5 14.Nc3+ Kc5 15.d4+ [Interesting is 15.Rf5+!? Kb6 (better, but still leading to mate is 15…Ne5 16.d4+ Kc6 17.d5+ Kd7 18.Rxe5#) 16.Rb5+ Ka6 17.Qa4+ Na5 18.Qxa5#.] 15…Kb6 16.d5 Nf6 17.Be3+ Ka6 18.Qc4+ 1-0
“Ben_Dubuque”-“subhankars”) Blitz Game Chess.com, July 14 2017 [“Ben_Dubuque”] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 (The Three Pawns Gambit or the Bertin Gambit whichever you prefer.) 7…Be7 (Any move other than d5 is a mistake but d5 still allows White some compensation. Most engines will evaluate the position after d5 as maybe -1 which is surprisingly good considering White is down 3 pawns. 7…d5 8.exd5 Bg4 9.d4.) 8.Bxf7+ Kxf7 9.Ne5+ Ke8 10.Qh5+ g6 11.Nxg6 Nf6 12.Rxf6 Bxf6 13.Nxh8+ Ke7 14.Qf7+ Kd6 15.d4 Bxd4 (15…Qxh8 16.Bf4+ Be5 17.Bxe5+ Qxe5 18.dxe5+ Kxe5 19.Nc3) 16.Bf4+ Be5 17.Qd5+ Ke7 18.Qxe5+ Kf8 19.Bh6+ Kg8 20.Qg7mate 1-0
Two popular responses after 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 are 7…Bf6 and 7…Nh6
Reshevsky-Doery Simul Berlin, 1920 [American Chess Bulletin, Nov. 1920, p.170] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Be7 4.Nf3 Bh4+ 5.g3 (A lively continuation that is classified as Capt. Bertin’s Gambit. Steinitz was wont to play 5.Kf1 against Bird, one of the few masters who ever resorted to the Cunningham.) 5…fxg3 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 Nh6 (Not to be recommended. The correct move is 7…d5) 8.d4 Qe7 9.Bxh6 gxh6 10.Ne5 Bf6 [The removal of Black’s King’s Knight has left the King’s Bishop’s pawn woefully weak and Rzeschewski (i.e. Reshevsky RME) knows full well how to take advantage.] 11.Qh5 Rf8 12.Nxf7 (In this fashion does the little fellow make the chess the “child’s play” which is beyond the comprehension of many who are highly accomplished along other lines, but cannot quite grasp the fundamentals of chess strategy.) 12…Qxe4+ (Rzeschewski had calculated upon the sacrifice of a piece and the gain of more than it’s equivalent a few moves later, viz.: 12….RxN; 13.BxR+ QxB, 14.QxQ+ KxQ 15.e5, etc.) 13.Kxh2 Qxc2+ 14.Kg3 (Fearlessly the White King marches out into the open. He does not dread Rg8+, for in that case the Knight is withdrawn with discovered check.) 14…Bh4+ (Black is in desperation, but if, to avoid the discovery, he were to play …Ke7, then Re1+ would force mate.) 15.Qxh4 Qxc4 16.Qd8mate (Short shift is meted out to the presumptuous one who takes a chance on anything escaping the keen eyes of the small “grand-master” as he was dubbed in Vienna two years ago.) 1-0
Dus Chotimirsky-Robine Hamburg, 1910 [Escalante] [White has a won game after his 12th move. But how he wins it is spectacular.] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 d5 8.exd5 Bf6 9.d4 Ne7 10.Ng5 h6? 11.Nxf7! Kxf7 12.d6+ +- Kf8 13.Qh5 Qe8
First, let’s talk about the name of the gambit. Many players are convinced that AMAR is an acronym for Absolutely Mad And Ridiculous. And they are at least half correct, it is an absolutely mad and ridiculous opening. But the opening is named after Charles Amar, a 1930s player from Paris.
What makes this opening so bad? Well, the opening starts with 1.Nh3. And with this move White gives up his claim for the center, loses a tempo with his knight, and retards his own development.
Black probably has the advantage after either 1…e5 or 1…d5.
After 1.Nh3 d5, the game can continue with 2.g3 e5 3.f4, and the position of the AMAR gambit has been reached. Let’s see what White has done. With 2.g3 and 3.f4, he not only has the same problems as before, but has also tacked on a few more problems. His kingside is considerably weakened, he has open lines to his king, namely the d8-h4 diagonal (the same one used in Fool’s Mate), and he has sacrificed (lost?) a kingside pawn.
What has White gotten for all this mess? If Black plays 3…exf4, then White can win back the f-pawn with 4.Nxf4. He then has an OK position for his knight. And White can try castling.
Black, however, doesn’t have to play 3…exf4, leaving White with an entirely lost position. White can still try to castle kingside and maybe have some play along the f-file. But he usually doesn’t have the time to castle or make any long-term plans.
Really, White does better with the King’s Gambit.
1) 3.f4 2) 3.f4 exf4 4.Nxf4 3) 3.f4 Bxh3
Black can decline the gambitted pawn. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, Black has stronger moves.
Certainly Black can take the pawn. Well, he ends up with a much better position than White, who finds himself on the defensive. It is not known if this is a forced win for Black, but it is close to one.
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
Martin Severin From (Apr. 8 1828-May 6 1895), an English player, came up with an intriguing gambit to deal with Bird’s opening (1.f4). It has proven to be so popular that it now the most common response to 1.f4 and is played in blitz chess, OTB games, and correspondence games.
But why this gambit so popular after 150 years? For one, it can lead to a quick mate for Black. Second, even if the game does not end in a quick mate, the initiative can quickly pass to Black. And all for the price of a pawn.
Many players have studied From’s Gambit and contributed to the it’s theory. It’s a labor of love, and because it’s chess, it is a complicated and forever friendship. Some players actually do fall in love with this opening.
Here is one of the earliest games played by it’s creator.
Mollastrom-From Copenhagen, 1862 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e4 Ng4 6.g3? (White falls into a thematic trap of the From’s.)
6…Nxh2! 7.Rxh2 Bxg3+ 8.Ke2 Bxh2 9.Nxh2 f5 10.Bg2 fxe4 11.Bxe4 Qh4 12.Qh1 O-O 13.Bd5+ Kh8 14.Qg1 Qh5+ 15.Bf3 Rxf3 16.Nxf3 Bg4 17.d3 Nc6 18.Bf4 Rf8 19.Bg3 Rxf3 20.Ke1 Qh6 21.Nc3 Nb4 0-1 Let’s look at some problems and early traps that can trouble and entrap White.
[White does not need to accept the offered pawn. He can play 2.f4 and the game is now a King’s Gambit. Which is another opening White having to learn. In any case, he is no longer playing a Bird’s. Or he can attempt other moves. But declining the gambit, unless it’s 2.f4, usually backfires.
Klaus Bernhard-F. Felgentreu Bundeswehr Ch. Stetten, 1988 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 f5 6.e3 Qf6 7.Nc3 Ne7 8.Bc4 h5 9.Rf1 h4 10.g4 fxg4 11.Ne4 Qg7 12.Nfxg5 Bxh2 13.Nf6+ 1-0 [But 5…h5, applying more pressure on White’s kingside, seems to work to keep the balance, with Black still having a slight advantage in the Initiative department and White still keeping his extra pawn.]
Guischard-Gedult Paris, 1972 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 Ng4 6.Nc3 Bxh2 7.Bg5 Bg3+ 8.Kd2 f6 9.Bh4 Nf2 10.Qc1 Nxh1 0-1 [He can play 5.g3, which is more complicated, but still equal in chances.]
When I was in High School, and just beginning to understand the theories of chess, an old man came to visit us at the table. This episode probably then happened a park.
He watched with some intensity, as I and my opponent were engrossed in our game. After the game ended (I think I won), he asked, almost with a sneer, “so what is the difference between checkers and chess?”
I didn’t exactly why he was asking this question. But I gave him my best answer and replied, “Chess is more complicated”.
With that, the old turned around and departed. Maybe he thought I was rude and me being a male teenager, that may be true. Or is because he didn’t expect the conversation to go that way. Or he may have thought he has interacting with younger teens (after all, when I was 14 I could still pass for a 12 year-old).
So, I got to thinking, what are differences between chess and checkers. And I drew up a list. Which I promptly lost. But I remember most of it. And now with the magic of the Internet, and blogging in particular, here is my list (corrected for spelling and grammar).
WHAT IS THE SAME
The boards are identical in size (8 x 8).
Each board has 64 squares.
A man moving to the 8th rank is promoted.
It is a game usually played by only two competitors.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT
Checkers is played on a red and black board. Chess is typically played on a white and black board.
In checkers, each player starts with only 12 men. In chess, each player starts with 16 men.
In checkers, all the men look the same, move the same way, and are of equal value. In chess, the pieces look different, move differently, and are worth different values.
In checkers, Black moves first. In chess, White moves first.
In checkers, a man reaching the 8th rank can only be promoted to a King. In chess, a man reaching the 8th rank can be promoted to a Queen, a Rook, a Bishop, or a Knight. But never to a King.
In checkers, players use only 32 squares of the board. In chess, both players use all 64 squares.
In checkers, players may only move their men diagonally. In chess, players may move their pieces diagonally, forward, backwards, and horizontally.
In checkers, a player captures a man by jumping over them. In chess, a player can capture a man by occupying their place on the board.
In checkers, only a king can move backwards. In chess, Knights, Bishops, Rooks, Queens, and Kings can move backwards. Pawns are the only units that may only move forward.
In chess, there are rules for en passant and castling. No such rules exist for checkers.
In checkers, captures are mandatory. In chess, players may decline a capture.
In checkers, openings are decided by lot. In chess, opening play is determined by the players.
And for us chess enthusiasts:
Chess has a high cultural value. People equate us chess players as possessing great intelligence, a fantastic memory, and in its purest form; grace.
It is possible to be a prodigy in math, music, or chess.
Frank Brady wrote “Bobby Fischer: Profile of a Prodigy”.
Wikipedia has an article titled, “Chess Prodigy”.
No checkers player has ever been known or labeled as a prodigy.