Kasparov's My Great Predecessors series of books is a trove of invaluable information. Garry is a real King Midas of chess since whatever chess subject he touches, he turns into gold. Whether you want to improve your tactical skills, learn how to play a certain opening, or just enjoy the best gems produced by the best chess players in the history of the game? You'll find everything there! So, when in the third volume Kasparov mentions a variation he liked to use in his blitz games, it's worthy of investigation.
The variation starts with the move 1.g3 which can transform to a variety of different opening lines (the Reti opening, English, Catalan, reversed Modern and Pirc, etc). Kasparov admits that he learned this variation from the games of the great Leonid Stein and mentioned one of them: against Eero Book. The game is not bad and quite typical for the very energetic style of Leonid Stein. Unfortunately, his opponent wasn't really a match for the Super GM, so the game was pretty much one-sided. Judge for yourself:
What a horrible massacre! Of course 5...Bf5?! was really asking for trouble, but in case of 5...Bh5, trying to prevent e2-e4, Kasparov recommends 6. g4!? Bg6 7. f4 e6 8. e4 gaining the initiative thanks to Bg6 being completely immobilized.
Kasparov giving a press conference at 2012 World Championship match in Moscow | Image courtesy FIDE
Kasparov correctly points out that this position is much easier to play with White and therefore it brought him very good results. Of course his blitz games (especially the ones he played as a teenager) were not saved for history, but a game played by a pair of strong modern players proves Kasparov's point:
What if Black doesn't develop his light-squared bishop too early? Kasparov has a recommendation for this case as well:
In the following amusing game, a future strong grandmaster fell victim to an unexpected trap:
But what should White do in the case of the most natural response from Black: 2...e5? Kasparov doesn't provide an answer there, but judging by his confession that his opening choice was highly influenced by the games of GM Leonid Stein, I suspect he was aware of the next well-known game.
The beauty of this opening set up is that it is easy to play since there is practically nothing to memorize. Unfortunately, in some variations, it becomes too positional for most amateur chess players. So, if your favorite opening is the Blackmar - Diemer or Smith - Morra gambit, then I would recommend you to just ignore this line. But if you are more of a Ruy Lopez kind of a person, and especially if you like to play the King's Indian Defense, Pirc or Modern, then you can give this unusual and tricky opening a try.