Habla Espanol?

Habla Espanol?

| 41 | Tactics

The summer of 1967 is known as the Summer of Love (The Beatles, hippies, Woodstock, etc). I think the summer of 2010 will be remembered as the Summer of Spain. First Spain wins the soccer World Cup, then Nadal wins Wimbledon and the Spanish celebration continues with Contador's triumph in the Tour De France! Of course if you speak Spanish (lucky you!), then you could watch live reports on all these events by Sara Carbonero (pictured above), who was voted "The Sexiest Reporter in the World." (By the way, if a major US network hired her, I bet many male sport fans would watch her reports even if they don't speak any Spanish).

For the rest of us, who don't live in Spain and don't speak Spanish, we can pay homage to this proud nation by chess means.  How? What a silly question! What can be more Spanish on the chess board than the Ruy Lopez opening (aka Spanish Opening) and particularly the Siesta variation? Despite the sleepy name (siesta is a short nap taken in the early afternoon in Spain), this variation is quite sharp.

You will see that many of the world's top GMs and even World Champions went down in flames facing this dangerous weapon.  So, what is the Siesta variation? It happens after the initial moves 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. c3 f5!?

It looks amazing that Black can try to seize the initiative and go unpunished, and yet, the variation is absolutely sound and cannot be refuted. See what happened to one of the best Grandmasters of his time Richard Reti when he tried to punish his opponent (who happened to be the great Capablanca!) for the early activity.

(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your attacking skills, so the games are given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".)


In the next game played in the World Championship of 1948, ex-World Champion Max Euwe tried to improve Reti's play by taking the pawn first (6 exf5) and only then played d4.  Enjoy Black's crushing attack!


In the following game a strong modern GM (and a good theoretician!) tried to improve on Euwe's play. He could be satisfied with the outcome of the opening since he was able to keep his extra material, but Black kept creating unpleasant threats until White cracked under the pressure.
The last victim - another World-class GM, was not familiar with the theoretical line and as a result his opponent was able to win a game without playing one single move of his own!
As you could see, even such a solid, positional opening as the Ruy Lopez can be turned into a hot battlefield.
So, Habla Espanol?
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