Hard Candy, Part Two

Hard Candy, Part Two

| 42 | Tactics

In the first part of the article last week we discussed the hidden danger of innocent-looking openings.  The idea is to take off guard an opponent who mistakenly thinks that a very modest (sometimes even primitive) opening is equivalent to a lack of any poison and ambition.  Sometimes such a bad reputation has nothing to do with the actual strength of the opening and is more a matter of chess fashion.  For example, the Exchange Ruy Lopez was considered a very boring, drawish opening until Fischer started playing it. He immediately turned a not very popular variation (almost a sideline in the opening books) into a deadly weapon. Of course, everyone and his brother immediately picked up the now fashionable line.  The Slav Exchange had the same fate.  This time it was Petrosian and Portisch who gave the opening its second life.  There are many similar examples in the history of chess.  So, paraphrasing a famous saying (supposedly by Tarrasch): “There are no good or bad openings, there are good and bad chessplayers.”

Of course, if you want to succeed in beating your opponent right out of the opening, you might want to maximize your chances. To me it means to set as many land mines for your opponent as possible.  No matter what sideline he prefers, there is something nasty waiting for him there. Let’s see how it works in real life.

Suppose you like the beautiful attack that White delivered in a, according to opening books, boring, lifeless variation (see the first part of this article). And suppose you prefer this line to the main line that was tried by Kasparov in his match vs. Kramnik with no success whatsoever.  Before you try this variation in your next tournament game, you need to anticipate the most probable responses of your opponent and prepare some vicious traps there.  And then, even if your opponent finds a narrow path that avoids all your traps, still you get a good position. That’s the difference between good traps and bad traps that we discussed two weeks ago (see my article “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”).  Now let’s cut to the chase.


It is amazing how quickly Black's position goes downhill once he loses the correct path, and yet it is exactly what happened in the game played by GM L.Ljuboevic (White) and R.Calvo (Black) in Spain, 1973.  In that game Black didn't want to give up his extra piece and accept a bad position. Instead he preferred to play 11... Nf5, and here is a quiz for you, dear readers.

Lets follow the Nezhmetdinov game (from the first part of the article) and see where Black can try to deviate.

This brilliant game was played in the Western States Open in Reno (If you never played in this traditional annual tournament, then I strongly recommend you do!). During this tournament my roommate was GM B.Kreiman.  We briefly discussed this line for White some months before the tournament and I was happy to see him produce this brilliant game vs. IM D.Vigorito.
Now you are ready to punish a lost soul who dares to play the Berlin variation against you, but remember, the more traps you set for your opponent, the better. So, here is a bonus trap for your opponents.






As a result of our little investigation we have established a number of points:

1)      Even the most primitive and dull openings have their poison.

2)      From the practical point of view, you might want to deviate from the main opening line in order to catch your opponent in a trap where he least expects it.

3)      The beauty of ‘good’ traps is that even if your opponent doesn’t fall for them, they still promise you a good game.

4)      The more ‘good’ traps you set for your opponent the better.

5)      The last and the most important one: Katy Perry (the girl with a knife in the first part of this article) should play in chess tournaments!


Have fun with your opening traps!

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