SOS - Secrets of Opening Surprises - June 2012

  • IM IM_JeroenBosch
  • | Jun 4, 2012

No time to study opening theory? Shock your opponent with an SOS! 
With an SOS you deviate early (usually before move 6!) from regular lines in mainstream openings. So you will reach positions you have actually studied without having memorized tons of stuffy theory, while gaining time on the clock! And you will have fun watching the horror on your opponent's face... 

Every month, the editor of the SOS Secrets of Opening Surprises book series, IM Jeroen Bosch, annotates a game which was recently played with an SOS-variation.

SOS Game of the Month: June 2012
(See also SOS-8, Chapter 15, p.117). 
Hikaru Nakamura became the convincing 2012 US Champion. In the penultimate round he defeated his main rival Gata Kamsky, going on to score a devastating win against Yasser Seirawan in the final round, for an impressive 8½ out of 11, a full point ahead of Kamsky.
In that final round Nakamura employed an SOS idea against the French. Igor Glek wrote on it in SOS-8 in an article entitled 'A 19th Century Weapon versus the French'. Glek confesses that he started playing 2.f4 after the game Zviagintsev-Zhang Pengxiang, 2006, which had made a strong impression on him. Glek then goes on to describe the general plan (e5, Nf3, Nb1–a3-c2, and Bf1–d3 before d4 is played), adding that this set-up is already found in the games of McDonnell and De La Bourdonnais!
We will see, that Nakamura too, is a great connoisseur of the rich history of chess...

Here is the complete text of this analysis:

Hikaru Nakamura
Yasser Seirawan
St Louis ch-USA 2012

1.e4 e6 2.f4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.c3


As Glek explains: White is playing an Advance Variation with f4 added, and without allowing Black any counterplay against d4.

5...Nge7 6.Na3 Nf5 7.Nc2



When he was himself confronted with 2.f4 Nakamura went for 7...d4 8.Bd3 Qb6 9.Qe2 Nfe7 10.Be4 Nd5 11.g3 Bd7 12.c4 Ndb4 13.d3 with an interesting position in Stripunsky-Nakamura, Saint Louis 2010. The stronger player eventually won, but Nakamura was apparently sufficiently convinced of White's idea to adopt 2.f4 now in this important game.



Very important: White is quite happy to exchange this beautiful bishop on f5, following up with d4 for full central control.


Here 8...Be7 9.Bxf5 exf5 10.d4 Qb6 11.dxc5 Bxc5 12.b4 Be7 13.a4 Be6 14.a5 Qc7 15.Be3 gave White a slight edge in Komliakov-Shabanov, Serpukhov 2004.

9.0–0 Be7

9...c4 10.Bxf5 gxf5 11.d3 b5 12.Be3 a5 13.Nfd4 Nxd4 14.Nxd4 Qd7 15.a4! Ba6 16.axb5 Bxb5 17.Nxb5 Qxb5 18.dxc4 Qxc4 19.Qa4+ led to a superior ending for White in Glek-Curien, Switzerland 2007, the very first game in Glek's article in SOS-8.



Nakamura executes White's typical plan in this position.


10...exf5 11.d4 b6 12.Be3 is also slighty better for White. The text is more double-edged. Black's king will find it difficult to find a safe place.

11.d4 h4

11...b6 was better.

12.dxc5 Bxc5+ 13.Be3



Black avoids the exchange of bishops. in the case of 13...Bxe3+ 14.Nxe3 or; 13...Qb6 14.Qd2 a scenario of good knight versus bad (French) bishop becomes quite realistic.


Fixing the pawn on h4 as a weakness.

14...b6 15.Qe2

Forcing Black to make a further concession if he wants to employ his bishop on the diagonal a6-f1 (and where else could it achieve a modicum of activity?).


15...a5 16.Rfd1 (or 16.b4 ) 16...Ba6 17.Qf2.

16.Rfd1 Ba6



This has been a useful regrouping for White. Black is reminded of his h-pawn (he has to reckon with Be3-f2), and the rook is now placed vis-a-vis the black queen.

17...Nd7 18.b4!


White has completed his development. The situation on the kingside and in the centre is stable. He now starts to gain space on the queenside, annoying the light-squared bishop in the process.

18...Nf8 19.a4 Bc4 20.Ncd4 Qd7 21.b5

Fixing a stronghold for the knight on c6.




Black has no counterplay, and how should he stop the simple plan of Nf3-d2 followed by c3-c4?

22...Kf8 23.Nd2 Bd3


24.c4! Kg7

24...dxc4? 25.Nxc4 loses on the spot.

25.cxd5 exd5 26.Nb1

Direct play from Nakamura, while Seirawan was in severe time-trouble. Slower methods to increase White's advantage were 26.Rac1 and 26.Bd4 Qe6 27.Qe3.



26...Be4 is met by 27.Qf2 preparing Nc3, when White is also winning.


Threatening both 28.e6+ and 28.Qxc4.

27...Qe6 28.Nd2 Rhc8?

28...Kh7 29.Nxc4 dxc4 30.Rac1 was also hopeless.



Winning the house.

29...Qd7 30.e6


And Black resigned in view of 30.e6 fxe6 31.Nxf5+ Kf8 32.Qg7+.


  • 3 years ago


  • 4 years ago


    Very good one, thanx for sharing...

  • 4 years ago


    Enjoyed this game very much and learned a few tricks. Thanks!

  • 4 years ago


    excellent article, thanks Smile

  • 4 years ago


    nice article  

  • 4 years ago


    @jempty_method - 3...h6 in the Tarrasch isn't quite as simple as that - and i think your dismissal is a bit flippant. 

    The "stock trap" to which you refer is pretty old hat to the experienced French player.  I know I've won a number of games with it and John Watson (perhaps you've heard of him?) is a fan of it as well.

    Allow me a few references against some respectable competition:

    No, not perfect play, but sub-2400, I think quite a lot is playable.  Please investigate it - it's got a) surpirse factor against most opposition and b) even those who play 4.Bd3 still might not be ready for 4...Nf6 or Nc6?! - why relieve the tension so easily with the pawn exchange - seems a bit passive?!?

    I don't want this to come across as a rant, but we should all try to be a bit more objective in assesments.  I truely dislike the Sicilian, but completely respect it and study games in it as they are very exciting - but the thought of meeting 1.e4 with 1...c5 as black makes me woozey.  Then again, the Sicilian Kan is starting to look better and better.... :)  The similarites to the French are very interesting.



  • 4 years ago


    Another good article,thanks a lot.

  • 4 years ago


    I personally wouldn't play 2.f4 as white. I just don't see the point. If you really want to play f4 in the advance variation, that can be reached via the main line, something along the lines of 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5. f4 (Nf3 is the main line). What is the point of delaying d4? It allows black to play d4 himself which gets into an entirely different position. 

    Perhaps the point is to avoid some sidelines black has in the advance variation, but typically they are not dangerous at all. On the game itself, I did not like how Seriwan played the position. As a fench player I would have played 5...Bd7 rather than Nge7 with the idea of Rc8 and creating play on the queenside. There is no rush to play Nge7 because of f4, Nh6 is a very reasonable move since the dark squared bishop can no longer take it. 

    Also I didn't understand g6. I would have opted for a different structure by playing Be6 after the knight is captured and forgoing g6 entirely. I would have locked the queenside after d4 with c4 and attempted to play on the queenside. Additionally I would have perferred Bb7 rather than Ba6 with the idea of d4 sometime to activate. The lightsquared bishop was not particularly useful on the a6-f1 diagonal. 

    But then again, who am I to criticize these super GM's? I am simply a class A french player

  • 4 years ago


    Nicely annotated.  Thanks!

  • 4 years ago


    dankjewel JEROEN !!!!!!! TOP GEWELDIG !!!!!!!!Cool

  • 4 years ago


    Great French Defense game!

  • 4 years ago


    Another nice article from Bosch - the SOS series is so much fun, as well as useful.  From it, I'm a huge fan of 3...h6 against the Tarrasch French and now have much more respect for 1.e4, e6, 2.b3!?

    Another nice win by Nakamura - I'll have to break out my SOS 8 and Waston's French for more investigation!



Back to Top

Post your reply: