Tactics, Tactics, Floating in the Air
IMPORTANT: [At the end of the puzzles, you should click MOVE LIST so you can see my instructive notes and variations. If you are having trouble solving a problem, just click SOLUTION, and then MOVE LIST. Even if you solve everything, DO click MOVE LIST or you might miss an important bit of prose.]
darkpower25 (1231) – Yankees22095 (1221), Chess.com 2012 (a move every 3 days)
After 1.f4 Black has many ways to challenge white’s system. He can play 1…d5, which takes us into a reversed Dutch Defense. Or if Black is a hyper-aggressive player, he might try From’s Gambit with 1…e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3, when a theoretical minefield would follow. Note that 4.Nc3?? is a tad unfortunate: 4…Qh4+ 5.g3 Qxg3+ 6.gxf3 Bxg3 mate.
White has to make a decision. Should he transpose into a King-pawn opening with 2.e4 or stick to Bird themes (a theme started with 1.f4) with 2.Nf3 (going after that e5-square!)? After the latter move (and I suspect most true Bird Defense aficionados would choose 2.Nf3), Black has to be careful that he doesn’t continue with a system of development that leads to problems due to the c6-Knight blocking its c7-pawn (as would be the case with 1.f4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d5). Thus 2.Nf3 d6 trying to crack the center with a quick …e7-e5 would make the most sense. 1.f4 Nc6 2.Nf3 g6!? would also be interesting.
darkpower25 said: “I believe that the idea behind the Bird’s Opening is to control the center by occupying the f4 and e4 squares with pawns.”
This isn’t really true. Yes, if Black allows White to play 1.f4, 2.e4, 3.d4, etc. then he will indeed happily take the center. But the general idea of the Bird’s is something a bit more straightforward: White is trying to dominate the e5-square via f4, Nf3, b3, and Bb2.
Also possible is 2…d5, transposing into a Nimzovich Defense (1.e4 Nc6) where white’s early f2-f4 drastically cuts down on white’s options.
After 2…e5 we’ve transposed into a rare line of the King’s Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6) which in one major source is called “The 1…Nc6 Defense.” A very original and imaginative name! Actually, 2…Nc6 probably doesn’t deserve a name since it transposes into other openings (for example, it might become a Vienna Game after 3.Nc3) and other lines of the King’s Gambit. White’s most common replies are 3.Nf3, 3.Nc3, and 3.Bc4.
darkpower25 said: “I no longer think that this is the best move because it does nothing but develop the Knight. I guess that it does some things though like attack his Knight forcing him to move it or defend it.”
What do you want a move to do? Developing a piece, getting closer to being able to castle, and threatening the enemy piece sounds pretty good to me! So 4.Nf3 is a perfectly good move, though 4.Nc3 is probably a bit more accurate since White then threatens to eat the center with d2-d4, and he doesn’t have to worry about 4...Qh4+ since after 5.g3 the e4 is protected.
Other moves are 4...Nxf3+ and 4...d5!?
5.d4 Nxf3+ 6.Qxf3 Nf6 7.Nc3
darkpower25 said: “Protecting my e-pawn, here I made the mistake of reacting, as I looked at the move more, I realized that it preemptively protects my pawn in the event of my Queen being driven away by …Bg4, although not a move without any thought behind it, there were probably much better moves lying around.”
Actually, you do react (repeatedly) as the game progresses, but here you play (but don’t have confidence in) a very good, logical, and solid move.
A very bad move. Instead, 7...c6 or 7...Be7 were both completely playable.
Missing the knockout, which was seen in the previous puzzle.
8...Bb7 9.Bb5+ c6 10.Bc4
Instead of this, White has two very interesting, and far stronger, possibilities:
Also possible was 11.e5:
Unfortunately you fell victim to the old, "He attacks my Bishop and I must defend it" psychological trap. It turns out that you could have labeled his 11...b5 as a decisive loss of time:
He needed to castle while he could. Leaving your King in the center is known to be bad for your health.
13...gxf6, though ugly, was forced.
Ignoring the classic rule: "If his King is in the center and your King is castled, rip open the center and ravage/smash/kill/rend the enemy monarch." hmmm... that doesn't sound quite right, but it's in the ballpark.
14...0-0 leaves Black with the preferable position.
Once again you abide by the "I have to" rule (he takes and I have to take back). Instead, 15.Qxf7 mate makes a nice impression.
15...0-0 and White no longer has anything and the game was eventually drawn.
LESSONS FROM THESE EXAMPLES
* It’s important to know the basic ideas of your openings. In the case of the Bird’s Opening, you simply must be tuned into white’s desire to dominate the e5-square.
* Even when one is aware of the evils of reacting to the enemy’s moves, it’s still hard not to react! You ARE going to botch this at first, but you need to repeatedly pick yourself off the canvas until you finally start making inroads into this psychological disease.
* Tactics are usually fueled by undefended pieces, vulnerable Kings, and double attacks (i.e., one move attacks two units at the same time).
* As you can see from this game, if you aren’t aware of basic tactical pitfalls and themes, you’ll find that it’s hard to even get out of the opening alive!
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