The Bill Gates Variation
How many of you could get a winning position against Magnus Carlsen after just eight moves of play? How many chess players in the world could do it? I know one of them, and his name is Bill Gates!
Not only did he achieve this improbable goal when he played an exhibition game vs. Carlsen, but he also introduced a theoretical novelty as early as move three! Nevertheless, as much as I like Bill Gates' position after eight moves, I wouldn't recommend to follow his opening 3.Bd3 idea. Judge for yourself:
Of course there is no point in deeply analyzing a game where an amateur played against the world champion. Especially since Bill Gates had just two minutes for the whole game (vs. 30 seconds for Magnus Carlsen). But the opening choice of our world champion is quite telling. Most chess players who play exhibition games vs. celebrities prefer quiet openings even if celebrities play very aggressively. Who can forget the game Boris Becker - Garry Kasparov, which started 1. e4 e5 2. Qh5?! Nc6. By the way, Becker's opening play probably impressed GM Hikaru Nakamura so much that he played 2.Qh5?! move on numerous occasions - but if you are waiting for another GM to play Bill Gates' 3. Bd3, you are in for a long wait!
Anyway, Carlsen broke the traditional politeness of this kind of games and went straight for the kill. The system that he played is a real nuclear weapon against club players. The scheme is quite simple: Black plays d7-d5, and after exd5, he captures with his queen. Then the queen goes to h5, the bishop goes to g4 and when White plays h3, Black sacrifices the bishop either by just allowing White to capture it by hxg4 or by playing Bxh3. Even if Black doesn't get enough compensation for the bishop (like in the game Bill Gates - Magnus Carlsen), the open position of white king provides plenty of counterplay, so one mistake can be fatal for White - which is exactly what happened in the Bill Gates game. This opening weapon is especially dangerous in blitz, but can also work very well in local weekend tournaments like in the next game:
Masters employ this tricky line too:
Of course such a risky strategy can easily backfire. Even Bill Gates could have obtained a winning position after 8. Re1 instead of blundering mate in one. Therefore, White's strategy in this variation is simple: be very careful, pay attention to Black's threats and whenever possible try to start a counterattack. The next game is a beautiful and instructive example:
I hope you are now ready to surprise your blitz opponents with this dangerous variation and are also ready to repel Black's attack if this weapon ever turned against you.
RELATED STUDY MATERIAL
- Read GM Serper's previous article Velimirovic's Guide to the Modern Benoni;
- See another world class player face off against amateurs in FM Elliott Liu's: Amazing Games for Beginners: Morphy's Genius 1;
- Playing against Magnus in the near future? Learn how to last past move nine in Chess Mentor;
- Become a tactics guru with our Tactics Trainer;
- Looking for articles with deeper analysis? Preview our magazine: The Master's Bulletin.