The Birth And Development Of The Hillbilly Attack

The Birth And Development Of The Hillbilly Attack

| 41 | Opening Theory

People are obsessed with chess openings. Amazon shows 28,265 books listed when you search for "Chess Book", but I expect the number of books written on the game is well over 100,000. If I were to hedge a bet, then I would also guess that the large majority (maybe even 80%) of these books are opening books. It is a little secret among chess authors and DVD makers that if you pick an opening as a topic, your content is pretty much guaranteed to sell well.

In this article, I am going to do a little bit of research and try to look at how a certain opening came to be. We will also take a look at the current state of theory in that opening. What opening am I referring to? Well, the Hillbilly Attack, of course! This is a line you can try against the Caro-Kann after the moves: 1.e4 c6 2.Bc4!?

I have had many blitz encounters in this variation, and it is the opening that most people ask me about. Check out the following videos of me trying this opening.

I came across the following definition for 'Hillbilly' whilst browsing the internet. '"In short, a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammelled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him." The quotation is taken from the New York Journal all the way back on April 23, 1900!

Well there you go! Welcome to the Hillbilly Attack. An unsophisticated, slightly offensive opening which shoots bullets from the hip. It seems that the opening moves could have originated from a whiskeyed-up, revolver-shooting Hillbilly. However, the opening does contain a nasty bite to it that could swallow an unaware opponent.

I have also done a video for premium members. This takes you through the main ideas of the opening.

I first came across this opening whilst glancing through the start of a New In Chess yearbook. These publications often contain high-level analysis on the latest trend in the Sicilian, so it was nice to see that someone had sent a letter in on The Hillbilly Attack. There is no established theory on this opening. That means both sides are on an equal footing from the start of the game. 

If everyone's confused, no one's confused. Or are they... I'm confused.

Quite some time ago, I received an email from a chap called Jack Young. Jack was a player from America who got in contact with me to tell me that he had invented the opening! He even sent me some articles that had been written on the topic. Now I can't show them here (I do not want to get sued!), but I will quote some snippets from the article in Jack's own words.

'A real country bumpkin opening first occurred to me in a dream. When I awoke, I started analyzing...'

Wow, so to sum up, the Hillbilly Attack came from another dimension. The dream dimension! Can any other opening claim such a feat?

Who plays the Hillbilly? 'The worst players in the world! All the great bunnies of the 90's... Amongst those players are such diverse stars as 1700M (International 700-Club Member (under 800 FIDE) Blair Bimbleman, and LF (Life Fish) Jack Young." These are players from a normal background. Great! This opening is for the 'normal' player, but as we will see, Magnus Carlsen has also now tried it!

As Jack said in his email to me:

'I invented the opening back in 1988 and wrote about it in my column, "Bozo's Chess Emporium". It was supposed to be a joke opening, but it apparently took on a life of its own when I showed it to the German master, Rainer Schlenker. At some point, Tim Sawyer, a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit enthusiast, picked it up and wrote about it.' 

Not so funny anymore, eh Bozo?!

The Hillbilly has certainly given me a lot of fun. For the theory-hungry out there, here is some theoretical work that I did on the opening.

This lead to the following pleasing tactic which is a very common idea in this opening. I have had the chance to play this idea on at least a dozen occasions.

The tactic leads to the demolition of the black kingside and a big attack. Looks great right? Well, it can certainly be a dangerous opening, but things can also go horrible wrong. Check out this game I had with the opening.

Oh dear... A very bad game! The funny thing was that before I played this game, I totally forgot that I had already tried this opening out against Gawain in a number of blitz games. How bad my memory was! Hopefully that has not put you totally off the opening.

Had I have played 7.a4, things would have been fine. It is funny how far things have come for the opening though. None other than the world champion Magnus Carlsen used it recently. Ok, it was in a blitz game, but the choice was still brave!

Then one of the most talented attacking players from Sweden, Emanuel Berg, used it to defeat another GM, Tiger Hillarp-Persson. The variations and evaluations are Berg's

So there you go, that is the short life of the Hillbilly Attack. It's a crazy opening that offers White some very interesting attacking chances. Will you be brave enough to give it a go?

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