The Opening Boomerang

The Opening Boomerang

| 67 | Tactics

Every chess player knows about two inevitable opening catastrophes: scholar's mate and the Fried Liver Attack. I still remember my shock when in one of my first tournaments I played what looked like reasonable moves and yet the resulting position was a total disaster:

And here I realized that I already lost a pawn as well as the right to castle, and also my opponent is threatening a checkmate in one!

While all chess players pretty quickly learn how to deal with a threat of scholar's mate, the Fried Liver Attack remains a dangerous weapon that many players try to avoid by playing 3...Bc5 instead of 3...Nf6 in order to prevent the killer move 4.Ng5!

Of course, as we know, there is a "master of the Ng5 move" in chess.  We discussed in this article why you should watch out for him playing Ng5 and probably should avoid playing Ng5 against him on your own. Here are two games where his opponents apparently didn't know about that and foolishly played 4.Ng5? in the Fried Liver Attack against him:

Of course the paradoxical move 4...Bc5!? is not GM Zaitsev's invention. The so-called Traxler counterattack has been known for more than 100 years. Yet, in the majority of the cases, whenever low-rated chess players confidently push the knight forward, 4.Ng5, starting the Fried Liver Attack, their main hope is to sacrifice the knight on the f7 square and quickly finish off the opponent, exactly as it happened in the first game of this article.

Usually the Traxler counterattack comes as a very unpleasant surprise and the hunter becomes  prey. Here is a spectacular game by the inventor of the variation with his own annotations:

I don't know any other opening where White would lose so many games unable to survive more than a dozen moves!

Here is a relatively recent example:

This opening variation is especially popular in the low-rated tournaments, but sometimes even grandmasters like to immediately turn the table and start attacking white king early in the opening!

If you are looking for a weapon against the Fried Liver Attack, I strongly recommend you to try the Traxler counterattack at least once. I guarantee you a lot of excitement!

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