The Opening You've Never Heard Of

The Opening You've Never Heard Of

| 24 | Tactics

Grandmaster David Bronstein was an excellent chess player, original thinker and a brilliant chess author who produced a number of bestsellers. His most famous chess book is undoubtedly "Zurich 1953."

Everyone loves this book and for a good reason. As much as I like this book, I think some other books by Bronstein are even better. One of my favorites is his "200 Open Games." If you've never read this book, then you should!

It is pointless to describe what this book is about, since it is about everything chess-related. Well, officially it is about the openings that start after the moves 1.e4 e5, but in the reality it is just a kaleidoscope of chess ideas.

I absolutely loved the book when I was a kid! Bronstein was describing different openings the way that I wanted to play all of them!

via wikipedia

On the very last page of the book he talks about an obscure line called the Alapin Opening. I never heard about this opening before I read Bronstein's book. I strongly suspect that the majority of my readers is wondering "what on earth is the Alapin Opening?"

It is the move 2. Ne2!? played after both sides push their king pawns.

What is the point of this strange-looking move that blocks White's own bishop on f1?

For starters White wants to play f2-f4, just like in the King's Gambit, except it is not a gambit anymore, since the f4 pawn will be protected by the Ne2.

Also, White keeps an option to transpose into some other openings.  Like for example after 2...Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 the game transposes into the Scotch Opening.

Also the game can transpose to the quiet variation of the Vienna game if White plays Nbc3, g3, Bg2, etc. So White keeps flexibility of switching from one opening to another, which can confuse an opponent.

But if Bronstein described all these mundane details of the obscure opening...well, he wouldn't be Bronstein! Smile  Besides, in this case I wouldn't have an unstoppable urge to play a weird-looking move just to transpose into some other bland opening.

Look how Bronstein does it.  He invents a game that he allegedly played vs. a fictional GM Ferzberi (roughly translated from Russian, "the queen grabber"). I am not going to retell you the whole story (grab the book and read it, you'll thank me later!), but I'll show you the game:

I cannot really describe all the emotions I had after I played through the game first time. Of course I started playing the Alapin Opening myself, but somehow I couldn't create a comparable gem, or just any good game for this matter.  Slowly the euphoria from the seeing the Ferzberi-Bronstein game was gone and so was the opening.

I don't think White can hope for any opening advantage playing 2. Ne2, but apparently there are some strong chess players who think otherwise:

And the Paraguayan GM Axel Bachmann even plays the Alapin Opening on a regular basis!

So, should you start playing the Alapin Opening? Only you can answer such a question! Even though I wouldn't call it a junk opening, still the opinion I expressed here can be applicable!


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