Many years ago, when I was a young IM hunting for GM norms I participated in one of countless European Swiss tournaments. In the middle of the tournament I was playing a very attractive girl (not shown). Well, “attractive girl” is definitely an understatement. She was beautiful. I would rather go for a date with her, but alas we had to play a tournament game. And she wasn’t just a girl. Having won a major open tournament with a historic performance not long before we played our game, she was a real killer. But the real problem was, I simply couldn’t play the game. I completely forgot all the opening theory and couldn’t calculate variations for two moves ahead - there was only a thick fog in my head. I absolutely couldn’t concentrate on the game since all I could see was her angelic face.
After first ten moves I already had a slightly worse position even though I was playing White. I was preparing for the worst. Then, suddenly, a saving idea came to my mind.
I offered her a draw! (Ok, the “Sofia rules” followers, you can send me your hate mail for my draw offer before move 30). Make no mistake, I knew for sure what she would say and yet, it was a great relief when I heard her response. Even though she purred : “I want to play”, I actually heard “ You are a dead man!” I am sure that the desire to stay alive is the basic instinct of any human being even though Sharon Stone would disagree. Therefore, my plan worked to perfection: I could calculate variations, I could think again, I was back! Eventually I won the game, but needless to say, I didn’t have the nerve to ask her for a date.
You might ask what this story has to do with tactics and traps in openings? Well, some openings are very venomous despite their innocent appearance. In fact, I noticed that many vicious opening traps and combinations happen in the most innocent looking openings! Here is a good example:
This is a starting position of the Berlin variation which is extremely popular these days thanks to the Kasparov-Kramnik match (London, 2000). What would you do if you faced this position in your game? You might go for the main line: