Typical Patterns Everyone Should Know : The Quickest Way to Lose a Game

Typical Patterns Everyone Should Know : The Quickest Way to Lose a Game

| 67 | Tactics

If you ask any chess player (even just a beginner) what is the quickest way to get checkmated, then no doubt you'll hear the correct answer: 1. f3 (or f4) e6 (or e5) 2. g4 Qh4 checkmate.

And the fact that this quick checkmate is so well-known probably explains why I never see anyone falling for it.  But surprisingly, sometimes people don't make obvious connections.  Like here, the checkmate became possible because White created a weakness on the most vulnerable diagonal.  Why is the diagonal so vulnerable?  Because it is protected only by the f2 pawn which is very vulnerable on its own (see my article  where we discussed the weakness of the f7 (f2) pawns).
So, you might think that chess players would think twice before pushing the f2 or f7 pawns which hold the keys to their Kings.  Yet, time and again I see it in the games of my students.  Here is the simplest example, which was analyzed by Lucena in the 16th century and called "Il Gambito bastardo"! Also this variation happened in one of the first recorded games by Greco.
(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your tactical skills, so the games are given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list.")
I could never understand why anyone would play 2...f6? which is obviously bad even if White doesn't play 3.Nxe5! (a simple 3.Bc4 is also very good), and yet, as I mentioned before it is a very common move in the games played by beginners.
Good chess players as a rule don't push the f7 (f2) pawns too early, but sometimes they still do it.  There are many reasons for that.  Sometimes it is just a legitimate opening (like the Bird 1.f4 or the Dutch 1.d4 f5).  But sometimes it is the result of foolishness or greediness or both.  Let's take a look at another ancient game of Greco:
There were many attempts made in the last 400 years since the game was played to rehabilitate this dubious variation but all of them failed, so the modern refutation of the best Black defense goes like this:
You might think that strong modern chess players would never play the 3...f5?! line.  Then see the next game:
Please don't ask me why one of the World's best chess players Peter Svidler didn't play 4.exf5!
In some cases chess players underestimate danger of the e1-h4 (e8-h5) diagonals and push the 'f' pawns to achieve some positional goals.  Of course, nothing else matters when your King is weak as the next classical game demonstrates.  After White decided to control some important squares in the center and played 10.f4??
the punishment was swift....
But please be aware that sometimes chess players don't really want to push the 'f' pawn, but they have to, as the next curious game shows:
I hope the next time you want to push your 'f' pawn in the opening you'll think twice about the possible consequences.  And if your opponent makes a mistake similar to the ones we discussed today, you will know how to punish her for that!
Good luck!

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