Wanna Buy The Brooklyn Bridge?

Wanna Buy The Brooklyn Bridge?

| 19 | Opening Theory

George C. Parker was a famous con man.  Here is what Wikipedia says about him: "He made his living conducting illegal sales of property he did not own, often New York's public landmarks, to unwary immigrants.

The Brooklyn Bridge was the subject of several of his transactions, predicated on the notion of the buyer controlling access to the bridge. Police removed several of his victims from the bridge as they tried to erect toll booths." As the story goes, one of the victims asked Parker if the bridge was really for sale. The answer was very convincing: "Sure, why would it have a 'For Sale' sticker otherwise?" and so the deal was sealed!

Only lightly trodden!

You can see that gullible people will believe anything if it is written on paper. If you publish a book "Winning with 1.h4!," there will be some buyers out there! Today, we are going to discuss the situations when following an opening recommendation would lead to immediate defeat. I don't mean a cramped passive position or a strategically lost game. In all of the examples today, one of the players followed an opening recommendation and had to resign instantly!

Here is one of the most notorious games; it is also the shortest loss by GM Viswanathan Anand. He followed a recommendation from Chess Informant which quoted the following game:

So, according to Chess Informant, the new move 5...Bf5 was going to equalize the game. Poor Anand followed the recommendation and...

Not Anand's cheeriest memory...

Neither Chess Informant, nor Anand could know that the game Miles vs Christiansen was a pre-arranged draw. Miles kept his end of the bargain and only pointed at the e2-square with his finger to make sure that GM Larry Christiansen was aware of his mistake.

Here is another game where a chess player blindly followed a recommendation from a reputable source and paid the price. The story started in the Soviet Championship of 1965, where one of the best theoreticians of the time (and future second to Anatoly Karpov), GM Semyon Furman, easily equalized the position playing Black.

The game was analyzed in one of the most influential periodicals in the world — Chess Bulletin. As the story goes, Bobby Fischer learned the Russian language to read Chess Bulletin! It said there that Paul Keres' recommendation of 15.Bf4 deserves attention and gave the following variation:

Bobby had to learn the hard way; now there's a handy reference book!

When IM Aleksander Veingold was preparing for his game versus GM Lev Polugaevsky, he saw this recommendation and decided to follow it. After that, the game lasted pretty much just one move! Well, officially Veingold resigned 12 moves later, but he could have given in right away since you cannot give such big material odds to one of the world's leading grandmasters!

There are many opening land mines like this waiting for a gullible victim.  Here is one of them which I was waiting for about 30 years to use. Unfortunately, nobody played into it against me.

Here is a model example of Black's play in the Sicilian Dragon when White castles kingside:

The Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (2nd ed.) on page 348 recommends that White play 14. Nxe4 Rxe4 15. Bd3 with an unclear position. Find a big hole in this recommendation!

If after looking at all of these opening catastrophes, you are still going to blindly follow opening recommendations from books and magazines.

I have a bridge for you on sale.  Very cheap!

More from GM Gserper
Why Didn't Firouzja Follow Kasparov's Footsteps?

Why Didn't Firouzja Follow Kasparov's Footsteps?

Chess Is Art!

Chess Is Art!