One Terrible Idea

One Terrible Idea

Jul 26, 2015, 12:30 PM |

Everyone acknowledges that early game Queen moves are a bad idea, because there are so few squares that a Queen can go in the opening that can't be immediately attacked. The end result is almost always a series of Queen moves to get the Queen out of danger while the other player steadily develops their pieces--all while attacking the Queen and forcing more movements on the other player. This is why the Qxd4 Nc6 line is so often met by the "cowardly" Qd1. It's too easy to let your Queen be chased all around the board. 

To make that case, I present this Blitz game I just played.

Now. I'm an awful Blitz player. My brain simply does not process information quickly. Give me a few minutes, and I can evaluate the position. Give me two seconds, and I will overlook obvious things. It's frustrating, but I am improving at my speed play. It's still nowhere near my Standard, 30/30 play, but it's not the 700 that it once was.

Again, this was a Blitz game, so we both missed better moves. I missed the superior 12...Nxd3 that would have gained me the Queen; with 13.Qg2, White's position was still pretty awful, but I would gain only a Rook for my efforts. 

The game began as the vast majority of Blitz games I've played began, with 1.e4 c5. I'm not very good with the Sicilian, and the primary reason I'm playing so much Blitz lately is to work on the Sicilian. I prefer it to other openings because I feel that symmetry is bad when White has the initiative for the obvious reason that if both players are set up to launch an attack, White's attack will be launched first. For this reason, I prefer openings that eliminate symmetry as early as possible: the Sicilian as Black and the Queen's Gambit as White. 

This move accomplishes nothing. After 2...Nf6 3.Qxc5 e6 4.Qc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bb4 6.Qe3 Ng4 7.Qe2, White's position hasn't improved much. That position would look like:

4.Qe3 is immediately met by 4...Ng4 5.Qe2 f5 6. Nc3 Qb6 7.Nh3 Nc6 and White's development is merely the fevered dream of a madman. After 8.f3 Ne5 9.d3 (9.d4 simply gives away the pawn and game with 9...Nxd4 10.Qd1--and the Queen is back where she started, but the board totally belonging to Black. 10...Bb4 pins White's Knight and there are the longterm threats of Black's Qa5, b6, Bb7, Nxf3 gxf3 Bxf3, trading a Knight for a Rook and a pawn--and the totally destruction of White's Kingside. White has Bf4, but that's fruitless after d6. 

As anyone would have predicted, the game continued:






3...d6 had several purposes. It's standard Sicilian, first of all. It protected against White's e-pawn advancing further, it opened the c8-h3 diagonal for my Bishop and protected the critically important and hard-to-defend--for White--g4 square. 

4.Bc4... White totally ignored the obvious threat. 4...Bg4 and White has a quick decision to make. 5.Qf4 might have been the best of the available choices. I don't know. I didn't analyze White's moves much, because I don't really care if White had better options. White has too powerful a piece out in play, and chasing it around is going to be possible no matter what White does. 

5.e5! Another multi-purpose move. White has to again moving the Queen, my dark Bishop has an escape route, my Queen can fight along d8-h4. Objectively, this probably wasn't the best move. After 6.Qe3 (notice how alternate lines keep returning to Qe3? There's a reason for that--it's the safest square the Queen could be at, because it's the most useless position for White's Queen. However, it does allow White to develop some pieces, force mine back, and start up some counterplay. 

6.Qg5?? I guess White expected 6...Nxe4 7.Qxd8 Kxd8, which leaves me in an unenviable position. But I knew intuitively, without thinking about what Kxd8 would be like for me, that I didn't want to trade Queens. Why would I? That just relieves the pressure on White and gives White the chance for counterplay. 

No. 6...h6! Another multi-purpose move, protecting against future (albeit unlikely) back rank mate attempts after some future O-O. It also threatened White's Queen. Again. And with a pawn--exchanging is not an option for White.

8.Qg3 is White's only reasonable move.

8...Qd7 is seemingly innocuous at first, but it does something that White evidently didn't notice. It freed my Knight from having to protect my Bishop. I don't think that 8.Nc3 was actually to protect the e4 pawn; I think it was just normal development, because it didn't really protect against my Knight. It only protected against Nxe4, which wasn't necessary.

9...Nh5 dials up the pressure considerably. White's Queen is again under attack and has to be moved, but White is also staring down the barrel of a powerful attack on the Kingside featuring two pawns (possibly three, depending on how the position plays out, because that pawn didn't buy the apartment on e5 simply because he liked the price) (that White can't do anything about because that dark Bishop is going nowhere with that pawn still on e2), a Bishop, a Queen, and a Knight. 

10.Qe3. Finally! The move that should have been made six moves ago! But it's no good now; it's too little, too late. The attack on the Kingside is too powerful now, and the Queen must protect against it, because White has nothing else developed that could protect against the attack. Nge2 might accomplish something, but it's still way too late.



powerful move, if I may say so. All of White's pieces are under extreme pressure, and a lot of them can't move from where they are without falling to a vicious attack, and I'm bringing another Knight into the fray. 

11...Nb4 is a deadly move, and White's days are numbered. White's Queen has nowhere to go without being immediately captured, but... White's Queen has to move, because Nxc2 is going to happen.

Honestly, I didn't even see Nxd3, which is strange because it's an extremely obvious move. But the reason I'm so weak at Blitz is that I don't process information quickly and I don't identify crucial information quickly. With five more seconds, I would have seen the obvious Nxd3. But with only one second, I was too focused on my plan of Nxc2 to notice. 


This move is successful only because White fled with the Queen to f1. White's Queen could move to g3 and be safe for a while, though there's no way to prevent the loss of the Rook. After 13.Qg3 Nxc2+ 14.Kf1, my attack has sorta... fizzled out, and White keeps the Queen and gets my Bishop for his/her Rook. This was definitely a blunder. Don't get me wrong: I'm still ahead, but not by much, because I've sealed off my own dark Bishop through my aggression and have to contend with White's Rook on h1--which further limits my dark Bishop's capabilities and strongly inhibits my Kingside castle. After 14.Kf1, my pieces are goign to get scattered and weakened, and there's nothing I can do about it. 



Followed by 13...Nxc2#.

When I made the move, I had no idea this was going to be checkmate. I knew that White was in a really, really bad position, but it didn't occur to me that my Bishop prevented the King's escape after 13.Qf1. So I was going to grab a Rook, have a vastly superior position, and have a lot of pressure on White's pieces, but it actually proved to be checkmate. 

Out of White's 13 moves, nine of them were his/her Queen. 69% of the time, White had to move his/her Queen to prevent her capture. That's a devastating position, particularly since I moved my Queen only once, and that was to protect my Bishop--so that I could continue assaulting White's Queen with a minor piece. White managed to make one Knight move, one Bishop move, and two pawn moves, while the vulnerability of the Queen allowed me to totally dominate the board. 

I presume White was trying to go for a Scholar's Mate or a Fool's Mate, whichever it is, and was trying to lay a trap. While I'm sure that's possible with 1...c5, it's not as easy because my King is very much protected from assault. 

2.Qh5 was the worst move of the game (but followed closely by my own failure to make Nxd3), and set in motion the chain of events that led to White's defeat. 

The Queen is a very powerful piece, and she can do a great deal of damage. But she has to do her damage carefully, and there was nothing careful about 2.Qh5. And it's easy to forget that two Knights, a Bishop, and three pawns can do far more damage than a lone Queen, but this game proves that unequivocally. I'd trade my Queen for two Knights, a Bishop, and three pawns any day. 

Queens during the opening are best when supporting other pieces--like my own 8...Qd7. I'm not tooting my own horn or anything; doing what is "recommended" is nothing to be proud of, and Qd7 is just an example of what is recommended. My Queen safely enters the game by backing up a piece that I wouldn't mind losing for something else--nor would I mind having my Queen freely on g4. The point is that my Queen was safe. 9.Bb5 is met by 9...Nc6, which will eventually produce ...a6, Bxc6, b6,which leaves White again with only the Queen developed. Or the Bishop could flee back, which ultimately just returned his position to what it was while also improving my development and my pawn structure. 

I really hope that josex0413 analyzes his games and sees where this one went so wrong, because it was a total bloodbath because of 2.Qh5. I made enough inaccurate moves, mistakes, and blunders that the game could otherwise have gone a different direction, but 2.Qh5 threw away nearly 70% of White's moves through the rest of the game. 

So let us all learn from josex0413's mistake. Be careful with your Queen. Even if she never gets captured, carelessness can destroy the game. In fact, it may have been better to simply allow 3...Nxh5. White would have been a Queen down, of course, but -9 is better than being checkmated.

Update: I played Josex0413 again, and this time I was White. He repeated exactly the same mistake and lost his Queen, I think on the fifth move. Considering the losses have such a clear cut reason, it's a bit disheartening to see he's not trying to improve.