Into the wild

Jan 4, 2016, 2:34 PM |

During the fall, I played in a club tournament. This time, I faced off against another 2000+ player. I had actually checked out a few of his games, and done some (basic) preparation. I had seen that he liked openings with Nf3 and d4. I figured I'd give the Grunfeld a try, if given the opportunity. And lo and behold, the opportunity presented itself.

In hindsight, I see that it was not such a good idea. Let me show you why.

Already in unknown territory

Ok. So my preparation allowed me to transpose into the opening I wanted. For a brief time, at least. But then my opponent quickly took me into the wilderness, way out of my book knowledge.

After having to navigate in difficult terrain, I suddenly found myself in a very passive and restricted position. And then my opponent blundered a pawn — or so I thought.

A blunder?


I looked at the position for a few moments, and thought that my opponent had just blundered a pawn. Rather than double checking, I took the pawn and only then realized that the pawn was defended indirectly thanks to a deflection tactic. When I saw this, I considered resigning as I was going to lose my bishop. Then I saw the option of snagging another pawn on the way off the board, and I decided to play on.
As you probably have realized by now, the end of the game did not turn out the way I wanted it to. But I managed to get my opponent thinking, and he had to work for the win.
After the game, we went through the game, and my opponent told me he played h3 to get me out of book. He said it is playable, but very uncommon. As he said these words, I realized that he knows the opening very well – far better than I did, and still do. So it seems that I did a mistake in preparing for the game. I probably should have prepared a more solid line instead.
As usual, I have a few learning points that I take away from the game.
  1. Don't engage in a theory battle against a much higher rated player.
  2. Watch out for the Grunfeld (and other super-theoretical openings).
  3. If your opponent appears to give you material for free, don't trust them. Double check and check again before making your move.
  4. Don't give up!