Is The Fishing Pole Really A Good Trap?

Jun 15, 2015, 6:16 PM |

  The Fishing Pole has been a very popular trick for players that are looking for ways to tempt their opponents to lose immediately.  When I first saw it, I really liked it.  It doesn't hurt the position if it doesn't work, which is the quality that any good trap needs.  However, I always believed that after 1. e4 e5  2. Nf3 Nc6  3. Bb5 Nf6  4. O-O Ng4  5. h3 h5, Black would have a completly winning game after 6. hxg4.  But I looked at computer analysis, and I did a little bit of analyzing myself, and it appears that 6. hxg4 is not in itself a mistake.  As a matter of fact, I believe that in the worst case, it is merely an inaccuracy.  After 6. hxg4 hxg4, White asks "what is my opponent's threat?"  The answer is obvious; Black threatens to capture the White knight and win immediately if the knight moves.  But then White must ask "is his threat any good?"  This is where I think the Fishing Pole falls short of the quality often credited to the trap, unless of course the real trap is to hope that White is foolish enough to move his knight after 6...hxg4.  After 6...hxg4, White has a solid reply;7. Bxc6!  The purpose of the move is that White wishes to allow Black to capture his knight on f3 and play g3, which will stop Black's threat cold.  (The reason why White should not just go ahead and play 7. g3 is because after 7...gxf3, White must accept that he has utlimately lost a pawn, for a terrible error would be 8. Qxf3?? Nd4!  9. Qd3 Qg5, and White is in serious trouble.  The only way to stop Black's attack now is to give up his bishop on b5.)  Ultimately, after the exchanges are made, the material is even, and Black is left with two bishops against a bishop and a knight, which should be good for him in the endgame.  However, he has also doubled pawns on the c file.  If anything, I believe Black gets a minor advantage in the endgame in the best case scenario.  I don't even think he can force a win.

I've also provided a visual example of why 7. g3?! would be inaccurate