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Winning with 1. h4, 1. g4 and other unconventional openings

Winning with 1. h4, 1. g4 and other unconventional openings

Feb 13, 2014, 10:43 AM 0

At my club, there's one player who opens every game with 1. h4 as White and 1...h5 as Black and another who sometimes uses 1. g4 (the Grob or Spike) depending on his mood.  One would think that they would do poorly, but thay each have respectable ratings in the 1700s and have beaten or drawn higher rated players.  These moves violate all the "classic" opening principles of controlling the center and not weaking the Kingside, and yet they have achieved some decent success with them.  While I don't agree with these openings and would never play that way, here's why I believe some players can get away with these unusual openings at the amateur level:

  • They're great psychological moves as far as messing with the opponent.  Most players want to "play regular chess" and deal with an opening they know.  1. h4/g4 forces them to think right away without relying on "book" moves, which is very frustrating and unsettling for some.
  • These moves often induce the opponent into forcing things and making a blunder because they feel the need to "punish" what is viewed as such a poor opening move.  Just because you're opponent plays 1. g4, it doesn't mean you should try to finish him off quickly without thinking!
  • "All openings offer good winning chances in amateur play" This is a well known quote from a famous player whose name escapes me (and I'm shamefully too lazy to Google it right now).  While a titled player will handle uncoventional openings just fine, many amateurs won't, so arguably at the club level you can open with anything.

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