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Desprez Opening

The Desprez Opening is a chess opening characterized by the opening move:

1. h4

The opening is named after the French player Marcel Desprez. Like a number of other rare openings, 1.h4 has some alternate names such as"Kadas Opening""Anti-Borg Opening""Samurai Opening", and "Reagan's Attack"Gabor Kadas is a Hungarian player. According toEric Schiller's Unorthodox Chess Openings, the last name is because 1.h4 is "thoroughly unmotivated and creates weaknesses with only vague promises of future potential", a political gibe against Ronald Reagan.

As the Desprez Opening is very rare, it is considered an irregular opening, so it is classified under the A00 code in the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings.

Like 1.a4, the Ware Opening, 1.h4 is an irrelevant pawn move which does nothing in the fight over central space, and does very little for development. The only piece released is the rook, and this piece is usually not developed by moving it to h3. In addition, 1.h4 weakens White's kingside. For all of these reasons, 1.h4 is among the rarest of the twenty possible first moves for White.

Black usually responds by grabbing the center with 1...d5 or 1...e5, and simple and sound development by 1...Nf6 is also possible. However, 1...g6, intending to fianchetto Black's bishop on g7, is rare because White can undermine Black's pawn structure with 2.h5, making 1.h4 seem like a logical move.

Grandmaster David Bronstein once remarked that he knew of a Russian player who always opened 1.h4 and always won. His point was that after 1. ...e5 2.g3 d5 3.d4! exd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qd1 Nf6 6.Nh3! Be7 7.Nf4 0-0 8.Bg2 the f4 knight is well placed and White has a good position.[1] However, Black does not have to be so cooperative.

There are five named variations in the Desprez Opening:

  • The Koola-Koola continues 1...a5.
  • The Wulumulu continues 1...e5 2. d4
  • The Crab Variation or Crab Opening continues 1...any 2. a4.
  • The Borg Gambit continues 1...g5.
  • The Symmetric Variation continues 1...h5.

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