Over the years, I've developed offbeat chess openings to break my opponents out of book early, because I haven't the patience or desire to book up on the Ruy Lopez, Queen's Gambit or Sicilian, and would much rather play my own game using my own ideas.
As White, I play either 1. c4, b4, g4, or e4. I like b4 and g4, these textbook illustrations if not exaggerations of hypermodern theory. The more the masters and Wikipedia criticize the flank openings, the more determined I am to play them. But I also like to revive ancient Classical openings that have fallen out of fashion in the modern chess scene to the extent that no one even remembers that they are actually sound openings rather than mere blunders. I am talking about Chigorin's Defense and Bishop's Defense, two of my favorites, but I also like the Brooklyn Defense, an obscure variation of Alekhine's 1. .. Nf6 which I think has merit if for no other reason than because nobody seems to know what to do against it.
If e4, then if Black responds e5, I play d4 for its novelty value, because few people recall the antique Center Game. Quite often players will try to hang on to the pawn after capture, which is a mistake due to the devastating c3. If on the other hand, my Queen is permitted to occupy d4, then that is often a slight advantage, and I follow up with Bc4 and rapid castling unless another opportunity presents itself. At any rate the Center Game avoids all bookish nonsense from Black, because no one analyzes nor often plays the Center Game anymore in the modern era. Inaccurate play by Black can be dangerous to his longevity in the Center Game. However, if both sides play correctly, the Center Game is your quick and easy passport to the middle game. This is why the masters dislike it, because there is a feeling that White should strive for an advantage in the opening. A Queen on d4 is only a slight advantage, if indeed it is any advantage at all. The novelty value is my angle, along with breaking out of book. I don't play in the upper echelons of the chess world, far from it, so I don't have the same concerns as the masters. That is also why I pay no heed to chess authorities that dismiss the Grob. For the record, there's a chess authority that endorses the Grob, an International Master by the name of Michael Basman. So there, chess snobs.
If Black attempts the Sicilian, then I have another obscure novelty, Na3, which stupefies every player, but is quite sound. The ideas are to break out of book early while avoiding committing to any specific plan and get the Queen's knight developed to a square that is well-suited against the Sicilian, while leaving open the possibility of c3. Note that with Black's pawn at c5, there is little danger of the knight being captured by Black's bishop before it relocates to an advantageous square. Those who play the Sicilian must be broken out of book early, I find, because their book knowledge tends to be deep. I have never found anyone to refute Na3, though I do lose due to my own middle game blunders. Changing one seemingly trivial move in the opening really does throw many players for a loop, forcing them to consume more time and energy in the opening than would otherwise be the case. Their instincts urge them to refute my stupid move, but how?
If Black attempts the French, then I'll play along for a few moves, with an eye toward placing my Queen on g5 before laying my knight down on f3. This was Nimzovich's idea, and it seems logical, as the kingside is Black's weakness in the French. Most French players don't seem to have prepared for this, and I don't like bothering with a laborious defense of the pawn on d4. I'd rather go straight for the kill if at all possible. I will be the first to admit that I have had the most difficulty against the French Defense of all openings. The Sicilian I enjoy playing against, but with the French, I really have to think.
If g4, I am playing the positional Grob, to be followed by h3 if need be to protect the spike. The tactical Grob that sacrifices the Spike is not to be countenanced, for a refutation has been published on Wikipedia, whose authors despise anything new, and want all players to open with e4, d4, or c4 only. Opening snobs like to sneer at the Grob, which is why it must be played against them. Breaking snobs of their prejudices is a civic duty that must be performed by every conscientious player.
If c4, I have no mind of the English, but instead intend a delayed Grob with g4 and Bg2, breaking out of Wikipedia's cozy lines, with the added advantage that Black is often reacting as if to the English, and is startled by a novelty, and d5 may no longer be an easy option for him. If however Black responds Nf6, then White can play h3 prior to g4, or else transpose to the Queen's Gambit.
If b4, I'm aiming for the Polish, a positional slow opening that gives about equal chances to both sides, but White has the advantage if Black is ignorant of it. White may achieve a slight positional advantage from his advanced Queenside pawns, but exploiting this is no small task. White must avoid leaving a hole at e4 that may be occupied by Black's knight.
As Black, against e4, I play either Nf6, g5, e5, c6, or d5.
d5 is the Center Counter of course, and I will attempt to capture with the knight rather than the Queen, because that is common sense. I seldom play this anymore, though it is good once in a while against your defensive players.
If Nf6, I'm aiming for the Brooklyn Defense, an obscure opening scorned by everyone except those I defeat. If e5, then I replace the knight to its former position on g8, leaving White astounded. This wins some of my games, I swear, on time alone, White staring in disbelief for longer than is prudent, either on this move or on the ones that follow. Many White players think they can obtain an advantage building a pawn wall on f4, e5, and d4, but they are mistaken, though the game gets sharp for Black, and I am known to make costly mistakes. To d4, Black replies d3. To f4, Black replies g5, which gains time, because White is not apt to take the offered pawn, which can advance to g5 to drive White's knight away on the following move. Then I am in familiar Grob territory, while White is lost at sea, apt to lose on time or perish on some rash attack.
If White declines e5 against Nf6, then I do not permit easy transposition to familiar lines, but instead maintain our journey into the chess wilderness. I like to respond to Nc3 with d5 every time, and e5 can then be met by either Ne4 or d5 with good results.
Against anything except d4 or Nf3, g5 heralds the Macho Grob, seldom seen, which is as sound as the day is long, yet many players will launch a rash attack against it for no good reason, giving me free tempos or even losing their Queen as a result. The idea is to shift to a Kingside attack at some point in time, with the advanced pawns providing a head start on that line.
I like to play an occasional e5 against e4, which is standard, but if White pulls the King's Gambit, I default to Fischer's reply, d3, which quite neutralizes all his thunder. I have no desire to learn all the nonsense in the King's Gambit, which is just pure memorized tactics all the way to the end game. If Nf3, then I will reply Nc6, and if he initiates the Ruy Lopez with Bb5, I will play Bishop's Defense, Nd5, which not many people know about, but often gives me a good game. Otherwise, I will play a boring conservative game following classic principles.
Against d4, I like d5, and against the Queen's Gambit, I like Chigorin's Defense, Nc6, because Chigorin knew what he was about, and many White players don't know what to do against it. Another good answer is b5, the Polish.
Against your aggressive young prodigy, nothing answers like the Caro-Kann, c3 to his e4, against which he is liable to break himself. It is a solid defense, and flexible enough to react to anything White may have in store. I have had good luck with it, but it almost never leads to a quick victory, and has less novelty value than other answers. Most players have stock replies to the Caro-Kann and need not think for the first several moves. I like to play Caro-Kann most of all when I am under the weather or tired, because it is the one opening in chess that holds your hand and leads you along a safe path, since almost all the opening moves are intuitive, requiring little effort on the part of Black. The only thing I dislike about the Caro-Kann is that many players know it through and through, so the novelty value is limited.
I never play the Sicilian or the French, because it is against my religion, but I don't hold anything against those that do. As a matter of fact, I have an easy time against the Sicilian, because 2. Na3 befuddles most of 'em. Against the French, I have not yet found a good, solid yet obscure line to counter with, but old Nimzovich had some good thoughts along the lines of a kingside attack, and I also like to play f4 on occasion, to give Black something else to think about. I believe the main thing against the French is to develop rapidly, sacrifice a few pawns if necessary on the Queenside, and hammer Black on the kingside.
The Pirc, Benko's Opening, and other modern systems involving a fianchetto I find unambitious, preferring aggressive openings like g4 or b4, which seize more territory from the get-go and give the opponent something else to worry about besides just a bishop. I always play the Macho Grob against Benko's and the English, without fail, to illustrate my belief.Post a Comment