Finding Your Own Weapons

Mon, 2013-09-30 15:25 -- IM Max Illingworth

[pgn][Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2013.09.29"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Finding Your Own Weapons"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C03"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "6"]
[EventDate "2013.??.??"]

{This week's blog post will be on the subject of finding dangerous ideas in
the opening. Certainly playing the main lines is a good approach, as you know
the moves have been played many times before by strong players, but you can be
sure that your opponent will be most familiar with the main line of their pet
system. For a move to really be dangerous, it has to take the opponent out of
their theoretical knowledge early in the game, be a good move in its own right,
and pose the opponent a number of difficult decisions over the next several
moves. Your idea can be at move two or move twenty - but the earlier it is,
the better your chance of employing it! Here's an example of the sort of idea
I mean:} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 h6 {According to Mega Database 2013 this is
the ninth most common move (trailing way behind continuations like 3...Nf6 and
3...c5), however it is very hard to prove an edge against this variation - the
chance for the opponent finding the best continuation over the board is very
unlikely. It took me about ten hours of work on this line to work out White's
best continuation, and that was with the aid of computers ane books! I already
analysed a game with this for the blog, namely Tao-Cheng from the 2013
Australian Open.} * [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2013.09.29"]
[Round "?"]
[White "A Novelty On Move Two"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "A40"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "13"]
[EventDate "2013.??.??"]

{Of course, it is very hard to find a little-known yet interesting idea in the
first few moves of the game. Recently I came up with a novelty on move 2, but
I can't recommend it as, surprise surprise, it's total garbage. The line in
question is} 1. d4 Nh6 2. c4 e5 {, or the Budapest Gambit with a knight on h6!
These are several problems with this variation, such as 2.e4 with a clear
advantage for White, or in this position} 3. Nf3 exd4 4. Bxh6 gxh6 5. Qxd4 Rg8
6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Qd3 {when White has a lead in development, better central
control and a superior pawn structure. No one should play this way as Black.} * [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "YUG-ch"]
[Site "Vrbas"]
[Date "1982.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Ivkov, Borislav"]
[Black "Vukic, Milan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E92"]
[WhiteElo "2480"]
[BlackElo "2465"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "1982.??.??"]
[EventRounds "17"]
[EventCountry "YUG"]
[EventCategory "9"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1999.07.01"]

{An opening weapon doesn't have to be a hack line to be dangerous - against
some players, aiming for a promising endgame can be the most unpleasant
approach. For instance, the following line of the King's Indian is quite
underestimated for White.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6.
h3 {With this move, White keeps his options open, but most of the time he will
play g4 to dissuade a future ...f5 break and start a kingside attack of his
own.} e5 (6... Qe8 {was considered in one of the 'Master Miniature' games.}) 7.
dxe5 $5 {This move aims for an improved version of the Exchange KID, where
White might have more useful moves than Be2. I never knew of this system in
all the time I played the KID as my main defence to 1.d4 - luckily no one used
it against me!} dxe5 8. Qxd8 (8. Bg5 $5 {would be an example of a weapon
within a weapon! Even if your opponent is aware of 7.dxe5, this move order
could really trip them up! If Black plays} c6 {you can either swap the queens
or play a strategically complex middlegame with} 9. Qc2 {. This position
should be okay for Black, but he has to play differently to a normal KID and
I'd find White's position easier in practice.}) 8... Rxd8 9. Bg5 Nbd7 (9... Re8
{is Black's most popular continuation, but after} 10. Nd5 Nxd5 11. cxd5 c6 12.
Bc4 cxd5 13. Bxd5 {White has the more comfortable side of equality, having
reached a theoretical position with the useful extra move h3.}) 10. O-O-O Rf8
11. Be3 {We see another useful point of the move h3 - now ...Ng4 seizing our
dark-squared bishop is prevented.} c6 {This is Black's main move, but I think
it is inaccurate as Whiet can later play c5 and Nd2-c4 to exploit the
weakening of the d6 square. Instead} (11... b6 12. Bd3 Bb7 {leaves Black only
marginally worse.}) 12. Nd2 {Continuing with the aforementioned plan, but} (12.
a3 $5 {with the idea of b4 was also interesting.}) 12... Re8 13. Be2 (13. c5
Bf8 {is Black's idea - all the shuffling with the rook isn't for nothing!})
13... Bf8 14. Na4 {White watches over the c5-square so Black can't easily
manoeuvre to exploit the weakness of the d4-square - a good policy indeed.
Also White is readying himself for c5.} b6 15. g4 {Another logical move,
expanding on the kingside and eyeing up a later g5.} (15. a3 {however may have
been better to prevent Black's next.}) 15... Bb4 16. g5 $6 {Objectively this
pawn sacrifice isn't very good.} ({White should settle for equality with} 16.
Bf3 {.}) 16... Bxd2+ 17. Bxd2 Nxe4 18. Be3 Nf8 {Already it's not clear how
White achieves real compensation for his pawn. Even an excellent opening
weapon won't work if you make bad moves!} 19. Bf3 (19. Rhg1 Bxh3 20. f3 Nc5 21.
Nxc5 bxc5 22. Bxc5 {was a better attempt to scramble for compensation.}) 19...
Bf5 20. Rhe1 Ne6 {White has no compensation for the pawn.} 21. b3 c5 (21... Kg7
$1 {was better, highlighting White's inability to do anything.}) 22. Bxe4 $1 {
White realises he is on the road to agony and tries to play for a draw by
getting opposite coloured bishops on the board.} Bxe4 23. Nc3 Bf3 24. Rd7 Bc6 (
24... Nd4 $1 {was the simplest way to keep control.}) 25. Rd6 Rac8 26. Bd2 Nd4
27. Ne4 Bxe4 28. Rxe4 {White's position is the best it has been for a while,
but he is still a pawn down.} Re7 29. Bc3 Kf8 30. Rd5 h6 $6 {This continuation
is inexplicable.} (30... Rce8 31. b4 Ne6 32. Rexe5 Nf4 33. Rxe7 Kxe7 {was
obvious and good, when Black can still fight for an edge with his better pawn
structure, though it should really be level.}) 31. gxh6 f6 32. f4 exf4 $4 {
Black decides to euthanise himself.} (32... Ne6 33. fxe5 f5 {followed by ...
Kg8-h7 was still equal.}) 33. Rdxd4 {White wins a piece.} cxd4 34. Bb4 {Okay,
not the ideal game to convert people to this line, but it shows that you can't
judge games based on the final result - very often the lessons from the game
are different from what the raw game data suggests. Don't reject an idea just
because someone lost a game with it - analyse it for yourself.} 1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "FIDE World Cup 2013"]
[Site "Tromso NOR"]
[Date "2013.08.14"]
[Round "2.1"]
[White "Vallejo Pons, F."]
[Black "Le Quang Liem"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2706"]
[BlackElo "2702"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "69"]
[EventDate "2013.08.11"]
[EventRounds "7"]
[EventCountry "NOR"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2013.08.19"]

{You don't need to be a creative genius to come up with unusual and dangerous
ideas in the opening phase - the lazy player can always imitate the cool ideas
of others! Take for instance an early queen move in the Najdorf:} 1. e4 c5 2.
Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Qd3 {This move is not completely
pointless - White prepares queenside castling after Be3(g5) and 0-0-0, and
might swing the queen over to g3 or h3 to participate in a kingside attack.}
Nbd7 {Black responds well to the one defect of White's move - the queen is
vulnerable to ...Ne5/...Nc5.} (6... e6 7. a4 Nbd7 8. a5 {gives White chances
for an advantage as Black's queenside pawns are fixed, making the usual ...
b5-b4 no concern whatsoever for White (who will take en passant in reply).}) (
6... e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Nd5 Nbd7 9. c4 {on the other hand is a fresh type of
position with White having achieved a light-squared centre he can only dream
of in the Najdorf.}) 7. Be2 e6 (7... Nc5 8. Qf3 Bg4 9. Qe3 Bxe2 10. Ndxe2 g6 {
with equality is probably Black's best continuation.}) 8. g4 {White continues
in a creative vein, but this might be taking the ingenuity a bit too far.} (8.
O-O b5 (8... Qc7 {might be better.}) 9. b4 $3 {is a genius positional concept
almost never seen in this opening - White prevents ...b4 and thereby fixes the
b5-pawn as a weakness to liquidate with a4, securing a positional advantage on
the queenside.}) 8... h6 9. Qh3 {White wants to press on with his g5 break -
unfortunately for him Black can react well in the centre.} Nc5 10. f3 g6 (10...
e5 11. Nf5 Ne6 {would have been quite pleasant for Black who can hope to
exploit the weakened dark squares on the kingside (such as f4).}) 11. Be3 Qc7
12. Nb3 $1 b5 13. Nxc5 dxc5 14. O-O-O {At the end of the adventures (which
were hardly forced!) White has emerged with a better position - he is ahead in
development and has a space advantage in the centre. Also the Black centre
will be stuck in the centre for some time.} Nd7 15. f4 (15. Qg3 $1 Qxg3 16.
hxg3 {looks like a wonderful ending for White. It is very hard to see how
Black untangles.}) 15... Bb7 16. f5 O-O-O 17. fxe6 fxe6 18. g5 Qe5 19. gxh6 g5
20. Qg3 Qxg3 21. hxg3 Bxh6 22. Bg4 Rde8 23. Rd6 Nf6 24. Bxe6+ Kc7 25. Bxc5 Bxe4
26. Rf1 g4+ 27. Kb1 Bf8 28. Rxa6 Bxc5 29. b4 Bxb4 30. Rxf6 Bxc3 31. Rf7+ Kb8
32. Rb6+ Ka8 33. Ra6+ Kb8 34. Rb6+ Ka8 35. Ra6+ 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2013.09.29"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Unusual Nimzo-Larsen Ideas"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "A01"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "23"]
[EventDate "2013.??.??"]

{Next up I'll show an example of something I invented within the first few
moves - this time a lot more sound!} 1. b3 {You can turn this innocuous
looking system into a dangerous weapon by studying the games of Artemiev - he
is one of the leading exponents of this move.} d5 (1... e5 2. Bb2 Nc6 3. e3 Nf6
4. Bb5 Bd6 {is the main line that has put me off playing 1.b3 as White. This 4.
..Bd6 move would have qualified as an opening weapon 10 years ago but is too
well-known now!} 5. Na3 Na5 6. Be2 Be7 $5 {however would count as a real
weapon, as it has only been played in one game but is no worse than the main
move 6...a6! Black just wants to move his d-pawn and get his pieces out.} 7. c4
$6 {Most chess players will make a mistake as soon as they are outside of
their theoretical knowledge.} O-O 8. Nc2 e4 $1 9. d4 $6 d5 $19 10. Qd2 Nc6 11.
h4 a5 12. Nh3 a4 13. Nf4 Bd6 14. g3 Ne7 15. Ba3 Bxa3 16. Nxa3 Bg4 17. Bxg4 Nxg4
18. Qe2 axb3 19. axb3 Qd6 20. c5 Qd7 21. Kd2 b6 22. Nc2 bxc5 23. dxc5 Ne5 24.
Nd4 N7c6 25. Kc3 Rab8 26. Rhc1 Qe7 27. Nxc6 Nxc6 28. Kb2 Qe5+ 29. Rc3 d4 30.
exd4 Nxd4 31. Qh5 f5 32. Qd1 Rfd8 33. Qf1 Nxb3 34. Qc4+ Kh8 35. Qxb3 Rxb3+ 36.
Kxb3 Rb8+ 37. Kc2 Qd4 38. Rb3 Qxf2+ {0-1 (38) Lichmann,P (2334)-Wagner,D (2456)
Emsdetten GER 2013}) (1... c5 2. e4 {on the other hand is an example of a
different kind of weapon - a transpositional trick! If Black is not a Sicilian
player (this position normally arises after 1.e4 c5 2.b3), he could find
himself very lost!}) 2. e3 {The logic behind this move is that if Black didn't
play ...e5 on the last move, he probably won't play it on this turn!} c5 3.
Bb5+ {This is the idea I came up, playing the Kangaroo system (1.d4 e6 2.c4
Bb4) but with the useful extra move b3! Another way you could look at this is
an English Defence (1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6) with a move Black normally plays thrown
in.} Bd7 (3... Nc6 4. Bb2 {is a little better for White as Black can't get in .
..e5 and White can take on c6 at some point to double Black's pawns. Also
White can choose the more active f4 instead of the Indianesque Nf3.}) 4. Qe2 (
4. Bxd7+ Nxd7 5. f4 {is another approach I could have considered, playing the
Bird with the light-squared bishops exchanged.}) 4... Nf6 (4... e5 5. Bb2 Bd6
6. f4 $5 {is just extremely messy.}) 5. Bb2 a6 6. Bxd7+ Qxd7 {In a slow game I
would probably play 7.Nf3, but since this was unrated bullet I tried} 7. Bxf6
$5 exf6 {and now} 8. Nh3 $1 {would have been a fantastic idea, intending Nf4
and either Nc3 or c4 to grant White's knight a strong outpost on d5. For
instance:} Be7 9. Nf4 Nc6 10. Nc3 d4 11. Ncd5 Rd8 12. e4 {and the position is
complicated, but White's position is probably easier to play (better structure
and minor pieces, whereas Black's extra space is not so influential). You can
see that playing an idea you know with reversed colours is often a way to
confuse your opponents, who may find the sharper lines to suddenly be weak
with a tempo less than usual, while the quieter lines will still be equal but
not necessarily dull.} * [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "NED-ch49"]
[Site "Amsterdam"]
[Date "1994.06.04"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Sosonko, Gennadi"]
[Black "Sokolov, Ivan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D96"]
[WhiteElo "2525"]
[BlackElo "2650"]
[Annotator "Illingworth, Max"]
[PlyCount "41"]
[EventDate "1994.06.04"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "NED"]
[EventCategory "11"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1994.10.01"]

{At fast time controls, it's possible to get away with almost anything.
Sometimes even a completely bogus line can work if it prompts the opponent
into a passive reply that gives you a better position than usual. However the
experiment in the following game had disastrous consequences:} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4
g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 c5 $6 (5... dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 Be6 {is a
better way to play in an original manner, as I've pointed out in a previous
blog post.}) 6. cxd5 O-O (6... cxd4 7. Nxd4 O-O {is a better try to justify
Black's play, and actually his position is just about okay with ...e6 next
move unless White finds} 8. Bg5 $1 (8. Nf3 e6 $1 9. dxe6 Bxe6 10. Qxb7 Nbd7 {
gives Black a big lead in development and the initiative for two pawns.}) 8...
e6 9. Rd1 exd5 10. g3 Nc6 11. Bg2 {, when Black is stuck with a passive IQP
position.}) 7. e3 $6 {Black's insane aggression pays off as his opponent plays
too cautiously.} (7. dxc5 Na6 8. Qc4 Qa5 9. Bd2 Qxc5 10. e4 {leaves White up a
pawn, though} Qxc4 11. Bxc4 Nc5 12. e5 Ng4 13. O-O Nxe5 14. Nxe5 Bxe5 {is ony
slightly better for White.}) 7... Nbd7 8. Be2 cxd4 9. Nxd4 Nc5 (9... Nb6 10.
Bf3 Bg4 $1 11. e4 e5 12. Nde2 Bxf3 13. gxf3 Nfd7 {gives Black punting chances
for the pawn as White's kingside is a bit weak and he will have to worry about
his king.}) 10. Qa3 Nce4 (10... Qd6 11. Ncb5 $1 Qxd5 12. O-O {is very hard for
Black to meet as his pieces are far too loose to forks and other tactics.}) 11.
Nxe4 Nxe4 12. O-O Re8 (12... Qxd5 13. Qxe7 Bf6 14. Qc7 Bxd4 15. exd4 Qxd4 16.
Bf3 {is pretty ghastly for Black.}) 13. Qb3 $1 {White keeps his extra d5-pawn.
If Black can't regain it he will just be much worse.} Qd6 14. Rd1 a5 15. Qc2 $1
{Another strong move, exploiting the fact the pawn on d5 can't be safely
captured.} Nc5 (15... Qxd5 16. Nb5 Qf5 17. f3 {followed eventually by Nc7 is
fatal.}) 16. e4 Bd7 17. Be3 Rac8 18. Rac1 Ba4 19. b3 $1 Nxb3 {Black rolls the
dice but this loses more quickly.} 20. Qxc8 $1 Nxd4 (20... Rxc8 21. Rxc8+ Bf8
22. Bh6 $18 {wins the full house.}) 21. Rxd4 $1 {Black resigned because of} (
21. Rxd4 Rxc8 22. Rxc8+ Bf8 23. Bh6 $18 {. Alas, there is a very fine line
between brilliance and absurdity!}) 1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2013.09.29"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Anti-Catalan Move Order"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "E18"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "14"]
[EventDate "2013.??.??"]

{To finish up, here is a transpositional trick that works very well against
devotees of the Catalan. If you love the Queen's Indian this could be just the
line for you.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 {Now 3...b6 is disappointing after 4.
Bg2, but we can keep our options open.} Be7 $5 {This move is much rarer than 3.
..d5, 3...Bb4 or 3...c5. But surely such simple development cannot be bad!} 4.
Bg2 (4. Nf3 b6 5. Bg2 Bb7 {transposes to a main line of the Queen's Indian.})
4... O-O {We've completed our kingside development. Now is the key point of
our idea: if White plays 5.Nf3 we fianchetto the queen's bishop, but if White
plays a different move we go ...d5 and trick them into a worse version of a
Catalan!} 5. Nf3 (5. Nc3 d5 6. Nf3 dxc4 {is a comfortable position for Black
as White's queen's knight is normally better on d2 or a3 than on c3 where it
inteferes with the regaining of the c4-pawn. Still, this position occurred in
a high-level game today:} 7. Ne5 c5 8. dxc5 Qxd1+ 9. Nxd1 Bxc5 10. Ne3 Nbd7 11.
N5xc4 Rb8 12. Na5 Ne5 {and in Grischuk-Nakamura, Paris 2013, White would have
kept a slight initiative with the obvious} 13. O-O {. The main difficulty with
playing a creative variation is knowing when to play the genius move and when
to be a simpleton. Most of the time the simpleton move is better!}) (5. e4 $5 {
is the option we allow with our move order, but} d6 (5... d5 6. e5 Nfd7 7. cxd5
exd5 8. Nc3 c5 $5 {is also possible.}) (5... c5 6. e5 Ne8 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. Nf3
Nc6 9. Nc3 f6 10. exf6 Nxf6 {on the other hand is far from clear with Black
getting some activity for his weak hanging pawns.}) 6. Nc3 c5 7. Nf3 cxd4 8.
Nxd4 Nc6 {is extremely solid for Black, even though I'm partial towards
White's extra space.}) 5... b6 6. O-O Bb7 {and we are back in a main line
Queen's Indian. Now, to share one final trick of the trade, after the main move
} 7. Nc3 {you can avoid the drawish main lines of 7...Ne4 in favour of} Na6 $5
{, keeping the tension in the position and allowing 8.d5 to be met by 8...Nc5,
preventing White from taking control of the whole centre with e4. This move
has been employed by a lot of strong players and most White players still are
caught unaware by it! That should give you plenty of inspiration for your next
tournament! As you can see, it's not that hard to find creative yet good ideas
in the opening - you just have to look and keep an open mind. However you
should be careful in picking who you use these quirky ideas against - you
wouldn't want to play them against me, for example! ;)} * [/pgn]