Monday, 25 May 2015


DITO (Disaster In The Opening)

This is the first in an occasional series of posts about openings going badly wrong in the hands of experienced players (no beginners falling for Fool's Mate here). The guilty will be named. Today's example is Lamont, R (ECF: 169) - Barnes, N (ECF: 146)(2014).

To show that nobody is safe we will start with a DITO of my own at the 2014 Bury St Edmunds congress.

This was my first chess tournament for nearly 20 years and the first day had gone well (scoring 2 out of 3 against higher-grade opposition). The morning of the 2nd day didn't go quite to plan. I had stayed overnight in Bury St Edmunds - not realising that the church bell would ring every 15 minutes throughout the night (so I knew exactly what time it was when I couldn't sleep).

I was a bit groggy at the start of the day but was pleased to see my opponent go for a line that I (thought) I knew well.

On move 3 I played c5 entering a respectable line (though not the main line) against the Advanced Variation of the Caro-Kann.

White accepted the pawn (the first person to do against me since I had started playing chess again), which is the critical response to 3...c5, and after 4...e6 played 5.Be3 protecting the pawn.

So far, so normal. However, I now couldn't remember the continuation to play. At the back of my mind something was telling me to go with 5...Nh6

The idea is to swing the knight to f5 where it will attack the bishop on e3 and start to put pressure on White's weakened pawn structure in the centre. This is generally considered to be the best plan. But I couldn't remember if this was right or not. After a few minutes thought I was confident that I had worked out something a bit better than Nh6...

A temporary sacrifice of a bishop that will regain a pawn and leave Black with a decent position. After White captures the bishop the queen can come out with forking White's king and bishop.

But this overlooks the obvious...

Black has lost a piece and the rest is simple for White.

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