Ever play against someone who played a bizarre opening against you? Its really easy to lose those games sometimes, especially if the opponent plays aggressively. However, the key is to stick to the basic opening principles. Here’s a game I played last year at the Virginia Closed.
Steincamp – Nolan (Virginia Closed Chess Championships, 2013)
1. c4 b6 2. d4 Bb7 3. Nc3 e6
4. e4 The Queen’s Indian is a fairly uncommon opening. While I am not well-versed in theory, I did know that in this position, Black wants to try d7–d5, so this seemed to be the easiest way to stop it.
4…Bb4 Transposing to a Nimzo–Indian. Well, kind of. Most Nimzo players like to have a Bishop on a6 rather than b7, so this already won’t be a typical Nimzo opening. I decided to punish black for putting his light squared bishop on the wrong square.
5. f3! Transposing into a good Saemisch Nimzo–Indian for me. Now the b7 bishop is blunted I just need to follow up the with the main ideas…
5…f5?! Looks like a change of plans. This move is in no way theoretical, so its time to sit down and calculate, Black wants to undermine my e4 square. By doing this, Black has neglected developing, and now is king could become unstable if not castled soon.
6. Bd3 Here I chose to develop my bad bishop. Its not on a great square but, I reaffirmed my control over e4 and now I can play Ng1–e2 without blocking in my bishop.
6…Qh4+?! And another odd move. Now I’m pretty confused. This is an unprincipled approach, and there is no tactic, so I cannot be losing. It is critical here for me to play without creating weaknesses.
7…Qh5 This is an interesting try by my opponent. By putting pressure on f3, I cannot easily develop my knight. However, this is not a forcing move. Because of this, I now need to look for ways to punish my opponent for not following basic principles.
8. exf5 exf5
9. Bf4 A natural move in an open position. I develop a piece while threatening c7.
10. Qa4+! Punishing the natural move with a quick tactical shot. My opponent’s poor opening play has left his pieces with no coordination, and it is impossible to save the bishop.
10…Nd7 11. Qxb4
11…Bxf3 The battle still isn’t over, despite being up a piece. Black is going to try to give me everything he’s got.
12. Nxf3 Qxf3 13. Kd2 Ne7
14. Rae1 Developing is important when having a decisive advantage in the opening. Black’s queen is in an awkward spot and could be trapped if not careful.
14…O-O-O Offering the knight instead of the h1 rook and f5 pawn. This is still good for me, but I decided to punish black’s queen for being in an awkward spot.
15. d5! A critical move for two reasons. The queen cannot go back to the queenside. This means it will have to not only find refuge another way, but also means that the light squares for black are extremely weak.
15…Nc5 16. Be2 Qg2 17. Reg1
17…Qh3 The queen is now on the humiliating square h3, where it accomplishes absolutely nothing. With the queen lacking any form of counter play, it is time to play on the kingside.
18. Qa3 a5 19. b4 axb4
20. Qxb4 +- If not already, my opponent is strategically lost. I can now push my a pawn to a5, where it will bust open the enemy king.
h6 21. a4 Ng6 22. Be3 Nb7
23. Bxb6! Already up a piece, it is hard to say that this move is truly a sacrifice. Black will not be able to fix his queenside or save the game.
cxb6 24. Qxb6 f4
25. a5 Missing 25. gxf4! Which threatens Bg4+, thanks to protection from the g1 rook. I was in a little time pressure since I had spent too much time trying to trap the queen, so I decided to play for an easy win without any complications.
25…Rd7 26. a6 Rc7
27. axb7+ Here 27. Nb5 is a little more humiliating, but it hardly matters.
27…Rxb7 28. Qc6+ Rc7 29. Qxd6 1-0 As a result of luring the rook of the b–file, my opponent has no counter play with Rb2+ so he decided to call it a game.
I won this game because while my opponent did not stick to principle, I did, and his lack of coordination resulted in a tactic early out of the opening. Furthermore, after winning the piece, Black still had no compensation after 11…Bxf3, because his other pieces were underdeveloped and his kingside was extremely weak. When your opponent goes out of common theory, take your time, and find sound ways to improve your position.
Feel like I missed something? Feel free to comment below!