Friday, September 18, 2009

Chyss Chess Tricks and Traps
Some Chess Opening Tricks

Many of the best openings tricks focus on the squares f2 and f7 so if you want to avoid being tricked, these are the squares you should pay the most attention to. Most of the tricks on this page make use of standard tactical themes but there are a few unusual ideas. I hope that these devious opening lines serve you well.

* The Fried Liver Attack
This is a classic and runs as follows.
1. e4 e5, 2. Nf3 Nc6, 3. Bc4 Nf6, 4. Ng5 d5, 5. ed NxP?!, 6. Nxf7!? KxN,
7. Qf3+ Ke6, 8. Nc3.
The position is unclear after 8. ... Nb4. However, white can improve with the
line 6. d4 ed, 7. 0-0 when he threatens 8. Nxf7 and is probably winning.

* From's Gambit
Bird's opening is rarely played but the clever gambit with e5 is worth
knowing as it is a very playable and tricky response. After
1. f4 black plays 1. ... e5?! with the idea of 2. fe d6, 3. ed Bxd6,
threatening Qh4+ winning. After 4. Nf3 (other moves lose) Black replies with
4. ... Bg4, with the threat of BxN and then Qh4+ winning. Although white can
escape with 5. e3, (or 5. e4, [other moves are inferior and most lose]),
black's position is fun to play and probably only slightly worse. White has to
play accurately on moves 4 and 5 and in blitz games this gambit is definitely
worth a go.

* The Staunton Gambit
This is in some sense similar to From's gambit running as it does 1. d4 f5,
2. e4 fe. Now the move 3. Nc3 has the idea of 3. ... d5?, 4. Qh5+ g6, 5. Qxd5
(and if 5. ... Qxd5, 6. Nxd5 Kd8, 7. Bf4 black has no good way to defend the
c7 pawn) when white is clearly better. If black plays 3. ... Nf6, then white
can play 4. Bg5 with the idea that if 4. ... d5?, then 5. BxN ef, (Not 5. ...
gf, 6. Qh5+-) 6. Qh5+ g6, 7. Qxd5 QxQ, 8. NxQ when white wins the f6 pawn and
has a winning advantage. If black plays the correct 4. ... Nc6 then after
5. BxN ef, (not 5. ... gf, 6. Qh5#) white should avoid the immediate
6. Nxe4 because black can play 6. ... Qe7 winning material after for example
7. Qe2 Nxd4, 8. Qd3 Qb4+ etc. Better therefore is 6. d5 Ne5, 7. Nxe4 with an
equal position.

* A pretty trap
There is a very pretty but rare trap which runs as follows. 1. e4 e5, 2. Nf3
d6, 3. Bc4 Bg4, 4. Nc3 g6?, 5. Nxe5! BxQ, 6. Bxf7 Ke7, 7. Nd5#

* Owen's Defence
This is a system which is rarely played which runs 1. e4 b6, 2. d4 Bb7. After
3. Bd3 the 'original' move was 3. ... f5, with the idea that if white plays
4. ef then black wins the rook on h1 with 4. ... Bxg2. However, this is
tactically flawed: 5. Qh5 g6, 6. fg Nf6, 7. gh+! NxQ, 8. Bg6#.

In fact black can improve with 6. ... Bg7 but white still gets a winning
position after 7. gh+ Kf8 8. Nf3! Nf6, 9. Qg6! BxN, (9. ... BxR, 10. Bh6! RxP,
11. Ng5 winning) 10. Rg1! RxP, 11. Qg3! Be4! 12. BxB NxB, 13. Qf3+ Kg8 14. QxN
+- and white can continue his attack with Bf4-e5 etc.

* The Budapest
There is an odd variation of the Budapest which runs 1. d4 Nf6, 2. c4 e5,
3. de Ne4?!, 4. Nf3 d6?!, 5. ed Bxd6, 6. g3?? (Oh dear!) 6. ... Nxf2! 7. Kxf2
(7. Qa4 Bd7, doesn't help white) 7. ... Bxg3+ and black wins the white queen
on d1.
The sequence 1. d4 Nf6, 2. Nd2 e5, is a lot like the true Budapest and the
continuation 3. dxe5 Ng4, 4. h3 Ne3, winning, illustrates a theme which comes
up in other positions. If 5. fe then of course 5. ... Qh4 6. g3 Qxg3# and if
white doesn't take the knight then he loses his queen.

* The Modern Defence
A similar queen trap is seen after the moves 1. e4 g6, 2. d4 Bg7, 3. Nf3 d6,
4. Bc4 Nd7??, when white wins with 5. Bxf7! If black takes it with 5. ...
KxB?? (which looks superficially correct) then after 6. Ng5 he faces an
unpleasant choice. If Kf6 then Qf3#, if Qf8 then Ne6+ wins black's queen, and
if Ke8 then Ne6 still wins black's queen!

* The Chameleon Variation of the Sicilian Defence
Another trick which makes use of this trapping pattern, but to even greater
effect, occurs in an unusual line of the Chameleon variation of the Sicilian.
1. e4 c5, 2. Nc3 Nc6, 3. Ne2 (This is quite a sneaky move; white waits for
black to commit himself to a particular set–up before deciding whether to play
an open or a closed Sicilian.) 3. … Nf6, 4. d4 (This is probably the wrong
decision. White should play a closed Sicilian here with 4. g3.) 4. … e6, (4.
... cd 5. Nxd4 would of course transpose to a main line classical Sicilian)
5. d5 ed, 6. ed Ne5, 7. g3?? (7. Nf4 is better, and quite interesting)
7. ... Nf3#. Quite a shock!

* The Caro Kann Defence
After the standard 1. e4 c6, 2. d4 d5, 3. Nc3 de, 4. NxP Nd7, White can find
out whether Black is paying attention by playing 5. Qe2. If Black plays the
normal looking 5. ... Ngf6??, then White wins instantly with 6. Nd6#. This has
caught out a lot of people in early morning games!

* The Traxler Counter Attack
This is one of the most outrageous openings. It runs as follows; 1. e4 e5,
2. Nf3 Nc6, 3. Bc4 Nf6, (the two knights defence which you should recognise
from an earlier trick), 4. Ng5 Bc5!?. Black completely ignores the threats
against f7! The idea is that after 5. Nxf7 Bxf2!?, 6. KxB Nxe4+ whites king
will be in more danger than black's. There have been quite a few monographs
written on this system and some of the complications are barely
comprehensible. Basically black can bring his queen to h4 and will threaten
all sorts of terrible things against white's king.

* The Albin Counter Gambit
Another well known trap runs as follows. 1. d4 d5, 2. c4 e5, 3. de d4,
4. e3? (4. a3 is better) 4. ... Bb4+, 5. Bd2 dxe3, 6. Bxb4? (6. Qa4+ is possible although the complications that arise after 6. ... Nc6, 7. Bxb4 [7. fe Qh4+, 8. Kd1 {Not 8. g3? Qe4!} 8. ... Qf2! is better for black] 8. ... ef+, 9. KxP Qd4+ probably favour black, especially over the board.) 6. ... ef+ 7. Ke2 fxg1=N+!!, 8. RxN Bg4+ and Black wins white's queen on d1.
* The English Defence
Some players, when faced with the English defence, try to steer the game into calmer waters. The sequence 1. c4 b6,2. Nc3 Bb7, 3. e4 e6, 4. Nf3 Bb4 5. Qb3 is not uncommon. Black may set a trap here with 5. ... Na6, 6. a3 Nc5! when 7. QxB? loses the queen to 7. ... a5!, 8. Qb5 c6!. 7. Qc2 is better but doesn't promise white much. Note that black doesn't (immediately) win a pawn after 7. ... BxN 8. QxB Nxe4 because white can play 9. Qxg7 and after 9. ... Qf6, though the position is probably slightly better for black. Things would be different if white could find a way to play Bh6! (i.e. by having moved his d pawn earlier).
* The Queen's Gambit
A bad line which inexperienced players with the black pieces play time again is the following: 1. d4 d5, 2. c4 dc, 3. e3 b5?!, (3. ... e5, is better) 4. a4 c6?!, (dubious because black cannot safely retain his pawn this way) 5. ab cb??, 6. Qf3! which wins at least a knight. Black's best move here (to save the rook on a8) is 6. ... Nc6, and after 7. QxN Bd7, white can retreat his queen and will be simply a knight up for nothing.
* The Grob
The 'Grob gambit' loses after 1. g4 e5, 2. f4?? Qh4#. The virtually identical 1. g4 e5, 2. f3?? Qh4# is known as fool's mate.
* The Fred
This (gambit) is dubious. 1. e4 f5?!, 2. ef Nf6, 3. Bg5 (threatening BxN and Qh5) +-.
* Scholar's mate
For the sake of sakeness (which is also why the last two are here) I should mention scholar's mate. 1. e4 e5, 2. Qh5 Nc6, 3. Bc4 threatening Qxf7#. If 3. ... g6 then 4. Qf3 threatening Qxf7#. If 4. ... Nf6 then 5. g4?! threatening 6. g5 and if the knight on f6 moves then, (you guessed it), Qxf7#. Of course, this is a rubbish opening but it is surprising how many people fall for this trap, especially on Internet chess servers.

These chess tricks make use of tactical motifs which occur in many other positions. As well as trying to integrate these specific tricks into your openings repertoire I recommend that you try to find similar lines in the openings you already play. You should remember however that if your opponent plays the correct lines you will probably not achieve more than equality. These are only tricks and traps; you can't force an advantage in chess if your opponent plays accurately.

For some rather more advanced tricks and traps check out these books at Amazon:
'101 Chess Opening Surprises' 'Quickest Chess Victories of All Time' '101 Chess Opening Traps'

Some Psychological Chess Tricks

Note that all mutterings should be judged so that they are only just audible to your opponent and not to anyone else. Also, the volume should be judged so as to make it look like you don't want them to catch what you say.

* The "Oh my goodness" strategy
The classic "Oh my goodness" ploy has been around forever. You can of course substitute your own expletive but be careful around children. The idea is that you play a move which appears terrible, e.g. leaving your queen where it can be captured. Then you utter something along the lines of "Oh drat". The idea is that your opponent will think that you have made a mistake and quickly take the piece. He will realise too late that taking the queen was a terrible mistake and that you now have a forced win. The "Oh my God Attack", (that's its real name, sorry), runs as follows. 1. e4 e5, 2. Nf3 Nc6, 3. Bc4 Nd4. Then you say "Oh my goodness" or something similar. Your opponent plays 4. Nxe5 and then you calmly play 4. ... Qg5, and await his resignation. (On account of 5. Nxf7 Qxg2, 6. Rf1 Qxe4, 7. Be2 Nf3#).
* The bluff
If you play a really bad move it is usually a good idea to disguise it and not react when you see what is wrong with it. However, some people prefer to smile to themselves and even mutter "Aha, I've got you now". The idea is that the opponent will think that there is some reason why he should not exploit the mistake in the way he intended to and will play some other move. In a desperate position you might even play an inferior continuation and accompany it with "well, that was a narrow escape".
* The "it's so easy I don't even have to think about it" strategy
This is when you are in the middle of an attack against your opponent or he has sacrificed material in return for an attack against you. The strategy involves memorising the position and then standing up and walking away from the board to go and look out of the window. The idea is to make your opponent think that you are so sure of what will happen next that you no longer need to analyse. This is bound to worry him. The trick is to continue to think about the position while you are away from the board so that you don't lose any time. Be sure to look round every so often with a smug look on your face both to check that your opponent hasn't moved yet and to encourage the grain of doubt you have planted in his mind to flourish and grow.
* The other "it's so easy I don't even have to think about it" strategy
This is extremely risky but is sometimes worth a go against stronger opponents if you know that they have a tendency to get themselves into time trouble. Just play your moves very quickly. Choose moderately tactical continuations that you feel comfortable with. Try to steer the game into positions which are sufficiently complex to give your opponent something to think about, but not too complicated that you are likely to make serious mistakes playing quickly. Naturally, you still need to invest time 'blunder-checking' your moves before you play them.
* The distraction
This is highly immoral/unethical but is often effective. Bring something to the board with you that will distract your opponent. A flask of some hot drink or a packet of crisps are the usual choices but sometimes people bring mascots or CD players. Silly hats are my favourite. If you are female then you don't need to bring anything, just select appropriate attire.
* The intimidation strategy
The most effective form of intimidation involves talking loudly with a friend (before your games starts) about some Grandmaster game you saw the other week. Tell you friend, (loudly enough that your opponent can hear), that you have spent weeks studying it and that you and your personal trainer have come up with a novelty which you think wins by force. Make sure that you don't mention the opening or the name of either of the Grandmasters who played the game. Tell your friend that you tried the move on Fritz and won quickly. You might want to expand on this idea by having your friend say something like "well, the last time you sprung a novelty like that you crushed your opponent in less than half an hour".
* The offbeat opening strategy
As the name suggests, the idea here is to play a dodgy opening with the sole intention of gaining a psychological advantage over your opponent. The best offbeat openings for white are the Nimzo-Larsen attack which begins 1. b3, and the St George opening, which begins 1. b4. I know little about the former but have seen the latter on a number of occasions. A sample line runs 1. b4 e5, 2. a3 d5, 3. Bb2 Bd6, (of course not 3. ... Nc6? 4. b5 winning blacks e-pawn) 4. e3 Nf6, 5. c4 when the position is probably equal. However, white may have obtained a psychological edge in that his opponent may have the feeling that what white has done cannot be correct and that there must be some way of refuting the opening outright. There is not and so the player with the black pieces may become frustrated and overpress and will probably be behind on the clock.

Please don't try any of these psychological tricks in important games or against friends because such unsportsmanly behaviour just isn't cricket old boy.

Find more tricks and traps at some of our other chess pages; tactics, blunders, and rubbish.

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