01 August 2009

A Dubious First Move with Black

The diagram shows the start position from a game I played recently at SchemingMind.com. I had the White pieces. The most striking feature of the position is the Bishop pair on the h-side aimed at undefended Pawns on the a-side. Note that the players can also castle O-O-O on the first move.

Start Position 095

Inspection of the games from CCRL 404FRC (see my post on Advantage in Chess960 Start Positions Revisited for a discussion of the data) showed that the engines' most popular moves were 1.Nb3, 1.g3, and 1.Nc3, but I liked 1.f4, which was the engines' fourth choice. My analysis of that move showed that Black had acceptable responses in 1...Nc6, 1...Nb6, 1...g6, and 1...f5, plus a few other moves. After 1...Nb6, I had to be careful about 2...Nc4, threatening mate.

Instead of those moves, my opponent played 1...c5, which looked dubious because of 2.g3, the move I chose; it threatens the other undefended Pawn. My opponent felt obliged to play 2...Rc7, ending any possibility of castling O-O-O. I continued to add to the pressure with 3.Nc3, and my opponent quickly fell into insurmountable difficulties. Here is the PGN, courtesy of SchemingMind.

[Event "Chess960: Pyramid challenge from bemweeks"]
[Site "SchemingMind.com"]
[Date "2009.04.21"]
[Round "-"]
[White "bemweeks"]
[Black "Buckaroo Bob"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Variant "fischerandom"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "nnrkrqbb/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/NNRKRQBB w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.f4 c5 2.g3 Rc7 3.Nc3 a6 4.Nb3 d6 5.Na5 Kc8 6.b4 g6 7.Qf3 Bxc3 8.Qxc3 cxb4 9.Bxb7+ 1-0

I think this is the first time that I won a chess game in nine moves.

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