Studying games of the classics to change one’s own amateur assumptions.

Hi guys, it’s Simon, back from a few weeks’ hiatus, I missed writing a lot. I thought about a few different subjects for this post, but after one of my online games this week I decided to discuss a position which comes up in my own games pretty regularly:

twoknightsNh3

 

It’s a position from the Two Knights opening. The last move was 9.Nh3. Now, looking at this position, how many 1800s (and lower) players with Black pieces do you know who will resist their urge to take at h3 and claim they have a huge, probably close to winning, advantage , because of White’s kingside pawns being disrupted? Most of the people I play against take the knight without a second thought. But White’s seemingly vulnerable position has hidden powerful attacking resources- it’s not so much the extra pawn at the moment, but White will boldly castle, put his bishop on f3 and g2, move the king to h1 and the rook to the open file at g1. Then, if Black castles kingside as well, he has to be watchful for all the pins along the g-file, with Bxh6 being an obvious threat. And it’s not of the least importance that White keeps the bishop pair, whereas Black’s knight is clearly misplaced and will take a few moves to return to the game. I don’t mean to claim that White has a huge advantage, I’m far from being dogmatic in my opinions, I’d just say that this is a perfectly playable position for White where he can actually develop a strong attack rather than be attacked. Why am I even talking about this? Because most of the ‘B’ class or lower players will take. Perhaps they should study some classics. I did not write the theory of this. It was first played by Steinitz and later Fischer used it too. Would Mr. “I believe in good moves” play this on move 9 if Bxh3 was giving Black an advantage? In fact, in today’s computer era it’s a move that still comes up in grandmaster chess, but in those games Black actually resists taking the knight on h3, which in fact may be White’s main problem- he has to solve how to bring it back to play. So if you’re looking for alternatives to Ruy Lopez , Two Knights may be an option for you. Just study some classic games.

PS. A bit of shameless self-promotion- just recently I started a website where I can be contacted for chess classes that I offer. So if you’re interested, please check it out here.